Coping with College

A June 2017 New York Times article, “Colleges Get Proactive in Addressing Depression on Campus,” mentions several programs at Davidson College and quotes the recently retired Dean Shandley as well. The article explains that colleges and universities are hosting numerous mental and emotional health programs to see what works the best and for the “broadest swath of students.”

I decided to take a look at Davidson College roughly fifty years ago to see what was offered. In the 1962-63 Davidson College Reference Catalogue (part of our digital collections), there are numerous references to “counseling” and this service was found in several departments and offered in various locations on campus.

Inquiries regarding “Student Interests and Counseling” were to be addressed to the Dean of Students and this was indicated on the first page of the catalogue. In addition to the Dean of Students, there was also an employee with the title, Director of Student Counseling.

Alumni Weekend, June, 1963, Dr. William Hight,
Director of Student Counseling

The David Ovens College Union is described as a “laboratory of student management and self-expression as well as a place for informal counseling and guidance.”

Aerial photo of Johnston Gym and Richardson Stadium and Field; the roof of the Ovens College Union is visible.

As one might expect, one of the responsibilities listed for the College Chaplain was “personal counseling;” although, expectations that the Chaplain would provide counsel regarding summer employment, another stated assignment, would probably not be anticipated. The Supervisor of Dormitories was also encouraged to offer advice and counsel students regarding problems in campus housing.

Mrs. Moore, Supervisor of Dormitories, surrounded by students.

Although the term would probably not be applied the same way on today’s campus, in the 1960s, counseling began with Freshman Orientation and continued throughout a student’s career, according to “The Degree Programs” section of the 1962-1963 catalogue.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact

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!

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

Snow! Or a Seasonal Picture Post

While snow is a somewhat rare occurrence in Davidson, it remains an exciting time for the entire college community. This week, let’s take a look at Davidson College dusted with snow throughout the years:

Snowy Main Street in Davidson, March 1915.

Snowy Main Street in Davidson, March 1915.

Three students clear walkways on rails pulled by horses, circa 1915.

Three students clear walkways on rails pulled by horses, circa 1915.

A lone figure walks past Dana Science Building, 1969.

A lone figure walks past Dana Science Building, 1969.

An unknown man leads a burro through the snow near Cunningham, December 1971.

A student leads a burro through the snow near Cunningham, December 1971.

A student walks near Elm Row, December 1971.

A student walks near Elm Row, December 1971.

Two students play in the snow in front of Cunningham, circa 1975.

Two students play in the snow in front of Cunningham, circa 1975.

A snowman in front of Chambers, 1977.

A snowman in front of Chambers, 1977.

The Presidents House looks picturesque in the snow, date unknown.

The Presidents House looks picturesque in the snow, date unknown.

Two students walk near Chambers, 1987.

Two students walk near Chambers, 1987.

A Davidson Wildcat made out of snow! Martin Science Building, circa 1980s.

A Davidson Wildcat made out of snow! Martin Science Building, circa 1980s.

Two students engage in a rowdy snow fight, 1987.

Two students engage in a rowdy snow fight, 1987.

A student works on a snow-cat - possibly the same large one in front of Martin, 1987.

A student works on a snow-cat – possibly the same large one in front of Martin, 1987.

We hope Davidsonians near and far are enjoying their winter!

Davidson & December 7, 1941

Like most Americans, Davidson students were aware of wars in East Asia and Europe but their involvement was limited.  On November 17, 1941, the YMCA announced that the annual Gift Fund project would be directed at refugees and war prisoners. Specifically, the gift fund would be purchasing Bibles to be sent to China, to prisoners in concentration camps in Germany, and to the US Navy. Using the theme of Let Use Share Our Faith, YMCA president Jim Owens stressed the need for “fighting hate and suffering with our strongest weapon, the Bible.”

19 November 1941 article following up on the Gift Fund project.

19 November 1941 article following up on the Gift Fund project.

December 4, 1941 article announcing acceptance of Davidson funded Bibles by the US Navy.

December 4, 1941 article announcing acceptance of Davidson funded Bibles by the US Navy.

College president John Cunningham and town mayor (and Latin professor) Ernest Beaty endorsed the gift fund project with Cunningham saying “I can scarcely think of any undertaking which holds the possibility of being more fruitful” and Beaty declaring “The best defense against evil in the present age is Truth as expressed through the Bible.”

Headlines for the December 11, 1941 Davidsonian –the first issue after the bombing of Pearl Harbor — focused on the latest Red and Black Masquers play, the annual Vesper service, and the cost of dance bands. The only reference to war came in one article about the ROTC honorary Scabbard and Blade.

December 11, 1941 article on the possible effect of war on a student military group.

December 11, 1941 article

Below the fold, this issue featured a photograph of the Davidson Bibles arriving at the USS North Carolina.

Front page war news after Peark Harbor still focused on Bibles.

