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The University Archives Digital Collection is Now Live!

Check out the Archives digital collection that includes materials from the Trivia Contest and Henry Wriston collections, as well as the founding of Lawrence. Items can be searched by keywords and select fields. Different formats of materials are included. Check back often to see what new digital collections have been added.

Questions about the digital collections of the Archives? Come to the Mudd Coffeehouse Wednesday, July 11, to learn more about that and the oral history program being done by the Archives. Any questions, comments, or random thoughts about the digital collection can also be sent to In person visits to the Archives with your comments are also welcome.

The Founding of Lawrence University: a digital collection

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the incorporation of Appleton, Wisconsin, this online collection contains correspondence and photographs documenting the creation of Lawrence University. With the founding of Lawrence University in 1847, the area around the college grew into the community of Appleton. In other words, Lawrence was here first! The city of Appleton is named in honor of Sarah Appleton Lawrence, the wife of Amos Lawrence, the founder of Lawrence University.

The physical formats of these items are available in the University Archives, located on Level B of the library.

Click here to view the collection

Wondering what types of events are taking place to celebrate Appleton’s Sesquicentennial? Go here for a list of events and other useful information about Appleton.

Current Exhibits

The Traditions of May Day at Lawrence and the Hat Hunt at Milwaukee-Downer College

Photographs, newspaper articles, programs, and dance cards document the two spring traditions in this exhibit. May Day began at Lawrence in 1905. The festivities of the celebration of May 1 included the election of a Queen of the May and her six Maids of Honor chosen from senior class women. The identity of the Queen and her Court was kept a secret until they took their places around the traditional May Pole and performed the dance for students and campus visitors. The event was sponsored by campus organizations including the Lawrence Women’s Association. The tradition continued until 1966.

The annual Hat Hunt began at Milwaukee-Downer College as a prank in 1894. When Parson Ames visited the college as a speaker, freshmen girls hid his hat. This began the tradition of sophomore students hiding the hat and freshmen women searching for it. The woman who found the hat was carried through the campus on a wooden serving tray by her classmates who declared, “We’ve found it!” The Hat Girl hid the hat the following year. The Hat Hunt was a rite of passage for the freshmen class; they proved they were ready to be sophomores by successfully finding the hat.

This exhibit is in Riverview Lounge in Memorial Union. Questions about the exhibit may be e-mailed to Anyone interested in viewing more materials that document the events covered in the exhibit are welcome to visit the University Archives located on Level B in the library.

Interested in learning how to resurrect the May Day or Hat Hunt festivities at Lawrence? Visit the Archives and the University Archivist will be happy to assist you in reviving the traditions and documenting them.

May pole dancing and lollipops

The first ever Mayfest Revival (in April) takes place this Sunday, April 29, from 7-10 pm. The event starts at 7 pm in the Wriston amphitheater. Learn how to dance around a May pole and participate in hula hoop, limbo, and water balloon toss contests. Sweets and drinks will be provided.

At 8 the event moves into the Riverview Lounge in the Union where there will be chair massages, art therapy, and music and test anxiety relief. Homemade bread, fruit, and snacks will be provided.

Curious to learn how May Day was celebrated in past years at Lawrence? View the displays in Riverview Lounge, and the University Archivist will be on hand to answer any questions you may have.

This event is brought to you courtesy of the Times and Traditions Committee and the Student Wellness Committee.

Current Exhibits

Influential Women at Lawrence and the Creation of Women’s Week

March is Women’s History Month, and in honor of that, this exhibit looks at the history of women who made a strong impact at Lawrence. Items include those documenting the career of Mary Ann Rossi, professor of Classics at Lawrence, who worked actively in the creation of Women’s Week and other campus events honoring equality of women. The tradition of an annual Women’s Week at Lawrence began in April 1974 and is also documenting in the exhibit. Programs, photographs, press releases, and newspaper articles are included.

To learn more about the history of women’s rights and events at Lawrence, visit the University Archives located on Level B of the library.

To learn more about Women’s History Month, visit

Materials are on display in the exhibit cases on the first floor of the library through the beginning of April.

Current Exhibits

Student Protests and Reactions to National Events of the 1960s and 1970s and Diversity at Lawrence

Photographs, newspaper articles, correspondence, and programs are featured in this exhibit. Student protests documented included demonstrations in protest of the Vietnam War, a peace march in protest of the brutality surrounding the Civil Rights movement in Selma, Alabama, in 1965, and a demonstration to protest the student slayings that occurred at the Kent State University demonstration in 1970.

National events that received student action at Lawrence included a campaign visit by John F. Kennedy in 1960 which took place in Riverview Lounge in Memorial Union. A memorial service in honor of President Kennedy was held on campus in 1963. An impeachment simulation of President Richard Nixon’s presidency was held in 1974.

