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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving in the archives

by Marian Matyn

Here at the Clarke, we have two manuscripts (primary sources) that mention Thanksgiving along with some nostalgic Thanksgiving postcards and greeting cards.

Totally adorable girl fattening up Mr. Turkey,
Thanksgiving Greetings postcard, 1909

The first manuscript is a transcribed diary entry from 1877 (p.64, transcribed by Mr. Clarence Jalving, from the Dutch) of Geesje Vander Haar Visscher. It reads...

"The 29th of November [1877] we observed Thanksgiving Day as ordered in the President’s proclamation.* It’s wintry and yesterday it snowed hard all day. Maria [a daughter] is home and so four of them went to church while my husband and I stayed home. The roads aren’t fit for buggy or sleight[sic] so they walked to church. We talked and read together and felt a profound sense of gratitude for all we had enjoyed throughout the past year. When the children came home they said that Rev. Pieters had preached from Psalm 29: ‘But in His temple He is honored by everyone.' We had a fine meal at noon and gave of our substance for the needs of the students and the poor. And so another Thanksgiving day was history."

*President Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving on Oct. 3, 1863. To read a copy of the proclamation click here
Two kids patriotically obeying the proclamation,
untitled postcard, undated

Turkey makes gobblers of us all
[and lets drink wine, too]
postcard, 1907

The Clarke has two folders of material on Geesje: a poor quality photocopy of her diary in Dutch, and a much more legible, later, typed transcription of it. The diary is also available on microfilm. The original diary is housed at the Joint Archives of Holland, Michigan. Geesje’s diary discusses family, faith, Holland’s history, crops, the weather, and local events from a Dutch immigrant's faithful perspective.

Born on August 5, 1820 in Nastenbroek, the Netherlands, Geesje married Mr. Visscher on May 2, 1841. They were both from Separatist families. In 1845, the Visschers sailed for the U.S. with Rev. Van Raalte, eventually settling in Holland, Michigan by 1846. Together, the Visschers had nine children: a daughter who died after seven weeks in 1843; Lemmie (a daughter) (1844-????); Willem (William) (1845?-1872), who served in the the 16th Michigan Infantry Company D during the Civil War as a substitute; Arend (1849-????); Jan (1852-????); Maria (1855-1856); Johannes (1856-????); Maria (1858-????); and Gezina "Selena" (1863-????). All of the children became teachers, ministers, and/or married ministers. Lemmie, a teacher, and her minister husband were missionaries to Africa twice, the second time during the end of the Boer War. Jan was a minister in the Dakotas. Arend became a lawyer. Willem studied to become a minister and then studied medicine in NY (State). He died there of smallpox there in 1872.

Thanksgiving greeting card, undated
Our second item comes in the form of a a Thanksgiving table place card with "Mother" written on a turkey in the Ursula Hemingway Jepson scrapbook, 1903, 1951. It looks very much like this greeting card turkey sans vegetables and leaves.

For more information about these collections, contact Marian the Archivist at
Wishing you and yours a happy Thanksgiving holiday.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Presidential Election Season Is Coming

by Frank Boles

The 2014 mid-term elections are over, but in a cycle as old as the Republic itself, potential candidates for the 2016 presidential race are beginning to test the water. Back in 1964, CMU’s graduating class witnessed a particularly vibrant presidential election when Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon Johnson. Because of the excitement that contest stirred, the Class of ’64 did something extraordinary: they gifted the Clarke with funds to begin a “presidential campaign biography collection.”

The idea was straightforward: to document the biographical information put out by and about the candidates who hoped to become president. The project proved amazingly successful. Today, the campaign biography collection encompasses campaigns from Andrew Jackson’s defeat of John Quincy Adams in 1828 through the historic election of 2012. Soon enough, the Clarke Historical Library will begin buying the books issued for the 2016 race -- the cheerful biographies “favored” by the candidates, the alleged “smears” published by their critics, and of course the books authored by the candidates themselves in which they portray their vision for America. All of these books help us understand the candidates the public voted for (or against). It makes it possible for future students and scholars to study the reason, and the emotion, behind the selection of the president. And it allows the library to mount an exhibit about the presidential election every four years, which helps the CMU community understand the current presidential contest through a meaningful historical filter. Overall, it is a truly valuable collection that we are proud to preserve, and regularly enlarge.

