Sears was the first official president of Illinois Wesleyan University and served from 1855 until 1857. He was born in New York in 1820 but spent most of his life in Ohio. He graduated from Wesleyan University in Connecticut in 1841. Before his presidency, he held the dual position of librarian and Professor of Ancient Languages and Literature.
Guest post by Ashlyn Calhoun
We have a lot of interesting things here at the Tate Archives and Special Collections in the Ames Library. We have old letterman jackets, the shovel used for almost every building’s groundbreaking since Presser, and an old student publication issue that included a condom! Recently, Meg Miner and myself discovered what has got to be the most interesting Archival discovery of all time: the whiskers from a man-eating tiger slain by an alum during his time in India! How cool is that?
Campbell, his wife, and daughter lived and worked as missionaries in Jagdalpur, India for close to 20 years. Campbell’s daughter, Eleanor, told the tale of her father’s slaying of the tiger in a file obtained from the
Illinois Great Rivers Conference Archives at MacMurray College. Eleanor told how her father, a Methodist minister, shot the tigress, who had killed over 150 people, after a Sunday church service!
If you’re interested in learning more about the Campbell family’s time in India or about the man-eating tigress herself, head up to the fourth floor of Ames and give Meg and I a visit! We love the company!
In 1890, Wesleyan’s first two international students graduated from IWU’s Law School. Their names were Yeizo Osawa and Kashiyira Tanaka. They were from Tokyo, Japan, and were in residence on campus when they graduated. Stories in our student publications relate how they shared their culture with IWU’s campus, such as delivering lectures and describing some of the customs of Japan. Their presence among the graduation class of 1890 was even noted in local newspapers and in the Chicago Tribune.
Even earlier, other graduates with international addresses received degrees through our Non-residential program, meaning they did not have to attend classes on our campus. This program is described the following way in an 1895 publication:
The object of this step was to furnish lines of systematic study for those professional men and women whose duties and environments are such as to make a resident course of study an impossibility, and yet who earnestly desire systematic study.
Sounds a lot like what online learning programs promise today, doesn’t it?
An early graduate of the program with an international address is Rev. John Oakly Spencer of Japan, who graduated with a Ph.B in 1888. One wonders about the possibility of Osawa and Tanaka meeting Oakly and finding out about our small school in Central Illinois!
Other Non-resident graduates living abroad in the same time period were Rev. Myron Chesterfield Wilcox of China who also graduated with a Ph.B in 1886, and William Groves of Uruguay who graduated with an M.A. in 1897. William C. Armstrong and Frederick W. A.Meyer, of Ontario, Canada and Arthur Thomas Carr of Birmingham England all received M.A. in 1896.
These men were not international students in the same way we think of today, but they demonstrate our current philosophy has long-standing roots: bring the world to Wesleyan and Wesleyan to the world!
To learn more you can visit Tate Archives and Special Collections in the Ames Library or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Guest posted by Melissa Mariotti, edited by Meg Miner
One recurring question asked in the archives is when did IWU admit students of color? While Illinois Wesleyan may not have been the first school to have a graduate of color, it did admit students of color not too long after its opening in 1850 but not without some prompting.
We lack easily accessible information on demographics for early students, but an argument in a local newspaper surrounding the admission of “a colored boy” to IWU’s Model School (aka, elementary) program. The anonymous letter writer stated that the student’s “request was refused” (The Daily Pantagraph, May 9, 1867, p. 4). The writer makes the pointed criticism that the student was qualified by published standards for admission at the time and questions why a specific vote was needed. His conclusion is that it was due to the color of his skin.
Archives Record Group 16-1/10 contains a research file compiled about Black History at IWU, including photo copies of these local news sources, that show a series of commentaries by the writer calling himself “Radical” and one response from then-President O.S. Munsell.
We can use the date in these sources for further exploration of the question.
We don’t know the name of that student or if he ever joined our campus, but an explicit faculty vote on the principle was successful in April 1867 and the Board of Trustees approved the decision at its June meeting.
There is no detailed discussion in any known IWU source about the case, but the culmination of this early effort seems to have finally occurred 13 years later.
