All Things SPRING

SPRING! The season officially arrived this week on Monday, March 20th, but the dreary days have Special Collections Staff dreaming of ALL THINGS SPRING.  Forgive us for getting carried away, but just look at all the reminders of this glorious season we have right here in our collections!!!

There is SPRING STREET which was roughly nine blocks long in 1890 according to the roster of residents listed in the Davenport city directory for that year.

1890 Davenport City Directory

The Richardson family (at 120 and 124 SPRING STREET) donated a bit of land to the city in January 1927 meant to develop into a playground over time. This was called INDIAN SPRINGS.

As long as we are thinking about water, there is usually a SPRING THAW which brings about those unfortunate SPRING FLOODS such as the big one in 1965.

2015-07: Davenport and the Flood of 1965. Accessible here:

If you recall that flood, you are no SPRING CHICKEN!

After the dark days of Winter, it is fun to gather with friends and neighbors again. The Ladies’ Royal Bowling league enjoyed a SPRING FROLIC in 1930. According to the Davenport Democrat, thirty ladies participated in the league on teams from Iowa Laundry, Scharff’s, Halligan’s Chocolates, Davenport Cleaners, Franc’s Furniture, and August Richter Furrier. B. Abbott had the highest average of 155.45 bowling 69 games!

2020-01: Photographic Images from Unknown Sources [OPEN]. Accessible here:

A SPRING PICNIC would also be fun on a sunny day. Perhaps an outing to LINWOOD SPRINGS, about seven miles west on Highway 61, would be enjoyable. You could visit the healthful Sulphur springs or camp along the Mississippi River. As early as 1877 it was a popular spot. Just hop on the steamboat and enjoy the ride!

We wouldn’t be doing our due diligence unless we explored the surname SPRING! In our archives, we find a passenger list indicating Ferdinand and Cecilia SPRING arrived in New York from Germany in 1854.

New York Passenger List from 1854.

The Ferdinand SPRING family settled in Davenport Township and started their family as you can see in the 1856 Iowa State Census. Ferdinand’s occupation was Butcher, and the 1866 Davenport city directory has Mr. Spring listed among a number of others in the community.

They continued to grow their family, adding at least two more children. This 1871 newspaper clipping marks an unfortunate turn of events for the young family. Their corner shop and residence were lost in a fire.

The Davenport Democrat (Davenport, IA), Dec. 20, 1871.

Ferdinand died in 1880 and Cecelia in 1882. Their son Edward F. survived life’s ups and downs and stayed in Davenport, making it his home as documented in the 1890 Davenport city directory. Edward’s 1952 obituary gives homage to his pioneering parents. [Their date of arrival is slightly off.]  

Nearly a century passed within these two generations of the SPRINGs. Were they as anxious as we were to have SPRING’s bright colors enliven the days? Did they rejoice with the sighting of flocks of birds returning or early bloomers emerging from Mother Earth? We can only imagine they were. Enjoy these signs of SPRING from some of our photograph collections!

Let’s all think SPRING! 

(posted by Karen)

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“The Patch”: An Early Irish Neighborhood

In March, we see the glimmers of spring with new plant growth and holidays that allow us to reflect on the past as well as the future. Today is one such holiday that is as intertwined with American culture as the Fourth of July. St. Patrick’s Day is a day that celebrates Celtic culture, specifically Irish culture.

With this in mind, we began researching the Irish who made Davenport their home starting in the 1840s. There were many pockets of Irish settlement in Davenport from the west to the east ends. “The Patch”, one such Irish neighborhood was established in the mid to late 1800s by those who were employed in work relating to river transportation, railroads, and the early telegraph lines. The neighborhood extended Iowa and Federal Streets to the Mississippi River. It received its appellation of “The Patch” because the residents who lived there grew vegetable gardens in their yards. This garden patch neighborhood was extant until the early 1900s when the Irish moved to other parts of the city and the buildings took on more commercial residents.

Image from Davenport, Where the Mississippi Runs West: A Survey of Davenport History and Architecture, prepared by Marlys A. Svendsen, John Pfiffner, and Martha H. Bowers.

The map featured above showcases the development of the growing city of Davenport through its ethnic neighborhoods including those settled by the Irish, Germans, and Swedish. Most of these neighborhoods are lost in history with little artifactual evidence of their existence. “The Patch” is remembered through stories told of its residents, as well as a natural disaster that struck the area in 1901.

Articles have been published in our local newspapers about these once-thriving neighborhoods that give us insight into what life was like there.

Times staff writer, Mildred Brennan, wrote two detailed articles about “The Patch”. In the first article, she discussed the community of people who lived there and the various activities they participated in. She also describes the fire that took place on July 24, 1901. It destroyed nearly 30 acres and around 50 homes. It was a swift-moving fire, but luckily most of the families could escape the engulfing flames.

In the second article, she tells us the story of “The Patch” through the perspective of the ‘wee-folk’ or leprechauns. It is a delightful recounting of this Irish neighborhood.

In 2008, the Celtic Heritage Trail marked areas in the City of Davenport important to Irish and Celtic history and culture. They selected 10 locations from churches to residences. One location they chose was “The Patch” solidifying its role in the Irish history of Davenport and the Quad Cities.


(posted by Kathryn)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Brennan, Mildred. “Davenport’s Irish Remember Varied Tales about ‘Patch’.” The Daily Times (Davenport, IA), Mar. 17, 1954, page 31.

