Preservation of the McKinley Election

1896 McKinley 5.4

With the Tim Anthony Jackson Collection being the largest Special Collection of items here in the Archives, as a consequence it is not completely cataloged and readily available for online records.  But it’s no wonder since the years span from the Cleveland years to today.  As an intern this semester, it has been my duty to identify, preserve, and make notes for all of the items that I come across.  Lately I have been working on the McKinley elections from 1896 and 1900, and not only do I have to describe each piece of memorabilia, but I have to accurately identify what each item formally is.  There was a small time when lapel buttons threw me for a loop, I forgot the official name for stereographs, and the time I nearly spent an hour in research to find that a Forbes lithograph supplement for The Boston Globe was actually an unfolded paper sailor hat (who knew?).  I never cease to be amazed by all of the random ways McKinley was advertised in the political sphere by all of the artifacts that are pulled out.

Typically with campaign buttons, the longest entries are in the notes and preservation suggestions, not only because condition varies from one button to the next, but because there are several buttons that use the same picture of McKinley but differ in only one element such as background or slogan usage. You can’t just say “a button that says McKinley” because that could mean any of twenty that exist. No, you have to say the color, if the lettering is in color, if there’s an American flag design (there’s a lot of those too), or if there is a piece of paper on the inside describing who made that button. So there is actually a lot of detail-oriented information that is necessary in order to distinguish one item from another, especially if they are the same format, like buttons or stereographs.  

It was around the years 1894 and 1896 that political campaign buttons became really popular and mass produced by prominent companies such as The Whitehead & Hoag Company in Newark, New Jersey.  These buttons vary from size to shape and look on the button face.  Cataloging buttons are a little funny because it may also constitute a badge, medallion, or lapel decoration, so you really have to determine what it is.  Pin backs are usually the most common button, and I’ve been fortunate to find that most of these buttons still have their original patent dates on the inside paper on the back of the button.  My favorite button from this campaign would have to be the McKinley gold bug with its wings outstretched.  While the Gold Bug is fun to look at, you really don’t get a sense of its real worth unless you handle it in person.  I thought it was a fixed, non-moving button, but boy was I wrong!  There is a certain level of finesse and craftsmanship that went into this little guy.  In each of the wings are tiny portraits of McKinley and his running mate Hobart, but you also see little notches cut out of the actual tip of the wing.  Apparently, the wings can fold into the actual body of the insect and theses notches are what keep them in place until a tiny lever on the underside releases them into the flying position.  Now mind, this entire pin back button is 1.2 inches, so the inner mechanisms are very small!

1896 McKinley 1.6

Perhaps the most intriguing item (albeit horrifying in this writer’s opinion) are the McKinley soap dolls.  There are two of them in their little decorated white boxes saying “My Papa Will Vote for McKinley”.  The first time I ever opened one of those boxes I was disgusted but utterly fascinated.  Not only is it androgynous, but the smile on their faces were so carefully carved with the head looking slightly to their left.  I didn’t really want to touch them but nevertheless had to in order to get their dimensions.  I also had to double check to verify that they were soap since one of them looked more like beeswax to me, but my suspicions were wrong and soap they were.  These soap dolls are over 100 years old, I’m still a little shocked at how they’ve held up.  Although the feet on one of them has broken off a little, and the necks look a little suspicious to me.

 Soap doll (1) Soap doll (2)

Then there are the items that are the most fun to identify, because you seriously have to dig. But this makes it really fun because it’s like you play detective. The best example for this was the Forbes Lithograph paper hat. Now just by the way that sounds, it would seem obvious to identify what it is. But the way that I found it in the box, it was folded up into a square and once opened up completely, it’s a large rectangle. Just by looking at it, you would never really think of it as being a paper hat by the way it’s printed. So after about an hour exploring the history of the Forbes Lithograph company and anything related to “The Boston Sunday Globe”, I eventually stumbled upon what I was looking for on an auction website that had it already folded into its natural hat shape. There is always such a great sense of accomplishment that goes with this (that may or may not include a Rocky-fist to the sky). It is a little misleading with the lines “Fold On This Line” yet it was put away as a unassembled artifact, so there arises the question whether to keep it in its unfolded/uncreated state, or to make it into the hat it was intended for. 