Gus A. Hill is the first known African American student to attend Illinois Wesleyan University. He was a member of IWU’s Law School, Class of 1880. He was mentioned several times in our student newspaper of the era, which was known as the Wesleyan Bee, and his colored skin was often referenced. For instance, in the February 1st, 1883 Wesleyan Bee, the article refers to him as “a colored man and brother.” We have no photographs of Hill in the archives or campus publications.
In 1889, Alfred O. Coffin became the first African-American in the U.S. to earn a Ph.D in Biology. Editors of another student paper titled the Elite Journal, also refer to Coffin as the “talented young colored gentleman” in the April 19th, 1889. Coffin lived in Texas and was enrolled in our version of a distance-education program, so having his presence on campus noted indicates contemporary students’ interest in his story. He was on campus for his final exams then and anyone interested can visit Special Collections to see book one of a two-volume “herbarium” set that Coffin created for his degree completion requirements.
That book was discovered just two years ago in a campus office. Book two wasn’t with it but it offers me a chance to remind everyone that while IWU is 165 years old, it is still possible to make unexpected finds, so keep your eyes open whenever the spring cleaning bug strikes!
N.B. The first known record of international students enrolling is in 1889 and will be described in the next post. Another “first” was women’s admittance to IWU in 1870, although a discussion about that possibility is first recorded in 1851. Two brief presentations on this topic — one in 2010 and one in 2014 — are available for introductions to that part of our history.
To learn more about this topic, or just to visit and marvel at 126 year old plants from A.. Coffin’s Texas collection, visit Tate Archives and Special Collections in the Ames Library or contact us at email@example.com!
Last spring, our archives was selected for participation in a digitization project sponsored by the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI). I chose the IWU Catalogue of Courses from 1851-1954 for this project, and it just went live as the 200th collection added to CARLI’s digital collection database for member libraries.
Course catalogs may not seem like the most compelling artifacts to have available online, but they have a lot to tell us about changes in personnel and physical attributes of campus, not to mention the curriculum!
A little known fact about these sources is that up until 1954, our catalogs contained an “enrolled” student list for the range of degree and certificate programs being offered.
So from the standpoint of the kinds of questions people direct to the archives, a significant benefit of this effort is that our last large collection of print material needed for finding people associated with IWU is now searchable!
Of course, all of the originals and the more recent catalogs, from 1955-present, are available in print in the University Archives.
For this project, CARLI worked with the Internet Archive, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization to make these materials freely available to CARLI libraries and the world, through the Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/carli_lib.
You can access our catalogs there or though the CARLI-hosted search interface. The smaller collection I created through CARLI makes it easy to search just our collection rather than having ours along with the millions of items already in the Internet Archive.
Guest posted by Melissa Mariotti
As most students and faculty know, there are several main entrances into Wesleyan’s campuses. There is the North entrance on Franklin Avenue, the South entrance by Empire Street, the East entrance by Park Street, and the West entrance by Main Street. There is not much known about the latter entrance. It stands between Pfieffer and Gulick Halls and bears the inscription:
“We stand in a position of incalculable responsibility to the great wave of population overspreading the valley of the Mississippi. Destiny seems to point out this valley as the depository of great heart of the Nation. From this center mighty pulsations, for good or evil, must in future flow, which shall not only affect the fortunes of the Republic but reach in their influence other and distant Nations of the earth.”
Upon further research, it was discovered that the gates were ”erected and presented to the school by the Bloomington Association of Commerce in 1921” (Founders’ Day Convocation, 2006). There are two differing theories about where this quote came from. According to the 1960 Wesleyana, it is “an excerpt from the report on education to the annual meeting of the Illinois Conference held in Springfield in 1854.” But according to an Argus article from February 13th, 1940, it was said on December 18th, 1850 from the “Conference Record.”
The quote was verified in the Methodist Conference Record of 1854 by the archives that holds those documents: The Illinois Great Rivers Conference Archives at MacMurray College, Jacksonville, Illinois. There is more to the quote than was summarized on our West Gates, but the spirit of the passage resonates just as much today as it did for our Founders.