Brennan, Mildred. “Sure, The Wee Folk are Busy Here!” The Daily Times (Davenport, IA), Mar. 17,. 1958, pages 1 and 5.

Gaul, Alma. “Up with the Celts.” Quad-City Times (Davenport, IA), Mar. 18, 2008, pages 31 and 34.

Svendsen, Marlys A. Davenport, Where the Mississippi Runs West: A Survey of Davenport History & Architecture. Davenport, IA: City of Davenport, 1982.

Tibbetts, Ed. “Davenport’s early Irish: Melding into the melting pot.” Quad-City Times (Davenport, IA), Mar. 17, 1993, pages 1-2.

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Win for the Red and Blue: Davenport High School’s 1929 Basketball Championship

March Madness is fast approaching and local high school basketball teams are fighting to get to the state tournament.

The first boys’ basketball team to win a state tournament for Davenport High School (now Central High School) was in 1913. The Red and Blue, as they were then called, beat the team from Sioux City, Iowa 34 to 18. Davenport High School was one of eight teams selected to compete in the two-day tournament held in Iowa City.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, March 30, 1913. Pg. 20

The start of the Davenport High School 1928 – 1929 school year brought in a new teacher and basketball coach. Mr. Paul C. Moon was an instructor in Bookkeeping that would also be taking over coaching responsibilities for basketball. He promised to introduce new plays to the team and that they would go far. He was absolutely correct.

Davenport High School Blackhawk Vol. 12 (1929). SC 371.8 Dav Closed Stacks

With a new gym planned for Davenport High School, the basketball team practiced and held games at J. B. Young Intermediate School that season. Their first game was held on December 14, 1928, in the J. B. Young gym against Washington High School from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Coach Moon’s team was young with only three returning players who had lettered previously. Those three were Captain Robert Loufek, Paul McClanahan, and Henry Dahl. Dahl would be a mid-year graduate so the younger players would need to step up quickly on this team.

Davenport High School Blackhawk Vol. 12 (1929). SC 371.8 Dav Closed Stacks
Davenport High School Blackhawk Vol. 12 (1929). SC 371.8 Dav Closed Stacks

The regular season ended on February 23, 1929, by beating Muscatine High School 28-19 at J. B. Young’s gym. The Blue and Red ended the season 12 – 4.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, February 24, 1929. Pg. 29

Next were sectionals. First up was Wapello High School and Davenport easily beat them 66 to 18.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, March 1, 1929. Pg. 28

Sectionals continued with Davenport High School once again overcoming Muscatine High School in a riveting close game 26-23. Sectionals was won and now it was on to District.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, March 3, 1929. Pg. 35
Davenport High School Blackhawk Vol. 12 (1929). SC 371.8 Dav Closed Stacks

From 650 high school teams down to 83 fighting to go on to State in the District finals.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, March 4, 1929. Pg. 9

It was tough, but with a win over Parnell High School 34 to 31; the Davenport High School basketball team was on to State!

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, March 10, 1929. Pg. 35

State playoffs were held in Iowa City as the University of Iowa had the largest basketball arena in the state of Iowa. Davenport’s Red and Blue first faced Ottumwa High School in the first round of the State playoffs. The game went into overtime with the Red and Blue coming out as the winner with a final score of 24 – 22.

The Daily Times, March 22, 1929. Pg. 26

Semi-Finals saw Davenport High School meeting Sioux City East. It was another close game. The final score was Davenport with a win of 23 – 21. All that was left was the final Championship game.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, March 24, 1929. Pg. 35

The Red and Blue defeated Des Moines Roosevelt High School 26 – 21 in the Championship game. Coach Moon had not lied. He managed to bring a young team together with hard work and new skills. The entire city of Davenport celebrated their victory.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, March 25, 1929. Pg. 6
The Daily Times, March 25, 1929. Pg. 14

Coach Paul Moon stayed at Davenport High School until he retired in 1954. For 26 years he dedicated his talents to the basketball program. With his teams, he won state titles in 1929, 1930, 1941, 1947, 1950, 1951, and 1952.

Coach Moon also helped create the mascot for Davenport High School. Along with students Bill Rivkin and Lenvil Simmons, Coach Moon led the effort to adopt the Blue Devil as the school mascot (which it still is today as the Davenport Central Blue Devils) in 1935. This replaced the nicknames of Red and Blue and Hill Toppers which were used previously.

One can only imagine the pride Coach Moon and all of the players from 1929 felt as they remembered the legacy they helped to create with a little trust in the new coach and the unusual skills he brought with him.

Davenport High School Blackhawk Vol. 12 (1929). SC 371.8 Dav Closed Stacks

(posted by Amy D.)

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Happy Retirement, Ann Hetzler!

On Saturday, March 4, 2023, Information Services Librarian Ann Hetzler is retiring after more than 34 years at the Davenport Public Library.

Ann began working at the Davenport Public Library on July 18, 1988. She had previously worked as a reference librarian at the Moline Public Library.

She spent her first 19 years at DPL as the Extension Services Supervisor, managing the Family Reading Center at the Annie Wittenmyer branch library, the library bookmobile, and the Homebound delivery program. She became supervisor of the Fairmount library branch when it opened in January 2006.

