Welcome to the E.H. Little Library, James!

Andra and James Simon in Mexico

1.You’re just beginning to get to know the E.H. Little Library –what’s your background and how has it contributed to your work in the library?  

I’m tremendously excited to join the team here at the E.H. Little Library. Prior to coming to Davidson, I worked at the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) in Chicago, a consortium of academic libraries with a shared collection of specialized research materials. My early career was spent working closely with international subject specialists in identifying unique collections for scholarly access. I’ve had the good fortune to work with colleagues and peers across the globe in the preservation of knowledge resources. My background has led to a deep appreciation for the diversity of knowledge from different cultural perspectives, worldviews, and ways of knowing. I try to bring that to my work in identifying unique resources for research and teaching.

I’m excited that Davidson recently joined CRL, by the way, because this partnership opens up amazing opportunities for our students, faculty, and community. CRL’s collection includes more than five million volumes of research material, including more than 50,000 digital resources. CRL makes accessible thousands of newspapers from around the world, rich archival collections, and primary sources that significantly augment Davidson’s own impressive holdings. Interested in the Calvinist tradition in 17th c. Geneva? The drawing of Iraqi boundaries after World War I? Perspectives on migration during the Partition of India? CRL has something unique for every researcher. 

2.While working on your library degree, which classes have been the most helpful? Will working in a library change your selection of future courses?

Obtaining my degree in Library and Information Science (LIS) became a goal during COVID as I realized the profound work libraries were doing in providing emergency access to information, combatting misinformation, and even providing basic needs for students struggling to maintain their status in college. While I have been working in the academic library field for more than 20 years, it became important to me to take a step back and undertake the important work of understanding the background to librarianship’s core values, and to develop a professional philosophy to further guide my work. 

I’m in the process of obtaining my MLIS degree from Dominican University and am having an absolute blast in my courses and work outside the classroom. One of the most enlightening classes to date has been on Information Divides, really digging in to the systems and motivations that are driving the divide between privileged and disadvantaged groups and societies in today’s information age. Now that I’m working at Davidson, I’m focusing my coursework on academic libraries and leadership, which has the advantages of both informing my present work and giving me a lot of useful case examples to draw from in class! 

3. What about the position of Assistant Director of Collections & Discovery interested you?

I’m a habitual highlighter when reading, and when I started outlining the roles and responsibilities of this position, I found I had nearly covered the entire posting with yellow highlights.

First, I love that Davidson Library leads with its values. These were front and center in the position description and shaped my entire view of what this position was about. The Library clearly has a vision and a direction, and I was excited to envision how the A.D. of Collections & Discovery could play a role in that. There were a dozen other criteria in the position that excited me, but most of all was the emphasis on relationships with teaching and learning partners across the college as well as with consortial partners. There was a clear recognition that Davidson has much to gain from working collaboratively with its partners in North Carolina, the Oberlin Group, the Eastern Academic Scholars’ Trust (EAST), and other libraries in building and stewarding shared, open, and equitable collections. This is where I’ll be placing a lot of focus to ensure Davidson maximizes its investments.

4. Are there any projects you’re particularly passionate about introducing to Davidson?

There are two areas to which I’m paying attention for the future. One focus is on Davidson’s investments in open access and open knowledge initiatives. The library is already supporting faculty open access publishing through a number of transformative agreements with publishers. Davidson is also championing knowledge producers that are committed to open models of scholarly publication, such as Lever Press. I’m interested in finding unique “Davidson-sized” opportunities to expand access, facilitate innovative pedagogy, and shape the scholarly communication landscape through open knowledge.

The second area of focus is on providing more pathways to access to non-owned, non-licensed content. Davidson’s holdings are considerable, but the budget is finite. We must make challenging decisions all the time on what to purchase and what to put on hold. By building and activating our partnerships, we can turn to the network to provide access to significant content at the point of need. We already have the tools we need, we just need to leverage them. I already mentioned the EAST partnership. This network of institutions committed to retaining print monographs also has reciprocal lending agreements. By virtue of our participation, Davidson has access to 10+ million print items held by other participating libraries. It’s a highly effective network of trusted institutions.  

