From the Archives

History, documents, and photos

From the Archives: A hundred years ago

Written By: Phillip Stone - Nov•25•14

What were our ancestors in South Carolina Methodism talking about a hundred years ago this fall? Looking through the pages of the Advocate for November 1914 shows that they were talking about football, war, and conference politics.

The Advocate was part of the conversation about dividing the Annual Conference into upper and lower conferences – an action that had been authorized at General Conference the previous summer. I wrote about this action in the June 2014 Advocate. It was a controversial issue, and writers took strong stands in letters about the proposals.

An issue of the Advocate just before Annual Conference met listed all of the members of the conference and where they would be staying when Conference met in Sumter. Most of the attendees were the guests of the members of the various Methodist congregations in Sumter. Imagine going to Annual Conference and staying in a local home rather than a hotel! 

The superintendent of Epworth Orphanage wrote on November 12 to remind churches to send in their collections for the Labor Day appeal as quickly as possible. The orphanage had experienced a few cases of typhoid and as a result, had asked the city of Columbia to extend the sewer line to the campus, which had added to the home’s expenses. He also reported that the orphanage was full, with some 250 children on campus, and he described the studies and work they were undertaking. 

The outbreak of what we now call World War I in Europe in the summer of 1914 was definitely on the minds of South Carolina Methodists. Wofford President Henry Nelson Snyder’s piece “War and Religion” appeared on November 5, where he lamented that “nothing was more hideous than the war now going on in Europe.” 

Methodists were somewhat critical of football in the early 20th century, and the Conference even managed to get Wofford to stop playing intercollegiate football for several years. In November 1914, they wrote “The papers of last Thursday carried this news item from Columbia: After putting up a stubborn fight, Wofford College was defeated by Newberry College by a score of 36-0. Swanton, left half for Newberry, broke his leg and was rushed to the hospital. Wofford lost the game but apparently did not have any member killed or maimed… We are told that when Wofford played in Greenville some time ago that practically every member of the team carried off bloody faces.” “It is difficult to understand,” the Advocate wrote, “how any parent can give consent for his or her son to engage in games that so often result in death or broken limbs. The fatalities are nearly as great as in war. They call it ‘college spirit!’ Deliver us from such! How long will it be before some mother’s son in South Carolina will be carried from a glorious game of football a mangled corpse to the mother’s embrace?” 

It’s interesting to see the issues that were in the minds of South Carolina Methodists and the work that our conference institutions were doing a century ago, and to know that many of these continue to be with us today.

This item was my November column in the SC United Methodist Advocate

The Isle of Tranquility in an Age of Turbulence

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•31•14

This morning I posted a student honors thesis from 1981 to our digital repository.  It’s a study of student life at Wofford in the 1960s and 1970s by David Morgan, who went on to a distinguished career as a professor of French at Furman.

The title “The Isle of Tranquility” was apparently coined by President Charles Marsh to describe Wofford’s stability in a tumultuous era, but some students in that era found the concept fairly unexciting.

The honors thesis, which runs about 34 pages, was one of our summer scanning projects, and if you are curious, you can download and read it from our digital repository.

A century ago – reinstating football

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•28•14

It’s a well-known story at Wofford that the Terriers played the first intercollegiate football game in South Carolina, defeating Furman University’s team on December 14, 1889.  So, our game against Furman this fall will mark the 125th anniversary of that first meeting, though not the 125th time the two teams have played.  I’ll have more to say about that first game later this fall.