Although the collection continues to grow, the original financial gift from the Class of ’64 was long ago spent. This year, at the 50th reunion of the Class of ’64, we asked them to help us create an endowment to permanently support the project they so generously helped us begin a half-century ago. While the collection was created by the Class of ’64, and thus we hope they have a special interest in helping to forward it, interest in the presidency and those who would aspire to that office certainly extends far beyond that one Class.

Thus, we welcome support for the Endowment campaign not only from members of the Class of ’64 but from anyone interested in helping us continue the documentary effort they established. Our goal is to raise $10,000, an endowment of sufficient size to create a spendable fund that will pay for the biographical books and other related material generated every four years, when the country is called upon to select its leader, as well as to establish funding to “fill in” missing works in the collection.

I hope that if you have an interest in this project, and in the Clarke, you will consider a year-end gift to the Class of ’64 Presidential Campaign Biography Endowment. Please click on this link for details about taking advantage of this opportunity.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How Mount Pleasant Celebrated the End of the Great War...Twice

by Bryan Whitledge

Until 1954, November 11th was recognized in the United States as Armistice Day, marking the anniversary of the end of the First World War. Sixty years ago, Americans decided to expand the scope of the day to honor all veterans of the military as part of a Veterans Day. But across Europe, November 11th holds a special place to remember the bloody, world-changing event that was supposed to be “the war that will end war.” In November of 1918, when the War was coming to end, reflecting upon the horrors of the War was not what people were doing to mark the end of combat, they were celebrating.

November 8, 1918 Isabella County Enterprise headline

4,000 miles from the front, in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, the end of the War brought about celebrations, just like in cities across the country. The November 8, 1918 Isabella County Enterprise (p. 4, col. 2) reported that “the Liberty Band appeared on the streets and played a 'Hot Time' on all the down town streets. A platform was built on the corner of Main and Broadway, and in the evening a regular old-fashioned jollification was held. There was lots of music, red hot speeches, and everybody rejoiced.” There was only one problem – On November 7, incorrect reports of the signing of an armistice spread across the United States and the victory celebrations were four days too soon.

SATC Lieutenants at
Central, ca. 1919
While many Americans here at home prematurely popped the corks on the celebratory champagne*, the War raged on another four days. Casualties continued to mount until just moments before 11:00 am, November 11, the time when the armistice took effect. Word that the armistice was truly agreed to quickly spread across the Atlantic. When the news hit American shores, the celebrations began for a second time. As the Isabella County Enterprise of November 15 (p. 1, col. 2) noted, “Monday [November 11] the real thing happened and again the town [Mount Pleasant] went wild.” The hearty souls in Mount Pleasant had it in them to celebrate two times in four days.

November 15, 1918 Isabella County
The second celebration was turned into an event that went on for multiple days. Wednesday, November 13, an ox roast was held and “not hundreds – but everybody – came to the barbecue.” The students from Central, including those in the Student Army Training Corps (SATC), joined in a parade with many other citizens and groups from Isabella County. The parade wound through Mount Pleasant to Island Park, where a band played and whoops and hollers filled the air. Professor Pearce gave a speech followed by the testimony of Howard Petoskey, who served in the Second Battle of the Marne.

Like many November days, November 13 was a “cold, uncomfortable day,” but the miserable weather could not stop the revelry. The end of the War meant many young men would be coming home. The armistice also raised the hopes of many for a lasting peace. As the Enterprise noted in closing, “Never in the world’s history of mankind has there been an occasion for such a celebration.”

*The champagne flowing in Mount Pleasant could have been sparkling grape juice considering that Michigan had enacted prohibition beginning May 1, 1917.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fall Speakers at the Clarke Library

by Frank Boles

On November 3, the last of six programs sponsored this fall by the Clarke Historical Library was held. The speakers offered their audiences a great deal of information on a wide range of topics.

The Clarke’s current exhibit, Photography: Process, People & Preservation, was opened on September 18 with a lecture about pre-digital photography by CMU Professor Al Wildey. Professor Wildey, who also generously loaned cameras from his personal collection for our exhibit, highlighted a variety of photographic processes used through time, noting how each played a role in the development of photography.

