Robert and John Bitzer Chief Illiniwek Papers and Regalia

Overview

Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Subject Terms

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Personal Papers

Chief Illiniwek Regalia and Headdress Box



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Finding Aid for Robert and John Bitzer Chief Illiniwek Papers and Regalia, 1938-2007 | The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music

By Carol Berthold

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Collection Overview

Title: Robert and John Bitzer Chief Illiniwek Papers and Regalia, 1938-2007Add to your cart.

ID: 26/20/258

Primary Creator: Bitzer, Robert (1923-1996)

Other Creators: Bitzer, John (1952-2023)

Extent: 6.0 cubic feet

Arrangement: The materials are organized in two series: Series 1) Personal Papers and Series 2) Chief Illiniwek Regalia and Headdress Box. Series 1 is arranged alphabetically by subject. Series 2 is unarranged.

Date Acquired: 04/05/2024

Subjects: Beta Theta Pi, Chief Illiniwek, Marching bands, Marching Illini, Music -- Illinois, Native American, University of Illinois

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

Consists of correspondence, publication news clippings, yearbooks, and photographs collected by and regalia designed and worn by Robert and John Bitzer, documenting their role as Chief Illiniwek at the University of Illinois. Of note are the hand-made moccasins, pants, coat, and headdresses, created by Robert Bitzer.

Biographical Note

Robert L. Bitzer was born on March 30, 1923 in East St. Louis, IL and passed away on July 18, 1996 in Shelbyville, IL. As a child, Bitzer became interested in Native American lore and crafts through his time as a boy scout. In the late 1930s, Bitzer became an Eagle Scout, earning a silver palm in the organization. Bitzer attended the First Annual Boy Scout National Jamboree in 1937, where he and Indian lore specialist Carl Hubbard danced together in Native American regalia for the national assembly of scouts at the Commanche Trail Council Indian Camp. In 1938, he joined the Piasa Society of St. Louis, Mo., a group that was interested in Native American dancing traditions. Following this, Bitzer served as Chief Kahok, the mascot of Collinsville High School in Collinsville, IL from 1938 to 1941. After graduating, Bitzer was accepted at the University of Illinois, where he majored in business administration. He was, at the time, selected to serve as first alternate to Glen Holthaus for the role of Chief Illiniwek. After a year of studies, Bitzer was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving as a B-24 and B-29 pilot during World War II. At the end of the war, he returned to his studies at the University of Illinois. Bitzer became a member of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity and in his first year back on campus earned the role of Chief Illiniwek. He would hold the position from 1945 to 1947, leading the Illini in their win over UCLA at the Rosebowl in 1947.

Following his time at the University of Illinois, Bitzer worked as the president of Bitzer-Tagart Motor Co., an auto dealership in Shelbyville and Sullivan, IL, for over forty years. He also served as a real estate and insurance broker in Central Illinois until he passed in 1996.

Subject/Index Terms

Beta Theta Pi
Chief Illiniwek
Marching bands
Marching Illini
Music -- Illinois
Native American
University of Illinois

Administrative Information

Repository: The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music

Acquisition Source: Maryann Bitzer

Acquisition Method: Gift.

Related Materials:

Richard Brooks Papers and Chief Illiniwek Triptych Panel Mural, 26/20/204

University Bands Collections, 12/9/93


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Personal Papers, 1920-2010],
[Series 2: Chief Illiniwek Regalia and Headdress Box, ca. 1950-1970],
[All]

Series 2: Chief Illiniwek Regalia and Headdress Box, ca. 1950-1970Add to your cart.
Consists of hand-made leather, bead, and metal crafts, a pipe, hand-painted headdress box, and spare materials used for the repair of the regalia. The regalia and objects in this series are unarranged.
Box 4Add to your cart.
Item 1: Jacket, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession No.:2024.2620258.001
Item 2: Pants, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession No.: 2024.2620258.002
Item 3: Gloves, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession Nos.: 2024.2620258.003a; 2024.2620258.003b
Item 4: Moccasins, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession Nos.: 2024.2620258.004a; 2024.2620258.004b
Item 5: Moccasins, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession Nos.: 2024.2620258.005a; 2024.2620258.005b
Item 6: Moccasins, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession Nos.: 2024.2620258.006a; 2024.2620258.006b
Item 7: Moccasins, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession Nos.: 2024.2620258.007a; 2024.2620258.007b
Item 8: Belt, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession No.: 2024.2620258.010
Item 9: Straps, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession Nos.: 2024.2620258.013a; 2024.2620258.013b; 2024.2620258.013c; 2024.2620258.013d; 2024.2620258.013e
Item 10: Headdress, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession No. 2024.2620258.022
Item 11: Rabbit Pelts, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession No. 2024.2620258.023
Item 12: Spare Feathers, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession No. 2024.2620258.024
Item 13: Tandy Leather Company - Indian Lore Imitation Eagle Feathers Right, ca. 1950Add to your cart.
Accession No. 2024.2620258.025
Item 14: Tandy Leather Company - Indian Lore Fluffy Plumes, ca. 1950Add to your cart.
Accession No.: 2024.2620258.026
Box 5Add to your cart.
Item 1: Chest Plate, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession No.: 2024.2620258.008
Item 2: Pipe, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession No.: 2024.2620258.021
Box 6Add to your cart.
Item 1: Bells, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession No.: 2024.2620258.014
Item 2: Bells, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession No.: 2024.2620258.015
Item 3: Bells, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession No.: 2024.2620258.016
Item 4: Bells, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession No.: 2024.2620258.017
Item 5: Bells, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession No.: 2024.2620258.018
Item 6: Bells, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession No.: 2024.2620258.019
Item 7: Bells, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession No.: 2024.2620258.020
Item 8: Belt, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession No.: 2024.2620258.009
Box 7: Headdress Box, n.d.Add to your cart.
Accession no. 2024.2620258.012.
Item 1: Headdress, undatedAdd to your cart.
Accession No.: 2024.2620258.011

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Personal Papers, 1920-2010],
[Series 2: Chief Illiniwek Regalia and Headdress Box, ca. 1950-1970],
[All]

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