The World Wars: 1914-1918; 1939-1945

1914 was the beginning of World War I, known as “The Great War” and “The War to End All Wars”.  World War I started over the assassination of the Austrian-Hungarian throne heir, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, by a group of Bosnian Serbs.  The assassination revealed secret alliances throughout Europe and the continent was thrown into chaos! With the major Allies forces of England, France, Russia, the United States, and their allies against the Central Powers of Austria-Hungary, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire. The war lasted until an armistice was signed on November 11th, 1918; however, the peace did not lasted.

Two decades later, the Second World War brought Europe and the rest of the world into a global war in 1939 because of Germany’s invasion of Poland. With the Allies of England, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States against the Axis Powers of Germany, Japan, and Italy. World War II ended in two periods overall in 1945: Germany unconditionally surrendered May 1945, known as V-E Day, and Japan surrendered August 1945, known as V-J Day.

The University Archives and Special Collections here at the University of Southern Indiana has several collections relating to the First and Second World Wars.  Roy Kennedy (MSS 256) is the only collection pertaining to World War I.  His collection has various photographs, postcards, and a Prussian/German army helmet. The photographs showed the conditions of the battlefields, German trenches, and Roy Kennedy in uniform.  Kennedy’s collection was donated by his daughter, Barbara Blevins, wife of former Dean of Liberal Arts, Jim Blevins.


The University Archives has multiple collections pertaining to World War II by several World War II veterans.  Kenneth McCutchan (MSS 004), resident of Vanderburgh County, served in the World War II in the Army Corps of Engineers.  His travels were in Europe and North Africa.  He donated his three war journals, a couple hundred correspondences, and a couple hundred photographs of his travels and time with the US Army.  His journals and personal correspondences gives insight into what was going on in McCutchan’s service: for example, he wrote what the weather was like or he describe what he had done that day.  On some occasions, he attached miniature photographs with captions and describe was that particular location.  His personal photographs illustrate his time in boot camp and travels in Europe and North Africa.

World War II veteran, Owen Hamilton (MSS 116), gave over a hundred personal correspondences to the University Archives.  His correspondences date from 1943 and 1945 and the majority of his letters were written to his sister, June.  In one of his letters, censors cut a square in the letter and removed it the word from his letter back home.  During the war, censors were reading the soldiers’ letters and making sure they didn’t give too much information about the war efforts.


Photographs are worth a thousand words and correspondences are gateways to the past; however, there are more ways to experience history than looking at photographs and letters.  In the Dorothy Zehner (MSS 027) and Philip Thomas (MSS 028) collections, they have World War II ration booklets.  William Sonntag (MSS 286) was close to sixty war bond posters from World War II.  Archives recently received multiple World War II uniforms: Leonard Schlamp’s (MSS 157) US Navy uniform and caps, Dr. Marlene Shaw’s (MSS 301) father’s US Army jacket and hat, and Joel Matterly’s (MSS 254) father’s navy uniform.  Through all of these pieces of history, there is a story behind all of them.  Veteran’s Day is coming soon November 11th: let us remember our freedom came at a price.

Navy_Suit          IMG_1166           Shaw_WWII_Jacket

W.C. Bussing Autograph Collection

W.C. Bussing was born in November 8, 1889 in Evansville, Indiana.  He began his career in the business as a newspaper carrier in high school for the Evansville Press. Afterwards, he became a salesman for the Evansville Press.  In 1916 until 1918, Bussing was the advertising manager with the Evansville Press.  In 1918, Bussing became the business manager for the Evansville Press until 1926; however, he left for a short time and returned as business manager from 1934 to 1936. In 1939, he helped to create the Evansville Printing Corporation, which bought together the Evansville Press and Evansville Courier.  He stayed in the newspaper business until 1976.  As Bussing continued to grow in prominence in Evansville, he became a civic leader in various ways: a trustee at the University of Evansville and St. Meinrad Seminary, and chairman of the advertising board with Little Sisters of the Poor.  Bussing died in January 23, 1977.


Bussing’s collection has a wide variety of materials: scrapbooks, photographs, letters of correspondence, account ledgers, annual reports from the Evansville Press, and autographs. Bussing’s autographs come from prominent athletes, advocates, actors, and former government officials in history; yet, they are still spoken about today! Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Feller, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Johnny Weissmuller, Helen Keller, and J. Edgar Hoover … just to name a few!

