A Look Back: Dorm Decorations

The second week of classes is well underway here at Davidson College, and the hubbub of Freshmen orientation and upperclassmen moving back to campus is beginning to settle down. One topic on the minds of many students both new and returning, is dorm decorating – what are the perfect wall hangings and tchotchkes?

With that in mind, this week we’ll take a look at how Davidson College students have decorated their dormitories throughout the years – click on any of the images in the following picture post to get a closer view:

This image of a dorm room in Old Chambers, circa 1895, is our earliest known photograph of the interior of a student's room. This unknown student had very high-class decorations - the image centered above the mantelpiece is a Degas print.

This image of a dorm room in Old Chambers, circa 1895, is our earliest known photograph of the interior of a student’s room. This unknown student had distinctive taste – the image centered above the mantelpiece appears to be a Degas print.

Kemp Elliott Savage (Class of 1906) sits in front of a very elaborately decorated dorm room wall (including a draped flag), circa 1902.

Kemp Elliott Savage (Class of 1906) sits in front of a very elaborately decorated dorm room gallery wall (including a draped flag), circa 1902.

If current Davidson College students think their rooms are crowded, imagine how these triple decker bunk bed DC students of 1916 felt!

If current Davidson College students think their rooms are crowded, imagine how these triple decker bunk bed DC students of 1916 felt!

A decade later, Davidson students continued to be stacked three high, and continued to decorate their dormitory walls with pennants - this image comes from George Shaddock (Class of 1926), by way of Dr. (Calss of 1960) and Mrs. W. Kirby Kirkpatrick.

A decade later, Davidson students continued to be stacked three high and continued to decorate their dormitory walls with pennants – this image comes from George Shaddock (Class of 1926), by way of Dr. (Class of 1960) and Mrs. W. Kirby Kirkpatrick.

This picture, courtesy of Robert Hayne Jones (Class of 1916), illustrates a highly-decorated dorm room in Old Chambers.

This picture, courtesy of Robert Hayne Jones (Class of 1916), illustrates what a typical dorm room  in Old Chambers looked like – check out the “D.C.” constructed of either photographs or postcards.

Five students gather in this dorm room in 1947 to do what Davidson students do best - study!

Five students gather in this dorm room in 1947 to do what Davidson students do best – study!

"Get up, Ox!" - a sleepy student is awakened in Georgia dorm, under his decorations. This is from a 1948 Phi Gamma Delta scrapbook

“Get up Ox!” – a sleepy student is awakened in Georgia dorm, under his decorations. This photograph is from a 1948 Phi Gamma Delta scrapbook.

John Cronin's (Class of 1971) dorm room in 1969 provides a glimpse into his hobbies and loved ones - the guitar case, headphones, and photo of a musician speak to an interest in music. Whether the chain serve a functional or aesthetic purpose is unclear, however (photograph taken by George Sproul, Class of 1970).

John Cronin’s (Class of 1971) dorm room in 1969 provides a glimpse into his hobbies and loved ones – the guitar case, headphones, and photo of a musician speak to his interest in music. Whether the chains serve a functional or aesthetic purpose is unclear, however (photograph taken by George Sproul, Class of 1970).

A group of students play games in a Richardson dorm room,  circa 1970.

A group of students play games in a Richardson dorm room in 1975 – a peek at the walls in the background reveals some typical dorm decorations, including a wall calendar.

Two roommates spend time in their somewhat sparsely decorated dorm room in 1977 (photograph taken by Bill Giduz, Class of 1974). Notice the cameo appearance of Davidson attendee Woodrow Wilson.

Two roommates spend time in their somewhat sparsely decorated dorm room in 1977 (photograph taken by Bill Giduz, Class of 1974). Notice the cameo appearance of Davidson attendee Woodrow Wilson on the wall above the bottom bunk.

Three students gather in a mid-1980s dorm room - note the lofted bed, now a very popular dorm room modification.

Three students gather in a mid-1980s dorm room – note the lofted bed, now a very popular dorm room modification.

While many things have changed at Davidson throughout the years, students’ desire to decorate their living space has remained constant – and the some of the modes of decorating have also remained popular, such as the gallery wall hanging style.

