Leisure

With the campus moving into summer mode, the idea –if not the reality–of leisure beckons.  The reality is that much of campus stays busy behind the scenes and that leisure has been an important topic for the archives all spring.

Once again, Professor Shireen Campbell found a creative way to introduce first-year writing students to the joys and perplexities of archival research.  Her WRI 101 class became contributors to the Davidson Encyclopedia through the topic of Leisure and Play. The class explored the theme in many ways looking at “who has been given or had the right to leisure and play as well as how these concepts are defined or constrained by age, class, race, and/or gender.” The course description continues:

Readings will range from Plato and Aristotle to Thorstein Veblen and scenes from Parks and Recreation.  Major projects will consider commercial representations of leisure, visions for and structures of local parks, analysis of student leisure at the college in the early 20th century, and non-profit attempts to “organize” leisure.

For the analysis of student leisure at Davidson, we picked a small range of topics and let the students delve into exploring and defining specific activities. They focused on the years between the 1860s and 1940s. Starting with sports, social events, religious life and clubs as the general topics, the final encyclopedia entries ended up being Arts and Communication Clubs, Dating at Davidson, Intramural Baseball, and the YMCA.

Within these entries, the class discovered the first student singers and the role that ROTC (decidedly not a leisure activity) played in developing more extracurricular activities such as concert and pep bands.

Early ROTC band - precursor to concert and football band

Early ROTC band – precursor to concert and football band

In an “only at Davidson” twist, one member of this group came across a continuous novel titled Caldwell Pharr Johnston, only then to discover that the title used the name of a real Davidson student, class of 1925 who was a grandfather of another member of the group.

Caldwell Pharr Johnston, class of 1925 and grandfather to a member of the class of 1919

Caldwell Pharr Johnston, class of 1925 and grandfather to a member of the class of 1919

The student working on early visual arts needed to get creative since artists were slow to organize -but quick to contribute sketches to yearbooks and newspapers. On the other hand, the religion group found so much material in the archives YMCA records that they focused on all the roles that group played on campus from orientation to scout troops to religious life and even finding ways to get young women on campus.

The Y's role on campus started with orientation and the first student handbooks.

The Y’s involvment with students started with orientation and the first student handbooks.

The sports group discovered that intramurals go way back– even before flickerball– and that they helped inspire a riot.  To find out more check out the latest entries and share in our thanks to a great professor and our newly minted researchers.

 

 

 

 

May Literary Birthdays

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

1. Walt Whitman                             A. Noon Wine
2. Robert Browning                        B. Society and Solitude
3. James M. Barrie                          C. The Winds of War
4. Katherine Anne Porter                D. The Diamond Cutters
5. Adrienne Rich                             E. The Divine Comedy
6. Dante                                          F. Good-bye My Fancy
7. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle               G. La Saisiaz
8. Ralph Waldo Emerson                H. The Little Minister
9. Herman Wouk                             I. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

 

Good-bye My Fancy

Good-bye My Fancy

La Saisiaz

La Saisiaz

Noon Wine

Noon Wine

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Society and Solitude

Society and Solitude

The Little Minister

The Little Minister

Answers: 1-F; 2-G; 3-H; 4-A; 5-D; 6-E; 7-I; 8-B; 9-C.

Color Our Collections: A Coloring Book of Images from the Davidson College Archives and Special Collections

Earlier this semester, a number of archives and special collections created coloring books featuring images from their collections, inspired by the New York Academy of Medicine and the Biodiversity Heritage Library’s #ColorOurCollections coloring fest. At the Davidson College Archives & Special Collections, we noticed the amazing coloring books on Twitter but hadn’t had time to put one together ourselves. However, when we received a copy of Wake Forest University’s Z. Smith Reynolds Library coloring book in the mail (courtesy of Chelcie Rowell – thanks Chelcie!), our student volunteer was intrigued and asked if she could work on a Davidson version.

Regular readers of Around the D will have already seen some of Caroline Turner’s (Class of 2017) work – the athletics timeline Caroline created was the subject of a recent blog post. Caroline has been volunteering in Archives & Special Collections since last September. Once she had completed the athletics timeline, Caroline combed through rare book and college publications, looking for images that could be decolorized and turned into candidates for the coloring book. She then wrote blurbs to go along with each image, explaining what it was and what part of the collection it hailed from.

