April 29, 2016

To All To Whom These Presents May Come...

Since we are approaching Commencement, it seems a good time to consider one of its established elements - the diploma. As a document type, diplomas represent an interesting mix of continuity and change. The diploma’s purpose, tanglble testimony that a student has met the requirements of a course of study and that a degree was conferred by a university, has endured for centuries. Its form, however, has undergone some intriguing changes.

At Western Reserve, for most of the 19th century, the diplomas were in Latin, not English. The School of Medicine voted to adopt English for its diplomas in 1883.

1842 Western Reserve College diploma - in Latin

1884 Western Reserve University School of Medicine diploma - now in English

The size of our diplomas has varied, from approximately 9x12 inches to 18x24 inches. Generally, the size of the diploma has decreased in size over time. These size changes have not been universally applauded. In 1930, the Law School students objected on the basis that the smaller diploma, “is inadequate for the needs of a professional man.” In 1966, the Law and Dental School students objected both to the size and to the simplicity of the typography and decoration of the diplomas. In supporting the students, the Dean of the Law School, Louis A. Toepfer, wrote, “...a great many lawyers take special pride in having a handsome diploma which they display in their offices.” When the issue was brought to the School of Medicine students, the Associate Dean of Student Affairs, John L. Caughey, Jr. reported that, “the decision of the members [of Student Council] was that they didn’t really care enough to get involved.”

Parchment was used in the early days of WRU and Case, eventually replaced by paper. At various times, ribbons were affixed to the diplomas, as were colored and embossed seals.


Ribbon on Western Reserve diploma from the 1870s and Seal on Case School of Applied Science diploma, 1895

For many years, diplomas were rolled when presented to the graduates, such as these College for Women students in 1910.

One of my favorite diploma graphics is the picture of Leonard Case, Jr. that adorned the Case diplomas from the 1880s through the 1910s.


Leonard Case, Jr. on an 1887 Case School of Applied Science diploma

After Federation in 1967, the question of what university’s name would appear on diplomas lingered for several years. Requests for post-1967 diplomas with pre-1967 university names were considered by the Board of Trustees on a case-by-case basis through much of the 1970s. In 1981 the Trustees approved a single diploma style and size to be used by all the schools.

Diplomas have lasting significance, both for students and the university. Some students are unable to attend Commencement to receive their diplomas personally. In spite of the best efforts of university staff, it can sometimes take awhile to deliver these diplomas to graduates. The Archives has documentation of successful efforts to unite diplomas and graduates decades after the degree was awarded. The longest such effort we have identified was the 1963 delivery of his diploma to a 1909 graduate.

Congratulations to all our 2016 graduates. Cherish those diplomas - you've earned them!

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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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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.

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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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.

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.

Dorothy Prentiss Schmitt, 1953

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May 29, 2015

Library Endowment Fund Namesakes - Thwing Endowment Funds

The university's libraries have been the beneficiary of almost 200 years of support from individuals and groups via bequests and endowment funds. The first bequest to Western Reserve College in 1828 was a collection of books for the library! These gifts permanently support activities of the library and provide a benefit well beyond a single small gift. Throughout the summer we will highlight some of these funds.

President Charles Franklin Thwing in 1895

Charles F. Thwing was the longest-serving president of Western Reserve University (1890-1921). Educated at Harvard and Andover Theological Seminary, he was an ordained minister. The university expanded from 2 undergraduate colleges and the Medical School to a full-fledged university with 9 colleges and schools under Thwing's leadership. He was a great supporter of the libraries - fundraising for facilities, donating his personal funds, and leaving part of his personal library to the University Library. His personal papers and office files as president are in the University Archives, a part of Kelvin Smith Library.

President Thwing had said if a building was named for him he hoped it was a library. In 1934 Western Reserve University named its first university-wide library Thwing Hall. See our past blog entry regarding this honor.

He established 3 library endowment funds, and the President Thwing Library Fund was given in his honor by various groups of Mather College at the time of his retirement. In 1929 the Mary Butler Thwing Shallenberger Memorial Library Fund was given by Thwing in memory of his daughter, who was a 1901 graduate of the College for Women (renamed Flora Stone Mather College in 1931). Its original purpose was the purchase of books in German and Philosophy and was later amended by Thwing to be for the purchase of books in modern languages and Philosophy. He pledged $1,000 for the fund and made payments over several years. In his letter of 11/2/1933 which included a payment, he poignantly wrote, “I want to say to you that it has been a deep pleasure to give this money. It brings to my heart the happiness that belongs to parents in building memorials to their children who have gone to heaven. It also bears an intimation of my sense of joy in working with these graduates in establishing this marvellous (sic) fund. Believe me, Ever yours, C.F.T.”

