Burke’s Weekly for Boys and Girls

Burke's Weekly for Boys and Girls

Burke’s Weekly for Boys and Girls

The library’s 100,000th volume, an addition to the Rare Book Room, was the 1st volume of Burke’s Weekly for Boys and Girls, a short-lived serial (1867-1871) which was published in Macon, Georgia.  Our volume includes the issues for 1867.  It was given to the library by Dr. Leland M. Park, our former library director, who had received the volume from his father.

Burke’s Weekly was begun by two brothers, J. W. Burke (the publisher) and T.A. Burke (the editor) after the U.S. Civil War to provide southern children with a magazine of stories, games, puzzles, and poetry.  The timing of the publication in the South, when many of the region’s families were trying to rebuild from the war and had little money to spare, was not the best, and subscriptions lagged, so much so that the publication ceased in 1871.  The brothers indicated in its last issue that they thought a publication such as theirs was needed and desired, but that they had not succeeded in that enterprise.  They then thanked those who had supported them.

Burke's Weekly Title Page

Burke’s Weekly Title Page

The stories in the issues had plots, which although they were interesting to children, also often included moral lessons.Stories with a moral  Other stories, specifically aimed toward girls, included information on pursuits such as “keeping house” and helping their mothers with the household chores.  The activities of animals and children were often topics for stories, and the poetry was sometimes religious in nature, or had topics related to the seasons.

Poetry

Poetry

Issues also included a section called “Our Chimney Corner” which included riddles, and other puzzles.

Our Chimney Corner

Our Chimney Corner

Thanks to Dr. Park (and his father) for this volume.

Some Things Never Change: Advice for Students

As students graduate and get ready to leave Davidson, they all get plenty of advice.  Whether they’re going on for further formal education, going into their first “real” jobs, or taking a year to volunteer or travel… whatever they decide to do, they all get advice…solicited or not…from parents and other family members, friends, and their “Davidson Family.”  Faculty members who have been important in their lives are often sources of advice, and that hasn’t changed in the last two centuries, as seen in one of our Rare Book Room titles “Youth’s Friendly Monitor, or The affectionate school-master: containing his last pathetick farewell lecture to his young pupils, on their entrance into a busy world, and their diligent pursuit after new employments….”  This 60 page volume, a gift of Dr. William P. Cumming, class of 1921, was published in 1787 and was written by James Burgh (1714-1775), a London schoolmaster.

Burgh’s lecture began:

“The Time being now come, when you are to remove from under my Care and Direction, and to go into other Hands, which will soon send you out into the wide World, where you must struggle for yourself and either sink or swim, according as you are favoured by Providence, and conduct yourself prudently, or otherwise; I think it my Duty to add to the many Advices I have given you from Time to Time…”

 

His advice included the following:

There is nothing of so much Consequence toward gaining a handsome subsistence, and arriving at an early and comfortable Situation in the World, as constant Application to Business, and steady Pursuit of the Main Point.”

“Be on your Guard as to Amusements and Diversions, which, if too much indulged, will take you off your main Pursuits….”

“Do not depend wholly upon your own Judgment; but, in the Choice of a Friend, strive to find one who has the universal Approbation of his Acquaintance, for his Integrity and Discernment.”

He also advised that:

“When you know no Good you can say of a Person, whose Name you hear mentioned, to be quite silent.”

And, he recommends that a scholar continue pursuing

“useful and ornamental Knowledge,” which is “the very Food of the Mind, and except Virture and Piety, is the most truly valuable Acquisition.”

He also reminds students of the importance of philanthropy.

It is a fatal Error, though a common one, …for a Man of Wealth to spend his Riches wholly upon himself….”

 

Good advice in 1787, and still pretty good in 2017!

Studying in the Library: A Picture Post

Tomorrow is Reading Day, which means finals are just around the corner for Davidson College students. Students do their work in a variety of locations, although the library has always been a popular study spot – there have been four libraries throughout the history of the college: Union Library (a consolidation of the literary societies library collections in Old Chambers Building, 1861 – 1910), Carnegie Library (now the Carnegie Guest House, 1910 – 1941), Hugh A. and Jane Parks Grey Library (now the Sloan Music Center, 1941 – 1974), and E.H. Little Library (1974 – present). This week, we reflect on images of students studying in the library throughout the years:

Three students at a table in the Carnegie Library (now Carnegie Guest House), circa 1916.

