“A Fondness for Town Ball”: Early Years of Baseball at Davidson

As the Men’s Baseball team goes on a Cinderella run in the NCAA Division I World Series, let’s look back at the foundations of baseball at Davidson College.

Baseball is first mentioned as a pastime on campus in 1870, played as recreational “Saturday ball”-style games by members of the literary societies. Much of the information the archives has on 1870s baseball come from the reflections of E.M. Summerell (Class of 1876), who was interviewed for a May 15, 1924 Davidsonian story, “Earliest Days of Davidson’s Baseball History Are Pictured By Former Player”:

“Dr. Summerell said that he had a fondness for town ball and that when a baseball club was organized here the spring after he came, he joined and made the team. He played every position on the field, including pitcher, catcher, and infielder.”

Members of the Class of 1892 baseball team, holding a sign indicating that their class had won the championship showdown between all class teams.

Cornelia Shaw’s Davidson College describes the spirit of Davidson baseball in these early years:

“The first mention of baseball was in September, 1870, when two clubs (The Mecklenburgs and the Red Jackets) were in existence… Members were excused from literary society meetings on Saturday mornings to take part. The games were an overflow of joyous interest in sport; there were no coaches and no admission fees.”

Baseball became an intramural sport, and each class fielded a team to play against the others. Quips and Cranks, the yearbook, often recorded athletic records set each year, including a “baseball throw.” However, the March 1898 issue of the Davidson College Magazine noted that “baseball doesn’t receive as much attention among us as it should,” implying that football was the more popular sport on campus at that time.

The 1905 intercollegiate team, with their mascot – that year, “Bowman’s baby.” We do not know who Bowman is, but likely a townsperson in Davidson.

Class baseball played an important role in one of the most infamous riots on campus – the Freshman Riot of 1903, when inter-class competition and hazing led to a conflict between the Class of 1906 (then freshmen) and the Class of 1905 (then sophomores) that legendarily involved their baseball score score (freshmen 12, sophomores 9) being scrawled on the columns of Old Chambers, sophomores being barricaded from their rooms, both classes taking refuge in boarding houses in town and then possibly settling their differences in a fistfight on the College President’s lawn.

The baseball squad in 1906. Since this image includes 47 players, it is likely of all the class teams and the intercollegiate team players together.

Baseball became a varsity sport in 1902, when Davidson began intercollegiate play. The first season went swimmingly, with Davidson recording victories over Duke University (then Trinity College), The Citadel, and University of South Carolina. The intercollegiate team’s first season record was 7-2, and the team would go on to post a 84-55-2 record over the first ten years of play. The freshmen class retained a junior varsity team, known as the “Scrubs” and later as the “Kittens” or “Wildkittens”, which allowed freshmen to get more playing time.

A summary of the first year of varsity intercollegiate baseball play appeared in the 1903 Quips and Cranks: “What team in the beginning of its career ever made such a record on the diamond as our team did last year?”
A baseball cartoon from the 1902 Quips and Cranks, the first year of intercollegiate baseball play.
A cartoon from the 1904 Quips and Cranks, celebrating Davidson baseball’s win over UNC. Cartoons of this type, often featuring racist stereotypes, were commonly featured in yearbooks in the early 20th century.

The baseball program has significantly expanded since the early years of “town ball,” class team rivalries, baby mascots, and early intercollegiate play. Cheer on our modern-day Davidson ball players in their best-of-three super regional match-up against Texas A&M – game one will be on June 9, game two on June 10, followed by a third game on June 11 if necessary. Go ‘Cats!

Happy Retirement, Jan Blodgett!

A few weeks ago longtime College Archivist and Records Management Coordinator Jan Blodgett retired after 23 years of service to Davidson (for information on our new College Archivist, DebbieLee Landi, see our earlier blog post introducing her). Jan has made an impact all across the Davidson College campus and the town of Davidson, including on this very blog – Jan started Around the D on January 21, 2009! This week we’ll celebrate her time as College Archivist by delving into our photo archives for images of Jan:

Jan sits at a table in the archives in 1994, with Loyce Davis and Barbara Butler.
Jan leads a discussion on Davidson history in the Davidsoniana Room during Freshman Orientation in 1996. Jan’s introduction to the past and present of Davidson College has been a part of orientation for over 20 years.
Jan stands by one of the columns of the Chambers Building in 1997, while then Library Director Leland Park chats with Josh Gaffga.
Members of Common Ground, including Jan, a local grassroots organization designed promote communication and understanding and improve relations among people of all races in Davidson, gather for a Christmas Day memorial service in 1998.
Library staff, including Jan (in the pink skirt and shirt), gather in the lobby of E.H. Little Library, circa 1998.
Library staff gather in front of Beaver Dam in 1999. Jan is towards the back of the group.
Jan chats with then Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, in the Rare Book Room during his visit to campus in 2001. Billington is looking at the Arabic language Bible of Omar Ibn Sayyid, one of the highlights of our rare book collection.
Jan works with a student on researching campus architecture, in the Rare Book Room in 2014.
Jan led a paddleboard tour of the history of Lake Norman in July 2015, in partnership with Davidson Parks and Recreation.
A full Archives & Special Collections staff #shelfie in 2015! From right to left: Caitlin Christian-Lamb (me!), Sharon Byrd, and Jan Blodgett.
Jan (with her back to the camera) works with ENV 340 students in the Rare Book Room, in 2016.
Hilton Kelly is photographed while photographing Jan (meta!) working with Charlotte Mecklenburg public school teachers on a workshop in summer 2016, aimed at integrating archival materials across secondary education. The teachers’ projects can be found here.
Jan enjoys archival glogg in December 2016 with Roman Utkin and Caroline Fache.
Jan addresses the crowd at her final campus history tour in April 2017 (you can view the livestream of the tour here).

Jan Blodgett was the first professionally trained archivist to work at Davidson College, and her work building and organizing collections, as well as fostering community and curricular connections is fundamental to the Archives & Special Collections current and future work. We will always be grateful to Jan for her tireless, generous, and energetic work – please join us in wishing Jan a fond farewell and a happy retirement!

Studying in the Library: A Picture Post

Tomorrow is Reading Day, which means finals are just around the corner for Davidson College students. Students do their work in a variety of locations, although the library has always been a popular study spot – there have been four libraries throughout the history of the college: Union Library (a consolidation of the literary societies library collections in Old Chambers Building, 1861 – 1910), Carnegie Library (now the Carnegie Guest House, 1910 – 1941), Hugh A. and Jane Parks Grey Library (now the Sloan Music Center, 1941 – 1974), and E.H. Little Library (1974 – present). This week, we reflect on images of students studying in the library throughout the years:

Three students at a table in the Carnegie Library (now Carnegie Guest House), circa 1916.
A crowded studying scene in Carnegie Library, 1917.
Students working at a table in the old Davidsoniana room in Grey Library, date unknown.
A busy day in the reading room of Grey Library, circa 1960.
A more somber nighttime scene in the Grey Library reading room, circa 1960.
A student studies at a table in Grey Library (now Sloan Music Center) while wearing cowboy boots, 1968.
Students read in the Grey Library smoking lounge, date unknown.
A student reads in front of the large windows in Little Library, circa early 1970s.
A group of students gather at the circulation desk in Little Library, September 18, 1974.
Students study on the upper and lower levels of E.H. Little Library, 1977.
Three students work in an aisle of Little Library, circa early 1980s.
Two students study by a window on the first floor of Little Library, with Chambers visible in the background, 1980s.
A student uses the microfilm reader in Little Library, circa 1980s.
Two students use a computer in Little Library, circa 1993.

Good luck to all Wildcats on their final exams, papers, projects, and theses!

Welcome DebbieLee!

As we say goodbye to longtime Davidson fixture Jan Blodgett, who retires this month, we say hello to a new archivist – join us in welcoming DebbieLee Landi, the new College Archivist & Records Management Coordinator! DebbieLee began work two weeks ago, and I conducted a short interview with her to introduce Around the D readers to the newest member of our team:

You just began working at Davidson a few weeks ago – can you talk about your background in archival work and where you’ve worked before?

I was fortunate to attend the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada and gained a solid foundation in archival theory and practice while living (and playing) in one of the most beautiful and captivating cities in the world.  I have worked at two other private liberal arts colleges, Furman University and the University of the South, affectionately known as Sewanee.

What appealed to you most about the College Archivist & Records Management Coordinator position?

The quality of the established program that includes both the archival records for the College and Records Management.  I was already familiar with the work of the current archivist, Jan Blodgett, and when I visited campus, I was impressed with the expertise and talents of the other members of the department as well as the staff of the Little Library.  There were several students involved in my interview process and they, too, were exceptional, demonstrating a keen interest in the work of the department and asking insightful questions.

