Whitney Hale

By

College: Libraries

A Day in the Life of a UK Student: June 2, 1912

Published: Jun 2, 2016

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 2, 2016) In celebration of the University of Kentucky sesquicentennial in 2015, UK Special Collections Research Center began releasing the diary entries of former student Virginia Clay McClure in fall of 2014. The diary chronicles the day-to-day activities of McClure's junior and senior years at the State University of Kentucky (now UK) from 1910-1912. McClure's 238th diary entry dated June 2, 1912, recalls the excitement surrounding the baccalaureate service on an especially hot day.

 

June 2nd. Sunday, and the Sunday of our Baccalaureate sermon. We all look very dignified in our caps and gowns, with high collars and white gloves. The boys begin to come in bunches and stand about the lawn in funny, embarrassed looking groups, waiting to go to church. Nearly everybody comes around to our room, and everybody you see says, “How nice you look!” while you stand there and feel like an idiot instead of a dignified A.B.

 

Finally the long procession starts, Tom Earle and I at the head, and we make a slow march to the Christ Church Cathedral, arriving just exactly on time. Alas! We have to march clear up to the front seat, Tom Earle and I, Hattie and Anna Louise! “When in Rome, do as Rome does”, but how can you tell what Rome is doing when it is all behind you? I never got so amused with myself trying to do the right thing, and hot! Oh my! Yes! Hot! Hot! Hot! The sermon was splendid as I knew it would be. Afterwards Addie and I walked slowly back to old Patt. Hall, and every Senior we see says “Were you never so hot?” and we never were.

 

In the afternoon I copy Addie’s prophecy. Then I spend the night with Jessie Mit and Emily, because my R.M. goes off for an automobile ride and spends the night. Irene is still very ill.

 

 

More on Virginia Clay McClure

 

Virginia Clay McClure, a native of Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, graduated in 1912 with an AB degree and received her master’s degree in 1928 from UK. After receiving her AB, she taught for a year at Middlesboro, Kentucky, another year at Paducah, Kentucky, and seven years in Cynthiana, Kentucky. After this, she returned to Lexington, where she taught for nine and a half years in the Fayette County schools. At this point, she took two and a half years off of work to complete her doctorate.

 

The first woman to receive a Ph.D. from UK, McClure said that her department chairman did not “want a woman to get a doctor’s degree.” In spite of those words, McClure received her doctoral degree in American history in 1934.

 

Her dissertation was “The Settlement of the Kentucky Appalachian Region,” about which “nothing had been done before.” McClure did significant original research for the dissertation and made several trips to Eastern Kentucky with Katherine Pettit, who had taught in settlement schools, including Pine Mountain School, which she helped to establish. 

 

McClure planned to teach at the college level but after finishing her dissertation in the midst of the depression, colleges were laying off faculty rather than hiring them. She then joined the Fayette County School system, then Lexington City Schools, and taught United States history and government at Henry Clay High School from 1934-1959. A position that she found quite rewarding.

 

The UK alumna and educator was very active in the community. McClure was a member of Central Christian Church and Kappa Delta Pi Honorary, Kentucky and National Retired Teachers associations, Salvation Army Auxiliary, Cardinal Hill Hospital Auxiliary and numerous historical societies. She was also a charter member of the Lexington Rose Society, twice serving as president, and was a member of the American Rose Society.

 

McClure passed away in 1980 at 91 years of age.

 

The Virginia Clay McClure papers are housed at the Special Collections Research Center and include a diary/scrapbook, a photograph album and other assorted photographs related to McClure's time as an undergraduate at State University, Lexington, Kentucky from 1910-1912. The scrapbook includes clippings, small artifacts, programs and invitations, but the bulk of the material is McClure's many personal writings. The photograph album and loose photographs also document this time period and include photographs of her UK classmates (many of whom are identified and also mentioned in her scrapbook); class trips and events (such as Arbor Day); and women playing basketball among other casual snapshots.

 

This story on UK's history is presented by UK Special Collections Research Center. UK Special Collections is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckiana, the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press, the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center, the Bert T. Combs Appalachian collection and the digital library, ExploreUK. The mission of the center is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

 

Diary transcriptions completed by senior Taylor Adams, Special Collections Learning Lab intern and history major from Ashland, Kentucky.

 

 

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uk4ky #seeblue

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716; whitney.hale@uky.edu

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