The Eleasticity of Memory

Guest Blog Post (2 of 3) written by 
Taylor Schafer, SMCM ‘2015, Sullivan Scholar, Summer 2014

This summer, aside from my internship in the Archives, I have been conducting interviews with alumni for my St. Mary’s Project–some of which I have chosen to transcribe and donate to the SlackWater collection. My SMP interviews have proven to be a great training ground for my oral history interviews, especially when it comes to understanding exactly what it is that oral history interviews do: they gauge people’s memory about a certain time, place, or event. This concept seems simple and straightforward, however, the hidden complexity of memory becomes more apparent when you ask 40 people the relatively same set of questions. My SMP interviews have all focused on the same thing: the 7 Wonders of St. Mary’s. (Church Point, the Hidden Grave, the Garden of Remembrance, Freedom of Conscience Statue, St. John’s Pond, the Bell Tower, and the Shoe Tree.)

St. John's Pond. Which may, or may not, have been dyed green in the 1970s

St. John’s Pond. Which may, or may not, have been dyed green in the 1970s

One particular example from my interviews got me thinking about how people recall their memories. I was interviewing a 1974 graduate of the College who had mentioned that one year for St. Patrick’s Day, he and some friends had dyed St. John’s Pond bright green using the same environmentally-friendly dye that is often used to track currents in bodies of water. Several other alumni from that same era vividly recalled the same incident happening as well. There were a few alumni, however, who not only could not recall such a prank occurring but they also assured me that something like that would not have happened back then. Whether it was because of the newer surge of environmental awareness of the 1970s or the fact that they claimed they would have remembered such a visible prank, the strongly opposing answers surprised me.

But this instance made me realize that the information I’ve received about the various landmarks and traditions of campus has heavily relied on how people remember their time at St. Mary’s. While some people had vivid memories of this certain specific occurrence, others relied on their characterizations of their St. Mary’s experience to explain their absence of memory.  In other words, it seems like the attitudes and values of the interviewees shape their concrete memories. For example, one alum characterized St. Mary’s students in the 1970s as environmentally conscious, meaning they would not have engaged in such behavior as to dye the pond green for a laugh or to celebrate a holiday. Other alums recall them being very connected to the campus and student life, therefore they would not have missed such an occurrence. This phenomenon occurred several times throughout my interviews, which was an important lesson for me to have learned while learning to conduct oral histories. This is not just specific to St. Mary’s either; it can be applied to any oral history project.

Next week, for the last of three Blog posts, I will write about interviewing former college presidents Joe Urgo and J. Margaret “Maggie” O’Brien.  This post will also have a link to the interview transcripts.


Sullivan Scholar works in the St. Mary’s Archive over the summer

Guest Blog Post (1 of 3) written by 
Taylor Schafer, SMCM ‘2015, Sullivan Scholar, Summer 2014

Hello archive followers! My name is Taylor Schafer. I am a rising senior and I have been interning in the SMCM Archives all summer. This is the first of three Blog posts.

The Archives is located in the basement of Calvert Hall and houses collections of artifacts, newspapers, photographs, letters, and publications relating to both St. Mary’s College and St. Mary’s County history. One of the main areas where College and County history interact is the SlackWater Oral History Collection. My task this summer was to add to this resource by conducting and transcribing interviews of local residents and community leaders, alumni, and longstanding faculty or staff who all have had an impact or were a witness to certain time in local history. In addition, I have been working on my St. Mary’s Senior Project (SMP) this summer, which involves conducting interviews with alumni, faculty, and staff. My project topic focuses around students traditions through the years and the 7 Wonders of St. Mary’s. The interviews I have been doing are helping to piece together the social history of St. Mary’s, which I hope to help publish with my completed SMP.Oral History Transcription

My main responsibilities this summer have included brainstorming and reaching out to potential interviewees, preparing for interviews, conducting interviews, transcribing interviews, following up with interviewees if needed, and organizing transcribed interviews for the SlackWater website and preserving the audio files. I have conducted some interviews on campus and have also travelled as far as Prince George County for others. Over the past nine weeks, I have transcribed over 220 pages of interviews, conducted ten interviews, some of which include with former College president Joe Urgo, Jayson Williams ‘03, Trinity Episcopal Church Rector John Ball, and Executive Director of Three Oaks Center Lanny Lancaster. I have had several learning opportunities this summer in the Archives besides learning how to conduct oral history interviews.

