Guest Blogger: Brooks Riley on “Eulalia Cornelius’s Music Class”

In Fall 2019, Archives, Special Collections, & Community (ASCC) had the privilege of working with Dr. Rose Stremlau’s “HIS 306: Women and Gender in U.S. History to 1870” course. Over the course of a semester, students researched the history of women and gender in the greater Davidson, North Carolina area using materials in the Davidson College Archives and other local organizations. The following series of blog posts highlights aspects of their research process.

My name is Brooks Riley, and I am from Charlotte, NC. I am sophomore at Davidson College; I plan on majoring in Psychology and minoring in Gender and Sexuality Studies.  

In the latter part of the 1800’s, women entered the realm of teaching. Their nurturing and pious attitudes qualified them to instill the moral values of a patriarchal society in children. However, the sphere of academia only gave full access to male teachers because women were not capable of teaching rigorous or “core” subjects. As a result, women taught subjects that did not confront or interfere with male perceptions of their abilities.

Scan of the recital program led by Eulalia Cornelius on March 21, 1898. The document lists piano solos and solo and trio vocal performances.
Recital program led by Eulalia Cornelius on March 21, 1898 from manuscript DC0324s.

For example, in the town of Davidson, Eulalia Cornelius was a female music teacher. She taught piano and singing lessons and held recitals for the town. Cornelius printed her own pamphlets for recitals which denote that she had an accompanist named Hattie Thompson. Her students were both male and female, some of them married. The specific pamphlet found in the Davidson Archives was from a recital on March 21st, 1898 at 8 o’clock (DC0324s). The Statesville Township census of 1900 furthered our understanding about Cornelius and her position as a female teacher. She was married to a cradle maker; however, she herself is not listed as having a profession. This suggests that female professions, in particular female music teachers, did not qualify as being “real” because they were not listed on the census.  

Cornelius’ job as a music teacher gives insight to what women were capable of teaching and how men perceived their abilities. The lack of recording Cornelius’ profession conveys that her job was not sufficient enough to be deemed a job; it may also suggest that her job was not for the economic benefit of her family but instead a hobby. Cornelius is the first documented female teacher in the town of Davidson, and the fact that the subject she taught was music says something about the placement of women in the sphere of academia. Whether it was a lack of trust from men or the idea that women were not as knowledgeably advanced, the subjects that women taught were limited. Music was not a subject that could potentially interfere with the morals of a male-dominated society; it is assumed that Cornelius was able to have her job for this reason. Despite the ill-perceptions and restrictions put on female teachers, women entered into the world of teaching in the late 1800’s and only improved from then on. Women like Cornelius built a sturdy foundation for those to come after her because she put herself into a sphere constructed and tailored to accommodate men.  

Citations: 

Tolley, Kim. “Music Teachers in the North Carolina Education Market, 1800-1840: How Mrs. Sambourne Earned a “Comfortable Living for Herself and Her Children.” Social Science History 32, no. 1 (Spring, 2008): 75-106. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0145553200013936. http://ezproxy.lib.davidson.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1991084550?accountid=10427

DC0324s, Music Program of Eulalia Cornelius in 1898, Davidson College Archives.  

1900 Census for Statesville, North Carolina.  

Guest Blogger: Anna Kilby on “Mary Lacy and The Need for Domestic Perfection”

In Fall 2019, Archives, Special Collections, & Community (ASCC) had the privilege of working with Dr. Rose Stremlau’s “HIS 306: Women and Gender in U.S. History to 1870” course. Over the course of a semester, students researched the history of women and gender in the greater Davidson, North Carolina area using materials in the Davidson College Archives and other local organizations. The following series of blog posts highlights aspects of their research process.

Anna Kathryn Kilby is a sophomore potential Gender and Sexuality Studies and Political Science major at Davidson College. 

Mary Lacy, wife of Davidson College President Drury Lacy, took her job as First Lady of the college very seriously. In her letters to her stepdaughter, Bess, she writes of cooking the best food, wearing the best clothes, and making sure people at the college are taken care of, including her own slaves. She also expresses her frustration at her female slaves when they grow ill but doesn’t address their work in the home directly. Mary Lacy seems to be striving for domestic perfection, but how much of her efforts are hers, and how much effort belongs to her female slaves? 