The cover of Color our Collections: A Coloring Book of Images from the Davidson College Archives and Special Collections.

The cover of “Color our Collections: A Coloring Book of Images from the Davidson College Archives and Special Collections.”

While compiling the coloring book, Caroline found more images than she could use, so I’ll share the “extra” coloring panels here on the blog, with Caroline’s captions:

From the 1895 Quips and Cranks - Caroline's caption: ". The image of the College of Medicine opens the 1895 issue’s section on the students that were a part of the college, with a humorous message."

From Quips and Cranks – Caroline’s caption: “The image of the College of Medicine opens the 1895 issue’s section on the students that were a part of the college, with a humorous message.”

"The image of the page signaling the start to the athletics section featuring a track athlete is from the 1900 edition. The Davidson College Archives houses editions of Quips and Cranks from 1895 to the present."

“The image of the page signaling the start to the athletics section featuring a track athlete is from the 1900 edition. The Davidson College Archives houses editions of Quips and Cranks from 1895 to the present.”

"A decorative image from a Quips and Cranks issue."

“A decorative image from a Quips and Cranks issue.”

"This image is from a decal from an artifact from the Special Collections."

“This image is from a decal from an artifact from the Special Collections.”

You can download the “extra” coloring panels from this post, and the whole coloring book to print at home here, or pick up a copy in E.H. Little Library – while finals are going on, we’ve been putting out copies of the coloring book in the lobby downstairs!

National Bike Month

1984 Wildcat shows off pedaling skills.

1984 Wildcat shows off pedaling skills.

Taking advantage of May being (among other things) National Bike Month, Around the D will take a spin through the history of bicycles on campus.  The first mention of bikes comes in 1892 but points to two-wheelers appearing on campus earlier.  The Locals column in the February Davidson Monthly reported” “Bicycles are becoming rather abundant at Davidson after an absence of several years. Even our business men are beginning to use them for riding from their places of business to their homes.”  In the 1890s, the state of roads in Davidson was bumpy to say the least – the first paved roads didn’t happen until 1899.

Indeed, biking conditions prevented students and business men from taking up a challenge from a neighboring town.  As reported in the October 1894 issue:

The “Bike” craze struck the town with full force this summer, and although the place isn’t flooded with wheels, there are a good many enthusiasts. We understand that Mooresville has given Davidson a challenge for a race, but as there is no good track here, the challenge will probably go unaccepted. There is some talk of the construction of a track. If this is obtained, Mooresville will most probably regret her challenge.

Club page from 1895 Quips and Cranks

Club page from 1895 Quips and Cranks

Student and faculty bikers in 1895 were happy to poke a little fun at themselves – and their biking prowess —

1895 Advertisement

1895 Advertisement

while an advertisement in the same Quips and Cranks provides a reminder of changing technologies with the W. E. Shaw Harness Company expanding from reins, bridles and straps to pedals, tires, and handlebars.

1897 Quips and Cranks

1897 Quips and Cranks

Two years later, the yearbook cartoon reflected one of the social values of biking — the opportunity for Davidson students to spend time with young ladies.  And young ladies were biking:

The latest addition to Davidson “bicycle union” is Miss Julia Holt. She has presented herself with a Crescent, ‘97 model, and is learning to ride very fast, as she can be seen through the parlor window, in the afternoon, spinning back and forth at a lively rate. She begins by giving her wheel a special course of “indoor training.” [Davidson Monthly, January 1897]

Bicycle Club in 1900

Bicycle Club in 1900

In 1900, the club’s good humor came in the form of restyling themselves as a Corps with military sounding titles for officers and members being dubbed “Privates.”  The faculty usually listed as honorary members, were given a page to themselves.

Biking faculty in 1900

Biking faculty in 1900

Dr. Henry Louis Smith, physics professor and college president, appears on the lists and later received special attention for bringing one of the first motorcycles to town (in 1911, post  at least some road-paving).