A crowded studying scene in Carnegie Library, 1917.

Students working at a table in the old Davidsoniana room in Grey Library, date unknown.

A busy day in the reading room of Grey Library, circa 1960.

A more somber nighttime scene in the Grey Library reading room, circa 1960.

A student studies at a table in Grey Library (now Sloan Music Center) while wearing cowboy boots, 1968.

Students read in the Grey Library smoking lounge, date unknown.

A student reads in front of the large windows in Little Library, circa early 1970s.

A group of students gather at the circulation desk in Little Library, September 18, 1974.

Students study on the upper and lower levels of E.H. Little Library, 1977.

Three students work in an aisle of Little Library, circa early 1980s.

Two students study by a window on the first floor of Little Library, with Chambers visible in the background, 1980s.

A student uses the microfilm reader in Little Library, circa 1980s.

Two students use a computer in Little Library, circa 1993.

Good luck to all Wildcats on their final exams, papers, projects, and theses!

Welcome DebbieLee!

As we say goodbye to longtime Davidson fixture Jan Blodgett, who retires this month, we say hello to a new archivist – join us in welcoming DebbieLee Landi, the new College Archivist & Records Management Coordinator! DebbieLee began work two weeks ago, and I conducted a short interview with her to introduce Around the D readers to the newest member of our team:

You just began working at Davidson a few weeks ago – can you talk about your background in archival work and where you’ve worked before?

I was fortunate to attend the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada and gained a solid foundation in archival theory and practice while living (and playing) in one of the most beautiful and captivating cities in the world.  I have worked at two other private liberal arts colleges, Furman University and the University of the South, affectionately known as Sewanee.

What appealed to you most about the College Archivist & Records Management Coordinator position?

The quality of the established program that includes both the archival records for the College and Records Management.  I was already familiar with the work of the current archivist, Jan Blodgett, and when I visited campus, I was impressed with the expertise and talents of the other members of the department as well as the staff of the Little Library.  There were several students involved in my interview process and they, too, were exceptional, demonstrating a keen interest in the work of the department and asking insightful questions.

Beginning a new job can be a bit of a whirlwind, but do you have any favorite moments so far?

There are so many.  Each day I learn something new and receive warm and welcoming greetings from people all around campus.  In the E.H. Little Library, one of the greetings was a musical serenade performed by members of the staff (including an original song!).  Another very unexpected welcome was an anonymous donation in my honor to support the #allinforDavidson campaign.

The #AllinforDavidson campaign donation card that DebbieLee received.

What has surprised you about the college or the area?

The number of smiling, friendly faces and the beauty of the campus.

Are there any new initiatives or ideas that you’re hoping to implement here?

Augmenting the impressive work of the department with the integration of Archives & Special Collections resources in the curricula and expanding those initiatives to include programs such as Study Abroad and Service Odyssey.  Involving students as field agents and inviting guest curators to increase the involvement of the college community in building the archival record. Exploring the possibilities of a digital badging initiative and archival records as Open Education Resources … to share just a few ideas.

What are your hobbies when you’re not in the archives?

Trying new recipes and new restaurants and incorporating chocolate whenever possible!  Keeping up with Moxy, my canine companion, and the latest travels of Dr. Who.  Hiking and visiting state, national and provincial parks in search of waterfalls and secluded beaches.

Coffee Spice Cake

This installment of Recipes from the Archives comes from the Davidson Civic Club’s Davidson Cook Book (circa 1928), the source of some of our favorite archival recipes. Our library colleague, Sarah Crissinger, is departing Davidson for a new position at Indiana University as their Scholarly Communication Librarian, so I made Ruth Strickland Hengeveld and Kalista Wagner Hood’s “Coffee Spice Cake” for her going away party in library today.

The coffee spice cake on the snacks table during Sarah’s party, April 26, 2017.

As I’ve previously discussed on other Recipes from the Archives blogs, sometimes finding out information about women in Davidson prior to the latter half of the 20th century can be difficult – most of the cookbooks in our collection are town compilations, and the recipe contributors might only be referred to by their husband’s first and last name. This week’s subjects, listed as Mrs. Fred Hengeveld and Mrs. Frazier Hood, were particularly difficult to track down information on. However, between files on previous faculty members, alumni records, and some clips of local newspapers, I was able to piece together at least small parts of these two women’s stories.

