Special Collections and Archives blog

May 20, 2020
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on Finding a forgotten virologist in the archives

Finding a forgotten virologist in the archives

On March 24, 2020, Professor Padmanabhan Balaram found himself facing the same question facing so many other instructors around the world: how to move his course online. That day, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21 day national lockdown to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. Prof. Balaram’s “Biochemical Curiosities” class at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bengaluru, Karnataka had to go remote.

Together with his co-instructor, Prof. Balaram came up with a new assignment for their students. Rather than discuss examples of “curious molecules,” as they had been doing before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the students would review the existing scientific literature on various topics related to the coronavirus.

As he sifted through scientific journals, Prof. Balaram started to develop research questions of his own. A biochemist by training, who spent 41 years as a faculty member in the Molecular Biophysics Unit of the Indian Institute of Science, serving as Director from 2005 until his retirement in 2014, Balaram naturally became interested in the biochemistry of the coronavirus. And as a self-described “indiscriminate reader, who easily gets diverted from the task at hand,” he wound up reading several early papers about the coronavirus.

One name in particular stood out to him: Dr. Dorothy Hamre, a virologist and infectious disease specialist at the University of Chicago. In 1965, Hamre and colleagues in the Department of Medicine identified a new viral strain, 229E, which appeared to cause respiratory illness in humans—a coronavirus.

Dorothy Hamre Brownlee at a picnic. Date unknown. Black & white print. Dorothy Hamre and Kenneth Alexander Brownlee photographs. NAU.PH.93.37.2.7.3

While Hamre’s published works were readily accessible through PubMed and Google Scholar, the scientist herself remained a mystery.

“I like to associate faces to names and quickly realized that here was a scientist whose work was important,” Balaram told Archivist for Discovery Sam(antha) Meier over email, “but every Dorothy Hamre image I encountered on Google Images belonged to someone different. At this point, it became a challenge, of sorts, to trace authentic photographs and also to learn about her life and work.”

Stumped, Prof. Balaram shared his interest in Dr. Hamre with his son, Aditya Balaram, a graduate student currently studying in the United States. The younger Balaram began obsessively searching the internet for a photograph of Hamre. After several different unsuccessful keyword combinations, he finally got a relevant hit: the Alexander Brownlee Collection (now re-titled the Dorothy Hamre and Kenneth Alexander Brownlee Photographs) at Cline Library’s Special Collections & Archives (SCA).

K. Alexander Brownlee and Dorothy Hamre at their wedding in 1949, New Jersey.
[Brownlee] Wedding Mar 1949. Photographer unknown. 35mm color slide. Dorothy Hamre and Kenneth Alexander Brownlee photographs. NAU.PH.93.37.1.

Reading through the biographical note, which stated that Dorothy Hamre earned her PhD in virology in 1941, working as a bacteriologist and research associate at the Squibb Institute of Medical Research before marrying British-born statistician Kenneth Alexander Brownlee in 1949 and joining the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1952, the elder Balaram became convinced that he finally had a lead. In late April, Prof. Balaram emailed SCA to ask whether the Brownlee collection contained any photographs of Hamre and if he could access copies of them. He and his son desperately wanted to put a face to a name.

Luckily, SCA staff were able to help. Over 100 images from the Brownlee collection were already available online through Cline Library’s Digital Collections. They had been digitized by SCA staff back in the late 1990s, a few years after the photographs were donated to Cline Library in 1993.

But when archivist Sam Meier reviewed these images, Dorothy Hamre was noticeably absent. Most of the photographs selected for digitization were scenic landscapes, river rafting shots, and various national parks and monuments across Utah, Arizona, and Colorado.

[The Doll House, Maze District, Canyonlands National Park]. 1960. 35mm color slide. Dorothy Hamre and Kenneth Alexander Brownlee photographs. NAU.PH.93.37.551

However, the finding aid indicated that the collection included several portraits of Dorothy Hamre and her husband K. Alexander Brownlee. The Archivist for Digital Programs, Kelly Phillips, and Meier began brainstorming ways to digitize these images without consistent access to their equipment, since most SCA staff are and were working remotely at the time.

As the two archivists worked together to figure out a solution, Meier sought to answer a new question from Prof. Balaram: why had Hamre and Brownlee’s photographs wound up in Flagstaff, Arizona in the first place?

