written by Kayla Utendorf, Graduate Assistant
The Albert Gore Research Center has recently received a new accession from a previous donor that is related to the Tennessee College for Women Papers and to the Tennessee College for Women Alumnae Association Records. I have been working on processing this accession, and it has some interesting documents related to women’s experiences in a Christian university that deserve highlighting.
A portion of the papers relates to the college itself. These documents mainly consist of school newspapers, called the Tennessee-Ann, a school songbook listing the words to the school songs, and a few handbooks. As a student, I found the handbooks to be the most interesting documents because they listed the codes of behavior expected from students, much of which seems strict by today’s standards. Residence Hall quiet hours were from 10 PM to 7 AM, and all lights were to be turned out by 10:30 PM. Students were not allowed to go to town on Sunday and were required to sign out if they wanted to leave their building for more than half an hour, listing their name and destination.
The majority of the documents, however, relate to the activities of the alumnae association. There are several alumnae newsletters, which are also called the Tennessee-Ann, photographs, meeting minutes, and reunion programs. There is also a small amount of correspondence, poetry, and newspaper clippings relating to association activities. By looking through these documents, the dedication that these women felt to their school is obvious. The women of the association felt that Tennessee College for Women had not only prepared them for work, but also for citizenship and for life, and they built lasting relationships during their time there. Many photographs show laughing friends greeting each other, while others show women serious at work to remember and commemorate their alma mater.
Processing this collection is proving to be an insight into the history of education as well as women’s history in the area, and it will prove useful for anyone researching either. The photographs and handbooks are also fun to look at!