Mary Lacy was Drury Lacy’s second wife. He served as president of Davidson College from 1855-1860, and, during this time, their family lived across from the college, where the Belk Visual Arts Center is now. Drury Lacy had children from his previous marriage, one of which was Elizabeth, or Bess, as Mary called her, whom Mary writes her letters to. Bess lived in Charlotte with her husband. Mary wrote her letters to Bess from 1856-1859 while her husband served as president1.  

Scan of the first page of a July 2, 1856 handwritten letter written by Mary Lacy to her step-daughter, Bess. She asks Bess about crops and food products.
Letter by Mary Lacy dated July 2, 1856. This letter is referenced in the following paragraph.

As First Lady of Davidson, Mary’s duties consisted of hosting guests of the college and making sure she was the perfect hostess. In her first letter from July 1856, she asks Bess about crops and food products, and then in the next letter she discusses dresses and blankets. In a December 1858 letter, Mary tells Bess of a purple scarf from New York that is “the exact shade of her bonnet strings” and tells Bess to send her furs if she won’t wear them. Throughout the letters, Mary often talks about both male and female guests staying with them. Mary’s quest to be the best housewife is evident. She clearly needs to look the part, act the part, and cook like the part. 

So much of Mary’s perfect image was due to her domestic enslaved women, a few of which she mentions in her letters. In a letter from August 1856, she writes about the inconvenience of enslaved woman “Aunt” Amy getting sick, and then expresses displeasure when another enslaved woman shows symptoms, claiming “Aunt” Maria was faking it to get time off from work. Mary calls Maria a “hard old case.” The state of these enslaved women is so frustrating to Mary because she needs them to upkeep her image. How could she possibly be the best first lady, host, and housewife without the help of her domestic bondwomen? She calls in doctors to help with Aunt Amy’s illness, but I assert that this is not out of compassion for Amy, but out of selfish concern. Without enslaved women like Aunt Amy and Aunt Maria, Mary’s image would deteriorate. These enslaved women shaped Mary’s identity, and got none of the credit. Readers can wonder which meals Mary actually cooked, which clothes she actually sewed, which guests she actually took care of, and which efforts were actually hers. 

Bibliography 

Admin, Davidson College HIS 306 Spring 2017. “Introduction.” The Mary Lacy Letters. Accessed November 6, 2019. https://his306sp17blog.rosestremlau.com/introduction/ 

Lacy, Mary. “Letters and Transcriptions.” The Mary Lacy Letters, Davidson College. Accessed November 6, 2019. https://his306sp17blog.rosestremlau.com/ 

Guest Blogger: Addie Turner

In Fall 2019, Archives, Special Collections, & Community (ASCC) had the privilege of working with Dr. Rose Stremlau’s “HIS 306: Women and Gender in U.S. History to 1870” course. Over the course of a semester, students researched the history of women and gender in the greater Davidson, North Carolina area using materials in the Davidson College Archives and other local organizations. The following series of blog posts highlights aspects of their research process.

Addie Turner is a senior History major and Communication Studies minor at Davidson College. She is very interested in women’s history and is currently writing her capstone paper on Planned Parenthood during World War II. 

To many, diaries are books filled with an individual’s mundane recordings of his or her life. While they may be mundane, the mundane can lead historians to discover patterns, trends, and a deeper understanding on the social history of a group and the everyday lives of individuals. Ellie’s Book, a now published journal written by Ellie M. Andrews from January 1862 to May 1865, is filled with entries about what most would view as mundane. However, through her notes, we can piece together what life was like for a white middle class woman living in North Carolina during the Civil War. Specifically, I can understand more about food and food preparation during this time period through Ellie’s records. 

Ellie’s journal mentions food and food preparation in several entries. On several occasions, she mentions food she produces herself, or with the help of her slave, Susan: “On my return Susan informed me I had another young brood of chickens.”1 She goes on to explain how proud she is to produce her own poultry, especially since the prices of chicken and eggs were rising rapidly. On another occasion she mentions food she has at special dinners, like turkey, ham, cakes, jellies, and more. Her choice of mentioning certain meals and the lists of food that she included in the entries signals the importance of celebratory occasions. Large meals with a wide variety of food was a way to celebrate holidays, visits from friends and family, and other special moments in her life. 

Page from Ellie's diary featuring a quote from January 2, 1864 stating, "today I have hired a cook for the enormous sum of 120 dollars and clothe her. Negroes never were known to hire so high."
Excerpt from page 108 of Ellie’s Book: Being the Journal Kept by Ellie M. Andres.

