The System of Mystery

In light of the recent midterm elections, I found it plausible to compose a politically- themed blog post. Despite voter turnout diminishing in recent years, politics remain an enormous influence on the average American. Now before you begin tearing your hair out in a threatening rage, allow me to explain. I am neither promoting nor discouraging any political affiliation, but providing insight to a read that I found particularly engaging and thought-provoking.

I found myself in the Rice Library’s American History section (second floor) when I came across this peculiar publication: “Family of Secrets” by Russ Baker, a rather cryptic title for the generally straightforward genre. Interest piqued, I seized the book from its place on the shelf as my eyes slid down the length of the book’s spine, arriving at a short description of the book that read: “The Bush dynasty, the powerful forces that put it in the White House, and what their influence means for America.” I re-shelved the book, picturing this Russ Baker as a crazy loon, driven mad by theories of conspiracy. A transparent attempt at fear-mongering, the Bushes were as clean-cut as they come!


That night the book remained in the Rice Library but its description remained in my head. What were the “powerful forces” that lead to a man gaining the most powerful position in the world? Are they still around years after Bush’s presidency? Should I, as an American, be informed about these “forces”?  To the questions that were choking my slumber, I had no absolute answer, only the speculation that was becoming increasingly absurd as the night dragged on.

For those who watch the ABC show “Scandal” or the Netflix original series “House of Cards”, you are aware of the idea that what Americans see, and what really occurs in government, are two completely different entities. This can be a scary but fascinating thought: To suggest that the vast American public is unknowingly being governed by some private force. The next morning I quenched my thirst for answers by checking out the book.

Baker rather extensively traces the “Bush Dynasty” back quite a few years in order to answer his own question: How did the “under qualified” George W. Bush become the most powerful man in the world for two consecutive terms? His findings are so shocking and outlandish that even I had to do some fact checking. Baker proves that the people who are really in power in the United States do not have a government title.

I know there are those of you who are already questioning Russ Baker’s reliability. I must admit that I was highly skeptical at first, but Baker quickly squelched the fire of skepticism by establishing his credibility through citing his sources early on, a smart move for anyone who wants to be taken seriously after making such a bold claim. Republican or Democrat, I highly recommend this book to those who have a craving for a deeper understanding of the inner-most workings of the federal government.

Russ Baker’s “Family of Secrets” is currently available for checkout at the Rice Library! Prepare yourself for the onslaught of allegations and shocking “coincidences.” A great read! :)


Wilfred C. Bussing: Newspaper Tycoon and Superstar

In 1965, Wilfred C. Bussing stood at the top of Evansville’s newspaper entity commonly known as the Evansville Press. Within a few months, the newspaper mogul was retiring from his lofty position as president. After his retirement, Bussing received great praise for his monumental efforts with the Press. He was noted as an enthusiastic man who always loved to change the game and push the boundaries of newspaper publishing. Many of the farewell letters in the David L. Rice Library Archives Bussing Collection further illustrate the importance of this man’s efforts. He singlehandedly inspired a new generation of newspaper publishers that would emerge later in the 1960’s. Above all, Bussing built respect for newspaper publishing in Evansville. Bussing raised the Evansville Press to soaring heights and infused it with the current popularity it holds today as the renamed Evansville Courier and Press. In order to understand Bussing, one has to look at his rise to prominence in the 20th century.