McKinley paper hat

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First Ladies in Presidential Campaigns

The University Archives and Special Collections department recently installed a new long-term exhibit, featuring materials from the Tim Anthony Jackson Collection of Political Memorabilia. The Tim Anthony Jackson Collection contains over 12,000 political and historical artifacts from over 100 years of U.S. Presidential history, including campaign buttons, posters, banners, bumper stickers, dolls, board games, statues, masks, and campaign literature. The exhibit is on display at the UT Tyler Robert R. Muntz Library.

First Ladies in modern presidential campaigns exhibit

Capturing the Public’s Attention

Mrs. Frances Folsom Cleveland (1886-1889; 1893-1897) was the youngest First Lady in history and the first to be married in the White House. The wedding attracted international attention, with top journalists vying for glimpses of the wedding cake, the bridal train, and the floral displays. White House historians consider Mrs. Cleveland “one of the most popular women ever to serve as hostess for the nation.” The National First Ladies’ Library reports that “Frankie” Cleveland attracted so much attention from admirers and journalists that the president feared for her safety at public events. Her style was so widely emulated that national trends were swayed by mere rumors about her preferences. Much to the Clevelands’ annoyance, Frances’ likeness was used heavily in campaign paraphernalia for the 1888 and 1892 campaigns.

Seventy-five years later, the American public found another First Lady to idolize in Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy (1961-1963). Much like Frances Cleveland, Jackie left an indelible impression on national fashion trends. While Frances Cleveland had attracted an unprecedented level of commercial and media attention, Jacqueline Kennedy’s role in the public eye was so prominent that she became the first presidential spouse to hire her own press secretary. Jackie was bolder than many of her predecessors in the political realm, whether leading a campaign to restore the historic White House, promoting the establishment of a national cultural center, or traveling in support of her husband’s foreign policy aims.

Rise of the Political Family

Jacqueline Kennedy was the first mother to raise youngchildren in the White House since Theodore Roosevelt’s wife Edith (1901-1909). In the wake of the Kennedy administration, the “First Family” played an increasingly prominent role in election campaigns. Presidential couples were varyingly depicted to deliver messages about the candidate’s values, character, and leadership potential. In contrast, campaigns for female presidential and vice-presidential candidates have historically downplayed the role of a prospective “first gentlemen.”

A Candidate in Her Own Right

Since the days of Frances Cleveland, First Ladies have increasingly featured in campaign materials. This display case shows a progression of campaigns featuring First and Second Ladies (the official term for the wife of the Vice President). In some case, wives were not the only women to attract campaign attention. Lillian Gordy Carter, nicknamed “Miss Lillian” by the press, was a popular personality in the 1976 and 1980 presidential campaigns.

Themes in Electoral Campaigns

Designers of campaign memorabilia often revived successful slogans from years past. Refrains of “move over” and “start packing,” signaling the ouster of an incumbent president, were especially popular. Another recurring slogan, “We don’t want Eleanor, either,” was coined by Republic opponent Wendell Willkie during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s third presidential campaign. The slogan was briefly revived against Hillary Clinton, who was frequently compared to Eleanor, and Laura Welch Bush (2001-2009).

Collateral Damage: Negative Portrayals of First Ladies

Like their famous husbands, First Ladies were not immune to public scorn. First Ladies increasingly attracted political and personal criticism as they became more visible in campaigns and administrations. Ranging from mockery about their appearance and fidelity to snide observations about their upbringings, some First Ladies were caricatured merely in association with the White House. Others attracted criticism with a more singular focus. One of the earliest and most vicious smear campaigns was directed at Andrew Jackson’s wife, Rachel, who had failed to obtain a clear divorce from her first husband before marrying Jackson. Eleanor Roosevelt (1933-1945), perhaps the first presidential spouse to claim an active role in politics, was famously criticized for her political ambitions and civil rights activism; Roosevelt’s biographer, Blanche Wiesen Cook, referred to her as “the most controversial First Lady in United States history.” Even relatively innocuous programs like Lady Bird Johnson’s project to beautify the interstate highway system and Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign triggered harsh reactions from political opponents.

