Be A Tourist In Your Own Backyard

January 12th through the 15th is Be a Tourist in Your Own Backyard Weekend

Each year, the Quad Cities Convention & Visitor’s Bureau partners with area businesses to offer deals on hotels, restaurants, shopping and attractions. 

The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center has tourist guides from years past filed in our Ephemera Collection. 

Take a look at these brochures from 35 and 45 years ago. 

“Quad Cities USA: More for you to see and do” [1982]

“Points of Interest” [ca.1972]

Quad Cities USA: More for you to See & Do (Quad-City Development Group, ca. 1982).

Points of Interest (City of Davenport, Iowa, ca. 1972).

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Fun in the Snow, 1960’s Style

Happy New Year from the staff at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center!

These images from our Davenport Parks and Recreation Department collection show locals enjoying winter weather apparently not as harsh as that of January 2018!

The photographs were taken at Duck Creek Park and Fejervary Park during the winter of 1960-1961.

Acc#2003-09 Davenport (IA) Leisure Services and Facilities, Box 52, Folders 609-610, Sheets 6-7.

Stay warm!

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Advertising in the Great War: Supporting “Meatless” and “Wheatless” Days

One hundred years ago, as December 1917 ebbed into January 1918 the United States had  officially been in the Great War since April 6, 1917. 

As more U.S. soldiers entered military training camps and went overseas, the need to ration food sources increased. By October 30, 1917, the State of Iowa introduced voluntary meatless and wheatless days. Pledge cards were sent to homes, restaurants, hotels, and businesses asking for participation.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, October 24, 1917. Pg. 15.

























As the months went on, updated “Home Cards” were sent to those who pledged to join the rationing. These new cards included additional items to conserve for the war effort.

The Daily Times, December 14, 1917. Pg. 8.

























Food companies soon promoted their “meatless” and “wheatless” products. Many of these companies had Domestic Science Departments creating recipes that a housewife could obtain through the mail to support these days.

The Daily Times, December 14, 1917. Pg. 20.


Reminders were frequently posted in local newspapers about the United States food administration’s requests.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, December 17, 1917. Pg. 6.

























By January 1918, advertising promoting “meatless” and “wheatless” cooking to help the men on the front lines of the war was routine. Restaurants and hotels also promoted their efforts to support the war effort on the home front.

Following are examples from local Davenport newspapers of the time.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, January 2, 1918. Pg. 9.
























The Daily Times, January 7, 1918. Pg. 2.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, January 8, 1918. Pg. 12.

The Daily Times, January 23, 1918. Pg. 9.

The Daily Times, January 28, 1918. Pg. 16.
















































There was one bright spot during the holidays that year.

Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fell on Tuesdays in 1917 and 1918. As turkeys were not part of “meatless” Tuesdays; those who chose to celebrate on those days with a traditional turkey dinner had no worries about depriving soldiers on the front with needed food.

A small moment of festivity during that time of uncertainty.

We wish you all a Happy New Year.

(posted by Amy D.


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Crowdsourcing for Christmas

Consider a gift of knowledge to the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center this holiday season! Help us identify this circus performance at “Santa’s House” that we believe took place at the Davenport Municipal Stadium in the late 1940’s.








These images from our collection are available online at the Upper Mississippi Valley Digital Image Archive.

PLEASE NOTE: All Davenport Public Library locations will be closed December 25th & 26th and January 1st & 2nd.

Happy Holidays from all of us here at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center!

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Shopping Local for the Holidays in Downtown Davenport

2nd Street was the place to be for holiday shopping in Davenport, say these images from our collection, available via the Upper Mississippi Valley Digital Image Archive:

2nd Street between Brady and Main Streets, c. 1920’s (VM89-000499)

Second Street between Main and Harrison Streets, c. 1940’s (VM89-000498)

2nd Street between Brady and Main Streets, c. 1940’s (VM89-000957)

Learn more about downtown Davenport shops and department stores, such as Harned and Von Maur, below, by viewing our December display on the lower level of the Main Street Library.

Harned and Von Maur building,  223-229 West 2nd Street, c. 1890 (VM89-000846)

Articles like this one from the 18 March 1887 Morning Democrat (all of the Davenport newspapers are available at the Center on microfilm) help us trace the fascinating history of downtown business development:

As a break from your holiday shopping in downtown Davenport, drop in here at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center (321 Main Street) and find out how it was done in days past!

