Library Directors of the Past, Present, and Future: Welcome Lisa Forrest!

On July 1, Lisa Forrest of Hamilton College will become the second Leland M. Park Director of the Library and Davidson College’s fifth Library Director since its founding in 1837.

Portrait of a white business woman with short blonde hair in a gray blazer and purple blouse against a light blue background.

Lisa Forrest

Forrest’s career prior to Davidson includes service as the director of research and instructional design for Hamilton College’s Burke Library and as an associate librarian at SUNY Buffalo’s E.H. Butler Library.  Ms. Forrest has been honored with the Excellence in Library Service Award from the Western New York Library Resources Council and as a fellow of the EDUCAUSE Leading Change Institute.

As Davidson College and other elite institutions of higher learning explore the future of facilities built around books in the digital era, Forrest’s expertise in both traditional and experimental models of teaching, learning, and research in the liberal arts will be of great service.

Past Library Directors of Davidson College

Sketched portrait of a woman in early 1900s attire, reads: "MISS CORNELIA SHAW LIBRARIAN AND REGISTRAR A faithful friend and true advisor to every college man"

Cornelia Rebekah Shaw, 1907-1936.

The Library Director position was inaugurated by Cornelia Rebekah Shaw, who was elected “Librarian and Registrar at a salary of $900.00 per annum” on May 28, 1907. Shaw’s twenty-nine year career on campus was notable in many respects–she was the college’s first woman employee, first librarian, first registrar, and first secretary to the President. She was well respected by all on campus and her hospitable service to the library made her well-known as every student’s best friend. In fact, the college yearbook Quips and Cranks, was dedicated to Miss Shaw in 1912. During her time, Shaw oversaw the movement of the library’s collection of little more than 10,000 volumes from the “Union Library” room in Chambers  to the Carnegie Library, which has served as a guest house since 1942. Shaw’s history of the school, Davidson College, was published in 1923 with a foreword from College President Henry Louis Smith (1901-1912) and can be found in the Davidson College Special Collections.

Portrait of Chalmers Gaston Davidson smiling in from of a campus building, appears to be either Phi or Eu Halls. Black and white.

Chalmers Gaston Davidson, 1936-1975.

Following Miss Shaw’s retirement in 1936, Davidson College’s longest serving Library Director began service: Chalmers Gaston Davidson ’28. Affectionately known across campus as “Dr. D,” Davidson was the college’s first professional librarian, he earned his Master’s in Library Science from the University of Chicago in 1936. When Dr. D’s career began, the library was very small and not the hub of student life as it is known today. The collection was a mere 39,000 volumes, the annual materials budget was $3,500, and there was only one other employee: assistant librarian, Miss Julia Passmore. However, barring the years Dr. Henry Lilly took over the position whilst Davidson served in WWII, Davidson revolutionized the library space, including overseeing the move to the Grey Memorial Library in 1941. Not only was Davidson also a member of the college History department, but by 1961, he had grown the annual library budget to $41,000. Perhaps Dr. D’s success was in his blood, given that he was a direct descendant of William Lee Davidson, the college’s namesake.

Headshot of a laughing man wearing glasses, black and white.

Leland M. Park ’63, 1975-2006.

The 1974-1975 school year brought much change to the Davidson library: Dr. D retired, Leland M. Park ’63 became the new Library Director, and the E.H. Little Library was dedicated in September of 1974. Park earned his Library Sciences degrees from Emory University and Florida State University before serving as Library Director for 31 years. At his retirement in 2006, the Quips and Cranks yearbook staff elected to dedicate their volume to Park and his service to the school and the Library Director position was named in his honor.

Portrait of Gillian Gremmels. Woman with black glasses, wavy brown hair with bangs and a pink blouse against a black background.

Gillian “Jill” Gremmels, 2007-2017.

