“The Goat Episode”: How a Halloween Prank Led to a Total Shutdown of Centre College

June 10, 2015

Submitted by Peter Shirley

The first project that both Nicolaus and I are working on this summer is preserving over a thousand newspaper clippings from the archives. These clippings relate to the college, current students, and alumni and were carefully cut from local and national newspapers and magazines by generations of college librarians. Some of the clippings date from as long ago as the 1860s, so many of them are in very poor condition and falling apart.

To preserve them, Nicolaus and I are scanning each one along with any information (such as the date and the paper) that we can find in the archives to go along with it. Once all of the clippings are safely preserved, we plan to catalog and organize the collection and then create a finding aid to allow researchers to locate clippings by topic, person, or a variety of keywords.

One of the most interesting clippings I’ve found so far is from the Louisville Courier-Journal and relates to a 1947 student strike. Striking in support of nine students suspended for entering the women’s dormitory to release a goat, the students boycotted the school until their concerns were addressed. With the “near-unanimous” refusal of the male student body to attend classes, the suspended students were soon temporarily reinstated.

Below is a scan of the original article, a student-made handbill to drum up support for the strike, and the full text of the article. The handbill urges support for the ten students suspended. I’m unsure if mentioning ten students instead of nine was a mistake or if one more student was initially suspended. A dapper collection of trench coats, leather jackets, and one truly awe-inspiring hat is on display in the article’s accompanying photograph.

 

Goat Walkout (3)

 

Goat Walkout Handbill (3)

 

Full text of the article:

Walkout Over Goat Prank At Centre College Is Settled

Student Council to Hear Charges Against 9 Men

By Joe Reister

Danville, Ky., Nov, 4th—A walkout at Centre College of all men students ended late this morning after President Walter A. Groves temporarily reinstated nine students accused of putting a goat in the women’s dormitory on Halloween.

All classes at the school were dismissed early today when virtually every one of the 480 men students at Centre refused to enter classrooms in protest against the nine suspensions, which were ordered last night for one week.

Prof. Earl C. Davis, dean of men, who ordered the suspensions, said he and Dr. Groves talked with the strikers and after an impromptu meeting of the Student Council, the walkout ended.

“It was agreed that the Student Council should conduct a hearing on the charges against the nine students, whose names we will not make public, and then make their recommendations known to the faculty committee, after which suitable disciplinary measures, if any, will be imposed,” Davis said.

Describing the placing of disciplinary measures in the hands of the Student Council as a “step forward,” Davis explained that heretofore a faculty committee had the sole power to punish students charged with infractions of campus rules.

Donald MacDonald, Richmond Hill, Long Island, president of the Student Council, said his group would report its findings to the faculty committee. The hearing will be held later this week, he said.

Placing a goat in the women’s dormitory is an old traditional Halloween prank at Centre. And the officials there have had as many laughs in the past over the stunt as have the students. It has always been the custom, however, for the male students to take off for parts unknown after getting the goat inside.

This year, however, some of the boys (some estimates run as high as 25) accompanied the goat inside the dormitory at 2 a.m., according to Davis.

The prank almost went off without a hitch—almost, that is. Davis was waiting outside the dormitory that night and Miss Mary Sweeney, dean of women, was waiting inside—just in case the boys stepped out of bounds.

Firecrackers Set Off

A group of 20 students distracted Davis’ attention from the real culprits by shooting firecrackers in front of the dormitory while the lads with the goat scaled the fire escape to the third floor.

Everything went along smoothly until some of the students got that idea to accompany the goat inside the dormitory. [End]

 

This article piqued my curiosity, and I did some research to see if I could find anything else. Aside from the same Courier-Journal article, other news reports seemed pretty scarce. However, I did find an extensive mention of the “goat strike” in the 1947-1948 Centre College yearbook and the celebration of the total acquittal of the students by the administration on the recommendation of the Student Council. This walkout seems to have been pretty unique in Centre history, as I could only find reference to one other student strike which occurred in in 1933 (there was a Day of Concern on May 8, 1970, but this was with full administrative support.)

Highlights of the yearbook article include the surprisingly sophisticated and technical interpretation of the college rules by the student-run Men’s Council (including objection to what they considered something of a trial in absentia of the students by the administration) and the wonderfully tart sentence “the Council in no way wishes their decision to be construed as a sanction…of further such affairs as the goat episode.”

