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 archives@iwu.edu!

Audio and video recordings

The archives recently had several recordings transferred from media we could not listen to (due to outdated formats or fragile magnetic tape) to digital formats. The content of these recordings is mostly unexplored but includes some film clips of the 1952 incoming class and an undated commencement with nurses in capes. There are also a series of audio recordings, some labelled “Peopletalk,” that have alumni and faculty in the 1970s talking about what IWU means to them.

Some recordings are talks given for specific events like a 1949 dinner on the west coast that featured the then-oldest living alumni: Dr. Sam VanPelt, Class of 1875; or a 1969 recording by Hubert Humphrey during the long-running Steveson Lecture Series; or a 1971 visit by Helen Hayes who is speaking to students in Theatre Arts. An undated recording has Sociology Professor Dr. Emily Dunn Dale responding to commentary by Phyllis Schlafley on the topic of women’s roles in society.

Additionally, current faculty member Dr. Pam Muirhead created a video interview with Dr. Paul Bushnell in 2004 for the McLean County Black History Project. The original video tape had 10 minutes of sound distortion at the beginning, and the archives contracted with a media restoration company that was able to make all but the first two minutes understandable again. The subject of Dr. Bushnell’s interview is his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.

There are other digitized recordings available and many other analog recordings await exploration in the archives, too. Some of these recordings could be added to our online collections, but first they could use a reviewer to determine suitability of content and basic descriptions that will let online researchers know how they are relevant. Some may be suitable for research projects and some may hold interesting insights into IWU’s history. All are here for the asking!