Documents Music Students

The 1912 Glee Club Tour

Recently a few copies of the Journal made their way to my desk, and I spotted this story about the Glee Club’s annual concert tour of South Carolina in March-April 1912, a hundred years ago.  Many alumni of the 1950s remember fondly their tours, so it was nice to see that it had a longer history than that.

Members of the 1912 Glee Club

The Wofford College Glee Club made a circuit of the lower part of the state on its fifth annual tour, leaving Spartanburg on the 27th of March. The first stop was Columbia, where a concert was given at Columbia College. All looked forward to this date, for it stood for a great good time in their calendar. We were not disappointed, for, as usual, the Columbia College girls gave us a “lovely” reception, even though the “refreshments” did not arrive until the crowd was leaving.. “The State” gave us a fine write-up, and many extra copies of this paper were secured to send to the girls we left behind us.

Florence was the next stop. This hustling town gave us a royal welcome and a packed house—the largest we had on the trip. Just before the concert each member of the club was given a carnation, with the request that they wear them. Of course we were “dee-lighted.”

Dillon.—What pen can do justice to the hospitality and kindliness of the Dillon folk? Their homes were thrown open to us; we verily believe their hearts, too, or at least some, judging from the long faces of some members of the club when leaving. The boys gave a great concert here, and the singing of “Little Waters” of the song, “I’ve a Longing in My Heart for You, Louise,” was given with unusual expression.

Leaving Dillon about 7 p.m., we reached Latta in time to enjoy a good supper and be in our places for the concert on schedule time. The concert given in Latta was the very best of the eight concerts given. We were greeted by an enthusiastic and appreciative audience.

Monday night we captivated the Marion people. They had already won us by their whole-souled reception of us. The young ladies gave the club a reception after the concert, which was greatly enjoyed.

A committee of ladies met us at Bennettsville, and sent us to our homes. There we met with the old-time hospitality again—rides, drives, and, as the little folk say, “the mostest good things to eat!” A number of our old Wofford boys were out to hear us and pronounced our concert the best ever given by the Glee Club. It was here that one of our boys learned about a bird—one of the rare kind. For further information, see one of the Seniors. And, by the way, the newest place to purchase a collar button is in a hardware store.

Our entertainment was given in the auditorium of the graded school building, a most excellent hall, and of course we tried our hardest to please.

Leaving Bennettsville at 7 a.m. Wednesday, we reached Union on the “Carolina Special” at 4 p.m. The Union people were clever, and entertained us in great style. Here we struck a carnival in full blast.

We reached the “Burg” Thursday near noon, a tried, happy set, each avowing it to be the greatest trip yet. Thursday evening we gave our home concert. Of that, one of our papers said the following :


“After a complete tour of the state, where it won laurels by splendid work, the Wofford Glee Club returned to the city and on last night delighted a large house in the Wofford chapel. The club has been organized about four years, and almost from the beginning its success has been complete. This year it ranks along with the best that the college has sent out, and the programs that are being rendered are very novel and up-to-date.

“Mrs. [A. G.] Rembert, who has been the directress for this season, is highly elated over the success of the boys. She deserves much credit for the high class entertainments that are being given.

“The programme last night was opened with the song, ‘Old Gold and Black.’ In response to the encores received from this selection, the club sang ‘Sleep, Baby, Sleep,’ and this caused another outburst and the boys were compelled to sing again. The quartette next sang the ‘Jolly Four,’ which is a humorous composition and calculated to wake one up.

“Among the songs given during this part of the programme, `Every Little Movement,’ Alexander’s Rag Time Band’ and `We All Have Troubles of Our Own’ were the best. ‘The Monkey kissed the Baboon’s Sister’ was a correct imitation of the jungle land, and the only thing lacking was the dialect.’Good Bye’ was the last song on this programme, which closed the delightful evening.”

Alumni Students

The Class of 1962

This weekend at Commencement, as has been the tradition since 2004, the fifty year class has met to celebrate the golden anniversary of their graduation from Wofford.  They join the campus community for the Baccalaureate service, hold a reunion together afterward, then march in regalia with the seniors and the faculty as they escort the graduating class into the world of alumni.  It’s a nice tradition, and it actually harkens back to earlier days, when the annual alumni meeting took place during Commencement, class reunions were held, and the seniors and alumni together held the alumni-senior banquet. Often the alumni would sponsor an address – where a noteworthy alum would present some kind of speech or oration.

