That’s right. Here’s how we’re celebrating this year:
For those of you on Instagram: we’ve just launched a brand new LU Archives Instagram account! We’ll use this platform to share photographs and videos of materials from our collections, fun finds, as well as some behind-the-scenes views of the work that goes on around here. (You can also still follow us on both Facebook and Twitter.)
Wednesday, October 11th, 4:30-5pm: Join archivist Erin Dix and history professor Jake Frederick during Lawrence University’s 4th annual Giving Day live show for some fun Lawrence-history-themed trivia.
And a reminder: students, faculty, staff, alumni, and others are always welcome to contact or visit us with questions about LU or Milwaukee-Downer history.
Calling all seniors: the LU Archives is seeking to expand our documentation of student life at Lawrence, and we need your help! This is an opportunity to reflect on and share with future generations of Lawrentians a bit about what life has been like for you as a student at Lawrence in the 2010s.
If you are interested in sharing reflections, please consider submitting a response to this form. Responses will be added to the Class of 2017 collection in the LU Archives and made accessible to all users who adhere to policies and procedures of the Seeley G. Mudd Library and LU Archives. For this project, anonymous responses will be accepted.
If you have questions about this initiative or are interested in donating other types of materials that document your time at Lawrence, please feel free to email email@example.com or stop by the Archives in the library (level B).
This April marks the 100th anniversary of the entry of the United States into the First World War. As it did across the US and particularly in colleges and universities, the war had profound effects at Lawrence. Among the changes brought about during these years:
Enrollment dropped quickly after war was declared as men students began enlisting, serving with the YMCA, or joining other organizations in support of the war. This decline continued throughout the 1917-1918 academic year.
Students who remained at Lawrence (and particularly women students) led efforts to support the war, forming a Red Cross chapter, making bandages, sponsoring drives to sell war bonds, and so on.
Anti-German sentiment resulted in a 50 percent drop in attendance for German language courses by the fall of 1917. By the next fall, only seven students chose to enroll in German classes. More ominously, German faculty members faced discrimination both on and off campus.
Lawrence would likely have closed had it not joined 300-400 colleges around the country in hosting a Student Army Training Corps (S.A.T.C.) unit in the fall of 1918. Four hundred men joined the unit and attended Lawrence, along with 210 women and only 36 civilian men. The signing of the Armistice in November 1918 led to the discharging of the unit in December, but operations at Lawrence had radically changed for these few months.
When all was said and done, twelve Lawrence students and alumni were killed in the war. The Memorial Chapel was dedicated in part to their memory when it was completed in December 1918.
The war also brought about changes at Milwaukee-Downer College. Most notably, it provided the impetus for expanding the school’s “Applied Arts” curriculum into an Occupational Therapy program, one of the first in the country.
The next year and a half will provide opportunities to explore some of these changes in depth. In the meantime, if you’re interested in researching this period in Lawrence history, we have lots of resources in the LU Archives.
Lawrentians have been coping with Wisconsin winters since classes began in 1849. The Archives has accounts of students having sleigh-rides and making maple candy in the 1850s. In 1928, the athletics department organized a “winter sports carnival” – this featured inter-class competitions in skating, skiing, and tobogganing and was held for just a couple of years. Sometime in the 1940s, a “winter weekend” ski trip to Sturgeon Bay became a mostly annual tradition, lasting into the 1970s. (After our calendar switched from semesters to trimesters in 1962, the phrase “winter weekend” also referred in general to the mid-term break period in February.) On-campus snow sculpture contests also became traditional starting in the 1940s.
But today’s action-packed “Winter Carnival” is directly modeled on one that started in 1976. (There’s an article about it on page 8 of the January 23, 1976 Lawrentian.) This event was held annually until 1979 (then once more in 1981 as “winter menagerie” for some reason.) Student Affairs staff members revived this incarnation of Winter Carnival in 2011 and it has been held every year since then. 2011 was also the first year of the President’s Ball, so this year’s ball will be the 7th annual.
Some of the confusion in recent years about this history likely stems from a blurb in Lawrence’s sesquicentennial publication, “Time and Traditions,” published in brochure format and as a cutting-edge website in 1997. It cites 1933 as the year that “Students painstakingly stack blocks of ice to build a chapel. Ice sculptures become part of Winter Carnival, a tradition that is revived off and on until the present day.” There were ice chapels built on the campus in 1932 and 1933, but these were designed and built by local architects and builders, not students. And there was nothing called “winter carnival” in 1933.
So to sum up: technically, this year would only be the “7th annual” Winter Carnival. But many of its components have roots in older traditions at Lawrence, and that is worth celebrating.
Once again, it’s everyone’s favorite time of year: October is American Archives Month! At the LU Archives, we like to recognize this month with some special activities. Here’s what we have lined up for this year:
Wednesday, October 5th: We’ll be participating in #AskAnArchivist Day. Tweet us questions – about Lawrence or Milwaukee-Downer history, about our collections, about what an archivist does all day – at @archives_lu using #AskAnArchivist. Archivists all around the country will be monitoring this hashtag, so if you’ve got questions about archives in general, 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.)
Wednesday, October 26th, 8-9pm: Join us in the Milwaukee-Downer Room (a.k.a. the “Harry Potter Room”) of the Mudd Library for tales of Haunted Lawrence. Attendees will hear true stories of ghostly happenings on campus (past and present), have the opportunity to share their own stories, and view some spooky materials from the Archives. There might even be treats!
