Category Archives: Uncategorized

Taking the trolley to Dobbs?

I recently came across a photo that made me wonder whether a trolley once ran through the Emory campus, although that seems farfetched, and nothing I’ve read or heard has ever suggested it.

Dobbs Hall, named for donor and trustee Samuel Candler Dobbs, a nephew of Asa Candler Sr., originally housed theology and law students when it opened in 1916 as one of the first two residence halls on the Druid Hills campus. The building — made for student life before radio, let alone television, stereos, hair-dryers, coffee makers, microwave ovens, mini-fridges, George Foreman grills, and computers with their accessory printers — still houses first-year students in Emory College, for whom the cramped shared rooms build “esprit de corps.”

In 1962, to accommodate a growing student body, Emory built a concrete addition, which you can see in the photo below. Taken last week, the photo is not great, but it offers the same perspective as the next photo, in black and white, which was taken perhaps in the 1930s or 1940s.

Dobbs Hall 2018

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The street going off to the right in the second photo is the current Dickey Drive, formerly called Pierce Drive until a realignment of streets in the early 2000s (named for earlier Emory presidents James E. Dickey and George Foster Pierce). The street going up to the left was formerly called Arkwright Drive and is now simply a sidewalk between Dobbs Hall and the Woodruff Physical Education Center and soccer field. (Preston Arkwright was an early 20th-century trustee and the first president of Georgia Power.)

What caught my attention in this photo is the overhead wires going up Arkwright Drive. They look like trolley wires, but they may be simply power lines serving nearby buildings.

Below is another photo of Dobbs Hall from roughly the same perspective in March 1960, two years before the addition of the back section of the building.

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I would love to hear from any former residents of the building who have stories about life in Dobbs.

Gary Hauk

 

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Hallmarks of a good mace

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The seal of Emory University graces the ball at the foot of the university mace.

Last week, the 173rd Commencement exercises at Emory brought the Emory University mace into prominence for me in two ways.

The first came in a question from Joe Moon, dean of campus life for Oxford College and the resident expert on the history of the Oxford campus. He sent the photograph below and asked what the marks on the back of the mace indicate.

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I thought the marks had something to do with the manufacture of the mace, and it turns out that, indeed, these are the hallmarks of the London artists who made it. The lion with the tail, second from the left, indicates nearly pure silver (there is also some gold), while the face of the lion next to it indicates that the mace was manufactured in London. The letter i on the far right indicates the date of manufacture, 1964. I’m not certain what the hallmark on the far left indicates, but it may signify the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, who “executed” the mace in silver and gold.

For a short description of how to read hallmarks, here is the website for the Assay Office in Birmingham, UK.  This additional link shows the letters that correspond to dates of silversmith production in London from 1956 through 1974.

Eric Clements, of Birmingham, England, designed the mace with the help of George Cuttino, long-time professor of medieval history and the chief marshal of Emory University from 1976 through Commencement 1984. (See this Emory Magazine article for more about the mace.) DVS, the Senior Society, presented the mace to Emory on January 25, 1965, during the convocation marking the fiftieth anniversary of the university’s charter in DeKalb County. The president of the Student Senate at the time, E. Culpepper (Cully) Clark 65C received the mace, and six months later he was the first president of the student body to carry the mace in a Commencement procession—a tradition that continues to this day.

In 1967–68, the student body restructured its governance by abolishing the Student Senate and establishing the Student Government Association (SGA), whose constitution was approved by President Atwood and the University Senate. The first SGA president to carry the mace at Commencement was Walter “Sonny” Deriso 68C 72L.

By happy coincidence, this year Sonny was also the first former president of the student body to march in the Commencement procession with the Corpus Cordis Aureum, the Golden Corps of the Heart—alumni who graduated fifty or more years ago.

Here Sonny shines in his golden robe with (left to right) Bob Goddard, chair of the Emory board of trustees; outgoing SGA president Gurbani Singh 18B; and President Claire Sterk.

50-year mace reunion

Commencement reminds us, as Dooley, says, that “students may come and students may go, professors may come and professors may go, presidents may come and presidents may go, but Dooley goes on forever.”

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The ball in the open teardrop at the top of the mace indicates the globe and is divided by stippling to connote the nine schools of the university. The cross on top signals Emory’s relationship to the United Methodist Church. Dooley watches over all.

Gary Hauk

Emory and “A Perfect Mess”

Stanford professor David F. Labaree, a social historian who writes about education, has published a short and engaging book about American higher education. He sums up his take on the industry with the book’s title–“A Perfect Mess” (University of Chicago Press, 2017). His thesis is that the rise of American colleges and universities to a position of dominance in the ranks of the best in the world could not have been predicted in the  nineteenth century. True, by 1880 the US had five times as many higher ed institutions as all of Europe, and Ohio alone had three times as many as the UK. Yet these American colleges held about as much promise of triumph as a go-cart at the Indy 500.

Unsurprisingly, the story of most  American colleges through the nineteenth century sounds like much of the history of Emory back then. Scores of small colleges founded by religious denominations were isolated in rural areas or tiny towns. Presidents and faculty members wrestled with a constant shortage of funds and relatively small enrollments. The faculty often were clergy first and scholars second, many of them having attained little more than a BA degree and rarely a doctorate. As many as half the students failed to graduate, not necessarily for want of brains but for the need to earn a living as farmers, merchants, or even professionals in work that required less formal education in those days (law and ministry especially).

The location of Emory College in little Oxford, Georgia, and then the establishment of Emory University in Atlanta underscore two observations Labaree makes.