Kalista Wagner Hood hailed from Water Valley, Mississippi, and came to Davidson in 1920 when her husband, Dr. Frazier Hood (1875 – 1944), took a position in the psychology department. Dr. Hood received a B.A. from Southwestern University (Tennessee), and went on to study at the University of Mississippi and Johns Hopkins University before receiving a Ph.D. from Yale University. Prior to joining the faculty at Davidson, Dr. Hood served as a first sergeant on the army psychology examining board during World War I and taught at Hanover College (Indiana), the University of Oklahoma, and West Tennessee Teachers’ College.

The Hoods married in 1903 and had one daughter in 1906, Kalista Hood Hart. The younger Kalista studied at St. Mary’s school in Raleigh, Le Femina in Paris, the Jessie Bonstelle School of Dramatics, and the American Academy of Dramatics and acted on Broadway before returning to Davidson and directing plays at the college. She married a Davidson alumnus, Walter Lewis Hart (Class of 1930), in 1945, and one of the upperclassmen apartment buildings on campus is named for the Harts.

Kalista Hood Hart and W. Lewis Hart are in the foreground of this group photo, taken at the 60th anniversary reunion for the class of 1930.

According to recollections written by Dr. Chalmers G. Davidson, in 1927 the Hoods “developed Davidson’s only approach to a ‘country seat.’ A mile from the college they purchased a magnificent wooded hill top and began construction of ‘Restormel,’ christened for a castle of the Hood forebears in England but connoting in the name the refuge from routine they intended despite the hurricane winds of the locality… For a lawn seat under the largest oak, they secured the first step of old Chambers Building (1859) when the portico was razed in 1927.” After her husband’s death. Mrs. Hood built a new home closer to the center of town, on Concord Road. Mrs. Hood attended Washington College in Maryland, and was an active member of the Booklovers’ Club, as well as contributing recipes to the Civic Club’s cookbook. She passed away in 1960.

“Restormel,” the Hood family home from the late 1920s until the late 1940s.

Ruth Strickland Hengeveld moved to Davidson in 1921, after marrying Fred W. “Dutch” Hengeveld (Class of 1918), who coached the basketball and baseball teams at the college in the early 1920s, and served as the college Registrar from 1922 until 1967 and as the Director of Admissions from 1946 to 1967. She hailed from Waycross, Georgia, which was also the hometown of her husband. The Hengevelds had two children, Virginia Hengeveld O’ Harra and Fred W. “Little Dutch” Hengeveld, Jr. (Class of 1951). The family lived on the corner of Concord Road and College Drive for many years, and Ruth Hengeveld passed away in 1970.

The Hengeveld family in 1963. From left to right: Mike O’Harra, Bill O’Harra, Fred W. Hengeveld III, Virginia Hengeveld O’Harra, Ruth Strickland Hengeveld, Anne Lowe Hengeveld, Fred W. Hengeveld, Fred W. Hengeveld, Jr., and Steve O’Harra.

Kalista Hood and Ruth Hengeveld’s coffee spice cake is a simple recipe, and its coffee flavor is subtle. It stood out from the other spice cake recipes in the cookbook due to the use of coffee – I brewed Cafe Britt’s Costa Rican Poas Tierra Volcanica blend for the 3/4 cup of cold coffee needed.

Hengeveld and Hood’s Coffee Spice Cake recipe, 1928.

Like many recipes from the Civic Club’s Davidson Cook Book, directions are sparse – since a baking temperature wasn’t given I set my oven for 350° and checked the cake every five minutes or so. Because I don’t have a good loaf pan, I used a sheet, which I think sped up the baking process since the cake was thinner. Overall, folks at Sarah’s going away party gave rave reviews – although the cake is very simple, it’s also very tasty!

The completed Coffee Spice Cake – very simple, but very tasty!

8th Annual Poetry Reading in the RBR

Tomorrow night, April 20th, at 8:00 we are celebrating National Poetry Month with our 8th annual Poetry Reading in the Rare Book Room of the E.H. Little Library.  Last year was great fun, and we’re looking forward to this year’s event. Davidson students, faculty members, and town poets —talented all—will read from their own works.  There will also be time afterwards for refreshments and chatting with the poets.

Hope to see you there!

Earth Day – Davidson Style

A recent donation from alumnus and environmental ethics leader Holmes Rolton III (class of 1953) raised the question of Davidson’s engagement with environmental issues including Earth Day.

Some of the dvds in a recent donation documenting Holmes Rolston III's work in environmental ethics.