On September 25, Janice Harrington demonstrated why she has performed at the National Story Telling Festival in Washington, DC, as she enthralled her audience with story, personal narrative, and an impromptu poetry reading. She discussed where she drew inspiration for her children’s books and the process through which an idea eventually became a book. The poetry reading came about when Professor Harrington met the founder of the David M. and Eunice Sutherland Burgess Endowment, which made the evening’s event possible. Ms. Burgess expressed her admiration for Professor Harrington’s poetry. Although it wasn’t planned, the evening ended with a Harrington reading a few poems, among them one of Ms. Burgess’ favorites.

On October 1, the focus shifted to barns as Steve Stier, one of the state’s leading experts on the subject, presented an illustrated lecture describing Michigan barns. A basic introduction to barn architecture and styles flowed seamlessly into a discussion of the people who built Michigan’s barns. The photos reminded the audience of the poses, none of them likely to meet contemporary OSHA standards for construction safety, local boys and men often assumed high up on the barn rafters, when a photographer came calling.

On October 14, Professor Andrew Mahon took the audience on a research trip to Antarctica. The stories of serious research were mixed with photographs of the awe and wonder found amid the continent’s unending ice, and what life aboard a research vessel was really like.

On October 23, author Keith Widder opened a fascinating window on the capture of Fort Michilimackinac by Ojibwe warriors on June 2, 1763. The story commonly told ends with the capture of the Fort, but Mr. Widder’s story only began on June 2. He told a fascinating and complex tale of diplomacy involving Britain and several Native American nations. The capture of the Fort by the Ojibwe did not have the support of all of the Native American tribes in the region, and some tribes, including some bands of Ojibwe, were distinctly displeased with the attackers. Eventually the British soldiers who were taken captive after the fighting ended were returned to Montreal, but they traveled in a most peculiar convoy that mixed imprisoned British soldiers with other British redcoats from Green Bay traveling freely back to Montreal with their Menominee and Odawa tribal allies.

Finally, on November 3, Michigan State University librarian Michael Unsworth discussed the underutilized but extremely valuable Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections. A forty volume set of pioneer reminisces, historical sketches, original documents, and the occasional “historical paper,” the long-running series offers a true insight into early life in Michigan. It does not necessarily give up its secrets easily; the multi-volume set was actually published under three different titles and finding online a single, searchable set of the volumes takes more than a bit of persistence and skill.

Stay tuned to the Clarke's News and Notes blog for more information about our upcoming spring speaker series, which promises to be informative and captivating.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Spooky Archives at the Clarke

by Casey "Graveyards" Gamble

Everyone knows October is the spookiest month of the year, and special collections libraries can be full of eerie and mysterious things to celebrate the spine-tingling season. I explored the stacks of the Clarke Historical Library and dug up some of our spookiest* archival treasures.

As a student assistant, nearly every day I am asked to pull a manuscript, a map, or other deeply hidden documents in the stacks. This means I am required to walk past the portrait paintings. Two, in particular, always give me the heebie-jeebies; one is of a young lady, the other of a young man. Neither one of them look particularly pleased to be kept waiting in the back of the stacks, their memories forever trapped in wooden frames.

I don’t know who they are, and I don't know what they want,
but I can feel their judgmental stares as I walk past,
though I have yet to catch them laughing to each other.

Sometimes, our research requires that we delve into birth and marriage records, and in particular, death records. Although these records would have been used for statistical purposes, they tell the stories of those who once lived and how their lives came to an end. The first time I discovered these in the manuscript collection, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of these people were remembered beyond these books of records.

While working on the current exhibit, Photography: Process, People & Preservation, we had to do our fair share of digging through old photographs. Some of this research revealed a few unexpected photos labeled "necro-photography.” While these final photographs are a thoughtful way to commemorate the deceased, the images carry an unearthly feeling.

My favorite part of our whole collection occupies about a half of a shelf, and contains books about Michigan ghosts and haunted places. In another section of shelves, we have books that explore the histories of Michigan's mental institutions, from Traverse City to Kalamazoo. There are many more books just like these for you to dive into if you’re like me and are interested in Michigan’s spooky past.

