Author Archives: whitarchives2009

Happy Birthday Olivia Davidson Washington

Olivia Davidson Washington small

Our Connection to Tuskegee; Olivia A. Davidson, Co-founder and Educator

Olivia A. Davidson is a celebrated alum from Framingham State’s past. Born on June 11, 1854 she lived her first years of life in Mercer County, Virginia. Her father, Elias Davidson, was a freed slave and her mother, Eliza Webb, was a free black woman. The Davidson family moved to Ironton, Ohio when Olivia was three years old. It was in Ohio that Davidson received her teaching certificate at fifteen before beginning her teaching career a year later.

Hearing of need for teachers in the southern parts of the country Davidson moved south. She taught in Spencer, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee. One of the most notable moments of her character occurred while she was in Mississippi. One of her students came down with a case of smallpox, and Davidson closed her school to personally care for the boy until he was healthy. In Memphis she was one of the original eight teachers who taught at the Clay Street School when it opened on March 13, 1874. The school was designated for children of color and was the first brick school building in Memphis. Due to controversies surrounding the principal Davidson left the school and went on to further her own education. Upon her return to Ohio she learned of an outbreak of yellow fever, and while she asked to return as a nurse for the sick, she was denied due to never having the disease herself. Instead, she went on to the Hampton Institute, now known as Hampton University, located in Virginia.

She entered the Institute in 1878. Davidson’s tuition was paid for by Lucy Hayes, the wife of President Rutherford B. Hayes. Due to her already impressive teaching career she was enrolled as a senior and graduated a year later with honors. She delivered one of ten speeches given by students on that day. During her brief time there, Davidson also garnered the interest of Mary Hemenway, a wealthy philanthropist from Boston with a very familiar name. It was Hemenway who convinced Davidson to continue in higher education by attending the Framingham Normal School.

Before moving to the North, Davidson was told that her skin was light enough she could pretend to be a white woman and enjoy the privileges thereof. Reportedly, she refused to do so because she felt no shame in her race. Instead, she wanted to honor her people and demonstrate what an African American woman could accomplish. With her head held high, and her dignity as a black woman intact, Davidson started in Framingham on September 3, 1879 at the age of 25. Mary Hemenway paid for her expenses. She graduated two years later on June 29, 1881 as one of six honors students in her class of twenty-five graduates. She held highest honors.

Through her six years of teaching before higher education and her own academic accomplishments, Olivia Davidson became a well-respected woman in the academic community. Booker T. Washington delivered a speech during her graduation from the Hampton Institute, and upon her graduation from Framingham he reached out to her about a new project he was working on—the Tuskegee Institute. Washington asked her to join him in the founding of a school for black education, and she agreed but needed a few months to regain her health. By the end of the summer of 1881 they were working together to build the school from the ground up.

Davidson’s contributions have been overshadowed by Washington’s own fame, but he has noted her accomplishments in his autobiography Up From Slavery. He wrote, “No single individual did more toward laying the foundations of the Tuskegee Institute so as to insure the successful work that been done there than Olivia A. Davidson.” She tirelessly worked as a teacher and the first Assistant Principal to bring Tuskegee into fruition. Some of her most notable work came from her fundraising efforts. Aside from local festivals where she encouraged the community to make any sort of donation they could—money, food, or even animals—Davidson also went on several trips a year to the North. She had accumulated many wealthy peers who she counted on to donate to the school; Mary Hemenway was always a happy contributor. Her fundraising successes allowed Tuskegee to secure its permanent location and grow into what it is today.

In 1886, Davidson married Booker T. Washington after his first wife, Frannie (Smith) Washington, passed away two years prior. They were married at her sister’s house in Athens, Ohio on August 11. Davidson gracefully took on the roles of wife and step mother on top of her other duties at Tuskegee. She helped raise Portia Washington as if she were her own daughter, and gave birth to Booker Jr. on May 29, 1887 and Ernest Davidson on February 6, 1889.

Olivia Davidson died that same year her second son was born. Two days after Ernest arrived, their home caught fire due to a faulty flue. The family was not harmed, but Davidson never recovered from the exposure to the morning cold. She was moved to Montgomery and then to Boston for treatment before she died on May 9, 1889 due to tuberculosis of the larynx. Her loss was felt by every person she influenced, from her family in Ohio, to her students at Tuskegee, and her friends in Framingham and Boston.

