From the Archives

History, documents, and photos

“Fish” Salmon

Written By: Phillip Stone - Dec•19•13

With a last name like Salmon, it’s no surprise that students stuck him with the nickname “Fish.”

John L. Salmon

John L. Salmon was one of the longest-serving members of the college’s faculty, coming to Wofford in 1921 and remaining active well into the 1980s.  When he arrived in 1921 to teach modern languages, he joined an already well-established corps of professors, some of whose tenure stretched back into the 1870s.  He was rather embarrassed when the chairman of the Board of Trustees saw him trying to get his bearings on campus and assumed he was an entering freshman instead of a new faculty member.  Since he was close to thirty years old and had graduated from Centre College seven years earlier, one can understand why he might have been unhappy!  He later wrote of the college at the time of his arrival, “it was a small institution with an excellent reputation, a small, but good, faculty; a student body that contained many men who would achieve greatness; and an inadequate and poor physical plant that was woefully lacking in equipment and conveniences for both faculty and students.”  In a 1974 letter to President Joe Lesesne, he noted that when he came, he was the eleventh faculty member, that the college had one secretary who worked for the president, and that the business manager used part-time student help.  His longevity on campus made him something of a campus historian, and he could always offer an anecdote or story about the many characters who had graced the campus.

For four years, Professor Salmon taught French, then he took a few years’ leave to finish his MA at Harvard, where he also taught for two years.  When he left in 1925, President Snyder called him in, and without any preamble, said, “Salmon, you have been with us four years.  I cannot give you a diploma, but I want to give you this.”  And with that, Dr. Snyder handed Professor Salmon a Bible signed by the faculty.  By 1950, when Salmon wrote those words, only he and E. H. Shuler from that group remained on the faculty.

After his return to the campus in 1928 as Professor of Modern Languages, Fish Salmon and his wife, Lynne, were a popular couple, entertaining generations of students in their campus home.  Until the Army took over the campus during World War II, the Salmons lived what is now the Hugh R. Black House, but the Army turned their home into an infirmary.  Salmon went with Wofford’s juniors and seniors to Converse, where he was the dean of Wofford’s student body there.  He and Mrs. Salmon wound up settling on North Fairview Avenue, where they lived the rest of their lives.  He was probably the first person to teach Spanish at Wofford – he picked that up along with teaching French.  The Salmons never had children of their own, but they were always sought out to serve as chaperones at campus parties – perhaps because they tended to overlook some things that might have been going on at those parties!

Professor Salmon continued to be active on campus for some twenty years after his retirement in 1964, having served as the chairman of the foreign languages department and the first Reeves Professor, one of the first endowed professorships on the campus.

Jack Salmon died in November 1988 at the age of 96, having just celebrated 68 years of marriage.  He was the oldest member of Central United Methodist Church at the time of his death.  Writing about the influence Professor Salmon had on his life, Dr. Pedro Trakas, a member of the class of 1944 and a professor of Spanish at Eckerd College in Florida, said “I remember the way Professor Salmon taught me, and he was as good a model as I could ever hope to emulate.”  Dr. Trakas wrote that he had to explain to his father why he wanted to be a professor, since “teachers don’t get paid what professionals should get, and he told his father “if I can be the kind of professor that Professor Salmon is and live the kind of life he lives, that’s all I want.”

The Harry L. Harvin Papers

Written By: Phillip Stone - Dec•13•13

This week I updated the finding aid for one of our smaller collections – two scrapbooks and a volume of memoirs for a 1943 Wofford graduate.  Harry Harvin was a native of Sumter, the son of a Wofford alum, who enrolled at the college in 1940.  He found that at the start of his junior year, he’d have enough credits to finish in three years.  He tried to get into ROTC, but was about ten pounds underweight, but that didn’t keep him from being drafted.  Based on his impending draft notice, he joined the enlisted reserve corps, which gave him the possibility of finishing his degree before being called up.  He was actually called to active duty in late April, but the college allowed him to take his exams early.  He also was elected to Phi Beta Kappa before he left college.

His papers include a scrapbook that he kept during his freshman year, which one of my student assistants cataloged a few summers ago, and a second scrapbook with some materials from 1943-45 in it.  He was wounded while in the army.  After World War II, he attended graduate school in history at Duke University and became a college professor, teaching most of his career at St. Andrews Presbyterian College in North Carolina.  He wrote his memoirs in the 1990s

There are a few other interesting items in the collection – including a fairly small Wofford t-shirt and an ROTC patch, which I’m including here.

The Adlai C. Holler Papers

Written By: Phillip Stone - Dec•09•13

A few months back, I wrote about what we do with all of the papers we get in the conference archives.  This month, I want to write about what we did with one particular collection that we received a few years ago.

