|Pre-Civil War book finds its way back to Centre
Literary society book purchased off Internet after absence from campus
RELEASED: July 8, 2001
DANVILLE, KY Thanks to the Internet and members of the Centre College community, a piece of the school's history is back home.
A few Centre faculty, staff and alumni recently pooled together with the library to purchase a mid-19th century literary society book filled with the writing of Centre students. They bought it off the Web site eBay. The winning bid for the book was more than $500.
The 120-page handwritten book of minutes of the Chamberlain Philosophical and Literary Society of Centre College, with entries dating from July 21, 1843, to 1846, is now housed at Grace Doherty Library.
Other than a few pages being torn out, the book is in good shape. The book also contains notes from the Civil War. Old Centre (now the College's administration building) was used by the Union Army during the war. Several soldiers left scribble marks throughout the book. The seller received the book from the family of a student who was active in the Chamberlain Society.
"I think obtaining this book was very important," said Bob Glass, head of technical services and special collections at Centre College. "We already had 75 years of minutes from this society, so the purchase enhances our collection. The College has a long run of trustee minutes, faculty minutes and literary society minutes. Having this kind of documented history of a college is not real common. It's nice we have these long runs of records of various groups."
The Chamberlain Society of Centre College was founded in 1828 and was named in honor of the College's first president, Rev. Jeremiah Chamberlain. The society ceased to function nearly 100 years later. These types of societies were popular on college campuses during this time, Glass said. Societies were formed to discuss the issues of the day, and at each meeting (according to this book of minutes, they usually met weekly) members gave orations on a given argument. Slavery and capital punishment were two of the many issues debated in the retrieved book of minutes that features beautiful penmanship.
"You can get a glimpse of what was important to the students," Glass said. "The classroom wasn't where those type of issues were discussed at that time."
There were other literary societies on campus as well. To learn more about Centre's special collections, visit www.centre.edu/web/library/archives/records/archives.html.
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