Over the years, Centenary University has had many supporters devoted to its success. Professor A. O. Hammond is no exception; he dedicated over forty years to Centenary as a teacher of Greek and Latin, stood by the school through its extreme highs and lows, and earned the respect of students and staff alike.

Professor Albert Overton Hammond

Professor Albert Overton Hammond

Professor Albert Overton Hammond joined the Centenary Collegiate Institute (CCI) faculty in 1878 as the head of the Classical Languages and Literature Department. He taught Greek and Latin, serving Centenary for forty-six years before retiring in 1924. A “scholar and gentlemen, [Professor Hammond] stood by CCI through prosperity and adversity, gaining the sincere respect and even reverence of generation after generation of CCI college preparatory students” (Custard, 63). In 1917, Hammond wrote the “History of the Centenary Collegiate Institute Compiled from Original Documents and from the Memory of Events Quorum pars parva fuit by Albert O. Hammond, A.M., during forty years a Member of the Faculty of C.C.I.”. Thanks to his manuscript, a great deal is known about the early years of Centenary. The book Through Golden Years describes Professor Hammond’s manuscript as a “priceless original source from which copious quotations have been made” (Custard, ix-x).

Professor Hammond was essential to Centenary’s success. When the school building was destroyed in the fire of 1899, the President and the Board of Trustees decided that the students and faculty would be dismissed until a new building could be constructed. Professor Hammond strenuously objected, feeling that the students should be able to continue their education uninterrupted. It was left to him to “open and conduct the school during the year 1900 – 1901…with the understanding that he should be financially responsible for the undertaking” (Custard, 89). He ultimately accepted the proposal. Thirty-four students remained in school, taking their classes in a rented hall and boarding with local families. Professor Hammond and recent Goucher College graduate Miss Hannah M. Voorhees each taught eight classes a day. Their hard work meant there would be no break in the continuity of Centenary’s history – no year without a graduating class.

postcard 47

While Professor Hammond taught classes in a rented hall, the new Main Building was being built.

The students of Centenary called Hammond their ‘Beloved Instructor’ and dedicated the 1906 yearbook to him. In 1940, he and his wife, who taught art at Centenary for twelve years, were honored with the Hammond Memorial Gates. A residence hall was dedicated in his honor in 1956 (it was located off the traditional campus, and was at some point sold). “Invariably too, alumni speak with admiration, even veneration, of Professor Hammond, the scholar and gentleman, dignified, kindly, serious, yet with a sense of humor.”

Here follows a letter of thanks to Professor Hammond from an alumnus of CCI:

“While I was at C.C.I., I never did very much with my Greek; I gave too much time to other things and especially foot-ball, but later I realized, as you told us one day in class, its inestimable value to tone’s education and from that time on I made Greek and Greek culture as much a part of myself as possible. So that during the war, serving for two years and four months as a Y.M.C.A. secretary, I was able to entertain and instruct the boys with many a pleasant Greek story; this was especially true during the time I was serving at the front. So you see that you too were serving unwittingly. I wanted you to know this and to thank you for all you have done for me, even though my gratitude is expressed rather late.”

Professor Hammond was greatly missed after he retired but long remembered by students and staff for his contributions to campus life.



This year marks the 150th anniversary of the charter of Centenary University! To celebrate, the blog will be highlighting past posts about Centenary’s history.

The school has evolved greatly since it started in 1867. Centenary Collegiate Institute, as it was known in the beginning, taught high school and college preparatory courses. There were two college programs – one for men and one for women. When the school opened in 1874, there were ten basic departments of instruction:


Read more about the original classes here!

After the Fire of 1899 destroyed the main building, Centenary ran a day school focusing on college preparatory classes while a new building was being constructed. The institute became an all-girls’ school in 1910, and in 1929 introduced a two-year college degree program. During that time, the College Preparatory School offered programs in general academics, Home Economics, and Music, and the Centenary Junior College was equivalent to the first two years of a standard college course. CJC did so well that in 1940 the Preparatory School was discontinued. The school remained a junior college until 1956, when it adopted the name Centenary College for Women. CCW offered a number of ‘pre-‘ college programs (pre-nursing, pre-occupational therapy) that would give students an introduction to a four-year degree. By the 1970s, the school offered a number of Associate degrees, as well as Bachelor degrees in early childhood and elementary education (B.A.), general studies (B.A.), performing arts (B.F.A.), and medical technology (B.S.).

The school changed its name to Centenary College and started admitting men. It also started increasing its four-year degree programs and introduced graduate degrees. The College is now a University and continues to expand its degree programs.




The library archives staff have been working on digitizing collections in the archives. Recently, our archives intern has been working on creating a digital edition of a book originally printed in the 1950s.


Printing Press in the Archives

The humorous print book is called “So This is Centenary” and while it may be small, it offers a significant look into the life of a Centenary student in the 1950s. Each page features an illustration of a scene these students encountered.

To create the digital booklet, the library archives is using a replica printing press. Many steps have been taken to recreate the book in the most efficient way possible. The original plates, which have been stored in the Archives, are rolled with ink and passed through the press to transfer the image onto a piece of archival paper. The archives intern printed two copies of each plate: one will be scanned for a digital record while the other is going to be used to remake the booklet. The culmination of this project will be a display using the reprints and a digital presentation of the booklet.


This year marks the 150th anniversary of the charter of Centenary University! To celebrate, the blog will be highlighting past posts about Centenary’s history.