The Rev. Adlai C. Holler

It took over a year, but the Rev. Luther Rickenbaker, who is the senior research associate in the archives, and I arranged and described the papers of the Rev. Adlai Cornwell Holler.  Given to us by his children, processing the Holler Papers proved to be a monumental undertaking.  When completed, the Holler Papers amounted to about ten cubic feet of files.

You may wonder what kind of files clergy keep.  It seems as though Adlai Holler kept everything.  We sorted the materials into personal papers, church files, official conference files, and sermons.  We found his notes from his time at Harvard Law School (yes, a minister who also had a law degree) and a lot of materials about his family, his personal expenses, and the civic clubs of which he was a member.  We also found collections of materials about the churches he served, sermon notes, and sermon preparation materials. He kept boxes (literally!) of materials to help develop sermon ideas.  He also kept items that did not relate directly to his ministry.

Adlai C. Holler was an active teacher, and was involved in numerous educational undertakings – leading what were in those days called training schools.  There’s at least one box of his teaching and course development materials.  Over the years, he taught courses on teaching young adults, working with adults, counseling those with alcoholism, the Old Testament, the life of Jesus, and numerous other topics.  In those pre-email days when even telephone conversations were a luxury, his correspondence with friends and colleagues reveals much about his life and work.

In his ministry, he served eleven different appointments in nearly every part of South Carolina, from Myrtle Beach to Greenville, from Gaffney to St. George.  He also served as secretary of the conference board of education, as conference secretary, as editor of the Advocate, and as a district superintendent.  His conference files reflect his deep involvement in the management of the Annual Conference for decades.  He also served as a delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conference.

He had a particular method for arranging his sermons, and the envelopes with his sermon notes also contain the bulletins from the churches where they were delivered, and even mention hymn choices and the weather and attendance for those Sundays.  In processing the collection, we didn’t want to tinker with his arrangement, so we largely left the sermons alone, but no doubt researchers would enjoy looking at them.  The collection is open for research use, and would be interesting to anyone who is studying South Carolina Methodism from the Great Depression into the 1970s.  And, though space in the archives is tight, we’re always looking to add to the collection.


The 125th anniversary of… Hugh S. Black Hall.

Written By: Phillip Stone - Dec•05•13

The building that now hosts the Admission and Financial Aid offices is celebrating its 125th birthday this year.

Alumni Hall shortly after opening

In 1888, at the annual meeting of the alumni association, the alumni voted to create an “alumni fund” to help supplement the college’s endowment.  They quickly raised $5,000.  However, a few weeks later, they learned that the Board of Trustees was planning to build three houses on the campus, at $1,500 each, to house students.  At that point, the college had no dormitory, and some 33 students were actually living in Main Building.  The alumni association called a special meeting at which a motion was approved requesting the trustees to allow the alumni to build a suitable building.  They revoked their plan to enhance the endowment, devoting the funds already raised and additional money to their building plans.  The trustees accepted their offer, and quickly the alumni association appointed committees, raised funds, and began construction of the new Alumni Hall on the Church Street end of the campus.

A ceremony to lay the cornerstone took place on Founder’s Day, Oct. 19, 1888, and in an address to commemorate the day, John B. Cleveland presented a thoughtful biographical statement about Ben Wofford.  Construction continued, and by the end of the school year, the building was complete.  As the Journal wrote in June 1889, “Today there stands, in the center of that portion of the campus fronting on Church Street, a noble and enduring symbol of the love and willingness of “the boys” for the old battle-ground on which they had fought many a hard fight with Homer and Horace.”

The building, constructed of brick, was four stories high and covered with slate, and contained forty rooms and a large dining hall.  It had broad stairways (which would be news to anyone working in that building today!)  An external kitchen was connected to the building.  It was fitted with all the modern conveniences of gas and water, and steam heat would be added before the next winter.  Completed, the building cost about $10,000.

Archer Hall and Snyder Hall – two of the Fitting School buildings

By 1895, the Wofford Fitting School, a preparatory school that the college had established to prepare students for the freshman class, had moved into Alumni Hall.  And then, since most college have some story involving fire, the night of January 17-18, 1901 saw Alumni Hall severely damaged by a fire.  No student was injured, and most of them were able to get their things out of the building, though some faculty members saw their libraries damaged. The college only had about $5,000 in insurance on the building, so funds had to be raised to repair it as well as build a new Fitting School building next door, which became Snyder Hall.  The college could only afford to rebuild it to two stories, which it remains today.