It is likely that there are many more strange things waiting to be uncovered in the stacks of the Clarke Historical Library, and I'm looking forward to more discoveries. Am I proposing that the stacks are haunted? I am not in a position to say. Do I believe that there are memories that stay with some of the historical items that we collect in the back of the stacks? It is certainly possible. This library was, after all, designed to keep the collections safe, including their secrets.

*Level of spookiness may be relative to viewer of item

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Importance of Archives and the Les O. Carlin Collection

by Marian Matyn

October is American Archives Month! It is a time for archivists to highlight what we do to link the present to the past. This means finding, acquiring, organizing, describing, learning about, and making accessible materials and documents that could, one day, be invaluable to a researcher. Central Michigan University has a long history and preserving that history is one of the missions of the Clarke. The information that we hold can paint us a better picture of how students interacted with Central in the past.

For example, one of the collections I processed, created finding aids for, cataloged, and encoded the finding aids for (which should be Google-searchable in a month) this week was the Les O. Carlin collection, a CMU counselor for whom the Carlin Alumni House is named. You can see the CENTRA catalog record for more information about him and the collection.

One of the coolest things, in my opinion, in this collection is the Central State Normal School/CMU SATC photograph album, 1984, in the Carlin collection. The SATC (Student Army Training Corps) was active at Central from September 1918 to about November 20, 1918, shortly after the Armistice was declared. The entire company consisted of four platoons of 250 men. Private Carl W. Dalrymple (Central class of 1919) noted on one photograph that 200 of the 250 had “flu” at the same time, using the gym as a hospital. Whether they actually had flu or pretended to as a medical exercise is unclear.

There were SATC programs at other universities and colleges in the United States. These Central men were lucky that their training was delayed because they were in college, and then they were never sent overseas due to the Armistice.

The album includes mostly copies of portraits and some original group photographs of students enrolled in the SATC at Central practicing with guns, attacking targets, and one with a bugle. Three of the group photographs are laminated and identified as the entire company (four platoons of 250 men) and one image is of the 4th platoon.

These photographs are identified by Private Carl W. Dalrymple of the 4th Platoon. The album also includes two 1984 color photographs of senior men who were once SATC members. It is the largest collection of SATC images in the Clarke.

Here are some images from the photograph album:

 Target training and practice, 1918, and 1984 reunion

Laminated group image of 4th platoon

Unit in "mess hall" in the old gym

Individual portraits: one is a bugler, the others have guard duty

We have other Clarke collections with names of SATC men, or a few images of the Central SATC. They can be found via a CENTRA subject search for Central Michigan University Student Army Training Corps. For more information about the collection or anything archival, please contact Archivist Marian Matyn at

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Keith Widder Speaks About His Book, Beyond Pontiac's Shadow

On Thursday, October 23, Keith Widder, former curator of history for Mackinac State Historic Parks, will visit Central Michigan University to speak about his book, Beyond Pontiac's Shadow: Michilimackinac and the Anglo-Indian War of 1763.

On June 2, 1763, the Ojibwe captured Michigan’s Fort Michilimackinac from the British. Ojibwe warriors from villages on Mackinac Island and along the Cheboygan River had surprised the unsuspecting garrison while playing a game of baggatiway. On the heels of the capture, Odawa from nearby L’Arbre Croche arrived to rescue British prisoners, setting into motion a complicated series of negotiations among Ojibwe, Odawa, and Menominee and other Indians from Wisconsin. Because nearly all Native people in the Michilimackinac borderland had allied themselves with the British before the attack, they refused to join the Michilimackinac Ojibwe in their effort to oust the British from the upper country; the turmoil effectively halted the fur trade. Beyond Pontiac’s Shadow examines the circumstances leading up to the attack and the course of events in the aftermath that resulted in the regarrisoning of the fort and the restoration of the fur trade. At the heart of this discussion is an analysis of French-Canadian and Indian communities at the Straits of Mackinac and throughout the pays d’en haut.

