Winter Semester

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Rexburg has decided to welcome students back with record low temperatures!  With a forecasted high of 9* Farenheight and a low of -15*, and wind chill making it feel like -31* (at 8:31 in the morning), students are walking to class dressed in their winter best.  Social media posts from the university warn students that “Frostbite to exposed skin can occur in minutes” when temperatures drop this low.  However, “the cold never bothered (us) anyway,” and classes go on.  Welcome to Winter Semester–it’s going to be a cold one!


Social media information and picture taken from here.

Weather information from here  and here.

Glen Embree Photograph Collection

Congratulations to all Fall 2016 Graduates!  We hope that these photographs by the talented Glenn Embree will inspire you as you go celebrate!


Glenn Embree, Sr. was one of the top commercial photographers in the U.S. He served as President of the Model T Ford Club of America. Some of his clients included Walt Disney, Jimmy Durante, Judy Garland, John Wayne, Red Skelton, Frank Sinatra, Bill Cosby and The Beverly Hillbillies. Embree attended the University of California at Berkeley, pursuing a major in Art, and later, he studied motion picture photography and set direction at USC.


As a set designer at MGM, he developed a passion for photography and from there, he went to work at Paul Hesse Studios in the late 1930s. In 1942, he left to serve in the Air Force as an officer in China during World War II. Upon returning home in 1946, he resumed his career in commercial photography at Hesse’s.


Later, he opened his own studio in Hollywood and quickly became recognized as a color portrait and fashion photographer. His work appears in or on the covers of such fashion magazines as Harper’s Vogue, Mademoiselle and Look. In 1988, he moved to Southeast Idaho where he continued to produce calendar photos until his death in 1995.




As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this year, we invite you to join the #LIGHTtheWORLD initiative.  This initiative is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is a call for people everywhere to serve others over the month of December.  As we follow Christ’s example this year and share His light, the world will become a brighter place.  The initiative suggests ways to share Christ’s light over the month, though these ways are not necessarily the only way to serve others.   Please join us at Special Collections in giving service and reflecting Christ’s light this Christmas season.

Manuscript Collection

“[Bigfoot] was no ordinary man.  He’s a legend now and could be classified as a legend during his very own lifetime.  He terrorized the southwest corner of Idaho, killing innumerable amounts of people.”

"Bigfoot, the Terror of Idaho" 1978 essay by Andy Fujimoto

“Bigfoot, the Terror of Idaho” 1978 essay by Andy Fujimoto

So begins the essay found in MS 381.  The Manuscript Collection contains more than 750 items covering everything from this essay to marriage records; from a life sketch of Samuel Adams to a history of Eastern Idaho.  In order to be entered into the collection, a file need only be historically significant, not related to BYU-Idaho, and file sized.  That makes this collection one of the most diverse and interesting collections found in the library!  This collection is open to the public and contains many original primary sources perfect for research papers.  Come to Special Collections to learn more about the true story of Bigfoot and to get help on that essay you’ve been writing!

WWI Veteran Thomas Neibaur

Happy Veterans Day!  Today we honor all those who have served to protect the rights and freedoms that we all enjoy.  Thank you to all veterans.  We here at Special Collections honor your sacrifice and are grateful for it.  Thank you for your fearless service.

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Following is the story of Thomas Neibaur, the first Idahoan who received the Medal of Honor.  He was also the recipient of the Purple Heart.  His story has deeply touched those at Special Collections and illustrates the sacrifice of our soldiers.

Thomas Croft Neibaur of Sugar City, Idaho, enlisted in the Idaho National Guard shortly before the start of World War I.  This action later placed him “somewhere in France.”  Stating in a letter to his mother on June 10, 1917, Neibaur wrote,

Well dear mother I am not sorry that I joined when I did altho I am very young and have had no experience away from home but still I feel that I am serving my country and I feel as if that was the next thing to serving my God.


Medal of Honor

Neibaur was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroic acts during the war.

Neibaur was first stationed in Boise and then Sandpoint, Idaho. He routinely wrote home, encouraging his family while also sharing his love for them. On June 2, 1917, he wrote from Sandpoint,

I sure would like to be back home with you again, but still I realize that I am serving my country in time of need, and I remember the words of Sir William Wallace, ‘God armeth the patriot.’

Neibaur went from Idaho to New York then New Jersey for training. He reached France sometime early in 1918, and was transferred to an existing division made up of individuals from the South. Missing his old company, he remarked of his new comrades on April 18, 1918, “Of course they are good fellows and all that but still they have different ways that seem a bit funny to me.”

Neibaur would also mention briefly “a few pretty exciting times” in the trenches, which surely worried his family as is apparent when he wrote from “somewhere in France” on May 28, 1918:

Now dear mother do not worry because I tell you I have been to the trenches as there is not much danger the worst thing is the gas and we have good gas masks to protect us. The only thing is getting them on in time.