Another instance in which she mentions food and cooking is in an entry where she is looking to find a cook. She complains about having to hire a black cook for an “enormous sum of $120.00 and clothe her.”2 It is not clear why she hired a cook or how long she kept her on for. In this entry, readers can understand that Ellie did not want to pay her black cook much money, and that she did not believe that the woman deserved as much money as she required. It is also unclear whether this woman was enslaved or free, so it is hard to determine whether the paycheck went directly to the cook or her owner. This entry suggests that black women were often the ones doing the cooking in white women’s homes, and that white women did not want to pay them much or at all for their work. 

Ellie’s journal, while filled with entries recapping her day to day life, informs my research about food preparation in the antebellum and Civil War south. As food preparation was a daily activity for many women, looking to sources like diaries can provide insightful information into what cuisine and cooking looked like at this time. 

1 Ellie’s Book: Being the Journal Kepy by Ellie M. Andres from January 1862 through May 1865, Transcribed and Annotated by Ann Campbell MacBryde. Entry from 10 unknown month, 1863. 

2 Ellie’s Book: Being the Journal Kepy by Ellie M. Andres from January 1862 through May 1865, Transcribed and Annotated by Ann Campbell MacBryde. Entry from 2 January, 1864. 

Guest bloggers: Elise Edman and Dan Murphy, “How Mapping Davidson’s Campus Altered Students’ Perceptions of Campus”

Elise Edman is a senior Computer Science major, Data Science minor, and has just finished her last volleyball season at Davidson. Next year, she will be working in St. Louis, MO as a Systems Engineer for the Cardinals.

Dan Murphy is a junior Economics major, Data Science minor, and Data CATs consultant in the Hurt Hub. This summer, he will be working in Denver, Colorado designing, developing, and testing algorithms for darknet data at DarkOwl Cybersecurity.

In October of 2019, the students of Dr. Maxime Lamoureux-St-Hilaire’s course, Imaging the Earth (ANT 377), collectively mapped Davidson College’s campus. Using the “Collector for ArcGIS” app (available for download in Apple’s App Store), students walked around campus to collect the coordinates and other attributes of features like trash, garbage bins, trees, benches, art, honored objects (objects left alone and not stolen), and events. With this collaborative dataset, students were then tasked with using ArcGIS Pro software to create maps of Davidson’s campus with these features. This project ultimately changed the way that some students view the campus’ features and layout.

            One map that students created displays garbage bins with rings located 10, 20, and 40 meters away from the garbage bins’ coordinates (Map 1). The rings function to demonstrate the garbage bins’ proximity to each other and to trash found throughout campus. The map also features a representation of trash density on campus, where the darkest color is the area where trash is the densest. Most of the garbage bins and trash are found in the most student-frequented areas of campus, which is logical. It is interesting that the area with the densest trash is an area with plenty of garbage bins available to use. It appears that the distribution of garbage bins throughout campus is designed appropriately, but that students are not using them responsibly.

color map of the Davidson campus showing the location of garbage bins and loose trash

Map 1. Displays the distribution of garbage bins (with multiple ring buffers) and trash (with kernel density) throughout Davidson College’s campus.

            Another map that students created displays the benches around Davidson’s campus with rings located 15, 30, and 45 meters away from the benches’ coordinates (Map 2). In this context, the rings demonstrate the proximity of benches to other benches and artwork around campus. Students also used kernel density to analyze the density of benches and artwork throughout campus. As seen in Map 2’s legend, the red coloring represents the densest area of benches and artwork. The blue shading represents less densely-populated areas. The densest areas for benches and artwork on campus are near Chambers, Union, and the library. This is logical, as prospective students spend most of their time touring campus around these three spots. To make the campus visually attractive to visitors, it is logical that artwork and benches would be clustered in areas where they will be seen the most. Furthermore, there are additional dense areas behind the football field and near Baker Sports Complex. It appears that Davidson would do this to draw visitors to well-known on-campus locations.

color topographic map of the art and benches on the Davidson campus
Map 2. Displays the kernel density of art and benches and the distribution of benches (with multiple ring buffers).

            Overall, this project was a valuable experience for many students in Dr. Lamoureux-St-Hilaire’s “Imaging the Earth” course. It challenged our previous perceptions of Davidson’s campus, forcing us to be more analytical about our surroundings and to think deeper about the decisions that Davidson administrators and students make. Additionally, this project helped students gain a better understanding of ArcGIS Pro geoprocessing tools (like multiple ring buffer and kernel density tools), formatting maps, and creating map PDFs that are ready to be shared with others. Through this valuable learning experience, students gained important skills necessary for performing accurate, comprehensible, geographical research and presenting it to others.