Ann moved to her current librarian position on October 12, 2007. She is responsible for selecting many of the Library’s circulating nonfiction books, including our fabulous cookbook collection, all of our books about the arts & recreation, and the latest travel guides. Last year she organized our seed library, where library patrons can select 5 seed packets each month.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, Ann has become a popular YouTube star! Her programs include Ann’s Garden and Winter Gardening video series, where she shows off her master gardener skills, and her Visible Mending and Embroidery workshop series, where she encourages us to practice our sewing skills.

Ann has been the most prolific blogger on The Library’s Info Cafe reference blog since its inception in 2008 and also edits the Coffee Break reference eNewsletter. She has guided us through online reading challenges and made us laugh with her yearly April Fools posts.

After all that work, Ann is overdue for some rest and relaxation! We hope you get to travel the world and befriend all the cats.

Enjoy your retirement, Ann!

(posted by Cristina)

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The Sepia Record, 1944

With thanks to our friends at the Friends of MLK, [1] the RSSC Center has recently acquired a copy of a publication that gives new insight into an understanding of the WWII-era Black community in the Quad-Cities. To celebrate Black History Month 2023, we take a closer look at the African-American Davenporters featured in the 1944 Sepia Record.

Readers of this blog and students of local Black history will certainly be familiar with the name  Charles Toney. [2] We may count his role as Editor-In-Chief nof the Sepia Record among his many accomplishments as a civil rights crusader.

Sepia Record (Davenport, Iowa), Vol. 1, No. 1 (1944), page 4.

Toney aimed for the magazine to be “…the medium that would bridge the gulf of racial misunderstanding…to show that Negroes are not different in any respect from the average American.” Its purpose was “…to educate this group [of prejudiced persons in the Quad-City area] into knowing that the Negro is basically like any other nationality.”

One way in which the Sepia Record acheived its aim and purpose was to lift up the young men currently serving their country in the Second World War, including these Davenporters…

…and two former Davenport High School star athletes, Calvin Mason (track) and Orrie Pitts (football).

Celebrated Davenport musician and Navy man Warren Bracken was the leader of the Section Bass Swing Band.

Also featured was Tech. Sgt. Le Roy Smith, Jr., recipent of the mechanic, driver and tractor medal as well as the Soldier’s medal (for saving fellow soldiers from drowning). The Sepia Record noted that his father, Sgt. Le Roy Smith, Sr., had served in the First World War.

Others for whom patriotic service was a family affair included Dr. and Mrs. Charles Bates. Their sons Charles Jr., Stanley, Robert, and Ralph were all members of the armed forces.

The Bates were featured in the Sepia Record as “4-Star Parents” along with Marie Nicholson, Her sons Donald, Earl, Frank and Edwin also served.

Those laboring on the home front were not neglected by the magazine: Rock Island Arsenal defense workers Harold Toney and Simon Roberts were included; the latter, Principal Clerk in the Mail and Record Section, was celebrated for his 25 years on the job. Also shown was steelworker Charles Coffey.

And William Crump, doorman at the Hotel Blackhawk, supported the war in a different way: he starred in a short Treasury Department film encouraging the purchase of war bonds and stamps.

War service is just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to what can be discovered about African Americans in Davenport from the 1944 the Sepia Record. Watch this space for more! And we’d love to hear from anyone who might have a copy of the 1945 issue!


(posted by Katie)

[1] Ryan Saddler, FOMLK Board Chair and CEO, was kind enough to provide us with a copy of volume 1, number 1 (1944).

[2] The Charles and Ann Toney papers are held by the African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids.

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What Was In The Water In Davenport? – Books about Davenport Writers

We are thrilled to be hosting Marcia Noe on Saturday, February 24, 2023, at 1:30pm at The Library | Main to talk about her latest book: Three Midwestern Playwrights: How Floyd Dell, George Cram Cook, and Susan Glaspell Transformed American Theatre.

Marcia Noe teaches courses in American literature and women’s studies at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is the author of Three Midwestern Playwrights: How Floyd Dell, George Cram Cook, and Susan Glaspell Transformed American Theatre, Susan Glaspell: Voice from the Heartland, and over twenty other publications on Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Susan Glaspell. In 1993, she was Fulbright Senior Lecturer-Researcher at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil; with Junia C.M. Alves, she edited a collection of essays on the Brazilian theatre troupe Grupo Galpao (Editora Newton Paiva, 2006). She is a senior editor of The Dictionary of Midwestern Literature, an editor of the journal MidAmerica, and is the chair of the editorial committee of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature, which gave her the MidAmerica Award for distinguished contributions to the study of midwestern literature in 2003. She has supervised 27 student conference presentations and supervised or co-authored over 27 student publications. In 2004, she won the UTC College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teacher award and was an elected member of UTC’s Council of Scholars and Alpha Society. She recently completed a term on the board of Girls Inc. of Chattanooga and currently sits on the boards of the League of Women Voters of Chattanooga and The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature.

The following is a list of books about local writers in our collection with descriptions from the publishers.

Susan Glaspell

Three Midwestern playwrights: how Floyd Dell, George Cram Cook, and Susan Glaspell transformed American theatre by Marcia Noe

Call Number: SC 812.5209 NOE | Publication Date: 2022

In the early 1900s, three small-town midwestern playwrights helped shepherd American theatre into the modern era. Together, they created the renowned Provincetown Players collective, which not only launched many careers but also had the power to affect US social, cultural, and political beliefs.

