Today is my last day at Taylor Memorial Library and Centenary University. I have been writing this blog for 8 years and working at TML for over 11. It’s a sad day for me.

One of my favorite things about working at TML was the Archives. I loved learning about the history of the school and the area, looking at old pictures, and seeing how the school has grown and changed. I also loved knowing that I was part of the process of preserving that history. Along with the Archivist, I made inventories, organized and cataloged items, and tried to put the Archives Room in order. I also worked on digitizing and uploading files to our DSPACE digital repository. There were displays, programs, and opportunities for explaining and teaching our students about the university’s history.

I’ve learned so much about Centenary, and I’ve loved sharing it with people, whether it was in person or online. I’ve enjoyed writing this blog and creating a digital record of some of our projects and history. I only wish I could keep writing it. I wish I had time to finish the last three blog posts that are running around in my head. I expect that I will continue thinking of things in terms of Centenary for a long while after I’m gone- when I think of the 1910s I will definitely think of the things that happened at Centenary then, and the fact that it was called Centenary Collegiate Institute. I guess that happens when you devote yourself so fully to a ‘thing’, whatever that thing may be.

It’s my hope that my successor has as much of an interest in history as I do, and the willingness and eagerness to learn and impart that knowledge. If that is the case, I hope to see more posts about the history of the school and the projects they’re working on, as I’d love to continue to see the Archives and staff grow and develop. For now, I’m signing off from the Taylor Memorial Library Archives Blog. It’s been amazing.

As always, Wendi Blewett


In July of this year, we dedicated a post to the Nursery School of Centenary Junior College. In doing research for that program, we discovered the story of Louise Omwake, professor of psychology (among other subjects) at Centenary from 1933 to 1943. It was she who developed the Nursery School, which at the time was also interchangeably called a Laboratory School or Kindergarten. That Nursery School was actually one of the country’s first early learning centers. During her time at Centenary, Omwake was listed as a teacher of English, Education, Psychology, and Bible Studies. Her dedication to the fields of Psychology and Education were lifelong pursuits: as a member of the U.S. Department of Education, she organized the first White House Conference on Education in 1956 (Grauert). This post will merely touch upon the amazing life she led as educator, psychologist, and adventurer. Read on!

Louise Omwake was born in 1907 and educated in Washington, D.C. (Grauert). She attended George Washington University and as a student took part in a “Sleeplessness Test” where participants were tested on the psychological and physiological effects of sleep deprivation.

The participants of the GWU Sleeplessness Test. Back row (left to right): Lester Marshall Petrie, William Middleton, Alice Louise Browning Middleton, Thelma Hunt, Fred August Moss, and Watson Hiner Monroe. Front row (left to right): Alice Haines, Robert Spencer Ward, Katherine Tait Omwake, and Louise Omwake. Photo from the Science Service Collections of the Smithsonian Institute Archives.

At different points of the test, the students played baseball, parallel parked the car they were driving around, and took intelligence tests (LaFollette, Part 2). While a student at GWU, she was a star athlete and even won a cup for Best Athlete (Grauert). She graduated with her Ph.D from George Washington University in 1931 (LaFollette, Part 1).

From The Fleur-De-Lis

After coming to Centenary Junior College in 1933, she started the Nursery School. The ‘demonstration Kindergarten’ was located in North Hall, now called Reeves Hall. She also developed an “honesty test” which was administered to 198 Centenary students over the course of 6 years. A study was published in School and Society in 1939 but a copy of the article could not be obtained for this post. A write-up in Time magazine mentions that “students were most likely to be dishonest in their school work” to which Dr. Omwake commented that the “traditional school curriculum…may promote dishonesty” (Honesty Test).