This presentation, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7:00 pm in the Park Library Auditorium. A reception will follow in the Clarke Historical Library.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Antarctica Expedition Presentation

Join us Tuesday, October 14, for a presentation by Professor Andrew Mahon of the CMU Department of Biology. Professor Mahon and colleagues who joined him on his expeditions will speak about their research trips to Antarctica. You will learn what they did and why it was so important. Following this event will be a reception in the Baber Room where you can view the photographs taken by the team during their 2014 CMU expedition to the beautiful continent of Antarctica. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to hear from those who made this extraordinary journey!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mid-Michigan Digital Practitioners meeting at CMU

by Marian Matyn

Central Michigan University hosted the third Mid-Michigan Digital Practitioners (MMDP) regional meeting in the Park Library on September 18, 2014. Fifty people attended. We enjoyed meeting, networking, collaborating, and sharing digital project experiences and information. The attendees are mostly archivists and librarians behind the scenes who are responsible for the various technical and digital efforts involved in getting information in various formats into searchable digital repositories, developing project processes for converting reel-to-reel tapes or microfilmed newspapers for digital repositories, dealing with storage and access issues of digital information, or the conversion of data, or changing from one major storage/access system to another, and numerous other issues and concerns.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

CMU Homecoming Traditions... With a Spin

by Casey Gamble and Bryan Whitledge

We are all familiar with the excitement that Homecoming week brings to campus. Students have fun building up to Homecoming weekend by decorating their dorms. Student organizations put the finishing touches on their floats. Alumni and CMU fans begin gathering all the maroon and gold they can find to wear for game day. The people of Mount Pleasant enjoy the parade in the morning, the tailgating and football game in the afternoon, and dances and other social events later on. These tend to be the usual festivities planned for the Homecoming, except one year, 1971, when things were shaken up.

The Student Alumni Association decided to get rid of the parades, dances, dorm decorations, and even the Homecoming court. It was reported that students didn’t particularly care about the court and that there were simply not enough parade participants to make that tradition worthwhile. The Student Alumni Association wanted to try something new that all students and alumni could enjoy, so they organized a carnival, a bazaar, and a "style show" instead. The only traditional aspects they held onto were the pep rally, the snake dance, and the football game.

But this idea did not turn out to be such a hit. According to an editorial in CM Life following Homecoming weekend, returning alumni were unimpressed with “coming home” to a ferris wheel ride, and many people felt there was a lack of school spirit. They suggested that the next time big changes were to be made for an event such as Homecoming, those changes should be voted on by the student body to see just how many people care what weekend festivities might be enjoyed.

This would seem like a fair compromise, but in a rebuttal editorial post published two days later, the Co-chairmen of the Homecoming Steering Committee had many answers and explanations for the series of complaints. They felt that the Homecoming queen did not really represent CMU in its entirety, and that Miss CMU, who took the place of the queen and her court, would be a better fit. They also found that “at least 50 groups requested to build a booth for the bazaar,” which seemed to mean that there was more interest shown for the bazaar than previous parades. The Homecoming Steering Committee also noted that they did not intend for students to refrain from decorating their dorms, only that students should decorate lightly and donate to charity the rest of the money that they normally would have spent on decorations.

The experiment of the alternative Homecoming of 1971 was a one-time event that did not quite resonate with all the attendees. But the spirit of updating some of the traditions of Homecoming to better reflect the University has lived on. Since that time, the Homecoming Ambassadors have replaced the queen and her court, the dances are not as popular as they once were, and the medallion hunt, which was developed in 2003, has become a campus favorite. As long as Homecoming is a tradition at CMU, there will always be students and alumni reinventing the traditions to make them their own.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Janice Harrington Speaking Thursday

Professor Janice Harrington, storyteller, poet, and author of children’s books will speak this Thursday, September 25, at 7:00 p.m. in the Park Library Auditorium on the subject of children’s books and her own work.

Janice Harrington’s first children’s book, Going North, was published in 2004. The book won several awards and drew upon her memories of rural Lamar County, Alabama. The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County, published in 2007, was one of Time magazine’s top ten children’s books of the year. Her 2008 book, Roberto Walks Home, continues the stories of Ezra Jack Keats, a now deceased white writer who was among the first to publish stories using African American and other children of color as central characters.

Currently a member of the faculty at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, she was for seventeen years the head of children’s services at the Champaign Public Library. She has performed as a professional storyteller in a variety of settings, including the National Storytelling Festival in Washington, DC.

The presentation is free and open to the public. A reception will follow to talk in the Clarke Historical Library.

