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.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Carte de Visite photos of Brockport Faculty

Sometime in the 1870s a number of "carte de visite" photos were made of Brockport faculty. These sorts of photographs were very popular in that era, you have likely seen some, even if the name isn't familiar. They were simply small size photos, usually 2.5" x 4", mounted on card stock. Something similar in size to baseball cards for example. They were easy to send through the mail, they complemented the calling card expected in that era, and were widely used.

Some of those done of Brockport faculty over 125 years ago still survive, and are part of our archival collections. Pictured here is one of them, a portrait of Jane Lowery, who was a teacher of Mathematics and Latin here for many years, and was also an 1870 graduate of the school. Miss Lowery was much respected by her students and colleagues. An interesting personal note is that she was the sister in law of Charles MacLean, the principal of the school, and lived in what is now Alumni House with her sister and brother in law!

She was one of three teachers memorialized in a commemorative plaque dedicated in 1906. The plaque was in the old Normal school building, then Hartwell Hall, and was recently restored by Duncan Chase of the Art Department. An article in the Brockport Republic from 1906 on the plaque follows:

“The program at Normal Hall, Monday evening, marking the exercises of unveiling the portraits of Prof. McLean and Dr. Smith and the tablet in honor of Prof. Burlingame, Miss Chriswell and Miss Lowery were carried out in a most successful manner. Besides the speakers, the stage was occupied by the full Board of Trustees of the Normal school, the designer of the tablet and Principal McFarlane.

   The evening’s program was as follows: ‘Pilgrim’s Chorus,’ Dossenbach’s orchestra, Prof. McFarlane, after a few pertinent remarks explanatory of the occasion, introduced Rev. William D. Holt, of Cincinnati, O. Nr. Holt, who is a very is a very pleasant speaker, held the attention of the audience for about twenty minutes while he paid a glowing tribute to Prof. McLean who for thirty years was principal of the school. He gave many instances of the unbounded generosity of Prof. McLean, the assistance he rendered to many of the students, and the untiring work for the improvement of the school buildings, which now stand as an undying monument to his memory.

   Mr. Holt was followed by Miss Wadsworth, who rendered a piano solo, "Gondoliera,"in a faultless manner.

   The next address was by Hon. John D. Burns, who in his usual pleasant but forceful manner, spoke of Dr. Smith, who for three years was principal of the school. He recalled the great executive ability Dr. Smith brought to the school. He spoke of the strenuous efforts put forth by the gentleman for the betterment of the school and how they were crowned with success; of his genial nature, the making of his home a general reception room for the students where they might enjoy free converse. To such men, said the speaker, may be attributed the great success and popularity of the Brockport Normal School.

   An address by Mr. Thomas H. Armstrong, of Rochester, was replete with memories of the three teachers — Prof. Burlingame, Miss Chriswell, and Miss Lowery — who "died in the harness" after devoting many years to the service. "As we have watched the nation grow to be rich and powerful so have we watched this school grow to be one of the largest and most complete in existence," said the speaker. "And for this evident success we are indebted to the careful training and watchful care, the indefatigable patience and energy of such teachers as we have spoken of. We do not rank them as we would a soldier or hero, but as patriots in the great cause of education.”

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"You are here..." 1949

This is a campus map from 1949. The bulk of the college was made up of Hartwell Hall and some temporary buildings on the side of Hartwell, by the railroad tracks. Otherwise there was a "girl's dorm," the infamous West Hall, to the west where Seymour is today. West Hall was a frame building that was notorious for being drafty and cold. The college athletic field to the west was just that, fields, no Tuttle, no SERC. Notice that off Kenyon, behind Hartwell, are a West College St. and a Millard St. This was a residential neighborhood, with a number of homes, and a small store. When the post WWII expansion really got going in the '50s and '60s all of this would change dramatically.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Freshman Hazing

To the college students of today it is quite startling to hear that at one time hazing of freshman was a common practice at colleges, including here at Brockport. The photo on display shows some members of the Class of 1967 being hazed on the sidewalk outside the dorms on Kenyon Street in the fall of 1963. This hazing took part in one way or another from as early as the 1920s up into the late 1960s. The "beanies" were a post WWII addition to things!