5. You haven’t been here long yet, but what has been your most memorable or surprising experience at Davidson thus far?

I knew Davidson was a well-regarded school, but I have been surprised by the number of conversations I’ve had with friends and colleagues who light up when I tell them where I’m working. I’ve had no fewer than ten conversations along the lines of “Oh, my cousin/neighbor/friend’s daughter went to Davidson! They had an amazing experience there!” Having been here just a few weeks, I can certainly agree with them. I’m finding the students, staff and faculty are–without fail–kind, generous, and just really good human beings.

Cooper as mascot

6. What are three things you want Davidson’s community to know about you

1) I’m an amateur brewer, closet artist, and erstwhile stage performer. 

2) I’m a dedicated fan of the @DavidsonVB team. I flew home with them after my interview and considered it a good omen. Come join me for home games this year!

3) My dog Cooper, frequently seen around campus in the evenings & weekends, reeeally wants you to pay attention to him. 

Cooper pondering his next read.

Behind the Display: Title IX and the History of Women’s Basketball at Davidson

Display Case One.

Hi! This is Ellen Huggins, current JEC archives fellow. In honor of the 50th anniversary of coeducation and Title IX at Davidson College, the Archives and Special Collections are looking back on the history of women’s athletics and the impact of Title IX. This exhibit was originally meant to highlight one of the newest additions to our oral history collection, a series of recently released interviews recorded with staff and players belonging to the 1998-1999 Davidson women’s basketball team. The exhibit eventually evolved into a deeper look into the history of women’s basketball at Davidson and how the trajectory of the varsity team has been affected by the college’s relationship to Title IX.  You can use this post as a way to navigate the exhibit, or just as a way to learn more about the research that went into the exhibit making process!  

Case One: History of Women’s Basketball at Davidson College (1973-1986)

First Half of Display Case One. Figures 1-5.

(Timeline) 1973- Board of trustees votes for basketball to be one the of the first varsity sports for women at Davidson College along with field hockey. 

Figures 1 and 2) In this oral history excerpt, Emil Parker talks about Davidson College’s trustee board’s conception of the first female athletic award in the 1970s, the Rebecca E. Stimson award, and the difficulty of naming the award without a legacy of female athletics at the college. (click here for Parker’s interview). Stimson was a student at the time of the award’s creation, and she speaks about her mixed reaction to being the namesake of the award in her oral history interview, collected as part of the “Women’s Oral History Project.” (click here for Stimson’s interview).

Figure 3) Davidson College’s plan to comply with Title IX circa 1973, which includes how to divide the newly created women’s athletic programs into divisions and club classifications. Davidson College’s plan for the women’s basketball program was for the team to be a part of the AIAW (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) league as Division III. (You can listen to Emil Parker’s oral history for more information on the college’s experience while in the AIAW.)  

Figure 4) Images from women’s basketball at Davidson while the team was a part of the AIAW, or the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, in the period between 1973-1982. (Both images are circa 1975, courtesy of Davidson Archives and Special Collections). 

Figure 5) Promotional brochure from the 1980/81 season of Davidson women’s basketball, as an AIAW program. According to the program, one of the benefits of being a part of the AIAW Division III team was that it was a non-scholarship program. This meant female athletes were able to play basketball on a competitive level but could also join other sports teams at Davidson which many female athletes like Rebecca Stimson, who lettered in three sports during her time at Davidson, took advantage of.  

Second Half of Display Case One. Figures 6-8.

1982- The NCAA began to accept women’s sports into their divisions, and the women’s basketball team switched from the AIAW as a Division III team to the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) league as a Division III program.  

One reason for Davidson College’s push for women’s basketball to leave the AIAW and become a member of the NCAA was to join the Southern Conference tournament, which held its first tournament for NCAA women’s basketball in the 83/84 season. (click here to learn more about the history of the Southern Conference)

1983- The women’s basketball team joins the Southern Conference in 1983, along with the women’s tennis, field hockey and swim teams.  

Figure 6) Second set of pictures: Pictures of women’s basketball program while a part of the NCAA, or the National Collegiate Athletic Association, post 1982. (The image of the team player is from 1985, and the team picture is from 1984, Courtesy of Davidson College Archives and Special Collections.) 

1986- Women’s basketball team wins the Division III State Championship.  