The philosophical and political orientations of Floyd Dell, George Cram Cook, and Susan Glaspell generated a theatre practice marked by experimentalism, collaboration, leftist cultural critique, rebellion, liberation, and community engagement. In Three Midwestern Playwrights, Marcia Noe situates the origin of the Provincetown aesthetic in Davenport, Iowa, a Mississippi River town. All three playwrights recognized that radical politics sometimes begat radical chic, and several of their plays satirize the faddish elements of the progressive political, social, and cultural movements they were active in.

Three Midwestern Playwrights brings the players to life and deftly illustrates how Dell, Cook, and Glaspell joined early 20th-century midwestern radicalism with East Coast avant-garde drama, resulting in a fresh and energetic contribution to American theatre. 

A critical biography of Susan Glaspell by Marcia Noe

Call Number: SC 812 Noe | Publication Date: 1976

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of English at the Graduate College of the University of Iowa.

Susan Glaspell by Linda Ben-Zvi

Call Number: SC 810 BENZY LIN | ISBN: 9780195115062 | Publication Date: 2005-04-28

The career of Susan Glaspell (1876-1948), the American playwright and novelist, follows closely the trajectory of other “reclaimed” American women writers of the century such as Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Zora Neale Hurston: well-known in her time, effaced from canonical consideration after her death, rediscovered years later through the surfacing of one work, around which critical attention has focused. Glaspell was a respected international playwright and novelist who amassed some of the most impressive credentials in American theater history, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1931. Over the past fifteen years, she has been rediscovered through the work of leading feminist scholars; and her one-act play Trifles and its short story form, “A Jury of Her Peers,” have become classics.

This book is the first collection devoted to the study of the body of Glaspell’s work. Essays by leading playwrights and scholars provide an array of perspectives on the writer and her work. The book features the first complete Glaspell bibliography, including original reviews of her plays and fiction and recent critical studies of her writing.

Susan Glaspell’s poetics and politics of rebellion by Emeline Jouve

Call Number: SC 813.52 JOUVE EME | ISBN: 9781609385088 | Publication Date: 2017

A pioneer of American modern drama and founding member of the Provincetown Players, Susan Glaspell (1876–1948) wrote plays of a kind that Robert Brustein defines as a “drama of revolt,” an expression of the dramatists’ discontent with the prevailing social, political, and artistic order. Her works display her determination to put an end to the alienating norms that, in her eyes and those of her bohemian peers, were stifling American society. This determination both to denounce infringements on individual rights and to reform American life through the theatre shapes the political dimension of her drama of revolt.

Analyzing plays from the early Trifles (1916) through Springs Eternal (1943) and the undated, incomplete Wings, author Emeline Jouve illustrates the way that Glaspell’s dramas addressed issues of sexism, the impact of World War I on American values, and the relationship between individuals and their communities, among other concerns. Jouve argues that Glaspell turns the playhouse into a courthouse, putting the hypocrisy of American democracy on trial. In staging rebels fighting for their rights in fictional worlds that reflect her audience’s extradiegetic reality, she explores the strategies available to individuals to free themselves from oppression. Her works envisage a better future for both her fictive insurgents and her spectators, whom she encourages to consider which modes of revolt are appropriate and effective for improving the society they live in. The playwright defines social reform in terms of collaboration, which she views as an alternative to the dominant, alienating social and political structures. Not simply accusing but proposing solutions in her plays, she wrote dramas that enacted a positive revolt.

A must for students of Glaspell and her contemporaries, as well as scholars of American theatre and literature of the first half of the twentieth century.

Susan Glaspell: Voice from the heartland by Marcia Noe

Call Number: SC 812 Noe | Publication Date: 1983

Western Illinois Monograph Series, Number 1

Susan Glaspell and the anxiety of expression: language and isolation in the plays by Kristina Hinz-Bode

Call Number: SC 812 HINZ | ISBN: 0786425059 | Publication Date: 2006

One of the founding members of the Provincetown Players, Susan Glaspell contributed to American literature in ways that exceed the work she did for this significant theatre group. Interwoven in her many plays, novels, and short stories is astute commentary on the human condition. This volume provides an in-depth examination of Glaspell’s writing and how her language conveys her insights into the universal dilemma of society versus self.
Glaspell’s ideas transcended the plot and character. Her work gave prominent attention to such issues as gender, politics, power and artistic daring. Through an exploration of eight plays written between the years of 1916 and 1943—Trifles, Springs Eternal, The People, Alison’s House, Bernice, The Outside, Chains of Dew and The Verge—this work concentrates on one of Glaspell’s central themes: individuality versus social existence. It explores the range of forces and fundamental tensions that influence the perception and communication of her characters. The final chapter includes a brief commentary on other Glaspell works. A biographical overview provides background for the author’s reading and interpretation of the plays, placing Glaspell within the context of literary modernism.

Midnight assassina murder in America’s heartland by Patricia L. Bryan & Thomas Wolf

Call Number: SC 364.1523 BRY | Publication Date: 2005

On a moonlit night in December 1900, a prosperous Iowa farmer was murdered in his bed–killed by two blows of an ax to his head. Four days later, the victim’s wife, Margaret Hossack, was arrested at her husband’s funeral and charged with the crime.

