Pumpkin Dessert Squares

Last week, Davidson freshmen ran the Cake Race – a Davidson tradition that dates back to 1930. According to an article in the November 13, 1930 issues of The Davidsonian, “It is intended that the first cake race held this year will set a precedent for future Freshman classes, and that in the future it will become an annual and looked forward to event in the yearly routine of the Freshman classes.”

The first cake race also saw the setting of "a new college cake race record," naturally.

The first cake race also saw the setting of “a new college cake race record,” naturally.

Track coach Heath “Pete” Whittle (Class of 1930) is responsible for beginning the Cake Race at Davidson when he began working in the athletics department in 1930. Whittle would stay in charge of the track team and serve as an Assistant Director of Athletics until 1971. The purpose was for Whittle to scout new running talent for the track team, and the cakes were the motivation for the mandatory race. Cakes baked by faculty spouses and townswomen were not the only prizes – students could also claim a number of items donated by local businesses.

Cakes are solicited from College employees and townspeople alike, as this 1990 memo shows.

Cakes are solicited from College employees and townspeople alike, as this 1990 memo shows. I heeded the helpful hint to use a disposable container for my cake.

Now the Cake Race is a voluntary event, with a fixed distance of 1.7 miles. The race wasn’t held in 1931-1933, 1941-1949, or 1972, as interest seemed to have waned, but upperclassmen insisted on the return of the race the following year and the 1.7 mile rite of passage has remained ever since. Sterling Martin (Class of 1963), a former winner of the Cake Race and organizer of the event from 1972 until the mid-1990s, said “The upperclassmen had a fit… they said they had to go through it, so they wanted to see everybody else run it. The next year we reinstated the race.” (Davidson Journal, Fall/Winter 1987) A few other colleges and universities have held cake races, and Georgia Tech’s also seems to have been tied to scouting new runners for the track and cross country teams, but it isn’t known whether Whittle was inspired by cake races at other institutions.

Sterling Martin selects a cake as his prize for winning the 1959 cake race.

Sterling Martin selects a cake as his prize for winning the 1959 cake race.

A group of freshmen women in the class of 1989 pose with their hard-earned cakes, August 1985.

A group of freshmen women in the class of 1989 pose with their hard-earned cakes, August 1985.

When Daisy Southerland married Pete Whittle in 1933, she too joined the Cake Race tradition. Daisy Whittle (1906-1991) hailed from Mobile, Alabama, and worked as the Director of Christian Education at First Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia, prior to moving to Davidson. Once established in town, Daisy ran a nursery school out of the Whittle family home, was active in the Davidson College Presbyterian Church, and made cakes for every class of freshmen until at least 1987. Although Pete Whittle passed away in 1975, Daisy continued attending the annual Cake Race and was active in the Davidson Senior Center.

Daisy Whittle presents a cake to a winning racer in 1963.

Daisy Whittle presents a cake to a winning racer in 1963.

As Daisy described in the Davidson Journal Fall/Winter 1987 issue, “I don’t think I’ve ever missed a race… I’ve made cakes every year, and my daughters helped when they were in high school. The cakes were usually chocolate, because that’s my favorite.” This year, to honor Daisy’s legacy and celebrate a new class of Davidson freshmen, I selected one of her recipes to make for the 2016 Cake Race and this installment of our Recipes From the Archives blog series. Unfortunately, we don’t have any of her chocolate cake recipes in our collections, but Daisy did submit a recipe for Pumpkin Dessert Squares to the Davidson Senior Center’s 1985 printing of The Davidson Cookbook.

Daisy Whittle's Senior Center portrait, taken by Frank Bliss.

Daisy Whittle’s Senior Center portrait, taken by Frank Bliss circa 1980.

As the Davidson Journal‘s Fall/Winter 1987 issue states, “there are several competitions going on here – one involving the 140 freshmen running the 1.7-mile race, and another fiercer contest among the cake bakers waiting and watching to see whose cake will be picked first.” Daisy Whittle’s cakes have long been picked early in the selection process – racers are given place cards as they cross the finish line, and select cakes by placement, alternating between men and women winners. Utensils are handed out, so cake eating can begin right away.

Daisy Whittle's recipe

The Pumpkin Dessert Squares I made for this year’s Cake Race.

I followed Daisy’s recipe to the letter, with the exception of cutting the cake into squares and serving with whipped cream. I assumed the whipped cream wouldn’t hold up in the August heat of North Carolina, as cakes are placed outside an hour or so before the race begins. Instead I sprinkled a little bit of powdered sugar on top of the cake, and constructed a festive, inedible banner topping in order to make the cake more appealing to the runners.

