Archives News

Ban on Dancing

DancingPoll12_7_1933Given its Methodist heritage, dancing and card playing were forbidden on the Willamette campus until the 1930s. While the dancing ban was a fact of  Willamette life in its early years, through the 1910s and 1920s students were beginning to find issue with the ban. Student body numbers were increasing, and many students had grown up dancing at local social events. By 1933, the Associated Students of Willamette University conducted a poll inquiring about students’ desire to partake in social dancing functions. With a vote of 369 to 67, the vast majority of students just wanted to dance! The response from the Board of Trustees was to restate that “Sunday afternoon teas, which have been becoming increasingly popular on campus, meet administration requirements only as long as no dancing or card-playing is permitted.”

Womendancingwithdummies

Photographs and newspapers help us imagine students’ reactions to their social regulation. While we do not know the true story behind these women dancing, perhaps their dance with dummies is in protest to the ban on social dancing.

You can view this photo, and many like it, in the Paulus Glass Plate Negatives collection. You can find reactions to the ban on dancing in the Collegian, which is currently available in the Archives and soon to be available from anywhere on the Archives website.

Digitizing the Collegian and Wallulah

Just in time for students’ return in the fall, Willamette history will be at our fingertips! The digitization of the Collegian newspaper, dating from 1875, and the Wallulah yearbook, dating from 1903, will be complete late this summer. Digitization of the Collegian was outsourced to iArchives and scanning began in November 2013. Archives Administrative Assistant, Christopher McFetridge, unbound each page, checked for missing material, and with assistance from Archives Intern, Nina Kulander, monitored the quality of scans produced by iArchives. In monitoring these scans, wonderful images, such as this ‘flat screen’ of 1974, have been discovered.

Flat Screen 1974

Both the Collegian and the Wallulah will be available this fall via the Archives’ website, will be keyword searchable, and will provide a level of access to Willamette and university history never before possible.

Jack Kenneth Eyerly 1935-2014

Ultimate NW Art Facilitator Dies at 79

Photograph taken by Jim Lehman.

Photograph taken by Jim Lehman.

Jack Eyerly was born in Portland, raised in Salem and, except for one year of studies at the Fine Arts Center School in Colorado Springs, lived for most of his adult years in Portland, where he was an important force in the art world.  For nearly 40 years Jack Eyerly wanted to meet every artist in the NW and nearly did. A creative and inventive artist, Jack put his energy into helping artists meet other artists and to find opportunities to exhibit and present their artwork. He also helped museums, colleges, and universities identify and locate artists for exhibits, lectures and special projects in the traditional arts, then in film and video and, finally, in computers. From low-fired ceramics to high tech artistic fireworks, Jack found ways to help artists exhibit and sell their work and they were extremely grateful for his efforts.

In his early days Jack drove his VW Van to Eastern Oregon to visit Betty Feves, to Southern Oregon Coast to see Tom Hardy and Eugene to visit David Stannard. He would pack up some of Stannard’s pottery and try to sell it along the roadside. He was an artist’s friend of immense proportions.

Margaret Ringnalda, English and drama teacher at Willamette University, recalled Jack’s efforts in the 1960s to promote and build sets and props for the new Pentacle Theatre in Salem. “He continually solved complex mechanical problems for us. He also helped make the Bush Barn a showplace for the work of regional artists.  I recall that he was promoting (Tom) Hardy’s metal sculpture at the time too.”

Jack came from a family of innovators and inventors. In the 1920s, his grandfather, Lee Eyerly, started a flying school in Salem, for which he designed an early flight simulator. During the Depression, he converted the device into a carnival ride, then followed it with the Roll-O-Plane, the Loop-O-Plane and the Octopus, eventually becoming one of the largest carnival ride manufacturers in the world.  Jack’s uncle Harry Eyerly built and drove racing cars and had the first Volkswagen Auto dealership in the Willamette Valley and sold the first VW to David Foster, art teacher at Springfield high school; Jack’s father, Jack V. Eyerly, ran Eyerly Aircraft after the death of their father. Another relative was Ray Eyerly, famous for his extreme detailed drawings and paintings of ranches and barns of Central Oregon.

