A Brief History of Diplomas at Davidson College

Hello, this is Ghadeer Muhammed ‘25, and I hail from Cairo, Egypt. This summer, I worked in the Archives, Special Collections and Community department, and I have stumbled upon a most interesting diploma collection. Allow me to offer you a peek into the Archives diploma collection, and the college history it unveils…

The Davidson College Archives has acquired 41 diplomas solely through donations. The collection houses diplomas issued from 1840 to 2008. 19 diplomas, which is about half of the diplomas in the collection, date back to the 1800s, while 20 diplomas, the other half, were issued in the 20th century. The remaining two diplomas in the collection are dated 2006 and 2008. 

40 of 41 diplomas in the collection belong to male Davidson College students, while one out of 41 diplomas belongs to a female Davidson College student. This is noteworthy and timely, as 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the official formal admission of women to Davidson College (1972) thus ending the all-male aspect of the institution.

The overwhelming majority of the diplomas in the collection are made of vellum – more accurately described as sturdy sheepskin. Before 1981, all Davidson College alumni received their diplomas made of vellum. In 1981, parchment diplomas became the default, but students could still request a diploma made from sheepskin at a $10 charge. The complete switch to parchment diplomas was not put into action by the Registrar until the beginning of the 21st century. So for 141 years, Davidson College used vellum to award all alumni their graduation diplomas. Furthermore, the language used in all Bachelor of Arts diplomas, 19th and 20th centuries, is Latin, and even the date is in Roman numerals. However, from 1870-1889 the Bachelor of Science diploma was issued in English. Today, The Davidson College Registrar issues graduation diplomas in Latin.

Each diploma is signed by the sitting College President and on some occasions, the Board of Trustees too. The earliest diploma in the collection is dated 1840 and was signed by Robert Hall Morrison, the first president of Davidson College.

Robert Hall Morrison signature

One truly interesting aspect of working in the archives is witnessing the passage of time and the related parallelism of events. A fine example of this parallelism is the journey of Walter Lee Lingle back to Davidson College. The Davidson College Archives has two diplomas dated 1892 and 1893 for a certain Walter Lee Lingle. This alumnus returned to Davidson College in 1906, but this time as the eleventh president of the college. Consequently, today, the archives diploma collection holds a 1930 Bachelor of Arts diploma signed by Walter Lee Lingle as President.

1892 Walter Lee Lingle diploma signed by President John Bunyan Shearer
1930 Frontis Withers Johnston diploma signed by President Walter Lee Lingle

Lingle was the third Davidson College President who was also a Davidson College alumnus. Alumni presidents are not uncommon in Davidson College as the current president, Douglas Allan Hicks, is the eleventh alumni president in the history of the college.  


Blodgett, J. 2011  Davidson College Diplomas – Davidson College Archives & Special Collections. https://davidsonarchivesandspecialcollections.org/archives/encyclopedia/diploma 

Blodgett, J. 2011 Lingle, Walter Lee – Davidson College Archives & Special Collections https://davidsonarchivesandspecialcollections.org/archives/encyclopedia/walter-lee-lingle 

Johnson, M 2022 Douglas A. Hicks selected as 19th president of Davidson College https://www.davidson.edu/news/2022/04/29/douglas-hicks-selected-19th-president-davidson-college#:~:text=Davidson%20College%20Trustees%20today%20unanimously,returns%20to%20where%20it%20began. 

Guest Blogger: Alice Berndt, C’22 English Major “Meeting My Grandfather in the Pages of Quips and Cranks”

Alice Berndt ’22 (she/her) is an English major and Art History minor from Maplewood, New Jersey. On campus, she interns in the Van Every/Smith Galleries, writes for The Davidsonian, and is on the editorial staff for both Hobart Park and Libertas.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my grandfather since he passed fifteen years ago, it’s how much he loved Davidson College. I recently examined an issue of Quips and Cranks from 1958, his senior year, while working on a project for ENG 422: Creating Narratives. My grandfather, Ross Jordan Smyth, died when I was six years old after a long battle with Alzheimer’s, a disease I never knew him without. As I flipped through the pages of the annual, I saw his face over and over again, at the same age that I am now.

