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December 30, 2010

The Tombs

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Mary Chisholm Painter Memorial Gateway

A university as long-lived as ours is bound to develop interesting myths and legends. Some of our more intriguing stories have formed around campus structures. The Tombs, for example, seems a grim nickname for the lovely structure on the north side of Euclid Avenue between Mather House and the Church of the Covenant.

In spite of its menacing sobriquet, the Painter Arch was Flora Stone Mather College’s most frequently used symbol, appearing on yearbook covers, calendars, event programs, postcards, and class pins. It is also a designated Cleveland Landmark.

The Mary Chisholm Painter Memorial Gateway, as it was formally named, was designed by Charles Schweinfurth and constructed in 1904. The Arch, as it was also called, was a gift of William and Mary Stone Chisholm in memory of their daughter, who died in 1901. William Chisholm was a prominent Cleveland businessman with social and business connections to several Western Reserve University trustees.

According to the 1904/05 Western Reserve University Annual Report, the Painter Gateway was the first of what President Thwing hoped would be a series of gateways at the entrances to Western Reserve University.

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December 20, 2010

Holiday Fun for All!

It may be hard to imagine the likes of Jungle Larry and his animals, Bozo the Clown, and Sam the Chimp on the campus of a serious-minded engineering school like Case Institute of Technology. But they were among the entertainers featured at the annual Case Institute of Technology Christmas parties.

On Monday, December 23, 1963, Case held its first Christmas party for all faculty, staff and their families. It was held from 3-5 p.m. in Horsburgh Gymnasium at the Sam W. Emerson Physical Education Center. Entertainment was provided, gifts and prizes were handed out, and Santa Claus made an appearance.

Volunteers decorated the gym as well as a large Christmas tree on the preceding Saturday. Those employees who were not bringing children were asked to help out with 20-30 minute shifts.

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Case Christmas party, 1965

This party became an annual event, and by the time of Federation in 1967, featured entertainers had included: Jungle Larry and his animals, George Arnold, an organ grinder and his monkey, Rosare’s Complete Dog Show, Bozo the Clown and Sam the Chimp. The tradition continued through at least 1970.

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December 13, 2010

Stunt Night at Mather College

At Mather College, the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas break were not wholly devoted to term papers and final exams. Preparation for Stunt Night - writing skits, learning dances, making costumes and scenery - competed for student time and energy.

One night, just before Christmas vacation, each class performed an original skit and song, competing for class honor and the silver Stunt Night cup. Judging was done by a panel of faculty, alumnae, and students. Parody and satire were the prevailing modes of expression. Current events, University mores, and, not surprisingly, the men of Adelbert College provided rich topics.

Below, the Flora Stone Mather junior class performs at 1948 Stunt Night. 00366D1.jpg

From its 1914 origins in the College’s gymnasium, by the 1920s Stunt Night’s popularity required a larger venue. For decades the annual performance was held in the Masonic Auditorium. Over the years, additional traditions accumulated. By the late 1930s a dance following the performance was held at local hotels such as the Statler Hilton, the Hotel Cleveland, and the Tudor Arms. The Champagne Circle featured the winning class passing the Stunt Night cup around the circle, each girl taking a celebratory sip of champagne. By the early 1940s a post-dance breakfast in Haydn Hall ended the festivities in the early morning.

In 1945, Stunt Night attracted the attention of Life Magazine, which published a 4-page article, Life Goes to a College Stunt Night in the January 21, 1946 issue.

Stunt Night’s status as the most important student event in the Mather calendar is clear from its extensive treatment in the yearbooks, some of which can be seen in the University Archives Student Yearbook collection in Digital Case.

It also seems to be fondly remembered by Mather alumnae. Some of their recollections have been recorded as audio interviews done by students in the Flora Stone Mather Oral History Project also available in Digital Case.

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December 08, 2010

Student Music Groups

Music was part of the extracurricular life of Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology long before formal instruction was offered.

At Western Reserve College musical organizations were established quickly. In 1828, only two years after the college was chartered, the Handel Society was organized by Rufus Nutting, a member of the faculty, and ten WRC students. The Handel Society met weekly to practice singing and read essays about music and musicians. The college choir started in the 1830s and the glee club developed from this. The image below is of the Western Reserve College Glee Club approximately 1851.
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Case School of Applied Science established its glee club in 1897. In 1922 the student yearbook opined, “The Musical Clubs always have been a star feature at Case, strange as that may seem. In fact we might well be called the Musical engineers. The queerest part of the matter is we admit we’re good - and then prove it.” Decades later, the glee club was still going strong, releasing its first album, Case Men Sing, in 1960. Featuring Case songs such as "Carmen Case," "Alma Mater," and the "Fight Song," the first edition sold out within a week.
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Rock and jazz groups are more familiar to current generations. But in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, students at Adelbert College, Flora Stone Mather College, and Case School of Applied Science were active in mandolin clubs. The image below is the College for Women Guitar and Mandolin Club in 1899-1900.
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The colleges' orchestras, marching bands, and other ensembles have performed at concerts, university ceremonies, and athletic events both on and off campus. Those musical experiences obviously made lasting impressions. This mp3 is one song from a program performed by the Case Class of 1904 Vocal Quartet at their 50th reunion banquet. Case-specific lyrics to popular tunes were a big part of their repertoire. Download file

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December 01, 2010

Let the Music Move You

Archives Month is celebrated annually in October as a way of raising awareness of the collections and services of America’s archives. Ohio’s celebration centers around a theme which, in 2010, was Let the Music Move You. As part of our participation, CWRU’s Archives explored some of the aspects of the university’s musical life - curriculum, concerts, clubs & organizations, and our radio station.

Our curriculum inquiry focused on beginnings. Musical instruction was first offered at Western Reserve University through an affiliation with the Cleveland Conservatory of Music in 1888. Courses in piano, violin, and voice were offered. But, according to the Catalog, those courses "must be considered as extra work, which will not be received as equivalent for the regular or elective work of the college curriculum."

It was not until 1899 that the regular curriculum of the College for Women included music. The two courses offered were History of Music and Harmony and Counterpoint. All the music classes were taught by Charles E. Clemens, professor of music for 30 years. Adelbert College began offering music courses in 1924 and Cleveland College followed in 1927.

At Case School of Applied Science, the Department of Language and Literature began offering Appreciation of Music in 1946. The Catalog described the course as, “...an introductory course...covering elements of composition and performance and giving their historical background. Illustrations will be by phonograph records and actual performance.”

The Catalog, aka General Bulletin, is one of our best sources for researching the curriculum. It includes policy (requirements for degrees and majors), programs (degrees, majors, minors, and courses offered by each school and department), and people (the faculty of each department and school and their teaching areas). Because it is such a rich resource, this series is on our priority list of records to be digitized.

But I digress - back to Archives Month and music. We were pleased that one of our images, the College for Women Guitar and Mandolin Club of 1899, was chosen for the Ohio Archives Month poster.

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