The vicious assault stunned and divided the close-knit rural community. The accused woman claimed to be innocent, but stories of domestic troubles and abuse provided prosecutors with a motive for the crime. Neighbors and family members were reluctant to talk about what they knew concerning the couple’s troubled marriage.

MIDNIGHT ASSASSIN takes us back to the murder, the investigation, and the trials of Margaret Hossack. The book introduces us to Susan Glaspell, a young journalist who reported the story for the Des Moines Daily News and fifteen years later transformed the events into the classic one-act play, “Trifles”, and the acclaimed short story, “A Jury of Her Peers.”

Patricia L. Bryan and Thomas Wolf researched the Hossack case for almost a decade, combing through the legal records, newspaper accounts, government documents, and unpublished memoirs. The result is a vivid portrait of life in rural America at the turn-of-the century and a chilling step-by-step account of the crime and its aftermath.

In MIDNIGHT ASSASSIN, the authors masterfully bring to light a century-old murder case that is as compelling now as it was then.

George Cram Cook

The road to the temple by Susan Glaspell

Call Number: SC 809.1 COOK GEO | Publication Date: 1927

Biography of George Cram Cook written by his wife, Susan Glaspell.

Eugene O’ Neill is one of America’s most celebrated playwrights, but relatively few Americans know the name of the man who essentially gave O’ Neill his first chance at greatness: George Cram “Jig” Cook, one of America’s most colorful and original thinkers and founder of the Provincetown Players, the first company to stage O’Neill. Cook’s story, with all its hopes, dreams, and disappointments, is told in The Road to the Temple.

First published in 1927 in the United States and reprinted in 1941, this biography is the work of Cook’s third wife, Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Susan Glaspell, It traces Cook’s lifelong search for self, a search that took him from his birthplace in Davenport, Iowa, to New York to Delphi; from university teaching and truck farming, to the Provincetown Players, to the antiquity of Greece. Part of Jig’s story is told by excerpts from his journals, pictures, poetry, and fiction. Interwoven with narrative flashbacks, these entries concerning his day-to-day activities as well as his thoughts and feelings bring him to life for the reader. In addition, Glaspell offers finely crafted portraits of the American Midwest in the late nineteenth century; a vivid picture of Greenwich Village between 1910 and 1920; and a moving and lyrical account of the life she and Jig lived in Greece, where Jig died on January 11, 1924. A compelling combination of biography and autobiography, this volume presents a unique and personal picture of a fascinating American original.”

Jig Cook and the Provincetown Players: theatre in ferment by Robert Károly Sarlós

Call Number: SC 792.09744 Sar | Publication Date: 1982

During the American cultural upheaval of the 1910s and 1920s, a major movement was the development of a native theatre and of groups interested in its work. This study of the Provincetown Players in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and New York from 1915-1922 shows their important role in presenting works of O’Neill and other leading writers of the time, describes the fascinating and powerful personality of their founder and leader Jig Cook, and analyzes with impressive sensitivity the dichotomy between the needs of an increasingly professional theatrical group and Cook’s wish to create a spontaneous communal experience. Assessing the ways in which the Players could be said to have both succeeded and failed, Sarlós notes that, ironically, the eminence of the Players as a theatrical force defeated the social goals Cook established.

The author discusses by season the productions of ninety-seven new plays which the Players staged in their active career of eight seasons. In addition to its role as producer of O’Neill, the group staged works by Susan Glaspell, Floyd Dell, Djuna Barnes, Alfred Kreymbourg, John Reed, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Mike Gold, and many others.

Arthur Davison Ficke

The Spectra hoax by William Jay Smith

Call Number: SC 811 Smi | Publication Date: 1961

The story of the highly successful hoax perpetrated by Witter Bynner and Arthur Davison Ficke, who invented the “Spectric” school of poets in reaction to what they saw as the absurdity of many recent “schools”.

Floyd Dell

Floyd Dell: the life and times of an American rebel by Douglas Clayton

Call Number: SC 818.52 CLAYT DOU | Publication Date: 1994

Among the American avant-garde of the early twentieth century, Floyd Dell played a distinctive role. A boy from the Midwest who rose to influence in the Chicago Literary Renaissance and in the heyday of Greenwich Village radicalism, he became a celebrated novelist, critic, editor (of The Masses), poet, and playwright. Dell was also a notorious bohemian, proponent of free love, and champion of feminism, progressive education, socialism, and Freudianism. His love affairs earned him almost as much notoriety as his writings. His friends and colleagues included many of the great figures of the era: radical journalists John Reed and Max Eastman; the Christian Socialist Dorothy Day; novelists Theodore Dreiser, Upton Sinclair, and Sherwood Anderson; and poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. Yet no figure was more colorful and brilliant than Dell himself. Better than anyone, he epitomized the high spirits and towering ambitions of American culture in the early decades of the century. Douglas Clayton’s biography of Dell, the first full-length life, captures the remarkable accomplishments and contradictions of a man who was both central to radical culture and profoundly skeptical of it. An early escapee from Marxism, his career never followed the familiar left-to-right course. But Dell struggled all his life with the relationship between politics and art, which makes his life so arresting and relevant today. With 8 pages of photographs

Faun at the barricadesthe life and work of Floyd Dell by G. Thomas Tanselle

Call Number: SC 813 Tan | Publication Date: 1959

A dissertation submitted to the Northwestern University graduate school in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the field of English.