In these days, the speechmaking and orating aren’t really part of the event – though some people from the class and the college do make some remarks at their dinner.

So what was going on around campus when the Class of 1962 were part of the student body?

When they enrolled in September 1958 as freshmen, they found a freshman president – Dr. Charles F. Marsh.  Several first-year professors were there with them – including professors William Parker in physics, David Prince in education, and Fred Adams in sociology.

During the class’s time at Wofford, Main Building was renovated to within an inch of its life, the old Cleveland Science Hall was replaced by the new, modern Milliken Science Hall, and the science annex was renovated and became the Black Music-Arts Center.  Forty years later, current students have used the new Milliken Science Center, with renovations to the 1961 wing, a renovated Main Building, and a new Montgomery Music Center.

Students read about movies in the Old Gold and Black and saw them at Spartanburg’s downtown movie theaters. They watched TV in the Greene lounge, or perhaps in a fraternity house, although they probably could choose between only 2 or maybe 3 TV stations. They complained about the food in Buice’s Bistro, and laughed at the number of squirrels roaming around campus. They danced (!) to the tunes of Buddy Morrow and his Night Train orchestra at the winter ball. Many of them pledged one of the fraternities.

Professors Ross Bayard, John Bullard, and Marcus Griffin joined the community during their senior year.  During that year, the class pushed for an increase in the student activity fee.  The comprehensive fee was $1,440 for resident students and $770 for day students.  This was lower than Converse, Furman, Davidson, Sewanee, Randolph-Macon, and other peer colleges.  There were 832 members of the student body in 1961-62, and 138 students graduated with the class of 1962.  We’ve almost doubled the student body, and the class of 2012 was more than twice as large as the class of ’62.

College officials were thinking about what it meant to be part of a liberal arts college.  President Marsh, in a state of the college address, told the students that “we want you to feel that our academic standards in the fullest sense of the term are high. Second, we want your college years to be years of cultural and aesthetic growth, and to be years in which your understanding of world problems is broadened. We want literature, the fine arts, music, and appreciation of the cultures of other parts of the world to become treasured parts of your lives.  Finally, we want you to get the full benefit of being a part of a Christian college.  In this connection, we want to help you grow in grace spiritually while you are here, and build a reasoned philosophy of life and traits of personality and character that accompany a permanent set of values.”

Many of them will be happy to know that those same kinds of questions are still being discussed here today.

Alumni Students

The Class of 1912

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.

Academics Documents Photographs Students

From the ROTC Files

Recently I asked my student assistant, senior history major Kit Candler, to look through the ROTC/Military Science Department files (a collection she had helped process) and locate some images for an online display.

So, here’s a link to a Flickr gallery of some photographs and documents from the ROTC Papers. The gallery includes scans of some ROTC histories, commissioning programs, insignia, and pictures of some events throughout the detachment’s history.  I hope you enjoy flipping through the gallery.  I’d embed it as a slideshow, but WordPress won’t let me do it!

This link will take you to the gallery.



Documents Students

T-shirts? In the Archives?

Why would an archives have or want a t-shirt collection?

We don’t have a museum on campus, and while archives have traditionally been about written records, sometimes we collect other things that help document life on the campus.  I would be neglecting part of my role as institutional historian if I didn’t try to collect some representative samples of what public historians call “material culture.”

Now, I don’t intend to turn this into a disquisition on the importance of t-shirts.  But don’t we sometimes hear jokes about how many of them our campus organizations create?  I know I used to have quite a few at home – one for every homecoming, one for spring weekends, and I know people who were in fraternities and sororities have tons of them.  They can be really creative.

We don’t have a lot of t-shirts in the archives…yet.  But here are a few, largely, I suspect, from the 1970s and early 1980s.

First, from the mid-late 1970s – the infamous SUTWAK shirt.  I think Mark Olencki took the photo.

SUTWAK, for the uninitiated, stood for Students United to Win a Keg.

