A few weeks ago, we endeavored to draw up a floor plan of the Seay Building. The layout of the building can be pretty confusing at times, and this Archives Assistant wanted to get a lay of the land.

The Seay Building was built in 1900-1, but back then it was known as New Main or the Administration Building. It was one of the only buildings on campus, aside from gymnasiums, a barn, an icehouse, and a laboratory.

From the 1902 Catalogue of Centenary Collegiate Institute:

“In the basement are the chemical and philosophical laboratories, photographic rooms and special apartments for practical and scientific work.”

When the building was first built, there was no student entrance from the basement, as the back of the building was ground level but intended for employees only. Students and staff could access this level through the stairs in the front portion of the building. The basement level is now also known as the ground level as renovations in the mid-1960s created a public entrance from the back side of the building. In 1965-6, the boiler room and laundry was renovated to become the Sunken Lounge, Mail Room, Bookstore, and a grill. This improvement was called the Seay Student Union. The Mail Room has now been replaced by the IT Deployment Center, the Bookstore by the Tutoring Center, and the grill by a Starbucks.

The first floor has entrances on the front side of the building, what this Archives Assistant calls the Jefferson side of the building (the building faces Jefferson Street).

From the 1902 Catalogue of Centenary Collegiate Institute:

“On the left of the main entrance are three elegant and spacious parlors. To the right are the public reception rooms, and the President’s office. Opposite are the general office and several large reception rooms. The west end of this hall is occupied by the banking, stenographic, and reception rooms of the Department of Commerce.”

The first floor also originally included the Dining Hall and Kitchen. In 1964-5, the Dining Hall was expanded onto the far end of the building. That addition became the Student Activities Center and the Multicultural Center when the Dining Hall moved to the newly built Lackland Center.

From the 1902 Catalogue of Centenary Collegiate Institute:

“In this building are most of the recitation rooms…the Library, the Art Room,” and there are also rooms for art storage and servants quarters. The Chapel, which takes up much of the second and third floor, cut off the front of the building from the back. It also separates the east and west sides of the building. When it was built, it was used for morning and evening prayers, literary society anniversaries, weekly rhetorical debates/presentations, and large lectures.

The Library moved into its own building in 1954. The section where the Library and Fine Arts rooms were became offices, classrooms, and a language lab, and is now where the IT Department is located.

From the 1902 Catalogue of Centenary Collegiate Institute:

“The new building in the rear of the Administration Building contains…two carefully isolated and protected suites of rooms for the sick. With each suit of wards is connected a bath room, a room for nurse, and a diet kitchen; and also (on ladies’ side) a sun parlor…The halls of the Literary Societies are amply and elegantly provided for on the third floor.”

The Infirmary was renovated in 1977, with some of the rooms becoming offices. Today the Health Center has its own building on campus and the entire back portion of the third floor of Seay is office space. The Literary Societies have evolved into different fraternities and sororities, and now have spaces elsewhere on campus. Their rooms are now used as classrooms.

Since its construction, the Seay Building has been a major part of the campus. The architecture is striking and classic, done in a Renaissance Beaux Arts style, and the space within used by many students and university departments. It is the first building many see, and with its gold dome, stands as a symbol of Centenary University.

The Catalogue of Centenary Collegiate Institute, 1902-1903. Centenary University, 1902.


In previous posts we’ve written about the dormitory societies and literary societies, and mentioned other types of clubs like music clubs. All of these clubs stemmed from a yearning to connect with other students. Over the years, the clubs and societies at Centenary have undergone many changes. Some have evolved, like literary societies moving from academic club to social, some have disappeared completely, like dormitory societies, and still others have sprung up or dissolved based on the interests of the students and the changing times.

Miss Charlotte Hoag, 1908 Hack

Our first clubs and societies all held one purpose: improvement of the mind, body, and soul. For the mind, there were Centenary literary societies, created by students who wished to have a place to improve and practice their oratory skills. Separate Current Topic Club for girls and boys were started in 1897 and discussed a wide variety of subjects. The girls’ Current Topic Club included a weekly parlor talk on their refinement, safeguarding, and development. According to the Centenary history, Through Golden Years, Miss Charlotte Hoag, former Dean of Centenary from 1896 to 1908, was advisor for both clubs as well as the Travel Club. For improving the body there were athletic clubs, including baseball and cricket in the early years, before the school had a gymnasium or any formal sports. Athletic Associations held much importance, and they will be given a dedicated post in the future. For the soul, the school also had strong chapters of both the Y.M.C.A and Y.W.C.A, started in 1879 and 1888, respectively.

