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WVU Student Scrapbook from the Jazz Age

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
July 16th, 2015

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

Lucy Shuttleworth's scrapbook and diary

Lucy Shuttleworth’s scrapbook.
Also included in this picture is Lucy’s red diary,
which had been previously acquired by the History Center.

The West Virginia and Regional History Center recently acquired the scrapbook of WVU student Lucy Shuttleworth, later Shuttleworth Dunlap.  Through this acquisition Lucy’s scrapbook is now home with her diary, and together they are complementary, the diary giving context to the artifacts in the scrapbook. 

For those interested in the history of student life at West Virginia University at the beginning of the jazz age, this scrapbook offers unique insight, since Lucy was very busy availing herself of all the entertainment available to her in Morgantown.  As she notes in her diary on October 24th, 1918 during a quiet spell, “Oh how I would love to have some excitement!  I am a nervous wreck from so much calmness.”  While the great number of dance cards, programs, and souvenirs in her diary bear witness to her restlessness, they also provide for us today an extensive archive documenting the social life of WVU students at that time.

Scrapbook page full of dance cards

A typical page of dance cards in the Shuttleworth scrapbook.

One of the dance cards in the scrapbook includes a connection to a local WVU sports celebrity, the late Eddie Barrett.  His father, class of 1922, led “Barrett’s Old Gold and Blue Orchestra,” a band that entertained locally in the 20s, including a performance at a Valentine Dance Lucy attended in 1923, as shown below.

Front page of dance card

A dance card in the Shuttleworth diary referencing “Barrett’s Old Gold and Blue Orchestra.”

Like today, movies were a favorite entertainment, and the diary mentions a number of trips to the theater.  For example, on July 26, 1918, she reports:  “To-night Myna, Irene, Marian Boyles, Rachel, Jack and I went dutch to the movies and Comuntzis.  The picture was great [starring] Constantine Talmadge in The Studio Girl.”

 Cover of Select Pictures Magazine, advertising Constance Talmadge in

Press kit item for the movie “Studio Girl,”
viewed by Lucy and her friends in 1918.
(From “The Daily Mirror” blog post regarding Hollywood pressbooks.)

 

Interior view of Communtzis soda fountain, Morgantown, WV

Communtzis soda fountain, Morgantown,
an after movie hang out for Lucy and her friends, ca. 1918.
(Photograph from the collection of the WVRHC.)

The diary also includes interesting coverage of more serious matters.  On October 5, 1918, she writes of the influenza epidemic:  “We had notice from President Trotter to close all rushing parties on account of Spanish Influenza.  The Spanish Influenza is spreading like mad, 150 of the boys have it (the Delt house has been taken over as a hospital), ten girls at the hall and five of our kids at the house.  President Trotter closed school this morning until Oct. 14 and all the kids are making a mad rush for home.”

Portrait of WVU President Frank Butler Trotter

WVU President Trotter,
who closed WVU during the Spanish Influenza pandemic in 1918.
(Photograph from the collection of the WVRHC.)

This blog, of course, can only touch on a few of the many artifacts and stories contained in the scrapbook and diary, but it can at least suggest the scope of their content.

We appreciate the generosity of the donor in allowing us to acquire, catalog, preserve, and share these precious historical documents of West Virginia University history.

To view another student scrapbook in our collection from the same era, see Recent Acquisition: Amy Moore’s Scrapbook from the Years 1917 to 1921.

View of dance cards in the Lucy Shuttleworth scrapbook

Another view of the Shuttleworth scrapbook.

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