Documents Faculty Methodist

Dunc Wallace writes about John Wesley

David Duncan Wallace was one of Wofford’s more prolific scholars and authors – both in the early twentieth century and throughout the college’s history.  Today, I’m sharing an essay he published on the life of John Wesley. For the two of you who don’t know who Wesley was, he was an Anglican priest and, more importantly for our purposes, the founder of Methodism.

No doubt Wallace, a Methodist himself and a history professor in a Methodist-related institution, felt that Methodists in South Carolina needed a short, readable yet scholarly treatment of Wesley’s life. So, he wrote and published this pamphlet. When we found it in Wallace’s papers, I decided to scan the text and create a digital edition. It’s available on our website for anyone to read and print.






Alumni Books Faculty


I really can’t imagine how David Duncan Wallace wrote all of the things he published.

David Duncan WallaceWallace, who was arguably the foremost South Carolina historian of his day, generally taught a full load of courses, which in his day was five classes.  In the early 1920s, for example, he was teaching two sections of a course in European history, and in alternate years was teaching American and British history.  Additionally, he taught a political science course and an economics course.  Later, when a sociology-political science professor joined the faculty, he expanded to offer a fourth year of modern history as well as a second economics course.

Since Wofford in the 1920s and 1930s was offering master of arts degrees, Wallace also had to teach graduate courses and supervise master’s research.  The faculty was much smaller, and most professors had to serve on multiple faculty committees.

With all of this, how could he possibly find time to research and write as many books, articles, and lectures as he did?  I guess his commute from his home to his office may have helped – he lived in the campus house that Dean Roberta Bigger now occupies.  And I guess without having to worry about watching Mad Men or American Idol, he had lots of time to read.

Wallace held deep affection for both Wofford and South Carolina.  His great-grandfather, David Duncan, was on the college’s original faculty, and his father graduated from Wofford in 1871.  He himself was an 1894 graduate of the college, and after taking his PhD in history at Vanderbilt and teaching at the Carlisle Fitting School in Bamberg, SC, he became the head of Wofford’s Department of History and Economics.  He held the chair of history until his retirement in 1947, at which time he was asked to write the centennial history of the college.

In addition to the college’s history, Wallace wrote several books about South Carolina.  His Civil Government of South Carolina was published in 1905, and Civil Government of the United States in 1906.  A combined version of these books appeared in the 1930s.  He also wrote A Life of Henry Laurens about one of South Carolina’s founding fathers.  In the 1910s, he wrote The Government of England: National, Local, and Imperial.  No doubt these books all came out of his Wofford courses.  His Constitutional History of South Carolina came from his doctoral dissertation.  But his magnum opus, the work that will undoubtedly never be supplanted, was his 3-volume History of South Carolina.  He took four years’ leave from the faculty to prepare this monumental narrative history of the state.  A fourth volume, the biographical book, paid for the cost of the book.  The History of South Carolina remains an invaluable resource today simply because it was so comprehensive in its coverage of the state’s first 250 years.

As if this wasn’t enough, Dunc Wallace wrote at least two book manuscripts that were never published.  He was commissioned to write a history of William Gregg and the Graniteville Company, and a biography of Martin W. Gary, both of which were never published.  He became something of an expert on the state’s constitutional history, even pointing out in the 1920s some of the flaws in the constitution of 1895, a constitution that is still in largely in effect.  He was part of the first generation of PhD historians in the United States, and his scholarship was rigorous, though it does reflect the prevailing attitudes toward race and region of his day.

History of South CarolinaTwo of Wallace’s students, Charles Cauthen and Lewis Jones, succeeded him in the Wofford history department, and other students went on to earn graduate degrees in history and teach elsewhere.  As a professional historian, I am myself only one step removed from Wallace, for I studied South Carolina history under Lewis Jones.  I may actually be the last person who is able to make that claim, as I was the youngest person in Dr. Jones’ last South Carolina history class at Wofford.

For his books and his students, and for his public work on behalf of South Carolina’s history, Wallace deserves to be remembered.

Academics Faculty Students

Interim in the Late 1980s

Interim continued to mature in the late 1980s, and although traditional classroom projects continued to dominate, internship opportunities increased. In addition to law, medicine, dentistry, ministry, and accounting, the opportunity to undertake internships in a congressional office became available.

