Friday, August 28, 2015

What? You Mean Registering for Classes Hasn't Always Been a Breeze?

by Bryan Whitledge

In the final days before classes start at Central, students are busy doing all of the welcome weekend things that seem to them to be long-standing traditions: moving into residence halls and apartments, going to MAINStage and other welcome events, and catching up with friends at local watering holes. But students today miss out on an old Central tradition that caused the days immediately before the beginning of classes to be met with mixed emotions. Sure it was great to see old friends and start off the new year, but there was also an angst-filled, dreaded, headache-inducing, annual rite of passage to be endured by each and every student: registration and the subsequent drop / add period.

Registration in 1948

Today, months before classes start, students register through an online database complete with a fillable calendar, course numbers and names of instructors, meeting times, number of seats available in the course, and even the meeting place of the course. Students add classes to the schedule with a few clicks of the mouse and they are all registered. Then, if they change their mind about something, students can log into the system to make as many changes as needed until classes are in session. This is a dramatic departure from the just 20 years ago, when phone registration was the hot new technology, and it is light years away from how registration was handled for almost 100 years, up through the 1980s.

Registration in the Fieldhouse, 1953
Registration in the early twentieth century took place the day before classes began. The 1915 calendar noted that Registration took place at 1:00 pm on Monday, September 27 and classes began just 24 hours later. The 1948 Bulletin of the Central Michigan College of Education shows a similar 24-hour span of time between registration for undergraduates, but students enrolled in graduate programs in 1948 were instructed to arrive for registration on Saturday, September 25 with the first meeting of classes being the same day!

Drop/Add forms, ca. 1978
In the 1950s, as more students came to Central, the registration period was extended to the two days prior to the start of classes. This lasted through the 1960s. In addition to the two days of registration prior to the start of classes, students has seven days after the start of classes to change their schedule during the drop/add period. It was during this time that the Finch Fieldhouse became synonymous with registration and drop/add.

As the University moved into the 1970s, a preregistration system was put in place allowing student to register during the spring semester. Even so, students simply registered for the courses they needed, not for a particular section or a particular instructor or particular meeting times. Students would only find out their schedule when they came campus in the fall. Of course, dissatisfaction with schedules meant that many students braved long lines in a steamy Finch Fieldhouse during the drop/add session. The registration and drop/add process left many students and staff from the Registrar's Office frustrated. Regularly, calls for a change to the drop/add system were published in the CM Life, such as this letter to the editor in 1984 (4/13/1984, p. 4).

Registration in Finch Fieldhouse, 1973

One particularly difficult drop/add period occurred in January of 1991. A computer overheated leaving 9 drop/add terminals unusable and causing longer-than-usual waits and the cancellation of one of the drop/add days. An editorial in CM Life (1/11/1991, p. 4), expressed the frustration of the students. However, a ray of hope can be found in the later pages of the same issue of CM Life when it is noted that the University would be moving to an automated touch-tone telephone registration system (p. 6).

Technology in the 1990s moved at a blistering pace and by 1997, there was talk of an on-line registration system coming to campus for the beginning of the twenty-first century. This system came to fruition and the 2002 Yearbook features a two-page spread about telephone (STAR) vs. online (OASIS) registration (pp. 48-49).

Today, a very efficient system is in place, keeping students from having the chance to build character like those who suffered through registration and drop/add in a sweltering Finch Fieldhouse.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Participating in the Remembering Lincoln Digital Project

by Marian Matyn

At the end of July, I received notification from the Remembering Lincoln digital project of the Ford Theatre that they had discovered a number of manuscripts in our collection related to reactions to President Lincoln’s assassination. They found the manuscripts because they were cataloged in OCLC, the national online catalog. Would we be interested in participating in their website, they asked? Absolutely, I replied.

What is the website all about? Remembering Lincoln is a digital project of the Ford Theatre. It provides access to letters, diaries, newspapers, sermons, mourning ribbons, and other primary sources that show how people across the world felt when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated -- mourning him, not mourning him, or other sentiments altogether. Some items discuss hearing the initial news, mourning rituals, his funeral, or later forms of memorials. There are also teaching modules for various grade levels. Check out the site here. 

The five items I added to the Remembering Lincoln website are listed in SmartSearch (the CMU Libraries on-line catalog) and are listed below:

Farley Letter from the
Doris L. King Family Papers

A handwritten letter (4 p.) to Jane (Young) Metcalf Betts from her aunt Harriet Farley in Burr Oak, Saint Joseph County, Michigan, April 23, 1865, describing her feelings about and the town’s reaction (gathering, mourning, and sermons), to the death of Lincoln. The letter is in the Doris L. King Family Papers, 1822, 1877.

An unsigned, handwritten letter (1 p.) to "Friend Lib" [probably the widow Elizabeth, Mrs. Levi Smith] from a Union soldier in or serving at Harper Hospital Detroit, Michigan, April 20, 1865, describing how two Union soldiers rejoiced in hearing of Lincoln’s death and were punished. The letter is in the Levi Smith Family Papers, 1851, 1903.

McClure Correspondence
A third document is a handwritten diary entry of August 12, 1865 of Quincy A. Moore of Ohio, describing his visit to the Dan Rice Circus in Bellefontaine, Ohio, where he saw a tableau of President Lincoln’s assassination, 1 page, in 1 volume. The item is a one item collection: Quincy A. Moore (d. 1877) Diary, 1865, 1869

A handwritten letter to his parents from J.D. McClure in Memphis, Tennessee, April 1865, emotionally describing how the Secessionists (demons) who killed Lincoln will be punished. This letter is a one item collection: J.D. McClure Correspondence, 1865.

