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A hundred years of Drexel crew

Today and tomorrow, Drexel crew competes in the Dad Vail regatta on the Schuylkill River.  Let's take a quick look back on the history of crew at Drexel.

Drexel crew team

The wonder of miniature books

A story in The Atlantic online by Rebecca J. Rosen today made me appreciate our small but lovely miniature book collection even more.

U.S. Grant, A.J. Drexel and the Siege of Vicksburg

For the past two years the nation has marked the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, 1861-1865.  We reach the midway point this week, as we recall the Battle of Gettysburg, one of the pivotal events of the war.  Less well known, but perhaps equally important, is the battle for control of Vicksburg, which ended in Union victory one-hundred and fifty years ago today.  

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."

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