Another group, despairing the impending demolition of old Carlisle Hall, came up with this one.

I don’t know if that’s a play on “Hotel California” or not, but the missing “E” does make you think of low-rent hotels with some of the letters burned out.

Finally, on a more serious note, students of Lewis P. Jones came up with this offering.

I don’t know of any current professors whose faces have appeared on t-shirts, though I do remember a Wofford religion department shirt with the faces of John Bullard, Charlie Barrett, and Bill Mount on one side and the phrase “Nil illegitimi carborundum” on the other (I’ll let you figure out the translation!)- or something close to that.  I wouldn’t mid seeing a few of my faculty colleagues inspire a modern t-shirt!  And if there are other interesting vintage t-shirts out there, let me know!

Alumni Students

The Class of 1857

We often remember our first graduate, Samuel Dibble of the class of 1856, who was the only student to graduate in that year.  But we don’t talk as much about the second graduate, or for that matter, any of the six graduates of the class of 1857.  Mr. Dibble, as a transfer student from the College of Charleston, managed the amazing feat of completing two years’ work in one academic year.  Several of the 1857 graduates actually enrolled on opening day in 1854.

The first name in the college register is that of James Newton Carlisle, who enrolled in the sophomore class in August 1854, at the opening of the college.  He came from the Goshen Hill section of Union, SC, and was 17 at the time he came to college.  As with each of his classmates, he gave an address at commencement.  His was on “History.”  He received a Wofford master’s degree in 1868.  He apparently was not related, not closely, anyway, to Professor and President James H. Carlisle.

Spencer Morgan Dawkins also enrolled on opening day, entering the sophomore class.  He also came from Union County, though from the area near Pacolet in Spartanburg County.  He was 21 years old.  We don’t know much else, but we do have a receipt for his tuition.  His commencement address was on “Law and Dignity of Labor.”

Four other members of the class of 1857 enrolled and entered the sophomore class in January 1855.  One was George Cofield, who, like his classmate J. N. Carlisle, came from the Goshen Hill section of Union County.  Cofield was 20 and was the second honor graduate of his class.  As such, he gave his salutatory address in Latin, which the newspaper noted that he did acceptably.  He later became president of Spartanburg’s Board of Trade – the chamber of commerce, president of the National Bank of Spartanburg, a fire insurance company, and other businesses.  Cofield served in the South Carolina Volunteers for much of the Civil War.

Robert Edge Bowie, age 18, came to Wofford from Abbeville County.  His 1857 graduation address was an oration on Cicero.

Charles Petty, at age 20, came from the Limestone Springs section of Spartanburg County.  That area is now in Cherokee County.  He had graduated from the St. John’s School in Spartanburg before coming to Wofford.  He was the first honor graduate of the class of 1857, and his address was on “The Dangers and Duties of Educated Men.”  He also offered valedictory remarks. He went on to become a long-time president of the Wofford National Alumni Association and was editor of the Carolina Spartan, the local newspaper.  A Confederate veteran, he served briefly in the legislature.  An active member of the Spartanburg community, he was around to give remarks at the dedication of Wofford’s first library building in 1910, and he died just past his 80th birthday in 1915.

The last of those January 1855 enrollees was William Maxwell Martin.  He enrolled from Richland County, and his father was a Methodist minister in the South Carolina Conference.  His commencement address, “The Calico Flag,” was regarded as the best of the talks.  Martin was later known as the “first martyr of Southern Independence” – they claimed he was the first soldier to die in the Civil War.  He died in February 1861 after suffering from exposure while standing by his cannon at Fort Moultrie.  Martin was an author, with a book entitled “Lyrics and Sketches” published posthumously.  There’s a monument to his memory at Washington Street United Methodist Church in Columbia, where his father served as pastor. 

The six “second graduates” of Wofford College led different careers, and several distinguished themselves as leaders in their communities.  Their service to their college, church, and community set a standard for future Wofford alumni to follow.

