Suber Archives and Special Collections offers an interesting collection of documents relating to Commencement. Celebrations of student achievements have long been a part of academic traditions. Recitations, concerts, readings, theatre productions, addresses, prizes, awards and the conferring of degrees drew crowds of family and friends to Commencement activities at LaGrange Female College. For decades the College’s Board of Trustees also met during Commencement, extending the elaborate celebrations to nearly a week. Each year the occasion received detailed coverage by the “LaGrange Reporter,” now published as the “LaGrange Daily News.”
A sampling of our holdings follows:
Entitled “Twilight,” the student essay pictured at the right is the earliest example of student work included in the Suber Archives collection. Dated June 21, 1871 this essay was composed and read by Jennie Barber, Class of 1871, during Commencement Week. It consists of five pages written in Jennie Barber’s elegant, flowing script. The pages are secured by a satin ribbon, tied in a bow on the back as this is the side which would have been viewed by the audience as it was read aloud. Presented to the College by Mrs. Julia H. Chatham, great granddaughter of Jennie Barber Truitt and a member of the Class of 1970, this essay and the collection of letters which accompanied it, give ample testimony to the meaning that this occasion held for Jennie Barber as well as the esteem and love for her which prompted her family to preserve the paper for so many generations.
The oldest Commencement program at Suber Archives and Special Collections chronicles the graduating exercises which took place on June 11, 1884. Orchestrating the occasion was the president of LaGrange Female College, the Reverend Dr. John Wesley Heidt. The eight graduates included:
Beulah B. Arnold
Elene E. Barry
Mary G. Broome
Mary L. Revill
Eugenia A. Simms
Adelaide Wadsworth and
Mary Lizzie Wright.
Suber Archives and Special Collections
Frank and Laura Lewis Library
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