The quote that is inscribed on the gate is said to represent “the ‘incalculable responsibility’ the founders of Illinois Wesleyan felt in the work they had undertaken” in establishing Illinois Wesleyan as an “institution of learning” (President Wilson, Founder’s Day Convocation Remarks, 2006). It describes the passion that the Founder’s had for teaching and learning, along with the many obstacles they had to face into creating the school. This inscription is referenced many times during Founder’s Day Convocations, and is evident in the care and consideration of all who work to sustain and advance that goal today.
Guest posted by Melissa Mariotti
As students and faculty, we are constantly on the move across campus, but while walking have you ever wondered about all the different buildings that are around us? Though Illinois Wesleyan is not a large campus, the number of buildings and their individual histories make up for its small size. The dates of acquisition and construction of each building range over time, creating a blend of older and newer buildings on campus.
The most recent building, State Farm Hall, was finished in 2013 and replaced the Sheean library, constructed in 1968. Before the Sheean and State Farm Hall, the first building on IWU’s campus, Old North Hall, was built in roughly the same area and lasted from 1856 until 1966.
The Alumni Relations Office was created in 1991 on January 15th alongside the later dedication of well-used Baseball Field in honor of Jack Horenberger on April 11, 1999. Only a year later, on April 14, 2000 the Softball Field also held its inauguration when the Titans hosted North Park.
Dialing the clock only a little farther back, the records of the Physical Plant also reveal the creation of buildings such as Publications, Printing, and Mailing Services on January 3, 1996; Information Technology on August 4, 1983; and the well-known Multicultural Center on November 20, 1980.
Some of the more common and well-loved buildings of campus also have long histories. The E. Melba Johnson Kirkpatrick Laboratory, or better known by theatre goers as the Lab Theatre, is actually part of the Alice Millar Center for Fine Arts which received its dedication on March 18, 1973. It was not until the autumn of 1993 that the Lab Theatre received its name in dedication. The Memorial Center has been home to many offices, rooms, and places of events. For instance, the Bertholf Commons, the campus’s largest dining hall, can be found there. The commons was dedicated to President Bertholf, who held office between the years of 1958 and 1968. Even the International Office, which is currently located in the Center for Liberal Arts (CLA), used to be housed in the Memorial Center. Some of the oldest buildings on campus are some of the least known. The English House was built in 1911, but was not acquired by Wesleyan until 1947. The Security office that we know today was a coach house for what is now called Blackstock Hall (acquired in 1937). The coach house has also been an art studio and the English House was once the Gallery Building. Look through the changes to our campus at the collection of historical maps online at http://collections.carli.illinois.edu/u?/iwu_histph,1185.
For many of the students on campus, after a day of classes, work study jobs, extracurricular activities, and studying, we all enjoy being able to return to our various residence halls for a bit of relaxation and rest, not to mention a place to live during the school year. The first residence hall was built in 1878 and was known as Henrietta Hall, a residence hall for women only. It was run by a group expressly created for that purpose: the Women’s Education Association of IWU. It was also originally known as the Young Ladies’ Boarding Hall. The second residence hall was Kemp Hall. It was formerly known as the DeMange Mansion and was renamed in honor of President Kemp after it was acquired in 1912 and was also an all-women residence hall. Until 1987, it also was home to a dining hall and offices for faculty members. Dolan Hall – formerly Franklin Hall for Men – was built in 1955 and was one of the first dormitories established for men. Prior to this time, men either lived in fraternities or resided off campus. A new Women’s Residence Hall is opened on the corner of East and University Streets in October of 1956. We know it today as Anna Gulick Hall. At the time of opening, it was also home to “The Sarepta Bane Whipp Department of Home Economics.” See front page story in the 1956 IWU Bulletin.
Until 1998, IWU’s Publications, Printing, and Mailing services resided in Holmes Hall. It was decided that the space was too small for the services and was moved to its current location, a small building off of Franklin Avenue nearby the TKE fraternity house. Before that, the building was actually a dentist’s office until it was acquired by Wesleyan at an unknown date. The space was vacant for sometime, and it was supposedly meant to be used as a child care facility. See the full article in the February 6,1998 IWU Argus.
