Special Collections and Archives blog

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
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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.

July 5, 2019
by special collections & archives
Comments Off on Early Katie Lee Influences

Early Katie Lee Influences

            Katie grew up in Tucson, Arizona where she lived in houses her parents designed and built. Her childhood was spent learning music and art from her mother and spending time outdoors with her father and younger brother. In high school, Katie and two close friends explored Sabino Canyon and the Catalina Mountains when they weren’t in school or socializing with friends in town. Through high school and her time as a student at the University of Arizona, Katie acted and sang, furthering her entertainment skills. The experiences Katie had in Tucson set her on the path to become a professional entertainer and to explore nature. Her diverse upbringing allowed Katie to have the confidence to move to Hollywood to pursue an acting and singing career and her connection to the desert environment around her cultivated a deep appreciation for nature and water.



[Sabino Canyon, Arizona] NAU.PH.99.4.4.19 1937 ca.

June 28, 2019
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Comments Off on Katie Lee in Other Collections

Katie Lee in Other Collections

The Katie Lee Exhibit will be constructed primarily from materials digitized from The Katie Lee collection now housed here at NAU.

However, there are other collections, both at Special Collections and Archives at NAU and elsewhere, in which Katie Lee has been mentioned or photographed. At NAU, these collections include the Tad Nichols Collection and the Richard (Dick) Sprang Collection. The Tad Nichols Collection has been especially helpful for understanding who Katie Lee was and her deep connection to Glen Canyon.


NAU.PH.99.3.1.8.32
Nichols, Tad, 1911-
Katie Lee at California Bar caves. ‘We Three’ Trip – September/October 1955. [constructed title]

For more information about collections with Katie Lee at other institutions in Arizona, please refer to Arizona Archives Online (http://azarchivesonline.org/xtf/search?keyword=katie+lee).

June 26, 2019
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Comments Off on Exhibit Website and Music

Exhibit Website and Music

It’s week 5 of the Elizabeth M and P.T. Reilly Internship and the Katie Lee exhibit is starting to take shape. The physical exhibit is almost completely planned and the accompanying online exhibit is coming together. Of course, there is still much to be done; from finalizing physical exhibit selections and printing them to adding pictures to the online exhibit, these next five weeks are sure to be a flurry of activity. The physical exhibit will be installed in mid-October and the online exhibit will be available before then (check back here for updates on the virtual exhibit). Included in the online exhibit is a section on who Katie has inspired. One such person in Jessica Larabee of the band She Keeps Bees. Jessica contacted Special Collections and Archives for use of pictures and films for a music video she created. The video and original song by Jessica are about Katie Lee. To see the video, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TIlg4CC10Q

NAU.PH.2014.22.8.1.21.69.10

June 24, 2019
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Comments Off on Songs of Couch and Consultation…An Alternate Album Cover

Songs of Couch and Consultation…An Alternate Album Cover

Katie Lee, Publicity Photo for the Album, Songs of Couch and Consultation. Photo courtesy of Monroe Edelston.

Between 1956 and 1961, Katie Lee recorded three albums about psychoanalysis that were later combined into one album and sold under the title of the original second album Songs of Couch and Consultation. This picture is from the photo shoot for the album cover. The final cover is a picture of Kate laying on a couch with her guitar and a man sitting near her head taking notes. The albums were satires about the popular psychoanalysis movement that was sweeping through Hollywood at the time.

Songs of Couch and Consultation is available to listen to online including on Youtube and Spotify.

June 7, 2019
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Comments Off on “Let Them Eat Cake…”

“Let Them Eat Cake…”

“Let Them Eat Cake…”

            …and they did, on a boat, in Glen Canyon, in 1956. Here, Katie is writing in a journal while Frank Wright sits. They are drifting down the Colorado River in Glen Canyon with their friend, the photographer Tad Nichols.

            These three friend took numerous trips through Glen Canyon before the dam was completed. Their story will be part of the Katie Lee Exhibit.

NAU.PH.99.3.1.9.136
Nichols, Tad
[Katie and Frank with cake – in boat, the ‘Piute’; this image appears in Tad’s Glen Canyon book on page 5.]
Glen Canyon trip – Flight to Hite Ferry – Boating, camping, and hiking through Glen Canyon [constructed title] October 1956.

June 6, 2019
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Comments Off on Elizabeth M and PT Reilly Intern Confessions: Week 2: Jerome and Q

Elizabeth M and PT Reilly Intern Confessions: Week 2: Jerome and Q

This week, I have been writing about Katie. This includes her life in Hollywood as an actress and folk singer, where she lived, her relationships, and her writings. As part of the internship, I visited Jerome with my project managers (Kelly Phillips and Sean Evans), where Katie lived from 1971 until her death in 2017.

Katie Lees House, Jerome, AZ. May 2019.

Our first stop in Jerome was Katie’s house. It was amazing to see the view from her back porch looking out over the valley. Her house is a bright turquoise and can be seen from many places in Jerome.

Jerome Mining Museum, Jerome Historical Society, Jerome, AZ. May 2019

Our second stop was the Jerome Historical Society’s Mining Museum. The Mining Museum’s exhibit on Katie does her justice and is a fitting tribute to a person who was beloved and cherished by so many of her friends and neighbors. Seeing Katie’s house helped me better understand her and get a sense of why she loved Jerome so much.

The best part of visiting the Mining Museum and meeting with the museum staff who showed us some the amazing material they’re caring. They passed along several humorous anecdotes about working with Katie. It was a treat learning more about Katie from those who knew her well.

