All things Ohio State
To celebrate University Archives’ golden anniversary, its staff selected 50 treasures that help tell Ohio State’s story.
They may look like worn boots or commonplace notebooks or shabby hats to someone else. But to us, they are heirlooms. They tell of our studies, our social lives, our sports, our research and so much more. They fill 17,000 boxes and include more than 2 million photographs. This treasure trove of Ohio State memorabilia is found at University Archives, a one-of-a-kind repository that has preserved our institutional memory for five decades. Click the items below for the stories behind them.
Tamar Chute, Michelle Drobik and Kevlin Haire of University Archives selected and described these items.
Take a peek for yourselfUniversity Archives will host an anniversary party and open house from 4 to 7 p.m. May 14 at the facility at 2700 Kenny Road. Come take a tour, participate in a hands-on experience with unique artifacts and watch rarely seen historical film footage. For more information about the event and to discover ways to support University Archives, visit go.osu.edu/archives50.
The Morrill Act of 1862, which led to the establishment of Ohio State and other land-grant colleges, required the teaching of military science. From 1880 to 1970, Ohio State’s male students took two years of military drill courses. In 1941, John Naddy ’48 purchased this uniform for $28. It came with two blue dress shirts, white gloves, a canvas belt and a black tie.
Many researchers have made tremendous advances using simple experiments. Professor Wilbur E. Stuckey’s “Convincer” offers one example. It’s essentially a crude model of a vehicle’s interior showing the consequences of not wearing a seat belt. Inside the box, an egg is placed on a seat attached to a spring. When the spring is released, the seat hurtles down the track until it hits a wooden stop. If the egg isn’t held down on the seat, it goes flying and breaks. With a seat belt, it remains secure. Stuckey, a farm equipment safety specialist, built this model in 1960, some 20 years before the first seat belt laws.
The often-elaborate, handmade scrapbooks students created in the 1920s illustrate college life, campus culture and social norms of the time. This scrapbook, belonging to Reginald James Woodward ’25 DDS, shows activities, people and places that filled his time at Ohio State. He included personal notes from friends, ticket stubs to dances and games, and photos with his friends in front of Ohio Stadium.
Launched in 1970, just months before the spring demonstrations that shut down campus for two weeks, Our Choking Times promised better coverage of the black campus community than the student newspaper, The Lantern. The university-sanctioned student organization often challenged the administration on what it saw as disparities in housing, course offerings, faculty representation and other issues affecting African American students. In 1982, the publication, by then a monthly, changed its name to Dimensions to reflect the abundance of viewpoints among black students. It continued publishing until 1998.
The first official mascot appeared in 1965 as an ad-hoc endeavor. Students Ray Bourhis and Sally Lanyon created the first Brutus Buckeye from wood, chicken wire and other materials from a homecoming float. From there, the Brutus costume evolved to the current official outfit worn by students at campus events. This papier-mâché Brutus is thought to be from the early 1980s.
The university’s colors date to the first commencement. In 1878, members of the first graduating class chose scarlet and gray ribbons to be tied around their diplomas. (They abandoned their original choice of orange and black after realizing those were Princeton’s colors.) This tie was worn for the 1888 graduation ceremony. The use of scarlet and gray quickly expanded and now adorns jackets, T-shirts, hoodies, caps, dog sweaters and everything Buckeye.
Jerry Grundies, a first-string tackle under Coach Frances Schmidt, wore this during the 1938, 1939 and 1940 seasons. In 1942, he left Ohio State to serve in the U.S. Army Infantry, where he was stationed in North Africa and Italy for four years and earned the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. After returning home in 1946, he worked in sales for 30 years.
Nearly 30 years after his death in 1987, Hayes remains a revered figure at Ohio State, having led his football squads to five national championships over his 27-year career. This simple spiral notebook — the playbook from his last season as coach — featured diagrams of formations, reminders of points he wanted to make to assistant coaches and things to emphasize at team meetings, such as “Get to bed early tonight,” “Start fast” and “Never let up.” It was not sheer luck or natural talent that made Hayes so successful. In his speech at the 1986 winter commencement, he shared his strategy regarding those who were smarter: “They couldn’t outwork me,” he said.
