University archivist’s book chronicles stories of congressman

Charlie Nodler, University Archivist

Charlie Nodler, University Archivist

Most students probably do not know anything other than University Java and a computer lab occupy the bottom floor of George A. Spiva Library.  But, if a student were to walk in the main entrance of the bottom floor and venture to the very back, this is where they will find the University Archives and the man who manages them.

Charles Nodler, Missouri Southern archivist, has been with MSSU since 1978.  Nodler served as a project archivist for the George Washington Carver Monument, was on the steering committee for the planning of the Gene Taylor Library and Museum and was an Archival Consultant for Newton County in 2006.  Nodler has an extensive education capped with a master of arts in history from the University of Texas at Arlington and a master of arts in Library Science from the University of Missouri.  He is also an alumnus of Southern, where he received his Bachelor of Arts.

While serving as archivist for Southern, Nodler wrote a book chronicling stories about the late Congressman Gene Taylor titled Bracing the Cornerpost.  Before his death Taylor had donated his papers to the University archives, and Nodler was able to look over them extensively.

“I approached [Taylor] about writing a book about him, and he allowed me to,” Nodler said.  “The thing that I concentrated on in Bracing the Cornerpost was that he was a great storyteller and was very funny.  My book focused on some of the stories he told and some of the humor that happened.  He made fun of other politicians and himself as well.  And I like humor, so I thought this would be something I would enjoy doing.  And the fact that we had his papers here made so that I could do the research here without having to go a long distance.”

While writing the book, Nodler was able to use Joplin Globe files, interviews with Taylor, accounts from people that knew him and Taylor’s photographs.  

“One of the photos in the book is from the night Ronald Reagan invited the best storytellers from Congress, and Gene Taylor was one of the three,” Nodler said.  “They told jokes and funny stories that night, and it went well past midnight, and the picture is in the book as well.”

From Taylor’s papers, Nodler was able to find many stories about his life in Congress.

“Taylor told one story,” Nodler said, “that he went before a congressional committee about a bill they were passing and he said, ‘I can tell you the people in Sarcoxie, Mo., would be against that bill.’ And the head of the committee said, ‘Well, Mr. Taylor do you think the people in Sarcoxie, Mo., are smarter than the people in Washington, D.C?’  Taylor: ‘Well, yes I do.’  Head of Committee: ‘Well why do you say that?’  Taylor: ‘Well, everybody I know in Sarcoxie, Mo., knows where Washington, D.C. is, but very few people in Washington, D.C. know where Sarcoxie, Mo., is, so they’re smarter.'”

You can find many more stories like this in Nodler’s book Bracing the Cornerpost.  Nodler is also a co-author of a book about baseball in Neosho’s history titled Field of Teams.