1. Senior Portrait, Quips and Cranks, 1958.

Finding my grandfather alive in the pages of Quips and Cranks — alive and busywas a special experience. The publication lists each senior along with their campus involvement. My grandfather has eighteen clubs, organizations, and accolades next to his name, taking up noticeably more space on the page than some of his peers [Image 1].

I already knew he was an English major like I am. I knew he helped to launch Davidson’s soccer program as an official varsity sport in 1956 (See The Davidsonian article October 5, 1956 for more information) and was captain during his junior and senior years. And I knew he served as student body president, which at the time also meant heading the Honor Council.

2. President of the Student Body Quips and Cranks, 1958.
3. ROTC Regimental Staff, Quips and Cranks, 1958.

But I didn’t know that he was a cheerleader, in the chapel choir, or on the editorial staff of Quips and Cranks. Through these pages, I learned that my grandfather was serious and professional, as seen in his presidential portrait [Image 2] and a shot from ROTC [Image 3].

At the same time, these pages also suggest how much he enjoyed his time at Davidson, participating in many activities and organizations and getting to know a range of people in the process.

4. Honor Men of 1958, Quips and Cranks, 1958

A page in the athletics section titled “Honor Men of 1958” shows my grandfather sprinting across the soccer field [Image 4]. Interestingly, soccer at Davidson only started up again in 1956 after an absence due to students leaving the college to fight in World War II (See Davidson encyclopedia entry for soccer for more information).

5. Student Government “Under the Influence,” Quips and Cranks, 1958

In an image in the student government pages, my grandfather is seated at the head of a table holding a gavel, the same one he holds so earnestly in his presidential portrait. This time he’s captured mid-laugh, the other students at the table frozen in similar expressions. That year student government negotiated with the administration about alcohol consumption on campus. The photo’s caption reads “…seeking a clarification of ‘UNDER THE INFLUENCE’” [Image 5].

6. Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, Quips and Cranks, 1958

In the fraternity section, A photo of SAE brothers enjoying a meal is playfully captioned “Bradford and Smyth retain their composure over the masses” [Image 6].

7. Sigma Alpha Epsilon Year in Review, Quips and Cranks, 1958

Another SAE page lists highlights from the year as inside jokes including one that reads “Ross WHO?” [Image 7]. Those who knew my grandfather often remark with a laugh that he knew, did, and won everything and everyone. But it wasn’t about being the best it was about genuine interest, curiosity, and passion. I can guess that this line is a nod to his ubiquitous presence at Davidson — the way that his energy flowed throughout campus and touched many people. I hope to have had even a fraction of this impact in my time at Davidson.

Image Citations

Image 1. Davidson College. Quips and Cranks. Davidson: Davidson College, 1958. Page 45.

Image 2. Davidson College. Quips and Cranks. Davidson: Davidson College, 1958. Page 87.

Image 3. Davidson College. Quips and Cranks. Davidson: Davidson College, 1958. Page 91.

Image 4. Davidson College. Quips and Cranks. Davidson: Davidson College, 1958. Page 119.

Image 5. Davidson College. Quips and Cranks. Davidson: Davidson College, 1958. Page 86.

Image 6. Davidson College. Quips and Cranks. Davidson: Davidson College, 1958. Page 185.

Image 7. Davidson College. Quips and Cranks. Davidson: Davidson College, 1958. Page 183.

Guest Blogger: Alice Sloop, Sr. Staff Assistant, E.H. Little Library, “Handling a health care crisis—Now versus Then”

Over this past year, much of our collective attention has been drawn to the health care crisis brought on by the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic.  We have all struggled, personally and collectively, with decisions made to keep ourselves and our communities safe from this deadly virus.  This all-consuming struggle has gotten me to thinking about how health crises were handled in the past here in North Carolina by our ancestors.  One of my ancestors and distinguished Davidson College Alumnus, Dr. Eustace Henry Sloop, gives us a glimpse into medical issues facing our forebearers in the late 1800s to early 1900s.

