Albion Fellows Bacon (1865-1933), writer and reformer, was born in Evansville, Indiana, where she actively worked with local charities, two of which evolved into the YWCA and the Visiting Nurse Association. She is most noted for her vigorous campaign to improve substandard housing, persuading the Indiana legislature to pass a housing reform bill in the early twentieth century. Bacon was also involved with the Indiana Child Welfare Association and the Commission on Child Welfare, as well as other social agencies. Some of her writings recount her career as a reformer, while others relate her spiritual experiences. Bacon was the sister of Annie Fellows Johnston, an author who achieved national acclaim for her Little Colonel series, which was later converted to films starring Shirley Temple.
The collection includes Bacon's speeches on housing reform that she gave around the country, as well as speeches and notes on child welfare, the relationship between tuberculosis and housing, and other social problems. Other items are Bacon's poems, music, and drawings; newspaper clippings and other biographical information; family photos; and miscellaneous publications pertaining to her life and career.
Organized in early 1844, Vanderburgh County’s Clay Club sought “to promote by all honorable means the election of the distinguished statesman Henry Clay to the presidency of the United States,” its members believing that the Whig candidate’s election would “carry out the true principles of the Government.” Many of Evansville’s most prominent men became members, including philanthropist Willard Carpenter and Conrad Baker, future governor of Indiana (1867-1873). The club’s constitution, by-laws, and minutes (February 10, 1844 - September 6, 1844) are recorded in a ledger that also contains similar records for the Young Men’s Scott Club, comprised of local Whigs who supported Winfield Scott’s candidacy for the presidency in 1852. Minutes for this group begin on July 31, 1852, and end a few weeks later in September, when members merged with the German Club.
Like her sister Albion Fellows Bacon, Annie Fellows Johnston (1863-1931) was born in Evansville, Indiana. Soon after an extended tour of Europe with her sister, Johnston was married briefly to William L. Johnston, who died unexpectedly in 1892. Three years later, she produced her first work about “The Little Colonel,” which was based on the life of Hattie Cochran, a young girl who lived near her in Pewee Valley in Kentucky, where Johnston had moved with her step-children after her husband’s death. This popular thirteen-novel series eventually brought the author international acclaim after the books were translated into at least forty languages. In 1935, Twentieth Century Fox released “The Little Colonel,” a film that starred Shirley Temple and Lionel Barrymore.
The Annie Fellows Johnston Collection contains numerous newspaper clippings and other articles about her life and career, personal and business correspondence, including fan letters received from 1903 to 1917, poetry and other writings, publicity materials, and photos of her family and residence in Pewee Valley.
Best known for her work in historic preservation, Joan Marchand was deeply involved in community affairs, lecturing to many local organizations and conducting tours of historic districts. She served as Historic Preservation Officer for the City of Evansville until shortly before her death in early 1997, avidly researching and writing about Evansville history and architecture. In 1995, she was formally recognized by the Indiana Historic Landmarks Foundation for her tireless efforts in raising public awareness of historic preservation. Marchand was also a gifted photographer who captured thousands of images of local buildings and landmarks during her career, many of them shortly before they were razed.
Joan Marchand was a longtime supporter of Willard Library, bequeathing the bulk of her photos and research to the library. These holdings encompass over forty boxes of research materials, over fifty binders of research notes, approximately three thousand photos, and several boxes of information on Evansville history and architecture that were recorded on index cards; some of these cards have been digitized and can be accessed via the Online Resources link on Willard Library's homepage.
A native of New Albany, Indiana, Kate Seston Matthews spent most of her life in Pewee Valley near Louisville, Kentucky. In 1886, at age 16, she became interested in photography, which evolved into a career that spanned 70 years. She won many prizes for her work and is perhaps best known for her portrayal of characters from Annie Fellows Johnston's "The Little Colonel" books. The Matthews Collection contains nearly 500 prints and negatives.
Pearl Harbor galvanized Evansville in unprecedented ways. Chrysler, International Steel, and a host of other local businesses and industries combined with two newcomers, Republic Aviation and the Evansville Shipyard, to contribute enormously to the war effort. The production of over 100 LSTs at the Shipyard between 1942-1945 far exceeded the Navy’s original order for 28 and topped the output of other shipyards in the country. A complete set of the Shipyard’s monthly publication, The Invader, traces the extraordinary achievement of the workers there.
A native of Chicago, Illinois, Norman A. Shane, Sr. (1896-1974), moved to Evansville shortly after his discharge from the U. S. Army. He was involved in civic affairs for more than fifty years and received numerous awards for community leadership. He was president of Shane Manufacturing Company and Shane Uniform Company; in 1967, Shane was recognized by the American Apparel Manufacturers Association for his distinguished service. He was also an active member of Washington Avenue Temple, where he served as a trustee for forty years.
The collection includes, but is not limited to, biographical material, photographs, personal correspondence, copies of speeches, Washington Avenue Temple bulletins and programs (1949-1952), as well as Zionist pamphlets and information.
From 1950 to 1983, Robert ("Bob") Koch operated a photography studio in Evansville. When he retired, Mr. Koch donated an estimated 15,000 senior high school portraits to the library, as well as scores of images of buildings, streets, businesses and industries, people, Dade (Ellis) Park, and other subjects. Some of the images are viewable in the library's online Photography Gallery, and the rest can be accessed on the second floor.