Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

Baseball fever, bossy sophomores, and risky rush activities were all part of campus life 100 years ago, a present-day Lafayette student has found in summer term research.

Lucy Smith ’03, a French and art history major, is exploring what Lafayette was like around the turn of the last century as reflected in scrapbooks stored in Skillman Library’s Special Collections.

In an EXCEL Scholar project, Smith is combing through scrapbooks students kept between 1878 and 1915 to help the library catalog one of its several small manuscript collections. Smith is working with Diane Windham Shaw, special collections librarian and college archivist, and other Skillman librarians.

Shaw says Smith has already made some “wonderful discoveries,” including possibly identifying a campus artwork from a scrapbook clipping.

One 1878 scrapbook Smith examined is heaping with baseball articles, programs, and tickets. Others document the rivalry of freshmen and sophomores, who tried to lord it over the underclassmen, and college tug-of-war-type rushes, at least one of which resulted in an accident.

Proving that some campus traditions don’t change, the student says, the Lafayette-Lehigh game figures in some scrapbooks.

“One person had saved old, dried flowers from a dance,” Smith says. “The scrapbooks are printed on non-acid-free paper, but they’re in OK condition. Most aren’t crumbling. But I have to decide whether to try preserving them.”

“I’m preparing them to be cataloged. I’m trying to identify who wrote the
scrapbook and collecting information so the librarian can enter it into the
computer,” adds Smith, a book lover who plans to get her masters degree
in library science and someday work in an archive.

The goal of the projects is to make the small collections, some of which have never been cataloged in a modern fashion, accessible to the scholarly community and public.

Other such materials are a small cache of correspondence of Frances March, Lafayette’s pre-eminent 19th century faculty scholar, slave emancipation documents, and even papers and prototypes from Easton’s Dixie Cup Company.

Smith calls Shaw a “fabulous boss” who fosters students’ curiosity and encourages them to probe deeply into subjects.

“I’m getting $10 an hour to get experience in the field I want to go into,” she adds. “Where else but Lafayette could you get such an opportunity?”

A graduate of Red Bank Regional High School in Little Silver, N.J., Smith is a member of the French Club and Pep Band.

Categorized in: Academic News