Eustace Henry Sloop (1877-1961) came to Davidson in 1893; he was the youngest Freshman in his class (only 16 years old). (p.146, Alumni Catalogue of Davidson College)  Early that year, he met the woman he would later marry, Mary T. Martin. Mary’s father, William Joseph Martin, was a member of the faculty at Davidson and hosted a party for incoming Freshman.  Mary describes Sloop as “a tall, slender, shy youngster with light brown hair and the nicest smile”.  (p.17, Miracle in the Hills)  Mary writes in her book Miracle in the Hills that her father came to Davidson “after the war”  to “teach geology and chemistry and serve also as bursar” and that he was “greatly needed.” (p.12, Miracle in the Hills)  William Joseph Martin taught from 1869-1887, became Vice President in 1884, and acting President 1887-88. (p.25, Alumni Catalogue of Davidson College

Sloop graduated from Davidson College in 1897. He continued his education at Jefferson Medical College, earning his M.D., and became a physician to the mountainous community around Crossnore, NC. (p.146, Alumni Catalogue of Davidson College) He married Mary Martin in 1908. (p.21, Miracle in the Hills)  Mary Martin Sloop (1873-1962) had also earned her M.D. and together they served in what was then a very rural, underserved community.  The nearest hospital was in Asheville, NC, “a long ride on a springless wagon over a rough road.” (p.224, Miracle in the Hills)    

The Doctors Sloop traveled to homes on horseback, treating and sometimes operating on patients in their cabins. The image below is from 1917.

Their safest operating space for years was outside under an apple tree.

black and white image of operation under an apple tree

They fought to bring electricity to the community, and Dr. Eustace Sloop constructed a powerhouse (shown below) to bring electricity to Crossnore.

They also sewed cuts shut with hair from the horse’s tail, and grieved for children in pigtails as young as 13 years old starting families of their own in poor conditions.

 Some issues that the Doctors Sloop faced are still part of our COVID-19 story today.  Mary writes of food insecurity, lack of needed medicines, fear of vaccinations, workers making little wages in unsecure jobs, and lack of adequate school facilities. “Simple things… for instance, that people with contagious diseases shouldn’t have visitors…were hard to get across”, Mary writes. (p.224, Miracle in the Hills).  One of Mary’s patients states a typical fear of vaccinations as follows: “I a’int no fool and you can’t tell me that stickin’ a hole in a young’un with a needle can cure diphtheria or keep off typhoid fever”. (p.223, Miracle in the Hills).

 Despite the ongoing health issues described in the story of Doctors Eustice and Mary Martin Sloop that we still face today, their story is also one of great accomplishments. During their service to the Crossnore, NC community, they established the Crossnore School and Hospital.  Their two children also sought higher education.  Daughter Emma became a physician like her parents and ran the Crossnore Hospital for many years, serving people from miles around.  Son, Will, became a dentist.  Today, the school is a boarding school for orphans and children unable to live with their biological parents.  It also includes an active handloom weaving facility that both supports the school economically and employs locals.  Both roads and access to health care are greatly improved. Although the Crossnore Hospital is no longer in operation, the fear of a loved one dying before reaching a hospital is also gone.  This small, mountain community is no longer as isolated, fearful, and uninformed.  As we, too, look forward to healthier days ahead, may we be less fearful, less isolated, and better educated.


  1. Alumni Catalogue of Davidson College 1837-1924. Ed. By Thomas Wilson Lingle. The Presbyterian Standard Pub. Co. 1924.
  2. Miracle in the Hills by Mary Martin Sloop, M.D. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 1953.

Guest Blogger: Alice Sloop, Sr. Staff Assistant, E.H. Little Library, “Davidson From Day One – The Sloop Family”

Alice Sloop has been employed in the E.H. Little Library since 2000.