Mentions of bikes disappear from the college records after 1900 – perhaps they had become too commonplace to notice.  A mention is made in 1941, when the town government, prompted by the Civic Club, decided to turn a street into a playground:

Every Thursday afternoon between 2:30 and 5:00pm a section of Woodland Street between Concord Street and the home of Dr. W. P. Cumming will be blocked off as a playground. Just recently has the pavement been extended on Woodland Street. This section is an ideal playground for the youngster. Here they may skate and ride their bicycles, wagons, and with the snows of winter their sleds, rocking chairs, and dishpans will glide down the gentle slope at the end of the street in safety. It was decided that that on Thursday there would be less use of the street. This step to provide our children with a healthier, happier and safer playground was done by the official action of the town board. [Davidsonian, 13 November 1941, p6]

The Civic Club expanded their interest in biking to road safety in 1951.  A special 2-day drive was held in town with visits by state and county highway department staff and demonstrations of traffic dangers.  The Civic Club’s booth passed out safe driving pledge cards for drivers and biker riders.

Biking from Belk in 1982

Biking from Belk in 1982

Although Davidson’s campus is fairly compact, students have come to rely on bikes for quick trips from dormitories to classes.

Mime biker

Mime biker

Or to Halloween parties – as Peter Tavemise did in 1986.

Anthony Foxx, class of 1993

Anthony Foxx, class of 1993

Or as a future Secretary of Transportation did.

Paula Davis turning bikes yellow.

Paula Davis turning bikes yellow.

A century after bikes came to campus, Davidson Outdoors started supporting biking, offering outings, and bike repair workshops. They also started the Yellow Bike program. Bright yellow bikes were placed around campus for students to use as needed. One student could ride a bike to Chambers, then another could take it to the Union.  The bikes met with hard times and some ungentle riders. They were retired and briefly replaced by Red Bikes.

Davidsonian article announcing red bikes program 25 January 2001

Davidsonian article announcing red bikes program 25 January 2001

In 2016, there are no community bikes but plenty of bikes filling up bike racks in front of dormitories and classrooms and even the library.

Bicycle and bricks and books - perfectly Davidson

Bicycle and bricks and books – perfectly Davidson

 

 

Looking Back (and Forward) to Archives Month

Every October is American Archives Month and North Carolina Archives Month, and here at the Davidson College Archives & Special Collections we’ve been celebrating the occasion in some way or another for the past seven years. However, for Archives Month 2015 we decided to really commit to Archives Month and experiment with some new methods of outreach and new collaborations. We’re a small shop (3 FTE), so I figured sharing our planning process and evaluating our activities at this halfway point between October 2015 and October 2016 might be useful for other archivists considering participating in Archives Month next year.

The 2015 North Carolina Archives Month theme was “Celebrating Archives: North Carolina Arts, Crafts, and Music Traditions,” so our first step was to sit down and consider what materials we have related to arts, crafts, and music in North Carolina. That led to planning one of our earliest events in the month, Mandolin Madness on October 5th.

Flyer advertising Mandolin Madness.

Flyer advertising Mandolin Madness.

Mandolin Madness featured biology professor Dr. Karen Hales and Davidson alumnus Mike Orlando (Class of 2001) playing a mix of traditional bluegrass and more modern Southern songs in the Rare Book Room. The concert was preceded by a brief talk by College Archivist Jan Blodgett on the history of music at Davidson, and a small display of music and music-related materials from the archives. About 30 people attended, and we have been told by many that we need to repeat this event in the future.

We don’t have very rich art collections in our archives, but we do have art galleries on campus, so I began conversations with the director of those galleries, Lia Newman, over the summer. Lia was completely on board to collaborate, and suggested that we have a month-long show on North Carolina artists in the college’s collections, curated by current students. That resulted in the Archives Month Art Show, curated by Kate Hall and Lee Summerell (both Class of 2016), which hung in the lobby of Chambers Building in October. Kate and Lee selected six works, focusing on (according to the panel text they wrote) “primarily on artists who lived, worked, or studied in North Carolina. North Carolina has a rich history of artistic excellence. In the 1930s through the 1950s, the Black Mountain College hosted many prominent figures in the development of Modern Art. Josef Albers served on the college’s faculty where he taught Robert Rauschenberg and helped shape his later artistic theory.” In addition to pieces by Albers and Rauschenberg, the show included works by long-time Davidson College art faculty member Herb Jackson (Class of 1967), William Ferris (Class of 1964), and two Charlotte-area artists, Ce Scott and Juan Logan.

A panoramic shot of the lobby of Chambers during the Archives Month Art Show.

A panoramic shot of the lobby of Chambers during the Archives Month Art Show.

Lia Newman also suggested that we host a panel on art and archives, which would tie-in well with the exhibition running in the art galleries from September 10th through October 25th – Regina José Galindo: Bearing Witness. I put together and moderated a panel entitled “Art, Archives & Documentation” that featured Lia Newman (Director and Curator of the Art Gallery), Dr. Alison Bory (Assistant Professor and Chair of the Dance Department), and Dr. Jan Blodgett (College Archivist). That panel, held in the art galleries on October 21st, preceded performances by three Charlotte-based performance artists (John W. Love, April Marten, and Jon Pritchard). Although attendance was only a handful of people, the conversation was rich and feedback from the small audience was very positive.

Flyer for Art, Archives & Documentation on October 21st.

Flyer for Art, Archives & Documentation on October 21st.

In addition to planning new outreach initiatives based on the theme for North Carolina Archives Month, we also experimented with two new ideas outside of the theme that met with varied degrees of success. When I was training international student orientation leaders for a nighttime glow-in-the-dark campus history tour in August 2015, I kept on being told that the students wanted to hear more stories about Davidson College’s past. “Why haven’t we been told about this before?” one student demanded, when I explained the 1854 student rebellion. Their eagerness to learn more sparked an idea, and our department decided to plan a monthly archival storytime – Stories from the Archives kicked off on October 1st. We aimed to hold the event the first Thursday of every month, with stories provided from Archives & Special Collections staff and students, faculty, and community members who had done research on Davidson’s past. The storytime atmosphere was enhanced by a donation of carpet squares for listeners to sit on, given by Drew Kromer (Class of 2019).

Flyer for the second Stories from the Archives.

Flyer for the second Stories from the Archives.

While I still believe that Stories from the Archives was a good idea, we discontinued the series after three months due to low attendance. I’d love to relaunch it in the future, but we need to re-tool how we advertise and plan the event, and potentially hold it once or twice a year instead of monthly.

We also chose to launch a departmental Instagram account during Archives Month, which has been much more successful. We now have received a number of reference questions based on Instagram posts, and are able to reach current students and alumni in a new way. This semester, the Instagram account garnered a new kind of student attention – after a class visit to the Archives & Special Collections, students in Dr. Amy Kohout’s ENV 340: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral asked to take over our account for a week, in order to promote their class pop-up exhibit. ENV 340’s posts are currently populating the Davidson Archives Instagram until May 3rd!

While planning new events and new forms of outreach, we also stuck with some tried and true methods – we held Ghosts in the Library for the 7th year in a row, participated in #AskAnArchivist Day on October 1st,  and I wrote a blog about a seminal figure in the Music department’s history, James Christian Phofl. The blog also served as a collaboration of sorts – I ran my early drafts by music professor Dr. Neil Lerner, who had done research on Pfohl before and provided helpful tips. Ghosts in the Library, an annual night of telling of ghost stories in the Rare Book Room, had its usual excellent attendance – roughly 30 people showed up to hear ghoulish tales.

As we look forward to Archives Month 2016, our department learned a few lessons from last year:

  1. Throw things at the wall and see what works: Several of our initiatives were new ones, and turned out quite well – Mandolin Madness, the Archives Month Art Show, and the Instagram account all had excellent returns on our investment of time.
  2. Don’t be afraid of failure: Stories from the Archives and Art, Archives & Documentation both suffered from low turnouts. While both events were enjoyed by those who attended, we need to evaluate if the problem with these events was that the concepts didn’t appeal to the Davidson audience, or whether they could be advertised better.
  3. Plan well in advance: Some of our attendance pitfalls may have been mitigated if we had planned better – perhaps flyering in the dorms, or making announcements to classes who visited the Archives & Special Collections in the weeks prior. We also potentially could have sought funding for food, which can be a draw – none of our events or initiatives had any cost other than staff time.
  4. Reach out to new people or groups for collaborations. One of my favorite parts of Archives Month 2015 was working with the art galleries – we hadn’t previously done much collaboration with them, but the theme for North Carolina Archives Month gave me a good reason to seek out a partnership with the director. Archives Month can be a great foot in the door for folks you want to work with but haven’t had a chance to yet.
  5. You don’t have to do everything during Archives Month: In some ways, we bit off more than we could chew during Archives Month 2015 – planning four events, coordinating one art show, writing one Archives Month-themed blog, participating in #AskAnArchivist Day, and launching a new social media account was a lot to take on while we all continued our regular duties. Some of our most successful outreach events this academic year actually took place outside of Archives Month (such as this month’s Race At Davidson panel, a collaboration between the Archives and the Tau Omicron chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha), and sometimes it will make more sense to plan an outreach initiative to align with an institutional anniversary or the availability of collaborators. October is Archives Month, but any and every month can be archives outreach month.