The bicentennial of the Constitution provided an opportunity for a number of inter-related projects in 1988.  Perhaps not coincidentally, Dr. Linton Dunson’s project on “The Philadelphia Convention, 1787” was the first listed project.  Others that related included Dr. Richard Wallace’s “Economic Analysis of Common Law and the Constitution of the United States,” Dr. Tom Thoroughman’s “Evolution of the English Constitution,” Dr. David Tyner’s “Contemporary Perspectives on the Constitution,” Dr. George Martin’s “The Life and Mind of James Madison,” Dr. Ta-Tseng Ling’s “Summing Up at 200: What’s Happened to the Words We Live By,” and a few others.

The college also sponsored a series of talks and a symposium during Interim on “Perspectives on the Constitution” with eight faculty talks throughout the month, two each week. Many of the leaders of constitution-themed Interim projects, including Professors Thoroughman, Martin, Dunson, Tyner, Packer, Simpson, Stephenson, and Wallace lectured on various topics. The symposium featured Nobel laureate Dr. James Buchanan along with Dr. William Leuchtenburg and Dr. Eugene Miller, and the library sponsored a National Archives traveling exhibit on the constitution’s bicentennial.

Travel projects remained fairly heavily focused on Europe and the Caribbean. The traditional Ireland Interim, Vienna, Madrid, the Dominican Republic, and Quebec were among the travel projects offered in 1988.  Britain, Madrid, the Caribbean, and the Bahamas were among the offerings in 1987.

Fencing, debating, and taxation made re-appearances, as did projects on specific books or writers.  The theater and music departments put on a production of Grease, and students undertook independent research on campus and in other parts of the world. One student actually studied the effects of the Chernobyl radiation leak in Norway.  Interim continued to offer students opportunities to explore interesting topics, practice their foreign language skills, see different parts of the world, or explore a career.

Photo: The cast of Grease, 1988.

Academics Faculty

Interim in the Late 1970s

By the late 1970s, Wofford’s faculty members had ten years of experience in planning Interim projects.  The process for considering and approving faculty and student proposals had been codified somewhat under assistant dean of the college Jerry Cogdell, who handled much of the administrative work of making Interim run smoothly. Over time, faculty members had become more adept at creating innovative projects, collaborating with each other, and developing new experiences for students.

In 1978 and 1979, projects that have become regular parts of Interim were being offered.  Constance Antonsen was offering a fencing interim, Joe Killian was using the term to organize a college debate team, and students were able to study film as literature. Project offerings saw a mixture of in-class projects, such as Linton Dunson’s study of the Philadelphia Convention, Dennis Dooley’s study of Finnegans Wake, and John Bullard’s project on religious cults, and outside projects, such as field archaeology with Professors Adams, Harrington, and Abercrombie and photography with Vivian Fisher.  The internships that students today value were getting organized, with Don Dobbs’ Institutional Medicine, David Prince’s Student Teaching, and pre-law internships with Dan Maultsby. John Pilley offered a project entitled “Man’s Best Friend” – a study of dogs. Students in that project can say that they knew him well before his national television appearance with Chaser!

The practice of performing a musical had also become established.  Professors J. R. Gross and Vic Bilanchone led a production of The Threepenny Opera in January 1978.  The custom of a joint music-theater performance has continued fairly regularly since the 1970s.

Travel offerings had improved considerably since 1968. In 1978, Vince Miller took a group of students to New York, Professors DeVelasco and Forbes took students to study the Visigoths in Spain, and Dennis Dooley and Ed Henry took students on a literary and cultural tour of Ireland, a practice that Dr. Dooley continued with one of his faculty colleagues virtually every other year until his retirement. In 1979, Tom Thoroughman took students to England to study history there.  Jim Gross, Joe Killian, and Walt Hudgins took students on a 4-week study of arts, culture, and politics in modern Europe. Constance Antonsen took another look at the Renaissance in Italy and France.

Interim, then, by the late 1970s had evolved into something much like students in the 1980s and 1990s would find it.  While some faculty had moved beyond the four walls of the classroom, and internship and travel projects became more common, many professors chose to study a topic different from their discipline but within campus.  After a decade, Interim had become a definite fixture at Wofford.

Academics Faculty

Early Travel Interims

Last week, I shared some selections from the first Interim catalogue, from January 1968, when Wofford became one of the first colleges in the South, and apparently the first in the Carolinas, to move to the 4-1-4 schedule. The projects varied from those that focused on the classroom to those that used the world as their classroom.