Diversity at Lawrence is also documented in the exhibit, including a look at the international students who have attended Lawrence, the International Dinner that has been held since the 1970s, and the International Cabaret.

This exhibit is in Riverview Lounge in Memorial Union. Questions about the exhibit may be e-mailed to Anyone interested in viewing more materials that document the events covered in the exhibit are welcome to visit the University Archives.

Current Exhibits

Materials depicting the presidency of Henry Merritt Wriston, Lawrence University President from 1925-1937, are on display in the exhibit cases of the first floor of the library. Items include photographs, correspondence, and inauguration materials. The exhibit will be up through the rest of February.

Henry Merritt Wriston

The collection of files of Lawrence University president Henry Merritt Wriston, president from 1925-1937, is now processed and a finding aid is available online!

Selected materials from the collection have been digitized and can be viewed at the site

Check the site as items will continue to be added.

Henry Wriston is known for being a revolutionary both in the world of education and in his tenure at Lawrence. Some notable highlights of his presidency include:

— He was a supporter of the Conservatory of Music and worked to keep it open despite the Board of Trustees wanting to close it.

— He was very pro-active in building the art collection at Lawrence and bringing traveling exhibits to campus. His goal was to build a center for the arts, but due to the Great Depressions occurring at the time, this goal was not realized during his presidency.

— Wriston was the first Lawrence president who was not a Methodist minister, and severed the ties the Methodist church had with Lawrence by removing the Board of Visitors, a group of Methodists, from the Board of Trustees. He allowed social activities on campus that had been frowned upon by the Methodists and even attended the first dances held on campus.

— Wriston founded and became the first director of the Institute of Paper Chemistry, an institution of research and graduate study supported by the paper industry.

Wriston quotes

News consists chiefly of bad news from a newspaper man’s point of view. From the college point of view that is the kind we do not want to have circulated.

Wriston on college publicity in a letter to Lucia Briggs, president of Milwaukee-Downer College, November 21, 1933.

The goal of Lawrence for the future must be growth intellectually. For the students the growth must be self-discovery, learning to do what you really want to do, not what you came to do because obviously you come with rather unformed ambitions.

Wriston in a speech given at Lawrence University’s 125th anniversary celebration on January 15, 1972.

Interested in learning more about Henry Wriston and viewing his collection? Contact the Archives or stop by.

Current Exhibits

A History of the Libraries of Lawrence University

Photographs, correspondence, and other materials documenting the history of Lawrence’s libraries are on display in the exhibit cases on the first floor of the library. A telegram from Andrew Carnegie giving Lawrence $50, 000 to build a library in 1906 is also on display. Learn about the first library of Lawrence located in Main Hall through the current Seeley G. Mudd Library.

The Holiday Season at Lawrence University and Milwaukee-Downer College

Dance cards, programs, photographs, and other artifacts document how the holiday season was celebrated at the two schools throughout the years. The exhibit is located in Ricerview Lounge in Memorial Union.

Holiday traditions at Lawrence University included Christmas programs given by the Concert Choir, caroling, and Christmas formals. Snow sculptures were a popular activity at that time of year. Sledding down the hill outside Memorial Union was also popular, especially if you were able to stop at the bottom of the hill without going into the Fox River.

Holiday traditions at Milwaukee-Downer included formals, carnivals, the performance of the annual Christmas play, and lantern night. The popular song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” made its national debut at MDC in 1910.

Haunted Lawrence

Being around since 1847 is a long time for a college to acquire ghosts and haunted places. Here are a few places on campus that are said to be haunted.

Know of other haunted places or have a Lawrence ghost story to tell? E-mail

Cloak Theater

Mysterious sounds and shadows have been reported in Cloak Theater when it is empty.

Main Hall

Dan Taylor’s office is supposedly haunted by Hiram Jones. Jones was a Professor of Ancient Language and Literature from 1854-1898. Jones’s office, teaching area and a small library that served as Lawrence’s library at the time were in the location where Taylor’s office currently is. Jones began his Latin class one day in 1898 and proceeded to die on the spot. Since he was a much loved and respected professor and active in the Appleton community, it was a very traumatic event for the 2 communities.

Memorial Chapel

There is a certain seat in the Chapel that supposedly has an evil aura.

Ormsby Hall

A ghost was seen there in 1899 when Ormsby was an all-women’s dorm. The girls chased the ghost out with their hat pins. The story is reported in the February 1899 issue of the Lawrentian.

Stansbury Theatre

Ceiling lights have been known to come on when no one is around; there have been sounds of someone walking across stage and a shadow of someone walking in the theater when no one is around. One theory is that it was a worker that fell to his death when they were building the theater. Others have suggested it was the owner of the home that was torn down to build the Music-Drama Center.