NC State University  | campus directory  |  libraries  |  mypack portal  |  campus map  |  search

Posts tagged: Alumni

Jul 17 2017

From Somewhere in France: Letters from Alumni in World War I

This illustration from the 1919 Agromeck commemorates the NC State men serving in the War (with blue stars) and those who perished in the War (gold stars)

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of U.S. participation in World War I, Special Collections News continues its examination of the impact that the war had on NC State students, faculty, and campus.  This post will look at letters sent from soldiers abroad published in NC State’s Alumni News.  Visit our previous post on NC State during World War I , as well as the posts by our colleagues at the NC State News blog, including one on alumnus Jimmy Higgs.

In 1918, the NC State (then “State College”) Alumni News began publishing updates on alumni and students engaged in the war effort abroad, including lists of who was in training and who was deployed.  A frequent section listed the State alumni stationed “Somewhere in France” – “somewhere” because exact locations were redacted for security reasons.  Frequently the Alumni News featured excerpts of letters sent home to family members, providing first hand accounts of life for these young men as they fought in a land with a different language and culture, that had already been at war for four years before the Americans arrived.  A sampling of these letters is below.

“The first thing that I noticed was the greenness of the landscape.  This struck me even before I landed.  Next are the peculiar chain-like docks or quays; then the buildings are all made of stone and modeled after some olden pattern (..) As to conditions in France they are not as bad as painted in American newspapers, except perhaps near the trenches where the enemy have overrun the French territory.  All through central and southern France hundreds of German prisoners work for their daily bread as though they were laboring men working for their daily hire. (..) When we get a chance at the ‘boches’ [Germans] the training we are getting should tell mightily.  Therefore since it is all for the cause, I can bear it, the drudgery, without grumbling.” – Alumni News Vol. 1, No. 4 February 1918

-Joshua Barnes Farmer, Jr. Class of 1919. Farmer was killed in action in France near Soissons on July 18, 1918.

“The American soldiers over here are in this world’s strife to win with this glad thought in mind; the Stars and Stripes have never known defeat and must not know it now.  We must and are going to win, if it takes the last man and the last dollar to do it.  If the American people could see the conditions, the expressions on the faces of these wonderful French people and know what they have suffered at the hands of the world’s enemy, they would not take our part in the war so hard.  Some of us will see it through and return to our loved ones, and some of us are to stay here and represent America’s part in the world’s war.  We are all contented and willing to sacrifice our all for this great cause.  When I get at the front I shall do my best and no one can do more and at present I would not return to the States if I could.  The part that the American women have undertaken is as important as the front line trenches and their sacrifices as sacred and as hard as those of their loved ones over here.” – Alumni News, Vol 1, No. 9, page 8.  July 1, 1918

-Edgar Exum Cobb, Class of 1919

“I’ve been through the tortures of hell in the last week.  I’ve been in a boche attack, and I’ve seen so much blood and dead men that I’m upset, but I came out of it all without a scratch, just by the grace of God.  I think He must have heard your prayers and answered them.  The boche bombarded our trenches for four hours and then used liquid fire.  I’m out for the first time for a while.  I haven’t washed for four days nor have I slept any, so I am all nerves just at present.

I think I must have held the family name up; I don’t know just what I did, but my captain has recommended me for a croix de guerre and I am to be decorated by the French officials in the next few days.  It’s all a mystery to me.  I’m rather mixed up on it yet, but hope to find out more later.” -Alumni News, Vol.1, No. 10, page 3.  August 1, 1918

-Pierre Mallet, Class of 1915.  Awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery.

“But did I hear you say heavenly wine – whoo! – goodnight! – If I were to tell you how they made wine here, you would be sick for a month.  Over here the people do not know what water is, for all drink wine – red, white, and all grades of it.  It is essentially a nation of wine. Sometimes I just wonder how they live.  It is interesting to know how it is made.  You know we have community creameries in the States.  Over here they have ‘community wineries.’ (..)

Something of the life we live here, did you say?  Well, frankly, it is mostly work.  We are building, preparing for the incoming boys.  But when duty is over we have much time for pleasure.  And here let me say that too much praise cannot be given to the Red Cross, Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A. for the valuable aid given to us. (..) I see hundreds of boys having good movies, good music, good wholesome fun of all grades.  Hundreds of boys are entertained there who might otherwise be be in other things.  In short, the Y.M.C.A. and kindred organizations are placing themselves between the boys and temptation.” – Alumni News, Vol. 1, No. 7

-Reuben L. Tatum, Class of 1916

“There are three things the English, French, and Belgians have us beat on, and that is farming, good horses and good cattle; and we could have these if we bred live-stock and farmed like they do.  America is the coming country, because there are such great opportunities for improvement.” - Alumni News, Vol. 1, No. 12, October 1, 1918

-Drew Sugg Harper, Class of 1915.  Suggs was a member of the army veterinary corps.