Today, I want to share a little more about some of the projects.  The first Interim featured three international travel projects.  Professor Constance Armitage Antonsen took a group of eighteen students to Italy, where they studied Renaissance art in Florence, Milan, and Rome, with side trips to many of the towns in between Florence and Rome.  The trip concluded with a stop in Madrid on the way home.  Most of the students had already taken the introductory art history course, so the trip reinforced what many of them had seen in the classroom. Professor Antonsen told the Old Gold and Black after the trip that they had seen “virtually every important piece of Italian art.”  Students chose a particular phase of Italian art for more intensive study.

Professor Jacques Forbes took a group of eighteen students to Switzerland. On their fifteen-day trip, students visited Zurich, Lucerne, Berne, Lausanne, St. Moritz, and Geneva, and saw sights ranging from the headquarters of the International Red Cross and the League of Nations. Students researched Swiss culture and prepared papers on various subjects.

A third travel project saw sixty students and four professors travel to Mexico, where the students stayed in private homes with Mexican families.  Each student had assigned tasks, and they met as a group every other day.  The project was led by Professors Paul Lofton, Joe Lesesne, Joaquin Develasco, and Richard Remirez.  The group spent two weeks on campus before traveling to Mexico, concentrating on Mexican history and government.  They spent much of their time in and around Mexico City.

Other on-campus projects involved students examining problems of air pollution in the Spartanburg area, atomic energy, and Great Decisions, 1968.  The Great Decisions project brought a number of regional speakers to campus for discussion and presentations, including former Southern Regional Council president James McBride Dabbs, journalist William D. Workman, attorney and future federal judge Matthew Perry, and a State Department official to talk about Mexico.

These projects took students to other parts of the world and brought the world to Wofford.

Photos (above) – students and Professor Forbes in Switzerland.  (Below) – students and Professor Parker studying nuclear energy at Oak Ridge, TN.

Academics Documents Faculty

Interim 1968

Wofford’s faculty and students have returned to campus today to start the Interim.  This year marks the 45th time that the college has devoted the month of January to these non-traditional projects.  After nearly half a century, Interim is as much a part of Wofford’s culture as Main Building.

What was the first Interim like?  I dug out the catalog for Interim 1968 to see what projects were offered in that first year.  I was interested to see that the projects (we don’t call them courses!) were arranged by departments, with only a few at the end that were described as “multi-departmental.”  It took until 1971 to break the practice of listing courses by department.

The 1968 catalog of projects did not list professors with projects, but a separate list indicated who was leading each project.  Some professors proposed two projects, though they seemed to be directed-research-type projects.

Here are a few pages from the catalogue.  These projects were sponsored by biologists, political scientists, historians, psychologists, and religion professors.  I’ll make the whole catalogue available elsewhere.  And, over the next few weeks, I’ll try to look at some other notable Interim projects.

Academics Faculty Photographs Uncategorized

Doc Rock

One of the dangerous privileges of working at a place like Wofford is getting to write and talk about people I’ve never met.  It’s relatively safe to write about campus characters of several generations ago, since very few people are around who knew them and who can correct my errors.  It is a whole lot more risky to write about people who others on campus still remember.

One of the many professors whose legacy is still felt on campus was Dr. John W. Harrington, who was professor of geology and department chair from 1963 until 1981, and then professor emeritus until his death in April 1986.  Born in Illinois and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Dr. Harrington attended Virginia Tech, where he majored in mining engineering.  After taking his MA and PhD in geology at the University of North Carolina in 1946 and 1948, respectively, he moved to Texas, where he was a geology professor at Southern Methodist University from 1949 to 1956.  While in Texas, he was a consultant to several oil companies, where he focused on petroleum exploration on a regional wildcatting basis.

So how did a mining engineer-wildcat oil consultant geologist wind up chairing the geology department at a liberal arts college?  Dr. Harrington later recounted that he wanted more than to teach his students at SMU (most of whom probably wanted to be oil geologists) more than to be good technicians and engineers.  He tried to teach them ways to think about science.  This led, he reported, to a rebellion in his classes.  He resigned, choosing to go into industry.  The story goes that in 1963, he was on a plane with Dean Philip Covington, and soon found himself recruited to come to Wofford, where he could teach geology in a different way.