Perhaps no First Lady has attracted the opposition’s ire like Hillary Rodham Clinton (1993-2001). Hillary was the first presidential spouse to hold a postgraduate degree and have her own professional career before taking up residence in the White House. Promoted by the Clinton campaign as a key advisor in the Clinton administration, Hillary drew stark criticism for her appearance, involvement, and political views. Years before the “Lewinsky scandal” triggered an impeachment trial against her husband, Hillary Clinton was lambasted for her 1993 health care reform initiative and her 1996 book It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us.

Want to learn more about the women featured in this exhibit? Check out this reading list from the Muntz Library catalog.

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World War II: Snapshots of Tyler, Texas

In preparation for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion at Normandy, UASC staff put together a special World War II exhibit to highlight American experiences across our special collections. The exhibit is currently located on the 2nd floor of the Robert R. Muntz Library at UT Tyler.

The exhibit features materials from the Judge William Steger papers, a manuscript collection documenting the life and career of Judge William M. Steger of Tyler, Texas. Supporting materials include ephemera representing the World War II home front from the Tim Anthony Jackson Collection of Political Memorabilia and rare books from the UASC General Collection.

Preview of World War II Exhibit, February 2014

See the full exhibit in the Robert R. Muntz Library

William Merritt Steger (1920-2006) served as a federal judge over the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas for 35 years. The Steger family moved to Tyler in 1953 after President Eisenhower named Steger the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Texas. In recognition of his many years of service to the community of Tyler, the Federal Building and United States Courthouse in Tyler, Texas was renamed in his honor on Friday, May 9, 2008.

While Judge Steger achieved many accolades during his life, the exhibit highlights his tenure as a combat pilot for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) during the Second World War. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, William Steger left Baylor University to volunteer for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC). Commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 31st Fighter Group of the 12th Air Force, Steger flew fifty six combat missions in North Africa, Italy, and the Mediterranean between January 1942 and January 1947.  Steger retired from military service in 1947 at the rank of captain, having received the Air Medal and four Oak Leaf Clusters for distinction in combat.

Unique items on exhibit from the Steger papers include a photograph of Lieutenant Steger in Italy with his British Spitfire, photocopies of contemporary newspaper articles featuring Lieutenant Steger, pilot related ephemera owned by Judge Steger, and annotated books from his personal library. The UASC General Collection is represented by a 1943 copy of the official Naval Aviation manual, donated in memory of Dr. D. E. Ezell, a former Professor of Business and chair of the Department of Marketing and Management at UT Tyler. Selections from the Tim Anthony Jackson Collection include Adventures of Captain Marvel: No. 37, a Golden Age comic book advertising war savings stamps, and assorted pins depicting civilian efforts on the home front.

To learn more about the items in this exhibit or the collections they came from, explore our Collections page or visit the University Archives and Special Collections Department (open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.).

To learn more about the larger historical impact of these themes, check out our recommended reading list in the Muntz Library catalog.

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Filed under Exhibits, Special Collections

Remembering JFK

On November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States was assassinated in Dallas during a motorcade through the city. Kennedy’s assassination shocked the world, devastated millions, and spawned a wide range of conspiracy theories.

Kennedy was in Texas to give speeches and meet with government leaders, in early preparation for his next presidential campaign. In Dallas, the Presidential motorcade was headed to a luncheon with civic leaders—it was a ten mile drive through the city, where Americans cheered and waved as the President, First Lady, Vice President and his wife, and Texas Governor John Connally drove past.

