Monday, August 19, 2019

Do you remember that one time at Central...? The New CMU Historical Information Resource

by Bryan Whitledge and Clarrissa Klein

Imagine the scene:


A group of friends is back in Mt. Pleasant for Homecoming. They’re enjoying a pizza and reminiscing about the past, when a disagreement breaks out:

Chip 1: "Do you remember when school was cancelled for a whole week in the spring of '87 because of that flood?"


Chip 2: "No way, it was the fall of '86 – I remember because a couple weeks later Wendy Smith was voted Homecoming Queen."

Chip 1: "No, it was definitely spring '87."

Chip 3: "What are you both talking about, it was fall '86 and Julie Johnson was the Homecoming Queen that year – but she wasn’t called Homecoming Queen, she was the Gold Ambassador."

Chip 2: "Are you crazy? The Gold Ambassadors started in the late '90s."

Chip 1: "Listen, I bet you the flood was spring '87 – I’ll buy pizza if I’m wrong and you’ll buy if I’m right."

Chip 3: "Yeah, and I bet you the Gold Ambassadors replaced the Queen and King in the '80s – You’ll buy the drinks, too, when you find out I’m right."

Chip 2: "We'll see... but how are we gonna find out?!?!?!"



Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place our hypothetical Chips could go to quickly answer all of these questions? If a resource like that existed, then, within two minutes, the Chips could have settled the bets – the flood happened in September 1986, Julie Johnson was Homecoming Queen in 1986 and Wendy Smith was Homecoming Queen in 1985, and the Gold Ambassadors started in 1997.*

Well, there is such a place with all of that great historical information – the Clarke Historical Library has recently created a new webpage with links to a dozen lists of information you have been missing!

You say you want to know who was the Grand Marshall of the 1977 Homecoming Parade? We’ve got that – two clicks and you’ll find out it’s Dick Enberg!

Has remembering the name of the first woman to serve as CMU’s Provost been bothering you all week? We’ve got that – two more clicks and there it is, Janice Reynolds (who incidentally earned her PhD from Ohio State, which is also listed on this new page)!

Is whether or not you need to spring for pizza riding on the year that Central’s first sorority, Phi Kappa Sigma, started? We've got that, too. And you were right, it was 1902! Now, they owe you a pizza!

For years, the Clarke has fielded all sorts of questions about CMU history. And we have spent hours poring over old Centralight magazines, Bulletins, and CM Life newspapers tracking down nuggets of information. Instead of making you do the same work, we decided to share the bounty of our labors.

And those labors amount to lists of:
  • The number of CMU graduates, 
  • Links to CMU Athletics record books, 
  • Central’s name changes throughout history, 
  • The names of University Presidents, SGA Presidents, Provosts, and members of the Board of Trustees, 
  • The names of Greek organizations, 
  • Weather-related closures, and 
  • Homecoming Grand Marshals, Queens and Kings, and game scores.

So the next time you are trying to win a bet, or if there is a factoid buried deep in the recesses of your mind that needs a little prodding to come to the surface, the Clarke Historical Library is here for you.

*For those keeping score at home, it looks like Chip 1 is buying pizza and Chip 3 is buying drinks.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Immigration in Another Era


By Frank Boles

Today’s heated political discussion over immigration, with its often strident rhetoric about immigrants, was not always a part of America’s political discourse. Before the Civil War and continuing during Reconstruction, the state of Michigan not only welcomed immigrants, it paid people to recruit settlers to migrate from Europe to the United States. A product of this work, Der Staat Michigan, published in 1859, was recently obtained by the Clarke Historical Library staff from a book dealer in Austria.

Der Staat Michigan, 1859, front & back Cover

Germans had been early settlers in the state. German immigrants founded a colony near Ann Arbor in the 1830s. In 1845, a second large group of German immigrants began to settle in along the Cass River, in an area that would become Frankenmuth. Between 1845 and the beginning of the Civil War, Germans immigrants came to Michigan in increasing numbers. Part of this immigration resulted from forces that pushed people out of their homeland. In the late 1840s and early 1850s, significant crop failures plagued many German farmers. The failure of the liberal revolt of 1848 also meant a large number of politically active Germans had good reason to fear retaliation from the government officials they had tried to unseat, and thus, they found it expedient to place a great deal of distance between themselves and those who remained in political power.

