Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Central Normal Bulletin Now Online

by Clarrissa Klein

At Central Michigan University, the document known as the “Bulletin” brings to mind a course catalog with descriptions of academic programs on offer. But from 1905 to 1919, there was another “Bulletin” – the Central Normal Bulletin. The Central Normal Bulletin was the earliest school newspaper and it contains a lot of CMU history. Once a month, the Bulletin was published and it updated the campus and alumni about news from campus, news from alumni, and short essays by Central faculty about a wide variety of subjects. Now, we have added this great asset to our CMU History document repository, part of the CMU Digital Collections.

The project to put the Central Normal Bulletin online required a great deal of scanning and even involved taking photographs of pages that were too hard to scan because the 100+ year old bindings were too delicate. With the work of other students in the Clarke and our colleagues in New Zealand, who host our document repository, we were able to produce high-quality images of the Central Normal Bulletins and upload the files to the CMU history website. Now, over 5,000 pages of CMU history that were only available to those who visited the Clarke Historical Library in person, are accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

The Bulletins are a good source of information about past students and staff members, and many Bulletins have fun stories about CMU. One story that I personally love and find to be outrageous comes from November 1912. In October that year, Central lost a football game by a score of 0-106 to Alma! The story puts the loss in the best light possible, pointing out that Alma had practiced three weeks more than Central and the Alma team “outweighed us fifteen pounds to a man.” Also, Alma had an fantastic season, already beating Olivet 58-0 and Kalamazoo 54-0 before the Central game. Because of this loss and other reasons, for the next three years there was no football team-- only soccer.

Another fascinating story comes from July 1907. During the commencement program for the 1907 class, seventeen girls in white dresses performed a beautiful dance to add to the ceremony. They captured the audience by using colored lights and “charming steps of dance.” According to the Bulletin, it was a highlight for the ceremony. Professor Maybee’s choir might have been a highlight as well, but the article simply reads, “[his] success in getting music out of his choir is too well known to Central Normalites to need comment.” These mentions are found in the four-and-a-half-page article recounting the commencement events in detail. The news about commencement today is nothing like this.

These stories are just the start of the vast amounts of information found in the pages of the Central Normal Bulletin. We invite you to step back over 100 years in Central’s history and find your favorite – it can all be accessed via this link.