Happy Birthday, America! Remembering America’s Bicentennial

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

Red, White, and Blue Logo of the American Revolution Bicentennial, 1776-1976. Credit: Wikipedia

Logo of the American Revolution Bicentennial, 1976. Credit: Wikipedia

This year, America celebrates her 241st birthday: that is quite an accomplishment; however, just like milestone birthday, people go all out to celebrate. Similar things happened for America’s 200th, or Bicentennial, in 1976. Today, let us get ready to travel back in time to 1976 and compare the times.

American Revolution Bicentennial Commission (1966-1973) and American Revolution Bicentennial Commission (1973-1977) first planned the American Bicentennial. The commissions of both organizations were to develop and plan various events through 1976 to honor the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence (National Archives, 2016). Throughout the United States, various events occurred such as a Bicentennial Wagon Train (Blaine, Washington to Valley Forge, PA), Operation Sail, numerous state visits from Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, numerous major league sporting events, and many more (Wikipedia, 2017).

Student worker, Josh Knecht, holding a American Bicentennial flag from the Ken McCutchan collection, 1976. Credit: James Wethington

Student worker, Josh Knecht, holding a American Bicentennial flag from the Ken McCutchan collection, 1976. Credit: James Wethington

The United States has changed tremendously since 1976. Lets take a quick look:

  • President and Vice-President: Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller
  • Highest Grossing Film: Rocky
  • Top Song: Silly Love Songs (Paul McCartney and Wings)
  • Super Bowl Champion: Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Stanley Cup Champion: Montreal Canadians
  • NBA Champion: Boston Celtics
  • World Series Champion: Cincinnati Reds
  • NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Champion: Indiana Hoosiers
  • Summer and Winter Olympics were held in Montreal, Canada and Innsbruck, Austria.
Left to Right: Queen Elizabeth II of England, dancing with then-U.S. President, Gerald Ford, during a state visit, 1976. Credit: https://geraldrfordfoundation.org/centennial/media/1976-bicentennial-celebrations/

Queen Elizabeth II of England dancing with then-U.S. President Gerald Ford, during a state visit in 1976. Credit: https://geraldrfordfoundation.org/centennial/media/1976-bicentennial-celebrations/

In close, as we begin to celebrate the 4th of July, please be safe and remember that our freedom came at a cost. Gerald Ford stated on July 4th in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: “As we continue our American adventure…all our heroes and heroines of war and peace send us this single, urgent message: though prosperity is a good thing, though compassionate charity is a good thing, though institutional reform is a good thing, a nation survives only so long as the spirit of sacrifice and self-discipline is strong within its people. Independence has to be defended as well as declared; freedom is always worth fighting for; and liberty ultimately belongs only to those willing to suffer for it” (Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum, 2007).


Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum. (2007, February 12). Gerald R. Ford quotes. Retrieved from https://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/grf/quotes.asp

National Archives and Records Administration. (2016, August 15). Records of the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration. Retrieved from https://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/groups/452.html

Wikipedia. (2017, 11 June). United States Bicentennial. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Bicentennial

Posted in American Revolution, Americana, holidays | Leave a comment

Famous Hoosiers: Louise Dresser

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

Portrait photograph of Louise Dresser, n.d. Credit: IMDb.com

Portrait photograph of Louise Dresser, n.d. Credit: IMDb.com

As our series, “Famous Hoosiers”, wraps up, we are going to focus on motion picture entertainers. One of the best-known Tri-State residents such as Johnny Depp, Ron Glass, Avery Brooks, and many more. Back in the early days of the film industries, female entertainers were rare. Then there was Louise Dresser: an Evansville, Indiana native who made and left her mark on the motion picture industry for Jewish women.

Louise Dresser was born Louise Josephine Kerlin on October 5, 1878. Her parents were hardworking individuals, her father was a train engineer; however, he passed away when she was fifteen. Dresser ran away from Evansville to pursue a theatre and stage career. She got involved in vaudeville. She changed her name in honor of family friend, Paul Dresser (writer of the song, On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away). In 1898, Louise got married to composer and actor, Jack Norworth; however, their marriage lasted until 1907 (IMDB.com, 2017; Kibler, 2009).