Reading carefully through SCA’s documentation, Meier discovered that Hamre and Brownlee’s ties to the American Southwest dated back to the early 1950s. In the late 1960s, Hamre and Brownlee retired to Ouray, Colorado, where they spent the rest of their life together before Hamre’s death in 1989. The photographs donated to SCA largely depicted recreational activities the couple enjoyed throughout their time back east and out west: river rafting, Jeeping, hiking, and other outdoor adventures.

In SCA’s documentation, Meier found an obituary for Brownlee and a photocopied excerpt from the 1984 book San Juan Country by Thomas Melvin Griffiths which described the Brownlees’ idyllic retirement. She also determined Hamre’s likely death date using information from the Ouray County Colorado GenWeb project.

Perhaps most importantly, a careful review of the documents revealed that many of the photographs in the “Brownlee collection” were actually likely the work of Dr. Dorothy Hamre. A close friend of the couple remarked in a 1991 letter to Cline Library, “Dorothy’s Leica 35mm photography and printing were superb, in my opinion rivaling the work of Ansel Adams.”

Druid Arch, Elephant Canyon, the Needles, Canyonlands National Park. Date unknown. Black and white print. Dorothy Hamre and Kenneth Alexander Brownlee photographs.

The archivist provided copies of these published materials to Prof. Balaram and updated the finding aid accordingly.

Prof. Balaram was delighted by the new information. He drew upon all he had learned from his interactions with Special Collections & Archives to write an article titled “Discoverer of coronavirus” for the May 22, 2020 issue of the Indian magazine Frontline. The magazine made his article their cover story.

Dorothy Hamre spent much of her life working on infectious diseases and discovered the coronavirus. As a woman building a scientific career in the days of the Great Depression and the Second World War, she must have been gifted with both imagination and resilience. She must have honed her experimental skills in the hard crucible of infectious disease laboratories. As the coronavirus rampages across continents, Dorothy Hamre emerges as a distant and anonymous presence. As the archives in Arizona are locked down, the virus will decide when we get to see an image of its discoverer.

–P. Balaram, “Discoverer of coronavirus,” Frontline, accessed online May 19, 2020.

Meanwhile, despite COVID-19 related limitations, SCA staff continued their work. Kelly Phillips digitized several images of Hamre using the department’s Imacon film scanner, working closely with Meier to make those images available online through Digital Collections. On May 8, the archivists wrote to Prof. Balaram to let him know that he could now see Dr. Dorothy Hamre’s face. He was “hugely delighted” to hear the news.

Dorothy [Hamre] Brownlee Goblins, 0x51 1100 50mm 1/100 8.0 -1. 1951. 35mm color slide. Dorothy Hamre and Kenneth Alexander Brownlee photographs. NAU.PH.37.940.

Based on these photographs, Prof. Balaram published a second article in Frontline, titled “Putting a face to Dorothy Hamre, the experimental scientist who discovered the coronavirus.” In the article, he thanked Phillips and Meier for their hard work in addition to providing updates on other information he had found about Dr. Dorothy Hamre.

Screenshot of the Frontline home page, May 14, 2020.

Special Collections & Archives staff are now collaborating with colleagues at the Ouray County Historical Society to share images of Brownlee and Hamre’s life in Ouray, as well as any information gathered about their lives.

Prof. Balaram’s research continues. There is still much to learn about Dr. Dorothy Hamre, from her exact place and date of birth and death to the details of her scientific career. Her role in the discovery of the coronavirus remains less well-known than the contributions of her peers, despite the fact that other scientists like David Tyrell and June Almeida drew upon her early work with 229E.

For now, though, Professor Balaram is excited by the progress he has made, thanks to archivists around the world.

My interactions with Special Collections & Archives have really been the high point of my attempt to highlight Dorothy Hamre’s role in the discovery of the coronavirus. I have also found it curious that sitting in my apartment in Bangalore, India, I have been able to connect the Ouray Historical Society, Ouray, Colorado to the Special Collections & Archives at the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona. It is a tribute to the power of the Internet that the road from Ouray to Flagstaff passes through Bangalore. It also seems to me that in some strange way the virus has led us to its discoverer, by turning the world upside down.

–P. Balaram, email to Samantha Meier, May 17, 2020.

