SPEAKER: New books, black authors series. This book is specifically very important because it deals with the history of blacks at Cornell. And we thought about it as a beginning, like an inaugural event, for our celebration of the 40th anniversary of Africana Studies. Many of you, I think, know in this room that it was in 1969 that the Africana Studies and Research Center was established as a result of the struggle of African-American students in this campus and in many other campuses. It is the first in the Ivy Leagues, and it's the second to San Francisco State when we talk nationally. So it's a long history for the center. It's very important for the legacy of the Africana-black studies movement.
So this will be one of the events, and I want you to mark your calendar and wait for our announcement. On the 30th of this month, we are having a major event on the institutionalization and origins of the black-Africana studies movement it will be a panel led by two authors-- Noliwe Rooks, author of the book White Money, Black Power-- I got it right, right?-- and also Fabio Rojas, who also had a very important book. It's called From Black Power to Black Studies-- How a Social Movement Became an Academic Discipline. And I think these are all the good books that can assure a good conversation about the beginning of Africana and beginning of our center here.
But just to go back to the book, which is Part and Apart-- The Black Experience at Cornell, 1865-1945, which is authored by Carol Kammen, and introduction to it was written by our own Robert Harris. It's a very important book in terms of documenting not necessarily the black studies or Africana studies movement at Cornell, but the legacy of the black experience at Cornell, which is very important in terms of leading to institutionalization of these studies about the black experience itself globally or internationally or US-based. So we welcome this as the beginning of that dialogue and look at that difficult history.
Let me just say a brief introduction to Carol Kammen, who was actually a professor at Cornell here. And all along, she was also the Tompkins County historian. She was named the New York State Public Historian of the Year in 2004-2005 and was honored with an Award of Distinction by the American Association for State and Local History in 2007. She wrote a lot about Tompkins County, and as herself mentioned, that she has written a lecture about the problems, joys, ethics, sources, and themes of local history. She wrote a lot of articles for the New York History, also issued as a book with the title Plain as a Pipestem, published by Heart of the Lake Press, Interlachen, New York, and presented in many conferences and has so many honors and distinction.
This book, of course, is a result of years of research into archives here and nationally. And I thank her so much today for blessing us here with her presence. And I must say that she is also a retired professor in the Department of History. And let me also introduce our colleague. I'm sure everybody here knows him in this room and at Cornell, but I still will mention it is Robert Harris, who is a historian by training interested in the African-American experience. Has been a professor at Cornell from since 1974. Am I right?
ROBERT HARRIS: '75.
SPEAKER: '75. I gave you just one more year. And I must say he's from Chicago before I-- He is from Chicago. And Chicago now is, of course, the level of the White House, so I'm sure he's proud of that. He's interested in intellectual history. He also wrote a lot of articles and books, and one of them is the Guide to African-American Life and History. That's published recently by Columbia University Press.
He held many positions, leading positions, at Cornell besides being a professor in Africana. He was also Vice Provost for Diversity and Development and, under his leadership, really achieved a lot. For us here, he was a great leader. He was a director of Africana. His period of directorship really gave us many exposure nationally and internationally. He had many grants from the Ford Foundation, from the Rockefeller Foundation, that brought residences to Cornell here. So without any further dues, please join me in welcoming the two guests here. So you will start, or both of you will come? So, please.
CAROL KAMMEN: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you so much for coming out. I'm really honored to be here. Can you hear me? I'm hearing-- OK, good. Thank you. When I started out, I was looking for the students who are not necessarily named in Cornell's history. So I started out looking for foreign students, for women, and for African-American students. And what this book is all about is trying to look at how African-American students at Cornell experience the university, how they put together their lives here, and some of the problems they faced.
I'm not good at this, but we're going to try to do this. This is Charles Cook, who came to Cornell in 1886. He came with his cousin Jane Datcher. And Jane was 19, Charles was 15. And the real question is, why did they come to Cornell University? And this, I think, is really the most important thing about the university-- or one of the most important things-- and that has to do with the fact that they came here because our charter says every person. It didn't say male persons. It didn't say upper class male persons. It didn't say male persons with money. It said every person, which meant African-Americans could come. And this was the only major university, even in 1885, that would educate both Charles and Jane together. So they got on the train in Washington DC and came up to Owego, New York, changed, and came up to Ithaca. So it's their experience I want to just talk about briefly.
Here is a picture of Jane Datcher. She's in the middle. And when you look at the picture, you can see how comfortable she is with the other women. Now there could be one reason for this, and that reason could be that the women were somewhat shunned by the men, so they all hung together because the men didn't like going to a school that educated women. All the men didn't like going to a school that educated women because others taunted them that they were going to a seminary, not to a real university.
Or it could be that the women were really very friendly with each other, which is really what it looks like to me. Jane looks comfortable with her-- they were called Sage hens. They lived in Sage College. They were sometimes called co-educationalists. But she looks comfortable with the people she's with.
Then in the next picture, we see Charles from this same class picture of 1890, and he is on the end. I don't know if he is apart or if he is part. Somebody has got to be on the end of a row. I don't know why Charles is there. But this is Charles. And what they're holding is the class pipe, which was a sign of their belonging to the class of 1890. The men carried them, I think, and probably smoked them. I don't think the women smoked them. And there was some dispute about should women actually carry a class pipe.
In this picture, if you look way up at the top, it's a young man by the name of Robert "Memorial" Johnson. He was called "'89's Memorial." And there is a poem to Robert Johnson. He is a young man who came here from the South, took the examination-- because the person meant every academically qualified person-- he took the exam and failed. And he decided to stay in Ithaca for four years with his class so that he could, as he put it, go enter in the front door and exit from the back door with his class.
