LGBT Archive of the American West launched in Laramie at the University of Wyoming

The American Heritage Center (AHC) at the University of Wyoming (UW), which houses several significant collections related to slain UW student Matthew Shepard, is currently developing “Out West in the Rockies,” a first-of-its kind regional lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) history and culture archive of the American West.  The scope of of this collecting area welcomes collections from eight Rocky Mountain states: Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona.

Retiring AHC Director Mark Greene helped inaugurate and Associate Director Rick Ewig will oversee this effort.  Gregory Hinton, creator of Out West, an acclaimed national LGBT western museum program series, introduced the concept to the AHC and serves as project consultant.  Hinton announced Out West in the Rockies at the recent LGBQT Alliance luncheon of the 2015 American Alliance of Museums Annual meeting and Museum Expo in Atlanta.

Growing interest in the rural LGBT experience underscores the need for a visible, dedicated, centrally located LGBT Western American archive.

“The LBGT communities are under-documented in many established national archives and historical repositories, but particularly in collections dedicated to the history and culture of the American West,” says Greene, who is a Distinguished Fellow of the Society of American Archivists.  “An archive of this kind is long past due.  The AHC is proud to be committed to this effort.”

The AHC ranks among the largest and busiest non-governmental repositories in the United States.  In 2010, the AHC was recognized as one of the nation’s premier archives when it received the Society of American Archivists’ Distinguished Service Award.  The AHC currently houses 75,000 cubic feet of materials, with 15,000 cubic feet remaining to welcome new collections.  Thus, with ample storage space, an experience, dedicated, and nationally recognized staff stands ready to accommodate substantial LGBT holdings.

Rural Montana-born Gregory Hinton recently drove from Los Angeles through the Rockies in blizzard conditions to hand deliver his personal and professional papers to the AHC.  “Too many LGBT men and women evacuate our rural western backgrounds seeking community, companionship, and safety in the bit city,” Hinton says.  “Happily, not everybody leaves.  And more and more of us return.  Thanks to the AHC, our stories are welcome in Wyoming.”

A distinguished advisory board of respected western scholars, artists, and activists is being assembled, including W. James Burn, director, University of Arizona Museum of Art; Wyoming State Representative and UW faculty member Cathy Connolly; Rebecca Scofield, Ph.D. candidate, American Studies, Harvard University; and civil rights attorney Roberta Zenker, author of TransMontana.

“Out West dispels the myth that LGBT history (and communities) are bi-coastal,” says Burns, recent chair of the LGBTQ Alliance of the American Alliance of Museums.  “Rural western LGBT populations are thriving and make significant contributions to the communities in which they live.”

A call will soon be put out for significant regional collections of organizational records and personal papers consisting of a wide variety of materials, from emails and correspondence to speeches and manuscripts.

“Everything from scrapbooks and photo albums to press clippings and marketing/promotional material; from digital and analog photos to diaries and blog entries; from professional contracts and grants to minutes and annual reports,” says Rick Ewig, also recent president of the Wyoming State Historical Society and editor of Annals of Wyoming.

Seeking to immerse themselves in the vast landscape of the rural American West, scholars and historians from all over the world visit the AHC every year.  The AHC is UW’s repository of manuscript collections, rare books, and university archives.  With a population of 30,000, Laramie is located in the center of the American West.  Located approximately two hours from Denver, it is easily accessible by ground and air.

–Rick Ewig, AHC Associate Director

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Digitized Trail Diary Now Available!

Are you interested in learning more about westward expansion during the 1850s? If so, you’ll be interested to learn that University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center (AHC) has digitized and made accessible online the diary and 2 transcripts of the diary from the Charlotte E. Allis diary collection.

A page from the diary--you can see why the transcriptions come in handy!

A page from the diary–you can see why the transcriptions come in handy!

Charlotte “Lottie” Elizabeth Jackson was born July 28, 1828 in Chesterfield Township, New York. Her husband, William Warren Allis, was born October 28, 1823 in Conway, Massachusetts. She and W.W. Allis were married September 11, 1849 in Beloit, Wisconsin. In 1853, W.W. Allis traveled overland to mine gold in California. In 1854, Charlotte followed him, leaving Beloit in April and arriving at Monte Cristo California in July. She maintained a diary during her journey that relates her trek by wagon and foot traveling with newlyweds George and Hannah Haskell and possibly with George’s sister-in-law Marie Haskell, as well as others who are not recorded in Allis’ diary.