In writings about Lawrence’s founding, you might have come across references to Native American students. There are a couple of quotations or statistics that have been cited regularly in publications about Lawrence, especially older ones:
Lawrence was founded to provide “gratuitous advantage to both sexes of Germans and Indians.” Often mistakenly attributed to Amos Adams Lawrence, this quote actually comes from a fund-raising brochure written by Reeder Smith (an agent hired by Lawrence to raise money for the school) in 1847. The brochure was circulated among potential donors, so it was written to appeal to their charitable impulses. You can read the full brochure starting on page 30 of the 1922 Lawrence College Alumni Record.
“Thirteen out of the first 35 students who attended Lawrence were Oneida.” This statistic is incorrect – it’s based on a misinterpretation of early student records here in the Archives.
In reality, about 30 Oneida students attended Lawrence between about 1850 and 1880. Lawrence received both charitable support and dedicated federal funding (from the Bureau of Indian Affairs) to enroll these students. The goal, as we would understand it today, was assimilation. To learn more about some of these students, we might find tidbits in records like student newspapers. But beyond that, our records cannot show us what it was like to be an Oneida student at Lawrence in its early decades.
It’s worth emphasizing that the presence of Native American students (and African American students) at Lawrence in these years is not evidence of an early institutional commitment to diversity and inclusion. We should aim to understand this history in its full context.
If you are interested in learning more about this or other aspects of Lawrence history, please contact or visit the Archives.
We are excited to announce that a new set of 16mm films from the LU Archives has recently been digitized and made available on YouTube, thanks to a gift from Mary Jo Powell ’75. The nine films added to the digitized collection span from 1927 to 1973 and include amateur footage as well as professional productions. Some of our favorites include:
Each film is a unique and very meaningful record of a time and place in Lawrence and Milwaukee-Downer’s history. We are grateful to Archives Filmworks for completing the digitization and preservation of the original films and to Mary Jo Powell ’75 for her generous support of this project!
‘Tis the season for presidential campaigning. In the past 100-plus years, Lawrence has received visits from many candidates and campaigners of different party affiliations:
October 26, 1911: William Howard Taft, sitting president (not campaigning), spoke on the steps of Main Hall
March 21, 1944: Wendell Willkie, Republican candidate for president, spoke in the Chapel
November 13, 1959: Richard Nixon, Vice President, (not campaigning), spoke in the Chapel
March 11, 1960: John F. Kennedy, Democrat candidate for president, spoke in Riverview Lounge
March 15, 1968: Eugene McCarthy, Democrat candidate for president, spoke in the Chapel
February 23, 1972: Henry Jackson, Democrat candidate for president, spoke in Stansbury Theater
March 29, 1972: George Wallace, Democrat candidate for president, spoke in the Chapel
March 19, 1980: John Anderson, Independent candidate for president, spoke in the Chapel
September 17, 1984: John Anderson (campaigning for Walter Mondale, Democrat candidate for president), spoke in Riverview Lounge
October 24, 1984: Joan Mondale (campaigning for Walter, Democrat candidate for president), spoke in Riverview Lounge
March 29, 1988: George H.W. Bush, Republican candidate for president, spoke in the Chapel
October 15, 2004: John Kerry, Democrat candidate for president, spoke in front of Alexander Gym
March 30, 2012: Mitt Romney, Republican candidate for president, spoke in Stansbury Theater
September 28, 2012: Michelle Obama, First Lady (campaigning for Barack, Democrat candidate for president) spoke in Alexander Gym
In honor of African American History Month last year, we shared information about early African American students who attended Lawrence. This year, we want to share some materials that document the experiences of African American students at Lawrence during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Like many similar small liberal arts colleges, Lawrence began actively recruiting and enrolling African American students in the mid 1960s, well into the years of the Civil Rights movement. But Lawrence did not do well with supporting these students once they were here. These problems spurred two protests by the Association of African Americans student organization: one in February, 1969 and another in April, 1972. Shortly after the 1972 protest, President Thomas Smith assembled an “Afro-American relations compendium” and mailed copies to all Lawrence trustees. The compendium includes a letter from President Smith explaining “[his] perspective of what led to the confrontation” and a number of attachments documenting events beginning with the February 1969 AAA protest. It includes memoranda, reports, and statements from the AAA, presidents Tarr and Smith, and the Ad Hoc Committee on Black Student Affairs. (Tucked into the compendium but not included in this digitized version are copies of The Lawrentian dated 1972-04-18 and 1972-04-21.)
In the academic year following the 1972 protest, Lawrence had its highest enrollment to date of African American students – 80 students were enrolled in 1972-1973. Apparently around this time, the Admissions Office enlisted the help of African American students in creating a brochure for prospective students, entitled “Lawrence University Black Students.” The brochure highlights the Association of African Americans, admissions, academics, campus life, and sports. The authors are candid in their introduction: “Lawrence is a challenge, still another one in the chain of challenges black people have to face and overcome. Realizing the great need of the black community for young black college graduates who not only understand the dilemmas of black society but of white as well, we urge you to accept this challenge of Lawrence University.”
To see either of these documents in person or learn more about African American history at Lawrence, visit the Archives.
Two 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?”