Founders Day, 2016

birthday_LUThis Friday, January 15th, 2016, is Founders Day at Lawrence. It marks the 169th anniversary of the granting of Lawrence’s charter by the Wisconsin Territorial legislature. In honor of this occasion, we’re hosting an Archives Open House!

Stop by the Archives (Level B in the library) anytime 1-5pm on Friday to:

  • learn about Lawrence’s founding and early years
  • view a manuscript copy of the charter, early photographs, and other archival materials
  • chat with the archivist about LU history
  • scope out the Archives and what it’s all about
  • maybe pick up a treat (that can be enjoyed outside of the Archives!)

Very important update: If you are unable to join us in person for Founders Day but would still like to celebrate, perhaps you would be interested in our Founders Day Coloring Book, featuring images from the Archives.

New Library Displays

Library displaysTwo new displays by Archives student assistants are on view in the front entrance to the Library: “Rephotography” by Emma Lipkin ’19, and “‘Occupy Lawrence’ (1972): Black Students and White Allies Take a Stand Against Institutional Racism” by colby lewis ’17. Using different means and to different ends, both displays explore a theme of Lawrence “then and now” – how much has changed at Lawrence and how much has stayed the same over time?

“Rephotography” examines our physical space through photographs, both archival and newly captured. Emma re-photographed areas of campus with photographs from the Archives in the foreground. Buildings featured include Ormsby, Colman, and the Chapel.

“‘Occupy Lawrence’ (1972)” features Lawrentian articles and other records documenting a protest led by the Association of Afro-Americans in 1972. Students experiencing injustice and discrimination demanded change from Lawrence’s administration. The display raises the question: “How far have we come?”

Archives Month, 2015

American Archives MonthOctober is American Archives Month, and as usual, we have some fun things planned! Mark your calendars for:

Thursday, October 1st, all day: We’ll be participating in #AskAnArchivist Day. Tweet us questions at @archives_lu (our brand new Twitter account!) using #AskAnArchivist. Archivists all around the country will be monitoring this hashtag, so if you’ve got questions about archives and archivists, this is your chance to get some answers. (And if you’re not on Twitter, never fear – keep your eyes peeled for old-school opportunities to ask questions in the library.)

Thursday, October 22nd, 8pm: Back by popular demand, the Haunted Lawrence tour. Join archivist Erin Dix and Scott Breyer from Facility Services as we explore the history of buildings on campus and stories of reported hauntings. Registration will be limited to 20 attendees. To register, please complete this brief form.


A Memorial Service for President Lincoln

Appleton Motor headline, April 20, 1865
Appleton Motor headline, April 20, 1865

150 years ago yesterday, the city of Appleton held a memorial service in Main Hall for President Abraham Lincoln, who had been assassinated on April 15, 1865. The following text comes from the report in the Appleton Motor newspaper, published April 20, 1865:

On Wednesday morning…our citizens, in order to appropriately participate in observing the solemnities of the funeral of our late beloved Chief Magistrate, whose cowardly assassination appalls the senses…of every true American citizen, formed in procession on College Avenue, opposite Odd Fellows’ Hall, at half past ten o’clock, and marched to College Chapel where an Eulogy was pronounced by His Honor, R. Z. Mason, Mayor of the city.

The procession formed in three columns, preceded by a Band of Music and the American Flag draped in mourning, in the following order:

On the Left – Masons, German Society, …Odd Fellows

On the Right – Returned soldiers, Lawrence Engine Co., in uniform, Students

In the Center – Good Templars, Sanitary Commission, Christian Commission, Citizens

The Chapel and Gallery were filled to overflowing, and the assemblage listened with the utmost attention to a very appropriate and affecting Eulogy. It was voted that it be published in the city papers.

All places of business were closed, and the most of them draped in mourning. The Chapel was very neatly and profusely draped in the habiliments of woe.

Half hour guns were fired during the day, by City Marshal, E. H. Graves.

It was a time of universal sadness.

