The personal and professional papers of Carlton Fordis Culmsee, dean of the College of Humanities and Arts at Utah State University for 25 years, consists mainly of his writings (including rough drafts), revisions, and published materials of his poetry, articles, and essays. The collection also contains publications and diaries from his trip to Taiwan (1955-56). The papers in the collection date from 1897-1993, with the bulk of the papers ranging from the 1950s to the early 1970s.
Utah State University. Special Collections and Archives Manuscript Collection
Merrill-Cazier Library Utah State University 3000 Old Main Hill Logan, UT 84322-3000 Phone: 435 797-1663 Fax: 435 797-2880 Email: email@example.com
Collection materials are in English.
Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, 2007-2008
Carlton Fordis Culmsee was born September 18, 1904, in St. Ansger, Iowa to Dr. Ludwing Alfred Culmsee (physician) and Clara Belia Hansen Culmsee (school teacher). Carlton Culmsee. In 1906, his father took the family to Europe. His father studied surgery for two years in Copenhagen and Vienna. When they returned to the United States, Dr. Culmsee practiced medicine for four years in Norfolk, Nebraska. His health began to fail and subsequently he was forced to retire in 1912. The Culmsee family moved to California and then finally settled in Southern Utah.
Carlton Culmsee attended high school at the Branch Agricultural College in Cedar City, Utah, graduating in 1922. He taught for three years in one-room schools in Nada and Reed, Utah. During that time he also helped his father with herding sheep and ranching. At the time of his graduation from the BAC, Carlton began publishing as a freelance writer. Two Brigham Young University poets, Harrison R. Merrill and Lowry Nelson, became interested in Carlton Culmsee's publications. The two men visited Carlton on a recruiting trip to Southern Utah which resulted in his decision to attend BYU.
During his education he served as editor of both the university's literary magazine and the student newspaper. He worked as the university's publicity writer and was also a part-time writer for the Associated Press. In 1932, he graduated as valedictorian from BYU with majors in both Geology and English. Carlton Culmsee married Edna Ball (born in Springfield, Ill., May 23, 1896) on June 5, 1932, the same day as Carlton's graduation from BYU (Edna had been the valedictorian from BYU two years earlier). After graduation, Carlton joined the Brigham Young University faculty as secretary of the Extension Division and as an instructor in Journalism. He went on to receive his M.A. in English from BYU in 1936.
He then attended the State University of Iowa and in 1940, he received his Ph.D. in American Civilization. Carlton was the first person to earn a degree in that subject from the university. Carlton, Edna, and their adopted son Ralph McPherson Culmsee, returned to BYU, where Carlton was then appointed Director of the Extension Division and head of the Journalism Department. In 1941, the National Relief Society asked Carlton to write a pageant, along with song lyrics ("In Thy Form"), for the Relief Society Centennial. In 1942, during World War II, Carlton was commissioned an officer in the U.S. Navy. He advanced to the rank of Lieutenant Commander while teaching young pilots the process of electronic recognition of enemy planes. He served for three years and was honorably discharged.
In 1945 he was appointed Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences (later known as the College of Humanities and Arts) and a professor of American Civilization at Utah State University. He taught as a visiting professor at Cornell University in the summer of 1951. From 1955-1956, he and his wife were invited to Taiwan to help reestablish the National Chengchi University. In 1949 the Kuomintang (The Nationalist Government) was forced off the mainland of China by the Communist leaders and reestablished itself in Taiwan. The National Chengchi University was destroyed on the mainland by the Communist Chinese. The Culmsses were asked by the Nationalist government to help rebuild the university in Taiwan. As a result of teaching and the extensive travel to the islands of Quemoy, Matsu and the Far East, Carlton Culmsee published numerous articles about Taiwan and the Orient in many regional and national magazines. Sadly, during this time on December 11, 1956, their son Ralph passed away. He was twenty-two.