Today we honor Olivia Davidson and recognize her stunning efforts in education for people of color. She overcame illness, racism, and great financial odds to help cultivate a place to nurture the next generation at great personal cost. As students we should all aspire to have the same work ethic as Olivia Davidson, and strive to make such an impact on the world.

Ryan Toomey – English Intern 2017

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Corinna Shattuck – Heroine on a Mission

Corinna Shattuck Oorfa Turkey

Corinna Shattuck was a young girl when she was orphaned. Born on April 21, 1848 in Louisville, Kentucky, Shattuck lost her father at the age of one and her mother three years later. Before her death, Shattuck’s mother moved her family consisting of a young Corinna and three more siblings to Acton, Massachusetts, her home town. The four children lived with their maternal grandparents in Acton after the loss of their mother. Shattuck’s grandparents instilled a deep religious faith which she carried with her for the rest of her life. This mixed with a strong desire to help those less fortunate than her lead her to missionary work.

Shattuck’s time at Framingham Normal School is characterized by her correspondence with Framingham alum Myra Proctor. Proctor was working as a missionary in Aintab, Turkey at the time. She had opened a school and was more than happy to write to Shattuck about her life and her mission work. Proctor became Shattuck’s inspiration. Shattuck set her sights on Turkey and after her graduation from the advanced program in 1873 that’s exactly where she went. She arrived there on August 27, 1873. In her first few years in Turkey she spent her time learning the language, adapting to the culture, and riding horseback for over one thousand miles to see the country. Shattuck had persistent health problems that sent her back to the United States in 1879 for several years. Unfortunately, she was prone to tuberculosis which limited her ability to breathe; she essentially had one functioning lung. By 1883 she resumed her work in Turkey.

Shattuck’s time in Turkey is known for several major accomplishments. In her time teaching she encountered one student, Mary Harootoonya who lost her sight. Shattuck worked to get Harootoonya into the Royal Normal College for the Blind located in London. After her return to Turkey, Harootoonya and Shattuck teamed up to build the Corinna Shattuck School for the Blind.

Shattuck had been placed in multiple locations across Turkey, and in 1892 she requested to be moved from Marash to Oorfa (present day Urfa). Her request was granted and she was moved to her new city. It was her influence in Urfa that made Shattuck particularly well known. Tensions had been on the rise in Turkey between different religious groups, particularly the Muslims and Christians. In October of 1895 Christians were confined by soldiers to a section of the city and forced to give up any weapons they may have owned. For a couple of months they were allowed to go about their daily lives. Shattuck sensing trouble requested the Turkish government for a permit to leave the city for her safety. Her permit was granted on December 28th, 1895, one hour before the Oorfa Massacre.

The Muslims and Kurds in combination with the soldiers raided the Christian section of Urfa. They attacked any Christian man they found, leaving the women and children alone unless they tried to protect their fathers and husbands. Their houses were ransacked and everything of value was stolen, even the front doors. Soldiers were posted outside of Shattuck’s door to keep the trouble out, but her neighbors jumped her fences and crowded her home. For fear of the government discovering how many people she was hiding, Shattuck moved the men to a nearby Protestant church to hide until the attack was over, and she provided sanctuary to their wives and children.

By the end of it all the death toll was in the thousands. A Georgian church was set on fire with three thousand people trapped inside. The soldiers inspected Shattuck’s home for any fugitives, and satisfied in not finding any men they departed without any trouble. That night Corinna Shattuck saved the lives of over three hundred people.

After the massacre there were hundreds of orphans and widows. Shattuck’s heart broke for the orphans, especially as someone who was orphaned herself. Seeing the rising desperation around her Shattuck got to work. She adopted over 150 orphans and started several new institutions. She began by teaching the young girls and the widows how to sew and embroider. Shattuck found a wholesale company in Ireland that helped her sell the products her girls were making, and the business became a surprising success. The extra profit allowed her to expand her operations to include three homes for the children. The boys were in charge of the vineyards, making shoes, and in their off time the local tradesmen taught them carpentry, tailoring, and the like. To her credit, Shattuck allowed all ethnic groups to her homes. This helped ease some of the religious tensions and eliminate some prejudice amongst the children. At its height, her operation employed over two thousand people.

All of this success built a reputation for Shattuck. She became known for settling disputes and facing government officials with a cool head. In an interesting turn of events, an Arab man named Ibrahim Pasha sent his horsemen to attack Shattuck’s farms. Angry at the men for trying to hurt her students she took to a horse herself and rode to Pasha’s settlement. There she waited until he finally opened his tent for her. What was said when she officially met with him is unknown, but by the time she rode back to Urfa Pasha had sworn his eternal protection for her farms. After this incident she was used as a mediator for any other disputes that occurred near Urfa.