My version of Daisy's Pumpkin Dessert, with "Welcome Wildcats" banner topper!

My version of Daisy’s Pumpkin Dessert, with “Welcome Wildcats” banner topper!

As Alex Hunger (Class of 2009) said in a 2005 Charlotte Observer article on the Cake Race, “I’ve never had to work this hard for a cake… running for (cake) definitely makes it more worth eating.” I hope all of the members of the Class of 2020 enjoyed their cake-filled welcome to Davidson!

Orientations Past

The Class of 2020 is on campus. Another academic year is launched so what better time to look back at the beginnings of the classes of 1870, 1920, 1970, and 1995.

Class of 1870

In the fall of 1866, only 3 students enrolled as freshman raising the total enrollment to 27.  Unlike many classes, the class of 1870 grew over the next for years, ending with 13 seniors at graduation.  For those 3 and the 10 that joined them, there was no formal orientation. Students were expected to find their way to the college and to a faculty member who could help them find their dormitory room and classrooms.

Class of 1920

By the fall of 1916, the 129 entering new students were not left so adrift. The YMCA had begun regularly publishing a handbook full of useful information in 1904.

Title page for 1916-17 student handbook, now known as the Wildcat Handbook.

Title page for 1916-17 student handbook, not yet known as the Wildcat Handbook.

Today’s class might find the phrasing of the 1916 advice a little odd:

– To the man who is just entering upon his college course the transition from High or Preparatory School to College is filled with possibilities for either good or evil. The effect which a four year’s residence in a college is going to have upon a man is largely determined by the ideas which he absorbs, the standards which he sets, and the companions whom he selects within a short time after the opening of the session.

Description of honor code in handbook.

Description of honor code in handbook.

The handbook also provided a “Definition of Provoking Hazing”:

Provoking hazing is any willful act by any Freshman toward any upperclassman contrary to the existing traditions for the conduct of Freshmen on the campus, such as: jibing, making slighting, objectionable remarks, treating with undue disrespect upperclassmen, giving class yells, making Freshman numerals conspicuous, etc.

The reference to making “Freshmen numerals conspicuous” shows that memories of the Freshman Riot of 1903 had yet to fade. Perhaps because the class of 1920 was another large class – 129 new students to 48 seniors (394 students total).

Class of 1920 in 1917

Class of 1920 in 1917

The college administration took more of an interest in orientation that fall, launching a new initiative of mandatory “Freshman Lectures.”  The first speaker was college president William Martin who also had proper conduct and hazing on his mind. His talk was described (by an upperclassman Davidsonian reporter) as “a strong appeal to the Freshmen to realize that they are expected to conduct themselves in a manly way and abide by the traditions of the campus in regard to their attitude toward the older students.”

Faculty in 1916. President Martin is seated, second from the right.

Faculty in 1916. President Martin is seated, second from the right.

 

The 1916-17 class schedule could fit on one page in the Davidsonian.

The 1916-17 class schedule could fit on one page in the Davidsonian.

Class of 1970

Although the class of 1920 was a large class, the overall enrollment numbers by class were closer in the fall of 1966: 279 freshman out of 1008 students total.

The Wildcat Handbook was no longer published by the YMCA but continued to provide useful information with a few editorial comments and warnings added in:

Dear Freshman,  You will enter a “New Davidson” this fall. It had its “face lifted” this past year through the combined efforts of students and faculty., in some cases. With some of the new liberties that you will enjoy must come some new responsibility. The “drinking rule” was eliminated from the Student Body Regulations, but the faculty still have a rule against it. Unless you are willing to suffer the consequences, it is not advisable to drink on campus. If you are caught you have only yourself to blame.

The “gambling rule” was also repealed. This has led to a great deal of “reactionary” gambling. It has also led to some richer and poorer Davidson students. This is still against the ruling of the faculty. Do not get into these games so early in your college career. They can cause you more worry than they could possibly be worth and will take away from your study time tremendously.

Honor System in 1966

Honor System in 1966

Gone were the mandatory lectures, instead the college offered a 2 day orientation camp and the YMCA started a series of freshman “talks” in the residence halls.

16 September 1966 Davidsonian article praising the new class and raising questions about orientation length.

16 September 1966 Davidsonian article praising the new class and raising questions about orientation length.

Davidson faculty in 1966

Davidson faculty in 1966

Class of 1995

Between the fall of 1966 and 1991, total enrollment grew by 500 students. The class of 1995 made up 395 of the 1,500 students on campus with 218 men and 177 women.

