William Alfred Millis,
The History of Hanover College
From 1827 to 1927

(Hanover, Indiana: Hanover College, 1927).

Hanover Historical Texts Project

Scanned and proofread by Sadiye Amcaoglu, Nida Khan,
Julie Merkel, Jonathan Perry, Faiza Shah, and Cory Sims in November 2000.

Chapter XV
Student Activities

[Page 231]
1. Literary Societies.

THE extra-curricular activities of the modern college student occupy a far larger place in his program than in the affairs and interests of his predecessors a century ago, so large a place that Woodrow Wilson feared that the side-shows might come to over-top the main tent. That his fears were not unfounded every college administrator understands quite well. Better perspective, however, reveals that these activities have grown more numerous, more costly, better organized, rather than commanding more of the time and energy of the student body as a whole than at the beginning of the Hanover period. It is doubtful whether the mind of the present day student is focused on "secondary interests" to any greater degree than was true fifty years ago. The older alumni deplore the volume of student energy going into athletics and social life, and clinch their argument by pointing to the glory of the literary societies of the earlier period.

For three-quarters of a century the literary societies were a vital factor in the educational program of the College. The student was expected to secure the necessary literary training, particularly in public speaking, in the work of these organizations. For much of this time also they provided him with library facilities. That the service rendered was of the high- [Page 232] est value must be recognized, as must their value in providing an outlet for surplus student energy and an opportunity for the development of initiative. The growth of new activities, particularly the fraternity, athletics, publications, dramatics and social functions, led toward the turn of the century to the weakening and downfall of the literary societies. As the World War came on, the women's societies suspended meetings in order to take up Red Cross work, and allowed their organizations to disintegrate entirely. The men's societies likewise suspended meetings, but after the close of the war merged the two organizations into one society called "Philal-Union," which meets with a fair degree of regularity, but is in a feeble condition. The service which the societies formerly rendered is now supplied in standardized courses in the Department of English. The story of the literary societies up to 1907 is well told by Dr. Garritt:

"The Literary Societies have been a prominent feature in the educational force of the College almost from the very beginning. It was near the close of 1830, (Dec. 2) that the students of the Academy determined to form two societies. That this might be done amicably, and that the talent then in College might be equally divided, so that in the race before them, these two societies might start fairly, a committee was appointed to divide the students into two groups.

"The result was the formation of the Union Literary Society, which adopted the motto, 'Vis Unitate est' and the Philosophronian Society, with the motto, 'Knowledge is Power.' The first president of the U. L. Society was Rev. C. K. Thompson; that of the Philosophronian was Rev. D. V. Smock.

"The Manual Labor System soon brought a large number of students to the College-so large that it was thought desirable to form a new society, and so in 1834 a new one was formed by the voluntary with- [Page 233] drawal of six members from each of the old societies and their union under a new name and constitution. The name chosen was 'Chrestomathean.' which was, however, soon changed for 'The Whig,' with the motto, 'Genius like the Eagle is Free.' This new society was organized in some respects on different principles from the others. The Union Literary and the Philosophronian were, while purely literary in their aims, entirely secret from each other- and from the outside world. The new society, on the contrary, though sitting with closed doors, did not pretend to keep any of its business nor its officers secret. It moreover, at the first meeting, limited its membership to a definite number, though this limit was afterwards removed. An unanimous vote also was necessary for the admission of new members.

"The Manual Labor System proved a failure here and was abandoned in 1839. As the large number of students had been one great reason for the formation of a new society in 1834, the decrease in the number of students in 1840 was a reason for consolidating the three societies into two. For reasons not fully known, there was more sympathy felt between the Whig and the Philosophronian societies than between either and the Union Literary. Accordingly these two united in October, 1840, choosing for their name, 'Zelomathean,' which a week later was replaced by the name 'Philalathean,' with the motto 'Excelsior' and as a device a soaring eagle. The first president of the new society was William H. Finley.

"It would extend the account to too great a length, and would prove monotonous and uninteresting to go into the details of the history of the two societies, which have continued down to the present time (1907) in active life. Only a few matters of special importance can be noticed.

"In July, 1837, a dreadful tornado swept over the village of Hanover and demolished in part the college edifice. The two societies had their halls in different [Page 234] parts of the building. The wing in which the Union Literary Society held its meetings was so badly wrecked that it had to be torn down. That society lost all its furniture and many of its books. After the building was finally repaired, a new hall in the north end of the second story was given to the U. L. Society, while the Philalathean occupied a long and somewhat narrow room in the southwest end of the same story.

