Edward Franklin Rhodenbaugh was born on May 4, 1872, near Vail, Iowa. His parents were William W. Rhodenbaugh, a Civil War veteran and pioneer settler, and Saloma Leitner, who was distinguished as a child by having met President Abraham Lincoln.
Rhodenbaugh grew up on his parent's farm near Vail. He graduated from Vail High School in May 1892 and in 1894 entered Iowa State College at Ames, where he enrolled in the civil engineering program. During long breaks between semesters he taught school near his home. At college he edited a student newspaper, participated in the YMCA, and organized a Bryan for President Club. He also became an avid photographer.
Rhodenbaugh graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1897 and became principal of a school in Dennison, Iowa. He married Julia Anderton of Dennison on July 20, 1899, and then spent three years teaching in Huntington, Oregon, and Salem, Ohio.
The Rhodenbaughs came to Boise, Idaho, in 1902 and in September of that year Edward Rhodenbaugh began teaching science at Boise High School. Soon thereafter his brother William and his parents also moved to Boise. The Rhodenbaughs spent many weekends and vacations hiking, hunting, fishing, camping, and picnicking in the Idaho outdoors. In 1913 they purchased a lot on Payette Lake near McCall. Payette Lake would remain the family's vacation retreat throughout their lives.
During time off from teaching at Boise High, Rhodenbaugh pursued graduate studies in geology at the University of Chicago and the University of Washington. He was awarded a Master of Science degree from the University of Washington in 1915. He remained at Boise High until 1917 when he became Idaho state chemist. In 1921 he gained a measure of public attention because of his role in the Lyda Southard murder trial. Mrs. Southard was suspected of poisoning four husbands and a brother-in-law in order to collect on their life insurance policies. As state chemist, Rhodenbaugh helped to convict Mrs. Southard of killing Edward Meyer, her fourth husband, when he testified that tests done on Meyer's exhumed remains proved that his death was due to a large dose of arsenic.
After spending five years as state chemist, Rhodenbaugh was appointed head of the department of science at Gooding College in Gooding, Idaho, in 1922. He retained that position until 1924, when he moved to Pocatello to take over as head of the chemistry and geology department at Idaho Technical Institute, soon renamed University of Idaho Southern Branch (and later Idaho State University). After fifteen years of teaching and administrative work in Pocatello, Rhodenbaugh retired in 1940 and returned to Boise. He soon came out of retirement to teach geology at Boise Junior College. In 1947 he then retired from teaching once again in order to devote time to writing a book on Idaho geology. Sketches of Idaho Geology was published in 1953, and a second edition came out in 1961.
Edward F. Rodenbaugh belonged to several professional organizations, the Idaho Gem Club, and the Idaho State Historical Society. He was a collector of rock and mineral samples, many of which were donated to the Geology Department of Boise State University, where they are still used as teaching aids. Throughout his career, Rhodenbaugh contributed geological articles and photographs to Idaho newspapers; many were printed as full-page features in Sunday editions. He had a lifelong interest in carpentry, and for many years spent his summers building and remodeling homes. Rhodenbaugh built a number of cabins and summer homes around Payette Lake and was a member of the Payette Lake Club and the Payette Lakes Property Owners Association.
Edward and Julia Rhodenbaugh had two sons. The eldest, Harold, was born in 1901 and became a nationally known photographer and feature writer. Early in his career he worked for the Idaho Statesman and the Salt Lake Tribune, before going on to work for the Washington Post, Look Magazine, and The Saturday Evening Post. He died in 1951, survived by his second wife, Elizabeth ("Beth") Rhodenbaugh. The Rhodenbaughs' second son, Walter William, was born in 1907 and died in 1919 at the age of 12.
The papers of Edward F. Rhodenbaugh consist of correspondence, diaries, speeches, articles, lecture notes, geologic field trip logs, account books, clippings, memorabilia, photos, and family papers. They document Rhodenbaugh's interests in Idaho geology and geography, his work as Idaho state chemist, his teaching career at University of Idaho Southern Branch and Boise Junior College, and personal and family affairs. The papers date from 1875 to his death in 1964, with the bulk of material falling after 1910.
