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Our Playbook on OSU History

Who is this OSU Mystery Man? A diary reveals his identity

profile2What if you diligently kept a diary during your college days, noting all of the social and intellectual ups and downs of life as a student? The people you dated, the classes you took, the places where you had fun on and off-campus, and more. That’s the kind of thing you would want to hold onto, either for future family members or just to remind you of times past.

But what if you either forgot or intentionally left your name off of the diary? Maybe you figured you would always keep it close, so why bother? Maybe you didn’t want outsiders knowing it was you who wrote it.

Then something happens or maybe a series of things, and you and the diary are separated somehow. Consequently, no one will ever know that it was your life depicted on its pages.

Or will they? Last fall, a woman called the Archives to say she had attended an auction and had bought a box of random discards from people’s lives for a few bucks. Inside was a diary, and its original keeper appeared to be associated with OSU. She wanted to donate it.

Once the Archives received the diary, we put our tenacious student assistant, Belle Teesdale, on the trail of determining who the writer was. She found out all kinds of things:

1. It was a young man who had some extended family in Harrisburg

2. He was a member of Phi Kappa Psi and somehow related to the Triangle fraternity

3. He took classes at OSU but also attended Dartmouth University

4. He had a very active social life, attending plays and movies, going out to dinner at the Neil House and other Columbus landmarks

Diary_inside5. He was a bit of a “player,” in the modern vernacular: He seemed to go out with a lot of women during the diary’s five-year span. Even so, he was sometimes on the losing end of break-ups.

6. He traveled quite a bit, going west to California and across the ocean to Europe at different points.

Eventually, Belle figured out who it was, and so will you, after a series of tweets and Facebook posts over the next few weeks giving diary entries as clues. We start with this blog because it turns out the OSU Mystery Man was born on February 22, 1912 – 103 years ago, as of yesterday. We’ll end the series next month on March 20, revealing his identity and the larger picture of his life as an OSU student and beyond.

Dreaming Big

anniversary_emblem_fullsizeWe dream big at the University Archives and we need your help. We’d love to digitize the old alumni magazine, historical film, and maybe even all our football photos. But our dreams often come face-to-face with reality. How can we do it?

As part of our 50th anniversary celebration this year, I am pleased to announce our campaign to create a University Archives’ endowment. By giving to the University Archives, you can help us get closer to our dreams. Our endowment will allow us to fund special projects, provide unique staff professional development opportunities, and hire additional students.

Plus, your donation can go twice as far. Through the generosity of long-time supporter Paul Watkins, we have the opportunity to match up to $25,000 in order to reach our goal. Please consider participating in Paul’s challenge by contributing to the University Archives this year.

So please consider joining Paul and other contributors to the University Archives. And help us make some of our dreams come true.

Orton Hall Chimes have struck the right chord with Buckeyes for 100 years

Orton Hall Bell Tower, 1995For 100 years, students making their way across the Oval have been serenaded by the Orton Hall Chimes – 12 bells that have become an integral part of the OSU experience for many in the University community. They were delivered to OSU on Feb. 11, 1915, after the classes of 1906, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’13, and ’14 banded together to purchase the bells for roughly $8,000. (The class of 1912, apparently a group of nonconformists, decided to donate a mantel piece to the Main Library).

The dozen bells, together weighing roughly 7 ½ tons and all tuned in D flat, were installed over the following weeks. According to a “Contract for Chimes” signed by the Board of Trustees with the manufacturer, the McShane Co., the bells were to be made out of Lake Superior copper (about three-quarters) and imported East India block tin, and they were guaranteed not to crack. At Commencement that year, the Chimes were officially dedicated, and also that year, a new organization called “The Chimes Club” formed to take charge of playing melodies at 11:50 a.m. and 4:50 p.m. daily. Chemistry Professor W.L. Evans noted at the time that it was “expected that the advent of the chimes will create a new interest in college music at OSU.”

Orton Chimes before installation, 1915

Orton Chimes before installation, 1915

A few years later, the classes of 1919 and 1920 purchased an automatic striker for the bells to mark the time of day, and by 1949, the bells were renovated and an electric clock device was installed so the Chimes would ring on the quarter hour and the full Westminster Quarters melody would play at the full hour.

Allen McManigal, 1920s

Allen McManigal, 1920s

Meanwhile, the twice-daily serenades were still done by hand. Four faculty members – including Evans – traded the duty of climbing the 80-some steps twice a day to play the serenades in the Chimes’ early history. Later, an engineering drawing professor, Allen McManigal, took charge of the Chimes, playing them himself or supervising music students to do so. His direction continued for more than 25 years until his death in 1950; later, Music Professor Wilbur Held, an organ music specialist, supervised students. In the 1960s, these students, called Chimes Masters, were paid $25 a week for the responsibility of making it to the top of the tower in time to play such songs as “June is Busting Out All Over” on especially dreary or snowy days. In addition, “Carmen Ohio” was played during the football season, as well as carols during the holidays.

After roughly 60 years of ringing, the chimes needed a little tune-up, so the Class of 1978, in conjunction with OSU, made a $28,000 repair to the bells in 1985. A year later, a more modern electrical system was installed to automate the serenades as well, although an electric keyboard also was installed, making it much easier and less laborious to play by hand.

Orton Hall bells, 1985By 2003, two new bells were installed, this time chiming at G sharp and A sharp. This $12,000 addition enabled the Chimes Masters to have much more a variety in songs to play, which was often a complaint made by students over the years. These new notes could now play songs like “America the Beautiful” and “The Buckeye Battle Cry.”

On Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, the Ohio Staters, Inc., will host a 100th-anniversary celebration event at Orton Hall from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event will feature remarks by President Drake, refreshments, a display of related artifacts and tours of the tower. For more information go to the Staters’ Facebook page.

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