Beginning a new job can be a bit of a whirlwind, but do you have any favorite moments so far?

There are so many.  Each day I learn something new and receive warm and welcoming greetings from people all around campus.  In the E.H. Little Library, one of the greetings was a musical serenade performed by members of the staff (including an original song!).  Another very unexpected welcome was an anonymous donation in my honor to support the #allinforDavidson campaign.

The #AllinforDavidson campaign donation card that DebbieLee received.

What has surprised you about the college or the area?

The number of smiling, friendly faces and the beauty of the campus.

Are there any new initiatives or ideas that you’re hoping to implement here?

Augmenting the impressive work of the department with the integration of Archives & Special Collections resources in the curricula and expanding those initiatives to include programs such as Study Abroad and Service Odyssey.  Involving students as field agents and inviting guest curators to increase the involvement of the college community in building the archival record. Exploring the possibilities of a digital badging initiative and archival records as Open Education Resources … to share just a few ideas.

What are your hobbies when you’re not in the archives?

Trying new recipes and new restaurants and incorporating chocolate whenever possible!  Keeping up with Moxy, my canine companion, and the latest travels of Dr. Who.  Hiking and visiting state, national and provincial parks in search of waterfalls and secluded beaches.

Coffee Spice Cake

This installment of Recipes from the Archives comes from the Davidson Civic Club’s Davidson Cook Book (circa 1928), the source of some of our favorite archival recipes. Our library colleague, Sarah Crissinger, is departing Davidson for a new position at Indiana University as their Scholarly Communication Librarian, so I made Ruth Strickland Hengeveld and Kalista Wagner Hood’s “Coffee Spice Cake” for her going away party in library today.

The coffee spice cake on the snacks table during Sarah’s party, April 26, 2017.

As I’ve previously discussed on other Recipes from the Archives blogs, sometimes finding out information about women in Davidson prior to the latter half of the 20th century can be difficult – most of the cookbooks in our collection are town compilations, and the recipe contributors might only be referred to by their husband’s first and last name. This week’s subjects, listed as Mrs. Fred Hengeveld and Mrs. Frazier Hood, were particularly difficult to track down information on. However, between files on previous faculty members, alumni records, and some clips of local newspapers, I was able to piece together at least small parts of these two women’s stories.

Kalista Wagner Hood hailed from Water Valley, Mississippi, and came to Davidson in 1920 when her husband, Dr. Frazier Hood (1875 – 1944), took a position in the psychology department. Dr. Hood received a B.A. from Southwestern University (Tennessee), and went on to study at the University of Mississippi and Johns Hopkins University before receiving a Ph.D. from Yale University. Prior to joining the faculty at Davidson, Dr. Hood served as a first sergeant on the army psychology examining board during World War I and taught at Hanover College (Indiana), the University of Oklahoma, and West Tennessee Teachers’ College.

The Hoods married in 1903 and had one daughter in 1906, Kalista Hood Hart. The younger Kalista studied at St. Mary’s school in Raleigh, Le Femina in Paris, the Jessie Bonstelle School of Dramatics, and the American Academy of Dramatics and acted on Broadway before returning to Davidson and directing plays at the college. She married a Davidson alumnus, Walter Lewis Hart (Class of 1930), in 1945, and one of the upperclassmen apartment buildings on campus is named for the Harts.

Kalista Hood Hart and W. Lewis Hart are in the foreground of this group photo, taken at the 60th anniversary reunion for the class of 1930.

According to recollections written by Dr. Chalmers G. Davidson, in 1927 the Hoods “developed Davidson’s only approach to a ‘country seat.’ A mile from the college they purchased a magnificent wooded hill top and began construction of ‘Restormel,’ christened for a castle of the Hood forebears in England but connoting in the name the refuge from routine they intended despite the hurricane winds of the locality… For a lawn seat under the largest oak, they secured the first step of old Chambers Building (1859) when the portico was razed in 1927.” After her husband’s death. Mrs. Hood built a new home closer to the center of town, on Concord Road. Mrs. Hood attended Washington College in Maryland, and was an active member of the Booklovers’ Club, as well as contributing recipes to the Civic Club’s cookbook. She passed away in 1960.

“Restormel,” the Hood family home from the late 1920s until the late 1940s.