And his role here is really very interesting. He went to the class dinners. He spoke to the class. Whenever there was a dinner, there was a notice that he would speak to them. Two classes vied for him. '91 thought maybe he would prefer to stay with them. And he said, no, he's '89's, 1889's, fellow student. And he is treated as a colleague in some ways, and perhaps as a mascot in others. And it's very hard to read exactly what other people thought of him. But his picture does appear in one of the class scrapbooks.
And this is Robert "Memorial" Johnson, who, when he leaves in 1889, disappears into the South. I cannot find him anywhere. But he was here for four years and played an interesting and not terribly explained role in this class. He seemed to have worked in Ithaca while he was being with the class. And then when the class graduated, he left.
What I was looking for were the ways in which the black students were able to create social life for themselves. I think it's probably realistic to think that they were not included in most of the ways in which students created a student culture. They were not members of fraternities, although some of them did work for fraternities. They were not included in a number of things. So what ways did they form organizations for themselves?
This is Sara Winifred Brown, who came from Virginia. Class of 1897. She lived in Sage College because it was mandated that all women live in Sage College or in university approved housing. And her sister came also. This is Nancy Fairfax Brown. And while the university did not ask for race on any application form, and I found no indication of any kind of either prejudice or restricting of people by race, we do have these interesting cards from the alumni.
And the alumni, as you can see, put "colored student," often in a circle, on the top of the cards of black alumni. But they didn't put them on all cards. Sara Brown had "colored student" on hers. Nancy Fairfax Brown did not. And they were known to be sisters. So it was not equally applied across for all black students, but there were, on the alumni cards, some indication. And obviously, what the alumni office was doing was alerting itself, or whomever was looking at lists, that, hey, this one's black. Right? And that's really what seems to be going on.
Black students, on the other hand, put together some very interesting organizations for themselves. 1890, they formed a literary union. And it was for all young black people in town, which meant both in Ithaca and at the university. And they got together for a number of meetings. We have almost no information about it, but we know that they met. And they talked about literary subjects. That was 1890.
1905, which is the year that-- I don't know where I am. That's all right. 1905, there was something called a debate club that got together because a woman from Philadelphia had heard E.B. Dubois speak and wanted to talk about and discuss his essays. And so she pulled a number of students together in a discussion group. 1916, we know there were some members here who were-- Oops, I've done that wrong. I'm sorry.
1905, there also was Alpha Phi Alpha, which I don't want to miss. I'm sorry. Alpha Phi Alpha formed as a black fraternity, the first in the country. I think you can go on. Marcus Gilliam was here. He was part of the Woodford Orators. He was not in Alpha Phi Alpha He left before then. And Jessie Fauset was here, not obviously an Alpha Phi Alpha, although she knew it was being formed. She was very much part of the university. Alpha Phi Alpha gets formed in 1905 probably mostly in response to W.E.B. Dubois's Niagara movement, the idea that the talented 10th had a responsibility to know about current problems and to try to solve them. And Alpha Phi Alpha goes from a discussion group to a fraternity. This is a house in which they met. These are some of the early members of Alpha Phi Alpha. And next one.
SPEAKER: It's interesting that this house-- isn't this close to Collegetown Bagels?
CAROL KAMMEN: No. This house is next to the--
AUDIENCE: Tompkins County Museum?
AUDIENCE: Historical Society.
CAROL KAMMEN: Yeah. But it's next to the big building that's called the Baker Building really. And it's no longer there. It was taken down because of its precariousness when they started to build behind it. And so they took that house and about three others down, and it's no longer here.
Nathaniel Murray was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha. And obviously, the fraternity created community. It also was a place to have fun. And I think the fun aspect is really very important. This is Mrs. Annie Singleton. She ran the house we just saw. It was her home, and she took in boarders. And Annie Singleton seemed to have functioned something as a den mother for the black students who were here. They came to her. They socialized at her house. And we know that they spent a lot of time there.
She was also the mother of Archie Singleton, who came to Cornell-- he was her stepson-- came to Cornell and took a veterinary degree, which was an undergraduate degree, along with these two young men, who also took veterinary degrees. And the next two also-- Oops. OK. That's all right. And those two also took veterinary degrees. And we know that the veterinary students held together, were very close because they were studying together. We don't know a whole lot more about them than that.
Hallie Queen came to Cornell and was a wonderful presence. And there are some letters from her to W.E.B. Dubois talking about her Cornell experience. And we'll encounter her frequently throughout the manuscript. Here we have some other students who were at Cornell at the time. And here is Margaret Morgan, who came to Cornell and graduated in 1936. Margaret Morgan has had a biography written about her, and there is a chapter on her somewhat unpleasant time at Cornell. She did not have it easy. She lived with local families, and she was not treated tremendously well. She also graduated with a very good degree and, I think, is someone who participated in the academic life of Cornell in wonderful ways. She is still alive, and she is a psychoanalyst who lives down near New York City.
Sarah Thomas was at Cornell. Graduated in 1936. Phi Theta Kappa. And Sarah was also a member of an organization called the Booker T. Washington Club, which formed in '35 or 36 and became a discussion club for black students, and an indication that black students were attempting to create for themselves interesting, vibrant, and entertaining campus life.
