*Post written by Mona Meyer, Archives and Special Collections Metadata Librarian.
Welcome to Archives Madness 2023, the friendly contest between area institutions vying for recognition for having the coolest artifact. We’ll start by introducing the institutions and their nominated artifacts, then proceed with several weeks of voting (which you will be able to do online) until all but the winner are eliminated. You may notice a similarity between this a a certain athletic competition that takes place in March and culminates this year on April 3. That similarity is intentional!!
The votes are in for the Sweet 16 Round
Copper Engraving by Robert Havell Jr.- John James Audubon Museum 235 VS “Our Town” WGBF Radio Script- Willard Library 234
Kentucky Long Rifle- USI Archives 240 VS Marcia Yockey’s Jacket- Newburgh Museum 203
Into the Abyss- Evansville Museum 240 VS German Trench Mortar- Working Men’s Institute 202
Chinese Silk Slippers- University of Evansville 268 VS Marsh Hawk Drawing- John James Audubon Museum 177
Kuebler Cradle- Newburgh Museum 301 VS Colt Machine Gun- Working Men’s Institute 141
Bootlegging Bodies- USI Archives 273 VS Wes Peters Life Mask- Peters-Margedant House 170
Peters Margedant House- Peters Margedant House 270 VS V-5 Navel Banner- University of Evansville 187
Original Evansville City Charter- Willard Library 316 VS Mastodon Lumbar Vertebra- Evansville Museum 165
Now, let’s meet the competitors and their artifacts.
University Archives and Special Collections, Rice Library, 3rd floor/University of Southern Indiana
In the summer of 1972 the Lilly Endowment, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana awarded the then Indiana State University Evansville a three-year grant to establish an archival project for the acquisition, preservation and processing of regional material. At the end of the third year the University was to assume responsibility for continuing the growth of the Special Collections. It started with just a few regional history books on Indiana from the library’s own collection. Today, the University Archives and Special Collection has over 850 unique collections, 800 oral history interviews, 6,500 rare and unique books, and 30,000 digital resources.
The first entry is from RH 22, Miscellaneous Regional Material Collection, this book entitled Bootlegging Bodies: A History of Body Snatching by Dr. Alan F. Guttmacher. It was reprinted by the Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County (IN) in 1955. Guttmacher’s original paper was published in v. 4 of the Bulletin of the Society of Medical History of Chicago. “Body-snatching was the bootlegging of human dead for purposes of dissection.” (p.1) For medical students studying anatomy in England and America, “executed criminals were the sole source of anatomic supply.” (p. 13) It’s clear that supply could not keep up with demand, hence body-snatchers or resurrectionists.
The second entry is this Civil War era Pennsylvania/Kentucky long rifle. It was made by Charles Flowers of Harmony, PA, where he maintained a gunshop. The stock is of curly maple with German silver inlays, while other parts are of brass. There are 2 silver U.S. dimes inlaid in the stock, and the barrel is 36″ in length. It’s from University Archives (UA 058, Historic New Harmony).
Evansville Museum of Arts, History, and Science at 411 SE Riverside Dr.
Evansville has had a museum since 1906, with today’s location dating to the 1950s. This appearance dates to a major update/remodel circa 2014. “The Evansville Museum of Arts, History & Science houses a permanent collection of more than 30,000 objects, including fine and decorative art, as well as historic, anthropological, and natural history artifacts. Over twenty temporary, regional and international exhibitions are displayed each year in four galleries. The Koch Immersive Theater houses a 40-foot diameter domed screen with 360-degree digital projection featuring astronomy and science programming. Evansville Museum Transportation Center (EMTRAC) featuring transportation artifacts from the late 19th through the mid-20th centuries. On exhibit is a three-car train. The museum is home to a model train diorama of Evansville.”
The first item is this lumbar vertebra, part of a mastodon unearthed on a farm near the community of Solitude in Posey County, Indiana, in 1966.
The second item is a piece of artwork, Into the Abyss, by artist Sandra Jane Heard. It is made of silk yarn, reeds, paper and found objects. It was the winner of the Evansville Museum Guild Purchase Award at the 43rd Annual Mid-States Craft Exhibition in 2013-2014.
