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Dartmouth College Library Bulletin

Mem Books Revisited


WHEN writing 'The Making of a Dartmouth Professor Seventy Years Ago,' I found Heyward Knowlton's 1917 memorabilia book a rich resource. 1 It is one of approximately 160 on about sixty feet of shelves in Special Collections.

Alumni have always collected souvenirs, and carved their initials on desks as undergraduates, but the making of mem books seems to have ended in the 1920s. During my freshman year (1920-1921) we were busy getting autographs in such books, with stereotyped or 'humorous' comments. This was a ritual, just as lettering our initials on senior canes, preferably while sitting on the senior fence, was in the spring of our senior year. In addition to the usual clippings and photographs, some students added salvaged items such as a piece of the hated pea green beanie, or a bit of pajamas torn when their wearer was forced to dance around a victory bonfire on campus.

Publishers of such memorabilia scrapbooks produced them in different styles and they varied from plain scrapbooks, so titled, to the standardized version, 15 X 11 1/2 X 5 inches. The latter, dating from after 1910, had a large gilt embossed Dartmouth seal on green. 2 From many visits to Special Collections, I have selected nine mem books for comment. There are pasted-in clippings, pictures, and programs in them. That is the basic pattern. It is the exception that is interesting-the scrapbook with artifacts and a variety of other items.

The first, and oldest of all the mem books, is that of Henry Whittemore 1866; after that there are no mem books until 1877. The scrapbook is large, coming apart, and boxed, as many are, for preservation. Among the inclusions is a long, narrow printed sheet on The History of the Origin and Proceedings of the Gamma Society wherein '. . . fifteen members of the Class of "66," and one from the Chandler Department, 3 met on the 12th of April, in secret deliberation, and there and then established the first Chapter of the "Gentleman's Gum Game Association" at old Dartmouth. The primary object of this association is "to have a little amusement, sir. . . ."' Among the memorabilia are railway tickets, including one for 25 March 1962 on the Atlantic and North Carolina Rail Road. On a nearby page is a twenty-dollar Confederate certificate dated G April 1863. Volume I, Number 28, of The New South, Port Royal, S.C., 19 March 1863, occupies another page. Whittemore's remembrances include items from later years as well, such as numerous mementoes of Westborough, Massachusetts, High School where he later was principal, and a copy of the 1876 Authorized Visitors Guide to the Centennial Exhibition and Philadelphia.

Next I was intrigued by a penciled note in the book of John Moore Comstock 1877: `H. Wms has seen 8-83.' Here is the archivist Kenneth C. Cramer noting which books Henry B. Williams, then Professor of English and Drama Emeritus, had used as he researched the rich lode of the mem books for rare programs for his series on the history of theatre at Dartmouth. 4

Third is Warren Converse French's book. He was an 1880 and member of Psi Upsilon. Its publisher's label is interesting: 'Mark Twain's Adhesive Scrap Book Patented June 24 1873 by Saml L. Clemens. Published by Slote, Woodman & Co. 119 & 121 Williams S., New York.' A find for me is a prospectus for 1879-1880 for the Dartmouth newspaper which was to 'enter upon its thirteenth year changed in many respects.' Among other items are a bill for stove coal and one for The Swett Club (one of several eating establishments) .

The fourth, a real gem, is the book of Warren William Foster 1881. In it are many small calling cards, often in flowing Spencerian hand, and items from his preparatory school days in Easthampton, Massachusetts, at Williston Seminary. Among these early remembrances are `My first "Greek-examination paper" Easthampton fall of 1874,' and 'My first "term-bill."' Hanover memorabilia include programs galore. One is for a 'Class Supper' on 22 February 1879.

For the occasion the class journeyed to Keene, New Hampshire, for a feast at the Eagle Hotel. The menu entitled 'Sophomore Class Supper' is placed nearby. This kind of trip was common, for examples appear in other mem books as well. There are programs for class day exercises, prize speaking, and various public exercises. There is a small yellow sheet entitled The Dum Grind. Volume I, Number 4, was published in 'Bed-bug Alley, Dartmouth College.' Social notes were frequently included in the mem books, and Foster's includes one from Edwin J. Bartlett, then associate professor of chemistry, in which he apologizes for not attending a fraternity meeting (Psi Upsilon):'My little one though not really sick is ailing to such an extent that she does not sleep at night as a well conducted babe should and I can't venture to handicap myself by a late start.' Foster's mem book not only includes much pre-college material but much more describing his career after Dartmouth, at law school, fraternity reunions, and travel abroad. Many of these mem books included earlier or later material.

I searched for something about the Dartmouth Hall fire of 19 February 1904. James Robert Merriam's 1905 book has only three very ordinary snapshots, but I found what I sought in the mem book of James Christie Walker 1904. There are good pictures and a news story. The interesting item is a leaflet, 'Dartmouth College Subscription' (Walker's was No. 4235): 'Believing that it is necessary to rebuild Dartmouth Hall. . . .' First is the subscription coupon for which Walker pledged $5.00 and then several pages of pictures and history of Dartmouth Hall.

A changing pattern may come clear if we turn to an overview considering the following four mem books: an early one, several for the middle years, and the most recent. The basic theme is, as the dictionary notes, that of a souvenir, 'something serving as a token of remembrance,' with personal variations reflecting individual experiences. One of the selected topics appearing throughout, but especially in the earlier mem books, is the importance of fraternities and their many activities, such as dinners, dances, and conventions. For this reason I have indicated fraternity membership where relevant.

The oldest of this group is a scrapbook made by Louis John Rundlett 1881. Before his death in 1934 he was a superintendent of schools in New Hampshire. The mem book is homemade, boxed by Special Collections with the title 'Rundlett Memorabilia Book 1881.' It was given by Edmund H. Booth 1918, well-known as a member of the English department from 1920 to 1962 and father of the poet Philip Booth 1947, who recently wrote nostalgically of his undergraduate days. 5

The book is filled with glued-in newspaper clippings, various programs, and ornate calling cards, which were fashionable then, often with fancy scroll and Spencerian flourishes.

There is a penned invitation (a command!):'Compliments of President and Mrs. Bartlett for Wednesday Evening, June 22nd at 8 o'clock.' (1877?) There are doodles and cartoons of campus life and many commercial photographs of baseball teams, some of the players with mustaches. College undergraduates or professionals? At the front of the volume is a handwritten contract for $150. It reads '. . . to play base ball in Hanover or elsewhere for the said party of the first part [Dartmouth College Base Ball Association], from the 28th of March 1881 to the 15th day of June 1881.' The next paragraph reads '. . . and to play base ball with the utmost of his (L. J. Rundlett's) skill and ability.' Shades of contracts a century later!

The nine mem books of Frederick Henry Harris 1911 are a gift of his widow. Three are the typical large mem books, one in a box which is titled 'Memorabilia from College Days,' and another, which has laces to allow for inserted pages, bears inside the back cover the label, 'Dartmouth College Mem Book Made by L. E. Hartshorn, Hanover, N.H. For sale by E. D. Storrs, Hanover, N.H. 50 Extra Leaves for 25c.' (E. P. Storrs was the father of Dave Storrs many of us knew in the '20s and '30s. His bookstore was located next to Nugget Alley and the Casque and Gauntlet house.) Several smaller volumes are labeled 'Memory Books.'

Fred Harris is known as the founder of the Dartmouth Outing Club. He was much more. He was the New England tennis champion, but missed the national clay court championship. Sports pictures and clippings fill most of the pages. The three large books (c. 15 x 11 1/2 x 5) are mostly about skiing and tennis. Many pictures of all types: athletes, buildings, dormitory rooms, and friends; some of the pictures are from newspapers and others are snapshots. There are other artifacts as well: a coupon book (Number 594) from Williams Dartmouth Laundry, several reports of academic standing, and a Hanover precinct broadside announcing a $50 reward for the apprehension and conviction of the person turning in a false alarm on 31 January 1909.