In 2007, Gillian Gremmels was named the first Leland M. Park Director of the Library. Unlike her predecessors, Gremmels was neither an alum of the college nor a long-time resident of the area. Gremmels was raised by two professors on the campus Iowa’s Wartburg College, is a descendant of Wartburg’s founder, and continued on to attend the school and act as their Library Director. Although currently on sabbatical from the mentoring seminar faculty of the Association of College and Research Libraries and after serving Davidson College for ten years, Jill Gremmels will serve the Dean of Cowles Library at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa beginning on July 1.



Guest Blogger: Tiffany Waddell Tate, Recognizing Synergies Among Staff

As I step into the role of Staff Council chair for academic year 2018 with an excellent executive team and representatives of every area of campus, I’m excited to share a snapshot of the organization’s history, evolution, and current vision for the future at Davidson.

Tiffany Waddell Tate standing in front of Career Development

Tiffany Waddell Tate, current Chair of Staff Council and Associate Director for Career Development

Staff Council (formerly known as AAG) was established in 1996 by the Davidson College President, after a small group of exempt (salaried) staff began to realize that the expertise and experience they were contributing to the broader college community did not coincide with the level of voice or impact needed around campus issues. At the time, this group felt the strength of faculty and office administrative / support staff, but identified a gap for a large faction of the professional community on campus. Out of these early conversations, the Administrative Advisory Group (AAG) was born.

In the years since its launch, the work of AAG representatives has led to stronger connections between staff and administration, increased transparency & communication, and a highlight of the great benefit and values associated with signing on to work at Davidson – in any capacity. Tangible outcomes from the tireless work of AAG representatives and working groups over the past two decades include:

• Exempt staff representation on campus-wide committees / working groups that impact the full campus community
• Campus-wide review of staff positions and staff equity funds, led by Human Resources
• Launch of pilot parental leave program for staff

William Brown seated, Meg Kimmel and Carl Sorrenson standing, ca. 1996-2001

Past AAG Officers, L to R, William H. Brown, Meg Kimmel, Carl Sorensen

Marcia Makl, Kurt C. Holmes, William Brown standing before a portrait gallery ca. 1996-2001

Past AAG Officers, L to R, Marcia Makl, Kurt C. Holmes, William Brown

The original design of Staff Council was connected to a broader vision for the staff community at Davidson, and the group mobilized to promote and affirm the mission and goals of the College – which is simply not possible without facilitating conversation and action that highlights the value of all staff contributions to the robust education environment in which we work and live. Today, we inherit that legacy, and are committed to the great responsibility required to continue the work.

In summer 2017, we had an overwhelming majority of staff vote to shift Council from a group that only included exempt salary staff, to one that is inclusive of all staff at Davidson. This shift in bylaws reflects a modern-day landscape of our community – one that includes all staff, regardless of position status – and allows us to recognize and identify synergies among the veritable brain trust we have among the entire staff community.

We are excited about this (and the name change!) to assist us as we continue the work of our predecessors to create opportunities for information sharing, networking, and heighten community impact & engagement of the staff community.

Our focus is clear – and we are excited about carrying the torch forward to continue to build connections among the staff community on campus, across divisions and with faculty and senior administration alike.

In Partnership,

Tiffany Waddell Tate

Justice, Equality, and Community Archivist Is In The Library!

Hello, my name is Jessica Cottle and I am the recently hired Justice, Equality, and Community (JEC) Project Archivist.

A group of dedicated faculty and staff developed this new position to further the goals of the “Justice, Equality, Community: Reimagining Humanities Curricula for an Interconnected, Rapidly Changing World” initiative, funded by a generous Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant. Over the course of 3.5 years, the initiative aims to “reimagine humanities curricula through the lens of three ideas that…cut across cultures, time, and disciplines: justice, equality, and community…to demonstrate the critical role of humanistic inquiry in public discourse, global problem-solving, engaged citizenship, and democratic leadership.”

The grant includes funding for innovative partnership between faculty and students, a humanities practitioner-in-residence program, community-minded experiential learning projects, and archives-supported assignments centered on questions about race and religion in the greater-Davidson area.