On October 1918, Neibaur wrote home what must have been startling news to his family. He opened the letter mentioning that he hadn’t received any recent correspondence from home, probably because the post was slow and because he had “been on the front for a long time then got wounded and am now in a hospital nursing a leg with three machine gun wounds in it.” Later in the letter, Neibaur briefly described how he got injured:

Say folks I sure had quite an experience I was captured and was in the hands of the Germans for about half an hour but I watched my chance and when they were not looking I recovered my gun and took ten of my captives prisoners after I was wounded three times.

In Còte de Châtillon, Neibaur had volunteered with two others to take out a pocket of German machine guns. After some action where his two companions were killed and he injured, Neibaur, while injured, was able to take out several Germans until his gun jammed. Upon retreating, he was eventually captured, but, as described in his letter home, found an opportunity to make his captors the captives. It was that action that brought him the Medal of Honor, presented by General Pershing himself. On January 3, 1919, after several months of recovery, and what must have followed several less-than-detailed letters home, he wrote,

I suppose you were very much surprised to hear that I received a medal for bravery but you know you never did get me excited about anything and I always had a cool head.


Neibaur came home to much celebration, he being the first member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–and the first Idahoan–to receive the country’s highest honor.  He married Sarah Shepard, and together they had nine children.  In 1928, he was injured in an accident in a sugar beet factory, leaving him crippled for the rest of his life.  Unfortunately, with this handicap and the small pension given by the military, Neibaur was unable to support his family.  In 1939, he mailed his Medal of Honor to Congress, stating, “I cannot eat them.”  Thomas Neibaur died in 1942 and is buried in the Sugar City cemetery.

BYU-Idaho’s Special Collections and Archives is fortunate to hold several original letters from Neibaur to his family. The passages above are all taken from these letters. To read the letters, visit Special Collections & Archives, room 220 in the McKay Library, and ask for manuscript collection 98 (MSSI 98: Thomas Neibaur Papers). You can view the finding aid online here: Neibaur Papers

This post adapted from a 27 June 2014 post.  View the original post here.,9171,790666,00.html

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Secrets of the Vault

Special Collections is best known for the items stored in the vault.  BYU-Idaho’s vault is a large temperature and humidity controlled safe built into the back of the library.  The vault holds BYU-Idaho’s most prized acquisitions, as well as some surprising items.  Each item housed in the vault is precious to the university, though some item’s worth is more apparent than others.  Here are some of our lesser-known items stored in the vault.



If you have ever been to Special Collections for a class, you are probably aware of our collection of Bibles.  You may not be aware that we have an original 1568 AD Tischreden.  The Tischreden (English: Table Talk) is a compilation of Martin Luther’s sayings.  These sayings were written by his students and table guests, and later compiled by Aurifaber.  1


Milton’s Poems

An example of  fore-edge paintingThe Poetical Works of John Milton is truly one of the vault’s hidden treasures.  Milton is best known for Paradise Lost.  This collection of poetry supports the freedom of the press and opposes falsehoods.  On the edge of the pages are four paintings, representing the story of Adam and Eve.  Because of the fragile nature of this book, it is currently not available to the public.

Kirtland Safety Society Bank Notes

Kirtland Safety Society Bank Notes

In 1836, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints founded the Kirtland Safety Society.  This Society was a church-owned bank established to help out financially-strapped members.  Because the bank was not backed by the State of Ohio and because of the 1837 bank crisis, the Society failed in 1837.  Special Collections has two bank notes from the Kirtland Safety Society.  2 3 4

Hindi story of the Monkey and the Alligator

Hindi story of the Monkey and the Alligator

Along with leaves from the Qura’an, Torah, and New Testament is stored this 17th century Hindi manuscript.  The manuscript is a rendition of the folk tale “The Monkey and the Crocodile.”  A rendition of the story in English is also available in Special Collections for interested readers.

Mayan Poison Bottle

Mayan Poison Bottle

An original Mayan “Poison Bottle,” perhaps better known as a “snuff bottle,” is also stored inside the vault.  This poison bottle has inscriptions on each side, depicting what is thought to be the Mayan god “Ch’ul May,” the god of tobacco and jaguars.  5


Greek Papyrus

Papyrus was one of the widely used mediums for text in ancient times.  This fragment is from 90 A.D., and is a rare example of papyrus that has lasted throughout the ages.  As a plant-based material, papyrus generally deteriorates relatively quickly.

Special Collections is always happy to open the vault!  Come in between 8-5 M-F to see what other items we have.


  2. “Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual Lesson 121: The Church Moves to Northern Missouri.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2016
  3. “Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company Note.” Kirtland Temple.  Community of Christ, 2008.  Web. 12 Jan. 2016
  4. Mormon Currency-1837 $5 Kirtland Safety Society Bank Note PMG 20 – AU Capital Management.” AU Capital Management. Web. 13 Jan. 2016.
  5. BYU-Idaho records