May 13, 2020
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Comments Off on Processing Jerry Emmett’s papers during a pandemic

Processing Jerry Emmett’s papers during a pandemic

Geraldine “Jerry” Emmett is likely one of the most infamous centenarians in Arizona’s history. A two-time graduate of Northern Arizona University (NAU), she was born two years after Arizona achieved statehood and five years before American women’s right to vote was enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, historical events which would profoundly shape the course of her life. In 2017, her family donated personal scrapbooks, binders, photographs, and other materials to Cline Library’s Special Collections & Archives in order to preserve a documentary record of Jerry Emmett’s extraordinary life. These are now titled the “Jerry Emmett Papers.”

But before we jump into Jerry Emmett’s story, a bit of background…

About the intern

My name is Megan Connolly. In addition to my role as Executive Assistant for the Office of Alumni Engagement at NAU, I am currently a student at the University of Arizona, working on my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science (MLIS). As part of my coursework, I needed an internship where I would get hands-on experience working in a library—or in my case, an archive. 

Megan Connolly
Megan Connolly fly fishing at Lees Ferry. Photograph courtesy of Megan Connolly.

Cline Library’s Special Collections & Archives (SCA) offered to host me as an intern, assigning me primary responsibility for processing the Jerry Emmett papers under the supervision of Sam(antha) Meier, Archivist for Discovery. My internship was intended to be a start-to-finish project touching on all aspects of archival appraisal, arrangement, and description, culminating with the digitization of selected material from the Jerry Emmett papers.

While my work began without any issues, quickly my internship had to move online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I could no longer handle Jerry Emmett’s materials in person. I was disappointed not to be able to continue my work at Cline Library, but I was equally determined not to let the coronavirus impede the progress I had made.

Now, onto the Jerry Emmett papers

About Jerry

As I learned from reading the two self-published autobiographies included in the Jerry Emmett papers, Geraldine (Jerry) Emmett was born in 1914, before the 19th Amendment was passed. The political importance of women’s suffrage influenced her life greatly. She became involved in Arizona politics in her youth, when she played ukulele and sang at Arizona Governor George W.P. Hunt’s reelection campaign in the 1920s.

[Jerry Emmett, sitting in a chair laughing, at her 100th birthday party]. Photographer unknown. July 19, 2014. Prescott, Arizona. Jerry Emmett papers, Carolyn Warner sous-fonds, Jerry’s 100th bday [digital photo album]. NAU.PH.2017.45.02.381.

Emmett pursued her education at what was then Arizona State Teachers College at Flagstaff, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education in 1937. After receiving her degree, she began teaching in Kayenta, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation. Jerry Emmett taught throughout Arizona for 40 years, spending the majority of her career at Lafayette Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona (now Larry C. Kennedy School).

Throughout her career, Emmett stayed active in politics and the Democratic Party at the state and the national level. She was neighbors-turned lifelong-friends with Carolyn Warner, former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, gubernatorial candidate for Arizona, and U.S. Senate candidate. With Warner at her side, Jerry Emmett attended many Democratic National Conventions, meeting the likes of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, Al Gore, and more.

A page from one of Jerry Emmetts binders showing Emmett with presidential nominee Hillary Clinton
A page from one of Jerry Emmett’s 3-ring binders with a picture of Emmett with presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton. Emmett holds a sign which reads “Centenarian for Hillary,” while Clinton holds a sign reading “101 Years Young and Voting for Hillary.” Jerry Emmett papers, Photographs, NAU.PH.2017.45.

In 2016, Emmett served as an honorary delegate from Arizona for presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was 102 years old. Many of the clippings in Emmett’s papers pertain to her role as delegate.

Jerry Emmett passed away on April 30, 2019, at the age of 104.

Starting the process

Processing the Jerry Emmett papers was supposed to be fairly straightforward. I would create an inventory to reflect the “found order” of the materials before moving on to drafting a finding aid and carrying out physical processing tasks such as rehousing materials into appropriate storage like archival folders, Mylar sleeves, and so on for their long-term preservation and care.

Emmett’s papers had lots of different facets, format-wise. When I started working on them, they included a photo album, three pink 3-ring binders filled with mixed media, audio recordings on microcassettes and audio cassettes, video recordings on mini DVD-Rs, two self-published autobiographies, and a scrapbook. Before I even started my internship, SCA received a small accrual of materials about Jerry Emmett created by Carolyn Warner, including 390 digital photos from Jerry Emmett’s 100th birthday party on a CD! With so many different formats to work with, I knew different aspects of the papers would have different needs.

One of Jerry Emmett's 3-ring binders exactly as it was when SCA originally received it in 2017.
One of Jerry Emmett’s 3-ring binders exactly as it was when SCA originally received it in 2017. Photograph by Megan Connolly, March 2020.