Shattuck dedicated over thirty years of her life to her work in Turkey. By 1910 her sickness was overwhelming her and she left Turkey to seek treatment back in the US. She made it to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and from there she was sent to Cullis Consumptives’ Home. She lived out her final days in the Cullis Home where she died on May 22, 1910 at the age of 62. Shattuck’s impact on the lives on her students in Turkey is undeniable. In a time of terror, she sheltered them. In a time of turmoil, she gave them food and a home. When raiders appeared in the hills she sent them flying away. Here is a woman who should make us proud to be a part Framingham.

          Photo Courtesy of Independent Association of Framingham State Alumni

Written by,
2017 English Intern

Ryan Toomey

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Filed under Archives/Special Collections, Framingham State Alumni, guest blogger, Henry Whittemore Library

A Closer look at the 7th Annual Literary Cake Decorating contest.

Follow the link to the power-point slide show.

Henry Whittemore Library 7th Annual Literary Cake Contest

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Going the Extra Mile – Mary Elizabeth Miles in the History of FSU

Black History month asks us to remember some of the most influential members of our history. Some of these people are closer to our school than you may think. Mary Elizabeth Miles was the first African-American woman to enter and graduate from Framingham Normal School when it resided in Lexington, MA in the early 1840s. She was born in Rhode Island around 1820 to free parents in the Quaker community. Miles was educated at Prudence Crandall’s Female Academy by Crandall herself, a white abolitionist who was the first to teach exclusively black children. By the time Miles was a young adult she had proven herself capable enough for Rev. Samuel J. May and Horace Mann to petition the school committee to allow her access to higher education.

Miles entered the school on May 26th, 1842 as a twenty-two year old woman and graduated in April of 1843. Back then, an Education major had requirements that could be achieved in one or two years, a fact that shocks many present day Education students. The 1861 school catalogue states that students were only required to attend three consecutive terms (roughly a year and a half) to complete their courses of study in Reading, Spelling, Writing, Defining, Grammar, Geography, and Arithmetic. Miles already had some teaching experience working in public schools before she entered the Normal School giving her an edge in her studies.

After her graduation in 1843 she began her teaching career. She moved from Boston to Albany to Cincinnati before meeting her future husband Henry Bibb, a fugitive slave from Kentucky and ardent abolitionist. They formed a bond at an abolitionist convention in New York City in 1847 and married a year later in Ohio before moving back to Boston. They resided in the North until the federal government passed the Compromise of 1850 and the dreaded Fugitive Slave Act. Since Bibb himself was a fugitive slave and Miles’s family had been free for generations with little way to prove they were not slaves, the couple emigrated to Canada and lived in Sandwich.

Unfortunately, much of Miles’s career was overshadowed by her husband’s. He established Canada’s first black newspaper, Voice of the Fugitive, and continued the abolitionist movement while in Canada until his death in 1854. During his lecture tours, Bibb left the job of editing and publishing the paper to his wife making Mary Miles the first ever woman in Canadian history to publish a newspaper.

Meanwhile, Miles was doing more than her part in trying to promote education in the black community. She opened her first school in their home in 1851, the year that Canada segregated its public schools. Miles’s school was the first opened in Sandwich for black children. Attendance swelled she had no choice but to find a bigger space to accommodate all of her students. Unfortunately, the community was too impoverished to afford the meager six cents a week per student she was asking to be paid, and Miles was forced to close the school.

In a way, Miles’s story should make us present day Rams very proud because she continued her fight despite the odds against her. She opened a second school in 1852 in Windsor for both black and white children to attend with no prejudice about race. She also opened a third school later on in her life as well that promoted the same model.

At the same time that the Bibbs were running the newspaper and opening schools, they were also acting as the final stop on the Underground Railroad. They accepted American refugees into their home as a part of the Windsor Anti-Slavery Society and the Refugee Home Society. They worked to give the fugitive slaves enough of a foothold to survive and thrive in a new country.

Thanks to her dedication to education, Mary Elizabeth Miles forever changed the lives of the children she taught as well as the fugitive slaves she bravely sheltered. She was someone who sought to brighten the future by teaching new generations while trying to help fugitive slaves find a new life beyond the border. This is a woman who each Framingham State student should find strength in as well as an immense sense of the pride.

For more information on Mary Elizabeth Miles, check out the exhibit in the foyer of the Henry Whittemore Library.

