Whitney Hale

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College: Libraries

A Day in the Life of a UK Student: June 3-5, 1912

Published: Jun 3, 2016

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 3, 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 239th, 240th and 241st diary entries dated June 3, 4 and 5, 1912, recall decorating the gym for an event, a bad turn in a friend's illness, and the business of the day before Commencement, including a job offer.

 

June 3. Monday. Jack calls for help to decorate the gym. and Alma, Jessie Mit, Cora, Addie, and I spend the morning at work. We cover numerous lattice work affairs, and are nearly through putting the wisteria on when in Ms. Stout marches and demands to know how we came by all the decorations! Jack explains — we sit and await results, she says she’ll send for what remains, and after she’s gone we see that few are left. Jack was so mad — oh my! Mr. Ramsey said he happened to remember that the class of ’11 paid for half of those things.

 

In the afternoon Addie tries to sleep but cannot. Then her dress comes and we take it back to be refixed. Later we go over to see the gym. Everything looks grand, and everybody has a grand time. Mary and I have the blues and go to town for some salted peanuts — also take in a picture show — bum and get back at ten o’clock. We can’t get anybody to answer the door and have a time getting in. I spend the night with Jessie Mit and Emily again, and can hear the music as plain as anything.

 

June 4. Tuesday. In the morning I go over and get Louise’s Annual. Everybody, nearly, has left and Patt Hall is just too lonely. After dinner Jessie Mit and Emily go with me to express the Annual, then we go to the Post Office, Library, Campbell-Hagerman, Hamilton, T.U., Hughes and get too tired for words. After supper Addie, Emily and Annie Louise and I go to a picture show.

 

Irene was taken to the hospital just after lunch, and is awfully ill all afternoon. Everybody is so distressed and when we hear that she must be operated on at once we cannot think of anything else, so Mrs. Barker’s reception is called off It is such a relief when we hear that the operation is over and she stood it well. Poor Irene! She has to miss everything of Commencement.

 

When we get back from the picture shows we went back to the kitchen and got some of the delicious cream that was to have been used at the reception. Irene is doing nicely and everybody is so happy about it.

 

When Addie and I go up the stairs we find that Jessie Milton has been in and left us a lovely waist apiece — exactly alike, and she did the work on them right before our eyes and we never dreamed what she was doing. We thought she was working on one for herself all the time!

 

Inserted next to McClure's June 4, 1912, diary entry is a small card that reads, “To Virginia, With love in every stitch from Jessie Mit.” The card accompanied a piece of clothing that likely resembled a wide sash or cummerbund which was to be worn at the waist.

 

June 5. Wednesday. Class Day! Bernice comes in time for the “doings.” We go to the Lunch Stand for breakfast, and later meet on the campus and march to the tent. It was all good, even if Mr. Galloway did give me a lemon squeezer as my gift! Judge Barker gave the boys the cigars which he had gotten for the reception and Addie and I got the seals from Jack’s

 

Inserted next to her June 5, 1912, diary entry, McClure included a cigar seal and a program for Class Day. Also she attached a telegram of a job offer that reads:

 

80 L RA 28 N L 1 Ex

Middlesboro Ky June 4-12

Miss Virginia McClure

                                            State University      Lexington, Ky.

Will you accept position as the first assistant in our high school at salary of seventy five dollars per month for nine months what branches are your preference.

MO Winfrey

 

I get a telegram and am a little scared at first, but not for long. Prof. Noe says “Take it!” After Class Day is over we take some pictures in caps and gowns, and then go to the car with Bernice. Lots of “families” have come to see the Commencement exercises. Alma, Lily, Annie, Louise, and I sit in the yard until lunch and talk about everything in general. In the afternoon Annie Louise, Addie, and I go to town and “shop” all kinds of stores and when we come back Addie, Jessie Mit, and I decide to go to the banquet.

 

Also inserted next to the June 5, 1912, diary entry is a program for the Senior Annual Banquet held by the Alumni Association.

 

The Dean, Babe, Cleo, Addie, and Jessie Milton, and I go to the Alumni Banquet, and have such a good time. The Dean, Babe, Prof. Miller, Prof. and Mrs. White, Addie, Jessie Mit and I are at the same table. The eats are dandy and we all get [illegible word] at Monk. The toasts were all fine. Judge Barker tells the T.U. man whose toast was just fine that he’s like the potato — or rather T.U. is — his best end is under the ground!

 

The banquet hall was full, and lots more came for the dance, but we didn’t stay. It was one o’clock when we got back to the Hall, and we were all tired and sleepy.

 

Another item is inserted here with the June 5, 1912, diary entry. The typed note reads, “Miss Virgie: May this be the ‘Commencement’ of great prosperity in your chosen field of labor, is the sincere wish of your friend, M.J. Goodwin.”

 

 

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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