Initially, I used ArchivesSpace to create an inventory of the items to see what was actually in the Jerry Emmett papers. Recording information about everything that was there and how it was presented helped me document any “original order” in evidence at the time that SCA received these materials. I also took photographs of the materials as they were when I began my internship to help guide my processing decisions later on.

Based on my inventory, I created a collection-level finding aid which included biographical information about Jerry Emmett and a broad overview of what was in the Jerry Emmett papers. I used oXygen XML editor to edit the finding aid so that it could be ingested into Arizona Archives Online. This collection-level guide let folks who are browsing SCA’s collections know that the Jerry Emmett papers exist, but that they are not processed in any way, and so if anyone would like to view them, they could request further help from SCA staff to access the materials.

Preserving Jerry’s mixed media memories

Due to the way that Emmett’s materials were originally put together, there were — and at this moment, still are—some preservation concerns. The binders with mixed media needed to be taken apart in order to be preserved for future use, but this is pretty delicate work.  

After consulting with SCA staff, I decided to physically take the binders apart, putting photographs with other photographs, newspaper clippings with other clippings, and generally grouping like materials with like.

We reached this decision for two reasons, the first being ease of access. With so many of Emmett’s photographs of one event, like a Democratic National Convention, spread out over three different binders, it made sense to place all of the photographs from that event in one place. Same thing with Emmett’s correspondence and clippings. I believed it would be much easier for a researcher to locate relevant textual materials when they’ were organized chronologically or by content, which was how I proposed arranging the collection.

Secondly, we concluded that keeping similar formats together would allow SCA to store different types of materials in appropriate environments and similar housing, which would be best for long-term preservation.

Putting Jerry’s memories online—from home

It was during the time that I was physically sorting the materials according the format in order to fully process the collection, as well as working with the Digital Programs Archivist, Kelly Phillips, to digitize Emmett’s microcassettes that I was asked to switch to a remote-only internship. We had one day of warning, which allowed me to take photos of everything I had been working on so that I could consult them from home. From there, I was able to accomplish other various tasks associated with the project remotely, with the help of SCA staff.

For Jerry Emmett’s born-digital materials, notably the CD from her 100th birthday party mentioned above, I looked through all the photographs, chose about 20 that I thought represented the whole well, and created descriptive metadata for those items so that access copies of those images could be added to Digital Collections. My selections can be found here

[Rose Mofford commemorative Arizona license plate with EMMETT inscribed above Grand Canyon State]. Photographer unknown. July 19, 2014. Prescott, Arizona. Jerry Emmett papers, Carolyn Warner sous-fonds, Jerry’s 100th bday [digital photo album]. NAU.PH.2017.45.02.008.

Special thanks to digital programs staff Kelly Phillips and Jess Vogelsang for working on getting the access copies (also known as “DIPs,” or “dissemination information packages”) and their associated item numbers to me, so that I could finish that!

While I also reviewed video recordings on mini DVD-Rs, I was unable to finish appraising their content and working with digital programs staff to transfer their contents due to the pandemic. I did, however, work with Kelly Phillips to digitize and review Emmett’s audio recordings on microcassette! Those are now available through Digital Collections here.

Since my internship finished remotely, I was unable to physically process much of the materials for long-term preservation. The Jerry Emmett papers were left in a state where I had taken apart the binders and began to group things by format, but had not yet finished housing or describing them. Instead, I created a number of reports which laid out my thinking on how these partially-processed materials should be fully processed and then arranged for preservation and access. This will allow the next person who works with the Jerry Emmett papers to understand my thinking, see where I left off, and complete the processing as I would have liked it to be done.

Wrapping up, remotely

Once I had a much clearer picture of the Jerry Emmett papers as a whole, I was able to create two more finding aids, one of which reflects how the materials are currently organized, and the other which lays out my proposed final arrangement.

The former finding aid is available through Arizona Archives Online here, so that researchers can find and (hopefully) access the Jerry Emmett papers even though I was not able to finish processing them.

A screenshot of the Jerry Emmett Papers Resource Record as it appears in ArchivesSpace.

The latter finding aid, shown above, allows SCA staff to see how the papers could be arranged in a more organized state, and it will be implemented once SCA staff are able to return to Cline Library and pick up where I left off. It is currently hosted in ArchivesSpace, accessible only to Sam and other SCA staff who may use it in the future.