Evie Lee Carpenter was here in 1819. She is a woman who moved into Sage College, which is, today, the Johnson School of Management. And she moved out again three days later because she couldn't afford to stay there, so she moved into approved housing off campus. When Fannie Holland came to Cornell, she expected to move into Sage College. And it turns out that the dean at the time would not let her. There was a fuss made. And at this point, Jacob Gould Schurman, the president of Cornell, said every facility at Cornell should be open to every student, regardless of race, gender, place of origin, or ability to pay. And this was a real statement about opening up the university to people, especially those who were not well-off. Pauline Ray and Rosa Vassar also tried to live in Sage College and were turned away by the dean. They ended up living in the overflow house for Sage College.
So what we're beginning to see is that there was a problem for black women having to do with living in the dormitory that was identified as white by the dean of students. For men, there was no such problem because Cornell didn't house men until after 1917, and then it only housed a very few. So it really was not an issue for black men, who simply found places to live around town, as did most students. But for women, Sage College presented something of a real problem. And we have a dean of women who was actively preventing them from living in the college. Not the university's best moment.
This is Adelaide Cook, who is the daughter of Charles Cook, the first picture we saw. She came to Cornell, 1914. Graduated in 1919. Phi Beta Kappa. And engaged to the next young man, who is Victor Daly, who went off from Cornell without graduating to join the officer training program in Des Moines, Iowa, and served in the what was called the Buffalo Regiment. When he came back from France with honors from the French, Cornell then granted all of those veterans their degree. So that's Victor.
Pauline Davis is an interesting young woman. Pauline came in 1927. And she graduated from Cornell in 1931, and then applied to graduate school. She was described as an aggressive young woman who stood up for her rights, which was not exactly what the dean of women wanted. And Pauline Davis was described as doing something else that really made the dean of women nervous, and that is that she dated with Negro men. And the whole aspect of sexuality gets raised, of Pauline and her dates meeting other white students and their dates and the intermixing.
So we see, in the early 1930s, a real case of inequality at Cornell, which is backed up by the Cornell president at the time. This is something that I am sure worked against students coming to Cornell, and the number of black students decline in the '30s.
The other area of difficulty for students was the whole issue of athletics. And again, it's the question of proximity. And I don't know which Cook brother this is. There were actually three young men named Cook. And all he is identified as Cook, and I don't know which one he is. So this is one of the Cook brothers up in the middle of the picture. He played on the football team. We had blacks playing in the tennis team.
And then in 1900, a very interesting thing happened, and that was there was an article in the-- Oh, this is the Cook I think is playing there. This is Hugh Oliver. Right. In 1900, probably in reaction to the fact that baseball had been segregated in 1890, probably in reaction to Plessy v. Ferguson, there is a young Southern man at Cornell who said he will not stay at Cornell to study with Negroes. And this became a little media episode. So there were people who commented on this.
Turns out that he went to Dean Isaac Roberts of the agricultural school, said he didn't want to swim in the same tank with black men, and he certainly didn't want to be on the same field with black men. And Dean Roberts said, then go away because all facilities are open. So it became more of a media event than a campus event, and this young man leaves.
Aubrey Robinson became an athletic star here for a while. He was a track star. And in 1939, Brud Holland, or Jerome Holland, came to Cornell from Auburn. Brud Holland is an interesting man. And he represents a trend having to do with discrimination in athletics, and that is, it's more important to have a winning team than it is to discriminate. And as Hallie Queen said in a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, "Isn't it better to win with African-Americans on the team than to lose to some other school?" And indeed, that became the feeling at Cornell. Brud Holland was lauded across campus. He was loved. He was a football star. He was All-American. And it's said that he threaded his way down the football field with the dexterity of a toe dancer. And he was loved by people at Cornell.
So in terms of athletics, winning and school spirit meant more than prejudice. And black athletes were supported by Cornell in the 1940s. These are pictures of Brud Holland on the field. In the 1940s, when Cornell went to play Navy, it had two black players on the football team. The Cornell alums in Annapolis sent notices back to the university saying, you'd better not play your black players. Cornell talked to Navy, to Annapolis. Annapolis said, you put whomever you want on the field, and we will play him. Navy had never played against a black player before. Cornell did play one of its black players and lost the game. So I think Navy probably felt it had done the big thing. But after that, the whole era of prejudice in athletics really disappears here because winning was really more important.
This is Professor Russell, and I think he's tremendously important. His name was Hezekiah Russell, and he graduated in something like 1919. And he was called by the students "Professor" because he had gotten a masters degree and he was going off to teach in the black college system in the South. And the students were so pleased that he had a professorial position that they all called him "Professor" whenever they spoke of him. And I think he represents the aspirations of not only black students who come here, but of foreigners and women and all students who came to get a good education in order to go out to live the kinds of lives that they felt would be useful to society and to themselves.
In 1868, this woman, whose name is Malvina Higgins, was from Ithaca, but was teaching at a black college in Maryville, Tennessee. And she wrote to Ezra Cornell to say that she was so excited to see that Cornell was open to all persons because she thought that this was the beginning of something very important, so that the sun would shine equally on everyone. And Malvina Higgins had worked all her life for black education, and she was signaling to Ezra Cornell that this was a stellar moment. I don't know if Ezra Cornell knew that at the time, but indeed, the university has really stood most of the time-- except for a small period of time-- most of the time for equality of access to a good education.
Now Bob wanted me to say-- And that's the last one. Thank you. Bob wanted me to say something about why I stopped in 1945. And the reason is that by 1939 to 1941, the number of black students declines at Cornell. Over the 1930s, we have some undergraduates, but mostly black graduate students here, partially because of the Depression, partially because it was more expensive to get to Cornell, partially, I think, because Ithaca was considered isolated. As you all know, it's hard to get in. And as E.B. White said, it's also hard to get out.
