August 25, 2017
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A Room with a View to Chatham History from the University Archives

Have you ever noticed that a few of the group study rooms in the JKM Library are named?  Have you ever wondered why or whom they are named for?  The Chatham University Archives & Special Collections is thrilled to help solve these questions with our new exhibit, A Room with a View to Chatham History, which explores the lives of the individuals who’ve been honored with a room named in their honor at the JKM Library.

History on view in the Elliott Room, JKM Library

With this exhibit, on view in each of the named study rooms, we invite you to explore the legacies of Dr. Mary A. McGuire, Dr. Mable A. Elliot, Dr. Edgar M. Foltin, Laberta Dysart, and Arthur L. Davis.  Each of these Chatham professors made significant contributions to their field of expertise and contributed to the development of Chatham as we know it today.

Dr. Mable Elliot and the Elliot Room

One of the most notable professors honored as the namesake for a study room is Dr. Mable A. Elliot, Professor of Sociology from 1949 until 1965 (Room 201). Dr. Elliot earned three degrees from Northwestern University (bachelor of arts, master of arts, and doctor of philosophy). Appointed as an adviser to the U.N. Commission on Social and Economic Affairs, Dr. Elliot was also the first women elected president of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (click here for more info). Dr. Elliot was described as both a feminist and a pacifist, and her criticism of U.S. criminal policies and anti-war activism led to the creation of an FBI file which was maintained for over 30 years. Interested in learning more about Dr. Elliot?

Biography of Dr. Elliot in the JKM Library book collection

Take a look at the book Mabel Agnes Elliott: Pioneering Feminist, Pacifist Sociologist in the JKM Library collection (click here  to find it in the library catalog).

Laberta Dysart and the Laberta Dysart Study Room

Some members of the Chatham Community may be familiar with Laberta Dysart, namesake for Room 202, as author of the first history of Chatham, Chatham College: The First Ninety Years (available online through the University Archives here), but her contribution to Chatham does not stop there.  A professor of history at Chatham from 1926 until 1958, she was active in Chatham’s Colloquium Club and in the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors.  The University Archive’s Laberta Dysart Collection, click here for the collection finding aid, contains a variety of records documenting her impact on the university, including an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about her retirement, an award honoring her service to Chatham, and the eulogy delivered by a former student and longtime friend, Eleanor Bartberger Dearborn `31, at a campus memorial held in her honor.

Pittsburgh Post Gazette article in honor of Labaerta Dysart’s retirement.

Chatham College Centennial Award given to Laberta Dysart

Eulogy for Laberta Dysart written by Eleanor Barbeger Dearborn ’31

The Chatham University Archives welcomes further research on these individuals, on the history of campus, and how the Chatham community continues to shape the environment.  Stop by the library to view A Room with a View to Chatham History or contact the University Archives at x1212 or M.Tighe@chatham.edu for more information.

June 1, 2017
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Chatham Summers with the University Archives on View a the JKM

The JKM Library and the Archives & Special Collections are pleased to present Chatham Summers with the University Archives, a media exhibition highlighting the rich documentation in our photographic collections.  Items on view document life at Chatham during the summer and feature images of campus sports, events, and more.

Lantern Slide Depicting PCW Tennis, c. 1905

The exhibit includes visual material from Chatham’s earliest years and from more recent years.

1888 Sketch of Students Wearing Sun Protection

Though things may seem a bit quieter around campus than during the fall and spring semesters, these images reveal that Chatham students have always pursued a wide variety of activities, regardless of the heat, humidity, or era.

We’ve included a few of our favorites in this post, but stop by the JKM Library to view the exhibit in its entirety!

Taking a Spin Around Campus, c. 1952-1953

 

Diving Practice, c. 1950s

 

Chatham vs. Robert Morris, 1980

Not around campus?  Additional records from Chatham history, including yearbooks, newspapers, photographs, and other records are accessible online at the web site for the University Archives & Special Collections (click here).  Or, stop by the Archives Reading Room to learn more about Chatham history.

