Alumni scrapbook provides documentary (and physical) evidence of building’s christening

A recently donated collection of alumni papers is now available for research!

Pearl Haldeman Stickley (Class of 1912)

Pearl Haldeman Stickley’s great nephew, William M. Beck of Fredericksburg, donated his aunt’s scrapbooks to JMU Special Collections last week. The scrapbooks – full of concert and theater programs, ticket stubs, report cards, Valentines, commencement programs, and quippy annotations – document Pearl’s time as a student at and alumni of the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg. A native of Winchester, Virginia, Pearl entered the Harrisonburg Normal School in 1909 (a member of the very first class of students!) and graduated in 1912 after completing the kindergarten training curriculum. She was an active alumna and returned to campus many times after graduation, documenting these visits in one of her scrapbooks.

Bookplate in Pearl Haldeman Stickley’s Scrapbook

Pearl returned to Harrisonburg in June 1913 for the school’s commencement exercises and related activities.

Class Day Exercises, June 10, 1913

Class Day Exercises were held June 10, 1913 in the open air auditorium behind Maury Hall. Dormitory No. 1 was “christened” as part of these exercises. According to Margaret M. Prufer’s “A History of the State Normal School at Harrisonburg” (The Normal Bulletin Magazine, October 1919, p. 213), students at the Harrisonburg Normal School asked the Board of Trustees to change the name of Dormitory No. 1 to Burruss Hall. The Board acquiesced and Burruss Hall was christened by “breaking the bottle and performing other fitting ceremonies.” Pearl documented the building dedication in her scrapbook by pasting in a shard of glass from the ceremonial bottle breaking as well as a dried rose – “One of the many…that were showered on the stone steps just after the speech.”

Dried rose and shard of glass from the bottle used to christen Dormitory No. 1.

The name was short-lived. Julian Burruss objected to naming buildings honorifically after a living person. Dormitory No. 1 was formally renamed Jackson Hall, after Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, on June 4, 1918.

To learn more about Pearl Haldeman Stickley and her papers, take a look at the collection’s finding aid which more fully describes Pearl and her scrapbooks. Or better yet, stop by Special Collections and see the scrapbooks for yourself!

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