Drat Minnesota winters for ruining plans and pushing back research!
I was planning to be at the museum researching now. I went in on Friday and was so excited to go back today to look for more.
Alas, my car won’t start. And it’s too cold to walk. And even if it wasn’t too cold to walk, it closes at 5 and I would have barely had time to get anything done by the time I got there (I get out of class at 3:40).
Thankfully, I have materials to work with. I ended up spending my time on Friday going through a lot of pictures. Unfortunately, the majority of them weren’t helpful because the majority of them weren’t dated. There were many pictures from the 40s and 50s and it was obvious to distinguish those from the clothing students were wearing, and in some cases, the cars. However, I could not be certain if many of the pictures that I thought could work for my purposes came from the late 1910s or the early 1920s. With a lack of context, I’m not sure how useful they would be anyhow.
There were, however, a few pictures that turned out to be useful. Mainly, a few very important images of campus buildings. I could place even the pictures that weren’t dated of some of these buildings into the pre-war and war eras of the 1910s because many of them were larger copies of photos in The Moccasins from those years. Pictures with unpaved streets could be dated to the very early 1910s.
With these images, I started to think about my research in a different way–that is, not just focusing on the war itself and its impact on the WCSA, but the WCSA as its own entity.
The 1910s were years of building and expansion for the WCSA. The majority of the buildings that have become fundamental architecture round the UMM campus mall–the central outdoor meeting spot of campus (well, at least when it’s nice out) were built in the 1910s. These buildings that I take for granted as being part of the beauty of this campus that I love so much…this time period marks their beginnings. For the WCSA, they were signs of a bright future, a sign of progress as the campus transformed from a small school that lacked the appropriate resources to be considered a true agricultural school, to a formidable institution of agricultural learning in Western Minnesota. Camden Hall, which houses the division of the social sciences on the current UMM campus, and Spooner Hall, UMM’s upperclassmen residence hall, were built in 1912 and 1913 respectively as a girls dormitory and a boys dorimitory. Behmler Hall, which now houses all sorts of administrative offices (including the Chancellor’s offices) was built in 1918 as the WCSA dining hall, replacing an large farm-house style building from the Indian Boarding School days.
As cheesy as it might sound, I found myself connecting to these buildings even more after recognizing that they were built during this time period that I am researching. Never before have I stopped to consider the history of these buildings as closely as I am now.
While I’m excited to get back into the museum to see what else the museum archives have to offer–there are three big boxes in the archives that I can’t wait to explore–I’m really thrilled to add this bit of information regarding these buildings to my research. I’m kind of astounded that I didn’t realize that all these buildings were going up at this time in the first place. After all, I knew the general history of when the WCSA was founded and that many of the buildings on the current UMM campus went up in the decade or two after that. Sometimes the obvious isn’t so obvious, I guess. This general history, though, is exceptiaonlly important in understanding the nature of the WCSA as a growing enttity during the war years of the 1910s.
A further bonus? Colm and I are free to put up any of the pictures from the museum up on our website as long as we credit them for the images. I’m pretty thrilled about that.
Now I just need to make sure I can get my car jumped by Friday…I’ll have the whole afternoon free for research and I don’t want it to go to waste because my car wont start!