Centenary University is lucky to have so many people devoted to its success – this is as true now as it was 150 years ago. Several of these people have been profiled in this blog, and here are a few that you might want to revisit!

150-03-the-peoplePresident George Whitney – Here was a man who devoted his whole life to the institute; he campaigned tirelessly for the school to be opened, was its first president (and served the school for 26 years in that capacity!) and even after retiring he still maintained a close relationship with the Centenary community. He was a member of the Board of Trustees and was also appointed interim president in 1902 after the resignation of President McCormick. As the Class of 1884 said about him, “Every student was uplifted by his splendid leadership and his patient willing service. He inspired the highest and best in us.” Learn about him here, here, and here.

George Denman – “His life is gentle, and the elements so mixed in him, that nature might arise, and say to all the world: This is a man.” He was Director of Athletics, Latin Professor, House Master of the Boys’ Dormitory, and advisor for the dormitory society Delta Lambda Pi. He can also be credited with helping start Centenary’s yearbook in 1904. Professor Denman had a short tenure at Centenary – from 1903 to 1910. The school became all-girls in 1910, but had the school remained co-ed it’s certain he would have been a devoted employee and friend for years to come.  Hear more about his accomplishments here.

Ruth Scarborough – The first director of the Taylor Memorial Library, she worked at Centenary College from 1946 to 1982, nearly four decades! She was instrumental in the planning and design of Centenary’s library, tailoring it (no pun intended) to exactly fit the school’s needs. Ruth Scarborough was also Class Advisor for the classes of 1959 and 1966, and the 1959 yearbook was dedicated to her. Learn more about her here.

Professor Lewis Parrish –  Parrish came to Centenary in 1959 and was a member of the school’s faculty for more than 3 decades. He was professor/department chair of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for several years and spearheaded a publication listing all the plantings on campus called “Trees of Centenary”. He was head of the Science Club and received grants to continue studying genetics and biology while at the college (it was still called Centenary Junior College then). He was also very active in student affairs, participating in Faculty vs. Student sports like bowling and softball and advising one of the sororities. “Trees of Centenary” is a current archival project – learn more about it here and here!


After the fire of 1899, Centenary was in need of a new administration building. Members of the Board of Trustees were determined to rebuild and asked several architects to prepare plans and bids.

The man who was eventually awarded the contract was Oscar S. Teale, a prominent architect of churches and homes in the New Jersey and New York area. To limit the damage fire might pose in the future, he separated the north and south dormitories (for young men and women, respectively) from the main administration building, which still stands on the same footprint as the original school. From Jefferson Street the optical illusion is of a single, massive structure taking up an entire block.


Oscar Teale was also very interested in magic and was a good friend of Harry Houdini. Teale has written books about magic, one of which is in the collection of Centenary’s Taylor Memorial Library. When Houdini died, Oscar Teale served as one of his pallbearers and also designed Houdini’s cemetery monument in Queens, New York.



Above: Oscar Teale, Harry Houdini, and fellow magician Julius Zancig.

Left: Oscar Teale, Harry Houdini, and Harry’s wife Bess Houdini exposing a practice known as slate writing. Mediums used this method to allegedly receive messages from the dead.


On December 1, 1900 the cornerstone of the new building was laid by Dr. Whitney himself. The old cornerstone of the original building was placed beside it, so today one can visit the structure and see not one but two cornerstones, one dated 1869 and the other 1900.

2 cornerstones close up.jpg

By September 1901 the new buildings were put into use, even though not all construction had been completed. Years later the main building would be named in honor of Dr. Edward Seay who served as eighth president of Centenary from 1948 until 1976. Today the Seay Building is included in the National Register and The NJ Registry of Historic Places. – CBB

Cox, John. (2014). Haversat & Ewing Galleries auction starts January 25. Wild about Harry.

King, Robert R. (2006). Houdini & Bess w/ Oscar Teale exposing slate writing fraud. Houdini Tribute.





This year marks the 150th anniversary of the charter of Centenary University! To celebrate, the blog will be highlighting past posts about Centenary’s history.

When Reverend Vancleve proposed the location for the new school he also predicted his friend would be the first president – and the friend turned him down! The friend was Reverend Dr. George H. Whitney, who did accept the presidency a few years later and became one of Centenary’s most dedicated agents. Whitney and the Board of Trustees worked tirelessly to raise funds for the institution and looked forward to seeing it on its opening day.

150-02-the-dedicationThe dedication ceremony was held September 9th, 1874 and brought an estimated 5000 people to Hackettstown. After the dedication, lunch, and President Whitney’s inaugural address, the new students were registered for classes. Then came dinner and the first chapel service. Then came the time for the students to dedicate themselves to learning, and the staff to dedicate themselves to encouraging learning.

There’s No Business Like Snow Business

Welcome back! After a long winter break, the spring semester is now underway and this January, albeit cold, is just not the quite the same as years gone by here at Centenary.  One major difference this winter: not much snow!

Over the years, Centenary has always been a place to embrace the spirit of the current season, and winter has never been the exception.  For all those of you missing the snowy weather this year…here is a tribute to the winters of Centenary past!

Snow sculptures were also a common winter activity on campus and contests were often held to choose the best. Pictured below are some of the winners over the years:


Spilled Ink, January 1954


Spilled Ink, April 1960


Has anyone taken any snowy pictures of Centenary this winter?   Share your winter pics with us on Instagram!    @taylormemoriallibrary