Wofford's 1914 football team, the first varsity team since 1901

Wofford’s 1914 football team, the first varsity team since 1901

Football, as many sports historians know, was a pretty dangerous and violent sport back in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Broken bones, severe wounds, and even deaths occurred with some regularity.  The Methodist Church was quite critical of football, and the Southern Christian Advocate had this to say in November 1914:

“The papers of last Thursday carried this news item from Columbia: After putting up a stubborn fight, Wofford College was defeated by Newberry College by a score of 36-0. Swanton, left half for Newberry, broke his leg and was rushed to the hospital. Wofford lost the game but apparently did not have any member killed or maimed…  We are told that when Wofford played in Greenville some time ago that practically every member of the team carried off bloody faces.”  “It is difficult to understand,” the Advocate wrote, “how any parent can give consent for his or her son to engage in games that so often result in death or broken limbs.  The fatalities are nearly as great as in war.  They call it ‘college spirit!’  Deliver us from such!  How long will it be before some mother’s son in South Carolina will be carried from a glorious game of football a mangled corpse to the mother’s embrace?”

In 1896, the Methodist Conference recommended that college authorities entirely prohibit football at Wofford, and from 1897-1899, there was no team.  In the fall of 1899, the prohibition was rescinded, with the regulation of football and other sports left in the hands of the trustees and faculty.  Wofford played about 9 total intercollegiate games in 1900 and 1901, according to sports records.  Then, there was no intercollegiate football for some dozen years.  While class football – what we might today call intramural football, flourished, the college did not schedule any games against other colleges.

But, pressure built, from students and alumni alike.  President Snyder received communications from alumni who wanted to resume playing, and in 1913, the student body unanimously petitioned the trustees to resume intercollegiate games.  And so the trustees gave in on November 26, 1913, with play to resume in the fall of 1914.

It took a few years before the college’s varsity team got some experience, and only in 1917 did they post a winning record.  The 1914 Terriers, in fact, put up a 1-6-1 record, scoring 32 points in all of their games together, compared to 219 for their opponents.  Their only win was a 7-0 defeat of Presbyterian, and their worst loss was an 88-6 stomping at the hands of Davidson.

So, this fall marks the centennial of the resumption of football as well as the 125th anniversary of football at the college, and I think that’s worth recognizing.

Wofford and World War II

Written By: Phillip Stone - Sep•30•14

Last week, I published a new digital collection of World War II-era newspapers from the Wofford campus.  Today, I have posted a collection of Wofford newsletters sent to alumni who were serving in the armed forces during the war.

WCNLThe World War II alumni newsletter started out as a simple 2-page typed legal-size leaflet, and it went to several hundred alumni.  It solicited comments and news from alums, and they responded that they liked the newsletter.  The February 1943 issue went to some 800 alumni.  By October 1943, the college was publishing a printed newsletter that ranged from 4 to 8 pages.

The college had to follow all of the censorship rules as the newsletter was being sent to alumni all over the world, so they could not mention specific units the alums were serving with, or any other information that had not become public.  Still, the alums appreciated hearing from the college and hearing about what their friends and classmates were doing, where they were, and what they were experiencing.

I found one note in the September 1945 issue from Herbert Hucks, who was my predecessor as college archivist, and who served in North Africa and France.  He wrote,

“Yesterday when your July 5 card arrived I did not know that today I would be a student at the Sorbonne, but such is the case and naturally I’m glad of the opportunity.  The spirit of the whole affair is very fine.  About 800 men and officers are there.  The course will last until September 8 and then nothing could please me more than to get home on my 87 points!”

Mr. Hucks had been a high school French teacher before the war, and on his return would become an associate librarian at Wofford.

Again, technology makes it possible for us to get more items like this out for researchers to use.

You can find the newsletters in our digital repository.

The Flight Record and the Army at Wofford

Written By: Phillip Stone - Sep•25•14

When World War II came to Wofford, it brought major changes to the student body.

FlightRecordLogoAs the number of students at Wofford and similar colleges declined rapidly, administrators began to fear for the future of their colleges.  How does a college that is heavily dependent on tuition survive when the students go off to war?

The result of this impending crisis, as well as the army’s need for training programs before sending soldiers overseas, was that many colleges saw their facilities taken over by the federal government for various types of military training programs.  And that is how, in February 1943, Wofford College became the home of the 40th College Training Division, a training center for aviation students.

