Announcing New Research Guides

Summer 2020 has been a busy one for the Archives, Special Collections & Community team! Projects we have been working on include: reorganizing books in the Rare Book Room, updating the taxonomy for archival records, and refining workflows around digitization and making digitized materials available. As we have been preparing for the fall semester, we have also created a few new research guides about topics we are often asked about, including oral histories, student activism on campus, and the history of coeducation.

Stories: Oral Histories and Interviews: A guide to oral histories and interviews in Archives and Special Collections at Davidson College. This guide includes information about audiovisual materials we have in our collection that are oral histories or interviews. Many oral histories are from local townspeople and cover topics ranging from the Town of Davidson to the college. One example is the Shared Stories collection of photographs, oral histories, and records documenting the lives and contributions of African-Americans in the greater Cornelius, Davidson, and Huntersville, NC area. 

Reeves Temple AME Zion Church and Lingle Hut
Both Reeves Temple AME Zion Church and the Lingle Hut are referenced in the Shared Stories Collection

Activism and Protests at Davidson College: A guide to archival collections and materials related to the history of student activism at Davidson College. Since the 1960s, students at Davidson College have become increasingly involved with local, national, and international issues of social justice, advocacy, and equality. Students, individually and collectively, have participated in and organized demonstrations to campaign for political and social change, both on campus and beyond. Topics covered in this guide include the Civil Rights Era and integration, the Vietnam War, divestment from apartheid in South Africa and more.

Students protesting the Vietnam War on Main Street (circa 1970s)
Students protesting the Vietnam War on Main Street (circa 1970s)

Women at Davidson: A guide to archival and special collections materials related to the history of women at Davidson College and in the Town of Davidson. Topics covered in this guide include coeducation (both pre- and post-1972, the year Davidson became officially coeducational), women’s involvement in athletics and student organizations, women on the faculty and staff, and women in the Town of Davidson.

Student Sandra May holding a sign making it official that Davidson College is for men and women.
Student Sandra May making it official that Davidson College is for men and women.

We are continually updating and creating new research guides, both for individual topics and courses we are involved in. For a listing of research guides from Archives, Special Collections & Community, please visit our Research Guides Page.

Davidson’s 183rd Commencement: A History Maker

This Sunday, May 17th, marks the 183rd Commencement celebration at Davidson College. However, this year, no one will have to worry about whether or not Commencement will be held on Chambers lawn or in Baker Sports Complex. Instead, the Davidson College community will be recognizing the achievements of the Class of 2020 from home. For the first time in Davidson’s history, Commencement will be celebrated online and the on-campus Commencement ceremony has been rescheduled. Archives and Special Collections would like to honor the Class of 2020 by sharing some resources on the history of Commencement.

Commencement 1994. Students walk down aisle with Chambers Building in the background.
Class of 1994 procession with Chambers in the background

Posts on Around the D

Entries in the Davidson Encyclopedia

The Class of 2020 will be the second graduating class to put ’20 after their names. Taking a look back one hundred years ago to the Class of 1920, one can find that there were 52 degrees conferred during commencement exercises. The May 26, 1920 issue of The Davidsonian reported the success of commencement festivities, with headlines including “Grand Commencement Marks End of Successful Year” and “Davidson Closes Eighty-First Session in Blaze of Glory — All Commencement Events Interesting and Enjoyable.”

Most certainly, the celebration for the Class of 2020 will be different than those of years past. But, I imagine it will, too, be interesting and enjoyable. During the early 20th century, it was typical for the senior class to write and publish a poem in the student annual Quips and Cranks. The senior poem for the Class of 1920 centered around the transition from college life to “the real world,” in which one has the opportunity and responsibility to make choices about what kind of life to pursue. This theme is as relatable today as it was in 1920.

Senior Class Poem from Class of 1920 as featured in the college annual, Quips and Cranks
Senior Class Poem from the Class of 1920 as featured in Quips and Cranks

Commencement is a time to recognize the hard work and achievements of our students and to mark their transition to adult life. We sincerely congratulate the Class of 2020 and wish them all the best! Go Cats!

Banner photo with "Congratulations Class of 2020 Davidson College" written on it. Includes a wildcat logo
Please help us celebrate the Class of 2020 by using this cover photo!
(Image Courtesy of Davidson College)

If you would like to join the online Commencement celebration, please visit Davidson College’s “Commencement” webpage for more information.