While seemingly a small gift, President Thwing's original $1,000 gift in memory of his daughter has supported scholarly pursuits through the purchase of materials for over 80 years. The other Thwing funds have continued to support the scholarship of CWRU’s students and faculty.

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May 23, 2014

Student Traditions - Class gifts

Besides Commencement, another end of academic year tradition is class gifts. Here we highlight a class gift which has made a permanent mark on the campus: the sculpture Desire to Heal.

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Desire to Heal

Desire to Heal is the sculpture located in front of the Dental Clinic off Cornell Road. The School of Dentistry Class of 1973 presented this gift to the School. The class had commissioned faculty member Dr. Michael Tradowsky, Assistant Professor in Restorative Dentistry, to design the work of art. Dr. Tradowsky received training in sculpture from Monterey Peninsula College.

The sculpture is made from a blend of reinforced concrete. It stands four feet high and rests on a three foot base. It was designed to complement the architecture and surroundings of the building. It has been referred to informally as “the tooth.” Dr. Tradowsky stated, “The sculpture should give the viewer the desire to fit its three equal segments together. The desire to heal is inherent in live material, and the art piece has the form of an organic object, capable of this healing process.”

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July 16, 2012

Cleveland Free-Net

Twenty-six year ago today, Cleveland Free-Net was officially started. Originating at CWRU, Free-Net was the nation's first free, open-access community computer system. Designed by former faculty member Thomas Grundner, Free-Net grew out of the Department of Family Medicine’s St. Silicon’s Hospital and Information Dispensary which had emanated from the department’s computerized message network.

The system allowed anyone with a computer or terminal with a modem to call in and have access to a wide variety of electronic services and features. These services and features included: a post office where free electronic mail was available for anyone in northeast Ohio who registered in the system; a school system where Cleveland area schools could communicate via computer and where common databases could be accessed by teachers, parents, students, and administrators; a hospital, St. Silicon’s Hospital and Information Dispensary, where a wide variety of medical information and services were available including the opportunity to ask medically-related questions; a public square where people could make speeches from an electronic podium, be part of an online computer user group, join interest groups, and other services.

Originally Free-Net ran on an AT&T 3B2/400 computer with 4 megabytes of RAM and 72 MB of hard disk storage. The CPU was a WE 32100 chip with a 10 megahertz clock operating under AT&T’s Unix System V operating system. Software was written in “C.” AT&T donated $50,000 worth of computer equipment and software.

Ohio Governor Richard F. Celeste and Cleveland Mayor George V. Voinovich gave the system its official start at the opening of a summer festival in downtown Cleveland.

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The advent of the World Wide Web and other technologies eventually rendered Free-Net obsolete. Chat and News services for community users ended 9/1/1999 and Cleveland Free-Net was discontinued 9/30/1999.

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January 05, 2011

Youth and The Searcher

Did you ever wonder about some of the figures that appear on campus buildings? Do these figures mean anything? Two such figures appear on the Smith Building and Tomlinson Hall.

When entering the Albert W. Smith Chemical Engineering Building, above the original 1939 entrance is a figure of youth. There is a brazier at his feet evolving into a flame supporting an evaporating dish. In his left hand is a test tube and in his right, a stirring rod. This building was originally built for the Chemistry and Chemical Engineering department at Case School of Applied Science.

Another even more asked about figure is the one above the main entrance to Tomlinson Hall. Some have called this figure a Viking, and campus myth has that it was there to counter the gargoyle on the tower of Amasa Stone Chapel. This figure is actually called “The Searcher.” The architect, Frank Rhinehart of Walker & Weeks Architects, stated, “In modelling this figure, we have endeavored to tell a story of ‘The Searcher’ ever searching for new things in the world and in science that make for a better world in which all society may live and prosper.”

University Historian Richard Baznik included both figures in his Campus Markings contests. The youth figure appeared in the first contest and The Searcher appeared in the second contest.

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