As the JEC Project Archivist for this endeavor, I will be developing, promoting, and digitizing archival resources related to the research and teaching of social justice issues (particularly race and religion), and facilitating collaboration between community partners, faculty, and students. I was raised in Charlotte—I graduated from Harding University High School in 2011—so I plan on tapping into personal connections to homegrown groups to ensure the initiative’s positive impact on both the campus community and local residents.

I graduated from Appalachian State University with my B.A. in May 2015. I majored in Global Studies with a concentration in East Asia, and double minored in Women’s Studies and Chinese. I returned to Boone that fall to complete my M.A. in Public History, graduating in May 2017. I believe unearthing connected historical and current marginalized narratives and subsequently serving as a conduit through which people can address their communities for themselves is my foremost responsibility as a public historian and archivist. When applying for jobs this summer, I immediately connected with the project goals described in this position’s advertisement as I saw my understanding of history and archives reflected in them. I am excited to familiarize myself with the archive’s resources and getting to know everyone as the JEC initiative moves forward!

Jessica Cottle
Phone: 704.894.2669
Office: E.H. Little Library, Room 203

Research, Teaching, and Collection department's contributions to welcome Jessica Cottle.

Research, Teaching, and Collection department’s contributions to welcome Jessica Cottle.

Jessica Cottle's Welcome Cake

Jessica Cottle’s Welcome Cake
August 28, 2017

Happy Retirement, Jan Blodgett!

A few weeks ago longtime College Archivist and Records Management Coordinator Jan Blodgett retired after 23 years of service to Davidson (for information on our new College Archivist, DebbieLee Landi, see our earlier blog post introducing her). Jan has made an impact all across the Davidson College campus and the town of Davidson, including on this very blog – Jan started Around the D on January 21, 2009! This week we’ll celebrate her time as College Archivist by delving into our photo archives for images of Jan:

Jan sits at a table in the archives in 1994, with Loyce Davis and Barbara Butler.

Jan leads a discussion on Davidson history in the Davidsoniana Room during Freshman Orientation in 1996. Jan’s introduction to the past and present of Davidson College has been a part of orientation for over 20 years.

Jan stands by one of the columns of the Chambers Building in 1997, while then Library Director Leland Park chats with Josh Gaffga.

Members of Common Ground, including Jan, a local grassroots organization designed promote communication and understanding and improve relations among people of all races in Davidson, gather for a Christmas Day memorial service in 1998.

Library staff, including Jan (in the pink skirt and shirt), gather in the lobby of E.H. Little Library, circa 1998.

Library staff gather in front of Beaver Dam in 1999. Jan is towards the back of the group.

Jan chats with then Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, in the Rare Book Room during his visit to campus in 2001. Billington is looking at the Arabic language Bible of Omar Ibn Sayyid, one of the highlights of our rare book collection.

Jan works with a student on researching campus architecture, in the Rare Book Room in 2014.

Jan led a paddleboard tour of the history of Lake Norman in July 2015, in partnership with Davidson Parks and Recreation.

A full Archives & Special Collections staff #shelfie in 2015! From right to left: Caitlin Christian-Lamb (me!), Sharon Byrd, and Jan Blodgett.

Jan (with her back to the camera) works with ENV 340 students in the Rare Book Room, in 2016.

Hilton Kelly is photographed while photographing Jan (meta!) working with Charlotte Mecklenburg public school teachers on a workshop in summer 2016, aimed at integrating archival materials across secondary education. The teachers’ projects can be found here.

Jan enjoys archival glogg in December 2016 with Roman Utkin and Caroline Fache.

Jan addresses the crowd at her final campus history tour in April 2017 (you can view the livestream of the tour here).

Jan Blodgett was the first professionally trained archivist to work at Davidson College, and her work building and organizing collections, as well as fostering community and curricular connections is fundamental to the Archives & Special Collections current and future work. We will always be grateful to Jan for her tireless, generous, and energetic work – please join us in wishing Jan a fond farewell and a happy retirement!

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!