The collection contains the diary of Charlotte Allis and two transcripts of the diary. The first transcript was by Esther Gay, wife of the diary’s donor Jim Gay. The second transcript was by Tamara Linse, freelance writer and American Heritage Center volunteer who researched and transcribed the diary from 2001 through 2003. The bulk of the collection is the research files created by Tamara Linse.

Links to digitized items and additional information about the Charlotte E. Allis diary can be found in the on-line finding aid at:

–Jamie J. Greene, Archives Specialist, Digital Programs Department

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Victor Gruen Collection used in latest 99% Invisible podcast episode

99piRoman Mars, creator and producer of the popular podcast on design and architecture, 99% Invisible, released an episode this past Tuesday titled “The Gruen Effect.”  The podcast, focused on the shopping mall designs of Viennese architect Victor Gruen, features audio and video clips digitized from the AHC’s Victor Gruen Collection.

The collection, which was made available on the AHC’s digital collections site in early 2015, includes candid photographs of Gruen and his associates, blueprints, audio of Gruen’s speeches, and films of Gruen’s Southdale Shopping Center, as well as press conferences and newsreels.

Photograph of Victor Gruen lighting his pipe. University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center, Victor Gruen Papers, Collection #5809, Box 56.

Photograph of Victor Gruen lighting his pipe. University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center, Victor Gruen Papers, Collection #5809, Box 56.

Mars, based in Oakland, California, recently completed a very successful campaign on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter to continue production of 99% Invisible, as well as provide a source of funding for other independent podcast productions.  Previous episodes of 99% Invisible are hosted at; you can learn more about the AHC’s Victor Gruen collection here.

–Tyler Cline, Digital Programs Department Head

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Join us! “Out of the Box: How AHC Collections Enhance UW Humanities” to be held Friday, May 1st!

As you may know, the Center’s accomplished director of the past 13 years, Mark Greene, is retiring later this spring for health reasons. During Mark’s 13 year tenure as Director, the American Heritage Center, Wyoming’s primary repository of historical archives and photographs, has gained a great stature in the national archival community, and has achieved operational excellence. The AHC was recently recognized by the primary professional archival association in the U.S., the SAA (Society of American Archivists), with its Distinguished Service Award, its most prestigious institutional recognition.


On Friday, May 1st a symposium, entitled “Out of the Box: How AHC Collections Enhance UW Humanities” will be held on campus to honor Mark and highlight his accomplishments at the UW American Heritage Center. The symposium will begin in the AHC’s Wyoming Stock Growers Room at 12:30 p.m., with several presentations made by professional archivists from across the country who are Mark’s friends and colleagues. Pete Simpson will give the introductory presentation at this conference. Session presenters will describe their use of the AHC’s collections, their interaction with Mark and other staff members at the AHC, and the contributions our AHC has made to UW and the archival community throughout the country. I hope you will be able to attend part or all of the presentations being made at this symposium; they will be very revealing as to the day to day professional work done by our staff in support of the center’s mission to make its vast collections available and useful to researchers and scholars in Wyoming and across the country.

We hope you will join us!

–Dave Foreman, Chair of the AHC’s Board of Advisors

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“Our Place in the West…and Beyond” celebration and conference commemorates Wyoming’s 125th Year of Statehood

Ever heard the word “Quasaquicentennial?” We’d like to introduce this term to you, and celebrate it with you!

The Wyoming State Historical Society, the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office , and the American Heritage Center are sponsoring a unique celebration and conference in conjunction with the 125th anniversary of Wyoming’s statehood.  The commemoration will explore the history, prehistory, and culture of Wyoming and look to its future through research, art, music and food.


Here are highlights of the celebration:

  • Presentations by Western historian and author Dr. Michael Amundson, past Wyoming Poet Laureate David Romvedt, and former Heart Mountain Japanese Relocation Center internee Sam Mihara.
  • Milk Can Dinner and dance featuring keynote speaker Union Pacific Railroad historian Maury Klein with music by Cheyenne-based Country Club Band.
  • Tour of Ames Monument, designed in 1880 by renowned architect Henry Hobson Richardson and dedicated to the Ames brothers, Union Pacific Railroad financiers.
  • Exhibitions and presentations by Wyoming professional artists Do Palma, Suzanne Morlock, Susan Moldenhauer and more.
  • Presentations and book signings by prominent Wyoming authors Margaret Coel, Linda Jacobs, and Candy Moulton.
  • Sale of print by renowned Wyoming artist Linda Lillegraven. “Old Railroad Embankment Near Bosler” depicts a trace of abandoned rail line with natural vegetation softening the outlines.
  • Preserve Wyoming Awards Banquet and silent auction with awards presented by Bobbi Barrasso to signify outstanding contributions to the preservation of Wyoming’s historic structures.