Baseball hall of famers Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig could be considered two of the most recognizable baseball players in the Major League Baseball. They played together for the New York Yankees. As teammates, they were World Series champions in 1927, 1928, and 1932. They held various records in different categories and some of their records remain today. In 1999, they were selected by the fans through online voting to be on the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, Ruth as outfielder and Gehrig as first baseman.

Babe Ruth Signature              Lou Gehrig Signature

As Ruth and Gehrig’s careers were coming to an end by the 1930’s, Bob Feller, Hall of Fame pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, was beginning his career. He was in Cleveland from 1936-1941 and 1945-1956. He left baseball from 1941 to 1945 in order to serve in the World War II in the United States Navy. While playing for Cleveland, he won a World Series title in 1948. He maintains three records for the Indians in pitching strikeouts in a single-season, career wins, and career strikeout.

Bob Feller Signature

In the world of boxing, Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney became boxing legends in their two fights against each other. They fought in 1926 and 1927. Their first fight occurred in Philadelphia on September 23rd, 1926. Dempsey was the reigning World Heavyweight Boxing Champion and had been champion since 1919. Their fight went ten rounds: Tunney won by decision and the title. Dempsey received a rematch and their second fight occurred in Chicago at Soldier Field on September 22nd, 1927. Like their last match, Tunney would prevail in ten rounds by decision over Dempsey. This was Dempsey’s last match and his record was 66-6-11; however, Tunney fought one more match in 1928 and retired with a record of 65-1-1.

Jack Dempsey Signature              Gene Tunney Signature

As we keep “swimming” through history, Johnny Weissmuller was a world-class swimmer turned Hollywood actor. Weissmuller competed in the 1924 and 1928 Summer Olympics. He won three gold medals in 100m freestyle, 400m freestyle, and 4x200m freestyle relay swimming events and a bronze medal in water polo in 1924; in 1928, he won in two more gold medals in the 100m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay swimming events. He would go onto Hollywood and be well-known for playing Tarzan from 1932 to 1948 in twelve films. He continued his movie career until 1976.

Johnny Weissmueller Signature

Outside of sports, Bussing had letters from historical figures in United States history, like Helen Keller and J. Edger Hoover. Keller was well-known for being deaf and blind from a young age. She attended the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Massachusetts in 1888, the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in 1894, Cambridge School for Young Ladies in 1896, and Radcliffe College in 1900: she graduated in 1904 cum laude Bachelor of Arts. She became an author and political advocate for women’s suffrage, labor rights, and socialism.

Helen Keller Letter

J. Edgar Hoover is well-known as the first director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for almost thirty-seven years; however, prior to the FBI, he was director of the Bureau of Investigation (BOI) for over eleven years.  He began creating the FBI has a crime-fighting agency, which lead to modernizing police technology with fingerprint files and forensic laboratories. He served under six presidents, from Franklin Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson.

J_Edgar Hoover Letter

The Traveling Archives

Have you always wanted to learn more about Rice Library’s Archival Collections? Maybe you were too afraid to come to IMG_5260the archives, maybe you weren’t sure what you wanted to see. The good news is that our Archives and Reference Librarian, Jennifer Greene, is giving two presentations next week about collections! Stop by and see these amazing collections and learn more about USI and Evansville History!

Fifty Years of Knowledge for Life

Jennifer Greene, Archives & Reference Librarian University of Southern Indiana will talk about the history and impact of USI on the community

When: May 19, 6:30pm-8:00pm
Where: David L. Rice Library, Lab A
Sponsored by: Southwestern Indiana Historical Society

100 Years of Vintage Clothing


Bizarre Books

The rolling snowball of knowledge has gradually accumulated weight during society’s educational, industrial, and technological rise. The dark corners of the unexplored have been blasted with light; every nook, cranny, crevice, and dust mite dismembered, analyzed, and put back together with the haste of perpetual possibility. The ideas behind literature are no different: Every genre has been explored and exploited to its limit. The most ludicrous of topics have been best-sellers; movies have been written and produced detailing the most insignificant events in human history. Make no mistake, the absurd is not being equated to the dull; rather the opposite. Our entertainment surpasses the boundaries of reality once society begins scraping the bottom of the barrel for ideas. Flirting with the edges to enter a zone of chaotic ingenuity, infinity is put on trial.

