Photograph

SILVER SERVICE TEA SETS

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the charter of Centenary University, the library archives staff is highlighting some of the less well known items in the archives—in this case, silver service tea sets from the early days of Centenary.

The collection includes a total of thirteen pieces from three different tea sets, each with its own distinct pattern or floral design. Altogether, there are four teapots, four sugar bowls, three creamers, and one serving tray.

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Birthday

Teapots and Silver tray used during a birthday tea

Two of these sets were likely used for “family-style” meals in Centenary’s dining hall and for informal teas held by senior class advisors such as Miss Breckenridge or “Brecky” as she was affectionately referred to by the students. While these more relaxed teas were held in the parlors and “taught some of the graces young ladies should have,” formal teas were also held throughout the early 1960s by President Seay (Custard, 1945, p. 236). These monthly birthday celebrations were held in The President’s House and surviving photographs offer a glimpse into the social culture of Centenary at that time. Photographs also reveal that one of the sets included a second teapot; the location of this item is currently unknown and was possibly lost in the fire of 2015. See and learn more about The President’s House here.

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The third tea set belonged to Ruth Scarborough—the first director of the Taylor Memorial Library—and boasts an impressively etched “S” on each of its five pieces. While all pieces have a hexagonal base, the set’s two teapots of differing size are unique in their wooden handles. Ruth Scarborough worked at Centenary College from 1946 to 1982. See and learn more about her here.

 

Custard, L. R. (1947). Through golden years: 1867-1943. New York, NY: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc.

CURRENT LIBRARY PROJECTS

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The fall color of the Japanese Zelkova.

The library staff has been working on a project to update Trees of Centenary, a 1990s dendrological* survey done by Dr. Lewis Parrish, the former department head of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at Centenary.

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The tree cataloger and photographer consult the original Trees of Centenary.

Parrish’s book is a compilation of every tree on the Centenary campus, but that information is over twenty years old. The archives staff have taken on the task of updating Trees of Centenary to reflect the  foliage of the current campus. So far, the project has created an inventory of all trees on the north side of campus, including most of the trees listed in Dr. Parrish’s book. The south side of campus will be more challenging as there was no survey done of these trees, and complete identification will have to be done from scratch.

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An excerpt from the rough draft map of the Jefferson Lawn, south side.

How is this task being accomplished? First, every tree in Trees of Centenary was listed and separated by location. The campus was broken down into sections, and each section was given its own hand-drawn map. Then, staff members took the book and the maps and made, well, a mess (see the rough draft map at right). Each tree was numbered, plotted, and matched to a tree from the book. This proved to be difficult because some of the trees mentioned in the 1990s survey are now gone, claimed by disease or death, and new trees have been planted since the survey’s publication.

Realizing a more orderly system was needed, the rough draft map from each portion was input into excel spreadsheets, which became the basis of our new interactive map!

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The fall color of the Green Ash.

This map shows the location of each tree and includes a description and photos, just like the original Trees of Centenary. 

There is still much to be done, and the library hopes to have the entire campus cataloged by Spring 2017. During the winter all the evergreens will be recorded while the remaining deciduous trees will be classified in Spring 2017. Staff will also be taking pictures of the trees in each season. This year’s fall color went by too quickly, but there’s always next year!

*Dendrological: adj., Having to do with the botanical study of trees and other woody plants.

TO MRS. MONTELL

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Facsimile of Oscar Wilde Photograph

“To Mrs. Montell, my uncle’s old and loved friend from Oscar Wilde, January 26, 1882, Baltimore, Thursday.”

Many items have been donated to the Taylor Memorial Library over the years but not all of them seem directly related to telling Centenary College’s history. A number of items in the archives were donated by faculty, alumni, or other members of the Centenary community, so there are many objects that once held personal significance to the donor, or were donated by someone with personal significance to Centenary. This photograph of Oscar Wilde, presented to the college in 1958, is one such item, seemingly out of place among the yearbooks, class photos and other ‘Centenariana’ stored in the archives.

It came to Centenary College through Dr. H. Graham DuBois, a member of Centenary’s faculty for 33 years. He was a poet and playwright like Wilde, an English professor at Centenary College for Women from 1929 to 1963, and the Chairman of the C.C.W. Division of Humanities from 1947 to 1959. The Mrs. Montell of the inscription was his grandmother, Mrs. Charles Montell, who had been a friend of Wilde’s uncle, Ledoux Elgee.When Wilde visited Baltimore on a lecture tour of America, Mrs. Montell invited him to tea as a courtesy to a family friend. He accepted her invitation and later sent the photograph to thank her.

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Dr. DuBois, left, and Dr. Seay, president of the college

Dr. DuBois donated the framed photograph of the English poet and playwright to the college in 1958. It was displayed in the library for a while but was eventually placed in the archives for preservation.

“Dr. DuBois Gives Picture of Oscar Wilde to C.C.W.” Spilled Ink 25 3 1958: 1. Print.