Shortly after noon the President was shot in the neck and head and by 1:00pm, Kennedy was dead. During the hours following his assassination, Lyndon B. Johnson took the oath of office, becoming President, and police had arrested and charged Lee Harvey Oswald with the fatal shooting of President Kennedy and a patrolman, J.D. Tippit.

In remembrance of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the University Archives and Special Collections Department has created an exhibit, located near the entrance on the second floor of the Robert R. Muntz Library. Selected items from the display can be viewed in the slideshow below.

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The exhibit also features a number of books about President Kennedy, his inauguration, assassination, conspiracies about his death, and the Warren Commission—which created an over 800 page report detailing Kennedy’s assassination. These books can be found in the 3rd floor stacks or Bestseller’s section of the Robert R. Muntz Library. 

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November 22, 2013 · 3:36 pm

Grand Dames of the Press Corps: Sarah McClendon and Helen Thomas

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Left, Helen Thomas at work in the White House. Photograph, Bettmann/Corbis. Right, Sarah McClendon in her office.
{Photograph, Ankers/UASC}

It’s hard to avoid comparisons between the two grand dames of the White House Press Corps, Sarah McClendon and Helen Thomas. New York Times described Helen as the “unofficial but undisputed head of the press corps… [whose] blunt question and sharp tone made her a familiar personality” and declared Sarah “the tiny, klaxon-voiced White House reporter who covered, pestered, lectured, and often infuriated presidents”. Each woman was considered a Press Corps institution in her own right. Most importantly, each woman broke down barriers for generations of female journalists.

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Sarah McClendon poses a question to LBJ in the White House Press Room. {UASC}

The women cheerfully tolerated comparisons throughout their long careers. As Texas Governor Ann Richards remarked, “they may have been competitors, but they were never rivals… they’re both fierce, dauntless journalists who are going to fight to the ground for every shred of news there is”. Helen was the seventh of nine children born to Lebanese immigrants, while Sarah was the youngest of nine children from a family of Irish-Texans. Each woman outlasted eleven presidents, with Sarah covering every administration from Roosevelt to Clinton and Helen covering Kennedy through Obama in 2010. The two women even died at the same age – 92 – writing and reporting to the very end.

ImageHelen Thomas questions LBJ in the Oval Office, 1968. {Frank Wolfe/LBJ Library, via Reuters}

Helen began her career at UPI in 1943, the same year Sarah McClendon began covering the Pentagon as a WAC reporter. Sarah joined the White House Press Corps in 1944, representing a series of small regional newspapers through her one-woman wire service. Helen joined the Corps in 1961 and went on to become chief correspondent for UPI, the first woman appointed head of a national wire service in the White House Press Corps. Sarah and Helen shared many hardships in the early decades, at a time when women were relegated to the balcony of the National Press Club and barred entirely from many Washington Press Corps events.

The two women joined forces to picket the Gridiron Club in the 1960s, and pressured the Kennedy administration to boycott the White House Correspondents dinner and National Press Club luncheons until women were allowed to attend.

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Sarah McClendon’s early White House Correspondents Association card, 1951. {UASC}

Helen and Sarah competed for many firsts and near firsts for women in journalism: Sarah was among the first female members of the White House Press Association, while Helen became its first female president in 1975. Helen served as the first female member of the Washington Press Corps club, known as the Gridiron Club.

Helen and Sarah joined the first class of women admitted to the National Press Club on March 3, 1971. Helen was the first woman elected to club office (as finance secretary) in 1971, while Sarah was the first woman to serve as high official after defeating three men in a 1974 special election for the unexpired term of the vice-presidency. The American News Women’s Club (ANWC) awarded Helen and Sarah the prestigious Excellence in Journalism award in 1993 and 1995 respectively.

Image National Press Club newsletter announcing Sarah’s election in 1974 {UASC}

Although Helen and Sarah pursued different audiences (Helen wrote for a more international audience, while Sarah represented regional interests), they held each other in mutual high regard. They often appeared together on panels, at award ceremonies, and across the Press Corps speaking circuit. Sarah appeared as a guest of honor at Helen Thomas’ American News Women’s Club Roast in 1993 and Helen gave a speech at Sarah’s 85th birthday celebration, “A Salute to Journalist Sarah McClendon”, in 1995.