What does a gentleman born in 1771, a table circa 1834, an 1860 Davidson graduate, dozens of Alumni, a Davidson College Trustee, and a current Davidson employee have in common?  Answer:  a single family heritage.  The Sloops have been an integral part of Davidson College since the very beginning of the idea to start our beloved school.

Our family historian, Dr. Robert Felts Sloop, Jr. (b.1934-) documents the beginnings of the Sloop family interest in education in North Carolina with his 3rd great grandfather “Colonel” James Jamison (b.1771-d.1846).  Back in 1834 when the Concord Presbytery met in James Jamison’s home near Prospect Presbyterian Church (located near Mooresville, NC), resolutions were drawn up on his table to “establish a school for young men to educate them for the ministry and other occupations”.  This school would become Davidson College. This table on which these resolutions were signed now sits in the Smith Rare Book Room at E.H. Little Library.

Sloop Family Table, Alcove, Smith Rare Book Room

The story of the family’s donation of this table to Davidson College is a funny one according to Dr. Sloop. Colonel James Jamison died in 1846 and is buried in the Prospect Presbyterian Church cemetery. His son, Franklin (Frank) Jamison inherited the table and when he died, it was purchased “for a dear price” by Mrs. Agnus C. Jamison Bailey, our 2nd great aunt.  Subsequently, at another Presbytery meeting in Mrs. Bailey’s home in Back Creek, a Dr. Monroe learned about the history of the table and suggested that it be given to Davidson College.  Mrs. Bailey stated that she paid too much for it and was unwilling to give it away! Some time later John Jamison (another son of Colonel Jamison) had a daughter named Sally Kerr Jamison who banded together with sisters Minnie and Eugenia and bought the table from their sister Agnus.  So then, Sally, Minnie, and Eugenia donated the table to Davidson College.  Dr. Walter Lingle, President Emeritus, would later write a thank you letter to the family.

Letter October 8, 1947 Walter Lingle, President-Emeritus Davidson College to Mrs. J.W. Johnson

This story is only one of many fascinating Sloop family stories related to Davidson College. 

Guest Blogger: Michaela Gibbons on “Dean Rusk: Dean Rusk’s Ideology”

At a young age, David Dean Rusk memorized the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Its main question, “What is the chief end of man?” is one that Rusk referred back to throughout his career. While this question—at its essence—asked about life’s purpose, Rusk considered how it can drive governments. Rusk thought governments must work to preserve our inalienable human rights in order to ensure the survival of the human race. From Rusk’s perspective, these rights were violated by communism. His generation, the Greatest Generation, was imbued with anti-communist views. Members of this cohort grew up during the First Red Scare, were the primary fighters in World War II, and began careers during the Second Red Scare. Rusk, in particular, feared the spread of communism as it actively denied people the freedom to choose. 

A young Dean Rusk wearing a military uniform

There was, however, the correct choice to make: democracy. In Rusk’s opinion, democracy was the finest form of government. While the term was not coined until later, Rusk’s ideology falls under neoliberalism. He wanted free market capitalism and that freedom to choose correctly to be available to everyone. Rusk explains:

The men and women of the developed and less developed nations are coming together, day by day, in a wide range of other human activities: scientific cultural, medical, civil and social action. The ties between them as fellow citizens of a common planet in an exciting century are becoming stronger. And they form an essential basis for progress toward the community of free nations. It is also playing that there are differences of view between developed and less developed countries within the free world. Notably, those arising from old colonial experiences. These differences have been disruptive at times, but they should not be exaggerated. We shall find as time goes on a widened area of community between the more industrialized and less industrialized peoples. A community based on a common desire for peace, a common dedication to the principles of independence and a free choice, a common commitment to the United Nations Charter.

Dean Rusk, Dean Rusk Evening Lecture, 47:04

Here, it is important to note Rusk’s desire for progress. He perceived democracy as fundamental to the advancement of the human race:

“To bring about a unified and independent Congo seems to us to be the only objective that offers a realistic chance for the advancement of the peoples of the Congo and for peace in Central Africa.”

