We’re not exactly sure what’s going on here–a concert? a play? spirit photography?–but these members of the class of 1872 look like they’re having some fun. They’re standing in front of the old gymnasium, which once stood on a site on present-day Andrus field behind the Chapel. Left to right, Silas William Kent, Samuel Greenleaf Cushing, ?, Henry Townsend Scudder, Charles Wesley Young, and Edmund Mead Mills.
Nov. 3, 2014 by Leith Johnson
Is Russell House haunted? Video producer Ben Travers investigated, aided in part with resources from Special Collections & Archives. Happy Halloween!
Oct. 10, 2014 by Emma Rothberg
In the fall of 1910, a young man from Oneonta, New York—a small town made important by the railroad earlier in the 19th century—stepped onto Wesleyan’s campus. He was only the second in his family to go to college, but he was not the first Cardinal; his older brother had recently graduated in 1907 and this young man was ready to create his own stories that he could tell to the people back home. He was one of 121—the largest entering freshman class up to that point in Wesleyan’s history. His name was Lynn Smith Miller.
Lynn Smith Miller had a Wesleyan experience that was similar to many other individuals who came both before and after his graduation in 1914. He went to the movie theater on Main St. (The Nickel Theater at that time); he attended Vesper Services, cheered at the football games, dealt with a roommate, and sometimes did not finish his assignments. The difference between Lynn Smith Miller and many other Wesleyan students is that he left a record, a detailed record of his own creation, of his time on campus.
Rather than just having paperwork on Miller or seeing his name in the alumni records, we can see the cigarettes he smoked (some of them Turkish), the invitations he received (some from then-President Shanklin), the ticket stubs he purchased (from both live productions and movies), his schedules (lots of language classes), and his admittance into his fraternity (the Wesleyan Chapter of Delta Upsilon). We have his booklets from all of the dances he attended with the names of his partners carefully penciled in next to each dance. We have his diary and tuition bill for 1913. We know of Miller’s pride in his classes triumph in the “cannon scrap” of the Douglas Cannon in 1910 because of the numerous newspaper articles he saved. We know all of this because of the immense scrapbook that Lynn Smith Miller created that was recently donated to Wesleyan’s Special Collections and Archives by his son John W. Miller, Class of 1953.
The scrapbook is about 160 pages with multiple items on each page and more stored in envelopes inside the scrapbook. These items either relate to Miller’ personal experience at Wesleyan or to the more general experience of a student enrolled in the University at the beginning of the 20th century. By flipping through the pages of the scrapbook, one can get insight into what student life was like—what were the popular events on campus, what were the groups that formed and which stuck around, what were the prevalent courses, and what did students find were particularly important experiences to have during their time on campus. Beyond the scrapbook, the collection contains two diaries (one covers Miller’s freshman year [1910-1911] and the other covers the second semester of his junior year [January-June 1913]), medals given to Miller at Wesleyan’s 100th anniversary in 1931, and a supplemental binder put together by Miller’s son containing secondary information. The diaries give a day-by-day accounting of what Miller was going through. Information ranges from the seemingly unimportant—perhaps the weather for that day—to the anticipated moments—getting to walk downtown and see a movie.
Lynn Smith Miller would go on to graduate Wesleyan with a B.A., although his family is not sure in what subject his degree was given (they think it was in history). He served in World War I as a member of the U.S. Infantry and then worked in newspapers with his older brother in both North Indianapolis, Indiana and Royal Oak, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit). Lynn Smith Miller passed away on January 26, 1962 in Michigan. He and his family, including one son who also graduated a Cardinal with the Class of 1953, continue to be a part of the Wesleyan community; the donation of this scrapbook lets us unite with a classmate from a century ago.
When sophomore Arch Doty moved into room 23 of Clark Hall in September, 1939, he brought with him a radio transmitter he had built at home the previous summer. Using a turntable, 78 rpm records, a microphone, the transmitter, and an antenna wire hanging out of Arch’s window, student-run radio at Wesleyan hit the airwaves.
It was a modest start. The entire audience that tuned into the evening AM-band broadcasts was limited to Clark residents—the weak signal reached no farther than several hundred feet beyond the antenna. But the broadcasts proved to be very popular, and within weeks, students in other residences wanted to be able to tune in.
Seventy-five years later, WESU-FM reaches a potential audience of over one million listeners, and can be heard beyond Springfield, Massachusetts; Long Island, New York; Waterbury; and Norwich.
“WESU: Celebrating 75 Years of Community Radio” takes an anecdotal look at one of the oldest college radio stations in the United States using photographs, documents, photographs, clippings, and artifacts. Throughout WESU’s history, there have been two constants: first, without interruption, Wesleyan students have continuously operated the station; and second, broadcasts have been focused on new, under-represented, or non-commercial programming aimed at students and the larger community.
Most of the items in the exhibition are from the collections of Special Collections & Archives, Olin Library. University Archivist Leith Johnson is curator of the show, with research assistance provided by Ian McCarthy. Special thanks to WESU General Manager Ben Michael for advice and loans of items from WESU’s collection.
The show is on view in the exhibition area near Special Collections & Archives, 1st floor Olin Library, Wesleyan University.
May. 30, 2014 by Leith Johnson
Apr. 15, 2014 by Leith Johnson
If you were a female high school senior in 1969, you might have encountered this flyer. In 1970, Wesleyan once again admitted women as freshmen (Wesleyan was a coeducational institution from 1872 to 1912), and 2014 marks the 40th anniversary of their graduation. You can read much more about the return to coeducation in Suzy Taraba’s Historical Row column, “Women Return to Wes.”
We recently received this postcard as a donation from Steve Humphrey ’63 by way of Philip Rockwell ’65 MALS ’73. It’s a postcard showing the old Delta Kappa Epsilon house, which was torn down in 1928 to make way for the present DKE house that was constructed on the same site. What makes this really interesting is the message on the back:
It was mailed Oct. 31, 1910. Why the one lonely word, “Goodbye”? Who was the sender? And what was the relationship of the sender to Miss J. A. Kinney?
Regular readers of Pick of the Week (which has been on vacation for a while) will remember a post from October 2012 written by Abbey Francis about a Wesleyan sweater that belonged to Calvin Kuhl ’27. Mr. Kuhl was quite active while he was a student, and Abbey found him pictured wearing the sweater in connection with his athletic activities. While searching through photographs of the Glee Club in the 1920s, I came across the above photograph taken in 1927. Here he is again wearing his “W” sweater, this time as leader of the two-time national intercollegiate champion Glee Club. The attached caption tells the story.
Oct. 16, 2013 by Leith Johnson
As you may be aware by now, the CFA is celebrating its 40th anniversary this academic year. We worked with Pamela Tatge, Andy Chatfield, and John Elmore to provide a wide range of images from the SC&A collections that will be used to mark the occasion. Forty will be displayed in an online exhibition, Celebrating 40 Years: Center for the Arts Images from Special Collections & Archives on the CFA’s flickr page. The CFA also has created a special blog: Celebrating 40 Years: Center for the Arts Stories, featuring 40 alumni stories and memories about the CFA.
The image above was taken on September 15, 1973, during the Open House at the Center for the Arts between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., in the New Gallery (now the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery). In this photo is an electronic music performance by Professor of Music Alvin Lucier. He performed “Queen of the South” (1972) and “VIFARB/HYPERB” (1973) that afternoon.