"Both societies also suffered when the College was removed to Madison in 1843 under Dr. MacMaster. They were removed with their furniture and libraries to that city; but on the opening of the Hanover Collegiate Academy the next year, the Philalathean Society, after several contradictory votes in successive meetings, succeeded in obtaining peaceable possession of their effects, and returned with their furniture and library to Hanover, took possession of their old hall, and held their annual exhibition in Hanover instead of Madison. The Union Literary Society was reorganized in the Academy by a few members who remained in Hanover, and ultimately regained possession of their library and other effects. In consequence of the removal, the Union Literary Society held no exhibition in the spring of 1844, the only time in its history.

"Another society had, however, been organized in the Academy, the 'Erodelphian.' This society held one exhibition, but disbanded on the reorganization of the other societies.

"The coming of the Greek Fraternities into the College in 1853 was the occasion of strife and discord in the Literary Societies. This, owing to the fact that a large number of the fraternities were members of the Philalathean Hall, culminated, in 1856, in the adoption of a new constitution, and a new motto, amid great discord and heart-burnings. In the following spring, however, the adherents of the old society and motto proved too strong for the innovators, and the old name, motto, and device were restored. The Union Literary [Page 235] Society, fortunately, in a great measure escaped this experience of discord.

"In 1857, November 13, the two societies took possession of their halls in the New College Building. (What is now Classic Hall.) They closed their work in the old halls with appropriate exercises, and marched in fraternal procession, with the Faculty at their head to their new home, where appropriate exercises were held in what is now the Morse Mathematical Room, then used as a chapel. Dr. Crowe, by request, gave a short history of the College and of the societies. Additional speeches were made by all the members of the Faculty, and then the members of the two societies were dismissed from the chapel to hold separate meetings in their own halls. First, all went to the U. L. Hall, where the 'Lits' were welcomed by the 'Philals,' thence to the Philal Hall, where the 'Philals' were welcomed by the 'Lits,' and then each society held a short private meeting in their respective new abodes.

"Both of the societies had been looking forward to this event with great interest for some years and had been saving up their means, and were now able to furnish their halls and libraries very beautifully at an expense of about $500 each.

" The second year of the presidency of Dr. D. W. Fisher was signalled by the opening of the full course of the College to young ladies. This resulted in the organization in 1880 of a young ladies' society. They chose the name 'Zetelethean,' with the motto 'Plus Ultra.' In 1888-89, when the number of young ladies in the College had increased sufficiently to justify it, a second ladies' society-the 'Chrestomathean'-was organized. Both of these young ladies' societies have pleasant halls on the first floor of the main college building.

" The exercises of all these societies, consisting of essays, declamations and debates, have from the beginning been held on Friday afternoons and evenings, and public exhibitions given every year.

[Page 236] The following resolution reported by a joint committee of the College and Seminary in 1836 is introduced to show how far educational thought has progressed since that time:

"Resolved unanimously that it is with deep regret the Board of Trustees of Hanover College has seen a pamphlet, recently printed at 'Hanover Press,' entitled, 'Preamble and Constitution of the Anti-Slavery Society of Hanover College and Indiana Theological Seminary.'

" The Trustees and Faculty of Hanover College simply desire the public to know that no such society is authorized by them; nor will be encouraged by those who are interested with the management of the institution. They moreover have reason to believe that at least nine-tenths of the students connected with the institution entirely disapprove and condemn the course pursued by said Society. It has been the uniform wish and practice of the Faculty of the College, as far as may be consistent with the freedom of personal and private opinion, to discountenance among the students the public discussion of those exciting questions which at present agitate the American public. A leading principle with the authorities of the institution has been to impress the minds of the students that they come here, not to attempt to guide the public mind, but to be qualified to act an eminent and useful part in future life. They are taught to obey that they may be prepared to command."

In addition to the societies for which Professor Garritt accounts and the above abortive effort to organize an Anti-slavery group, there was the Brougham Rhetorical Association which gave its first and only exhibition in 1837, if the records are correct; and the Oratorical Association organized in 1875 and active to the breakdown of the State Association in very re- [Page 237] cent years. The Oratorical Association gave annual exhibitions, and the selection of its officers and its representative in the state contest, was the occasion of frenzied political struggles that sometimes ended in near-riots. At this distance one may surmise that the consuming enthusiasm for these contests was not the expression of deep-rooted interest in oratory so much as a manifestation of Hoosier genius for politics.

