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!

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!

Rare treats

October 22-24, 2014 marked a unique series of events for IWU students, staff, faculty and the wider community. With funding from the Mellon Foundation-sponsored series titled Re-centering the Humanities*, The Ames Library hosted a visit by University of Iowa professor Florence Boos and noted book collector Jack Walsdorf. The topic that brought them here was their shared interest in and knowledge of 19th-century English designer, writer, philosopher and founder of the Kelmscott Press. Walsdorf and Boos are current and past-presidents of The William Morris Society in the United States. Links to a press release and follow up story are included at the end of this post.

Overall,110 students in seven classes, 66 guests in three public campus events and 25 participants in an event held at the McLean County Museum of History were beneficiaries of the expertise our guests shared across our community.

In the classrooms, our students heard about Morris’s influences in design elements for architecture, clothing, home furnishings and more. Our guests addressed these topics in a frame that conveyed the stark conditions of life for people in Victorian Era England, with all the excesses and blight brought on by the Industrial Age, and drew a line to contemporary issues. Environmentalism, labor issues, equity of speech and free expression of ideas are concerns in society today and were issues that Morris and his peers engaged with in their society.

Mr. Walsdorf loaned us more than 60 items from his personal collection on Morris. Some were used by students during the classroom visits and many more were displayed in the library, in varying combinations, from October 17-November 14. One class also made a follow up visit to Tate Archives & Special Collections where they were able to view selected Morris works up-close and to handle Kelmscott proof sheets loaned by Walsdorf.

The library exhibit carried the title “Boundless Spirit: The Words, Works and Legacy of William Morris.” This image gallery contains selections from the class visits, campus and community events.

* Other campus events in this series can be viewed at On campus viewers will also be able to access the original grant proposal on this page.

On October 13, University Communications’ distributed a press release that is available at
[Note: The permanent IWU News archives is located Stories are harvested and collected there annually to prevent loss of information due to website changes.]

Anna Lowenthal’s Argus story about these events was published on October 31, 2014 and is available at,38360

Departmental History: Psychology

Psychology's first chair, Roger Ulrich, ca. 1960

Psychology’s first chair, Roger Ulrich, ca. 1960

Psychology has been part of IWU’s curriculum since the 1880s, but it was not until the late 1940s that it appeared in the catalog as a department, paired with Philosophy.

The Communications Office wrote an in-depth news story of Psychology Department and its evolution for the 2011 Homecoming.

Research files: Famous Commencement quote

President Myers at the 1993 Commencement

President Minor Myers, jr., 1993 Commencement

“Go forth and do well, but even more go forth and do good.” — noted in the 1993 Commencement files (RG 6-1/2)

People often remember the parting advice former President Minor Myers, jr. made at Commencement each year, and we were recently asked to find out when he first said it and if it had any other origin.

President Myers didn’t read from complete scripts during speeches; the above quote was in the brief, typed outline of his remarks for Commencement 1993.

But how did he come to develop this phrase? We followed the trail back to his first campus speech and found two instances that illuminate a possibility.

An earlier notation we found comes close to the eventual phrase: “We shall both prosper only as we serve well.” This note was penciled in on an “Outline for Talk at Writers [sic] Conference” dated March 28, 1990 (RG 2-12/3/1: Speech Outlines, July 1989-March 2002, folder 3 of 3).

The typed notes directly above this line show an origin: “Anglican / read of Wesley, went to his house, found his bust / example of unremitting effort to do good. / and unending joy in doing it. / that is the satisfaction of what we are doing, // the frustrations, / but the reward is the sense we are contributing to the maintenance of that which is good by unending efforts to make it better.”

And going further back, a note on Myers’ 1989 Inaugural Address also refers to John Wesley’s “devotion to doing good,” so perhaps we can say that the founder of Methodism itself is the inspiration for the quote that Myers crafted over the next four years and made his own!

Research files: Shortest serving president

Someone recently asked, “Who was IWU’s shortest-serving president?”
With a length of service at just 14 months, the record goes to Clinton W. Sears: August 1855-October 1856 (see p. 54-55 of Elmo Watson’s IWU Story; available at

Photographs of all of our presidents are available at

Others who served short terms include
Wiley G. Brooks (22 mos.) took office in December 1937 and left in September 1939 (Watson p. 168-169).

Samuel J. Fallows (23 mos.) served from August 1873 until the 1875 Commencement which was in mid- to late-June in those days (Watson p. 113).

Wayne Anderson (24 mos.) August 1, 1986 – July 31, 1988
The official inauguration didn’t take place until April 25, 1987, but archival records confirm that Anderson was appointed in April 1986 and his first day in office was August 1, 1986. A letter from the Board of Trustees (filed with Anderson’s appointment documents in RG 2-11/1) verifies receipt of his resignation letter and says it was effective July 31, 1988. The same letter confirms Dr. Wendell Hess would serve as interim president. Dr. Hess discusses this period and others in his long association with IWU in his oral history interview (see An April 15, 1988 Argus news story on this topic is available at,6439.

Note: We’ve combed our research files for interesting requests and with this post will start publishing “staff picks” and the ones that seem likely to be asked again. Stay tuned!

Departmental History: Political Science

The short answer is during the 1950-1951 school year and Assistant Professor Robert O. Gibbon.
The question is  “When did the department begin and who was the first chair?”

This blog will be used to record our research on departmental histories as they are received. A backlog currently exists in this type of research and I will catch it up in a post as soon as possible. For now, here are some added details in the development of PoliSci at IWU:
The 1921 school year shows the earliest mention of a political science branch within a division of the Department of Economics and Sociology. It was headed by Professor Carl W. Strow.

The 1922-23 school year lists political science as part of the Department of History and Political Science, marking the first time it was in the title of a department. This department was headed by Professor William Wallis and this structure/alignment and chair remained the same until 1950. At that point Wallis remained History’s Chair and Gibbon (who had been on the faculty in the combined department since 1947) became chair of the new, separate department.

Other chairs:
1955-1958 Robert O. Byrd
1958-1963 A. Glenn Mower, Jr.
1963-1967 Bunyan H. Andrew (dept shows combined with History again during this time)
1967-1972 Donald P. Brown (who had been teaching in Hist/PoliSci during the recombined period)
1972 John Wenum begins