Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Books and Bicycles

by Casey Gamble

May is finally beginning to show off the warmer, greener side of Michigan; it also happens to be National Bike Month, providing perfect days for taking your two-wheeled pal for a joyride in the park (or to work, or to wherever your heart desires). Bikes are not only good for toning up the body, but saving fuel and in turn, saving the planet.

Some of the first models of what would eventually become bicycles were being created in 1817, and they gained enough momentum that by 1880, the League of American Wheelmen was created. Their main goal was to make it easier for people to be able to safely enjoy this new mode of transportation. They succeeded, and soon paved roads were becoming more popular, and this eventually led to creating some of the first highway systems. Back then, the League of American Wheelmen had over 100,000 members. In 1956, National Bike Month was established, and in 1997, they were renamed the League of American Bicyclists.

At the Clarke, we have quite a bit of material on bicycles and bicycling, both fiction and non-fiction, for young and old.

We hold more than a few books giving insight to some of Michigan’s best bicycle routes, by trail or by road:

And those are just a few! We also have some historical books and pamphlets, such as these:

And some adorable children's books, such as the Bobbsey Twins on a Bicycle Trip

and Miffy's Bicycle, which is my personal favorite

Bicycles are a widely loved invention, so it's no wonder that there is a whole month dedicated to them. If you've found yourself interested in them, stop by the Clarke and take a look at what we've got! The main goal of National Bike Month is to remind everyone the benefits of taking a spin, and maybe even adapting it into your everyday life to start making a bigger difference.

And don't forget, all you cycling fans, Le Tour de Mount Pleasant is just around the corner, coming up on the weekend of June 6th through the 8th!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Residence Hall Assembly Scrapbooks

by Marian Matyn

Recently the President of CMU. RHA (Central Michigan University. Residence Halls Assembly) donated some of the organization's records, mostly consisting of scrapbooks. I am going to encourage them to keep more minutes if possible, but they have documented themselves well in scrapbooks.

They have some beautiful examples of creative and well identified scrapbooks. Here are some fun examples of the more creative covers:

My fav -- made of comfy cozy car jammy materials, 1995-96 

sparkles anyone? 1999-2000

lovely 2006-7

1996-7 scrapbook-very tie dye

Here's their reason why, very archival -- Linking the past and the present.

If you have questions about the archival collections please contact Archivist Marian Matyn at

Friday, May 9, 2014

Historic Central Commencement Brochures

by Casey Gamble

At last, the time has come for summer fun for Central Michigan University students. Classes are over, the weather is warming up, and Mission Street already seems mysteriously more manageable. But there’s one more important event left to be taken care of before we can say the semester is officially over -- Commencement! We thought we’d take you through some of the historic Commencement brochures that the Clarke keeps in its holdings, and show how much things have changed and how our school has grown over time.

1894 Commencement Brochure for the Conservatory
Central Michigan University started out as Central Michigan Normal School and Business Institute in September 1892. Pictured here is the 2nd commencement booklet from 1894, 120 years ago! In the 1890s, each document had a unique design, from the list of music conservatory graduates to the dinner invitations.

1893 Recital Brochure

1898 Commencement Brochure

1930 Commencement Brochure
Upon entering the 1900s, the number of students graduating from Central increased immensely. The brochures were designed in a more minimalist fashion, but they still managed to sneak in some bright colors on the dinner invitation, as pictured here in this 1930 Commencement booklet.

Shortly after the 1930s, most of the brochures were designed to be simple and to the point, with an interlude in the late-1960s to early-1970s when the brochures were splashed-up with earth-toned covers, like those seen here.

Commencement Brochures ca. 1968-72

By the 1990s, the brochures turned back to the modest feel, which has lasted through to today with slight changes. It’s a classic business-professional look and focuses the attention on the content of the brochures rather than the aesthetics. What’s most important to remember about Commencement is the progress our students have made, and that we are celebrating their steps into an exciting new chapter of their lives.

1998 Commencement Brochure

2012 Commencement Brochure
This year, around 3,000 students will be graduating and the Clarke will be sure to keep a copy of their 2014 Commencement brochure. We look forward to seeing it featured in a 2064 blog post about historic Commencement documents found in the CMU Archives of the Clarke Historical Library.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Gentle Friday at Central Michigan University

By Bryan Whitledge

Today is Gentle Friday at Central Michigan University – a tradition stretching back nearly 50 years. A few weeks ago, Cynthia Drake, editor of the Centralight Alumni Magazine, and Marcie Otteman, Director of Alumni Relations spoke to an engaged audience about the history of Gentle Friday at a Clarke Speaker Series event. The presentation was filled with facts, stories, photographs, video, and audio as a way to paint a picture of what Central’s campus was like 47 years ago and how the campus and Gentle Friday have evolved over the years.

President Bill Boyd and Professor Jean Mayhew,
King and Queen of Gentle Friday, 1970
The story began in the spring of 1967, when love-ins, teach-ins, and a free-wheeling spirit were emerging across the U.S. At the same time, tensions were increasing because of the Civil Rights Movement, opposition to the Vietnam War, and a sense among young adults that their freedoms were being curtailed by authority figures, particularly on college and university campuses. On college campuses, students started holding Gentle Thursday events as a way to bring awareness to all of the injustices in society and ask everyone to make an effort to be kind to one another. At Central, tensions between students and faculty and administration meant that the May 5, 1967 event was more a day to try to bring everyone together to “take your adversary to coffee” or share an ice cream cone with CMU President Judson Foust. As Ms. Drake noted, one faculty member said students at the time were riled up about everything, except for class.

As the 1960s turned into the 1970s and Gentle Thursdays across the United States subsided, CMU maintained the Gentle Friday tradition. Free ice cream courtesy of CM Life was always a big hit. So were hula hoop contests and live music. Overall, it was an enjoyable way to skip a Friday afternoon class and sit in the sunshine on the Warriner Mall.

In the 1980s, large raucous parties overshadowed Gentle Friday, but when the time came around that those parties were a distant memory, Gentle Friday was still going strong. In 2005, Gentle Friday became an official CMU day-off of classes. This gives students the chance to enjoy Gentle Friday all day with some relaxation and studying for final exams in between.

This year, CMU is celebrating the 47th installment of Gentle Friday, under the moniker Maroonziee. The Finch Fieldhouse will be the site of the event featuring live music, games and activities, and a good time. Hopefully, everyone will be in the spirit of embracing their adversary and sharing a cup of coffee or an ice cream cone.