The conference will be June 11 through 13 in Laramie at the Marion H. Rochelle Gateway Center and other Laramie venues. The public is welcome to attend. Registration and event details can be found at  Also, check out our Facebook page under Our Place in the West and Beyond for the latest updates.

Besides the Wyoming State Historical Society, the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office, and the American Heritage Center, there are many other sponsors from across the state, including the Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources Department, Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site, Wyoming Humanities Council, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Wyoming Office of Tourism, and UW Libraries.

Join us for this remarkable celebration of Wyoming’s past and future!

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Seat Pocket Pioneer: The Rose A. Benas Collection

Rose A. Benas with Secretary of Transportation Volpe, 1972. Rose A. Benas papers and Airlanes Magazines, Collection Number 09321, Box 4, Folder 11.

Rose A. Benas with Secretary of Transportation Volpe, 1972. Rose A. Benas papers and Airlanes Magazines, Collection Number 9321, Box 4, Folder 11. University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center.

When you travel by airplane, do you enjoy the reading material stored in the seat pocket in front of you?  Your in-flight reading material that highlights tropical hotels and regional cuisine might just help you through those long minutes on the tarmac, waiting for take-off.

The American Heritage Center (AHC) at the University of Wyoming, has digitized and made accessible online the business and personal records from the Rose A. Benas papers and Airlanes Magazines #9321.  Ms. Benas was the editor and publisher of the first in-flight magazine, so it’s her legacy that you have to thank each time you turn those glossy pages.

Rose A. Benas was the publisher and editor of Airlanes Magazine and its successor Airworld Magazine. Airlanes was published monthly from January 1936 until October 1965. The magazine was the first “in-flight” periodical but later developed into an executive trade publication. The successor, Airworld, was intended to be an “in-flight” magazine and was carried by 10 U.S. airlines. However Airworld was suspended after 5 months.

The collection contains printed issues of Airlanes Magazine (1936-1965) and Airworld Magazine (1966). These monthly periodicals contained articles and advertisements on travel destinations, as well as information of general aviation interest. The publications document the development of commercial airline travel. There are also Airlanes Publishing Company records, correspondence, biographical information, photographs, news releases, and reports about Rose A. Benas’ career and work with commercial aviation publications.

Ms. Benas Test Crew certificate. Rose A. Benas papers and Airlanes Magazines, Accession Number 09321, Box 4, Folder 2. University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center.

Ms. Benas’ Test Crew certificate. Rose A. Benas papers and Airlanes Magazines, Accession Number 09321, Box 4, Folder 2. University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center.

Links to digitized items and additional information about the Rose A. Benas papers and Airlanes Magazines can be found in the on-line finding aid at:

-Jamie Greene, AHC Digital Programs

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AHC Director Mark Greene Announces His Retirement

Mark Greene, American Heritage Center DirectorReaders might conclude, from my vita, that I am rather young to retire.  This is unfortunately true.  I am compelled to retire because of the continuing degradation of my health since my lumbar infarction in summer 2012.  I have finally had to accept that I can no longer give the quantity or quality of attention, energy, creativity, and passion to the leadership of the AHC that the Center, its superb employees, its researchers, and its other supporters deserve.  This is a very, very difficult realization for me; I love this job and this institution.  On the other hand, it would be fair to say I should have seen this coming from a long way off.

I began my tenure at the AHC in August of 2002.  It was right in the middle of the Center’s strategic planning process.  Almost before I had unpacked my office I was leading an all-staff retreat in a log structure at Curt Gowdy state park, close to Laramie.  So in some way it seems almost fitting that still in the midst of the Center’s most recent strategic planning process, about 12 ½ years later, I must announce my retirement.  My last day at the AHC will be approximately the end of April, 2015.

Approximately a decade ago I met with an orthopedist at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale who suggested at the time that I should have been on disability years before based on the severity and extent of my arthritis alone.  I laughed him off then.  I even, as most readers of our newsletter know, laughed off the notion that paraplegia would keep me from returning to the helm of the AHC.  However, since my stroke I have had serious conditions related to my heart, kidneys and several other internal organs, as well as a diagnosis of diabetes and other complications.  These were added to pre-stroke advanced arthritis in a host of joints and other conditions I’m afraid aren’t easy to discuss in a family newsletter. So my retirement will be for reasons of disability.