Professor Harrington’s presentation is made possible by the David M. and Eunice Sutherland Burgess Endowment.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New Exhibit Opening Thursday

The Clarke holds thousands of photographs in dozens of formats. Generally, these images are used to study a subject: a discussion of early lumbering in Michigan can be bolstered with a daguerreotype of a lumber baron, researchers studying Michigan Civil War soldiers will come across tintype portraits of servicemen, and the history of Central State Normal School (CMU's previous name) in the 1920s is brought to life with historic silver-gelatin prints.

In the Clarke's new exhibit, Photography: Process, People, and Preservation, photographs are displayed and explained for their own sake, not the content or subject of the images. To guide visitors through the history of pre-digital photography, the exhibit explains the processes involved in producing photographs, from the toxic and labor intensive early days to the time when a roll of color film could be dropped off at a lab and picked up a few days later. The chemistry, the equipment required, and the challenges of producing a variety of photographs are explored.

In addition to the processes, the exhibit examines how photography played a role in the careers of various people, including an itinerant daguerreotypist, a commercial portrait photographer, and a team of university photographers. The exhibit also points out how photographs can be damaged and how they naturally deteriorate over time. Realizing the degradation of these images is essentially losing a piece of history can be discouraging, so the exhibit details the measures that museums, archives, libraries, and even individuals can take to preserve their images for generations to come.

An exhibit on photography would not be complete without the tools used to produce photographs. Fortunately, the CMU Department of Art and Design is a wonderful resource for consulting on this subject, particularly Professor Al Wildey. He has loaned several of his historic cameras, some pieces of old photographing equipment, and many rare images that illustrate the processes explained in the exhibit.

Beyond consulting and loaning materials, Professor Wildey is also opening our exhibit with a presentation on Thursday, September 18 at 7:00 pm. He will discuss the history of photography before the digital age. The event takes place in the Park Library Auditorium followed by a reception in the Clarke to give attendees the chance to look at examples of the historical processes mentioned in the presentation.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Central Marching Band

by Casey Gamble

In September 1923, the students of the Central Normal College were hustling around in a frenzied attempt to register for classes (Central State Life, 9/25/1923, p. 2). The only peace to be had on campus was coming from the marching band. It was the band’s duty to lighten the atmosphere and remind students that their first days in Mount Pleasant were the start of an exciting chapter of their lives. This past week, with freshmen moving into residence halls, students buying their books, and friends meeting up after three months of summer vacation, the CMU marching band can still be heard playing in the background during an otherwise chaotic time.

CMU’s first football game isn’t far away, coming up this Thursday, August 25th, but the football players aren’t the only ones practicing every day. During band week, which happens right before the start of classes, the Marching Chips are on the practice field all day, every day, whether in the blazing heat or the pouring rain. Throughout campus, the Marching Chips work on the songs and routines that will be on display for thousands of fans throughout the fall.

The cadence of the drums can be felt across the Warriner Mall, the trumpets blare the high notes that will be the highlight of their performances, and the members of the woodwinds work in numbers to create big volume that will support the whole band. All of these musicians put in hours of work to learn about eight songs for football halftime shows in addition to the dozens of pregame tunes, stand times, and of course, the CMU Fight Song.
But the work doesn’t stop after band week. It should be remembered that the members of the Marching Chips are first and foremost CMU students. Once classes start, many of the music majors will be taking 10+ classes and they combine that with marching band practice a few hours in the afternoon, except for game days when some sections will be practicing by 7:00 am. Graduate students and senior section leaders will help the mostly freshman marchers keep each foot together and each note in sync until the formations are performed to perfection.

And what does all of this hard work bring? It brings cheer to the students of CMU when they need an upbeat song to get them through their studies. It brings life to football game halftimes. It brings traditions that have been handed down through generations of Marching Chips. And it brings the experience of discipline and perseverance to the musicians who are a part of the Central Marching Band.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Not everything needs to be retained forever!: An appraisal lesson

by Marian Matyn

This is a deed between Orrin Harmon and his wife, Camilla, to Adam Yarck for 25 acres of land in Ravenna Township, Portage County, Ohio, 1835. The property sold for $81.25. It is signed by Orrin, Camilla, and two witnesses. On the back is a note that Camilla agreed to the sale of the property, separately from her husband, before Judge Elias Harmon, a process required to protect her rights. Another note states that the deed was recorded July 25, 1835 in Portage County, Book V, on pages 324-325, by the Recorder, a Mr. Skinner. The deed is now in six pieces, broken along the fold lines, with a few acid stains.

