August 31, 2015

Library Endowment Fund Namesakes - Smith Family Supported Funds

Ruth W. Helmuth was the first University Archivist for Western Reserve University (WRU) and Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), serving 1964-1985. In 1980 Lucia Smith Nash, university trustee, established the Archives Endowment Fund to be used at the discretion of the Archivist for the Archival Administration education program or the needs of the Archives. In 1986, with additional funds from Mrs. Nash and Mrs. Helmuth's brothers Paul and Carl Walter, the fund was renamed the Ruth W. Helmuth Archives Endowment Fund to support the University Archives.

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Ruth W. Helmuth

In July 2006 the University Archives became a unit of Kelvin Smith Library (KSL) and in 2011 joined with the Special Collections department and the Preservation department to form Scholarly Resources and Special Collections. Mrs. Nash, her sister Cara Smith Stirn, and her mother, Eleanor Armstrong Smith, had been strong supporters of KSL. In addition to providing earlier funds for the library building, in 1998 the Eleanor Armstrong Smith Charitable Fund made a $1.2 million gift to KSL for endowed fund. In 1999 the Board of Trustees approved the Eleanor Armstrong Smith Collections Endowment Fund and the Eleanor Armstrong Smith Memorial Endowment Fund for Kelvin Smith Library. These funds currently support purchases for Special Collections and the upgrading of Digital Case, the university’s digital repository.

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Eleanor A. Smith and Lucia Smith Nash

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August 07, 2015

One Family’s Century at CWRU

This summer the University Archives received a request from Ellen Wagner, whose son is entering CWRU this fall. Family memory holds that several of our new student’s ancestors had attended Case Western Reserve University and Ms. Wagner wondered if we could provide any information about their student days. This is not an unusual request for the Archives and legacy families are not unusual at CWRU. But the Loeb descendants were the first (to our knowledge) to incorporate student information from the Archives into a presentation at a multi-generation family reunion. Their enthusiasm was infectious and, with the family’s permission, we’re sharing a little of their story.

When Robert Wagner starts classes at CWRU later this month, it will be 100 years after his great-grandfather, Everett E. Loeb, started classes at Adelbert College, the undergraduate men’s college of Western Reserve University. In addition to his B.A. from Adelbert, Mr. Loeb also received the L.L.B. from WRU’s Law School. Everett served as president of the Menorah Society, established by Adelbert students interested in Jewish history, ideals, and problems.

Sylvia Loeb Harris, Robert’s great-great-aunt (Everett’s sister) was a 1918 graduate of WRU’s College for Women (later Flora Stone Mather College).

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Everett E. Loeb (Adelbert 1919, Law 1921) and Sylvia Loeb (College for Women 1918)

The second generation included two of Everett’s daughters, Virginia Loeb Kiine (Mather College 1948) and Nancy Loeb Jacobs (Applied Social Sciences 1953) and Virginia’s husband, Larry H. Kline (Case School of Applied Science 1945). Members of the second generation were active participants in student activities. Virginia was both treasurer and vice president of the El-Ed Club, president of Rho Delta Chi, at that time Mather’s newest sorority, and secretary of the Inter-Sorority Council. Larry was a member of Pi Sigma Delta fraternity, worked on the student yearbook, The Differential, and was a member of Case’s Debate Club.

The third generation expands to Robert’s father’s family via his uncle, Gregory P. Wagner (Weatherhead School of Management 2002).

The fourth generation, Robert Wagner, starts the family’s second hundred years at CWRU.

One hundred years. Four generations. Seven schools.

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July 27, 2015

Library Endowment Fund Namesakes - Allen Dudley Severance Fund

Allen Dudley Severance was on the faculty of Western Reserve University 1897-1920, teaching history, church history, bibliography, special bibliography, and historical bibliography for Adelbert College, the College for Women, and the School of Library Science. Severance received the A.B. and A.M. from Amherst College, the B.D. from Hartford Theological Seminary, the B.D. from Oberlin Theological Seminary, and studied at the Universities of Halle, Berlin, and Paris.

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Allen Dudley Severance

He left a library of books on the Middle Ages and the Reformation and an endowment fund to the library of Adelbert College (Hatch Library). The fund was to be used for the purchase of books on medieval history, the Protestant Reformation, and related subjects. In his 1916 memorandum concerning this bequest, Severance stated, "It speaks of my interest in the work of the institution to which I have given almost two decades of my life."

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July 08, 2015

Student Traditions - Freshman-Sophomore Contests

At Case it was called the Flag Rush, Pushball Contest, and Bag Rush. Adelbert College called it the Flag Rush. At Mather College it was the Flag Hunt. At each of the three schools, during the first half of the twentieth century, early in the academic year class rivalry manifested in a contest that pitted the freshmen against the sophomores for class supremacy and bragging rights.