Dean Rusk, Dean Rusk Evening Lecture, 26:25

After World War II, many feared that terrorizing institutions would grow in power again and threaten the human race. Rusk referred to terrorism as barbarism that hindered the world’s advancement. 

How do we make neoliberalism accessible to all global citizens? Rusk’s answer was collective security. The theory he credited as the key to world peace required the unification of Western countries against shared threats. Collective security proved difficult, particularly in the instance of Vietnam, but Rusk did not realize this until later in his career. In the Davidson College Fall Convocation of 1985, he reflects:

[America has] taken, as I mentioned earlier, almost 600,000 casualties and dead and wounded since the end of World War II, in support of collective security, and it has not been all that collective, we put up 90% of the non-Korean forces in Korea, 80% of the non-Vietnamese forces in Vietnam. So if my cousins down in Georgia say, look, if collective security is going to require 50,000 American dead every 10 years, and it’s not even collective, maybe it’s not a good idea.

Dean Rusk, Fall Convocation 1985, 56:48

Dean Rusk speaking at Davidson College

At this time in Rusk’s life where his political career was over, he had come to realize that collective security may not be the only strategy for peace. Earlier, however, he would have argued collective security was the solution and if it required the continued presence of Allied forces to ensure a nation’s independence then so be it. The idea was not unpopular, especially after World War II. Rusk’s ideology did not change, but the country’s did. Prior to the Vietnam War, America’s tendency to get involved was celebrated. It reaffirmed the country’s position as a world power; it maintained good international relations. A cultural shift came with the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers who argued the interests of other nations are not worth the loss of American lives. 

Rusk encourages us to reexamine the purpose of government as it should align with the purpose of humankind. He urges newer generations to protect humanity by unlocking the key to world peace. If it is not collective security that will unify countries in the common interest of man, then we must ask ourselves what will. In a world of differences, what are the similarities that will bridge international communities?

Digitization and transcription funded courtesy of the Dean Rusk Program for International Studies. This blog post was written by Michaela Gibbons ’22. To listen to these interviews, browse the Dean Rusk Collection in Digital Davidson.

Guest Blogger: Michaela Gibbons on “Dean Rusk: Foundation of the Dean Rusk Program”

The Dean Rusk Program for International Studies, now known as the Dean Rusk International Studies Program, was started by Frontis Johnston while he was interim President of Davidson College. Inspired by David Dean Rusk’s confidence that a liberal arts education would make a “universal man,” the program was established to offer all students a breadth of global insight through “scholarships, professorships, travel, and much, much more.” In the international city of Atlanta on November 2, 1983, the Dean Rusk Endowment for International Studies nearly reached its halfway mark of their $1 million goal as the speeches were ending. Meanwhile, endowments in Dallas and Houston were already raising additional funds to meet the program’s 1989 goal of $10 million. The Dean Rusk International Studies Program was the first of its kind, particularly in the South. 1

Dean Rusk standing in front of a podium

On the surface, the program aimed to integrate international issues into the Davidson bubble. Program director and former ambassador Jack Perry worked closely with the faculty-led International Education Committee, which was integral in conceptualizing the program and its direction. While some global education existed in the college’s curriculum, Perry was determined to broaden its offerings, introducing Latin American, African, and Asian studies. Funding was provided to faculty interested in international travel and incorporating global topics into their courses across departments. It was imperative that these studies were not a school within, but an integral part of Davidson College. As the program aimed to reach every student, a diverse board, Dean Rusk Program Student Advisory Committee, was founded to represent the student body and their interests.

Dean Rusk speaking to students

Confronted with globalized differences and similarities, students would have the tools to reflect on their privilege and fight for liberty. In Rusk’s eyes, the values instilled in students by the college were fundamental to this program’s success. Hoping this work would start locally, the program cooperated with other offices on campus to expand their efforts into Charlotte, North Carolina. More ambitiously, the Rusk Program aspired to prepare students as future world leaders. In Atlanta, it was dictated:

“Equip them with a world related knowledge, equip them with a global thinking perspective, and to equip them with a multinational understanding with a multi-cultural appreciation and with a multilingual capability.” 