Jack knew most of the art gallery directors in the NW and helped them find artists for shows. He worked closely with the New Gallery of Contemporary Art, the Fountain Gallery in Portland, The Evergreen State College Gallery, and developed a successful art gallery at Mt. Angel College. Jack’s late wife, Polly Illo Eyerly, collaborated with him on dozens of art exhibits and projects throughout the 20 years of their marriage.  In her position as Education Curator for the Portland Art Museum and through their friendship with isolated artists like Clifford Gleason and Rick Bartow, they offered kindness and support to a wide roster of Pacific Northwest artists.

An obsessive correspondent, Jack wrote to hundreds of people on a regular basis for years. He was the internet of networking before the internet. His massive collection of letters, art show announcements, and flyers are now in the Pacific Northwest Artists Archives at Willamette University in Salem.

Jack was a founding member of Experiments in Art and Technology (EAT), an organization launched in 1967 by engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer and artists Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman. Jack guided the Portland regional chapter, one of 28 across the U.S., in its mission to promote collaborations between artists and engineers and expand the artist’s role in social developments related to new technologies.

After 1988, Jack worked for Albertina Kerr, where he started a program to help developmentally disabled people make useful things out of discarded materials. As Ringnalda said, “He had a generous creativity that was an essential part of his genius.”

Photograph taken by Bud Clark.

Photograph taken by Bud Clark.

Jack is survived by his wife Dee Eyerly of Woodland, WA; sister Jan Stebner of Salem; brothers Jon and Steve Eyerly of Salem; sister Sharon Eyerly Hill of Palm Springs; and Dana Illo, daughter of Polly Eyerly.

(Obituary courtesy of Martha Gies, Norma Heyser, Kenneth O’Connell, and Jim Shull.)

The Willamette University Archives and Special Collections houses the Jack Eyerly collection. Contact us for more information.

The Bill Rhoades Northwest Art Archive is open for research

RhoadesThe Bill Rhoades Northwest Art Archive is a compilation of interviews, correspondence, and printed materials from Northwest Artists. Bill Rhoades has been an advocate for Northwest Art since before 1997, when he began donating collected artworks to the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. In addition to collecting and donating artwork, Rhoades has collected printed materials, interviews, artifacts, and correspondence that highlight Northwest artists and their work.

In the collection, researchers will find printed materials about exhibitions and gallery shows featuring Northwest Artists such as Henk Pander, Carl Hall, and Eunice Parsons. Photographs of Rhoades with many of the Northwest artists, as well as artifacts such as Manuel Izquierdo’s sunglasses, Louis Bunce’s paintbrushes, and napkin drawings from multiple artists are also included in this collection. Come examine the collection!

 

Myra Albert Wiggins

Diaries will soon be digitized!

The Myra Albert Wiggins papers are an avenue into the life of a female artist in the early twentieth century. Myra Albert Wiggins (1869-1956) was a successful photographer, painter, and poet who grew up in Salem, Oregon and attended Willamette University. She showed natural artistic talent at an early age, spending hours drawing and painting in her home and in fields around Salem. She won the first of many awards for painting at the Oregon State Fair when she was 17. Between 1886 and 1907 she won a total of 94 more state fair awards for her art.

Between 1891 and 1894, Wiggins studied at the Art Students League in New York. In the early 1900s, Wiggins also engaged in pictorial photography, which involved using the camera to creating images intended to evoke emotional expression. Using artwork as an artistic medium was a new phenomenon at the time. Wiggins’ took pictorial photographs as she traveled throughout Europe, Egypt and Turkey.Wiggins Scrapbook

Wiggins was one of the first women to become a member of The Camera Club of New York. In 1903, Alfred Stieglitz, one of the most important photographers of the time, admitted her as a member of Photo-Secession, a movement of photographers united to promote photography as art. Wiggins continued as a painter, photographer and poet in Salem, Oregon, and Seattle and Toppenish, Washington. She co-founded the Women Painters of Washington in 1930, and was featured in exhibitions throughout the United States including the National Gallery in Washington, D.C and the National Academy in New York. She also taught and wrote on topics of photography and painting.

