Chowan Scrapbooks Capture Student Activities from 1920s and ’80s

A set of distinctive scrapbooks from Chowan University (née Chowan College) in Murfreesboro has just been added to our site. These scrapbooks span a long range of the school’s history beginning in the 1920s and then jump ahead to the 1980s.

A black-and-white photo of a group of students standing together outside and holding pendant flags. They are wearing long skirts and sweaters.
A photo from Chowan College Scrapbook [1924-25]

The oldest scrapbook of the collection shows a bit of Chowan’s origin story as a women’s college. Though it’s not a formal yearbook, someone took the time to write in the names of students, their home towns, nicknames, birthdays, ambitions, and happy memories of them. They even pasted a little picture next to some of their entries. For instance, Jewel Askew was from Lewiston, N.C., her friends called her “Juke,” her birthday was December 5 (she was a Sagittarius), and her ambition was to have a “rose garden” (unclear why that’s in quotes or what the hidden meaning there might be). She must have had some good times with the scrapbook’s owner, since one of them wrote beside her entry, “Dear pal, don’t forget the ireeb-eus [?] of Feb. 14-16, 1925.”

Two scrapbook covers. On the left is a wooden one with a black etching of Johannes Gutenberg and a printing press with the greet letters Phi Theta Kappa and Iota Delta. On the right is an illustration of a man on the surface of the Earth, squatting down, and meeting the reflection of his hand.
Covers of the 1982-23 (left) and 1981-82 (right) Phi Theta Kappa scrapbooks

The more recent scrapbooks are somewhat more legible, and it’s clear that the Iota Delta Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa had a dedicated artist on their side. The 1982-1983 scrapbook, which was encased in wood covers (approx. 2′-3′), had an etching of Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press.

You can see the full batch of scrapbooks here. To see more materials from Chowan University, you can visit their partner page and their website.

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