Some of the dvds in a recent donation documenting Holmes Rolston III’s work in environmental ethics.

The annual celebrations of Earth Day began in 1970 and a few Davidson students made sure the college joined in that first year.

Headline and photo from 24 April 1970 Davidsonian

Headline and photo from 24 April 1970 Davidsonian

The students paired with the Union cafeteria to create a display of paper cups and litter, they also helped with trash clean up in town and passed out flyers encouraging people to drive their cars less. Their efforts met with some resistance. One faculty member declined to purchase a 40 cent  bumper sticker  (which said “Did you thank a green plant today?”) noting that he’d rather support the anti-war cause. Another questioned the rationale of putting anti-pollution stickers on polluting cars.  Undaunted, the students planned an environmental awareness teach-in with faculty and Congressman Nick Galifinakas.

The initial enthusiasm appears to have faded and in the next decade, Spring Frolics, Convocations, International Festivals, Easter breaks, and Alumni Weekends pushed Earth Day off campus calendars. Concerns over environmental issues grew again in the late 1980s, supported by Ruth Pittard in her role as program coordinator for the college union.  While not held on the official date, a 4-day Environmental Awareness Weekend was held April 5-8, 1989 with films, speakers and a repetition of the inaugural Earth Day’s display of campus trash.

Cover for Environmental Weekend program

Cover for Environmental Weekend program

With the formation of the Environmental Action Coalition (EAC) as a student organization, Earth Day returned to Davidson. Instead of losing out to competing events, the Earth Day organizers often joined forces with other groups to combine their events with Frolics and Community Service’s Into the Streets programming

1990 Earth Day trash display

1990 Earth Day trash display

27 April 1992 Davidsonian account of Earth Day.

27 April 1992 Davidsonian account of Earth Day.

1993 Earth Day joins with Spring Fling events

1993 Earth Day joins with Spring Fling events

In 1995, Earth Day becomes a part of community service via Into the Streets

In 1995, Earth Day becomes a part of community service via Into the Streets.

In the late nineties, Earth Day went solo but with a twist – other campus organizations began to participate.  The 1999 celebration had student organizations and town businesses setting up booths.  One unnamed group returned to the theme of discouraging car use asking people to stop driving for one week. Warner Hall helped people sign up to avoid junk mail. It also expanded into weeks and even Earth Month in 2005.

In 2002, the Physical Plant workers weighed in with an information ad in the Davidsonian.

Physical Plant sharing recycling numbers.

Physical Plant sharing recycling numbers.

In the same issue of the Davidson, an editorial “Earth Day + Fun = Kegs” raised the question of whether having kegs would be a more environmentally friendly approach to reduce Patterson Court trash.

In 2005,  Earth Day plus fun meant the first Green Ball hosted jointly by the EAC and the Davidson Lands Conservancy.

Beginning of 27 April 2005 article on the Green Ball

Beginning of 27 April 2005 article on the Green Ball

The inaugural Green Ball, featuring contra dancing and a silent auction, raised over $5000.   Still a popular event, the 2016 ball raised

The college proclaimed 2009 the Year of Sustainability, with a special Green Week happening in February rather than April. In 2012, Earth Day became part of Greenstock with information booths and student performers taking over the Union atrium.  In 2017,  EarthDay will spread beyond the campus as alumni chapters across the country join volunteer days for beach cleanups, recycling electronics, prepping community gardens and more.

 

Behind the scenes of the Presidential Portraits Tour

This week’s post was written by Caroline Turner ’17, a volunteer in the Davidson College Archives & Special Collections and a future archivist!

When I first heard the presidential portraits were getting moved out of the library, I was initially stunned and more than a little unnerved. How would I be able to work on the first floor without the presidents smiling down encouragingly (or glaring down ominously)? To me, the portraits represented Davidson’s leadership and tradition as well as the college’s arc through time. As a history and art history double major, I felt like the portraits held a special place all together on the library wall, watching all the students working (or socializing). But as I found out more about the project, I knew I wanted to get involved.

Former Presidential library corner

Former Presidential library corner

Portrait of Walter Lingle - holding students to higher standards.

Portrait of Walter Lingle – holding students to higher standards.