Davidsonian article describing orientation 90s style.

Davidsonian article describing orientation 90s style.

The editors of the Wildcat Handbook took a lighter tone then their predecessors and promoted a balance of work and play.

Self-discipline is one phrase that you’ve probably heard many more times than you wish. At Davidson, it’s imperative that you possess this virtue. Using your time wisely is a skill you quickly need to acquire because a typical day here is nothing like your 8:30 to 3:30 high school schedule. . . . Of course, Davidson is not all study and no play. Recreation and just goofing off are essential to our physical and mental health. It is humanly impossible to study all day and night, and with so much going on at school, who would really want to, anyway? Naturally, you wouldn’t want to spend your study breaks down at Patterson Court every night, for these seem to last well past your intended time, and in many cases you never make it back to the library. But some time “on the court” or the Union does have a tendency to relieve tension.

The keys to surviving your freshman year are self-discipline and time-management. But aside from that, enjoy! Study, work hard and spend  your time wisely, but remember, to do all this, you’ve got to mix in some fun, too.

By time class of 1995 graduated, the college had expanded orientation to include special events for parents and even more events for students.

Horatio Alger – “Rags to Riches”

Ragged Dick

Ragged Dick

You’ve probably heard a comment at some time about a person’s success being “a real Horatio Alger story.” Have you ever wondered that that reference was all about?
Horatio Alger (born January 13, 1832) was an American writer known for his juvenile novels about poor boys who rise to lives of comfort and security through hard work, courage and honesty. Although not raised in the dire situations of the heroes of his novels, Alger’s name has become synonymous with that “rags-to-riches” story-line.

Ragged Dick

Ragged Dick

Alger, a New Englander from Chelsea, Massachusetts, attended Harvard in the class of 1852, where he won numerous awards and began his writing career. After graduation, with no job in the offing, he returned home and continued to write. His first novels were published in 1864, and in that same year Alger became pastor of the First Unitarian Church in Brewster, Massachusetts. Accused of improper conduct, Alger left the church in 1866. He moved to New York City, and began to concentrate on his writings.

Ragged Dick

Ragged Dick

He also became concerned about the thousands of vagrant children in the city, and began to write his stories of boys who rise from their poverty. Usually the stories revolved around a poor boy who meets a wealthy gentleman and through some act of courage and honesty endears himself to that gentleman, and is taken in as his ward. The first of Alger’s books, and probably the most well-known, was

Ragged Dick, 1st edition

Ragged Dick, 1st edition

Ragged Dick: or, Street life in New York with the Boot-blacks, originally published as a serial, and then as a novel in 1868. It was a best-seller, and Alger signed a contract with Loring Publishing for a Ragged Dick series.

Ragged Dick ending

Ragged Dick ending

He continued to write stories with the same “honest boys succeed” theme, but the quality deteriorated, and the plots were no longer appreciated in the same way, so by the 1890s his popularity faded.

Ragged Dick has not been totally forgotten, and even became the basis for a 1982 musical, Shine!.

Horatio Alger is represented in the Rare Book Room with a first edition of Ragged Dick.

Preface

Preface

Preface

Preface

Ragged Dick: or, Street life in New York with the Boot-blacks / Horatio Alger. Philadelphia: Porter & Coates; [Boston]: A.K. Loring, 1868. First edition, first issue. With added engraved and hand-colored title page. Other illustrations hand-colored.

August Literary Birthdays

I thought we’d pay tribute this month to some authors, born in August, and represented by works in the Rare Book Room. Can you match the author with the work?

1. Richard Henry Dana                                              A. Frankenstein
2. Herman Melville                                                   B. The African Queen
3. Percy Bysshe Shelley                                            C. The Star Song
4. Alfred Lord Tennyson                                            D. Brokeback Mountain
5. Sir Walter Scott                                                     E. The Happy Hypocrite
6. Annie Proulx                                                         F. Reynard the Fox
7. Robert Herrick                                                       G. Kenilworth
8. Max Beerbohm                                                      H. Two Years before the Mast
9. Bret Harte                                                              I. The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table
10. Charles Wright                                                     J. Moby Dick
11. C.S. Forester                                                         K. The Luck of Roaring Camp
12. Johann Goethe                                                     L. Zastrozzi
13. Oliver Wendell Holmes                                       M. North American Bear
14. Mary Shelley                                                        N. Idylls of the King

The African Queen

The African Queen

The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

Frankenstein

Frankenstein

Kenilworth

Kenilworth

Reynard the Fox

Reynard the Fox

The Happy Hypocrite

The Happy Hypocrite

The Luck of Roaring Camp

The Luck of Roaring Camp

Answers: 1-H; 2-J; 3-L; 4-N; 5-G; 6-D; 7-C; 8-E; 9-K; 10-M; 11-B; 12-F; 13-I; 14-A.