Movie poster of "A Ship Comes In", starring Louise Dresser and Robert Edeson, 1928. Credit: IMDb.com

Movie Poster of Louise Dresser’s final film, “A Ship Comes In”, 1928. Credit: IMDb.com

During her tenure on vaudeville, she portrayed in masquerade and blackface; however, Dresser left vaudeville and performed on Broadway starring in “Matinee Idol” (1910-1912), “Broadway in Paris” (1912), “Potash and Perlmutter” (1913), and “Hello Broadway!”(1914). While on Broadway, she met her second husband, Jack Gardner, until his death in 1950 (Kibler, 2009). In 1920, Gardner and Dresser moved to California in order to become Hollywood stars. Starring in her first feature film at 44, Dresser was in The Glory of Clementina in 1922. She continued to star in various films in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Dresser is best remembered for being nominated for the first-ever “Academy Award for Best Actress” in 1929, alongside Janet Gaynor and Gloria Swanson; however, Gaynor won the award. Dresser retired in 1937 and passed away on April 24, 1965 in Woodland Hills, California (IMDB.com, 2017; Kibler, 2009).


IMBD.com (2017). Louise Dresser biography. Retrieved http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0237571/

Kibler, M. A. (2009 March 1). Louise Dresser. Retrieved from https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/dresser-louise

Posted in Academy Awards, Entertainment, Evansville, Indiana, Famous Hoosiers | Leave a comment

Famous Hoosiers: Booth Tarkington

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

American and Hoosier native author, Booth Tarkington, head and shoulders portrait, facing left, 1922. Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Booth_Tarkington

Portrait photograph of Booth Tarkington, 1922. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Booth_Tarkington

As our series, “Famous Hoosiers” continues, Indiana has an influential lineage of Hoosiers authors such as Norman Bridwell, Gene Stratton-Porter, John Green, Lew Wallace, and Kurt Vonnegut, to name a few. As previously stated in ‘Famous Hoosiers: Marilyn Durham’, a few weeks ago, C.S. Lewis stated, “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” Our focus today is on Hoosier author, Booth Tarkington.

Seawood Kennebunkport, Maine July 9th, 1941 Dear Mr. Lipsey: Thank you indeed for a letter that must encourage any writer to bask in sensations unbecoming to modesty. I haven’t been so rigid as to deny myself great pleasure from your indulgent appreciation of writings of mine; so please let me be, merely, Gratefully yours, Booth Tarkington. Source: University Archives and Special Collections

Correspondence from Booth Tarkington to Mr. Lipsey, 1941. Source: University Archives and Special Collections, Booth Tarkington collection.

Tarkington was born on July 29, 1869 in Indianapolis, Indiana Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2017a). He attended Purdue and graduated from Princeton in 1893. Tarkington served as a member of the Dramatic Club, writing, directing, and acting in several of his productions. By the beginning of the 20th Century, he begun to write several best-selling novels such as The Gentleman from Indiana (1899), Penrod (1910), The Magnificent Ambersons (1918), and Alice Adams (1921) (Indiana Historical Society, 2017). He won numerous awards like the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for The Magnificent Amberson in 1919 and Alice Adams in 1922; moreover, he was the first of three authors to win the Pulitzer twice, along with William Faulkner (1955, 1963) and John Updike (1982, 1991) (Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2017b).

Booth Tarkington lived at 4270 North Meridian Street from 1923 until 1945. Image: Bass Photo Co. Collection, Indiana Historical Society. Source: http://historicindianapolis.com/in-the-park-tarkington-park/

Booth Tarkington lived at 4270 North Meridian Street from 1923 until 1945, n.d. Source: http://historicindianapolis.com/in-the-park-tarkington-park/

Tarkington was married twice to his wife, Laurel (1902-1911) and Susannah (1912-1946). He had no children. During his time, he was an antique furniture and painting collector (Indiana Historical Society, 2017). Tarkington passed away in Indianapolis, Indiana on May 19, 1946 Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2017a).


Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica (2017 April 10). Booth Tarkington. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Booth-Tarkington

Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica (2017 April 10). Pulitzer Prize. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Pulitzer-Prize

Indiana Historical Society (2017). Booth Tarkington collection: Biographical sketch. Retrieved from http://www.indianahistory.org/our-collections/collection-guides/booth-tarkington-collection.pdf

Posted in Famous Hoosiers, Indiana, literature | Leave a comment

“I’m the King of the World”: The Titanic Disaster

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


The Saturday Blade Newspaper, April 27, 1912. Credit: James Wethington

Before there was social media, most individuals received their information from newspapers. Since newspapers have been around, they have provided society information on local, national, and international events. For example, look at the front-page of the Saturday Blade in Chicago, Illinois: the vibrant colors and illustrations but it is speaking about the Titanic ship disaster. The Saturday Blade began in 1887 and caught the attention of readers because of their illustrations; by 1892, it “… had the largest circulation of any weekly newspaper in the United States” (Wikipedia, 2017).