While a professor at Centenary, she took a schooner voyage across the Pacific Ocean! The voyage took place in 1941 and she later wrote a memoir of the adventures (and misadventures) of the crew of the Invader as it traveled from California to Hawaii and back. The preface to that book was written by Ruth E. Grauert, a Centenary student of Omwake’s from 1933 – 1935. Omwake was her high school English teacher (Centenary offered two programs at the time: a 2-year high school level program and a 2-year college level program). Grauert’s preface includes a number of facts about Louise Omwake’s time after Centenary:

She did editorial research for Time and counseled returning veterans under the G.I. bill.  She married Andrew Eckerson and took time out to help rear his three young daughters. Her ventures resumed when she went to work in the D.C. school system and the U.S. Dept. of Education.  She organized the first White House Conference on Education. By now you know that Louise was a remarkable human.  At 99 years of age her curiosity and activism had hardly diminished.  She was living in Mitchellville, Maryland, until her death shortly after her 101st birthday.

She became a researcher for Time magazine after leaving Centenary and spent 14 months confirming facts before realizing she missed psychology (Kolarek, p 4). Dr. Omwake was an educational/vocational counselor at Stevens Institute, served as a reviewer of works in Psychology in prestigious Psychology journals and later became a Specialist in School Personnel Services for the US Office of Education in the Department of Education, Health, & Welfare (now the Departments of Education and Health & Human Services). She authored over 25 publications on humor, school psychology, and elementary school guidance and counseling (Louise O. Eckerson). Grauert stated it simply and perfectly in her preface to Voyage of the Invader: “Louise was a remarkable human”.


Louise Omwake’s book, Voyage of the Invader:

The schooner itself also has an impressive history:


Grauert, Ruth E. Preface. Voyage of the Invader, by Louise Omwake. Bearnstow Journal, Accessed 1 November 2021.

“Honesty Convenient.” The Fleur-De-Lis, Sept. 1939, p 3.

“Honesty Test.” Time, 19 Jun. 1939, pp 46-46.

Kolarek, Frances. “At TIME Magazine during World War II” The Collingtonian, Sept. 1993, pp 3-4.

LaFollette, Marcel Chotkowski. “Science Service, Up Close: The Sleeplessness Study, Part 1 – Insomniacs.” Smithsonian Institution Archives, 18 Aug. 2015,

LaFollette, Marcel Chotkowski. “Science Service, Up Close: The Sleeplessness Study, Part 2 – Adventurers” Smithsonian Institution Archives, 20 Aug. 2015,

“Louise O. Eckerson,” obituary. DC-Fifties, Accessed 1 Nov. 2021.


“1936, Centenary’s Nursery School.” The Hack, 1936.

“1941, At the helm of the Invader.” Omwake, Louise. Voyage of the Invader. Bearnstow Journal, Accessed 1 November 2021.

“2005, Louise at 98.” Preface. Voyage of the Invader, by Louise Omwake. Bearnstow Journal, Accessed 1 November 2021.

“Honesty Convenient.” The Fleur-De-Lis, Sept. 1939, p 3.

Participants in the George Washington University “Sleeplessness Test” weekend, August 14-16, 1925. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accessed 1 Nov. 2021.


Halloween is upon us!

The early traditions of Halloween celebrations at Centenary can be found in the 1905 Hack yearbook, where “Hallowe’en” was celebrated with autumnal decorations, a costume contest, and musical and vocal performances by the students. Dancing was not allowed, and early events were either socials or performance-based. Between 1900 and 1910 a Salamander Celebration was held immediately following the Halloween festivities (more info on the Salamander Celebration here).

The Mum Dinner of 1959

After the school became an all-girls’ school in 1910, a ‘Mum Dinner’ was held on October 31st, where everyone – students, staff, and faculty – was required to stay silent. The dining hall was adorned for the season, either with autumnal decorations or with ghosts, skeletons, and goblins. Anyone who accidentally spoke would be required to stand and either give a toast or apologize. The Mum Dinner was a tradition for decades, and in the 1960s the student newspaper gave the rules for the evening. Certain students would walk around attempting to get someone to talk or laugh, and “the penalty for talking during the meal is sitting atop a ladder placed in the middle of the room and singing a song, reciting a poem or story, or some other form of entertainment” (“Best Hat wins…”). A Hat Contest coincided with the Mum Dinner, where students were tasked with making a ridiculous looking hat at no cost – first prize was $5.

“Tillie was here”, 1989

The Junior Class also began hosting a Halloween Party in the 1910s, with a costume contest and performances. The 1918 Hack Yearbook tells of a delightful Mum Dinner, followed by a Halloween Party with ‘prize dances’, fortune telling, and a contest for the most humorous, prettiest, and most original costumes. Costume parties and dances continued throughout the years. Different organizations on campus also took to hosting the Halloween events, including the Student Government Association, the Student Activities Council, and the Commuter Council. Halloween Bashes, theatrical retellings of the murder of Tillie Smith, and history walks were also popular over the past several years and were open to both the Centenary and Hackettstown communities.

A Halloween dance, 2001

This year Centenary has several Halloween activities scheduled! They had a spooky snack cart earlier in the month where the students could make an edible pumpkin patch (a cup of pudding, crushed Oreos, and pumpkin candies). There was a scary movie night and pumpkin painting, and the culmination of the October/Halloween programming is a trip to the 13th Hour Haunted House!

“Best hat wins monetary prize.” Spilled Ink [Hackettstown, N. J.] 26 September 1962, p.1.

Centenary University. (1905). The Hack [Yearbook].

Centenary University. (1918). The Hack [Yearbook].

“Halloween Bash Scheduled at Centenary College.” Centenary Cyclones, 17 Oct. 2014,

“Tillie Smith just in time for Halloween.” Advertiser-News North, 19 Oct. 2017,


One major responsibility of the Archives Staff is digitizing archival materials and making them accessible to the campus community. A dilemma we encounter when doing this is how to name the images and documents we’re digitizing. Adding to that issue is a networked drive with thousands of items that were added prior to the current digitization efforts. These items are not all named or dated – some were added directly from a camera and still have file names like DSC05865 while others are named and dated but are incorrect. There was also no standard naming convention. The process of both creating a naming convention that covers all facets of Centenary University’s history and renaming EVERY file is a huge undertaking, and one that will take potentially hundreds of hours.

A naming convention serves many purposes: to be able to find files easily, to be able to organize files in a drive, to accurately describe a file and differentiate between other files, and to maintain a naming system that persists over time. Our archival naming convention is constantly being tweaked as we come across new categories and subcategories, but for now we have 6 main categories for images: Academics, Athletics, Campus, Events, People, and Random.

Academics covers all general academic photographs, including in-class photos, clubs, organizations, and societies, theatre, and anything related to an academic program.

Athletics includes all general athletic photographs.

Campus photos are split between general campus photos and specific buildings.

The Events category is a large one, with commencement, alumni events, and on- and off-campus events.

People is separated into 5 subcategories: Multiple or unknown people, Centenary Presidents, Staff and Faculty, Students, and Visitors.

The last category, Random, is so named because the pictures within have little or no context to be able to place them in one of the other categories.

This naming system is very helpful for figuring out where to store an image and will help us in retrieving them from our virtual storage. Our categories for documents have not been finalized, but for now a possible system will be based on what the name of the institution was at the time the document was created. Centenary has gone through many name changes over the years (from Centenary Collegiate Institute to Centenary Junior College, then Centenary College for Women, Centenary College, and now Centenary University) and in some ways this creates obvious categories for us to start with. We may decide to store documents by type (publication, course catalog, internal documents, blueprints, etc.,) or we may decide to create a hybrid system – it all depends on what documents we have already in our digital storage, as well as what we digitize along the way.

Every naming convention is unique to the collection it describes, and while ours works for us, it may not work for another institution. It would be interesting to see how other libraries and institutions organize their digital files!


The Archives Staff is putting together new displays of Centenary University history for cases in Alumni Alley, a section of the Lackland Center. The Lackland Center, which also houses the cafeteria, two theaters, classrooms, dance studio, and the radio station, is located on the southeastern side of campus. Alumni Alley holds three large display windows that always feature some aspect of Centenary history. Previous displays include recipients of CU awards, departments on campus, and dedications to returning classes.

This year the windows will highlight the class of 1972 and Arden Davis Melick, class of 1960.

The class of 1972 are celebrating their 50th anniversary, and the window will include programs and other items from that year, as well as some general history from the year 1972. In 1972 there were 300 Bachelor of Science degrees and 232 Associate of Arts degrees conferred, where in 2021 we had 15 Doctoral degrees, 119 Master’s degrees, 287 Bachelor’s degrees, and 5 Associate’s degrees.

Arden Laird Davis, 1960 Senior Yearbook Photo

Arden Davis Melick’s window will highlight her many contributions to Centenary over the years. Although this post intended only to write a small mention of each window’s theme, it was obvious after some research of Melick that more of the post should be dedicated to her; she truly led a fascinating and full life. Melick, born Arden Laird Davis, was a graduate of Centenary College for Women, class of 1960, and demonstrated a love and support of Centenary that seemed only to grow over the years. Her mother, Bernice Spies Davis, was a graduate of Centenary Collegiate Institute, class of 1931, and a past president of the Centenary Alumni Association. While at Centenary, she was a member of many organizations: the Spilled Ink newspaper, Orientation Committee, Book Club, Student Council, and Senior Class Vice-President. She was also a member of Phi Iota (the honorary leadership society), Phi Theta Kappa (the National Honorary Scholastic Fraternity for two-year colleges), and sorority Theta Epsilon Nu.

After graduating from Centenary with an Associate of Arts, she kept up the pace, furthering her education, marrying, and starting her career. Her primary career was in corporate communications, but she was also a freelance writer, publishing several books. Her many works include Wives of the Presidents, A Taste of White House Cooking, The Presidents: Tidbits & Trivia, and Dolley Madison, First Lady. The library has a number of her books in its Archives. She is an inductee of the New Jersey Advertising Hall of Fame and was a President of the Advertising Club of New Jersey.

She became the Centenary Alumni President for the class of 1960, was the president of the North Jersey chapter of the Centenary Alumni Association, and in 1973 she became a member of the board of Trustees. A few years after that she was elected to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. In 2000, she became a member of the President’s Circle, and the 2000 Centenarian also noted that Melick had been recognized as one of 125 Distinguished Alumni. She was Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2016, and became Chair Emeritus following her tenure as Chairman.

Arden Davis Melick passed away in January of this year, 2021.

The window displays were installed in Lackland in a few days ago. Hopefully we can do justice to these people of Centenary.

“In Memory of Arden Davis Melick.” Norman Dean. Accessed 28 July, 2021.


The Nursery School, Children’s Corner, Kindergarten, Preschool, Laboratory School – it held many names over the years. It began in the mid-1930s as a laboratory school for Early Childhood Education and Psychology classes. An early mention of the Nursery School was included in the 1936 Hack Yearbook, as a kindergarten conducted by the Psychology Department.

1936 Hack Yearbook

The development of the Kindergarten is due to the work of Louise Omwake, professor of Centenary Junior College from 1933 to 1943. She taught a number of subjects at Centenary, including Education, English, Bible Studies, and Psychology. She established the nursery school as part of her Child Psychology class. Omwake received her Master of Arts degree from Columbia University and a Ph.D from George Washington University. She was an impressive and remarkable person, with a long history of work in Psychology. Her story will be shared in a future post.

The 1937-1938 Course Catalog for CJC includes a 2 semester course of Child Psychology, which included “practical application of theories in a nursery school and a kindergarten which are in operation for several months in the college. The students are the supervised teachers of music, handwork, games, etc.” A demonstration kindergarten was set up in North Hall, which is now called Reeves Hall.