February 23, 2017
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A Quick Peek into the History of the Minor Bird

Did you know that Chatham’s literary magazine Minor Bird has flown through a few different iterations since it was first hatched in 1929?  Was your interest in the graphics used for the Minor Bird piqued by the new exhibit, Objects of Study: Selections from the Artifact Collections of the Chatham University Archives,  on view at the Women’s Institute?  Did you happen to see a few eye-catching illustrations of Minor Bird covers from the 1950s and 1960s in the JKM Library Newsletter and wonder if there are any more compelling visuals?  Yes?  Then you are in luck!

We, the staff of the Chatham University Archives, selected a handful of our very favorite Minor Bird covers and we’re thrilled to share them with you here.  And, if your appetite for Minor Bird is still not quenched, you can flip through fifteen years’ worth of literary explorations by Chatham students online through the Internet Archive!

The Minor Bird first appeared as a simple, line drawing in 1929.  This logo was used until 1939.

Minor Bird front cover, June 1936

The line drawing also appeared at the top of each page.

Minor Bird, Spring 1929

After a brief stint under the umbrella of the student newspaper, the Minor Bird emerged in 1949 with a very different look.

Minor Bird front cover, Spring 1949

Several variations on the 1949 theme were used, including this Minor Bird cover from 1950.

Minor Bird front cover, Spring 1950

Lots of change happened in the 1950s and the Minor Bird logo was no exception.

Minor Bird front cover, Spring 1951

 

Minor Bird front cover, Spring 1952

 

Minor Bird front cover, January 1955

The Minor Bird covers from the 1960’s are particularly evocative of this expressive era.

Minor Bird front cover, Winter 1967

 

Minor Bird front cover, Spring 1969

 

Minor Bird front cover, Fall 1969

 

Minor Bird rear cover, Fall 1969

The Chatham University Archives include numerous publications by the Chatham community, including additional issues of the Minor Bird, the Sorosis, and Faces & Places.  Stop by the University Archives or contact Molly Tighe, Archivist and Public Services Librarian, for more information.

 

 

December 5, 2016
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Objects of Study: Selections from the Artifact Collections at the Chatham University Archives on view at the Women’s Institute

Have you ever wondered what kind of stuff we keep in the University Archives?  Been curious if there is anything other than letters, photos, and newspapers being saved as part of the record of the university?  Now is your chance to find out!  A new exhibit, Objects of Study: Selections from the Artifact Collections at the Chatham University Archives, is on view in the lounge of the Women’s Institute. Stop by the exhibit to explore the role played by artifacts and objects in documenting the history of the university and to discover some truly remarkable stories about campus, Chatham alums, and more.

One of our favorite items on view is a copper coffer that was retrieved from the cornerstone of the old Dilworth Hall when it was demolished in 1953.  “Dilworth Hall demolished? But, what’s that building just up the hill from the Carriage House?” you might ask.  That’s actually Dilworth Hall II!  The first Dilworth Hall, Dilworth Hall I, was attached to Berry Hall I.  Here’s a picture of both halls as they appeared in a 1906 issue of Sorosis, the student magazine of the day:

View of Dilworth Hall I and Berry Hall I at PCW in 1906

View of Dilworth Hall I and Berry Hall I at PCW in 1906

Both Dilworth Hall I and Berry Hall I were demolished in 1953 to make way for the upgraded academic buildings we still use today: Braun, Falk, and Coolidge.  Here’s a couple photos of the demolition:

View of Demolition of Berry Hall I and Dilworth Hall I at PCW in 1953

View of Demolition of Berry Hall I and Dilworth Hall I at PCW in 1953

View of Berry Hall I and Dilworth Hall I during demolition with Chapel steeple visible in background

View of Berry Hall I and Dilworth Hall I during demolition with Chapel steeple visible in background

I bet you are wondering what was found inside the copper coffer, right?  Check out this article from The Pittsburgh Press (another relic from a bygone era) and read about the discovery.

Newspaper clipping about PCW time capsule discovery

Newspaper clipping about PCW time capsule discovery

The exhibit, Objects of Study: Selections from the Artifact Collections at the Chatham University Archives , features little known bits of history about Berry Hall I, The Minor Bird, and campus dining.

Intrigued?  Here’s some pics to help wet your whistle:

Alumnae Napkin Rings at from University Archives

Alumnae Napkin Rings at from University Archives

History of The Minor Bird Logo

History of The Minor Bird Logo

Check out the copper coffer and other relics from the history of our university in the Women’s Institute or stop by the University Archives in the JKM Library to further explore our history.

April 28, 2016
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From May Day to University Day: Exploring Connections Between Chatham Traditions

As part of this year’s University Day celebration, JKM Library and the Chatham University Archives are pleased to present an exhibit titled From May Day to University Day: Exploring Connections between Chatham Traditions.

This exhibition focuses on the history of Chatham’s May Day pageants and other end-of-the-semester festivities, such as Toe Dabbling Day, Buckets and Blossoms, and University Day. Photographs, programs, and ephemera documenting Chatham’s many springtime celebrations, some dating all the way back to the early twentieth century, will be exhibited at the JKM Library and in the lobby of the Women’s Institute. We even have a special presentation of some recently preserved film footage of the 1935 May Day pageant on the main floor of JKM Library!

These materials document both the May Day pageants held on the Chatham campus many times throughout the years as well as other fun campus traditions. Even though May Day is no longer celebrated at Chatham to the extent it was in the past, the tradition continues to this day when the maypole dance occurs on University Day. It’s fun to be part of this long line of maypole dancers, isn’t it?

Students, faculty, and other Chatham community members are welcome to explore “From May Day to University Day,” located at the JKM Library lobby and the Women’s Institute lounge. If you would like to learn more about Chatham’s history, click here for additional information about the Chatham Archives and Special Collections.

Check out some of our favorite May Day photographs from the collections of the Chatham University Archives and the video of the 1935 May Day celebration below!

May Day 1904

One of the earliest photos of the May Day pageant, taken in May, 1904. Here, costumed students perform the Maypole dance on Chatham’s lawn. These dances were viewed as a feminine form of exercise and a way to unify women through the shared experiences of womanhood and higher education.

May Day 1905

A hand-colored glass lantern slide depicts the 1905 Maypole dance. Audience members appear on the balcony of the original Berry Hall.

May Day 1907

Cornelia Bullock, the 1907 May Queen, poses with attendants.

May Day 1909

Student performers dance around the maypole during the 1909 May Day celebration. Onlookers watch from the balcony extending from Berry Hall.

May Day 1912

Those attending the 1912 May Day pageant watch as the students perform P.C.W.’s rendition of Vârful Cu Dor by Carmen Sylva.

May Day 1915

Spectators look down on students as they perform Paskkennodan: The City of Smoke Vapor written by P.C.W.’s speech instructor, Vanda E. Kurst. The celebration occurred on May 15, 1915 at the conclusion of President John Carey Acheson’s inauguration.

May Day 1916

The 1916 May Day pageant occurred near Lindsay House and the Andrew Mellon greenhouse. Students performed Vanda E. Kurst’s rendition of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Over 5,000 people attended the celebration!

Victory Through Conflict, 1920

Rather than putting on a May Day pageant in 1920, the P.C.W. community staged an elaborate production titled Victory through Conflict. Above, students Marion Gifford, Mary Jane Paul, and Frances Frederick pose together as Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.

May Day 1923

Estelle Maxwell, who attended P.C.W. between 1922 and 1923, appears as an Egyptian princess alongside her attendants during the 1923 May Day pageant.

May Day 1929

Students dress as ghosts and perform a haunting dance during the 1929 May Day celebration titled Persephone: A Greek Festival.

May Day 1935

A distant photo of the 1935 May Day celebration captures Queen Elizabeth and the May Queen sitting side-by-side on their dais. Be sure to view archival film footage from the celebration below and in the lobby of the JKM Library!

May Day 1947

Several maypole dances conclude the May Day pageant of 1947.

 

What a production! We like to think about the history of the maypole dance every year when we see it performed as part of University Day.  It’s a pretty fun connection to our past, don’t you think?

Be sure to stop by the JKM Library, the lounge of the Women’s Institute, and this blog for more information about the May Day celebrations and how they’ve played into Chatham’s springtime celebrations, like Buckets and Blossoms.

March 3, 2016
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Celebrating Women’s History: Chatham Women and Politics

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the University Archives presents selections from our collection that highlight Chatham’s unwavering commitment to encouraging civic engagement in all levels of the political system.

This exhibition, Celebrating Women’s History: Chatham Women in Politics, demonstrates student civic engagement tracing back to the earliest days of the Suffragette movement, when students paraded through downtown Pittsburgh in support of women’s right to vote.

Pennsylvania College for Women float in support of women's right to vote, 1914

Pennsylvania College for Women float in support of women’s right to vote, 1914

Materials on exhibit illustrate a wide variety of activities, including rallies supporting equal access to education and student involvement in all levels of the political process.  The exhibit illustrates the continuity of the civic engagement among the student body and the university’s unwavering commitment to foster civic engagement as a core value.

We welcome you to explore Celebrating Women’s History: Chatham Women in Politics at the JKM Library and in the lounge of the Women’s Institute.  See below for some of our favorite archival records on this topic, plus a few that we just couldn’t squeeze into the display cases! Still hungry for more Chatham history?  Click here for more information about the collections in the Chatham University Archives & Special Collections.  

Clippings documenting Chatham's "Women and the War" Conference

Clippings documenting Chatham’s “Women and the War” Conference

During World War II, Chatham hosted an conference titled, “Women and the War” to discuss the role of women in the war effort.

Student volunteers update a poster showing the contributions of Faculty, Seniors, Juniors, Sophomores, and Freshmen to the Fund to fight war and communism.

Student volunteers update a poster showing the contributions of Faculty, Seniors, Juniors, Sophomores, and Freshmen to the Fund to fight war and communism.

Chatham students worked tirelessly to support the war effort, both at home and on the front lines.

World War II veterans return to campus to continue their studies.

World War II veterans return to campus to continue their studies.

In the 1950s, Chatham students turned their attention to increasing voter turnout, both on campus and within the broader community.

Students from Harrisburg cast their absentee ballots.

Students from Harrisburg cast their absentee ballots.

Student-lead efforts to increase voter turnout continue to this day.  In 1997, Chatham students collaborated with students from the University of Pittsburgh in a program to increase voter registration in the local community.

Two-page spread from the 1997 Cornerstone about voter registration efforts.

Two-page spread from the 1997 Cornerstone about voter registration efforts.

In the 1960s, Chatham women joined in the rising chorus of American students speaking out on issues of civil rights and the war in Vietnam.  After the Greensburg Four protested racial segregation at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in North Carolina, students from all over the south joined the sit-in.  In Pittsburgh, Chatham students protested outside the downtown Pittsburgh Woolworth, carrying signs reading “Chatham students protest civil rights violation,” and “Chatham students protest Woolworth lunch counter segregation.”  Click here to view a picture of this protest captured by legendary Pittsburgh photographer Teenie Harris housed at the Carnegie Museum of Art. 

Read more about the 1960 protest in this clipping from the Chatham student newspaper.

Woolworths

Article appearing in “The Arrow” on April 8, 1960 about Chatham student protest of lunch counter segregation

All across the country, college students voiced concerns about equality, civil liberties, and civil rights.  The university hosted a conference focusing on campus unrest in 1968, allowing college and university presidents, faculty, students and administrators to discuss and understand the changing political climate.

