Reunions – then and now

Commencement festivities are over and Reunion fun is on the horizon. What better time for an update.  In 2010, Around the D featured Reunion Weekends, noting that the timing for Alumni Weekends had wandered a bit over the years from June to May to April.

The next year, the reunion date changed again — back to June –but not back to overlapping with Commencement.

Reunion/Commencement luncheon in 1947

Reunion/Commencement
luncheon in 1947

Not just the date has changed over the years. Earlier weekends tended to focus on class gatherings and group photographs. Current reunions offer more learning opportunities with faculty offering lectures on a range of topics.

Mini-lectures aren’t entirely new – Alumni here are listening to Ed White.

Mini-lectures aren’t entirely new – Alumni here are listening to Ed White.

Somethings remain constant:

Presidents always get time in front of alumni.

Presidents always get time in front of alumni.

Other traditions have faded:

Group photos are a long-standing tradition. Gathering of class spouses, less so now.

Group photos are a long-standing tradition. Gathering of class spouses, less so now.

and

In the 1970s, the alumni office tried out using hats to distinguish classes.

In the 1970s, the alumni office tried out using hats to distinguish classes.

Food is always important –

Class gatherings have varied from formal to informal - air conditioned and open window affairs.

Class gatherings have varied from formal to informal – air conditioned and open window affairs.

And music is too – we just don’t feature as many tubas.

Music in the 1970s

Music in the 1970s

What’s your favorite reunion memory?  Tradition?

 

Rare Book Room – Hidden messages?

One of the interesting things about “old books,” is what we can find out about their previous owners. Although we have some books in the Rare Book Room which were purchased new, most of the items have had at least one previous owner, if not a sequence of owners, so there are often traces of those previous owners, including names, dates, signatures, and, very often, “messages” they’ve left behind. Sometimes these messages are very obvious…sometimes more cryptic, decipherable only by the original writer, or close friends. The notes, sometime referred to as marginalia since they are often written in the margins of the pages, suggest that we ask questions such as :
Who wrote this, and when?
For whom, and for what purpose?
Was it spontaneous or planned?
Was it written as a personal note, for a particular person, or for a more public audience?
One old book with marginalia was described by a bookseller as “rather soiled by use.” The same copy was described by another dealer as “well and piously used.” Like beauty, the place of marginalia is in the eye of the beholder.
Here are some images of notes in some of our Rare Book Room holdings. What do you think?

Several previous owners of An Easy and Compendious Inrtoduction [sic], 1682

Several previous owners of An Easy and Compendious Inrtoduction [sic], 1682

Latin inscriptions on title page of Calvin's Institutes, 1612

Latin inscriptions on title page of Calvin’s Institutes, 1612

Latin inscription in Catalogus Gloriae Mundi, 1571.

Latin inscription in Catalogus Gloriae Mundi, 1571.

Cruise of the Dry Dock, 1917.  !st book of Pulitzer Prize winner, T.S. Stribling.

Cruise of the Dry Dock, 1917. !st book of Pulitzer Prize winner, T.S. Stribling.

Marginalia in Dialoges in English, 1580

Marginalia in Dialoges in English, 1580

Notes by owner, Prof. Fletcher, with bookplate of Vincent Starrett in Johnson on Shakespeare, 1908.

Notes by owner, Prof. Fletcher, with bookplate of Vincent Starrett in Johnson on Shakespeare, 1908.

Gift note with instructions in Lincoln & other poems, 1901.

Gift note with instructions in Lincoln & other poems, 1901.

"Ownership" notes in The Whole Duty of Man, 1673.

“Ownership” notes in The Whole Duty of Man, 1673.

Notes in French in VIsion de Sylvius Graphaletes, 1767.

Notes in French in VIsion de Sylvius Graphaletes, 1767.

Wordsworth's Sonnets, 1910.  Reference to his French daughter.

Wordsworth’s Sonnets, 1910. Reference to his French daughter.

A year of Digital Humanities and the Davidson archives

This week’s post is written by Dr. Anelise H. Shrout, a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Studies.

Over the past two semesters, I’ve had the privilege of trying out some new course ideas that blended digital humanities and archival work. The challenge of bringing #dh into archives and archives into #dh is that it can actually be quite a chore to translate historical data – as transcribed in minute books, maps, or letters – into a form that works for #dh visualizations and research. This year, I had two students whose projects used “analog” material from the Davidson Archives to create interesting and captivating digital artifacts, each of which showcased something new about Davidson history. These projects speak for themselves, but I thought I’d say a little about the process that each undertook to get from poring over manuscripts in the rare books room to these digital explorations of Davidson’s past.

Mapping Davidson’s Environmental History

Sarah Roberts, a senior Environmental Studies major, undertook the impressive task of charting Davidson’s environmental development over time. Using maps like this one:

1983-84 campus shrub map.

1983-84 campus shrub map.

– and many more besides, she created a series of visualizations that documented different aspects of Davidson’s environmental history at different points in time. This was not an easy process. For each of the maps she used, she had to trace the outlines of important features (buildings, athletics fields, a briefly-present lake) and color code them according to their purpose.

She brought all of these together in an environmental studies capstone project, but also in a dynamic website which takes users through the spatial history of Davidson College and a bit of the town.

Screenshot of Sarah Roberts' site

Screenshot of Sarah Roberts’ project site.

Mapping Davidson’s Institutional History

Avery Haller, a senior anthropology major also used the Davidson archives, but instead of tracking Davidson’s spatial history, she was interested in the college’s social and institutional history. Avery used the minutes of the Concord Presbytery, the Presbyterian group which was prompted by “the closing of Liberty Hall Academy (now Washington and Lee University) due to a massive fire” to found “a new place close to home to send their young men to school.”