1962 Nursery School Graduation

In 1944-45, Centenary reorganized its programs, giving Kindergarten or Nursery School its own program. The nursery school was also moved to a room in Trevorrow Hall. 1950 found Psychology offering a 2 semester course on Nursery School Education and Practicum. The first class covered the principles of early childhood education and the second arranged for students to observe and assist in the “Centenary Nursery”, located now in Lotte Hall. Classes required for Nursery School Education included Child Development, Curriculum and Program Planning, Methods of Teaching, and Observation and Practice Teaching.

The children in the Kindergarten Program attended their very own graduation, with caps (no gowns) and diplomas! In 1956, the Nursery School was relocated to Brotherton Hall, then a newly-built student dormitory. By 1967, the nursery school occupied half the space of one floor of Brotherton, held morning and afternoon sessions, included a playground adjacent to the building, and had a full-time director.

1979-1980 Course Catalog

In the mid 1970s, Nursery School Education became Early Childhood Study, and then Early Childhood Education. With a change in Education Certification laws in 1976, the Early Childhood Education program was dropped, and the Kindergarten/Nursery School was redesigned as a daycare.

It was renamed the ‘Centenary College Children’s Center’ in 1982 and was housed entirely in Brotherton Hall until 1983. That year, two of its three programs moved to Dalton House, a school building on Hatchery Road. This was to allow for the expansion of its offerings, which at that time included a daycare, preschool, and kindergarten. The daycare and kindergarten moved to Dalton, while the preschool remained in Brotherton. Dalton House was later moved across campus and is now the building that houses Facilities.

1993 Centenary Viewbook

Over the years, the Children’s Center was overwhelmingly successful, caring for and teaching the children of local citizens and Centenary students, faculty, and staff. It remained in service until 1999, when the decision was made to close the center. The school had to decide whether to focus on the interests of the students, or on the community service it provided. To ensure Centenary’s growth, they decided to close, alerting parents in December of 1998 that the Center would close at the end of the 1998-1999 school year. The decision was met with anger, of course, but the school needed to concentrate on improving the existing services and programs of its students. The school was no longer offering a degree in Early Childhood Education, and so had few or no students who needed the opportunity of teaching in the Center. However, there once was a time when you could see the toddlers and preschoolers of Hackettstown proudly wearing t-shirts that said “I go to Centenary College!” It would be amazing for the Archives to have one of those t-shirts, but alas, all we have are the memories.

This post was written with research compiled from decades of Yearbooks, student newspapers, and course catalogs. These are all available on our digital Archives page at Check it out!

The Bulletin of Centenary Junior College, 1937-1938. Centenary Junior College, 1937.


This is a very sad month for the staff at Taylor Memorial Library – our beloved director, Maryanne, is retiring! We are heartbroken that she is leaving us. She’s been at TML for over 25 years!

Maryanne began working at Taylor Memorial Library as a part-time Technical Services Librarian in 1995. In 2007 she became a full-time librarian as the Supervisor of Technical Services. She was promoted to Assistant Director of Library Services in 2012. Following the departure of the previous director, she became Interim Director in 2018, and Director of the Library in 2019. Taylor Memorial Library thrived under her guidance, and the staff became a tightly knit family.

Ruth Ellen Scarborough
Ruth Ellen Scarborough

This got us thinking about other Library Directors that have worked at Taylor Memorial Library, specifically Ruth Scarborough. She and Maryanne were very similar. They both dedicated their lives to libraries, the search for knowledge, and the students of Centenary. Learn more about her here:

Ruth Ellen Scarborough was the first director of the Taylor Memorial Library after it opened in 1954. She worked at Centenary College from 1946 to 1982, nearly four decades! Her planning and guidance helped shape the library into what it is today.

Ruth Scarborough came to Centenary College in 1946, when it was an all-girls school called Centenary Junior College. She brought with her a B.S. in Education from Marywood College and a B.L.S. from Syracuse University, and earned her M.L.S. from Rutgers University while at Centenary.

Before Taylor Memorial Library was built, the college library was located in the Main Building, what is now called the Seay Administration Building. Shortly after Scarborough joined the staff at Centenary, the college administrators decided to update the library. Preliminary plans called for an addition to the existing library, but that idea evolved into the decision to build a new library, separate from the main building.