Deans of Students

For the first decades of the college, faculty carried not only teaching duties but also most administrative tasks as well. They took on being bursar and librarian, registrar and supervisor of buildings and grounds. Over time, the college began hiring staff to relieve faculty of extra duties but the transition went slowly.

In 1920, the college created the first Dean of Student position and it was filled by a faculty member.  Mark Edgar Sentelle, Davidson class of 1894, continued to teach religion and philosophy classes for the 21 years (1920-1941) he served as Dean. Initially, the Student Life office consisted of the Dean and a secretary, Dorothy Finlayson, he shared with the college treasurer. Sentelle joined the faculty in 1903. Fellow professor, Ernest Beaty described his career in the September 1941 Alumni Journal:

Mark Sentelle in 1922

Mark Sentelle in 1922

As a member of the faculty, he soon evidenced such sense of judgment in dealing with men that this special talent was immediately put into use. President Henry Louis Smith (1901-1912) requested Dr. Sentelle to handle student absences, and this he did for some time, drawing up absence regulations under which the College functioned for years. In 1910 President Smith again turned to Dr. Sentelle, asking him to  head up a committee on supervision of scholarship. Dr Sentelle soon had in effect regulations which served notice that Davidson College would not give indefinite residence to students who were not keeping up the Davidson standard of work, whether failure to do so were due to an unfortunate lack of preparation or to culpable slothfulness.

Beaty went on to note that it was

natural then, that upon Dr. Sentelle’s election as Dean in 1920, the enforcement of both absence and supervision regulations should be centered in his office. Hence, year after year, the big ‘Doom Book of Absences’ has reposed in the Dean’s office, and excuses of infinite variety have been poured into his ever receptive, but not always ‘acceptive’ ears.

Bailey in 1949 with a student. It is not clear if any of this books on his desk is a "Doom Book of Absences."

Bailey in 1949 with a student. It is not clear if any of this books on his desk is a “Doom Book of Absences.”

Upon his retirement in 1941, another active faculty member took on the role of Dean of Students. John Crooks Bailey, Davidson class of 1920, continued his courses in Greek and Religion during his 2 tenures as Dean (1941-1954, 1958-1961). The office he inherited had focused heavily on discipline and regulations and had consisted of the Dean and a secretary. Bailey began to interact with the social side to students as well.

By 1941, the college had a YMCA secretary, a new college union, and later a chaplain. Bailey was also a member not only of the honorary fraternities Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa but of a social fraternity Kappa Alpha.  Ernest Beaty deened him qualified to be a dean because of his “unusual alertness in the observation of facts and persons and a marvelous keenness in analyzing them” along with “a fine vein of humor, that saving virtue which makes life attractive” ( and presumably visits to the Dean’s office a little less uncomfortable).


Dean Bailey provides a good example of how his office dealt not only with students but also with their parents. In a 3-page memo to parents and guardians of Davidson Freshman written in August 1960, he included “A Word to Mothers” admonishing them to “let your son and his roommate have the satisfaction of doing their own unpacking unsupervised and let them arrange things in the way they want them. Their arrangement may be different from what yours would be, but they are the ones who will be living there.”  He further noted — with underlining,

Our experience leads us to think that most boys are secretly, if not openly, embarrassed when their mothers insist on staying in the dormitory rooms to supervise unpacking and to arrange the rugs, etc.

Dean's warning to mothers.

Dean’s warning to mothers.

Presumably, fathers in 1960s were less interested in their offspring’s accommodations.

Serving between Bailey’s years was a familiar Davidson face, Samuel R. Spencer, class of 1940 and future president. Spencer had already served on the faculty in 1941-1943 as a professor of military science. He kept up the dual faculty-dean role by teaching in the history department while Dean.

Sam Spencer as Dean of Students with President John Cunningham in the background.

Sam Spencer as Dean of Students with President John Cunningham in the background.