Student Council has been around since the school’s beginning. Student boards for the school newspaper and yearbook came later and were active during the years both of those publications were in operation. For example, the student newspaper had several incarnations in the early years, and in certain years there was no newspaper and, therefore, no board.

The Clubs and Organizations of 1904, 1904 Hack

Special clubs soon developed and became an important part of campus life. In the early 1900s students could join the French Club, German Club, Camera Club, or a Music or Chorus Club. Around this time secret Dormitory Societies also rose in popularity. There were ‘Eating Clubs’ like ‘Cauldron and Pestle’ and ‘The Animal Cracker Club’ (What did they talk about? We may never know!). The alumni had their own clubs, too; there were clubs for C.C.I. alums who attended Wesleyan, The Woman’s College of Baltimore, and Syracuse.

In the 1920s and 30s there was a resurgence of interest in clubs and organizations. The Guild replaced the Y.W.C.A, and the Book Club, International Relations Club, Business Club, Hiking Club, Outing Club, and Aquatic Club were created. Student Court joined Student Council as part of the Student Government Association. A Student Interests Club, which later became the Student Activities Coordinating Board, worked to find inexpensive entertainment for students in the form of lecturers, outings, and campus events. More clubs soon followed in the decades to come: the Art Club, Riding Club, Modern Dance Club, Cosmopolitan Club, Radio Club, Record Club, and Psychology Club were popular for a number of years in the 1940s – 1960s. Honor Societies were also introduced.

Honor Societies, 1946 Hack

In the 1970s, a few new clubs focused on activism and current affairs: We the People and U.F.O (United For Others) discussed and raised awareness of current economic, political, and social issues. The 1980s brought with it a Fashion Club and Computer Committee. Starting in the 80s and continuing through today, clubs have been formed based on academic departments – The Education Club, and The Social and Criminal Justice Club are two examples that can be seen throughout the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. (Gallery below, Top left and right: 1972 Hack Yearbook. Bottom left, middle, and right: 1982 Hack Yearbook)

2012 Hack

During this time the number of clubs focused on social issues and student life also increased. For example, the F.Y.L.s program is for students who have shown academic success and who serve as mentors and guides for incoming students. S.I.F.E., now Enactus, is an organization where students develop their entrepreneurial skills. This list shows the staggering number of clubs that Centenary currently offers – a far cry from the handful of clubs available in our early years!


They say November is for Football. Why? American Football Day is November 5th. The first ‘American Football’ game was played in November. According to SB Nation, “August is for arguing. September is for dreaming. October is for bargaining. November is for everything.”

Unfortunately, Fall Sports have been suspended for the time being – a difficult but cautious decision that means that Centenary’s men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, field hockey and men’s and women’s cross country programs will be on hold for the coming semester. Other fall sports that have been suspended include football and tennis (two sports not played competitively at Centenary University). The Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) made the decision at the end of July. We know our community is disheartened by this decision, but we also know it was made with the safety and health of our players in mind.

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From the 1887 Commencement Chronicle

Athletics has always been an important part of Centenary’s history, ever since its beginnings in the 1870s. However, the Centenary of the late 19th Century didn’t have an athletics program like it does now. It offered ‘physical advancement’ and other recreational activities, but it didn’t have sports programs or teams other than student-run clubs. Students even held games against neighboring instutitions. The face of Centenary Athletics changed in the 1890s, when President Ferguson hired a director of Athletics, and soon the school boasted several tennis courts, a track, a Baseball diamond, a Football field, and grounds for croquet and quoit.

Although we don’t have a football team now, football was in fact one of Centenary’s earliest sports, along with Baseball and Track. Football was a popular sport for students to play and to watch. Our Archives has several admission tickets to football games held here and at nearby institutions. This ticket is from a game between South Bethlehem and Hackettstown Seminary (another name for Centenary) from October 10th, 1891. Football_1

Though there are early mentions of ‘foot-ball’ in documents from the 1880s and 1890s, the first photograph of our football team was from 1899. The team was posed in front of the Original Main Building. Many early team photos were taken with this building as a backdrop.

