From the Archives

History, documents, and photos

The Class of 1912

Written By: Phillip Stone - Apr• 30•12

We’re heading into Commencement season, that period from late April through May where we celebrate the achievements of our graduating class and prepare to send them off into the world.  Last week, we celebrated Phi Beta Kappa Day by inducting 35 of our students and recent graduates into the nation’s oldest scholarly honor society.  This week we’ll hold the annual honors convocation, and everything culminates in Commencement weekend, which is now less than 3 weeks away.

Wofford has a number of Commencement traditions, and over the next few weeks, I’ll try to talk about some of them.  I’ll also try to highlight some stories of graduations and classes in the past.

Class of 1912 in their junior year

One hundred years ago, the Class of 1912 was preparing to graduate.  They numbered some 47 young men, a good bit smaller than our current senior class.  The history of their class, published in the Bohemian, noted than when they first gathered as a class on Sept. 16, 1908, they found 82 members of the class.  They remembered looking with “reverent awe” at the seniors and with “holy horror” at the faculty.

Their history recounted the inter-class football and baseball championships – there was no intercollegiate football in their four years – as well as the winners of various oratorical contests.  They must have been good at baseball, for their class won the campus tournament for three consecutive years.  Forty-one of the graduates came from South Carolina, the others were from North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Texas.

J. Lyles Glenn '12

A number of the class went on to have interesting careers.  The catcher on the varsity baseball team, J. Lyles Glenn, became a Rhodes scholar, only the college’s second alum to hold that distinction.  Another classmate, Robert L. Meriwether, was the head of the USC history department and founder of the South Caroliniana Library, one of the state’s foremost archival collections of South Carolina history.  Another graduate of the class of 1912, Philip M. Hamer, was on the history faculty at the University of Tennessee, produced a scholarly history of Tennessee that was akin to that of South Carolina by his mentor David Duncan Wallace.  In 1935, he joined the staff of the newly-created National Archives, and went on to head the National Historical Publications Commission in the National Archives.  He also edited the papers of Henry Laurens.

Philip M. Hamer '12

Dr. Hamer was also the president of the Southern Historical Association for a term.

There are, of course, others who made a name for themselves and did honor to the college. Wofford may have changed a great deal in the last century, but students still gather in Main Building, still work for the approval and respect of their professors, and still celebrate their graduation with friends, classmates, and family members.

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