Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Holidays and WWII Christmas Correspondence

Happy Holidays from the Clarke!

The staff of the Clarke Historical Library would like to wish you and yours a happy holidays. Central Michigan University will be on winter recess throughout the holidays and the Clarke will be closed during that time. We will close Friday, December 19 at 5:00 pm and reopen Monday, January 5 at 8:00 am. Before going on break, Marian Matyn has highlighted one of the the many series of documents in the Clarke that mention Christmas and the holiday season.

WWII Christmas Correspondence

by Marian Matyn

The Clarke archives has 25 collections with some mention or documentation of Christmases past. Remembering our troops, here is an example from a WWII soldier.

Pvt. Harley Whelpley served as a private in Company C, 167th Engineers Construction Battalion in France and Belgium in 1944. He may have been from Mich. No further information is available on him.

The collection (1 folder) includes V-mail correspondence from a soldier in France and Belgium during World War II, Nov. 30, 1944-Feb. 18, 1945, to friends, Mr. and Mrs. (Pearl) John Riegle of Gobles (Mich.). Whelpley wrote about receiving correspondence, Christmas packages, and Valentines cards; sleeping with other soldiers in small rooms and in a cupboard he turned sidewise; and trying to find a church to attend for service. The letters include one original (Nov. 30, 1944). The rest of the correspondence are photostatic copies.

Vmail and envelopes

Dec. 7, 1944

Dear Pearl & John,

Received two letters from you this week. Was sure glad to get them. We are beginning to receive some of our Xmas packages. They don’t last long but they certainly do taste good. …Mud is our big problem & it makes plenty of work! but every foot is closer to the good old USA so we don’t mind it. We are eating well & sleep pretty good. … Yours truly, Harley

November 30, 1944 letter from Harley
showing redaction from censors
Dec. 11, 1944

Dear Pearl & John,

Received your swell Christmas package tonight. It was the only one in our squad & we sure had a lot of fun opening it. I needed all the things except the cigs and I suppose they were the hardest to get. The fudge was the best we ever had. At first I read the labels on the cans & everybody thought it was some kind of vitamin product. We all enjoyed the food and thank you very much.

We’re in a different place every couple of days. Right now we have two nice rooms. It’s a[sic] triple crowded always is so don’t mind that. Well must sign off. Thanks again for the swell package,

Yours truly, Harley

Friday, December 12, 2014

CMU Football's National Championship

by Bryan Whitledge and Casey Gamble

Fred Jacobson with the NCAA Division II National Championship trophy

It was Saturday December 7, 1974, and the CMU football team had just defeated the Number 1 ranked team in the country, Louisiana Tech, with a score of 35-14 in the Pioneer Bowl, played in Wichita Falls, Texas. The game was one of the semi-finals of the Division II football playoff that year. The fans were going wild and the team, though some of them returned to Mount Pleasant on crutches, could not wipe the smiles off of their faces. They were moving on to compete for the national championship in the 1974 Camellia Bowl, taking place in Sacramento, California on December 14. The season was incredible, with only one loss in the opening game of the season, followed by 12 straight victories. CMU had already beaten the Number 3 and Number 1 teams, so the prospect of beating the number 2-ranked University of Delaware in the championship game was not impossible.

Daily Times-News headline about
CMU's Pioneer Bowl victory

Everyone was thrilled; even the marching band was hoping to join the team on their adventure across the country. With the help of the very spirited community, they were able to raise $30,000 in less than a week and off to California they went. More than 800 die-hard Central fans made the cross country journey. It seemed like everyone was rooting for Central - President Gerald Ford sent a good-luck telegram, and Michigan Governor William G. Milliken wired, “Your spirit and your dedication have been exemplary, and your outstanding record is a tribute to each of you. Michigan is behind you. Beat Delaware.” CMU President William B. Boyd, who did not make the journey to Sacramento, called the team dressing room before the start of the game.

Daily Times-News headline about
CMU's Camellia Bowl victory
Central took the lead from the very first play of the game – “a 68-yard burst to paydirt” by running back Dick Dunham. The team held on tight, easing into a very comfortable 52-14 win. The Delaware Blue Hens tried their best to fight back, with hopes of winning a third national championship, but CMU was much too strong. After the game, Coach Roy Kramer and the team were presented with the NCAA trophy. After one more day in California, the team returned home and was greeted by hundreds of fans and President Boyd.

Coach Roy Kramer (l) and President William Boyd (r)
in Mount Pleasant after winning the Championship.
Not only did the CMU football team win the national championship, they were promoted to Division I status within a few weeks of claiming the title. Generally, the decision to change a school’s status is made at the April or August meeting, but, as Athletics Director Ted Kjolhede noted, Central’s case was “cut and dried.” This promotion to Division I meant that the football team would have the same status as the rest of the CMU athletics programs, which were competing at the Division I level since 1973.

Forty years later, the 1974 football season still holds a special place in Central’s athletics history. Since stepping up to the national stage, CMU has won seven conference championships and played in eleven post-season games, including this year’s Bahamas Bowl.

Monday, December 1, 2014

E.C. Warriner Material Included in Online European World War I Collection

by Frank Boles

CMU President Eugene C. Warriner (1918-1939) was notable for many reasons, among them his support of the pre-World War I Peace Movement. On November 15, Professor Hope May of the CMU Department of Philosophy and Religion and a group of CMU students participated in a ceremony at the Peace Palace Library in the Hague, Netherlands, where many of Warriner’s documents regarding his beliefs about peace were added to European based website, “Remembering the First World War.” The website is found at

The original documents scanned into “Remembering the First World War” came from the CMU Archives, housed in the Clarke Historical Library.

For more information about the Warriner papers carried to Europe, and a photo of Professor May and the students assisting in placing the material into the database, visit the Peace Palace Library blog at To learn more about President Warriner’s Papers in the Clarke, view the online finding aid