With the closing of the Fitting School in 1924, the college began using Alumni Hall, renamed Archer Hall after the principal alumni donor, as a residence.  It was used fairly sporadically over the next thirty years, largely as a residence for students, but also as a meeting place for social fraternities.  It looked terrible, and no doubt some college officials were thinking about demolishing it when the Black family agreed to support its restoration.  The building was actually in better shape than it appeared, with solid beams and trusses.  It was renamed the Hugh S. Black Building in recognition of that family’s significant contributions to the college.

A more recent view of the Hugh S. Black Building

For the remainder of its life, it has been used for administrative offices, most recently as the home of Admission and Financial Aid.  Another renovation and refurbishment in the late 1980s replaced the air conditioning and heating, repaired the roof, and otherwise updated the walls, moldings, and flooring to match the newly-constructed Papadopoulos Building.  It’s unlikely that the large number of prospective students who come through the Hugh S. Black Building each day realize that they’re visiting a structure that’s over 100 years old and that has had so many uses throughout the life of the college.

The 125th anniversary of…?

Written By: Phillip Stone - Dec•03•13

2013 marks the 125th anniversary of the construction of one of the buildings on the Wofford campus.  It’s a building that has, not surprisingly, had many uses over the century and a quarter that it’s stood on the campus.  It’s been a residence hall as well as an office building.  Which building, which was built in 1888 following a challenge by the newly-reorganized Alumni Association, turned 125 this fall?

Check back later this week for the answer.

Fifty Years Ago

Written By: Phillip Stone - Nov•22•13

History happens on ordinary days.

Most of the time, we don’t know when we get up in the morning that something earth-shaking is going to happen during the day.  And that’s certainly how it must have been fifty years ago today, on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.  And as I sit in my office this afternoon and watch the CBS News coverage unfold as the nation watched on that day, it’s essentially like watching the first draft of that story being written.  (Since we have the advantage of history, we know that they got some things wrong in that chaotic first hour.)

This post, however, isn’t quite going to be about what you thought. Instead, I want to mention an event that happened at the same time here at the college.

On November 22, 1963, a meeting took place in the board room at Wofford College.  The meeting convened at 2:00 PM, just as those attending would have been hearing the first word of the shocking news from Dallas.  Gathering that afternoon were a members of Wofford’s board of trustees who were members of a special committee appointed to consider the college’s desegregation.  The board had heard a report from President Charles F. Marsh on October 7 about desegregation, a report that listed the possible outcomes of a decision to admit African-American students and a decision not to admit African-American students.  The meeting lasted about an hour and forty-five minutes, and though it took no formal action, laid the groundwork for the board’s vote in May.

The committee, as the minutes note, had an exchange of views, and directed the chair to contact the chairs of the boards of trustees and the presidents of both Columbia College and Spartanburg Junior College.  No doubt they felt it was courteous to let the other Methodist colleges in the state know that they were deliberating a monumental change in the college’s admissions policy.  The minutes do not say this, but they must have also asked the president to ask the faculty for input, as a few days later, Dr. Marsh shared his confidential memorandum with them and asked them to share their thoughts with him or the committee.  The committee agreed to meet again on January 9, at which point they would have further discussions and reach a decision.

History is made in large and small ways, in planned and unplanned moments.  I wish somebody had recorded the other conversations that were going on in the board room while the trustees considered a change that would have such a strong effect on life at Wofford.

Methodist Reunification

Written By: Phillip Stone - Nov•07•13

A few months ago, I wrote about the division of the Methodist Episcopal Church into northern and southern branches.  Since we’re members of the United Methodist Church today, we know that at some point, we got back together.  When did that happen?

The northern and southern branches of the Methodist Episcopal Church, along with the Methodist Protestant Church, joined together to create The Methodist Church in 1939 at a uniting General Conference in Kansas City, Missouri.  Reunification came about after two generations of movement in that direction, and several South Carolina Methodists were instrumental in that movement.  Dr. Henry Nelson Snyder, Wofford’s president from 1902 to 1942, was a member of the reunification commission that first convened in 1916.

The division in the church had occurred in the generation before the American Civil War, and in the generation following the war, Methodists on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line began reaching out to each other.  They recognized that they shared a common tradition and knew that good relations between the two denominations would have to grow before any further steps toward cooperation might ever happen.  Beginning in the late 1870s, some sixty years before formal union, the two churches were sending fraternal delegates to each other’s General Conference.  By the 1890s, the two churches were willing to create a joint commission on federation, though they were still far from any plan of union.  The joint commission looked for and found areas where the two denominations could work together, such as on publishing and on foreign missions.  Tensions still existed, however, as both churches were seeking new members in the western states. At a major conference in 1910, delegates from all three denominations agreed to study a union of the churches, not simply a federation.

