case western reserve university



Archives Month in Ohio
October 2013
Disasters in Ohio

As part of Ohio's Archives Month celebration, a theme is chosen to raise awareness of archival materials and institutions. This year's theme remembers disasters in Ohio.

Though there have been disasters major and minor on campus, the CWRU Archives will highlight 2 major disasters which happened about 100 years apart: the fire that destroyed the Case Main Building in 1886 and the fire that destroyed Adelbert Main Building in 1991.

Case School of Applied Science was originally located in downtown Cleveland. The school moved to University Circle in 1885 when the Main building was partially completed. In the early morning hours of October 27, 1886 fire broke out. It was discovered by a passerby who then ran to the closest fire station. Fire consumed the building leaving the outer walls and the interior brick partitions. For the School there was a heavy loss of books, curricular material, apparatus and equipment. Students lost drawing instruments and a number of books. According to the local Cleveland paper, The News and Herald, Henry G. Abbey, secretary of the board of trustees, estimated the total loss at $165,000.

Case Main before fireCase Main after fire

The faculty and trustees of Adelbert College offered the use of their facilities (the Main Building and Pierce Hall (the dormitory), then known as Adelbert Hall). The Case trustees met and the offer was accepted. Mr. Abbey stated,

"We have had many expressions of good will, and will have ample facilities for carrying on the school until our building is rebuilt. We may erect a frame building for temporary use as a laboratory, but not immediately. The fire is a calamity to the school. We were in a most flourishing condition. But the faculty were not burned up nor the students, and we can supply the remainder. Nothing has been done as yet by the board and it may be a day or two before a final decision can be reached. Still you can assure the public that the Case School of Applied Science will continue the work so auspiciously begun...."

The trustees voted to rebuild and in 1888 the faculty, staff, and students moved back into the building. The cause of the fire was undetermined but some blamed the Chemistry Department.

Over 100 years later, on June 23, 1991, a devastating fire destroyed the interior of Adelbert Main, by then called Adelbert Hall. The building had been in continuous use since 1882 when Western Reserve College moved from Hudson to Cleveland. (After the move the college was renamed Adelbert College of Western Reserve University.)

Adelbert Main

In 1991 Adelbert Main housed central administrative offices of the university including the president, provost, vice presidents, and controller. The fire started in the early afternoon, the Cleveland Fire Department being called at 1:57 p.m. Firefighters first tried to fight the blaze from inside the building but evacuated when the roof collapsed. Sixty firefighters and 10 trucks from 3 battalions fought the fire.

Adelbert Main burningAdelbert Main after fire

Salvage of the building started the next day. Many paper records were saved and underwent a vacuum freeze-drying process and/or deodorizing process. Over 130 desktop computers were retrieved. The total loss from the fire was estimated at $10-$15 million.

President Pytte was resolved to rebuild Adelbert, "We are definitely rebuilding. All the evidence we have is that we can do that, and we want to keep the exterior stone walls. They're historic." The process took 2 years at a cost of $12.4 million. The cause was undetermined but a problem in electrical wiring in the attic was thought to be the cause.

Archives Month In Ohio
October 2012
The Peoples of Ohio

As part of Ohio's Archives Month celebration, a theme is chosen to raise awareness of archival materials and institutions. This year's theme celebrates the people of Ohio.

The CWRU Archives will be participating in a Cleveland area celebration of Archives Month at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives. Our feature recording at the event will be the CIT Class of 1904 singing Ode to Case at their 50th reunion in 1954. We also will be displaying the Case Song Book.


Archives Month In Ohio
October 2011
Buckeyes in the Civil War

As part of Ohio's Archives Month celebration, a theme is chosen to raise awareness of archival materials and institutions. This year's theme commemorates the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War.

Western Reserve College (WRC) was CWRU's only predecessor institution in existence at the outbreak of the Civil War. Many students and faculty volunteered for military service. Company B of the 85th Ohio Volunteer Infantry was made up of students from WRC and headed by 2 faculty members. Read Charles Augustus Young's account of Company B's wartime service, as well as the students' account of their service (taken from the Western Reserve Souvenir).

Sources of information concerning the effects of the war on WRC can be found on the Archives blog, Recollections.

Archives Month In Ohio
October 2010
Let the Music Move You


As part of Ohio's Archives Month celebration, a theme is chosen to raise awareness of archival materials and institutions. This year's theme is music.

Music at Case Western Reserve University, Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology encompasses curricular offerings, musical groups, performances and organizations.

From the solitary to the social...

woman playing flute in dorm room Doc Opera

...from courses to concerts...

commencement concert program has spanned generations of CWRU life.