Of course, working in the archives, I’ve learned a large amount of content about St. Mary’s history as well. There’s so much history housed in the Archives that most community members do not realize. For instance, did you know that a 1900 graduate, Emily Louise Clayton Bishop, studied sculpture with Auguste Rodin and has artwork in several museums? How about that famous sculptor Hans Schuler designed and sculpted the Freedom of Conscience statue in 1935, and his son, Hans Schuler Jr., carved the College seal in 1970? There is so much fascinating St. Mary’s history to be uncovered in regards to the College and region. My work in the archives this summer has helped me not only realize that but also contribute to that material.

Next week I will write a Blog Post about memory and oral history interviews.  The following week I will touch upon the interviews with former presidents Joe Urgo and Jane Marget (Maggie) O’Brien, and transcripts of these interviews will be made available to the public.

Kay Aldridge, Queen of the Serials and St. Mary’s Graduate

Nyoka screenshotMovie star and model Kay Aldridge, best known for playing the title role in the 1942 movie serial “The Perils of Nyoka,” is a 1934 graduate of St. Mary’s Female Seminary High School. Then existing as both a high school and two-year junior college, Katherine Gratton Aldridge entered St. Mary’s in the Fall of 1931 as a Sophomore after attending one year of high school in Westminster, Maryland. She was born in Tallahassee, Florida and grew up in Lyells, Virginia. Kay was from an artistic family as Cornelia C. Aldridge, Kay’s mother, notes that she is an art teacher and artist.
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Timeless W.W.II-era St. Mary’s Scrapbook as True Today as it Was Then.

Guest Blog Post written by
Jennifer Housley, SMCM ‘2014, Archive Student PFP Fellow

As a soon-to-be graduate nearing the halfway mark of my last semester, I am struck by several things.

The impending doom of graduate school responses.  The frantic job search.  The panic of last minute OneSearches for that final,  perfect SMP secondary lit source.  And, of course, the already pervasive feeling of nostalgia as we walk down our always comforting campus path, considering the speed with which our time here is coming to an end.  A comfort to those of us leaving St. Mary’s, however, is the timelessness of this place, as is reflected in a new collection of online images in the college’s archives – the scrapbooks of Doris Ann “D.A.” Hughen, née Miller, class of 1945.

cadet and plane

D.A.’s time here was, in some ways, very different than ours.  Her college experience coincided with World War II, as is depicted in her photograph taken with a military cadet from Charlotte Hall Military Academy and her snapshot of a military sea plane on St. Mary’s River.

Of course, her time was different in more laughable ways, too.


Smoking Permission Form

But then we see photographs like these, where you can see yourself as clearly as you see Doris laying by the docks with friends, or ice skating in the winter, or peering out over the Garden of Remembrance in one of those rare, quiet moments we have grown to appreciate.



D.A. Miller Hughen graduation photo, 1945

As we go to seek the next adventure, let’s keep in mind that we are not alone in our love for St. Mary’s.  Far from it.  Even as we leave her for a while, she doesn’t leave us.

“Tho’ sum-mer turns to win-ter and the pre-sent dis-ap-pears,
The laugh-ter we were glad to share still ech-oes thru the years.
While oth-er nights and oth-er days have found us gone our sep’-rate ways
We have these mem’-ries of St. Mary’s.”

“Memories of St. Mary’s,”
lyrics found in MSS 007 D.A. Miller Hughen papers

To view all of the images from the D.A. Miller Hughen Scrapbook that have been added to the SMCM Historic Photograph Collection, follow this tinyurl:


Information Science Careers at St. Mary’s and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Many St. Mary’s graduates have gone on to careers in Information Studies, a field that includes library science and archives.  Eight history majors in the last two years alone have chosen to attend the “iSchool” (Information Science School) at the University of Maryland.  To address the growing interest in the field among St. Mary’s students, in the Spring of 2015 the Museum Studies Department will be offering Introduction to Archives and Information Science, a 2 credit course.


