In the 1940s, a revival in interest in Gamaliel Painter, one of Middlebury’s founders and early benefactors, saw the birth of a new graduation tradition. During convocation ceremonies at Middlebury’s former Women’s College, graduates began passing down replicas of Painter’s cane to the junior class. Today, every Middlebury graduate receives such a replica to keep as a symbol of their alma mater and with which to tap along when “Gamaliel Painter’s Cane” is sung at reunion.
This compilation of 16mm film footage from the college archives shows the cane-passing ceremony as part of convocation processions in the 1940s held behind Forest Hall.
Find out more about the story of Painter’s cane and its place in Middlebury history in The Story of Middlebury’s Cane Tradition a video created by the College’s own Chris Spencer, Stephen Diehl, Benjamin Savard ’14, and Matthew Lennon ’13.
Just as coming across full page ads for Chesterfield cigarettes used to be part and parcel of reading the latest edition of The Campus, pipe smoking was once a traditional part of Middlebury’s graduation festivities. Dating back to at least the 1920s during the “Class Day” activities that preceded commencement, graduates would gather outside to take puffs on long white pipes (sometimes lit by proud parents) before heading off to the alumni barbecue.
This compilation of 16mm film footage from the College Archives captures the pipe smoking tradition from the late 1920s to mid-40s. Although even those graduates who coughed through the smoke appear to have had a swell time, the annual tradition eventually ended in what we can only assume was the interest of public health.
In celebration of the 100 year anniversary of the completion of Mead Chapel and Hepburn Hall, Special Collections presents a series of posts featuring interactive before-and-after imagery of these Middlebury icons.
Below is an interactive slider with images of Mead from the archives (tap or drag the bar to the right and left to slide between images). The before image was taken in 1942 while the after image shows the chapel and the surrounding (or should we say obscuring) landscape as it looks today.
A new 48-rank chamber organ was installed in Mead Chapel in 1970 after the condition of the original had deteriorated beyond repair. Music director Emory Fanning recalled that at the start of one performance on the dilapidated instrument, 12-inch blue flames had shot out of the motor before it was turned off, a prayer for the dead was recited, and it was turned back on for the remainder of the performance — which continued without a hitch.
The interactive slider below shows the dramatic presence that the new organ holds in Mead, having covered up the window above the altar. The before image is a 1919 postcard showing the interior of the chapel while the after image shows how it looks today. Other changes include balcony seating and updated lighting fixtures.
“The Organ in the Chapel.” Middlebury College News Letter, July 1, 1969. A12 PF Mead 1942 02, Special Collections & Archives, Middlebury College A12 PF Mead 1919 01, Special Collections & Archives, Middlebury College
Currently populating the glass cases of Davis Family Library are Margaret Armstrong book covers and historic postcards. Don’t miss the chance to see them before heading out for the summer!
As part of American Studies professor Ellery Foutch’s AMST 101 course, American Holidays, students researched holiday postcards from our collection, exploring how symbols and themes reflect the cultural mores of turn-of-the-century American life.
The postcards they studied and their comments are on display in the library atrium.
To compliment this exhibit, college archivist Danielle Rougeau curated and designed an exhibit featuring postcards and scrapbooks from the archives. The postcards capture Middlebury College’s landscape and characters as well as the role of postcard correspondence through history.
Rounding out our summer exhibits is a tribute to Margaret Armstrong, curated by Joseph Watson and designed by Danielle Rougeau. Margaret Armstrong (1867-1944), one of the most accomplished book cover designers of the early twentieth century, produced cover art and illustrations for over 270 books.
Come to Special Collections to see a selection of her cover designs and learn more about her life!
Has an ebook you’ve previously used disappeared from our catalog? Never fear! We’ve had to make some cutbacks at the end of the fiscal year (lots and lots of requests for new material this year), but if you need to regain access to something that no longer appears, we may be able to get you back in. Just email us the title at email@example.com, and if it’s still available to us, we’ll get you back up and running with it.
The Davis Family Library will be open 24 hours a day starting Sunday morning, May 8th. Regular hours resume for Friday and Saturday, May 13th and 14th, then 24/7 resumes until 8 pm on Tuesday, May 24th. After 11 pm, you will need your ID to access the building.
Armstrong Library will have regular hours, with extended hours Friday and Saturday, May 20th and 21st (closing at midnight and 10 pm, respectively).
A full calendar of the hours can be found at go/hours
On Wednesday, May 4th from 8-11 PM, the Writing Center at Middlebury College will join 75 other colleges and universities who sponsor a Write-In between the weeks of April 24-May 5. Supported by CTLR, the Writing Program and the Library, the Write-In fosters a writing community by creating a calm time and space in LIB 201, LIB 145 and the Harman Reading Room for students to write together. A Peer Writing Tutor and a Research Librarian will be on hand in LIB 201 to provide support. During the Write-In, students may work on academic papers, do personal writing, or brainstorm writing for fellowships, internships, and jobs. We’ll provide snacks and prizes. See Swarthmore’s International Write-In page for more information.
Why come to a Write-In?
Writing can be lonely, solitary work. Joining a group of other student writers can be motivating, productive, and calming.
How will this work?
Come to Davis Family Library 201 any time between 8-11 PM. Stay from 15 minutes to 3 hours.
Sign in to receive prizes
If you want, we’ll give you a pen and a pad.
Have some tasty snacks (Cheese and Crackers, Chicken Satay, Rice Krispie Treats, Brownies)
Meet with a Peer Writing Tutor or Research Librarian.
Stay in Lib 201, or go to one of our two reserved quiet spaces: Lib 145 and the Harman Reading Room.
What kind of writing should I do?
Academic writing (Start your end of the semester papers this week!) (We’ll provide some research questions.)
Personal writing (No idea where to start? We’ll provide some writing prompts.)
Brainstorm writing for fellowships, internships, and job applications (We have a handy worksheet to get you started.)