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Alanna Tuller | Archive Addict

Final fix

Published: Monday, December 10, 2012

Updated: Monday, December 10, 2012 15:12

As much as I’m trying to fight it, it’s time to face the facts: this will, sadly, be my final Archive Addict installment of the semester. Actually, scratch that; it’s been kind of exhausting to raid the Archives for a new story every week.

Don’t get me wrong; even though the Archives contain a lot of interesting snippets of information, in my opinion it’s pretty boring to write (and to read) a column which resorts to listing disjointed bits of trivia. It is much rarer to stumble upon a story that leads you through a variety of primary sources and time periods, providing a solid context for those fun facts that inevitably work their way into any history.

Thankfully, after an hour of fruitless flipping through random editions of the Tufts Weekly, I happened upon what I thought would give me a final Archive fix of the semester: the Ivy Book, a pocket−sized student handbook first compiled in 1902 and distributed to all Jumbos on the Hill. After I got my hands on our collection of century−old Ivy books and began to read the delicate old volumes, it seemed as if they only contained information concerning Tufts’ policies, student organizations, cheers and traditions. As I continued to scan the tiny volumes, however, I discovered that the Ivy Books also acted as daily planners with each edition containing a full, blank calendar in the back.

And, lucky for us, a lot of the Ivy Books in the Archives’ collections actually used to belong to Tufts students, who left behind rather humorous accounts of student life on the Hill a century ago.

One Ivy Book from 1906, bound in crumbling leather and embossed with an alligator skin pattern, had the word “TUFTS” emblazoned in gold across the front and the name “Ruth G. Butters” carefully inked on the inside front cover. It actually appears that Ruth Butters used her Ivy Book as a diary, and for the first month or so she left a detailed record in her daily planner: “Sunday, September 16, 1906: Pleasant, cool. Went to church. Tuesday, September 18, 1906: Pleasant, hot. Ironed and went to Boston. Wednesday, September 19, 1906: Pleasant, hot. Went to Boston and embroidered.”

It didn’t make any sense to me; how could someone have time to go gallivanting around Boston and fulfill the domestic goddess archetype when she was supposed to be a college student? Didn’t Ruth have papers to write and classes to attend?

Sure enough, the next entry cleared up my confusion:

“Thursday, September 20, 1906: Cloudy. Registered at College.” I guess Ruth bade her free time a fond farewell after signing up for classes, because the record leaves off a few weeks later on Oct. 3.

Then there is the 1921 Ivy Book of Leo R. Lewis, apparently a musical fellow who had Glee Club and Band rehearsals penned in his planner five days a week. Many of his scribblings were nearly indecipherable, however, both in terms of his handwriting and the meanings of his black−crayon jottings. I think my favorite entry is the space for Sunday, July 23, 1922, which very simply contains the following: “Alligator Wrench.” A close second is the page towards the back entitled “Memoranda” which reads “Prohibition has turned America into a Hippocracy [sic].”

Some students, however, actually used the Ivy Book planner for its intended purpose. One Virginia Drury filled her 1925 Ivy Book with innumerable sorority events and, after a particularly stressful week of tea parties at Alpha Omicron Pi and meetings at Sigma Kappa, she wrote something I think we’re all looking forward to once finals are finally over:

“Saturday, October 31, 1925: Home! Sleep!”

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Alanna Tuller is a senior majoring in English. She can be reached at Alanna.Tuller@tufts.edu.

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