Ruth Strickland Hengeveld moved to Davidson in 1921, after marrying Fred W. “Dutch” Hengeveld (Class of 1918), who coached the basketball and baseball teams at the college in the early 1920s, and served as the college Registrar from 1922 until 1967 and as the Director of Admissions from 1946 to 1967. She hailed from Waycross, Georgia, which was also the hometown of her husband. The Hengevelds had two children, Virginia Hengeveld O’ Harra and Fred W. “Little Dutch” Hengeveld, Jr. (Class of 1951). The family lived on the corner of Concord Road and College Drive for many years, and Ruth Hengeveld passed away in 1970.

The Hengeveld family in 1963. From left to right: Mike O’Harra, Bill O’Harra, Fred W. Hengeveld III, Virginia Hengeveld O’Harra, Ruth Strickland Hengeveld, Anne Lowe Hengeveld, Fred W. Hengeveld, Fred W. Hengeveld, Jr., and Steve O’Harra.

Kalista Hood and Ruth Hengeveld’s coffee spice cake is a simple recipe, and its coffee flavor is subtle. It stood out from the other spice cake recipes in the cookbook due to the use of coffee – I brewed Cafe Britt’s Costa Rican Poas Tierra Volcanica blend for the 3/4 cup of cold coffee needed.

Hengeveld and Hood’s Coffee Spice Cake recipe, 1928.

Like many recipes from the Civic Club’s Davidson Cook Book, directions are sparse – since a baking temperature wasn’t given I set my oven for 350° and checked the cake every five minutes or so. Because I don’t have a good loaf pan, I used a sheet, which I think sped up the baking process since the cake was thinner. Overall, folks at Sarah’s going away party gave rave reviews – although the cake is very simple, it’s also very tasty!

The completed Coffee Spice Cake – very simple, but very tasty!

Happy Retirement, Bill Giduz!

This week marks the retirement of Bill Giduz (Class of 1974), the roving campus Director of Photography & News Writer. Bill on his bike, trekking around campus in search of the best photos, has been a familiar sight to many Davidsonians throughout the years. Bill’s author biography for the Davidson Journal, written in 2014, describes him this way:

Bill Giduz’s association with Davidson began in 1970 when he enrolled as a freshman. Nine years later he attended his fifth reunion, learned of an opening in the communications department, and has now worked gratefully in that office for 34 years. He commutes on two wheels, juggles on Sunday afternoons and regularly plays basketball with much quicker young men.

He is also a joggler, as chronicled in the Huffington Post in 2015. While Bill is most familiar as the person behind the camera, this week’s blog reflects on his years at Davidson through another lens – pictures of Bill Giduz, rather than by Bill Giduz! Fortunately we have several images of Bill throughout his Davidson career in the archives:

The first image of Bill Giduz comes from the 1970 Wildcat Handbook, the freshman handbook at Davidson.
Just two years later, this is Bill as a sophmore in 1972 – one of the advantages (or disadvantages) of retiring from your alma mater is that there many pictures in the archives to draw upon.
Bill’s senior photo, in the 1974 Quips and Cranks.
Ten year alumni reunion for the Class of 1974, April 1984. Bill is on the far right.
Two images of Bill Giduz from the college’s personnel directory, 1983 – 1990.
Bill with Eugenia Deaton, then Vice President of First Union National Bank in Davidson, on the occasion of her birthday and retirement in 1985.
Rusk Scholars in 1986, pictured with their host families, including Bill and Ellen Giduz. Ellen is currently the manager of the Davidson and Cornelius branches of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, and previously worked at Davidson College as a librarian, visiting lecturer, and adjunct professor.
Davidson employees gather around a cake with icing spelling out “Congratulations Davidson, 2,007,481, 41.7%” at a Development retreat in 1986. Bill is seated far right, next to the cake.
The faculty/staff intramural basketball team in 1987. Bill is on the far left.
Undated (circa early 1980s) image of College Communications staff. Bill Giduz is in the front, and Melanie Bookout, John Slater, and Pat Burgess are in the back.
Personnel directory photographs of Bill, 1990 – 1996. A handwritten note on the back of these photos reads “Zoro!” [sic], likely a reference to the 1950s TV series.
College Communications staff in front of the Copeland House in 1990. From left to right: Jerry Stockdale, Bill Giduz, Pat Burgess, Barbara Mayer, Amy Burkesmith, Michele Miller, and Mike Van Hecke.
The most recent personnel directory photograph of Bill Giduz that we have in the archives is this one from 1996 – 1999.
Bill Giduz and Meg Kimmel stand with a student at the Belk Scholarship Awards Ceremony in 2000.