But “push” was not the only reason Germans came to Michigan. The state government of Michigan also actively “pulled” German immigrants. In the 1840s, many of the state’s political leaders had come to have high regard for Germans. These immigrants had demonstrated devout religious belief and economic energy, both of which struck resonant chords with the political leadership of the day. In addition, German immigrants were often either educated already or very much interested in establishing educational institutions for their children.

Der Staat Michigan, 1859. Map of Michigan with information on Ingham, Eaton,
Ionia, Montcalm, and Kent Counties. 

To obtain more of what Michigan’s legislators saw as an ideal foreign settler, they passed a law in 1845 to fund a “foreign emigration agent” in New York City to “encourage immigration into the state and travel on our public railroads.” Governor John Barry appointed John Almy to the position. Almy quickly wrote a six-page pamphlet in German extolling the state’s virtues. State government paid for five thousand copies of the pamphlet and it distributed not only in New York City but also to emigration societies and U.S. government consul offices overseas.

In 1850, Michigan’s governor, John S. Barry, let a bill continuing this outreach to German immigrants die on his desk. Barry was reported to believe that the state was now so well known to potential immigrants that further publicly-funded efforts to attract them to Michigan were unnecessary. Others disagreed with that assessment. In 1859, the legislature established the position of Commissioner of Emigration. Two well- known members of Detroit’s German community were appointed to the post – one working out of Detroit while the other was in New York City.

One of the two men, Rudolph Diepenbeck, was the former editor of a German-language newspaper. In 1859, he wrote in German and had published Der Staat Michigan, a 48-page pamphlet, which he used as a tool to recruit more Germans to come to Michigan.

By 1860, there were 38,787 German immigrants in Michigan, about five percent of the state’s total population of 749,113.

Michigan’s political leaders’ interest in German immigrants only increased after the Civil War. In 1869, the legislature sent the Michigan Commissioner of Emigration to Germany, where he set up an office in Hamburg. There the commissioner regularly published an eight-page “magazine” extolling the state to anyone willing to read it. Although the office in Hamburg was closed in 1874, the office of Commissioner on Emigration continued until 1885. The person who held that office continued to print publications in German, and later Dutch.

While the exact number of German immigrants will never be known, C. Warren Vander Hill’s Settling of the Great Lakes Frontier: Immigrant to Michigan, 1837-1924, offers a best guess that in 1920, of the state’s 3,723,000 residents, 670,000, or around eighteen percent of the population, were either German immigrants or their descendants.

Der Staat Michigan is an important historical publication that documents this long effort by the state to recruit foreign immigrants. The copy in the Clarke is particularly important in that only three other copies of this publication are known to exist. Two are found in German libraries while the third is preserved in Boston. It’s impossible to say when a copy of the pamphlet was last seen in Michigan, but we are very pleased to bring a research copy of Der Staat Michigan back to the state from which it came.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

STEM, the Clarke, and a Bit of Cultural History

by Frank Boles 


Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education has been a buzz phrase in education for at least a quarter century. Anchored in a concern that America’s edge in technological innovation was in danger of being lost because of a lack of technologically competent individuals, STEM seeks to reinvigorate teaching and learning about these four interrelated disciplinary fields at all levels of American education.

STEM advocates usually had little to say about the liberal arts, and those involved in teaching the liberal arts usually had little to say about STEM, except to more than occasionally lament why they couldn’t get some of the money being given to evolving STEM programs. Without entering into what has at times devolved into a bitter debate, in one important way STEM fundamentally depends on the arts – pedagogy.

For all the emphasis on involving students in STEM programs, there can be no question that unless the STEM disciplines are taught in a way that interest students and successfully educate them, the entire enterprise is for naught.

To accomplish this, the highest likelihood of success is to be achieved by thinking about how these subjects have been taught in the past, and how that body of historical information, a catalog of what worked, and what didn’t work, can inform and improve teaching in the present and future.

The opportunity to better understand this learning process is made possible by an extraordinary gift of over 250 mathematics textbooks by Dr. Robert G. Clason to the Clarke Historical Library’s textbook collection. Dr. Clason taught mathematics at CMU for over 30 years. In addition to teaching his own course, he became interested in how the subject was taught in the past, and began to assemble a collection of arithmetic textbooks printed from the eighteenth through the twentieth century.

