All posts by emoryhistorian

Serving in senior administrative positions at Emory University since 1988, including secretary of the university, vice president, and senior adviser to the president, I was appointed university historian in October 2015. My PhD degree, from Emory, is in Christian ethics, and I have BA and MA degrees in English (Lehigh) and a divinity degree. After writing my dissertation on Iris Murdoch, I became increasingly interested in the way institutional ethos is shaped and the way Emory, in particular, has transformed and been transformed by the moral imaginations of its people.

The corner of Winship and Dobbs

As the new Campus Life Center (CLC) rises to its full height and fills out the space formerly occupied by the Dobbs University Center (DUC), it’s good to recall what used to occupy that site.

The wonderful aerial photo below shows progress on the CLC as of two weeks ago. The Emory campus of 2018 is packed. Amazingly, the scene includes the Woodruff Library (upper-right corner), the Goizueta Business School (top), most of Emory Hospital and the Emory Clinic, some medical research facilities, the School of Medicine, some Campus Life facilities, and the newer freshman residence halls to the lower left. It’s either a beehive or an anthill.

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In contrast, the aerial below, from the 1930s, shows a similar perspective but a less built-up campus. The spot now occupied by concrete pillars and steel beams was, back then, the location of one of the first two dormitories on the Druid Hills campus, Winship Hall. That building bore the name of the trustee who paid for it, George Winship, who had had an extraordinarily successful career in manufacturing and cotton. He died at the age of eighty-one in April 1916, just months before the opening of the dormitory that would bear his name.

In the photo, Winship Hall  stands between the oval athletic field and the 1927 dining hall/auditorium, which was expanded to become the Alumni Memorial University Center in 1950.

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Below is a close-up of Winship from the 1920s. Note the lovey autos! The basement of this building provided space for the first gymnasium on the Druid Hills campus, but it wasn’t much of a gym by our standards. According to Clyde Partin Sr., in Athletics for All (Bookhouse, 2006), the gym contained “parallel bars and other equipment–poles, weights, Indian clubs, punching  bags, and mats, . . . along with room for wrestling and boxing.”

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When the University needed to expand the 1950s-era AMUC in the 1980s to accommodate a larger student body and more student organizations, Winship Hall came down, and in its place rose the west wing of the DUC. The legacy of Winship remained in the name of the Winship Ballroom, on the second floor of the DUC.

R. Howard Dobbs, who made the lead gift to help build the DUC, also served as an Emory trustee following an eminently successful career with the Life Insurance Company of Georgia.

By coincidence, the other of the first two dormitories in Druid Hills–across the street from Winship and, later, the DUC–also bore the name of Dobbs. This was  Samuel Candler Dobbs Hall, named for a nephew of Coca-Cola Founder Asa Candler. Samuel was no relation to Howard.

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Dobbs Hall, built in 1916 across Asbury Circle from Winship Hall and shown here in 1960, still serves as a dormitory for first-year Emory College students. Photo courtesy of Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library.

Samuel Dobbs worked for uncle Asa at the Coca-Cola Company and eventually rose to become president of the company from 1919 until 1920. In that capacity, he hosted the annual Coca-Cola Convention for a photo op in front of “his” dormitory in January 1920.

In the photo below, Dobbs is the man with the handsome head of curly white hair seated between two women. The woman to his right is most likely Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans, the first woman to serve on the Coca-Cola and Emory boards. (A residence hall at Emory bears her name.) The man to Dobbs’s left is bishop and University chancellor Warren Candler, and to Warren’s left sits his brother Asa Griggs Candler Sr.Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 10.41.12 AM

As they look toward the then-empty space that would be filled by the Campus Life Center a century later, it would be interesting to hear their thoughts about the way the place has changed.

Gary Hauk


Postcards from the edge–of the Quad

Al Dowdle III, a research administrator in the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory, enjoys collecting old postcards, and some years ago he sent me scans of a few that he had come across here and there. Recently he sent me some more that show “dear old Emory” as it was fifty, eighty, or more than a hundred years ago. With his permission, I’m sharing them below with his comments and questions and my responses.

