Digitized history of the Muslim Student Association

The archives continues to bring new life to old media. The latest result of this work is a brief but excellent history of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) that is now available online. It was created by the 2005 Summer Enrichment Program students who researched different student organizations and interviewed alumni. Two alumnae were part of this portion and their recordings are also available now:
Hyder Alyan,Class of 2006 and
Muneerah Maalik
,Class of 2000

Muneerah Maalik ‘00

Muneerah Maalik ‘00, co-chair of the Minority Alumni Network, led a mentoring session that paired alumni with current students. Photo from IWU Magazine, Winter 2008-09

Readers should know that the archives is always interested in working with everyone in the IWU community to make sure the history they are making here is known to the future. Contact Meg (mminer{at}iwu.edu), IWU’s archivist, to start discussing your and/or your group’s work today!

Two “new” alumni interviews

Last summer a diligent student assistant started evaluating our analog audiovisual recordings. Old media formats deteriorate or sometimes becomes unplayable just because the machines are no longer available. Before that happens we want to make sure we transfer content into new formats that are not media-dependent. Thanks to funding from the library we have started to digitize these selections.

The two interviews linked below were conducted by Development Officer Yvonne Jones in 1999 for the Minority Alumni Research Project. More information on the project is available in archives Record Groups 4-3/1/9 and 12- 2/1/3.

We don’t have transcripts for them yet but I’ve created robust abstracts and added links to related material whenever possible. Enjoy!

Edelbert Rodgers, Class of 1933, during a campus visit in 2001

Rodgers during a campus visit in 2001

 

Edelbert Rodgers, Class of 1933

This photo of Rodgers should be familiar to anyone who has visited Hansen Student Center. Dr. Rodgers is part of the mural that’s behind the information desk!

He was a Sociology major at IWU and in a previous blog post I provided links to campus news sources he appeared in. Rodgers earned a Ph.D. in Psychology at New York University and had a career in both private practice and teaching.

 

 

 

Below are two photos of Luther Bedford, Class of 1959. Bedford was a Physical Education major who lettered three times in varsity football and was also on the track team. After graduation he taught at Marshall High School, Chicago, IL and was Athletic Director for 33 of his 40 year tenure.

Luther Bedford in football uniform

Bedford in the 1958 Wesleyana

Luther Bedford receiving diplomma from President Eckley in 1959

Bedford in 1960 Wesleyana

 

 

Research files: First Black faculty member

John W. Martin

John W. Martin, Ph.D., Associate Professor

During a recent visit by some wonderfully curious Gateway students, someone asked about the first African-American professor. Our first Black professor arrived in 1961 when John W. Martin joined the Sociology faculty. This is documented on p. 176 of the Myers and Teichman book Illinois Wesleyan University: Continuity and Change, 1850-2000. Sadly, we don’t know much else about his life. Anyone who has records about him to donate is welcome to contact the archives (archives {@} iwu.edu).

In future posts I will share more of the questions posed by these students.

Frank Starkey

Frank Starkey, Ph.D., Professor

The next African-American faculty member (as researched by the archivist) was Frank Starkey, Professor of Chemistry, who taught from 1971-1980 and received the 1978 IWU Century Club Teacher of the Year Award. In comments he shared during the Black Fine Arts Festival, reported on in The Argus (p. 1) March 22, 1977, Starkey remarks on the need for the Black Student Union to improve on their efforts (re BFAF’s purpose) and also includes a critique of IWU’s poor recruiting efforts of Black students, faculty and administrators.

Research files: History of LGBT+

First known announcement for an activity related to LGBTQ+ students

The following are the findings from a recently asked question about the founding of  G.L.O.W. (Gays and Lesbians of Wesleyan). The archives holds no records created by group members. Anyone who has records to donate on this (or other) IWU organization is invited to contact archives@iwu.edu

1992-03-13 Argus p. 1 & 7 Announcing the formation of G.L.O.W. There’s mention of faculty endorsement at the end of the article and p. 2 has a letter from a faculty member about its formation.

1992 Wesleyana p. 48 Includes GLOW among the new student organizations for that year and confirms a founding date of early March 1992.

There are 23 occurrences of G.L.O.W.  in The Argus, but I didn’t look through them all. Explore the issues available at that link and let me know if you need anything else!

There’s a 1997 Wesleyana mention of a name change to Gay/Straight Alliance but I didn’t do any further searching for that name.

I did a search for events leading up to GLOW’s formation and came up with these articles:

1988-03-11 Argus p. 4 ad for Gay & Lesbian Awareness Week

There was a controversy after “Anti-Jeans Day” runs in this April 22, 1988 issue and at least the two after.

1989-04-28 Argus p. 3 Progressive Student Union (P.S.U.) Gay and Lesbian Awareness Day

1991-09-27 Argus p. 2 Editorial arguing for better institutional support for homosexuals

1991-12-13 Argus p. 1 and 7 article on campus forum about homophobia and refers to an unspecified incident of vandalism in Gulick. There could be information in other campus sources to shed light on this. The article closes with details about an ISU group (Gay and Lesbian Alliance, GALA) that IWU students were welcome to connect with.

International students at IWU during WWI

An exhibit currently on display in The Ames Library (in two cases, near the patio on the entry level) includes photos and written accounts by IWU faculty and students during World War I. These materials and much more are held in the University Archives.

Of particular interest in this exhibit are contributions from students in Professor Jim Matthews’ Fall 2016 FREN 301: Oral Communication class. In a recent conversation with Dr. Matthews, I mentioned that three French women joined students at IWU in the fall of 1918 and Matthews asked his students to learn more about the experiences of these women in the U.S. and respond in French; they contributed English translations for the benefit of visitors to the library’s exhibit.