First Lessons in Numbers in their Natural Order,
by John H. French, 1874.
A sampling of Dr. Clason’s collection gives a flavor of what is to be found. Many of the books are, of course, designed to introduce young children to the subject. John H. French’s First lessons in Numbers In their Natural Order, published in 1874 by Harper & Brothers, is typical of a genre of textbooks for children that poured out of publishing houses in the 19th century. Often published as a series, virtually all of them claimed, like French’s First Lessons, to be “unlike other works for the same grade of learners,” a claim begging to be examined today both in terms of its authenticity and, if true, in terms of which teaching method worked best.


Standard Service Arithmetics: Grade Five,
by Scott, Foresman, and Company, 1927.



Grade school books became a highly profitable, and often quite standardized product. Scott, Foresman, and Company’s 1927 Standard Service Arithmetics: Grade 5 seems a nice example of the development of grade school books in the first few decades of the twentieth century. The volume was part of the company’s “standard mathematical service,” edited by George Myers.

Other books in the collection show how teachers were taught to teach the subject. The growth of “normal schools” in the late nineteenth century, institutions of learning designed to educate teachers (of which Central Michigan was originally one), spawned a new market for more advanced books. The Normal Mental Arithmetic by Edward Brooks, published in 1869, was an early example of book designed to sell to this market, while An Arithmetic for High Schools and Normal Schools, published in 1902, moved into an already established market.
The Normal Mental Arithmetic,
by Edward Brooks, 1869. 

Books were also written to meet the needs of special communities. How to Become Quick at Figures; Comprising the Shortest, Quickest, and Best Methods of Business Calculations, tells the potential buyer everything one needs to know about the contents of the book.

Although the principal use of the collection is to discover how arithmetic has been taught over time, sometimes the books offer social insights that go well beyond that subject.

For example, Charles Davies Primary Arithmetic, published originally in 1855 and republished in 1883, included a bit of mathematical history. Lesson IV
noted that “the ten figures of Arithmetic were first used in Arabia.” The next sentence is both stereotypical and a historical, “The Arabs are a wandering people, live in tents, [and] have fine horses and camels.” Nevertheless, a child might wonder how these wandering people in their tents came upon the concept of Arabic numbers?

An Arithmetic for High Schools and Normal
Schools,
by Benj. Sanborn & Co., 1902.
That question was silently reinforced by Lesson V, printed on the adjoining page. It shows a “Roman father teaching his son to count” using Roman numerals. Seated in his chair with many scrolls at his side, the Roman father is the proverbial picture of an education rooted in a European cultural tradition harkening back millennia. Despite the weight of the imagery, the seven letters he is teaching to his son as a means of counting is not what Davies will be teaching, and Arabia, not Rome is, as lesson 4 notes, “the country from which we got our ten figures.”

Primary Arithmetic,
by Charles Davies, 1855. 
In an age when “scientific racism” was widely taught and believed, to inform children that something as fundamental as the way Europeans counted was rooted in a non-European culture was a subversive act. It could lead to more questions about what other ideas Europeans had learned from people who “live in tents [and] have fine horses and camels.” In a world where Europeans had declared themselves the biological and intellectual summit of natural evolution, such questions were not ones asked lightly.

Dr. Clason’s gift opens up both social questions and questions that apply directly to the success of today’s STEM programs. We are extraordinarily thankful to him for this gift.

Monday, July 8, 2019

The History of Faygo Pop

by Frank Boles


On Wednesday, June 12, Joe Grimm spoke in the Sarah and Daniel Opperman Auditorium in the Park Library and shared his entertaining history of Faygo, published in his work, The Faygo Book (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2018). The company has been making soda pop, or as Detroiter’s simply call it, “pop”, since 1907. Perry Feigenson had arrived in Detroit two years earlier and opened a bakery. Business was okay, but Perry, who had been a baker since 1900, had come to an unhappy conclusion - the hours were terrible.

Looking for a new business with better hours, he persuaded his brother Ben to join him in Detroit. Ben had worked in a Cleveland soda pop firm, a brother-in-law of the owner. Knowing this, Perry planned to go into the pop business. Unfortunately, after Ben arrived in Detroit, Perry learned his brother knew how to bottle pop, but Ben’s brother-in-law had never shared the flavor formulas. Perry was unconcerned, assuming that it would be simple to adopt the frosting recipes he used as a baker to the purpose.