Dogs of Davidson

In some parts of the world, the dog star Sirius shows up in the night sky about this time leading to the phrase Dog Days of Summer. This seems an appropriate time to highlight campus pups.

Although the college mascot is a wildcat, dogs have had a fair representation on campus over the years.  The earliest image comes from the class of 1889.

From the John Hunter Grey photograph collection. The image came with identification for all the students, but not the dog.

From the John Hunter Grey photograph collection. The image came with identification for all the students, but not the dog.

The 1916 Quips and Cranks included a little canine humor in its pages.

1916 Quips and Cranks - students humor, made-up professor.

1916 Quips and Cranks – joke from yearbook’s Campus Calendar section. Note: the professor is a made-up name.

During the WWI years, when students found themselves in uniform, they were adopted by at least one dog.

Before ROTC, there was the Student Army Training Corps program. Perhaps these students are resting after a day for drills?

Before ROTC, there was the Student Army Training Corps program. Perhaps these students & pup are resting after drills?

Spaniels appear to have been a popular choice into the 1940s – this pup joined students at a music summer camp.

Musical pup circa 1943

Musical pup circa 1943

During the 1950s, Mike Meyers ’53, of Bill Edward‘s fame, chronicled the life and times of several Davidson dogs.

26 November 1951 Davidsonian story

26 November 1951 Davidsonian story

In February 1952, students created a snow sculpture honoring a dog.

In February 1952, students created a snow sculpture honoring a dog.

Another Mike Meyers doggie exclusive

Another Mike Meyers doggie exclusive from March 1952

Full article on George.

Outdoing the 1916 Quips and Cranks, the 1974 yearbook featured a full piece on Davidson’s Dog Life.

1974 defense of campus dogs.

1974 defense of campus dogs.

One of the dogs of 1974

One of the dogs of 1974

1976 yearbook photo

1976 yearbook photo

Students at Davidson from 1980 to 1983 documented dogs waiting by the Post Office, lounging around, and providing comfort to students.

Cooling off in 1980

Cooling off in 1980

1981 yearbook photo of playful pups

1981 yearbook photo of playful pups

1981 yearbook doggie ode

1981 yearbook doggie ode

On duty at PO crosswalk

On duty at PO crosswalk

Puppy love

Puppy love (1981)

1982 yearbook dog page

1982 yearbook dog page

Pete in 1982

Pete in 1982

Dog days in 1983

Dog days in 1983

We don’t have a date for this commencement and we don’t think the dog got a diploma.

Just waiting to retrieve tossed hats.

Just waiting to retrieve tossed hats.

Students haven’t been the only dog-loving wildcats on campus. Grier Martin, Davidson president, 1958-1968, and his wife Louise entertained students with their talented pet.

Presidential pup Jezebel going through her paces.

Presidential pup Jezebel going through her paces.

Visiting Philosophy professor Gordon Michalson pampered his pet.

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

And College Communications writer extraordinaire John Syme’s canine friends are campus legends.

John Syme and Oscar enjoy front campus in 2002

John Syme and Oscar enjoy front campus in 2002

Salade Niçoise

It’s time for another Recipe from the Archives – summer salad edition! This week’s recipe is Dr. Catherine Slawy-Sutton’s Salade Niçoise, from Great Expectations: The Davidson College 1990-1991 Office Support Staff Cookbook.

The cover of

The cover of Great Expectations: The Davidson College 1990-1991 Office Support Staff Cookbook.

As mentioned in the “Better Than the M & M’s Pimento Cheese” post, the Office Support Staff was born out of an earlier group known as The Chambermaids – a reference to the statues on Chambers Building, where most of the administrative staff worked, and a reference to the fact that the offices were almost entirely staffed by women. The Chambermaids, renamed the Office Support Staff (OSS) in 1982, was aimed at fostering professional development, advocating for needed changes on behalf of staff, and providing opportunities for social engagement. During the 1990-1991 academic year, the OSS compiled Though Great Expectations: The Davidson College 1990-1991 Office Support Staff Cookbook as a fundraiser. Recipes were solicited from across all areas of campus.