There is a bill from Dr. Kingsford, the College physician, known to many in the 1920s as 'Bush,' and noted below the bill: 'A Little Hard Luck after the Harvard Game.' There are remembrances from lectures and concerts, including Mme. Schumann-Heink's of 5 March 1908, and souvenir pieces from the installation of Emest Fox Nichols who served from 1906 to 1916. The Dartmouth issued spoofs each year, like 'Extra! The Hanover HYDROPHOBIA MEM. BOOK ADDITION. Printed by Grafters for Their Own Benefit.'

The mem book of Howard Floyd Dunham, also 1911, is in sharp contrast to the Harris books. He later taught French and Spanish at the College (1914-1956) and was one of the teachers (and later a colleague) of the aforementioned Heywood Knowlton 1917. His mem book came to Special Collections in 1973; he died in 1969. There is a snapshot of Fred Harris winning a ski-jumping contest; a fine picture of a student's room, neat and tidy, with lots of pictures, and furniture. Second-hand, no doubt. In the '20s, Zack Jordan (John Zachariah Jordan 1920) and other athletes were irresistable salesmen to freshmen, who in turn sold their purchases 'next year.'

There are photographs and clippings of South Fayerweather Hall 'burned to ashes'; this from a newspaper clipping headed 'Dartmouth Men Flee From Fire.' How about a red leather-bound dance order for the Phi Sigma Kappa prom dance? Or a copy of the Manual of the Church of Christ at Dartmouth College -the so-called White Church, not because it is always painted white but because of local legend based on the fact that a noted New York architect, Stanford White, was hired by Hiram Hitchcock (donor of the Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital) to consult on the remodeling of the church in 1889. 6

The most recent is the mem book of Elbert Asa GruverJr. 1927. There are about eight mem books after mine in 1924, five of them for 1926, two for 1925, and Gruver's for 1927. This one is in the usual format, manufactured by The College Memorabilia Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There is an interesting contrast in his scrapbook between freshman year where there were only two autographs to fill twelve pages as opposed to his considerable fraternity activity. His was Gamma Delta Epsilon, and there are several professionally posed pictures of the group.

Gruver's scrapbook is notable for theatre programs like that for B. E Keith's in Boston, Massachusetts, where our man had a seat for two dollars plus a twenty-cent tax. These, by hindsight, might foretell his career in theatrical production. The programs are more elaborate than today's. There are numerous concert programs: The Hanover Community Chorus, the Community Chorus and Orchestra in 1923 and 1924, and part of a ticket for a concert and tea dance in what was then the Trophy Room at the gymnasium on 7 February 1924 for $1.50. On 1 June 1924 there was the Sing-Out in Rollins Chapel. There are souvenirs from the Green Key show and 1924 Winter Carnival. The words for the songs in the traditional spring hum by the four classes are printed in a small booklet.

Among the pictures and programs is a 'poem,' three four-line verses, 'Oh, Massachusetts' (his dormitory) with self-abasement the theme and a prayer for admission. There is a Dartmouth Dining Association meal ticket, a D.O.C. invitation to 'a feed to be held at Mel Adams Cabin. .. . Please reply at twenty-three Robinson Hall. . . .'In those days there were special holiday trains to Boston, New York, and Chicago; the station for Hanover was at the west end of the bridge in Lewiston, Vermont, a place that no longer exists. Gruver had a ticket on the Thanksgiving Pullman to Boston in 1923.

The mem book of our commentator, Chauncy N. Allen 1924, bears examination. It has the large Dartmouth seal on the cover and is noticeably neat and organized with many interesting inclusions. Two pieces of clay pipe are affixed to one page while on another is a silver wrapper from an Eskimo Pie. There are many other pieces of this sort.