Figure 7) From the 1985/86 Davidson College Quips and Cranks yearbook, “Ladycats Achieve Winning Season.” Despite winning the state Division III championship that year (see the Davidsonian headline above, “Lady Cats take first home victory”), the 1985/86 women’s basketball varsity season would be the last at Davidson until the team’s reinstatement in 1992.  

1986- The women’s basketball team is cut from the varsity basketball program due to budgetary constraints and inadequate resources to maintain a competitive team. 

Despite an elevated level of interest in the women’s basketball team and the program’s continued success, women’s basketball was cut as a varsity sport at Davidson College in 1986. This change was possible because Davidson College already had six varsity sports for women other than basketball, which was enough to retain their Division I NCAA membership. The varsity women’s basketball team was brought back in part as the result of a 1991 rule change by the NCAA regarding women’s sport divisions. (click here to learn more about the history of NCAA divisional regulations).

1991- Women’s basketball is brought back to Davidson with Coach John Filar as a varsity NCAA Division I team.  

Figure 8) Image of Coach John Filar from the 1992 Quips and Cranks yearbook, with the women’s varsity basketball team of 1991/92. The caption reads, “Coach Filar is excited to bring women’s basketball back to Davidson.” John Filar’s oral history was collected in 1999 by Eileen Dwyer for her senior research project, “History of Women’s Athletics at Davidson College, Grassroots Movements and Institutional Support,” and is featured in the following case in the exhibit. (click here for the Womens Athletics oral history collection).

Interested in the history of women’s athletics and basketball at Davidson? Check out these entries currently in the Davidson College Archives and Special Collections Encyclopedia: Women’s Athletics, Women’s Basketball.

Fun, Frolics and Homecoming Queens Part 2: Dating at Davidson

Hello, Ellen Huggins, current JEC Archives Fellow here. Welcome back to Fun, Frolics and Homecoming Queens at Davidson! In the last post, we spoke about the cultural significance of Homecoming and the Homecoming Queen ceremony. This week, we’ll be looking at the history of Homecoming at Davidson and the origins of the Homecoming Queen competition, leading up to coeducation in 1972. By looking at Davidson dating culture during Homecoming Weekend, we can hopefully gain more insight into what it was like for women as “guests” visiting campus before they were able to come to Davidson as degree earning students.

Dates on the dance floor of Homecoming 1953. At the center of the floor are three couples, all dressed in formal attire. At the edges of the floor are more couples, facing a stage where a big band is performing.
Dates on the dance floor at the 1953 Homecoming Dance at Davidson College. Image #27-1125.

This blog post primarily looks at Homecoming editions of the Davidsonian, the Davidson College newspaper, through the fifties and sixties. It’s important to acknowledge that the women who are featured below represent a very limited demographic in the history of women at Davidson College, which will be acknowledged further in upcoming Homecoming Queen posts.   

Article entitled "Homecoming Queen Candidates." Depicts portraits of 12 women, with their names followed by the fraternity that nominated them.
“Homecoming Queen Candidates.” The Davidsonian, October 30, 1959

 In 1959, the first Homecoming Queen competition was announced. Before this point, fraternities on campus would nominate female students from neighboring universities at as Homecoming “sponsors,” but this was the first year in which women were expected to compete for a title. In the midcentury, universities across the country began to adopt Homecoming Court as an annual tradition, and Davidson was no exception. The public pageantry of the Homecoming Queen ceremony reflected a trend in post war America towards more conservative gender roles in popular culture; crowning a queen was not only an opportunity to reward the “ideal” woman to represent Davidson College, but also provided a form of wholesome entertainment for the weekend.  

Article entitled "Seven College Girls View "The Davidson Gentlemen." The seven schools listed are Randolph-Macon, Sullins, Salem, W.C.U.N.C, Converse, Hollins, Queens and U. of N.C.
“Seven College Girls View “The Davidson Gentleman.” The Davidsonian, October 30, 1959.

The Homecoming Queen nominees were typically students from a variety of local women’s colleges, including Queens College, Hollins University, Salem College, and others listed in the article above. These colleges were also hotspots for male Davidson students to find weekend dates for events, and in this article, published in the 1959 Homecoming Edition of the Davidsonian, female representatives from these colleges weighed in on what typical “Davidson Gentleman” was like. One student from Sullins College in Bristol, Virginia, wrote, “The spirit of the Davidson Gentleman is high and I can see his true self emerge on those big weekends. He always seems to have a blast, especially when he is traveling here and there without “here” knowing he’s going “there” and vice versa.”