While my internship was not a start-to-finish project, as anticipated at the beginning of the semester, it was still valuable work for me to do and to learn from. Ultimately, I am just grateful to SCA for not only allowing me to begin archiving the Jerry Emmett Papers, but to finish as much as I could in such a weird time. I’ve learned through both hands-on and remote work many new things. My experience in Special Collections and Archives has been wonderful, both in person and from afar.

[Jerry Emmett clasping her hands at her 100th birthday party]. Photographer unknown. July 19, 2014. Prescott, Arizona. Jerry Emmett papers, Carolyn Warner sous-fonds, Jerry’s 100th bday [digital photo album]. NAU.PH.2017.45.02.033.

To learn more about the Jerry Emmett papers, please review the Jerry Emmett Papers finding aid available through Arizona Archives Online or digital material from the Jerry Emmett papers available through Digital Collections. Interested researchers may contact Sam Meier, Archivist for Discovery, with further questions.

May 6, 2020
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Comments Off on Spotlight on SCA’s seniors, NAU class of 2020

Spotlight on SCA’s seniors, NAU class of 2020

For the past four years, Special Collections & Archives has been honored to work with two outstanding members of Northern Arizona University’s undergraduate class of 2020: Britney Bibeault and Will McMullan. This week, we are thrilled to congratulate Britney and Will on their graduation!

(L-R) Britney Bibeault, Amelia Swann, Cindy Summers, Jonathan Pringle, Ryan, Zach, Peter Runge, and Kelly Phillips standing around the Julius
(L-R) Britney Bibeault, Amelia Swann, Cindy Summers, Jonathan Pringle, Ryan Hitt, Zach Mauck, Peter Runge, and Kelly Phillips standing around Brad Dimock’s replica of the Buzz Holmstrom’s historic Julius, part of the Splendor & Spectacle exhibit (2018-2019).

To celebrate Britney and Will’s accomplishments and their contributions to the department, student supervisor Cindy Summers asked each student to participate in an oral history interview regarding their experiences at SCA and NAU more broadly. As most SCA staff are now working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cindy invited Will and Britney to join her over Zoom to talk about their dearest SCA memories.

In the clip below, Britney discusses her favorite archival collection held by Special Collections & Archives, the Stanley Swarts photographs.

SCA Student Spotlight featuring NAU senior Britney Bibeault discussing the Stanley Swarts photographs. Video produced by Cindy Summers and edited by Sam Meier.

While Will was unable to participate in an oral history interview before commencement this coming Friday, May 8, 2020, we happen to know that for years, he’s been obsessed with a mystery he discovered in the Martin Litton collection.

Litton, a noted conservation activist, environmentalist, and river runner, donated his archives to Special Collections & Archives over the course of two decades, with a final posthumous donation in 2016. His collection includes textual material like business records, correspondence, pamphlets, and publications, photographs, and films. Will spent several years at SCA exhaustively inventorying the later donations to Litton’s collection.

The mystery centers around this photo, which Will uncovered while processing later accruals to Litton’s collection.

A crime scene, showing a number of people standing around a body, next to a car.
[Crime scene.] Photographer unknown. Circa 1940s-1950s. Found in “Litton Pilot, Personal, and Business Images,” Martin Litton Collection, accrual 2010.24 or 2016.16.

As Will speculates in his notes about “The Murder Case,” the image appears to show a crime scene, possibly in Los Angeles, California, based on the police officers’ uniforms. It seems to be a violent crime rather than a car accident, though it’s hard to tell what might be happening in the image. By examining details of the photograph, such as the clothing and uniforms, the make and model of the cars and their wheels, and even the film itself (ANSCO Safety Film), Will deduced that this event, whatever it was, likely took place in the 1940s or ’50s.

But even Will’s eagle eyes couldn’t solve the mystery of why Martin Litton had this photo, or why he kept it. For now, that remains unknown…

Will McMullan filming at Cline Library.

Special Collections & Archives thanks Will McMullan and Britney Bibeault for their years of hard work, dedication, and commitment as SCA Student Assistants, and congratulates them both on their upcoming commencement as members of the class of 2020! We wish them both continued success and encourage them to come back and visit.

April 22, 2020
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Comments Off on Archiving NAU’s COVID-19 response

Archiving NAU’s COVID-19 response

While Lumberjacks near and far, past and present, struggle with the changes to their lives caused by the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), Special Collections & Archives (SCA) staff are focused on ensuring that future generations of scholars can access a historical record of these strange and difficult times to better understand the pandemic’s impact on the NAU community, on campus, on the Colorado Plateau, and beyond.

