Tag Archives: Centennial

A New Exhibit: The 1914 Campus in 3D

Taking a look at the items and exhibits included in our centennial project, For the Centuries, visitors will discover that we uncovered and aggregated a wide range of materials for the site. While many of the digital objects on the site tell stories or have special significance all by themselves, other objects and data needed a bit of interpretation. Take graduate hometown data, for example: a spreadsheet of dates and places doesn’t say much, but if the locations are mapped and interactive as they are in our hometowns exhibit, patterns of student geographic distribution can easily be seen over time. This post is about another example of such interpretation – the conversion of a number of physical items into digital files, and the creation of something new.

The good folks at the Virginia Baptist Historical Society pointed us toward an undated topographic survey map of the campus area. Based on the building footprints present on the map, we believe that it dates to 1911, the year following Ralph Cram’s initial General Plan.

A portion of the campus area topographic map at the VBHS.

A portion of the campus area topographic map at the VBHS. While many of the footprints here represent buildings that were not constructed, North Court can be picked out on the left, and Ryland Hall is at the bottom center.

We quickly realized that this single item provided the foundation for something impressive, and that when combined with data from other materials we’d gathered from University Facilities and elsewhere, we’d be able to use it to generate a three-dimensional model of the 1914 campus, complete with the initial buildings. Three departments in Information Services, Discovery, Technology and Publishing (DTP) in Boatwright Memorial Library, the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology (CTLT), and the Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL), had the expertise and ability to work together to pull this off.

Production of the model involved a variety of techniques and technologies. The topographic map, blueprints and photographs were imaged by DTP staff using a Phase One P65+ digital back. Students and staff in DTP and DSL then worked together to digitize the map’s topographic lines and render an elevation map file using ArcGIS. The blueprints and photographs provided the information needed to create three-dimensional models of the campus’ buildings using Sketchup. (Be sure to check out this post, by Justin Madron of the DSL, about the techniques used to accomplish this.) In the CTLT, the elevation map and building models were merged into a single 3D object using Sketchup Pro and printed on a 3D Systems ProJet 460Plus printer.

Several student employees contributed in important ways to this project. Stefan St. John (DSL) georectified the maps used for this project. Jackie Palmer (DTP) digitized the survey map’s topographic lines and campus features. Jackie and Lily Calaycay (DSL) worked together to model the campus buildings from data embedded in source documents. Selmira Avdic, Francisco Cuevas, Lisa Hozey and Umurcan Solak (CTLT) assisted with the 3D printing and tile finishing process.

The completed model, now on display on the second floor of Boatwright Library, depicts the campus as it was on opening day in 1914, and serves to demonstrate the relative scale of the buildings and topography of the grounds. Reproductions of contemporary photographs of each building are distributed around the model. Come by Boatwright to see the results of our collaboration.

The completed model is displayed on the second floor of Boatwright Memorial Library.

The completed model is displayed on the second floor of Boatwright Memorial Library.

Also visit the library’s centennial celebration site, For the Centuries, at http://centuries.richmond.edu.

Photos by Angie White and Nate Ayers.

William E. Beale Photographs

This past week, through the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, we discovered about 25 photographs of the Westhampton campus that were taken by William Elton Beale, a Richmond College freshman in 1915. More specifically, the discovery was of several negative filmstrips that contained images of Beale’s prints. This was exciting because not only are they some of the only student-taken photographs we have of the campus during its opening years, but it also provided us with a fun opportunity to photograph negatives. After a couple of tries working with our light box and various camera settings, we were off and rolling with the digitization.

Lightbox set-up for photographing negative film.

Lightbox set-up for photographing negative film.

Once we completed the digitization process, we were even more excited to view the new images. Some of the pictures included buildings that we had not yet found photographic evidence of, such as the science building (which burned down in 1925) that was originally beside the steam plant. One of my personal favorites was an image of the trolley that brought students from the city all the way out to the “rural” Westhampton campus. Several more of Beale’s photographs included campus highlights like Ryland Hall, Sarah Brunet Memorial Hall, and of course, landscape shots of the lake.

The Science Hall, which burned down in 1925, was originally next to the Steam Plant.

The Science Hall, which burned down in 1925, was originally next to the Steam Plant.

The trolley brought students from the city to the Westhampton campus.

The trolley brought students from the city to the Westhampton campus.

Sarah Brunet Memorial Hall, also known as the Refectory, was built to be a dining hall.

Sarah Brunet Memorial Hall, also known as the Refectory, was built to be a dining hall.

While the majority of the images were of buildings and landscapes on campus, there was a single photograph of one of Beale’s classmates, who we have identified as “Burt” Robins, based on the 1915 Spider yearbook. In the photograph, Robins is wearing a baseball uniform with the words “Peconut Crisp” on his jersey. The words were a mystery to us at first, but after some searching, we found an advertisement in the Southern Planter that described Peconut Crisp as a candy made by the Westmoreland Candy Company, located in Richmond, during the time Beale and Robins would have been in school. It seems most likely that the candy name found itself on the jersey because the company sponsored a baseball game or team.

Bertram "Burt" L. Robins

Bertram “Burt” L. Robins with a “Peconut Crisp” uniform.

Advertisement for Peconut Crisp in The Southern Planter

Advertisement for Peconut Crisp in The Southern Planter

The images gathered from Beale’s photographs were a really exciting find for us. We were happy to see pictures from campus that we had not previously found and just as glad to practice our negative film photography. While it would have been even more exciting to see the original film, we couldn’t be more pleased with these recent additions to our Centennial collection.

Centennial Project – Fannie Graves Crenshaw

Just as her colleague May Keller holds a prominent place in University of Richmond memory, Fannie (also spelled Fanny) Graves Crenshaw is a celebrated faculty member who appears in stories throughout campus history. As a member of the University of Richmond Trustees’ Honor Roll of Distinguished Faculty, Administrators and Staff, Crenshaw is one of the longest serving faculty members that the University has seen, with a tenure beginning in 1914 and retirement in 1955. Crenshaw was hired as Athletic Director at Westhampton College when the doors first opened and remained in that position (with a slight title change to the more modern “Director of Physical Education”) throughout her career.

Born January 17, 1890, Fannie Crenshaw was a bit of a Renaissance woman for her time. With her hometown being right here in Richmond, Virginia, Crenshaw traveled North for her undergraduate degree at Bryn Mawr College as well as graduate work at Columbia University. It seems that Crenshaw must have enjoyed her time at Bryn Mawr, because she is frequently seen in photographs wearing her college sweater. Though her specialty was in Physical Education, Crenshaw also taught Math and History at St. Catherine’s upon her return to Richmond and start at Westhampton College. Furthermore, during her summer breaks from the college, Crenshaw traveled back north to continue working at summer camps.

During her first years at Westhampton College, Crenshaw not only taught all of the Physical Education classes but also coached all of the women’s sports teams. She was an enthusiastic proponent of Field Hockey and, under her direction, Westhampton College became of the first schools in Virginia to adopt the game as a sport. Crenshaw continued to coach varsity sports all the way up until her retirement. In fact, students seemed to adore her so much that she continued to be a subject of campus news stories well after her retirement.

(This information was adapted from Faces on the Wall by Woodford B. Hackley)


Centennial Project – Dean May Lansfield Keller

As we discussed in our previous posts about the Centennial Project, one of the most interesting aspects of doing research was discovering multiple scrapbooks that chronicled the lives of typical students who attended Richmond College during the establishment of the new campus at Westhampton.  In addition to the “everyday” student, though, larger personalities began to emerge not only from the scrapbooks, but also through yearbooks, photographs, and correspondence. May Keller, the first Dean of Westhampton College, was one of these intriguing personalities.

Born in 1877, May Lansfield Keller spent the first part of her life in Baltimore, Maryland, which included her college years. She received her B.A. from Goucher College before moving to Germany and earning her Ph.D. from the University of Heidelberg in 1904. In becoming the first Dean of Westhampton College in 1914,  Keller also became the first female college dean in Virginia. In accordance with her own education, she believed strongly in both a liberal arts course of study as well as equal educational opportunities for women.  Furthermore, as both a dean and professor of English, she seemed to be very involved with her students, attending functions in North Court and even portraying Juliet in a Shakespeare festival on campus. The large part she played in the students’ time at Westhampton is evidenced by her frequent inclusion in their memories, such as a scrapbook. In fact, multiple photographic portraits of Dean May Keller are pasted into Florence Smith’s scrapbook. Keller retired in 1946, but was still seen around campus walking her dogs and passing on bits of advice to her successors.

(This information and more can be found in A Gem of a College: The History of Westhampton College 1914-1989 by Claire Millhiser Rosenbaum and Faces on the Wall by Woodford B. Hackley).

Centennial Project – Westhampton Scrapbook

In general, the scrapbooks that we have come across for the Centennial Project are the manifestations of individual stories, focused on unique experiences encountered while attending the coordinate colleges of Richmond and Westhampton. In contrast, the Westhampton Class of 1915 scrapbook focuses on the important events and memories of an entire group of women – the first women to graduate from Westhampton College, in fact. We believe that the scrapbook was primarily kept by Margaret Monteiro, because there are several letters and invitations addressed to her within the book. Including Monteiro, there were eleven women in the class of 1915, with their names and photographs listed in a “Class Role” at the beginning of the book.

This 1914-1915 scrapbook, located in the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, is especially unique because it is just as much a diary as it is a scrapbook. Pages are full of dated, hand-written descriptions of emotions, events and even the underclassmen. Frequently, alongside the journal-like entries, someone (Monteiro, perhaps) drew small illustrations elaborating on the written descriptions. Some are amusing sketches depicting the “Rats” while others are more elaborate, full-page drawings. Just like the other scrapbooks we have encountered, the descriptions and illustrations show that, in some aspects, college life is still quite the same even after 100 years. Sports, clubs and parties were an important part of a student’s social life and homesickness in first-year students was frequently noted by the upperclassmen. Students also seemed to be just as fond of exams in 1914 as they are today…

In addition to the fun memories, though, the scrapbook also chronicles less pleasant moments, like the arrival of mumps to campus. The inclusion of so many memories, lovely or not, make this scrapbook an incredible asset to viewing college life in 1914.

Digitizing this scrapbook was a bit trickier than the others because it didn’t open quite as flat. We used a book cradle to hold it gently underneath our camera as we photographed the pages on one side and then the other. We also used black fabric as the background behind this scrapbook for a more aesthetically pleasing look and for contrast. Since the scrapbook is actually quite large in terms of a book, we used our 80mm lens for the photography. On smaller, miscellaneous items like invitations, we used our 120 mm lens to capture more detail.

Centennial – Florence Smith Scrapbook

In addition to having access to a Richmond College student’s scrapbook for our Centennial project, we were fortunate enough to be able to digitize a student’s scrapbook from the Westhampton College side of the lake as well. Donated to the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, the scrapbook once belonged to Florence Smith, a 1917 graduate of Westhampton College. Just like her fellow scrapbooker, Karl Brooke Anderson, Smith attended Richmond College when it was operated downtown as well as when it moved to the Westhampton campus, so her book contains memories from both. In contrast to Anderson’s athletics-based scrapbook, Smith predominantly included photographs of her friends, professors, events and campus landmarks.

One of the most helpful and interesting aspects of looking through Smith’s scrapbook was her high level of detail in describing her photographs. Rather than pasting down the pictures in an arbitrary fashion, she consistently identified all of the people (frequently with both first and last names) in the scenes as well as explained what was taking place. Furthermore, her pages tended to be ordered chronologically in relation to her time at the college, so it was easy to follow her story year by year. Smith’s photographs show us snapshots of what life was like on the new campus, including some things that are no longer around, like the mule drawn carriage that served as a bus to carry non-residential students from the trolley stop up a large hill to campus. She also provided us images of some of the first sophomore class daisy chains, an event that became a longstanding tradition. Most often, though, her photographs are simple glimpses into the fun and amusement she and her friends took part in during their time at Richmond College.


In order to digitize Florence Smith’s scrapbook, we used our high resolution digital camera with an 80mm lens. Since the pages of the book were relatively flat, we did not need to use exhibit strips or glass to hold them down. The primary content in Smith’s scrapbook was photographs so in order to bring attention to each individual image, we cropped out specific photographs along with their captions. However, we still retained the full page versions.


Centennial – Richmond College Scrapbook

One of the most interesting aspects of studying a historical event is to find out how it impacted the everyday lives of people involved. For the 100-year anniversary of Richmond College’s Westhampton campus, the story would not be complete without looking into the lives of the students who experienced the transition. This fantastic window into the past was possible for us because of the thorough scrapbooks created by students during the time period, now located in the University Archives at the Virginia Baptist Historical Society.

One of these intriguing scrapbooks was left by Karl Brooke Anderson, a Richmond College student who graduated in 1916. Anderson’s story is very special because he was a student on both the old campus in downtown Richmond and the new campus. The memories he left behind in his book depict his time at the old campus, with photographs of winter days, commencement and the beautiful buildings. He also records the burning of the old academy with a telegraph he received from a  friend.

The bits and pieces of history that Anderson pasted into his memory book show us that his life resembled very much the lives of students 100 years later. He was an avid sports enthusiast, often including pictures of the football team and small signs cheering on a victory. He attended social gatherings on and off-campus, often invited by the women of Westhampton to a joint-event or even traveling to a concert elsewhere in Richmond. His class schedule was packed full and exam time was probably just as stressful (although he chose not to record that memory). Despite the century between us, Anderson’s priorities were frequently quite similar!

Carefully photographing the scrapbook with our digital camera allowed us to see intricate details that we might not have noticed before, but we also had a surprise at every page turn. We used an 80mm lens on the full, large pages and our 120mm macro lens on the miscellaneous ephemera and small details. The archival and special nature of the scrapbook required delicate handling, so we frequently used archival exhibit strips to hold open small booklets for photographing, as well as small glass sheets under the book to make sure the pages were level.

Centennial – Digitizing Religious Heralds

When research began for the Centennial project, we knew that it would be worthwhile to locate accounts or narratives of the building process on the new campus. While photographs and blueprints are visually appealing and provide their own particular kind of historical description, reading the story through the words of a contemporary perspective is incredibly informative and useful. For the study of many events in history, newspaper articles fulfill this need with their often frequent and thorough accounts of the community’s occasions. For Richmond College, a Baptist school originally, the Religious Herald was the newspaper that chronicled many of its big stories, such as the building of a new campus.

Using overhead scanners for the majority and digital photography for the 1910 issues, we decided to image Religious Herald articles related to Richmond College from 1910 to 1914 in order to provide access to content spanning the inception to completion of the project. The articles were made available to image from the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, along with assistance in locating the relevant articles. Beginning in 1910, accounts of the visits to other colleges with coordinate systems as well as the first images of the new property begin to appear in the Religious Herald.

Religious Herald 1910-04-21-11

Religious Herald 1910-04-21. Narrative of the various visits to other colleges with schools for women. Virginia Baptist Historical Society.


Religious Herald 1910-05-12-01

Religious Herald 1910-05-12. Issue cover showing the Westhampton campus before the college was built. Virginia Baptist Historical Society.

Following the launch of the project, articles regarding funding and donations dominated the conversation in 1912 and into 1913 as well. Not only did the editor of the Religious Herald take part in these updates, but F.W. Boatwright, President of Richmond College at the time and long after, offered his remarks as well. Furthermore, while the college was discussing building funding, others were attempting to subdivide the surrounding land and sell plots to those looking to escape the city and live by the college.

Religious Herald 1913-03-06-28

Religious Herald 1913-03-06. Advertisement for the purchase of land around the new Richmond College. Virginia Baptist Historical Society.

Religious Herald 1912-04-11

Religious Herald 1912-04-11. Description of the funding situation for the new college. Virginia Baptist Historical Society.

Religious Herald 1912-04-11

Religious Herald 1912-04-11. F.W. Boatwright remarks on the need for more funds for the women’s college and endowment. Virginia Baptist HIstorical Society.

1913 issues also saw some of the first images of the completed buildings on the new campus, including those of Westhampton College. Furthermore, in 1914, the opening of Westhampton College appeared front and center on the cover August’s issue and was extensively described within. Not only was this event exciting because of the beautiful new buildings, but it was an entirely new coordinate school with Richmond College.

Religious Herald 1913-03-13-01

Religious Herald 1913-03-13. Front cover image of Westhampton College almost completed. Virginia Baptist Historical Society.

Religious Herald 1914-08-27-02

Religious Herald 1914-08-27. Article providing details about Westhampton College. Virginia Baptist Historical Society.

Religious Herald 1914-08-27-03

Religious Herald 1914-08-27. F.W. Boatwright discussing the new Westhampton College. Virginia Baptist Historical Society.

The Centennial Project

In the fall of 1914, Richmond College, along with its coordinate women’s school, Westhampton College, opened its new campus in Westhampton, Virginia to students for the first time. Having spent half a century in downtown Richmond, the new campus was on the site of an old amusement park that had required several years of labor to transform it into the college’s new academic center. Many personalities played a role in the creation of the new campus and a considerable amount of their stories were left behind in various forms.

In order to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Westhampton campus, the Discovery, Technology, & Publishing department within Boatwright Memorial Library is creating a digital collection of content related to the new campus. The process began with extensive research on the history of the university and the Westhampton area, which included visits to local history and information centers. Our research yielded content ranging from building blueprints to scrapbooks to newspaper articles, much of which is from the University Archives at the Virginia Baptist Historical Society. The University of Richmond Facilities department still holds a great number of early building blueprints and we were also able to find wonderful images of Westhampton before the college was built from the Valentine Richmond History Center.

After locating the material, the digitization process began. Since the majority of the content is a century old and in delicate condition, much of the imaging was done in our photography studio with a digital camera. While overhead scanners were used for some text-based content, like newspaper articles, we really wanted to get the best, highest-resolution image possible. This post will serve as an introduction to a series of posts on our Centennial project, and the digitization process that is a major part of it, including previews of the fascinating content like the images below.

Westhampton Scrapbook

Title page of the scrapbook for the first senior class of Westhampton College, 1914-1915. Virginia Baptist Historical Society.

Ryland Hall

Mylar print of Ryland Hall, the home of the college’s first library on the Westhampton Campus. University Facilities.