Guest Blogger: Dr. Maxime Lamoureux-St-Hilaire Visiting Assistant Professor, Anthropology, “Collaborative Mapping at Davidson through GIS”

Dr. Lamoureux-St-Hilaire is an archaeologist specializing in ancient political systems and geoarchaeology. His research is centered on the Classic Maya world, where he’s worked in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. For over a decade, his work has involved map-making and Geographic Information System (GIS). This summer, he’ll be taking Davidson students to Mexico and Belize to do some fieldwork. Dr. Max also co-organizes the Maya at the Lago Conference, and the 10th installment will take place at Davidson in late April.

Teaching an introductory course for Geographic Information System (GIS) comes with its set of challenges. You must teach how to operate one of the most complex software programs – ESRI’s ArcGIS Pro – while also teaching about a thoroughly interdisciplinary discipline to students majoring in diverse fields. This past semester, for the ANT-377 Imaging the Earth course, I decided to emphasize a few key topics including (1) how to ask questions about landscapes; (2) how to tie complex datasets to diverse landscapes; (3) how to create clear maps to answer these questions; and (4) how to adequately report this scientific inquisitive process.

                The best way to learn a scientific process is to learn it from beginning to end. In the case of GIS, this begins with collecting data – something that used to require a fairly complex technological setup – e.g., high resolution GPS, total station, etc. Thankfully, the new ArcGIS Pro software comes with a sister app, Collector, which uses your phone’s GPS to take datapoints. After designing a database, I asked the students to roam the Davidson campus to collect basic information about trees, benches, garbage bins, trash, art, and “honored object” (i.e., objects left lying around by students because of the honor code). Over the course of three weeks, the 16 students and myself recorded the GPS location and basic information (characteristics, height, etc.) of 447 features on campus.

Screen shot of cell phone rendering  Davidson campus with colored icons representing activities in specific places
Figure 1. The Collector App uses your phone’s GPS to identify the location of features. The highlighted “Honored Object” feature was a backpack left in a hallway of the north basement of Chambers during a class on Oct 7, 2019.

This process gave the entire group the opportunity to create an original dataset from scratch, which was then available for analysis and reporting (later this week, look for the companion blog entry by Edman and Stearns). Using opensource Lidar data for Mecklenburg County, I asked students to project these features onto a detailed Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of the Davidson Campus. These combined tasks led students to autonomously combine vector (the geodatabase) and raster (the DEM) GIS data – the two types of datasets handled by GIS specialists.

                Using Collector to create a basic geodatabase effectively led students to appreciate their campus from a GIS angle. In addition, the following steps of this exercise allowed them to apply analytical and technical display techniques learned in class to their collaborative dataset. This project was their great first foray into the GIS process, which paved the way to their own personal projects; all of which involved far larger datasets generally obtained online.

A colored map of Davidson campus using the online platform of ESRI to visualize queries

Figure 2. In addition to Collector and ArcGIS Pro, ESRI has an online platform – arcgis.com – which allows you to visualize, query, and modify some of your maps and to produce simple displays such as this one.

                 GIS technology is challenging because of the thousands of disciplines it is used for, from archaeology and engineering to agriculture and military science. Yet, this exercise proved to be an excellent pedagogical tool to allow students to familiarize themselves with each step involved in the creation of a geodatabase, its analysis, rendering, and presentation. Developing this exercise (especially adequately setting up the database) was also a learning process for me, and I’m excited to continue developing this exercise in the future. Instead of 447 features, I hope to reach 1,000 in next fall’s iteration of this exercise for Imaging the Earth. In particular, I hope to study in more details the distribution of “honored objects”, which reflect a rich idiosyncratic dimension of Davidson’s academic life.

Guest blogger: Alexa Torchynowycz, Systems and Cataloging Librarian, “The Historic Textbook Collection: A New Addition to the Special Collections”

We’re baaack! After a hiatus to change service providers, the Archives blog, Around the D, has returned!

Ever wonder what it was like to be a Davidson College student 100 years ago? Well, unless you have access to Mr. Peabody’s Wayback machine you’ll need to make a visit to the Davidson College Archives and Special Collections and view one of our newer additions, the Historic Textbook Collection.

Among the photographs, ephemera, and other materials from the college that are housed in the Archives and Special Collections, we now have several textbooks that were originally used in Davidson classrooms which make up the Historic Textbook Collection. The textbooks were donated by alumni families and cover topics such as English, geography, religion, and ‘modern’ bookkeeping.