Speaker 2, Dean Rusk Speech – Atlanta, 37:02.

 Dean Rusk Program in International Studies inaugural program

The Rusk Program collaborated with other offices, programs, and universities “To give each student, first, an informed awareness of our whole planet, and second, direct knowledge of at least one foreign area.”2 While the first half of the mission became achievable on campus, the second half encouraged students to think beyond the small college town. Study abroad opportunities began in 1968, but with the Rusk Program’s support, it grew substantially. President John Kuykendall lauded:

A key aspect of our program both in the immediate past and for the foreseeable future has been the development of programs in conjunction with colleges and universities abroad. Our term abroad and junior year abroad programs currently provide remarkable experiences for personal growth to at least one of every four Davidson students.

John Kuykendall, Fall Convocation 1985, 0:00

Junior Year Abroad provided a unique opportunity for cultural immersion in countries, such as Germany and France at first and then across Europe, South America, and Southern Asia. This aspect of the Rusk Program has grown immensely in student participation and has granted Davidson College an international identity in higher education. Dean Rusk was enthusiastic about this program’s potential and was confident in its excellence. He urged program administrators to stay true to Davidson’s liberal arts identity while developing its global consciousness.3

Works Cited:

  1.  Dean Rusk, Dean Rusk Speech – Atlanta, 11:46. Speaker 2, Dean Rusk Speech – Atlanta, 30:35.
  2. Printed Material – Davidson College – Dean Rusk Program. 1989 – 1990. DC004. Dean Rusk Collection. Davidson College Archives, Davidson College, NC.
  3. History File, 1981 – 1983. 1981 -1983. RG 3/6.1. Dean Rusk Program. Davidson College Archives. Davidson College, NC.

Digitization and transcription funded courtesy of the Dean Rusk Program for International Studies. This blog post was written by Michaela Gibbons ’22. To listen to these interviews, browse the Dean Rusk Collection in Digital Davidson.

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: 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.


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.

Justice, Equality, Community (JEC) Student and Alumni Advisory Council

The Justice, Equality, Community (JEC) grant is a three year, campus-wide initiative to support increased interdisciplinary engagement with issues of race, gender, religion, and social justice within the humanities at Davidson College.

The grant documents state: “A more publicly available and promoted archives will inspire transdisciplinary coursework in the humanities through the use of archival materials, promote avenues for increased original student research in the humanities, and enable Davidson to develop reciprocal relationships with community partners—all in support of increased dialogue around issues of justice, equality, and community in the curriculum and in the community.”

To accomplish these goals, the archival component of this initiative has four main tasks:

· Identify and digitize JEC collections.

· Integrate JEC materials into at least 5 new courses.

· Expand archival collections related to JEC, particularly the oral history collections.

· Lead public programming about JEC materials, both on campus and in the larger community.

Jethro Rumple reminiscing about the college circa 1840

This handwritten reminiscence of life at Davidson College was written in the 1840s by an alumnus, Reverend Jethro Rumple. The document contains a description of the College President’s “body servant,” Esom. This item was digitized with JEC grant funds and can be found on DigitalNC.org.

In order to more effectively engage our audiences and build a stronger collection, we selected a thematic focus for each year. For the academic year 2017 – 2018, we focused on 19th century Davidson. Working with partners like DigitalNC and H.F. Group, we identified and digitized thousands of items related to this theme. These materials are available through Davidson College’s research guides – a centralized platform familiar to our students and faculty, while also being accessible to the general public.

We have built on these efforts throughout the 2018 – 2019 academic year by highlighting and expanding our records related to alumni and student activism through support for course-based oral history projects, the on-going digitization of our existing oral history collections, and more targeted student outreach. 

Some of these materials have already been incorporated into a variety of classes, including Introduction to Africana Studies (AFR 101), Environmental History (ENV 256), Slavery and Africa (HIS 366), Native Women (HIS 243), WRI 101, the Humanities Program (HUM 103, 104), US Latinx History (HIS 259), Women and Slavery in the Black Atlantic (AFR 329), and Origins of the American South (HIS 242).