Almost all of Dr. Harrington’s geology labs were conducted in the field.  He took students to the Tennessee mountains, the South Carolina coast, and everywhere in between, showing them “the literature of geology in the language in which it is written – the rocks, the streams, the shores, and the landforms.” His Interims were also 4-week investigations into local and regional geology.

Dr. Harrington wrote for the scientist and the literate generalist.  His book To See a World takes its title from a poem by William Blake: “To see a world in a grain of sand, and a Heaven in a wildflower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And Eternity in an Hour.”  The book begins with a preface about understanding science, and each chapter explores some principle about science, geology, the history of geology, and combining all of these principles.  One of his chapter on historical geology was called “The wasness of the is.”

Dance of the ContinentsAnother of his books, Dance of the Continents, is written around Harrington’s first law of science, which his editor told him to make up as a way of organizing the book.  The law is “Nature is scrutable when everything is seen in context.”  He sets out to build that context.

It is a great gift to students and alumni when a professor is not only a specialist in a discipline, but can also place that work in a greater context. “Doc Rock,” as students called him affectionately, did not simply teach the students how to identify different kinds of minerals, he taught them a way of looking at the world around them and understanding it.  And that’s the true gift of a teacher.


Faculty Students

Are there ghosts at Wofford?

Reprinted from the November 1, 1991 Old Gold and Black

Back in 1991, I was an occasional staff writer for the Old Gold and Black, and my friend and editor Russ Singletary asked me to look into ghost stories at the college. 

I didn’t find much, but what I found wound up in this article. 

To celebrate Halloween this year, the Old Gold and Black staff tried to find a few ghost stories about Wofford.  There are not a lot of them.

Dr. Lewis Jones, a 1938 Wofford graduate and professor of history, emeritus, said “If you want Wofford ghost stories, you’ll have to make them up yourself.”

Dr. Jones also said most of the ghosts and goblins around Wofford are running around in academic regalia.

Nonetheless, we found a few stories, and here they are.

Dr. Talmage Skinner, a 1956 graduate who is now college chaplain, remembers a story from his days as a senior here at Wofford.

A student went into DuPre Administration Building and started up the stairs.  A man passed him on the stairs.

When the student reached the landing, he looked up at the portrait of Dean Mason DuPre and realized the man he had passed was Dean DuPre.  He looked back down the stairs and discovered that  the man had disappeared.

The student got out of the building with amazing speed.  The story spread around campus almost as fast.

Michael Preston, a 1963 graduate who is now dean of students, lives in Carlisle House with his family. The house has been the home of the dean of students for quite a while.

During the Civil War, two Confederate soldiers died of smallpox in Carlisle House.  A hospital used to be located across the railroad tracks from Wofford, and patients were sometimes brought to houses at Wofford for treatment.

One of Dean Preston’s children used to hear noises that made her think that someone was in the room with her.  Both Dean Preston and his wife occasionally think they hear noises.

“I’ve thought there was something up there sometimes myself,” said Dean Preston.  Could Carlisle House be haunted by the ghosts of two 15-to 17- year old Confederate soldiers?

Several people have reported strange sounds and sights around Old Main at night.  Not long ago, one maintenance man, who has since died, heard Dr. James Carlisle’s footsteps and cane in the hall near the computer center [note – this is the hall near the Campus Ministry Center].  Several years back, another staff member reported seeing Dr. Carlisle walking down the hall near the computer center.

Dr. Skinner said that there was once a restroom near the back door of Old Main.  Perhaps Dr. Carlisle was looking for that restroom to see if anyone else was haunting Old Main.

So, there are a few ghost stories and occasional strange events around Wofford.  You may want to watch out whenever you work in Old Main late at night, or you may meet Dr. Carlisle or some other former faculty member.


David Duncan – a Wofford original

David Duncan came a long way to take his chair as Professor of Classical Languages on Wofford’s first faculty.

Duncan, the oldest of Wofford’s original professors, was the only one of the first three professors not to be born in South Carolina – or in the United States.  Born in 1791 in County Armagh, Ireland, his father was both a Presbyterian elder and a Methodist class leader before the Methodist Church became an independent denomination.  Duncan studied at the University of Glasgow, in Scotland, and then in 1810, entered the British Navy as a midshipman.  Within a few years, he’d become ship’s purser, on a warship which made him responsible for the ship’s financial affairs.  It was but the first time that he became responsible for maintaining someone’s finances.

