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.
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 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.
On 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.
Meanwhile, 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.”
With all of the recent events on campus commemorating the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, several have asked when the first African-American students attended Lawrence. The answer is, most likely, in 1872, when a woman named Lucretia Newman entered the freshman class.
But according to J. A. Owen, class of 1860, African-American students had tried attending Lawrence even earlier. Owen wrote a letter to the Lawrence Collegian in 1869 recalling an incident that occurred in 1858, when “a black man applied for admission to the University as a preparatory student.” Owen reported that the student was admitted and attended for a few days before “some anti-negro men in Appleton, outside of the University, got excited about it, and became alarmed lest their daughters and sisters should become contaminated, and called a public meeting to see what should be done to avoid the danger.” Though several Lawrence students at the meeting spoke in favor of justice for the student, many townspeople were unsatisfied, and the student left Lawrence shortly thereafter. In answer to Owen’s question of “how the University stands now,” the Collegianeditors replied: “our halls are open to every human being of good moral character and suitable age.”
Lucretia Newman may have been the next African-American student to attend Lawrence, a few years later. She entered Lawrence as a freshman in September, 1872, enrolled in the Scientific Course. Our records show that Newman attended Lawrence for one to two years before moving on, although later accounts of her life state that she graduated with a degree. In 1883, she became assistant secretary and bookkeeper for the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She also published her first literary work, a poem, in 1883. Newman Coleman went on to write articles published in primarily African-American journals such as Our Women and Children and the A.M.E. Review. Little is known about her personal life, but contemporaries and later scholars praised her writings.
Overall, only a handful of African-American students attended Lawrence before the middle of the 20th century. By that time, the lack of African-American students at Lawrence and the question of what should be done about it had become much bigger issues on campus.
Update: Another African-American student on campus at about the same time as Newman was Mary Cleggett Vanderhoop, who graduated in 1876.
Just about a year ago, we introduced Archon, a database for searching and browsing descriptions of our collections. Since that time we have added descriptions for over 100 collections, including manuscripts, scrapbooks, audiovisual collections, and records from a variety of campus departments and offices.
Now, Archon is also the home for digitized content from collections in the Archives. Over 1,000 images of photographs, letters, Artist Series programs, and other materials are available for searching and browsing. New materials selected from our collections will be periodically added to Archon as they are digitized.
We also have some exciting new digital collections available in Lux. A service of the library, Lux is the digital home for preserving and providing access to the scholarly and creative works of the Lawrence community. Archives collections in Lux currently include recent course catalogs; a selection of yearbooks; oral histories with faculty, staff, and alumni; and a wide date range of Lawrentian issues (with more to come).
If you’re looking for something to do over the long winter break (or the long Thanksgiving weekend), spend some time exploring these great historical resources!
A total of 19 captions were submitted last week for our “Men with arms outstretched” photo, all of which were deemed to be “excellent” by our panel of judges. In first place was the ever-witty Antoinette Powell, with her caption: “Having mastered ‘T,’ the Men’s Athletic Alphabetic team prepares to attempt ‘U.'” Holly Tuyls ran a very close second with her caption: “In a gym full of T’s, Herman was proud to be an I.” Here are several other honorable mentions:
– Gretchen Revie: “Ready men! Now flap! Flap! Flap as hard as you can!”
– Jack Canfield: “It’s fun to stay at the YMCA, you can hang out with all the boys…”
– Kevin Specht: “Back before Lawrence boasted about small class sizes, they boasted that at least everyone has enough space for even the stretchiest of stretches.”
– Ben Willard: “Lawrence University’s third and last Mock Aeroplane Club had just been cleared for takeoff when it was discovered that mock aeroplane clubs were no longer considered cool. It was truly the end of an era.”
– Cindy Patterson: “Synchronized standing.”
In other news, our “Fashion in the Archives” Facebook contest has yielded a clear winner: voters judged Emeline Crooker, preceptress and instructor of music, drawing, and painting at Lawrence from 1849 to 1851, to be “most fashionable” of our contenders.
Thanks for your participation in our Archives Month shenanigans, parts I and II! Next week, we’ll be at the Campus Center with some materials from the Archives on Wednesday from 11 to 1. And on Thursday, October 25th, all are welcome to attend a presentation on “Haunted Lawrence” at Things Worth Knowing in the library, 4:30 to 5pm.