Restrictions on Access :
Collection is available for research.Preferred Citation :
The collection has been arranged into twelve series: 1. Family papers; 2. Biographical material; 3. Correspondence; 4. Diaries and chronicle; 5. Speeches and articles; 6. Teaching materials; 7. Miscellaneous; 8. Financial notebooks; 9. Student notebooks; 10. Field trip logs; 11. Photograph albums and scrapbooks; and 12. Photographs.
Acquisition Information : Processing Note :
The papers were in no discernible order when they arrived at Boise State University. Letters, photographs, family documents, newspaper clippings, and lecture notes were intermixed. They had been stored in a basement in open boxes. As a result some of the papers suffered physical deterioration. To establish order, materials were grouped together by document type, resulting in the series outlined above. The arrangement of the collection was substantially completed in 1977. The collection was reboxed and refoldered in 1990, with particular attention paid to the isolation and/or reproduction of acidic papers and protection of fragile items. As a result this new finding aid, with a revised box and folder list, was prepared to take the place of the one prepared in 1977.
Detailed Description of the Collection
The largest group of papers in this series are those of Edward F. Rhodenbaugh's son, Harold Rhodenbaugh (1901-1951), a professional photographer. Included in his papers are letters written while on the staff of the Washington Post in Washington, D.C. (1932-1934) and while serving as a military photographer during World War II. A few of his photographs are included. This series also contains probate papers relating to Harold Rhodenbaugh's estate; memorabilia relating to the participation of Julia Rhodenbaugh (Edward F. Rhodenbaugh's wife) in the Daughters of the American Revolution and other organizations; and obituaries and newspaper clippings relating to Saloma Rhodenbaugh Moberly (Edward F. Rhodenbaugh's mother) and other relatives (1888-1964).
Edward F. Rhodenbaugh's correspondence files consist chiefly of letters sent to him, arranged chronologically. Most of the letters are of a business or professional nature with occasional personal letters mixed in. Included among the personal correspondents are cousins, friends from school and college days, early professional colleagues, and former students. Two small groups of personal letters have been placed into separate folders: correspondence between Rhodenbaugh and his wife, Julia Anderton Rhodenbaugh (mostly letters to her), and correspondence with his brother, Will Rhodenbaugh. The papers of Edward F. Rhodenbaugh' son, Harold (including letters between father and son) are found in Series I, Family Papers.
Professional and business correspondence constitute the bulk of the correspondence files. There are many letters of reference written on his behalf (primarily 1898-1903), and many of the later letters deal with employment concerns such as appointments, contract renewals, and sabbatical leave. During his years as Idaho state chemist (1917-1922) Rhodenbaugh often analyzed soil, minerals, and water for citizens. He retained copies of many of the letters reporting tests results and filed them among his correspondence.
Rhodenbaugh's outside business interests as an occasional home builder are reflected in letters from clients concerning rent, building details, etc. A few letters (particularly in the 1930s) relate to his property and recreation interests on Payette Lake. As a professor of geology at the University of Idaho Southern Branch, Rhodenbaugh corresponded on geological matters; letters of that nature are also found in the files.
Some particular items of interest include three analyses of moonshine liquor Rhodenbaugh performed for the sheriff of Lincoln County (1923); one letter from Hortense Perrine of Twin Falls (March 1934) regarding a fossil; and two letters from Vardis Fisher (December 1935) regarding the Federal Writers Project state guide for Idaho, which Fisher edited. There is also an exchange of correspondence with Gilbert Grosvenor, editor of the National Geographic Magazine, in March 1924. Rhodenbaugh was critical of an article on Craters of the Moon by Robert Limbert which appeared in that month's issue, and Grosvenor responded by explaining the process of review and naming the reviewers of the article.
Edward R. Rhodenbaugh was a meticulous recorder of his life's events. This series includes daily diaries and a retrospective yearly chronicle prepared in 1942. The handwriting in the books is quite small and often hard to read. The entries are usually brief and relate chiefly to personal and family matters and community events. Loose items from the diaries have been moved to Series 7 (Miscellaneous papers), Box 5 Folders 15 and 16. Log books of geological field trips and other travels are in Series 10.
This series is composed of manuscripts of speeches and articles on geological topics as well as photocopies of newspaper articles written by Rhodenbaugh or reporting his activities. The earliest articles (1894-1895), from an unidentified newspaper, were written by Rhodenbaugh and concern events at Iowa Agricultural College, where he was a student. Most of the remaining articles are on geological topics or fossils. The file includes a seven part series written by Rhodenbaugh in 1931 about the Idaho Primitive Area. It reports on a horseback trip by a group from the University of Idaho Southern Branch. Newspaper clippings about the sensational Lyda Southard murder trial (1921), in which Rhodenbaugh played a role as state chemist, are found in Series 7, Miscellaneous papers.