Written By,

2017 English Intern

Ryan Toomey

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2016 Video History Project -1944 Alumna – Ethel Cavanaugh McMahon

Since Framingham State Normal School opened its doors in 1839 Framingham has been a destination for thousands of students who want to become teachers. One such student, from the class of 1944, revisited the Framingham campus this past week to share her own experiences from her time enrolled here.Cavanaugh Ethel reduced

Ethel Cavanaugh, now Ethel McMahon, is an alum from the days when Framingham State was a Teacher’s College. She was enrolled in the Vocational Household Arts program here, which prepared students for teaching positions in Vocational schools. Though she was a commuter, she was one of the many students who lived, for a small portion of her school days, in the no longer standing Vocational House. This house was once located at the end of State Street, by the train tracks, where Maple parking lot can now be found. Living there for a certain number of weeks and taking on different assigned tasks to keep the house in order was a requirement for these Vocational students.

When Ethel recently came to Framingham to share her memories about school, she brought with her a photo album with a collection of photographs taken during her years at Framingham. Ethel is a graduate of the class of 1944 and attended Framingham State during the years of World War II. This fact is evident from her class yearbook, which features full-page advertisements for War Bonds and a message from the class of 1945 that reads, “We came in with the war, we hope the war goes out with us.” Ethel’s stories about this significant era in history reflected the times. She recalled a memory of a train full of American soldiers, all standing in open boxcars, passing by the vocational house, and waving at the students as they went. She also remembered a time when many of her teachers were drafted into the war and had to leave their positions at the College. These men were honored in the 1944 yearbook, which was also dedicated to Lieutenant Edward Gilday, a beloved music teacher at Framingham State who served in the war. Ethel’s recounting of her time here provides a new picture of how much the world has changed since the 1940s, and it also reveals the great strides this small school has taken through the years.

Alumni interviews such as this one are part of the Video Histories project, a collaborative effort between the Communications Department and the University’s Library Director and Archivist. For this project, various alumni are returning to Framingham in order to share their key memories from when they were enrolled here, whether these are good or bad, regarding studies or social events, or about friends or faculty. On camera, they each share a record of what they remember best from their time here. These digital accounts will be available through the digital repository in the future, as more video interviews are conducted.

ECM Cropped

When Ethel returned to the Special Collections room in the Henry Whittemore Library, she looked through an old, leather-bound photo album which had been taken out of the archives so that a history student could use it in her research. To everyone’s surprise, some of the same images that Ethel had in her own album were in this one as well, each with a handwritten note about who was featured in each of the pictures and what was occurring at the time it was taken.3rd Group Jan-March 1941 resizeda

Now in her nineties, Ethel’s most memorable days as a Framingham State student are far in the past. However, her experiences here remain a lasting part of Framingham State history decades later. With the pictures of Ethel and her classmates in the archives, and now her enlightening interview, students will continue to learn from her experiences for years to come.

Written By,

2016 English Intern

Rebecca Waitt

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Did You Know? 163 Years in Framingham: From Normal Hall to West Hall

 

Part 1: The First Residents

 

Normal Hall

 

When the first State Normal School was relocated to Framingham Massachusetts in 1853, there were limited living accommodations available for students. It was not until 1869 that Normal Hall, the first dormitory here at Framingham, opened its doors to the first class of “boarding students.” These first residents of Framingham faced new opportunities as well as challenges, and their living situations were ones that today’s Framingham State University residents might be appalled by.

As the oldest state supported institution for teacher training in the United States, Framingham State University has a diverse history with thousands of alumni who have walked through our campus. During the initial years at Framingham, when the school had less than a hundred students enrolled, Normal Hall was the only dorm available for resident students.

Henrietta Graves a student of the class of 1884, recalls the rough experience of living in this dorm. “The last of the double beds was banished from Normal Hall in my day,” she states. “Many a night [had] I lain awake trying to keep from sliding over the outer edge of one while my roommate slept peacefully on the continental divide in the middle. The joy of the new single bed with good springs and a level mattress remains with me yet.” Though, to today’s residents, the very idea of sharing a bed with one’s roommate at FSU might seem like a scene from a nightmare, it was the reality for the earliest students. If that is not enough to make anyone appreciate modern times, it should also be noted that the Normal Hall dormitory was not only home for these students, but it was also home to the principal of the school and some of these students’ teachers.

