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Dean’s Update: Transforming Collections

As we finally move into spring, how many among us are anxious to shed our winter jackets in favor of warmer weather? Spring is an exciting time of sunshine and new growth, but with that comes housekeeping – weeding, planting and spring-cleaning. For the Libraries, this spring marks a time to review our collections as we plan to make room for more up to date references and feature an resources that will stimulate discovery and reading enjoyment.

Howard Pyle (1853-1911)

Author: Pyle, Howard,

Today marks the 101th anniversary of the death of Howard Pyle, one of the great illustrators of the 20th century. Known for his books of Arthurian legends, Robin Hood stories and pirate tales, Pyle taught and headed the Drexel Institute's School of Illustration from 1894 to 1900.

Maya: Then, Now, and the All That Is All

Maya: Then, Now, and the All That Is All

By Martha Cornog

In Hinduism, Maya is the deity perpetuating the illusion that any part of the universe is unique from the rest of it. A "Maya Sutra" in the 1967 issue declares, "The ancients…advised that we should hold Maya, choose one small aspect of the vastness that is Maya and study it, meditate on it until it becomes a part of us, then continue with a second aspect and so on…. [Thus you, the reader, can] enjoy what you like in Maya, after all Maya is for you, created for you, to do with as you like, whether for amusement or serious study."

Between the Fog and the Desert: What the Gargoyle Sees Isn’t Pretty

To mark the Libraries' current exhibition, Inventing the Page: Student Literary Magazines at Drexel, the Archives' blog is featuring a series of essays about past literary magazines by Drexel alumna and Archives volunteer, Martha Cornog. The exhibition runs until June 11, 2012, on the first floor of W.W. Hagerty Library.

Between the Fog and the Desert: What the Gargoyle Sees Isn’t Pretty

By Martha Cornog

By the 1960s, love and war had faded as dominant literary themes, and instead loomed the disaffection and confusion of a generation reeling from the Beat writers but not yet washed by the fragrant waves of '60s hedonism. Drexel’s third literary magazine, Gargoyle, ran from 1961 to 1966. Perhaps the title was inspired by Lawrence Durrell's The Black Book, for an unattributed quotation from that novel appears on the verso of Gargoyle's volume 5 title page, including the line:

The isolation of a gargoyle hung over a sleeping city.

With war and love, one can keep score. One win or one loses, and one is happy or sad. But Gargoyle peered into darknesses that had few winnings or losings or even any game at all.

Echo of Things to Come: Drexel's First Literary Magazine

To mark the Libraries' new exhibition, Inventing the Page: Student Literary Magazines at Drexel, the Archives' blog will feature a series of essays about past literary magazines by Drexel alumna and Archives volunteer, Martha Cornog. The new exhibition opens Wednesday, April 18, with a reception from 5-7 p.m. at Hagerty Library.

Echo of Things to Come: Drexel's First Literary Magazine

by Martha Cornog

"We propose to entertain and be entertained," wrote The Drexel Echo's fledgling editors, "to encourage and be encouraged, to be instructed, and, if possible, to instruct."

Drexel's first campus publication with literary content, Echo blossomed from the student body in 1907, a mere sixteen years after the institution was founded. By then, college literary magazines had become academic standbys. The Columbia Review claims to have been the first in the nation as of 1815, but then Columbia University itself was founded in 1754. The much older Harvard, first U.S. academic body as of 1636, dates its own Harvard Advocate magazine to 1866. So while ever so much younger, Drexel's Echo was certainly faster off the mark.

Actually, the monthly Echo resembles more an all-purpose campus magazine than a literary journal. While a handful of creative efforts—prose and poetry—open each issue, a "School Notes" section of news items follows with brief notes about class officers, faculty changes, news of the Library School, and the perennial sports updates. Reports on goings-on among student organizations and a jokes section close out the first issue. And on the back cover linger four paid advertisements: for a meat market, two photographers, and a sporting goods store.