1920 Wesleyana, p. 156

Idellette and Annette Baron and Jeanne Seigneur, pictured in the 1920 Wesleyana, p. 156

Dr. Matthews and his students discovered several interesting things about the lives of these women in Central Illinois and beyond. Stop by the library before the end of the month or visit th archives anytime!

Research Files: First African-American woman graduate

In an earlier post, we documented the first African-American men to graduate from IWU. Recently I came across an unknown author’s work on the subject of Black student history at IWU (this document is contained in Record Group 11-8/1/6). That author listed Josephine Mabel Jackson, Class of 1910, as IWU’s first African-American woman to graduate. There is no supporting documentation in the University Archives about the race of our students, but we can look elsewhere to confirm this particular claim.

With her name, I was able to ask the Illinois Regional Archives Depository staff for help. A birth registration book confirms that she was born on January 22, 1886 in Delavan, Tazewell County, Illinois, and lists her race as Negro. The entry also shows that her father William W. Jackson, from South Carolina, was a barber. Her mother Dora M. (nee Grady) Jackson was from Mississippi.

Jackson, 1909 Wesleyana

Jackson, 1909 Wesleyana

The photo to the left is our first image of her, where she is pictured among her Junior classmates. Only one source mentions she was involved in the YWCA but a few show that she participated in the Adelphic Society, one of the two literary societies on campus in her day.

No records of that group’s activities exist for this era but according to the 1907/08 Catalogue of Courses, students were advised to join such groups because “there is no single factor in college life that does so much to fit them for speaking in public and learning to think while in the act of speaking.”

 

Jackson cropped from Adelphic groups photo in 1909 Wesleyana

Jackson cropped from Adelphic group’s photo in 1909 Wesleyana

Adelphic Society members, 1909 Wesleyana

Adelphic Society members, 1909 Wesleyana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jackson's Senior class photo

Jackson’s Senior class photo from the 1911 Wesleyana

In the list of graduates published in the June 14, 1910 Argus, her full name is given as Josephine Mabel W. Jackson. There are no documents here that record her thoughts about her life but there are several indications that she remained connected to IWU after graduation. In one case, published by the Alumni Office among their brief class news reports, she sent a donation and greetings.

A brief note in April 1925 is the most substantive report there is on an important event in her life: the death of her mother. It ends with an enigmatic sentence: “Miss Jackson has been an unusually successful science teacher in various High Schools.”

A 1929 book called The Alumni Roll at least confirms the teaching part:
Jackson, Josephine M., B.S.  Graduate Chicago Training School, 1911, Teacher in High School, Harlan, Iowa; 1912-1913, Chicago Training School; Industrial teacher in Institutional Church, Chicago; Evangelistic work; Teacher; Student at State University of Iowa.  Box 67, Delavan, Illinois.

The last picture we have of her comes from a June 1960 alumni news source:

June 1960 IWU Bulletin, Alumni edition

June 1960 IWU Bulletin, Alumni edition

The last time Miss Jackson is mentioned in any of our publications is in September 1968. Bloomington’s Pantagraph says she died, aged 88, on Tuesday June 18, 1974 at Hopedale Medical Complex. The notice states she had been in the Hopedale Nursing Home “for some time.” (subscription needed to access: Wednesday, June 19, 1974 – Page 47).

I am sure there is more to be learned about Josephine Jackson’s life. Readers are invited to stop in and see the newly accumulated references to her in the University Archives. I would be happy to make suggestions for additional research strategies, and will gladly add more to her files with anything new that’s discovered!

Exhibits on student organizations: Black student groups

A new exhibit in The Ames Library (entry level) includes founding documents, artifacts and photos of three student organizations: the Black Student Union (BSU, 1968-present), Black Men in Action (BMIA, 1994) and Iota Zeta of Delta Sigma Theta (1972-1974).

A few years ago, some of the alumni involved in these groups recorded oral histories about their IWU experiences. Stop by the library and/or check out their recorded and rtanscribed memories at

De’Andre Hardy, Class of 2000

Anthony Gray, Class of 1998

Deon Hornsby, Class of 1997

Amanda Toney-Logan and Myrtis Sullivan, both Class of 1974

BSU-Minority Alumni Network Picnic April 2, 2005

BSU-Minority Alumni Network Picnic April 2, 2005

Research Files: Kwanzaa Events

Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday that celebrates African heritage. The very first campus Kwanza event at Illinois Wesleyan University was held on December 10th, 1996, thirty years after its creation. The event was run by the combined efforts of Monica Taylor, the multicultural affairs director at the time, and the Black Student Union, and is now an annual tradition.

1998 Kwanzaa Karenga

IWU Argus December 4, 1998

Kwanzaa is a week long African American harvest celebration created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, who was a professor of African studies at California State Univeristy. Illinois Wesleyan was fortunate enough to have Karenga visit its campus in 1998, where he presented his speech, “The Principles and Practice of Kwanzaa: Harvesting and Sharing the Good.” After this speech, Karenga and seven IWU students performed the ritual of the lighting of the Mishumaa.

“The mission of human life is to constantly bring good into the world.” – Maulana Karenga 1998

While the actual event occurs from December 26th until January 1st, IWU celebrates it in early December, so the students can celebrate it together on campus. The event includes singing, dancing, drum performances, as well as a feast of traditional Kwanzaa cuisine, such as catfish, chicken wings, black-eyed peas, and Joliffe rice. There is also a speech given about the seven principles of Kwanzaa; unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. This celebration takes place every year and is free and open to the public.

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!

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 the earliest evidence comes from an argument that played out 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 on 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. 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 while he was on campus for his final exams indicates contemporary students’ interest in his story. Anyone interested can visit the University Archives 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. O. Coffin’s Texas collection, visit Tate Archives and Special Collections in the Ames Library or contact us at archives@iwu.edu!