Octave Thanet/Alice French

Journey to obscurity: the life of Octave Thanet by George L. McMichael

Call Number: SC 813 McM | Publication Date: 1965

Mr. McMichael’s aims have been to describe the life of Alice French and the times which produced and molded her, and to analyze the causes for the rise, decline, and collapse of her literary reputation.

Group Biographies

The stories we tell: modernism in the Tri-Cities by Meg Gillette

Call Number: SC 810.9977 STORI WE | ISBN: 1878326244 | Publication Date: 2014

This book contains Susan Glaspell (1876-1948) — The heartland stained yellow: Midwestern free-thinkers / Megan Boedecker — The coverage of Hossack murder case / Susan Glaspell — The salvation of the working class / Floyd Dell — What are you doing out there / Floyd Dell — Susan Glaspell, Existenilalist / Isaac Lauritsen — Act 1 from The Verge / Susan Glaspell.

A contrary vision: the roots of alienation in Davenport by Ted Stichnoth

Call Number: SC 977.769 STICH TED | Publication Date: 1973

This is an undergraduate honors thesis.

With Pen in Hand by Bj Elsner (Editor)

Call Number: SC 920.077 Wit | ISBN: 097282412X | Publication Date: 2003-10-01

A book by notable Quad-City writers of the past, including Alice French, Arthur Davison Ficke, Floyd Dell, George Cram Cook, and Susan Glaspell.

Outstanding Iowa women: past and present by Ethel W. Hanft

Call Number: SC 977.7 HAN | Publication Date: 1980

Includes biographical sketches and photographs of Alice French and Susan Glaspell.

A book of Iowa authors by Iowa authors; edited by Johnson Brigham

Call Number: SC 810.99777 Bri | Publication Date: 1930

Includes biographical sketches of Arthur Davison Ficke, Octave Thanet/Alice French, and Susan Glaspell.

Iowa literary heritage trail: illustrated visit to birthplaces, residences or burial sites Prepared by Iowa Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book, located at the Public Library of Des Moines.

Call Number: SC 810.99777 Iow | Publication Date: 1993

Includes Floyd Dell, Arthur Davison Ficke, Susan Glaspell, and Octave Thanet/Alice French.

(posted by Cristina)

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Saying Farewell To A Local Legend: William “Bill” Wundram

How do you say goodbye to a local legend? William “Bill” Wundram passed away on February 14, 2023, at the age of 98 years. To describe Bill is not a simple task. Think a little of P.T. Barnum’s flair, a little of Tom Sawyer’s adventurous spirit, and a little of Walt Disney’s creativity all wrapped into the enormous heart and smile of one talented writer and reporter. The grandest part is Bill shared all those talents with us for the 74 years he worked at the Quad-City Times (originally the Davenport Democrat and Leader).

William Lewis Wundram, Jr. was born in Davenport, Iowa on December 21, 1924, to William G. and Edna M. (Maisack) Wundram. Bill, or Billy, became the youngest of the three Wundram children, sisters Helen and Ruth being born in 1914 and 1921. His father was in advertising for the Davenport Democrat newspaper at the time of Bill’s birth.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, December 22, 1924. Pg. 16

The family lived at 2041 W. 5th Street in Davenport’s west side. In October 1933, Bill’s father opened a grocery and meat market at 2002 W. 4th Street in the midst of the Great Depression. The west side of Davenport still had many German-speaking residents. Bill would remember helping customers and needing to know German to assist with transactions in later years.

On October 23, 1937, the Wundram family suffered the devastating loss of Bill’s oldest sister Helen. She died two weeks after undergoing appendicitis surgery. This event and the mourning period that followed would be remembered years later in his daily column for the Quad-City Times.

Bill attended Buchannan Elementary School and then Frank L. Smart Intermediate School. By his time at Smart, Bill was already performing for PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) events and fundraisers. He was listed as part of a German Band on many occasions.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, November 5, 1939. Pg. 22

With the Great Depression easing, but the threat of World War II ever increasing; Bill entered Davenport High School. Bill was a student at DHS during the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into the war. The Blackhawk, the yearbook for Davenport High School, was filled with the patriotic events and fundraisers the school participated in. Bill, as he would throughout his life, led or participated in many of these activities and shows.

Images from The Blackhawk Yearbook, 1943.

When graduation came in June 1943, Bill listed membership in Quill Club, band, newspaper staff, picture editor of the annual, and President of the Senior Class for his activities. Turning the pages of his senior yearbook, Bill is pictured at many events performing, playing an instrument, or being an emcee.

After high school, Bill did basic training in the Army. He returned to Davenport and very briefly attended Augustana College in Rock Island, IL before being hired at the Davenport Democrat and Leader as a reporter on March 20, 1944. On March 20, 1944, At 5’2″ (according to his World War II draft card) and a young looking 19 years old, it appears Bill took some teasing from rival newspaper The Daily Times when he was first hired.

The Daily Times, June 21, 1944. Pg. 3

Bill flourished at The Daily Democrat as a reporter and photographer. From light-hearted stories to more hard-hitting news, Bill covered it all. On December 6, 1949, Bill was covering an event at Davenport Fire House #5 on Rockingham Road when he attempted to slide down the fire pole. Not realizing it was freshly waxed, Bill ended up at Mercy Hospital with a broken leg and fractured kneecap.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, December 7, 1949. Pg. 25
The Daily Times, December 7, 1949. Pg. 14

This would turn out to be a life-changing event for the young man. Bill would often reminisce about the beautiful red-haired nurse named Helen he met there. On November 30, 1952, Bill and Helen Voorhees, his beautiful nurse, were married. They would have three children; Tim, Rebecca, and Peter.