"Scholar Guy" statue (Untitled 1996: Year of Science by  Péter Párkányi) in a face mask. Cline Library, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona.
“Scholar Guy” statue (Untitled 1996: Year of Science by Péter Párkányi) in a face mask. Cline Library, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona. April 22, 2020. Photo by Peter Runge.

Like many other libraries and archives across the country, SCA is currently working to preserve snapshots of NAU’s response to the coronavirus pandemic by capturing born-digital content like websites, emails, blog posts, and other publicly available material produced by the university which reflects the university’s actions and communications.

The goal of the project is to collect a body of otherwise ephemeral, web-based materials that will help future researchers understand NAU’s COVID-19 response in context. Some of these items may eventually be added to University Archives as historic records documenting the university.

Beginning in mid-March 2020, the Archivist for Digital Programs, Kelly Phillips, began using SiteSucker to regularly download local copies of two NAU websites, as well as the Arizona Board of Regents, City of Flagstaff, and Coconino County’s COVID-19 response pages:

  • https://nau.edu/coronavirus
  • https://nau.edu/library/covid-19/
  • https://www.azregents.edu/news/novel-coronavirus
  • https://flagstaff.az.gov/4299/COVID-19
  • https://www.coconino.az.gov/covid19

SCA staff are also using the Internet Archives’ Wayback Machine to periodically capture NAU’s official COVID-19 webpage (https://nau.edu.coronavirus) as the content on that site is updated over time.

A screenshot of the Internet Archive captures of the official NAU coronavirus webpage between March and April 2020.
A screenshot of the Internet Archive captures of the official NAU coronavirus webpage, https://nau.edu/coronavirus, between March and April 2020.

While SCA is currently unable to accept physical donations of material, those who are interested in contributing digital content which documents the NAU community’s experiences with COVID-19, such as digital photographs, videos, documents, etc. are encouraged to contact the department at SCA.CollectionsManagement@nau.edu to learn more.

March 25, 2020
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Comments Off on Special Collections and Archives and COVID-19: Changes to Access – UPDATED

Special Collections and Archives and COVID-19: Changes to Access – UPDATED

In response to the continuing COVID-19 situation, Special Collections and Archives is now providing online consultations and support. Virtual appointments can be scheduled via email at special.collections@nau.edu. Staff will respond within 24 hours.

During this time, our online resources are still available for use. Please visit our digital archives and the Arizona Archives Online to discover content and collections that can support your research, teaching, and intellectual endeavors. We are still fulfilling reproduction and permission to use requests, with some limitations.

If you have a reference inquiry or need to speak with an archivist, please email special.collections@nau.edu. We will respond to your inquiry within 24 hours. To learn more about changes to the Cline Library and the broader NAU campus, click on the linked text.

January 31, 2020
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Comments Off on Green Book Era Motel on NAU’s Campus?

Green Book Era Motel on NAU’s Campus?

It is sometimes funny how a process that sets you off in one direction winds up sending you down a completely unanticipated path.

Here in Special Collections and Archives, Cline Library at Northern Arizona University, we are currently reappraising J. Lawrence Walkup’s Presidential Papers (circa 1957-1979). The collection is huge–over 100 boxes’ worth of textual material–and we’re plodding though it box by box to make better access points for researchers, as it is a heavily used record group within University Archives. As we progress in our project, we are learning new details about Walkup’s tenure as president! Below is a case in point.

There I was, in Series 4 (Files, 1959-1960), Box 5. I came across two fat folders titled “Stroud Hall.” I have been around NAU a day or two, and yet I really couldn’t place a building with that name anywhere on campus. A veritable yawning rabbit hole opened at my feet.

Park Plaza Motel
Post card image of the Park Plaza Motel on Route 66. ASC’s Forestry building (now Geology) is visible behind the motel, the Gammage building is to the left.

In these folders was correspondence between Dr. Walkup and one L.L. Stroud, the owner of Flagstaff’s Park Plaza Motel in 1959. The correspondence revealed an evolving plan for short-term housing of NAU students at a point when the Arizona State College (ASC) Flagstaff was growing like crazy. The college’s enrollment broke 1,000(!) for the first time in 1956. Dorm space was in critically short supply. What Stroud and Walkup discussed was a plan to use Stroud’s motel as a dormitory for female students. (Some male students were already bunking across the street in the Flamingo Motel for $1 per man per night.)

