Author Archives: Linda Papa

Introducing the University of Detroit Chorus Collection

The UDM Libraries/Instructional Design Studio is pleased to announce the addition of the University of Detroit Chorus Collection to our digital archives.  Materials from the collection of former Chorus member, Gerald Gruska (1959-1963) are now available in digital format dedicated to the legacy of the University of Detroit Chorus and Choral Society/Club.  The archive spans the early years of the Chorus from 1949 to 1970, and focuses on Chorus Directors George McLeod and Don Large.  Additional material will be added as it becomes available.

We invite you to check out the new collection. Click through the images within the site to explore the early years of the University of Detroit Mercy’s Chorus. If you were a member or have more information about some of the photographs within the site, please contact us.

To view this and other digital collections, please visit the “Special Collections” link on the Library home page for more information. Or go straight to the collection by clicking here.  Click through the images within the collection to explore the early years of the University of Detroit Mercy’s Chorus.



James T. Callow Folklore Collection

The James T. Callow Folklore Collection helps us celebrate the month of October and the colors of autumn with a song called “October Gave a Party” (shown below) from one submission he received. The person who submitted this noted that the song originated with her aunt who learned this from her mother when she (the aunt) was six years old. Songs like this may have been lost forever if Professor Callow hadn’t devoted time and effort into collecting them. This archive is filled with the magic of folklore, riddles, poems, and songs that visitors may recognize or, like this little song, be introduced to for the first time.

Visitors can find special treats like this song by browsing through the keyword search lists. It’s a fun way to spend a chilly afternoon as fall gets underway full time.

The introduction to the archive tells us this about the archive:

“The University of Detroit Mercy Digital Folklore Archive, founded in 1964 by Professors Frank M. Paulsen and James T. Callow was donated to the University of Detroit Mercy Libraries /Instructional Design Studio in 2009. The archives is comprised at this point of over 42,000 folklore traditions taken from field notes gathered by UDM (formerly University of Detroit) students as part of their course work in ‘Introduction to Folklore,’ ‘Studies in Folklore,’ ‘Folk Groups,’ and ‘Folklore Archiving’. The folklore archive covers traditions gathered between 1964 and 1993. Included in the Archive is the Peabody field note collection containing approximately 12,000 entries from Tennessee and the Southeast.”


October Gave A Party

The Leaves By Hundreds Came
The Chestnut, Oak, And Maple
And Leaves Of Every Name
The Sunshine Spread The Carpet
And Everything Looked Grand
Miss Weather Led The Dancing
Professor Wind The Band
The Chestnuts Came In Yellow
The Oak In Crimson Dress
The Lovely Mrs. Maple
In Scarlet Looked Her Best
All Danced To Their Partners
And Gaily Fluttered By
The Sweet One Like A Rainbow
New-Fallen From The Sky
Then In The Rustic Billow
At Hide And Seek They Played
The Party Broke At Sundown
But Still The Leaves All Stayed
Professor Wind Played Louder
They Flew Along The Ground
And Here The Party Ended
With A Jolly Old Hand Round

The Library

These days the library has become more of a center for learning, sharing, and community than a warehouse of books.  In its early days, however, students and faculty who used the University of Detroit library were regarded as “customers” who checked out books in a very formal fashion.  They looked up the call numbers printed on cards maintained using the Dewey Decimal System, and a technician or librarian would retrieve the books for them through a system of call boxes and “dumb waiters.”  It was very formal, very procedure oriented, and very tedious for all concerned.

In the beginning, the focus was on books, limited study space, and quiet.  Books were sorted by card catalog entry numbers which were imprinted on cards in the books themselves.  Although this process may have been slightly different at the University of Detroit, the basic procedure went like this:  When checked out, the card located within the book was removed and held at the circulation desk until the book was returned.  When the book was returned, the librarian used the card on file to check in the book and return it to the stacks. This procedure, of course, was all matched with the patron’s library card. The system was simple and trusting and very low-tech.

Micofiche entered the scene in the 1960s as a better way of keeping track of circulation, and in the late 1980s, computers found a place in the library as well. Still, using this new technology required time, energy, and staff.  And it was all still about the books: tracking them, organizing them, storing them, and collecting fines for their late return.