If you’re a Davidson alumni or current student who wants to document your college decorating style, please send any photographs to the College Archives & Special Collections!

Class of 1919

The class of 2019 is on campus and settling in.  The first day of classes was August 24 and the Cake Race is August 26th.  We don’t know yet what changes they will see in their years at Davidson. We do know that the class of 1919 saw changes big and small.

Sketch from the 1916 yearbook putting the class of 1919 in their place.

Sketch from the 1916 yearbook putting the class of 1919 in their place.

Class of 1919 as first year students gathered in front of the library.

Class of 1919 as first year students gathered in front of the library.

As freshmen, the 1919ers participated in class rivalries, winning the football championship.

1916 Quips and Crank account of the class of 1919's debut.

1916 Quips and Crank account of the class of 1919’s athletic debut.

They would be among the last classes to play against each other.  With the advent of World War I and military training at Davidson, class contests mutated into battalion clashes.  Once the war was over, teams began to form around dormitories rather than classes– and ROTC became part of the curriculum.

1917 Quips and Cranks page for the 1919's sophomore football team.

1917 Quips and Cranks page for the 1919’s sophomore football team.

They also began to switch sports.  The 1917 Quips and Cranks is the last to have pages for class football teams.  Basketball will have one more year and will take over as the favored intramural sport.

Intramurals in 1917 included both football and basketball - but football was fading.

Intramurals in 1917 included both football and basketball – but football was fading.

Class of 1919's team in 1918

Class of 1919’s team in 1918

The class of 1919 was the first not to have a class yell, colors or motto.

By 1918, the class of 1919 was granted more sophistication by the yearbook editors.

By 1918, the class of 1919 was granted more sophistication by the yearbook editors.

They were also one of the few classes not to have a yearbook.  Like the class of 1944, another war-time class, they never published a Quips and Cranks.  They did manage to include their seniors in the back of the 1920 Quips and Cranks.

What there is of the 1919 Quips and Cranks is the final section of the 1920 yearbook.

What there is of the 1919 Quips and Cranks is the final section of the 1920 yearbook.

This class saw the return of US president Woodrow Wilson to campus in May 1916 and helped adopt the wildcat as the college’s official mascot.  Definitely an eventful 4 years for them.  Will the class of 2019 be able to match them?

Campus History by Moonlight: the First International Student Glow-in-the-Dark Tour

A few weeks ago, Davidson College’s new International Student Advisor, Bea Cornett, got in touch with the Archives & Special Collections – her recent new employee orientation campus history tour had sparked an idea: what about spicing up new international student pre-orientation week with a night-time glow-in-the-dark history tour?

We had a quick turnaround – roughly two weeks from the conception of the idea until it was carried out. Jan Blodgett (College Archivist & Records Management Coordinator) and I got to work, brainstorming stories from the archives that could be spooky, creepy, or weird enough for a glow-in-the-dark tour. We compiled a list of fifteen tales, pulled archival material related to each, and scanned the material to make a study guide.

Some of stories we selected:  Davidson’s first virtual student, Bill Edwards; the Ghost of Old Chambers; finding skulls and skeletons in the columns of Old Chambers and early x-rays on campus; several tales of freshmen hazing of days gone by; the Freshmen Riot of 1903; the December 21, 1854 student rebellion; and the history of some of the oldest buildings on campus – Eu and Phi Halls, the Carolina Inn, and Oak and Elm Rows.

Last Friday afternoon I met with the International Orientation Leaders, the group of students who would help acclimate our new freshmen to campus. Bea assigned each student a stop along the tour, and I told short versions of each story we’d selected. We all discussed the archival material and how each Orientation Leader would make their story their own. That following Sunday evening, fellow library staff Cara Evanson, Sarah Crissinger, and I led small groups of new international students around campus, stopping at each glow-stick-lit Orientation Leader to hear tales of Davidson’s past.

Orientation Leader Santiago Navia (Class of 2017) tells a group of new internationals students the tale of Bill Edwards in front of E.H. Little Library.

Orientation Leader Santiago Navia (Class of 2017) tells a group of new internationals students the tale of Bill Edwards in front of E.H. Little Library.

Hannah Heartfield (Class of 2016) tells the new internationals students about the long history of tree planting on campus.

