Spring Frolics

Spring Frolics have long been a Davidson tradition– but just how long?

Students today know Frolics as mostly an outdoor event with concerts, water sliding, and games. Older alumni remember dance weekends and other generations, a combination of outdoor fun and dances.

Davidsonian article from 17 March 1937

Davidsonian article from 17 March 1937 reporting that the Junior Class will be offering the “very best in spring frolics.”

The search for the beginnings of Frolics bumped into the ending of Junior Speaking.  In the college’s earliest years, participation Junior Speaking was a requirement. Every junior had to give a public oration to advance to the senior class. The best of the speakers had the honor of performing during commencements while for others it was an onerous and unhappy obligation.  After the requirement was lifted, the juniors turned Speaking into a time to show off their party planning skills.

Between 1937 and 1938, those skills shifted to the Pan-Hellenic Council (later renamed the Interfraternity Council). In addition to the Homecoming and Mid-Winter Dance weekends, they planned the Spring Dances.  Since dancing was still prohibited on campus, all these dances took place in Charlotte, usually in the Armory. The students hired as big a name band as they could and crammed as many as 4 dances in the weekend (formal, semi-formal and tea dances).

Headline announcing 1941 Spring Frolics

Headline announcing 1941 Spring Frolics

Students and dates at the 1947 formal.

Students and dates at the 1947 formal.

Dancing came to campus in the 1940s and after the construction of Johnston Gym in 1949, the basketball court played host couples swirling under crepe paper streamers. An account of the 1954 frolics assured students that the Ray Anthony band was “still one of the top dance bands in America” and that he had “expanded his repertoire to include many more instrumentals as well as good danceable music.”  They were also reminded that Anthony had received an “unqualified stamp of approval from last year’s spring dance crowd with his renditions of When the Saints Go Marching In, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, and the Bunny Hop.”

In 1956, the dance committee announced a theme of “Orchid Parade” for the formal dance that included plans for each date to receive a miniature paper orchid and for “gay ranges of lavender and white to adorn the gym.”

The College Social Council took over the dance weekends in 1971, with the Union Board taking over by 1977.  The addition of the Lake Campus allowed new activities for the weekends.

In 1965, the line up for Frolics included old favorites (The Lettermen) and some new (to Davidson) names (Warwick and Wells).

In 1965, the line up for Frolics included old favorites (The Lettermen) and some new (to Davidson) names (Warwick and Wells).

15 April 1966 Davidsonian noting "combo party" held at the Lake Campus.

15 April 1966 Davidsonian noting “combo party” held at the Lake Campus.

In the 1970s and 80s, the dances became less formal and the outdoor activities increased.  There was a semi-formal in 1981 but the 1984 weekend featured court parties and a disco in the 900 room.

Outdoor concert during 1975 Spring Frolics.

Outdoor concert during 1975 Spring Frolics.

Students frolicing on and around the football field in 1984

Students frolicing on and around the football field in 1984.

In the last decade, frolics has been more about concerts and afternoons on Patterson Court. Not as many paper streamers but still a chance to set aside studying for a little socializing.

Takeaways from the Society of North Carolina Archivists Annual Conference

Professional development is integral to all of the library staff here at Davidson College, so with that in mind, the Discovery Systems team sent three of its members to the Society of North Carolina Archivists (SNCA) annual conference last week – myself, Jan Blodgett, and Susan Kerr. While we all often attend meetings, conferences, and other trainings, we usually reserve our discussion of takeways, thoughts, and interesting ideas to in-person weekly departmental meetings. We thought that my first SNCA meeting would be a great opportunity to compare and contrast what the Davidson attendees got out of the meeting. So, first up: my takeaways!

To start off the morning, Jan moderated the “Publishing and Managing Digital Collections without CONTENTdm” session, which I presented at. The session was a great opportunity to talk about our ongoing development and roll-out of our institutional repository, as well as to hear about how two other institutions are dealing with increasingly larger and larger digital collections.

Moderator and presenters at the "Publishing and Managing Digital Collections without CONTENTdm" session. From left to right: Jan Blodgett, Caitlin Christian-Lamb, Chelcie Rowell (Wake Forest University), and Molly Bragg (Duke University).

Moderator and presenters at the “Publishing and Managing Digital Collections without CONTENTdm” session. From left to right: Jan Blodgett, Caitlin Christian-Lamb, Chelcie Rowell (Wake Forest University), and Molly Bragg (Duke University). Photo via Craig Fansler (Wake Forest University); see his post on SNCA here. Molly Bragg also wrote a post about this session – read that here.

One of the sessions that made the biggest impact on me was “North Carolina and the Digital Public Library of America.” I’ve long been fascinated by the DPLA, and hearing about contributing to the DPLA from the point of view of the staff of a service hub (the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center) and from a contributing institution (Wake Forest University) definitely inspired me to think about whether an agile development cycle like the one employed at Wake Forest might work for Davidson. We currently have contributed 404 items to the DPLA, but this is a great time to plan what our next contributions and digitization projects will be.