I think also there were other options for black students at the end of the '30s. There were government programs that would take black students-- take young people and give them things to do. And also, the Second World War came along. And at that point, our registration of black students really declines to just a handful. So the records changed by 1945. And what I wanted to do was to look at the beginning period to see who came, how they did here, what they thought of Cornell, and how they created community for themselves, and the problems they encountered. So that was the reason for the date. Thank you.
SPEAKER: Bob, are you going to [INAUDIBLE]?
ROBERT HARRIS: Yeah. We're just going to sit here. And maybe if we can have the lights because I don't have any illustrations.
SPEAKER: I was just going to ask you actually about the photograph from the beginning, where there was a black student [INAUDIBLE]. Then there was another photo of [INAUDIBLE]. There's also a black student [INAUDIBLE]. Have you ever thought about positioning?
CAROL KAMMEN: Yes.
SPEAKER: You read into it. Several things that [INAUDIBLE]-- that she's comfortable, that she's confident, that she's also [INAUDIBLE]. But it could also be a military arrangement that happens by the photographer. It's a wonderful picture because sometimes you have a-- I mean, the positionality of the person [INAUDIBLE], like in 1890s, especially in the post-Reconstruction era. The position of a black subject in a painting is important in terms of the social hierarchy. In the slavery period, they're always painted--
CAROL KAMMEN: Below.
SPEAKER: And from the side. It is always from the side because it's either property or to show status and so forth. And the photographer-- I think there's also the possibility that the photographer, just by letting him have [INAUDIBLE] picture, [INAUDIBLE]. I'm just saying this is just one reading.
CAROL KAMMEN: I was going to try to do this, but I can't find it.
SPEAKER: I'll find it.
CAROL KAMMEN: Thank you. I think you're probably right partially. But if you'll see her--
SPEAKER: This is, like, one?
CAROL KAMMEN: Yes, this one is one. But if you look at her, they are touching. And if indeed the photographer had simply said get closer, it would be more like this. There is physical contact here in a way that some-- Let's see if I can do the next one. With her cousin, it's less. He is off by himself. Robert "Memorial" Johnson is obviously apart. And so what I played with was the idea that, at times, students were part and at times they were apart. And I think by virtue of color, often they were apart. They had equal access to the university's facilities, but socially, we know that they were not all together.
Now the fraternity men were not all together either. And there was also a hierarchy of fraternity. So there were lots of categories or castes, as there always have been-- fraternity versus those who were not in fraternity, men versus women. But I think with Robert Johnson, we have very much apart. And there are a few other pictures where the students are apart. There is one picture of a young man in a lab, and he is sitting at a table alone, whereas everybody else has a partner. And way back in the picture, even a woman had a male partner. So he seems very apart. And I think playing back and forth on that is what happened.
And I don't think it was always easy. I think there were things that were difficult that were simply overlooked. And I think there were times when it was obvious to black students that they were not totally a part of this university student body. I don't know if I can convince you that--
SPEAKER: No, I believe you. I'm just saying one reading. I mean, your readings are definitely accurate [INAUDIBLE], but I thinking [INAUDIBLE].
CAROL KAMMEN: Oh, I agree with you.
ROBERT HARRIS: It's the same picture with her in the middle, and then her cousin is over on the end. So if the photographer had posed them, it seems to me he would have done-- or she-- I'm assuming--
CAROL KAMMEN: No, no, no. He. Come on, let's call it the way it is.
ROBERT HARRIS: He would have done something with both of them as opposed to with just her. OK, we're going to engage in a little informal--
CAROL KAMMEN: But thank you. Thank you. Because I think reading those pictures is hard, and I don't want to either read too little into them or too much into them. But she's comfortable with the people she's stand-- and they're comfortable with her and touching her, from my view. The minute you get to some of the men in pictures, there is a separation. And I think that's the way life was.
ROBERT HARRIS: We're going to engage in a little informal conversation and then take some of your questions. I think one of the things that comes out from your book in looking at these early students, and it also raises, I think, some issues for further investigation, and one is the Washington DC connection. It seems like a lot of these early students come from Washington DC, especially from the M Street School in Washington DC. They also come from very prominent families.
You showed the picture of Nathaniel Allison Murray, whose father worked at the Library of Congress, put together the first collection on African-Americans. Daniel Alexander Payne Murray put together the collection for the Library of Congress and also the books that were exhibited in 1901 at the Paris Exposition. So that was a very prominent family in Washington DC. The Cooks were a very prominent family in Washington DC.
And it seems that Cornell was able to attract these students who benefited from a tremendous education at the M Street High School, which was one of the first high schools in the country for African-American students, and at which many of the faculty who taught there had PhD degrees. But they could not teach elsewhere, so they were teaching at the M Street School. Do you have any sense of how that connection got started?
CAROL KAMMEN: Well it got started with Cook, with Charles Cook's father, who was called the richest Negro in Washington. And he could have sent his child anywhere. And Charles was a brilliant young man, so he could have gone anywhere. But John Cook knew of central New York because he had been to what was called the New York Central College in Cortland County, and he had spent a year there. And then he had gone to Oberlin. So he knew upstate New York. And I'm sure the real connection was that both cousins could come here at the same time, that he could send both male and female here.
But what Cornell did was feed into that black school system in Washington. And Washington is important because it was a place where there was a vibrant black middle and upper middle class. It was a very vibrant community, and it was a swing community. And you didn't have that same connection with New York City.
ROBERT HARRIS: You answered the question in part when you talked about Datcher and Cook coming here together. And it seemed that Cornell being a coeducational institution gave it some advantage because you could have family members to come here together as opposed to, at this time, the other Ivy League institutions, I believe, except for, what, Penn? Was Penn coed at this time or not?
CAROL KAMMEN: No. No.
ROBERT HARRIS: So is Cornell the only-- I mean, the others have their women's auxiliaries, or annexes I guess they're called. But you could come and be fully a part, really, of Cornell as a woman, right?
CAROL KAMMEN: The other two who were interesting in terms of this is, in the 1890s, there were two women-- Sara Brown and Nancy Brown, the one who had "colored student" on her card. And their brothers went to medical school in Chicago and Philadelphia. But Cornell was the only important school to which this father, who obviously could afford to educate four children, could send his daughters. And Sara stayed two extra years here in order to stay until Nancy graduated. So the family had a lot of money, could have done anything. And these were two women who went back and taught at-- one in the black school system in Washington and the other at Howard. So we fed into the black school system in Washington and also in the black college system throughout the country.
ROBERT HARRIS: You mentioned the student-- and you do have here on page 37 with the headline "Won't Study with Negroes"-- and it seems to me that the faculty were more open to black students studying at Cornell than some of the members of the student body were. I mean, this guy may have been basically an exception. But then you do have this issue of the extent to which black students are able to live-- well, especially black women later on-- the extent to which they're able to live in student housing. So I'm wondering if we can sort of make a generalization about the faculty being more open at this time than the student body.
CAROL KAMMEN: No.
ROBERT HARRIS: OK.
CAROL KAMMEN: I don't think so. I think some faculty welcomed whatever good students they got. I think the faculty, by and large, did not get involved with the students' extracurricular life, as it is somewhat today sometimes, that they didn't really know what was going on and they didn't care. They were interested in their students as academic students.
ROBERT HARRIS: But it seems that students were not disadvantaged in the classroom, and you could have a student, like Jessie Fauset, to graduate Phi Theta Kappa from Cornell, right?
CAROL KAMMEN: Well I think there was no bar to good students in any way. And I think among the student body, we have some students who really care about making sure these black students have a comfortable time-- a woman in 1900 who created this study club, the women who were around Jessie Fauset to make sure that she had a comfortable time while she was here-- but then there were women who weren't.
In 1911, when there was a question of two women moving into Sage College, there was a petition by a number of women who did not want them to. And there was a petition by a smaller number of women, of white women, who did want them to move in. And ultimately, they moved into the annex to Sage College with 36 white women, who were willing or assigned there. And the records don't tell us as much as we'd like.
I think it's hard ever to say about Cornell students anything because they are broadly-based. There are going to be some who found having black students objectionable. There are going to be some who found them interesting. And there are going to be a whole batch who'll just ignore them totally. And I think that's true through the ages.
ROBERT HARRIS: In looking at your list of the African-American students that you were able to identify-- and maybe you might say a bit about that, you didn't earlier-- because you mentioned that there's no designation basically on the students' entrance cards that later the alumni have on there whether they were a colored student or not. So maybe you might say a little something about how you were able to identify these students.
CAROL KAMMEN: It took about 20 years, and I started with a list that had been created by the archives where someone-- and I don't know who in the Cornell archives-- began noting that these were African-American students. And this list was created during the 1980s, so someone was trying to identify Cornell black students. So it was not a list kept anti-them, it was, look, let's see if we can recover them. So I used that list. And one student would lead to another. In one student's alumni folder, there would be a letter from another black student talking about that student. So the list got built up that way. I'm sure I have missed a number, but I had no way of pulling them out.
ROBERT HARRIS: OK, one more question. And especially, I think, in relationship to what many African-American students at Cornell study today, it seems to me in looking through your list-- and I've not done this fully systematically-- but that a large number of students were in the sciences, were in engineering. They were getting Bachelor of Science degrees or Master of Science degrees. These students were not basically into humanities or in the arts, as you might think of it.
CAROL KAMMEN: There is a break. The earliest black students who came here tended to be in the humanities, and they were the wealthier black students. As time goes on, you get more and more students from less wealthy families, who either needed help, economic help, or who lived here and worked here, and they become more practical in their course selection. Also, Cornell was the only Ivy League school offering engineering and agriculture. I mean, where else are you going to go if you want to go to a major school?
ROBERT HARRIS: Yeah. One of the questions that I had I think you've covered, but I just wanted to point it out. And that's that after the 1930s, the preponderance of black students at Cornell were graduate students as opposed to prior to the 1930s, you had a large number who were doing undergraduate work. But you have a large number who complete their PhD degrees here at Cornell.
And I do have to point out-- and I guess, in part, this is because, again, today, at least from my vantage, there are not as many African-American students who take degrees or earn degrees-- I shouldn't say take them-- earn degrees in the hard sciences. But yet, you have, in 1925-- no, '21-- the first black PhD in pure mathematics gets his degree here at Cornell. The first black PhD in the country who gets his degree from Yale gets his PhD degree in physics. And it just seems to me that for many of the young people, this is something that they need to be aware of, these early individuals who were able to succeed in the sciences.
CAROL KAMMEN: And the deans of the department and then the School of Agriculture were, both Roberts and Liberty Hyde Bailey, were both very open to both women students, black students. And the first two female professors were in the School of Agriculture. When the vote came to the university senate in 1911, if, indeed, agriculture could hire two women as professors, put them onto the professorial rank, the rest of the university senate said, well, if you want them, that's OK, but we certainly don't want women. The School of Agriculture was very open to educating a variety of people.
