Gautier after Bingham, Stump Speaking (detail), c. 1856, engraving.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

You know Jesse Hall, but do you know who Jesse was?

This post is the first in a series that will highlight the iconic buildings of the University of Missouri campus and their namesakes. Names from the past become associated not with a person who lived but the building that lives on in our daily travels. This series strives to remind us of our everyday connection to Mizzou’s history through the names and faces of our extraordinary campus.

Photograph of Jesse Hall and Francis Quad with Columns ca.1973
(courtesy of the Missouri Cultural Resource Inventory)

Jesse Hall and Richard Henry Jesse

Hopefully, every student of the University of Missouri, past and present, can recognize the iconic red brick and white domed building at the heart of our adopted home. This landmark is a symbol of Mizzou's traditions and values, overseeing the freshmen and seniors in their annual walks through the Columns that bookend their lives as college students. Jesse Hall has anchored MU's campus since 1895, when this  rose from the ashes of the old Academic Hall which had been destroyed in a fire on January 9, 1892.  For 120 years, this stalwart campus matron has been the public face of the University of Missouri.
After the famous fire of 1892 destroyed the original building leaving only the Columns to anchor the university, the current structure was erected and retained the name of Academic Hall. The multipurpose building housed the Auditorium, the College of Arts & Sciences faculty offices, the library and other classrooms and student spaces. In 1922, after his death, the building was dedicated in honor of Dr. Jesse.

Dr. Richard Henry Jesse, ca. 1890

A candid photo of Dr. Jesse, looking weary in front of his overloaded desk, gives us a glimpse of the working life of a modern university president at the beginning of the twentieth century. (1903 Savitar)

Richard Henry Jesse (1853-1921)
A Virginian by birth, Richard Henry Jesse found professional success at the University of Missouri as its eighth president.  Dr. Jesse was described as “a very far-sighted man of great vigor and high ideals,” who “made a powerful impression on the University.”[1]
A Latin professor by training, Dr. Jesse embarked on his career at MU in 1891.  During the first year of his presidency, Academic Hall burned on January 9, 1892, leaving only the six columns that graced its portico.   The loss was devastating, given that Academic Hall and Switzler Hall were the only buildings that comprised the campus at that time.  Supported by the Board of Curators, Dr. Jesse embarked on a rebuilding and expansion campaign.  At the time of his death in 1921, the campus consisted of fourteen buildings including the red brick buildings that surround Francis Quadrangle: Pickard Hall, Swallow Hall, Neff Hall, and the Engineering building.  The White Campus was born during Jesse’s tenure with the construction of Eckles Hall, Read Hall, Whitten Hall, Waters Hall and Rothwell Gymnasium.
Dr. Jesse expanded the university in other ways as well. During his term, the number of faculty increased from 40 to 188, the Graduate School and School of Journalism were both established and the number of academic departments greatly expanded.  An article in the Missouri Alumnus, written on the occasion of Dr. Jesse’s death, noted that the university “came to be looked upon, not as a local institution, but as the head of the education system of the state.”[2]
Throughout his career, Dr. Jesse maintained a student-oriented focus.   Under his leadership, the university’s enrollment increased, triggered in part by Jesse’s modernization of the curriculum from a classical method to a system based on electives (one we still use today).  In the course of his seventeen-year tenure as president, undergraduate enrollment increased from less than 500 to 2,500.  Dr. Jesse also raised the standards for admission, which helped to increase the standard of education provided in Missouri high schools.
Students revered Dr. Jesse and showed their adoration on many occasions.  In 1905, when Dr. Jesse left for Europe, the student body “accompanied him to the train cheering him.”[3] They continued to honor Dr. Jesse by including his portrait in the Savitar yearbook long after his retirement in 1908.   In recognition of his contributions to the university, Academic Hall was officially renamed in honor of Dr. Richard Henry Jesse on January 2, 1922.

[1] Miller, M.F. “Missouri College of Agriculture: Through a Half-Century in Retrospect,” Bulletin of University of Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station, no. 769 (July, 1961), 4.
[2] Missouri Alumnus (Jan. 1921) 93.
[3] Ibid.

 Jesse Hall in Pictures

Interior of Jesse Hall Auditorium (Savitar, 1898)

Women's athletics activities were segregated from male students for many decades after women were admitted to the university in 1871.  Here, the 1900 women's basketball team is shown in their practice space on the third floor of Jesse Hall. (Savitar, 1900)

Dr. Jesse oversaw the awarding of honorary degrees to Mark Twain and others in 1908. (C:6/35/7 Courtesy of University Archives)

Tiger fans met in Jesse Auditorium to boost their team to victory over Nebraska. Unfortunately, the 1924 squad managed a hard-fought tie against the Huskers with the teams only scoring 7 points each.  (Savitar, 1924)

Students walked through the corridors of Jesse Hall when the College of Arts and Sciences held classes in the building. (Savitar, 1924)

  The 120-piece University Band often performed in the newly modernized Jesse Auditorium.  (Savitar,1956)

For more information, visit the MU Space Planning and Management's online exhibition, "MU in Bricks and Mortar" here

Blog authored by Sarah S. Jones, Ph.D. Candidate in art history and Curator of Public Arts, Missouri Student Unions.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Celebrating The History of Tiger Women in 2015!