Ohio State has worked with farming communities in a formal way since 1909. County extension agents, serving as rural teachers, made farm visits to share information and practices for soil development, crop production and livestock as well as horticultural and home projects. Known today as OSU Extension Service, this resource continues to benefit the agricultural community and some urban targets. Extension service professor M.V. Bailey owned this case, thought to be part of a 1920s soil testing kit.
Students majoring in dairy science and technology practiced various production techniques and sold the products in Ohio State-branded cartons through the university dairy. They produced a daily average of 77 pounds of butter and 75 gallons of milk. At one time, the dairy — in the basement of Townshend Hall until 1952, when it moved to Vivian Hall — supplied milk and other products to dormitory cafeterias, the Ohio Union, the Faculty Club and University Hospital. It closed in 1973 after serving campus for 75 years.
Before intramurals, students took part in athletic competitions like Cane Rush as early as the late 1800s. Rival teams had to find and take possession of the rival team’s walking cane and move it across a goal line. The game was considered a ferocious competition since there were few rules and students wrestled each other to the ground. Students divided into teams based on class year, creating enormous groups battling each other. When William Oxley Thompson became president, he sanctioned the event and acted as judge. The ribbon shown is believed to be a judge’s ribbon. The tradition died out in the 1920s.
The original Student Union, now Hale Hall, was the first student union at a public university and only the fourth in the nation. Like its purpose today, the Student Union served as a place to gather in organized groups, study or pass the time by playing cards.
Other than The Lantern, there is no better physical representation of student life than the Makio. Originally produced by fraternities beginning in 1880, the Makio — Japanese for “Magic Mirror” — includes listings for student groups, faculty, classes, events and activities. The Makio evolved into a student publication that captured each year in the life of Ohio State. In the 1950s, issues ran nearly 700 pages and included indices of people and organizations.
Since the first commencement ceremony in 1878, when six male students earned degrees, university officials have handed more than 700,000 diplomas to graduating seniors. In the beginning, these documents were poster-sized sheets of sheepskin paper, with scarlet and gray ribbons attached so they could be rolled up and presented to each senior at the ceremony. This diploma shows the evolution to a more portable version with a handy case for protection.
The marching band existed in the university’s earliest days. In 1878, a drum corps of roughly 10 students was selected from the overall corps of military science cadets to play during marching exercises. The Best Damn Band In The Land Alumni Club donated this hat, worn by a band member about 1928.
The first issue of The Lantern student newspaper was printed in January 1881. At that time, it resembled a literary magazine with essays and other submitted writings. The editors promised to “represent the interests of our institution and student life as we find them.” That’s been the goal ever since. The paper serves as a tremendous historical resource with information about campus events, student cultural norms and other timely news. In 2009, The Lantern was digitized and can be found at go.osu.edu/lanternarchives.
During the first half of the 20th century, first-year male students wore beanies in the name of school spirit and class unity. The mandatory caps came with a set of rules, enforceable only by the junior men’s honorary, Bucket and Dipper. Students caught without beanies or found violating other rules for freshmen were thrown into Mirror Lake. Beanies were worn from Freshman Week at the beginning of the term to Cap Bonfire in June. Freshmen then took revenge on Bucket and Dipper during a two-day “war” — usually a tug-of-war competition across Mirror Lake.
The Department of Military Science purchased 24 horses for field artillery instruction in 1924 and allowed them to be trained for polo. The OSU Polo Association formed two years later, and polo became an intramural sport in 1927 and an intercollegiate sport in 1929. The games were played near Ohio Stadium for many years. Dr. Daniel C. Stearns ’45 DVM donated these mallets and boots, which he used in the early 1940s. Army officers couldn’t coach the team when World War II broke out, so the polo era ended.
William Oxley Thompson, Ohio State’s longest-serving president, guided the university from 1899 to 1925. During his tenure, enrollment grew from about 500 to nearly 13,000, the Graduate School and the OSU Extension Service were created and Ohio Stadium opened after a successful fundraising campaign. Nationally recognized as a leader in higher education and a minister for the Presbyterian Churches of America, he was known at Ohio State simply as “Prexy,” a beloved leader who often wore this top hat on walks across campus to mingle with faculty, students and staff.
When National Guardsmen shot and killed four students at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, college administrators across the nation closed their campuses for fear of similar incidents. On May 6, President Novice Fawcett ordered the closure of Ohio State, which lasted two weeks. Students, faculty and administrators needed a special permit to be on campus. This sign was posted to remind visitors that 15th and High was the only entrance. Several positive outcomes from the upheaval were the creation of the University Senate, the Office of Minority Affairs (now Diversity and Inclusion) and the Child Care Center.
