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Charles C. McCracken, president of Connecticut Agricultural College when it became Connecticut State College, was instrumental in launching the career of operatic soprano Ruby Elzy in the 1920s.

Charles C. McCracken, president of the University from 1930 to 1935, was born on June 27, 1882. In what during his tenure that the-then Connecticut Agricultural College became Connecticut State College; the Husky became the college mascot; and college received its first national accreditation. After years of disputes with trustees and faculty over his management of the college, McCracken resigned in 1935 after the Trustees had enacted what became known as “The Gag Rule”,  the aim of which was to stop campus discussion of whether military training should be mandatory for college men.

A little known episode in McCracken’s life is that he “discovered” Ruby Elzy, an African American college student who became a nationally known operatic soprano and who created the role of “Serena” in George Gershwin’s folk opera Porgy and Bess.

On a fact-finding trip with a committee studying Negro schools and colleges in the South, Charles McCracken, of The Ohio State University, visited Rust College in Mississippi. As the committee met, Elzy was rehearsing for a concert nearby, and her voice carried into the windows of the meeting room. Committee members left the room to hear her sing and McCracken was so taken by her talent that he decided to bring Elzy to Ohio State. She graduated from OSU in 1930, the year McCracken left to become president of CAC.

Curator Marisol Ramos is showing Dr. Sellin one of the archives  Venezuelan newspaper

Curator Marisol Ramos is showing Dr. Sellin one of the archives Venezuelan newspaper

Every year, we get several visiting scholars that take advantage of the Strochlitz Travel Grant. This travel grant, an endowment created and supported by Rose and Sigmund Strochlitz, Holocaust survivors and great supporters of the Thomas J. Dodd Center from its beginning, is intended to encourage use of these unique collections and to provide partial support to outstanding scholars who must travel long distances to consult them.

This month we have the pleasure to have Dr. Amy Sellin, who is visiting us from Durango, Colorado to use a variety of materials in our Latin American holdings, mainly newspapers from Venezuela, but also rare books from Chile, Puerto Rico and Venezuela on education, including those national histories and geographies which appeared in textbook form for young readers and learners.

Dr. Amy Sellin

Dr. Amy Sellin is visiting us from Durango, Colorado where she is an Assistant Professor and Chair of the Modern Language Department

Dr. Sellin is an assistant professor and chair of the Department of Modern Languages at Ft. Lewis College. She received her B.A. in Spanish and Latin American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and her M.A. and Ph.D in Hispanic Studies at Brown University.  Her academic interests include nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Venezuelan literature, nineteenth-century Spanish literature, and contemporary women’s writing in Spanish.

Please mark your calendar to attend her presentation:

Chavez’s Educational Missions: A Return to the Nation-Building Goals of Venezuela’s Independence Era?


  • Day: Thursday, June 17th 2010
  • Place: Class of ’47 at the Library
  • Time: 1:00-3:00pm

If you have any question regarding attending to this event, contact Marisol Ramos, Curator of Latin American and Caribbean Collections

Connecticut Agricultural College's Class of 1907 was the first graduating class to wear caps and gowns. The graduates, standing on the steps to Grove Cottage, the women's dormitory from 1896 to 1919, include Lena Hurlburt, fifth from right. Hurlburt was captain of the women's basketball team and first woman on the staff of The Lookout, the student newspaper.


As candidates for graduation came forward to receive their diplomas on June 14, 1907, they looked different from their predecessors at Connecticut Agricultural College.

They were wearing caps and gowns.

The Class of 1907 was the first class to wear academic gowns and mortar board caps to their commencement exercises at CAC. Previously the graduates had worn either suits and ties or hand-sewn dresses.  In the more traditional academic garb, the graduates in 1907 listened as Rev. Rockwell Harmon Potter, pastor of Center Church in Hartford and later dean of the Hartford Seminary, deliver an address on “The School of Life”.

Also on June 14 in UConn history:

1895 – Andrew L. Hyde elected as first alumni trustee;

1899 – Storrs Agricultural College became Connecticut Agricultural College;

1914 – Gold Hall, first residence hall for men, burned down. It had been built in 1890;

1963 – The Mace, symbol of University authority, was first used at Commencement.

The Holley Manufacturing Company of Lakeville (Salisbury), Connecticut, produced pocket cutlery and related products, from 1844 until 1946. Founded in 1844 by Alexander Hamilton Holley and George Merwin as Holley and Merwin, the company claimed to be the oldest manufacturer of pocket cutlery in the United States. The company name was later changed to Holley & Company.

In 1854, it was incorporated as the Holley Manufacturing Company, with Alexander H. Holley as president, George B. Burrall, treasurer, and William B. Rudd, secretary. William Rudd’s son, Malcolm D. Rudd, succeeded him as treasurer and general manager, serving in that position until 1942.  Its customers were retailers and small jobbers, mostly in New England, Pennsylvania, and upper New York State. Total annual sales of the company probably did not exceed $50,000 from 1844 to 1925, or $10,000 from 1925 to 1933. When the company’s sales and production declined after 1933 the firm was dissolved in 1946.

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