#ThrowbackThursday: USI’s First Graduating Class

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

For some, graduation is a symbol of the end of the semester and a much-needed break; however, for others, it is the beginning of the rest of their lives. All of their hard work accumulates to this moment: walking across a stage facing in front of your fellow graduates and receiving recognition of your monumental achievement.

UP 01424: Grand Marshall Frank Stanonis and students at graduation ceremony, 1972. (Credit: University Archives & Special Collections)

Grand Marshall Frank Stanonis and students at graduation ceremony, 1972. (Credit: University Archives & Special Collections)

At the University of Southern Indiana, our first graduating class occurred in 1971. Beginning as a satellite campus for Indiana State University in 1965, USI started at the Centennial School House, near the Mead Johnson company. After five years at the Centennial School, ISUE relocated to the university’s current location on the far-west side of Evansville; however, the first graduating class at ISUE walked in 1971 with a one hundred fifty-one candidates (University of Southern Indiana, 2017). The graduates created the Alumni Association and “… has gone to over 38,000 members” (USI Web Services, 2017).

To all of the 2017 graduates, Rice Library congratulates you and wishes you well on your future endeavors.

The video of the 1971 Commencement at Indiana State University-Evansville is available through the University of Southern Indiana’s YouTube channel.


University of Southern Indiana. (2017). USI 1965 Timeline. Retrieved April 27, 2017, from http://www.usi.edu/1965/timeline.asp

USI Web Services. (2017). Graduate Student Information. Retrieved April 27, 2017, from http://www.usi.edu/commencement/2017-fall-commencement/graduate-student-information/

The New England Connection: Isaac Lyon & John Quincy Adams

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

Isaac S. Lyon, Esqr. Parsippany, Morris County, New Jersey Washington 21, March 1831 Sir, In compliance with the request contained in your letter of the 15th inst. I take pleasure in enclosing herewith a pamphlet copy of the Address, delivered by me in this City on the 4th of July 1821, and of which I request your acceptance. I am respectfully your fellow Citizen and Servant, J.Q. AdamsLocated in the Isaac Lyon collection (MSS 068) holds a correspondence written by a prominent American politician in 1831. Who? It was John Quincy Adams, son of former President John Adams. He served as a U.S. Senator (1803-1808), Secretary of State (1817-1825), President of the United States (1825-1829), and House Representative (1831-1848) (Bemis, 2012).

There is little information over the receiver of Adams’ letter, Isaac Lyon. According to the New Jersey Historical Society (2005), Isaac Lyon was a blacksmith in Morris County, New Jersey. Lyon requested a copy of Adams’ address during his tenure as Secretary of State in July 4, 1821 in Parsippany, located in northern New Jersey. Letter correspondence has improved immensely along with the ability to “speak” with others through social media.

J.Q. Adams: from the original painting by Chappel in the possession of the publishers. Johnson, Fry, and Company. Publishers, New York.


Bemis, S. F. (2012, October 22). John Quincy Adams. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Quincy-Adams

New Jersey Historical Society. (2005). Guide to the Phineas Horton (fl. 1809-1835), Merchant Record Books 1802-1852. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from http://www.jerseyhistory.org/findingaiddirnb.php?dir=EAD%2Ffaid0500&aid=mg0112

Sir Richard Owen: Going to the Dinosaurs

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

Caricature of Sir Richard Owen. The illustrator and date are unknown.

Caricature of Sir Richard Owen, n.d. (Illustrator: Unknown)

Born on July 20, 1804, Owen became a world-renowned English paleontologist and anatomist. He became the first individual to classifying dinosaurs as “Dinosauria” in 1842 and strongly opposed Charles Darwin’s the theory of evolution. Later in his career, Owen acknowledged Darwin’s theory but still rejected the theory (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010). Owen received the Copley Award in 1851 because “On account of his important discoveries in comparative anatomy and paleontology, contained in the Philosophical Transactions and numerous other works” (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2016). He wrote several books over fossils and he served as the superintendent of the National History Museum in London (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010). Under his leadership, he moved to the National History Museum to its current location because of the lack of space for their growing collections in 1881 (“History and Architecture,” n.d.). Owen died on December 18, 1892 in London, England (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010).

