A portrait of UIU through digital archives

Photos from the 1926 UIU Yearbook of the Class Scrap competitions.

Foster Cass, Susan Angelina Collins, Zinita Graf, Henderson Library, The UIU Science Hall – these are all examples of people or places that can be found in the Upper Iowa University Digital Archives. The person managing these items is UIU Archivist Janette Garcia, whose main objective is to preserve and promote the history of the University.

“The digital archive is similar to an online museum,” Garcia said. “It is a collection of images, scans, oral histories and scholarly works completed by Upper Iowa faculty and students, all for the purpose of educating others on the history of UIU.”

The UIU Digital Archives have been active since August 2017 and can be viewed online at uiu.edu/digitalarchives. Garcia explained that upon reaching the website, a person has the option of browsing or searching for a specific item or topic. Currently, there are approximately 50 items found within the digital archives. Each item exhibited is a culmination of all the information the University currently has on the specific topic. Aspects such as date, location and other standard information are attached to the items discussed within the archive.

The Digital Archives also has a social media feature, which enables individuals to like and comment on the items viewed. The public is able to subscribe the site and receive an email whenever a new item is posted to the archives.

Garcia said that among the most unique listings recently posted is “Alvin Edgar and the 1921 Class Scrap.” According to an excerpt from the digital archives, the UIU freshmen and sophomore classes for many years would square off with each other in an event known as the “class scrap.” The actual competition changed throughout the years, including flag fights, push ball, tug-of-rope, and tie-up, a modified form of hide and seek.

Although conventional wisdom held that the scrap be designed so that the freshman class would win to give them a sense of victory as they embarked upon their new adventures, 1921 stands out as the year the sophomores won. The upset victory was credited to the use of intellect and creative strategic planning.

The 1921 class scrap began at 1 a.m. on the evening of October 8. From 1 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., the men of the sophomore class had the task of trying to hide from members of the freshman class. The stipulation was that they had to hide outside of buildings and remain within Fayette’s city limits. Neither the participating students nor any on-looker (as this was apparently a fun spectacle for the townspeople as well) were allowed to assist in any way.

When freshmen captured sophomores, they were to tie them up hand and foot and take them to the oval lawn near Alexander-Dickman Hall. With the freshman outnumbering the sophomore class, 39-14, the chances of the sophomores winning seemed futile. In only nine minutes the freshmen had found and hogtied each of the sophomores – with the lone exception of Alvin Edgar. The freshmen knew that Alvin  Edgar had not been captured, but they accepted a rumor that he had gone to Iowa City to attend a game between the University of Iowa and Notre Dame.

As the end of the contest approached, the freshmen began to celebrate, and the sophomores ran to the southeast corner of the field and started digging, whereupon Edgar emerged from a hole in the ground. The judges decided that he was indeed within the rules and declared victory for the sophomore class.

It was later explained that the sophomore class officers had previously agreed that they did not want to lose once again to the freshmen. Edgar, the class secretary, had the idea that they dig a hole in the field and he volunteered to hide there. During a storm the previous night they dug the hole, moved the dirt to a nearby garden, and placed a large box in the hole, complete with breathing tube, flashlight, and textbooks so he could study. They replaced the sod and hid it so well, that the football teams practiced near there that day, they did not even notice the ground was disturbed.

During the class scrap, a girl who lived nearby who could be near the field without causing comment, stayed and listened in case Edgar called for help. At 9 a.m. when they dug him up, he was pale and weak, but quickly recovered.

Garcia encourages students, faculty, staff and members of the public to view and add stories and information such as the Class Scrap to further expand the historical context of the digital archives. With their professor’s approval, students are able to submit a publication or senior project. The digital archives provide an opportunity for individual’s to grow academically through a unique task, while promoting and preserving the history of Upper Iowa University.

To view the digital archives, go to uiu.edu/digitalarchives. To view digital archives videos, visit http://tiny.cc/uiuarchives. To be notified when new videos are downloaded to the site, click the Subscribe button. For additional information, contact Janette Garcia at garciaj26@uiu.edu or at 563-425-5722.



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