Al says: This is a real photo card, meaning the postcard was individually printed from a photographed image onto this photo paper and developed. From the stamp box, this paper was made between 1910 and 1930. Do you think this is the bridge behind the Carlos facing away from the quad?

a Emory Snow

Me: Yes, this is a view of the bridge now known as the Mizell Bridge, after Robert C. Mizell (1911C), long-time university administrator. In this photo, the photographer is standing near where visitors now enter the Carlos Museum from the ravine side of the building. The photo is rare because it shows not only the Mizell bridge but also, in the distance to the right, a bridge that no longer exists. The original drive into the campus crossed two bridges – one near where the Church School Building now stands, and the second behind the museum (Mizell). You can see a close-up of that first bridge on my blog post of July 27, 2017. In the July post, the photographer is looking toward where the Rich Building now stands.

Al: This is also a real photo card. Again dated from 1910 to 1930. The stamp was produced from 1908 to 1920. I think the postmark is 1923 or ’28? Where was this building? My mom, who was at Emory in the very early 1950s, does not remember it.

b Emory Chapel

Me: This is the chapel in the Old Theology Building (formerly the home of Pitts Theology Library). The building opened in 1916 as one of the first two academic buildings on the campus, across from its twin, the Law School (now Michael C. Carlos Hall). When the theology school acquired the Hartford Collection in 1975, the entire building was converted to library space, and this chapel was deconsecrated and filled with shelves. You can read more about this space in my blog post of November 8.

Al: I believe this is a white-border card dating between 1915 and 1930. Now that I look at it again, I think I have the same image in color. I will have to look.

c Emory Quad

Me: This photo certainly was taken after 1926, when Candler Library, facing the viewer, was opened.

Al: I love this card. It again is a real photo card. The paper was manufactured starting in 1950. The blue lettering on the left says “swimming pool.” I wonder what game the writer marched into wearing blue jeans?

d Emory Aerial

Me: Good question about the game; I don’t know what it might have been. It sounds like Karen was living on campus, in which case she may have been one of the first female students to reside on campus. That would date this postcard to after 1953. Her mother, Mrs. John E. Buhler, must have been the wife of the dean of the dental school at the time, Dr. John E. Buhler, who served from 1948 to 1961. (His deanship was marked by anti-Semitism in the school, a story told here.)

Al: I love the cars in this one. Post mark of 1971.

e Emory Wesley Woods

Me: They don’t make ‘em like that anymore! Wesley Woods was built by the Methodist Church in 1954 on a sixty-acre campus next to Emory and has been a partner of Emory’s ever since. In 1998 the geriatric hospital there–the first of its kind in the nation–became part of Emory Healthcare.

Al: “Lovely Glenn Memorial…” in 1955. Are those electric trolley wires in the top center of the photo?

f Emory Glenn Memorial

Me: Yes, those are streetcar wires. The streetcar stopped running past there in 1948 or so, and the car in the photo looks about that vintage, so the photo may be a decade old.

Al: I know this is not technically Emory, but I also have read the Atlanta College of Physicians and Surgeons eventually became part of Emory SOM. Postmark 1909. Does this look anything like the new SOM classrooms? I wish I could read all of the message on the back where the sender describes what they did in each room. “#3 is where I look at frogs.” The last line mentions a Halloween party with a “girl as sweet as a pickle.”

g Emory Atlanta College

Me: No, the latest SOM labs are a bit more up to date, thankfully. Looks to me like the card says “Ga. girls sweet as pickle.” I always thought they were sweet as peaches. It’s great to find these messages on the cards, though. Makes me wonder who will be reading my postcards a hundred years from now.

Gary Hauk


It bears a name at once both celestial and terrestrial, evoking an image of Jack’s beanstalk climbing from field to clouds, a green rope winding its way from Shakespeare’s “sullen earth” to farthest heaven, a stem of vegetation reaching to the night sky—starvine. And for the shuttle road that links Emory’s residential Clairmont Campus with the main campus—across a rainbow-arch bridge over the CSX railroad tracks—it lends an equally suggestive name: Starvine Way, perhaps a winding starlit path.

This obscure plant, the starvine, hides throughout Lullwater, the 150-acre preserve that also harbors the home of the Emory president. Starvine sprouts in other parts of the Emory Forest as well, a botanical treasure whose threatened existence in the Southeast, its only native habitat, makes Emory perhaps its most important home anywhere in the world.

I first became acquainted with starvine as a name on a list of plants indigenous to Lullwater. When the University was building the shuttle road in 1999–2000, it needed a name. Because the road hugs the edge of Lullwater, I searched the list of indigenous plants included in the report on Emory forests prepared in 1986 by biology professors Bill Murdy and Eloise Carter. And there was starvine–a poet’s name for a threatened species.