Bill Giduz has been a valued member of the staff of Davidson College for 37 years, and will continue to be a important part of the Davidson community – happy retirement, Bill!

First Annual North Carolina Debate Championships: a Window into the History of Debate at Davidson

45 years ago this week, March 24-25, 1972, the First Annual North Carolina Debate Championships were held at Wake Forest University. As A. Tennyson Williams, Jr., then Director of Debate at WFU, explained in a letter sent to debate team coaches and instructors around the state:

“Every debate school in North Carolina is invited to enter 2-man switch-side teams in varsity and/or novice (first year debaters) competition. There will be six rounds of eliminations beginning at the semi-final level (if there are enough teams to merit semi’s) in both divisions. Each school may enter 1 or 2 teams in each division. Please try to provide one qualified judge per 2 teams… I hope you will be able to enter some teams. North Carolina Championships could be an effective tool for building support for debate in the state and within your school.”

Davidson College has a rich tradition of debate, or as it was sometimes known, forensics. Eumenean and Philanthropic Literary Societies, founded in 1837, held both internal debates based on members’ research and formal debates with each other. Although the exact formation date of the official Debate Club on campus is unknown, Davidson students began competing in intercollegiate debate competitions in the 1890s and helped found the Intercollegiate State Oratorical Association in 1890.

A photograph of some debaters on the balcony of Philanthropic Hall circa 1915, from Roy Perry’s scrapbook.

The Debate Club was most active between 1909 and the beginning of World War II, before fading out as student interest waned for the next few decades. The Davidsonian reported on a string of debate wins in April 1924, pointing out that between 1909 and 1924, the college debate teams had entered thirty matches and won twenty of them. The headline of the April 17, 1924 edition of the paper read “Davidson Debaters Down Emory Stars at Queens,” and the lead story crowed about the college’s success:

The rebuttal showed Davidson’s superior strength… It was here that the debate was cinched and even the consensus of opinion of the audience was that Davidson had added another victory to her string of intercollegiate debating wins.
Earlier that month, The Davidsonian reported that Davidson and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill “met in what is believed to be the first inter-collegiate debate conducted in a foreign language in North Carolina. The entire debate was in Spanish.” Davidson debaters lost that one, but the volume of newspaper coverage demonstrates student body interest in the Debate Club.
The 1917-1918 debate teams, standing on the steps of Old Chambers. These student teams won debates with Lafayette College and Roanoke College.

However, despite all of the early interest in debate, much of this activity centered around extracurricular clubs and societies and was not necessarily supported by classroom work. The study of rhetoric had been offered from the beginning days of the college, although specific speech and debate courses did not get offered until 1912, when Archibald Currie, who also taught Latin, Greek, mathematics, political science, economics, and education, led the first course in public speaking. After 1920, Dr. Currie dropped his broad Renaissance man duties and retained only his appointments in political science and economics, and the public speaking course was dropped until the 1950s and then offered sporadically until the hiring of Jean Springer Cornell in 1971.

Jean Cornell with members of the debate team in 1976. From left to right: Nancy Northcott (Class of 1977), Eric Daub (Class of 1979), Maria Patterson (Class of 1979), Jimmy Prappas (Class of 1980), and Ellen Ogilvie (Class of 1978).

Jean Cornell taught speech and debate at Davidson from 1971 until 1987, and directed the department of forensics that would develop into part of today’s Communication Studies interdisciplinary minor. Cornell earned a BA from Ohio Wesleyan University, a MS in journalism from Northwestern University, and a MA in speech from University of Arizona, and taught speech and debate at the University of Arizona at Tucson and Scripps College before coming to Davidson. Cornell served in a leadership role in Delta Sigma Rho – Tau Kappa Alpha (the honorary forensics organization), coordinated Mecklenburg and the surrounding counties’ Bicentennial Youth Debaters in 1976, and served as the editor for the Journal of the North Carolina Speech Communication Association.