The second picture isn’t dated, but there are several clues that lead us to a date between 1900-1902. The Main Building burned down in 1899 and the fact that they are not photographed in front of the building leads us to believe the picture is from 1900 or later. The second clue is the student standing top middle in both photos. The first picture has a notation on the back that reads “The colored gentleman is freshman Benjamin F. Seldon of Morristown, N.J.” Benjamin F. Seldon was a student at C.C.I. from 1898 – 1902, and according to a newspaper clipping found in the Archives was a fullback on the C.C.I. team. Given that the other students in the second photo don’t match the students from the first, it was determined that the second picture was not from the same year as the first but had to have been when Seldon was a student.

The football team was dissolved in 1910 when the school became an All Girls’ School and did not return when the school went back to coed in 1988.

Researching football in the Archives led us to find a letter from Seldon to Professor Hammond from 1925. He even mentions in the letter that he spent too much time on foot-ball, but later focused his education on Greek and Greek Culture. Once that letter was found, our searching turned to the internet to see if there was more we could learn about Seldon. Benjamin Seldon was a fascinating man in his own right! After leaving Centenary, he went on to attend Exeter Academy, Columbia University, Harvard University, and Toulouse University. While attending Harvard, he was recalled to be a Y.M.C.A secretary in the First World War. He and his second wife lived in France for several years, where he studied at Toulouse University. Later he traveled through Europe studying the similarities between European peasants and Black Americans which evolved into a study of economic, social, and political conditions of several countries. He became State Supervisor of Negro Adult Education for the New Jersey Works Progress Administration from 1938 to 1941. Many of his personal papers are collected in the Benjamin F. Seldon Papers, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, as well as in the W.E.B. DuBois Papers held by the University of Massachusetts Amherst. It’s amazing how one document in our Archives can lead to a world of discovery!

Benjamin F. Seldon Papers, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, New York, NY. http://archives.nypl.org/scm/20589. 1 Oct 2020.

W. E. B. Du Bois Papers, 1803-1999, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries, Amherst, MA. https://credo.library.umass.edu/search?q=seldon&fq=FacetCollectionID%3A%22mums312%22&search=. 1 Oct 2020.


In 1899, Centenary Collegiate Institute witnessed its worst Halloween ever. In the early morning hours of October 31st, the Original Main Building caught fire and was almost completely razed. Illumination from the fire was visible 20 miles away, as far as Morristown. All that remained were portions of its brick walls. Luckily, due to the quick thinking and immediate actions of its students, staff, and faculty, there were no fatalities. Read more about it here.

The residents of Hackettstown rallied around Centenary, offering their help in extinguishing the fire and welcoming students into their homes once the flames had been quenched. When Centenary reopened in late November, several houses were acquired for students to room in, headed by the school’s professors and teachers. These houses were nicknamed for their professors – “Hammond Hall” is seen referenced in some Archival Materials. Hackettstown families opened their doors to students, lending the school their homes during the semester, hosting classes, and housing students. Although Centenary may have experienced the worst Halloween ever, the spirit of Centenary, her perseverance, has never wavered.

“A Disastrous Fire.” Nov 1899. (Newspaper article clipped from a Morristown newspaper – title, date, and page number not on clipping)

“Centenary Collegiate Institute Fire.” The Christian Advocate, 9 Nov 1899.


“And NOW that the new great splendid building was at the end of its first year of history, behold I was the President, and graduating the first class in the NEW building! It was a great honor! A great coincidence, strange indeed!”


Centenary Campus

These were the words of Centenary’s first president, the Rev. George H. Whitney, who was re-elected to serve as interim president in 1902 after the previous president, President Charles McCormick, resigned to return to the ministry. While the next president had already been selected, he could not begin his duties until July. Therefore, Whitney only held the office for 3 months, from April to July.

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President Noble

That next president was Dr. Eugene Allen Noble, a graduate of Centenary Collegiate Institute, class of 1885, married to his Centenary sweetheart, Lillian Osborne, class of 1887, and a member of her Board of Trustees from 1898 to 1902. Dr. Noble was very devoted to his Alma Mater and entered his presidency with great enthusiasm. He chose not to make sweeping changes of Centenary’s curriculum or communities; rather, he decided to develop and expand existing programs and interests.