ROBERT HARRIS: And they did develop, I believe, a relationship between Cornell and Tuskegee so that many individuals who became doctors of veterinary medicine went to teach at Tuskegee. And-- I don't know why I'm dropping his name-- who later became president of Tuskegee and who started--
CAROL KAMMEN: Frederick Douglass Patterson.
ROBERT HARRIS: Yeah, Frederick D. Patterson, who started the United Negro College Fund, got his PhD degree here at Cornell. Well, don't let me monopolize the conversation. There were just some questions I wanted to put on the table, and hopefully you might have other questions that you would like to ask.
CAROL KAMMEN: Yeah.
ROBERT HARRIS: Yes.
AUDIENCE: So I know you said it was pretty tough research just a lot of the history of what's going on, but do you know how, I guess, the poor African-American population sort of worked early into, I guess, Cornell's history? Because I know you said mostly it was wealthy African-Americans, or African-Americans that came from at least a decent background at the time. Do you know anything about sort of the poor African-Americans, how they sort of made--
ROBERT HARRIS: Well you had individuals who came from nearby. And one of the things-- Cornell had the scholarship, right, for each legislative district, and individuals who won that scholarship could come to Cornell, I believe, tuition free. And so Henry Arthur Callis, who was one of the founders of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity-- of which I'm a member, so I know part of this history-- he came from Binghamton. And it wasn't exactly a poor family, but it wasn't a well-to-do family. And he won one of those scholarships, but he also had to work in a fraternity house, which was part of the influence on him in starting a black fraternity here.
CAROL KAMMEN: Margaret Morgan also won one of those fellowships in the 30s. So I think there were many routes to Cornell, but this was also true for women. If a woman won the legislative scholarship-- and this was part of A.D. White's attempt to link Cornell to the public school system in New York State-- then she also could come. Sometimes, even wealthy families didn't want to spend money on a female's education because what's the use of it.
ROBERT HARRIS: And Jessie Fauset had won a scholarship in Philadelphia and actually wanted to go to Bryn Mawr, I believe.
CAROL KAMMEN: The fellowship fed into Bryn Mawr.
ROBERT HARRIS: But they wouldn't accept her, right?
CAROL KAMMEN: Well that's an interesting story. Jessie Fauset-- in must have been 1901-- won the leading female scholar in Philadelphia, and that scholarship fed into Bryn Mawr. And Carey Thomas, who was the president of Bryn Mawr, who had been at Cornell in 1876 and '77 and had gotten a degree in two years here, was the president of Bryn Mawr and didn't want Jessie there because she had so many students from the South, she was afraid they would pull out of Bryn Mawr. So she devised a way of convincing Jessie and Cornell that Jessie should come here. And indeed, she paid for half of Jessie's tuition and then got a friend to pay for the other half.
So people came here in lots of different ways. And you could say in this case that she was prejudiced. Or you could say in this case, she did Jessie a favor. Or you could say she did Cornell a favor. I mean, it's complicated to read. She obviously didn't want Jessie at Bryn Mawr.
ROBERT HARRIS: Dr. Hart.
AUDIENCE: I would like to raise the question [INAUDIBLE] that there were a lot of white people who were always protecting us, protecting us against being hurt. So they would keep us out because the white student wouldn't want us or a faculty member, this and that and so forth. So they would worry about our feelings a lot, that our feelings would be hurt and they would be harmed in some way. So [INAUDIBLE].
CAROL KAMMEN: I have one instance where I know from a letter that Jessie Fauset was surrounded by a group of women who did not want anyone to insult her in any way. So they ate with her, and they walked to class with her. And one of them was rooming with her, although I don't have the records. That's the only instance I have. But indeed, Mary Crawford, who was a trustee of Cornell, writes that her sister was one of Jessie's team. And she was, indeed, regarded by this group of young women as someone they genuinely liked, the way I think they liked Jane Datcher, but she's also someone they didn't want anyone to insult. And so they did. They did protect her in a certain sense.
ROBERT HARRIS: Cornell goes through changes, I think-- as Carol has indicated. I mean, it seems that the university was more open during the early 20th century than after the 1930s. I spoke to a graduate of Cornell who graduated in the 1940s, a woman who lived in Risley with her cousin. I don't know if you've heard this story. I think we've talked about it. And she said that they were put in a section of Risley together where they had their own bath facilities. And in some ways, I thought, well, how nice, they had private bath facilities. They didn't have to worry about sharing with the other students. But when they would go into the dining hall in Risley, no one would sit with them, or very few white women, because Risley at that time, I think, was woman's.
CAROL KAMMEN: All women. It opened as a woman's dorm.
ROBERT HARRIS: And so they would go into the dining hall, and generally, they would go in and no one would eat with them.
CAROL KAMMEN: I think the university is a mirror of the society in which it exists. And in the 1930s, I think African-Americans had a hard time in this country, and I think the university reflected that in some ways. But I don't think you can ever talk about Cornell as a whole. Some people at the university, and some people didn't. I think that balance is something we have to always remember.
ROBERT HARRIS: Yeah, Saul.
AUDIENCE: I was wondering about other blacks from [INAUDIBLE], like the Caribbean and other places. Is there any evidence of African or Caribbean blacks [INAUDIBLE]. Because I knew there was a [INAUDIBLE] four years ago [INAUDIBLE] someone who had this interesting figure of the Caribbean [INAUDIBLE]. She didn't know it.