Cover of the first issue of the Drexel Echo, 1907Cover of the first issue of the Drexel Echo, 1907

More hats, from Sigma Pi and ROTC

Each year the Archives prioritizes one or two areas of Drexel history to strengthen and develop our collections.  In 2012, those priorities are Athletics and Greek Life.  For that reason, we were especially delighted to receive a donation from alumnus Bernard Kurek that included the unusual Sigma Pi sleeping cap and ROTC drill team beret (both pictured below).  The Archives is working with other alumns to better preserve the history of fraternity and sorority life at Drexel, and objects like this are among the items that further that goal.  Do you have interesting items from your time at Drexe

When It Rains, It Pours: Game Ball and Dinks

Ever since learning about the dink while working on our Fall 2010 exhibition, "Greetings on Thee, Little Guys: A History of Freshmen at Drexel," Archives staff have wished for one of these blue and gold beanies to add to the Archives' collections. That wish has finally come true.  Just this month we received not one, but two dinks, donated by two different alumni. Paula Milmon Hutt '55 mailed hers from Denver, Colorado. George Piper '57 dropped his off.

The Van Rensselaer Family

This is the second in an occasional series of stories from the collections of the University Archives. Today Brian Stewart tells a tale he uncovered while researching the former home of Sarah Drexel Van Rensselaer.

Every college student knows that residence halls are named after important people, but how many can say why that person was important? Sometimes, as is the case with Van Rensselaer Hall, the name seems to come from nowhere. Why name a building after a family who founded a different school? The fact is that there were Van Rensselaers in the Drexel family, and they were important not just to the University, but to the city of Philadelphia. The following is a brief history of those Drexel family members; their lives, times, homes, and contributions.

Sarah Drexel Van Rensselaer (1860-1929), called 'Sallie,' was the fourth Child of Anthony J. Drexel and Ellen Rozet. Considered by some to have been the most confident and forceful of Tony's children, Sarah would become an active philanthropist and one of Philadelphia’s premier socialites. In 1879 she married John Ruckman Fell, a director of the Lehigh Valley Railroad and later member of the Board of Managers of the Drexel Institute. The couple had five children; Amanda, Ellen, Mae, Francis, and John; and together purchased a significant track of land in Fort Washington.

John R. Fell died of a stroke on November 12, 1895, leaving Sarah in possession of their home, Camp Hill Hall, and the financial resources of both the Fell and Drexel families. In 1897, Sarah proposed the construction of a second home in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood of Philadelphia, and announced her engagement to Alexander Van Rensselaer (1850-1933) following a cruise aboard the May, her yacht. Sarah Drexel Fell became Sarah Drexel Van Rensselaer on January 27, 1898.

The Red Rose Girls

This is the first post in an occasional series of stories from the collections of the University Archives. Today Brian Stewart tells a tale he uncovered while researching Jessie Smith.

Howard Pyle (1853 – 1911), author and illustrator of children’s books and a member of the Drexel faculty (1894-1900) is perhaps best known for The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, first published in 1883. The Merry Adventures was one of the first modern interpretations of the story of this now-famous outlaw, and featured a new standard in detailed illustration and a storyline that greatly appealed to children. The book is often credited as being the foundation for the character’s popularity, which continues to this day. Another of Pyle’s works, the novel Men of Iron, was later adapted into the 1954 film The Black Shield of Falworth. Pyle was also a much sought-after instructor in the art of illustration, and both established and directed the Drexel Institute Department of Fine Arts’ School of Illustration in 1894. Though Pyle retired from the Institute in 1900, he went on to found his own school; the Howard Pyle School of Illustration Art. The distinctive style that characterized the work of Pyle and many of his students would become known as "the Brandywine School."

1965 Matheson Hall time capsule opened

Today Drexel's Business Librarian, Emily Missner, and I were present at the opening of the recently discovered Matheson Hall time capsule, making sure that the contents of the capsule were appropriately preserved.  Fortunately, contents were in excellent condition, preserved inside a sealed lead box.

 

In case you're wondering what was inside the time capsule, here's an inventory:

  • Brochure: Answers to your questions about Drexel and the Drexel Plan of Cooperative Education
  • Drexel Institute of Technology Bulletin: Undergraduate Curricula 1965-66

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