Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wedgwood and Squirrels

A recent donation of Wedgwood china, to the University Archives, has ignited a flurry of curiosity here at Carmichael Library. Beginning in the 1920s, the famed Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Company would often team up with colleges and universities to create decorative china. Frequently, the selling of this dinnerware was a means for alumni offices to raise funds.

In 1946, the Alabama College Alumnae Office formed a partnership with Wedgwood to highlight this campus. Reynolds Hall was chosen for the first plate in the series. The official description of this piece reads, "Combining beauty and usefulness these commemorative plates will be of interest to all graduates, students, and friends of Alabama College. The center depicts a charming view of Reynolds Hall and is framed by a border of wisteria, squirrels and nuts."

"Squirrels?!" Graduates and current students can certainly attest to the fact that our campus features an abundant population of squirrels. But if other schools chose pines, dogwoods, and other ornate symbols, Alabama College choose the squirrel?

Further archival research suggests the administration lead a campaign to introduce a scurry of squirrels in 1927. While we haven’t found evidence as to why the administration pursued squirrels, we can assume a healthy population existed by the 1940s. During this era, the student newspaper introduced an editorial cartoon that touted campus situations as seen by a squirrel.

Whatever the reason for their introduction, squirrels are now a common sight and cherished icon at the University of Montevallo. For more information, please visit our display cases on the first floor Carmichael Library or view photos on our Flickr account.

Photos taken by Joel Bullock

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Visiting Carmichael Library during my years at the U of M in the late 1970's were very enjoyable. While I don't remember using the library very often for studying (I was able to study in my dorm room), I made a discovery there that brought me back several times for pleasure! At that time, the library had on the shelves complete sets of years and years worth of magazines. I found many enjoyable hours perusing the issues of several women's magazines from the 1920's and 1930's. I loved looking at the fashions, home improvements, beauty aids, advertisements and reading the articles! There was such a treasure of history, and I thought how these magazines showcased the up-to-date latest thing in my grandmothers' day! I believe these magazines are now stored away and have to be specially requested. Such a fond memory!

Now, about the Wedgwood China. I don't know why the squirrel was chosen, though they are definitely a part of U of M's campus. The real story in my view, is the beautiful Reynolds Hall and the interesting history behind that building. I have this plate prominently displayed on my sideboard, and I wish the school would commission more plates featuring the other beautiful buildings on campus. The University of Montevallo is a beautiful place, and squirrels are privileged to roam there!

S. Davis
Little Rock, AR