I work with Jan Blodgett in the Archives on the second floor of the library, and with Lia Newman in the College Art Galleries over in the VAC. By working in both environments, I had learned the tools of both trades, which would come in handy as I navigated between the art and the history. I was tasked with researching each president and his experience at Davidson and then writing the accompanying label for the portrait, including information about the president’s life and presidency, as well as tidbits about the artist and portrait itself. Each president would be given a new place of honor based on his personal legacy, and I would connect the place to the president in the label.

I worked from most recent president (Thomas Warren Ross), backwards. I began by pulling out each president’s clipping file from the archives and reading through. I expected to quickly find, somewhere near the back of the file, a summary of each president’s contributions to Davidson, perhaps with an announcement of his retirement. But as I opened each file, I found masses of information and I quickly forgot my plan to skip to the back. Often there were cautious announcements of the new president, clipped from The Davidsonian and The Charlotte Observer. Who was he? What will he do? What has his experience been? Then I found invitations to inaugurations, wrapped in tissue paper. Then came the pictures of each president at athletic events, the Cake Races, and speaking at Commencements. These middle pieces were filled with gems.

Tom Ross penned this Davidsonian article to introduce himself.

Tom Ross penned this Davidsonian article to introduce himself.

One of my personal favorite finds was a debacle resulting from President Bobby Vagt hosting a party for graduating seniors. The Charlotte Observer wrote an article titled “Beer, pizza at college bash? Yes, and president’s buying,” in which the author tsked tsked for a president caring more about being popular among, and having fun with, students than about being respected and attending to important college business. Comments streamed in supporting President Vagt, and admiring his dance moves. One local said parents should be grateful their children were attending parties with the “best qualified chaperone.” It was clear from the other notes and Davidsonian articles that I found in President Vagt’s file that the students held him in high regard.

 

Charlotte Observer headline

Charlotte Observer headline

President Vagt in a more serious pose

President Vagt in a more serious pose

 

Another fun moment for me was finding out that one of the portraitists never existed. When I got to Dr. Grier Martin’s portrait, I searched for information on the artist, Charles J. Fox. I found some scanty information on how he was a New York businessman and artist, but not a whole lot more. But then I found that Charles J. Fox was actually a pseudonym for Leo Fox, who was actually a New York businessman. He had photographs sent to him for portraits but then sent them right on to Irving Resnikoff, a Russian immigrant. Resnikoff was trained as an artist in St. Petersburg and left Russia in 1917 to go to New York City. He never met any of the people he depicted in portraits, which included many leading figures in government, including John F. Kennedy as well as our President Martin.

 

D. Grier Martin portrait.

D. Grier Martin portrait.

I also enjoyed delving deeper into the history of Davidson and realizing how different the College was in its earlier days. I had to blink when I read one quote from a student who said that Reverend John Rood Cunningham “possessed a magnetic presence when riding his horse” and I suppressed a chuckle when I read that President Morrison (who reigned over Davidson from 1836-1840) was in charge of corporal punishment of the 60 boys that attended. He accompanied his physical punishment with a long prayer for the penitence of the sinning boy. One source noted that many boys simply requested two beatings if they could skip the prayer.

Davidson's first president as painted by his daughter.

Davidson’s first president as painted by his daughter.

I found that poring over the presidencies gave each president a more individual life. No longer were they a row of former presidents scolding me for going on Facebook when I should be writing my history essay. Now I think of Reverend Cunningham when I pass by Belk, which was built during his presidency. I think of  the raving reviews of students and faculty alike of President Vagt’s “Donut Wednesdays” when I pass through Chambers lobby. I think of Dr. Kuykendall when a friend discusses their Dean Rusk grant, since the Dean Rusk Program was established under his leadership.

To me, the presidents have become individual leaders and representations of Davidson’s evolution. I hope that their placement and labels encourage students to learn more about the College’s history and connect more with each president. Hopefully the presidential portraits will no longer be just faces of presidents past, but instead will become individuals with stories and experiences that connect with current students, faculty, staff, and visitors.

Happy Retirement, Bill Giduz!

This week marks the retirement of Bill Giduz (Class of 1974), the roving campus Director of Photography & News Writer. Bill on his bike, trekking around campus in search of the best photos, has been a familiar sight to many Davidsonians throughout the years. Bill’s author biography for the Davidson Journal, written in 2014, describes him this way:

Bill Giduz’s association with Davidson began in 1970 when he enrolled as a freshman. Nine years later he attended his fifth reunion, learned of an opening in the communications department, and has now worked gratefully in that office for 34 years. He commutes on two wheels, juggles on Sunday afternoons and regularly plays basketball with much quicker young men.

