Teapot Dome featured on BBC’s Downton Abbey

History on the BBC’s Downton Abbey crosses the Atlantic and comes to Wyoming. Recently, on season 4 episode 7 of the popular miniseries, the Dowager Countess explains why Lord Grantham travels to the United States; it turns out he is helping Cora’s brother who is facing an investigation for his part in the Teapot Dome scandal!

Teapot station. Petroleum-Wyoming-Teapot Dome (Wyoming) Photograph file.

Teapot station. Petroleum-Wyoming-Teapot Dome (Wyoming) Photograph file.

What was the Teapot Dome scandal? The Dowager Countess explained it very simply, bribery and corruption; however, here are a few more details. From 1922-23 U.S. Secretary of the Interior Albert Hall was bribed into leasing United States strategic oil reserves in Wyoming and California at reduced prices to private oil companies without competitive bidding; leading to Senate investigations, criminal convictions, and is considered one of the greatest political scandals in American history. In response to Isobel Crawley’s question, when she asked if it really is called the Teapot Dome scandal; the Teapot Dome Oil Field was located in Natrona County, Wyoming and named after a nearby rock formation.

Teapot Dome oil field. Petroleum-Wyoming-Teapot Dome (Wyoming) Photograph File.

Teapot Dome oil field. Petroleum-Wyoming-Teapot Dome (Wyoming) Photograph File.

Downton Abbey’s fictional accounts of past events make history exciting and intriguing, but the details of the real events can be just as interesting, if not more scandalous than you originally thought! Would you like to know more about the Teapot Dome scandal? In its commitment to preserve history of Wyoming and the west the American Heritage Center has collections documenting the scandal.  Some of the collections regarding Teapot Dome include documents from legislatures (John B. Kendrick and Frank W. Mondell), the presiding judge at the Teapot Dome Lawsuit (T. Blake Kennedy), and accounts by an employee of one of the oil magnates (Ralph O. Dietler).

-Amanda Stow, Reference Archivist

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Mementos Cherished: Valentine’s Day

Dance card, pressed flower, and paper valentine pasted in a diary, 1908.  Edith K.O. Clark papers, #12580, Box 1.

Dance card, pressed flower, and paper valentine pasted in a diary, 1908. Edith K.O. Clark papers, #12580, Box 1.

Front of Valentine’s Day greeting sent by a friend to Elma Brown , 1926.  Elma Brown papers, #300019, Box 1, Scrapbook.

Front of Valentine’s Day greeting sent by a friend to Elma Brown , 1926. Elma Brown papers, #300019, Box 1, Scrapbook.

Inside of Valentine’s Day greeting sent by a friend to Elma Brown , 1926.  Elma Brown papers, #300019, Box 1, Scrapbook.

Inside of Valentine’s Day greeting sent by a friend to Elma Brown , 1926. Elma Brown papers, #300019, Box 1, Scrapbook.

Home Bakery window display, Laramie, Wyoming, February 1941, night-time photography, neon lights lighting a collection of heart shaped cakes.  Home Bakery window display, 1941, University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center, Ludwig Svenson Collection, negative number 33857.1

Home Bakery window display, Laramie, Wyoming, February 1941, night-time photography, neon lights lighting a collection of heart shaped cakes. Home Bakery window display, 1941, University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center, Ludwig Svenson Collection, negative number 33857.1

Hearts . . . candy . . . flowers; today people are celebrating their love for one another.  Check out these expressions of the holiday from the first half of the twentieth century; with flowers, stickers, paper greetings, and cake (mmm). How will you remember today?

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Black History Month Highlight: Stepp Family Ranch

In honor of Black History month, the AHC would like to celebrate African-American experiences in the west by sharing this photograph of the Stepp family; taken on Alonzo T. Stepp’s ranch in the 1920s. Originally from Berea, Kentucky, Alonzo Stepp came to Wyoming to try cowboy life in the open space of Wyoming. First starting as a sheepherder he eventually owned his own land in Lincoln County near LaBarge, Wyoming; which stayed in the family until the 1960s, when the land was claimed by eminent domain for irrigation projects. Information about the Stepp family can be found in the John Ravage papers.

Alonzo Stepp Family in front of their homestead cabin near LaBarge, Wyoming, ca. 1920. Ranch-Stepp photograph file, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Alonzo Stepp Family in front of their homestead cabin near LaBarge, Wyoming, ca. 1920. Ranch-Stepp photograph file, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

The history of the Stepp family is not the only African-American story available at the AHC. Other resources regarding African-American history in the west include collections such as (and not limited to) Harriet Elizabeth Byrd, the Black 14, Joseph C. O’Mahoney, and Grace Raymond Hebard; subject and photograph files; and a popular traveling exhibit.

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Teaching and Learning Geology at UW: Professor Samuel H. Knight

University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center (AHC) has digitized and made accessible online over 3,200 photographs, documents, and 6 films documenting the University of Wyoming science camps and a geology lecture (Chalk Talk) that S.H. Knight gave in the 1960s from the Samuel H. Knight papers. These films were digitized as part of a Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund Grant project to digitize film in our collections that cover different aspects of Wyoming history and culture.

Geology class, Professor A.C. Boyle at right,  June 1912. Samuel H. Knight Collection, Accession Number 400044, Box 86. University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center.

