Journalism Collections at the University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center

By Lumsden, Linda J. | Journalism History, Spring 2004 | Go to article overview

Journalism Collections at the University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center


Lumsden, Linda J., Journalism History


This is the second in what will be a series of articles on archival collections of interest to mass communication historians. Readers of Journalism History are invited to suggest collections that they would like to see appear in future articles, and the editors would welcome volunteers to write such articles.

You might expect to find the papers of Laramie Boomerang editor Joseph F. Jacobucci at the American Heritage Center (AHC) libraries at the University of Wyoming, but most scholars would be surprised to know the library holds the papers of such prominent journalists as war reporter Richard Tregaskis, television newsman Hugh Downs, and radio pioneer Irene Corbally Kuhn.

The research facility is part of the university's striking 137,000square-foot Centennial Complex, which centers around a futuristic cone that rises over the Wyoming prairie like a giant tepee. The AHC houses 90,000 cubic feet of archives and manuscripts, 1 million photographs, 15,000 maps, 12,000 sound recordings, 15,500 records, 15,000 films, 3,000 videotapes, and 40,000 rare books. Researchers can read archival materials in the Owen Wister Western Writers Reading Room and watch or listen to vintage phonographs, audiocassettes, videotapes, and films in the Meg and Fred Karlin AudioVisual Reading Room. The complex also houses the University of Wyoming Art Museum and features a central five-story fireplace.

Journalism is one of the major collecting areas among the AHCs 7,000 collections. More than 100 collections document regional, national, and international reporting, editing, and commentary with a strong emphasis on the twentieth century. The AIIC began seeking journalists' papers under former director Gene Gressley as part of his campaign to increase collections pertaining to twentieth-century culture. he believed those items were being under-collected by other facilities, according to associate archivist Carol L. Bowers, the head of reference, and felt it was important to preserve them. "He would go to prominent people in the field and ask for their papers," she said. That is how the facility acquired the papers of such twentieth-century stars as actress Barbara Stanwyck and comedian Jack Benny.

The AHC journalism collection is eclectic. Collections range from hundreds of reels of "March of Time" newsreels to the World War II diary of Newsweek reporter Joseph Becker Phillips. Some are huge while others fill only a box or two. For example, the AHC has collections of numerous World War II war correspondents. They include die papers of Joseph Peters, Norman Paige (ABC radio), Sonia Tomara Clark (New York Herald Tribune), Edward Dunham (NBC), William Dickinson (UPI), Phillips, and Noel Busch (Time-Life). Vietnam reporting is represented in the collections of Donald Kirk and Tom Lambert among others. Papers of national editors and reporters include the collection of Pulitzer Prize winners Reuben Maury and James L. Kilgallen, and H.H. Dinsmore, the New York Times foreign desk editor for more than a quarter of a century. Magazine journalists are represented by Elizabeth Peer, Newsweek's first woman foreign correspondent and first woman bureau chief, long-time Fortune editor Richardson King Wood, and Henry B. Sell, editor of Harper's Bazaar.

Besides Downs, who is recognized by the Guinness' Book of World Records as appearing on national television for more hours than anyone in history, broadcasters' papers include those of Frank Blair of NBC News and Jules Bergman, who for many years was the ABC News science editor. Radio is represented by collections such as the papers of Morgan Beatty, a veteran newsman on national radio during the post-World War II years, and Kuhn. Her collection includes a scratchy recording of her 1945 news broadcast of the liberation of Shanghai, where twenty-one years earlier she had made the first newscast by a woman in Asia.

One of the most valuable journalism collections for Wyoming historians is the Jacobucci collection. …

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