Edward F. Rhodenbaugh's teaching material includes typewritten and handwritten lecture notes on geological subjects from his years at University of Idaho Southern Branch and Boise Junior College; a gradebook from the Southern Branch; and geology tests from Boise Junior College. Also included are two small handwritten books of notes on mineral properties and other scientific topics.
A notable file among the miscellaneous papers in this series is the folder of toxicological reports prepared by Rhodenbaugh in 1921 for the prosecuting attorney of Twin Falls County. The prosecutor was investigating the death of Edward F. Meyer of Twin Falls. His widow, since remarried and known as Lyda Southard, was charged with murder. Rhodenbaugh's toxicological investigations established that large amounts of arsenic had been administered to Meyer and to Southard's three previous deceased husbands, as well as to a deceased brother-in-law. Southard was convicted in the Meyer case and sent to the Idaho State Penitentiary. Also present are photocopies of newspaper clippings of the sensational trial. Rhodenbaugh is mentioned in a number of them.
Another file in the miscellaneous series is a small group of papers relating to the Payette Lake Club. Rhodenbaugh was a frequent vacationer to the Payette Lakes region; he owned a cabin there and was a member of the club. Included in the file is the program for the club's first annual dinner meeting in Boise (1913). There are photos of the Payette Lake region and a home movie (in color) in Series 12, Photographs.
In 1924 Rhodenbaugh participated in an "editorial caravan" on the North and South Highway (U.S. Route 95) from Weiser to the panhandle. This automobile trip was organized to acquaint southern Idaho journalists with the northern part of the state. Included in this series are photocopies of several newspaper articles by Byrd Trego describing the caravan and the country they saw. Photos of the trip are located in Series 12 (Photos 79-106). Brief diary entries about the trip are in Series 10, Field trip logs (Book 2).
Recorded in these books are logs and narrative accounts of geological field trips, occasional hunting trips, and vacation travel. Handwritten maps sometime accompany the text.
Edward F. Rhodenbaugh recorded observations on the geology, topography, and flora of many sites in Idaho in his field trip logs. The following is a listing of sites and trips represented by notes in those logs. Some of the notes are accompanied by hand-drawn maps and illustrations. Narrative descriptions of several duck and pheasant hunting trips are included. Occasionally a field trip or site visit merited no more than a brief paragraph recording the fact of the visit; those trips and sites are not listed.
Rhodenbaugh recorded his notes in bound theme books. Several of the books appear to have once belonged to students, for names other than Rhodenbaugh's own are inscribed inside the front covers. He apparently cut out pages that had been written on and used the rest himself. Most of his observations appear to have been written sometime after the trip or site visit; they are not notes taken in the field.
Included in the photograph albums and scrapbooks are family photos, scenes of hunting, fishing, and camping, photos of homes, and scenes of Payette Lake and vicinity. Many of the early family photos are from Iowa. Some of the oldest hunting, fishing, and camping scenes in Idaho are from the first decade of the twentieth century. The Rhodenbaughs reached their destinations by horse and buggy, rather than automobile, as the photos attest. There are also photos from Rhodenbaugh's student days at Iowa State College in 1890s. There are very few geological photos in the albums.
This series also includes a scrapbook of verse cut from newspapers and magazines (1884-1889) and a Christmas card scrapbook (1928-1941). Included in the latter are cards sent to the Rhodenbaughs by the Idaho artist Thomas Raymond Neilson. The sketches of Idaho scenes on the card fronts are Neilson's own.
Most of the photographs in the Rhodenbaugh collection are scenic and geologic shots from the early years of the twentieth century to the 1950s, and most are uncaptioned. They document the Payette Lake region (where the Rhodenbaugh family vacationed), the forested central Idaho wilderness (then called the Primitive Area), and the rock and lava formations of the southern portion of the state, including Craters of the Moon. There are also a number of family portraits and photos from Iowa and Idaho. Included among them are old tintypes and album prints from the nineteenth century, as well as photos of the Rhodenbaugh family's hunting, fishing, and camping activities in Idaho during the early years of the twentieth century.