This caricature of Sir Richard Owen is located in the “Miscellaneous MSS Materials”.


The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (2010, January 27). Sir Richard Owen. Retrieved April 21, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Richard-Owen
The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (2016, June 21). Copley Medal. Retrieved April 21, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Copley-Medal

History and architecture. (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2017, from http://www.nhm.ac.uk/about-us/history-and-architecture.html

Rudyard Kipling: The Power of Words

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

Collected Verse of Rudyard Kipling with Illustrations by W. Heath Robinson. The book was published in 1910.

Front Cover of “Collected Verse of Rudyard Kipling”, 1910.

Collected Verse was published in 1910 by British author and poet, Rudyard Kipling. This book is a collection of his poetry. He was born in Bombay, British Raj, present-day Mumbai, India, on December 30, 1865 (Stewart, 2017). He became one of the world’s most beloved author and poet.

Portrait of Rudyard Kipling in 1915 by John Palmer.

Rudyard Kipling, 1915.

In 1907, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming the first English author to receive the award (The Nobel Foundation, n.d.). This book is a collection of his poetry. Kipling’s best-known novels are The Jungle Book (1894) and Kim (1901); meanwhile, some of his famous poems were Mandalay (1898), If – (1910) and many more (“Rudyard Kipling,” n.d.). Kipling passed away on January 18, 1936 in London, England (Stewart, 2017).


Page 148. Collected Verse “Ha’ done! Ha’ done!” said the Colonel’s son. “Put up the steel at your sides! Last night ye had struck at a Border thief – tonight ‘t is a man of the Guides!” Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgement Seat; but there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, when two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth! The Last Suttee 1889 Not many years ago, a King died in one of the Rajpoot States. His wives, disregarding the orders of the English against Suttee, would have broken out of the palace and burned themselves with the corpse had not the gates been barred. But one of them, disguised as the King’s favorite dancing-girl, passed through the line of guards and reached the pyre. There, her courage failing, she prayed her cousin, a baron of the court, to kill her. This he did not knowing who she was. Udai Chand lay sick to death in his hold by Gungra hill. All night we heard the death-gongs ring for the soul of the dying Rajpoot King. All night beat up from the women’s wing a cry that we could not still. Rudyard Kipling. Page 149 All night the barons came and went, the Lords of the Outer Guard: all night the cressets glimmered pale on Ulwar sabre and Tonk jezial, Mewar headstall and Marwar mail that clinked in the palace yeard. In the Golden Room on the palace roof all night he fought for air: and there were sobbings behing the screen, rustly and whisper of women unseen, and the hungry eyes of the Boondi Queen on the death she might not share. He passed at dawn – the death0fire leaped from right to river-head, from the Malwa plains to the Abu scars: and wail upon wail went up to the stars behind the grim zenana-bars, when they knew that the King was dead. The dumb priest knelt to tie his mouth and robe him for the pyre. The Boondi Queen beneath us cried: “See, now, that we die as our mothers died in the bridal-bed by our master’s side! Out, women! – to the fire!” We drove the great gates home apace: white hands were on the sill: but ere the rush of the unseen feet had reached the turn to the open street, the bars shot down, the guard-drum beat – we held the dovecot still.

The book is available for viewing and is located in the University Archives & Special Collections during normal business hours.





Nobel Foundation. (n.d.). Rudyard Kipling – Biographical. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1907/kipling-bio.html

Rudyard Kipling. (n.d.). Retrieved April 17, 2017, from https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/rudyard-kipling

Stewart, J. I. (2017, January 30). Rudyard Kipling. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Rudyard-Kipling

Oh, Baby! Evansville Connection to a Children’s Nursing Bottle

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

Right hand side view of a purple Bristol nursing bottle.

Left hand side view of Bristol nursing bottle, circa 1790’s. (Credit: James Wethington)

This is a rare Bristol bird-shaped nursing bottle donated by the Mead Johnson Company. It is purple glass with gold decorations on the outside. The glass is Venetian-styled glass, circa 1790. According to the information from Mead Johnson, Levin August Gottlieb (Theophil) von Benningsen, or Count Benningsen, purchased this piece in England. There is no information on how Mead Johnson acquired the nursing bottle.


Portrait of Lord Benningsen by George Dawe. The portrait is located in the Military Gallery of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. The date is unknown.