 

Normal Hall dorm

Courtesy of Framingham State University Archives

Another resident student, referred to only as Mrs. Brockway, a graduate of the class of 1871, describes living in Normal Hall, “when water had to be brought in barrels and our baths were limited to one per week in three inches of water, when the guaranteed heating apparatus proved altogether inadequate, so that in cold weather we put on our coats when we dressed in the morning and kept them on until we went to bed at night.” She also remembers times when the lights “went out all over the house and [students] huddled together in the corridors with the few little oil lamps we were able to procure.” Crocker Hall was the next dorm to be constructed; in 1886. It was at first home for students and teachers, but later became the center for Household Arts. This building, after a fire, a hurricane, and a great deal of reconstruction, currently still stands on campus. What were once dorms for students are now office spaces used by FSU faculty.

Normal Hall dormitory, on the other hand, was eventually destroyed on February 13, 1914, in a fire ignited by a defective fireplace chimney in the principal’s quarters. What was left of the building was completely demolished in 1919 so that Horace Mann Hall could be constructed. This second dorm still stands on campus to this day, and remains a home for resident students.

As Framingham State University’s newest dorm, West Hall, nears its fall, 2016 completion date, the differences between this new building and the first dormitory on FSU property become striking. The new dorm has six stories and can comfortably house 315 residents. There is currently enough space for more than 1770 students to live on campus in one of FSU’s many dorms (not yet including West Hall). Comparatively, when Normal

 

Student Dorm

  

Hall only had three floors and housed less than seventy residents at any time. In Fact, the class of 1905 only had 63 students in total, and not all of these were “boarding students.”

 

Though “living on the hill” at FSU has become an entirely different experience for today’s students, times were not all bad back in the early 20th century. Things were simpler; the Framingham campus was mostly farmland and was referred to as “bare hill,” students could get to personally know their classmates and communicate regularly with their teachers, and school was only a two year endeavor. However, the women that attended Framingham State Normal School were still creating history by bravely making unexpected choices for this era. During these days, not as many girls continued their education after high school as do now. This was a time when “Serge bloomers, serge blouses and high collars, and long black stockings” were the style, a time when “the average citizen scoffed at the idea of [it] being necessary to teach teachers.” These first students at Framingham were defying expectations by continuing their studies. From Normal Hall to West Hall, this goal remains a constant. However, luckily for them, FSU residents can now continue to learn in much more comfortable environment than they might have in the past.

Written By,

2016 English Intern

Rebecca Waitt

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Remembering Challenger: 30 Years (and 73 Seconds) Later – The Christa McAuliffe Collection at Framingham State University

In 1984, when Ronald Regan announced that the first citizen to go to space would be “one of America’s finest: a teacher,” Christa McAuliffe was teaching social studies at Concord High School. She was one of the 11,500 applicants reviewed by NASA, but after rigorous tests and examinations, she was chosen to be the first teacher to fly into space.

On her application to NASA Christa wrote, “I watched the Space Age begin and I would like to participate.” With a teacher making the journey into space, NASA hoped to revive public interest in the space program, an interest that had never faded from Christa’s own thoughts. Space-bound and ready to teach the first lessons from the skies, Christa was an example for teachers, children, and hopeful dreamers all across the United States.

Christa’s passion continues to be an inspiration to incoming students at FSU, not only those attending the University, many with the hope of becoming teachers in the future, but also the visitors who stop by to experience the possibilities of space travel and the thrills of science at the Christa McAuliffe Center

Here at Framingham State University, the Christa McAuliffe collection in the Archives and Special Collections, donated by Christa’s mother, Grace Corrigan, also remains a great source of motivation for students and researchers.

The majority of the collection features photographs and a large number of personal letters; many of these letters were written to the family of Christa McAuliffe with thoughts of sympathy and concern following the 1986 Space Challenger tragedy. The collection also features information collected from the McAuliffe center regarding the work they have been conducting for the past 21 years.

A few other letters amongst the collection were written by Christa herself; in one such letter, a young Christa writes about a visit to the Boston Museum of Science. The highlight of this trip involved a show at the planetarium; as the lights went off, “suddenly the stars and the moon came out.” With her eyes turned skyward, Christa was ready for adventures in space.

The McAuliffe Center, dedicated to keeping Christa’s memory and goals alive, as well as the collection here at FSU, reveal the immediate and lasting impact of Christa’s passionate dedication to teaching and lifelong learning. As we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Space Challenger disaster this week, and celebrate Christa’s personal goals driven by her own message that “we all have to dream,” we learn by her example that there are greater possibilities made by taking risks and looking forward.

Written by Rebecca Waitt
English Intern 2016

 

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