CAROL KAMMEN: There were a number of Caribbean black people who came here. And some of them are reflected on my list, but not all of them, because, very frankly, I didn't want to ascribe color to people. So it's only the people I knew, the Americans where I knew what color they were because I could check in the census, that I put on this list. And I think in the first four years, there were several young men from Cuba who were said to be black, and probably were black.
ROBERT HARRIS: Yes, Margaret.
AUDIENCE: Carol, I'm just wondering since Cornell was established as a [INAUDIBLE], are we emphasizing its [INAUDIBLE] that love getting money from the state. And so could it [INAUDIBLE] of things that [INAUDIBLE] Bryn Mawr would do by not wanting Jessie Fauset there. That's one question. And then the other one is, could you talk a little bit more about this ban with black women in Sage? Because it seems that if you're going to have an open policy of admitting any person, then the logical extension of that ought to be an open policy about women living on campuses. That's where they wanted women to live. So it's interesting then, too, that they have this policy of any person can get an education, but any person can't live on campus. [INAUDIBLE] dean.
CAROL KAMMEN: We had a racist dean of women in the 1930s.
ROBERT HARRIS: But beforehand, black women lived in Sage.
AUDIENCE: I know, but that's my point. They did before.
CAROL KAMMEN: They did before.
AUDIENCE: So it's interesting that the university itself didn't set a policy that this is where women live, whether they're black or white or whatever.
CAROL KAMMEN: The university, in 1875, said all women at the university had to live in university housing, and they did it for two reasons. One was to protect the reputation of the young women themselves, and the other was, I think, to protect the reputation of the university, that these women were not promiscuously living around, which is the term they would have used then. And I don't mean sexually promiscuously, but just living anywhere. So the university felt in order to bring women here, it had to, in a certain way, protect them. It had to make sure that their living arrangement was such that there could be no doubt about how safely they were protected, as if the university in loco parentis.
This breaks down when Louise Fitch becomes the dean of women in 1929. And her policy was to keep black women out of Sage College and out of the dorms, and she was backed up by Livingston Farrand, the president. Now I can't tell you why because it's not in the records. I suspect Farrand was worried about the decline of students because of the Depression following 1929, and he didn't want to do anything to depress that number any further. Because we really did lose students, and the number went down. I think Fitch was racist, frankly. And she got away with it.
ROBERT HARRIS: But this is also during a time when you have the rise of American nativism, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. During the mid, late 1920s was a period when the elite colleges and universities began to impose quotas on the number of black, Jewish students who can come to the universities. I was trying to find my reference here to-- and I don't know why I'm dropping her name now, with the National Council of Negro Women.
CAROL KAMMEN: Mary [INAUDIBLE]?
ROBERT HARRIS: No. Who's still very much alive.
Dorothy Height, when she went up to Barnard, and they said to her, we already have our two Negro students. And even though she had a scholarship, she couldn't enter Barnard. She went-- what is it, south, right-- to NYU, and she was able to enroll at NYU. But you also raised a question, Margaret, though, about whether Cornell-- Now remember, Cornell is a land-grant institution for the state of New York, but it was incorporated as a private institution. So to some extent, it's maybe influenced by New York State, but I don't know if Cornell decided not to admit black students, if that would have made any difference to New York State.
CAROL KAMMEN: I don't think Cornell could have. And the reason is that when A.D. White wrote the Cornell charter in 1865, he needed to have the state accept this school as the premier school in the state. And what he wrote in the charter was that Cornell would be linked to the state of New York so that it would educate all children who came through the public school system in the state of New York and would return some of those students as teachers throughout the state of New York. And that linkage is very important because Cornell gets a lot of money today from the state of New York. And that's what White was trying to do, was to make the state of New York feel responsible for the university.
Now that responsibility doesn't really kick in until the formation of the vet college. And when veterinary medicine became a separate college, the state of New York paid for it, as it did for the School of Agriculture. But White, in '65, was trying to make that connection so clear that this university was open to everybody the state would educate, and the state was educating black and white, male and female. And I think that's the basis for it rather than moral land-grant. I mean, I think White was trying very hard to make the state pay up, as much as he could get.
AUDIENCE: I'd like to go back to Margaret Morgan. You referred to her as having a very difficult time, which, of course, her granddaughter Sarah [INAUDIBLE] written--
CAROL KAMMEN: Daughter.
AUDIENCE: --Extensively about. You kind of went over it, and I wondered if you were suggesting that hers was sort of individualistic or exceptional as opposed to it being more systematic. Because she also referred there about Balch, where she couldn't enter Balch unless a white coed came in, was willing to somehow, I guess, vouch for her as well. And she talks also extensively about having a very difficult time on and off campus, living in the homes of faculty members for whom she was essentially a kitchen or a house maid help. So I wondered.
And if I may while I get Bob, the question you raised about Washington DC, and you included [INAUDIBLE]. I wonder if you see some sense of Anna Julia Cooper's role because Anna Julia Cooper, who was teaching at the M School at this time herself, actively becomes involved in contacting Ivy League schools and other colleges like that, for which she gets into some difficulty in Washington [INAUDIBLE] fields that black kids shouldn't be aspiring to these places. But she makes the contact. She's extending herself. And I wondered if you found [INAUDIBLE] relation to that [INAUDIBLE].
CAROL KAMMEN: To the second question, a number of Cornell, especially women, but some Cornell African-American men went back into the Washington DC school system. And there was a great play back and forth, plus going into Howard. Cornell really did send a number of educators back into the Washington area.