Cornell would be prove to be an extremely effective debate team coach, and it was she who received the letter in early 1972, asking for Davidson to join the First Annual North Carolina Debate Championships. The Davidson and Wake Forest teams won nearly all of the honors at these championships, with Davidson’s novice team of Les Phillips and Paul Mitchell (both Class of 1975) taking second place, and the varsity pairing of John Douglas (Class of 1974) and Rick Damewood (Class of 1975) tying for third with a team from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Phillips won first place honors individually in the novice division, and Douglas placed third individually for the varsity division. Both divisions debated the national intercollegiate topic of 1972: “Resolved: That greater controls should be imposed on the gathering and utilization of information on U.S. citizens by government agencies.”

Score sheets from the First Annual North Carolina Debate Championship in March 1972.

In late fall 1972, Cornell sent a memo to John M. Bevan, then Dean of Academic Affairs, detailing the debate program and its need for greater funds:

“Needless to say, the weak need not and do not apply. We have had the number one students in the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes as debaters… Due to our limited budget, several of the Extended Studies students have not been able to debate in these tournaments, and we have had to decline invitations to such prestigious schools as Princeton and Dartmouth… In two years (spring, 1974) we should have the manpower and proficiency to have our own tournament for neighboring high school students. Who knows what else we might do? Maybe even become a real power in college debate.”

Four members of the debate team stand behind trophies they won in 1975. From left to right: Gordon Widenhouse (Class of 1976), Paul Mitchell (Class of 1975), Mark Gergen (Class of 1978), and Randy Sherrill (Class of 1978).

Cornell built a successful debating program, and during the 1970s, Davidson was ranked consistently in the top 20 teams in the “small school” category nationally, and occasionally cracked the top 10. During the 1970s, Davidson debaters won their match-ups roughly 55-60% of the time, and Cornell grew the program through special debate workshops prior to the academic year, as well as through course credits. As part of her work coaching the Davidson debate team, she helped plan the North Carolina Debate Championships in 1978 when they were held on our campus.

Members of the 1976 debate team pose together for the picture. Back row, left to right: Steve Smith, Mark Gergen, Coach Jean Cornell, Robert Enright, and Mike Daisley; middle row: Unknown, Gordon Widenhouse, unknown, unknown; front row: Randy Sherrill, Ellen Ogilvie, Nancy Northcott, and Maria Patterson.

Jean Cornell retired from Davidson in 1987, moved to Arizona, and passed away in November 2015. Today, the Mock Trial Association carries on the tradition of hosting debate competitions, and the Communication Studies department has expanded its range of academic offerings beyond speech and debate to focus on interpersonal communication, public communication, and mass communication, but still hosts the Speaking Center.

19 Years Ago Today: March 1, 1998

19 year ago, on March 1, 1998, the Davidson College men’s basketball team won the Southern Conference Tournament and received their first NCAA bid in twelve years. As the following season’s programs put it, “Davidson added the one achievement missing from an otherwise successful run through the ’90s.” This Southern Conference win also marked the first NCAA bid under Bob McKillop, head coach of the men’s basketball team since 1989. As March Madness approaches, this week’s post provides a peek into that exciting Southern Conference win, 19 years ago today.

Davidson’s coaches celebrate the win. From left to right: administrative assistant Sean Sosnowski, Assistant Coach Jason Zimmerman, Head Coach Bob McKillop, Assistant Coach Steve Shurina, Assistant Coach Matt Matheny.

Davidson faced off against Appalachian State at the Greensboro Coliseum for the title game on the 1st, after defeating The Citadel in a semifinal game on February 28th. The 1998 tournament marked the third appearance of the Wildcats in the SoCon final in five years, but the team had ended up on the losing side of the bracket in their previous trips.

The Davidsonian ran a story detailing the Davidson men’s squad’s win over App State in the March 17, 1998 issue.

The SoCon final was a close game, with Davidson winning 66-62. Senior Staff Writer Micheal J. Kruse (Class of 1999) covered the SoCon win in a few articles published in the March 17, 1998 issue of The Davidsonian, including one entitled, “With dancing Davidson in NCAA’s, recognition for school,” that served notice to basketball fans that Davidson was entering the big leagues:

“Attention all college basketball fans, casual or die-hard: Davidson College. Take Note.

It’s in Davidson, N.C., which is about 15 miles north of Charlotte. It’s the eight-ranked liberal arts college in the country according to the most recent U.S. News and World Report, Due to an exceptionally large freshman class this year, enrollment is slightly over 1,600 students.

It is not Denison. It is not Dickinson. The name is Davidson.”

