Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day: The Official Story

2014 will be the 20th year of displaced St. Patrick’s Day festivities, and the University Archives blog is marking the occasion by reviewing the official origins of an unofficial celebration.

WPGU staff pose for the camera during the Shamrock Stagger Found in RS 41/8/805, 1996, p. 314
WPGU staff pose during the Shamrock Stagger
Found in RS 41/8/805, 1996, p. 314
(c) 1996 Illini Media Company

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A Tributary Runs Through It: Engineering’s Boneyard Creek

"Where the Boneyard Flows," 1905, Record Series 0/1/804.
“Where the Boneyard Flows,” 1905, Record Series 0/1/804.

Just north of Engineering Hall is a 3.9 mile-long creek which has, for better or worse, figured in the lives of students, faculty, and staff at the University of Illinois. Though a familiar site on the Engineering campus, current students may pass by Boneyard Creek giving it little thought. Around the turn of the 20th century, however, freshmen may have looked upon this small tributary of the Salt Fork Vermilion River with a degree of trepidation. A 1905 song parodies some of the anxieties the creek affected on new students at the university:

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Glee and Mandolin Clubs, 1889-1921

This post is based on the “University of Illinois Glee and Mandolin Clubs, 1889-1921” exhibit currently installed at the Urbana Free Library for the 5th annual C-U Folk & Roots Festival, November 1-2, 2013.

Mandolin and Guitar Clubs, Illio, 1898

Mandolin, banjo, and guitar clubs were wildly popular beginning in the late 1880s. They sprang up across the country and quickly became trendy with college students.  The Mandolin and Guitar Club at the University of Illinois–alternately known as the Mandolin and Banjo Club, and the Mandolin Club over the years–organized in 1889 and was one of the oldest university musical organizations, outranked only by the Band and Glee Clubs.  From its inception, the Mandolin and Guitar Club united with the Glee Club in one management association for concerts. These clubs constituted a central part of student life and served as the musical representatives of the University of Illinois.  The whole group frequently spent university vacations on the road performing, meeting alumni, and raising funds. Continue reading “Glee and Mandolin Clubs, 1889-1921”

Arthur H. “Mike” Mason

Mason poses during a track meet. RS 41/20/230

In a 1937 News-Gazette article on the “past glory of Illinois track teams,” legendary Illini track coach Harry Gill named Arthur H. “Mike” Mason one of the best runners and fiercest competitors he ever witnessed. Gill recounted how Mason lost his shoe during a two mile race in 1915. Despite attempts to flag him down to prevent injury, Mason kept running and finished in the lead, setting a new Big Ten and Illinois record with a time of 9:42 2-3. After helping him to the locker room, Gill recalled how “a bloody sock was removed and the whole callous of his foot dropped off with it. That run was the greatest exhibition of courage I have ever witnessed.” [1] Mason bested this time on several occasions, and his records of 4:18 and 9:33 for one and two mile races stood until the 1920s. [2] Continue reading “Arthur H. “Mike” Mason”