Exploring the College Archives
Ella Culton '23 describes some of the materials she finds interesting in the College Archives.
Working as a Quaker and Special Collections Intern this past summer, I worked on a rotation of projects, one of which included sorting through unprocessed College Archives materials. Throughout those two months, I moved through almost two centuries of materials, from the start of the college, until present day. Here are some of the most intriguing things I’ve found.
Did you know in the 1930s Haverford considered building another dorm behind Barclay? The building would have been located on what today is Barclay Beach. The preliminary plans show a building that looks like a mix between the pentagon, with a courtyard in the center, and what would later become the North Dorms. Maybe Haverford, with its current influx of new students, will be looking for creative solutions like this again… watch out Barclay Beach!
During the earlier part of Haverford’s history, fraternities were rampant, and with them came hazing, yes, but also the “Class Spoon”. At the end of their sophomore year, each class of Haverfordians would give a large, wooden spoon to the year below them. The spoon would then be dutifully cared for by the college president (i.e. put in a cabinet) until graduation, where it would be ceremoniously presented to the most popular graduating senior. Clearly, I think, these early Haverfordians were running out of things to do. Or someone really needed a nice pick-me-up.
In a darker moment in Haverford’s history, just days before Christmas 1935, Mary L. Ginder, the stewardess of Haverford at the time, came with her family to have Christmas dinner, a tradition for the older woman. Unbeknownst to her, a Haverford dishwasher known as Roy Crittenton was also planning on making an entrance that evening. Crittenton had been fired days earlier by Mrs. Ginder for being drunk on the job. Furious, he decided, a week after being fired, to take his revenge. Wrapping his gun in a curtain and tying a Christmas card on top, Crittenton made his way to Founders Hall, the former dining hall. Waving his gun wildly, according to reports, at the family’s table, he then shot Mary Ginder point blank, killing her instantly. Roy Crittenton was executed two years later by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.*
There is a wide breadth of materials in Quaker and Special Collections, but even within the college archives there is so much to explore. From murders to never-realized dorm buildings to class spoons and frankly so much more I couldn’t fit, the college archives are the place to look for almost 200 years of Haverford’s wild history. More than ever, these resources are readily available to Haverfordians- feel free to pop by Special Collections and dive in yourself!
* Information on Mary L. Ginder’s murder is featured in “The 20th Century: Haverford’s Most Unforgettable Moments,” Haverford: The Alumni Magazine of Haverford College (Fall 1999): 32. Note: Details from magazine are speculative, but provide insight into Haverford perceptions of murder.
-- Ella Culton '23