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As the early 20th century began to pick up, Wilfred C. Bussing emerged as an average high school kid that would soon accomplish the extraordinary. Bussing in his youth delivered and sold newspapers in the little Midwest hamlet known as Evansville. Riding his bicycle across town, he could not have known what his future would hold. It would be years after high school, that he would begin his quest to establish the Evansville Press as a main contender in the newspaper market. In high school, Bussing expanded his entrepreneurial enterprises by getting his feet wet in the vanilla extract business. Eventually, Bussing was supplying vanilla extract to over 60 grocery stores throughout the area. As Bussing expanded his operations out of high school, he caught the attention of the Evansville Press. The Press temporarily hired Bussing to expand their operation. Bussing started by expanding routes and hiring more paperboys in order to bring papers to more citizens in Evansville. Bussing continued to fulfill this role throughout high school until his graduation. After graduating from high school, the Press hired Bussing at about $6 an hour as an office boy. Bussing always looked for opportunities. He quickly became an advertising salesman at the Press and eventually worked his way to business manager by his thirties. Under Bussing, the Evansville Press grew exponentially, as Evansville expanded. Busing promoted the small town as a go to metropolitan shopping center. After establishing the Press as a powerful and influential institution, Bussing eventually worked his way to president of the Press. Bussing’s quick rise from simple high school boy to president of a prolific newspaper is astounding.

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Throughout the years, Bussing became associated with popular figureheads and causes. The vast wealth of letters in the William Bussing Collection illustrates the man’s popularity and influence on history. One such letter he received was from none other than Helen Keller in April of 1943. At that time, World War II was raging across Europe and the Pacific. Droves upon droves of American fighting men joined the crusade against tyranny in Europe and the Pacific. However, some Americans felt left out of the war especially the blind and lame. Being blind herself, Keller appealed to Bussing for financial support in order to fund the American Foundation for the Blind. According to Keller, all men despite limitations were soldiers of humanity. Many soldiers in life according to Keller lay wounded on the battlefields of civilization.  This included the blind members of American society who felt disenfranchised during the war. The financial support of Bussing would allow the American Foundation for the Blind to provide its members and others with disabilities a role in American society. According to Keller, the blind could be salvaged from the dark recesses of life with financial support. MSS 108-1In addition to providing financial aid to the American Foundation for the Blind, Bussing supported the China Relief Legion.

In the 1930’s, China had been brutally invaded by the Imperial Japanese Army. Suffering, death, and starvation followed as the Japanese tightened their grip on the population. By 1942, the Chinese were actively fighting the Japanese in a struggle for national survival. The China Relief Legion was an organization designed to provide the Chinese population with necessities such as medical supplies and food. Bussing was heavily involved in the organization and often gave generous financial support to it. As a result he received an Award of Recognition along with the Press that praised Bussing and his Enterprise as saviors of Chinese civilization.

MSS 108-3-1  Another prolific entity that Bussing received a letter from was the first director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, John Edgar Hoover.

The letter was written in November of 1940 and in the letter, Hoover compliments Bussing for an article that was published in the Press. The article titled, “Dies, Jackson and the FBI” praises the FBI as an institution dedicated to justice and the protection of the American public. Hoover goes on to wish Bussing and the Press all the luck in the world and pleas for future support of the FBI through more articles.

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It is amazing to think that an Evansville native such as Bussing was involved with such famous figureheads and noble organizations. The Bussing Collection in University Archives houses even more interesting stories for the curious researcher. Next time you stop by the Rice Library, head up to archives and explore the collection yourself. You might be surprised what you find.

Written by Matt Baker, USI student

Archibald: A Bird of Few Words

When greatest mascot’s names are called,

Among them will be Archibald.

A bird who doesn’t have to fly,

‘Cause basketball will get him high.

And he can do the victory shuffle,

Without a single feather’s ruffle.

And he worked hard to learn to speak,

English through his massive beak.

So he can cheer his team to play,

This suave and stylish bird of prey.

And old Ace Purple across the town,

Had better never come around.

 “Archy” by: George Simpson


We all have heard of Archibald Eagle or Archie our school’s mascot. Love him or hate him he is a symbol of everything the University of Southern Indiana stands for. However not many people know his history. We must look far back before the University of Southern Indiana became its own independent higher education institution. It all started during the fall semester in 1970 on the campus of Indiana State University of Evansville (ISUE). ISUE just moved its campus to the west side of Evansville. ISUE officials believed that with the new campus there needed to be a new name or “mascot.” Previously the ISUE athletic teams were known as the Spartans, but soon after the move in 1970 the Screaming Eagles name was chosen.

