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.

Archives Month!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – that’s right, October is American Archives Month! This year, the LU Archives will celebrate by showcasing our wonderful photographic collections in some new and exciting ways. First up, we’ll have a photo caption contest. If you have a caption in mind for this photo, submit your entry at the display on the first floor of the library anytime October 7th through 11th. Library staff will judge the entries, and the contest winner will receive a gift card for Harmony Cafe.

The Memorial Chapel, circa 1970 and 2013.
The Memorial Chapel, circa 1970 and 2013.

All month, we will also be exploring the intersection of the past and present at Lawrence with rephotography – recreating historical images and comparing “then and now.” We’ll post some examples of modern and historical images juxtaposed or overlaid on our Facebook page. We hope you will consider creating some of your own! You can browse and search our digitized photograph collections for inspiration in our collections database. If you create your own rephotograph, please share it with us on Facebook or email it to us at archives@lawrence.edu!

Lastly (but unrelated to photography), we will again offer the Haunted Lawrence tour. Further details will be forthcoming, but mark your calendars for Monday, October 28th at 8pm!

New digital collection: The Lawrentian

The Lawrentian cover, September 20, 1963
The Lawrentian cover, September 20, 1963

We have a very exciting new digital collection to announce – issues of The Lawrentian from 1923 to 1992 are now available to browse and search online! The Archives has tons of interesting primary sources to turn to for information about Lawrence history, but The Lawrentian, Lawrence’s student newspaper since 1884, represents our most comprehensive source.

Bonus: advertisements! This one is from the February 11, 1944 issue.
Bonus: advertisements! This one is from the February 11, 1944 issue.

We regularly turn to it for information about student life, traditions, athletics, special events and visitors on campus, changes in the campus or the curriculum through the years, and even for the student perspective on national and international historical events. Until now, this kind of research required paging through large volumes. The ability to keyword-search across nearly 70 years of issues is a huge advantage.

You can read about the 1936 Peace Parade that received national media attention, learn about the beginning of the Navy V-12 program in 1943, check out an early April Fool’s issue, read about the student occupation of Wilson House in 1969,  see coverage of past Trivia Weekends, and explore all sorts of other topics.

A big thanks to the Wisconsin Historical Society for microfilming and digitization, and also to Archives assistants Jenni Roesch, Amelia Anderson, and Dakota Williams for their hours of data entry!



Collection preview: Milwaukee-Downer College Records

When Lawrence consolidated with Milwaukee-Downer College in 1964, a subset of the College records came to Lawrence. The University lacked a designated Archives at the time, so the administration opted to transfer only those records that were necessary for ensuring a smooth transition. The Board of Trustees of Milwaukee-Downer College donated the remainder of the College records to the Wisconsin Historical Society. This collection, 53 cubic feet of materials, is housed and available for research at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Archives.

The records from Milwaukee-Downer that were transferred to Lawrence eventually made their way to the Archives. Over time, these records have been supplemented by many generous donations of scrapbooks, papers, photographs, and memorabilia from Milwaukee-Downer alumnae. The collections as a whole represent an essential corollary to the records held by the Wisconsin Historical Society. They richly document the history of a pioneering women’s college in the Midwest, its operations, its traditions, and the life of its faculty, staff, students, and alumnae.

Here in the Archives, we have recently started processing our Milwaukee-Downer College collections, physically organizing and cataloging their contents to enhance their accessibility. We hope and are on track to complete the project within a year. So far, we’ve inventoried a full run of Board of Trustees minutes, 1895 to 1964; annual reports of the Presidents, Deans, and Registrar; and an extensive series of bulletins. From the latter, here’s a sneak peek – a bulletin on “A Student’s Eye View” at Milwaukee-Downer from February, 1961.

Materials from these collections, even the unprocessed portions, are still available for use. But the collection will be much more accessible once processing is completed. Stay tuned for updates!

“Memory Pictures” of Lucinda Darling Colman

In recognition of Women’s History Month, this post celebrates an important figure in Lawrence history: Lucinda Darling Colman. Lucinda was one of three women in the first class to graduate from Lawrence University in 1857 and the first woman to receive an M.A. degree from Lawrence in 1865.

She was born in 1835 in Clarkson, New York. Her family followed a wave of migration to the west in 1840 and settled in Racine, Wisconsin. When it was time to consider opportunities for Lucinda’s further schooling, her father heard about Lawrence, a new school that had just opened in the northern part of the state. The family moved to the village of Appleton, and Lucinda entered Lawrence in March of 1850, becoming a member of the first college class in 1853. She went on to marry another member of the class of 1857, Henry Colman, in 1860, and to raise four children. Henry Colman was a Methodist minister and a Lawrence trustee from 1871 until his death in 1927. Both he and Lucinda remained actively involved in supporting Lawrence throughout their lives. Lucinda was the last remaining graduate of 1857 upon her death in 1930. In 1956, the newly constructed Colman Hall was named in honor of her.

During her late eighties and nineties, Lucinda decided to record memories of her life. She called the finished compilation “Memory Pictures,” and the LU Archives is very fortunate to have both her written manuscripts and a typescript of the finished work. In this work, Lucinda recalls Lawrence in its earliest days, including memories of classes and student activities, the dedication of Main Hall in 1853, the Academy building fire in 1857, and the first Commencement ceremony. She also recounts her family history and childhood, her marriage and children, and her extensive travels around the country from 1906 to 1923. Her travels included a trip to California that coincided with the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 as well as trips to the eastern United States, during which she saw Andrew Carnegie speak and met President Taft.

Lucinda’s “Memory Pictures” are now digitally available through our institutional repository, Lux. Lucinda discusses memories of Lawrence from pages 42 to 58, but the entire work is well worth the read. As President Henry Wriston said upon Lucinda’s death, “The memory of Lucinda Darling Colman will always be one of the rare treasures of Lawrence college.”