Over the years of Luther’s history, the family connection to the College has been especially strong. Helen Elaine Talle attended Luther from 1938‐1941. Keith Crown, Helen Elaine Talle’s former husband, was a faculty member at Luther (1940‐1941) and gave the College an original silk‐screen print which he made for the Messiah in 1941. Helen Elaine Talle’s father, Henry O. Talle (LC 1917) also taught at Luther (economics) from 1921‐1938, served as college treasurer from 1932‐1938 and served as a U.S. Congressman from Iowa’s second district. Several other family members also graduated from Luther.
The Helen Elaine Talle Collection of pre-Columbian art from Mexico, was given to Luther College in her memory by her daughters, Dr. Patricia Crown, Katherine Crown Webster, and Haine Talle Crown in 1988. The 21 pieces in the Helen Elaine Talle Collection were collected in the early 1950’s by Keith Crown (Helen's former husband) during visits to Mexico. He purchased the ceramics in Acombro, Mexico, a small village about 60 miles north of Morelia. The area contains several important sites of the Chupicuaro, a sub-group of the Tarascans who lived on the western edge of the Aztec nation. The pieces in the collection include bowls in various shapes made between 300 BCE and 200 CE and include zoomorphic shapes as well as figures which depict people and animals.
The Helen Elaine Talle Collection is one of three major groupings of pre-Columbian ceramics in the Fine Arts Collection. Others include pieces collected and purchased by Luther College students in Panama in 1969, and a group of primarily Mayan works from Guatemala, received by the College in 1986 from the Marguerite Wildenhain estate.