Portrait of Lord Benningsen. This is located in the Military Gallery of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. (Credit: George Dawe, n.d.)

Benningsen was born in the Duchy of Brunswick, modern-day Germany, on February 10, 1745. Benningsen served in the Hanoverian Army, until 1764, and aligned himself with the Russian Army from 1773 to 1818. In the Russian Army, he started as a field officer from 1773 to 1787 until his promotion to colonel in 1787 and general in 1802. His crowning achievement was fighting in numerous wars against Napoleonic France in the War of the Third Coalition (1805-1806) and Sixth Coalition (1812-1814). He fought two battles against Napoleon: Battle of Eylau (1807) and Battle of Friedland (1807); however, Benningsen was not able to defeat Napoleon. He garnered a few victories in the War of the Sixth Coalition at the Battle of Borodino (1812) and Battle of Leizpig (1813). Benningsen retired in 1818 until his death on December 3rd, 1826 (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 1998a).

Venetian glass has endured the test of time. Beginning in Venice, Italy in the 13th Century, it was an extremely popular glassware style. How? It was because of the technique used and addition to color and enamel. By the 19th Century, production declined and they reproduced past glassware designs (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 1998b).


The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (1998, July 20). Leonty Leontyevich, count von Bennigsen. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Leonty-Leontyevich-Graf-von-Bennigsen

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (1998, July 20). Venetian glass. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/art/Venetian-glass

Chat with Jonestown Survivor, Laura Johnston Kohl

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

On April 10, over three hundred individuals came to Carter Hall and listened to the experiences of a strong and incredible woman: Laura Johnston Kohl. She is a survivor from the Jonestown massacre in 1978. Here is a synopsis of my interview with Laura.

Photograph of Jonestown Survivor, Laura Johnston Kohl from 2016.

Laura Johnston Kohl, 2016.

JW: Laura, when were you involved with Peoples Temple?

LJK: From March 1970 to November 1978.

JW: When did you move down to Guyana?

LJK: March 1977.

JW: How old were you when you joined Peoples Temple and when you left Jonestown?

LJK: I joined the Peoples Temple when I was 22 and 31, when I left Jonestown.

JW: In your talk last night, you spoke about your positions at Georgetown and Jonestown. Can you explain what those positions were?

LJK: My main job was a procurement agent in Georgetown, the capital of Guyana. I would buy food and other materials needed at Jonestown. When I was at Jonestown, I served as an agricultural retrieval team leader.

High school photograph of Laura Johnston Kohl, n.d.

High School photograph of Laura Johnston Kohl, n.d.

JW: How many Jonestown survivors are there currently from Guyana?

LJK: There were 87 survivors when we left Guyana; however, I believe there are only 45 today.

JW: Do you and the other survivors share similar experiences from Jonestown?

LJK: No, we do not. Our experiences are completely different because we had different interactions and positions at Jonestown.

JW: One final question, you mentioned last night you love receiving emails from people. You gave your email. Can you repeat your email for our readers?

LJK: Yes. It is ljohnstonkohl@gmail.

JW: Thank you Laura for your time and your talk last night. It was very informative and eye opening.

LJK: You are welcome and thank you for asking. I hope I can return to USI for another talk soon.

Remaining survivors from Jonestown for the 38th anniversary in 2016. The tombstone reads, "In memory of the victims of the Jonestown Massacre. November 18, 1978. Jonestown, Guyana. Guyana Emergency Relief Committee".

Remaining Jonestown survivors at the 38th anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre (2016).

If you are interested in learning more about Laura and her experience, feel free to email Laura. She has published a book, Jonestown Survivor: An Insider’s Look, and a copy is available at Rice Library.

Follow the Leader: Jonestown

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

The University of Southern Indiana proudly presents: Jonestown Survivor, speaker, and author: Laura Johnston Kohl. Hear Kohl reflect on her experience and how she survived while 913 others perished. "Jonestown survivor - evolution of People's Temple in the 1960's and 1970's". Monday, April 10, 2017, at 6:30 PM, on USI Campus in Carter Hall in the University Center West. This is free and open to the public. More information at USI.edu.In part two of our series, “Follow the Leader: Jim Jones and Jonestown”, we are going to examine what occurred at Jonestown and the repercussion from the event in American history.

