On Thursday, Sept. 15, history enthusiasts converged on the Greenwood Museum, to attend the opening reception for the Lander University history exhibit.
The exhibit, sponsored by The Lander Foundation and created by Coordinator of Exhibits Dr. Marion Smith, is part of Lander’s sesquicentennial celebration.
Academic catalogs dating to the founding of the school, as Williamston Female College, in 1872, and the 225-pound bell, purchased in 1876, that kept the first students oriented as to the time of day, are some of the older objects on display.
A 1904 photo of Rev. Samuel Lander laying a cornerstone for Old Main, following Williamston Female College’s relocation to Greenwood, is one of numerous early photographs included in the collection. The Lander founder would not live to see the building completed, dying a short time after the photo was made.
Images from “A Brief History of Lander University,” by Samuel Lander descendent Dr. DeWitt Stone, Jr., and from “Lander University,” the new book by Lander Director of Library Services Lisa Wiecki and Associate Director of Library Services Dr. David Mash, figure prominently in the display. Another major source of material is the Larry A. Jackson Library’s collection of yearbooks, dating to 1923.
Homage is paid to Lander’s 12 presidents, and there are lots of photos of students.
Smith said that visitors “will remember a lot of these names and faces. They will come in and see pictures that might be their grandparents.”
When asked to identify the aspects of Lander’s history he finds most interesting, he singled out “its founding, and moving to Greenwood,” and its transformation from a private college for women to the public institution that exists today.
Wiecki and Mash, who attended the reception, said they were impressed by Smith’s work.
“It’s so interesting to see what we put in our book displayed in this really unique and visual exhibit that Marion put together. He’s just so creative, and so talented,” she said.
She said she was “really excited to see all the unique treasures that are from the Lander library archives,” such as the “rat hat” issued at one time to freshmen.
Mash praised Smith for doing a “top notch” job. “He’s got an artistic sensibility,” he said.
“There’s something in the human spirit that needs a connection to the past,” according to Mash, and Anna Henriksen Shey, a Lander senior from Effort, Penn., agreed.
Henriksen Shey, a public history major working as an intern at The Museum, said that the exhibit “shows the history of Lander very, very well. It’s nice to see how it’s evolved from back then to now.”
The exhibit will stay up through December 24. People can check it out Wednesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Admission to The Museum is free.
Smith invited area residents to “come and learn about the local history here in the community, and get a little bit more connected to Lander.”