Hold Fast My College Days is an understated affair, even by the usual back-of-the-hall-and-under-plexiglass standards for library exhibits. However, closer examination allows the myriad of illustrative details and poignant artifacts that are on display to make themselves apparent.
The display consists of around six scrapbooks, which were compiled by various students from 1866 to 1915.
Three of those in particular are especially fabulous. Currently couched in the left hand display of the palatial entrance to the Rush Rhees stacks, the three principle scrapbooks were compiled in the late nineteenth century by students, most of whom were affiliated with the Greek system.
The brothers of Psi Upsilon fraternity are represented by the combined effort of Rochester alumni Charles Wells Coit (a.k.a. Porquoi) and Robert Bainbridge Pattison (a.k.a. Bob). They were both young men of immense athletic and academic dedication; their scrapbook contains memorabilia such as class schedules, football schedules and a newspaper clipping announcing a lecture on Roentgen Rays that was given by Professor Henry. Lawrence in Anderson Hall (located on Rochester’s former, Prince Street campus) on.
Both men left evidence of their respective plethora of extracurricular activity: Porquoi Coit, as well as being a ?? brother, was a member of the YMCA, a member of the Relay team, a member of the Tug of War team and the Representative to World’s Students Conference in Northfield.
Not to be outdone, Bob Bainbridge Pattison was Class Historian, member of the Tug of War team, member of the Relay team, member of the Campus board, member of Class Nine and the English Orator Burial Analytics: Toastmaster.
These two men later gifted their scrapbook to the library as a kind of time capsule, and the exhibit contains their instructions for the books use: “For future historical use?Make due allowance for the enthusiasm which places a fraternity far ahead of college examination and temporary interests to permanent values” (Feb. 25, 1947). To be found in both their words and scrapbook is a college man’s genuine, heartfelt appreciation for all the most edifying forms of physical and academic endeavor.
A more quotidian account of UR life can be found in the scrapbook assembled by Frederick Augustus Newhall, class of 1911. Newhall provides us with photographs of his living quarters, High Falls in the city of Rochester, a football schedule, a Phi Beta Kappa emblem and a photograph of Professor Henry. Lawrence (notable authority on Roentgen Rays). The exhibit makes a point of identifying Newhall’s scrapbook as an example of the common form student scrapbooks generally took.
The exhibit makes it apparent that the texture of life at the UR was radically different from what may be known today. To wit: the untimely death of ?? brother Thomas King McLean. This young man was stricken down by typhoid fever in his senior year when he was 21 years old. Included in the exhibit are several of memorial cards, written by the bereaved brothers of ?? fraternity, to the family of the departed.
Their words are a poignant testimony: “We have tried him and he is true; always cheerful and always manly, he has left a vacancy in our classroom and in our hearts which no one else can fill.” This exhibit provides an intimate, personal portrait of a bygone era, and it demands to be seen.
Kieburtz is a member of the class of 2009.