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Mather Flag Hunt, 1946 (left) and Freshman Initiation, 1946 (right)

At Mather, the Flag Hunt was an all-day event. Early in the morning, in one of the college buildings, the sophomores hid a flag which the freshmen had to find by the end of the day. In the early days, the losing class treated the winning class to dinner. The penalties became more creative over time. If the freshmen failed to find the flag, the next day they were required to wear costumes devised by the sophomores and subject themselves to various demands, all part of their initiation. If the freshmen found the flag, as the student handbooks phrased it, the sophomores “must forego the privilege of initiating their traditional rivals.” The sophomores were ingenious in their hiding places: a basketball, a garden hose, inside the lining of a knitting bag.

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Adelbert Flag Rush, 1910? (left) and 1950s (right)

At Adelbert, the flag was raised on a greased pole. The sophomores guarded the pole against freshmen attempts to retrieve the flag and deliver it to the dorm steps by a stated time. One of the student handbooks described the contest as offering the freshmen “an opportunity to forget their homesickness.” As the freshman class was usually larger than the sophomore, it was not unknown for the sophomores to equalize the contest by “kidnapping” freshmen for the day. It was usually a spirited contest. In 1928 the student newspaper, the Reserve Weekly, lamented that year’s rather tame contest, “Very few trousers were ripped completely off, and men that were denuded were forced to leave the fight immediately.”

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Case Bag Rush, 1924 (left) and Pushball Contest

At Case the details of the freshman-sophomore contest changed over time. The original event, the Flag Rush, similar to Adelbert’s, was replaced by the Pushball Contest in 1911. The ball was wooden, covered with a thin padding under a canvas cover, and stood shoulder-high. The freshmen pushed from one side and the sophomores pushed from the other. Most accounts describe modest yardage gained by either class. In 1922 the Bag Rush replaced the Pushball Contest. The Differential 1929 (the student yearbook), opined that the bag rush was an improvement because, “More individuality was brought into play and fewer men were injured. From the viewpoint of the onlooker, it was far more interesting than push-ball, as the fighting was more scattered.” Several sand-filled bags were place in the center of the field, each with a team of sophomores and freshmen attempting to move the bag across the opponent’s goal line. The winner was the team with the most yardage. As at Adelbert, ripping the clothes off the opponents was integral to the tradition, and endured when other aspects of the contest changed.

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June 18, 2015

#cwruhistory: 400 days in 140 characters

CWRU, including its predecessors WRU and CIT, has operated for more than 69,000 days.

A year ago I began an experiment to tweet about an event, achievement, decision, or action that happened on 365 of those days - one tweet each day from January 1 through December 31.

Firsts were obvious candidates, e.g., first woman graduate in each school; first issue of the Case Tech; first WRUW broadcast. Beginnings were naturals, e.g., establishment of schools. In 189 years, we've accumulated plenty of milestones, such as the value of our endowment reaching $1billion.

Some days were unhappy ones: when fire gutted our oldest building, Adelbert Hall and Case's first building, Case Main; when Commencement was postponed because students were away from campus fighting in the Civil War; the memorial convocations after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy's and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Some events were solemn: dedicating the memorial tablet honoring the WRU men who died in World War I. Others were playful: Tyler House's Jello Jam using 1000 pounds of cherry jello.

One of the most satisfying parts of my job as an archivist is helping members of the CWRU community to see their own experiences in the university's history. Using twitter, and other social media platforms, to make CWRU's history (even in such an abbreviated form) more accessible is just one technique University Archives is using to make CWRU's history more accessible.

#cwruhistory lists all 400 tweets. Take a 5-minute history break and explore!

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June 09, 2015

Library Endowment Fund Namesakes - Benjamin P. Bourland Fund

Benjamin P. Bourland was Professor of Romance Languages at Western Reserve University 1901-1940. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Michigan and his Ph.D. from the University of Vienna. Bourland enjoyed a reputation as an outstanding scholar, a patron of the performing arts, a wine connoisseur, and as a bibliophile noted for his active leadership of the Rowfant Club of Cleveland. He donated a portion of his library to WRU and Special Collections hold the Benjamin Parsons Bourland Rowfantia Collection.

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Benjamin P. Bourland, ca. 1911

The Bourland Fund was established in 1969 for the purchase of French books through the efforts of Dorothy Prentiss Schmitt, an alumna of the WRU School of Library Science (class of 1925) and university trustee. She received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from CWRU in 1970. She supported many efforts on campus with her leadership and financial support. During the Resources Campaign in the 1970s she gave over $250,000 to the University Libraries.

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Dorothy Prentiss Schmitt, 1953

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