Of the many enhancements made under President Noble, the most long-lasting and impressive were the expansion of the athletics program, social and academic clubs, and the literal expansion of the campus.


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Football game, c. 1905

The introduction of Professor Denman as director of athletics brought with it a greater interest in sports and recreation. This led to the development of an athletic annual, the Hack Yearbook, which was first published in 1904. Football, Baseball, and Track were Centenary’s three major sports, and the earliest yearbooks dedicated many pages to the exploits of The Athletic Association.  Shortly after this, girls’ basketball was introduced.


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Combined Ann, 1907

Though the literary associations at Centenary were already well established by this point, they continued to flourish. Their yearly “Ann’s”, anniversary programs with theatrical performances and refreshments, became so elaborate they went from being individual programs, to brother/sister programs (one fraternity and one sorority), to being one combined program. Other clubs that flourished at this time were the YMCA, YWCA, Current Topics Club, and a group of mysterious secret clubs called Dormitory Societies (examples include ‘Spook and Spectre‘ and ‘Knife, Fork and Spoon’). At one point, students had so many diversions with their clubs that they asked their professors to ‘make the examinations as light as possible!” (Custard, p115).


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Students walking the Farm Path to the School Farm, located beyond the back of campus.

The institution purchased 120 acres of land in two plots (a 118 acre plot located 500 yards from campus, and a 2 acre plot adjoining campus). This gave the school more space for a School Farm as well as land for athletic fields. They also constructed a dam to give the school its own lake.

President Noble did quite a lot in the 6 years he was president, and all with a cheerful heart. The institution expanded in size and standing, and his abilities as a financier brought the school out of serious debt. In 1908, he was offered the presidency of the Woman’s College of Baltimore and felt that it was his time to move on. Though he left Centenary as President, he remained a devoted student and member of Centenary’s community.


Custard, Leila Roberta. Through Golden Years: 1867 – 1943. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1947. Print.


This month in Centenary History:

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On June 17, 1886, the first edition of The Chronicle was published.

From the Commencement Chronicle: “Colleges have their ‘Annuals’ and ‘Bric-a-Brac’, why not a Ladies’ College and Preparatory School its publication?”

The Chronicle was the first student publication of Centenary University, then Centenary Collegiate Institute. It included the student essays, both academic and humorous, as well as the news and gossip of Centenary. The Chronicle was printed on and off throughout the 1880s, 1890s, and very early 1900s.


On June 8, 1946, Art Professor Gilberta D. Goodwin unveiled a portrait of President Whitney, the first in a series of paintings undertaken in preparation for Centenary’s 75th anniversary. The unveiling was part of a surprise ceremony during Commencement. The paintings have been displayed all over campus and in the President’s House, and many of Goodwin’s works are currently housed in the Taylor Memorial Library Archives.

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President Whitney portrait 1

Above: Goodwin working on Whitney’s portrait

Right: A close-up of President Whitney’s finished portrait


On June 29th, 1953, The Taylor Memorial Library and Reeves Recreation Building began construction. The two buildings were dedicated in October 1954. We very much miss our library right now, and can’t wait to get back on campus!

groundbreaking, likely 1953

Groundbreaking, 1953


Centenary is having a virtual commencement on May 9th. We may not be celebrating with our students in person, but we still congratulate them on their successes and wish them the best in their future endeavors!

Dance, mid 1930s

Centenary Junior College Dance, mid 1930s

To the class of 1936:

“We say good bye to the Seniors in dignified robes of black,
But we are sure it won’t be long before they’ll all come back.

The time does pass so quickly and some of us will see
Bette the great man-hater with a babe upon her knee.

Now Janie, our Navy woman, with the fleet at her front door,
Margie, the letter carrier, with a million dollars or more.
And Mo with her one and only in a car of splashy red,
And Dotty, our smartest dresser, shopping with her Ed.

Looking once more in the future I’m afraid I cannot see,
What the rest of friends will be doing after they leave C.J.C.

But we know they will all be successes in their own individual ways,
And we send them off with best wishes for a future of happy days.”

