UNI Archives: Boyd H. Graeber Memorabilia

Created by: Monica Cruise

The artifacts presented come from the University of Northern Iowa Archives. These photographs and memorabilia collection was created by Boyd H. Graeber during 1921 through 1924, while he attended ISTC; Iowa State Teachers College - now currently the University of Northern Iowa. Filled with photos and witty captions of friends and family, this collection allows us to see Graber’s time in college and experience his memories first hand.

"Look We're Funny"

Shown above is Graeber and his buddies trying to pose for a photo, which turns into a candid as some of the men are laughing uncontrollably.

This photo is constructed of 10 men posing for a picture. It is black and white and all the men seem to be wearing the same clothes. White button up shirts varying from long sleeves to cut offs, they are all uniformed. Although this photo looks like it was supposed to be a posed photo of the group of friends, this specific photo captures a moment in time, a candid. I believe this is a candid because of the facial expressions on the men's faces, along with the movement present. One question I would love to know is what was said moments before this picture was taken to make these men laugh so hard? The caption tagged with the photo of “Look We’re’ Funny,” has some sort of sarcastic tone to it, as if someone would respond “yeah, funny looking!” in a witty response.


This photo showcases two young men sitting on a fallen tree. With one stump of the tree between them, they are facing each other. If you look closely, each man has their hands in a fist, and squared up like they are about to fight, but in a playful way as you can see smirks on both of their faces. Like the others, this photo is black and white. The setting looks like they may be in the woods, or a forest, but one that is not too secluded as there is some open space, and tree stumps from being cut down in the background. This photo was organized with other photos, (not presented) of men canoeing and being on a sandbar. So with this context I can believe it was probably Graeber and his friends enjoying the nice weather, and having fun during their free time from schooling. Along with the other captions, “Woodpeckers” seems to be describing the picture, and the movement within the photo. Imagined to be two woodpeckers sitting on a tree.

Two men perched upon a fallen tree stump mocking the movements of a woodpecker.


This photo was taken during the homecoming parade at ISTC. There were multiple pages of documents from this event showcasing everyone's float. Unlike the other photos this one does not have a title or caption. It makes me believe that Graeber may have not been as emotionally connected to these compared to the other ones. This photo is black and white and is a car covered in a white sheet with flowers lining the sides and tires. There seems to be something written our in flowers on the side, but I can not make it out. There is one young person sitting on the front of the float wearing what looks to be a traffic cone on their head. This particular photo stood out to me due to the fact that there is someone doing a headstand in front of the float. This is just an odd thing to be doing especially if the float was currently in the parade. The outfits that both the head standing, and cone head characters are wearing are half white and half red. This reminds me of a circus or clown outfit so maybe they are the class clowns or this is a float for a theatre group.

It's all fun and games during the homecoming parade, from floats to funny costumes, and hidden talents!

"Just Like a Bird"

This man sits upon a pillar mocking a bird in the middle of winter.

This photo is probably the most comedic of them all from Graeber's collection. The man is perfectly perched on top of the pillar like a bird would be. And due to the fact that this is in the middle of winter in Iowa, there are no birds. It looks like this photo was taken on a bridge which adds a fear factor to how this person climbed to the top of this pillar without falling over either side. It doesn't look like there is a clear path for cars to drive on so it must have been a pretty strong winter storm that year. I'm not quite sure if this is Graeber himself, or one of his friends but either way it continues to show the comedic relief they offered to each other - even on the coldest days.

Photographs courtesy of UNI Research Archive