He is also a joggler, as chronicled in the Huffington Post in 2015. While Bill is most familiar as the person behind the camera, this week’s blog reflects on his years at Davidson through another lens – pictures of Bill Giduz, rather than by Bill Giduz! Fortunately we have several images of Bill throughout his Davidson career in the archives:

The first image of Bill Giduz comes from the 1970 Wildcat Handbook, the freshman handbook at Davidson.

Just two years later, this is Bill as a sophmore in 1972 – one of the advantages (or disadvantages) of retiring from your alma mater is that there many pictures in the archives to draw upon.

Bill’s senior photo, in the 1974 Quips and Cranks.

Ten year alumni reunion for the Class of 1974, April 1984. Bill is on the far right.

Two images of Bill Giduz from the college’s personnel directory, 1983 – 1990.

Bill with Eugenia Deaton, then Vice President of First Union National Bank in Davidson, on the occasion of her birthday and retirement in 1985.

Rusk Scholars in 1986, pictured with their host families, including Bill and Ellen Giduz. Ellen is currently the manager of the Davidson and Cornelius branches of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, and previously worked at Davidson College as a librarian, visiting lecturer, and adjunct professor.

Davidson employees gather around a cake with icing spelling out “Congratulations Davidson, 2,007,481, 41.7%” at a Development retreat in 1986. Bill is seated far right, next to the cake.

The faculty/staff intramural basketball team in 1987. Bill is on the far left.

Undated (circa early 1980s) image of College Communications staff. Bill Giduz is in the front, and Melanie Bookout, John Slater, and Pat Burgess are in the back.

Personnel directory photographs of Bill, 1990 – 1996. A handwritten note on the back of these photos reads “Zoro!” [sic], likely a reference to the 1950s TV series.

College Communications staff in front of the Copeland House in 1990. From left to right: Jerry Stockdale, Bill Giduz, Pat Burgess, Barbara Mayer, Amy Burkesmith, Michele Miller, and Mike Van Hecke.

The most recent personnel directory photograph of Bill Giduz that we have in the archives is this one from 1996 – 1999.

Bill Giduz and Meg Kimmel stand with a student at the Belk Scholarship Awards Ceremony in 2000.

Bill Giduz has been a valued member of the staff of Davidson College for 37 years, and will continue to be a important part of the Davidson community – happy retirement, Bill!

First Annual North Carolina Debate Championships: a Window into the History of Debate at Davidson

45 years ago this week, March 24-25, 1972, the First Annual North Carolina Debate Championships were held at Wake Forest University. As A. Tennyson Williams, Jr., then Director of Debate at WFU, explained in a letter sent to debate team coaches and instructors around the state:

“Every debate school in North Carolina is invited to enter 2-man switch-side teams in varsity and/or novice (first year debaters) competition. There will be six rounds of eliminations beginning at the semi-final level (if there are enough teams to merit semi’s) in both divisions. Each school may enter 1 or 2 teams in each division. Please try to provide one qualified judge per 2 teams… I hope you will be able to enter some teams. North Carolina Championships could be an effective tool for building support for debate in the state and within your school.”

Davidson College has a rich tradition of debate, or as it was sometimes known, forensics. Eumenean and Philanthropic Literary Societies, founded in 1837, held both internal debates based on members’ research and formal debates with each other. Although the exact formation date of the official Debate Club on campus is unknown, Davidson students began competing in intercollegiate debate competitions in the 1890s and helped found the Intercollegiate State Oratorical Association in 1890.

A photograph of some debaters on the balcony of Philanthropic Hall circa 1915, from Roy Perry’s scrapbook.

The Debate Club was most active between 1909 and the beginning of World War II, before fading out as student interest waned for the next few decades. The Davidsonian reported on a string of debate wins in April 1924, pointing out that between 1909 and 1924, the college debate teams had entered thirty matches and won twenty of them. The headline of the April 17, 1924 edition of the paper read “Davidson Debaters Down Emory Stars at Queens,” and the lead story crowed about the college’s success:

The rebuttal showed Davidson’s superior strength… It was here that the debate was cinched and even the consensus of opinion of the audience was that Davidson had added another victory to her string of intercollegiate debating wins.
Earlier that month, The Davidsonian reported that Davidson and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill “met in what is believed to be the first inter-collegiate debate conducted in a foreign language in North Carolina. The entire debate was in Spanish.” Davidson debaters lost that one, but the volume of newspaper coverage demonstrates student body interest in the Debate Club.