As reminder, Laura Johnston Kohl is going to speak this evening at 6:30 PM in Carter Hall. This is a free event!

Upon various allegations and controversies surrounding Jim Jones, he and his followers’ left San Francisco in the 1970’s. They moved to Guyana in South America to create their agricultural utopia, Jonestown. The reason they moved to Guyana was that it was a former British colony and was the only South American country who spoke English. (History.com Staff, 2010).

Map of Jonestown in Guyana

Source: San Diego State University: Alternative Considerations of Jonestown & Peoples Temple

Jonestown was situated on the Orinoco River Basin in Western Guyana. They had close to four thousand acres of land to lease under the rule to “cultivate and beneficially occupy” the land. Due to their location, they were self-sustaining because of the abundance of fruit, vegetables, and livestock (San Diego State University, 2014). By 1977, there were over one thousand members living in Jonestown. The members were under strict rules and regulations by Jones. According to History.com (2010), the members were subjected to the following:

  • Long workdays.
  • They could not question or undermine Jones’ authority (or face punishment).
  • Seizure of personal belongings (i.e. – passport, medication, etc.).
  • Censorship of personal correspondences and phone calls.
  • Mandatory late-evening meetings.

Jones started having mental health issues and formed an addiction to drugs. Jones’ mannerisms started to change: he built himself a throne and considered himself on an equal level to Vladimir Lenin, former leader of the Soviet Union, and Jesus Christ, and had members train for mock suicide drills (History.com Staff, 2010).

Representative Leo Ryan (Democrat - California)

Rep. Leo Ryan (Photograph taken from the Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives)

Back in the United States, there was an interest in what was occurring in Jonestown. United States Representative, Leo Ryan, of California, received word some of his constituents that their family members were “… being held against their will at Jonestown and decided to go there to investigate” (History.com Staff, 2010). Ryan travelled to Jonestown, Guyana in November 1978 and visited the facility on the 17th. On November 18, as Ryan was leaving, other Jonestown members wanted to escape; however, some of Jones’ members followed Ryan and the other members to an airstrip in Port Kaituma and attacked them, leaving Ryan and eighteen others dead (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2016).

Once Jones received word about the attack on Representative Ryan, he ordered the members to commit suicide. How? They handed out cyanide-laced drinks; however, that was only for the adults. Babies and children were the first victims: adult members gave them the deadly drink. The numbers varies based on the sources but there were over nine hundred members perished. Jim Jones did not die from cyanide poisoning: he committed suicide (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2016).

Bodies of members of the Peoples Temple who died after their leader Jim Jones ordered them to drink a cyanide-laced beverage. The vat that contained the poison is in the foreground. This photograph was located on britannica.com in "Jonestown Massacre".

Jonestown Massacre (1978). Photographer: Frank Johnston (AP)

There were less than one hundred survivors from Jonestown, including Laura Johnston Kohl. After the massacre, the Peoples Temple disbanded and went broke; meanwhile, Jonestown was abandoned (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2016). Larry Layton was the only individual charged from the Jonestown Massacre. In Guyana, he was acquitted of murder; however, in the United States, he was tried and convicted of conspiracy of murder on Rep. Leo Ryan and served eighteen years in prison (San Diego State University, 2013)

In the end, “Jonestown was the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster” until the September 11 Attacks in 2001 (Rapaport, 2003).



The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (2016, April 14). Jonestown massacre. Retrieved April 6, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/event/Jonestown-massacre

History.com Staff. (2010). Jonestown. Retrieved April 7, 2017, from http://www.history.com/topics/jonestown

Rapaport, R. (2003, November 16). Jonestown and City Hall slayings eerily linked in time and memory / Both events continue to haunt city a quarter century later. Retrieved April 6, 2017, from http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/Jonestown-and-City-Hall-slayings-eerily-linked-in-2548703.php

San Diego State University. (2014, December 23). FAQ: Where exactly was Jonestown? Retrieved April 7, 2017, from http://jonestown.sdsu.edu

San Diego State University. (2013, October 6). FAQ: Were any people prosecuted for their roles in what happened on November 18, 1978? Retrieved April 10, 2017, from http://jonestown.sdsu.edu