Hannah Heartfield (Class of 2016) tells the new internationals students about the long history of tree planting on campus.

Joscar Matos (Class of 2016) regales the new students with tales of skulls found in the columns of Old Chambers and the stealing of a corpse finger for one of the earliest x-rays.

Joscar Matos (Class of 2016) regales the new students with tales of skulls found in the columns of Old Chambers and the stealing of a corpse finger for one of the earliest x-rays.

The Ghost of Old Chambers comes alive when our Orientation Leader got the classic spooky story treatment of a flashlight under the chin - or in this case, an iPhone flashlight.

The Ghost of Old Chambers comes alive when our Orientation Leader got the classic spooky story treatment of a flashlight under the chin – or in this case, an iPhone flashlight.

The first Glow-in-the-Dark Tour was a success – new freshmen were spooked and entertained, and tour-givers and tour-takers were united in wanting to hear even more tales from the Davidson College Archives & Special Collections. We can’t wait for next year’s iteration of the international student Glow-in-the-Dark tour!

Rare Book School and Maps

I’m just back from a great week in Washington, D.C. at Rare Book School. Founded in 1983 at Columbia University, it moved to UVA in 1992. Not just for librarians, Rare Book School offers week-long classes at UVA during the months of June and July to those interested in all aspects of “rare books”…classes which are taught by experts in their fields. Initially dealing primarily with books and manuscripts, classes have expanded to include all areas of the history of written, printed, and digital materials. Classes have also expanded to some satellite sites, this year including the Library of Congress. 

Students include librarians, dealers in antiquarian books, book collectors, conservators, teachers, and students (professional or avocational). Classes are small (usually about 12 students) so students really get to know each other and work closely together for the week. Entry is competitive, so I was excited to get my acceptance letter this year for “The Art and Science of Cartography.”

1507 Waldseemuller World Map

1507 Waldseemuller World Map

The course was taught by John Hessler, currently the Curator of the Jay I. Kislak Collection of the Archaeology and History of the Early Americas, and a specialist in Modern Cartography and Geographic Information Science at the Library of Congress. I was in class with students from California, Virginia, Kentucky, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Missouri, Utah, and Connecticut, including librarians, map specialists, students, professors, a map conservator, and a church historian. We began with a discussion of Ptolemy, Greek astronomer of the 2nd century, who invented the concepts of latitude and longitude and the idea of map projection. We examined maps, atlases and globes produced between 200 – 1550, from early Roman boundary maps to the 1507 Waldseeműller World Map, the first map to show and use the name “America,” and which is now on permanent display in the Library of Congress’ Jefferson building. We talked about the history and production of the maps, and as the class title indicates, discussed both scientific and artistic innovations related to mapmaking. We also talked about digital representations of maps, and modern software which allows for more overlay and comparison of ancient and modern maps.
The week also included evening lectures, a “museum night” during which we were able to see some of the treasures of the library, and a visit to the Jefferson Building to see the maps on display there.
Since we have in our Rare Book Room the William P. Cumming Map Collection of the Southeast in Early Maps, I am interested in being able to apply what I learned in class to the use of those maps with our students and scholars here.

1540 Muenster Map

1540 Muenster Map

Rare Book School is one of the best professional opportunities out there, and on top of that it’s a great deal of fun. Now, to the Cumming Collection!

Food ‘N Fixin’s

Yes, it’s another food blog. The impetus is not all the lovely August produce at the farmer’s market, although Saturday mornings in Davidson are a delight. This jaunt into baking is inspired by plans to host open houses in the Archives and Rare Book Room this fall — and to provide take-away snacks made from recipes found in our collections.

The potential treats tested out this time–Apple Sauce Nutbread and Pecan Praline Cake–came from the pages of the Mecklenburg Gazette.  The Gazette published its first issue on August 26, 1948. The editors were H. C. and Mabel Broyles and subscriptions ran 4 months for $1.00 or 1 year for $2.00.  Originally named the Cornelius-Davidson Gazette, with an office on Main Street in Davidson, the paper soon extended its coverage to other area towns.