“(Re)Collecting COVID-19: Davidson Stories” Week One Update

As mentioned in the previous blog post about the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, Archives and Special Collections is proud to present the initiative “(Re)Collecting COVID-19: Davidson Stories.” In this crowdsourcing project, we aim to document the personal experiences of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members during the COVID-19 epidemic. We invite you to share your COVID-19 story through the contribution of original words, music, video, art, or images, regardless of whether you are on campus, in the Town of Davidson, or thousands of miles away.

We’ve had a wonderful start to this project and here are some highlights of the first contributions!

Wearing face masks to go outside and to go shopping has become the temporary new normal. Many people are wearing homemade masks as seen by contributions from Annelise Gorensek-Benitez (Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry), Molly Kunkel (Digital Archivist; “Shopping Essentials”), and Ann Haley and Shaw Smith (Joel O. Conarroe Professor of Art History).

We are also delighted to see contributions of creative works, including a painting from community member Dr. Edward L. Boye and original poetry from Lisa Forest (Leland M. Park Director of E.H. Little Library) and Anthony S. Abbott (Professor of English Emeritus).

Painting of castle.
“Finding Your Castle” by Dr. Edward L. Boye

A huge thank you to those who have submitted thus far! If you would like to view more contributions or would like to contribute an item to the “(Re)Collecting COVID-19: Davidson Stories,” please visit the site.

(Re)Collecting the Spanish Influenza Epidemic of 1918 and COVID-19 in Davidson

On September 18, 1918, the fall term of the 1918-1919 academic year began at Davidson. Three weeks later on October 9, 1918, The Davidsonian reported that the college experienced “a severe visitation” of Spanish influenza. From the report of the first case, new cases began to emerge rapidly. The infirmary, although equipped with medical equipment and staff, quickly became overrun with patients. To more adequately attend to the sick, the Chambers building, the main academic building on campus (which also had two wings set aside as dormitories), was turned into a makeshift hospital. At first, only the first floor of the south wing was used to house the sick. However, cases continued to appear and the second and third floors of the wing were quickly repurposed as hospital wards (“‘Flu’ Epidemic Takes Heavy Toll at Davidson”).

Chambers as built.
Old Chambers (Burned in 1921)

With an ever-increasing volume of cases, campus administration decided to suspend class for three weeks and to place campus under quarantine. To care for the sick, the entire Davidson community offered support. Nurses attended to the ill, the women of the Davidson Red Cross Chapter provided meals and necessary supplies, and Davidson professors took regular shifts to assist in any way they could. One individual, presumably a student (and possibly one of those infirmed) remarked about this extraordinary support offered by the community in the October 9, 1918 Davidsonian (“Editorial”).

The Davidsonian, October 9, 1918
The Davidsonian, October 9, 1918

These combined efforts worked. Remarkably, the next issue of The Davidsonian (October 23, 1918), reported that after three weeks of cases of the Spanish flu on campus, the epidemic was practically over. In total, over 200 cases of the flu were reported and those remaining were rapidly recovering (“‘Flue’ Has Vanished From Davidson College”). However, one student, Daniel J. Currie of Defuniac Springs, Florida, did pass away from pneumonia, which was likely resultant from the influenza. Nurse Laura Rose Stevenson of Charlotte treated patients at Davidson and also died of pneumonia (“In Memoriam”).

While the college was rocked by the flu, the Town of Davidson was as well. The sick were treated in their homes, cotton mills and schools temporarily shut down, and the town was placed under quarantine. The October 23, 1918 issue of The Davidsonian included notices of townspeople affected by the influenza (“Town Items”).

The Davidsonian, October 23, 1918

Like in the case of the college, the Red Cross provided assistance to the Town of Davidson. In total, over 150 cases were reported in the town. There were at least five deaths from pneumonia, most of which were African American (“‘Flu’ Situation in Town Is Now Much Improved”). The next week, in the November 6, 1918 Davidsonian, it is reported that the town’s quarantine had been lifted and that mills had resumed work (“‘Flu Situation In Town Continues to Improve).

Although the events of the Spanish flu epidemic occurred over 100 years ago, we find ourselves in a very similar situation today with COVID-19. What can we learn by reflecting on Davidson’s response to the Spanish flu?

