Monday, February 18, 2019

Delaware State College/University Yearbooks now being Digitized

Visit the digitized University Archives at:
 I am excited to announce that the DSU archives has launched a new tool for sharing digitized content and making it just a little bit easier for long-distance patrons to access archival collections.  DSpace is a digital repository or what could be described as a virtual representation of the physical archives. Although it will take some time, the most prominent collections of the DSU archives will be digitized and made available online. 

Last month I conducted a survey of 50 constituents to learn how you, the users, might use the repository and to determine what content would be most valuable.  The overwhelming majority (90% of participants) specified that yearbooks would be the most useful collection.  As a result, I made the digitization of the yearbooks a top priority.  To date, the 1985-2007 yearbooks have been digitized and uploaded to the repository.  More are on the way! You can view them here.

Thank you to all who participated in the survey.  Please know that your input is valued and I will do my best to meet your requests.  If you didn't participate in the survey but would like to comment or offer suggestions you can do so in the comments below or email me at Any feedback is welcome. 

Lastly, the archives has several gaps in the yearbook collection.  I would love to hear from you if you possess or have any information about the Statesman yearbooks listed below.  Even if you are not willing to be parted with your yearbook, would you consider loaning it so that may be digitized?
  • any Statesman made prior to 1960 except for 1947
  • 1962 Statesman
  • 1963 Statesman
  • 1964 Statesman
  • 1965 Statesman
  • 1977 Statesman
  • 1978 Statesman
  • 1984 Statesman

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Found: Harriet R. Williams research notes

While sifting through some of the remaining unprocessed collections I came across a box full of handwritten notes on yellow notepads.  Each note contained cramped, cursive handwriting that filled the entirety of the page with notations about the history of Delaware State College.  At first glance there was no identifying information to be able to know to whom the research belonged. However, a second flip through the pages revealed clues - reminders about hair appointment, the chemistry club, and Administrative Council meetings.

It became evident that this was the work of Harriet Ruth Williams, a chemistry professor and prominent university figure from 1941 until c. 1993.  She is the second-longest serving professor in the history of the university and was a central figure in the growth of the science department during Luna I. Mishoe's early presidency. She additionally served the university as an administrator for public relations, alumni relations, admissions, and academic affairs to name a few.

Toward the end of her career and into retirement Dr. Williams had been compiling a comprehensive history of then-Delaware State College with the hopes of writing a book. She never completed the book and for a long time the location of her research notes was unknown to us.  Myself and campus historians believed them to be forever gone.

It therefore with great pleasure that I announce the existence of the notes and drafts for what appears to be "Chapter One" of Dr. Williams' manuscript.   The research primarily discusses the history of the Loockerman Family, Morrill Acts, and the incorporation of the college.  There are additionally scattered notes for the Webb and Gregg presidencies.  If you would like to view the full finding aid for the collection you may find it on the archives LibGuide or at


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Mr. Townsend and the Polish Prince by Mike Gastineau

The DSU archives is celebrating yet another landmark achievement! For the first time ever, the archives and I, by name, have received acknowledgement in a book.

Last year Mr. Mike Gastineau visited the William C. Jason Library to conduct research regarding the 1981 DSC football team and its controversial coach, Mr. Joe Purzycki. At that time he examined Board of Trustee records, news clippings, and sports media guides. These records, in conjunction with conversations with Mr. Purzycki, led to a book.

Mr. Townsend and the Polish Prince tells the story of the racial tensions that resulted from an unprecedented move by Delaware State University to hire a white coach football. After a embarrassing 1980 season, concluded by a 105-0 loss to Portland State University, the then-athletic director, Nelsen Townsend, decided a radical change was necessary. Townsend hired Purzycki, the assistant football coach at University of Delaware.

When Purzycki came to work on his first day, he had to force his way through a picket line of students protesting his presence on campus and seventeen scholarship players immediately quit the team. Despite these and numerous other challenges, Purzycki won the admiration of the DSC community and ultimately turned the team around.

I haven't read Mr. Townsend and the Polish Prince, yet, but I am eager to begin.  This a chapter of University history that I was hitherto unaware of, and I'm grateful to Mr. Gastineau for bringing it to the limelight.

If you'd like to learn more about this story you can checkout the book's website at or you can purchase the book on Amazon.  It is available in both paperback and kindle editions.

Congratulations Mr. Gastineau and Mr. Purzycki!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Annual Christmas Letter, 2018

Dear Archives Friends,

Have you ever wondered where the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present, and Future live? My guess is that they hang out in an archive somewhere.

Although most people would think of an archives as serving the past, in actuality they influence the present to affect the future. Archival institutions document events as they unfold so that, in future, the records may be utilized and the events understood. By providing documentation of the past to university leaders as they shape the future, and by educating students about our history, the archives played a definitive role in the continuance of tradition and the understanding of legacy (the theme of President Mishoe's inauguration this past Saturday). In essence, archives are where the past, present, and future are exist harmoniously.

