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Renovations uncover voice from the past

Pieces of history were uncovered during ongoing renovations to the Old Main Building.

Old Main is historic in its own right: It was the first building for the Girls Industrial College and housed the entire institution when classes began in 1903. The building’s second floor is being renovated to house the Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership, and workers there recently uncovered a message from one of the college’s founding faculty members.

While taking down a wall to what will become the Sue S. Bancroft Women’s Leadership Hall, workers discovered a “time capsule,” artifacts placed inside a wall in 1927 by Jessie Humphries, former associate dean of what then was the College of Industrial Arts. Humphries, author of the words inscribed on the base of TWU’s Pioneer Woman statue, began as a history and economics teacher when the college began and remained a valued member of the faculty for more than 40 years.

Estée Easley, administrative assistant to the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences chair, had requested that workers knocking down a wall on the second floor bring her some of the bricks for departmental and university archives. When they found the time capsule, they took it to her as well.

“I opened a book and found a note from Jessie Humphries,” Easley said. “I called Steve (Adcock, manager of construction services) and asked what to do next.”

Adcock contacted Shelia Bickle, who went to Easley’s office as a member of the Woman’s Collection staff and as a representative of the University Archives to carefully document and transport the materials to the Woman’s Collection.

The items found included a letter from Humphries, dated March 23, 1927, addressed “To the Future Generations of C.I.A.” (The institution’s name was changed to the College of Industrial Arts in 1905.) In the letter, Humphries notes that she compiled the enclosed book for the college in 1915, and adds that she has “been here since the beginning in 1903.”

Also included were college bulletins for the College of Industrial Arts 1927 Summer Session and the April 1, 1926 college catalogue, as well as a small record book for student grades.

A small, lined slip of paper that wasn’t in the packet but was inside the same wallspace  includes the name of two CIA students: Ruth Singleton and what appears to be Augent Skimmer.

They haven’t found much information on the students, but Easley said finding that slip of paper was her favorite part.

“They wrote their names and stuck the paper in the wall; they made their own time capsule,” she said.

Bickle said the time capsule items will be featured in an exhibit on the first floor of the Blagg Huey Library beginning Tuesday, Jan. 21. The Time Capsule Collection then will be archived in the Woman’s Collection and will be made available to researchers by appointment.

Letter from Jessie Humphries.

Archway where Time Capsule was discovered.

Old grade book.

(Historical photos courtesy of Estée Easley and Shelia Bickle)

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By Karen Garcia
Marketing and Communication
kgarcia@twu.edu