Sunday, May 3, 2015

"Ready To Roll"

In the college archives we have a slim volume entitled Ready To Roll: An intrepid teacher's journey in education. The book was published in 1982 and is an edited memoir of the life of Lena Agnes Boyle 1917, who in latter life became known as Lea Cowles Masters. The book is drawn from a set of tapes Masters recorded, at the suggestion of some Brockport emeriti she had come into contact with in her retirement in Arizona, such as Wayne Dedman, History. Ron Watts prepared the edited transcript version of her tapes, with Peg Hare Browne, Bruce Leslie, Ken O'Brian and others playing a part as well.

While her teaching career after Brockport started conventionally enough, as a grade school teacher in Port Jervis NY, by the 1930s she had acquired a bachelors and masters degrees, and became active in New Deal efforts to expand nursery and preschool education in places as far flung as the Virgin Islands and Alabama. After WWII she established the preschool for the children of staff of the newly formed United Nations. Recently the archives was contacted by a staff person at the UN school, inquiring about her, and that query prompted the scanning of her book and placement of it in our Digital Commons where you can read it now.

Lea Cowles Masters is shown here with then President Albert Brown in 1980.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Gifford Morgan & the cornerstone

We have many buildings on campus today, a couple of which were quite recently built, the SERC and the Liberal Arts Building. For a very long time however, from the start of the school in 1835 till after WWII, the college was essentially a one building school. The original building was badly damaged by fire in the 1850s (supposedly the fire was accidently started by students cooking taffy in their room!) That was rebuilt, and then wings added on in 1867 and again in 1900. That complex was still here in the 1930s, but much of it was in poor condition, in part because for years poor funding had precluded the routine maintenance necessary for any building.

Ernest Hartwell came here as principal, as the president of a Normal school was called, in 1936. He worked hard, and successfully, to stave off the threat of closing the school, and in fact managed to secure funding for an entirely new building complex, today's Hartwell Hall. An important supporter of his campaign was Gifford Morgan, who was on the board of the school, and member of a prominent local family with many political connections. The Morgan Manning House on Main Street was the Morgan family home then. Shown here is Gifford Morgan laying the 1938 cornerstone for the new building.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

I Love Lucy

"I Love Lucy" was a very popular show in the early 1950s of course, but many don't know that there is a Brockport connection. Bernard Drake, who was head of the campus school here, and then a dean, had in his earlier years been principal of the high school in Jamestown, NY that Lucille Ball had attended. In 1956 an article in the Stylus described how she invited Drake to Jamestown for a get together of former friends and classmates, and to premier her latest movie, "Forever Darling." At the event Lucille Ball recalled how Drake had built up the drama program at the high school, and had given her much personal encouragement.

(Oh, in case anyone is wondering, Bernard Drake is one of two people the library is named after. The other is Ruth Drake, who was a campus school librarian here. Confusingly enough, they were not in fact related!)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Brockport from the air, ca1950

Here's an aerial shot from our past,  from about 1950, perhaps a little earlier. It shows houses all around the campus that no longer are there, not only on Kenyon, but on the Utica Street side of Hartwell too. If you look off in the distance you can see "West Hall," a temporary dorm structure, where Rakov is today. The great expansion of the 1950s and '60s was about to begin!

(Click on the photo to make it larger.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

An early history by Alene Butler '29

Alene Butler '29 was a real Brockport product. First she went K-12 in the "Training School," as the campus school was then called - the village of Brockport didn't build its own high school until about 1930. Then she attended the Normal school itself, graduating with the class of 1929. She then went to the University of Rochester and got a bachelors degree, and got a job teaching history in the newly established Brockport High School. Over the next few years she worked in the summers on a masters degree from the University of Rochester.

Her thesis interestingly enough was on the history of the Brockport Collegiate Institute, the original form of our school. Much of her research was done using the rudimentary archives of the time, a closet in the principal's office holding old student registers, catalogs, correspondence books and so forth. Her thesis has been digitized and is now available on our Digital Commons.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Black history at Brockport

A reunion is being planned this summer for alumni who were part of the early Black Student Liberation Front and OSAD in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As part of that a display of black history at Brockport is being worked on in the archives. One of the organizers was interested to learn that there were some black students here before the '60s, as evidenced in this photo of Barbara Wolcott, '55, teaching in the campus school.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

AV Party!

There was an active audio-visual program here in the 1950s. Sherwin Swartout was an innovative leader in the field, and Brockport became well known for its work with instructional television and related efforts. Here is a photo of the AV Club in the 1950s having a party. The archivist is currently sharing this and other photos with Jeanette Banker '53, trying to identify people and scenes, but any ideas from anyone else are welcome! Please contact Charlie Cowling, ccowling@brockport.edu.