Research Files: IWU’s First International Students

Photo scanned from a scrapbook held in IWU archives. The person is unidentified but the book belonged to an 1895 graduate.

Photo scanned from a scrapbook held in IWU archives. The person is unidentified but the book includes named graduates from classes in the years after 1890.

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!

Research Files: IWU’s First Black Students

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.

April 17, 1867 Faculty Meeting Minutes, RG 10-1/1/1

An 1867 faculty resolution in support of the request of “An American citizen of African descent.”

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.

Alfred O. Coffin, an early African-American graduate of the University, was born to slave parents and went on to become a teacher and college professor. From Continuity and Change, 1850-2000 by Minor Myers, jr. and Carl Teichman.

“Alfred O. Coffin, an early African-American graduate of the University, was born to slave parents and went on to become a teacher and college professor.” — Continuity and Change, 1850-2000 by Minor Myers, jr. and Carl Teichman.

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!

New online collection

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.

The Main building at IWU, shown in the 1876-77 Catalogue at

The Main building at IWU, shown in the 1876-77 Catalogue available at

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.

From the 1941-43 Catalog available at

From the 1941-43 Catalog available at

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

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.

Find out more ways to research IWU history through the page of sources I created or by contacting me!

Research Files: The Founder’s Gate/West Gate

Guest posted by Melissa Mariotti

IWU West Gate. Found on IWU Website.

IWU West Gate. Photo copied from IWU Website.

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.”

The West Gates, looking north toward the Women’s Dormitory. From a 1931 booklet of pen sketches of Illinois Wesleyan University.

The West Gates, looking north toward the Women’s Dormitory. From a 1931 booklet of pen sketches of Illinois Wesleyan University; RG 4-16/2/4.

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.

Students around the West Gate in 1951. From the 1951 Wesleyana.

Students around the West Gate in 1951. From the 1951 Wesleyana.

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.


Research files: Acquisition/construction dates

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,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.

Publishing, Printing, and Mailing services

Publishing, Printing, and Mailing services. From the IWU website.

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!


Qualities of a “record”

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

“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.

records flowchart

How to tell if something is a record in the archival sense of the word. [click to enlarge]

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

Related Term

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.

Cited In
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.

Kumar, Sushil, Archives: Principles & Practices (New Delhi: Isha Books, 2011): 8-10.Sternfeld, Joshua, “Archival Theory and Digital Historiography: Selection, Search, and Metadata as Archival Processes for Assessing Historical Contextualization,” The American Archivist 74 (Fall/Winter 2011): 549.

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.

Remember the archivists’ rallying cry!

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]

Flyer stating reason for wearing the peace symbol at Commencement.

5×7″ flyer stating reason for wearing the peace symbol at Commencement.

45 years after Kent State #May4Matters

1971Wesleyana_flagpoleIn the early days of May 1970, Illinois Wesleyan University joined more than 1,250 colleges in protesting the shootings at Kent State and Jackson State. In coordination with the May 4 Visitor’s Center, today the archives is remembering four students who died at Kent State University and looking back at the effects that these killings had on students at IWU.

Below is a timeline of student activities and images drawn from the collections in IWU’s archives. If you have memories, documents, or photos of your own to share, feel free to comment but use the #May4Matters so that IWU’s recollections will join others who are commemorating this day.

“The Kent State killings set off a planned program of protest and community education unlike anything previously seen at Wesleyan. It brought together an unlikely coalition of ex-Senate officers, freshman activists, moderates, radicals, tired seniors and enthusiastic underclassmen.” — Kathy Larey Lewton. IWU 70, in the 1971 Wesleyana, pp 6-8)

The events of May 5-8 were reported on in the Friday, May 8 issue of our weekly student newspaper The Argus. The links for each day in the timeline below lead to the pages in that issue containing the stories mentioned.

Tuesday, May 5: 11:40AM The flag was lowered to half mast “in mourning of the four students killed at Kent State University and those who have died in Southeast Asia.”     Following a 3:30PM meeting with 200 students attending, “The consensus was that the goals should be campus and community education, rather than alienation.”

Wednesday, May 6: Memorial services led by Chaplain William White. “Students scattered in the audience then read ‘some words for reflection in a time of. crisis.'”

Thursday May 7: President Robert Eckley cancels classes “to permit those who wish to participate in the activities planned by the Action Committee for Peace.” The decision followed a vote by Student Senate Wednesday calling for classes to be recessed all day Friday to acknowledge the incident at Kent State and the expanded Southeast Asian war.

Friday, May 8: The Action Committee for Peace (ACP) announces organizes a group assembly on the Quad at 3:45PM for a march to downtown Bloomington. 7:00PM rally with faculty and students speaking on campus.