The next Dean of Students broke the mold by not being a Davidson graduate (Furman instead) and not teaching. Instead, Richard Burts (1961-1970) spent his 9 years solely as a dean and then became college registrar from 1970 to 1985. During his tenure, the Dean of Students office added an assistant to the dean and advisor to fraternities, extending the social role of the office.

Dean Burts engaging with students

Dean Burts engaging with students

When he started as Dean, all his students looked like the young men in the photo but shortly after his arrival, the first African and then African-American students joined the student body adding the issues of integration to his work.

William Holt Terry, Davidson class of 1954 replaced Burts and added the challenges of co-education to those of integration. In 1977, the office added Sue Ross as the Assistant Dean of Students. Her successor, Paula Moore, hired in 1985 was the first black assistant dean.  During his tenure (1971-1994), the Dean of Students office expanded to oversee Residence Life, Careers, College Union, Chaplain’s office, Student Health and Counseling, and Community Service. By 1994, the Student Life had 43 full and part-time staff covering student — and still parental– activities and concerns.

Counseling Will Terry style -- well before cell phones and Facebook.

Counseling Will Terry style — well before cell phones and Facebook.


Dean of Students Office -deans and administrative assistants, c1983

Dean of Students Office -deans and administrative assistants, c1983

Tom Shandley, the most recent Dean of Students came in 1994 and will retire in 2017. Like Will Terry, Shandley has seen the issues Student Life faces expand along with more staff. Mark Sentelle, even as a philosophy professor, likely never dreamed of addressing gender-integrated housing, therapy animals, sexual harassment policies or nutrition guidance.  All the deans have met with students over academic pressure, alcohol violations, health concerns, and roommate conflicts. Ironically, even as colleges have stepped back from “in loco parentis” roles, the work of the Dean of Students has expanded. Students face a more complex world and expect that co-curricular activities will enhance the academic experience.  Sadly, few records remain for the earliest deans ( the Doom books are long gone) but the records the archives does hold await exploration and discovery. The history of Davidson’s  six Deans reveal the changing roles college governance, the changing nature of college students, and the context of college experience in American culture.

Issues change but face to face meetings remain constant.

Issues change but face to face meetings remain constant. Tom Shandley with SGA President Warren Buford

Danish Glogg

This installment of Recipes from the Archives is a festive winter punch from Davidson Senior Center’s 1985 printing of The Davidson Cookbook. – Bob Sailstad’s “Danish Glogg.”

Davidson Senior Services (later the Davidson Senior Center) opened September 1977 in the railroad depot building on Jackson Street. The Center sponsored programs, such as an income tax assistance service and a Senior/Student Friendship program, organized day trips, connected volunteers with seniors, put out a yearly newsletter (Tracks), and published three printings of a cookbook (The Davidson Cookbook). The Center closed in spring 2004.

Robert J. “Bob” Sailstad (1915-1998) worked as the Director of Development (1948-1949) and then Assistant to the President and the Director of Public Relations and Development (1955-1968) at Davidson College. After leaving the College he went on to serve at the Director of Educational Affairs and Public Information for The Duke Endowment (1968-1982). He received a B.S. and M.A. from the University of Minnesota, where he met his wife, Patricia Kreis Sailstad. Patricia had worked as a dental hygienist and preschool teacher in Minnesota, and when she moved to Davidson she continued teaching and also helped found the St. Alban’s Play School and the Davidson-Cornelius Day Care Center. Both Bob and Patricia were active members of the Davidson Senior Center.

Bob Sailstad's Senior Center portrait, as photographed by Frank Bliss.

Bob Sailstad’s Senior Center portrait, as photographed by Frank Bliss.

Glogg, a variety of mulled wine and spirits, appears relatively unchanged in the last few centuries. Sailstad’s glogg makes “14 Danish servings,” so I decided to invite a few folks over to make the warm, wintery punch and then consume some of it.

Bob Sailsted's Danish Glogg

Bob Sailstad’s Danish Glogg recipe.

Glogg heating on my stove, complete with orange slices.

Glogg heating on my stove, complete with floating orange slices.