Article entitled "Why Your Date is Gray."
“Why Your Date is Gray.” The Davidsonian, October 21, 1960.

Davidson was known as a “suitcase college” in the years before coeducation. This was because many students would leave campus over the weekend either to go home or to go meet dates at neighboring colleges, leaving the campus a ghost town until classes started again on Monday. Since Davidson students weren’t able to see their dates on a regular basis leading up to the Homecoming Dance, many experienced anxiety over if/when/how their date would show up leading to the big weekend. The above article, “Why Your Date is Gray,” reflects some of those anxieties by parodying the letters male Davidson students hoped not to receive before Homecoming. Some notable examples include their date not being able to find the town, bringing their mother with them, or their date discovering that the “Davidson Gentleman” had been visiting another girl over the weekend (which could be what the Sullins student from the previous article was subtly referencing in her “traveling here and there” comment.)

Cartoon entitled "Homecoming Classic" by Bob Cole, class of 1959. Depicts an illustration of two men standing next to a truck. The caption reads, "Sign here for the blind dates you wanted, pal."
“Homecoming Classic…by Bob Cole, ’59.” The Davidsonian, October 21, 1960.

The pressure to show up with a date for Homecoming is illustrated in the “truckload” of blind dates cartoon above, which pokes fun at the sometimes superficial ways that students would procure someone to bring with them to the dance. The practice of “busing” in girls from neighboring schools for social events was another dating tradition at Davidson College that would later be challenged by female co-eds.

Posters line the wall of a dorm room, featuring large photos of women. The caption reads, "Playmates with Clothes? - This unlikely situation occurred after two students [...] received a mandate from [...] the supervisor of dormitories to remove any nasty pictures from their bulletin board in 109 Belk before the Homecoming Weekend. They complied, but with some nifty art work rather than the removal thereof."
“Playmates with Clothes?” The Davidsonian, October 21, 1960.

On Homecoming weekends, male underclassmen were moved out of their dorm rooms and into shared living quarters to accommodate the large number of visiting women who needed someplace to stay. Before they left though, some students would plan practical jokes for the arriving dates to find, like leaving behind frogs in trash cans, or in this case, drawing clothes on the Playboy posters that were meant to be (temporarily) taken down before the women’s arrival.  

Dates line up in formal attire in front of a football stadium.
Dates arrive at the Davidson Homecoming Football Game, 1963. Image #27-0320.

As we can see in the articles and comics above, women arriving for the Homecoming weekend marked a loosening of the strict academic standards and Presbyterian morals that ruled over male student’s lives for the rest of the school year. If the Homecoming Queen was once crowned as the ideal for what Davidson’s female guests could be, the meaning of the title completely changed once female co-eds could be nominated at the introduction of coeducation in 1972. This transition brought with it plenty of tension, so stay tuned for Part Three, where we’ll be looking at Homecoming Queens in the aftermath of coeducation and the mixed reactions of female co-eds towards Davidson dating culture.  

A Brief Study of Fun, Frolics and Homecoming Queens

By Ellen Huggins, JEC Archives Fellow

Post 1: Introduction

Crowning of Barbara Kelley, Homecoming Queen 1981, Image #27-1414

In the spirit of the “Fun and Frolics” theme of this year’s Archives Month, I’ve been rifling through our folders of archival photographs from college events (Freshman Orientation, Cake Races, Spring Flings….) to get a sense of what fun has looked like over the years on Davidson campus. The 50th anniversary of coeducation this year has also been sticking in the back of my mind, particularly the question of how women show up in the Davidson Archives before they were officially full time, degree earning students. Surprisingly, one of best places to find pictures of young women pre-1972 in the archives is the “Homecoming Queen” folder, which dates all the way back to 1959. It would be easy to view the title as a relic from a time when women were considered guests at Davidson, but as I dug deeper into the folder, I found it even more intriguing that the Homecoming Queen continued to be crowned far past the beginning of coeducation, and into the present day.  