Over time, the image of the library as a great vault of book bound knowledge began to change. Librarians and staff began to notice that the patrons kept the library going. It wasn’t that the library, like a great Seinfeld sitcom Soup Nazi, would dole out its prized books to the worthy. It was more about offering students a place on campus to study, learn, and have access to the resources and technology that were so important to their education.

This page from the 1950 Tower Yearbook, offers a snapshot of the importance of the new library building on campus (completed that year).  Reading through this yearbook allows readers a better understanding of the early days of the library’s presence and how welcome it was on campus. Now students had access to the resources they needed to help them with their education in an inviting and well maintained space.

Over time technology has become the predominate way of achieving the library’s success. Students can get access to Internet resources as well as guidance in how to use these resources in their course work. The book is still an important part of it all, however, and chances are good that it always will be.

Along with the yearbook image here, I’ve included a tiny advertisement for typewriter rental at the library in early 1959 (below the yearbook image). This ad is on page 5 of the January 9, 1959, Varsity News.

“Southside View of Slavery”

A recent documentary on Public Television (PBS) called The African Americans: Many Rivers To Cross offers an excellent overview of slavery in the United States from its early beginnings in the 1500s to its final end in 1865.  This view aligns closely with the history recorded in the Black Abolitionist Archive’s editorials and speeches.  Slavery wasn’t anything new when this country was first established.  What WAS new, however, was the notion of “who” slaves were and how this tied in with racial discrimination. This didn’t start suddenly. When slavery was first introduced in this country, slaves (and indentured servants) were of many races, including Native Americans. This change was gradual, but at one point in the history of the United States, “slave” was equated with African captives.

Slavery offered the free labor that helped this country grow. It was good for the economy, it made many people wealthy, and there seemed to be an endless supply of slave labor just waiting for transport and sale. The presence of so many enslaved people in the U. S. offered a reminder of our collective wealth and also of our collective guilt. This was difficult to reconcile for many people.  Social divisions by class soon included a division based on color. This began so subtly that when someone finally started paying attention to what was happening, they also recognized the dramatic (and unpleasant) potential for social change that would be required to correct it.

This country was not only built on the backs of slave labor, but also on a strong religious foundation. Treating fellow human beings as property, as little more than beasts of burden, seemed to counter Biblical teachings that spoke of brotherhood and love. The institution of slavery not only contradicted these teachings, it also contradicted the Constitution itself (the “self evident” statement that “all men are created equal” was difficult to ignore).

In order to bridge this gap in reason, some sort of justification was necessary, and towards the end of its well-held place in the American economy, a justification of slavery was the subject of many papers, books, and speeches. The rationale for continuing slavery ranged from creative logic to junk science to religious benefit. Those defending the institution of slavery were nothing if not creative in their reasoning.

In the March 1, 1856 edition of the Anti-Slavery Advocate, William Wells Brown discusses a book by Dr. Nehemiah Adams that had recently hit the bookshop shelves.  This wasn’t the first publication to offer a justification of slavery based on Biblical teachings but it was one worthy of note.

William Wells Brown was an escaped slave who rose to prominence through his writings, lectures, and abolitionist work. It was during his attendance at the Cincinnati Anti-Slavery Convention in May, 1855, that he had occasion to offer commentary on Dr. Adams’ book that praised slavery for benefiting the “religious character” of the slave. The book described the author’s experience with “southern slavery” after a trip to the American south.  It seemed the religious conservatives of this time, like Dr. Adams, were the main people wrestling with this problem of justifying slavery. William Wells Brown compared Dr. Adams’ writing to his own experience with a white minister’s family shortly after he (Brown) had escaped from slavery.  During that visit, Brown had received such kindness from the minister’s wife and daughter (Harriet) that he was dizzy from it all.

The story may have ended there and the reader may have drawn the conclusion that Brown was rethinking his passionate resolve to speak against slavery from this minister’s pulpit. He liked the family and had no desire to upset them or make them regret their kind hospitality. He considered toning down his speech, and adjusting his remarks. The last paragraph, however, sums up his thoughts nicely:

“But I had a bond of sympathy with the slave that Dr. Adams had not.  The little girl Harriet reminded me that I once had a sister; that she was torn from me and sent south; that I had not dared remonstrate, or even call her sister. The kindness of the lady whose hospitality I was then enjoying brought to mind my mother, from whose caresses I had been torn, and how she had been sent I knew not whither, never to see her boy’s face again. I therefore resolved to do my duty, and I did it.”

We’re proud to include with this digitized speech an audio version recorded by a volunteer. Click this link to view the entire record.


Shortly after the declaration of World War I, University of Detroit students began marching drills in the playing field next to the Jefferson Street campus.  These would later become more serious as an officer from the Thirty-First Michigan National Guard was obtained to guide these drills.  Without really realizing it, students, who had previously held hopes for careers in business, finance, and engineering were being groomed for war.

This image (on page 122 of the University History archive 1877-1977) takes us to a time when no one really knew what to expect of war on this scale.  The down turned faces of the students here indicate a confusion of inner questioning, hidden fears, and loyal camaraderie.

This page of the University Histories archive goes on to tell us that:

“A month later, the student reporter for the Michigan Catholic summarized the progress of the training as follows.  He wrote: ‘The daily hour’s drill in the college department grows more strenuous as the weeks pass.  At first it was something new and novel, but now that is has become a fixed assignment for each day, it no longer possesses any novelty.  Fortunately, it is a prescribed duty, hence there is no shirking it or begging off. Most of us are glad that the drill is of obligation and yet we are sufficiently human to wish otherwise.’”



“The Land of Steady Habits”

Humor can be cathartic, but who would expect to find humor during the bleak years of American slavery? Yet humor can actually be  beneficial to human beings dealing with hardship.  Humor offers a way of connecting with others dealing with the same issues; a way of relating to shared hardships.  It says, “Yes, I know!  Me too!” to those in similar circumstances, and helps them weather the storms together.  Laughing during times of trouble can help release the stored energy of anger, express the bafflement over injustice, and work through the total irrationality of human action. Seeing the humor when it seems everything around you is unbelievably difficult helps elevate pain and the stresses of daily living.  It can even aid creativity, problems solving, and an individual’s ability to cope.

So among the many writers and speakers during the Black Abolitionist movement, one name stands out:  Bob’n Around.  Bob’n Around was the pen name of a traveling correspondent to the Weekly Anglo-African newspaper from around 1860 to around 1862.  He had a way of turning a tragic scene into an ironic, head shaking image that the black community of his readers could easily relate to.  It’s not so much what he says as it is the way he says it.  This is humor at its finest: subtle and pointed.

In this installment, Bob’n visits Connecticut, a place he describes as “…the land of steady habits, Cuban tobacco, and wooden nutmeg.”  He offers a great vision of the country when slavery was the norm for most states (slavery was outlawed in Connecticut in 1848). I think you’ll enjoy reading this one, but we’ve also included an audio recording to help expand the experience.  The communication is subtle, but Bob’n gets his point across.  (Want more from Bob’n?  Consider subscribing to the Black Studies Center’s site at this link.)


The Athletics Edition

In June, 1907, a special edition of the Tamarack called The Young Tamarack was issued.  According to an editorial published in this edition, there were two reasons for this … both relating to athletics.  The first reason was the formation of the Athletics Association, which, the writer tells us, would help finance the Athletics program at the university. An association of this type would also help establish some by-laws for participation in the various sports available at the University of Detroit at that time.

The second reason refers to a new gymnasium, which it seems had been in the works for a while when this edition went to press.  The editor tells us that an open letter bringing this request to the attention of the university administration was already in progress.

This grand idea was not without problems, though. We learn from Herman J. Muller, S.J., on page 131 of his book The University of Detroit 1877-1977, A Centennial History (University Histories archive), for example, that there really wasn’t enough space at the downtown Detroit location for a new building.

So, an addition was considered. The idea then became, “why not heighten and extend what we have?” This thinking was also met with problems. A clause in a much earlier donation from Cornelius J. Reilly (died 1913) stipulated that no building at the downtown campus could be raised “during the lifetime of the donor’s widow.” The old Barnard residence hall had been demolished before this came to light and Mrs. Reilly put an immediate stop to further construction on the planned addition to the present Dowling Hall-Rectory Complex (something of a “plan B” idea) (page 121, The University of Detroit 1877-1977 A Centennial History).