Glogg is very simple to make, although if you choose to adapt this recipe make to have a large party to share it – Bob Sailstad’s glogg is very strong, and this makes over two dozen servings!

Jan Blodgett (College Archivists and Records Management Coordinator), Roman Utkin (Assistant Professor of Russian Studies), and Caroline Fache (Associate Professor of French & Francophone Studies) enjoy the archival glogg.

Jan Blodgett (College Archivist and Records Management Coordinator), Roman Utkin (Assistant Professor of Russian Studies), and Caroline Fache (Associate Professor of French & Francophone Studies) enjoy the archival glogg.

Margaret’s Johnny

The Margaret in question is Margaret Truman, daughter of Harry S. Truman.  She came to campus 67 years ago as part of the college’s Artist Series. Davidson was a brief part of her singing career.

President and Mrs. Cunningham with Margaret Truman. From 1950 Quips & Cranks

President and Mrs. Cunningham with Margaret Truman. From 1950 Quips & Cranks.

Her appearance rated a bold headline in The Davidsonian:

Truman's appearance coincided with Homecoming Weekend

Truman’s appearance coincided with Homecoming Weekend.

The paper reported that while she was on campus, she attended a small reception at the Guest House and a dinner with the president. She was joined by members of the fund-raising Development Drive and “close friends of Dr. Cunningham.”

Front of Truman's concert program

Front of Truman’s concert program

She may have been a popular dinner guest but her performance met with some criticism, including a comparison with a “certain Madame Jenkins who used to convulse her Carnegie Hall audiences with her erratic cacophonies.”  The review continued, “To descend to the serious, Miss Truman seemed to have a technical understanding of what she ought to do, but let’s face it, Miss Truman has simply not got a voice. . . . To me, her German Lieder were most satisfactory. Her feeling for these songs seemed to be free of spurious responses and the comparatively restricted range of these songs seemed to suit a voice which leapt nimbly but unconvincingly over the thin and crackling ice of both low and high registers.”

October 28, 1949 review in the Davidsonian.

October 28, 1949 review in The Davidsonian.

Not reported in any of the papers were the behind the scenes concerns of suitable accommodations for this celebrity.  A townswoman in the know, wrote to her daughter, “I’ve found out the campus as all agog last week when it was discovered that there was no toilet for Margaret Truman. Such hurrying and scurrying. Mrs. Erwin fold me that they said it had to be one nobody had used. So at the cost of $200.00 the college transformed a dressing room near the stage into a “Johnny.” At every party somebody reported on the progress of “Margaret’s Johnny”– well, finally Thursday night, Mr. Hobart sent out a bulletin–all the fixtures had been installed, everything was in readiness– but the thing wouldn’t work!! Great was the concern- Margaret must have a johnny! Well, at the time of the concert, everything was lovely. Shortly afterwards this inscription was found on the newly painted commode– ‘Margaret Truman sat here!’ written with nail polish for all to see! Who would suspect staid, dignified Davidson to be seething with such carryings on! Margaret caused talk, but not like she imagined.”

Luscious Brownies

For this installment in the Recipes From the Archives blog series, I made Marjorie McCutchan’s “Luscious Brownies,” featured in the Davidson Senior Center’s 1985 printing of The Davidson Cookbook.

Marjorie Munn McCutchan (1903 – 1998) was born in Iowa, and received B.A./B. Music from Tarkio College in Missouri. After completing her studies, she taught at the American Mission School for Girls in Assiut, Egypt. While in Egypt, she met her husband, John Wilson McCutchan (Davidson College Class of 1931, faculty in the English department from 1951 to 1961), and they married in 1936. John Wilson McCutchan (1909 – 1966) taught at Assiut College in Egypt, Queens College (now Queens University of Charlotte), Davidson College, and University of Waterloo in Ontario. By 1961, the McCutchans had divorced and J.W. married again, to Betty Combs Ellington.

