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February 17, 2012

National History Day’s CWRU Origins

Earlier this week President Obama awarded the National Humanities Medal to National History Day, an organization that fosters historical research by students in grades 6 through 12. As archivists, we’re happy to see any history program receive such a prestigious award. But as Case Western Reserve University archivists, we’re even prouder since History Day began at Case Western Reserve University. History Day’s origins and development are well-documented in the University Archives.

Brochures, correspondence, reports, photographs, and news releases and clippings document planning at the local, state, and national levels. Annual contest themes and results are documented as well as milestones in the program’s development.

Planning for History Day began in 1973 as part of preparations for celebrating America’s bicentennial in 1976. The first program was on May 11, 1974 with the theme Ohio and the Promise of the American Revolution. David Van Tassel, Chairman of CWRU’s History Department, led the History Day effort. Besides CWRU, the Western Reserve Historical Society, the Greater Cleveland Bicentennial Commission, the Cleveland Area Arts Council, the Greater Cleveland Council of Social Studies, and the Diocesan Social Studies Teacher Association planned and sponsored the event.

Student exhibits were displayed in the ballroom of Thwing Hall on CWRU’s campus. The awards banquet was held at the Western Reserve Historical Society. More than 125 students produced essays, individual, and group projects, including a slide and tape show about the development of Euclid Avenue. Other topics researched were shipbuilding in Ohio, WPA art, the North Union Shakers, steel mills, Ohio’s wine industry, and Erie Canal locks.

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The three $100 first prize winners were Duncan Fuller of Cleveland Heights High School for his essay, “I-271 as a Social Divider,” Lisa Doull and Ann Horsbursh of Laurel’s Upper School for a slide and tape presentation on the North Union Shakers, and Chris Carnahan of Bedford High School for his portrayal of a Revolutionary War soldier.

By 2012 History Day had become an international program serving half a million students annually.

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February 03, 2012

Squire Valleevue Farm

Squire Valleevue Farm was left to Flora Stone Mather College of Western Reserve University by Andrew and Eleanor Squire. Andrew was one of the founding partners of the law firm Squire, Sanders, and Dempsey. He was a trustee of Western Reserve University from 1900 until his death in 1934.

Though their residence was on Euclid Avenue, Andrew and Eleanor purchased their first plot of land, Valleevue Farm, in Hunting Valley in 1911, adding other parcels at various times. The University had access to the farm for picnics, outings, and research since 1930, and took full possession in 1937, after both Squires died.

Mather College used the farm for many purposes over the years. It was a working farm for a number of years and provided the campus with food for the dining rooms. The women often helped with farm chores. The Pink Pig was used as a weekend residence for the Mather women. The students enjoyed skiing, ice skating, hiking, putting on theater productions, and other activities.

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Students enjoying the Pink Pig and getting ready to ski and ice skate

The May Squire House was used as a laboratory for the Home Economics students.

Several departments conducted research at the farm. Franklin J. Bacon, originally professor of pharmacognosy and later biology, lived at the farm, managing its operations, conducting classes and performing research. The School of Pharmacy grew a medicinal herb garden at Squire Valleevue for many years.

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Andrew Squire in the medicinal herb garden

The Manor House has been used as a private residence, the university president’s home, and an event venue. Presidents Louis A. Toepfer (1970-1980) and David V. Ragone (1980-1987) called the Manor House home during their tenures.

In 1977 the University received a gift of 104 acres of the adjoining Valley Ridge Farm from the George Garretson Wade family.

You can view more images of the farm by visiting the University Archives Image Collection in Digital Case.

Bill Claspy, Research Services Librarian at Kelvin Smith Library, recently interviewed Ana Locci, director of the farm, and Christopher Bond, horticulturalist at the farm, about their book, Case Western Reserve University: Squire Valleevue and Valley Ridge Farms. Listen to the podcast.

Kelvin Smith LIbrary is hosting an exhibit of watercolor paintings done by continuing education students taking classes at Squire Valleevue Farm. You can view the exhibit during regular library hours February 13 through March 16.

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