Throughout Carlton Culmsee's professional life he published extensively. He was a prolific and eclectic writer, with his subject matter ranging from social problems to international politics; historical fiction to poetry. During his career, he edited many projects, one of which was Utah Sings, Vol II, state verse anthology. As stated earlier, he began publishing in 1922 and consistently published throughout his life. He published several books including: Utah's Black Hawk War and Echoes Calling. He published numerous articles and poems that appeared in the New York Times, Western Humanities Review, Journalism Quarterly, and many other prestigious and scholarly journals. He also wrote the scripts for the 1966 dedication of the Center for the Study of Causes of War and Conditions for Peace.
He served on many committees and held a myriad of offices including two terms as president of the League of Utah Writers and one term as president of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters. He was chairman of the Land-Grant University Centennial-USU Diamond Jubilee, chairman of the Campus Planning committee, director of Publications, and supervisor of the USU News Bureau. In 1970, after serving as Dean for 25 years, Carlton Culmsee retired. That same year he was awarded the USU Distinguished Service Award. In 1971, he and Edna were elected to the Old Main Society. He taught part-time for five years after retiring as dean, and in 1975 Carlton Culmsee retired completely and received Emeritus status. On July 11, 1976, Edna Ball Culmsee died of a heart attack. On February 24, 1978, Carlton Culmsee married Aileen Swift Barker (born in Wellsville, Utah, August 25, 1910). Aileen and Carlton were married for fifteen years until his death in May of 1993. Aileen later remarried in 1996 and currently resides in Logan. At Carlton's passing one of his close friends, Joyce Cardon, wrote, "The poetry, essays, academic articles, the Black Hawk book--how diverse were his avenues of expression and expertise, how wide his talents, how affirmative and deep his mind and heart."
The personal and professional papers of Carlton Fordis Culmsee, USU's Dean of the College of Humanities and Arts for 25 years, consist mainly of his writings (including rough drafts), revisions, and published materials for his poetry, articles, and essays. The collection also contains personal and professional correspondence (bulk dates from the late 1920's to 1980's), personal papers, publications, and diaries from his trip to Taiwan (1955-56). The papers in the collection date from 1897-1993, with the bulk of the papers ranging from the 1920s to the early 1970s.
The collection contains thirty-six boxes. The first two boxes contain his poetry (drafts), which are arranged in alphabetical order. The subject matter for the poetry varies widely, from Utah, the West, his father, and his family, to poetry that is more philosophical and/or religious.
The subject matter for his essays and articles (drafts) is much the same as his poetry but also contains a significant number of essays on mining in Utah, including essays on the Dream Mine and the Silver Reef. The essays and articles (drafts) are arranged alphabetically (this section also contains manuscripts and literary reviews--arranged alphabetically within the essays and articles). The articles and essays make up five boxes (Box 3-7) and there are two boxes of news clippings (Box 8 & 9). Box 7.A was added from the 2000 acquisition to update and expand the collection of essay and article drafts.
There are three boxes of correspondence (Box 10-12) that are mainly comprised of Christmas cards and sympathy cards about the death of Carlton's first wife Edna Culmsee in 1976. These boxes also contain personal correspondence from family members, and friends (Notably: T.Y. Booth, Harrison Groutage, Heber J. Grant, Lowry Nelson, Veneta Leatham Nielsen, and Joyce J. Cardon--Mrs. Guy N. Cardon). The incoming correspondence is arranged alphabetically by last name. The third box of correspondence contains institutional correspondence and outgoing correspondence from Carlton Culmsee. The institutional correspondence is arranged alphabetically and the outgoing correspondence is arranged in chronological order.
There is one box (Box 13) of personal papers that contains items from Carlton's parents, his birth certificate, transcripts, honors, awards, and letters (letters to his parents from some friends and family, letters of recommendations from Carlton's colleagues, letters from the USU Office of the President, letters of congratulations from colleagues about his distinguished service award, retirement and emeritus status). The box also contains five folders (fd. 36-40) that specifically contains information about close friends of Carlton Culmsee.
