Research Files: Boarding Clubs

In an earlier post we sketched out known histories of a variety of buildings on campus, including early residence locations for students. This time we have an intriguing new piece of knowledge about student life thanks to a new donation: a gold pocket watch.

J.P. Edgar’s watch

The granddaughter of Reverend John Perry Edgar, Class of 1893, gave the university his watch and an inscription in that gift led me to an interesting finding. The inscription reads “Presented by Edgar Club, IWU, 1893.” The owner of the watch was the Club’s founder and its purpose was to provide students with room and board.

John Perry Edgar, Class of 1893

John Perry Edgar

 

 

An article describing the Club says it was formed in 1889 with 22 men enrolled as members. In 1891 the group held a “unanimous vote that ladies be admitted.”

This seems shocking, at first glance. Men and women boarding together in the 19th century? The article continues with descriptions of the benefit of such an arrangement: providing suitable company at “the dinner table [where] character is developed, courteous behavior and polished manners reign.”

1893 Edgar Club

1893 Edgar Club

The official word from the University was that young women should board at Henrietta Hall, a residence run by the Women’s Education Association from 1874-1892, but the same publication also acknowledged the existence of the privately run clubs.

But what about the rooms? The details with regard to the descriptions provided by the clubs seem ambiguous but the 1895 IWU Catalogue of Courses is quite clear:

1895 Boarding description

1895 Boarding description

With the closure of Henrietta Hall,* rooming took place in private homes of “suitable” families but boarding with clubs continued for at least a few years after Edgar left and two (Bundy and Ross) credited him as the originator of the idea.

But back to the watch…it still keeps time well and both covers are etched but worn down with use. Still, the designs are visible: on one side are the initials JPE and on the other is a building. In this enlarged and enhanced image, it looks like Old North, which was built in 1856 and so was the first building on our campus. Edgar would also have had classes in Old Main, erected in 1870. Next time you’re on the 4th floor, stop by the archives to check out this “new” addition!

Old North

Old North in center of watch

 

*After Henrietta closed it wasn’t until 1956 that a dorm for women opened again. That was known as “Southwest Hall” and was operated by the Women’s Guild of IWU until it became a co-ed dorm–IWU’s first–in 1976. That’s also when it was renamed for benefactor Anna Gulick, a name it carries today.

Research Files: IWU’s Tigress-Slaying Alumnus

Guest post by Ashlyn Calhoun, Class of 2016Tigress Three Whiskers

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 packaged condom! Recently, we 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?

These tiger whiskers were folded into a letter written by 1907 Wesleyan alumnus Frank D. Campbell that was in his biographical file.

Frank D. Campbell Yearbook PictureCampbell, 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 Tate Archives & Special Collections on the fourth floor of Ames! We love the company!

Campbell Tigress Letter Page 10-edit COPY resize

Excerpt from documentation verifying Campbell as the tigress slayer. Held in the Archives Record Group 13-1.

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.

 

Time capsules among us

A recent research request led to explorations of archives’ holdings about building dedications and the tradition of placing time capsules in cornerstones.

Until this point, only the contents of Hedding Hall’s time capsule were available in the archives. But our research showed there was also a time capsule in the cornerstone of Sheean Library. When the demolition of that building was announced in July 2011, that box was removed.

Now Sheean Library’s artifacts have been revealed and much of their content is also available in the archives (see further description below and the inventory we created of items removed).

Initially we found newspaper coverage related to five buildings with such artifacts. Since then, a few more have become evident as we learn more about what to look for: the naming variations for this tradition range from time capsules to just “boxes” or “articles” being placed in cornerstones.

The following are descriptions and links out to related information for the nine time capsules we have found to date:
Hedding Hall (1870)
In 1965, almost one hundred years after it was set, a time capsule was recovered from the Hedding Hall arch when both the arch and the building were being demolished. The simple metal box contained money, now held in the archives, as well as a Bible, a Methodist Almanac, university catalogs, newspapers, and more (see the Wesleyana yearbook story on this time capsule removal).

Science Building (1910)
When this building was constructed, only three others existed on campus: Old North, Old Main (aka Hedding Hall) and the Behr Observatory (predecessor to the Mark Evans Observatory). A dedication program for the event is all the evidence we have that the building known today as Stevenson, home to the School of Nursing, contains a time capsule. The document notes that student Vice President R. O. Graham was “Placing Articles in Corner Stone.” [Photos of this event have not been found yet.]