In 2022 the College’s tradition of crowning a Queen during the Homecoming weekend football game might be all but forgotten, but it remains unexplored as one the longest running institutions for women on the Davidson campus. What can the history of Homecoming Queens tell us about the evolution of women’s roles at Davidson College from before coeducation to the present? I’ll be attempting to answer this question in this series of blog posts, so follow me through the archives as we explore fun, frolics, and Homecoming Queens at Davidson! 

Homecoming Banner, 1983, Image #27-1323

But first, what is Homecoming?

Every school has a different definition of what Homecoming means and how their traditions inform that meaning, but essentially, Homecoming is a weekend early in the school year where the college welcomes both current students and alumni to campus, hosts a football game, and traditionally, a dance. Homecoming weekend exists at the intersection of multiple interests; alumni who want to have a nostalgic time on campus, faculty who wants to show off their campus to those alumni (and maybe get appreciation in the form of money) and students who just want to have a carefree weekend. By extension, the Homecoming Queen represents an equally wide array of parties on campus; unlike a student dance like Prom where the title would be announced and given solely in front of their peers, the Homecoming Queen ceremony takes place on the football field in front of faculty, parents, alumni and students alike.  

Crowning of Sara Porter, Homecoming Queen 1963, Image #27-0357

So, who (or what) does the Homecoming Queen represent?

For more than a decade before women could be degree earning students on the Davidson campus, the original Homecoming Queen candidates were female students from different colleges in the area. Initially, it confused me to see how far back in time the Homecoming queen folder extended. I had always assumed a school’s Homecoming Queen was elected based on their great grades, their involvement on campus (and yes, more often than not they just so happen to be conventionally attractive as well); that they represent, at least subjectively, the best that the student body had to offer. But this is a fairly modern interpretation of what the Homecoming Queen competition was originally conceived to be. At least at Davidson, Homecoming Queens were initially crowned not as student representatives, but as feminine figure heads of the wholesome, nostalgic heart of Homecoming itself. In the next blog post, we’ll discuss more about how women were tied into the “wholesomeness” of Davidson Homecoming celebrations starting with the introduction of the Homecoming Queen competition in the midcentury, and what this reveals about the connection between fun, frolics and understandings of gender at Davidson.  

Thank you for tuning in, and come back soon for Part 2!

Works Cited: https://davidsonarchivesandspecialcollections.org/archives/encyclopedia/homecoming-results 

Welcome to the Library, Ellen!

Head shot of Ellen Huggins, JEC Archives Fellow. She is wearing a blue button up shirt and smiling at the camera.
Ellen Huggins

Ellen Huggins is the current Justice, Equality and Community Archives Fellow. She graduated from University of Iowa in 2021, majoring in Creative Writing with minors in American Studies and Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies. Ellen is originally from Colorado and still getting to know Davidson College!

You’re just beginning to get to know the E.H. Little Library—what’s your background and how has it contributed to your work at the library?

In terms of my background, I’ve always been interested in non-fiction creative writing, which is what I ended up majoring in in college. But over time I became more and more interested in history, which led to me working as a transcription editor at some different oral history projects. I think it’s contributed to my work at the library because I place a lot of value in storytelling and thinking of new ways to make archival material into something that an audience wants to engage with because they find it compelling or can relate it to their own experiences.  

What about the position of the JEC Archives Fellow position interested you?

What really stood out to me about the JEC Archives Fellow position was that there were so many sides to the job; not only would I get the chance to look at oral histories, but I’d also get the chance to learn more about Davidson history, work on the social media for the Archives and Special Collections and share my research with a cohort of other fellows working under the Duke Endowment. It’s a really unique opportunity that has so much possibility to it, and I’m excited to keep discovering what I can do in the position!  

Are there any projects that you’re particularly passionate about introducing to Davidson?

I’m interested in doing projects related to the 50th anniversary of coeducation and the less spoken about perspectives within the history of women at Davidson College. I’m currently working on an exhibit on the second floor all about Title IX (which also has its 50th anniversary this year!). It’s going to feature some oral histories collected from members of the women’s athletic program in 1999 that have been sealed and unavailable to listen to until now, so look out for that, and come check it out once it goes up!  

You haven’t been here long yet, but what has been your most memorable or surprising experience at Davidson thus far?