“Things are exceedingly quiet tonight – few heavy guns and rats to break the silence.  Trench life is great – that is, if one doesn’t weaken.  Very seldom, though, you see a State College man weaken, if any.

It’s very cold here now, but my dugout is very comfortable; plenty to eat, smoke, and drink.  Trench life isn’t so bad after all.” – Alumni News, Vol. 2, No. 1, page 1.  November 1, 1918

-Roney M. High, Class of ‘14

“My dugout at present is only of thin boards and should a shell happen to land here I would not be able to finish my story.  To make a dugout shell-proof, you have to dig thirty feet.  From the way the Boche are treating us tonight I have made up my mind to dig a real dugout.  At present it is 11 o’clock and the shells have been popping around us for an hour, and seem to increase.  The little fellows – that is, the one pounders – can do a great deal of damage, but when the ‘Mimmy Whiffers’ (our pet name for them) get near, we hunt the deepest place we can find.  They strike the ground, bore about ten or fifteen feet, then blow up the whole hill.”

“The cooties are here all right and can bite like blazes.  The other pets are rats, and they are all kinds and sizes.  Most of them, though, are as large as our cats.  They will run over you, nibble your fingers, and make a regular playhouse out of your bunk.  Guess it is a good thing I stay up at nights and manage to get a few hours sleep in the daytime.” – Alumni News, Vol. 1, No. 11, September 1, 1918

-Frank M. Thompson, Class of 1910. Thompson was killed in battle September 13, just 12 days after this letter was published.

A tribute to Frank Thompson appears in the October 1, 1918 Alumni News. It includes the photo below with the caption “He who dies Somewhere-in-France lives Everywhere.”

Many Alumni News have recently been digitized and are available on our Rare and Unique Digital Collections site, as well as video, audio, and textual materials documenting the history of NC State and other topics.

Jun 13 2017

Robert Opie Lindsay, North Carolina’s Only Flying Ace

Robert Opie Lindsay

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of U.S. participation in World War I, Special Collections News continues to examine the war’s impact on its students and alumni.  In this post, we remember Robert Opie Lindsay, NC State alumnus and hero in both world wars.  Be sure to also visit our previous posts on NC State during WWI regarding preparation and enrollment, as well as the post by our colleagues at the NC State News blog.

The 1919 Agromeck, called the “Victory Agromeck,” (as described in Alumni News, Vol. 2, No. 3, January 1, 1919) contains a lengthy dedication to the State College students and alumni who died or received commendations for their heroism in the first world war.  We encounter Robert Opie Lindsay in the “Cited for Bravery” section of the Victory Agromeck.  This passage describes how Lindsay engaged three Fokker type German aircraft and shot one down.  When eight more planes arrived as reinforcements, he out-maneuvered them, shooting down one more before retreating to home base. Indeed, Lindsay was a true World War I Flying Ace, the only one in North Carolina.  (A “flying ace” is typically defined as an aviator who has shot down five or more aircraft).  Here is the full entry, from the 1919 Agromeck:

In his State College days however, he was an athlete from the small town of Madison, on the Dan River in northern North Carolina.  He excelled in football, basketball and baseball.  He was active in the Leazar Literary Society, Debate Club, and the German Club, and he was business manager of the Red & White student publication and associate editor of the Agromeck.  The 1916 Agromeck (his senior year) describes “Opie” as possessing “business ability and good judgment,” while perhaps knowing nothing about girls.  His course of study was Textiles.

Robert Opie Lindsay

After completing his studies at NC State (then State College), Lindsay applied to the Officers’ Training Corps at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, but he was turned away due to an acute episode of appendicitis.  After a successful operation in Greensboro, he enrolled in the Officers Training Corps for Aviators, stationed at Champaign, Illinois.  After deployment, he trained at a French aviation field and became well-versed in the acrobatic flying style that characterized his successes against the Germans and won him the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in action (Alumni News Vol. 2, No. 5, p. 5).

Lindsay went on to become an Air Force Colonel in World War II, and he helped to found the Civil Aeronautics Administration, a forerunner of the FAA.  He died in 1952 in Fort Worth, Texas, at the age of 54.

A historical marker in honor of Robert Opie Lindsay was approved by the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program in February of this year and will be erected in July on US 311 at Lindsay Bridge Road in his hometown of Madison, NC.  It will be a fitting tribute for a valiant alumnus.