Memorial Gymnasium (1921)
The building we now know as Hansen Student Center was first dedicated on November 5, 1921. The only records that indicate a time capsule is contained within its cornerstone are a photograph and a line in the dedication program for “Depositing Box in Cornerstone.”
The box is pictured at the base of the crane in this photograph.

Shaw Hall (1954)
A time capsule was placed behind this building’s cornerstone when it was being constructed in June of 1954. The records on this event include a letter that was sent to Dr. Shaw’s family by President Holmes describing two photographs of the placement that he sent to them. The family donated the letter and photographs back to the university at some point. The letter mentions that a “box containing articles sealed in the cornerstone” which can be seen in this photograph. The building was formally dedicated during Homecoming of that year and programs of that event along with a list of contents for the time capsule are held in the archives.

Dolan Hall (1955)
The Argus reports on the time capsule contents of the new Men’s Dormitory (later known as Dolan Hall) on February 9, 1955. Representatives of the Student Union presented the box to President Holmes with items including, among other things, a “Freshman Beanie,” contemporary student artwork, photos of significant people, and programs of events on campus.

Memorial Center (1946 and 1947 dedications and1965 addition)
Records of a committee comprised of members from all campus constituencies are held in the archives. This group selected items and designed a program for placing the cornerstone and time capsule in one 1946 event and then dedicating the building a year later. The 1946 article linked above describes time capsule contents such as lists of veterans and Gold Star men, a copy of the Pantagraph, and a history of Wesleyan. A refrain of “Wesleyan Will Remember” was invoked for the occasion and was drawn from a 1944 Homecoming speech, the text of which is reprinted in the dedication program. The 1965 addition also contains a time capsule and events surrounding its dedication are reported on in the Argus as well. This is believed to be the only campus building with two time capsules.

Sheean Library (1967)
A dedication program contains details of this time capsule which was sealed in a cornerstone on October 14th, 1967. For the first time on record, student works were included including a two-track stereo recording of the concert band, choir, orchestra, chamber singers, and soloists performing a variety of works in many genres. The box also contained novels, magazines, plays, and a book published by Mary Shanks and Dorothy Kennedy, two faculty members of the School of Nursing, “The Theory and Practice of Nursing Service Administration.”

  • When the box was opened during Homecoming 2011 more items were found than had been previously recorded.
  • Photographs of both events are also available by searching for “time capsule” and “cornerstone laying”at http://tinyurl.com/7jus7k9

Mark Evans Observatory (1969)
This time capsule included many items that were not connected directly with the campus such as a package of space food, the Apollo 8 astronaut’s Christmas Eve tape, a road atlas, the Illinois Agricultural Association (IAA) Record and fifty-year history, and the Bloomington-Normal Phone Directory on microfilm. On March 18, 1969, the astronaut Frank Borman, commander of the Apollo 8 space mission (the first manned flight to orbit the moon), received an honorary degree at Founders’ Day Convocation that year, a highlight of which was the cornerstone laying. One photograph shows Borman holding the time capsule.

 

Les Arends’ artifacts

In a previous post, I described collections we hold related to Political Science. One of these collections contains manuscripts, publications and memorabilia related to 17th Congressional District Representative Leslie C. Arends (1935-1975). Thanks to the talents and efforts of Physical Plant employees, we were able to move a cleaned and polished Arends’ desk, previously stored in Sheean Library, into the archives’ reading room last year. And with funds from the Ames Library’s budget this year, we were able to have a local upholsterer repair and clean the chair that was donated with the desk. Physical Plant transported the chair from its Mennonite storage room to the upholsterer and then into the archives this week. Both pieces now provide the Archives’ Student Assistants with an ample work surface that’s also elegant and inspiring!

Now, what to do with his bull whip, wall tapestry and golf clubs…?

Powell and the American West

Special Collections has four collections of material for researchers interested in John Wesley Powell and the western U.S. 

  • a manuscript collection of correspondence and articles written by researchers who have contacted IWU for information on Powell over the years,
  •  a collection of books by and about Powell and the American West,
  • a wide range of material collected by Marcia Thomas during two years of research for the award-winning volume John Wesley Powell: An Annotated Bibliography, and
  • a web-based collection of images providing access to the John Wesley Powell Collection of Pueblo Pottery.  The physical collection is located on the first floor of the library.

Anyone interested in using these collections is welcome to contact me or visit the archives.