East Carolina Teachers College President Robert H. Wright’s “Chapel Talks” were given to students every morning from 9:30 to 10:25 six days a week. Chapel Talks typically consisted of a reading from the Bible followed by Wright’s thoughts regarding the Bible passage or some other moral instruction for the students, along with any news, schedule changes, or other announcements. The subject of this address is the budgetary process and Wright’s concern over the lack of funds for East Carolina Teachers College.
Take a step back in time to 1914 Greenville, N. C., in this C. E. Weaver Series, “Illustrated Cities”, by Central Publishing Co., Inc., in Richmond, Virginia. Greenville was growing and changing: The Center Brick Warehouse was selling Bright Leaf Tobacco (93,762 pounds avg. at $24.55 per hundred). The Flanagan Buggy Co. distributed products throughout Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama. The Greenville Ice and Coal Co. was a necessity for this community. The R.L. Smith Stables sold and exchanged horses and mules. The East Carolina Teachers Training School is now called East Carolina University; the campus consisted of the Power House, Dining Hall, Infirmary, Dormitories and the Administration Building and the soon to be erected library, gymnasium and the President’s Residence. These are just a few highlights from the pamphlet from the Junius D. Grimes Papers #571.
The first graduation ceremony at East Carolina Teachers Training School occurred in May 1910. No degrees were awarded, but several students completed a one-year program for rural teachers. Beginning with the 1910 ceremonies through the 1940s, graduation ceremonies were multi-day events lasting as many as four days. Activities included a commencement sermon on the Sunday before the ceremonies, class day exercises, a commencement recital, an alumnae dinner, and graduating exercises.
Closing Exercises of the East Carolina Teachers’ Training School, May 20, 1910. UA50-06-1010-01. University Archives, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina.
Health conditions at ECTTC are one of the major topics mentioned in the Board of Trustees minutes from 1918. There were 141 cases of the Spanish flu recorded on campus, but there was no record of serious complications. Worldwide this was not the same. This flu epidemic was called “the greatest medical holocaust in history.” The pandemic infected one third of the world’s population, and most of its victims were young healthy adults. Normally influenza attacks the weakest population, namely infants and the elderly. The images shown below are two documents from the ECTTC Board of Trustees Minutes Book 1, November 15, 1918 which is in the University Archives.
Source: University Archives, Call Number 50-20-1918
The Model School
Staff Person: Kacy Guill
Also known as the practice school, the training school, and the laboratory school, the East Carolina Teachers Training School Model School opened in 1915. The model school was built to ensure that “students who are teachers and who are to become teachers see children at work and where they may work with the children under guidance.” The model school was located on the edge of the ravine and within ten years the foundation became unstable forcing the removal of the school.
In his 1910 report to the Board of Trustees, the president of East Carolina Teachers Training School, Robert Wright, requested land for a farm and dairy. He argued that “the public school teacher of the near future is going to be required to have a much more definite knowledge of farm life…” Ten years later, he was still requesting farmland, and between $150.00 and $500.00 dollars was being spent on the farm gardens annually.
At the time, students used part of the campus for their farm gardens. In 1915, student Christine Johnston wrote, “this year about the first of April the girls of our class were rather surprised to find themselves with hoes, garden rakes, and three prong cultivator hoes.” She planted radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, lettuce, onions, snap beans, and tomatoes. When she had to leave her garden for her commencement she sadly noted “my onions were large enough to eat and my snap beans only needed a few more days.”
The image below is of the East Carolina Teachers Training School faculty meeting minutes from Nov. 1, 1909. In this meeting C. W. Wilson, H. E. Austin and Miss Sally Joyner Davis were appointed the committee to supervise the mailing of invitations and the making of arrangements for the inauguration of President Robert Wright on November 12, 1909. Mrs. Kate R. Beckwith, Miss Maria Graham and Miss Kate Lewis were appointed a committee on decorations for the inauguration. The faculty decided in the meeting to encourage the formation of a “Students Council.” This would later become the Women’s Student Self-Government Association and, by 1937, the Women’s Student Council. It is known as the Student Government Association today.
The first years of East Carolina University’s history are in many ways tied to the railroad. The Atlantic Coastline Railroad was built through Greenville in 1889 and the Norfolk Southern intersected Greenville and the Atlantic Coastline in 1907, making Greenville accessible to the rest of the state and a possible location for a normal school. The first students at East Carolina Teachers Training School came to Greenville by train, and then took the school jitney from the train station to the campus. Students continued to come primarily by train through the 1940s.
The back of the luggage tag was used to label the ceremonial shovel supposedly used in the college’s groundbreaking. The first men’s dormitory referred to on the tag would have been Jarvis Hall. Two other men’s dormitories were established in 1947, when the number of men enrolled surpassed women for the first time.
In the late 1920s a supply track was built from the Norfolk Southern tracks to haul coal to the campus power plant.
Source: University Archives, Call #AA0100/16/1/J39
Front cover and bookplate of Golden treasury of songs and lyrics
Staff Person: L.K. Gypsye Legge
This is an image of a little volume titled Golden Treasury of Songs and Lyrics. This small book may be of interest to researchers from various disciplines, but it has become part of the University Archives for its intrinsic value. The bookplate for this item, pictured below, indicates that at one time it was volume J39 of the East Carolina Teachers Training School Library.
Therefore, this volume has value beyond the information it contains. It represents a part of the knowledge ECTTS strove to give its students, to enrich the lives of their future pupils. The University Archives seeks to collect as many of the earliest books as may still be present in J. Y. Joyner Library. If a book with one of these plates is located, please contact the University Archives.
Click on the images to see an enlarged version.
Front cover and bookplate of Golden treasury of songs and lyrics
It is impossible to predict what may appear next in Special Collections. A phone call was made one afternoon to the Search Room desk. On the line was a woman who lives in Jackson, Mississippi. Her great-aunt was an alumna of East Carolina, and she had a picture to donate to University Archives that included her relative and Robert Wright in a group photo.
Maury York, Assistant Director and Head of Special Collections, was pleased to accept the donation when the donor came to Greenville, and the framed photo came to University Archives for accessioning. It was a delightful shock to realize what had been tentatively identified as an image from the 1920’s is, in fact, our only vintage copy of a photo published in the Volume 1 Number 2 issue of the [ECTTS] Training School Quarterly!
Photographic prints have much more detail than most mass printing methods, and especially printing from the early 20th Century. This photo will allow us to make higher quality images for reproduction, provide more detail for researchers to study and, given that this is the Centennial for ECU, reminds us that we should not think that we are done collecting or researching – something “new” can pop up any time!