The 1917-1918 debate teams, standing on the steps of Old Chambers. These student teams won debates with Lafayette College and Roanoke College.

However, despite all of the early interest in debate, much of this activity centered around extracurricular clubs and societies and was not necessarily supported by classroom work. The study of rhetoric had been offered from the beginning days of the college, although specific speech and debate courses did not get offered until 1912, when Archibald Currie, who also taught Latin, Greek, mathematics, political science, economics, and education, led the first course in public speaking. After 1920, Dr. Currie dropped his broad Renaissance man duties and retained only his appointments in political science and economics, and the public speaking course was dropped until the 1950s and then offered sporadically until the hiring of Jean Springer Cornell in 1971.

Jean Cornell with members of the debate team in 1976. From left to right: Nancy Northcott (Class of 1977), Eric Daub (Class of 1979), Maria Patterson (Class of 1979), Jimmy Prappas (Class of 1980), and Ellen Ogilvie (Class of 1978).

Jean Cornell taught speech and debate at Davidson from 1971 until 1987, and directed the department of forensics that would develop into part of today’s Communication Studies interdisciplinary minor. Cornell earned a BA from Ohio Wesleyan University, a MS in journalism from Northwestern University, and a MA in speech from University of Arizona, and taught speech and debate at the University of Arizona at Tucson and Scripps College before coming to Davidson. Cornell served in a leadership role in Delta Sigma Rho – Tau Kappa Alpha (the honorary forensics organization), coordinated Mecklenburg and the surrounding counties’ Bicentennial Youth Debaters in 1976, and served as the editor for the Journal of the North Carolina Speech Communication Association.

Cornell would be prove to be an extremely effective debate team coach, and it was she who received the letter in early 1972, asking for Davidson to join the First Annual North Carolina Debate Championships. The Davidson and Wake Forest teams won nearly all of the honors at these championships, with Davidson’s novice team of Les Phillips and Paul Mitchell (both Class of 1975) taking second place, and the varsity pairing of John Douglas (Class of 1974) and Rick Damewood (Class of 1975) tying for third with a team from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Phillips won first place honors individually in the novice division, and Douglas placed third individually for the varsity division. Both divisions debated the national intercollegiate topic of 1972: “Resolved: That greater controls should be imposed on the gathering and utilization of information on U.S. citizens by government agencies.”

Score sheets from the First Annual North Carolina Debate Championship in March 1972.

In late fall 1972, Cornell sent a memo to John M. Bevan, then Dean of Academic Affairs, detailing the debate program and its need for greater funds:

“Needless to say, the weak need not and do not apply. We have had the number one students in the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes as debaters… Due to our limited budget, several of the Extended Studies students have not been able to debate in these tournaments, and we have had to decline invitations to such prestigious schools as Princeton and Dartmouth… In two years (spring, 1974) we should have the manpower and proficiency to have our own tournament for neighboring high school students. Who knows what else we might do? Maybe even become a real power in college debate.”

Four members of the debate team stand behind trophies they won in 1975. From left to right: Gordon Widenhouse (Class of 1976), Paul Mitchell (Class of 1975), Mark Gergen (Class of 1978), and Randy Sherrill (Class of 1978).

Cornell built a successful debating program, and during the 1970s, Davidson was ranked consistently in the top 20 teams in the “small school” category nationally, and occasionally cracked the top 10. During the 1970s, Davidson debaters won their match-ups roughly 55-60% of the time, and Cornell grew the program through special debate workshops prior to the academic year, as well as through course credits. As part of her work coaching the Davidson debate team, she helped plan the North Carolina Debate Championships in 1978 when they were held on our campus.

Members of the 1976 debate team pose together for the picture. Back row, left to right: Steve Smith, Mark Gergen, Coach Jean Cornell, Robert Enright, and Mike Daisley; middle row: Unknown, Gordon Widenhouse, unknown, unknown; front row: Randy Sherrill, Ellen Ogilvie, Nancy Northcott, and Maria Patterson.

Jean Cornell retired from Davidson in 1987, moved to Arizona, and passed away in November 2015. Today, the Mock Trial Association carries on the tradition of hosting debate competitions, and the Communication Studies department has expanded its range of academic offerings beyond speech and debate to focus on interpersonal communication, public communication, and mass communication, but still hosts the Speaking Center.