My constant pursuit of new information mixes an enticing cocktail. Liquid curiosity blends with the compelling notion that society’s best ideas spawn from desperation. With my first sip, I dive into the bizarre books of the world, greatly anticipating the envelopment of the unusual and the self-affirmation that comes from contrasting crazy.

Titles are the easy part. The Internet embraces weird, celebrating the absurd with vigor. My difficulty rests in purpose. A publication exists, but why? Books like “Yoga for Equestrians: A new path for achieving union with the horse,” and “Extreme Ironing,” garnered more confusion than satisfaction.

bizarre bizarre2

It didn’t compute. I have taken various marketing courses here at USI and I know there’s an intense and thorough process that a product goes through before it is released to the public, a safety net of sorts to ensure no money will be wasted. The biggest aspect marketers look for is desire, is there a need for the product? Is there an audience that is willing to spend money on this product? The fact that these books exist means yes, there is a need and there is an audience, or at least there was.

This revelation frightened me. Is there a gang of yoga-fanatics out there contorting their body into shapes along the spine of a confused horse? Are there people who, instead of jumping off airplanes, climbing mountains, or running marathons, are instead getting their kicks from ironing atop bridges? Or, in the case of the David Rice Library’s very own “Knitting with Dog Hair,” are there those who gradually horde their pet’s hair, anticipating the moment when they have enough fibers to knit a sock?


The question remains, what are we to do with these books? Perhaps categorize the literature as nothing more than detailed crazy, an irrelevant anomaly that obtrusively pushed its way into society only to live a shelved life. Doing so would be a severe injustice, however. Their existence as a physical representation of a demographical fad that came and went, and now viewed as a comical artifact, is surely cause for a generational analysis. Compiling the literature of the unusual would represent a portrait of human interest: A history. The books are a portrayal of who we are today, a testament to the past crazy that has shaped the current crazy.

Above all, it is the imaginative and perseverant individual behind the literature that I am most appreciative of, the person who shows that the bottom of the barrel is not a limitation, but a starting point for a new story.


What was once an irritating suspicion is now a raging wind that propels the hand of death forward, latching onto the Screagle with a firm, relentless grip. I am talking about finals! Yes, the season we all dread, but simultaneously adore for its reward, approaches with a vengeance. The library is here to help you prepare (you know this), but we are also here to help soften the inevitable blow that comes around mid-finals week once the reality of the situation really sets in.

Below is advice from library staff and fellow Screagles, compiled for your benefit. Let the instruction seep into your soul, re-figure your brain, and command your spirit, so when the time comes for dread to knock on sanity’s door, you will not be perturbed.

You got this Finals Season, Screagles!!

Ashley Blinstrub

-“Take frequent ‘clear your head’ breaks.”

-“If you have to listen to music, choose classical music!”

Joanne Artz

– “Study hard, but in the hours leading up to the test, relax your brain with a movie or music!”

 Phil Orr

– “Remember this too shall pass.”

Alyssa Smith

-“Calm the crap down.”

Jack Wallace

-“Ask Professor McGonagall for a Time Turner.”

Katie Loehrlein

-“Allow yourself to take breaks.”

Kyla McRoberts

-‘Start studying early so finals aren’t the worst week of your life. For memory, I make up weird songs, rhymes, or acronyms to help me.”

Marna Hostetler

– “My advice – both for finals and for those times when life seems too much – is:  One day at a time.”

Peter Whiting

-“Make sure you get adequate sleep, eat well, get exercise and enjoy short breaks with friends!”

~Advice for after graduation~

-“Life is a banquet, so take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way!”

Emily Hansen

-“Just getting a FULL night’s sleep works wonders. I know everyone thinks that you need to stay up all night to study for finals to get a good grade, but I’ve realized in my three years here that if I studied wisely and got a decent night’s sleep, I always come out with a better grade than I did cramming last minute and staying up all night on coffee binges.”

Tanner Maurer

-“Study in groups, you know that you forgot something throughout the year.”

Jennifer Greene

– “Eat fruits and vegetable for instant energy and strength.”

The Realities of Social Media

With one semester as the Rice Library’s social media intern under my belt, I think it necessary to divulge what I have learned.