John James Audubon Museum in John James Audubon State Park, 3100 US Hwy 41 North, Henderson, KY
The museum interprets the lives and work of John James Audubon and his family within a timeline of world events. Three galleries chronicle the Audubon story, including the family’s 1810-1819 residency in Henderson, Kentucky. Over 200 objects are on display, including artifacts from Audubon’s Kentucky years, a complete set of his masterwork, The Birds of America, and many original artworks.
This is a calligraphic drawing made by 19th century penman Oliver B. Goldsmith as a gift for John James Audubon’s son, Victor Gifford Audubon. Inspired by Audubon’s illustration of the “Marsh Hawk” (Plate 356) in The Birds of America, the drawing is composed entirely of decorative flourishes hand-drawn in black ink.
This is an original copper engraving plate made by Robert Havell, Jr., for printing John James Audubon’s illustration of “The Tell-tale Godwit” in The Birds of America. Only around 80 of the 435 plates used in the publication still survive today, the rest having been melted down for scrap in the late 19th century.
University of Evansville, University Archives in Bower-Suhrheinrich Library/Clifford Memorial Library
University Archives is the repository for archival records pertaining to the history and operations of the University of Evansville.
The first item is this Evansville College V-5 Naval Aviation Banner. The banner, made of dark blue fabric edged by gold tassels, features a bald eagle and the Evansville College seal surrounded by a ring of stars. In 1943. Evansville College was assigned a V-5 segment of the U.S. Navy’s pilot training program. By 1944, the College had trained a total of 335 Navy cadets and received recognition from the U.S. Department of the Navy for its efforts.
The next item is this pair of women’s slippers from China. They are pink with felt lining the inside and outside, and the tops of the feet are ordained with a sewn green, purple, and orange bird. A brand has been stamped on the bottom of the slippers.
University of Evansville, Peters-Margedant House
This unassuming 552 square foot residence is a remarkable early example of Usonian style architecture – an innovative residential style conceived by world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Called the Peters-Margedant House, it was designed and built in 1934 by 22-year-old architect William Wesley “Wes” Peters, an Evansville native and Frank Lloyd Wright’s first student-apprentice. Wes married Mr. Wright’s daughter Svetlana in 1935 and left Evansville later becoming Mr. Wright’s chief engineer and right-hand-man, taking over his architectural practice (then called Taliesin Associated Architects) upon Wright’s death in 1959 – a role Wes held until his death in 1991. The house was moved to the UE campus in 2017.
The second entry is this “Life Mask” of builder Wes Peters. Below that is a photograph of Peters.
Working Men’s Institute (WMI) at 407 Tavern St. in New Harmony, IN
“Established by philanthropist William Maclure in 1838, the Working Men’s Institute (WMI) set as its mission the dissemination of useful knowledge to those who work with their hands. After 170 years of continuous service, this goal is still at the heart of our mission. Maclure, who was a business partner with Robert Owen in the communal experiment in New Harmony from 1825-1827, was devoted to the ideal of education for the common man as a means of positive change in society. At New Harmony, The Working Men’s Institute was one manifestation of this ideal. The Working Men’s Institute in New Harmony was the first of 144 WMIs in Indiana and 16 in Illinois. It is the only one remaining. Many WMIs were absorbed by township libraries or Carnegie libraries. Yet the one in New Harmony remained. … Today, the WMI is a public library, a museum and an archive. In each of these areas, the WMI tries to stay true to the original mission of William Maclure.”
First is this German heavy trench mortar, or “schwerer Minenwerfer.” Captured in World War I, this German trench mortar was received by the American Legion post in New Harmony in 1925. The post was disbanded in 1928 and the mortar moved to the front lawn of the Working Men’s Institute. It is a short-range high caliber weapon. Its original wooden wheels were replaced with “farm machinery” metal wheels about half their size.
Next is this Colt machine gun, Model 1906. made by Marlin Arms for use in World War I. It is a .30 caliber gun and is mounted on a tripod. It was given to the WMI by the U. S. Ordnance Department. These guns were nicknamed “potato diggers” because of the action of a downward swinging lever at the front of the gun, propelled by hot gas from an exiting bullet. It could actually dig into the ground if the gun were fired too low to the ground.