(posted by Katie)

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In Memoriam: Eldon Leroy Baxter of Davenport, Survivor of the Attack on Pearl Harbor

Eldon Leroy Baxter was born on August 22, 1920 in Buffalo, Scott County, Iowa, to Jesse Burton Baxter and Mable Laura Porter.  He attended the Davenport schools. As a teenager, he worked as a newspaper carrier for the Davenport Democrat, a batboy for the Davenport Blue Sox, and both a player and a coach for the W.G. Block Co. baseball team of the Davenport Park Board’s twilight league.

Mr. Baxter enlisted in the Navy on September 17, 1940 when he was twenty-one years old. He was working as a storekeeper aboard the U.S.S. West Virginia on the fateful day — December 7, 1941 — when the Japanese bombers attacked Pearl Harbor.

On December 16th , Mr. and Mrs. Baxter received a telegram from Rear Admiral C.M. Nimitz, informing them that their son had been killed in action.

Imagine the expressions of surprise and delight at 1301 Arlington Avenue, just before Christmas, when the Baxters opened this letter:

“Dear Folks:–

Yes, I still have my skin unpunctured.

I could probably write one of the greatest adventure books ever written if it were allowed.

I drove a truck for a little over a week, and yesterday I was called to take temporary duty on a new ship.

I am in G.S.K. which is like a hardware store, and I am working with a brand new bunch of swell storekeepers.

I (several words censored) I had except for a (one word censored), but I drew some clothing and things I needed yesterday.

Your son,

Eldon” [1]

Eldon Baxter returned from foreign service on October 23, 1945. He married Wilma Joyce Helbling on November 23, 1946. He was a member of the Naval Reserve and also served during the Korean War. He worked for Iowan Dairy Co., International Harvester, The Times Co., and Roederer Transfer and Storage.

Over the next 70 years, Eldon Baxter would share his firsthand account of the bombing of Pearl Harbor with other members of the Mississippi Valley chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.

Eldon Leroy Baxter died on Monday, December 4, 2017 in Davenport. [2]


  (posted by Cristina) 


1.”Happy Day! Davenporters Reported Killed in Action Now Revealed Safe,” Democrat and Leader (Davenport, IA), Dec. 25, 1941.

2. Ickes, Barb,”Q-C’s Last Known ‘Pearl’ Survivor Dies,” Quad-City Times (Davenport, IA), Dec. 5, 2017.

3. Image accompanying newspaper article: Hoffman, Harvey, “It Happened 10 Years Ago, But Vets Remember Pearl Harbor,” Daily Times (Davenport, IA), Dec. 6, 1951.


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Don’t forget to purchase your 2018 Special Collections Calendar!

The Davenport Public Library’s Main Street building in downtown Davenport celebrates it’s 50th anniversary in 2018. The mid-century modern “Library of Tomorrow” was designed by renowned architect Edward Durrell Stone, who also designed the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. 

Staff at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center compiled historic photographs and facts about Davenport to create a fundraising calendar for 2018. Calendars are available for purchase at all Davenport Public Library locations. We are currently running a special promotion for the holidays: purchase a calendar for $10 and receive a Library tote for free from December 1 – December 15!

Check out this Historypin​ tour featuring photographs published in our new 2018 calendar. Click on the Street View guy to see what they look like now!

Click here to take a virtual tour!

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Turkey Notes: A Living Memory View

It’s time! It’s time!

It is Turkey Note time!

Yes, we get very excited in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center right before Thanksgiving as we prepare for our annual Turkey Note blog.

If you haven’t heard about this fun Quad City tradition, please read about the history of Turkey Notes here.

For many individuals growing up in the Quad Cities, writing Turkey Notes may have been a tradition in school or at home.

I have memories of writing Turkey Notes on Thanksgiving Eve or Thanksgiving Day with my siblings. Thinking back as an adult, it was a wonderful way for us to keep busy while parents or relatives prepared for the big Thanksgiving meal.