Academics Students

Interim in recent years

The 1990s and 2000s saw continued change in Interim.  As the Cold War ended and Wofford’s programs abroad offerings increased, faculty and students began to travel to more places outside of Western Europe and the Caribbean.  In the early 1990s, travels to Russia and Eastern Europe became easier – though students had traveled to Czechoslovakia as early as 1969 – and trips to locations in Asia and Africa became more common.  At the same time, internships and service learning opportunities grew considerably.  While pre-medical, pre-law, and accounting internships had early starts, pre-veterinary, pre-dental, congressional, and other pre-professional Interims became popular.  Service-learning Interims also became increasingly popular.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, for example, several Wofford students and faculty did relief work in Mississippi.

Perhaps the biggest change in Interim hasn’t been the increased travel opportunities or the diverse places students and faculty can travel, or the greater opportunities to see what a career in law, medicine, the ministry, accounting, or in a non-profit might be like.  The on-campus projects themselves have changed.  While offerings in earlier decades focused on reading great books, studying issues, focusing on particular events, or investigating a topic in the professor’s discipline, more recent projects have been more interdisciplinary.

While film interims were popular fairly early, the rise of the VCR and the DVD, and now other streaming video sources, have made them much easier to put together.  The 1990s and early 2000s saw a surge in Interim projects that looked at films.  Lest you think that spending a month watching movies is easy, imagine having to watch and analyze films as texts.  There’s a lot more to teaching and learning with films than eating popcorn.

A number of Interims gave students new experiences and skills, such as welding, cooking, various computer programming projects, digital photography, web design, and quilting.  These projects all had academic and practical components.  One group around 2008 studied the world of professional wrestling, even sponsoring their own January Smackdown!  I witnessed this one myself.

Through the last 45 years, Interim has become one of Wofford’s hallmarks, and students and faculty often talk throughout the fall about what they are going to do in January.  Alumni still talk about things they did in each of their Interims.  I remember studying the Federalist Papers and the Presidents through Biographers’ Eyes.  I took part in a college bowl Interim, where we worked on our own skills, but also sponsored a campus-wide tournament.  Most memorable was my own congressional internship in January 1993 in Sen. Strom Thurmond’s office, where I got to do everything from watch a Supreme Court oral argument, see a president of the United States inaugurated in person, watch Senate committee hearings, and sit in the Senate staff gallery and watch the president’s cabinet confirmed on a voice vote.  Along with those special moments, I also got to spend a month as a Washington commuter, found all sorts of things to do, and learned that living for a while in a big city was kind of fun.

Interim shows that learning happens in classrooms and labs, on tour buses, in internship settings, and in independent research into a topic of student interest.  While calls come periodically for a re-evaluation of the program, and even in the 1970s people wanted to “tighten up” the requirements, the basic structure of the program remains as it was envisioned in 1968.  The types of projects may be very different today (well, except for the perpetual courses on fencing, debating, personal income tax preparation, and theatre performances), but the experience remains much the same.

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 Photographs Students

Remember The Cowpens – 1968

One of the 1968 Interim projects deposited some of its materials in the college archives.  Here are some photos from the “Remember The Cowpens” project from that first Interim.

Notice the snow on the ground – let’s just say that when they camped out on the Cowpens battlefield, these students really got to experience what it would have been like 231 years ago this week when Daniel Morgan’s soldiers fought the British under Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton.


This project involved studying the Battle of Cowpens from all angles.

Below are some more photos.

The banner, which is also in the college archives, represented a fictitious unit that participated in the re-enactment.  Another photo shows participants attempting to re-create a flanking maneuver – probably part of the famous “double envelopment” executed by Morgan’s men.

Click on each image for a larger version.  These images come from two scrapbooks maintained by students in the project, which means they are 44 years old.

Double Envelopment

Alumni Students

Henry Z. Nabers

Students asked their professors for letters of recommendation even in the 1890s.

Some time back, I got a collection of letters about an alumnus named Henry Z. Nabers, an 1893 Wofford graduate.  Most of the letters were about him rather than by him.  In this case, they were letters from professors and employers attesting to his good character and work qualities.

There was also an interesting gem from President James Carlisle.  Dr. Carlisle, trying to allay young Mr. Nabers’ concerns about the economy, told him that when the Secretary at Washington released his fifty million, some of it would come to him.  A bailout before the term was coined!

To see the collection of letters, go here: