by Beth Ann Koelsch
SCUA has an amazing collection of over 75 scrapbooks made by students and “classes of” . These scrapbooks range from from the late 1800s through the twentieth century.
I love scrapbooks and yearbooks and have had to restrain myself from going anywhere near them because I know if I start paging through them, I will become entranced and neglect my own work. Luckily for me, this newsletter has given me the opportunity to interact with these slices of campus history. For this article, I randomly chose a scrapbook created by Ruby Jane Hodgin, North Carolina College for Women (now UNCG) class of 1922.
According to the campus yearbook Pine Needles (for which she was the “Picture Editor” her senior year), Ruby Jane was a resident of Greensboro. She also played left wing for her class field hockey team and served as “class critic.” I have no idea what a class critic did, but it was an officer position. She created this scrapbook during the fall semester of her senior year, 1921. In case you were wondering, their class colors were green and white, the flower was the white rose, and their motto was “Conquer.”
Let’s move on to the scrapbook!
On the title page (on the right) Ruby Jane carefully cut four photographs into circles and glued them onto the designated spots. The publisher helpfully provided instructions on what a memory book is, what should be included in it, and its purpose. As we will see, Ruby Jane’s efforts do not disappoint.
On this page Ruby Jane documented that during the 1921-1922 academic year: there were 1000 students and 109 faculty members; she arrived for her senior year on September 13; she sat at table 25 in the dining hall; was assigned mailbox #24; and lived in the Woman’s I dormitory with roommate Sarah Louise. She also added on this page a newsprint photograph of the brand new dormitory, the Gray Building.
Her “Friends O’ Mine” page is filled up with the names, addresses, date, and “lines of good cheer” from eight of her friends…and from Ruby herself. For some reason I don’t understand, she wrote “Best wishes to you, m’dear” (the fourth entry.) Most of her friends stuck to the rhyming puns and jokes common at the time for yearbooks (e.g. Helen Murchosin’s “The next [time?] you get in the tub, don’t think of me and forget to scrub.” )
On this page we find a note written by Frances Glasnock (sp?) in which she writes “I’m sick, positively, because I didn’t get to see you. You see I’m leaving to-morrow and Janie, dear, I’ve never hated to go off so much. Please write me so I won’t be so lonesome.” There are also die-cut programs for the banquets of both literary societies. Ruby Jane was an Adelphian and their banquet was attended by 500 students, alumnae and guests. Both programs include the banquet menu and while she was served chicken a la king and buttered asparagus, the Cornelians ate creamed chicken on toast and stuffed celery. Both groups enjoyed a fruit cocktail, french fried potatoes, parker house rolls, ice cream, coffee, and mints.
There’s at least of couple of stories here… Ruby Jane’s crush, Sarah Presson (she was a junior and the spring secretary of the class), gave Ruby Jane a chocolate bar purchased in downtown Greensboro and Ruby Jane apparently cherished it. And not just any chocolate bar, but a Zay-Tek Eatmors! Zay-Tek was a chocolate company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I can’t find out anything about the company. WHO HAS THEIR RECORDS?!?
Finally, my favorite page: Extracts from Smith’s Farewell Letter. Postmarked October 19, 1921 from Davenport, Iowa. (How did she know a fellow in Iowa?) “Dearest Ruby: I think that you have no intentions of seeing me at all on my return…to wish you the best of everything…if you quit writing to me to never write a girl another letter as long as I live…am very sorry that you have about decided to throw poor me aside…Smith” Whatever she redacted is lost to time. Ruby Jane was probably was better off without him.