Architectural history is alive and well on our campus, but this is only a short list of the buildings that cover the grounds. You will find photographs of these and other IWU landmarks in our online collection.
To learn more about other buildings new or old you can also visit Tate Archives and Special Collections in the Ames Library, or contact the Archives at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Let’s all admit it, archivists may think they’re speaking English but a lot of our terminology sounds like gibberish (MPLP, anyone?) or is industry-specific (e.g., archival value vs. legal value) or can just be misunderstood due to other, non-industry usages (e.g., appraisal–it’s not always about monetary value or processing–we’re not using it in the psychotherapy sense!). Every profession has its unique vocabulary and this post is about an unusual twist to a word that’s used in my profession but not easily understood: recordness.
I subscribe to several professionally-oriented listservs, and one that just started a year or so ago is something the Society of American Archivists calls the “Word of the Week.” It’s all part of an effort by a team of SAA members to enhance professional understanding via standardized terminology. This will culminate in a dictionary of terms used in archives and builds on the amazing work of the original “Glossary of Archival Terms” which can be found at http://archivists.org/glossary.
“What kinds of records do you keep” is a common question, and even more “Why isn’t something like a database considered a record?” There seems to be a lot of confusion about the kinds of things that are official records. I created a blog post about them last year and used an image adapted from another archives to illustrate document lifecycles.So in the interest of augmenting the definition of a record, I give you the SAA Dictionary Work group’s definition of the larger concept behind records:
n. ~ the quality of being a record; the state of having the characteristics of a record
The definition of “recordness,” just as the definition of “record,” changes according to purpose, law, and context, yet there are some features that most archivists agree are defining features of a record: a record preserves the content of some human action or activity, its content is fixed, and it encompasses at least some of the context needed to make it comprehensible beyond itself. However, meaning is pliable in both the content and the definition of a record. Especially with regard to electronic records, for example, fixity is more a property of ensuring that a record does not change over time after capture by an archives rather than the property that a record (say, in the form of a database or a webpage) does not change during its active use.
Bearman, David, “The Implications of Armstrong v. Executive of the President for the Archival Management of Electronic Records,” The American Archivist 56 (Fall 1993): 679.
Gilliland, Anne J., Conceptualizing 21st-Century Archives (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2014): 170.
Williams, Caroline, “Chapter 1: Records and archives: concepts, roles and definitions,” in Caroline Williams, ed., Archives and Recordkeeping: Theory into Practice (London: Facet Publishing, 2013): 14.
Periodically, people go through attics and storage boxes and send items to the archives that are related to IWU history. Sometimes amazing finds arise from the people who take time to send them “home.”
Just today I opened a box that held Student Senate Minutes dated May 17, 1970…how timely! On May 4 of this month, we took part in a commemorative event for the 45th anniversary of the Kent State killings in 1970. Documentation for events on our campus that were recounted in that blog post were limited to the Argus, Wesleyana and a few photographic files.
While researching that event, I marveled to discover that the IWU archives holds no Student Senate meeting minutes from March 22, 1970 until January 10, 1971.
It sure would help us appreciate the Senate’s actions if we had the primary sources they created to consult! Don’t get me wrong, the news sources are great to have, but it’s these kinds of gaps that make anyone doing historical research a little crazy.
So yes, it was good to see minutes in a recent donation, but it was a huge letdown to find that pages 2-15 of those minutes had been removed. We may never know why that happened, but on the very last page there is evidence that helps us understand a little more about the May 1970 student reactions in that turbulent month. The first image below was scanned from the minutes and it contains an announcement that the Black Student Union was responsible for the walkout. From this brief note, we also find out why they felt compelled to walkout 14 days after Kent State.
There was also a green flyer (image below) that explains the Peace Symbol students wore during Commencement in 1970–that event was also described in the previous post on the May 4th commemoration. These kinds of documents connect us with our past in tangible ways…stop by the archives if you want to see the real things someday!
Think you can’t make a difference? There’s only one way to find out…if you ever come across Senate records — or other records from IWU — give me a call! (309-556-1538)
And here’s a catchy little phrase to help reinforce the point:
When in doubt, don’t throw it out!
[click on images to enlarge]