You can discover images of students and campus during the war on our Rare and Unique Digital Collections site, as well as video, audio recordings, and textual materials documenting the history of NC State and other topics.

May 17 2017

Celebrating the Class of 1967 and the Forever Club

Last week, members of the NC State University graduating class of 1967 joined the Alumni Association’s Forever Club, a community of alumni who graduated from NC State 50 years ago and earlier. Special Collections joined the celebration for a third year in a row, bringing a show and tell of items from the archives that reflected their time as students at NC State.

Archival materials on display for the Class of 1967 and Forever Club.

Archival materials on display for the Class of 1967 and Forever Club.

The class of 1967 would have taken classes in the newly constructed Harrelson Hall, spent time in the Erdahl-Cloyd Student Union (currently housing the Atrium and West Wing of D.H. Hill Library), witnessed the Pullen Hall fire of 1965, welcomed growing numbers of female students living in the first female dorm on campus in Watauga Hall, celebrated the first football game in the new Carter-Finley Stadium, honored legendary basketball coach Everett Case and welcomed new coach Norman Sloan, and much more.

Alumni gathered at the Park Alumni Center to kick off their reunion weekend, and spent time exploring Agromeck yearbooks, issues of the 1964-1965 Technician from their freshman year, admissions booklets for prospective students noting the price of tuition in 1964 ($162.50 per semester for in-state students), athletics programs, brochures and calendars of events in the student union, photographs, computer punch cards from the first Computing Center on campus, and more.

Alumni browse materials on display.

Alumni browse materials on display.

Alumni shared some of their memories of the events reflected in the materials on display, and several sat down to record these stories in Wolf Tales recordings that will add more nuance to the record of this period on campus. One alumnus described watching the news of the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, and being sent home early for Thanksgiving that year. Another alumnus spoke about the excitement and challenges of using a large, shared computer in the Computing Center to complete his course work as an Electrical Engineering student.

As part of our work to document and share the history of NC State, especially from the student perspective, we look forward to collecting stories and bringing materials from the archives into the hands of alumni and other members of the NC State community. You can explore more university history through our Rare and Unique Digital Collections site, where you can also access thousands of imagesvideoaudio recordings, and textual materials documenting NC State history and other topics.  If you’d like to learn more about these resources or have any other questions, as always, please feel free to contact us!

Nov 04 2015

Special Collections celebrates Homecoming 2015 with NCSU alumni

Eli Brown and Todd Kosmerick getting in the Wolfpack spirit at NCSU Alumni Homecoming Tailgate 2015.

The Special Collections Research Center joined several events hosted by the NCSU Alumni Association this past weekend, where we brought our materials out to help celebrate Homecoming 2015.

On Friday October 30, the Wake County Alumni Network hosted “A Last Look at Harrelson,” inviting alumni to return to Harrelson Hall for a final farewell before its demolition over the coming year.  Floor plans, architectural drawings, promotional brochures, and photographs from various collections in the University Archives and records of the Holloway-Reeves architecture firm brought alumni back to the years when the building was first opened.  Libraries staff in the D.H. Hill Makerspace created laser-cut key chains and bookmarks using sketches and floor plans from the archives to give away to alumni, while the Wolf Tales oral history station recorded former students’ memories of the building in short video interviews.

Sketches and models of Harrelson hall laser-cut into key chains and bookmarks in the D.H. Hill Makerspace using SCRC materials.

For the Alumni Homecoming Tailgate on Saturday October 31, Special Collections staff brought copies of football programs and Agromeck yearbooks dating back to 1960, displayed facsimiles of archival photographs showing homecoming celebrations over the years, and gave away buttons printed with images from the archives.  Alumni of all ages enjoyed finding pictures of themselves – and often of their parents and grandparents – in the Agromecks, sparking lots of memories and stories, and left decked out in buttons to cheer on the Wolfpack.

SCRC tent and display at NCSU Alumni Homecoming Tailgate.

1980s alumni reunite for Homecoming 2015.

Alumni recalling their student days over Agromeck yearbooks.

Recent graduate Christopher Lawing ('15) greets Eli Brown and Todd Kosmerick.

NCSU Chancellor Randy Woodson, Susan Woodson, Kathy Wilson-Sischo, and Vice Chancellor for Development Brian Sischo pick up Homecoming buttons from Special Collections.

Alumni browse and snap photos of 1980s Agromecks.

Three generations of NC State students: current student, with her mother, an alum, finds her grandfather's photo in a 1960 Agromeck.

College of Engineering graduate Eugene Strupe shows his yearbook photo in a 1967 Agromeck.