 

April Literary Birthdays

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

1. William Shakespeare                    A. Lyrical Ballads
2. Washington Irving                        B. The Ambassadors
3. William Wordsworth                    C. Villette
4. Seamus Heaney                            D. The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon
5. Henry James                                 E. An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews
6. Isak Dinesen                                 F. The Sheltered Life
7. Thornton Wilder                           G. The Comet at Lullwater
8. Charlotte Bronte                          H. The Bridge of San Luis Rey
9. Henry Fielding                              I. Seven Gothic Tales
10. Ellen Glasgow                             J. Hamlet

 

Hamlet

Hamlet

Lyrical Ballads

Lyrical Ballads

The Ambassadors

The Ambassadors

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon

Villette

Villette

Answers: 1-J; 2-D; 3-A; 4-G; 5-B; 6-I; 7-H; 8-C; 9-E; 10-F.

Once Upon a Timeline

Readers of Around the D get to be our test audience for a new timeline on the Archives and Special Collections site.  Thanks to the diligent and creative work of  student volunteer and student athlete, Caroline Turner ’17, we are launching a history of athletics at Davidson through a timeline with photographs and brief descriptions.

Caroline Turner using her J S Timeline skills

Caroline Turner ’17 using her TimelineJS skills.

The timeline includes the obvious — first football game, flickerball and 2008 March Madness– and some fun bits, like our year with 7 sets of twins playing on varsity teams.  We invite you to explore the timeline and remember we have more on sports in the Davidson Encyclopedia –feel free to explore there as well. Let us know –what more needs to be included (comments to Archives@davidson.edu are fine).

To whet your enthusiasm, try this quiz:

Is this the live cat from the 1920s or 1960s?

Is this the live cat from the 1920s or 1960s?

 

What year was the Athletic Association founded?

What year was the Athletic Association founded?

 

What year did these guys take to the college diamond.

What year did these guys take to the college diamond?

 

What's special about this team?

What’s special about this team?

New Tag Game: Picture Post of Davidson’s Most Unique Sport

Flickerball is a uniquely Davidson sport – first invented on campus in the fall of 1951, flickerball was originally called tag football or tag game. As an article in the October 12, 1951 issue of The Davidsonian states, tag football’s “only resemblance to actual football is the ball.” This new tag game combined some rules of basketball and tag football, and evolved over the years from a fraternity-dominated pastime to an intramural sport played by nearly all Davidson College freshmen on dormitory hall teams.

“Greeks End Week of New Tag Game,” in The Davidsonian, October 12, 1951.

As an article by Jack Efird in the October 5, 1951 Davidsonian says, “This fall a new type of football will be introduced onto the intra-fraternity gridiron. Because of numerous injuries incurred last year and in past years, touch football has been dropped from play and tag football has been substituted.” The Davidsonian faithfully covered flickerball games weekly over the fall season from the inaugural championship in 1951 (won by the Kappa Alpha team) until the mid-1980s.

While the game was created with the intention of being safer than football, flickerball has still resulted in some gnarly injuries, as illustrated in the November 10, 2010 Davidsonian article, “Flickerball: Freshman fun or blood sport?” Author Sarah Welty points to the change from flag to touch play as a possible reason for the increase of injuries in “the part football, part ultimate Frisbee hybrid we all know and love.”

This week, we thought we’d share some of the images we have of this Davidson sport being played and practiced throughout the years.

From the back of a photograph in our collections: "Flickerball - The Davidson Brand of Touch Football."

From the back of a photograph in our collections: “Flickerball – The Davidson Brand of Touch Football.”

The Phi Delta Theta fraternity flickerball team, champs of the 1959-1960 season.

