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March 29, 2013

Student Satire

April Fool's Day seems a good occasion to honor the grand tradition of student satire.

As early as 1981, Case Western Reserve’s student newspaper, The Observer, honored April Fool’s Day with a special edition. With a special motto, “The birdcage liner of Waste Restroom Preserved University...” the editors proceeded to lampoon tenure, Cleveland weather, university fundraising (”Extortion: Mega bucks for CWRU” featuring quotes from Lemme Attem, Commander of the Major Gifts Task Force) career planning, sororities (”SAE bids for frosh; told ‘not for sale’”), and sports (”Action frisbee: game of steel”). Even the masthead was fair game, describing the Observer as “published sometimes by a few disco people from some University in Ohio from September to May, except when we have exams.” Classified ads included “Wanted: Edible, flavorful food. Contact dorm students.” In later years the special edition acquired its own title, The Obscurer.

But student satire was not confined to April Fool’s Day. Both the Case and WRU student yearbooks incorporated a particular brand of student humor aimed equally at students and faculty. These inside jokes, puns, and cartoons were often incorporated into the advertising section. Draw your own conclusions about the significance of that placement. The humor sections were most common during the early years of the 20th century. They seem to have gone out of fashion by the mid-1940s. Some choice examples can be seen in the University Archives Student Yearbook collection in Digital Case.

At Reserve, student satire needed a broader platform for its full expression. From 1924 till 1942 the students published the Red Cat. Puns, both visual and textual, limericks, cartoons, one-line jokes, and satirical essays filled the pages. Campus personalities and events and the news of the day were the targets of the Red Cat writers and artists. In the first issue the editors explained themselves, “Next to football there is perhaps no college product which attracts as much attention and appeals to the reader as much as the humorous magazine... The debut of the Red Cat heralds great things for the literary and artistic side of the University.”

The University Archives holds complete runs of The Observer, student yearbooks, and the Red Cat and welcomes users who wish to explore, or simply appreciate, our students' humorous perspective on university life.

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Examples of Red Cat covers from the 1920s

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March 22, 2013

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Margaret H. Johnson

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Margaret Hilda Johnson was the first woman dean of the School of Applied Social Sciences (SASS) of Western Reserve University (WRU), now known as the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of CWRU. She was appointed dean in 1950 and served until her retirement in 1958.

Miss Johnson was born 11/3/1893 in Lowell Massachusetts. Her father, George H. Johnson, was a Congregational minister and he moved the family to Cleveland when he became minister at Euclid Avenue Congregational Church. He also served as professor of History and Economics at Case School of Applied Science 1909-1927. She had 5 sisters.

Miss Johnson graduated from Central High School before entering the College for Women of WRU. She received the A.B. degree in 1917. As an undergraduate she was a member of Sigma Omega sorority. In 1919 she received the first Master of Science in Social Administration degree from SASS.

She entered the work force as personnel secretary for the H. Black Co. in Cleveland. One of her duties was to make sure that the immigrant workers attended their English classes. She became executive secretary of the Cleveland chapter of the League of Women Voters and in 1924 moved to Washington, D.C. as assistant executive secretary of the National League of Women Voters working with Belle Sherwin, president of the League.

In 1927 Miss Johnson returned to Cleveland and SASS as executive secretary of the School. The next year she became an instructor, and in successive years became assistant and associate professor. She was promoted to professor in 1939. In addition to her duties as a faculty member she served as assistant dean and was acting dean several times.

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Dean Johnson in front of the School of Applied Social Sciences at 2117 Adelbert Road

Miss Johnson was a vital part of the School’s growth and development from 1917 to 1958, as a student, faculty member, and dean. Upon her retirement in 1958 she stated that, “The School of Applied [Social] Sciences has developed greatly in the last few years. This development, especially the revised program and the new building, gives me a feeling of great satisfaction.”

Dean Johnson served the community as chairman of the American Association of Social Workers, executive committee member of the National Conference of Social Work, member of the Advisory Committee of the Department of Public Welfare of Ohio, Advisory Committee of City Relief Administration of Cleveland, Board of Directors of Women’s City Club, Board of Trustees of Welfare Federation, chairman of Directors of the Association of Social Workers of Cleveland.

She received numerous awards for her work including a citation at the convocation honoring the 75th anniversary of the founding of Flora Stone Mather College (1963) and an honorary degree from WRU in 1966.

In 1976 Margaret Johnson passed away at the age of 82 in Cleveland.

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March 06, 2013

Namesakes - Emma Maud Perkins and Perkins House

Some of the people for whom Case Western Reserve University has named buildings have actually had more than one building named for them. We know of several university buildings named for Emma Maud Perkins. The first was a frame house located at 11125 Euclid. Leased in 1943, the building served as a residence for Flora Stone Mather College students. It was the first Western Reserve University building formally named for a woman faculty member. Buildings on Bellflower and Magnolia were also later named Perkins House.

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Emma Maud Perkins and Perkins House

Emma Maud Perkins, Woods Professor of Latin, joined the faculty of Western Reserve University’s College for Women (later Flora Stone Mather College) in 1892, only four years after its establishment. There she taught Latin for thirty-seven years. Upon graduating from Vassar College in 1879 as valedictorian, Miss Perkins moved to Cleveland where she taught at Central High School. At Mather College for decades Miss Perkins was responsible for explaining the College’s traditions to new students at the beginning of each academic year. She was a prolific speaker, a gardener, and a supporter of women’s suffrage. Miss Perkins also served a term on the Cleveland Board of Education and was president of the College Club. She also served as president of the American Association of University Women. She died in 1937, leaving $10,000 to fund a scholarship at Flora Stone Mather College in memory of her mother, Sarah M. Perkins.

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