The Margaret Morgan question, I think, is more complicated. I have pictures of Margaret Morgan in organizations at Cornell when she was here. She was in the instrumental club. She was in the archery club. So there are pictures of her doing things with white students. I think the problem with Margaret Morgan has to do with who wrote her memoir, who wrote the biography, and when it was written. It was written by her daughter in the 1980s. And I think that her daughter was filtering. I'm sure Margaret Morgan did not have an easy time, and I don't deny anything in the book. But I think her daughter was also filtering her own feminist and racial feelings back on her mother.
Because when Margaret Morgan was here, she came to my class and we had breakfast with her, and she said, I had a wonderful education at Cornell. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I also knew it was the opportunity of a lifetime. And I appreciate everything I got there. And I think because the memoir came when it did, and because Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot is an educator and has come through a whole different system, she came through a system of great privilege. Both her family was wealthy, and the times had changed. And she had great opportunities. I think in some ways we have to look at that chapter on Ithaca as her reading back into her mother's experience some of her own anger for her mother.
Her mother probably experienced difficult things, and certainly, the family she lived with were not great. But she said it was so important to get an education, it didn't matter. When Janet Reno was here, she was challenged by a student who said, how could you live under a situation where female students had curfews? And she said, I was so grateful to be somewhere where I would get a great education. So I think we have to remember that the ability to get a great education at Cornell was something that made people put up with some of the problems, which is not to say there weren't problems. And I'm not trying to deny the problems. But I think we have to read that biography a little carefully.
ROBERT HARRIS: Yeah, I have a video of the talk that Margaret Morgan gave in Goldwin Smith when she came. She gave a lecture. And I think she was appreciative of the education she got at Cornell, and she did very well. But at the same time, she was one of a few black students. I think there was a time when she was the only black student.
CAROL KAMMEN: There were two black women when she was here. And she was resentful of the fact that everybody here thought that the two black women should be friends because they were black women. And she kept saying, maybe that's not the person I want to be my best friend. But everybody thinks that we should be best friends or hang out together. So I think that there were white assumptions about her that wouldn't be made about a white student. And she certainly did not have an easy time. But given the lack of opportunities for black women at the time, I think she felt anything was worth getting a great education. And she's used her life so well.
ROBERT HARRIS: And she saw Cornell as a means to an end, and not an end in and of itself. And she did have the disappointment of applying to Cornell Medical School to be told that we had one-- it's interesting how one person becomes representative of the group-- we had one before who-- I think he got--
CAROL KAMMEN: He got tuberculosis, and so we're not going to take another.
ROBERT HARRIS: So we're not going to take another. Right.
CAROL KAMMEN: Right.
ROBERT HARRIS: But also the question you raised about Anna Julia Cooper, I wonder if there's any correspondence in her papers with individuals at Cornell. Because there's some connection between the M Street School and Cornell. Of course, they're individuals from M Street School who go off to other institutions. Some of the men will go to Amherst, some will go to Williams College. But most of the women come to Cornell.
CAROL KAMMEN: Partially because Washington DC was a good place for an educated black woman to live. There were enough professional blacks, and there was a whole cultural life. And the whole black life in Washington, I think, was much more open than some other places.
ROBERT HARRIS: Oh, we've kind of exceeded our time, and we only have 10 minutes for you to get refreshments. So maybe we should [INAUDIBLE]. Last question.
AUDIENCE: Yeah. I'm sorry I was late. I was doing a [INAUDIBLE] high school with some black Latino students. And it kind of relates to what this presentation was about, particularly if you've covered it already. But I'm wondering, what was the extent of the relationship between the black community in Ithaca and the black students at Cornell? Because that was one of the questions that came to me if you got [INAUDIBLE]. Or what was the involvement of the black community in Ithaca towards students? It's important to [INAUDIBLE]. So I kind of wonder in your studies over those years, have you seen [INAUDIBLE] the black community to black students and how did that relationship evolve and [INAUDIBLE].
CAROL KAMMEN: There isn't a lot of evidence. But black students were called "Professor" by people at AME Zion Church, so the church members were giving sort of an honor to these students. And some of those students went down to the church, where-- because the founding of Southside was only in 1937, so mainly it was the church as the cultural center-- and there was connection back and forth. Not a lot. We know that some black students went down to the church and taught classes.
And we know that when Southside Community Center opened in '37, a number of white and black students went down to Southside Center. And indeed, the gym there is called the Jerome "Brud" Holland Gym, named for the Cornell football star who went down and basically mentored a whole bunch of young men who were thought to be in need of having sort of special care. And he was very good down there. And we have a number of white students who went down also. Some students who did not live at Cornell or live on East Hill lived down in that Wheat Street/Cleveland Avenue area, so they lived with black families down there.
ROBERT HARRIS: And Carol mentioned that Annie Singleton was sort of like a den mother for Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, and Annie and Archie Singleton were very supportive in the formation. In fact, there were a number of individuals within the Ithaca community, African-Americans who worked on campus and who encouraged the young men to form a fraternity. They were very proud of them because they said, we're going to have our own organization. And so the Singletons, Mr. Edward Newton at 421 North Albany, where they held some of their first meetings, where they also had social gatherings at 421 North Albany, these individuals were supportive. They helped them financially. They gave them moral support. They opened their homes for meetings. Well, thank you very much.
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Part and Apart: The Black Experience at Cornell 1865-1945 examines life at the University for African American students during the years 1865-1945.
Poring through archival materials at CUL, including letters, diaries, student records, newspapers and photographs author and historian Carol Kammen assesses the way in which African American students navigated campus life in the early twentieth century; the relationships they fostered among themselves and their white counterparts; the obstacles they faced and the resources they used to overcome these obstacles and the way in which they maintained their identity in a predominantly white Community.