-Pat Pattison




[This guest post has been brought to you by Jillian Pullis and Dr. Lisa Mastrangelo’s Advanced Composition Class. Students in this class work closely with archival staff and items, allowing them to practice their writing and research skills, as well as learning more about their university. It’s a wonderful partnership that we look forward to and occasionally we ask one or two students to share their work on our blog. This paper in particular was impressive because we, the Archives staff, see this photograph often and wonder about the students in the picture. Pullis’ research has identified these girls and we now know a little more about this dorm room candid. We are grateful she accepted our offer of being included in the blog, and hope you enjoy learning how she investigated the visual clues this picture held to deduce its content. No edits have been made to this document, and the student’s work is shown in its entirety.]

img001The picture that I am investigating is two young ladies laying on their dorm room beds at Centenary College. Investigating this photo allowed me to turn into an archivist for a few weeks. I had to depend on my historical sources to find information, describe my findings, and provide accurate sources to allow others to find this information. As an archivist, I had to analyze my photo and find any clues that could help me date it. I also had to try and organize the information I found and communicate it in a way that would make sense. Although, in this case I was just following the steps of what an archivist would do, I was able to put my evidence together to find the year the photo was taken. By following the steps of an archivist and investigating the image, I found my photo is from the year 1957.

In the photo, the two girls laying on their dorm room beds are similar in which they both have short hair, long white socks, and plaid skirts. The way the beds are positioned directly up against each other is either trying to portray that the girls must be extremely close, and they sleep that way each night, or the photo is posed and trying to give off a  “come here and find your best friend” vibe.  On the walls, the girls have a poster and a sorority paddle hanging on the wall. These two things play a huge part in helping me date this photo. The girls also have a book – shelf with multiple copies of the same books, perfectly placed. I found this to be further evidence that this photo could be staged. The room also has two windows with matching curtains.

Centenary College was a junior college for women from 1940 to 1976. In the dorm room the girls have a Dartmouth Winter Carnival Poster hanging on the wall. On the corner of the poster it is dated February 3-5, 1956. I was able to find the exact poster on the Dartmouth Archive site. I contacted Morgan Swan, Ph.D., M.L.I.S. who is the Special Collection Education and Outreach Librarian at Rauner Special Collections Library at Dartmouth College. Morgan said, “During the early to mid 20th century, Dartmouth’s Winter Carnival was a nationally prominent event that required an invitation to attend if you weren’t already a student there. Many college students at women’s colleges all over New England (and NY and NJ) would often be invited to come as the dates of Dartmouth men.” He additionally added that it was popular for Centenary college girls to travel to Dartmouth on the train and enjoy the fun weekend in the snow. Before this email, I  had to keep in mind that just because the poster was dated and on the wall was not enough to convince me the girls were there. It could have just been a decoration or a gift to the girls.  I was very excited when I read this email because it proved to me that I was on the right track with the year.

In the dorm room the girls have a sorority paddle hanging from the wall. The paddle  was dated 1958. This led me to look at the yearbook sorority pictures from the years around 1958. This finding played a huge part in helping me identify these girls in the yearbook. I was able to find the sorority picture in the Hack yearbook of 1957. By looking at the Hack yearbook, I was able to name these two girls as Gail Zabriskie and Leslie VanNess Bush. I examined every single picture in the Hack yearbook 1957. I was able to reassure myself of a few things by looking at these pictures. In my dorm room photo and the yearbook photo of the girls, they have the same windows and curtains. I did not think this was enough to be 100% sure, as maybe Centenary provided each room with the same curtains. By looking at every picture in the yearbook I was able to find that almost every single bedroom shot with the windows in the back had different curtains. Not one of the photos had the same curtains that my two girls had. I also believed that this photo was staged by how the beds were positioned and how neatly the room was set. By looking at the other yearbook pictures I found that almost every room had tables and chairs in between the beds. No matter how close you are with someone I did not find one other photo with beds positioned that closely. It was a huge find being able to find these girls names and find information about them.