The Willamette University Archives and Special Collections is home to the Myra Albert Wiggins papers, a collection of correspondence, photographs, and artwork. Her papers contain correspondence with family and friends as well as business correspondence about her artwork. The Wiggins papers also contain memorabilia and Wiggins’ diaries written between 1936 and 1944. Thanks to a recently awarded Hewlett Grant, these diaries will soon be digitized and transcribed.

For more information on Wiggins, researchers can see the Bonnie and Roger Hull collection on Myra Albert Wiggins. This collection is a compilation of photographs, correspondence and research materials assembled by Bonnie and Roger Hull for their exhibition and article honoring Wiggins.

Find more about the Myra Albert Wiggins collection

Travis Cross papers now open to researchers

The Willamette University Archives is excited to announce that the Travis Cross papers are now open for used by researchers. These papers contain a variety of materials related to the work Cross did for Mark Hatfield as well as personal materials that cover the years 1950-2004. Because Cross filled a variety of roles in his work with Secretary of State and Governor Hatfield, the materials in the collection are wide ranging in scope. Correspondence and memos covering the years 1950-1968 detail campaign strategy, office procedures for the governor’s staff, detailed analysis of contributor approaches and personal reflections.

Additionally there are copies of speeches given by Hatfield, campaign materials for the different campaigns Cross worked on for Hatfield, transcripts of talk programs and audio and visual recordings of interviews and speeches given by Travis Cross.

Materials covering the years 1968-1975 include correspondence with clients Cross worked for as a public relations consultant, his work as a volunteer on the 1972 campaign for President Richard Nixon and for various Republican fund raising campaigns. Correspondence from this time contains letters from Governor George Romney, Nelson Rockefeller, John Lindsay and Gerry Frank.

Renovation of Archives and Special Collections

Willamette University Archives and Special Collections will be closed for renovations during the month of June. If you know that you will need access to specific records/collections during the month of June please let Mary McRobinson know before June 4th so that the materials can be pulled and made accessible before renovations begin.

The offices of University Archivist Mary McRobinson; Archivist and Records Manager Rose Marie Walter and Administrative Assistant Veronica Ramos will be relocated on the first floor of the library during this time. Please direct questions to Mary McRobinson at mmcrobin@willamette.edu or 503-370-6764. Information will be provided when the archives is open again.

Independent minds

As Oregon marks the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote with various events, we have been looking through our collections for examples of women who were role models and leaders in their time. A wonderful collection of letters and autographs provides several examples of such women.

Viola Price Franklin, whose husband was a Willamette University professor and university librarian from 1918 to 1936, had collected letters and autographs from well-known literary and political figures for many years. When she died, her sister donated this collection to our archives. Getting these letters ready for researchers to use, I discovered letters by Louisa May Alcott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Alice Mary Longfellow. Each of these women was a leader during her life time. These letters reflect the strong wills and independence of thought they possessed in the late 1800s and early 1900s, a time when women were not generally encouraged to think of anything but house and home.

Anthony and Stanton, of course, were major leaders in the movement to obtain the vote for women; Alcott was an author whose female characters provided positive models for young women; Longfellow, daughter of poet Henry W. Longfellow, started an educational institution that allowed women to get the equivalent of a Harvard education, complete with degree, at a time when Harvard did not admit women.

These letters, along with the others in the collection, can be read and studied at the university archives between the hours of 9 to noon and 1 to 4, Monday through Friday. Many of the letters can also be read by clicking on Viola’s name earlier in this post and looking through the Contents List. Explore the literary and feminist roots of the nineteenth century and discover the real people whose names you see in history books. We look forward to seeing you at the archives.

Rose Marie Walter, Archivist