The Phi Delta Theta fraternity flickerball team, champs of the 1959-1960 season.

A group of students play flickerball behind the Sigma Alpha Episilon house on Patterson Court, 1964.

A group of students play flickerball behind the Sigma Alpha Episilon house on Patterson Court, 1964.

Two members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon team play flickerball, fall 1974.

Two members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon team play flickerball, fall 1974.

Fall 1974, the caption on this photo reads: "Girl's Flickerball - Zoo vs. Thesty."

Fall 1974, the caption on this photo reads: “Girl’s Flickerball – Zoo vs. Thesty.”

A group of Davidson students play flickerball, fall 1975.

A group of Davidson students play flickerball, fall 1975.

Davidson students play fickerball even in the rain! The caption on the reverse of this photograph reads: "Social life. Flickerball in rain, Sept. '77."

Davidson students play flickerball even in the rain! The caption on the reverse of this photograph reads: “Social life. Flickerball in rain, Sept. ’77.”

A group of students play flickerball, circa 1980s.

A group of students play flickerball, circa 1980s.

Students practice their flickerball skills, fall 1984.

Students practice flickerball, fall 1984.

Susan MacDonald (Class of 1986) throws the ball in a flickerball game, circa 1984.

Susan MacDonald (Class of 1986) throws the ball in a flickerball game, circa 1984.

Members of the Rusk House team huddle, fall 1985.

Members of the Rusk House team huddle, fall 1985.

The caption on the back of this photograph reads: Flickerball - Fall '85 - Rusk - Lillean Woo - '86." One student pictured is Lillian Grace Woo (Class of 1986).

The caption on the back of this photograph lets us know that the players huddling are on the 1985 Rusk House flickerball team, including Lillian Grace “Beadsie” Woo (Class of 1986).

Davidson students honing their flickerball skills, circa 1990.

Davidson students honing their flickerball skills, circa 1990.

Connor House, one of the college eating houses, fields a team for the 1995 flickerball season.

Connor House fields a team for the 1995 flickerball season.

While flickerball is a fall sport, with the coming of lovely spring weather Davidsonians may want to venture outdoors to practice their “new tag game” skills!

Searching for Jane

No cookies this week but a little more on researching aspects of women’s lives–this time looking for Jane Austen in the college’s curriculum. Given that full coeducation came late to Davidson (unofficially co-eds have been on the scene since the 1850s, officially since the 1970s ), it would not be surprising to find women writers, including Austen, slow to appear on class reading lists.

A little searching turned up that should Davidson students in 1888 have made it to Chapter 6 “Our First Great Novelists” in their assigned textbook Nicoll’s Landmarks of English Literature, they would have encountered some faint praise of her work. Naming her “a greater novelist” than either Fanny Burney or Miss Edgeworth, Nicoll brief summary of her work concludes “In her chosen walk of fiction,  truthful pictures of the 0rdinary, middle-class society we see around us, Miss Austen has not equal; and the extent to which she succeeds in interesting us in her annals of humdrum, commonplace English life is the highest tribute to her genius.”

Title page for English textbook used in 1880s and 1890s.

Title page for English textbook used in 1880s and 1890s.

English literature first invaded the classical curriculum of Davidson in the 1870s; John Milton and Francis Bacon opened the way to survey classes for prose and poetry; Shakespeare soon earned classes of his own.  By the 1930s, the English department had expanded sufficiently in number of faculty and course listings to provide students with deeper encounters with novelists.

1929 Catalog listing announcing the new course The English Novel to Hardy.

1929 Catalog listing announcing the new course The English Novel to Hardy.

Changing course numbers and faculty (James Purcell succeeded William Cumming), the English Novel to Hardy remained a department fixture into the 1970s.  Purcell added to the number of women writers being taught with his Women in American Fiction course introduced in 1973. The course readings included both male and female writers while focusing on women as characters. Four years later, Assistant Professor Georgiana Ziegler offered a course focusing on women as writers.

1977 course description returning Austen to the classroom.

1977 course description returning Austen to the classroom.

The course description identifying the instructor as “Miss Ziegler” was not a slight but a reflection of the era when all faculty were listed as Mr. or Miss. A decade later, Ziegler’s replacement in the course was Ms. Mills, who kept women writers before students into the 1990s.