I have to agree with everyone that mentioned the great first day “Hello Dolly” serenade; I was especially honored that they took the time to rhyme my name in the lyrics! More generally, I’ve been surprised by just how welcoming everyone at the E.H. Little Library has been and how comfortable the campus feels to be on every day. The traffic in Davidson has also surprised me, without fail, every day that I drive to work.   

What are three things you want Davidson’s Community to know about you?

My favorite movie fluctuates between Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and Rosemary’s Baby.  

I have two brothers, one older and one younger! 

The best day for me weather wise is probably 50 degrees, foggy in the morning and drizzling in the afternoon, with not too much wind.   

My dog, Piper!

Welcome to the E.H. Little Library, Sydney!

Falls Park Greenville, SC
Photos in this post taken by Sydney Adams

You’re just beginning to get to know the E.H. Little Library –what’s your background and how has it contributed to your work in the library?

I am a native Carolinian–I say Carolinian and not North or South Carolinian because I’ve been traversing the two states my entire life. I received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy from Clemson University and a Master of Science in Library Science from UNC-Chapel Hill. I held roles in the libraries at both of these institutions, and I sought out internships at Duke University and NC State University while pursuing my MSLS. All of my roles in libraries have been slightly different. Still, I have always had a passion for outreach and community engagement, whether that has been tabling to meet students, hosting workshops and events, or developing my skills in graphic design and marketing. Having the opportunity to engage in meaningful ways with the campus community is what drew me to this work, and I hope to continue doing so with the Davidson community.

What about the position of Library Outreach Coordinator interested you?

Ultimately, what drew me to this position was that I knew I could develop lasting and meaningful relationships with folks across campus. Outreach is about supporting and engaging with your community, and I felt confident that I was joining an organization where I would be supported so that I could pursue new and exciting outreach opportunities.

Are there any projects you’re particularly passionate about introducing to Davidson?

I am looking forward to launching collaborative library programs with student organizations, on-campus partners, and community partners. I am likewise excited about working on our capsule collections, which are the themed collections we have displayed in the library lobby, and supporting folks across campus who are interested in curating these collections.

You haven’t been here long yet, but what has been your most memorable or surprising experience at Davidson thus far?

My most memorable experience so far has been tabling on the first day of classes. Students were so excited to see that we were out there tabling just to hand out snacks and talk with them, and it made me happy to have such a successful first event.

What are three things you want Davidson’s community to know about you?

I am a home chef who likes to craft new vegetarian dishes.

I like going on walks through the woods. Not hikes; just walks.

I’m always happy to exchange jigsaw puzzles!

Color photo of waterfall in Central SC
Waldrop Stone Falls Central, SC

Guest Blogger: Kseniia Koroleva, Fulbright Scholar, “Feminist movement and the Soviet Union: Tatyana Mamonova”

Kseniia Koroleva majored in education at Murom University. Prior to arrival to Davidson, she taught English as a foreign language in Russia. She is a Fulbright scholar and has been at Davidson since 2020. She works as a Russian teaching assistant for the Russian Studies Department and is involved in the Humanities program.  

The beginning of perestroika and glasnost’ (movements for political reforms and reconstruction) under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev empowered the Soviet people to express their views and opinions more freely. Subsequently, it resulted in many suppressed social and political issues coming to the surface. The surge of openness in the Soviet Union galvanized new discussions and forums around the political and social challenges of the Soviet government. To educate Davidson college students and the general public about current developments in political, social, and economic aspects of the USSR, the Dean Rusk program sponsored a two-day conference on October 10 and 11, 1989 [1]. 

A clip from the September 20, 1989, Davidsonian

The conference brought together many prominent speakers from different fields. One of them was Tatyana Mamonova. She was the first feminist and advocate for women’s rights in the Soviet Union. Tatyana’s criticism of the governmental system regarding women’s rights was seen as a threat by the Soviet ruling party. It led to Tatyana being interrogated numerous times about her Woman and Russia journal and connections with other feminist authors [2]. Eventually one morning KGB forced her to leave the Soviet Union in 1980[3]. Despite all that, Tatyana continued her feminist work.

Cover of the Woman and Russia journal

The Soviet conference held at Davidson college allowed Tatyana to share in depth about challenges that women in her native country had to face. She stressed how forcing the mothering role on women constrained them and immensely limited their participation in social and political spheres of life [4]. Tatyana’s talk made it possible for those who attended the lecture to see how the portrayal of the Soviet Union as an equal society was fundamentally wrong. 