Brochure for conference on campus unrest held at Chatham in 1968

Brochure for conference on campus unrest held at Chatham in 1968

As the 1970s drew near, Chatham students became very engaged in discussion of the Vietnam War and continued to the support civil rights issues.

Chatham students protest the Vietnam War on Fifth Avenue

Chatham students protest the Vietnam War on Fifth Avenue

Chatham rally about Attica Prison riots

Chatham rally about Attica Prison riots

Material from Strike Information Central demonstrating student unrest

Material from Strike Information Central demonstrating student unrest

Editorial appearing in Chatham's "The Arrow" in 1970

Editorial appearing in Chatham’s “The Arrow” in 1970

Student civic engagement continued through the 1980s, when Chatham women participated in demonstrations in Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.  One student attended a meeting at the White House with student leaders and President Jimmy Carter.

Bonnie McElvery, Student Government President, with President Jimmy Carter at the White House

Bonnie McElvery, Student Government President, with President Jimmy Carter at the White House

 

Chatham students at a Pro-Choice rally in Washinton, D.C. in 1989

Chatham students at a Pro-Choice rally in Washinton, D.C. in 1989

In 1995, Chatham students organized a rally in support of Vice President Al Gore’s campaign to preserve federal funding for student loans.  The rally was attended by over 2500 students from local colleges and universities and at least one University President.  Can you spot the University President in the pictures from the event below?

Images from 1995 rally to preserve federal funding for student loans

Images from 1995 rally to preserve federal funding for student loans

Over the years, Chatham has invited activists, heads of state, members of Congress, and other office holders to engage with students on local, national, and international political issues.

Fliers for some of Chatham's visiting speakers

Fliers for some of Chatham’s visiting speakers

Curious about Patricia Schroeder?  Here’s more information about her career and her visit to Chatham.

Brochure from Patricia Schroeder visit to Chatham in 2004

Brochure from Patricia Schroeder visit to Chatham in 2004

Wondering if Catherine Baker Knoll, who spoke at Chatham as the Treasurer for Pennsylvania, held any other public office in the years that followed?  Her records are open for research at the Detre Library and Archives at the Heinz History Center in downtown Pittsburgh.  Click here for the finding aid to her papers.  Remember, the Chatham University Archives can help you locate primary source records at other archival repositories.

Of course, we’re all looking forward to the 2016 commencement speaker, Chatham’s own Muriel Bowser.  Muriel Bowser graduated from Chatham in 1994 and was the eighth Mayor of Washington, D.C.

Chatham Alumna Muriel Bowser

Chatham Alumna Muriel Bowser

As much as we’ve shown through Celebrating Women’s History: Chatham Women in Politics, we have so much more material in the University Archives that documents Chatham’s unwavering commitment to encouraging civic engagement among students.  We’d be thrilled to show you more from our collections on this or any other area of Chatham history.  For more information about our collections and how to contact us, click here.

February 3, 2016
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Chatham: The History of Our Name (Part II)

Have you ever wonder how Chatham got its name or why it was changed from Pennsylvania College for Women?  If so, you might want to check out the article on the topic in latest Library Newsletter <click here>, which tells the tale of how the school came to cosider a name change, the various names considered, and the reception of the name at the time.

You’ll also want to take a gander at the images collected below.  These selections from the collections of the University Archives illustrate how the school spread the word on the new name and all the events that surrounded this pivotal moment in university history.

NameChange_Photo_011

PCW officials chose to name the college after Lord Chatham in recognition of his passion for education and democratic ideals.

NameChange_Photo_0081

On November 5, 1955, the school newspaper led with a bold headline announcing the name change from Pennsylvania College for Women to Chatham College.

PCC000004

David Lawrence, then-mayor of Pittsburgh, stands with Jane Stocker Burfoot from Chatham College’s Class of 1957. Together they are celebrating PCW having changed its name to Chatham College.

cornerstone1956chat_0011

Students commemorate the name change by holding a Chatham College banner over the institution’s former PCW-marked entryway.

NameChange_Photo_016

The school produced this small brochure to promote awareness of the new name.  The image above is the front cover.

NameChange_Photo_017

The brochure outlines the reasons for the name change and the reason for the selection of the name Chatham.

NameChange_Photo_018

The brochure closes with an expression of Chatham’s continuing dedication to providing quality education.

NameChange_Photo_014

A mailing card distributed to alumni around the time the college changed its name.

NameChange_Photo_015

The front cover of the dedication dinner program, which took place two weeks after PCW changed its name to Chatham College.

…And just the day before, former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower commended President Anderson and the Chatham community on the college’s huge accomplishment!

NameChange_Photo_019

We’ve got room for just one more picture…

NameChange_Photo_013

This booklet was distributed to the Chatham community and alumni shortly after the institution changed its name. It contains personal remarks from then-President Paul Anderson, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees George Lockhart, and Chairman of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development Arthur Van Buskirk on the role of the school in the intellectual and cultural life of the region.

Hungry for more history?  Come see us during University Archives Office Hours on Mondays from 1:00 – 5:00 and Thursdays from 1:30 – 3:30 or by appointment.  We’d love to share with you more about the name change to Chatham or any other aspect of university history you’re curious about!

January 15, 2016
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Vintage Chatham Music to Air on WESA’s Rhythm Sweet & Hot Radio Show

You’re probably familiar with the Song Contest as one of the longest-running and most cherished of all the Chatham traditions, but have you heard any of the vintage recordings of these tunes in the University Archives?  You’ll have a chance this weekend as Chatham’s Archivist Molly Tighe joins the hosts of WESA’s Rhythm Sweet & Hot for a chat and a spin around the vinyl grooves cut by PCW singers all the way back in 1947.

During this week’s live broadcast, which airs from 6:00 until 8:00 pm on 90.5 FM, Molly will chat with hosts and hepcats Mike Plaskett and Dale Abraham about a recently discovered recording of the Class of 1947 singing classic Song Contest tunes We Sing Hi-Ho, Charm Girl of PCW and PCW Progress. Since these swingy tunes are sure to make you slap-happy and to blow your wig (21st century translation= become very excited), we decided to dig around in the University Archives and pull out some Song Contest treasures to get everyone prepped and ready for the big show.

First, a little bit of history.  Chatham’s Song Contest dates back to 1921, when a competition between the classes was enjoyed so much that it became one of the most hotly anticipated traditions of every school year.

Competitive Sing in the June 1921 issue of Sorosis

 Read the full June 1921 issue of The Sorosis here: http://tinyurl.com/jl896qc

For many years the Song Contest was held in combination with Color Day and together the two traditions generated a whirl of class spirit.  The two events would occur during the fall semester after the first-year students had successfully completed their first round of exams and had sufficiently settled into college life (including learning all the favorite school songs!).

handbookmerged

Selected pages from the 1927-1928 Student Handbook including mention of Color Day, Song Contest, and song lyrics.

In 1928, song lyrics and music were compiled by the Song Book Committee into a song book.

Copy of the Chatham Song Book from the University Archives and Photo of the 1959 Song Contest Leaders

The rules for the contest were a little different back then.  Each class was responsible for presenting three songs: one with original lyrics and music, one with original lyrics set to an existing tune, and one song selected by the judges just prior to the contest.

Chatham Song Contest, 1957

According to an article in The Arrow on November 22, 1944, each class would practice their songs daily, sometimes sending a secret operative to spy on the other classes to try to discover the competing classes’ performance plans.  On the day of the contest…

…there was a mad checker game struggle for the right seats for the right voices. After everything was under control except Bertha Butterfly in our stomachs, we sat through a hymn, through the announcement of the Freshman Commission, through Hail to PCW, the presentation of the colors and the reception of the new Freshman.  All the time we wondered- whether our class Rachmaninoff had remembered to fetch along her music.                                                            (Read the whole article here: http://tinyurl.com/homkedn)

Awaiting results of the Song Contest, 1959

In the early years, the winning class was awarded a five pound box of candy.

Song Contest Winners, 1959

Later, the candy box was replaced with a silver cup.

Song Contest, 1980s

There’s no mention of recording any Chatham songs until 1946, when a contributor to the student newspaper implored her classmates to join forces to document their musical history.  She writes, “Without old college songs to sing while in the shower, PCW graduates can probably hold their job competently or cheer hubby after his hard day at the office, but it might be nice to have something specific to help them reminisce once in a while.”

Editorial in a 1946 issue of The Arrow

Chatham University Archives maintains a healthy collection of LP recordings of Song Contest, no song recordings predate the late-1950s.  We couldn’t be sure if this 1946 editorial had spurred any action- until now!

LP covers of Song Contest recordings

A recently unearthed 1947 recording was produced at George Heid Productions & Transcription Services in downtown Pittsburgh and features the same three songs performed at the Senior Dinner for the Class of 1947.  Could it be that the 1946 editorial inspired the creation of this recording?  Could it be that the students took a trip downtown on a streetcar to cut record of the winning songs from the Song Contest?  Could it be that this is one of those very recordings?  We think so!

The recording, which you can hear when you tune your radio dial to WESA 90.5 from 6:00 until 8:00 pm this Saturday night, may very well be our earliest recording of a campus tradition that spans decades and even continues through to today (Click here for a video of the 2014 song contest).  We hope you’ll tune in!

Can’t wait for the show?  Want to prepare for a sing-along?  Here’s the music and lyrics to a couple classic Chatham tunes.

We Sing Hi-O, words and music by members of the Class of 1929

Chatham Charm Girl

Still hungry for more?  Come by the University Archives in the JKM Library on Monday from 1-5 or Thursday from 1:30-3:30 to chat with Chatham Archivist Molly Tighe about the Song Contest or any of your favorite Chatham traditions!

October 19, 2015
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A Very Chatham Halloween

The Ghosts of Chatham

As Halloween approaches, again comes the time of year for trick-or-treating, gorging on candy, and costume parties. It’s also the time of year that we are especially conscious of spooky things. Among various ghoulies like black cats, vampires, and witches, the most popular creatures of the night that dominate our imagination around Halloween are ghosts. It’s a great time for telling ghost stories, everyone knows at least one, and even Chatham has several that have been passed around over the years. Here is some history on “our” Chatham ghosts.

PCW students gathered on the lawn of Berry Hall I in 1914. Source: Chatham University Archives & Special Collections

PCW students gathered on the lawn of Berry Hall I in 1914.
Source: Chatham University Archives & Special Collections

The Ghost of Berry Hall

There are two versions of the Berry Hall Ghost (also known as the PCW Ghost) story, but they both are equally disturbing. The first version was published in the Chatham newspaper, The Arrow in 1926.

Back before the existence of Woodland, Laughlin, and even Dilworth Hall, the Berry family lived in the Berry mansion. George Berry was a member of the first Board of Trustees, and at the time his home was said to be the largest private residence in Allegheny County.

One night the nanny was sitting in the house’s tower with the family baby. There was a storm, and lightning struck the tower. The nanny screamed with fright, and jumped, dropping the baby. As the story goes, the baby rolled down the stairs and died. The departed baby was said to return occasionally, floating around and crying. Supposedly it used to visit the girls in what was then Room O, directly beneath the tower.

A view of the Berry Hall I tower.  Source: Chatham University Archives & Special Collections

A view of the Berry Hall I tower.
Source: Chatham University Archives & Special Collections

The second version of this story was actually part of the first year handbook in 1948. In this sanitized version, the nursery was in the tower, and the nanny heard a scream, only to find the infant missing from his crib. The infant was never found, and the tower was locked and boarded up. In this version, the ghost is a prankster, putting splinters in chairs to rip nylons, draining the soda machine, and clanging the radiators. There is even a joke about him playing a dirge on the organ. While creepy, this later tale is almost funny, and it’s interesting to see how the tale evolved from chilling to entertaining over the 20 year period.