An unrelated highlight of the internship was having lunch with Richard Quartaroli, The Special Collections Librarian emeritus. Richard was friends with Katie and shared several stories about his time with her and his experiences as a river runner. Thanks, Richard, or can I call you “Q”?

As an interesting aside, one of Katie’s more popular songs – “It Must Be Something Psychological” – from her album Songs of Couch and Consultation (1957) was used in an Axe/Lynx men’s deodorant commercial in 2012. It is interesting to see how music can be re-used over time. See the commercial on YouTube here.

Photos taken by Britney Bibeault.

May 24, 2019
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Comments Off on Elizabeth M and PT Reilly Internship: Week 1 – Research and Planning

Elizabeth M and PT Reilly Internship: Week 1 – Research and Planning

            This year’s Special Collections and Archives exhibit, created by the Elizabeth M. and PT Reilly intern (me, see previous post), will feature and celebrate the life of Katie Lee, a singer, songwriter, actress, river runner, and activist. This summer, I will curate and develop an online and physical exhibit for Special Collections and Archives at Cline Library that will open in mid-October 2019. As this year’s Reilly intern, I would like to share my first week’s progress. I have been reading through her books and going through her manuscript collection. I’m reviewing photographs connected to Katie and the people and places she adored. Below, she is exploring Labyrinth Canyon in Glen Canyon in 1956 – one of her favorite places. Glen Canyon was her escape from Hollywood and performing and became her refuge until the Glen Canyon Dam was completed in 1963. After her Eden was dammed, Katie did not return to Glen Canyon and she advocated for the dam to be removed until her death in 2017.             

Katie Lee in Labyrinth Canyon, Glen Canyon. Photograph courtesy of Tad Nichols Collection (NAU.PH.99.3.1.9.109)


April 10, 2019
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Comments Off on Introducing the 2019 Elizabeth M and PT Reilly Intern – Ms. Britney Bibeault

Introducing the 2019 Elizabeth M and PT Reilly Intern – Ms. Britney Bibeault

Britney Bibeault, 2019 Elizabeth M and PT Reilly Intern
Image Courtesy of Britney Bibeault

It is our pleasure to announce Britney Bibeault as the 2019 Elizabeth M and PT Reilly Intern. Britney will be working with the staff of Special Collections and Archives to develop virtual and physical exhibits celebrating the life and activities of actress, singer/songwriter, river runner, author, activist, and world class cusser, Katie Lee. Britney is completing her junior year in the Honors College at Northern Arizona University studying anthropology and history.

Britney is the recipient of the Lumberjack scholarship and a member of the NAU Honors Society – Alpha Lambda Delta; she’s been on the Dean’s List since her arrival. Britney is a student assistant in Special Collections and Archives, where she arranged and described the manuscript portion of the Katie Lee collection. She also received the Mary Crawley scholarship in 2018.

To give everyone the opportunity to learn a bit more about Britney, we asked her a few questions…the most important of which is the last question.

What are you studying at NAU?

I am studying history and anthropology with an emphasis on archaeology. I’m fascinated by the study of previous cultures and history and what they tell us about ourselves.

Tell us where you’re from and why you chose NAU?

My family is currently living in Buckeye, AZ, but I have lived in Idaho, New Mexico, and England. I came to NAU because it is in Arizona and it’s close to my family. It’s also a beautiful area where it rains and there are a wide variety of outdoor and recreational activities. Academically, I was drawn to the Honors Program (now College) and the faculty in the Honors College.

What are you hoping to learn from the experience?

Katie Lee in Dungeon Canyon,
Photograph Courtesy of Tad Nichols Collection, NAU.PH.99.3.1.9.88

I am hoping to learn how to present information to the public in a way that is relatable and relevant. I had the opportunity to arrange and describe Katie’s collection, which combines my interest in history with the study of earlier cultures. Katie is a well-know figure in the region and she was involved with so many different things, such as acting, signing, writing, activism, etc. While I was going through her collection, I was learning about early human and indigenous activity in the Glen Canyon region of the Colorado Plateau. These things excite me!

What interested you about the Reilly Internship?

The Elizabeth M and PT Reilly Internship interested me because I would like to eventually work in a museum or archives, sharing and interpreting historical information to the public. The internship provides the perfect opportunity to learn how to develop an exhibit, tell a compelling story, and fabricate and install an exhibit. As I mentioned above, I processed the manuscript portion of the Katie Lee Collection and found myself wanting to learn more and understand her in a broader historical context.

Katie Lee, Glen Canyon, May 1954
Photograph Courtesy of Tad Nichols Collection, NAU.PH.99.3.1.5.3

Do you have a favorite Katie Lee quote, story, photo (PG13 rated), and/or something from her life that you would like to share with us?

One of the fascinating aspects of Katie Lee that isn’t quite as well-known is world travels. When she was in her late 50s, she inherited some money and used it to travel the world and kept detailed journals of her trip which are absolutely amazing. It is a dream of mine to travel around the world and Katie’s trip is inspirational.

What inspires you outside of class, studying, and the internship, and why?

I have many things that inspire me outside of class, studying, and the internship. My family and friends inspire me to grow and become a better person. I am inspired by the beauty around me in nature and other people. I’m also inspired by makers (people who crochet, knit, dye yarn quilt, essentially just make things) because I hope to be able to create beautiful things that people enjoy.

Are you in camp dog or cat…and why?

I love cats. I have a cat, named Abe, and Abe is the kewlest kat around. Anytime I see a cat, I get so excited. I actually have a tattoo of one of my cats. I like dogs; okay, I only like Corgis, because they’re dogs trained as cats, and they’re cute.