Throughout 2018 the DSU archives has proudly stood in sidelines supporting and cheering on the broader university.  This year the university celebrated major milestones and commemorated it's past:
  • April - The 50th anniversary of the 1968 student demonstrations
  • May - The commemoration and closing of Laws Hall
  • July - The 25th anniversary of the name change from DSC to DSU
  • December - The investiture of the 11th President, Dr. Wilma Mishoe 
For each of these significant events, the University Archives received and facilitated reference requests.  Among the topics researched were the personage of Lydia P. Laws, the legacy of the 1968 demonstrations, administrative records about our name change, how the shift to a university jump-started growth in student population and academic programs, and lastly, the legacy of President Luna I. Mishoe (1960-1987). From each of these research areas the university gleaned data in order to construct a public dialogue about who we have been and what we will continue to stand for on the outset of a new era.

Thank you for joining me on this adventure for another year! Here's to the many more to come.


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Archival Photos in MLKSC

Guess what!  Archival photographs are now on permanent display in the pool hall in the  Martin Luther King Student Center.  

A few months ago the Director of Wellness, Recreation and Campus Events asked me to collaborate with her on the installation of historic photographs in the MLKSC. We wanted the students to have an opportunity to see and appreciate the legacy that they are a part of.  Showing them student faces from the very beginning (c. 1915) until the recent past seemed like the best way forward. Plus, I'll admit the hair styles from back in the day have entertainment value.

The images included show sorority and fraternities, athletic events, student organizations, former Miss Delaware State College contestants, and student life in general. Next time you're in the Martin Luther King Student Center take a look!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Presidential Investitures

President William B. DeLauder gives his inaugural address
On December 8, 2018 President Wilma Mishoe will formally be installed as the President of Delaware State University.  As we await this auspicious occasion, I thought it would be an excellent time to look back at the inaugurations of our former presidents.  What have they traditionally entailed? What can we expect for next month?

The most recent example that we can examine is the inauguration of the 10th president, Dr. Harry L. Williams in 2010. Interestingly, his ceremony was held at the time of convocation which is a traditional, campus-wide gathering held each September to mark the start of another academic year. It seems appropriate that at a time to celebrate a new year, a new era would also be recognized. Dr. William's inauguration featured dignitaries from across the state including politicians from the US House and Senate, the governor, and the mayor of Dover. It additionally included the presidents of the University of Delaware, Wesley College, and Delaware Technical & Community College.  All of these prominent individuals were given the opportunity to speak and welcome President Williams. Following this, representatives of the university faculty, staff, students, and alumni also gave addresses. 

By comparison, President Oscar J. Chapman's inauguration (5th president, inaugurated in 1950) did not include quite so many speeches from dignitaries.  His ceremony more prominently featured music. The ceremony started with the hymn, God of Our Fathers, that was sung congregationally. The program was an opportunity to showoff the talents of the college choir with the singing of Mozart's Gloria form the Twelfth Mass, Laudamus by Protheroe, the Battle Hymn of the Republic, and of course the alma mater. If I had to guess, I'd say that President Mishoe's inauguration will include selections from the Gospel choir and perhaps the band.

Beyond all of the speeches, the single most important moment of any DSU president's inaugural ceremonies is the presentation of the medallion and investiture. A medallion is a symbol of authority and is a tradition that is passed down from the middle ages. Historically, a medallion signifies membership in a religious order, guild, knighthood, or a government office. In our university's history, a medallion is commissioned for each new president and is worn at commencements and convocations. Once the president has been given a medallion and thereby sworn in, he (soon to be she) gives an inaugural address outlining his hopes for the future of the university.

On the night following the ceremony, a gala will take place.  For President Williams, it was comprised of a dinner, of course, and talent show showcasing the gifts of faculty members. I confess that I am a bit sad that President Wilma Mishoe's inaugural gala will not include such performances by my colleagues. The gala will instead be combined with the traditional Presidential Scholarship Ball and the performance will be given by The Manhattans and the ever-popular Panama Band.

Based on the archival reference requests that I have received, I can guess that President Mishoe will draw

inspiration from her father's ceremony and inaugural address. As the first legacy president, I know that she keenly feels a desire to honor her father and proudly wears the mantle she is inheriting.

No matter what form President Mishoe's inauguration will take, I, for one, am very proud to serve under her administration and look forward to exciting, fruitful years ahead.  President Mishoe, I wish you many blessings and the best of luck in what lies ahead! It is a wonderful time to be at DSU!

Inaugural program from President Luna I. Mishoe's ceremony
Luncheon following President Luna I. Mishoe's Inauguration

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Happy Veterans Day!

I was recently sifting through an unprocessed archival collection when I came across this simple, but intriguing letter from a soldier in Vietnam.  PFC Darrell R. Wall wrote to Delaware State College in July 1969 from Long Binh Post in Vietnam (near Siagon). In his letter, Mr. Wall requests rosters for the 1961-1969 Delaware State basketball teams and any game programs.  Mr. Wall particularly wanted to know the players' names, height, class year, and hometown.  He doesn't say why he is interested in the basketball teams, but I suspect his interests stem from a want of mail and entertainment while so far from home.  Delaware State College of course answered Mr. Wall's letter but hadn't yet formed the 1968-1969 team and couldn't supply him with any stats. 

Dear PFC Wall, wherever you are, first, I'd like to thank you for your service to our country.  Second, in answer to your question, I thought you might like to know that the 1968-1969 basketball team finished its season with a 13-12 record. 

To all Veterans, I am grateful for your sacrifice and value the freedoms you have given me. Happy Veterans Day!