Front page war news after Peark Harbor still focused on Bibles.

More news about the war appeared on page 2, with the text of President Cunningham’s chapel speech from December 5th:

Dr. Cunningham's speech

Dr. Cunningham’s speech

Cunningham urged restraint, noting that he was in seminary in 1917 at the outbreak of WWI, he told current students

I wish to express a word of caution today against panic and hysteria at this time. It is possible that some few students may feel that they are called to turn aside from their preparation and hasten into the military service of the country. My prediction is that there is plenty of time yet for that service. The word which I wish to stress, particularly to you today is that you are now engaged in a fundamental defense task. You must beware that you do not throw away an opportunity which has been denied approximately 97 per cent of young men– those who do not get to college. We must look further than winning a war. Winning the peace is going to be even more important.

A student editorial on the same page focused more on the American sense of humor in relation to Japanese culture.

Student editorial December 11, 1941

Student editorial December 11, 1941

The first effects of the war on campus appear in the January 29, 1942 issue with articles on changes in physical education, the introduction of summer classes, changes in ROTC staff and the first Red Cross canvas.  Other headlines show life as usual with mid-winters dances and Presbyterian student conferences.


Back on page 3 of this issue, the college library gets credit for collecting books (other than Bibles) for the military.


The first war bonds cartoons appeared in the February 5th issue. One on the editorial page.


And one on page five next to an article on draft deferment policies:


The Trustees began to address war-related issues later in February.

Headline from February 26, 1942 as the trustees approve war-related changes

Headline from February 26, 1942 as the trustees approve changes

Noticeably absent are any articles on international events. The student paper has rarely covered much in the way of national or international news and in the initial weeks after Pearl Harbor that focus didn’t change. The first reference to Davidson alumni in the military appeared in the February 26, 1942 issue.

First recognition of Davidson students entering the military

First recognition of Davidson students entering the military

A few weeks later, the Davidsonian reported on the civilian defense as the college began organizing air raid and fire watchers. Davidson was an unlikely target but we were prepared.

Time to start watching the skies

Time to start watching the skies

The war became more prevalent –even without wire stories from the front– when advertisers started using military themes.

First war-themed advertisement

First war-themed advertisement

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.”

Hocsak Family

Last week’s Around the D looked at student responses to conflict in Nicaragua in 1985. In 1956, Davidson students reacted to another conflict and refugee crisis by sponsoring an Hungarian family. It began with the college bringing in speakers to share their experiences of the Russian invasion and subsequent strikes within Hungary.  Students followed through on their concerns by working with Church World Service to find a refugee family to sponsor.  This effort was funded through the annual YMCA gift fund.

Davidsonian headline

1956 Davidsonian headline showing student interest in world affairs

Even as the students acted, conditions in Hungary shifted making it harder for families to leave.  Church World Service recommended trying to assist young men rather than families but finally was able to connect Davidson and the Hocsak family.

Bold headlines document the family's arrival and student political interests.

Bold headlines document the family’s arrival and student political interests.

The Hocsaks came to Davidson on January 18, 1957 and were provided housing in a former faculty home on Main Street.   The family included a young couple, their 3 year-old-son, and Mr. Hocsak’s mother. Mr, Hocsak had been an engineer in Hungary and also involved in actions against the secret police. Their escape from Budapest began on December 4, 1956. Using a truck from his company, they drove first to Vienna, crossing the border without trouble and then to Munich. They were flown to New Jersey and then sent to Davidson.

As the family settled in, students took time to visit the family.  They appeared to be particularly fond of the youngest Hocsak, jokingly comparing him to a popular cartoon character of the time, Dennis the Menace.  He earned the comparison in part by his antics on his tricycle.

February, 1 1957 article on the youngest Hocsak

February, 1 1957 article on the youngest Hocsak

Over the next few weeks, the Davidsonian published a 3 part series narrated by Istvan Hocsak about their experiences and political conditions in Hungary. In the first article, he described how he became involved in the freedom movement,

“In early October the first step toward revolution was taken. The students at the University in Szeged broke away from  the old Communist youth organization, ‘Disz,’ and formed a new group. This group drew up a proclamation demanding a free press, a release from compulsory study of Russian, and a promise that Hungarian uranium be left in Hungary and not shipped to Russia.

I heard about this movement on October 20, and spent the next couple of days trying to find out more about the proposals. After the twentieth everybody was talking about revolution. In my office we were all exhilarated by the thought that perhaps the oppression was nearly over.

On the 22nd a great mass meeting was held at my university, the Polytechnical University of Budapest. Nearly all of the 11,000 students in the school were there. . . . I was at work and could not be at the meeting, but a colleague of mine brought me a mimeographed copy of the Proclamation. We typed as many as we could and distributed them in the building. Everybody was excited. Enthusiasm was sweeping through the people like a fever.”