This manuscript is outside of our collecting scope. This deed is from 1835, after Ohio gained statehood, so it should go to Ohio. However, none of the Ohio archives want it, because it is a personal deed and they already have the information recorded in official volumes.

I will probably add this to my Archives Administration class examples to discuss deeds, early paper, wear and tear on documents, collecting policies, and appraisal.

What is archival appraisal? A process of deciding the value of a primary source (manuscript or archival collection) using various archival appraisal theories to determine whether or not to retain it. Some of the appraisal points I consider are:

What is its evidential value? Is it information necessary to document the organization and function of an institution or department?

What is its informational value? What does the information tell us about people, places, things, events?

What is the intrinsic value? For example, a letter with blood or tear stains on it has intrinsic value that is more powerful than a transcription of the letter.

There are some of the other points to consider as well.
Does it fit our collecting policy?
Does another institution already collect material on this subject or generated by this creator?
Are there special requirements for access, storage, duplication, or conservation?
Are there political reasons to retain it?
Do we have the resources to acquire, process, catalog, house, and provide access to it?

If you have questions contact Marian the Archivist at

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pop-Up Books

by Casey Gamble

All children cherish their first experience with a toy book. With each turn of the page, there are pictures that jump out, wheels that spin, and new doors to open. There are pictures that dazzle or spook, pictures that sparkle and inspire, and pictures that tell us old or new stories in a standout fashion.

Movable books began long ago with turn-up books, also known as Harlequinades, which were created around 1765. These involved the simple mechanism of flipping sections of a page over to change the picture and move the story forward. The Clarke Historical Library has an example that tells the story of Aladdin or the Wonderful Lamp from 1880. You can view the tale of Aladdin on his adventures, each flip of a page turning the picture into something new, as pictured here:

Harlequinade #1
Harlequinade #2

Also from 1880, we have The Aquarium, which features a pop-out page showing little children observing in wonder the brightly colored fish swimming about in a tank.

Movable books have come a long way since the nineteenth century. Many of them retell famous tales, like The Chronicles of Narnia, with scenes that make you feel like you’ve just passed through the wardrobe or went sailing with King Caspian.

"Passing through the Wardrobe"

"Sailing with the King"

The Clarke also has pop-up books that are more educational. This one, appropriately titled Shakespeare's Globe Theater, gives children the opportunity to re-enact the works of Shakespeare in a detailed replica of the Globe Theater. This book includes excerpts from several Shakespearean plays and paper characters to put on the stage.

Or, if you're at all interested in the man who invented the moveable type and the printing press, you may want to take a look at the pop-up story of Gutenberg’s Gift.

After seeing just a few samples from the Clarke's collection of pop-up books, you may feel inspired to create your own 3D masterpiece. The Clarke has several pop-up books that will teach you how and the possibilities will become endless with the worlds you can create and the places you can go.

The Elements of Pop-Up

If you've enjoyed seeing these pictures of the movable books, you may want to pay a visit to the Clarke to explore all of the different ways many artists and engineers have brought animation to the page. These items are more impressive in person and so is the entire collection found in the Clarke. We've been making more room for new additions lately, so you may want to browse the catalog to see if we've got a pop-up version of your favorite story!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Robert Knapp Speaking July 22

Robert Knapp, author of Mystery Man : Gangsters, Oil, and Murder in Michigan, will discuss his new book as part of the summer Clarke Speaker Series.

Mystery Man is the story of Isaiah Leebove, Jack Livingston, and a cast of innocents and not-so-innocents. Oil barons from Okla­homa like Nathan Livingston and Henry Sinclair, New York gangsters like Arnold Rothstein and "Legs" Diamond, Detroit's Purple Gang, even Charles Lindbergh's baby all figure in the unfolding drama that ultimately played out in the days of Michigan's oil boom. A personal grudge led to Leebove's murder – or was it the perfect gangland slaying?