Members of Office Support Staff in Fall 1989. 1st row: (from left to right) Jeanne Mandt, Jane Biggerstaff, Judi Murphy, Ann Callahan, Pat Snow, Mary Wilson, Barbara Mayer, Pat Richart, Mittie Wally; 2nd row: (from left to right) Pat Gardner, Mary Mack Benson, Glenda Erwin, Kristi Mayhew, Cheryl Branz, Jean Martin, Ethel Black, Katrina French, Frances White; 3rd row: (from left to right) Diann Cavin, Gail Hoke, Aileen Vinson, Harriet Kessler, Sara Paige Lewis, Barbara Carmack, Pat Burgess, Frances McCorkle, Jo Archie, Joan Franz, Gail Sloop, Brenda King, Sarah Jackson.

Members of Office Support Staff in Fall 1989. First row, from left to right: Jeanne Mandt, Jane Biggerstaff, Judi Murphy, Ann Callahan, Pat Snow, Mary Wilson, Barbara Mayer, Pat Richart, and Mittie Wally. Second row: Pat Gardner, Mary Mack Benson, Glenda Erwin, Kristi Mayhew, Cheryl Branz, Jean Martin, Ethel Black, Katrina French, and Frances White. Third row: Diann Cavin, Gail Hoke, Aileen Vinson, Harriet Kessler, Sara Paige Lewis, Barbara Carmack, Pat Burgess, Frances McCorkle, Jo Archie, Joan Franz, Gail Sloop, Brenda King, and Sarah Jackson.

The recipe I chose to make, Salade Niçoise, was submitted by Catherine Slawy-Sutton, Professor of French & Francophone Studies at Davidson. Born in Angoulême, France and raised in Dakar, Senegal, Catherine received a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Nice and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Indiana University, Bloomington. She began working at Davidson College as Visiting Lecturer in 1980, moving to Assistant Professor in 1985, Associate Professor in 1991, and Professor in 1999. Catherine is married to recently retired French & Francophone Studies Professor Homer Sutton (Class of 1971), and the two professors have accompanied Davidson students on several study abroad programs in France.

Catherine Slawy-Sutton in 1997, from that year's Quips and Cranks.

Catherine Slawy-Sutton in 1997, from that year’s Quips and Cranks.

Since Catherine studied in Nice, I assumed she’d know a good Salade Niçoise! I hadn’t yet made a salad for Recipes from the Archives, and this hearty provençal staple seemed like a perfect fit. As Catherine describes it in the Great Expectations cookbook, “This is a recipe for a consistent summer salad.”

Catherine

Catherine’s recipe for Salade Niçoise and “ze reeal French Salad Dressing” vinaigrette that accompanies it.

I purchased oil-packed tuna in order to get the best flavor, and used tomatoes recently gifted to me by Davidson’s Systems Librarian, Susan Kerr, who grew them in her home garden. With boiling the potatoes and hard boiling the eggs, the preparation time for the salad was a bit longer, but completing the recipe was very easy, and the results are delicious!

Salade Niçoise with vinaigrette on the side.

The finished Salade Niçoise, with vinaigrette on the side.

With the Night Mail

We’ve thanked Wilbur L. Fugate for the donation of his collection of first and limited editions of Kiplng’s works.

 

WIth the Night Mail

With the Night Mail

Now we want to look more specifically at a work for which Kipling is not well known, With the Night Mail, Kipling’s only work of science fiction.  Kipling was known for his stories about the army, ballads and poems, and “boys’ stories” with a remarkable view of Indian life, so a work of science fiction seems  unusual.

With the Night Mail was published in book form by Doubleday, Page & Co. in 1909, after having been first published in the United States in the November 1905 issue of McClure’s Magazine, and in the United Kingdom in the December 1905 issue of The Windsor Magazine.  The story was also collected in various anthologies over the years.

Title Page

Title Page

Night Mail first pageThe story is set in the year 2000 and concerns a dirigible night flight from London, at a time when the world is controlled by the Aerial Board of Control.

Aerial Board of Control

Aerial Board of Control

The narrator of the story is on board a mail plane, Postal Packet 162, which is traveling from London to Quebec, and the journey is reported in great detail from the expertise of the crew, the details of their methods of radio communication, and the traffic beacons used from lift off to their safe docking ahead of schedule.   The story is accompanied with beautiful illustrations by Frank Leyendecker and H. Reuterdahl, as well as an appendix including fictitious ads, notes, and correspondence.