Besides the need for a gymnasium and stadium, enrollment was increasing rapidly. The university was running out of space fast. What they needed now was a “plan C”! It was Athletics that turned the tide, however.  The need for practice fields and playing space became the momentum for a major change. Athletics was a huge draw for more student enrollment and the university was continuing to grow because of it.

Finally in 1921, after much searching and plan changing, farm land was purchased at McNichols and Livernois for a new campus. And on July 1, 1922, the first sod was turned for a stadium on the grounds of this new campus. The gymnasium would come in the years that followed.

To learn more, we hope you’ll spend some time with the history of athletics at the university by visiting the University Histories and the Tamarack digital collections.




“Our Wish is to Do Good”

The Colored American was among 40 black newspapers published before the Civil War.  Although it’s first issue was available in March of 1837, it was the July 7, 1838 (shown here), issue that offered a pointed expression of its purpose and direction.

Like all such newspapers in circulation at the time, the Colored American offered a way to keep people connected and informed.  It offered them a voice and a platform for debate when no other resource was available. And though various sources disagree on the years of its publication (originally from 1837 to 1842), it made a significant impact on those who would fight for freedom.

In the article shared here, the writer informs his readers that the newspaper’s intention is simply “to do good in the community and to assist an oppressed segment of society.”  There were always disagreements and debates, both political and ethical, even in this tightly knit group of people. The newspaper offered the perfect way to present both sides of issues to encourage readers to draw their own conclusions and make informed choices.  And while the readership consisted mostly of free, literate African Americans, both the free and the enslaved were affected by the topics addressed in the articles.



“The Proposition is Peace”

In March, 1775, when Edmund Burke addressed the English House of Commons, the affairs in America had reached a crisis point.  Attempts to keep the Colonies under control were failing, and failing in a big way.  Burke decided to offer a plan to resolve the growing discontent in the Colonies in a way he hoped would be fair to all concerned.  His objective was to maintain peace by offering concessions, and it would take quite a sales job to get “buy in” on this plan from those who had favored a strict hand with these impudent “children” of Mother England for so long.

Burke begins his speech with reason, and keeps to this reasoned approach the entire way through:

“To restore order and repose to an empire so great and so distracted as ours is, merely in the attempt, an undertaking that would ennoble the flights of the highest genius, and obtain pardon for the efforts of the meanest understanding. Struggling a good while with these thoughts, by degrees I felt myself more firm. I derived, at length, some confidence from what in other circumstances usually produces timidity. I grew less anxious, even from the idea of my own insignificance. For, judging of what you are by what you ought to be, I persuaded myself that you would not reject a reasonable proposition because it had nothing but its reason to recommend it.”

This one afternoon in the history of this country is a relatively small part of the turmoil to follow. Yet in 1899, 124 years after it was delivered, this speech was studied in detail by students at the University of Detroit. From it they gained insight into the use of logic, the formation of governments, and the idea that power often succeeds through the use of negotiation and cooperation, not domination. The success of force is not only uncertain, but temporary. England’s realization of this, however, would come later.

Daniel C. Lawless contributed often to the Tamarack over the years of its publication.  In 1900, he earned a Bachelor’s Degree (A. B.) in Business, and then disappeared into the working world. The articles and work he left behind, however, are now an important part of the Tamarack archive.

Lawless’ article on Burke’s speech ends in this February edition of the Tamarack just as it was really getting interesting.  The final sentence leaves the readers with a tease, “To Be Continued.”  It finishes in the March, 1899, edition (image 25).


Maurice Greenia Jr. Collections

The origin of the word “collage” is taken from the French word colle, to “paste” or “glue.”  Collage basically means putting things together and “fixing” them in place to form a work of art. defines the word collage as:

“a technique of composing a work of art by pasting on a single surface various materials not normally associated with one another, as newspaper clippings, parts of photographs, theater tickets, and fragments of an envelope [...] an assemblage or occurrence of diverse elements or fragments in unlikely or unexpected juxtaposition.”

Maurice Greenia, Jr., like a lot of artists, enjoys the juxtaposition of unusual things.  And like a lot of artists, he responds to the urge to express this in his art.  The Maurice Greenia, Jr. Collections archive has recently added several new collages to the collection. We invite you to take a few minutes to enjoy the recent additions.

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