March is National Women's History Month and so we recognize the contributions made by women to the development of our university! The Missouri Student Unions invite you to view the annual exhibition, "Celebrating Women's History at Mizzou," in the Lower Lair lounge at the MU Student Center.  The exhibition is on view throughout the month of March.

Women Graduates Break the Gender Barrier!

The first woman to graduate from the University of Missouri attended the Normal School program, which prepared teachers for primary and secondary schools.  The Normal School was the nineteenth century precursor to today's College of Education. Although 22 women enrolled in September, 1867, the first woman to complete the three-year program was Mary Louise "Lulie" Gillette of Hannibal, Mo, who graduated in 1870. After she graduated, Gillette became an instructor in the Normal School, teaching English and grammar. Gillette Hall, a women's dormitory, was named in her honor in 1967.

Mary Louise "Lulie" Gillette, MU's first female graduate (Missouri Alumnus, September, 1967)

In 1871, the curators opened all of the university's departments to female students.  The university catalog stated: “The Curators, recognizing the perfect equality of the young women of the State to all the advantages of the University, have opened to them the doors of every department of instruction." Sarah Anna Ware received the first non-Normal degree awarded to a woman when she earned her BS in 1872 and Master's degree in 1879. Female students were segregated from the men; there were scheduled hours for co-eds at the library and they were escorted to class by professors.

Mrs. Sarah Anna (Ware) Taggart, BS 1872, AM 1879, on the day of her graduation (Missouri Alumnus, September, 1926)

Dr. Anna Searcy Browne, MD 1900, first female graduate of the Medical School (Savitar, 1897)

Miss Ada Wilson, BS CE 1907, first female graduate of the College of Engineering (Savitar, 1907)

Mrs. Carey Mae (Carroll) Sprague, LLB 1896, first female graduate of the Law School (Savitar, 1896)

Dr. Caroline McGill, Ph.D. 1908, first woman to receive the Doctor of Philosophy degree
McGill is the first woman to receive a Ph.D. from MU.  She received her doctorate in anatomy and physiology in 1908. In 1910, she was appointed as the first trained pathologist for the state of Montana. She returned to academia in 1912 and received her M.D. from Johns Hopkins University. McGill practiced medicine in Butte, Montana, from 1916 until 1956. 

Mary Paxton Keeley, BJ 1910, first female graduate of the School of Journalism
(The State Historical Society of Missouri, Photograph Collection (C165_1))

Mary Paxton Keeley received her Bachelor’s degree in 1910, the only woman in the first graduating class of the School of Journalism, which was established in 1908. While at MU, she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, wrote for the University Missourian and the Savitar, participated in women’s basketball and served as a class officer. She returned to MU in 1928 where she completed her Master’s degree and served as a faculty member until her retirement in 1952. After her death in 1986 at age 100, the Columbia Public Schools honored her service to the community by naming an elementary school after her.

Campus Changes

After women were admitted to the university as students, the administration began to add accomplished female scholars to the faculty.

Grace C. Bibb of St. Louis served as dean of the Normal School (now the College of Education) from 1878 until 1883. She was the first woman to serve as a dean at MU. (University of Missouri Archives, C:8/4/5)

Dr. Edna D. Day, Ph.D., was the first woman appointed as the Chair (professor in charge) of an academic department. Dr. Day was also the first woman in the U.S. to receive a Ph.D. in Home Economics, graduating from the University of Chicago in 1900 with a dissertation entitled, "Digestibility of Starches of Different Sorts as Affected by Cooking". (Savitar, 1909)

 The School of Home Economics

Dr. Edna D. Day, at the Lake Placid Conference on home economics in 1908, marked out the policy of her “Survey Course in Home Economics” at the University of Missouri in the statement that “sewing and cooking are decreasingly home problems, while the problems of wise buying, of adjusting standards of living to income, and of developing right feelings in regard to family responsibilities are increasingly difficult.” Thus, Dr. Day, its first department chair, established that the Home Economics program focused on scientific research and teaching necessary to provide their graduates with the knowledge to manage the modern home.

In 1900, the College of Agriculture established a one-year program in household economics for “young women who were interested in the proper management of the home.” The program expanded to a four-year Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree in 1906. The university catalog of 1916/17 stated that women were required to take courses in English, Chemistry, Botany, Dairy husbandry, and electives in “technical agriculture.” 

Gwynn Hall, a dedicated space for the home economics program, was constructed in 1924. In 1960, the program was elevated to become a distinct school within the College of Agriculture and, in 1973, the school expanded such that the university created the College of Home Economics, a separate entity equal to the College of Agriculture. To reflect the diversity of disciplines and the mission of the college, the name was changed to the College of Human Environmental Sciences in 1988. Today, in addition to the School of Social Work, HES departments include: Architectural Studies; Human Development and Family Studies; Nutritional Sciences (including Dietetics and Exercise Physiology); Personal Financial Planning; and Textile and Apparel Management.

The Home Economics Club (Savitar, 1908)

These women are just a few examples of the early pioneers who broke the gender barrier at Mizzou.  Please visit our exhibition or our previous blog post to learn more!

Blog authored by Sarah S. Jones, Ph.D. Candidate, Curator of Public Arts, Missouri Student Unions.