Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wednesday search challenge (6/12/13): Who came up with this big idea?

Today's search challenge is a great example of a couple of skills--great for teaching students how/when/when to use advanced operators.  

This is from regular reader Tasha.  (Thanks!)  


1.  His poetry tells us that life is just a little of the good and of the bad, but he dreamed big and is credited with the idea of creating a well-known national landmark.  What is his name?     
2.  Once you've figured out who had this big idea, the landmark we see today is not what he originally envisioned.  What was his original plan for the national landmark? 

As usual, be sure to tell us both how long you took to find the answer, and what you did in order to find the answers? 

Search on! 


  1. Doane Robinson, Mount Rushmore, Originally to be carvings of western life and notable figures on spires and outcroppings of granite called The Needles, also in SD.

    A quick search for the poetry turned up his name. A search for his name turned up a Wikipedia entry describing the original vision.

  2. Good day, Dr. Russell, fellow SearchResearchers


    ["life is just a little of the good and of the bad"]
    Found: . Doane robinson from the Book " Who's who in South Dakota"

    [doane robinson]

    [doane robinson monument original]
    Found: "What Every Middle School Teacher Needs to Know About Reading..."

    Searching inside the book found:


    1. His poetry tells us that life is just a little of the good and of the bad, but he dreamed big and is credited with the idea of creating a well-known national landmark. What is his name?
    A: Doane Robinson.

    2. Once you've figured out who had this big idea, the landmark we see today is not what he originally envisioned. What was his original plan for the national landmark?
    A: In 1923, Doane Robinson wanted the faces of George Armstrong Custer, Buffalo Bill Cody, Lewis and Clark, and Sioux warriors. Plan A fof the carvings was a region called the Needles.

  3. Name Doane Robinson who was South Dakota state historian. From SEARCH [" little of the good and of the bad"] which found which is a scan of This file contains the biography of Doane Robinson from "Who's Who
    in South Dakota" by O. W. Coursey (1913)
    SEARCH [Doane Robinson rushmore finds] which shows shows that his real name was Jonah LeRoy Robinson.

    Original plan (Wikipedia article again) was to sculpt The Needles in the Black Hills with figures of famous people but there was a lot of opposition. His sculptor Gutzon Borglum said the rock was too rotten and proposed instead Mt Rushmore as bigger and better.

    About 5 minutes


  4. I'm not certain that I've found the right answer. Still, it seems to fit with the Challenge.

    I searched "life is just a little of the good and of the bad" looking for the quote itself. It led me to an excerpt from Who's Who of South Dakota detailing the life of Jonah LeRoy Robinson, called Doane Robinson because his sister couldn't pronounce his name.

    Doane Robinson had an idea for carving the faces of famous people on the "Needles" in South Dakota. Eventually, that idea was abandoned in favor of what became Mount Rushmore.

    What gives me pause to think I may be wrong is the quotation is preceded by "Hereunto re-
    lated are the words of Taylor:"

    The original challenge refers to the quote as *his* poetry.

    1. I agree with Jim. This really through me and my colleague Anne as the poem is credited to Frank W. Taylor, Jr. See
      The biography of Leroy Doane Robinson just quotes the poem. If you do a search on Doane Robinson you do find references to Mt. Rushmore.

    2. This is not fair Daniel. I spent a lot a time searching for that Frank W. Taylor as I thought the Mt Rushmore story was intentionally misleading us, and that the exercise was about searching for the right person and not jump on the first answer we find. Robinson never wrote these verses. Aren't we supposed to be power searchers ? Anyway the search was interesting…

  5. Jonah LeRoy "Doane" Robinson (searched for "a little of the good and of the bad" which took me to his biography.)
    Mount Rushmore (Wikipedia)
    His original idea was to sculpt the Needles.
    Took a minute or so.

  6. According to what I found, you are referring to Doane Robinson. But the source I found does not credit that line of poetry to him, but to a poet named Taylor ( which doesn't mention his connection to Mt. Rushmore at all).

    His original vision was for a different location than Rushmore (the Needles) and all I learned was that it would be busts of prominent people.

    For extra credit, ask your readers how to pronounce the name of the city in which he died (according to locals). Giving the number of syllables ought to be enough.

    Took about 5 minutes, and really, all I did was put quotes around the poem line. (with all those little words, it was not going to work without quotes).

  7. A search of "life is just a little of the good" led me to an archive of the Oelwein Daily Register from 1909 ( The front page contains a poem titled "Dipped from the Stream" authored by Frank W. Taylor Jr. The last lines of the poem are "That life is just a little/Of the good and of the bad". I couldn't find anything more on Taylor himself.

  8. The man was Doane Robinson, state historian of South Dakota. I googled the line of poetry as a phrase and his bio came up.
    He conceived the idea of Mt. Rushmore although he originally wanted to carve The Needles with smaller sculptures.
    It took me about 10 minutes.

  9. The poem is from "Dipped from the Stream" by Frank W. Taylor, Jr. You can find it in on page 1 of the Oelwein (Iowa) Daily Register for May 12, 1909:

  10. Search Google News
    Life is just a little
    Of the good and of the bad,
    Of things that make us happy
    And the things that make us sad.
    By Frank W. Taylor
    You can read the entire poem Dipped from the Stream in the Oelwein newspaper News
    Search Google Books
    Partial poem misquoted here by Doane Robinson in Who's who in South Dakota. This is a thin thread linking Taylor to Robinson and while it is bonafide it isn't a confirmation. Robinson did not write this poem but it is the link given. Continued search
    [ sculpted national monument]
    Third item in google search Mount Rushmore Wiki article
    Quote " South Dakota historian Doane Robinson is credited with conceiving the idea of carving the likenesses of famous people into the Black Hills region of South Dakota in order to promote tourism in the region. Robinson's initial idea was to sculpt the Needles[] ; however, Gutzon Borglum rejected the Needles site because of the poor quality of the granite and strong opposition from environmentalists and Native American groups."
    Quote " Robinson wanted it to feature western heroes like Lewis and Clark, Red Cloud[4] and Buffalo Bill Cody[5] but Borglum decided the sculpture should have a more national focus, and chose the four presidents".
    Confirmation reasonable.

  11. Searched for [life is just a little of the good ] in quotes.
    Found 2 pages.
    First page identified person as Doane Robinson

    A search for his name [Doane Robinson] finds Wikipedia page which says he had the original idea for Mount Rushmore.
    2nd result on page is a PBS page which says
    “Robinson had the idea to propose sculpting the Needles, giant pillars of granite, into the forms of some of the West's greatest heroes, both Native Americans and pioneers. “

    To double check I went to Google Books and did a search for [Doane Robinson] in quotes. I then limited the results to preview available.
    The first book “The World Beyond the Windshield: Roads and Landscapes in the United States” gives on page 87 more details about his original proposals although unfortunately you cannot see the reference it gives.

    I then did a quick detour to Wikipedia to have a look at the Needles – lovely.

    Took about 10-15 mins.

    The other commentators are right though - the poem doesn't seem to be by Robinson but Taylor. The writer of "Who's Who in South Dakota" - O. W. Coursey seems to have had a philosophical bent of his own.