The second semester of 1924 is documented by a listing of cuts and there are a few Reports of Standing. Several band itineraries are included. He was a member and notes: `I also have a program for the dedication of the "new stadium" (1923); the celebration was ill-fated for we lost to Cornell. A very cold night for the torchlight procession the night before marching to a "pep session." (I was playing a drum in the band.) The official score card was twenty-five cents; only fifteen cents for the Dartmouth-Harvard program in 1920. These were small pamphlets with no advertising.'

A Dartmouth College Athletic Council athletic tax receipt book and a remnant of a freshman beanie from the wet-down on 4 June 1921 appear along with a Score Card of Personality in a Standard of Twenty-five Points. Ticket stubs of all kinds neatly affixed plus postcards carrying official notices. And a reminder of extracurricular activities, a program for the Gates Opera House in nearby White River Junction, Vermont. It is for Thursday evening, 7 October.

The farce is 'Nightie Night' and the accompanying comment says it all: 'My first pilgrimage to the wickedJunction! May it not be the last.'

Professor Allen concludes his text with 'And so adieu to "ancient" history. Nothing changes very much; we all cling to our memories with a wide variety of souvenirs.' These mem books were collections of memories and each piece - whether it was a Pullman ticket, a Report of Standing, or a commencement program - contributed its share to the memories. Today these frequently fascinating, fragile volumes with their often fragile contents contribute in other ways.

Eras can be recreated with their help. They are a source of illustrations with the innumerable pictures of persons, groups, places, buildings, and occasions; some of these are probably unique. In addition to the documentation of College life, the myriads of programs, often illustrated, from opera houses, theatres, and the like, not only in such places as Boston and New York but in the more immediate vicinity, document times and places probably not so well recorded as a Boston or New York. Bills, receipts, ticket stubs, and advertisements tell us about businesses in the Hanover area that no longer exist and that possibly have no mention elsewhere. Menus of various sorts offer further information about everyday life, just as a reading of the various social notes tells something about the mores of the times. Many of the students included memorabilia from preparatory and high schools as well as for after-Dartmouth days; some of these might possibly be unique. A scanning of the mem books from the first in 1866 to the last in 1927 indicates how life and people have changed and become more sophisticated.

One wonders how some of the inclusions in the mem books found their way there. For example, what was the source oft Whittemore's Confederate certificate and of the ticket for the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad?

Would a contemporary student keep a mem book? Probably not-but Dartmouth history is the wealthier because these books exist.


1. Chauncey N. Allen, 'The Making of a Dartmouth Professor Seventy Years Ago,' Dartmouth College Library Bulletin 27 (NS) (November 1986): 2-29.

2. The binders entitled Memorabilia or Memory Book were published by several different items: companies like The College Memorabilia Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as well as locally by L. E. Hartshom in Hanover. The College Archives shelves have a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and titles. The titles on the boxes, as supplied by the Library for preservation, do not necessarily match what the scrapbook title might be.

3. It was originally founded as the Chandler School of Science and the Arts. The name was changed in 1865 to Chandler Scientific Department. In 1892 it was merged with the College by a Trustee committee recommendation. See the College histories for the story of this school.

4. The essays by Professor Williams, which appeared in several issues of the Library Bulletin, were gathered together and issued in bound form in his honor in 1987. This volume, titled Theatre at Dartmouth 1769-1914. From Eleazar Wheelock to Walter Wagner, has an introduction by Maurice Rapiand was published by The friends of the Dartmouth Library.

5. Philip Booth.'Growing Up Green: a Kaleidoscope of Heroes.' Dartmouth College Library Bulletin 29 (NS) (November 1988): 2-10.

6. Stanford White's work related chiefly to the church's interior. This church building. which burned in 1931, was located at that time where the Sanborn House lawn now is. When the present 'White Church' was built, it was at a different location. There is in Special Collections a paper by George W. Conklin 1931 that discusses the architecture of the building that later burned. In it there is the following statement:'The popular name of "White Church" given to the Collrge church is a fairly recent adoption. However, there is no connection with the name of Stanford White, "white" being applied to the color of the building. '