The stability of being a student

Written by Evan Spencer, Graduate Assistant

To continue the theme of my last blog post, I’ve been learning a lot about MTSU in the past few weeks.

Since I last poked my head out of the archives and into the archival blogosphere, I completed my work on the MTSU Subject Files and started working on two new projects.
The first of those projects was to revise the finding aid for the Q.M. Smith Papers. Quintin Miller Smith was the president of State Teachers’ College and Middle Tennessee State College from 1938 to 1958 (It became MTSU in ’65). He helped bring MTSC’s value from $1,000,000 in 1938 to an estimated $10,000,000 in 1958 when he retired. During his tenure, the student enrollment increased from 550 to 2,250 and the faculty nearly doubled. He also started the graduate program in 1951 (thanks Q.M.!).

But before he served as the school’s President, he graduated from the Normal School (which is now, you guessed it, MTSU) in its first graduating class. Included in the Q.M. Smith Papers are his class notes from Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.

It was very interesting to look through Q.M.’s notes- now over 100 years old- and see how they compared and contrasted to my own notes in undergraduate science courses.

Here are some of Q.M.’s class notes. Feel free to pull out your own notebooks to compare/contrast them with your own!

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What did you think of the notes? Are they totally different from yours, or similar?

For me, Q.M.’s Biology notes were entirely different. Every third page is comprised of sketches. My Intro Biology class didn’t require me to sketch at all (thankfully… I’m no artist). The chemistry notes were a bit more similar, though. There were a lot of calculations and balancing equations, which were mainstays of my chemistry class.

The second project I started working on was organizing the Midlander yearbooks into three series. The first series, made up of social yearbooks, is extremely interesting. A “social yearbook” is a yearbook with writing in the pages like love notes, remember-mes, or phone numbers.

It’s great to see that even in the 1940s, at the height of world war, people were goofing around and loving life.

A lot of the writing seems like things that my own friends would have written in my yearbooks. There are some differences in the language used (My friends don’t usually describe me as a “swell ol’ fella,” which seems to be the only phrase used in the 1944 yearbook of Blanche Cook).

In processing the Q.M. Smith Papers and the Midlanders, I’ve realized that being a student hasn’t really changed all that much over the past 100 years.

The Q.M. Smith and Midlander collections are open and available for research. Come by and see how students have (or haven’t) changed over time!

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