Yearbook 1947-1948final


Oral History Transcription

June 8, 2015

Submitted by Nicolaus Stengl

For my first week as an intern at Centre College’s library, I received a tour of the archives. Though I worked at the library my whole first year, I had yet to go into the archives until this week. After I was shown where everything was by the archivist, Beth Morgan, I searched the area and found things I never knew about Centre College, such as the fact that there was a Dental School here from 1900-1908. I was also shown the oral histories. When I found out that the Danville City Schools integration oral history had yet to be transcribed, I decided to make that a project for this summer.

There are eight cassette tapes in all. All of them are interviews done by EKU in 1980 (35 years ago) on individuals associated with Danville City Schools. Each cassette is an interview of one individual telling their experience of the integration and their own trials and tribulations.

I picked a random one from the box and I had to find a cassette player which was a difficulty in and of itself. The only cassette player on campus was a boom box. Once I had the cassette player, I set it up and Jami Powell showed me how to use a it. I set out a notebook, pen, and headphones, sat down and started the tape. It buzzed for a minute as the tape rolled and then it began.

The beginning sounded like a court tape: “This is the Helen Fischer Frye Interview. A retired librarian. September 25, 1980.”  The interviewer begins by asking Ms. Frye about herself and family. As I listened and jotted down her words, I felt like I transcended time and went to the place of the interview. You become Helen Fischer Frye as she tells the story of her nine brothers and sisters and her parents, who had a fifth and sixth grade education.

Ms. Frye is an African American woman who grew up in the Boyle County area and who was the first African American woman to be enrolled at Centre College. Ms. Frye never finished at Centre College but rather moved on to Kentucky State College and then to Indiana University for her M.S. in Secondary Education and then to the University of Kentucky to get her Masters of Library Science. She did continued on to Ohio State University to do graduate work there as well. She was also a sixth grade school teacher in Casey County in1942 and moved to Boyle County, the following year. She remained at Boyle County until she retired in May of 1980. At this time, the schools were segregated and so she taught at the African American school, which was Bate School at that time. During her time there, she was outspoken in the Civil Rights Movement and helped with the lunch counter sit-in that happened here in Danville, Kentucky. She said that “ I was teaching at Bates School then and I was called in and chastised for doing that, but [she] told them that it was part of my citizenship rights and my obligation as a Christian and I was not going to stop and then there was quite a bit of flak about my participation in the Civil Rights.”

Ms. Frye discusses her twin brother who became an undertaker and how there was not an embalming school for African Americans so he had to go to the Kentucky School in Louisville.Though Day Law was in effect, the teachers illegally had the African Americans sit with the white students and the teachers would say:

“now you come right in this classroom with everybody else, but if ever anybody comes in here and we are knowledgeable that it might be a person who would check to see if they \were adherent to the law all you do is say is you came in this room and that you were going right back to your room.”

I found this particularly fascinating for the time, because the teachers didn’t care for the segregation law and so put their job on the line to teach the students, whether they were black or white.


Introducing Our Special Collections and Archives Summer Interns!

June 4, 2015

Hi everyone!  Beth here.  I’m the keeper of the library’s Special Collections and Archives.  I am very excited to have two fabulous interns working with me this summer on some really awesome projects!  Peter Shirley and Nicolaus Stengl will be working on a variety of things, but their focus will be on digitizing more photos from our Thomas and Cook collections, fleshing out sections of the special collections finding aid, photocopying and creating an index to newspaper clippings that are on the brink of deterioration, and developing a plan for the digitization of the Kentucky College for Women collection which includes yearbooks, scrapbooks, photos, and manuscripts.  Additionally, each intern has selected a personal project to work on.  Throughout the summer Nicolaus and Peter will be blogging about their projects and the work they are doing, so stay tuned!

MEET PETER

Peter_Photo

Peter Shirley is a Senior and a Financial Economics major from Indianapolis, Indiana.  He is excited for this internship because he’s highly interested in archival strategy, web app development, and informatics and data visualization techniques.  During the school year, Peter works part-time as a library reference assistant in addition to his status as a full-time student.  In his spare time, he hikes, codes, and is a freelance writer.

MEET NICOLAUS

Nicolaus Stengl is a sophomore and is planning on majoring in Philosophy and Computer Science. He is from Lebanon, Ohio, north of Cincinnati. He is excited for this internship because he is interested in how archives can be used in the digital humanities. He is also interested in information literacy and open access (OA) for academic institutions. During the school year, Nicolaus works as a student librarian and library reference assistant. In his free time, he reads, writes, and enjoys the outdoors.