The May 8th Argus also includes a range of feelings among students, such as those expressed in a Letter to the Editor shows that some found the responses at IWU disrespectful:
         The tragedy of Kent State should not be blown out of proportion by a                                small minority of dissenters who find it to their advantage to martyr four violent                  demonstrators as heroes of their cause. Richard Reinert and 64 other students,              May 8 Argus, p. 2

Another student used artistic expression:

1970-05-08 Argus p.3



The killings at Jackson State University in Mississippi received less coverage in the Argus but one photograph of a class walkout appears on May 22, p. 7. Other images are in the gallery below.




“…the whole issue of what kind of free speech students could have, and what kind of political activity and political involvement or political activism students [should] have, I would argue, was basically redefined by that era here at Wesleyan.” — former ACP member Mark Sheldon, Class of 1970, oral history interview, August 2012.

Friday, May 22: Honors Day Convocation, Ron Klipp wore an American flag upside down (universal distress symbol) upside down, walked in last and started an uproar.

Tuesday, May 26: “Seniors received a ballot Tuesday concerning whether or not Commencement should be held.”

Wednesday, May 27: “They suggested a senior caucus be held Wednesday afternoon to decide on a third alternative for a possible new ballot.” (photographs below)

Ultimately, Commencement takes place as planned on June 7 with divisions over the controversies expressed in word, deed and dress. (see photograph below and more in the 1971 Wesleyana)

Below is a gallery of images selected from the photographic negatives in the University Archives:



May Day preservation tips


The Society of American Archivists promotes May 1 as a day for all cultural heritage institutions to take time to consider how well their collections are protected. At IWU’s University Archives, (located in Tate Archives & Special Collections, 4th floor, The Ames Library) we conduct collection assessments and use high quality boxes and other material to protect items on our shelves. Physical Plant’s Heating/Cooling crew conducts regular maintenance to make sure our environmental conditions are efficient and effective. Other maintenance personnel and cleaning crews from Physical Plant keep our building in good condition, too.

Here at the Ames Library, we also take a building-wide approach to disaster preparedness and there are probably many students, staff and faculty who’ve been inconvenienced by our fire drills, but we hope everyone values their significance in keeping people safe! We have regular site visits with the crews of Bloomington’s Fire Department both to familiarize them with our floor plans and collection concerns and to give us their opinions on our safety practices.

Also at this time of year, The American Library Association and partners that include the Library of Congress, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The American Institute for Conservation, Heritage Preservation, and the Society of American Archivists, are promoting Preservation Week to highlight collections of all kinds, and suggest simple steps to help you make sure your treasures and memories last a lifetime and are passed on to future generations.

What can you do?

1. Take a look around your home or wherever you store the mementos of your life and the lives of people who are important to you. Is a lot of it in long-term storage? Is the storage room subject to temperature and humidity fluctuation?

TIP: You don’t need to have cold storage to make paper and print photographic collections last. Constant levels of each are the most important thing. 70 degrees F is the upper recommended limit, but keeping spaces well-ventilated and preventing frequent fluctuation can help your stuff go a long way into the future.

2. Are your mementos sitting on the ground? Try putting a pallet underneath boxes or raising them 4-6 inches off the floor with something else.

3. Avoid stacking boxes directly on each other if at all possible. Open shelving is optimal: leaving space on all sides of stored material promotes air circulation and limits the chance that mold will develop.

4. Do you have digital files? Do you back up your hard drive or use a commercial company for online storage? If you’ve got a back up hard drive, is it located near your primary digital storage place? Explore ways to back up your important files and keep them in a separate location to lessen the chance for loss if there’s a fire or natural disaster in your area.

5. Are your digital images labeled? File names like DSC7723, DSC7724, and so on can accumulate faster than you think. After awhile, how will you know what you are saving?

TIP: At a minimum, make folders with event names and dates to store photos in or create an index that associates this information with the program-generated file names.

6. Are your physical collections falling apart? Books, photo albums, scrapbooks and textiles need attention if they are to last. Taking photos out of old albums whose adhesives are failing and making sure they’re labeled is a good start. Some books may be rebound, but many will survive well into the future in a box or wrapper designed for them. Photocopying or scanning newspaper clippings can preserve their information without the worry of deterioration due to typically acidic scrapbook pages and/or newspaper itself.

TIP: Don’t seal anything in a plastic bag! Condensation forms quickly in plastic and damp, airless environments promote mold growth.

If you have concerns about any of your personal collections, I’m happy to talk with you about them. Use Preservation Week as a time to take stock of what you’re keeping, why it’s important to you and how you can act in ways that will keep your stuff safe for years to come!

Note: more ideas are available in one of my previous blog posts.