Oddly enough, this notion worked. Why it worked is anybody’s guess. Harry Lipsky was hired in 1958 as the company chemist. He simply didn’t believe that you could use frosting recipes to flavor pop. Co-founder Perry, who lived until 1964 finally decided one day he was getting too old to personally flavor the pop, and pulled the young chemist aside to demonstrate how to brew Rock & Rye, one of the firm’s signature flavors. After adding a few cups of this and several dashes of that, the old man waved a towel over the final mixture, while speaking an incantation.

Lipsky rolled his eyes at this performance but took careful notes about everything else. After several months work, he scientifically recreated the formula, without the mumbo-jumbo. What resulted looked the same and smelled the same, but it didn’t taste right. He tried again, with the same result. Finally, Lipsky reproduced the entire process as he had been shown it, complete with towel and incantation, and to his amazement the flavor was correct. Lipsky claimed that after that trial, he just gave up the science and made Rock & Rye the old man’s way. Although lacking evidence, Grimm likes to believe someone is still waving a towel and invoking the secret words over every fresh batch of the flavor.

Whether their flavors came about by magic or skill, there was always a lot of them. The Feigenson brothers’ business strategy was to market a wide variety of flavors. Unlike companies like Coke or Dr. Pepper, which put all their effort into a single flavor, Faygo marketed a “rainbow of flavors.” Over the years, the company has marketed over one hundred flavors, some becoming perennial favorites, some selling well for a time but then being retired as sales lagged, and few notable flops. The company even tried to market substitute adult beverages (minus the alcohol) such as Chateaux Faygeaux, and Faygo Brau, which Faygo claimed was only to be sold to those under 21, it lasted five months.

When Perry and Ben opened the Feigenson Brothers Bottling Works in 1907, they faced many problems; one of the more intractable ones was the length of their name. The glass bottles were small, holding only about 7 ounces of beverage. Printing “Feigenson Brothers Bottling Works” on each bottle resulted in some pretty small type. They struggled with a solution for years. Finally, in 1920, they found it. Their pop was renamed, “Faygo,” a nice, short, five letter logo.

Faygo also became memorable for its advertising. Television seemed like a golden opportunity for sales, and as Grimm noted, “no pun was too low, to sell Faygo.” Perhaps the best know commercial appeared in 1956 when the Faygo Kid rode onto the black and white television screen to save the day. When Black Bart held up the “Wells-Faygo Express,” he assured the distraught woman in the coach that all he wanted was the Faygo root beer. The Faygo Kid returned the stolen drink, and when the question is asked, “which way did he go?” Black Bart’s horse delivered the commercial’s tag line, “he went for Faygo!”

In another commercial, Herkimer Bottleneck, whose job was to blow bottles in a pop factory, becomes “too pooped to participate.” His unhappy foreman announces Herkimer will “blow or go," and gives him a bottle of Faygo Uptown. In no time at all, Herkimer is back on the job. Both commercials were made by one of the best animation firms of the day, the same firm which made cartoon classics such as the Flintstones, the Jetsons, and Scooby-Doo.

Jim Henson, who would later invent the Muppets, also created Faygo ads. In ten commercials, each a mere eight seconds long and planned to be used in station identification slots, a Kermit-like Muppet named Wilkins tried to get a grumpy Wontkins to drink some Faygo. Wontkins always says no, and invariably something awful happens to him. The goal was to eschew the hard sell for a laugh, and hopefully, get across the implied moral: never say no to Faygo!

Faygo also employed local celebrities in ads. Detroit Lion’s football player Alex Karras became a regular. Karras was a mountain of a man, who after retiring from football, got even bigger. In one commercial, he is seated in front of a table, facing an enormous pizza and a can of pop. The announcer asks, “Hey um Alex? I thought you were on a diet?” To which Karras replies, "I am on a diet, See? Faygo sugar-free Red Pop. Boy, nobody makes a diet pop as good as Faygo." The announcer takes his point but says, "Yeah, but Alex, what about the pizza." Karras pauses, and then deadpans, "Faygo doesn't make pizza."

Faygo also tried to market is adult-aimed beverages through creative advertising, When Frosh first appeared, an actor doing an impression of WC Fields intoned, "Frosh is made for grown-ups. Yes, indeed. … Any soft drink that's not made for small children can't be all bad." To get the commercial right, Faygo's advertising firm went through 140 potential Fields imitators. When they found the right one, Bill Oberlin, they discovered he couldn't read lines. It took nine hours of taping to get five minutes of commercials. But it was worth the effort.

