Archive for February, 2012

Research Post #4

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

There were several familiar names listed in the faculty section of the MWC catalogs.  The President was Morgan Lafayette Combs, the Dean of College was Edward Alvey, Jr., and the Dean of Women was Mrs. Charles Lake Bushnell.  Today, all three of these people have halls named after them.

On a different note, there was a significant difference in MWC after the US entered WWII.  Because of the recovery of the economy, MWC was now able to expand its academic fields.  For example, instead of just French, Spanish, and the classical languages, now German, Portuguese, Italian, and Russian were added to the curriculum.

Research Post #3

Monday, February 13th, 2012

The three-year degree program was discontinued by April of 1946, and by the same time about half of the faculty that had been on leave for military service had returned.

Closer examination of the pictures of the classrooms for dual capacity women (those who wanted to be both wage-earners and home-makers) showed a variety of courses.  A typing class (obviously for secretarial work) had invididual desks for each student with a typewriter.  A class for phone operators had its students have office desks that included a mock operator set-up.  Sewing class had tables for groups of about eight students.  Cooking class had two rows of sinks, plus an oven at each end of the rows.  And a science class (probably biology, judging by the microscopes), with tables designed for groups of four.

Re: Group Meeting

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

We created the website for our decade and named it “Books, Bonds & Babes.”  As well as focus on the classroom, we will also include a page on WWII and its impact.

Re: Reading assignment

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Ida B. Wells’ denouncement of lynching as recorded in “Modern American Women” reminds me of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”  While Harper Lee’s novel takes place over forty years after Wells’ article, it still demonstrates that people are still willing to lynch a black man for a crime which he did not commit.  “The Southern White man says that it is impossible for a voluntary alliance to exist between a white woman and acolored man, and therefore, the fact of an alliance is a proof of force.”  Wells also points out that accusations of rape by black men were virtually nonexistent while aforementioned black man was still a slave.

Wells concluding comment, “Virtue knows no color line…” will be echoed again by Martin Luther King, Jr., when he dreamed of a world where he would be judged by the content of his character, not the color of his skin.

Research Blog #2

Monday, February 6th, 2012

This past week, I researched the course catalogs from 1941-1944.

The first major change of note was in the 1942-43 catalog.  Published just one month after the US declared war on Japan and Germany, MWC started a three-year degree program, “To accelerate training for urgent needs of the nation.”  The following year, a preface was included in the catalog declaring a new focus on classes and programs for the wartime effort.  All departments would put more emphasis on courses that would be practical in the war effort (i.e. mathematics, chemistry, and physics).

A couple of photographs from the catalogs also show a class for women aiming for wage earning (especially during the war years) and home-making, as was more traditional for women of that time period.

Also of note are the missing faculty members.  First noted in the January 1943 catalog, twelve members of faculty are on leave for military service.  The next issue, April 1943, notes sixteen members for the same reason.  Almost all of these absentees are men, but there is also one woman counted among those not available for teaching.

Research Blog #1

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

My part of the research covers the course catalogs of the 1940s and studying the academic department and faculty files during that same time period.  Since this is the decade that contains A) the months before the United States entered World War II, B) the years the US fought and finished the war, and C) a few post-war years, it will be interesting to go through all the files to see what kind of changes Mary Washington College (as I will be referring to UMW as, since that was its name during that time frame) went through during this tumultuous time.

Going through the course catalogs in Special Collections will give us an idea on what classes were offered at MWC, and what were the requirements for particular majors then.  Going through these catalogs will also give us a look on what subjects were of most demand during the ‘40s.  For example, would interest in German and Japanese classes decrease due to the outbreak of World War II?  And how would Russian studies be affected as the Cold War dawned?  These are just two topics that could be answered by looking through the catalogs.

The academic department history and faculty files will clue us in on who the professors were at MWC during the ‘40s.  Such information will not tell us how the teachers conducted their lessons like other sources will, but they will tell us their professional qualifications, and how employment was affected in the last years of the Great Depression, throughout World War II, and during the time of post-war.