Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Biting the ‘Bullet’

09 Feb

“A Standard A-class senior college, member of the American Association of Teachers Colleges, ideally and strategically located in an atmosphere of culture and refinement, easily accessible to Washington, Richmond, University of Virginia, and other places of importance and note. Special emphasis on Commercial Education, Physical Education, and Music. All courses open to men on equal terms with women. Full information upon request.”  –M.L Combs, President (March 10, 1930)

At first glance the Bullet seems to be a great source of information when it comes to exploring the past, but in truth when the intent is to ‘recreate the classroom experience’ the Bullet misses the target. From 1930-1935 there are only twenty issues of the Bullet in the Mary Washington archives. While each issue is several pages long, most of the information contains articles on club/social events, and student written opinions, jokes and stories.

It is easy to look at the past and point out the flaws. It is not so easy, however, to receive criticism and grow from it. In an article printed on April 18, 1930 titled “Bullet Wins Fourth Place”, the school newspaper receieved an evaluation on the newspaper itself. The paper was awarded fourth place in a contest hosted by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. While the article does not mention how many schools were competing in the contest it does hint at the fact that there were larger schools included who receive more funds that help improve the other schools newspapers. The article continues by listing the positive and negative criticisms received.

       “Good Points: good poetry, good opinions department,attractive placement of feature articles, and clear cuts. Bad Points:   too literary for a newspaper, too much opinion and not enough facts in leading stories, nothing worthwhile about athletics, no features or human interest stories, humor, old material and poorly adapted.” (April 18, 1930, Front page)

The criticisms received about the paper were seen as educational and the writer petitions the student body, and Bullet staff to learn from the experience and to “get to work and do something about it”.

On February 26, 1932 the Bullet printed another article about criticisms received, titled “Student Opinion Requested By Bullet” . This time the Bullet staff requested constructive criticisms from the Extra-Curricular Activities class, (yes, there was an extra-curricular activities class!). The results from the request were perplexing. While some students asked for more humor and jokes others asked for less. Some students wanted more “serious” articles while others wanted less. The contradictions were numerous and overall unhelpful in aiding to the contents of the paper overall.

The Bullet is a work in progress and is only as good as the students who contribute to it. Every year the school dynamic change with the flow of students entering and leaving. This shift is seen in the Bullet and its changes over the years. While Bullet articles from the 1930’s focus mostly on social news, humor and club activities it is an accurate portrayal of the overall student life and experiences at Fredericksburg State Teachers College, aka our beloved Mary Washington.

Reasearch Underway…

30 Jan

“The Bullet is published semi-monthly during the college year. It’s purpose is to chronicle the chief events of the college life and to create a greater and finer school spirit.” -The Bullet Mission Statement 1930

… and so it begins. I began by searching the microfilm of the available Bullets from the 1930’s. This will be a little bit of a harder task for the 1930’s group because there are only 51 Bullets archived at the University over ten year span. Whether these are the only ones to have survived from the decade or if they were the only published papers remains to be researched.

The articles, advertisements and pictures printed in the Bullet offer us a vast array of research. The hardest part will be to determine which information helps us in our overall mission to “recreate the Mary Washington classroom”. Articles included discuss current events on campus and off, Club Activities, student written stories and poems, student opinion, Advertisements (both from large companies such as Camel cigarettes and local venues), Personal/Society/Gossip, and News of the World. There is also a vast collection of pictures from campus and from around the Nation.

There is some lacking information as well within this one source. Some of the papers that remain have missing sections, (as if cut out for a scrapbook) and then there are holes and tears in some of the surviving papers. There are also various years that have no Bullets contributed to that particular year. For example the materials begin with February 13, 1930 and then moves off into March 10th 1930, April 18th 1930 and then picks up again on November 2, 1931, a year and a half later.  This is just one example of the inconsistencies of the Bullet archived for the 1930’s.

The Bullet will help the group examine some of the gender stereotypes, the technology avalible and fashion of the 1930’s. As the decade moves further on there are shifts in what is published, discussed and photographed for the paper. It will be interesting to see how these shifts reflect feelings of the country. For example there are several articles from the early 1930’s that mention the depression.

I can see that we all have a lot of work to do.





Just another UMW Blogs weblog