We have received a few inquires here in the SHSU University Archives asking what the University was doing in 1918 when the worse flu pandemic recorded in the United States was happening.
1918 was a turbulent year around the world with World War I in full swing. Here at the Sam Houston Normal Institute 1918 brought a measles epidemic, WWI, flu and an unexpected snowstorm.
A quick read through The Houstonian newspaper for January 15, 1918, tells us that the campus was more concerned about an outbreak of measles. (See image) In the 1918, The Alcalde yearbook a calendar of the events that happened in Fall 1917-Spring 1918, this entry from January 6, 1918 reads, “Measles epidemic holds sway in Normal. Even the teachers have it.” the measles hit so many of the students, Lillian Sandel organized a, “That Measles-ly Club,” on February 1, 1918.
The first mention of the flu on campus comes in an article from The Houstonian for November 11, 1918.(See image) The article mentions that there was talk that President Estill was going to suspend the school until the flu subsided. This lead to a stampede of female students asking to go home. As 1919 rolled around the campus and Huntsville experienced more cases of the flu. With no infirmary on the campus, the school and the good people of Huntsville had to deal with the pandemic on their own. All of Huntsville came together and did not lose one of their flu patients. Note the last three paragraphs of the, “Flu Flew Fluently,” page.
The unexpected snow storm began on January 11, 1918 and snowed through the night. Many students cut classes the next day to play snow balling, fighting and sleighing. It snowed yet again on January 28.
The 1st Faculty and Student Body of Sam Houston Normal Institute (later named Sam Houston State University) stand in front of the Austin Hall Building, 1879.
Happy 140th year of providing an education to students, Sam Houston State University! It was on this date, October 10, 1879, that 110 students arrived by train, horse and buggy, or walking, to climb the hill to attend the first State funded public school for teachers in Texas.
The Sam Houston Normal Institute was brought into being by a bill in the Texas Legislature in 1879. This bill read as follows: “An Act to Establish a State Normal School to be Known as the Sam Houston Institute at Huntsville, Texas.” The Act was signed by Governor Oran Roberts on April 21, 1879 and the doors to the new Sam Houston Normal Institute were opened 6 months later.
To learn or see more of 140 years of Sam Houston State history come visit the SHSU University Archives in the Newton Gresham Library, Room 400. We are open Monday-Friday, 8-5.
The Sam Houston State University Archives has many interesting small items in the collection. Pictured here is an example of a 1897 class pin. This class pin is example of various class pins in the University Archives collection.
In 1940, Dr.J.L. Clark, Professor History and Chairman of the Museum Committee, and the Sam Houston Museum put out a call to alumni of the Sam Houston Normal Institute and Sam Houston State Teachers College to donate their class pins to the college. “The Museum Committee is desirous of securing a class pin of every graduating class of the college,” said J.L. Clark in the December 1940 issue of the Ex-Students’ News Letter.
In December of 1940, three pins arrived at the museum including the pictured pin above. Mr. Robert Ernst, Sr. of the Ernst Jewelry Company of Huntsville presented this 1897 pin. According to Mr. Ernst, the pin was designed by SHNI’s fourth President H. Carr Pritchett and ordered for the students of Sam Houston Normal Institute by the jewelry firm of Randolph and Ernst. Made by McRae and Keele in Attleboro, Massachusetts, this pin was the last of the store’s stock.
The pin, which is only 1/2 x 3/4” inches, is in the form of a shield with a purple bar bearing the letters S.H.N.I. over a maroon bar with figures “97”. The shield is partially surrounded by a gold wreath.
Ernst Jewelers is still open here in Huntsville and is celebrating the stores’ 125th Anniversary this year.
To see this pin any many other class pins come visit the Sam Houston State University Archives in Room 400 of the Newton Gresham Library.
Belvin Hall, built 1935, was the first dorm built on the Sam Houston State University Campus. Built as the girls’ dorm, it was financed by a $150,000 loan and grant by the Depression Era New Deal program called the PWA, Public Works Administration. Click on the photograph at right to see the construction and vehicles of the early 1930’s.
Belvin Hall was named for Caroline Belvin who was an alumnus of Sam Houston Normal Institute (the original name of SHSU), class of 1882, and SHNI professor of primary and interpretative reading from 1903-1916, and Dean of Women on the Sam Houston State Teachers campus from 1917 until her retirement in 1929.
This art supplement from The Galveston Daily News, September 29, 1918 is a newspaper edition of an original poster by Joseph Pennell Del. called, “That Liberty Shall Not Perish from the Earth – Buy Liberty Bonds, Fourth Liberty Loan.” The image on the poster shows the Statue of Liberty in ruins, and the New York City skyline burning.
The image and words were meant to invoke patriotism so that Americans would buy $6 billion in Fourth Liberty Loan bonds. These bonds would pay for supplies for the soldiers that were still fighting in Europe. In less than two months on November 11, 1918, the Armistice would be signed and the War to End All Wars would be over.
Sam Houston Normal Institute sent many students to become soldiers and fight in WWI. When the fighting was over and the students came back the tradition of observing Armistice Day was begun. In 1954 Armistice Day was renamed to Veterans Day. This Veterans Day celebration is still observed today.
To see more about Sam Houston State University’s history of honoring the Armed Forces come visit the Special Collection, Thomason Room (named for John W. Thomason, artist, Marine, SHNI graduate) and the University Archives.
#WBW goes really way back to 1884 to see if you are you smarter than a student of the Sam Houston Normal Institute from 132 years ago.
This is a competitive examination from 1884 for the Sam Houston Normal Institute which is now Sam Houston State University. These exam were used to judge which 2 students from each legislative district in Texas would be sent, all fees paid, to SHNI by their respective senators.
So if you haven’t been totally drained from your final exams you might take a whack at some of the questions the students were asked 132 years ago.
P.S. I would love to know the answers myself.
Come and visit some other way back exams in the SHSU University Archives, room 400, of the Newton Gresham Library, M-F, 8-5.
Since 1923 the BearKats have been pinned against the SFA Lumberjacks in a rivalry that has lasted for 90 years.
The Battle of the Piney Woods rivalry collage above was complied from various sources that are in the SHSU University Archives. Click on the image to see it larger.
The current win-lose statistics for the battle stands at BearKats with the edge at 52-35-2. The Bearkats have won the last 4 years since 2010 when the Battle has been held at the NRG Stadium in Houston.
Eat’em up Kats!
To see more about the Battle of the Piney Woods visit the University Archives in the Newton Gresham Library, room 400, 8-5, Monday-Friday.