Ziegler and students in an outdoor class session - perhaps discussing the English countryside of Austen

Ziegler and students in an outdoor class session – perhaps discussing the English countryside of Austen

The British Novel returned to the curriculum by 2000 and in 2001-02 the list of advanced English seminars included ENG 472 Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy: Sex, Politics and the Novel.

In 2010, Austen jumped from the confines of English into Theatre with a production of Pride and Prejudice.

Playbill for fall 2010 production

Playbill for fall 2010 production

This search for Austen was not exhaustive. Despite the best efforts of archivists to document curriculum, there are limitations.  At Davidson, we have a full run of catalogs which provide listings of course titles and brief descriptions but very few syllabi before 1994.  If the course listing doesn’t name an author, we can’t know for certain what was taught. Fortunately for this search, our catalogs are online and searchable. And another library has done the work of digitizing Nicoll’s Landmarks, giving us a way to look at what the students of the era saw.

We might have a notion of what students thought about Austen but the literary magazines of the day are not quite as accessible yet.  If the Davidson Monthly has articles on Austen, it will take a longer and slow search to find them!

 

 

Beacon Hill Cookies

When we began our Recipes from the Archives blog series a year ago, the Archives & Special Collections team had a few aims: we wanted to experiment with a new way of making our archival collections accessible and interesting, and we (well, mostly me) wanted to learn more about historic cooking and connect with small town southern culture. But it wasn’t lost on us that the vast majority of the recipes in our collections come from women – in fact, shining a spotlight on the women of Davidson was an explicit goal. March is Women’s History Month, so it’s an excellent time to reflect on how our archival cooking experiment has been going since the first entry in March 2015 (Ice Box Pudding #1), and share some of the research challenges we’ve encountered.

For this week’s recipe, I revisited the 1965 The Village Cook Book: Recipes from the P.T.A. Pantry, Davidson, North Carolina and selected Elizabeth Proctor’s “Beacon Hill Cookies.” The members of Davidson’s Parent-Teacher Association gathered recipes from women in the town and compiled a cookbook as a fundraiser for an American flag for the auditorium and a recorder and filmstrips for the library of Davidson Elementary School.

"PTA Cookbooks To Buy School American Flag," from the February 25, 1965 issue of the Mecklenburg Gazette.

“PTA Cookbooks To Buy School American Flag,” from the February 25, 1965 issue of the Mecklenburg Gazette.

The PTA’s Village Cookbook was organized by and contributed to solely by women, and one of the challenges our team faces when selecting recipes is figuring out who each individual woman was. If she was married, the recipe-contributor is generally referred to by her husband’s last name and first and middle initials. Many of the women active in town organizations that compiled cookbooks were wives of faculty members, and their records are the easiest to uncover – we have employment records and reference files for all past faculty members, which often includes information about and pictures of the faculty member’s spouse. We have other sources to gather further information about spouses of faculty members, as well as women living in the town who had no employment connection to Davidson College – the published histories of the town and college (Cornelia Shaw’s Davidson College, Mary Beaty’s A History of Davidson College, and Jan Blodgett and Ralph Levering’s One Town, Many Voices) often includes stories about women whose names crop up in our cookbooks, and if the individual was active in town clubs or societies, we can often learn more about her through the manuscript records we have from the town Civic Club, Senior Center, or one of the town book clubs.

In the case of this week’s recipe-submitter, Elizabeth Proctor, information was harder to find. The Proctor family collection consists of two letters, one to Elizabeth from her mother, and one from her brother G.D. Proctor to their mother. There is not a lot of information about the family – we know that members of the family lived on South Main Street from roughly 1919 until at least 1965. Elizabeth’s name did not come up in any of my searches through town club rosters, or in any of the Davidson histories.

G.D. Proctor's letter to his mother in Davidson, October 1941.

G.D. Proctor’s letter to his mother in Davidson, October 1941.

The two letters themselves also do not reveal much information – G.D.P. sent a letter to his mother from the Veteran’s Hospital in Roanoke, Virginia on October 8, 1941. The letter contains interesting tidbits about war games across North Carolina in advance of the U.S.’s entry into World War II, and contains references to his sister, Elizabeth:

“I hope Lizzie can get my book – tho I doubt that it can be found, since more than 100 years have elapsed since it was published. I received the magazine that Lizzie sends me – and am glad to get it… Lizzie stated that you had trouble with your head in the mornings. Writes, GDP Received Lizzie’s letters”

The other letter in our collection is from Mrs. Proctor to Elizabeth, sent April 16, 1951 from Alexandria, Virginia. The contents of the letter concerned buying clothing for Elizabeth, and Elizabeth’s health – her mother mentions a fever and the cold weather possibly being to blame.