The thorny American problem of race relations, however, reared its head, and a proposal coming out of this group would have placed all of the African-American members of the new denomination into a separate “Quadrennial Conference” as the regional bodies we now know as jurisdictions were tentatively named.

By 1916, the commission on federation became a joint commission on unification, with a goal of creating a new denomination.  It met some six times in the next 3 years to perfect a plan of union.  Still, the role and treatment of African-American members was of primary concern to the southern delegates.  And, the churches early on decided on the need for an independent judicial council, for whereas the southern church relied on the college of bishops as the final arbiter of the church constitution, the northern church relied on the General Conference to hold that role. By 1920, a new constitution had been proposed, both General Conferences had considered it, and in 1924, both General Conferences approved it and submitted it to the annual conferences for approval.  It required a ¾ vote of all of the southern annual conferences to go into effect.

However, many southern Methodists objected to unification in the mid-1920s, fearing integration, social liberalism, loss of control of the church, loss of identity, and even that northern ministers would come South and take all of the better appointments!  When the votes of the annual conferences were tallied, a majority had approved, but nowhere near the ¾ majority required.

This proved to be only a temporary setback.  Several powerful bishops had opposed the plan, as had many members of the laity.  But, Methodist young people were strong supporters of church union.  By 1935, all three denominations were using the same hymnal, one that the three denominations had worked to develop.  The churches agreed on the jurisdictional system as the basis for uniting the church, and they also agreed on the need for equal representation of the laity and clergy in each annual conference.  In 1936, the General Conferences of the Methodist Protestant and Methodist Episcopal churches approved the plan of union, and their annual conferences moved quickly to ratify.  In the South, the annual conferences acted first, and about 86% of the members of the conferences approved.  Approval of the southern General Conference was almost a foregone conclusion in 1938.  The Uniting General Conference convened on April 26, 1939.

Reunification, however, brought about some unwelcome compromises.  African-American Methodists were placed into a segregated Central Jurisdiction, and as such, the South Carolina Conference (1866) became the South Carolina Conference, Central Jurisdiction, with bishops elected by that jurisdiction.  The jurisdictional conference itself was the compromise that brought about reunification, as many southerners wanted bishops to be selected within each region.  The Central Jurisdiction existed until it was abolished in 1968, which was the same time that the United Methodist Church was created.

Taken to the Cleaners…

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•08•13

Whenever I get a reference question that causes me to pull an old volume of the Old Gold and Black from the shelf, I know I’ll find something interesting or funny to write about.  Today I was looking up a sports score from 1942 (as an aside, it was not a good season for Terrier football that year, as evidenced by the lead sentence “Coach Petoskey’s victory-starved Terriers will make their fourth bid for their first gridiron triumph of the season…”) when I came across an amusing article complaining about something.

Yeah, I know, students complaining about something at the college in the page of the student newspaper.  That never happens.

In this case, they were complaining about the laundry service on campus.  Yes, laundry service.

I quote from the article:

“Seeking to secure campus opinion on some subject of current interest, the Old Gold and Black sent out a writer to interview a representative number of boarding students on the following question: “What is your opinion of the present laundry system?”

“The current laundry system is a drastic change from that of last year in which more than one laundry was represented in the halls by students. This year the entire business has been centralized and placed under the management of one student, with full .and obstructed rights to all laundry and dry-cleaning business collected in the halls.”

Of the students polled, 76% were opposed, 19% were indifferent, and 5% were in favor.  Opposition centered on the creation of a monopoly for one service, and some suggested this had actually reduced the quality of service.  Some students said that it was “a one day service last year and a one week service this year.”  Others thought the service was no different or even better.  Some of those who supported the change thought that the lack of transportation around the city (this was the first year of World War II) made consolidating the service understandable.

What do we make of this?  First, remember, this is the 1940s and I’m guessing a lot of people had to send their clothes out to be laundered.  The campus dorms would not have had washing machines.  Also, people didn’t have closets full of clothes at this point, so being without a large chunk of your wardrobe for several days could be a bigger problem than you might think.  And finally, and maybe most importantly: students don’t like change.

What do we do with all of those papers?

Written By: Phillip Stone - Oct•03•13

Occasionally the question comes up when I’m talking with someone about what I do in the archives.  “So what do you do with all of those papers, files, books, and stuff?  How do you catalog them or index everything?”

That’s a good question.  When we get a collection, whether it’s a closed church’s records, the files of a conference agency, or the personal papers of an individual, it can take a lot of work to transform it from an unorganized pile of boxes and file folders into something a researcher can use.