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Invitation to Sarah McClendon’s 85th birthday celebration and roast {UASC}

In an oral history interview with the Washington Press Corp Foundation, Sarah named Helen Thomas the reporter she most admired, saying, “She never fails to ask the questions that should be asked. She’s got the nerve to press it and press it through.”

In her second memoir, Mr. President, Mr. President, Sarah wrote, “The top print journalist in my book is Helen Thomas… She was a real door opener for women.” (p.240-241) Helen returned the praise in her own memoir, Front Row at the White House: My Life and Times, declaring Sarah “an icon in the White House pressroom. Her questions have made presidents squirm and I’m sure that she’s also made their blood boil – but they always answer her. Furthermore, she puts them to shame and makes them act.” (p. 383)

At Sarah McClendon’s 90th birthday celebration, hosted by the National Press Club in 2001, Helen Thomas said, “Her greatest contribution, I think, is that there’s never been any woman in our country who has ever helped newspaper women more. She’s been a pioneer, she paved the way, she made the breakthrough for all of us and I think we are indebted for life.”

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Sarah McClendon and Helen Thomas (right) confer at the book release party for Harriett Woods’ “Stepping Up to Power: The Political Journey of American Women” in March 2000.

Want to Learn More about Sarah McClendon?
1. Visit the finding aid for the Sarah McClendon papers.
2. Check out our permanent digital exhibit.
3. Read more about her career as a White House Correspondent.
4. See our previous posts on the Sarah McClendon Papers.

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Filed under Sarah McClendon Papers, Special Collections

Mysteries of the Special Collections: An Exploration of Rare Manuscripts in the Archives

In November 2012, members of the Walter Prescott Webb Society at UT Tyler were invited to tour the University Archives and Special Collections department (UASC). During this tour, history major Daniel Parker asked what might have been an inconsequential question: “What is the oldest book in the UASC?” The surprising answer sparked a new wave of interest in of UT Tyler’s best kept secrets.

According to the UT Tyler catalog, the oldest books in the UASC closed stacks were published in the later 18th century.  However, the UASC also maintains a special collection of rare books and manuscripts that is secured in a temperature controlled room well beyond the public eye. English major Michael Cerliano curated an exhibit of the unique items in 2008 under the supervision of University Archivist and Special Collections librarian Déirdre Joyce. UASC accession records indicate that the first of these rare manuscripts probably came to the University through private donations in the 1980s, with subsequent additions purchased by library staff at local estate sales.

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Velvet-bound edition of Milton’s “Paradise Lost”

Among the most compelling items are an 18th century German elector Bible (Nuremberg, 1770), a 17th century hand-illuminated Genealogy of the Family of Philip III Habsburg of Spain (1618) from Colonial Mexico, a late 19th century velvet bound edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost, and a 16th century compendium of Roman history by Eutropius (1533, Basel). Additional items of interest include an early unabridged edition of Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language (1865, Massachusetts), and several ornately decorated gift books from the 19th century. The lavishly illustrated gift books feature works by Alfred Tennyson, Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Moore, and others.

Hand-inked illumination from the genealogy of Philip III

Hand-inked illumination from the genealogy of Philip III

As a result of determined advocacy by Webb Society officers, a number of faculty members (representing the English, History, Art, Anthropology, and various Language departments) have expressed scholarly interest in the manuscripts.  Manuscripts may be viewed in the UASC reading room (Lib 107) under the supervision of UASC staff.

Ornate gift book featuring the poetry of Thomas Moore

Preserving rare manuscripts is just one of the missions of the UASC. To learn more about the UASC and what we do, visit our official University website, check out the Muntz Archives Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter @muntzarchives.

Learn more about the Frank R. Smyrl chapter of the Walter Prescott Webb Historical Society here.