Also called bay starvine or magnolia starvine, its scientific name is schisandra glabra. Emory environmentalists have taken to calling it American starvine, to distinguish it further from its more prolific Asian cousin, Chinese starvine (schisandra chinensis). Slender tendrils with widely spaced, shiny green leaves trail along the ground or stretch up in little palm-tree-like stalks or twine themselves around slender saplings to pull themselves up toward the sun.

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Starvine shoots cultivated from cuttings at Wesley Woods. Photo by Emory Photo/Video.

Born in leaf litter, the vine reaches for the light and sometimes shoots up twenty feet or more toward the tops of its host trees, which include the rare broad-leaved or umbrella magnolias (not the non-indigenous Southern magnolia, which was imported to these parts). The vine’s red berries open, when ripe, into a five-petal flower with a rounded star shape.

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Starvine blossom. Photo by Emory Photo/Video.

Around the starvine grow other wild medicinal celebrities: the bane berry bush with its small fruits that look like porcelain doll’s eyes (a poisonous plant, as the name suggests, except in very small amounts brewed in tea for headaches, coughs, and colds); sweet shrub (useful for nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea); spice bush (for colds, dysentery, intestinal parasites); and, perhaps most striking, wild ginseng (for higher mental and physical energy and reduction of stress).

These plants, growing on the north-facing slopes of Emory’s protected forested acres, make the woods of the campus places where idle strolling leads to scientific speculation. Carl Brown, an adjunct faculty member in Environmental Sciences, has taught me almost everything I know about starvine. Carl and others have been working with descendants of the Creek Indians who once inhabited this area to determine whether Native Americans used starvine for healing.

Kirk Hines, a horticultural therapist at the A.G. Rhodes Home on Emory’s Wesley Woods campus, has engaged residents of the home in planting seeds and cultivating an experimental starvine “vineyard” as one of the therapeutic activities he directs.

It may be time for the little plant to have its day in the sun — but it really prefers filtered light, with dappled shade. Halfway between earth and heaven.

Gary Hauk

For more about the cultivation and study of starvine at Emory, check out the “Emory Report” article by Kimber Williams.


A tale of two Bobs

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” It was 1923.

The year 1923 falls almost equidistant in time between Emory’s founding in 1836 and today, the second day of Founders Week 2018. So it seems fitting to remember two men – not exactly founders, but what I would call “indispensables” – who shared the name Bob, and whose lives were marked importantly by the year 1923.

For the first Bob, it was indeed “the best of times.” That man was Robert Woodruff, who hardly needs an introduction to anyone familiar with the history or campus of Emory. Six Emory buildings bear the Woodruff name, and “the gift” of $105 million from Robert and his brother George in 1979 set Emory on a new path to distinction.

In April 1923, Robert Woodruff, who had dropped out of Emory College after one semester in 1908, left his vice presidency at the White Motor Company in Cleveland, Ohio, to become the president of the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta. While he took a step up, going from the vice presidency of one company to the presidency of another, he also took a pay cut of about $50,000—about seven hundred grand in today’s money.

Despite that drop in salary, Woodruff clearly made a smart move, because he earned back that lost income millions of times over. He took a risk, invested of himself—and found unimaginable reward. He also found the means to bless many other people in the process, and thus also found great, inexpressible satisfaction.

For another man named Bob, 1923 was the worst of times. It was the year he died.

Unlike Robert Woodruff, he lived in relative obscurity and much more humble surroundings all of his life. He was born a slave, in 1858, and died just four years after Emory College moved from Oxford to Atlanta. His name was Robert Hammond.

For two thirds of Bob Hammond’s 65 years, he was the janitor at Emory College. It’s very likely that while Bob Woodruff was a student at Emory College during that fall semester of 1908, he would have encountered Robert Hammond on campus. When Bob Hammond died, the students and alumni of Emory – “the Emory men,” as the inscription reads – erected a tombstone for him to demonstrate their affection and respect. And as Emory alumna Candace Coffman 09C discovered in research a few years ago, Bob Hammond indirectly returned the favor.