Stroud proposed a sort of a joint venture, wherein Stroud would build a dual-purpose dormitory and motel expansion for the motel that ASC could lease during the semesters and that could serve the motel’s business at other times. There were to be 50 rooms for 200 women, plus a space for a “House Mother,” or a more senior woman who would act as a sort of RA for the younger female students.  Amongst the correspondence, I found building plans, negotiations about rental agreements (38 weeks for two years with future options), and more.

Looking at the architects’ rendering, the building looks familiar, although not quite exactly like the actual structure you see on campus today.

"Stroud" Dormitory
“Stroud” Dormitory, later known as Roseberry Hall, 1959. J. Lawrence Walkup Presidential Papers, Series 4: Files, 1959-1960, Stroud Hall file, Box 5, Folder 157.
Roseberry Hall (Stroud Hall) as it appears today

The Park Plaza Motel lay on the east side of Route 66, north of the intersection of West Route 66 and S. Milton Road (Highway 89). The motel was visible from the Gammage Building where Walkup maintained his office. The restaurant adjacent to the motel was the Golden Drumstick, the forerunner to the Gables, which in turn was the forerunner to the now-defunct Mandarin Buffet.

Golden Drumstick.
Golden Drumstick West Route 66 and S. Milton Rd. Behind and to the left is the ASC Forestry building (now Geology), and the Gammage building is to the left. The Park Plaza Motel is to the left of the restaurant. The Golden Drumstick became the Gables, then the Mandarin Buffet.

Fast forward to the 1960s, and the Park Plaza Motel was sold to a new owner. Ultimately, most of it was torn down to become parking for the expanding restaurant. But the dormitory/motel addition remained. We know it today as Roseberry Hall, named for former ASC faculty member Minnie Roseberry. The Park Plaza Motel further gains a little notoriety as it was listed in Victor H. Green’s Travelers’ Green Book: 1963-1964 International Edition, a serial publication formerly known as the Negro Traveler’s Green Book

From Victor H. Green’s Traveler’s Green Book, 1963-1964 International Edition.

This means that the Roseberry dormitory is a part of one of three known surviving “Green Book” locations in Flagstaff on different alignments of Route 66 that served Black travelers in Flagstaff (the other two remaining are the DuBeau, and the Downtowner Hostel.) Other now-defunct “Green Book” and other Black traveler directory motels in Flagstaff include the Flamingo Motel, the El Rancho Motel, the Vandevier Motel, and a former rooming house on South San Francisco Street.

Future boxes of the Walkup Presidential Papers may reveal more about how ASC dealt with its growing student body, the fate of the Park Plaza Motel, and the evolution of the Roseberry dorm. Watch this space…


December 6, 2019
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on Kin Teel and Pine Springs: A Look into 20th Century Trading Posts

Kin Teel and Pine Springs: A Look into 20th Century Trading Posts

Kin Teel (Wide Ruins) Trading Post Entrance, circa 1945.

In the late 19th and early to mid 20th centuries, trading posts were common on reservations in the southwest. Traders formed close relationships with the indigenous groups they lived and worked with, often providing more services than just as a trader. One such group of traders were Bill Lippincott, Sallie Wagner, and Bill and Jean Cousins at Kin Teel (Wide Ruins) and Pine Springs Trading Posts on the Navajo Nation. Bill Lippincott and Sallie Wagner owned Kin Teel and Pine Springs from 1938 to 1942 and again from 1945 to 1949. 

Kin Teel (Wide Ruins) Trading Post Exterior, circa 1940.

During their time there, Lippincott and Wagner photographed the landscape and people in the Colorado Plateau. These photographs were curated into photo albums by Sallie Wagner and are available to view on the Digital Archives and in person at Special Collections and Archives. Also included in the Kin Teel (Wide Ruins) and Pine Springs Trading Post Records are business ledgers that document daily transactions at the trading posts, allowing a window into the operations of trading posts in the 1930s and 1940s. The manuscript portion also contains Bill Lippincott’s advocacy documents concerning Hopi and Navajo education and life ways. 

This collection provides a unique look at life on the Navajo Nation and interactions between traders and the communities they lived in. 

Here are links to the Kin Teel/Wide Ruins Trading Post finding aid on Arizona Archives Online and photos from our digital archives.

