Historical Row

HISTORICAL ROW: THE ONCE AND FUTURE PRESIDENT

One small aspect of Barack Obama’s rise to the White House is actually not groundbreaking: he is far from the first future president to find his way to Wesleyan. Middletown has played host to four sitting presidents and several presidential candidates or future presidents. Long before Wesleyan was a gleam in Willbur Fisk’s eye, at…

HISTORICAL ROW: THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT AND WESLEYAN FREEDOM RIDERS

Most Wesleyan alumni are well aware of the visits of Martin Luther King Jr. to Wesleyan in the 1960s. Clearly the most famous and charismatic Civil Rights Movement figure, Martin Luther King profoundly affected the Wesleyan community. But there’s much more to the story of Wesleyan and the Movement.   Unlike the situation at many…

HISTORICAL ROW: TIME FOR A BREAK!

When you spend your life in a university community, the academic calendar can seem as inevitable as the change of seasons in New England. The new year starts in September, close to Labor Day. Frosh show up early for orientation. Semesters are about 13 weeks long, with a short break in the midst of the…

HISTORICAL ROW: INAUGURATING A WESLEYAN PRESIDENT

Few academic ceremonies are more steeped in tradition than the inauguration of a new university president. Naturally, Wesleyan’s 16 inaugurations have varied in detail, but certain key elements recur: an academic procession, music, greetings from key constituencies, the presence of special guests, and an address by the new president.   Wesleyan’s first inaugural ceremony, the…

HISTORICAL ROW: THE MOST BEAUTIFUL STREET IN AMERICA

That would be our own High Street, of course, and the luminary who made the statement would be Charles Dickens. At least that’s the story according to a 1942 article about the DKE House by Lucy Colton Wells. Mrs. Wells remembered, “‘High Street is the most beautiful street I have seen in America.’ My mother,…

HISTORICAL ROW: UNCLE SAM WANTS YOU!

 From the Civil War to Vietnam and beyond, Wesleyan students and alumni have been called upon—by conscience, patriotic fervor, conscription, or some combination thereof —to enlist and fight. The causes and the military technology have changed dramatically over the past nearly 150 years, but many of the human issues of earlier wars resonate today. During…

HISTORICAL ROW: LIONS, AND TIGERS, AND BEARS… OH MY!

From 1871 to 1957, the top two floors of Judd Hall housed Wesleyan’s natural history museum. Named for Orange Judd, Class of 1847, a prominent agricultural editor and publisher, as well as a generous donor, the brownstone structure was one of the first buildings in the United States designed specifically for undergraduate science instruction. In…

HISTORICAL ROW: KEEPING WESLEYAN HISTORY ALIVE

When Olin Library opened in 1928, one of its innovations was the “Wesleyan Room.” As its name suggests, the Wesleyan Room housed the university’s fledgling archives. Located on the west side of the library’s second floor, the holdings of the Wesleyan Room grew rapidly. By 1933, according to a program for a meeting of the…

HISTORICAL ROW: “THE FIRST 100 YEARS ARE THE HARDEST…”

This sage tidbit was uttered by Dartmouth President Ernest M. Hopkins during his speech at Wesleyan’s Centennial Celebration in October 1931. Hopkins was among the leaders of 38 colleges and universities who attended the three days of festivities, along with about 3,000 other revelers. Institutions of higher education, predominantly those in the Northeast, were well…

HISTORICAL ROW: WESLEYAN’S ANNIVERSARIES

Wesleyan turns 175 in 2006. The official celebration will begin at Reunion and Commencement 2006.   Institutional birthdays often occur in 25-year intervals. A quick look at the history of Wesleyan’s anniversary celebrations suggests that this phenomenon might be rooted in the idea that, by the time that the next quarter century rolls around, everyone…