Another one of my favorite parts of the day was the plenary luncheon presentation by Sarah E. Koonts, Director of the North Carolina Division of Archives and Records. Koonts filled in SNCA members on trends from archives around the U.S., with a focus on advocacy and outreach. Throughout the day of the SNCA conference, I was liveblogging as part of my participation in Day of DH, a digital humanities community-building project. I wrote a bit more on my blog there about what I got out of the plenary, but my main takeaway is that archival advocacy is incredibly important to the field, yet often hard to teach in graduate programs.

When I asked Susan about what she felt the biggest takeaways from SNCA were, she emphasized the serendipitous nature of discovering new tools and methods when at professional gatherings. In particular, she’s been playing around with Jason Ronallo’s (North Carolina State University) CSV-to-EAD conversion application, Stead, and freeformatter.com‘s CSV-to-XML convertor since SNCA.

Jan also got a lot out of attending SNCA this year – in her own words:

I’ve never stopped to count but I’ve probably been to 30+ SNCA meetings during my time at Davidson. Over these years I’ve gained much support, information, professional growth and new ideas from SNCA and this meeting was no exception. My official duties in relation to this springs’ SNCA meeting included being a part of the nominating committee and moderating a panel. Unofficially, it was a time to reconnect with colleagues, chat at poster sessions, and gather ideas for new projects.

After a presentation by archivists at UNC Greensboro, highest on my “let’s do” list is getting our scrapbooks digitized. We have scanned individual images but have yet to tackle the trickier process of scanning whole pages. My first thoughts were of our student scrapbooks – and following UNC-G’s example, I began mentally counting all the scrapbooks from student organizations and campus departments.  The numbers could be a bit daunting but bringing Davidson history online through the scrapbooks is an exciting prospect.

A few of the scrapbooks that Jan referred to - plenty of material to work with!

A few of the scrapbooks that Jan referred to – plenty of material to work with!

We each left the SNCA conference with a different set of takeaways… now to get to work figuring out what we can implement!

5th Annual Poetry Reading in the RBR

Poetry Reading

Poetry Reading

Tomorrow night, Thursday April 10th at 8:00 we are celebrating National Poetry Month with our 5th annual Poetry Reading in the Rare Book Room of the E.H. Little Library.  Last year was great fun, and we’re looking forward to this year’s event.  Davidson students, faculty members, and town poets —talented all— will read from their own works.  There will also be time afterwards for refreshments and chatting with the poets.

Hope to see you there!

And, through April 30th, you still have a chance to come to the Rare Book Room, Monday – Friday 8:30 am – 5:00 pm, to see our exhibit of poetry broadsides from the Iron Mountain Press.

Iron Mountain Press Display

Iron Mountain Press Display

The Davidsonian at 100

The speed with which mason jars and cupcakes disappeared at the Davidsonian Centennial Celebration yesterday suggests that the college’s student-run newspaper holds an important place in the campus culture. Since its inception, the paper has served as both “the flagship student publication” and as an important historical resource on campus, national, and international events.

The front page of the first issue of The Davidsonian - April 1, 1914

The front page of the first issue of The Davidsonian – April 1, 1914

The inaugural Editor-in-Chief, Frank W. Price (class of 1915), touched on the central role the student newspaper can play in the first editorial:

“[The Davidsonian] should be in close touch with every phase of college life and the life of the community about it. Even in a small college, life becomes more and more complex, and as the students are broken up into an increasing number of groups, there is a tendency not to look beyond the questions and the matter in which one man is directly interested. The college newspaper should give live information about every group and department of college activity, keep them acquainted with each other, and thus promote a feeling of mutual interest and encouragement. In addition, these are the things which vitally concern every student, and yet which are not well know or misunderstood.”

It is this “close touch” with the college and community that makes The Davidsonian such a valuable archival resource, in addition to its more immediate value as a news source and teaching tool. The Archives & Special Collections team frequently digs into both the print and digitized issues of The Davidsonian (and starting this year, The Davidsonian staff have been digging through these archives too – for a running feature where an archival article is re-published in each issue), and in celebration of this momentous occasion, we’d like to share a few lesser-viewed archival gems.

Ever wondered how The Davidsonian gets written? Well, in 1961, Editor-in-Chief Wallace B. Millner compiled “The Davidsonian Style Book and Short Course for Freshman Reporters,” in “a long overdue effort to catalog and standardize some style points” for the paper. In addition to setting parameters as to grammar and style, this guide included helpful tips on how to conduct interviews and write news stories, including how to construct a lead:

How to Write a Lead for The Davidsonian in 1961

“Earl Jones, Davidson economics professor, was apprehended by police last night while attempting to force entry into Charlotte’s Wachovia Bank.”

