Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Rare 1900 play photo

In going through unprocessed materials the archivist discovered a rare photo of a play done here by the sorority Agonian, in 1900. On the back of the photo are listed the names for most of the girls, left to right: Ina (Wilhemina) Shepphard '01, no name, Sarah Pledger '01, "Sister" Pledger (possibly Rosetta '02), no name, no name, Jennie Mitchell '01 (owner of the photo,) and Florence Green '01. A wonderful find, the  sororities and fraternities of the Normal era were a major part of the student life then.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rescued Film!

This admirable project was featured not long ago in a post on the Society of American Archivists list. It is an effort to recover old, unprocessed film. A recent project was the recovery of rolls of film shot in WWII and never developed.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Something extra...

Once in a while an archivist finds something extra, a card tucked in a book, a snapshot in with some other things... That happened here recently, when the archivist was looking at a copy of the 1933 yearbook, the Saga, and found some old photos in the back. One is a rare early group photo of a graduating class, that of 1933.

Part of the rarity is that the image is one of the earliest examples of graduates wearing the cap and gown. Up into the WWI era and beyond they are shown wearing suits for the men and gowns for the women, but not the now traditional cap and gown. Also found were snapshots of Hannah Harding '33, the original owner of the book, one of which you see here.

Hannah was from Albion, and was president of Theta Phi, an honor society, and in Magpies, the drama group of the day. We like to think that she would be happy to know that her yearbook has survived, and that her photographs are safe in the college archives.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Christmas Vespers & Winter Ball

From the late 1930s into the 1960s every December there was a Christmas Vespers program and a Winter Ball. These were highly popular events with both the campus community and area residents. Shown here is a photo of the 1953 program.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ernest Hartwell

Nowadays Ernest Hartwell is not the most familiar name, but Harwell Hall certainly is, at least on the Brockport campus. This flagship building was named after Ernest Hartwell in the 1960s, in commemoration of his service to the college.

A native of Albion  Michigan, an area settled in the years after the Civil War by emigrants from our area of western New York, Hartwell became a teacher, and then a school district superintendent. He was quite prominent in public school administrative circles in the early 1900s, heading the superintendent's section of the National Education Association, and serving for a number of years as head of the Buffalo New York schools.Then in 1936 he left Buffalo, and came to be "principal," or president, of the Brockport Normal School, our predecessor. He only was at Brockport for eight years, retiring in 1944, but he presided over a remarkable transformation.

The old Normal school building complex, that stood about where Hartwell Hall is today, had been poorly maintained for some years due to lack of funds. The Great Depression was having a negative impact on schools, reducing the number of students. A state panel even recommended closing one or two of the state Normal schools, and Brockport was named as a possible candidate!

Under Hartwell's energetic leadership a committee was organized which successfully lobbied against closing the school, and to in fact revitalize it by tearing down the old building and putting up a new structure. He was also a leader in the successful campaign in New York to see the Normal schools, which had a three year program and gave a license to teach, but no bachelor's degree, upgraded to Teachers Colleges, which had a four year program and did give the bachelor's degree.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A rare archives in question

The archives of the Hulton family of Lancashire are a tremendous historical treasure, a trove of materials ranging from 1199 to 1947, covering much of England's history. Lord Fellowes, a descendant of the family, found much of his inspiration for the popular series Downton Abbey in the primary sources of this aristocratic archive. The last direct head of the family has died however, and the archives are up for sale, hopefully to end up in the Lancashire county collections.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The original bridge

Years ago, before the roofed pedestrian bridge that runs over the railroad tracks between Brown and Allen was constructed, there was another bridge. This original bridge was a more bare bones affair, and did not offer those walking over the protection of a roof. On a pleasant day it was rather nice, with the breeze and view, but in the winter, with the ice and snow, or on a rainy day, well, you can imagine how it might have been! This is a photo of the bridge from 1977.