Bearcat Blast from the Past

By Grace Gross, Head Culture Editor

Photos taken by Sadie Miyler, Photographer and Designer

Holman Library, the library of McKendree, is home to many archives and special collections. The online database welcome page states, “The McKendree University Archives and Museum holds the historical records of the institution as well as those of individuals, families and organizations affiliated with it.” These include archival and manuscript collections, photographs, prints and newspapers. Diverse material is actively being collected and preserved for the future generations of McKendree.

Deborah Houk (Debbie) is the director and assistant professor for the library. “My favorite part about working here is helping the students,” says Debbie. Students are in and out of the library each day. Debbie added, “I also love working with the people at McKendree.” 

Debbie was a history major at McKendree and graduated in 1991. While in school, she loved working in the archives. Debbie says that 12 years ago the archives moved into the library, their current home. 

A lot of interesting things can be found in these archives. Including our very own President Dobbins! He graduated from McKendree College in 1981.

Image retrieved from the McKendree ‘81 Yearbook, page 21

President Dobbins was on the basketball team as well. According to page 67 (shown below) in the 1981 McKendree Yearbook, he got the most rebounds!

Image retrieved from the McKendrean ‘81 Yearbook, page 67

The McKendree campus has changed a lot over time. As the world became more advanced, so did McKendree. However, a lot of the older buildings on campus, and the Lebanon area, remain standing. Below is side by side image comparisons of recognizable places on campus:

Did you know there used to be a parking lot in front of what is now the 1828 cafe? Debbie Houk says that the parking lot shown below was mainly for commuter students. Although, she said lots of residents parked there anyway. The majority of students had to park on the sides of the road around campus, according to Debbie. 

Image retrieved from the “White Purple and Passion” McKendree ‘91 Yearbook, page 16

Constructed in 1858, the Marion Bothwell Chapel is home to one of the oldest bells in the United States. The first image is of the Bothwell Chapel in 1949. The second image was recently taken by Sadie Miyler. Structurally, there is not much of a difference between the two images. 

Image retrieved from the McKendrean ‘49 Yearbook, page 6

These next two images are of the current McKendree Bookstore, Lair and Barnett Traditional Residence Building. This group of buildings has not changed structurally since the first image was taken in 1967. Within the 55 years between these two photos, McKendree has only become more modernized. 

I noticed the sidewalk in front of Barnett and the Lair was a popular place for students to enjoy themselves while searching through yearbooks of the past. Hopefully, when we have nicer weather, more students will do the same. 

Image retrieved from the McKendrean ‘67 Yearbook, page 10

McKendree is known for its beautiful campus. One of my favorite things about it is the quad area in between Ames Dining Hall and the bookstore. This is what it looked like in 1971 compared to 2022. Other than the colorfulness, these images are also pretty similar. I’m sure the students of 1971 enjoyed sitting on the benches in this area as much as students do now!

Image retrieved from the McKendrean ‘71 Yearbook, page 8

One of the most surprising things I found while looking through McKendree’s old yearbooks was this picture of the fountain by Eisenmeyer found below. In 1993 the fountain was turned on with lots of garden-life surrounding it. As a first-year student, I have yet to see this fountain up and running. 

Breanna Sampo, a junior at McKendree says, “The fountain outside Eisenmeyer was my favorite spot because it was so peaceful and relaxing. I enjoyed studying there under the trees with the sound of the water.” 

Image retrieved from the McKendrean ‘93 Yearbook, page 37

It is always nice to learn more about your university’s history. By going through the archives, you can gain an understanding of where the people of McKendree came from. 

If you are interested in learning more about McKendree’s Archives and Museum, visit https://www.mckendree.edu/offices/library/index.php or search “Holman Library” in the search engine on the McKendree University website. You can find the Archives and Special Collections hyperlink under About on the Holman Library webpage. 

Under Digital Archives, anyone can view the McKendree eYearbook Collection. You can view any yearbook from 1905-2009 digitally by clicking the year you wish to see. 

Objects of art and material culture in the museum convey the history of McKendree to students, faculty, alumni and interested community members. The College Archives and Museum is especially important because it is the major campus repository commemorating and conserving McKendree’s unique history as the oldest college in Illinois.

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