The Class of ’87 Scrapbooks

Another one of my favorite stories from writing Witmer Stone: The Fascination of Nature concerns the day I was doing some research at the University of Pennsylvania archives. UP’s archivist extraordinaire, James Duffin, wheeled in a cart with two large books wrapped in brown paper and butcher twine, saying, “By the way, I found these Class of 1887 scrapbooks in the archives. I knew Stone was a member of the class, so I thought you might find something in there about him.” Did I ever. Upon opening the first one (there were five altogether), I found – right there on the first page – that Stone was the one who created them! The class was so impressed with the first volume Stone produced in 1910 that they immediately appointed him class secretary for life. He presented the class with the fifth and final volume at their 50-year reunion in 1937, in a ceremony in the Furness library (scrapbook photo of Stone and ’87 classmate, lawyer, and former U.S. Senator George W. Pepper; second photo of the same location today):

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In this scrapbook photo, Stone (front and center) seems to be leading the parade at the class’s 25-year reunion in 1912. Note the banner, matching outfits, and Class of ’87 boater hats (modeled by Stone in inset):


Commenting on his declining health in 1936, Stone told a friend, “This autumn also brings me to the 70th milestone of my life…Next year (1937) our college class holds its 50th reunion…So I don’t want to be shot until these celebrations are completed.” Well, he made it − here’s another scrapbook photo of Stone (arrow) at the Class of ’87 50-year reunion:

IMG_5672 - CopyThe scrapbooks contain photos, menus, attendance sheets, and other similar items from the semiannual reunions (one in winter, one in summer), as well as newspaper clippings featuring class members, and – increasingly in later years – their obituaries. I spent a couple of hours that day going through the books, and it was a fascinating, time travel history experience. By the end I had such a familiarity with these guys that I felt like I’d been a member of the class. Kudos to Jim Duffin and the folks in the UP archives!

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