Black and white title page for Modern Illustrative Bookkeeping
page 54 and 55 of Modern Illustrative Bookkeeping
Modern Illustrative Bookkeeping

One of the items in the Historic Textbook Collection is a student’s notebook for English I, which belonged to Mitchell Corriher, class of 1920. The binder contains all of the assignments, notes, and even graded papers for the 1916-1917 school year English course. In some of the assignments, the student proudly writes about Davidson’s impressive football record for 1916. In others, he strikes a somber tone writing about the “greatest war known in history,” World War I.

Cover page of English I, 2 ring binder notebook
Mitchell Corriher’s (Class of 1920) English I student notebook

As a group, these textbooks and notebooks not only give a peek into Davidson’s classrooms and college life from years ago but also inform a broader understanding of the social and political events of the time.

The early Davidson textbooks in the Historic Textbook Collection aren’t the only interesting things from the Archives, Special Collections and Community department. From millimeter tall artist books to maps of the world, check out the library’s other rare and special materials in these collections:

Artists’ Books Collection

Bruce Rogers Collection

Cumming Collection

Fugate Collection

Golden Cockerel Press Collection

Have a historic textbook you’d like to donate? Contact the Davidson College Archives – archives@davidson.edu

Guest blogger: Alexa Torchynowycz, Systems and Cataloging Librarian in the E.H. Little Library, “Did you know we had this?!?! A serendipitous encounter with Solzhenitsyn”

An independent press, a censored author, and two donations: No, this is not the beginning of a “… walked into a bar” joke. It is, however, the beginning elements of a chance meeting of materials in the Rare Book Room.

I recently cataloged the first broadside printed by the Iron Mountain Press, which was donated by Dr. Robert Denham, class of 1961. A broadside in the printing industry is a single sheet of paper with printing on only one side of it and this particular broadside contains the poem “Release of Solshenitsyn” (1969) by J.M. Martin. I was excited to work with this item because it was the first issued in a series of broadsides from Iron Mountain Press and, just like with comic books, the first issue is very rare (we are the only library in WorldCat with this item). The Rare Book Room has several other broadsides from this series. To find them, search for Iron Mountain Press broadside in the Rare Book Room catalog https://davidson.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/discovery/search?&tab=RBR&search_scope=RBR&vid=01DCOLL_INST:01DCOLL&lang=en

Examples of three Iron Press broadsides: "Persephone's Dilemma", "Release of Solshenitsyn", and "In the dark all cats fly"
Iron Mountain Press Broadsides

An added bonus to working with this broadside was that the poem was about the Russian author, Alexander Solzhenitsyn. I had read several of his books and was familiar with his background. I enjoyed reading the poem and picking up on elements that pointed to Solzhenitsyn’s history. As much as I try to, I can’t keep the things I catalog in my office forever, so I finished up my work and put the broadside with a few other items I was planning to take back to the Rare Book Room.

Little did I know that Solzhenitsyn would be making a repeat appearance in a very big way.

A few days later, I grabbed an innocuous-looking archival rare book box out of a stack of things I needed to catalog. I couldn’t tell what was in it so naturally, my curiosity was piqued. Upon opening the box, I found several handwritten notes and a plain paperback written in Russian. The first note I read said that the book was an issue of the literary journal, Novyi Mir, and this precise issue (1962, no. 11) contained the first-ever publication of … wait for it … “One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich” by none other than Alexander Solzhenitsyn. What a fantastic coincidence and an even more fantastic find!

Copy of bookplate of donor, Dr. Jack Perry and front cover of 1962 publication in Cyrillic.
First page of the volume in Cyrillic.

The story focuses on a prisoner of a Soviet labor camp and the extreme conditions prisoners faced there. Solzhenitsyn had to severely edit his own novel in order to see it published, but when it finally came out in Novyi Mir it was the first time that the labor camp system, or Gulag, was depicted in a Soviet published work. It was an immediate sensation both inside and outside of the Soviet Union, but soon afterward, Solzhenitsyn and his work were labeled as anti-Soviet by literary critics within the USSR. Solzhenitsyn published several more novels, none of which saw an initial publication in the Soviet Union again and all of which were critical of the Soviet government. This led to the author’s deportation in 1974.