I have tried during my tenure at the Center to give my all toward making it a better, stronger, more visible, and more honored institution than when I arrived.  If I did succeed, it was because I had the immense good fortune to work with outstanding colleagues, whose energy and talent equaled or exceeded my own.  I will allow myself the indulgence of saying that I am particularly proud of the AHC having received the SAA Distinguished Service Award, almost a dozen competitive grants (National Endowment for the Humanities, US Department of Education, National Historic Publications and Records Commission—x3, National Film Preservation Foundation, Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund—x4, Wyoming Humanities Council—x2), significantly increased the breadth of UW departments with whose undergraduates we work, expanded Wyoming History Day, developed and/or implemented cutting-edge professional practices (including audio digitization, reappraisal and deaccessioning, minimal processing, backlog elimination, mass digitization, creating web collections, defining and publishing collection development and collection management policies), and influenced the archival profession broadly through the expansive and expert presentations, workshops, and articles produced by our superlative archivists and curators.

It has been a continuing honor as well as privilege to be the director of the AHC, to work alongside the best group of archivists in the nation, to work toward the success of student historians and senior scholars in pursuit of complex research, to work with professional colleagues across this country and beyond, and to work with the support of UW presidents, provosts, division heads, deans, and faculty members.  I have been tremendously lucky to work here. Let me give one specific example, one that also has to do with the change in leadership at the AHC.

For I must also relay the retirement of Rick Ewig, long, long-time associate director and several times interim director.  Rick’s situation is different from mine.  He has reached a combination of age and years of service to the state of Wyoming that would have permitted him to take full retirement benefits several years ago.  But as he has said to me and to others, there were just too many interesting things going on at the AHC to walk away.  But the time had finally come, he told me one day this autumn.

It is important to say that my success at the AHC, whatever success I managed to achieve, depended from beginning to end in no small measure on Rick.  Depended on my having an associate I could trust implicitly, depended on the Center having an associate director who knew more about Wyoming history than all but one other living individual, depended on the AHC having a superb director of Wyoming History Day, a remarkably well-connected and universally respected administrator who ensured that the Center was a partner with the other historical institutions in our state, in sum, a true scholar and gentleman.  When he explained his retirement plans to me last autumn, Rick knew nothing of my decision about my own retirement.

When I divulged my intentions to him we both realized that the AHC could not lose its two top administrators at the same time, for who knew how many months before a new director could be sought and installed (we will be doing an international search, and expect a large and impressive applicant pool).  The reasonable solution to the problem of a potentially leaderless AHC, would have been for Rick to retire as he had already planned—he had a date defined and plans laid—and for me to remain as director until a new one could be hired. That might delay my retirement by 6-9 months, but it seemed like the fair thing to do.

Rick instead insisted that the right thing to do was to permit me to take as much pressure off my strained health as soon as possible, and that his retirement plans could easily be put on hold for the necessary period.  So he volunteered to delay his date of retirement to occur far enough after my retirement that the Center would have had time to do an international search and hire a new director before Rick left.  I will never be able to repay his selfless act of generosity, kindness, and compassion.

But…I just cannot end on a sad note, however gallant.  So….  Most of our readers are by now well familiar with my penchant for quoting from our researchers and others as anecdotal evidence that the AHC is a world-class repository.  In this column, the quotation is a bit different, in that it expresses, better than I’ve ever been able to, the nearly visceral reaction students have to encountering original sources of history—encountering them not under glass or on line, but tactilely, directly, immediately.  Such an encounter can quite significantly change the way a young person views his or her place in the world.  This is a quote from a paper from an undergraduate history course, about a student’s required primary source research exercise:

The collection at the AHC is incredible! I can’t explain the feeling of holding a piece of literature that’s close to a century old. I’ve never been involved in something like this before. I think every student should take some time to go through some of the collections in the AHC. It actually helped me develop pride in my University and it really showed me that our school takes pride in its collections and it’s student’s education. I will be visiting the AHC again soon to handle the Buffalo Bill and Jim Bridger collections. These collections are important to me because of the stories I grew up listening to around the family campfire. In regards to History for undergrads I think this could help us develop an appreciation for Wyoming history that power points and lectures can’t even come close to doing.

Hear! Hear!  I couldn’t have invented a better sentiment on which to exit.  I am deeply grateful for your support of and kindness toward me these past 12 ½ years.  Rest assured that I will, as I know all of you will, bolster and strengthen the AHC in every way possible in future.  I look forward to its continuing prominence and excellence.  Thank you, and farewell.

 –Mark Greene, AHC Director



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