Thanks to Mr. Fugate for including this work in his collection!

Notes

Notes

Night Mail illusNight Mail frontispiece

Endpapers

Endpapers

Ads

Ads

Ads

Ads

Ads

Ads

Teachers & Lake Norman

What do you get when you bring 5 public school teachers to the archives?

An amazing amount of energy and a wonderful set of lesson plans designed around Lake Norman topics. Working with Dr. Hilton Kelly, professor of Sociology and chair of Educational Studies, the archives staff reached out to teachers to help us add a collection of learning activities to the Under the Lake site.

Celia Arch presenting her lesson plans

Celia Arch presenting her lesson plans

Along with gathering photos and stories about the lake, the we wanted the website to be a source for research and teaching. How better to bring the lake into the classroom than by having practicing teachers design and create online lessons?  Supported by the Duke Energy Foundation, we recruited local teachers. The 5 finalists were an amazing group and covered the full range of education – kindergarten to high school, mathematics to ESL to social studies and earth sciences. Together they created 11 different lesson plans, some with multiple activities.

Erik Dykes convincing fellow teachers and Little Library staff that maps and math can work tofgether.

Erik Dykes convincing fellow teachers and Little Library staff that maps and math can work tofgether.

The teachers are Celia Arch, Eric Dykes, JoCelyn Roundtree, Carolyn Singleton, Erika Williams.  In one intense week, they learned about Lake Norman, explored the website, learned WordPress and built their lessons. On Friday afternoon they presented their work to their peers and members of the library staff.  The instruction librarians came away with a great respect for the teachers grasp of pedagogy and some new ideas to try out on our students.

As part of the project, the archives team added a collection of digitized area maps to the website.  Included are Lake Norman maps, county maps, town of Davidson maps and college campus maps.

1963 map of newly created lake.

1963 map of newly created lake.

While the activities are geared toward classroom learning, anyone can test them out. Try brushing up on your math skills or write your own essay, draw a cartoon, share a rainy summer afternoon with a child learning together or explore the history the maps show us.

The lesson plan creation team: Eric Dykes, Celia Arch, JoCelyn Roundtree, Erika Williams, and Carolyn Singleton

The lesson plan creation team: Eric Dykes, Celia Arch, JoCelyn Roundtree, Erika Williams, and Carolyn Singleton

 

Digitizing “An Old Family Friend”: The Aubrey Neblett Brown, Jr. Scrapbook

This week’s post was written by Nancy Lingle, a volunteer in the Davidson College Archives & Special Collections. Nancy is a May 2016 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a Masters of Library and Information Studies degree, and works at the Davidson Branch of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library.

Photos from a road trip with college buddies. The scores from an all-important football game.  Notes about family and friends.  An advertisement for shoes for $16.50.  Ticket stubs from a concert.  For many of us, these phrases sounds like things we might see on a typical Facebook or Instagram post.  But in this case I’m describing a book; to be more specific – a scrapbook from a member of the Davidson College Class of 1929. A scrapbook that does not belong to my family, but now feels like an old family friend.

Aubrey Neblett Brown, Jr's senior portrait, from the 1929 Quips and Cranks.

Aubrey Neblett Brown, Jr’s senior portrait, from the 1929 Quips and Cranks.

I came to know this scrapbook through a class assignment.  I am not a Davidson College student.  (In fact, based on my SAT scores, I’m pretty sure I would never have been admitted.) In pursuit of my MLIS degree at UNCG, I took a class in digital libraries. One option for my final class assignment was to find a local library and ask to work on one of their digital projects.  As a resident of Davidson and having been married to someone with long ties to the college, I was familiar with the archival work that the Davidson College Library had produced.  With fingers crossed, I emailed Jan Blodgett, the college archivist, and offered my services.  Jan, along with Sharon Byrd and Caitlin Christian-Lamb graciously tossed around some possible project ideas that I could work on.  They came up with digitizing a scrapbook, one of the 279 that have been collected by or donated to Davidson over the years. These scrapbooks are stored in the college archives – a veritable treasure trove of documents, photographs and other ephemera related to town and gown.

At first, I was slightly surprised by their choice of this project. With all the “important” books, manuscripts and photos that need to be digitized, I thought digitizing a personal scrapbook was something that should possibly be further down on the priority list.  How wrong I was.

Advertisement for women's shoes for , from a program for "The Girl Friend" at the Auditorium Theatre

Advertisement for women’s shoes for $12.50 to $16.50 , from a program for “The Girl Friend” at the Auditorium Theatre pasted onto page 79 of Aubrey Neblett Brown, Jr.’s scrapbook.