3 women playing 3 students playing instruments

Musical instruction was first offered at Western Reserve University through an affiliation with the Cleveland Conservatory of Music in 1888. Courses in piano, violin, and voice were offered. But, according to the Catalog, those courses "must be considered an extra work, which will not be received as equivalent for the regular or elective work of the college curriculum."

It was not until 1899 that the regular curriculum of the College for Women included music. The two courses offered were History of Music and Harmony and Counterpoint. All the music classes were taught by Charles E. Clemens, professor of music for 30 years. Adelbert College began offering music courses in 1924 and Cleveland College followed in 1927.

Charles E. Clemens
Charles E. Clemens

Musical organizations were established quickly. In 1828, only 2 years after Western Reserve College was chartered, the Handel Society was organized. The college choir started in the 1830s and the glee club developed from this. Case School of Applied Science established its glee club in 1897. Mandolin clubs were popular at Adelbert College, Flora Stone Mather College, and Case School of Applied Science in the 1890s and early 20th century. The colleges' orchestras, marching bands, and other ensembles have performed at concerts, university ceremonies, and athletic events both on and off campus.

Western Reserve College Glee Club Flora Stone Mather College Guitar and Mandolin Club
Western Reserve College Glee Club, 1851?
Flora Stone Mather College Guitar and Mandolin Club, 1899-1900

The university has hosted concerts by professional musicians. Concerts have featured performers such as Cab Calloway, Bonnie Raitt, Ray Charles, Pink Floyd, Eddie Money, Genesis, Supertramp, The Guess Who, They Might be Giants, and Violent Femmes among many.

Allman Brothers band concert poster Pink Floyd concert poster
Allman Brothers Band concert poster, 1971
Pink Floyd concert poster, 1971

The campus radio station broadcasts music to the campus, local community, and parts of northeast Ohio. From the basement of the Mather Memorial Building, Western Reserve University's student radio station, WRAR-AM, went on the air for the first time February 14, 1955. In 1967 WRUW-FM began its first broadcast, replacing WRAR-AM. Over the years, the radio station has broadcast commencement ceremonies and athletic events in addition to the traditional music format. In May of 1970 the radio station broadcast the Faculty Senate special meeting called to respond to the campus situation in the wake of the Kent State shootings. In 2010 WRUW-FM continues to operate, providing a wide array of programming.

Students playing records at WRAR
Students playing records at WRAR

Archives Month In Ohio
October 2009
Taking a Stand: Abolition in Ohio

This year's theme was chosen to commemorate events leading to the Civil War and the 150th anniversary of John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry (October 16-18, 1859).

Prior to the Civil War, Western Reserve College was CWRU's only predecessor institution in existence. The College was located in Hudson, Ohio.

Western Reserve College campus

The Western Reserve College campus in Hudson, Ohio.

In 1832-1833, Western Reserve College became immersed in the debate between the Abolitionist and Colonization movements. University Historian, Richard Baznik, describes the conflict in The College and Abolitionism. College faculty and trustees who were active in the controversy included Harvey Coe, Beriah Green, David Hudson, Caleb Pitkin, Charles Storrs, Elizur Wright, Jr., and Elizur Wright, Sr.
Beriah Green David Hudson Caleb Pitkin Elizur Wright, Jr.
Beriah Green
David Hudson
Caleb Pitkin
Elizur Wright, Jr.

Sources in the University Archives which document abolitionism include:

Records and Papers of Administrators, Trustees, and Faculty:
Records of Charles B. Storrs, President, Western Reserve College
 •Student petition supporting faculty abolitionist activities, 1832

Papers of Charles B. Storrs
 •Journal, 1832-1833, describing College activities, including abolitionism

Papers of Beriah Green
 •Sermons on abolitionism, 1832

Papers of Elizur Wright, Jr. and Elizur Wright, Sr.
 •Correspondence, 1832-1839, describing family and College activities, including abolitionism
 •Letter from Elizur Wright, Jr. to Charles B. Storrs, 8/1833, describing abolitionism events and speeches

Papers of Carroll Cutler
 •Correspondence about abolitionism

Records of Charles F. Thwing, President, Western Reserve University
 •Sermon preached by Edward A. Park, pastor of the First Church in Braintree, Massachusetts, at the funeral of Western Reserve College President Charles B. Storrs

Records of Governing Bodies:
Records of Western Reserve College Board of Trustees

Records of Western Reserve College Faculty

Records of Western Reserve College Prudential Committee

Cutler, Carroll. A History of Western Reserve College During Its First Half Century, 1826-1876 (Cleveland: Crocker's Publishing House, 1876).

Waite, Frederick C. Western Reserve College: The Hudson Era (Cleveland: Western Reserve University Press, 1943).

Other Archival Records:
Records of Commencement, Western Reserve College
 •Published version of Frederick Douglass' 1854 address to the College literary societies
 •Newspaper account of Frederick Douglass' address