Archive for October, 2009

The Von Keller Coverlet

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

by Sherry Massey, Senior Registrar

coverlet1.jpgThe Oklahoma Museum of History has recently acquired a remarkably unique quilt.

The Von Keller Coverlet, as it is lovingly referred to by the donor, Ellen Jonsson, came to her in a family lottery. She “drew the long straw” and the quilt became hers.

The story goes something like this: Dr. Frederick Von Keller moved to Ardmore, Indian Territory, from Vernon, Texas, in 1894. There he opened the community’s first hospital, the Ardmore Sanitarium, in 1901. After that building was destroyed in an explosion, he opened the new Von Keller Hospital in 1917. The Von Kellers had two children and one of the daughters, Beatrice, was one of the earliest female graduates of OU. Beatrice married and had children. At some point, family legend says, Dr. Von Keller accepted the quilt in payment of medical services.

Ms. Jonsson married one of Beatrice’s sons. She tells us, “About 30 years ago, Elaine, Katherine and I were at Grandmother Bea’s home. She was in her seventies at the time. She told us that we were going to have a lottery. We wondered what on earth she had in mind. She came back from the kitchen with three straws concealed in her hand. She said the person drawing the longest straw was going to get something. I drew the longest straw and the ‘something’ was the coverlet. I have always thought that she manipulated the outcome because she knew that I would take care of it and ensure that moths didn’t get to it, that it wasn’t left out or carelessly handled.” We’re so glad Grandmother Bea rigged the lottery!


As you can see from the photos, the quilt is a combination fan block/crazy quilt design. The fans alternate direction every other block and are constructed in typical crazy quilt fashion with the pieces appliquéd to a base block. Floral crewel embroidery embellishes the background above each fan with the exception of a swan on one block and the words “Fancy Work” on another. The embroidery is excellent with even stitching and texture. The foundation squares are of striped shirting. The fan blades are made from fabric typically used in suits, dresses and shirts with some satins and wools. Each fan point is velvet. There is no batting or backing; however, there is a binding made from one of the suiting fabrics. Because there is no batting or traditional backing, ‘coverlet’ may be the more appropriate term, after all. The maker did not sign or date the piece. An appraisal has dated it at 1885-1899. It is in remarkably good condition, with no major damage.

This is just one of the many fine quilts entrusted to the care of the Oklahoma Historical Society. We will continue to highlight them in future blogs, so check back often!


Ned Hockman Collection

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

by Scott Clink, Research Division Volunteer

The Ned Hockman Collection [2009.100] is one of great fascination, spanning four decades and numerous pursuits of this notable Oklahoma filmmaker. The materials include film scripts, correspondence regarding filmmaking, and teaching materials from Hockman’s tenure as a professor in the University of Oklahoma’s Journalism/Motion Picture Production program.

Ned Hockman was always interested in communication. During his term as a student at the University of Oklahoma, he worked as an announcer and writer for the OU educational radio station WNAD. During World War II, Hockman received motion picture production training with the Air Corp at the Hal Roach Studios in Hollywood, California, under the tutelage of Frank Lloyd and William Keeley. He served as a service correspondent with the Air Corp in India, Burma, and China. He filmed the first B-29 raid in that region and was with the Wingate-Cochran glider invasion of Burma filming combat motion picture coverage. When World War II ended Hockman returned to the University of Oklahoma and established the Motion Picture Production program. When the Korean War broke out, Hockman was recalled to duty on February 15, 1951, by the Air Force. He was an officer in charge for the Korean detachment of the second photographic squadron. His responsibilities were to write scripts, take motion pictures, and shoot still photo coverage of Air Force activities. His stint covered action on the ground and in the air. He covered the Peace Conference, air attacks, ground support and rescue missions behind enemy lines. These films were used for staff reports, information, and educational services.

In July of 1952, Hockman returned to the United States where he edited and produced three films for the Air Force in Washington D.C. before being released from duty on August 31, 1952. On September 1, 1952, Hockman returned to his position as Supervisor of Motion Picture Productions at the University of Oklahoma where he covered all the “Big Red” football games, and where he became the director and cinematographer of the nationally televised Bud Wilkinson sport shows, “Inside Sports,” “Inside Football,” and “Inside Basketball.” At that same time he began to teach film production and provide contract work through the University for companies such as the Lowe Runkle Company. From 1949 to 1987, Hockman taught film direction, script writing, and other journalism courses.

Hockman worked as a producer, director, cameraman, and film editor for over 200 non-theatrical motion pictures. In 1962, he worked as a director/editor and co-producer for the theatrical film “Stark Fear” starring Beverly Garland. Recognized by the National Press Photographers Association, he was given an award for his contributions to film and photography in 1971. Hockman understood filming and was a delegate to the Cannes Film Festival and other important film festivals held in Mannheim, Germany, Warsaw, Poland and at Berkley, California.