Stan Lee has an archive, but you will probably never be able to see it because it’s in Wyoming

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201309031322 Stan Lee has an archive, but you will probably never be able to see it because its in Wyoming
In an era when more and more collection of personal comics papers are being given to scholarly institutions (Columbia’s Karen Green and OSU’s Jenny Robb being among the leaders of this particular movement) it came as a bit of a surprise to be reminded where Stan Lee’s papers are housed: Laramie, WY. Sequential Tart’s Katie Frank made the arduous journey to the archive at the University of Wyoming, braving raging rivers, scaling giant redwoods and sustained on morning dew from maple leaves, but she made it.

I’m fortunate in that comics are a part of both my hobbies and my day job — in my real life, I’m a PhD candidate specializing in media industries. Part of my dissertation revolves around the comic book industry, a topic that takes me to many fascinating places. One such place I visited recently was the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center in Laramie, WY. The AHC houses the Stan Lee Papers collection, donated by Stan the Man himself for preservation and research; currently, the collection is comprised of 91 archive boxes that have been sorted and labeled for use, with a number of boxes that are still being processed. These 91 boxes contain material dating from the late 1960s through the early 2000s, covering a the majority of Marvel Comics’ existence as well as some of Lee’s other projects.

The staff also recommended restaurants and things to see in Laramie, and were just generally a pleasure to interact with. The building also houses the University of Wyoming’s art museum, which was a nice space to take a break during long research days. While food and drink are not allowed in the archive, there is a strip mall not far from the building that has a number of food options. There wasn’t much to see on campus during the summer, and downtown Laramie was a bit of a trek and also quite small, but if you’re a more outdoorsy type than I there’s a lot of nature activities nearby.


Although I kid about traveling to Wyoming, and wish the fine citizens of that state all the tourist dollars that Stan Lee might bring, how did this seminal collection end up in such an off the beaten path spot? I don’t know the real story, but I can only guess that they asked Back in the Day and Stan, just being glad that SOME educational institution showed an interest in his work. So lucky, University of Wyoming! Update: I am told that the UoW has a very extensive archive of pop culture/entertainment archives, including everyone from animator Michael Maltese to comedian Phyllis Diller, so Stan is in very good company. And now you have another reason to go to Wyoming besides experiencing the timeless, majestic beauty of Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.

wyoming Stan Lee has an archive, but you will probably never be able to see it because its in Wyoming

Comments

  1. Damn, I live in South Dakota(even more sparsely populated) but it’s right next door to WY. Is this something that is open to the public? I would love to stop by and look through notes from Stan the Man.

  2. Synsidar says:

    Damn, I live in South Dakota(even more sparsely populated) but it’s right next door to WY.

    No, South Dakota has more people, according to the 2010 census: 814,180, compared to Wyoming’s 563,626. Wyoming actually ranks 51st.

    SRS

  3. Ultimate Al says:

    Wyoming? Maybe representatives of the NAACP and the Ku Klux Klan went there together after hanging out together:

    http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/news/article_50271edd-04e9-5765-a05b-1d6297d25073.html

  4. tom@comicsreporter.com says:

    i went there like ten years ago; there’s a bunch of written material and a huge variety of audio and video material; it looks like a secretary or perhaps joan straightened up a lot of the stuff before sending it on

    as i recall it’s a typical archival place where you schedule and appointment and ask for boxes to be brought for you from a descriptive list and either take notes or mark material to be copied for you

    i liked eating at this place; i think it’s the same place

    http://www.jeffreysbistro.com/

    lot of campus bars

    my understanding is that lee was approached by a specific guy affiliated with the center and was happy to be asked, but i guess there could be more to it

  5. @SRS good info, I had no idea that many people lived here.

  6. CarolGSLIS says:

    Although I have yet to visit, the U of Wyoming has a great 20th century entertainment archives. One of the other notable comics-related holdings is the Mort Weisinger papers. You can see the list of collections here: bit.ly/18oX6qX

  7. @tom: Thanks for weighing in — I was pretty sure you had been there for your book on Stan, glad to have another report.

    @Carol — darn I thought I had update the story with that link. Will make sure it goes in when I am back at my regular computer.

  8. Patrick Dilley says:

    I’ve been to the AHC. They have a really cool, very diverse collection of materials. When I was there, over a decade ago, much of the collection focused on “the western” in culture and media. Many film and tv stars left their collections to AHC, simply because AHC was the first to ask for them. It is open to the public; I was able to see and to hold all of Barbara Stanwyck’s awards (which were unceremoniously kept in a plain cardboard box).

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