Why scrapbooks?  The reasons are many. Scrapbooks give us a more personal account of a period in history.  We can see what was important to an individual at a given time.  Newspaper articles, dance cards, photos showing clothing, hats and shoes all come together to paint a detailed picture and give us a higher degree of insight than a standard text book can offer. Digitizing a scrapbook, while adding descriptive and searchable metadata, adds to our collective resources and knowledge sharing abilities.  By making these resources available to the public, we can give others the opportunity to access material that would otherwise be nearly impossible to see.  Many college and university libraries have been working on digitizing their scrapbook collections. These scrapbooks are in very fragile states; their aging pages crumbling, disintegrating a little more every time we open each archival box. Preserving them for future generations is a worthy task.

The Process

Caitlin was very familiar with the Davidson scrapbook collection.   She herself had worked on a similar project when she was a graduate student at Simmons College so she understood with great clarity the details involved.  Of all the choices under consideration, we decided to digitize the scrapbook of Aubrey Neblett Brown, Jr. It had lots of nice details, many different types of items and at 82 pages, it seemed the perfect length. The goal was to preserve the scrapbook in a way that makes you feel like you are turning the pages of the actual item – viewing the scrapbook as it was intended to be seen.

Page 25 of the Brown scrapbook, with photographs of many Davidson College campus buildings and hand-drawn pencil animals (including two wildcats).

Page 25 of the Brown scrapbook, with photographs of many Davidson College campus buildings and hand-drawn animals (including two wildcats).

First came scanning. Each page of the scrapbook (and each page of each pamphlet or brochure within each page) was scanned and saved as a TIFF file.  The pages had to placed carefully on the scanner in an effort to keep them as intact as possible.  Sometimes we found pages stuck together either due to the adhesive (mucilage) or a staple.  Caitlin, using a scalpel with surgeon-like precision, removed the staples so we could easily access the individual pages. Sometimes items fell off.  Often I had to lift one delicate yellowed newspaper clipping to access another one beneath it.  One time, a headline that had lain folded for umpteen years crumbled in my hand.  While I felt terrible, it also made me realize how important it is to scan these documents so they can be preserved before more disintegration takes place. It turns out this 82-page scrapbook was really 311 pages when all was said and done. Scanning took 24.75 hours.

TIFF files are wonderful at preserving details but are also very large. The Omeka site we were using to host this project has a limitation in file size, so I converted each TIFF to a JPEG.  This is a fairly easy process and took only 5.5 hours.

Next, using Dublin Core, I added metadata to each page so the information could be found.  Some pages were relatively easy since they contained only one or two items.  When questions arose, Sharon patiently looked over my shoulder and help guide me to the correct description. The pages that were most challenging were ones that held copies of plays and programs containing the names of the actors, dancers and musicians.  Since our goal was to make the items searchable, I had to add each name that I found on each page. Mr. Brown loved to attend plays.  On page 79 there are 5 different play programs.  Since I was working on this project only 5-6 hours per week, it would occasionally take me that amount of time to add the metadata for just one page. Total time for adding metadata:  32 hours.

Page 79 of the Brown scrapbook - five play programs and a whole lot more!

Page 79 of the Brown scrapbook – five play programs and a whole lot more!

Finally, as I was wrapping up my semester, the metadata was complete.  With Caitlin’s expertise and guidance, we turned the project live (8.25 hours) just days before my semester ended.  Total time to digitize the Aubrey Neblett Brown Jr. scrapbook: 70.5 hours.

What Did I Learn?

Academically, I learned about the digitization processes, about different hosting sites, about the ways different institutions use Dublin Core as a metadata scheme, all the variables involved and the decisions that need to be made when creating a digital library project.

I also learned about life in Davidson from 1924 – 1929.  I learned that Mr. Brown kept a tidy room – there’s a note from Mrs. Black the dormitory supervisor telling him so. (Personally, as the mother of a college-age son, I find this extremely hard to believe.)  Photos told me who Mr. Brown’s friends were and what they did for fun; from building a snowman to attending plays and debates as well as coming up with the attributes for the “ideal woman”. I learned that Efird’s Department Store in Charlotte sold almost everything and that even though the Ziegfeld Follies were famous, the creators of the brochures still spelled that eponymous name incorrectly (as “Ziegfield”).  Among the various letters and cards there was a note about Mr. Brown’s disappointment over the new college president, Dr. Walter Lee Lingle, my husband’s grandfather, and how he wished it could have been someone from outside and not a Davidson graduate who was taking on the position.  (No hard feelings – I promise.)