Faygo today is still marketing a wide variety of pop. Its history was told in colorful detail by Joe Grimm.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Fiftieth Anniversary of President Boyd's Inauguration

by Bryan Whitledge

The handover from one university president to the next is a momentous occasion. The investiture of current CMU president, Bob Davies, on March 19 was no exception. As the CMU News press release noted, there was much “presidential pomp and circumstance.” But pomp and circumstance are not always part of the inauguration program. Sometimes, the word, “interim” is removed from an interim president’s title and the change is completed with little ceremony. On other occasions, the spirit of the times might set an agenda, one to which the new chief executive might be aligned. 50 years ago, on May 12, 1969, such was the case at Central Michigan University.

President Boyd (center) during his inauguration, May, 12, 1969

President William Boyd, who was the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UC-Berkeley, became CMU’s 7th President in July of 1968 and changes were many – CMU ended the policy of in loco parentis in September 1968, the Faculty Association was organizing, and CMU started its first effort to reach out to students of color. In the weeks surrounding the inauguration, things were hopping: Stevie Wonder played a concert; Greek Week occurred; the third annual Gentle Friday was happening; and President Boyd would announce that Dr. Robert Thornton of San Francisco State College – the school that started the first Black Studies program in the country in March 1969 – was going to be on campus to help CMU incorporate Black Studies into the curriculum. There is no doubt that everyone’s plate was full.

In the midst of this change and activity, the plan for the inauguration was envisioned a little differently. As Board of Trustees Chair, Albert J. Fortino, wrote in the invitation sent in March of 1969:
    Contemporary problems highlight the urgency for an institution such as ours to concentrate its efforts and resources toward meeting the needs of all social and economic segments of our society. Central Michigan University will, therefore, allocate the funds which would have been designated for the traditional formal inauguration of Dr. Boyd to a fund to assist disadvantaged students. We hope that you will share the spirit of this inauguration with us. You may in fact, wish to direct the expense funds which may have been incurred ... to your own university’s projects for disadvantaged students.

With the spirit of the occasion laid out, the Monday inauguration ceremony, which started at 2:00 pm, began modestly and rather traditionally. Classes ended at noon so students and other attendees could pile into Finch Fieldhouse for the event. There were remarks from the Governor of the State, William Milliken, as well as performances by the Women’ Glee Club and the Symphony Orchestra. There were also comments from Trustee Fortino, the outgoing student body president, and the chair of the University Senate. The President of Alma College, Rev. Robert D. Swanson, gave the invocation. During his speech, President Boyd spoke about the social unrest of the times – disharmony, revolution, and discontentment – but he also offered the audience some inspirational thoughts about what the future held for CMU: “We now have the resources needed to build [the finest educational institution in the state] here. As a threshold university, we can delight in the happy circumstance that our moment of greatest success should still he ahead.”

Inaugural reception in the University Center, May 12, 1969

After the “informal ceremony,” as the CM Life referred to it, students and the campus community were invited to a reception in the University Center. But the real party was to begin a bit later, when folk singer Buffy Saint-Marie played a concert a 8:00 pm that evening in Finch Fieldhouse. The concert was hosted by the new president as part of his inauguration and was free for everyone.

Students surround Buffy Sainte-Marie, May 12, 1969

In addition to being a popular folk singer and songwriter, Sainte-Marie is also a social activist, and her performance that evening did not hold back. During her performance, Sainte-Marie, who is a member of the Piapot Cree Nation, sang many songs about the plight of indigenous peoples of North America. She also sang about the Vietnam War and other social issues of the time, all of which roused the crowd to their feet on several occasions. As Mary Irvine, who was a freshman at the time, later recalled:

    Buffy Sainte-Marie performing,
    May 12, 1969
    [Sainte-Marie] did a free concert and that place [Finch Fieldhouse] was just full. And after her set, she went off and people were just clapping and yelling. And she came back out and some of the folks up in the balcony in Finch yelled “Universal Soldier” and she did that and she went off [the stage again] and people were going nuts and she came back out. I blurted out very loudly, “My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying,” which is a history of Native American problems with the government. And she gave her all and that was the end of that concert.”


Not often does a university president offer students an afternoon off from classes to attend an “informal ceremony,” a reception, and a concert performed by a legend of activism and folk music. Fifty years later, the Boyd inauguration is remembered as a notable moment in the history of Central Michigan University, when the students, the trustees, and the President opted to forego pomp and circumstance in favor of "a 'swinging' ceremony."