Wednesday, June 1, 2011

WVU student bulletin, June 1951

Cover of the 1951 student bulletin, featuring Wise
Library (the newer part of the current library
occupies the lawn seen in the foreground).
On a recent visit, my mother (a WVU alum, M. A. 1951) gave me a copy of the WVU Bulletin from June 1951.  She'd found it--where else?--in the basement/family archive, where my dad (also an alum: B. A. 1949, M. A. 1951) had squirreled it away.

I mean, you never know when you might need to know whom to write to for information about off-campus housing, which was even then at a premium.   Ladies, you need to contact the Dean of Women.  Good luck finding her.

Since it's been exactly sixty years since its June 1951 printing, it seemed like a good time to take a stroll down memory lane and see what campus life was like back in the day.   Clearly, some aspects of academe are immemorial...but others have changed radically.

(Note: you should be able to click on the photos to see larger versions of them.  It's worth it to read the captions.)

Here's Colson Hall, then the College of Law:

--which appears on a page with several other recognizable edifices:

 Can you imagine a time when Brooks was the fancy new building? And the English Department was in Armstrong?

Here's a classic shot of English majors and one of their professors doing English-y stuff:
Looks to me like the woman second from the left is more interested in the guy across the table than in that old book.  Again: then as now.  But when was the last time anyone saw a professor, much less a student, in a coat and tie?

Advising obviously hasn't changed much in sixty years either.  Only now, the headache this guy appears to be getting is as likely to be caused by STAR or Degree Works as by a student.
The Mountainlair existed then, but it was a different building on the same site.  Can't help but feel a little nostalgic about some of the amenities the old one had, like a real soda fountain:
However, I think we can safely say that locating showers inside the dorm has become more or less de rigeur:
Dresser scarves, however, no longer are.  More's the pity.

But there were Gleeks!
It's hard not to look at some of these pictures and imagine that Morgantown and WVU were much more glamorous, upstanding, hardworking places in 1951, though I know from my parents' stories that both had their share of vice, drunkenness, sexism, racism, callousness, and idiocy.  Then as now.  Notably, I don't think there's a single person of color anywhere in this bulletin, and no mention of services for students who might fall outside of the lily-white, straight, middle-class, able-bodied norm. But again, I know from my folks' stories that there were plenty who did.

Their absence may well have been a conscious part of the university's marketing strategy sixty years ago. 

Just remember, folks, it's all about balance:  "Student social life at the University is carefully planned and supervised.  It offers a wholesome type of recreation without taking emphasis off education."

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