With the Screaming Eagles name came the mascot. It’s interesting to know that Archie has been around since October 1970, but didn’t actually get his name until 1979. Before 1979 students and fans just called him the Eagle. It was then declared on November 7, 1979 that a contest would determine our mascot’s name. The “Name the Mascot” Contest was announced on the front page of The Shield proclaiming that they were looking for support from students and faculty in selecting an individual name for the Eagle seen at games, practices, and rallies. Along with The Shield the contest was also sponsored by Student Activities and the Student Union Board with the expectation that a proud, dignified would be chosen. The winner of the contest received a cash prize and recognition at the season opener basketball game that was played on December 7th.

On 4:00pm November 20, 1979 the “Name the Mascot” Contest came to a close. With well over 100 entries The Shield along with a panel of judges began looking through and judging the names. Those on the panel included: Student Union Board president David Stumpf; Student Government representative Steve Hart; Sherianne Standley from the University President’s office; Shield staffers Kyle Roth, Kelley Coures, and Steve Costello; Mark Duckworth from the baseball team; and Dan Labhart from the basketball team. After an hour of deliberating the number of entries was cut to five. Finalists included: Thor, J. Edgar Swoop, Archibald, Everest, and Champion.


After two votes the group couldn’t decide a winner. The judges had weighed each name on the bias that it (a) was easy to shout, (b) could not be ridiculed, and (c) did not copy that of another school. Originality was also included as a criterion. The final judging was made giving each judge an opportunity to rank the choices in order. The entry with the least points would be most popular and win. Conversely Steve Costello, organizer of the contest, suggested that his entry, which made the final five, be stricken. He believed that it was inappropriate for an organizer to be eligible for the winning name. However, Sherianne Standley pointed out that a good name should not be ruled out ineligible because of who submitted it; other judges agreed. The point totals stood as follows: Archibald – 17, Everest – 19, Champion – 20, J. Edgar Swoop – 21, and Thor – 21.

The name Archibald won by a narrow margin and the winner Steve Costello donated his prize money to the day care center on campus to be used for toys for Christmas. Costello was quoted as saying, “I really feel uncomfortable about winning the contest. However, if the judges feel that entry would best contribute to the personality of the mascot, I’m happy to contribute.” The Eagle was introduced with his new name Archibald on December 1, 1979 when the ISUE Screaming Eagles hosted the Hilldale Chargers at Central Arena. Obviously Archie doesn’t look the same as he did back in the 1970s. He went from something intimidating to his goofy cartoon self that we know today. Why did he change? There’s no simple answer to that. Maybe it’s because everyone changes. Or maybe it’s because our school has changed from Indiana State University of Evansville to the University of Southern Indiana. I can tell you though Archie has been around for forty-three years and there are no signs right now that say he won’t be around for the next forty-three years.



By Justin Meek

Icaria: A Brief History

The Icarians are a communal group that can trace their existence back to 19th century Frenchmen Etienne Cabet. Cabet was an accomplished lawyer, teacher, public official, and novelist who heavily believed in utopias during his time. In his novel “Voyage En Icarie”, Cabet described a social organization which he believed would bring peace, justice, equality, and brotherhood to the World. Cabet also spoke of a society of complete equality where property and money were abolished. His revolutionary and socialist ideas eventually caught the eyes of the French government and in 1849, Cabet fled the country with about 496 others. However, the French government was not the only reason for his departure. Cabet saw that on a societal level, France was falling to inflation, crime, riots, and general civil disorder. After departing France, Cabet and his followers ended up in Texas where they began to set up shop. By 1850, conditions in Texas were becoming less than satisfactory and a change was required.

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In 1850, Cabet heard that Mormons in Nauvoo Illinois were planning to vacate the area and move westwards. In response to these developments, Cabet entered into negotiations with the Mormons. In the deal that followed, Cabet purchased the whole of Mormon owned Nauvoo Illinois in the form of Temple Square and multiple housing units. After purchasing the basic layout, Cabet and his followers began an ambitious construction project. Under this construction project, a dining hall, apartments, library, infirmary, and school were constructed. With the establishment of the community at Nauvoo, Cabet began a program of socialization and education. The program was designed to pass down the teachings of Icaria to future generations.

