SAU Library Archives 3rd Annual Open House

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 Approximately twenty-five visitors came through the University Archives on Sat. Oct. 8, Homecoming weekend, to attend an open house. Graduates spanning from 1949-1988, along with their current students, spouses, and friends stopped by to look at yearbooks, newspapers, catalogs, photographs, and commencement programs. One of the most popular research questions was to verify tuition costs when they were a student. In the 1950s, tuition was just $250 a semester with room & board at another $250. How times have changed!

This is always a wonderful event where people take a moment to stroll down memory lane, look up a relative, former girlfriend or old friend, and share fun stories. As the archivist, I always learn something new. This year I heard about the Monogram Madness fundraiser – a theater production put on by the Letterman’s Club every year in the 1950s. I learned that in the early 1950s, freshman who were required to wear beanies wore them up until Homecoming. At the Homecoming bonfire they were allowed to throw them into the bonfire – which explains the lack of donations of beanies from these years! The former Student Body President shared his campaign strategy with me which involved writing a campaign platform for the Ambrosian News that talked about “sex & violence” – truly gripping stuff, securing the vote of the entire freshman class, having his portrait painted on a sheet and tacked to the side of a building, and posting a sign above him at his job at the dish line in the dining hall that said “Get Duax out of the garbage and into the White House.” Finally, one alumnus found his father listed in the 1927 catalog and then read a spoof about him in the Ambrosian Quarterly – a literary publication in the 1920s. The writers wrote a fake bulletin dated 10 years into the future announcing that Mike “Bullet Head” Gibbons was going to be hanged for the murder of Dunn (a classmate in 1927). This all arose from a heated argument about Dunn cheating him out of his marbles…a wife and 14 children were at the station to see him for the last time.

Each day can be a treasure hunt in the archives.

We always welcome research questions. Please contact Heather Lovewell at LovewellHeatherL@sau.edu.

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About libstaff

Bryan Hinds Evening Circulation Supervisor St. Ambrose University 518 W. Locust St. Davenport IA 52803
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