The rules for Turkey Notes were (and still are) simple:

  • Write a short, three- or four-line poem, using “Turkey” as the first word of the first two lines.
  • Originally, we were taught to use colors for the second word of the first two lines. Some Turkey Note writers stick to this premise while others now use words outside of the color box.
  • After the poem was completed, Turkey Notes were rolled in colorful tissue paper and tied at the ends with ribbon with the person’s name written on it. Fringing the ends of the tissue always looked nice.
  • The main thing about the Turkey Note is how it is written. If you want to decorate it, roll it in tissue, hand it out flat, or anything else, that is up to the author.

What do you write about in a Turkey Note? In one word – anything.

My siblings and I were always told to write a compliment or something positive about a person (they were relatives, teachers, and friends after all). We always worked to focus on a positive character trait, accomplishments, or a hobby that was enjoyed.

We have read other Turkey Notes that focus on school or sports rivalries, the turkey’s opinion on the holiday, things that have happened during the year, and even insults.

Our family tradition held that Turkey Notes were read aloud after Thanksgiving dinner started. Depending on the year, Turkey Notes were handed out by children to adults after everyone was seated or the Turkey Notes were put out beforehand as creative place cards.

We do add one word of warning about Turkey Notes. Depending on your guests’ sense of humor, handing out insulting Turkey Notes may create a very long (and uncomfortable) Thanksgiving gathering.

Now once again, Special Collections staff have created a few Turkey Notes for you to enjoy.

Turkey Red,                                                                                                                                    Turkey Blue,                                                                                                                                  Turkey says,                                                                                                                                              “I love you!”

Turkey Oak,                                                                                                                                    Turkey Birch,                                                                                                                                Turkey says,                                                                                                                                        “Come to Special Collections for family research!”

Turkey Go,                                                                                                                                      Turkey Come,                                                                                                                                Turkey says,”Where are you from?”

Turkey Yellows,                                                                                                                              Turkey Greens,                                                                                                                                          Turkey says,                                                                                                                              “Wouldn’t you rather eat more beans?”

Turkey Turquoise,                                                                                                                                Turkey Teal,                                                                                                                                    Turkey says,                                                                                                                                              “Don’t eat to much of your Thanksgiving meal.”

Turkey Pie,                                                                                                                                            Turkey Square,                                                                                                                              Turkey says,                                                                                                                                      “Run, there’s a bear!” 

Turkey Work,                                                                                                                                  Turkey Play,                                                                                                                                      Turkey says,                                                                                                                                “Welcome Kathryn K.!”*

And one last special Turkey Note to Bill Wundram at the Quad-City Times for keeping the Turkey Note tradition alive each year in his column:

Turkey Health,                                                                                                                              Turkey Thrive,                                                                                                                              Turkey says,                                                                                                                                  “Thank you for keeping my tradition alive!”

We wonder if anyone in recent years has passed down this tradition? We would love to hear from you! Write your own Turkey Note in the comments!

Happy Thanksgiving.

(posted by Amy D.)

*The Davenport Public Library and Richardson-Sloane Special Collections staff welcome new Supervisor Kathryn Kuntz. We are excited to have her join our team!

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In Her Own Words: Red Cross nurse Grace Van Evera

Grace Van Evera was born January 9, 1877 in Davenport, Iowa to Charles and Henrietta Kepler. The family lived on Utica Ridge Rd. and were prominent residents of the county. 

Family of Charles Van Evera, photographed by J.B. Hostetler, ca. 1910. From our Hostetler Studio Collection.

Ms. Van Evera received her education from Davenport High School, the Deaconess Training school in Chicago, and Asbury Hospital in Minneapolis. She worked in Settlements in Chicago and Girardeau, Missouri, and was in charge of the hospital in Brookings, South Dakota. After graduation, she returned home to care for her father, Charles, who had been suffering from heart disease.

Grace Van Evera joined Unit R of the hospital corps out of Fairfield, Iowa as a Red Cross nurse. In January of 1918, she left for New York, where she received training at Ellis Island, before departing to U.S. Army Base Hospital 32 in Contrexeville, France.

Grace wrote letters home to her parents, including one published in the Davenport Democrat and Leader on July 7, 1918. She reassured her parents that the nurses were “comfortable”, had “plenty to eat” and that “Uncle Sam is paying us more than living wages”

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, 07 July 1918, page 8

Upon her return from France, Grace told her story to numerous groups and organizations, including her Summit Presbyterian church, the Lend-a-Hand club, and the colored league of the Community Service Federation. 