I think it is this: It takes all of us to get through it. In 1918, this was evident in medical personnel, townspeople, and the college community coming together to help one another. In 2020, we can see the same thing occurring. We are helping each other by tending to the ill, by donating supplies, by abiding stay-at-home orders, by offering each other emotional support. The list goes on and on. We are all trying our best to help each other get through it. And I think that is worth everything.

As Davidson adjusts to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are challenged to develop new ways to engage and interact with our community. Davidson College Archives, Special Collections & Community, which regularly collects, shares, and preserves the college’s and community’s unique stories, would like to document the experiences of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members during these uncertain times. To this end, we are excited to present our initiative “(Re)Collecting COVID-19: Davidson Stories.” In this crowdsourcing project, we invite you to share your COVID-19 story through the contribution of original words, music, video, art, or images, regardless of whether you are on campus, in the Town of Davidson, or thousands of miles away. To learn more about “(Re)Collecting COVID-19: Davidson Stories, please visit the site.

Works Cited

“Editorial.” The Davidsonian, [Davidson, NC], 9 Oct. 1918, p. 2,

“‘Flu’ Epidemic Takes Heavy Toll at Davidson.” The Davidsonian, [Davidson, NC], 9 Oct. 1918, p. 1,

“‘Flu’ Situation In Town Continues to Improve.” The Davidsonian, [Davidson, NC], 6 Nov. 1918, p. 1,

“‘Flu’ Situation in Town Is Now Much Improved.” The Davidsonian, [Davidson, NC], 30 Oct. 1918, p. 1,

“‘Flue’ Has Vanished From Davidson College.” The Davidsonian, [Davidson, NC], 23 Oct. 1918, p. 1,

“In Memoriam.” The Davidsonian, [Davidson, NC], 23 Oct. 1918, p. 2,

Guest Blogger: Emily Privott “Davidson College Football: Continuing the Tradition”

This past weekend, Davidson College football kicked off its 2018 season with a 34-13 home win over Brevard College. Led by new head coach Scott Abell, the Wildcats were a dominant force on the field, scoring a total of 4 touchdowns in the first half of the game. To celebrate the Cats’ win, here are some odds and ends from football history at Davidson.

Recently, Archives and Special Collections received a donation from an alumna of athletic media guides, ranging from the 1940s to the early 2000s. We are beyond thrilled to add these to our collection! Here are some program covers that caught our eye:

Two men, one in a tweed jacket carrying books, the other in a football uniform holding a football. A gold trophy in the center of the image, with a football player throwing a football. Davidson vs. Catawba. Richardson Field

1954 Football program, Davidson vs. Catawba









A football player stick figure made out of various colored striped ties. Davidson vs. Carson-Newman. Richardson Field. October 18,1958

1958 Football program, Davidson vs. Carson-Newman


A boy wearing a football helmet playing a violin. Davidson vs. Lehigh. Richardson Field. November 9, 1953.

1963 Football program, Davidson vs. Lehigh









Hopefully, Davidson’s win over Brevard is a sign of good things to come! Let’s take a look back at one of the greatest seasons in Davidson football history! Led by one-season coach Joe Susan, the Wildcats experienced its first and only undefeated season in school history with a 10-0 record. Here are some memories from this perfect season:

A grey t-shirt with black and red text, reading "Davidson Football 2000". Perfect season. Red and black signatures of Senior football players.

T-shirt that reads “Davidson Football 2000”; Signed by the Seniors


Black and white image of 23 football players in uniform. 2000 Davidson football Seniors.

2000 Football, Seniors


2000 Football Senior Squad
Back row (l-r): Andy Blanton, Mark Rachal, Tee Bahnson, Adam Stockstill, Blake McNaughton
Third row: Bryan Fish, Ryan Crawford, Corey Crawford, Shaun Tyrance, Jerry Saunders
Second row: Marcus McFadden, Andre Carelock, Bo Henderson, Brian Fork, Matt Berry, Brian Bokor
Front row: Dave Parker, Matt Hurt, Dave Rosenberg, Jon DeBord, Ryan Hutto, Freeman Belser, Kevin Strange

For more information about the history of Davidson College football, please visit

If you are interested in seeing any of these artifacts in-person, please check out a recently created display housed at the entrance of E.H. Little Library.