Generally, the first thing we have to do is survey the collection.  That means that we look through the files and papers, see what topics they cover and what kind of materials are there.  From that, we begin to arrange the collection into groups – we archivists call them series – of like materials.  Is there correspondence?  Do we find biographical materials, or sermons, or financial records?  Are there files that record the subject’s community service work, or church work?  Generally, after looking through the boxes, an order begins to appear.  If we can find some method to the way the person kept their files, we try to keep that – we respect the original order whenever possible.

As we gather like materials into useful groupings, we often will place the letters, photographs, and other documents into new, acid-free folders for better preservation.  Once we have arranged the materials, we try to describe what’s in the groupings.  Depending on how much time an archivist has to devote to the collection, describing it can get very detailed.  Usually we make a list of all of the folders.  We box everything up, label the boxes, and put them on the shelf.  We write a guide to the collection – we call it a finding aid – that helps a researcher know what subjects might be covered in the collection, what’s in each series, any especially interesting items that are there, and then we add a list of all of the folder labels.  That goes on our website, so researchers near and far can find it.

Some people wonder if we’re going to “just scan it all” or “digitize everything.”  That’d be wonderful, but it would cost a fortune.  We are digitizing more and more content, and we have a new software package that we’ve launched this month that will help us manage more electronic files.  We should soon have all of our old Conference Historical Society addresses available for reading and downloading, and later, hopefully all of our ministerial directories, published histories, and conference journals.  We already have photos of clergy from 1901 to 1961 on our website.  What takes time is keeping track of all the digital files – you have to be able to find it once you scan it!

Agency and local church files are usually smaller collections than some of our personal paper collections.  We’re looking to keep the things that are permanently valuable.  For a closed church, that’s the membership records, the church council and charge conference minutes, and historical information about the church.  For a board or commission, we’ll look for the minutes, reports, and materials that document their programs and activities.  Often there’s correspondence and other related information, too.  The process of arranging and describing work the same.  We’re always looking to add to the collection of board and commission records.

We’ve had several large personal paper donations in recent years.  A few years back, the Medlock Family donated the personal papers of the Rev. Melvin K. Medlock, a longtime clergy member of this conference.  More recently, the Holler family donated the papers of the Rev. Adlai C. Holler, a former conference secretary.  The Rev. Luther Rickenbaker, a retired member of the conference who volunteers in the archives, and I spent the better part of a year working on those files, because it seemed like the Rev. Holler kept everything.  Even more recently, the Taylor family donated the papers of the Rev. Eben Taylor.  That collection is quite large, and it’s going to take a while to work through, but it will be a great addition to the archives.  All of these personal paper collections contain a mixture of sermons, correspondence, and materials that document these ministers’ conference service and ministry.

So, what do we do with all of those papers?  We try, as efficiently as possible, to turn them into something that a researcher can use to help tell the story of Methodism in our conference and state, so that people in our future will be able to look back and understand their past.

(This was my Advocate column for October)

Shipp Hall at 50

Written By: Phillip Stone - Sep•11•13

About this time last year, I wrote a post about the 50th anniversary of DuPre Residence Hall.  DuPre and its close relative, Shipp Residence Hall, were both built as part of a campus expansion plan developed in the late 1950s.  This plan included the construction of Milliken Science Hall, the renovation of Main Building, the opening of the Black Music-Art Building, and two new residence halls.

A. M. Shipp Hall, opened in September 1963, represented the culmination of this plan.  Built to house 168 students, it was slightly larger than its sibling across the lawn.  It included a nice lounge area that has been a popular meeting place, an apartment for a house mother, and two interior courtyards.  As in DuPre, students were housed in rooms with individual sleeping and studying rooms, which students came to call “cubes.”

The Board of Trustees decided to follow a tradition just before the dorm opened and name it in honor of a former president of the college, in this case, the college’s second president, Albert Micajah Shipp.  President Shipp served from 1859 to 1875.  When the residence hall was formally opened in October 1963, several of his grandchildren were in attendance.

Shipp is special to me personally since I lived there for three years.  In 1991, with the opening of the dorm that is now known as Carlisle Hall (the New Dorm for those of us 1990s alums), most of the women in the senior and junior classes decamped from Shipp.  That made Shipp available for junior and senior men, and in my case, the occasional sophomore.  I never lived anywhere else.  And, though it may be a stereotype that women take better care of their residence halls than men, in this case, it was probably accurate.  Having been the home of women students for years, Shipp was in really good shape.  I did notice that after three years, it was looking a little less so.

Along with DuPre, Shipp was thoroughly renovated a few summers ago, and continues to serve another generation of students.

Photos – a Shipp postcard, construction photos, the dedication program.

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