A letter from Reuben Yarick at Washington, D.C., to his brother John Yarick, describing his fears and feelings about the assassination of President Lincoln and visiting the body in the White House. This is one letter in the John Yarick Papers, 1854-1864.

John Yarick Papers
For each item linked to the Ford Theatre site, there is a template that donor of digitized documents fill with information, including a long and short title, description of contents and size, item type, material type, transcription (which in some cases was quite time consuming), various sizes and types of scans of the item, location and identification of creator, a list of searchable terms selected from a standardized vocabulary list, information about use, proper citation, institution, and relevant institutional links. I added the Clarke’s Civil War bibliography, which I compiled years ago, but is still relevant and gives an idea of the breadth of our Civil War sources. And I offer a big thank you to Bryan and Casey for scanning all those documents various ways so I could upload them.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Anniversary of the International Special Olympics Games in Mt. Pleasant

by Bryan Whitledge

40 years ago, big things were happening around Mount Pleasant and the Central Michigan University campus. Enrollment was climbing and new programs, including CMU's first doctoral program, were starting. Central moved up to Division I status in college athletics. And new buildings, including Perry Shorts Stadium and the Rose / Ryan Center, were popping up all over campus.

It was at this time, August 7-11, 1975, that a major international athletics competition was held in Mount Pleasant on the campus of CMU. ABC's Wide World of Sports was on-site filming the events. The American, Canadian, and French first ladies came to Isabella County as did members of the Kennedy family. Over 3,000 athletes from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several other countries were staying in the athletes' village (also known as CMU Residence Halls). It was the 1975 International Special Olympics - and event that is still remembered fondly by those involved 40 years ago.

The history of the games coming to Mount Pleasant is a short, but jam-packed, history. Just three years before hosting the International Games, nobody would have imagined that the International Special Olympics would have taken place in Mount Pleasant - CMU did not become the headquaters of Special Olympics Michigan until the fall of 1972. At that time,  the University set to hosting the first Michigan State Summer Games. Nine months later, in 1973, CMU hosted the inaugural State Games. With over 1,600 athletes participating in brand new facilities, the Rose / Ryan Center and Perry Shorts Stadium -- so brand new that the paint was drying in the Rose Center when the Games were held and the landscaping had yet to be completed -- the event was considered a resounding success.

CMU President William Boyd (left) and Special Olympics President Eunice Kennedy Shriver (right) at the 1974 Special Olympics Michigan Summer State Games
In fact, it was so successful, with only one crack at the State Games, CMU submitted a bid in February of 1974 to host the 1975 International Special Olympics. CMU's proposal was greeted enthusiastically by Eunice Kennedy Shriver and the staff of Special Olympics. Officials from the international offices of Special Olympics, including Ms. Shriver, visited the 1974 State Games to evaluate Mount Pleasant and CMU as the site of the Fourth International Special Olympics Games.

Letter from Eunice Kennedy Shriver to
CMU President William Boyd awarding the
1975 International Special Olympics Games to CMU.
One month after that visit, and with only two State Games events under their belts, CMU was chosen as the host for the 1975 games. Among the great deal of correspondence between CMU President William Boyd and Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation is a letter from Eunice Kennedy Shriver to President Boyd dated July 19, 1974 awarding the games to CMU. Ms. Shriver states in the letter, "We here at the Kennedy Foundation have the utmost confidence in you, Dr. Reynolds [Chair, CMU Dept. of Special Education] and everyone at Central Michigan University to make this the biggest and finest Special Olympic Games yet staged."

The selection of Mount Pleasant as the site of the Fourth International Games was certainly a shift from the previous three sites - Chicago (1968), Chicago (1970), and Los Angeles (1972). But despite the smaller size of Mount Pleasant compared to the second and third largest cities in the United States, CMU, Mount Pleasant, and the state of Michigan came out in full force for the event. The CM Life newspaper ran advertisements and editorials urging students to volunteer (Jan. 27, 1975, p. 4, col. 1). As a result of the publicity, 750 people - students, faculty, staff, and community members - volunteered for the event.

Kiwanis Volunteers at the
1975 International Special Olympics Games.
For months, the campus and the city planned for the event. When the athletes, their families, celebrities, and media outlets arrived in August of 1975, CMU was well prepared. Both the local newspaper and the CM Life printed special sections giving local fans a guide to the events (July 30, 1975, B1-B8). A 64-page glossy program was published, welcome packets were created for all of the visitors, and, not unlike International World Summer Games in Los Angeles a week ago which were broadcast on ESPN, portions of the games were broadcast on national television.

Ms. Shriver's confidence was not misplaced and the Games were another one of CMU's great successes with Special Olympics. In the forty years since those games, the relationship between Mount Pleasant and Special Olympics Michigan has grown. Each year, thousands of athletes and their families come for the Summer State Games the weekend after Memorial Day. CMU is still the site of the headquarters of Special Olympics Michigan. And the Clarke is home to the documents that tell the story of the beginnings of Special Olympics Michigan, the 1975 International Games, and efforts of athletes, their families, volunteers, and the community to make the Special Olympics a long-standing Central Michigan University tradition.