Page 27 from the Brown scrapbook

Page 27 from the Brown scrapbook, showing scenes around campus (including snowman-building and one of the live wildcat mascots).

Mr. Brown’s documentation of the road trip he took with friends back home to Mineral Wells, Texas was one of the highlights of the scrapbook.  There are photos of the car (which he later sold for $60.00), a map of their route, and postcards he acquired at places he stopped along the way.  It was amazing to me that these postcards, many in color, have retained their vibrancy even after all these years.

What I felt the most as I delved into this scrapbook was the sense of innocence, the love of family and friends, the love of sports, the overall “collegiate spirit” vibe that I felt during my own undergraduate days and see now with my son and his friends.  This “innocence of youth” of Mr. Brown and his friends is juxtaposed with an impeding sense of sadness since we know what is about to happen in the world later on in his 1929 graduation year.

A few weeks ago I ran into William Brown at the Davidson Public Library where I currently work. William is the son of our scrapbook creator and the Director of the Knobloch Campus Center and Student Activities at Davidson.  I told him about the project and thanked him for sharing such a wonderful resource with the college archives and now, thanks to digitization, with anyone who is interested.  He smiled and he talked about that road trip his father took to Mineral Wells.  It turns out that his father didn’t return home again for over 50 years.  When he did, things had changed so much that nothing seemed familiar. Having access to those photos and postcards now seems even more poignant.

Pages 53 and 55 of the scrapbook, detailing the road trip from Davidson to Mineral Wells

Pages 53 and 55 of the scrapbook, detailing the road trip from Davidson to Mineral Wells, TX and including a newspaper clip advertising Brown’s sale of the group’s 1922 Ford Model T.

The Future

Now with one scrapbook project under their belts, I hope that the Archives and Special Collections Department can continue this project with the help of students and volunteers.  Knowing the time and resources it takes to digitize one scrapbook; from computers and scanners to hosting space and librarian oversight, the archivists can better plan how this project fits in with their other projects and goals.

Many thanks to Jan, Sharon, and Caitlin for their guidance, support and allowing me to work with them on bringing this scrapbook to digital life.  You can access the digital version of the Aubrey Neblett Brown, Jr. scrapbook here.

“Declaration of Independency”

As we get ready to celebrate our nation’s birthday on July 4th, I wanted to see what books we had in the Rare Book Room relating to the American Revolution and printed during that era.  We have several including:

The History of the Origin, Progress, and Termination of the American War.  By C. Stedman.  Dublin, 1794.

The History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence of the United States of America.  By William Gordon.  New York, 1801.

 Both are histories of the war…but I found it interesting that although the titles of the two histories were similar, the British publication and the American one had distinctive differences in wording regarding the close of the war.

The close of the war.  And, as Gordon’s book title reads, the “establishment of the independence of the United States of America.”  With the approval of the Second Continental Congress at their meeting in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania State House on July 4, 1776, the colonies severed their ties to Great Britain, and declared themselves to be free and independent states.  In order to let the colonists know as quickly as possible about this momentous decision, Congress ordered that copies of the “Declaration of Independence” be printed that night, and about 200 copies were printed by John Dunlap at his small printing shop near the State House.  Known as the “Dunlap Broadside,” this was the first printing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.  There remain only 25 known copies of this first U.S. printing, and, not surprisingly, Davidson does NOT own one!  But what about the first British printing?  When did Britain let its citizens know what the U.S. had done?

The Gentleman's Magazine 1776

The Gentleman’s Magazine 1776

The Gentleman's Magazine August 1776

The Gentleman’s Magazine August 1776

The August 1776 issue of the London publication, The Gentleman’s Magazine includes an early, very possibly the first, British printing of the “Declaration of American Independency” on pages 361-362.

Declaration of American Independency

Declaration of American Independency

Declaration of American Independency

Declaration of American Independency

The magazine was founded by Edward Cave in 1731, and was considered to be the most influential periodical of its time.  The August issue also includes additional coverage of the Revolution including Parliamentary debates regarding the colonies, some selected correspondence of George Washington, resolutions of the Continental Congress, and maps of areas of major colonial battles.

Map of Philadelphia

Map of Philadelphia

We are fortunate to have a collection of The Gentleman’s Magazine in the Rare Book Room, including the volume for 1776.

Happy Birthday, USA!