The college chose New York architect Jan Hird Pokorny to design the new building. After the initial plans were proposed, dozens of blueprints were suggested, altered, and discarded in favor of newer and better designs. Scarborough and Pokorny corresponded for over three years, exchanging letters filled with ideas and suggestions about the most suitable library design for Centenary Junior College. Miss Scarborough had well-defined ideas for the library and offered the architect input on everything from the building’s layout to the materials used for library furnishings. Her diligence ensured that the new library would meet Centenary’s needs.


Ruth Scarborough left her mark on the college through more than just the new library. Thanks to Miss Scarborough, Centenary Junior College’s library had its shelf list published in 1953 as an example of a model collection in the “Standard Catalogue for Junior College Libraries” (Remembering…). This was quite an achievement; only three libraries in the country were chosen for the catalogue. Ruth Scarborough was also class advisor for the classes of 1959 and 1966, and the 1959 Yearbook was dedicated to her.

Outside of Centenary College, she was an active member of statewide and national library committees and educational evaluation teams. The following is a partial list of her accomplishments:

  • The American Library Association (ALA): Secretary (1949-50), Vice Chairman (1951-52), Chairman (1952-53), and Director (1954-57) of the Junior College Libraries Section
  • The Association of College & Research Libraries: Executive Board (1964-68)
  • The New Jersey Library Association: two-time President (1951-52 and 1962-63) for the College and University section
  • Junior College Library Standards: member of an ad hoc committee which prepared guidelines for two-year college libraries
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools: served on numerous evaluating teams
  • consultant to several two-year colleges and the American Library Association
ruth posed2

Miss Scarborough remained at the college thirty-six years, retiring in 1982 as director of the Taylor Memorial Library Learning Resource Center. She was honored as Professor Emerita in library science upon retirement. She received the Van Winkle Award for her service to the college in 1991 and an honorary doctor of letters degree in 1996.

Scarborough was also active in the Hackettstown community. She “held prominent roles in several civic groups in the Hackettstown area” (Remembering…). She was also a volunteer librarian at the Hackettstown Community Hospital, a member of the hospital auxiliary, a founder of the Hackettstown Historical Society, and a member of the Panther Valley Ecumenical Ministry. In 1988 she was inducted into the Hackettstown Senior Hall of Fame, an organization established by the Hackettstown Regional Medical Center to recognize senior citizens who have made a “significant impact on the lives of others…through volunteerism” (HRMC Seniors).

Ruth Scarborough with her nephew, journalist and author Chuck Scarborough.
Ruth Scarborough with her nephew, journalist and author Chuck Scarborough.

She loved reading and traveling, and took a world tour by airplane in 1960. She visited “Hawaii, Japan, Formosa (Taiwan), Hong Kong, the Philippines, South Vietnam (Vietnam), Cambodia, Thailand, Bali, Singapore, Burma (Myanmar), India, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Turkey, Greece, and Italy”(Returns). Ruth Scarborough passed away on December 12, 2001, but will always be in the “hearts and minds of the members of the Centenary community who were fortunate enough to know her” (Remembering…).

She loved reading and traveling, and took a world tour by airplane in 1960. She visited “Hawaii, Japan, Formosa (Taiwan), Hong Kong, the Philippines, South Vietnam (Vietnam), Cambodia, Thailand, Bali, Singapore, Burma (Myanmar), India, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Turkey, Greece, and Italy”(Returns). Ruth Scarborough passed away on December 12, 2001, but will always be in the “hearts and minds of the members of the Centenary community who were fortunate enough to know her” (Remembering…).

“HRMC Seniors.” Hackettstown Regional Medical Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan 2015.<   &nbsp;


“Remembering Librarian and Professor Emerita Ruth Ellen Scarborough.” Centenary College AlumniUpdate Spring 2002: 7.


“Returns From World Tour.” Tribune [Scranton, PA] 21 Sept. 1960, sec. D: 34. Print.


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!