In 1955, Bill was named editor for the centennial anniversary edition of the Democrat newspaper. After that, he moved among the editor’s desks as City Editor, Sunday Editor, and Assistant Editor to name a few job positions. The Democrat and Daily Times eventually merged and became The Quad-City Times. It was in 1979 that Bill was selected to become a Saturday columnist for the Times.

Bill’s first column of his observations and local information ran on November 24, 1979. This once-a-week column would eventually become a seven-day-a-week column for the Times before dropping back to five days a week shortly before Bill retired in 2018 after 74 years of newspaper reporting. In his spare time, he wrote ten books and helped with numerous other publications.

The Quad-City Times, November 24, 1979. Pg. 1

Bill didn’t just report the news. He continued the amazing spirit of volunteering that began at Smart Intermediate and Davenport High School. He helped start the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival, helped create the Bix 7 road race, was chairman of the Davenport Halloween Parade, supporter of the public libraries, supported the Quad City Symphony, and much, much more.

From left to right: Far left: Davenport librarian Ann Hetzler, Bill Wundram, and Dewey the Library Cat at the Davenport Public library in 1989. Middle: Bill Wundram and Dewey the Library Cat at Dewey’s birthday party in 1989. Far right: Bill reading to children during Night of a Thousand Stars program at the Main branch of the Davenport Public Library.

He supported the Quad Cities through his columns. Bill challenged us to care not only for each other but also for our communities. He was well known for asking, “Is anyone there? Does anyone care?” Bill’s stories could get the community talking.

Bill was an adventurer too. On May 22, 1966, The Sunday Times-Democrat in the Family Focus section ran Bill’s article on his adventure meeting Walt Disney when Mr. Disney flew Bill and Helen out to California for the day on a private Disney plane for an interview. Walt Disney once interviewed for a position with Victor Animatograph company in Davenport. Legend has it that as he left on a train from Davenport he created a character named Mortimer Mouse that eventually developed into Mickey Mouse.

The Sunday Times-Democrat, May 22, 1966. Focus on Family. Pg. 4

Bill met almost every U.S. President from Harry Truman to Barack Obama. He told how he snuck into Bob Hope’s limo at the airport to interview him. Bill also wrote about everyday people he met in the Quad Cities or traveling with Helen.

If Bill had to pick another occupation, it might have been circus clown. He loved the circus and trained to be a clown. He would write about his experiences traveling with different small circuses. He and Helen would travel and take adventures that he shared with readers. Just like at home, Bill made friends wherever he went.

The Quad-City Times, April 21, 1998. Pg. 27

In 2009, I climbed up to Davenport City Hall’s attic with Bill and former Mayor Bill Gluba to explore. Bill went all the way up to the bell tower where he rang the bell. Over and under pipes and up and down steep ladders. Nothing was going to stop his adventure.

Quad-City Times, September 27, 2009. Pg. 2

Here in Special Collections, we loved our time looking at pictures with Bill, chatting about questions people may have asked him, and checking on addresses of old businesses for his research. One of our last challenges was helping him research the history of old dog tags and Davenport city ordinances in 2017. Bill greatly appreciated libraries and local history.

The Quad-City Times, August 6, 2017. Pg. A2

We could go on for days writing about Bill’s accomplishments and stories. We feel we have barely touched the surface of all he accomplished throughout his life.

We send our condolences to his family and friends. Maybe we should all remember how Bill greeted people with “Hello friend!” even if you were just meeting him for the first time. That openness to others touched many lives over the years. Thank you, Bill, for your sharing your love of news, adventure, and people with us all. We will miss you, dear friend.

We can sincerely say there will never be another Bill Wundram. He was one of a kind and we are grateful he shared his talents with us over the years.

(posted by Amy & Cristina)

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Preserving Local History

For over 30 years, the Davenport Public Library has dedicated space and staff for the purpose of collecting, preserving, and accessing the history of Davenport, Scott County, and the surrounding areas. In 1999, The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center was made possible through a financial donation from Alice and Ted Sloane. With these contributions, the Davenport Public Library has been able to develop and expand its collections and resources pertaining to local history and genealogical resources.

One way we continue to expand our collections is through donations of materials from individuals, societies, organizations, businesses, and government entities. Donations vary by subject, format, period, and size. We may receive a donation of personal papers documenting an individual’s life, work, and family history, or we may receive a collection recording a business’s activities and impact on its community.

Donations are a vital part of our collection development policy. When prospective donors communicate with us, we begin the conversation by sharing the policy with them so they know what we collect and why. Our collection development policy is shared below.

Depending on the needs of the donor and the donation, we may set up a time to discuss any questions they may have in person or over the phone as well as what happens to the materials if they are donated to us. We also offer to present to the organization or society interested in donating their records or to provide a tour of Special Collections. Each donation is unique, so when we have an interested party inquire about donating, we try to provide as much information as possible about the process.

