A trip to the past

Campus museum displays Walter Parr Collection

If you’re looking for an interesting place to go on campus, try the Paul R. Stewart Museum. Located in the basement of Miller Hall, you will find a large collection of “mineral specimens; fossils; Native American artifacts; local pottery and glass; objects and documents pertaining to the history of Waynesburg University; objects and documents with local, national and international historical and cultural significance; and more!” the Paul R. Stewart Museum’s page on Waynesburg University’s website said.

Among the inventory at the museum is the Walter Parr Collection, a large collection of Native American artifacts collected by Walter Parr.

Waynesburg University’s President Douglas Lee said Walter Parr was not a Waynesburg alumnus.

 “He [Parr] was an individual that had a passion for studying history, particularly Native American history,” President Lee said. “And he knew that we had a museum with a very good reputation and wanted these items to go to this museum because he knew we would take care of them.”

On Sept. 18, 2021, Walter Parr’s granddaughter, Jenny Gaus, came to Waynesburg University to see her grandfather’s collection for herself. President Lee brought Ms. Gaus to Miller Hall, where the Walter Parr Collection is being cataloged. 

There, she also met Frank Hunter, an ex-high school history teacher from Allegheny County, who is responsible for identifying and cataloging the items in the Walter Parr Collection.

Hunter recalled the visit with Ms. Gaus and said that she was overwhelmed by the size of the collection, not realizing how large it was.

The Walter Parr Collection consists of Native American arrowheads, scrapers, drill bits, beads and an authentic Iroquois ceremonial mask.

“We think there’s maybe a thousand [arrowheads], maybe more,” Hunter said. 

According to Hunter, Parr collected and bought arrowheads from all over the country. 

“We counted them all. We separated them into states. Some we don’t know anything about them,” Hunter said.

Hunter has discovered that Parr’s arrowheads came from at least 20 different states, many different tribes and could have originated from over 1,500 years ago.

“This has to be one of the largest collections of Native American projectile points that is together, that has been collected by one individual,” Hunter said.

Hunter is currently still in the process of identifying and cataloging Parr’s arrowheads for the Paul R. Stewart Museum. 

Rea Redd, the director of Eberly Library and a committee member for the Paul R. Stewart Museum, said that the museum holds many stories “that haven’t been repeated for a long time.”

According to Redd, it is the task of the committee to make sure that the museum is open, and that collections in storage are available for student viewing and student involvement.

Both Redd and Hunter hope to display the Walter Parr Collection as well as other museum collections in the Paul R. Stewart Museum and online.

“We want to create a webpage that can be accessed by the world.” Hunter continued, “because there is an awful lot of information that comes from here [the collection and museum].”

In the meantime, the Paul R. Stewart Museum is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for free self-guided tours, available by appointment.