Alumni stories: Edelbert Rodgers, Class of 32

This entry marks the start of a new series in this blog: stories of IWU Alumni that emerge during research with the collections in the University Archives.

Rodgers' Senior Class photo from the 1934 Wesleyana

Rodgers’ Senior Class photo from the 1934 Wesleyana

The Argus editor in 1932 posted a summary of sociology research completed by Senior Edlebert Rodgers.
January 13, 1932 Argus headline: WESLEYAN SENIOR MAKES
CIVIC SURVEY OF HIS PEOPLE

“In  a  survey  of the  Social and  Economic progress of Negroes in  Bloomington  and Normal Edelbert  Rogers has found that the negro population of these two  cities  is  804.  This number makes up 2.8  percent of  the  entire  population of these  two  cities.  The  negroes  of Champaign make up 7.8  percent  of the population  while  4.7  percent  of  the people in  Springfield are negroes….”

There are only a few mentions* of Rodgers in The Argus at different points in his campus career, but the story above is the only substantive information from his IWU days that we know of at this time. All the stories linked below only share his debate team activities. Other information is available during his only known return to campus.

Edelbert Rodgers at Founders' Day Convocation 2001. Provost Janet McNew is pictured on the left.

Edelbert Rodgers at Founders’ Day Convocation 2001. Provost Janet McNew is pictured on the left.

The quote that follows is from a Press Release for Founders’ Day 2001 (similar wording appears in an Argus Article about the event). At that event Dr. Rodgers was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

“Edelbert Rodgers, class of 1933, IWU’s oldest living minority alumnus, retired professor, Flint Junior College (now Mott Community College) in Michigan. Rodgers also was a practicing psychologist. He will meet with a group of students at 4 p.m. on Feb. 20 in the Cartwright Room, IWU Memorial Student Center, 104 E. University St. Rodgers also will meet with psychology faculty and students in C009B of the Center for Natural Sciences, 201 E. Beecher, at 9 a.m. on Feb. 21.”

The stories related during Rodgers’ visit had an impact on then-Dean of Students Jim Matthews. In a Fall 2007 IWU Magazine story, Matthews recounts the visit and his decision to use Rodgers’ picture as one of the focal points for visitors in the newly-remodeled Hansen Student Center.

Next time you’re in Hansen, stop by the front desk and take a moment to consider the life of Edlebert Rodgers.

*Other Argus stories Rodgers is mentioned in. Note: Spelling in these stories is for Rogers without a “d.”

Debate team activity described on page 1 of the issue at 1931-12-15.

“James Hidden and Edelbert Rogers argued the question [not specified] with a team of men from the same school” (see p2 at 1932-02-24).

The story on p8 of 1932-04-27 is for another debate. Rogers was timer for one “section” of the competition.

And on p3 of 1932-05-04, Rogers is listed with Titan Varsity Debate team: “During the season Edelbert Rogers, and James Hidden also saw action. The debaters wish to thank the fraternities and sororities of Wesleyan for their splendid cooperation in entertaining visiting teams during the season. Teams from eight different schools were taken care of overnight at the various houses. With the majority of the debate squad returning to school next year the outlook for another successful season is very bright.”

Check out the Museum class exhibits!

Four groups of students prepared exhibits for ANTH 270 this semester. This project required them to become familiar with artifacts on a topic, research it using primary and secondary sources, and create a visually appealing and informative display.

One of the groups used ethnographic material collected by Dr. Rebecca Gearhart. Their exhibit, titled Rhythms of the East African Coast is located in a display case by the Anthropology department on the second floor of CLA.

The remaining three groups used materials from the University Archives. The exhibit titles and locations are as follows:

The Long Lost Fame of the IWU College of Law, 1st Floor, John Wesley Powell Rotunda

     –photographs and documents related to the Bloomington law School and IWU College of Law.

Turbulent Titans: Student Issues from 1970-1971, 1st Floor, across from Circulation

     –an analysis of issues tackled by the student publication “Rhetoric and Propaganda.”

The Center of the University: Its Rise and Its Demise, 3rd Floor, outside Thorpe Center

     –photographs, an architectural plan and documents surrounding the history of Old Main/Hedding Hall/Duration Hall.

Great job, ANTH 270!

Selected mysteries, part one

Special Collections houses a number of mysteries some enterprising researcher may be able to mine for treasures. Here are a few items and what little information we have about them:

Five photo albums from the 19th Century, some with people identifed, some not, and only one with clues about the people’s relationship to IWU.

Barry Lennon Farm Records, 1842-52

Correspondence and photos from World War I soldiers

Correspondence from several World War II servicemen to Nell (Carmichael) Livingston

Notes, reports and ephemera of Henry Filip, physicist at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in the 1970s

A journal with some ledger-type of entries (1842-45) but mostly a beautiful, albeit dense handwriting. The name that appears the most is Thomas Storm Hubbard. Interestingly, on one page where he writes his names several times there also appears, in large letters, the word “Fearlessness.”

Conduct of Life

The collection we call “Conduct of Life” holds over 200 books from secular and religious perspectives dating from 1560. The topics include moral, social and practical considerations aimed at youth of both sexes and women. French, Latin and English seem to the the languages represented in this collection, but you can browse the entire list from our online catalog by following the directions on this guide.

Note: A few of the titles in the catalog are also held in the Main Stacks.

Poetry

April is National Poetry Month, and I thought I’d mention a few places where poetry can be found in our vaults.

Special Collections

We have a growing collection of Beat Generation material. This is primarily poetry in book and magazine/journal review format but biographies and some criticism is held here, too. More of the primary and secondary source material is available in the main library stacks. A title list is available, but each title is also cataloged and so they’ll turn up if you search in our online holdings, too.

Individual titles in special collections are usually accompanied by an inscription or autograph of an author such as 39 Poems by John Ciardi; The Unicorn and Other Sonnets by Thomas S. Jones, jr.; For My People by Margaret Walker, Threads by Dorothy Quick.

Archives

We hold various incarnations of IWU student-compiled journals containing poetry from the literary societies of the late 19th century through to today’s Tributaries and material on the Tounge & Ink conferences.

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.