Marjorie, John Wilson, and their two daughters (Marjorie Ann McCutchan Clark and Mary Caroline McCutchan Henry) moved to Davidson in 1951. After her divorce, Marjorie spent the 1960s living in Philadelphia, where she attained a M.S. in library science from Drexel University and then worked as a librarian at the Board of Christian Education, United Presbyterian Church. After moving back to Davidson in 1969, Marjorie served as the Acting Head of Reference and Personnel at the Davidson College Library from 1972 to 1974.

"Dr. Beaty, Ms. , and Dr. Park stand together in front of book Stacks in Grey Memorial Library." Circa 1972

Mary Beaty, Marjorie McCutchan, and Leland Park in front of stacks in the Grey Memorial Library, circa 1972.

In addition to her teaching and library work, McCutchan worked as a piano instructor and was very active in the local Presbyterian community, serving as the first woman elder at the Davidson College Presbyterian Church (DCPC). She  was one of the first residents to move into The Pines, the local retirement community, in 1988, and also was a member of the Davidson Senior Center. When photographed by Frank Bliss for the Davidson Senior Center, she wrote on her portrait information sheet that she “Returned to America at time of 2nd World War on S.S. Aquitania via Australia then to California, so I’ve been around the world.”

She donated funds to the library in 1988, establishing the Marjorie McCutchan Fund, which has allowed to library to purchase 80 titles.

Senior Center portrait of McCutchan, by Frank Bliss, cicrca 1980.

Senior Center portrait of McCutchan, by Frank Bliss, circa 1980.

I chose to make McCutchan’s “Luscious Brownies” for the retirement party of my library colleague, Jean Coates. I selected the recipe because it sounded delicious, and making one former Davidson librarian’s recipe to celebrate the retirement of another Davidson librarian seemed very apropos.

Marjorie McCutchan's "Luscious Brownies" recipe in the 1985

Marjorie McCutchan’s “Luscious Brownies” recipe in the 1985 Davidson Cookbook.

I didn’t deviate from this recipe very much – I was even able to use Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk! I made two batches of these brownies, one with walnuts and one without. The texture of these brownies is different than what I’m used to – the condensed milk and crushed graham crackers made the batter very thick and much harder to pour than I was expecting. I also ended up using a muffin pan to make the batches of brownies, since I didn’t have a metal pan of an appropriate size on hand. The most onerous and time-consuming part of the process was crushing the graham crackers – I broke the crackers into smaller pieces and then smushed them with a meat tenderizer to end up with a finely crushed product. I would recommend melting the chocolate chips prior to mixing the ingredients, a step McCutchan didn’t mention.

The finished product, topped with powdered sugar.

The finished product, topped with powdered sugar.

The "Luscious Brownies," amongst other goodies made for the retirement party!

The “Luscious Brownies,” amongst other goodies made for the retirement party!

Overall, this recipe was a crowd-pleaser – I was even asked for the recipe by one faculty member who sampled them!

Better Than the M & M’s Pimento Cheese

Time for another edition of our Recipes from the Archives blog series – week’s dish is Gail Gibson’s “Better than the M&M’s Pimento Cheese” 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.

The Office Support Staff organization was born out of a long tradition of social groups founded by women staff members at Davidson College – in the 1950s, Professor Ernest Beaty (Class of 1920; English and Latin professor at Davidson College from 1925 to 1966) nicknamed the group of office workers “The Chambermaids,” a reference to the statues on Chambers Building, where most of the women worked. The group first drafted a Statement of Purpose in 1975, illustrating their goals: “The purpose of THE CHAMBERMAIDS shall be to support the students, faculty and administration of Davidson College; to encourage in a considerate and professional manner the full potential development of its members; to foster fellowship; and to establish an official line of communication between its members and the College in order to promote greater understanding and cooperation.”

The caption on this photo reads: "The original Chambermaids." Taken in 1955, this picture includes: Kathryn Halliburton, Kathy Wilson, Dela Shore, Mildred Little, Sally Wilson, Nan Lingle, Betty Wally, Peggy Cashion, Page Huckabee, Blanche Parker, A. Wilson, C. Bordeaux, B. Brooks, Joyce Fleagle, H. Allen, Loyce Chaney, Florede Meetze.