Join University of California Professor Emeritus Robert Knapp, a Mt. Pleasant, Michigan native and CMU alum (1968), to learn more about this intriguing story. The program begins at 7:00 pm in the Park Library Auditorium with a reception to follow in the Clarke.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Tale of Two Michigan Cities on the Fourth

By Casey Gamble and John Fierst
A Tale of Two Michigan Cities

The library is closing up for Friday, July 4th so that everyone can get out and enjoy Independence Day however they see fit, whether they are going to watch some fireworks, have bonfires with friends, or enjoy lots and lots of home-grilled food.

But how were folks celebrating in Michigan 228 years ago? It was the year of 1876, the Centennial Anniversary of American Independence. It just so happens that the Clarke has the Centennial Celebration programs for Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

Grand Rapids was busy and thriving, just having built the Grand Memorial Arch at Campau Place specifically for this momentous occasion. The arch was designed by Col. Joseph Penney and erected by Mr. C. H. Gifford.

It was said to be “without doubt one of the finest ever erected on the continent and unrivaled by any other city on this centennial day.” But would Kalamazoo agree?

They too appeared to have outstanding decorations, and an outstanding parade which featured the Terrace Chariot:

“The Terrace Chariot, bearing Miss Frances Little as ‘The Goddess of Liberty,’ around whom were gracefully grouped thirty-seven young ladies, representing the States, was the finest thing of the kind ever seen in Kalamazoo, and elicited admiration and applause at all points on the line of march.” It truly must have been an incredible site to see, and an event not to be missed. We aren’t sure how it would stand up against the Centennial arch, however.

If we could, we would share with you the magic of the entire Kalamazoo Independence Day oration, but it lasts about 70 pages, so if you are interested—should we say so inspired--we might suggest you make a visit to the Clarke Library.

As for evening entertainment in Kalamazoo, they had a long list of events to thrill the celebrants. Fireworks of great variety filled the night sky:

1. Rockets, Stars, Serpents, and Gold Rain

7. Flight of brilliant Colored Rockets

8. Tree of Light

29. Pyramid Caprice

33. Kalamazoo’s farewell piece: “Good Night”

“By midnight the town’s people, fatigued by labor and excitement, sought repose in their several homes, and the town, so full of noise and bustle and enthusiasm during the day, sank at last to rest.” And in Grand Rapids “Good order and good feeling universally prevailed from morning till night.” Amid “general rejoicing and satisfaction” the celebration closed. “The grand arch was kept lighted up for several hours by red lights burned by Messrs. Mills & Lacey in front of their drug store on Canal Street”

We invite you to come to the Clarke Historical Library and to take a closer look—by way of these two slender volumes—at how the centennial of the Fourth of July was celebrated in two Michigan cities.

Friday, June 27, 2014

by Marian Matyn

After months of hard work by interns Mark Prindiville and Andrea Howard since January, Mark and I finally finished processing, boxing, labeling, and listing approximately 18 cubic feet of an addition to the Aladdin Company Collection. The company manufactured readi-made (kit) homes in Bay City and sold them through mail order catalogs. For lots of info on Aladdin, click here. The addition is mostly family papers, photographic materials, journals, correspondence, scrapbooks, films, slides, and a few business records.

Most of the films are of an airshow at James Clements Airport, Bay City in 1972. One is a St. Patrick's Day parade in the region; one is of houses being built.

There is documentation here and in the main collection of the very nasty and long divorce between Will J. and Mary Sovereign, which resulted in Michigan's no fault divorce law.

There is also documentation of Jeannette Lempke-Sovereign (January 19, 1899-Juy 14, 1966), the second wife of Will J. Sovereign, who was known as a pilot for the Aladdin Refining Company, advertising for Sovereign Oil. She was also a competitive flyer for national air races and was a part of the Ninety-Nines, an all-female pilot organization, for which she was later elected International President and of which Amelia Earhart and other early female pilots were members. See for more info on the ninety-nines.

There is WWII information on the conversion of the company to war work and Will's attempts to get into the Army Air Force. Homework and letters of children, blueprints of Will's yatch, and other architectural records are included too.

I am completing the finding aid and catalog record so it will soon be available to researchers via the Clarke Historical Library finding aid website.

MOLD/ALLERGY ALERT: Please note that the collection was treated in spring 2012 for mildew and mold and then deacidified. Some of the materials retain an unpleasant odor. Researchers with allergies should use caution when using the collection.