Early African American Students

In the past year, the Archives provided research assistance for a pair of exciting projects focused on African American history at Lawrence and in the wider Fox Valley community: the History Museum’s “Stone of Hope” traveling exhibit, and Forgotten History, a film by Zach Ben-Amots ’16. If you missed either one, be sure to check them out.

Since this research began, we’ve learned a great deal of new information about early African American students at Lawrence. In the early-mid 20th century, a strong culture of racial exclusion and discrimination developed in the Appleton area. Virtually no African Americans lived in Appleton or attended Lawrence during this time. We now know, however, that before this time, there were a number of African American families living in Appleton and students attending Lawrence. In honor of Black History Month, we want to share the names and stories of some of those students:

Robert Pendleton – attended the preparatory school, 1857-1859. Family lived in Neenah. Robert ran into controversy when he cast a vote for African American suffrage in a state referendum in 1857.

Lucretia Newman – attended as a freshman, 1872-1873.

Mary Amelia Cleggett – attended preparatory school, 1871-1872; college, 1872-1876; and graduated in 1876.

Sarah Emma Cleggett – attended in the academic department, 1874-75, and preparatory school, 1875-1876.

Ada Kate Clegett – attended preparatory school, 1877-79.

Claude Monroe Paris – attended as a freshman and sophomore, 1902-1904. Father was J. M. Paris, a barber and alderman in Waupaca. Claude was voted Class President in his freshman year and played on the basketball, track and field, and football teams. If you look closely, you can see him in this image, which you might recognize from Strange Commons in Main Hall.


Sworth Newman – graduated in 1911.


Frederica Brown – graduated in 1917. After Lawrence, she became a teacher and dean at Wiley University for women in Marshall, TX, and then founded the Phyllis Wheatley branch of the Y.W.C.A. in Indianapolis in 1923.


Special thanks to Antoinette Powell for her extensive research on the Cleggett/Hollensworth/Newman families in Appleton. For more information on these students and others, check out the display on the first floor of the library or visit the Archives.

It’s Archives Month!

Screenshot from This is Lawrence, 1972
Screenshot from This is Lawrence, 1972

Once again, it’s October, and that means it’s American Archives Month! We have some exciting things going on to celebrate:

All month, through October 31st: A Stone of Hope: Black Experiences in the Fox Cities – This traveling exhibit from The History Museum will be on display on the 2nd floor of the library this month. It explores local African-American history from the 1700s through the present and includes a number of images and stories from the LU Archives. Read more about the exhibit here.

Wednesday, October 8th: Ask the Archivist day – We’ll be answering any and all questions about Lawrence history (to the best of our ability) virtually on Facebook and in person in the library.

Tuesday, October 21st: Archives Film Festival – Join us in the Warch Campus Center Cinema from 7 to 9pm for a showing of recently digitized films from the Archives! The films date from 1929 to 1972 and include amateur film footage as well as professionally produced films about Lawrence. These are fantastic and we’re so excited to share them. Feel free to pop in for any amount of time or stay for the whole show!


Milwaukee-Downer College artifacts

MDC-OBJ-040This post comes from Kasie Janssen ’12, intrepid Archives volunteer:

After hours of assigning call numbers, cataloging, photographing, and re-housing, the collection of Milwaukee-Downer College artifacts have been processed.  You may have seen several of these artifacts on display in the Milwaukee-Downer room of the library, but the remainder being stored in the Archives is extensive and diverse.  The items span the school’s history, starting in 1895 to the consolidation with Lawrence in 1964: class jackets, beanies (which may one day make a come-back as a fashion staple around campus), a Hat Hunt toothbrush, and the yellow class’s “Foink” to name a few.

The completion of this project not only enhances the organization and use of space in the archives, but the accessibility will grow exponentially.  The artifact descriptions and images are now available to be viewed and researched in our online collections database, allowing students and alumni access to these pieces.