Other Chatham Ghosts

Some of the other Chatham ghosts seem to have their grounding in location rather than fright. It is still a popular tale today that Andrew Mellon roams the Mellon building. The previous Laughlin House also was known for its resident ghost. As another story goes, one night a man had a flat tire in front of the Spencer House, and as he stopped heard the voice of an old woman screaming his name.

Portrait of Michael Late Benedum overlooking Benedum Hall.  Source: Chatham University Archives & Special Collections

Portrait of Michael Late Benedum overlooking Benedum Hall.
Source: Chatham University Archives & Special Collections

One of the more popular stories took place at Benedum Hall. The Benedum’s oldest son, Claude, was killed in World War I. Claude was thought to haunt the home, and then when it became a dormitory, pestered the girls living in the dorm. Some of his hijinks include turning the water off and on in what used to be his bathroom, curtains moving with no wind, and doors slamming open and closed. Typical ghost fare. One story even goes that a group of students were working on tutorials on the history of Benedum Hall when the marble table they sat at collapsed beneath them.

Students conversing in one of the Benedum Hall dorm rooms.  Source: Chatham University Archives & Special Collections

Students conversing in one of the Benedum Hall dorm rooms.
Source: Chatham University Archives & Special Collections

It’s unclear which of these stories have basis in truth, and which were made up to scare incoming first years. Nonetheless, the stories of ghosts on campus continue, so if you experience something a little spooky over the next few weeks, don’t worry. It’s just our longstanding residents, coming out for a visit.

Benedum Hall Gardens and Fountain.  Source: Chatham University Archives & Special Collections

Benedum Hall Gardens and Fountain.
Source: Chatham University Archives & Special Collections

August 28, 2014
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Eden Hall Historical Collection Now Available

In 2008, the Eden Hall Foundation gifted Eden Hall Farm to Chatham University. Located in Gibsonia, PA, Eden Hall Farm was originally developed and built by H. J. Heinz, Co.  executive Sebastian Mueller (1860-1938) to serve as a convalescent home and vacation retreat for the female employees of Heinz. In his later years, Mueller dictated his express wishes for the continuation of his project in his Last Will and Testament and appointed trustees for the farm. Other than minor bequests, the entirety of Mueller’s estate went to establish Eden Hall Farm.

Eden Hall founder, Sebastian Mueller

Eden Hall founder, Sebastian Mueller

Although Eden Hall Farm was officially created in 1939, the farm did not open to guests until 1951 after construction was delayed due to the country’s involvement in WWII. The farm operated for the next thirty years as a non-profit corporation and any female employee of H.J. Heinz Co. could spend vacation and convalescent time there. In 2008, the Eden Hall Foundation gifted Eden Hall Farm to Chatham University with a mission to promote sustainability and empower women. Today, the Eden Hall Campus is undergoing significant changes from the retreat home of Heinz employees as work is underway to renovate and build a campus dedicated to sustainability that will serve more than 1,500 students. Following in the footsteps of one of Chatham’s most noted alumnae Rachel Carson, the Eden Hall Campus will incorporate sustainable designs which will render it a net-positive energy campus with natural water management strategies.

Mueller and young women at Eden Hall Farm

Mueller and young women at Eden Hall Farm

 

The Eden Hall Collection housed in the University Archives includes the history of Eden Hall Farm from its creation by Mueller until its donation to the University. The material covers a range of items, including the original land deeds of purchase by Mueller and his wife that comprise the area of Eden Hall Farm, the Last Will and Testament of Mueller, architectural and landscape designs of Eden Hall Farm, materials related to the estate of Mueller, numerous photographs of both Mueller in his lifetime as well as Eden Hall Farm and its female guests, and the creation of Eden Hall Upper Elementary School in 2007.

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