Responding to an appeal by the Emory board of trustees to raise funds for what is now Oxford College, Robert Hammond’s widow, Amanda, to whom he was married for more than forty years, gave a hundred dollars to the effort—the equivalent of more than $1400 today. In 1968 their grandson, John Hammond, joined Angela Jinks and Tony Gibson as the first African American students to enroll in Oxford College of Emory University.

Two quite different men, two quite different lives, two quite different means of giving—but one generous impulse, and one fortunate institution.

We may never understand fully what motivated Robert Woodruff to give hundreds of millions of dollars to a school he was unable to graduate from. We may never know what seeds of generosity led the widow of a former slave to make a gift to the school where he worked most of his life—a school named for a former slave-owner. But we do know something of the promptings of our own hearts. And we see on the Emory campus the fruits of that legacy left by Woodruff, Hammond, and thousands of others in between.

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Gary Hauk



About those 75 acres

Two questions about the Atlanta campus have long puzzled me, and finally I have the answer to one. It concerns the chunk of land that was the original nugget of today’s 740-acre campus (not counting the 42 acres of the Briarcliff property a mile away).

In addition to his initial million-dollar gift to help launch the new university in Atlanta, Asa Candler Sr. arranged to convey to Emory 75 acres belonging to Druid Hills, Inc., the corporation through which he was developing the suburb six miles from downtown Atlanta. On March 31, 1915, the university board of trustees voted, in the words of the minutes, that “the property known as the ‘Guess Place,’ located in Druid Hills, be selected as the site of the University, provided it could be secured.”

On June 28, 1915, Asa Candler, president of Druid Hills, Inc., saw to it that the land was indeed “secured.” Below, courtesy of the University’s Office of General Counsel, is a copy of the first page of the deed with that date.

Deed, 1915 original Emory Atlanta campus, 75 acres copy

I’d always assumed that the original property included the Quadrangle, but was that correct? The second page of the deed tells more:

Deed, p 2, 1915 original Emory Atlanta campus, 75 acres copy

The first paragraph above describes the exact boundaries of the property. Using Google Maps and a scale of 200 feet to half an inch, I traced as nearly as I could the boundaries laid out by the deed. Surprisingly, here is what I found:

75 acres

It’s interesting that those 75 acres did not include the corner at Clifton and Eagle Row, where the Woodruff Health Sciences Center now stands, or even the land where the Anatomy and Physiology laboratories would be built in 1917 (current site of the School of Medicine). More curious still, the western boundary appears to cut through the edge of the Quadrangle at about where architect Henry Hornbostel would locate the Old Theology Building.

Nine years later, the board minutes of May 30, 1924, indicate that Druid Hills, Inc., deeded to Emory an additional 55 acres, extending the western boundary of the campus to “Lullwater Creek.” That probably was what we today call Peavine Creek, which flows through Emory Village and north toward South Peachtree Creek. (Peavine Creek and Lullwater Creek meet up near the 15th tee of the Druid Hills Golf Club, just south of Emory Village. To my inexpert eye, it appears that Peavine actually flows into Lullwater, and that Lullwater continues on, and maybe folks in 1924 thought the same thing.)

By 1936, according to historian Henry Morton Bullock, in his centennial history of Emory, “subsequent additions” had “increased the campus to 235 acres.”

Now to take up the second question–who was that Guess for whom “the Guess place” was named?

Gary Hauk


Mapping Emory history

“Whose maps are we trying to read?” asks Rebecca Solnit in Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas. “And what are we trying to draw? It’s so common to live in a place without truly knowing its history, its systems, and the people who are different from you and who move through different versions of the city.”

I’ve been trying to read the different versions of Emory by viewing the maps stowed away in the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library. What do they tell me about the university’s history, systems, and people? Well, here is an example.

The map below bears the date 1950. Knowing what I do about the campus today, the first thing that strikes my eye is the vast vacancy to the right side of Clifton Road. Where now stand the law school and edifice upon edifice of clinics stretching from North Decatur Road up to the railroad tracks, there were, in 1950, a house, some apartments, a “grill & bookstore,” a “doctors’ bldg,” and a post office, which I happen to know also had a pharmacy next door.

Campus map 1950
Campus map, 1950, courtesy of Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

What I glean from this is that some Emory folks lived conveniently closer to work and study than nearly anyone does today. Faculty physicians occupied modest space. And commuters or visitors to the campus needed not a single concrete deck in which to park. President Goodrich White probably walked from his home at the corner of North Decatur and Clifton to his office, which was in Candler Library until the Administration Building was constructed five years later.