Though the issue of Novyi Mir with “One day” had a large publication run (over 95,000 copies sold) they began to disappear in the Soviet Union because of a government initiative to censor the novel. Few physical copies of the November 1962 issue of Novyi Mir exist in libraries today and here was one in my hands! I also still had the “Release of Solshenitsyn” broadside sitting on a cart next to me. Two Solzhenitysns from two completely different sources. I was so excited about this unbelievable coincidence that I took (ran is the more correct verb) “One day” and the broadside up to the Rare Book Room. As soon as I got up there I asked, “Did you know we had this?!?!” They were as astonished as I was. Sharon Byrd, the Special Collections Librarian, also helped me to put the pieces together of how we acquired this item. The Novyi Mir was donated by Dr. Jack Perry, a Davidson professor of political science. In 1962, when “One day” appeared in Novy Mir, Dr. Perry was living in Russia and most likely picked up the issue during his time there. He then taught at Davidson from 1985 to 1995 and over 20 years later, presented this copy of “One day” to the library.

And now you can answer my question from the title of this blog post with, “Yes! I know we have the first broadside from Iron Mountain Press AND the first publication of “One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovich” by Alexander Solzhenitsyn!”

Guest Blogger: from the Class of ’64, “A Bit of the History of ROTC at Davidson”

 A small group of ’64 graduates gathered over the few years to rethink the future for the sake of our progeny, to consider how we might transition into a future that is yet to happen.   One of the subjects proposed was Reinstituting the Draft.  Since most of us graduated after four years of ROTC with a military commission, many serving in Vietnam, there was the lingering question: why did the school require two years of Military Science instruction of all its students whether or not they opted for a second voluntary two years. In order to receive a diploma, unless there was a physical or other exemption we must have spent two years marching and cleaning our M1’s. Even students transferring in as juniors had to participate.

black and white photograph of 1922 James Sprunt scrapbook page for ROTC
Scrapbook interpretation of ROTC from James Sprunt, Jr. Class of 1922

The reason given for the requirement, as we were told, was that Davidson was a “Land-Grant” college. Indeed, the Morrill Act of 1862 provided funds from the sale of Federal land to encourage and assist states to establish schools to teach agricultural and industrial classes and also military tactics. The problem then arises: Davidson was and is a decidedly Liberal Arts college founded in 1837. So, how could she be a school that benefited from the Act, or even its expansion in 1890? Additionally, a search of the listings of Land-Grant colleges and universities finds Davidson nowhere mentioned.  The resulting evidence is that Davidson was never a Land-Grant college.

Here is a link where the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s ROTC program traces its history to the Davidson program.

https://arotc.uncc.edu/49er-battalion-info/history

Davidson’s ROTC, then the SATC (Students Army Training Corps) was begun 1917. In the beginning participation appeared to be optional, then later was mandatory.

1918 cartoon drawings of military exercises
1918 Quips and Cranks interpretation of military training
black and white announcement for military training with photo of the cadets
Announcement at the end of the 1918 Quips and Cranks

A half century later in 1968 ROTC became a voluntary elective with enrollment plummeting to where it is today. It was World War One which birthed Military Training at Davidson and it was Vietnam which nearly ended it.

All that being said, our take, until we are presented evidence otherwise, is that the Board of Trustees saw how Military Science benefited the students and the college, and made it obligatory. Somehow along the way, to give justification for mandatory ROTC, the idea that Davidson was a Land-Grant college was mentioned. Not being challenged, it stuck. That is, until 1968 – Tet, My Lai, and all, when no amount of justification would suffice.

We are open to any enhancement or rebuttal on the above comments.

Chapters in the Lives of the Chambermaids

Hello, once again this is Hannah Foltz, class of 2013 and current PhD student in rhetoric at the University of Texas at Austin and this is my last post for this summer.

Since 1929, the “top” position at Davidson has belonged to two women: the Chambermaids. This honorific belongs to the stony and silent figures perched above Chambers, the cloaked statues who flank the Davidson seal on the building’s capstone. For 90 years, the perpetually young ladies have surveilled campus, serving as muses, mascots, namesakes, and even as a destination. Here are some of our favorite stories about the Davidson Chambermaids:

B/W image of two statues on the top of Chambersg
Alma and Mater “Chambermaids”

1. They have names. 

While we don’t know who christened them, a 1937 article reveals that the Chambermaids are named Alma and Mater (“Davidson Data,” Scripts n’ Pranks, Mar 1937, p. 14) . From the viewers’ perspective, Alma is to the right and Mater to the left (“Candid Campus,” Scripts n’ Pranks, Dec 1937, p. 13). 