Four counties — Franklin, Montgomery, Champaign and Clark — petitioned the first Board of Trustees to serve as home to the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. After 26 ballots, Franklin County won, and Neil Farm was selected as the location. The original land deed, dated September 19, 1870, sealed the agreement between the state of Ohio and six landowners, leading to The Ohio State University we know today.
In 1890, Ohio State faculty member Joseph Bradford pioneered photography instruction at Ohio State with the nation’s first course in “picture-making.” An avid painter, Bradford hand colored many of his photographs and created a collection of transparent images on glass — called lantern slides — that were used in the 19th and early 20th centuries for entertainment and education. The glass slides were projected onto a screen or wall by a machine called the “Magic Lantern.” He used this group of 172 slides for his “Campus Memories” talk. View samples of the slides at go.osu.edu/bradfordslides.
Each president puts a personal stamp on the university, and these artifacts often make their way to University Archives. During his two presidencies, from 1990 to 1997 and 2006 to 2013, Gee became the face of the university and known for his devotion to all things Buckeye. He wore these custom-made pants to football games and other celebratory events.
The Agricultural Experiment Station was founded in 1882 and led initially by William Lazenby, known for openly sharing information about new agricultural techniques with farmers throughout the state. In 1892, the facility moved to Wooster, Ohio, where it’s now the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. This poster from Farmers’ Week illustrates people coming together to learn new techniques. Farmers’ Week began in 1913 and became an annual event until the end of World War II. In 1962, it started again as the Farm Science Review.
This nurse’s cape — belonging to 1944 graduate Hilda Hartsook Wade — represents the changing views and roles of nurses. Ohio State’s first nursing program began in 1914 under the former College of Homeopathic Medicine and was hospital-based, with students working 10-hour days caring for patients, preparing their medication and doing laundry. Ohio State was one of the first in the nation to offer a curriculum for public health nursing. Nursing became a school in 1928 and a college in 1983. Over the years, the curriculum evolved to include advanced degrees integrating the science and technology of modern medicine.
These scissors were central to a renaming ceremony for Hale Hall in September 2013. Frank W. Hale Jr., the first vice provost of minority affairs, was hired in 1978 in response to student protests in the 1960s against unequal treatment of African Americans on campus. Upon his retirement in 1988, the Black Cultural Center at Bradford Commons was renamed in his honor. When Bradford Commons was razed in 2013, the university renamed then-Enarson Hall after Hale and combined the Hale Black Cultural Center, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Outreach and Engagement, and the Americans with Disabilities Act office in one place to better serve students.
Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College — as Ohio State was first known — opened September 17, 1873, and 24 students registered for classes in the Main Building. The students were all Ohioans, both men and women, and ranged in age from 13 to 24. The first non-Ohioan came from Iowa and arrived on campus in November that year. This Registrar’s Book, used until 1881, provided the only evidence of a student’s attendance. Details about each student included name, age, residence, registration date, parent or guardian, courses taken and whether the student passed.
This whiskey decanter was among many items that commemorated Ohio State’s centennial in 1970. Other highlights of the occasion: a birthday party and a cake that served 4,000 people, the crowning of Christina Lee McClain as Centennial Queen and the College of the Arts’ world premiere of “The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail,” a play by alumnus Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee.
Milton Caniff, a 1930 alumnus and famed comic strip artist, is credited with creating a school symbol that brought unity to Ohio State. Although the term “Buckeye” often was used to refer to Ohio State’s athletic teams and the state of Ohio, a representative symbol was missing. In 1930, after the Student Senate considered a deer, a moose and a ram as possible symbols, the matter was dropped. In 1950, Caniff proposed the five-pointed scarlet Buckeye leaf on a gray background, with the descriptor, “Not only is the Ohio Buckeye Tree identified with our state, but the leaf is a graceful representation of its towering strength.” The Buckeye leaf is widely used today.
Among the ranks of Ohio State alumni are several prominent artists. In 1929, Berthe Couch Koch painted this piece for her doctoral thesis, earning her the first fine arts doctorate ever granted by any university in the United States. After completing her degree, Koch led the fine arts school at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
From the 1870s to the 1930s, the university used inventory ledgers to meticulously track purchases. From the mundane (such as an Underwood typewriter for the Department of History) to the unusual (a hog skeleton for Animal Husbandry purchased for $45 in 1916), every single item’s existence, and disposal, has been recorded. In the early years, individual staff members purchased items since there wasn’t a central purchasing department. The Board of Trustees reviewed the invoices and approved them before the treasurer made payment.