Jennie Thomas ’95

Included among St. Mary’s alumni in the Information Science field is Jennie Thomas ‘95, head archivist of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.  She graduated from St. Mary’s of College of Maryland with a music degree, and after studying music education at the graduate level for a time, as well as working music retail, she finally entered the field of librarianship as way to combine her interests in a variety of subjects.  Looking back on the education courses she took at St. Mary’s, she says that it provided her with a foundation for working as head archivist at the “Rock Hall” by learning about ways to teach, put together exhibits, and capture the imagination.  This education background, coupled with her St. Mary’s vocal degree, helps her contextualize rock and roll in a historical framework.

Jennie Thomas spoke at St. Mary’s as part of Museum Studies Week earlier this semester, and gave this advice: “Be patient. Don’t think that you’ll get your dream job right away.  Getting a lot of experience in different things – which a liberal arts education provides – can only help determine whether something is what you want to do. Volunteering and internships are great ways to do that and when you do these sorts of things, be willing to go the extra mile. A lot of jobs can be what you make of them.”

Advice regarding the treatment of College Freshman. From 1495.

Whenever searching through primary source documents, you never know what you might find.  One can only imagine the circumstances surrounding the issuing of the following statute, prepared by Leipzig University in 1495, but the folks at the Ask The Past Blog were good enough to dig it up for the world to see:

Statute Forbidding Any One to Annoy or Unduly Injure the Freshmen.

Each and every one attached to this university is forbidden to offend with insult, torment, harass, drench with water…, throw on or defile with dust or any filth, mock by whistling, cry at them with a terrifying voice, or dare to molest in any way whatsoever physically or severely, any, who are called freshmen, in the market, streets, courts, colleges and living houses, or any place whatsoever, and particularly in the present college, when they have entered in order to matriculate or are leaving after matriculation.”

Leipzig University Statute (1495). From Friedrich Zarncke, ed., Die Statutenbücher der Universität Leipzig, (Leipzig, 1861), 102. Translation adapted from Robert Francis Seybolt, The Manuale Scholarium: An Original Account of Life in the Mediaeval University (Cambridge, MA, 1921), 21-2, n.6.


Perhaps at least one of these freshmen are concerned about somebody “crying at them with a terrifying voice.”

Feel free to contact the librarians or archivist for assistance with finding primary source materials for your papers and presentations!

List of known pre-1941 St. Mary’s alumni now available on the SMCM Archives website!

Did you ever wonder if an ancestor attended St. Mary’s College of Maryland when it was a female seminary?  Or wanted to know who was voted “cutest girl” by her classmates in 1925? And did you know that seminary alumna Emily Louise Clayton Bishop (1900) was a prize-winning artist who studied under Rodin in Paris?

The St. Mary’s College of Maryland Archive is actively compiling a list of all known St. Mary’s Female Seminary and Junior College alumni up to the year 1940.  Due to a fire in Calvert Hall in 1924, many records are lost to history.  In an effort to recreate a list of alumni, extant commencement programs were transcribed and information was gathered from the alumni office.  Other sources used include the 1925 Pepper Pot yearbook (another yearbook would not appear until 1948), and J. Rederick Fausz’ 1990 book Monument School of The People.


Students of the female seminary having fun in 1904. The seminary initially had students of all grades before becoming a high school, later a junior college, and finally a public honors college (P1905-004)

Commencement programs sometimes listed salutatorian or valedictorians, which are also noted in the alumni list. Occasionally, lists of prize-winners were also available, sometimes from the notes of M. Adele France herself (principal/president from 1923-1948), and these are also noted. For example, Dorothy Hope Hodgkinson of Piney Point won the 1929 Goerge Narbury Mackenzie Prize Essay award. Known photographs, surnames of husbands, and other informational tidbits are also included in this new online resource.


St. Mary’s Seminary students in costume sitting on the steps of Calvert Hall, photo taken about 1930. Three are holding musical instruments (P1930-015 © St. Mary’s College of Maryland)

Future additions to the list will include: information gleaned from searching the St. Mary’s Beacon newspaper for evidence of 19th Century alumnae, names from the historic photos database, and further investigation of the scant student records.

List of Known Alumni from St. Mary’s Seminary and Junior College to 1940

If you have any additions or corrections to this resource, please e-mail the archivist or leave a comment below.  You can visit the archives main website at: