Illinois Wesleyan University’s Meditation Room
Guest posted by Melissa MariottiNot much is known about Illinois Wesleyan’s Meditation Room; in fact many people are unaware of its existence. The purpose of this room is all in the name; a place for quiet reflection and meditation. It is located on the second floor of the Memorial Center, up the stairs from the Davidson room.
It is a small space filled with six chairs, an altar, several crosses (both big and small), a prayer kneeler, paper and note cards for writing notes and prayers, several Bibles, rosaries, and a large plaque dedicated to the Wesleyan students who died in combat during World War II. It is interesting to note that the Meditation Room was not part of the original plans for the Memorial Center. While the building was constructed in 1947, the Meditation Room was not added until about 10 years later during the 1957-1958 school year after students began requesting a space for quiet meditation. It is well-known that Illinois Wesleyan began as a Methodist institution, so it is somewhat surprising to see that students requested a non-denominational meditation room. It may have begun as nondenominational, but it is clear that after time that its purpose has shifted from a small war memorial to a small church. Many people have found a sanctuary in this room. On the door there is a sign-in sheet where you can see how often the room gets used. People, both students and alumni, have written notes on it, saying how thankful they were for the space.
It is unclear as to when most of the items in the room were added or by whom. The earliest evidence Wesleyan has is a photo taken during the 1960s of the altar and a cross. According to a 1954 Argus article, the room was “furnished by the Lee McClure family.” At that time, there was only the altar, a cross, and the chairs. As for the rest of the items, such as the large crosses, it is uncertain. There are six chairs placed against both sides of the room that were donated by Mr. and Mrs. Lee McClure in honor of their son, Bruce McClure, a student at Wesleyan, who died in combat in 1945.
Each chair has a small plaque on them to commemorate him. Bruce came to Wesleyan in 1942 and was enlisted that following spring. He was a member of Phi Gamma Delta.
It is uncertain whether or not every item in the room was donated by the McClure family
There is a large plaque that is placed on the wall with the names of the students who fought and died in combat. The plaque is titled, “Illinois Wesleyan University Students Who Made the Supreme Sacrifice in World War Two.”
Among those names is George Lansing Fox, whom the room is now dedicated to. There is small collage dedicated to him and “The Four Chaplains.” George L. Fox graduated from Illinois Wesleyan in 1932 and served in World War I, receiving many prestigious awards, such as the Silver Star, Purple Heart, the Croix de Guerre, and the Furaguerre. He enlisted in World War II as a chaplain as was put on a ship called the USS Dorchester.
In 1943 the USS Dorchester was torpedoed by a German submarine. Fox was one of three chaplains on the ship, one Catholic, one protestant, and one Jewish rabbi. After finding that there were not enough life vests on the ship, the four chaplains gave up their own so others could survive. They were last seen kneeling on the deck of the ship in prayer as it sank.In 1951 president Truman dedicated a chapel at Temple University, Pennsylvania, The Chapel of the Four Chaplains, and made a commemorative postage stamp in their honor.
In this post, we have two views of the same object: a plaque in the archives that contains the first image of Tommy Titan as something other than a person in costume. This artifact contains the earliest record we have of the transition from Tommy as a person dressed in titan-esque attire (see details in previous post) and the costume-wearing student who serves as our mascot today!
Psychology has been part of IWU’s curriculum since the 1880s, but it was not until the late 1940s that it appeared in the catalog as a department, paired with Philosophy.
The Communications Office wrote an in-depth news story of Psychology Department and its evolution for the 2011 Homecoming.
Any time a student or any member of the community attends an IWU sporting event a constant image and cheerful presence is the IWU mascot of Tommy Titan. Tommy Titan is undoubtedly one of the important symbols of Illinois Wesleyan University, but when did Tommy become the official IWU mascot?
The IWU Titan name was first mentioned in October 27,1927 issue of the Argus.The IWU football team previously had no specific name and they were the first to acquire the nickname Titans. Soon all IWU sports teams chose to use the name of the Titans, but the first name of Tommy did not appear until much later and we can thank a man named Lee Short!
Class of 1944 alumnus Lee Short earned the credit of creating the gladiator-like image of our beloved mascot and giving him the first name of Tommy in 1951.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Tommy’s appearance evolved even more, but you can read the story about Tommy’s origins in the November 2, 2007 Argus. The first image we have of Tommy is at this football game against ISU on September 25, 1965. The student portraying him is Steve Reeser, Class of 1969.
Long before Tommy Titan, the IWU colors of green and white were documented as our school colors in 1898 report of the Daily Pantagraph. It is interesting to think that before adopting the name of the Titans the sports teams of the past (pre-1927) simply referred to themselves as the GAW (for Green and White) and continued to do so for some time until the Titan name decidedly became the commonplace term.
Be sure to look at the Argus issues linked in this post and all the other resources for IWU history! And check out our campus traditions page for pep songs and more. Lee Short has a long and interesting association with IWU, and he contributed an oral history recording in 2010 that is also available online.
Some people find it odd to learn that archivists spend a lot of time thinking about what to throw away. It’s true, though, not everything needs to be saved forever. In fact, if we aren’t consciously making decisions it can actually cost more–in terms of staff time and resources to preserve objects–to take care of things we don’t truly need compared to the cost of caring for what we truly value.
The graphic below is part of a page I created to help IWU offices identify what types of records they create and to determine how long they should keep them. The page also contains terminology to help people think through record keeping decisions.
This does not have to be a solo effort! Questions are welcome and you can contact me to talk these decisions through.
“Go forth and do well, but even more go forth and do good.” — noted in the 1993 Commencement files (RG 6-1/2)
People often remember the parting advice former President Minor Myers, jr. made at Commencement each year, and we were recently asked to find out when he first said it and if it had any other origin.
President Myers didn’t read from complete scripts during speeches; the above quote was in the brief, typed outline of his remarks for Commencement 1993.
But how did he come to develop this phrase? We followed the trail back to his first campus speech and found two instances that illuminate a possibility.
An earlier notation we found comes close to the eventual phrase: “We shall both prosper only as we serve well.” This note was penciled in on an “Outline for Talk at Writers [sic] Conference” dated March 28, 1990 (RG 2-12/3/1: Speech Outlines, July 1989-March 2002, folder 3 of 3).
The typed notes directly above this line show an origin: “Anglican / read of Wesley, went to his house, found his bust / example of unremitting effort to do good. / and unending joy in doing it. / that is the satisfaction of what we are doing, // the frustrations, / but the reward is the sense we are contributing to the maintenance of that which is good by unending efforts to make it better.”
And going further back, a note on Myers’ 1989 Inaugural Address also refers to John Wesley’s “devotion to doing good,” so perhaps we can say that the founder of Methodism itself is the inspiration for the quote that Myers crafted over the next four years and made his own!
Someone recently asked, “Who was IWU’s shortest-serving president?”
With a length of service at just 14 months, the record goes to Clinton W. Sears: August 1855-October 1856 (see p. 54-55 of Elmo Watson’s IWU Story; available at http://archive.org/stream/illinoiswesleyan00wats#page/n7/mode/2up).
Photographs of all of our presidents are available at http://www.iwu.edu/president/history.html.
Others who served short terms include
Wiley G. Brooks (22 mos.) took office in December 1937 and left in September 1939 (Watson p. 168-169).
Samuel J. Fallows (23 mos.) served from August 1873 until the 1875 Commencement which was in mid- to late-June in those days (Watson p. 113).
Wayne Anderson (24 mos.) August 1, 1986 – July 31, 1988
The official inauguration didn’t take place until April 25, 1987, but archival records confirm that Anderson was appointed in April 1986 and his first day in office was August 1, 1986. A letter from the Board of Trustees (filed with Anderson’s appointment documents in RG 2-11/1) verifies receipt of his resignation letter and says it was effective July 31, 1988. The same letter confirms Dr. Wendell Hess would serve as interim president. Dr. Hess discusses this period and others in his long association with IWU in his oral history interview (see http://digitalcommons.iwu.edu/oral_hist/46/). An April 15, 1988 Argus news story on this topic is available at http://collections.carli.illinois.edu/u?/iwu_argus,6439.
Note: We’ve combed our research files for interesting requests and with this post will start publishing “staff picks” and the ones that seem likely to be asked again. Stay tuned!
Someone recently asked me to create a source that would make it easy for people to know what the archives considers…well…archival! The image linked below leads to a slide show designed to help clarify how YOU can help me save your history for future generations.
Let me know if you have questions about anything in this overview!
Ten Tips for Preserving Your Holiday Digital Memories
November 27, 2013 by Mike Ashenfelder
- As soon as you can, transfer the digital files off the camera, cell phone or other device and onto backup storage. That storage could be your computer, a thumb drive, a CD, a hard drive or an online cloud service. You should also backup a second copy somewhere else, preferably on a different type of storage device than the first.
- If you have time, browse your files and decide if you want to keep everything or just cull the best ones. Twenty photos of the same scene might be unnecessary, no matter how beautiful the scene might be. And despite who is in that video, if the video is blurry and dark and shaky, you probably will never watch it again.
- When you back your files up, organize them so you can easily find them.
- Organize file folders however you want but be consistent with your system. Label folders by date, description or file type (such as “Photos” or “Thanksgiving 2013″). Organization makes it easy to find your stuff later.
- You can rename files without affecting the contents. And renaming a file will help you find it quickly when you search for it later.
- You can add descriptions to your digital photos, much as you would write a description to a paper photo. We’ve gone into depth in few blog posts, to describe how it works.
- Similarly, if you make any digital audio recordings, you can add descriptive information into the audio files themselves, information that will display in the MP3 player.
- If you have a special correspondence with someone, you can archive the emails and cell phone texts much as you would a paper letter or card.
- Remember that all storage devices eventually become obsolete; maybe you can recall devices and disks from just a decade ago that are now either obsolete or on their way out of fashion. If you have valuable files still on those obsolete media, those files become increasingly difficult to access with every passing year. So in order to keep your files accessible, you should move your collection to a new storage medium about every five to seven years. That is about the average time for something new and different to come out. At the least, if you use the same backup device frequently — like a favorite thumb drive — get a new one. Migrate your collection to new media periodically.
- Write down where you have important files, along with any passwords needed to access them, and keep that information in a secure place that a designated person can access if you are not around.
Treat your digital files responsibly, preserve those memorable moments and you can enjoy them again and again for years.
For more information on personal digital archiving, visit digitalpreservation.gov/personalarchiving/.