Box 14 contains published articles by Carlton Culmsee in regional and national magazines from Taiwan. Carlton spent one year in Taiwan (1955-56) helping to rebuild the National Chengchi University in Taiwan. The articles relate mostly to the political strife between Taiwan and mainland China. The box also contains news clippings, official documents, and two of his personal diaries kept during his stay there. Boxes 15 and 16 contains published materials also, including articles, essays, speeches and poems. The subject matter is almost the same as stated earlier, Utah, Mines, etc. but there are some articles that discuss social and political issues relating to Taiwan and China.
There is one box (Box 17) that pertains to the LDS Church. The items mainly relate to his personal involvement in his ward and local church events, e.g.: Relief Society programs, fireside, and Sunday school talks.
Boxes 19, 20 and 21 include scrapbooks and items taken out of the scrapbooks. Items from the scrapbook were placed in folders in the order they were removed. There was also correspondence within the scrapbook but it was left in among the other scrapbook items.
Boxes 22 and 23 contain letters sent between Carlton and Edna during their courtship and first years of marriage dating from 1930 to 1933. The letters are arranged chronologically. Box 24 is a collection of additional letters mostly to Edna by family members and close friends.
Boxes 25 through 27 contain many personal items mostly from Edna Ball relating to her education, youth in Illinois and genealogy. In Box 25 are journals and bound notebooks from Edna and Carlton dating from their youth (1912 to mid-1920's) . Box 26 contains items regarding the education of Carlton including transcripts, a yearbook, and diplomas from BYU. Box 27 contains items from Edna's genealogical research. There is also an oversized volume of her genealogical research in Box 21.
Box 28 relates to the special duties and appointments of Carlton Culmsee as he worked at Utah State University. These include items from his time on an Accreditation team, on the planning commission which oversaw the construction of the USU Chase Fine Arts Center and his service on various writing bodies. Boxes 29 and 32 contain notes, rough drafts, and book manuscripts from Dr. Culmsee's prodigious writings. Box 33 is a scrapbook containing Souvenir cards collected over many years.
Boxes 34 and 35 relate to Dr. Culmsee's career as an officer in the U.S. Navy including his training at the Naval Academy at Ohio State University, and his teaching at St. Mary's College Academy. This collection includes personal items such as poetry and journals from World War II as well as photographs, books, and essays on the U.S. Navy. Box 36 contains artifacts such as an old Dutch Jacob's Ladder, a plaque, and WWII dog tags and so forth.
Much of the appended material from the second acquisition in 2000 was either redundant or complementary to the original material and has been collated into the appropriate sections. However, due to space constraints, these often have not been added in the original alphabetic order, but have been appended at the end of existing boxes or in boxes of their own at the end of the collection.
LIST OF ITEMS REMOVED: Photos: 1. Retirement Photos (Box 13 Fd 32) 2. Photos of and by Edna Ball from Illinois, BYU, and Utah. Books: 1. Carlton F. Culmsee Interview, 1981 by Oliver Smith 2. The Classicism of Ben Jonson, 1937 by Carlton Fordis Culmsee (Thesis) 3. Echoes Calling, by Carlton Fordis Culmsee (2 copies) Other Items: 1. US Army/Navy Journal of Recognition published during WWII 2. United States Navy Book of Regulations.
Use of the Collection
Restrictions on Access : Restrictions
Open to public research.
Restrictions on Use : Copyright
It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission to publish from the owner of the copyright (the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates, or literary executors). The user agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the Utah State University Libraries, its officers, employees, and agents from and against all claims made by any person asserting that he or she is an owner of copyright.
Carlton Culmsee papers, 1897-1993. (COLL MSS 221). Utah State University. Special Collections and Archives Department.
Works written by Culmsee are arranged by genre of material (poetry, essays, articles); other materials are arranged alphabetically within categories of material.
Acquisition Information :
The original collection was given to the Special Collections Library in 1997 by Dr. Culmsee's second wife, Aileen Swift Barker Culmsee. When the former Culmsee residence, which had subsequently served as the headquarters for the University Press, was torn down in the fall of 2000, several more boxes of items nearly equal in scope and size were found and given to the library.
Processing Note :
Collection Processed by: Nancy Ann Bradford Wood, 1997, and updated by Jonathan Forrest Barney, February 2003.