Picture it: Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, Titanic, 1997. Most people know about highly successful 1997 film of the ill-fated voyage of the RMS Titanic, hitting an iceberg in-route from Southampton, England to New York City, on April 15, 1912. Thomas Andrews designed the Titanic and construction began on March 31, 1909 until completion on May 31, 1911. At the time, “… the Titanic was one of the largest and most opulent ships in the world” (Tikkanen, 2017).

Titanic: The world's largest liner. White Star Line. Southampton-New York via Cherbourg and Queenstown, 1912. Credit: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Titanic; Granger Collection, NYC.

Titanic Poster, 1912. Credit: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Titanic (Granger Collection NYC)

More than 1,500 people perished, becoming one of the deadliest commercial maritime disasters in history. Due to the accident, major safety improvements came into effect after the sinking of the Titanic. This led to the creation of the International Conference for Safety of Life at Sea (requiring ships to have enough lifeboats for all of the passengers abroad, lifeboat drills, etc.) in 1913 and the International Ice Patrol (warning ships of icebergs in the North Atlantic Ocean) in 1914. The wreckage of the Titanic was not discovered until 1985 by Robert Ballard (Tikkanen, 2017).


Tikkanen, A. (2017 April 26). Titanic. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Titanic

Wikipedia (20 May 2017). William D. Boyce. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_D._Boyce

Posted in British History, Disasters, Great Movies | Leave a comment

#ThrowbackThursday: Stelle … The Ultimate Frontier

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

Stelle subdivision entrance sign, n.d. Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stelle,_Illinois

Stelle subdivision entrance sign, n.d. Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stelle,_Illinois

Upon first glance, some might assume I made a Star Trek reference … but only if the title of this piece were “The Final Frontier”, then that would be an amazing cultural reference! Back on point, we are focusing on this beautiful and bright painting. It is from Stelle, an intentional community located in in Northeastern Illinois. According to the Fellowship of Intentional Community (n.d.), “An “intentional community” is a group of people who have chosen to live together with a common purpose, working cooperatively to create a lifestyle that reflects their shared core values. The people may live together on a piece of rural land, in a suburban home, or in an urban neighborhood, and they may share a single residence or live in a cluster of dwellings.”

Beginning in 1973, Stelle believed education was crucial to the community’s success and still is today. Stelle started as a spiritual community until they moved to the sustainability movement. Founder, Richard Kieninger, was a writer and teacher, was a part of multiple intentional communities across the United States. He wrote The Ultimate Frontier, prophesying on various topics, such as earth changes, improving one’s karma, future population size of Stelle, and many more. By the 1980’s, tensions arose between Kieninger and Stelle members because of infidelity accusations; moreover, the members of Stelle removed Kieninger in 1986. After his departure, Stelle maintains a close-knit community relationship through various events yearly (Weiner, 2011).

In the center of the painting are three individuals: (Left to right) Pharaoh Ahknaton (or Amenhotep IV), King David, and Stelle founder, Richard Kieninger, 1963. Credit: Paul Barber

“The Ultimate Frontier” Painting, 1963. Credit: Paul Barber

This painting was used for the 1963 revised version of Kieninger’s book, The Ultimate Frontier. The individuals represented are Pharaoh Ahknaton (or Amenhotep IV), King David, and Richard Kieninger. The painter was Paul Barber. It is currently located in the University Archives and Special Collection’s Communal Room. Their collection consists of publications, cassette recordings, photographs, correspondences, and many more!

Do you want to learn more about Stelle? Learn more about the community by visiting their website, Stelle Community.


Fellowship for Intentional Community. (n.d.) Intentional communities: Lifestyles based on ideals. Retrieved from http://www.ic.org/wiki/intentional-communities-lifestyles-based-ideals/

Weiner, D. (2011, January 6). Apocalypse never happened, by a community did. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/us/07cncstelle.html

Posted in Communal Studies, Throwback Thursday | Leave a comment