All students are required to purchase class supplies such as dissection kits. This particular dissection set came with a list of supplies needed for Zoology 401-402 in 1929–30. According to the course bulletin, the courses were “intended to give the student a general view of the nature of animal life and point out its relation to man’s economic and social activities.” Zoology 401, a prerequisite course for several anatomy and entomology classes, was required for all pre-dental students.
The Horton Literary Society, founded in 1874, was dedicated to the “mutual improvement" of members “morally, socially and intellectually.” This society and its rival group, the Alcyone Literary Society (also founded in 1874), often participated in fiercely competitive oratorical debates — and also became known for playing practical jokes on each other. The Horton Literary Society, for example, often was blamed for blowing air into the gas pipe leading to the Alcyone Room in University Hall, which caused lights to flicker and go out. A few of the society’s brochures, shown here, show the formality of the groups and their impact on early student life.
During the Depression, the university looked for a way to help students who couldn’t afford traditional campus housing. Dean of Men Joseph Park found cooperative dormitories could be built underneath the Ohio Stadium stands, and the Stadium Dorm opened in 1933. Residents worked in the dorm in exchange for less expensive room and board. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited campus in 1938 and was impressed with the arrangement. This wooden paddle from the Buckeye Club in the Stadium Dorm is an example of the camaraderie that grew between residents living and working together. The large open barracks became traditional rooms in 1961, and the dorm closed in 2000.
Founded in 1911, the monthly humor magazine Sun Dial was at its best when it parodied campus life or lampooned publications such as the Lantern. Former staff members included such literary and artistic standouts as James Thurber, Milton Caniff and R.L. Stine. In 1944, President Howard Bevis wasn’t amused by an issue called “Filthy with fun” and suspended publication for a year. In 1945, the magazine resumed as Scarlet Fever, the new name creating an uproar and a return to Sun Dial in 1946. Although it appeared to be the end of the magazine — the last known paper copy was in 2011 — the current staff has created a humor blog.
As an advocate for Ohio State, Gov. Rutherford B. Hayes helped pass legislation that created the university. He chose the initial members of the Board of Trustees and served as a member. In May 1887, University President William Henry Scott sent a letter to Hayes and offered to resign if Hayes would become Ohio State president. Hayes declined, writing, “It does not for a moment enter into my imagination that I am qualified for the place referred to. Whatever I can do to hold up your hands will be most cheerfully done.”
Ohio State began teaching women’s golf in 1928 and hosted the first-ever intercollegiate golf tournament in 1941. Fourteen universities and colleges participated, and women traveled from as far away as Arizona, Florida and Massachusetts to attend. Helen Bumen was awarded this medal from the Women's National Collegiate Golf Tournament in June 1951.
Before computerization of the process in 1974, the Office of Payroll Processing kept a card for each university employee. Each tells a story. Edith Cockins, for instance, was the first registrar and served for more than 45 years in that role. Like other employees, her card noted changes in salary and benefits, her hire and retirement dates, and other positions she held on campus. This card shows that Cockins was born less than a month after Ohio State opened.
Lynn St. John received this tea set in honor of 25 years of service to the university. A student and football player in 1900, he withdrew because of finances. From 1912 to 1919, he coached baseball and basketball. He assumed additional roles, becoming athletic director in 1913 and director of physical education in 1915. He oversaw the opening of Ohio Stadium in 1922 and retired in 1947. On the day of his death in 1950, the public address announcer at Ohio Stadium said, “This stadium is a monument to the memory of L.W. St. John.” St. John Arena was dedicated in his name in 1957.
In 1899, basketball became the first organized sport on campus for women. Uniforms changed drastically over the years, along with attitudes toward women’s sports. Except for a brief period in the early 1900s, women were banned from playing intercollegiate sports until 1947. In 1965, Phyllis Bailey, then an associate professor of physical education, was named women’s basketball coach. Soon into her tenure she asked for uniforms for the team. In 2013, Bailey — who became the university’s first associate director of athletics for women’s sports — donated a pair of the trailblazing uniforms.