At the core of this system was the idea that each member of society must progress in the direction of his or her major talent in order to achieve true enlightenment. Education was broken up into several elements which included physical, intellectual, moral, industrial, and civic. All of these elements were vital if the colony was to pass its knowledge down to future generations of Icarians. The education system itself was inclusive of both boys and girls. Average classrooms contained about 15 boys and 15 girls with a male and female teacher present to guide both sets of children. Under careful instruction, children were taught history, literature, poetry, and prose.

In addition to the socialization and education program, family life was another crucial part in Icarian society. Cabet believed that the family was the key to order and peace in society. Western Europe had abandoned this ideal in favor of loyalty to the state, but Cabet knew that family came first. Unlike the normal familial traditions of old, Cabet believed that women were equal to men within the family. The mother according to Cabet was vital for the education and instruction of the family. In 1855 an Icarian constitution was created that emphasized the importance of family. Under the constitution, marriage was openly encouraged to guarantee order and peace. In fact all those who could marry had to marry. In addition to this rule, marriage was seen as a binding contract in Icaria that no man or woman could break. Families in Icaria were seen as economic units that promoted a division of labor that helped organize society. They were also seen as the first resource in the protection of children, the aged, and the ill. The family was also seen as a primary socializing force in Icarian society. French Icarian Community

By 1860, relations between the old and new generations of Icaria at Nauvoo were deteriorating. In response to this divisiveness, the community broke into different sects that were scattered across Missouri, Iowa, and California. The last Icarian settlement located in Iowa collapsed in 1898. After 50 years of survival, the Icarian community evaporated into the atmosphere of history. In 1969, Icarian survivor Lillian Snyder held a gathering for Icarian descendants at the newly formed Nauvoo State Park.    From this single meeting, a communal tradition of teaching and learning Icarian history was instituted. In 1977, the group formally organized itself through a constitution and several by-laws. From that point on, it became the central focus of the group to perpetuate the memory and spirit of the men, women, and children who established the society of Icaria. By 1984 the group widened and became known as the National Icarian Heritage Society and by 1990 the Icarian Living History Museum was officially opened to the public. To this very day, the museum is dedicated to preserving the French heritage in America. For more information on Icaria, check out the University Archives and Special Collections Communal Collection. There are many papers, pamphlets, and other materials that the curious researcher can find in this unique collection.

Plaque at the Icarian Cemetery

How the Federal Government Became “Uncle Sam”


The federal government is often referred to as, “Uncle Sam.” However, not many people know why, or from where this nickname stems.

During the War of 1812, a meat-packer from Troy, NY named Samuel Wilson supplied the U.S. Army with barrels of beef. Wilson was known around town as “Uncle Sam” and when he labeled the barrels with “U.S.” the soldiers assumed that’s what the initials stood for. It actually meant “United States,” and the ideas combined where Uncle Sam stood for the United States of America. A newspaper picked up on the story, and as word traveled, the term “Uncle Sam” eventually became synonymous with the federal government.

Decades later, a political cartoonist popularized the image of Uncle Sam— with the white beard, stars and stripes suit, and top hat. The same cartoonist, Thomas Nast (who was German) also created the modern image of Santa Claus, as well as the Democratic donkey and Republican elephant.

During WWI, the Uncle Sam image was greatly popularized when it was used with the slogan “I want you for the U.S. Army” for recruitment purposes. With over four million copies printed, this effort has been called the “most famous poster in the world.” Uncle Sam was officially adopted as a national symbol of the U.S. in 1950.

Troy, NY now calls itself, “The Home of Uncle Sam.”

This information is brought to you as a courtesy of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) via the blog.