November 10, 2019
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on Veterans Day 2019

Veterans Day 2019

Arizona State Teachers College, Navy V-12 Program Drill Exercises, 1944. Photo courtesy Northern Arizona University, Cline Library, Special Collections and Archives, University Archives.

On behalf of all of us at the Cline Library and Special Collections and Archives, we would like to thank the veterans at NAU as well as all the brave men and women who served our country.

NAU appreciates and honors those who served and sacrificed so that we can live in a free country. Here at the Cline Library, we partnered with the NAU Veteran Success Center to conduct an oral history project that captures, preserves, and makes available the stories and experiences of NAU veterans. The NAU Student Veteran Oral History project recognizes veterans’ service to our nation as well as the contributions veterans make in the classroom and beyond.

Zachary Hamilton, Veteran, NAU Alumni, and Coordinator at NAU Student Veteran Services. Zach was the first NAU student veteran to participate in the oral history project. Image courtesy of NAU Student Veteran Services.

We have a diverse group of 11 veterans who have participated by sharing their experiences thus far.  Many of these oral histories are available online at the Cline Library Special Collections and Archives digital archives at this link. We have additional interviews currently being processed and available soon.  Complementing the oral history interviews, we have a preliminary finding aid that provides context and an overview of all the interviews.

As we honor our nation’s veterans on Monday November 11th, it’s a good time to learn about the struggles, sacrifices, and rewards that veterans experience while serving our country.  We thank those who have shared their stories with us and thank all veterans for their service.

October 23, 2019
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on Happy 100th Birthday, Ms. Katie!

Happy 100th Birthday, Ms. Katie!

Katie Lee in her beloved Glen Canyon

Today, October 23, 2019, would have been Katie Lee’s 100th birthday. For those of you fortunate enough to have known Katie while she was alive, you know she could celebrate her birthday in very creative ways. Each year, a couple of us from the department would travel down to Jerome on or near Katie’s birthday and take her out to lunch in Jerome, frequently at the Asylum.

Although we can’t celebrate her 100th birthday with her, we would like to recognize her birthday by sharing a photograph of Katie in her beloved Glen Canyon. This photograph was one of her favorites and it was found in a slide carousel labeled “Glen Canyon Slide Show.”

Katie like to celebrate her birthday (actually everyday) with a vodka and tonic. Katie, we lift our glasses to toast your life and “we drink to thee, oh Colorado/ Mighty river full of wonder.” Happy birthday, Katie!

October 21, 2019
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on Full Circle: The Life and Legacies of Katie Lee Exhibit

Full Circle: The Life and Legacies of Katie Lee Exhibit

Katie Lee!

The Cline Library and Special Collections and Archives would like to announce the opening of the Full Circle: The Life and Legacies of Katie Lee exhibit. The exhibit opened this Friday, October 18 and was well attended. Full Circle is now open for public viewing through the fall of 2021.

Guests at the exhibit opening included friends of Katie Lee from Jerome and around Arizona. Several of Katie’s extended Jerome family joined us including Candace and Michael Gallagher, Jay Kincella, James Tomlinson, and Tracy and Nancy Weisel. Tracy also brought in a framed image of an 86 year old Katie, naked of course! The opening allowed friends to reconnect, remember Katie, and teach those who didn’t know her a little about who she was and her achievements.

Entrance of the exhibit Full Circle. Photo: Shane Butterworth

Full Circle documents the life of Katie Lee, a singer, songwriter, author, actress, activist and river runner. The exhibit features photographs, manuscripts, a guitar, and other 3D objects connected to her many talents and life. The physical exhibit will be up for two years and can be visited on weekdays.

Britney Bibeault, 2019 Elizabeth M and PT Reilly Intern. Photo: Shane Butterworth

The exhibit was developed by the 2019 Elizabeth M and PT Reilly intern, Britney Bibeault, under the careful mentoring of archivists Sean Evans and Kelly Phillips. Britney is an NAU senior Honors College student studying anthropology. She’s also a student assistant at Special Collections and Archives since the fall of 2015. Britney did an amazing job with exhibit and enraptured all of us with her personal story of determination, strength, and commitment during the remarks portion of the opening…all qualities Katie would appreciate and admire!

Britney Bibeault and Sean Evans. Photo: Peter Runge

 The online version of this exhibit can be found at https://library.nau.edu/speccoll/exhibits/katielee/ and features additional information, photographs, manuscripts, and videos.