As early as 1915, Thomas French proposed building a new, larger stadium to replace Ohio Field. In 1919, the Board of Trustees agreed to the proposal and set aside land for Ohio Stadium, but expected private money to pay for its construction so state support wouldn’t be compromised. What ensued was the university’s first fundraising campaign. By 1921, $1 million had been pledged. After the campaign, these card files for subscribers to the Stadium Fund became the university’s first alumni database. Ohio Stadium opened in 1922.
Women have been members of the student body since the first day of classes in 1873. To help organize activities and advocate for a union and housing for women, the Women’s Council began in 1908. These two buttons are from 1923, when the council hosted the Middle Western Conference of the Women’s Self Government Association in Pomerene Hall. More than 400 delegates from around the country attended the conference. The Women’s Council, which eventually became known as the Women’s Self Government Association, ended in 1974.
The Office of the Physically Impaired opened in 1968 to help students and others with physical disabilities. In 1980, this office worked with the campus planning office to issue tactual maps for the visually impaired. Developed by a graduate student in geodetic science, the three-dimensional maps offered large type; buildings, streets and walkways in relief; and Braille symbols. President Harold Enarson and his wife, Audrey, advocated for those with disabilities and distributed their official holiday greeting card in Braille one year.
On the first day of classes, six faculty members — including President Edward Orton and Board of Trustees member Joseph Sullivant — met for the first time and arranged the hours and classes for the new Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. During the first month, faculty discussed details on curriculum, student progress, advertising and handling requests for students to “refrain from ball playing or other amusements in the college that may result in injury to the furniture.”
In 1903, the Varsity “O” Association formed to improve Ohio State’s athletic program and determine which student-athletes would receive the much-coveted privilege of wearing the Varsity “O” on their sweaters. The “O” was given based on varsity sport playtime or placement in track meets. As varsity sports increased on campus, so did the Varsity “O” awards. By the 1920s, they were presented for major and minor sports and to female athletes by the Women’s Athletic Association. In 1924, female athletes needed to achieve 1,200 points to receive the Varsity “O” sweater. This particular Varsity “O” sweater belonged to Ohio State tennis player Carl Dennison, a 1933 graduate. Jackets replaced the sweaters in 1958.
In 1873, when the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College opened, one building housed classrooms, a library, chapel, geology museum, the president’s office and — for a short time — living quarters for students and single faculty members. In 1892, this landmark was named University Hall. In 1969, it was deemed unsafe for public access and razed two years later, with some elements retained for the replica building (opened in 1976). The Ohio State Alumni Association, for one, sold the banister’s spindles as a fundraiser. John Herrick, campus planner, removed a chunk of the original banister as a historical keepsake. Okey Tolley, Herrick’s longtime assistant planner, donated the piece in 2014.
Ohio State has served as a temporary stage for famous artists. Painter George W. Bellows, a student from 1901 to 1904, spent much of his time participating in the Men’s Glee Club, on the baseball and basketball teams, and as art director of the Makio. The 1904 Makio, in particular, featured his cartoons and illustrations. This 1905 calendar shows sketches of student life on campus, including “The Varsity Girls,” with a female student in a Varsity “O” sweater, and “Fraternity Trouble,” showing a frat pledge sitting in a chair while fellow brothers chat and fill the air with cigar smoke. Bellows left the university in 1904 to study art in New York.
Olive Jones devoted her entire career to the university as its first full-time librarian, a position she assumed in 1893. The 1887 Ohio State alum earned her bachelor’s degree while working part-time for the library. Jones spent nearly 20 years trying to convince the administration to build a stand-alone library — the Main Library was then housed in Orton Hall, where the Geology Library is now located — and in 1913, the “New Library” opened. Jones retired in 1927.
In 1920, the first license was issued to start a radio station on campus. In 1922, the call letters WEAO were assigned to the station, a first in Columbus. Early broadcasts covered football and basketball games as well as music and other popular subjects. In 1933, WEAO became WOSU and eventually grew into WOSU Public Media, which now includes FM and television stations. WOSU sold its AM license in 2011.
Photographic technology improved by leaps and bounds following the launch of the Department of Photography in 1890. Motion picture film also made a major impact on how and what students learned. The 1960s saw considerable growth in the production of educational films, such as “Football as it is Played Today.” A collection of photography and cinema films at University Archives represents a shift in educating students and a new era in education, research and entertainment.