A clip from the October 19, 1989, Davidsonian

Undoubtedly, there were more career opportunities for women during the Soviet times. However, as a result, women had to take on many more duties combined with their already excessive household and childcare responsibilities and men kept on holding their privileges [5]. Thus, the changes in the current at that time governmental system caused greater exploitation of Soviet women and created new unreasonable expectations of their performance at work and at home.  

Today we can see a rising appreciation of women’s contributions in different professional fields and many more people recognize that mothering duties should not be defined as a women’s obligation and the only possible role for their self-realization. Unfortunately, a lot of women in Russia still feel like they have to conform to the old patriarchal system and work much harder than men in order to be taken seriously in their occupations. 

Cover of Tatyana Mamonova’s book, Women’s Glasnost vs. Naglost; shown with permission of the author.

[1] “Reform or revolution in the Soviet Union today?” Davidsonian [Davidson, NC] 20 September 1989. p.3.

[2] Mamonova, Tatyana, Sarah. Matilsky, Rebecca. Park, and Catherine A. Fitzpatrick. Women and Russia: Feminist Writings from the Soviet Union. Boston: Beacon Press, 1984. p.215-216.

[3] Afkhami, Mahnaz. Women in Exile. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1994.p.158.

[4] “Soviet women still fighting for rights”. Davidsonian [Davidson, NC] 19 October 1989. p.3.

[5] Mamonova, Tatyana, Margaret. Maxwell, and Margaret Maxwell. Russian Women’s Studies: Essays on Sexism in Soviet Culture. 1st ed. Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1989. p.168.

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: Kseniia Koroleva, Fulbright Scholar, “Life under the Soviet regime: Alexandra Tolstoy”

Kseniia Koroleva majored in education at Murom University. Prior to her arrival at Davidson, she taught English as a foreign language in Russia. She is a Fulbright scholar and has been at Davidson since 2020. She works as a Russian teaching assistant for the Russian Studies Department and is involved in the Humanities program.  

The newly formed Soviet Union was surrounded by many contradictory views and opinions on the global arena. Due to heavy propaganda and censorship, it was next to impossible to find out about the real horrors of Bolshevism. Thus, the guest speakers specifically from the Soviet Union drew a lot of attention here in the US. Their lectures were a rare opportunity to debunk some circulating myths and rumors for those who wanted to learn more about the USSR.

The desire to learn more about the political system of the Soviet Union was also widespread among Davidson students. The lecture committee made it possible to hear from guest speakers what it was like to live under the Soviet government. One of the first speakers to cast light on the reality of the Soviet regime was Alexandra Tolstoy, the youngest daughter and the secretary of Count Leo Tolstoy.

Alexandra Tolstoy and her father, Count Leo Tolstoy

Alexandra’s lecture was held in Chambers auditorium on 22 March 1937 and was free to attend for Davidson students and the local community. The event was also advertised in the Davidsonian issue from 17 March 1937[1] and brought “one of the largest audiences ever to attend a lecture in Chambers auditorium.”[2]

A clip from a 1937 Davidsonian article advertising the upcoming lecture of Alexandra Tolstoy 

Alexandra wasn`t politically involved. Still, before she came to the US, she was watched by the Soviet government and eventually arrested. Alexandra was suspected of association with the anti-communist movement after unknowingly allowing the Tactical center of the Whites (anti-communist forces) to have meetings in her office[3]. After leaving the Soviet Union, Alexandra strongly believed it was her mission to tell the West about the suffering and devastation caused by Bolshevism. In her lectures, Alexandra stated that her father would be opposed to the policies of the new government[4]. She didn`t shy away from speaking the harsh truth about the dreadful conditions and poverty in which regular Soviet people lived. The topic of education was a focal point of her talks. Alexandra used to lead her private school and shared how in her opinion, the quality of education became worse under the Soviets no matter the increased number of schools. She emphasized that the government didn`t care about the quality of education and forced her to graduate everyone without considering students’ abilities and results. The tour through America allowed Alexandra to share more freely her criticism of the Soviet regime, but even being so far away from her homeland, she still wasn`t completely safe and some Soviet officials followed her to the US[5]. 