The caption on this photo reads: “The original Chambermaids.” Taken in 1955, this picture includes: Kathryn Halliburton, Kathy (Kitty) Wilson, Della Shore, Mildred Little, Sally Wilson, Nan Lingle, Betty Wally, Peggy Cashion, Page Huckabee, Blanche Parker, A. Wilson, C. Bordeaux, B. Brooks, Joyce Fleagle, H. Allen, Loyce Chaney, and Florede Meetze.

In 1982, The Chambermaids changed their organization name to Office Support Staff. At the time that the Great Expectations cookbook was produced as a fund-raiser, the organization officers were: Kristi Newton (President), Pat Gardner (Vice-President), Ethel Black (Secretary), and Jo Archie (Treasurer).  The front page of the cookbook provides a history of the Office Support Staff, including the major achievements of the group: “Ever since that time the ‘Chambermaids’, now known as the ‘Office Support Staff’, has accomplished a variety of goals such as tuition benefits for our children, flexible summer work hours, using a percentage of our sick days for personal leave time, cumulative years of service to count towards vacation leave, the posting of all jobs so that we are aware of the availabilities and representation on various campus committees, just to name a few.” The Office Support Staff ceased meeting as an organization in 2009.

Founding documents of the 1970s iteration of The Chambermaids

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

Though Great Expectations was compiled by the Office Support Staff, recipes were solicited from across all areas of campus. The recipe I chose was submitted by Gail Gibson, who taught in the English department from 1983 until her retirement in 2014. Gibson served as the College Marshall for many years, and is particularly well-known for staging a Chaucer banquet in her home as part of her curriculum. As the College news story on her retirement states, Gibson was very interested in food studies: “‘The best way to know a culture is to know how it eats!’ she explained. The Chaucer banquets ultimately led her to develop popular writing classes focused on food that she taught for years – food as symbol, food as a reflection of culture, food memoir and the anthropology of food.”

A photo of all new faculty for the 1983-84 academic year - Gail Gibson is on the far left of the front row.

A photo of all new faculty for the 1983-84 academic year – Gail Gibson is on the far left of the front row.

Gibson’s statement on the cultural import of food is particularly apropos as we look at her recipe for pimento cheese, a beloved Southern classic. Pimento cheese, as Scott Huler puts it in his story on the history of the food in Our State magazine, is a “Southern, rural, working-class icon — Carolina caviar, some call it” with a fascinating backstory. As a North Carolina transplant, I was particularly interested in having a go at making this cultural staple for the first time.

Gail Gibson's "Better than

Gail Gibson’s “Better Than the M&M’d Pimento Cheese” recipe, from the Office Support Staff Great Expectations cookbook.

Gibson’s take on pimento cheese is notable for the absence of mayonnaise, usually considered a key ingredient. The title, “Better than M&M’s Pimento Cheese” refers to what today’s Davidsonians just know as the Soda Shop. Opened in 1951 by Mary Potts and Murray Fleming (the two “M’s” in the name of the business), M&M Soda Shop has been a town staple ever since. Potts sold the business in 1985, but many of her original recipes remain popular menu items, including their pimento cheese.

a picture of M&M Soda Shop on Main Street, date unknown.

A picture of M&M Soda Shop on Main Street, date unknown.

Gibson’s recipe title is a playful homage to the popularity of M&M’s pimento cheese, suggesting this recipe is even better. I had a little bit of trouble making the recipe – the cream cheese did not easily combine with the other ingredients, and required a bit of milk to thin it out. I also ended up adding more grated cheese than the recipe called for, since once I had completed mixing the ingredients, the orange mixture seemed too smooth. Having never tasted the original M&M’s pimento cheese, I can’t say for sure that this recipe is better… but it is delicious!

The finished product, on toast!

The finished product, on toast!