He received an offer to become a teacher in a preparatory school in Norfolk, Virginia in 1817, and went, only intending to stay a year.  He never went back to Ireland.  He soon became principal of a classical school, then in 1836, was elected professor of classical languages at Randolph-Macon College in Boydston, Virginia.  There he served under Stephen Olin, the college’s president and a leader in Methodist educational circles, William Wightman, who was the future president of Wofford, and Langdon Garland, who was later chancellor of Vanderbilt University.  No doubt his association with Wightman, who returned to South Carolina and became the leading member of Wofford’s original board of trustees, led to his invitation to join the college’s original faculty.

Duncan was the first of the new faculty to arrive in Spartanburg, and he took the house that is now the Hugh R. Black House as his home.  The Carolina Spartan noted his early arrival, and said that by the time the others had made it to Spartanburg, he and his family had already made themselves at home.  Duncan became the college’s first treasurer, a duty he had also held at Randolph-Macon.  One of the earliest ledgers has information on both Wofford and Randolph-Macon in it – no doubt the thrifty Duncan didn’t want to waste a ledger.

James Carlisle Jr., the son of one of the original professors and third president, made the odd observation that Duncan had a small frame, but a large, well-proportioned head.  He had the habit of keeping the names of everyone in the class in a small box, and when he wanted one of them to read, would shake the box and pull out a name.  Students sometimes found ways to take their name out of the box and thus avoid reciting.

Duncan, at 63, was by far the oldest of the three original professors.  It might be said that his appointment was designed to give some age and seasoning to the faculty.  It is rather amazing that he remained on the faculty and in Spartanburg until his death in 1881.  He had been released from most of his teaching duties when he was 86 years old, which would have been around 1877.  President Carlisle noted that he had fewer of the failings of extreme age – physical, mental, or social – than anybody he had ever known.  He also had one of the best private classical libraries, Carlisle thought, of anybody in the South.

The Duncan family tradition remains with the campus and the city.  Two of his sons were later Wofford trustees.  One of these, William Wallace Duncan, was a minister, a Wofford professor himself, and a Methodist bishop.  His home, now relocated, sits on the campus of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Spartanburg.  The other, David R. Duncan, was an attorney and community leader.  He owned much of the land that became Spartanburg’s Duncan Park, and some of the street names bear the names of family members.

Faculty Photographs Students

Mom Helms

A house mother?

Mrs Helms001 That term might sound very quaint, or even archaic, to students today. The idea that an older woman, older than your mom, would be living in an apartment in your residence hall, would supervise or be a part of dorm life, seems a little strange. In fact, I’m not sure students today would be as comfortable with a motherly or grandmotherly figure down the hall as they, um, studied in their rooms.

But from 1933 to 1954, one such woman was the beloved matron, hostess, or house mother, as the term often varied, of Snyder Hall. Mrs. Inez Brown Helms, known to two generations of Wofford students as “Mom Helms,” had been a high school Latin teacher in the South Carolina Lowcountry when, in 1933, she came to work at Wofford. A Columbia College graduate, Mrs. Helms was the widow of a Wofford alumnus, A. T. Helms, who was a lowcountry school superintendant from the class of 1902.

Recently, my student assistants and I went through a scrapbook maintained by the Rev. Dr. John M. Younginer, Jr, a member of Wofford’s Class of 1953, who was director of alumni and public relations in 1954 when Mrs. Helms retired. Dr. Younginer presented the scrapbook to the archives shortly after Mrs. Helms died in 1968. We listed all of the items in the scrapbook, and the finding aid is now available on our website. You can find it here.

Mrs Helms002Among the scrapbook items are news clippings, photos, and letters of appreciation from students, administrators, and alumni. One article about her said that she “was the ideal. Never censorius, she nevertheless commanded respect for her standards. Never puritannical, she nevertheless could deal with the occasional immature pranks of college students.” That statement probably does not even begin to cover the various kind of student pranks that someone like Mrs. Helms observed.

The idea of a hostess or house mother is one that has probably gone for good, but in her time, Inez Helms no doubt comforted an awful lot of lonely, homesick freshmen, advised them on how to deal with roommates, classmates, professors, and the dean, encouraged them when they got a poor grade and congratulated them when they got a good one. No wonder that hundreds of Wofford students thought of her as their mom away from home.