A student dances under the eyes of the Chambermaids at Davidson’s first International/Intercultural Festival in 1986. 

2. They have different but complementary strengths. 

True to their institution, the Chambermaids represent the best of the liberal arts. Alma is more literary; she carries a book and a quill. Mater is the scientific sister; she pairs her book with a magnifying glass. (An alternate theory could be that Mater is simply farsighted.) 

3. One maid may only have four fingers. 

Davidson Data,” published in 1937, claims that one of the ladies only has four fingers—but doesn’t specify which maid is missing a digit (Scripts n’ Pranks, Mar 1937, p. 14). Enlarged photographs suggest it may be Mater, but reports have not been confirmed by this author. 

4. They’ve been known to tipple.  

In 1942, when still-dry Davidson was in the middle of one of many (many, many) arguments about drinking regulations, the campus awoke to a tin sign suspended between the two statues. It read, “Hornung’s Beer and Ale.” Enoch Donaldson, a longtime janitor at the school, had to climb to the roof and cut down the sign.

The incident prompted Al Winn, student body president and valedictorian, to compose a series of verse parodies chronicling the sign’s hanging. 

5. They’re two of Davidson’s most inspiring muses. 

The maids have inspired many creative endeavors, both visual and verbal. They are no stranger to the male gaze; many young men have admired—and exaggerated—their sensual appeal. In 1947, Sam Robinson ‘49, went so far as to imagine entertaining the ladies in his Watts dorm room. Safe to say, Alma and Mater may not put much stock in the notion of the “Davidson gentleman.” 

Robinson, Sam. “The Maidens,” Scripts n’ Pranks, Spring 1947, p. 7. 


Elliot, Jim. Scripts n’ Pranks, Summer 1947, Cover. 


Hamilton, Bill. “Okay, so what if they never look up here?” Scripts n’ Pranks, Summer 1948, p. 9. 

Alma and Mater updated for 1952. 

6. They have cousins in Columbia. 

As much as Davidsonians revere Chambers, our signature building—and its female guardians—may not be as unique as we’d like to imagine. Henry C. Hibbs, Chambers’ architect, designed many academic buildings, including the University of South Carolina’s McKissick Library (now McKissick Museum), whose dome and capstone bear an uncanny resemblance to Chambers and its maids. Davidson can take solace in the fact that Chambers was completed some ten years before the McKissick. 

Color photo of statues on top of McKissick Museum

Source: The Living New Deal 

7. They were mascots for female College employees. 

Although in the 1950s, the College was not yet coeducational, more and more women joined the ranks of its administrative staff. They formed a social group, which a professor nicknamed the Chambermaids after the statues atop the building where most of the women worked. The women embraced the name, and it’s how the group was officially known until 1982, when they changed their name to Office Support Staff. Although the group did its fair share of socializing, it also lobbied successfully for many improvements for female employees, including tuition benefits for their children, campus representation, flexible summer work hours, and personal leave. The group was active until 2009. 

The caption on this 1955 photo reads: “The original Chambermaids.” 

8. They got company from time to time. 

It can get lonely at the top. Fortunately for Alma and Mater, getting on the Chambers roof was something of a tradition for Davidson students of a certain era. Those who accomplished the task were often immortalized in the college yearbook—along with the Chambermaids. 

Quips and Cranks. In clockwise order: 1939, 1967, 1952 

“The Phantom of the Night”: Cop Ed Linker

Hello! I’m Hannah Foltz, class of 2013 and current PhD student in rhetoric at the University of Texas at Austin. This summer, I’m working with the Humanities program and the Archives and Special Collections team.

Between 1939 and 1972, a lot changed at Davidson College—significantly increased enrollment; integration; the relaxation of rules related to dancing, drinking, curfews, and church attendance; the end of compulsory ROTC; even the first waves of coeducation. But despite it all, one thing didn’t change: the presence of “Cop” Edgar N. Linker, Davidson’s Security Officer. Hired as the (one and only) nightwatchman (Davidsonian, 12 Oct 1939, p. 6), Linker became an iconic symbol of probity whose flashlight and pipe struck fear into the hearts of many. In today’s post, we’ll dig a little deeper to uncover the man behind the myth. 

Cop Linker on patrol. 