If a donor decides to donate with us, we have them sign a deed of gift transferring the materials to us. As part of this documentation, we ask about the provenance of the material, i.e., ownership history or how the materials came to be in their possession. We also ask if there is any other information that may help future researchers use the collections such as identifying people in images and recording who created or who is associated with the donation. Depending on the donation, we may ask if there are any preservation or condition issues we should be aware of. At this time, the donation gets accession to our collections and a donation gift acknowledgment is mailed.

After this is completed, we survey the collection to make an assessment of how it is arranged and organized. We will also be able to see if any preservation or conservation concerns are associated with the donation. We will draft a plan of how we will process the collection based on its original order (if there is evidence of one) thus following the respect des fonds principle.

Processing a collection is dependent on many factors. The main activities that are associated with it include arranging, organizing, rehousing, performing any preservation treatments to the materials as well as describing the materials in a way that people can access them.

This image captures a staff member processing an archival and manuscript collection.

We not only collect materials to grow our collection, but we also preserve and make them accessible. We make materials accessible by describing them either in our library catalog through a bibliographic record or in our archive and manuscript catalog through a finding aid.

Example of a finding aid for one of our collections.

Then with these catalogs, anyone can discover what we have in our collections and then use those collections to answer their questions. Along with making them accessible in person to researchers, we continually digitize our collections and make them available on the Upper Mississippi Valley Digital Image Archive.

Example of one of our collections: 2009-14: Southeast Little League Photograph Albums

Example of one of our collections: 2020-22: Arnesen Family Papers

With these material donations, one is able to use the collection to research, learn, and expand their understanding of our world.

(posted by Kathryn)

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San Fran 49er Fan – Iowa Connections   

If you watched last weekend’s NFL Divisional playoffs, you probably saw some Iowans in action! Did you know that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, “Mr. Irrelevant”,  was a very successful quarterback at Iowa State University? He seems pretty relevant now!

Were you aware that 49ers tight end George Kittle was born in Ames and was a University of Iowa Hawkeye where he met his Dubuque-born wife, Claire Till – Hawkeye Women’s Basketball standout? 

Best of all, do you remember football legend Roger Craig, #33 of the San Fran teams of 1983-1990, was from Davenport?  Well, these images from Davenport High School’s yearbook the Blackhawk from 1977-1979 are proof positive that Roger Craig’s high-stepping style started right here in Sofa City!

According to a Quad-City Times article from January 23, 1985, Craig’s first football team was the Creighton Vanguards in the Davenport Midget Football League. He wore number 55, an unusual number for the running back. Evidently, the 10-year-old wasn’t allowed to be a running back because kids over 95 pounds weren’t allowed in the backfield. He was placed at the end instead! In this grainy newspaper picture, he is third from the left in the front row.

Quad-City Times (Davenport, IA), Jan. 23, 1985, page 11.

As he matured, Craig became an all-around athlete participating in track, wrestling, and football. He became a school and state record holder in a number of categories.

He was a member of D’s Club, too – a service club for CHS lettermen.

Blackhawk Yearbook, Davenport High School, 1979.

Roger Craig graduated from Central in 1979 and chose to attend the University of Nebraska, earning an opportunity to play in the Orange Bowl.

With the San Francisco 49ers, he was a three-time Super Bowl champion and is a 49ers Hall of Fame member. Later he played for the LA Raiders and Minnesota Vikings prior to retirement.

Davenport Central inducted him into their Hall of Honor in 1989 and he became a member of the QC Sports Hall of Fame in 1987. 

According to an article entitled, “Roger Craig: Where is 49ers Super Bowl champion RB now?” published by BVM Sports, Mr. Craig continues to be athletically active, running in marathons. The article also states he is affiliated with “TIBCO Software”, a firm focusing on big data and software integrations as well as “Sports Thread”, a social media-based network connecting student-athletes with teammates, coaches, parents, and fans.

Sports announcers said Mr. Craig attended last weekend’s game against the Dallas Cowboys. Wouldn’t it be amazing if he could join a viewing party at one of the Davenport Public libraries if the San Francisco 49ers go all the way to the Super Bowl? Aww, who am I kidding? I bet he’ll have a front-row seat in Arizona to watch Brock Purdy and George Kittle. But we will always have the yearbooks to enjoy our Iowa hometown sports hero and imagine that someday Roger Craig high-steps into Special Collections to do some research! It’s a great time to be a San Fran 49er Fan!!! Go Hawks!!!!!

Blackhawk Yearbook, Davenport High School, 1979.

(posted by Karen)

Kluge, Cody. “Roger Craig: Where is 49ers Super Bowl champion RB now?.” BVM Sports. BVM Sports – Best Version Media, LLC., Sept. 1, 2022. Jan. 28, 2023.

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Interactive Map: Davenport’s Early Black Community

One of our favorite resources is accession 2004-67: African American residential patterns in Davenport, Iowa. Compiled by Craig R. Klein of Scott Community College, the collection consists of photocopied maps showing African American residential patterns in Davenport, Iowa in 1867, 1890-91, 1900-01, 1910, and 1920.

Klein noted the location of churches, fraternal organizations, schools, parks, businesses, and residences of professionals on each map. He gathered information from city and business directories, federal and state census, county histories, church histories, Davenport newspapers, and the Iowa Bystander.

We have taken the information from these physical maps and created this interactive map. Each map (1867, 1890, 1900, 1910, and 1920) is a separate layer, so you can select the year or years you want and explore Davenport’s early black community.

(posted by Cristina)

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