FSU celebrates its 175th anniversary

By Kaila Braley


Those walking into the Henry Whittemore Library may notice photographs lining the walls – images of the campus they walk around every day next to black and white photos of places that seem as if they belong in a Charles Dickens novel.


They are all photos of the FSU campus, some dating back to the 1800s, and are part of the “Then and Now Historical Exhibit,” which is on display until the end of the semester.


The exhibit includes a variety of documents and items from the FSU archives, and spans the distance between the café and the study area in the center of the library.


The older photos were picked out from the Framingham State University archives, and the newer images were taken by students from two photography classes this year. The students took the photos of the same locations on campus as those in old photos from similar angles to show a fair comparison of then and now.


Photography Professor Bob Alter said, “It’s a nice opportunity to think, ‘Wow, there were people like me that were here 100 years ago.’”


Alter, who teaches the classes which took the new photos of campus, said, “It’s really nice to feel like you’re a part of something that’s been going on for a long time. There were people here before you and there will be people here after you and you’re a part of that process.”


Alter added, “What you want in something like this is to both see how much some things have changed and how much they’ve stayed the same.”


In the first portion of the exhibit, there is a picture of women in long black dresses dotting the lawn of Normal Hall, which is where Horace Mann Hall now stands, just as students will now spend time outside on a nice spring day. Another pair of photos places the old dining hall, which used to be in Crocker Hall, alongside the most recent update of the dining hall in the McCarthy Center.


A picture of May Hall from 1889 shows the building has remained remarkably similar throughout the years.


Alter said, “Now, we have a little collection of photographs of Framingham State 2013-14 that will go into the archives.”


Colleen Previte, archivist and special collections librarian, said she likes to see the students’ new photography being included in the archives because it comes “full circle.”


Previte said of one of the display cases, “We wanted to cover a lot of firsts for the presidents.” This case displayed key heads of the school from Cyrus Peirce, who was the first principal, to Timothy Flanagan ,who was the first president since the school obtained university status. The display also features future FSU President F. Javier Cevallos.


Another case showed a letter of recommendation for an early FSU student, Hannah Damon, and photographs of early classes of students, including the first male class in 1964.


Down the stairs in the center of the library are more displays including documentation of famous visitors, including John F. Kennedy, Robert Frost, John Kerry and the Ramones.


One display features old beanie caps that former students used to wear instead of baseball hats, and another case houses a large photo of the May Day Celebration, which Previte said was replaced by a dance in the ‘60s, because the female students may not have wanted to walk around the May pole in front of the male students.


Previte said, “This is such a small sampling of what we have, but we tried to show a variety of things.”


She said she hopes the exhibit will help students “get interested in history, primary sources and to also get connected to the history. ... I hope they go away with something they feel proud about.”


Vice President for Academic Affairs Linda Vaden-Goad said the exhibit “reminds us of the significance of our history. We did, and still do, represent an important moment in our country” in which the school began providing an affordable education to teachers who then provided education to others.


She said she hopes the exhibit will help students feel connected to those who have come to FSU before them. “They helped set things up for us, and we now need to do that for generations. In 175 years, those things we do should matter just as much, and we need to think about how to make that happen.”

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