Fifth-year senior Mark Donnelly holds the 1998 SoCon trophy aloft. Donnelly scored 13 points in the final game against Appalachian.

While the moment of glory was brief – Davidson entered that year’s NCAA tournament as a #14 seed in the South Regional, and fell in the first round against #3 Michigan, 80-61 – this trip to the championship marked the men’s basketball team’s emergence as the small school with a lot of heart. Bob McKillop’s teams would return to the dance in 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2013, and 2015.

Team picture of the 1998 men’s basketball team after winning the Southern Conference Tournament.

This year’s team played their final home game of the season last night (a win over St. Bonaventure), and have one more away game before heading to the Atlantic 10 Championship next week. Let’s wish the Wildcats luck!

The Chameleon’s Color: The Story of a Short-Lived Student Literary Magazine

This week’s blog highlights a short-lived student-run literary magazine: The Chameleon. The Chameleon, which ran from 1926 through 1930, was born out of the Davidson Monthly, first published in 1870. In the 1880s the Monthly became Davidson College Magazine, and then morphed into The Chameleon in 1926.

The first issue of The Chameleon, May 1926.
The first issue of The Chameleon, May 1926.

The first issue, put out in May 1926, showed a magazine in transition – no single editor was named, but editorial duties were credited to the Blue Pencil Chapter of Sigma Upsilon, which was the local chapter of a southern literary society. By the November 1926 issue, Holcombe M. Austin (Class of 1927), who had had a short story published in that first Chameleon issue a few months prior, was installed as editor. Austin penned the first “Cham’s Colors” editorial, which explained the impetus behind the shift in the publication and its goals:

Last spring an alumnus, three years graduate, when he had finished reading the red-covered pamphlet, the ‘official, licensed magazine’, sent to him from his alma mater, commented, “Why the boys don’t believe in the kind of stuff that’s in here. This wild thing is just a half-baked imitation of the green-backed radical type of magazine. I know that the thinking men in The College aren’t in sympathy with this kind of thing.”

In attempting escape from the brand “collegiate” the college magazine has wandered afield, lost its way, and with that scarified its value as a student publication.

THE CHAMELEON would be otherwise, would be distinctly Davidson, distinctly student… CHAM wants on his pages the color of student opinion and thought.

Holcombe M. Austin's full editorial in the first issue of the new Chameleon, November 1926.
Holcombe M. Austin’s full editorial in the first issue of the new Chameleon, November 1926.

The Davidsonian covered the release of the December 1926 Cham in their December 16 issue, explaining that “various types of criticism received concerning the first number of this magazine have aided materially in molding the form of this edition.” The story went on to explain the recurring design scheme of The Chameleon:

The Chameleon will begin its policy of changing colors every issue with this edition. The cover of this number being a light blue, the name of the magazine and the usual cut being printed with dark blue ink and shaded with silver. This combination will make as striking an appearance as the jacket in which the first edition was enclosed.

The first three covers of the new run of The Chameleon, showing the repeated design.
The first three covers of the new run of The Chameleon, showing the repeated design.

The cover design of The Chameleon followed this pattern from November 1926 until February 1930. In the December 1936 issue, editor Holcombe M. Austin expanded upon the purpose of the magazine:

The cry of every college editor, the cry, for that matter, of every editor who pilots a magazine of literary pretensions, is for the distinctive, “the original.” Not that the bizarre or extreme is demanded, but when there comes to the editor’s desk a short story or essay through strangely characteristic style or curiousness of subject matter achieves the unusual, his heart is filled with gladness. He clasps the manuscript to his bosom and gives praise… CHAM is looking forward to spring raiment. Then, as now, color without, and so help him students, within!

After this editorial no others were published in the magazine until what would be its last issue in February 1930. In that issue, which also featured a new cover design, editor-in-chief Robert F. Jarratt (Class of 1930), explained the changes to the magazine and hinted at its uncertain future:

Ever faithful to the connotation of its name, the CHAMELEON again changes… During it’s life the CHAMELEON has the Quips and Cranks, and the Davidsonian, both grow to maturity. While the CHAMELEON instead of growing stronger with the passing years, has deteriorated with age…

For the past few years there have been constant changes in the CHAMELEON, all due to the efforts of the editor to strike upon a combination that will be pleasing to the members of the student body, and also reflect the best of student body literary efforts. What few changes that will be made this year, are only tentative efforts to hit upon this combination. Whether they are effective will be demonstrated by their performance.

