In honor of our one-year anniversary of the Purple Shirt Award, here’s our first post, which debuted on our tumblr in January of 2014!
We’ve started asking Special Collections staff to bring their favorite items to share with everyone else at our departmental meetings and our inaugural competition was last week! The newly dubbed Purple Shirt Award comes with bragging rights and an automaton made by our new department head, Sonia Yaco! Here’s the winning item and the award:
We had some great suggestions, but Dan Harper won the day with an (intentionally) hilarious set of memos and letters from the Forest Preserve of Cook County about their new bathroom designs in the 1940s. Most of the correspondence is between Roberts Mann, FPDCC Superintendent of Maintenance, and Dorothy Waugh, of the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. The last two letters are between Mann and a FPDCC patron dissatisfied with the toilet design (a must read). We’ve got photographs of some of the initial letters between Mann and Waugh and also the initial letter from the dissatisfied Forest Preserve patron.
Other entries this time include a draft of a New Year’s greeting card from the Ralph Creasman collection and three WPA murals from the University Archives painted by Ethel Spears called “Winter Sleigh Ride.” The latter were on display in the girls’ ward of the University of Illinois Orthopedic Institute. Due to preservation issues, the murals are not currently publicly accessible.
Citations for the above collections:
FPDCC Toilet letters: “V. 8. The Fuction Foiler, Roberts Mann, 29 pp., 1935 through 1945,” 1935, 1945. Forest Preserve District of Cook County records, Series III, Subseries I, box iii-2, folder iii-2-20.
Creasman New Year’s card: Ralph Creasman Design Papers, Series I, Subseries VI, Box 4, folder 106.
WPA Murals: Spears, Ethel. “Winter Sleigh Ride.” University Archives. No current accession number, but check out more information on Spears as a muralist!