Even though the tour attracted Alexandra some unwanted attention, and she also faced a fair amount of skepticism[6] due to her background, she still didn`t abandon her mission and made at least some people walk back and rethink how they perceived the Soviet Union.

[1] “Countess to lecture here. Daughter of Leo Tolstoy To Speak on Russian Revolution”. Davidsonian [Davidson, NC] 17 March 1937.- p.1.

[2]“Russian tells of revolution. Countess Tolstoy, Daughter of Author, Talks on Soviet Regime”. Davidsonian [Davidson, NC] 24 March 1937.- p.1.

[3] Tolstoy, Alexandra et al. Out of the Past. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981.-p.114.

[4] “Russian tells of revolution. Countess Tolstoy, Daughter of Author, Talks on Soviet Regime,” 1.

[5] Tolstoy, Out of the Past, 352 – 353.

[6] Tolstoy, Out of the Past, 349 – 350.

Welcome to the E.H. Little Library, Jacob!

Jacob and Avie age 1

You’re just beginning to get to know the E.H. Little Library – what’s your background and how has it contributed to your work in the library? 

My usual joke when I talk about my professional background is that I’ve managed to do things that interest me *and* stay employed, which may only be true because (a) I’m a lifelong learner and (b) have been fortunate to find a professional home in higher education. I grew up in Virginia and have a BA and MA from UVA; I taught in middle and high school in between the two. My PhD, from Texas A&M, on early modern English literature and drama, culminated with my dissertation on Shakespeare and friends. My subspecialty in the material book and book history, maybe surprisingly, led me into digital humanities and project management, which led me into liberal arts college libraries. After working on the Early Modern OCR Project, I was the Mellon Digital Scholar for the Five Colleges of Ohio, a position in which I was helping small cross-functional teams imagine and develop digital pedagogical projects. This led me into my work as Digital Scholarship Librarian and Director of the Collaborative Research Environment (CoRE) at the College of Wooster, where I was a liaison librarian, developed a program for digital media creation, and taught a digital humanities course each spring. I’m excited to weave all of these threads together in my new role!

Whitaker age 3

What about the position of Assistant Director of Digital Learning interested you?

If I’m honest, I was mostly interested in working with Davidson folks. I’d encounter a number of admirably smart and generous students, staff, and faculty in my time on the digital humanities/pedagogy/scholarship circuit, so I guessed that working with and learning from them could only be wonderful. So far I’m right. Tied up in that, too, is the opportunity to work among some impressive teams to shepherd the library toward “the library of the future.” It’s a unique opportunity to help shape a truly monumental enterprise.

Are there any projects you’re particularly passionate about introducing to Davidson?

I’m keenly interested in the intersections between “the material” and “the digital,” and collaborating with the Letterpress Lab and the Makerspace on workshops, for example, would be a great way to think with the community about those intersections. More generally, I’m excited to explore the ways in which we all are implicated in “the digital”: the overlapping frameworks for digital and information literacy, critical engagement with digital infrastructures via Davidson Domains, and digital humanities endeavors that live in and grow out of the library.

You haven’t been here long yet, but what has been your most memorable or surprising experience at Davidson thus far?

Both memorable and surprising: my new library colleagues composed and performed a song for Holly and me on our first day of work. It was a riff on “Hello, Dolly” and it was incredible.

What are three things you want Davidson’s community to know about you?

While I’m not myself musical, my Spotify history would betray a wide array of musical tastes: from “Karma Chameleon” to Kendrick Lamar, from EDM to EPMD, from Travis Tritt to A Tribe Called Quest. Although I’ve never done karaoke, I know the words to an embarrassing number of 80s and 90s pop, hip-hop, and (yes) country songs. (Oh! You asked for three things I *want* the Davidson community to know about me!)

I thrive when I’m expending creative energy. I’m a maker at heart. Often that’s expressed in my work designing workshops or building programs or just doing digital humanities. However, I also come from a family of (folk) artists and I am trying to earn the title “hobbyist woodworker,” though shop time is sparse these days, not least because…

… my two kids, Whitaker (3) and Avie (1) pretty much occupy all of my time. They’re hilarious and smart and they challenge me every day, and every second I get to spend with them and Catie, my wife, is a treasure.