Davidson’s mid-century campus security concerns seem quaint today. Although Linker did occasionally investigate external threats—notably tracking down a notorious burglar of East Coast college dormitories in 1954 (Warlick, Tom. “Linker’s Hunch Pays Off; Fields Awaits Jury Action,” Davidsonian, 12 Feb 1954, p. 1)—most of his duties appear to have been policing student behavior. Parking tickets, alcohol consumption, and amorous indiscretions were his bread and butter. In fact, he reported that on average he broke up three romantic encounters each night of a dance weekend (Duggin, Ervin. “Sixty-Three Weekends: That’s Cop’s New Record,” Davidsonian, 21 Oct 1960, p.1). He recounted his approach: 

I’m not trying to make romance unpopular….It’s the natural thing to do. But we’ve got to obey the rule. You won’t find that rule in the handbook. It’s just understood…Most boys think I get a kick out of seeing how many I can catch, but I’m always hesitant. Usually I tap my truck horn and flick the lights, then drive on slowly. If they don’t move I come back, and then maybe there’s some talking done (Duggan).

Cop Linker’s parking tickets were lamented in the 1966 Quips and Cranks. 

Generations of Davidson “gentlemen” and their dates came to know, fear, and love Cop Linker. In fact, the 1950 edition of Quips and Cranks was dedicated to this “phantom of the night” (14-15), an honor typically reserved for college presidents, deans, or long-time faculty members. One can find numerous photographs, anecdotes, and depictions of Linker in Davidsonians and  Quips and Cranks alone. 

Quips and Cranks 1950

As cultural mores and college rules relaxed, Linker’s job grew more challenging. In Duggin’s profile, Cop complains, “One thing about this modern generation. They don’t need a dark place to do their kissing. They’ll do it most anywhere.” In fact, Cop Linker’s retirement in 1972 seems to represent an official acquiescence to canoodling and a turn towards a more crime-oriented campus security force. After Linker’s departure, the College negotiated a contract with the town’s police force that eventually led to the establishment of Precinct #2, an expanded, college-focused force (McLawhorn, Dennis. “Davidson Precinct Institutionalizes Security Force,” Davidsonian, 21 Jan 1977, p. 6). In 1978, Precinct #2 was spun off into the autonomous campus police force that still exists today (Summie, Salley. “Davidson Police Department Divides,” Davidsonian, 27 Jan 1978, p.1). 

Price, Ed. “Alright, son, let’s call it a night!” Davidsonian, 19 Feb 1954, p. 2. 

But who was Ed Linker? Research in the archives of institutions beyond his beat reveals a life more nuanced than what figures in the Davidson imaginary. We were surprised to learn that the State Archives of North Carolina holds the Edgar N. Linker Papers! A subset of their Military Collection, Linker’s papers are primarily letters written to his family in Mooresville while he was serving in the Navy during World War I. Linker served on the cruiser the U.S.S. Des Moines, and the majority of his letters were posted while the ship was in port along the United States’ Atlantic Coast. Linker writes about his time in the Navy, as well as about his family’s experience with the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic. Linker’s papers from the U.S.S. Des Moines are the only known complete set of World War I correspondence from the ship, and include an original menu from its 1918 Thanksgiving meal

One of Linker’s letters home mentions his vaccination against the 1918 flu pandemic.  

The archives of Linker’s church, Davidson College Presbyerian, are housed at Davidson College and also provide some information about the Cop’s life. After returning from the service, he married and ran a dry cleaning business in the Main Street space now occupied by the Soda Shop. In an article written upon his retirement, the author explains, “Mature citizens don’t have to be told why his business stopped [in 1932]; the ‘Hoover Years’ had descended on the land” (Gee, “It’s ‘Cop’ Linker….No More!,” Scrapbook, Davidson College Presbyterian Church Women of the Church Collection). It appears Linker then served as a police officer for the Town of Davidson; a 1939 Davidsonian article about his hiring mentions that he had previously been the department’s head (“Watchman Named,” Davidsonian, 12 Oct 1939). Linker was also a 50-year Mason, and enjoyed beekeeping and gardening at his home on Davidson’s South Street . 

Clipping from the DCPC Women of the Church Scrapbook 

Gee’s article mentions Cop Linker’s fine sense of humor, which no doubt went a long way during more than 40 years of policing undergraduate hijinks. In 1960, he admitted: 

Freshmen of course are the ones you get the most kick out of. You have to tell them we don’t allow mixed car parties on dance weekends. I say, “About bedtime, sonny,” and sometimes they ask, “Well where can we park?” Doggone! That’s already supposed to be settled.” 

Doggone, indeed! Cheers to a Davidson legend—and a veteran, civil servant, businessman, and beekepeer.