A Life Without Harry Potter

Over the summer I found myself in a local eatery specializing in deli sandwiches, as my eyes slid down the menu above, the option “corned beef” caught my eye. This was not by virtue of appetite however, rather intuitively my mind had transported thousands of miles away to a freshly departed train making its way to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Ronald Bilius Weasley was the sixth child born to parents Arthur and Molly Weasley. Their children (seven in all) are marked rather similarly to the average bystander: fire-red hair, hand-me-down clothes, and a certain gumption that is the result of living so enthusiastically with so little. The features that separate the Weasley’s are less pronounced; for example, the second eldest, Charlie, has a particular fascination with dragons, twins Fred and George can regularly be seen testing one of their newest inventions on an unsuspecting victim, as for Ron, he hates corned beef.

As you very well may know, the Weasley’s are fictional characters created by author J.K. Rowling in the adored Harry Potter series, and although this miniscule detail regarding Ron’s food preferences is a rather absurd defining characteristic, it’s a distinction that, at least in my mind, has forever linked the salt-cured beef product with the freckle-faced friend of The Boy Who Lived.

Seven years after completing the series and my days continue to be sprinkled with tiny connections that suck me back into the world of magic, wonder, and awe I grew up in. Such an escape from the Muggle realm does not register as an annoyance, I am twenty-one years old and still welcome the Wizarding world with open arms.  My best friends were Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and the adventures we shared I will not soon forget.

I am writing this on behalf of the children who are currently not getting the chance to dive into the Harry Potter universe, an adversity ultimately robbing them of the million little connections throughout their lifetime. This harsh reality is being made possible through the efforts of various organizations and parent-affiliated groups. Their complaints about Harry Potter, along with thousands of other literary pieces, have caused the books to be stripped from libraries all over the Nation.

The intent behind such grievances is in many cases positive, often motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content, “offensive” language, or in the case of Harry Potter, the promotion of witchcraft. Although the preservation of a child’s innocence is something to be valued, the deprivation of that child’s intellectual freedom, and ultimately their childhood, is not. The responsibility of a child’s morality falls on the parents whom should be monitoring what their child is reading, not every child in America.

We are currently half way through Banned Books Week, a week dedicated to the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harm of censorship. Thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community, the majority of challenged books do not reach “banned” status.

The David L. Rice Library and I invite you to celebrate your intellectual freedom by giving life to the very characters who influenced the life you live today. Free the fiction and be part of the movement forward because, a life without Harry Potter is a life without magic.

The Curious Case of John Kohl

When combing through an archival collection, you’re bound to find numerous puzzling stories that over the course of history have left behind unanswered questions. Researchers cling to what a collection has to offer, and scrap for the secrets the collection has yet to reveal. The daunting task of framing numerous aged documents into one single history is like something out of Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby-Dick; the “white whale” is ever elusive and hard to capture. For Archives Librarian Jennifer Greene, who oversees the archival collection at David L. Rice Library on the campus of the University of Southern Indiana, there are many “white whales” waiting to be discovered and shared within her own collection. One such “white whale” that has often peaked Miss Greene’s curiosity is the character of John Kohl. Housed in the seventy square foot preservation room at University Archives and Special Collections is the MSS 58 – John Kohl collection. The collection consists of American Civil War documents and legal documents associated with Mr. John Kohl of Evansville, Indiana. As is the case with most archival collections, the John Kohl collection leaves its viewers guessing in many areas. Who was John Kohl and what was his story are questions of particular interest to the viewer of this collection.

John Kohl was born in Germany in 1849 and immigrated to the United States at some point during his young life; no documents within the MSS 58 – John Kohl collection give a specific date for Kohl’s departure to America. Kohl must have made his way to the United States by 1864, because it was at this time when he enrolled in the 136th Regiment of the Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Lying about his age, Kohl enlisted at the age of 15 to fight for the Union cause in the American Civil War on April 30th, 1864. Lasting 100 days, Kohl’s enlistment took him south to Tennessee and Alabama where he served alongside his fellow volunteers as a railroad guard. Many circumstances surrounding Kohl’s enlistment draw possible red flags for researchers. In particular, researchers may question why an underage German immigrant would feel compelled to partake in the Union cause. Perhaps he wanted to “see the elephant,” but it makes for a much better story to think that Kohl may have been paid off to volunteer in someone else’s stay. In reality, the actual circumstances surrounding Kohl’s voluntary service have likely been lost to history in the 150 years that have passed since his enlistment.