Wofford’s remaining students, which numbered fewer than a hundred, and some of the faculty went to either Spartanburg Junior College or Converse College.  The dormitories, classrooms, gymnasium, and grounds became the home of a program designed to teach aviation students some of the things they would have learned in a college course of study as they were on their way to flight school and officer candidate school.

The program, which lasted about fifteen months, left a few fingerprints on the college.  Occasionally, for fifty years after the war, a former aviation student would pass through the campus with his family to reminisce about his time here in 1943 or 1944.  Some photographs from those years are in the archives.  The Hugh R. Black Infirmary on campus, which had been a faculty home, became an infirmary during those years, and the college continued to use it for those purposes to this very day.  And, interestingly enough, the students produced a newspaper called the Flight Record, and that has remained in the archives.

The Flight Record’s staff, which rotated as new students came and others left, published some 22 issues between June 1943 and April 1944.  In the past year, I’ve had my student assistants scan the issues, and after doing some post-processing work, I have published them in Wofford’s digital repository.

Visit the Flight Record online

In the next few days, I hope to add the World War II newsletter that the college sent to alumni serving in the military.

Technology helps us share the experiences and memories of those who were part of our campus community seventy years ago, and I’m happy to make these materials more widely available.

Fitting School Students

Written By: Phillip Stone - Sep•12•14

The Wofford Fitting School is one of those mysterious entities that causes an occasional question.

WOCO Fitting School students002The Fitting School was a preparatory school that operated on the Wofford Campus and on a nearby campus for a number of years.  It closed in 1924, but before then, it was designed to prepare, or fit, students for entry into Wofford’s freshman class.

The idea of a prep school or fitting school makes sense in an era where not every city or town has a good public high school and the college wants to be certain it has a good supply of potential first-year students.

This photo could count as a throwback Thursday photo if today weren’t Friday.  But in the archives, maybe every day is Throwback Thursday.


Henry Nelson Snyder: Wofford and Methodist leader

Written By: Phillip Stone - Sep•10•14

This article appeared in the SC United Methodist Advocate this month.

Wofford’s Dr. Henry Nelson Snyder served as the college’s fourth president from 1902 to 1942, and at the same time, was one of the leading laymen of South Carolina Methodism. He was a very influential leader in state and national higher education circles as well as in national Methodist circles, and his was a leading voice in the movement toward Methodist reunification in 1939.

SnyderHandbookDr. Snyder was a Tennessee native who came to Wofford and Spartanburg in 1890 to become a professor of English. He had earned his degrees at Vanderbilt, which was designed to be the central university of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Some of his teachers there had Wofford connections as well as deep ties to the Methodist Church. After a decade at Wofford, he did what many young American academics in the 1890s and early 1900s did: he went to a German university to study for his doctorate. He would have completed it if Wofford had not called him to the presidency while he was working on his degree

Dr. Snyder’s ties to regional and national higher education movements began in the 1890s, when he was one of two Wofford professors to attend the organizational meeting of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which is the regional accrediting agency for colleges and schools throughout the Southeast. He also built networks in South Carolina’s fledgling public schools in the 1910s and 1920s, and was on good terms with many superintendents and principals. This helped him recruit students to attend Wofford and the other Methodist colleges in the state. He also organized summer schools for teachers at Wofford for many years.

Snyder’s commitment was to make Wofford a first-rate Methodist-related institution, and to blend academic excellence with spiritual development. He later wrote that he never let himself forget the importance of the college’s church relationship. And apparently, the church leadership trusted their president, for they ultimately made him the chairman of the conference board of education, which was responsible for selecting the trustees of all of the colleges. That’s perhaps not the best practice today, but in that place and time, it worked. Snyder wrote that the Annual Conference gave him a free hand in the administration of the college, and this allowed him to build a fine college and faculty over his tenure. While he occasionally had to defend the faculty from critics who objected to a modernizing curriculum, no one ever seriously threatened his independence.