Screen Shot 2020-04-07 at 11.37.04 AMGail Zabriskie and Leslie VanNess Bush were both on the Orientation Committee, Guild, Student Activity, Psychology Club, and Theta Epsilon Nu. Gail Zabriskie was the President and Leslie VanNess Bush was the Vice President of student activities. They were next to each other in the yearbook and it had a picture of the two girls together. The girls were standing next to each other smiling in front of a window. The picture in the yearbook had the same windows and curtains as the picture I was examining. This was all found in the Hack yearbook in the year 1957. It could be possible that every room had the same curtains and window set up, but I found the similarities to be significant. The girls were also in a lot of the same clubs and very involved on campus so it would make sense that they would be asked to stage a photo to promote Centenary and portray it as finding your best friend.

Leslie VanNess Bush was sporting short and curly hair in her yearbook picture as well as the dorm room picture. This was very popular in the 1950s that was inspired by some prominent women. Beauty Launchpad explained,  “Many actresses and female singers of the 1950s, including Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Eartha Kitt, favored this shorter, slightly less voluminous version of the classic bouffant. Perfectly curled and coiffed hair was the signature of this look, though great care was taken to make hair appear to be naturally curly.” Gail Zabriskie can be found in both photos with her short brown Pixie Cut. The pixie cut started becoming popular in the late 1950s and really took off in the 1960s. Beauty Launchpad added, “Audrey Hepburn’s closely-cropped hair in the popular film Roman Holiday began a trend of super short hair coupled with soft, wispy bangs that remains popular today.” I was very reluctant to find out that the hairstyles of the two girls matched up well with what was popular during the year that I found.

In todays’ world of social media, specifically Facebook and Instagram, it is so easy to just swipe by a photo in seconds. We often will not even look at most pictures that pop up on our feeds, and if we are it is followed by a quick “like”. Examining archived photos requires the person to really look at every detail. When you think you have found all the clues, you should look again. By doing this I was able to find the key component on the sorority paddle to identify the women in my picture. If I did not room in on the paddle, I would have never seen the date and most likely would not have found the girls names.


Works Cited


“Dorm Room ; 1957” Photo. Archives and Special Collections,

Taylor Memorial Library. Centenary University


The Hack. 1957. The Taylor Memorial Library,

Centenary University


“Hair Through History: 9 Memorable Hairstyles of the 1950s.” Beauty Launchpad, 24 Oct. 2019, www.beautylaunchpad.com/hair-through-history-9-memorable-hairstyles-1950s.

Swan, Morgan. “Feb 3-5, 1956 Dartmouth Winter Carnival .” Feb 3-5, 1956 Dartmouth Winter Carnival , 25 Feb. 2020.


From Spilled Ink, May 23rd, 1936

The first hint you have of her presence as you industriously look up material for your term paper, is an inane giggle, quickly smothered, followed by a swift series of semi-squelched snickers. This is ruthlessly repeated. You look up angrily and glare at her – a young person industriously – too industriously – perusing a page of the large Webster’s dictionary. She, of course, doesn’t venture to look up, and your justified glare is pitifully wasted. You go on with your interrupted work.
As soon as she thinks her untimely eruption is forgotten, you hear a cautious “Ssssss-.” Evidently the bit of information which caused the outburst is too choice not to be shared. Nothing happens, however. A louder “Ssssss-” in a suppressed stage whisper is heard. All your glaring is of no avail; she will not deign to look in your direction. Then you sigh with relief. She is leaving. You settle down to work.
But, alas, she returns; and oh, agony, she is followed by three friends. Three of them! They approach the dictionary. Our first acquaintance, giggling reminiscently, points to a certain spot on the fateful page, and watches the faces of her friends expectantly. She is rewarded. Gales of girlish laughter peal gently forth and permeate the room. The unappreciative stare of the librarian reaches its goal, and guilty silence results. Your stare still goes unnoticed – you’ll have to practice withering looks. At any rate silence finally prevails. Three cheers for the librarian!
But don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. Quiet giggles are slyly resumed. You look hopefully at the librarian; she is busy, oblivious.
Way down deep inside you begin hypocritically to wonder what the cause of all the merriment can be. Craning your neck, you make a mental note of the page at which the dictionary is open, secretly resolving to peruse the page when the pests have departed. But they do not depart. Gusty giggles continue to gush forth from the interested reader of the dictionary.
You groan, slam your book, quickly glare defiantly around at anyone who might object to your slamming it, and stamp out of the room – no term paper done, time wasted, and still ignorant of the laughter-provoking word.

