Archives month!


It’s that time of year again – October is American Archives Month! We have activities lined up for each week of this month to celebrate the occasion:

October 1st-7th: Photo caption contest! If you have a caption in mind for the photo at left, submit your entry at the display on the first floor of the library anytime this week. Library staff will judge the entries, and the contest winner will receive a gift card for Harmony Cafe.

October 8th-12th: A Facebook fashion contest: from a selection of Archives images depicting Lawrence students, faculty, and staff through the years, who has the best sense of style?

Wednesday, October 17th, 11am-1pm: Archives on the road: visit our table on the 2nd floor of the Campus Center to view some historic materials or ask a question about LU or Milwaukee-Downer history.

Thursday, October 25th, 4:30-5pm: “Haunted Lawrence” at Things Worth Knowing in the library. Based on our “Haunted Lawrence” tour, with information, stories, and images from the Archives.

New collection guides

As summer draws to a close, we hope you have all enjoyed a good balance of productivity and fun. This summer has certainly been a productive one in the Archives! We have processed several new collections that are open for research.

Dancers in front of Carnegie Library, undated

Colman Family Collection, 1853-1988: materials related to several members of the Colman family, including Henry Root Colman, Henry Colman, and Lucinda Darling Colman. The bulk of the collection consists of Lucinda Darling Colman’s handwritten “Memory Pictures,” written between 1923 and 1930.

Concert and Recital Programs, 1902-2012: programs from Conservatory of Music concerts and recitals, including faculty, student, and guest solo recitals as well as ensemble programs

Dean of Men, Dean of Women, and Dean of Students Records, 1926-2005: records including correspondence, memoranda, and reports pertaining to the administration of student affairs

Library Buildings Collection, 1905-2001: materials documenting the planning, construction, and renovation of library buildings at Lawrence

University Audio Recordings, 1947-2007, and University Video Recordings, 1926-2012: recordings in analog, magnetic, and digital formats documenting events such as Commencement ceremonies, lecture series, reunions, news broadcasts, Conservatory programs, and more

WLFM Radio Station Records, 1954-2005: records including Board of Control materials, correspondence and reports of station managers and directors, program schedules, and other materials related to the management of the station

We also have some other projects in the works, including a new home for our digital collections. So keep an eye out for further news as we move into the fall!

Scrapbooks in the Archives

Ida Mary White Jones (class of 1900) scrapbook, back cover

Our intrepid student workers Sam Smith and Amelia Anderson have recently finished processing a collection of over 50 scrapbooks housed in the Archives. The vast majority of these scrapbooks were created by Lawrence alumni to document their student years. Many of the scrapbook creators went about this task very meticulously, providing detailed notes and captions to accompany all materials. With dates ranging from 1853 to 1989, the scrapbooks provide our most comprehensive documentation of life at Lawrence from students’ perspectives.

The most common materials in the scrapbooks are photographs, newspaper clippings, dance cards, letters and cards, Conservatory and Theatre programs, and fraternity and sorority memorabilia. But matchbooks, pressed flowers, and the occasional bite of wedding cake also make appearances.

Each one of these scrapbooks is described in our collections database, and all of them are open for research use. If any of these scrapbook descriptions pique your curiosity, stop by the Archives any weekday from 1 to 5 (or 1 to 4 during the summer) to sit down and page through them – just don’t eat the cake.

Presidential candidates at Lawrence

J.F.K. speaks in Riverview Lounge, March 11, 1960

The Archives recently received a reference question about the history of presidential candidate visits to Lawrence. After the announcement of G.O.P. candidate Mitt Romney’s appearance at LU tomorrow afternoon, we thought we’d share what we turned up (with the important caveat that this was not an exhaustive search, so there may be several missing from this list):

  • Wendell Willkie visited Lawrence on March 21, 1944
  • John F. Kennedy visited on March 11, 1960, and spoke in Riverview Lounge
  • Eugene McCarthy visited on March 15, 1968
  • Henry Jackson visited on February 23, 1972
  • Joan Mondale (campaigning for Walter) visited on October 24, 1984, and spoke in Riverview Lounge
  • George Bush visited on March 29, 1988 and spoke in the Chapel
  • John Kerry visited on October 15, 2004 and spoke in front of Alexander Gym

Many other candidates have visited the Fox Cities area over the years, and Lawrence students have often participated through coverage in the Lawrentian, protests, and showings of support. The Archives has photographs and newspaper articles related to all of the above visits – if you’re curious, stop by any weekday afternoon to take a look.

Collection Feature: Department of Occupational Therapy at Milwaukee-Downer College

Carolyn Westgaard (MDC '60) helps Arthur Stewart sew leather with burnt arms, 1960

News report: A part of history saved for the ages! Although much of Milwaukee-Downer’s history is scattered, we have a great collection here at the Archives. It documents the organization at M-D C. of one of the first Occupational Therapy programs in the country. Much of the collection is comprised of photos, which advertise the achievements and daily tasks of M-D occupational therapy graduates around the world. Some of the more interesting photos reveal the work of therapists in Ireland during the war; there might have been a shortage of everything else besides occupational therapists and their crafts! Crafts, such as weaving, metal work, puppetry, etc., were the main activities which a therapist would have learned and taught. These crafts were meant to help a patient in recovery by entertaining him and exercising his muscles. The scope of patients for a therapist varied from sick children to wounded soldiers. Occupational therapy, which was a field dominated by women, became so popular at M-D C. that even Roosevelt commented on the school’s success at training therapists. And by 1944, the O.T. program had earned a contract with the War Department of the U.S. government! Although few know of the extensive work of occupational therapists, this collection shows just how prominent a role M-D C. played in national and international events from 1919 to 1963.