Another look behind the scenes of newspaper production can be provided through reporters’ assignment sheets or cards, such as the ones found in the scrapbooks of Hugh H. Smith (class of 1923) and Thomas T. Jones (class of 1928):

Smith's assignment sheet

Smith’s assignment sheet

A sample of Jones' assignment cards

Two of Jones’ assignment cards

The college archives holds the page layouts for the 75th anniversary edition of The Davidsonian:

Front page layout for the April 1989 75th anniversary

Front page layout for the April 1989 75th anniversary

Although many things have changed at Davidson (and elsewhere!) over the past 100 years, as Jan Blodgett pointed out, some issues have remained consistent, as the program from The Davidsonian banquet in 1920 makes clear:

Timely issues, and and interesting look at 1920s cuisine

Timely issues, and and interesting look at 1920s cuisine

As a counterpoint, the 1966 banquet featured a less detailed program and menu:

The 1966 Davidsonian banquet

The 1966 Davidsonian banquet featured less punch, at least on the menu

The Davidsonian has served as the campus news source for a century, including providing much-needed comic relief – a role currently filled by The Yowl. A glance through our archival holdings reveals issues of The David’s Onion, The Davidphonian, and The Devoidsonian, among others:

This column appeared in The Devoidsonian, vol. 666, no. ∞, published "Post-Trustee" (based on the content of the articles, this was most likely sometime between 1978 and 1983)

This column appeared in The Devoidsonian, vol. 666, no. ∞, published “Post-Trustee” (though undated, based on the content of the articles, this was most likely during the 1981-82 academic year)

Front page of The Davidphonian, "The Nation's Third Worst College Weekly," published May 5, 1998

Front page of The Davidphonian, “The Nation’s Third Worst College Weekly,” published May 5, 1998

If this week’s Centennial activities have piqued your interest in the past, present, or future of the college’s newspaper, check out the Davidsonian Reunion on April 12. As Marcus Bailey pointed out in his February 2013 editorial, “Why I write for the Davidsonian and you should too,” The Davidsonian is an excellent gateway to getting involved, both on the campus and with the world – just as it has been for the past 100 years.

Musical Movements and Moments

A recent transfer of recordings from the Music Library to the Archives prompted a little reflection on Davidson student’s enthusiasm for making music. Student letters describe impromptu concerts and  student choirs in the 1860s.  A Jug Band formed and played on campus –and when allowed– off campus in 1888-89.

More long lasting was the Glee Club, which served as the home to orchestras and subgroups including Guitar and Mandolin Club and the Double Quartette.

Glee Club in 1897 - incorporating the Guitar and Mandolin club

Glee Club in 1897 – incorporating the Guitar and Mandolin club

 

Although starting small, the orchestra would grow over the years.

Although starting small, the orchestra would grow over the years.

  Members of the Double Quartette in 1907Members of the Double Quartette in 1907

Several groups have shared names over the decades. In 1908, the guitars and mandolins took on the name the Serenaders.  By 1926,  the Wildcat Serenaders were on the scene — only to be reorganized as the Sunnyland Serenaders in 1928.

Formerly Guitar and Mandolins, now Serenaders

Formerly Guitar and Mandolins, now Serenaders

Article from 9 February 1928 Davidsonian announcing the change from Wildcat to Sunnyland

Article from 9 February 1928 Davidsonian announcing the change from Wildcat to Sunnyland

The name change brought on a spirit of adventure on the part of the musicians. Not content to play just on campus and in nearby towns, they hoped for a contract with a steamship line to play while crossing the Atlantic.

Guitars and Mandolins gave way to banjos, drums and sax

Guitars and Mandolins gave way to banjos, drums and sax

The Lamplighters started in 1954 as a quartet with Sandy McGeachy, Leighton McCutchen, Joe Garrison, Bob Martin. By 1964, the Lamplighters were a double quartet (without the extra e’s and t’s of the  1907 group) within the Male Chorus

Lamplighters (Double Quartet) in1965

Lamplighters (Double Quartet) in1965

When coeducation officially arrived at Davidson, women students were quick to follow the musical tradition.  In 1973, they joined the Madrigal Singers and a Women’s Chorus was founded in in 1975 with a student leader, Pat Morris.

With women's voices on hand, a campus madrigal group could be formed.

With women’s voices on hand, a campus madrigal group could be formed.

It should be noted that Davidson musicians  did not wait for coeducation. In 1940, the Davidson-Queens Little Orchestra was formed combining talents from Davidson and Queens College.   These are but a few of the musical moments at Davidson.  In 2014 along with the college sponsored choirs, orchestras and ensembles, there are a capella  groups, rock bands, and soloists sharing their talents. This summer student musicians and mathematicians will spend time together in the new Davidson College Venture Lab coming up with ways to create and distribute online music.  Let Davidson’s musical adventures continue.