Research Files: Gwendolyn Brooks @IWU

In honor of this year being the centennial of Gwendolyn Brooks’s birth, Ross Hettinger from the English Honors Society Sigma Tau Delta contacted the archives about putting together an exhibit based on her connection with our campus. As a result of that request, archives’ staff found news articles and photographs that document her five visits to campus between 1972-1999. Ross created an exhibit that will remain in the library’s entry level rotunda until November 30th. This post provides links to news stories and a selection of photos found in response to this query. All black and white photos were scanned from University’s collection of negatives and the color photos were scanned from slides.

Brooks with Buck Library in background

Brooks and unnamed individuals heading towards her reading during the 1972 Fine Arts Festival

A March 3, 1972 front page Argus story details the plans for the March 9-21, 1972 Fine Arts Festival. The story states that Miss Brooks “will head a list of dignitaries” who would be visiting campus.

Brooks signing autographs

Brooks and unnamed individuals during the 1972 Fine Arts Festival

The Argus published on the 24th provides a detailed recap of her reading.

 

 

 

 

 

The 1972 Wesleyana also contains photos of Brooks and others who shared their talents during the Festival.

 

 

 

 

 

Brooks with President Eckley prior to Commencement 1973

Brooks with President Eckley prior to Commencement 1973. Former president Bertholf is on the left.

The following May The Argus announced that Brooks would be the Commencement speaker for 1973. Only a small photo made it into the IWU Bulletin that summer and fall but details on her remarks are lacking, except for a brief mention in the 1973 Wesleyana.

Brooks at Commencement 1973

Brooks being vested with an honorary doctorate during Commencement 1973

Brooks giving a reading in March 1979

Brooks giving a reading in March 21, 1979

There was speculation that Brooks would return for her third visit during the Black Fine Arts Festival according to the March 2, 1979 Argus at the invitation of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. The March 23, 1979 Argus carried a photo and caption on p. 1 showing that she did.

Brooks giving a reading in March 1979

Brooks signing an autograph for an unidentified attendee during a reading in March 21, 1979

Brooks in Evelyn Chapel

Brooks speaks with students at Evelyn Chapel, February 1988

In 1988 the February 12 Argus stated that the English Department and the Student Senate were sponsoring Brooks’s visit on February 18 at an event to be held at Evelyn Chapel. A follow up article on the 26th described her visit in detail. She titled her presentation “Life, Love, Laughter, Liberty and Laceration.”

Brooks in Evelyn Chapel

Brooks speaks with students at Evelyn Chapel, February 1988

Brooks at the Soul Food Dinner

Brooks speaking at the Shirk Center for the Soul Food Dinner, February 7, 1999

Her final visit to campus was as the speaker at IWU’s annual Soul Food Dinner. Her appearance was announced in The Argus on February 2, 1999. A follow up article notes that IWU student Teri Lahmon, Class of 2000, introduced Brooks and read one of her own poems at Brooks’s request.

Brooks at the Soul Food Dinner

Brooks at the Shirk Center for the Soul Food Dinner, February 7, 1999

The Argus also ran an obituary for Brooks on December 8, 2000 which briefly recounts her 1999 visit and mentions that IWU awarded her an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in 1973.

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

Exhibits on student organizations: Spiritual Life

The Welcome Center has display cases at the East (parking lot-side) entry. I maintain this space and most of it stays the same all year, but once a year I highlight specific aspects of our history. I recently put together a display on Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) that were organized to express students’ spiritual interests at IWU. Mark Jerue, Class of 2014, provided the basis for this display when he undertook a research project as Evelyn Chapel’s Multifaith Ambassador.

To learn more about these groups, visit the Welcome Center. For those who can’t make it to campus, below is the list of organizations we know about to date. If you have more information, contact me!

For information on today’s RSOs, visit the webpages maintained by the Office of Student Activities and Leadership Programs.

Episcopoi dinner, ca. 1950

Episcopoi dinner, ca. 1950

Young Men’s Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.),est. 1881

Young Women’s Christian Association (Y.W.C.A.), est. 1884

Oxford Club (1906-1915)

Life Service Legion (1921-1933)

Student Volunteer Band (1921-1922)

Episcopoi (approx. 1936-1977)

Sunday Evening Fellowship (approx. 1950-1952)

Daily Devotionals by the Religious Activities Commission (1957-1958)

Student Deputation Teams (1968-1980)