Geology class, Professor A.C. Boyle at right, June 1912. Samuel H. Knight Collection, #400044, Box 86. University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center.

Samuel Howell Knight was born in 1892, and soon came to Laramie with his family in 1893. S.H. Knight’s father, Wilbur C. Knight, had accepted a position as the University of Wyoming’s first geology professor. S.H. Knight attended the University of Wyoming as a prep student and an undergraduate from 1907 to 1913. He attended Columbia University in New York from 1914 to 1916 for his graduate studies. He then joined the University of Wyoming faculty in 1916 as assistant professor of geology and curator of the Geological Museum. He became a full professor and the department head in 1917. Also in 1917, S. H. Knight served in World War I in the capacity of First Lieutenant in military intelligence. In 1925, S.H. Knight established the University of Wyoming Science Camp in the Medicine Bow Mountains, about 35 miles from Laramie. The camp ran from 1925 to 1976. As a researcher, his interests ranged from the rounding of sand grains by wind transportation to the physical evolution of the mountains and depositional basins of southeastern Wyoming. Collection includes materials pertaining to several aspects of S.H. Knight’s life, including geology research, teaching, and University of Wyoming activities.

A geology course lecture, while en route to research site, ca. 1940. Samuel H. Knight Collection, #400044, Box 97. University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center.

A geology course lecture, while en route to research site, ca. 1940. Samuel H. Knight Collection, #400044, Box 97. University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center.

Links to digitized items and additional information about the Samuel H. Knight papers can be found in the on-line finding aid at: http://rmoa.unm.edu/docviewer.php?docId=wyu-ah400044.xml.

If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you!  Please contact Jamie Greene in the AHC’s Digital Programs Department at jgreene@uwyo.edu or 307-766-3704.

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CJ Box to start national book tour at the AHC!

We can hardly wait!  Author CJ Box will kick off his national book tour at the American Heritage Center!  Save the date–it’s March 11!

Box_Poster_03-21-14-small

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Happy Chinese New Year!

Here’s a photograph from the American Heritage Center’s collections to help mark the beginning of the Chinese New Year, which starts today.  2014 is the year of the horse in the Chinese zodiac calendar.

Photo of the traditional Chinese New Year dragon performance from the 1890s in Rock Springs, WY.  W.B.D. and Annette B. Gray Papers, #1053, Box 17.

Photo of the traditional Chinese New Year dragon performance from the 1890s in Rock Springs, WY. W.B.D. and Annette B. Gray Papers, #1053, Box 17.

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Farewell to Robert Wynn, Producer and Director

Robert (a.k.a. Bob) Wynn passed away December 12th, 2013 in Calabasas, California. Wynn produced and directed over sixty television shows and specials from the 1960s to the 1990s.  Born in 1932 in St. Louis, Missouri, Wynn began his career as a radio broadcaster in the 1950s. He was a sports announcer in Missouri, Kentucky, and Ohio. From 1956-1959 he worked for McCann-Erickson Advertising as a producer and director. In 1961, after settling in Los Angeles and working for NBC, he was offered his first major television job producing a Bing Crosby special. Over the next twenty years, Wynn produced and directed variety theme shows, popular and award-winning television series, made for TV movies, and various television specials. Wynn co-founded Alwynn Productions with fellow producer and director Alan Handley in 1962. At Alwynn Productions, Wynn and Handley co-directed and co-produced numerous television shows including, “Alice Through the Looking Glass” (1966) and “Debbie Reynolds and the Sound of Children” (1969).

In addition, Wynn worked on a number of productions without Handley. Wynn produced a number of variety shows including Danny Thomas Specials (1962-1970), Tennessee Ernie Ford Specials (1969-1981), “The Monty Hall Show” (1970s), and “Opryland, U.S.A.” (1970s). He was also the producer and director for the variety series, “The NBC Follies” (1973). From 1979-1984 he produced “Real People,” a show depicting the lives of real Americans in humorous, heart-warming, and bizarre situations. This series was nominated for five Emmys, and won an Emmy in 1984. Wynn also produced and directed Bob Hope specials (1968-1979), a series of mystery movies on ABC (1974-1975), shows celebrating America, and the Rock Music Awards (1975-1977). From 1975-1995, Wynn produced and directed the Sammy Davis Memorial Telethons.

Bob Hope

Bob Wynn (front and center) leads Bob Hope (aboard the uncovered palanquin) up China Hill in Beijing in June of 1979 during the taping of a Bob Hope special. Robert Wynn papers, #3211, Box 525. UW American Heritage Center.

The American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming holds Wynn’s personal papers.  This collection contains materials from Bob Wynn’s work as a producer and director. There is material from almost all of Wynn’s productions but the show titles with the most material are: “ABC’s Wide World of Mystery Series;” “The Bob Hope Show” and Specials; “The Danny Thomas Show;” Debbie Reynolds shows, “The Monty Hall Show” and Specials; “The NBC Follies;” Opryland specials; “Real People;” “The Rock Music Awards;” Sea World Footage, “The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show;” “The 36 Most Beautiful Girls in Texas,” and Variety Club Telethons.

Laura Uglean-Jackson, Processing Archivist

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