Using documents like this one (which, happily, were transcribed):

Concord Presbytery Minutes-March 1835.

Concord Presbytery Minutes-March 1835.

Avery was able to extract social networks - the ties that bound the various men (and they were all men) involved in Davidson’s founding together (She describes the technical part of this process here).

The finished network.

The finished network – the first Davidson College President, Robert Hall Morrison, is in darker green.

Ultimately, Avery concluded that both a close reading of the sources and a systematic analysis of connections among Davidson’s founders revealed “a picture of Davidson … that blend[ed] conservative values and an entrepreneurial spirit.”

Together, these projects point to the innovative work that can emerge when traditional historical materials are deployed in new ways. However, both of these projects took an extraordinary amount of time to accomplish – since before they could begin their analysis, both Avery and Sarah had to render historical “data” legible for digital tools. As one student noted in my class’s final presentations “As most of you have found, data entry is kind of tedious,” but I hope that these projects can help convince students and researchers alike that the intersection of #dh and archives can lead to some fruitful and interesting results.

Academic Humor

Finals are starting this week, so it seems a good time to add it a little humor to lighten the campus atmosphere. Of course, the humor has a bit of an historical twist, coming from Scripts and Pranks published between 1938 and 1961.  Not all the jokes were original to Davidson, many were “borrowed” from other college publications and several were repeated over the years.

Fair warning, the jokes haven’t aged well (the may induce more eye-rolls than chuckles). They do provide some glimpses into student life and on-going themes of student-faculty conflict, fears over exams and making fun of first year students. And serve as a reminder that in those decades, Davidson students still had ties to farming and agriculture.

October 1941
Prof: Before we begin the examination are there any questions?
Frosh: What’s the name of this course?  – Yellow Jacket

October 1941 and June 1947
There should be no monotony
In studying your botany.
It helps to train
and spur your brain—
Unless you haven’t gotany –Exchange

Technology humor 1961

Technology humor 1961

December 1942
Frosh; I don’t think I deserve a zero
Prof: Neither do I, but it’s the lowest mark I’m allowed to give. The Wataugan

November 1936
“I shall now illustrate what I have on my mind,” said the prof as he erased the board  Syracusan

Have you a complete education?
I should say so. I’ve worn out three registrars already. Sundail

The  Davidson College campus has fewer agriculture jokes in 2015

The
Davidson College campus has fewer agriculture jokes in 2015

May 1937 & March 1941
Freshman: I don’t know
Sophomore: I am not prepared
Junior: I don’t remember
Senior: I don’t believe I can add anything to what has been said – Jester

November 1938
Pa: Well son, how are your marks?
Son: They’re under water.
Pa: What do you mean under water?
Son: Below “C” level.

The May 1938 issue poked fun at seniors with the label, the Unemployment Issue.

The May 1938 issue poked fun at seniors with the label, the Unemployment Issue.

January 1938
I like an exam,
I think it’s fun.
I never cram,
I don’t flunk one.
(I’m the teacher). Exchange

May 1940
Questions We Wish They Would Ask in Exams:
1. What year was the war of 1812 fought?
2. From which French Province did Joan of Arc come?
3. Who is the author Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales?
4. What two countries fought in the Spanish-American war?
5. In what season id Washington spent the winter at Valley Forge? Where did he spend it?
6. Tell all you know about the Swiss navy.
7. How much does 100lbs of cork way
8. What color was Napoleon’s white horse?
9. How much does a dime’s worth of sugar cost?
10. Where did Helen of Troy live? – Awgwan 5

When a sheepskin was really a sheepskin

When a sheepskin was really a sheepskin

April 1948
Asked whether a year of college had made any difference in his eldest son, a farmer replied:
Well he’s still a good hand the plow, but I notice his language has changed some. It used to be, “Whoa, Becky,” “Haw,” and “Git up.”
Now, when he comes to the end of a row, he says, “Halt, Rebecca! Pivot and proceed!”

 

Haven’t had enough– check out the Scripts and Pranks online.

Advice for students…circa 1787

Youth's Friendly Monitor

Youth’s Friendly Monitor

As students graduate and get ready to leave Davidson, they all get plenty of advice. Whether they’re going on for further formal education, going into their first “real” jobs, or taking a year to volunteer or travel… whatever they decide to do, they all get advice…solicited or not…from parents and other family members, friends, and their “Davidson Family.” Faculty members who have been important in their lives are often sources of advice, and that hasn’t changed in the last two centuries, as seen in one of our Rare Book Room titles Youth’s Friendly Monitor, or The affectionate school-master: containing his last pathetick farewell lecture to his young pupils, on their entrance into a busy world, and their diligent pursuit after new employments…. This 60 page volume was published in 1787 and was written by James Burgh (1714-1775), a London schoolmaster whose 3 volume political work Political Disquisitions was an important dissenting work during the reign of King George III.
Burgh’s lecture began:

“The Time being now come, when you are to remove from under my Care and Direction, and to go into other Hands, which will soon send you out into the wide World, where you must struggle for yourself and either sink or swim, according as you are favoured by Providence, and conduct yourself prudently, or otherwise; I think it my Duty to add to the many Advices I have given you from Time to Time…”Youth's Friendly Monitor.p1

He advised students:

“to submit frankly and readily to parents”
“never to meddle with any person’s character”
To find “employment to fill up your vacant Hours, and to prevent Life from hanging heavy on your Hands, the Pursuit of useful and ornamental knowledge.”

He also advised:

“it will be necessary for him to study Oeconomy” so that he can manage his own affairs
If they ultimately have children they are to “be more careful to have them well educated than well portioned.”
They are to keep “sober company.”

Good advice in 1787, and still pretty good in 2015!