The Conference regularly elected Dr. Snyder as a General Conference delegate, and year after year, he served on various church boards. He was a member of the hymnal revision commission that produced the 1905 and the 1935 Methodist hymnal, and for some twenty years, he was one of the southern church’s members on the reunification commission. As a leader in church-related higher education, he was away from Wofford for the better part of a year in the 1920s as he worked with a church-wide educational fundraising campaign, a cause that benefited Methodist-related colleges throughout the South.

Throughout his life, Henry Nelson Snyder was more than simply a liberal arts college president. He was an ambassador for education at all levels, and he was a firm believer in the important role the Methodist Church played in education. He also played an active role in the creation of the Methodist Church, using his experiences and wisdom to help heal a century-long breach in the church.

Fifty Years Ago

Written By: Phillip Stone - Sep•04•14

I’ve taken a little bit of a hiatus from blogging for a few reasons. It is always a little harder to keep posting in the summer because of the combination of summer projects and vacation days. This summer was extra busy for me because I served for three months as the library’s interim director, which, of course, meant that I was doing part of two different jobs.

But, now that we have a new library dean in place, and classes are more or less underway, I’m going to try to resume the regular blog schedule. Today’s opening convocation, which is the 160th anniversary of Wofford’s opening session in 1854, reminded me of a number of upcoming anniversaries.

Perhaps the most significant is that fifty years ago this month, Wofford’s announced intention to admit all qualified students regardless of race came into full effect. In September 1964, Albert W. Gray of Spartanburg enrolled as a first-year student, becoming Wofford’s first African-American student.

Below is the memo that President Charles Marsh sent to the campus alerting the faculty and administration that Mr. Gray would be enrolling.

Fifty years is a long time, but it isn’t so very long ago. I think maybe I’ll share this letter with my first-year humanities seminar tomorrow as we discuss a novel about race and memory to help show them that the past is not so long ago.


The Walt Hudgins Papers

Written By: Phillip Stone - Jul•03•14

We are happy to announce a new acquisition in the college archives. The Papers of Walter E. Hudgins, a longtime and beloved professor of philosophy, have been donated to the college and are open for research.

Dr. Hudgins, who died in 1986, was a Virginia native who did his undergraduate, seminary, and doctoral degrees at Duke University. After teaching at several colleges in North Carolina, he came to Wofford to teach philosophy in 1972.

In addition to some of his correspondence, the papers include a number of his speeches and essays. Some of the sermons he preached as an ordained United Methodist minister are in the collection.

Beyond his teaching and campus service, Dr. Hudgins was a published and produced playwright. The scripts of several of his plays are part of the collection, as well as the production notes, design notes, and the scores to the ones that are musicals. Over the next year, we’ll digitize some of the plays and share them so that others can read them.

The collection was donated by Mrs. Linda Hudgins, Walt’s widow, and we’re grateful to her for giving them to the college so that others might learn more about him and his work.

The finding aid for the collection is available here:


T-shirts in the Archives

Written By: Phillip Stone - Jun•25•14

The archives holds an interesting collection of t-shirts from the 1970s to the 2010s.

Some t-shirts come from student groups, some from Homecoming or Spring Weekend events, and others are tributes to professors, or even presidents.

But why do we collect them?  I think t-shirts are a good way of documenting student life.  They give people who attended an event or took part in a group a way of remembering the event.  I’m sure that recent college graduates have drawers or boxes full of them by the time they graduate.  

If you have a favorite t-shirt, tell me about it, or share a picture of it on the Facebook page.

We couldn’t feature all of these t-shirts in Wofford Today, so here are a few of my favorites:

Hot l Carlisle

Hotel Carlisle – a tribute to an old residence hall that was the early home to Wofford Theatre.

SUTWAK members in front of Carlisle Hall, late 1970s

SUTWAK, or Students United to Win a Keg, was a group of non-Greek students who played intramurals together (I think).  The back of the shirt is below.

A tribute to history professor Lewis P. Jones

Sometimes shirts honored faculty members, such as historian Lewis P. Jones, above, or President Benjamin B. Dunlap, below.

A t-shirt made by a student group (and autographed by Bernie Dunlap) upon the 10th president’s retirement.

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