#OnThisDay: Jonestown

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

Evansville Courier newspaper headline over Jonestown, 1978. Source: CS 462.

Evansville Courier headline about Jonestown, 1978. Source: CS 462.

On this day, thirty-nine years ago, over nine hundred individuals, made up of mostly Americans, committed a mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana. Rapaport (2013) states, “Jonestown was the greatest single loss of American civilian in a non-natural disaster”. Jim Jones, an Indiana native and founder of Jonestown, orchestrated the event.

In 1974, Jim Jones and his followers moved to Guyana, in South America, to create his religious commune, Jonestown. Followers of Jones “… worked long days in the field and were subjected to harsh punishment if they questioned Jones’ authority. Their passports and medications were confiscated and they were plagued by mosquitoes and tropical diseases. Armed guards patrolled the jungle compound. Members were encouraged to inform on one another and were forced to attend lengthy, late-night meetings. Their letters and phone calls were censored” (History.com Staff, 2010).

Evansville Courier newspaper headline over Jonestown, 1978. Source: CS 462.

Evansville Courier headline about Jonestown, 1978. Source: CS 462.

Jones called for “…‘revolutionary suicide’ plan at the compound, which members had ‘practiced’ in the past” (Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2017). On that fateful day, the solution was to drink “… a fruit drink laced with cyanide, tranquilizers, and sedatives” (Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2017).

Last April, we did a two-part series, “Follow the Leader” and the University of Southern Indiana hosted Laura Johnston Kohl, a Jonestown survivor. For more information on these stories, click the link to “Jonestown”. Through the Rice Library Digital Collection, there are numerous religious communal groups such as Jesus People USA, Twin Oaks, Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, and many other collections. These groups have materials on their beliefs, publications, and much more available.

References

Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica (2017, June 16). Jonestown massacre. Retrieved November 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

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Mt. Rushmore: Monument For The Ages

*Post written by Jake Knecht, student assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

Mount Rushmore, one of America’s most treasured national landmarks, is located at the Harney National Forest in Keystone, South Dakota. Construction began on October 4, 1927 and ended on October 31, 1941 after 14 years of grueling conditions that saw sculptors work under extreme temperatures and dangerous heights.

Mount Rushmore in Keystone, ND, 1954. Source: University Archives and Special Collections, Olive Carruthers Collection (MSS 129-094)

Mount Rushmore in Keystone, ND, 1954. Source: University Archives and Special Collections, Olive Carruthers Collection (MSS 129-094)

The landmark itself features the visages of four United States presidents on the face of a cliff overlooking the Black Hills. The four presidents, from left to right, are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Each of these presidents were chosen for a specific reason, as the sculptor who created Mount Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, believed that they each represented a quality that was inherent to the spirit of America. Washington, widely regarded as the father of America, was an obvious choice to represent the nation’s creation. Jefferson, who wrote large portions of the Declaration of Independence and bought the Louisiana Territory, represented America’s growth. Theodore Roosevelt led the nation economic growth and initiated the construction of the Panama Canal, so he was included to represent the nation’s development. Finally, Abraham Lincoln worked tirelessly to preserve the union and to abolish slavery during the Civil War, and was included to serve as a symbol for America’s preservation.

An unimplemented idea for Mount Rushmore was the Hall of Records. Initially devised as an engraved tablet along the face of the cliff next to the busts of the presidents, Borglum thought that it was important to document the major events of the nation in order to lend significance to the sculpture itself. After the tablet was deemed unfeasible, the idea changed into a hall situated behind the sculpture that would house a description of the major events of the nation as well as replicas of important historical documents. The hall eventually ceased construction so that focus could be placed exclusively on the sculptures.

The park includes tours and other attractions for visitors. Many flora and fauna call the areas surrounding Mount Rushmore their home and can be spotted from various locations around the park.

The University Archives and Special Collections has a variety of images and photos taken during vacations and other travels. These include locations similar to Mount Rushmore, as well as other manmade structures and natural landmarks throughout the United States, Europe, and the rest of the world.

References:

National Park Service. National Park Service – U.S. Department of The Interior, http://www.nps.gov/moru/planyourvisit/index.htm. Accessed 21 Sep. 2017.

Rumble, Walker. “Gutzon Borglum: Mount Rushmore and the American Tradition.” The Pacific Northwest Quarterly, vol. 59, no. 3, 1968, pp. 121–127. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40488512

Posted in American history, Americana, Natural Treasures, Nature, nature photography, Student Assistants | Leave a comment

#VeteransDay: Remembering Rick Winters

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

November 11th is Veterans’ Day. On this day, we remember and honor those men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces and those who died. It became a national holiday on 1938; however, originally known as Armistice Day, celebrating the armistice in World War 1 until 1954, when the name of the holiday was changed (Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 2017). Today, we honor an Evansville-native and Vietnam War veteran: Rick Winters.

Born on September 6, 1949 in Marion, Kentucky, Winters attended and graduated from Bosse High School in 1967. He served in the Vietnam War as a Marine in the TACP 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, as a forward air controller. After the war, he attended the University of Southern Indiana (then known as Indiana State University-Evansville) and graduating with a bachelors’ degree in political science. Winters was active in numerous veteran organizations such as the Vanderburgh Veterans Council, VFW #1114, American Legion Post #8 and many more. Winters past away on September 10, 2015 (“Rickey Winters”, 2017).

Though he is gone, his memory lives on in the wonderful materials in his collection. Rick was an avid collector and amateur historian in his own right.  Over the years, he donated to the University Archives and Special Collections his personal collection of USWA wrestling programs, yearbooks, photographs, and many other items. On the Rice Library Digital Gallery, his personal letters and photographs from Vietnam are available online. The University Archives and Special Collections has other collections from war veterans such as the Louis Puster, Roy Kennedy, Kenneth McCutchan, and many more.

References

Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica (2017, July 14). Veterans’ Day. Retrieved on November 9, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Veterans-Day

Rickey Winters (2017). Retrieved on November 9, 2017, from http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/courierpress/obituary.aspx?pid=175810022

Posted in American history, Evansville, Indiana, Vietnam War | Leave a comment

Celebration of Evansville’s Military Past

*Post written by Jennifer Greene, university archivist of the University Archives and Special Collections.

The University Archives and Special Collections (UASC), located on the third floor of the David L. Rice Library, is pleased to announce a new digital collection, Oral Histories, http://digitalarchives.usi.edu/digital/collection/p17218coll1.

Professor of History at the University of Evansville, Dr. James MacLeod, is speaking about Evansville in World War 2 on November 15, 2017.

Professor of History at the University of Evansville, Dr. James MacLeod, is speaking about Evansville in World War 2 on November 15, 2017.

UASC serves as a repository for a broad collection of Evansville World War II materials donated by WNIN, Evansville’s local public broadcasting radio station; Dr. James MacLeod, Professor of History at the University of Evansville; and Joe Atkinson, digital multimedia specialist in residence in the Department of Communication at the University of Evansville. Mr. Atkinson is also the director of the recently released Evansville at War documentary. In addition to the oral histories the repositories is curating materials from the USS LST 325 Memorial Ship.

The new digital collection focuses on Evansville’s contribution to military service in World War II as well as local home front efforts. The collection features oral histories from veterans, families, and those who worked on the home front to support victory. Director Emeritus of Historic Southern Indiana, Dr. Darrell Bigham and Mr. Richard Litov, local historian, collected the oral histories.

In honor of Evansville’s war effort and the opening of the new digital gallery, the David L. Rice Library and the University of Indiana’s (USI) History Department are co-sponsoring a lecture by Dr. James MacLeod on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 from 4:30 to 6:00 pm. The lecture will be held in Kleymeyer Hall in the College of Liberal Arts, on USI’s campus.

This program is free and open to the public.

Posted in American history, European History, Evansville, Indiana, library events, USI History Department, World War 2 | Leave a comment

#ThrowbackThursday: An Archives Halloween

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

The University Archives and Special Collections has dressed up for Halloween the past few years and used different literary works ranging from children’s literature to gothic literature. Halloween has an interesting history.

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Today, Halloween is associated with evil spirits, as a movie franchise, and many more. Originally Samhain, it celebrated as the Celtic New Year; moreover, Trevarthen (2010) states, “Samhain/Halloween is the ultimate ‘best of times/worst of times’ festival” (p. 6). This festival serves numerous spiritual purposes and served as a “… comforting time” before the modern incarnation (Trevarthen, p. 6-7).

Trevarthen (2010) stated it best: “Whatever we believe about life and death, Samhain teaches us to face both with courage, imagination and a sense of humor” (p. 7).

References

Trevarthen, G. A. (2010). The Celtic Origins of Halloween Transcend Fear. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 90(3), 6-7.

Posted in holidays, library events, literature | Leave a comment