W.C. Bussing Autograph Collection

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

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.


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.

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.


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.

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.

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.