Changing masthead of the Gazette from 1946 to 1950

Changing masthead of the Gazette from 1946 to 1957

A decade later, the masthead included the towns of Cornelius, Davidson, Derita, Long Creek, Huntersville, Mallard Creek, Croft, Prosperity, Gilead, and Bethel.  It also listed North High School. It isn’t unusual for a local paper to cover high school events but there is a twist here.  Beginning as early as 1938, first with Davidson High School before it consolidated with North Mecklenburg, students had been publishing a weekly newspaper that included town news. The school papers continued into the 1950s but with less town news.

The Gazette covered local news: stories about businesses, churches, fire departments, weddings, birthdays (including for a time running a column listing the upcoming birthdays of local residents), farming, and local elections. There was very little national or international news included but the paper did pick up some syndicated columns and photographs (predating the internet fascination with kittens, the Gazette favored cute shots of puppies and kittens– and Hollywood starlets in bathing suits.)  Although much of the news, especially the “society” columns for each of the towns, may seem trivial, those columns provide a more intimate history of our communities and day to day life.

The first recipes published in the Gazette appeared in a syndicated series written by Helen Hale and in advertisements. The ads were not for ingredients, instead Nescafe provide coffee cake recipes to serve alongside their coffee. These were replaced by an attributed series that featured a photograph and recipe or a photograph and home decorating tips.  The recipe for Apple Sauce Nutbread appeared in the August 4, 1955 issue.

A recipe from 60 years ago

A recipe from 60 years ago

Although it is 60 years old — from an era of “morning neighbor drop-ins”, afternoon family get-togethers and evening bridge games — it could be published today without much updating, beyond mention of a 8 oz can of applesauce. The local grocery store carries jars not cans– and probably more flavors than available in 1955.

2015 version of Apple Sauce Nutbread - the bread is a little dry so the recipe's recommendation to serve with butter is a good one.

2015 version of Apple Sauce Nutbread – the bread is a little dry so the recipe’s recommendation to serve with butter is a good one.

Grocery ad from same issue - Applesauce was 2 for 25 cents and sugar only 45 cents for 5 pounds.

Grocery ad from same issue – Applesauce was 2 for 25 cents and sugar only 45 cents for 5 pounds.

The second recipe comes from a local column – Food ‘N Fixin’s from Community Kitchens written by Gazette feature writer Saye Sharp. The column ran from January 2, 1974 to September 17, 1975. It had replaced a Tar Heel Kitchen column written by Miss York Kiker, a marketing home-economist that the paper carried in 1973.

First column by Saye Sharp

First column by Saye Sharp

The Food ‘N Fixins’ column included a brief biography of a local cook, the recipes and an occasional editorial comment (such as suggesting that for a pickle recipe “these would not be hurt by processing in a hot water bath for about 10 minutes”).  For her own biography, Mrs. Sharp identified herself as being in the “rather do anything than cook club.” Happily for us, she was willing to search out local cooks and share their stories and recipes. Women (and men) whose recipes appeared in the column include Dolly Tate, Dolly Hicks, Bec Barbee, Mary Potts (of the M&M Soda Shop), Gerri Wally, Betty Donaldson, Janet Knox, Nelle McConnell, and Sonny Stutts (of the Davidson Police department).

Recipes from Helen Thompson, including Pecan Praline Cake

Recipes from Helen Thompson, including Pecan Praline Cake

The August 27, 1975 column featured recipes by Helen Thompson. Helen had worked at the Gazette as well as working at the Cornelius and Davidson libraries. The article notes that “though she must now use a walker, she goes to work each day in her family’s grocery store near Denver.” Perhaps it was working in the store that inspired adding an unusual ingredient– canned crushed pineapple to a pecan praline cake.

Recipes from Helen Thompson, including Pecan Praline Cake

Finished cake with pineapple-pecan icing.

Taste tests reveal that the cake is very good, but the icing with the pineapple is on the cloying side.  Should you be visiting during an open house, the cake may be there but with a revised frosting.  There may be another cake from this column as well.  These two were chosen from August columns 40 and 60 years ago.  The January 23, 1974 column featured Nan Potts, who catered many an event for the college’s Love of Learning program.  The first woman mayor of Cornelius, Potts also taught high school and has remained active in many civic programs.

One more recipe worth trying.

One more recipe worth trying.