-Dorothy Foulds, Page Editor for the Spilled Ink, class of 1936.


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We will never know if Dorothy learned of the offending word.

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The Spilled Ink Board industriously working on their term papers, perhaps?


After the retirement of our first President, Rev. Dr. George Whitney, the institution went through challenging times. The second President, Dr. Ferguson, spent five years improving the campus, programs, and social life of the school, but most of his hard work was invalidated by the Great Fire of 1899. While the Board of Trustees debated over rebuilding the school or abandoning its efforts, a new president was elected and the C.C.I. Day School carried on with the business of educating. With the decision made to rebuild, Charles W. McCormick, third President of Centenary Collegiate Institute, was given the demanding task of returning Centenary to its former glory.

Dr. McCormick in TGYCharles Wesley McCormick was born in New Prospect, NJ on December 14th, 1856. He graduated from Wyoming Seminary, Wesleyan University in 1881 (he received both his B.A and M.A there), Syracuse University in 1897 (D.D), and New York University in 1898 (PhD). He married Edith C. Mirteenes in Port Jervis, NY on October 5th, 1881. As an ordained Methodist Episcopal minister, he led many congregations in the New York and New Jersey area, coming to Hackettstown in 1898 (Who’s Who in New England). The following year he was hired to teach English and History at Centenary Collegiate Institute. He also held duties equivalent to a Vice-President and was in charge of the institute on occasions when the President was away. McCormick was a dedicated educator whose election into the faculty was hailed by both students and townspeople alike.

President McCormick portraitOn June 1, 1900, the position of Centenary Collegiate Institute President was officially passed on to Charles Wesley McCormick. He immediately began helping with fundraising efforts and working with the Building Committee. September 23rd, 1901 saw the opening day for the New C.C.I., although the new building wasn’t fully complete yet. Students worked “amid the din of saws and the pounding of hammers” (Custard, 93). Dr. McCormick also saw to it that a Sub-Preparatory program was added to the curriculum, so that in addition to the 4 literary courses the school offered, there was a preliminary year of instruction for those students who required it. He also improved cultural subjects, like art. Students at the time enjoyed rich academic, athletic, and social lives. According to his daughter, Josephine McCormick, “they had weekly socials (no dancing, of course), picnics, hay rides, and in winter skating on the canal. There were literary programs and debates. There was a good football team, fair baseball and track teams. Tennis courts were used by both girls and boys” (Custard, 95).

Dr. McCormick’s presidency was short, lasting from 1900 to 1902. During those two years, he dealt with challenge after challenge. After the 1899 fire, many students found places in other schools and chose not to return to Centenary. McCormick focused much of his time to raising money for the rebuilding of Centenary and on reaching out to potential new students. Then, over the Christmas break, Hackettstown was hit by a smallpox outbreak. Students were told to stay home. After six weeks, the school was allowed to reopen, but again several students did not return. Ending the 1902 school year with a substantial debt, Dr. McCormick found himself very discouraged. He felt his talents lay with teaching and governing, and with no expectation of doing either, he requested to be released from his contract to take another appointment. His contract ran until July 10, 1902, but he was permitted to leave April 1, 1902.

After he left Centenary, he returned to the ministry and again led several different congregations in the area. His ties to Centenary remained strong, though, and his daughter Josephine attended and graduated from Centenary Collegiate Institute in 1913.

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Dr. McCormick authored a small book with uplifting passages for shut-ins, aptly entitled “Little Messages for Shut-In Folk”. Sadly, Charles Wesley McCormick passed away shortly after this book was published, on October 19, 1920, in East Orange, New Jersey (“General Necrology in 1920”).


Custard, Leila Roberta. Through Golden Years: 1867 – 1943. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1947. Print.

“General Necrology in 1920.” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Almanac. Vol. 2, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1921, p 451.

Hack Yearbook, C.C.I. 1913.

“Little Messages for Shut-In Folk.” The Methodist Quarterly Review. Vol. 69, No. 1, Smith & Lamar Agents, 1921. Also the author of a small book with uplifting passages for shut-ins. LINK LINK 2

Who’s Who in New England, edited by Albert Nelson Marquis, A.N. Marquis & Company, 1909.