New digital collection: Milwaukee-Downer newspapers

The Snapshot front page, August, 1958
The Snapshot front page, August, 1958

A new set of materials documenting Milwaukee-Downer College is now available to search and browse in our institutional repository: student newspapers dating from 1944 to 1964. During this time, the newspaper was variously titled The Snapshot, Snapshot-Kodak, The Downer Dial, or The Dial. This time period covers the end of World War II, through the 1950s and early 1960s, and up to the consolidation with Lawrence.

This is an excellent resource for learning more about student life and campus happenings at Milwaukee-Downer. You can read about traditions such as Hat Hunt and holiday celebrations, students’ involvement with national movements such as the war effort and the Civil Rights movement, and reactions to campus news such as the retirement of Lucia Briggs and the consolidation with Lawrence.

Huge thanks to volunteer Kasie Janssen ’12 and student assistant Morgan Gray ’15 for their long hours of work on this project!

Milwaukee-Downer College collections fully processed

Milwaukee-Downer College aisle, LU Archives
Milwaukee-Downer College aisle, LU Archives

We’ve been working hard on our Milwaukee-Downer College records and manuscript collections in the Archives since last spring. As of this week, all of these collections have been fully processed! What does this mean? Close to a full aisle of material (almost 200 boxes, plus 300 bound volumes) documenting the administration, operations, faculty, curriculum, student life, and alumnae of Milwaukee-Downer College, a leading Midwestern women’s college from 1895 to 1964 and a proud part of Lawrence University’s heritage. Archives staff and students have arranged and re-housed the collections and written collection guides to enhance access:

Milwaukee-Downer College Records, 1848-2008 – the largest subset of the collections, containing records that were transferred to Lawrence with the consolidation in 1964 as well as records documenting alumnae activities since the consolidation

Milwaukee-Downer College People Files, 1850-1964 – files documenting people associated with Milwaukee-Downer College

Milwaukee-Downer College Subject Files, 1886-1964 – files documenting subjects associated with Milwaukee-Downer College, including athletics, campus buildings, and student activities

Milwaukee-Downer College Manuscripts – all of the collections of personal papers or scrapbooks that have been donated to the Archives by alumnae and others since the consolidation

All of these materials are open for research (except where noted otherwise in the guides). To spend some quality time with them, stop in during our open hours (M-F, 1-5pm). We’re thrilled to have such a large and rich body of materials accessible for anyone who wants to learn more about Milwaukee-Downer.

But we’re not resting on our laurels: a guide to the Milwaukee-Downer College artifacts is underway, and a digital collection of the student newspaper from 1945 to 1964 will be available in the next few months.


50 years ago: News of the consolidation

ARC2013-181On Tuesday morning, October 22, 1963, Milwaukee-Downer College students, faculty, and staff gathered for a special convocation. The chairman of the Board of Trustees, Charles Stone, delivered a brief address. He announced: “The Trustees of Milwaukee-Downer College and of Lawrence College have agreed to join together in the establishment of Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.” The Downer campus was to be sold to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Students were shocked and many were in tears. Even the faculty had not been informed ahead of time. Reporters and photographers from The Milwaukee Journal were on hand, and they printed photos of Downer students receiving the news on the front page of the paper.

Consolidation_headlinesMeanwhile, Lawrence president Curtis Tarr (who had been formally installed only five days earlier) had gathered the faculty in Harper Hall to announce the consolidation. He told Lawrence students shortly thereafter. The press release was sent out to the papers and radio stations at the same time as the meetings, and the news dominated the headlines in both Milwaukee and Appleton.

This announcement was the first step in the consolidation process that was carried out in less than a year. For many, especially Downer students, faculty, and staff, it was a traumatic beginning.

But this year, we will commemorate and celebrate fifty years of “strength through union,” as a contemporary publication put it. The joining of Lawrence College and Milwaukee-Downer College created Lawrence University, and this shared history is reflected in our campus, our traditions, our alumni, and our mission today.

For more information about Milwaukee-Downer College and the consolidation with Lawrence, explore Milwaukee-Downer  written and oral histories or visit the Archives.