He went on to recount that at 6pm that same day, a crowd gathered in front of the Parliament building. They waited until 8:30pm when Insre Nagy came out.  His speech disappointed the crowd. “I decided to go home and see if my family was safe. During the time that I was home, between 9 and 10 o’clock, a group of students decided to broadcast the proclamation. When the crown reached the broadcasting station, they were met by the Secret Police. They told the crowd to go away, but the crowd moved on toward the building. The police fired, and the Revolution had begun.”

First article in series - 8 February 1957

First article in series – 8 February 1957

2nd article in series - 15 Feburary 1957

2nd article in series – 15 Feburary 1957

Last article in series - 22 February 1957

Last article in series – 22 February 1957

By the following fall, the Davidsonian was reporting that the Hocsaks were well settled – now on North Thompson Street.  Istvan, now being known as Steve, was employed by a Charlotte firm as a draftmen and Rosie Hocsak was working for the Ivey’s department store company. Their language skills had improved through tutoring by local teaching legend Maude Vinson.

In 1962, the Charlotte News did another follow-up article on the family. By then they were living in Charlotte with Steve having recently changed jobs.  According to the News, “Today the Hocsaks are Charlotteans with Hungarian accents just five years out of Budapest. They live in a $14,000 home on Birchcrest Drive, they own a second-hand Buick, they watch television, they have an air conditioner, they belong to the Third Presbyterian Church and the PTA at Windsor Park School, they pay taxes, they have a mortgage, they both work– and they have a swimming pool.”

A swimming pool might seem an oddity in this story but the Hocsaks met at a pool. Steve was a competitive swimmer in college.  The article doesn’t mention if they ever go back to visit Davidson but does provide evidence that the YMCA gift fund and student support made a significant difference in their lives.

Photo taken shortly after their arrival in 1957

Photo taken shortly after their arrival in 1957

Panoramic Views

This week’s mail brought a new gift to the Archives — panoramic photographs from 1943 of a class of airmen taking training at Davidson College. They were class 7 of the Army Special Training Program (ASTRP). We can only identify one of the men in the photograph but we have the names of all the men who participated in the training courses.

William Randolph is on the front row, fifth from the right.

William Randolph is on the front row, fifth from the right.

The photos are in good condition but showing one of the hazards of oversize photographs – some fold lines.  We are grateful to have these photos as we do not have much documentation for the Army trainees who spent came to campus for 12 week sessions. Some of their courses were taught by Davidson faculty, others by military personnel.

The earliest panoramic photograph in our collection dates from 1917.

Davidson student body in 1917

Davidson student body in 1917.

We haven’t done a headcount to see if all 394 students made it to the photo shoot that day. The buildings behind the students include Old Chambers and the YCMA/Morrison Hall. Both buildings are gone from campus. The camera technology of the era distorts the geography but still gives a good sense of the look of the college.

Most of our panoramic photos come from the 1917-1929 period and many of them are of student-soldiers.

G Company of the Davidson's ROTC students, pose for a picture in uniform in front of their tents at Camp McClellan in Alabama.

G Company of the Davidson’s ROTC students, pose for a picture in uniform in front of their tents at Camp McClellan in Alabama in 1923.

We have more images of SATC and ROTC activities through yearbooks and student scrapbooks taken both on campus and at summer camps.

Our one athletic panoramic was made off-campus – at a college with a larger stadium. The original image isn’t clear enough to read all the information on the scoreboard beyond the advertisement for the Howard Theater.  The team played games at Georgia Tech, Richmond, Va, Greenville, SC and at Wearn field in Charlotte – any guesses which place this is?

Varsity football team in 1921.

Varsity football team in 1921.

The oldest of the panoramics in our collection is from 1955.

Davidson students and faculty on 8 March 1955.

Davidson students and faculty on 8 March 1955.

If everyone is present, there are 845 students and 63 faculty arranged in front of the Chambers Building. College staff are not included in the photograph.  One year later, and one woman could have been included as a faculty member — Carolyn MacBrayer.  It’s hard to imagine such a formal portrait today of students and faculty -the number of ties worn regularly to campus has dropped considerably in the last decades.  Even with ties and suits, today’s wide-angle lens would capture find a much less homogeneous group.


Orientations Past

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

Class of 1870

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

Class of 1920

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

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

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

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

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

Description of honor code in handbook.

Description of honor code in handbook.

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

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

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

Class of 1920 in 1917

Class of 1920 in 1917

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

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

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


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

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

Class of 1970

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

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

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

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

Honor System in 1966

Honor System in 1966

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

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

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

Davidson faculty in 1966

Davidson faculty in 1966

Class of 1995

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

Davidsonian article describing orientation 90s style.

Davidsonian article describing orientation 90s style.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Process

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Did I Learn?

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

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

Page 27 from the Brown scrapbook

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Future

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

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