The first observation is that the founders of the liberal arts colleges in the nineteenth century often chose rural areas or small towns for their schools out of a belief in republican (small r) values–the integrity and individualism of the small landholder, the family-like ethos of community, the nurturing of civic and religious habits, and a suspicion of the corrupting influence of commercial centers in large cities.

All of these principles seem to have motivated the founders of Emory College, who not only set their college two miles from the center of Covington but also created a new town as a buffer against intruding vices. (Initially each residential lot in the college’s town, Oxford, was offered on a lease of 999 years, with stipulations that the lease would be forfeit if the property were used for games of chance or selling of “spirits.”)

Labaree’s second observation, though, points to a curious and often-unremarked-upon fact about the location of Emory University. He comments that many nineteenth-century colleges were founded by civic boosters who wanted to increase the value of their property. “Settle in East Podunk–we have a college!” I think something of that strategy was at work in Asa Candler in 1914.

By 1914, when the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was looking for the site for a new university, wariness of city vices still persisted among many Emory supporters, and they made a strong case for keeping the college at Oxford while allowing the university’s new professional schools to take advantage of access to lawyers, doctors, business leaders, and clergy in the city. In the end, the trustees thought it made more sense to have the college and the professional schools on the same campus in Atlanta.

Curiously, though, that campus in Atlanta began with seventy-five acres that Asa Candler carved out of his suburban development in Druid Hills. What better way to ensure the marketability of his massive real estate plan than to carve a bucolic university campus from the woods and fields right next door?

This is not to minimize Candler’s genuine philanthropic impulse or his indispensable largess. But his biographers have always noted that his deep and extended civic engagement with Atlanta, as well as his commitments to church and university, never diminished or got in the way of his always-functioning business savvy. He was ever, in the apt title of Kathryn W. Kemp’s book about him, “God’s capitalist.”

Gary Hauk

 

The remarkable Sledds of Emory

Last Friday I had the privilege of meeting a descendant of one the makers of Emory history whom we celebrated during the university’s 175th anniversary observance in 2011.

Rebecca Sledd Williams 95C had emailed me weeks earlier to say that her son was looking at colleges and wanted to visit Emory. They would like to meet and hear a bit about the history of the place. Incidentally, she said, she is the great-granddaughter of Andrew Sledd and the granddaughter of James Sledd, Emory College Class of 1936.

The Emory career of Andrew Sledd offers a fascinating study of the risks inherent in the unfettered search for truth.

A graduate of Randolph-Macon College, in his native Virginia, Sledd came to Emory in 1898 with a master’s degree from Harvard. The next year he married Annie Florence “Foncie” Candler, daughter of former Emory president Warren Candler.

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Prof. Andrew Sledd, center, wearing fedora, appears with the Emory College Bicycle Club in the 1898 Zodiac yearbook of Emory College. Courtesy of Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library.

No doubt all would have gone smoothly in Sledd’s career had it not been for a particularly gruesome lynching near Newnan, Georgia. The story of mob violence against Sam Hose is told in horrific detail by Edwin T. Arnold in What Virtue There Is in Fire (University of Georgia Press, 2009) and in brief at the “New Georgia Encyclopedia” article on lynching.

The sheer barbarity of the incident outraged Sledd, who recognized lynching as a symptom of a wider disregard for the rights of African Americans under the law. In an article published in the Atlantic Monthly in July 1902, Sledd upbraided both northerners and southerners for their attitudes toward African Americans. But he leveled a broadside particularly against southern customs and laws, which effectively dehumanized African Americans. He denounced lynching as the lowest form of immorality and a complete abrogation of humanity.

Such a public stand took courage, and it incurred a swift penalty. Spurred on by Rebecca Latimer Felton, Georgia newspapers and citizens called with self-righteous fury for Sledd’s dismissal from Emory. Sledd sought to save the college’s reputation by resigning. To their everlasting shame, the trustees accepted his resignation. Historian Terry L. Matthews tells the full story here.

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Andrew Sledd, circa 1902

Sledd went on, the next year, to complete his PhD degree in classics at Yale, then became the founding president of the University of Florida (1904–1909) and, from 1910 to 1914, president of Southern University in Alabama.

Emory had an opportunity to redeem itself with respect to Professor Sledd, for when the Candler School of Theology was established in 1914, Sledd was among the first persons appointed to its faculty. As a professor of New Testament studies, he was a vital part of the theological modernism changing Southern Methodism in the 1920s—a liberal perspective that fostered critical thinking about the Bible in the historical context of its writing. When Biblical literalists took him and other Candler faculty to task for their views, the faculty found a defender in none other than Bishop Warren Candler, who was the chancellor of Emory University and as stalwart a bastion of “tradition” as there ever was. It may have helped Sledd that Candler was his father-in-law.

Sledd taught at Candler until his death from a heart attack in 1939. Eight of his nine children graduated from Emory–seven of them with Phi Beta Kappa keys–and two sons went on to academic careers of their own. James Sledd, who would teach English at the University of Chicago and the University of Texas, was one of Emory’s twenty Rhodes Scholars. A couple of letters from him to Professor Thomas H. English, his mentor at Emory, are part of the Thomas English Papers in the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library.

Bill Chace, president emeritus of Emory, has reminded me that James Sledd also taught at the University of California, Berkeley, where one of his doctoral students was JoAn Chace, a future first lady of Emory and faculty member in the Emory English Department.

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James Sledd, from the 1936 Campus yearbook in the Rose Library.

James was the grandfather of Rebecca Sledd Williams, who traveled from California with her son to see where her grandfather — whom she called the smartest man she ever knew — and her great-grandfather had lived the life of the mind, imbued by the liberal arts, to such a great and lasting impact.

Gary Hauk

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?

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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.

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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?

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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.”

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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

Starvine

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.