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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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