Note: This post was written by Archives intern, Laura Scholten ’13, who processed the MDC Department of Occupational Therapy Records this term. View the finding aid for more information or check out Laura’s display on the first floor of the library!

New collection guides available

In our ongoing efforts to describe a higher percentage of the Archives’ holdings, we’ve recently added some new finding aids to our collections database:

Classes Records, 1857-2011: records documenting Lawrence University classes, including Commencement materials, alumni correspondence, photographs, class directories and retrospective directories developed for reunions.

Commencement Records, 1850-2011: records  include programs and announcements from Commencement ceremonies and other academic exhibitions, correspondence, citations of awards and honorary degrees, planning documents, and photographs.

Conservatory of Music Artist Series and Jazz Series Collection, 1908-2011: includes season announcements and programs for the  Artist Series and Jazz Series, from 1908 to the present. Some photographs are also included.

Convocations Collection, 1880-2012: includes convocation programs, articles, photographs, and the text of matriculation convocation speeches.

Great Midwest Trivia Collection, 1966-2011: includes photographs, newspaper articles, and other publicity concerning the contests from 1966 to the present, as well as the original copies of all questions asked from 1991 to the present. Team lists, posters, tee-shirts, scripts, and audio recordings of selected broadcasts are also included.

Reunion Records, 1876-2011:  includes programs, correspondence, and photographs from reunions dating back to 1876.

All of these collections are open for research – stop by the Archives any weekday afternoon from 1-5 to check them out!

Background for Founders Day

An Act to Incorporate Lawrence Institute of Wisconsin, Section 1, manuscript copy, 1847

On January 15, 1847, the Territorial Legislature signed “An Act to Incorporate Lawrence Institute of Wisconsin.” It was the third institution for higher-education to be established in the territory of Wisconsin, after Carroll College and Beloit College.  Amos Adams Lawrence of Boston had offered $10,000 for the establishment of a Methodist institution in the vicinity of De Pere, where he owned some land, and Wisconsin Methodists agreed to match the sum. Lawrence’s agent Reeder Smith, Rev. Henry R. Colman, and William Harkness Sampson assisted a committee in drafting the charter, based largely on charters for similar institutions at the time. The LU Archives has two copies of this charter – a manuscript copy and a photostatic copy of the original, which is located in Madison.

The signing of the charter was the first step in the difficult process of establishing a college on the frontier. There was land to be purchased and cleared, funds to be secured, a building to be raised, instructors to be hired, and students to be sought. The city of Appleton did not yet exist. Classes at Lawrence began almost three years after the charter signing, on November 12, 1849. During the earliest years, Lawrence operated only as a preparatory school, educating students at the secondary level until a cohort was ready to begin college-level work. Thus, the first class of college graduates (four men and three women) graduated in 1857.

For more detailed information on the founding and early years of the university, contact or visit the Archives – or check out Charles Breunig’s book, A Great and Good Work: A History of Lawrence University, 1847-1964. Happy Founders Day!

Collection feature: Emily Frances Brown Papers

The cover of Ms. Brown’s copy of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” copyright 1909

Did you know that the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was supposedly brought to the United States by a Milwaukee-Downer College professor? Popular opinion holds that you can thank (or blame) Emily Frances Brown for the ubiquity of this song during this time of year. Marguerite Schumann wrote colorfully about this attribution in a 1964 Post-Crescent article.

Ms. Brown was a professor of English at Milwaukee-Downer from 1900 to 1945. She is most often remembered for her coordination of Christmas and May Day pageants, as well as other plays. A remembrance published in the October 1958 issue of Hawthorn Leaves describes:

“A sense of the dramatic was always evident, even in Miss Brown’s announcement of the cast for her play. She would walk down the long aisle of the college chapel on the first fall day which carried a trace of snow in the air. Under her arm she carried a large book with two wide red ribbons hanging from its pages. Suspense would mount as she opened the volume to the current entry, and slowly divulged which of the three plays was to be produced. Then she would gradually reveal the cast, saving her major roles for the final announcement, which always met with a burst of applause.”

We recently processed a collection of Emily Frances Brown’s papers; you can view the finding aid for a full description of its contents. Among other things, the collection includes the sheet music for “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” which Ms. Brown brought from Oxford, England to Milwaukee in 1910.

Post updated 2018 to correct Brown’s dates of tenure at MDC.

Announcing a new collections search tool!

After several months of planning and data entry, we have officially launched a very exciting new tool for searching Archives’ holdings! The open-source software, called Archon, was created by archivists and developers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign several years ago and has been implemented in a wide range of archival repositories since. It creates a browse-able and search-able database of all of our collection guides (or “finding aids”). Users (both on and off campus) can browse holdings by collection title, creator, subject, or classification, or keyword search across all collection records.

Collection descriptions in Archon at this point still represent a fairly small percentage of all of the materials housed in the Archives, but the capabilities of the database should allow us to accelerate our rate for processing collections going forward. This means that the database will be continually updated with new records. Among many other things, Archon allows us to enter records for collections that are accessible but not yet fully organized and described. So an Archon search may show you descriptions of many more collections than those which were reflected on our old finding aids page. You still need to visit the Archives to see the actual stuff, but Archon allows you to get a good sense of what is on our shelves and ready for research use in advance.

A big, big thanks to folks in Technology Services, the library staff, and the Archives student assistants for all of their help with this effort! If you have any questions or any feedback related to Archon or the Archives’ collections, please contact us at or (920) 832-6753.

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.