Books are cool, okay?

As a youth I enjoyed books but the obsession whittled away quickly upon entering High School. Working at the library the last few months reignited that flame. I have spent hours wandering through the aisles, an act that tempted my curiosity to no end. It became impossible to walk past books holding the mysteries of foreign lands, the conspiracies of political dynasties, the magic of poetic rhythm, and NOT pick them up. I am very thankful to the library for pulling me back into the world of information; where words from a computer screen plant themselves rather poorly inside my brain, the literature from a book is deeply rooted, ready for plucking at a moment’s notice.

I am also thankful for the humbling qualities of the library. I was embarrassingly unaware of the world until I was in a position to witness the multitude of its subjects: thousands of books detailing material that had remained foreign to me all my life. Although I do not confess to have gained a perceptive knowledge of every subject that inhabits our library, I can declare that I am at least aware.


My preconceived notions about working in a library had not come from research, and had no factual support whatsoever. I had plucked scenes from movies and television programs, children’s books, and those awful motivational posters that teachers buy. These portray the librarian as a tight-bunned, bony-fingered prude that loses her cool at the slightest raise of voice. Taking that information, I molded my idea of what a 21st century librarian is. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As shocking as it may seem, a librarian’s primary job is not re-shelving books. It is a job that includes a multitude of duties, ranging from teaching instructional classes to literally everything else. They have a working knowledge on every resource the library has to offer, armed to aid any student that approaches with inquiry. Also librarians are an extremely cordial people, and most don’t even wear glasses… take THAT stereotypes.

Another element I found rather surprising is the amount of resources available to the student at the Rice Library. This wouldn’t have been as much as a shock had I not already been a student here for two years. Photoshop, movies, music, a literal wall of magazines, interlibrary loan, charging stations, iPad, and the list goes on and on. After working here for a couple of weeks I mourned the loss of my perceptive ability, for how could I possibly have attended this university for two years and been so blind to the resources so clearly available?

Coffee + Sanity

In third grade my class went on field-trip to the Indianapolis Zoo. The details of that trip elude me except for the following: I had dropped my peanut butter sandwich on the sidewalk of bird-dropping hell and proceeded to engulf the entire thing, and Flamingos are pink from the vast amount of shrimp they consume. The idea that a diet can affect one’s body color was evidently the shock of the century, for I implanted that fact deep into my consciousness. I still think about that today, whenever I am drinking coffee. Waking up at seven every day is a routine that had two years (freshman +sophomore) to disentangle itself from my being. Coffee smoothed the transition, and I continue to drink it because it is the only thing keeping me together at this point. I have yet to notice any change in my body’s color, but I will keep you updated if the vast amount of brown coffee beans I absorb daily initiates any effect to my complexion.


I have noticed a few patterns whilst dabbling in the social media world that I find a bit interesting. First off, the student body LOVES the 1960s/70s time period, specifically the hippie culture associated with the era. Any time I post a throwback to that period, the response is enormous. For example, a recent picture I posted depicted the Bull Island Music festival, which took place around the Evansville area in 1969 and in no time at all the picture, was retweeted nearly 20 times and favorited even more than that.

I have also been pleasantly surprised by the lack of “grammar Nazis,” as they have come to be called. Although I am an English major, I despise grammar; I respect its effort, but hate its binding qualities. Make no mistake; I think in the most grammatically correct sentences and phrases, but my brain works faster than my fingers do, leading to errors in my work. Luckily, I have yet to have a big slip up, only a few minor faults that librarians Joanne or Ashley, in their infinite wisdom, have quickly corrected, saving me from impending backlash.

Finally, I have found that USI students have a weird obsession with Dave Coulier. Early on in the Fall semester, I edited, rather poorly I might add, a photo to include Full House actor Dave Coulier strolling through the hallways of the library. My goal was to show people that the library has a sense of humor, but what I took as humor, others took as fact. They saw this picture of a 90s Dave Coulier roughly cropped into the Rice Library and lost their cool. People were demanding Dave, coming to the library full of excitement and childhood glee, only to have their spirit broken when informed the reality. I apologize to the multitude of students whose dreams were crushed that autumn afternoon, as well as to the faculty who had to witness the life drain from the hopefuls’ eye’s as they broke the news.

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! :)