Willard Public Library at 21 N. First Ave.
Willard Library is the oldest public library building in the state of Indiana. It was established by local businessman and philanthropist Willard Carpenter, opening its doors in 1885, two years after his death. For the past 137 years Willard Library has maintained an excellent reputation for its local history archives and genealogy collections.
First is this original charter of the city of Evansville. An act granting Evansville a city charter was approved by the state of Indiana on January 27, 1847. The Secretary of state issued this certified copy.
Second is this WGBF radio broadcast script from December 8, 1941. Entitled “Our Town,” it is an example of a 15 minute evening radio segment ready by Clifton “Cliff” Brooks throughout the 1940s. This script describes local reactions the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Newburgh Museum at 503 State St. in Newburgh, IN
The Newburgh Museum preserves exhibits and educates all visitors about the history and culture of Newburgh and the surrounding areas’ unique river town heritage.
The first item is this cradle which belonged to the Kuebler family and was used to rock some 17 Kuebler babies to sleep in the mid-1800s. It was featured in the museum’s “Made in Newburgh Kids Museum” video with master woodsmith Louis Duncan.
“John M. Kuebler [1835-1918], born in Alsace Lorraine, was the son of … a wine grower. Coming to the United States when 19 years old, he worked in the Boston Tannery for a few years. In 1860 he purchased the property [in Newburgh] to develop. Being a tanner by trade he added a tannery on the property near the main house and employed about 40 men. In 1875 he developed the big house and gardens. Later the gardens included 15 acres to grow grapes for wine making. … A greenhouse located on the property provided flowers year round. A grandstand built for band concerts as well as an amphitheater, race track and baseball diamond. Thousands of families came on Sundays to enjoy the music and dine on good food and wine. The Kueblers were known for their Dutch meals and fried chicken. Kuebler’s Band was the first in Newburgh who performed at the gardens and the dance hall in the winter months. Baseball teams came from far away as Cincinnati to play. When prohibition was enacted in 1919 it was the death blow to the gardens. Mr. Kuebler died shortly thereafter.”
The next item is Marcia Yockey’s jacket from her days as a weather reporter with WFIE-TV. From the museum’s website: “Marcia Yockey was a local weather caster in the region for decades. She was born on 6 November 1922, grew up in Evansville, and graduated in 1940 from Bosse High school. However, she spent much of her life in Newburgh, living at 201 West Jennings Street, and considered herself a native of the town. Yockey debuted on WFIE Channel 14 in 1953, after 10 years of working for the National Weather Service. Over the course of her 35-year career, she bounced around from WFIE Channel 14 and WTVW Channel 7 before finally retiring in 1988. She quit one station because she didn’t like a new theme song they picked. Another time she gave notice when her bosses cancelled her annual July 4 televised swim after the forecast. Channel 14 newscaster Mike Blake recalled the veteran weather-woman’s habit of going beyond her allotted time. Blake, becoming impatient from the sidelines asked for Yockey to hurry it up. Yockey, in full view and hearing of the television audience, responded with “Keep it up, Sports, and you’ll never get on.” A resident of Newburgh, she reached star status for her forecasting skill, irreverent attitude, and colorful personality. She received the Indiana Associated Press Broadcasters Hall of Fame Award. In her free time Yockey enjoyed flying Piper Cub planes, and she was only the 100th woman to receive a helicopter pilot licence. Yockey died on 28 September 2000 at the age of 77 after suffering for several years from Alzheimer’s Disease.”
There you are….all the entries for the 2023 Archives Madness contest. Read the descriptions and decide which are your favorites, then be sure to vote for them. Voting will be done on this blog. Here’s the timeline:
- March 13-19, 2023: Sweet 16
- March 20-26, 2023: Elite 8
- March 27-April 2, 2023: Final 4
- April 3-9, 2023: Championship
- April 10, 2023: Revealing 2023 Arch Madness Champion
Keep checking the blog to see how the voting is progressing, and to help your favorite artifact make it to the championship. Get your friends to vote, too! May the BEST artifact win!