New Database of Newspapers Added to Our Collection

America's Historical Newspapers

The Academy Library has just added a new database to its collections.  “America’s Historical Newspapers, 1690 – 2000”  is a NewsBank, Inc. database that includes primary source articles covering topics in government, politics, social issues, culture, literature, discoveries, inventions and more from hundreds of primary sources. Includes news and eyewitness accounts of events, issues and daily life in the colonies or during the Revolutionary War, westward expansion, the Civil War, Reconstruction, industrialization, the Progressive Era, World War I, and other eras. Also included are illustrations, advertisements, classifieds, birth and marriage announcements, obituaries, stories about historic people and other articles exactly as they appeared in print. Let us know what you think!

A New Exhibit for Fall

We have a new exhibit up in the Library’s display area in Rockefeller Hall (we had previously mentioned it here in the blog as a possible show for last spring, but better late than never, no?).  The show’s title is “Gone but not Forgotten: Exploring Exeter’s Missing Past.” Made up mostly of scanned archival images, the show focuses on Academy halls, homes, and interior spaces that either no longer exist, or have been radically transformed over the years. Below are four images from the exhibit; we may post more in the weeks to come:

A Short Slideshow from the Archives

Using a new slideshow feature that WordPress recently introduced, we thought we would share some images of the Third Academy Building from the Archives. Before it was lost to fire in 1914, it occupied the same space as today’s Academy Building, but was built from far more flammable materials. While not much survived the conflagration, we have images to remind us how lovely it was.

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Abraham Lincoln in Exeter

Come by the library to see our current exhibit honoring the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s visit to his son at Exeter in March 1860.   On display are a selection of books and photographs illustrating a few of the many facets of Lincoln’s life:  the frontiersman, the family man, the inventor, the politician, the Commander-in-Chief, champion and defender of the vulnerable and oppressed.   

Included in the exhibit is a letter from Robert Todd Lincoln to his mother, written December 2, 1860, shortly after his father’s election as U.S. President.  On a visit back to Exeter during his first year at Harvard, Robert wrote, “Dear Mother – You see I am back at Exeter and I feel very much at home…..Tonight we are out to tea which will wind up our fun, as we have to commence study again tomorrow.”  He fills her in on other general news and continues, “I have a couple of friends from St. Louis who are going to the inauguration after vacation is over and I have invited them to stop at our house on their road.

Balancing studies and social life, inviting classmates home for a visit – in some ways life at Exeter has changed very little over the past 150 years!

Also on display are commemorative postage stamps and coins on loan from members of the Academy community and photographs of Exeter-born Daniel Chester French and his work, which included the famous seated statue in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.  One of French’s first public commissions was the Minute Man Statue in Concord, Massachusetts; later in his career he sculpted others whose names are well-known locally including entrepreneur and philanthropist Ambrose Swasey, lawyer and politician Amos Tuck, and lawyer and statesman Daniel Webster (PEA Class of 1796).

The Lincoln exhibit will be on display through the month of April. 

Three Scrapbooks Given to the Archives

Student scrapbooks often reflect aspects of student life that are not well represented in any other way.  The Academy Archives has a collection of nearly seventy student scrapbooks, dating from 1838 to 1972.  Since the beginning of this academic year, three more scrapbooks have been given to the Archives.

Mr. Norris Guansey “Norry” Nims, Class of 1931, presented a scrapbook that he maintained from Fall 1927 through Spring 1931.  Of particular interest was his mention of an epidemic of German measles at Andover during the winter of 1928/29.  Mr. Nims also presented a number of photographs that he took while he was at Exeter, along with an official transfer to Exeter of copyright to the photographs. 

Mr. Edward M. Lamont, Class of 1944, presented a scrapbook that was maintained by his father, Mr. Thomas W. Lamont Class of 1888.  His scrapbook contains numerous invitations, programs and record of events that took place from the fall of 1884 through June 1887.  Of special note are five mounted 8” x 10” photographs, and a receipt for $22 for his tuition for one term ($20), and his gymnasium locker fee ($2).  The Archives also has six letters that he wrote to his parents while at Exeter from a previous gift.  Mr. T.W. Lamont served as a trustee from 1917-1946 and as president of the trustees from 1935-1946.

Mr. Michael Creem, Class of 1949, purchased another interesting scrapbook on eBay and presented it to the Archives.  This scrapbook, maintained by Percy C. Rogers from early 1928 through early 1937, contains numerous clippings, programs, telegrams, invitations, notes, letters and photographs.  Some items refer to Academy athletic events, while other items document events and organizations in the town of Exeter.  Mr. Rogers taught French and Spanish at the Academy from 1923 to 1966.  In 1943 he was appointed chairman of the Academy’s first public relations committee.  For many years his well-prepared press reports kept the public informed of happenings at the Academy.  There were already in the Archives twenty scrapbooks that Mr. Rogers maintained from 1943 to 1954 while serving in that capacity.
Please click on the images below to see larger versions.

Astronomy Celebrated in our New Exhibit

Stars Over Exeter posterOur new exhibit on display in Rockefeller Hall is a photo-history of astronomy here at Phillips Exeter Academy, ranging from the days prior to observatory construction to the present day. The range of studies has taken students from snow covered fields in winter, to domed observatories here and at professional facilities in Arizona.

2009 marks the anniversary of two important events: the first use of the telescope as a scientific instrument to study the skies by Galileo Galilei, and the 20th anniversary of the Grainger Observatory’s construction. To mark the former, the International Astronomical Union has declared 2009 the International Year of Astronomy and is hosting celebrations around the world to promote astronomy and astronomy education.

In October of 1989, the Academy opened the Grainger Observatory, the culmination of a dream held by the first observatory director, Dr. Chris Harper, who envisioned students making astronomical observations in a setting permanently established for the purpose. It was a huge leap from the days of bringing small telescopes out onto a snow covered roof of the then science building (now the Academy Center).

Now twenty years after the construction of the Grainger Observatory, the facility houses three domed observatories, a solar telescope, library, and digital Harkness classroom. The observatory has been keeping up with the ever present technological changes over the years: from film to electronic CCD cameras, manually operated telescope mounts to completely robotic and remotely operable observatories.

Used by the Academy’s three astronomy courses and the summer school program, the observatory is also open to the public and surrounding community on a regular basis. Local elementary and high school visits are common, as well as requests from researchers at colleges and universities around the world.

The Story Behind KEP House

An early KEP logo
An early KEP logo

Walking past 8 Elliot Street, you may have noticed an Academy sign that reads “KEP House” and wondered what KEP signified.  Are K-E-P perhaps the initials of some administrator or alumnus from Exeter’s past? The answer can be found in the Academy Archives in the pages of old Exeter Bulletins and PEAN yearbooks.  Here one discovers that KEP stands for Kappa Epsilon Pi and that the building at #8 was the home of the KEP fraternity, one of 6 fraternities that existed at Exeter about 100 years ago. 

The history of the fraternity system at Exeter is an interesting story that reflects some of the social changes that have occurred at the school.  In the 1870s, when many students lived in town homes, several “secret” societies were formed by students at Exeter as a way for them to gather and socialize.  Because these societies began to pose a discipline problem, Principal Fish abolished them in 1891.  However, in 1896, Principal Amen lifted the ban on these groups and allowed fraternities to form once again with closer faculty supervision.  Eventually, there were 6 fraternities—Phi Epsilon Sigma, Kappa Epsilon Pi, Kappa Delta Pi, Kappa Beta Nu, Alpha Nu, and Phi Theta Psi—each of which rented rooms in various homes near the Academy. 

Finally, in 1942, the faculty voted to close all fraternities.  By this point, all Academy students were housed in dormitories, providing more opportunities for friendships and social interaction.  There had also been an increase in the number of clubs and student organizations.  The house in which KEP met on Elliot Street was purchased by the Academy in 1944 and is today a faculty residence. 

The KEP Fraternity in 1934
The KEP Fraternity in 1934
KEP House today
KEP House today