Upon the completion of his 100 day enlistment and discharge from the 136th Regiment of the Indiana Volunteer Infantry on September 2nd, 1864 MSS 58 - John Kohl 4, Kohl began to make a life for himself in the city of Evansville, Indiana. Not much is known about Kohl between 1864 and the turn of the twentieth century other than a mention of his arrest in the Evansville Daily Courier for causing a scene at a private party on July 6th, 1871. The article also mentions that Kohl had previously been forced to pay fines to the Record’s Court for breaking lamps on Franklin Street Bridge in downtown Evansville, Indiana. An 1876 issue of the Evansville Daily Courier also reported that Kohl obtained a liquor license for the purposes of sale. What researchers can take away from Kohl’s first thirty-six years after the completion of his military service is that Kohl likely lived somewhat of a fast lifestyle centered around the possible consumption and sale of alcohol. Despite his status as a German immigrant, Kohl began receiving a pension for his military service in 1897 MSS 58 - John Kohl 5. Kohl continued to receive his pension as a non-American citizen for twenty years. With his pension bankrolling his enterprises, Kohl became what some would call an entrepreneur through investments in stock with the Alice of Old Mining Company MSS 58 - John Kohl 3, and through buying and selling real estate in the Evansville area MSS 58 - John Kohl 2. Kohl may have also sold alcohol on the side; that is until he failed to complete an application to renew his liquor license in 1910. Of course, in what researchers could hypothesize to be true John Kohl fashion, Kohl could have continued the sale of alcohol without a renewed license; this was early 20th Century America after all. On top of his entrepreneurial ventures, Kohl worked as a stationary engineer MSS 58 - John Kohl 1.

Near the end of his life, John Kohl’s story underwent one final interesting plot twist. According to a 1917 edition of the Evansville Courier, Kohl applied to become a naturalized citizen in 1917. After sixty-eight years German citizenship, Kohl officially renounced his status as a German citizen and formally became a citizen of the United States. Once again, this portion of the John Kohl story draws possible red flags for researchers. Why after living in the United Sates for at least fifty-three years did Kohl finally decide to become an American citizen at the age of sixty-eight? One possible theory is that the United States government could have threatened to cut off Kohl’s pension unless he formally became an American citizen. At the age of sixty-eight, it’s fair to assume that Kohl likely wasn’t working and may have depended on the pension for financial security. An even more interesting theory could be that Kohl felt pressure to renounce his German citizenship and become an American citizen in 1917 as the United States made preparations to enter into World War I against Germany. After all, Kohl’s application for citizenship garnered the attention of the Evansville Courier. Perhaps the courier was playing of American resentment against Germany and the rest of the Central Powers of World War I. Another theory, of course, is that Kohl could have simply wanted to become an American citizen and that was all the motivation he needed. Similar to his Civil War enlistment, the actual circumstances surrounding Kohl’s application for United States citizenship have likely been lost to history. After two years of waiting through the application process, Kohl became a naturalized citizen of the United States on June 4th, 1919 at the age of 71 MSS 58 - John Kohl 6. Kohl lived the remainder of his life, which lasted only two more years, as an American until his death on February 14th, 1922.

The MSS 58 – John Kohl collection at University Archives and Special Collections on the Campus of the University of Southern Indiana provides an excellent example of the secrets and mysteries within archival collections that await researchers. As is true of most archival collections, the whole story of John Kohl and his experiences as a German immigrant, turned American Civil War volunteer, turned fast life entrepreneur, turned aging American citizen may never be known. As historians, it is our job to fill in the gaps left behind with what little information is provided to us.