The envelope from the April 1951 letter from Mrs. Proctor to Elizabeth.

The envelope from the April 1951 letter from Mrs. Proctor to Elizabeth – note the P.O. box, as going to the town post office to collect mail has remained a tradition in Davidson today.

Outside of these letters, we know very little about the Proctor family. The 1920 census tells us that Elizabeth’s parent’s were Adolphus R. and Phinny R., and her father worked as a carpenter. The rest of the family consisted of her older brother Shirley R., and younger siblings Cynthia E., Dewy G. (likely the G.D.P. from the letter in our collections), Janice M., Sidney E., and Helen C. All family members were listed as being born in North Carolina, and Elizabeth and Cynthia both gave their occupations as teachers at the “graded school.” By 1930, the census only records Adolphus, Phinny, Elizabeth, Janice, and Sidney as living in Davidson, and Elizabeth no longer listed a profession. Elizabeth was 32 in 1930, making her probable birth year 1898.

Other news that made it into town/college newspapers and notes from Mary Beaty’s A History of Davidson College: Sidney Proctor made the fifth grade honor roll in 1919; in November 1922, Elizabeth’s younger sister Helen participated in a Girl Scouts entertainment; in March 1923 Elizabeth visited “friends and relatives in Denver” (likely Denver, North Carolina, from The Davidsonian); and in 1926 Helen Proctor attended “Eastern Carolina Training School at Greenville, SC” (Also from The Davidsonian, possibly referring to the forerunner of East Carolina University, the East Carolina Teachers Training School in Greenville, NC). Records of the Davidson College Presbyterian Church list Elizabeth and a Mrs. G.D. Proctor as members. We also came across references to the family phone number through copies of Southern Bell Telephone Company records.

Miss Elizabeth Proctor's recipe for Beacon Hill Cookies.

Miss Elizabeth Proctor’s recipe for Beacon Hill Cookies.

I chose to make Elizabeth Proctor’s recipe for Beacon Hill Cookies from the PTA cookbook because I was intrigued by the title of the cookie – I used to live in Boston, and worked in Beacon Hill for nearly two years. Unfortunately, I ran into similar dead ends when exploring the history of Beacon Hill Cookies as when our team was investigating the Proctor family. It was difficult to track down references to the recipe and its history, although my coworker Sharon Byrd did find a mention of  Nabisco producing a cookie called “Beacon Hill” on the Cambridge Historical Society’s “The History of Candy Making in Cambridge” page. It’s likely that the Nabisco Beacon Hill Cookies are the same or similar to the recipe that Elizabeth Proctor was making in Davidson.

My Beacon Hill Cookies, in a Tupperware and on a plate.

My Beacon Hill Cookies, in a Tupperware and on a plate.

Beacon Hill Cookies are very easy to make – the meringue style cookies have very few ingredients and a short baking time. I used walnuts as the chopped nuts in my version, since Elizabeth Proctor’s recipe doesn’t specify a type of nut. My cookies turned out very flat, so I think I didn’t beat the egg white-sugar mixture for a long enough period of time. However, despite being flat and misshapen, the Beacon Hill Cookies do taste very good!

I hope that sharing our research process and the lack of information about some of the townswomen in Davidson illustrated a point – writing women’s history and telling women’s stories often requires reading against the grain and looking for references to women and their lives in unexpected places. While the Davidson College Archives & Special Collections often has rich materials on local women, particularly spouses of faculty members who were active in the local book clubs, finding out information about women of color, unmarried women, and women not active in town organizations can be difficult or impossible. For all our work digging up references to the Proctor family, we still don’t know when Elizabeth Proctor passed away, or any details of her life before her family moved to Davidson (circa 1919). The Recipes from the Archives blog series has certainly served as a way for me to learn more about women in Davidson from the 1920s until the 1990s, and to learn more about how food was made during that time period, and I hope it’s done the same for our readers!