Learn more about the 2008 exhibit “The Power of Books: Selections from the Special Collections at UT Tyler” here.

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The Eisenhower International Golf Classic

For thirteen years, the University of Texas at Tyler sponsored a world class professional golf tournament which boasted some of the biggest names in golf. The Eisenhower International Golf Classic (Eisenhower Classic), a partnership between UT Tyler and Sister Cities International, was named in honor of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, an avid golfer and founder of Sister Cities International.

The Eisenhower Classic served as a showcase for Tyler’s membership in Sister Cities International. Proceeds from the tournament went towards scholarship funds for international students pursuing higher education in U.S. Sister Cities. Tyler joined the Sister Cities Program in 1982, forming mutual ties with Metz, France (1982-1990). Additional partnerships were subsequently established with Yachiyo City, Japan (1992-present); Jelenia Gora, Poland (1993-present); and Lo Barnechea, Chile (2001-present).

Dr. George F. Hamm, second president of UT Tyler and member of the International Executive Board of Sister Cities International, served as tournament chairman from 1987-1998. Dr. Hamm co-chaired the 1999 tournament with his successor, current UT Tyler president Dr. Rod Mabry.

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Left to right, Dr. George Hamm, Tournament Chairman and UT Tyler president. Richard G Neuheisel, president of Sister Cities International. 1992.

The first Eisenhower Classic took place in 1987 at Hollytree Country Club in Tyler, Texas. The tournament moved to Willowbrook Country Club in Tyler, Texas in 1990, where it remained until 1999. The Tyler Sister Cities Board of Directors partnered locally with the UT Tyler Patriots, an honorary organization founded in 1984, to create the first annual Million Dollar Hole-In-One contest in conjunction with the Eisenhower Classic. Additional support for the tournament came from the PGA Tour, Sister Cities International, and local Tyler businesses.

The inaugural tournament was co-hosted by David and Julie Eisenhower in collaboration David Graham, a professional golfer from Australia. Thirty-two professional golfers from PGA Tour roster joined the 1987 Eisenhower International Golf Classic. The first Eisenhower Classic also included an auction, the Million Dollar Hole-In-One contest, and series of luncheons.

Over the next twelve years, the Eisenhower International Golf Classic expanded to include a Texas barbeque, concerts, a youth putting contest, a football clinic, a 5k run, celebrity luncheons, the Sister Cities International Young Artists Competition, twinning ceremonies hosted by Tyler Sister Cities, an International Trade Conference, the High School Scholars Program, and charity raffles featuring prizes from local businesses.

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Cover art for the 1988 program by Texas artist and UT Tyler professor emeritus Ancel Nunn. The piece, titled “Pars Pro Toto (A Part for the Whole)” was sold as a limited edition lithograph benefiting the UT Tyler Alumni Association.

The Eisenhower Classic featured members of the LPGA Tour for the first time in 1991. Members of the Senior PGA tour joined the tournament roster in 1995. In addition to pro golfers, the Eisenhower Classic hosted a broad range of celebrities including football great Troy Aikman and the Dixie Chicks. In keeping with its international mission, the Eisenhower Classic also hosted dignitaries from Austria, Argentina, Australia, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the United States, and the Soviet Union.

The last Eisenhower International Golf Classic took place in 1999. Many aspects of the Eisenhower tournament found new life under the auspices of the UT Tyler Patriot Golf Classic, an annual tournament and fundraiser which benefits the university’s scholarship program. In conjunction with the Patriot Golf Classic, the UT Tyler Patriots organization hosts the Million Dollar Hole-In-One competition yearly. The Tyler Sister Cities organization continues to maintain business opportunities and educational ties through Sister Cities International.

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Grounds ticket for the 1999 Eisenhower Classic.

Want to Learn More about the Eisenhower Classic?
Check out the finding aid for the Eisenhower International Golf Classic Records.

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Filed under Eisenhower International Golf Tournament Records, Exhibits, University Archives, UT Tyler History