Month: October 2011

100 years ago: Taft visits Lawrence

On October 26th, 1911, President William Howard Taft became the first sitting president to visit the Fox Cities area, addressing a crowd from the steps of Main Hall. His stop in Appleton was part of a nation-wide speaking tour through which he hoped to pressure the Senate to ratify his peace treaties with France and England. The Lawrentian reported:

“After driving about the city on the route previously mapped out, the presidential party arrived at the south door of Main hall, having come across the Lawrence street bridge and along the driveway in front of Ormsby and Science halls.

A unique welcome was given President Taft as he entered the main building. The co-eds of the senior class, all dressed in white and each wearing a white jersey sweater, were lined up on either side of the hallway, connected with a streamer of red, white, and blue, and as the executive entered the south door he was presented with a bunch of roses in behalf of the college by Miss Florence Plantz. The President was pleased as well as surprised and thanked the girls for their remembrance.

When Mr. Taft emerged from the big front door of Main hall he was greeted with yells by the Lawrence students and lifted hats. He removed his high silk hat and bowed and smiled, then seated himself in the big chair back of a flag-draped pedestal on the porch. The seats for those provided with invitations were ranged on either side and a little back of the president’s chair. The faculty and college students had previously assembled directly in front of the extended platform, the faculty and senior boys appearing in caps and gowns.”

After introductory remarks by Appleton’s mayor, and then by Lawrence President Samuel Plantz, President Taft addressed the crowd (which The Lawrentian reported to be 10,000 strong.) Among his words:

“We are a great nation, afraid of no other nation, and not subject to the charge of cowardice. We have no entangling alliance…The poor people of Great Britain and France and other countries look to us to lead in the movement for peace among the nations. And I look to you, especially to your younger people, to feel a sense of responsibility not only towards our own country but, with your power and intelligence and opportunities, a sense of duty which will impel you to help advance the highest ideals of Christian civilization throughout the world.”

Though this was surely a momentous occasion, it may be worth noting that The Lawrentian report on this event shared equal headline size with a football game re-cap and an account of Y.W.C.A. activities.

LU Archives FAQs

In our continuing recognition of American Archives Month, this week we’re talking about the kinds of questions that resources in the LU Archives are used to answer. We receive about 30 to 40 reference requests each month – through phone, email, and in-person visits from faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the general public. There are certain questions that come up pretty often:

1. What can you tell me about my family member/ancestor who went to Lawrence?

This is the most frequently asked question around here. Family history researchers often contact the Archives looking for years of attendance, photos, and other biographical information pertaining to their ancestors. If the person in question attended in the 1800s, usually our only source of information is the course catalog, which listed all students in attendance annually from the first year of classes in 1849 through 1964. After the turn of the century, we can use yearbooks to find photographs and sometimes information about a student’s studies and extracurricular activities. We have similar resources for Milwaukee-Downer.

2. What can you tell me about this other Lawrence-or-Milwaukee-Downer-related person?

For faculty or staff members (and some alumni) at Lawrence, our first place to look for information is our vertical file. This file has folders containing biographical information, newspaper clippings, and photographs for over 3,400 individuals! You can view and search this very long list here. The Milwaukee-Downer vertical people file is available here.

3. Where is The Rock?

For those of you unfamiliar with this bit of Lawrence history, there is more information here and here. Alas, the current whereabouts of the Rock are unknown. Since it has been buried and unearthed years later once before, it’s possible that another class has undertaken this stunt.

4. Was Main Hall a stop on the Underground Railroad?

Unfortunately, we have no documentary evidence suggesting that Main Hall was ever part of the Underground Railroad, and there have been too many renovations for physical evidence to remain. Abolitionist sentiment was pervasive on campus, due in part to the college’s Methodist affiliation and the political leanings of its founders. Amos Lawrence was strongly in favor of abolition and was close friends with John Brown. He sent supplies and weapons  by boat through Appleton to Lawrence, Kansas. During the war, Main Hall served as an important meeting place for rallies and aid coordination for families of soldiers. But as for the Underground Railroad, we’ll have to label this a myth.

5. Anything and everything trivia-related, come January.

We have an ever-growing collection of materials related to the Annual Great Midwest Trivia Contest, dating back to its start in 1966. This includes the original, scribbled and scrawled copies of every single question compiled going back to the mid-1990s.

Are there other things related to Lawrence or Milwaukee-Downer history that you’re wondering about? You can visit the Archives in person any weekday afternoon, 1-5pm, or call or email anytime!

Photo caption contest winner

Announcing the winner of last week’s photo caption contest: Security Officer Michael Beaupre, with his elegantly simple caption: “Cooking 101: Have the girls make it!” Michael will be receiving a $10 gift certificate for Muncheez Pizza.

Honorable mentions:

Aubrey Lotz, for her caption: “Little did the rest of the group know, Bushy Mustache Man was a witch and he was going to turn them into newts.”

Antoinette Powell, for her caption: “The first multidisciplinary area of study at Lawrence: Chemistry (cooking I-don’t-know-what), Athletics (popcorn toss), and Building Maintenance.”

We had some tough choices to make among the submitted captions. Thanks for all of your entries!

This week’s contest on facebook for Best Facial Hair in 19th-century Lawrence history seems to have a clear front-runner, but we’ll hold off on making the official call until Friday, just in case there is a surge of support for another candidate.

Archives month!

October is American Archives Month! Archives all over the country will be celebrating, and the LU Archives is no exception. We have several activities lined up – one for each week of the month.

Note: this is not the contest photo - it's just cool.

Week of the 3rd: Photo caption contest – stop by the first floor of the library to see a photo from our collections and submit your idea for an accompanying caption. Library staff will judge the entries at the end of the week, and the first-place winner will receive a gift certificate. Depending on the number of entries, runners-up may also receive prizes.

Week of the 10th: Who in 19th-century Lawrence history had the best facial hair? Vote for your favorite from several contenders. (Modeled on Who Had the Best Civil War Facial Hair?, from the Smithsonian.)

Week of the 17th: Is there something related to Lawrence or Milwaukee-Downer history that you’ve always wondered about? It’s Ask a Question week!

Week of the 24th: The Haunted Lawrence tour, back by popular demand, will be held on Monday, October 24th at 8pm. Further details will be forthcoming, but if you’re intrigued, be sure to mark it on your calendar!