The cover and editorial of the February 1930 issue.
The cover and editorial of the February 1930 issue.

Unfortunately, The Chameleon‘s redesign did not save it, and the February 1930 issue was its last. College humor magazines The Yowl and Scripts ‘N’ Pranks sprung up in 1935 and 1936 to fill the gap, and Davidson College was without a strictly literary student-run magazine until Hobart Park began in 1978.

Revolution, 1967 and 2017

Revolution 2017, a multidisciplinary campus-wide initiative that focuses on revolution, broadly conceived, marks the 100th anniversary year of the Bolshevik Revolution. As we begin a year of courses and events related to revolution, let’s look back at a campus visit from a Russian embassy staff member 50 years ago.

In February 1967, Davidson invited Dr. Alexi Stepunin, then first secretary of the cultural division of the Soviet Embassy in D.C. to campus. In many ways, Dr. Stepunin’s visit was revolutionary – he was an campus to discuss the Russian Revolution, and his presence at Davidson was in opposition to the North Carolina Speaker Ban.

An article in the February 3, 1967 Davidsonian announces Stepunin's visit.
An article in the February 3, 1967 Davidsonian announces Stepunin’s visit.

The ban, in effect from 1963 to 1968, prevented state supported colleges and universities from inviting speakers who were “known member[s] of the Communist Party;” “known to advocate the overthrow of the constitution of the United States or the state of North Carolina;” had plead “the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States in refusing to answer any question, with respect to communist or subversive connections, or activities, before an duly constituted legislative committee, any judicial tribunal, or any executive of administrative board of the United States or any state.” While Davidson College, as a private college, was not subject to this law, Davidson faculty members strongly opposed the law and made their opinions publicly known by authoring a position paper.

Draft of the Speaker Ban as H.B. 1395, 1963.
Draft of the Speaker Ban as H.B. 1395, 1963.

This paper, put out by the Davidson College AAUP (American Association of University Professors) stated why the faculty felt the ban would have a negative impact even on schools not bound to follow it:

“Our opposition to this law is permanent, and it is strictly a grass-roots operation… it needs to be stressed in this connection that a great part of our concern lies in the fact that this law endangers the quality of private institutions as well as public ones. To take Davidson College as a case in point, her vitality depends in a number of ways upon the quality of the state University, as is evidenced by the fact that nearly a fourth of our faculty has advanced degrees from this University.”

Statement before the Governor's Commission on the Speaker Ban Law, Davidson College AAUP, September 9, 1965.
Statement before the Governor’s Commission on the Speaker Ban Law, Davidson College AAUP, September 9, 1965.

The Davidson faculty had other concerns besides the special relationship between UNC and Davidson – as the statement goes on to explain:

“The law is harmful to the University in another way as well. The free flow of ideas is inherently bound up in the very functioning of the University. The law does inhibit the free flow of ideas, else there would have been no reason for its passage in the first place. Thus the second hard fact of the matter is that the law not only demoralizes the faculty; it directly impedes the efficiency of their educational effort.”

Jesse Helm's reaction to the Davidson AAUP statement,
Jesse Helm’s reaction the conversations going on at Davidson, January 26, 1965.

Jesse Helms, then Executive Vice President at WRAL-TV and later a long-serving U.S. Senator, did not much like the rumblings emanating from Davidson College. He focused one of his WRAL-TV editorials on the faculty:

“Something over a week ago, there came from the campus of Davidson College the beginning gurgles of what no doubt will shortly be a river of pious nonsense swirling around the ankles of North Carolina legislature. The one-track minds of another group pf college professors had produced another resolution condemning the state law which bans communist speakers from state-owned college campuses… Davidson College was a poor place for this season’s flood of screwball resolutions to begin.”

It was into this environment that Alexi Stepunin stepped when he visited Davidson early in 1967. His main address while on campus discussed the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution and provided a “historical outline” of the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1967.

The February 10, 1967 issue of The Davidsonian covered Stepunin's visit in three short stories on the front page.
The February 10, 1967 issue of The Davidsonian covered Stepunin’s visit in three short stories on the front page.

We too will be looking back at 1917 this year, as well as many other revolutions before and since as the Revolution 2017 initiative spans across multiple courses and public events. May the courage of the 1960s Davidson faculty in defending the “free flow of ideas” within education guide our actions this year!