At the top of the map, I notice the words “federal dormitories” and “federal apartments.” How odd, that word “federal” on a private, church-affiliated campus.

The dormitories were built to accommodate the enrollment boom after World War II. Thomas English, in his 1965 history of Emory, describes them: “[T]hree Federal Public Housing dormitories were brought in and set up beyond the railroad, in which 384 men shivered in winter and baked in summer.” A generation reading “Li’l Abner” in the comic strips dubbed the place “Lower Slobbovia.” These “eyesores,” as English called them, remained until 1955. It’s hard to know what students born in the middle of the Depression and weaned on war rations thought of their accommodations, but most likely the humble dorms made graduation “a consummation devoutly to be wished for.”

The “federal apartments” were what English called “plywood and tar paper barracks . . . erected for married couples farther out Clifton Road, long to be remembered without affection as ‘Mudville.'”

Anyone out there reading this who may have dwelt in one or the other of these complexes, let me hear from you. I would love to hear about your experiences.

More maps anon.

Gary Hauk





The legend of the Wesley holly

A story passed down through the decades recounts the legacy of a visit by Bishop Warren Candler to St. Simons Island with his wife, Antoinette, sometime during his chancellorship of the university. (He was chancellor from 1915 until his retirement from the job in 1920.)

Both John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism, had ministered to Native Americans and English colonists around Savannah and on St. Simons in 1736, shortly after the founding of the colony of Georgia. The Wesleys often preached outdoors, and tradition held that one particular large and impressive live oak tree on St. Simons had shaded the young Charles Wesley during a service of prayer and preaching. Some claim that John later preached there also. The tree came to be known as the Wesley Oak, and a photo of it appears in Lucian Lamar Knight’s Georgia Landmarks, Memorials, and Legends (1913–14, Vol. 1, p. 66).

Wesley Oak
The Wesley Oak on St. Simons Island as it appeared in the first decade of the 20th century.

Knight described the tree as rising “to a height of some two hundred feet, while, over an area of several acres, its cool shade rests like a benediction.” Knight held out the suspicion that the tree may not have been the identical one that shaded the Wesleys, but he acknowledged that the tree’s size suggested that it no doubt harked back to the early colonial era.

A historical marker pointing to the former location of the tree can be seen on the web here. The tree suffered its demise sometime in the 1920s, and the historical marker reports that a cross made from its wood hangs near the pulpit in Christ Church Frederica on St. Simons (the cross is just visible behind the American flag in the photo below).

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The nave of Christ Church Frederica, St. Simons,

In a pilgrimage the Candlers made to that live oak, Nettie, as the bishop called her, spotted a small holly bush growing out of a crook of the tree—probably from a seed left by a bird in its droppings onto the shallow soil accumulated there. According to lore, Nettie uprooted the little holly and brought it back to Atlanta for transplanting on the Emory campus near the Old Theology Building.

Years later, that holly had grown huge, sinking deep roots, and it had to be removed to make way for new steam pipes under the Quadrangle. Groundskeepers took cuttings from it first, then rooted them and planted them around the campus. Here and there (in front of the Psychology and Interdisciplinary Sciences Building, for example, and at the corners of Bowden Hall and Candler Library, and around Glenn Memorial), descendants of that original East Palatka holly bush, the “Wesley Holly,” still flourish. They are offspring of the holly that grew from the bole of a live oak under which, according to tradition, the Wesleys once had preached.

Wesley Holly at Candler Library
A descendant of the original Wesley Holly, beside Candler Library.

Nettie herself was something of a landscape gardener, by all accounts—the first in a long line of stewards of the campus who have dedicated themselves to keeping it green and beautiful. Under her guidance the ravine behind the old law school building (now Michael C. Carlos Hall) was turned into a garden with an amphitheater spacious enough to serve as the site for Commencement in the 1920s. Called Antoinette Gardens to honor its chief overseer, the area reverted to wildness after the Commencement activities moved elsewhere in 1926. Now called Baker Woodlands, the ravine honors another early steward of the landscape, the late biology professor Woolford B. Baker.

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A view, circa 1925, of what is now Michael C. Carlos Hall from what was then Antoinette Gardens, now Baker Woodlands.

Gary S. Hauk