The students in those "good old days" got great joy out of their exhibitions. Performers were groomed by their respective groups as horses for a race. The approaching program was the topic of conversation at the table, on the campus, and in the exhilarating presence of the college widow. The church was decorated for the occasion with flowers, evergreens and bunting. Bands played, and the people cheered. The successful performers were acclaimed the heroes of the countryside. They were the Babe Ruths and the Red Granges of their day. Not satisfied with the annual functions of the literary societies the classes had exhibitions, and national holidays were occasions for a flow of student oratory.

The program of the "Annual Entertainment of the Philalathean and Union Literary Societies, February 22, 1874," is typical of the programs of all class and society exhibitions:

Music / Invocation / Music
Salutatory...............English Thoughts on America
Charles E. Shively, Cambridge City
Oration..............The Hour and the Man C.N. Clapp, Scipio
Oration............The Praise of Posterity
J. H. Bright, Dayton, Ohio
[Page 238]
Oration.............Our Trust
J. L. Taylor, New Washington
Oration.............What are We Today?
Wm. G. Boone, Cambridge City
Valedictory.............Popular Celebrity
W. A. Hunter, Macomb, III.

2. Christian Associations.

Hanover College is the birthplace of the Student Christian Association movement. In the middle seventies Luther D. Wishard demitted from Hanover to Princeton for his Senior year, taking with him the idea of the college Y. M. C. A. which he planted there. After graduation he conceived the further idea of extending the college association into all the colleges and universities of the world, and gave the best years of his wonderfully dynamic life to this dramatic enterprise. Thns the movement in which Dr. Garritt was active from its inception in the year 1848, was borne around the world. The small chapel erected in 1883 was the first structure erected on a college campus to house a Young Men's Christian Association.

There is some difference of testimony regarding the exact date and manner of transferring the student religious activity from the original Society for Religious Inquiry to the Y. M. C. A., but Dr. Garritt was in active connection with the movement from 1848 to 1907 when he prepared the statement printed herewith, and was engaged,in collecting data for his manuscript at the time of the reorganization. Dr. Garritt's aecount is as follows:

"'The Society of Religious Inquiry was organized [Page 239] in Hanover College in 1848. The object of the organization as stated in the Preamble was as follows:

" 'For the purpose of investigating Religious Truth and inquiring into the present state of the Church and the world, we, the subscribers, form ourselves into a society to be called the Society of Religious Inquiry of Hanover College.'

"The first meeting of the society was held October 7, 1848. This was for the purpose of organization and four days later, twenty-two students signed the Constitution. The meetings were ordinarily to be held monthly. The first one for actual work took place November llth. The sessions were public and for many years were attended by the citizens of the village, as well as by the students of the College. The exercises consisted of investigation and reports upon the religious conditions in the different parts of the world; histories of special missions; the workings of the various missions; biographical essays of men and women who have been prominent workers; orations and debates; and other profitable exercises.

"During the war, and for some years subsequent, the number of students had so decreased that the interest in the work of the society greatly diminished; but in 1869 an effort was made to reorganize and revive the organization. Professor Garritt was requested to deliver an address on the occasion, which it gave him great pleasure to do.

"In the reorganization it was thought best to give up the old name of the society and to take the name of Young Men's Christian Association of Hanover College; and at the same time to adopt the methods and work of such associations in other places. Under this designation the society has continued to the present time.

"In 1883 the Y. M. C. A. Hall was erected; students, professors, citizens and friends of the college uniting in furnishing the means. It was completed and dedicated at the semi-centennial Commencement of the [Page 240] College in 1883. Rev. Dr. George C. Heckman, a former president of the College, delivered an excellent and appropriate address, and took part in the other exercises of the occasion. This Y. M. C. A. Hall is supposed to be the first college hall of this Association erected in the United States.

"In 1884-85 the young ladies also organized a Y. W. C. A. branch. The two societies hold their meetings in the same building, sometimes separately and sometimes jointly."

3. Fraternities.
Fraternities were not welcomed at Hanover with any very warm enthusiasm. For many years they were outlawed by order of the Trustees. In 1855, three years after their appearance on the campus, and probably at the instigation of the newly elected president, Dr. Edwards, the Board issued the following statement to the Faculty and students: "Resolved, That this Board disapproves of the existence among the students of Hanover College of any Society or Organization of which the Faculty are not ex-officio members; and will not permit the public exhibition of any such society." In February of the following year the Faculty pledged themselves as a Faculty to "earnestly cooperate with the Board by the use of all honorable means for the attainment of the expressed design of the Board in relation to secret societies in this institution." The 1855 resolution of the Board was published annually in the catalogue for ten years, with the addition in the years 1864 and 1865 of a further resolution adopted by the Trustees as follows: "Resolved, That the students of this institution are prohibited from organizing and becoming members of secret and political and literary societies of which the Faculty of the College are not honorary members: and [Page 241] further, that a violation of this resolution by any student shall be disciplined by the Faculty in such a manner as by them shall seem to be right." This action of the Board was in response to the proposal of the Faculty that the following clause should be added to the matriculation pledge: "I solemnly covenant that while a member of this College, I will not join any secret society of which the Faculty are not ex-officio members, and will not exert any influence by vote, word or persuasion upon any other student to join such society," a suggestion which the Board did not approve. The following paragraph from the Garritt manuscript relates the outcome of the twelve year struggle between the College authorities and the fraternities:

"The Question of Secret Societies (i. e. Greek Fraternities) in the College, which all through these years has been a source of annoyance and conflict between Professors and Students, since the Faculty desired to obey the Board, but did not wish to proceed to extreme measures, while the students persisted in retaining their fraternities, was finally brought to a conclusion in 1866 by the repeal of the rule passed in 1855. The result of this action was to give the Greek Fraternities the right without question to exist in the College."

4. Publications.

The College does not possess a complete file of the various publications which have been undertaken. They have been many and brief of career. They have come and gone with the passing of the gifted students who possessed the energy and ability to carry on with their enterprise in the face of impending bankruptcy. The early financial difficulties of the College were created in the effort to publish a church paper, The [Page 242] Western Presbyterian. The Bulletin of Hanover College, published quarterly, is now in the nineteenth volume. Of student publications the library has partial files of the Gnivri, a college and literary journal, published the year 1875-76 by Charles C. Heckman, James B. Swing and other associates. October, 1877, John F. Baird and others presented Vol. I No. 1 of the Hanover College Monthly. In September, 1880, The Hanoverian appeared, with John A. Carnegey as editor-in-chief and Oscar H. Montgomery as business manager. This publication went through three volumes. The Bohemian of 1882-1883, Walter L. Fisher, editor, and H. K. Galbraith, business manager, seems to have given place the following year to the Hanover Monthly, with Nathan Powell as editor and Gaylord Crozier as business manager, and as such went through four volumes. In 1894 The Journal of Hanover College was established as a cooperative undertaking of Faculty and students. Dr. Fisher was supervising eaitor, and Robert B. McCain was editor-in-chief of the first volume. The Journal was issued quarterly and went through eight volumes. The Journal was succeeded by The Crowe, a monthly periodical, published on the fifteenth of each month during the college year, by the students of Hanover College, and went into at least eleven volumes. Like The Journal, it served the double purpose of communicating with the friends and alumni of the institution and of putting on record the important addresses and literary and other papers presented at the College. The publications prior to The Journal served much the same purpose, but were issued monthly. In 1909 the Hanover Press Club was organized for the purpose of establishing a weekly campus newspaper, The Triangle, which has appeared regularly since that time. The students have made various efforts to publish an [Page 243] annual, The Crowe, The Quid, and The Revonah, being prominent. The latter has been published regularly by the Junior Class for many years. The last two years the Booster's Club has published a handbook of miscellaneous information.

5. Music and Dramatics.

During most of the century student musical activities have been rather prominent. Many well-trained glee clubs, choruses, orchestras and bands have been developed. In recent years much has been made of dramatics. A number of departmental and other study clubs have at different periods added to the engagements of the students. The social life of the first fifty or sixty years evidently was rather restricted, but with the development of the Greek letter fraternities during the last thirty years and the increasing intimacy of contact between the student bodies of the colleges and universities, particularly within the state, society affairs have come to occupy a far larger place in student life. The prominence of social activities in our colleges, of course, is primarily the reflection of the new pleasure life of the general society of which students are the children.

6. Athletics.

Probably more than in most colleges, athletics at Hanover have been a natural expression of the play impulse. Large sums of money have not been expended on sports, and athletic teams have not been put out as a means of advertising the College. Good sportsmanship has prevailed with players and coaches alike to a remarkable degree. Hanover has been an active participant in intercollegiate athletics for thirty years. Her record is a very creditable one in all of [Page 244] the major sports, particularly in tennis. The attitude of the Faculty has not always been favorable. In 1870 a resolution was adopted forbidding the scheduling of baseball games, but during President Fisher's administration this attitude was reversed, and since then the athletic activities of the students have been regarded as a legitimate part of the college program.

As elsewhere, that rather indefinable, amusing and frequently annoying pastime, known as "College Politics," has been a factor in student life, contributing more than a little to overcome the tedium of class room tasks. But here, as elsewhere, this variety of activity has had little material consequence except to exercise the wits of future politicians.

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