Green Books, Contempo magazine, For 2 Cents Plain, and MLK publications arranged on a table for a Humanities course.

Special collections material pulled for the Fall 2018 Humanities course.

In many of these classes, as well as others, students often express concern that “Davidson is always talking about where we’re going, but rarely talks about where we’ve been.” Students wonder about how their legacy will be represented—and if it will be represented.

Understanding we were uniquely positioned to address this concern, we formed the JEC Student and Alumni Advisory Council—if we were targeting students, we wanted to empower students as full archival partners to recognize their labor for us, as well as in the community.

The JEC Advisory Council, composed of Davidson College students and recent alumni and led by the JEC Project Archivist, was established in the Fall 2018 semester to document and publicize the ways in which students have engaged with and responded to historical and contemporary manifestations of injustice and inequality in Davidson and the surrounding area.

Image of students, townsfolk, and professors interacting with archival materials in the fishbowl as part of the Davidson Disorientation Tour in 2018.
Attendees interacting with archival materials during the debriefing session for the Davidson Disorientation Tour co-led by one of our council members, H.D. (April 2018).


Supported by the archival portion of the JEC Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, we are working to synthesize information from academic, administrative, and social spheres for a better understanding of campus culture and greater acknowledgment of student work. The ultimate goal of this project is to address gaps between student needs and institutional responses, empower students to better leverage archival resources, and to promote dialogue around increased accountability for supporting student-led projects. 

To accomplish this, we will identify, collect, and digitize the data, records, and oral histories of student organizations and their community partners, both through the acquisition of existing documentation and the recording of information that does not exist in a formal or textual source; following this, we will organize programming according to our findings in order to facilitate meaningful conversations and tangible impacts. 

We are confident that, in addition to meeting our primary goals, this project will also promote a better understanding of the archives as a resource and increase transparency around the processes and accessibility of college documentation, thus creating a foundation for future projects and coalitions.

MEMBERSHIP (2018 – 2019)

Kaitlin Barkley, ’21

Yashita Kandhari, ’20

H.D. Mellin, ’20

Carlos Miranda Pereya, ’18

Arianna Montero-Colbert, ’19

Jonathan Shepard-Smith, ’18

MEMBERSHIP (2019 – 2020)

Jonathan Shepard-Smith, ’18

Marlene Arellano, ’17

Yashita Kandhari, ’22

H.D. Mellin, ’20

Maurice Norman, ’20

Sanzari Aranyak, ’22

The statement of purpose was written and approved by the inaugural members of the JEC Student and Alumni Advisory Council in March 2019. The group has met on a monthly basis since January 2019. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Jessica Cottle at jecottle@davidson.edu.

Guest Blogger: Bob Denham ’61 “In memory of Leland M. Park ’63”


We bid adieu
With thanks to you
For making Little big.

Your tenure’s been
To now from then
A grand and noble gig.

You said, “I read,
Therefore I need
[Apologies Descartes]

A lot more cash
For books to stash
If we’re to stand apart.”

Your firm belief,
As Little’s chief:
The book is learning’s heart.

O Leland Park,
You’ve left your mark
By making Little large.

That all should read,
That was your creed.
And your director’s charge:

If they erase
Books’ central place,
Circumference won’t enlarge.

Your stacks expand.
Six hundred grand,
Plus lots of other perks,

Like maps and scores
And data doors
And, as for tools, “RefWorks.”

As Little’s czar
You set the bar
As high as Chambers’ dome,

And thus you made
An A plus grade:
Tome after tome and tome.

We you salute
For your repute.
Now Little’s number one.

You filled the stacks––
Few gaps or cracks––
We say, O Park, well done!

Now your car’s Parked
And you’ve embarked
On your retirement years,

We quaff a stein
With thumbs up sign––
Hip, hip, hooray. Three cheers.

    ––Bob Denham ’61