The Daily Times, 08 April 1919, p. 8

After the war, Miss Van Evera joined the staff of Davenport Visiting Nurse Association. She was appointed county nurse in charge of the Scott County Schools in October 1919 and continued until the post was abolished by the County Board of Supervisors in 1930. Her dedication to the health of the children of rural Scott County was recognized by the Iowa State Health Education Secretary in November of 1922. 

The Daily Times, 07 Oct 1919, p. 8

Grace Van Evera died on May 8, 1980 in Davenport and is buried at Summit Cemetery.


(posted by Cristina)

Works Cited

n.d. Contrexeville – AEF 1917-1919.

Davenport Democrat and Leader. 1918. “Miss Grace Van Evera Goes to France and Red Cross Nurse.” February 1: 10.

Davenport Morning Democrat. 1960. “Former County Nurse, 83, Dies.” May 10: 10.

The Daily Times. 1919. “”Yum Yum!” Says Nurse When She Sees Ice Cream.” April 8: 8.

The Daily Times. 1918. “Davenport Girl on Active Duty.” February 1: 7.

The Daily Times. 1918. “Goes to France With Red Cross.” February 2: 6.

The Daily Times. 1918. “Miss Van Evera Nurse At Front.” July 6: 6.

The Daily Times. 1960. “Miss Van Evera, Former Scott Nurse, Dies at 83.” May 9: 22.

The Daily Times. 1919. “They Hold Clinics, Make Personal Calls and Promote Public Health in the City of Davenport.” October 7: 8.

The Daily Times. 1919. “‘Yankee Graves Are Well Kept’ States Nurse.” April 25: 17.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader. 1922. “”Health Education in Schools Will Conquer Tuberculosis”, Says Iowa State Health Worker.” November 24: 4.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader. 1919. “Appointed Nurse of County Schools.” October 10: 5.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader. 1922. “Central Figure in the County Nurse Row Before Board.” February 20: 13.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader. 1918. “Davenport Nurse Writes of Her Duties Serving in France.” jULY 7: 8.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader. 1919. “Miss Van Evera Gives Talk to Colored League.” July 27: 12.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader. 1922. “Nurse Travels 405 Miles During Month Spite of Bad Roads.” April 7.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader. 1918. “Three Nurses of Davenport Safe in France.” March 10: 11.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader. 1919. “Wartime Tales Were Told to Girls of City.” April 25: 11.

United State of America, Bureau of the Census. 1900. “Twelfth Census of the United States.”

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In Memoriam: John Willard

Retired Quad-City Times local history columnist John Willard passed away on October 30th, 2017 at the age of 74. Mr. Willard frequently used our resources to do research for his weekly column, “Backward Glances” and other features.

John Michael Willard was born on March 29, 1943 in Oak Park, Illinois and grew up in Chicago. He graduated from Lyons Township High School (La Grange, IL) in 1961. After high school, John attended the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, where he majored in English and participated in ROTC.

Second Lieutenant Willard served 22 months in Korea, writing intelligence and propaganda stories. He volunteered for Vietnam, arriving just before the Tet Offensive of 1968. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line]; Tabulae 1961, Lyons Township High School, La Grange, IL

Upon his return from the war in 1969, he began his newspaper career working for UPI in Des Moines. John was then hired by the Quad-City Times in November 1970.

Willard started out as a general assignment reporter, covering Davenport Police, City Hall and Scott County government. He was soon writing feature stories on local historical figures, events and landmarks. His favorite topics to write about were historic buildings, musicians, veterans, and minorities. 

John Willard retired from the Quad-City Times in 2007 after 34 years of service. Over the last ten years he continued to write guest columns for the newspaper.

“[…] history in the news, history in the familiar (such as a local landmark), history that touches lives and triggers memories.”


(posted by Cristina)


Works Cited

Gaul, A. (2007, February 13). ‘The complete reporter’: Willard to retire after 36 years at Q-C Times. Quad-City Times, p. D1.

Gaul, A. (2017, November 2). Reporter told stories of Q-C people, places. Quad-City Times, p. A3.

John M. Willard. (2017, November 2). Quad-City Times, p. A8.

U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database online]; Tabulae. (1961). Retrieved from

US Army Military Registers, 1798-1969. (1969). Retrieved from Fold3.

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