May 272015
President Harmon seated at desk in uniform

President Ernest Harmon at his desk, circa 1958-1960

This year represents the 65th anniversary of NU President Ernest Nason Harmon’s inauguration. President Harmon had an immeasurable lasting impact on the University. During his 15-year presidency, he oversaw a period of unprecedented growth in the student body and physical campus, instituted many practices and traditions that are an integral part of Norwich today, and ushered the University into the modern age.

Man standing up in hockey stands

President Ernest Harmon at a hockey game, 1963

President Harmon was born in Lowell, Massachusetts and attended Norwich for one year before graduating from West Point in 1917. He served in both World Wars and commanded the U.S. Constabulary, the function of which was to restore law and order to post-WWII Germany. He retired with the rank of Major General before embarking on his illustrious career at Norwich.

Man presents trophy to woman in ballgown

President Harmon presents a trophy to the Junior Ring queen, 1961

You can learn much more about President Harmon’s life, career, and legacy through his large collection of personal and administrative papers, which are available in the University Archives.

Man ice skating

President Harmon ice skating, circa early 1960s

Don’t forget that as of June 2nd, this blog will be migrating to a new website. If you primarily follow us via email subscription, you don’t need to do anything; you will continue receiving emails exactly as before. If you have us bookmarked or prefer to navigate to the site directly, you will need to make note of the new URL at We look forward to bringing you the same great content from our new home!

May 222015

As everyone here at Norwich is gearing up for the holiday weekend, we are also taking time for grateful remembrance of the service and sacrifice of our alumni, which is so deeply embedded in the history and tradition of the school. Without further ado, we wanted to share these great historical photographs of the fearless Norwich University Corps of Cadets.

Historical artillery in a field

Artillery at commencement, 1886

Cadets in formation

Corps of Cadets at commencement, 1886

Cadets at flagpole

Corps of Cadets at the newly installed flagpole on the Upper Parade, circa 1916

Cadets and horses in front of flagpole and building

Student Army Training Corps commencement, 1918

Cavalry drill

Cavalry drill on the Upper Parade, circa 1920-1925

We’d also like to announce that as of June 2nd, this blog will be migrating to a new website. If you primarily follow us via email subscription, you don’t need to do anything; you will continue receiving emails exactly as before. If you have us bookmarked or prefer to navigate to the site directly, you will need to make note of the new URL at We look forward to bringing you the same great content from our new home!

May 132015

Newspaper clipping

A few weeks ago, we had a reference inquiry from someone who wanted to know when the Cadet Creed was written. Hours of searching left us stumped–while we located the probable first-ever printing of the Cadet Creed (then called the Norwich Man’s Creed) in a 1927 issue of the Guidon, there was no reference to the date it was actually penned. Many believe that it was written in 1903, because the byline is often cited as “K.R.B. Flint, 1903,” but this simply refers to Flint’s Norwich class year.

Luckily, research in the archives is all about serendipity! While helping a different researcher with an unrelated project, we subsequently stumbled across a reprinting of the creed in a 1940 Guidon, along with this very helpful explanation:

During the summer of 1927, shortly after he had been elected the president of the General Alumni Association of the University, Prof. K.R.B. Flint wrote “A Norwich Man’s Creed.” It was after deep contemplation as to just what were the cardinal virtues of a Norwich cadet that Professor Flint composed this summary of principles while resting upon the shores of Lake Bomaseen situated in the western part of the state.

It was first printed in The Guidon in the issue for September 16, 1927–an issue devoted quite largely to the history of the Norwich system and a discussion of its advantages.

The Cadet Creed has of course since become an integral part of the Norwich identity. Stop by the University Archives to read the old Guidons and discover how it all began!

May 062015
Manuscript page

1823 Letter to Alden Partridge from Sarah Hale, author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”

We love it when random figures and events from the history of our country and our world pop up in Norwich’s historical collections, such as correspondence between Alden Partridge and multiple U.S. presidents. Today we’ve got a bit of a goofy example of this. Always hard at work with our ongoing project to digitize Alden Partridge’s correspondence, Kelly recently came across a letter to Partridge from the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”!

Portrait of a woman

Sarah Josepha Hale, circa 1831. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

In 1823, recently widowed Sarah Josepha Hale penned her first book of poetry and wrote to Captain Partridge asking him to contribute funds so that she could publish the book and support her now-fatherless five children. Though she and Partridge were not apparently acquainted, we can surmise that she reached out because of his reputation as a man of letters and of sympathy for the underprivileged. The letter is also notable because, to the best of our knowledge, Partridge did not frequently correspond with women.

Hale was ultimately successful in publishing her book–we don’t know whether it was with Partridge’s assistance–and went on to have a successful career as a writer, editor, and social activist–including, of course, the publication of a little ditty in 1830 entitled “Mary’s Lamb.” She also founded the Seamen’s Aid Society in Boston and was instrumental in lobbying for the creation of a national Thanksgiving holiday.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about this funny little connection between a classic nursery rhyme–and its impressive author–and our very own founder!

May 012015
Manuscript page

Manuscript of a play written and performed by Norwich students in 1838

It’s our mission to make documents available that tell the history of Norwich University. However, it is not uncommon for such documents to make their way into other repositories–for example, the Library of Congress and U.S. Military Academy both have holdings of Alden Partridge manuscripts. Last year, the Newberry Library in Chicago acquired the manuscript of a play about King Phillip’s War that was written and performed by Norwich students in 1838.

Manuscript page with drawings of man and building

Letter from Edward Crowell describing life at Norwich in 1839

Today we are delighted to announce that through a collaboration with the Newberry, we have made a digital version of this manuscript available on our website! We are so thrilled to be able to offer this fascinating resource to the Norwich community, in spite of the fact that the original manuscript resides hundreds of miles away. The copy that you’ll find online includes the handwritten play script, as well as a printed playbill from its performance on campus.

The University Archives holds relatively few manuscripts that give insight into life at Norwich during the 19th century. Another one of our strongest collections from this time period actually features the letters of one of the cadets who performed in this play, Edward Crowell. His communications to his parents (you can read them all online!) paint a vivid portrait of cadet life in the 1830s, and of Alden Partridge’s persona as an educator and leader. One of the letters even features a fantastic drawing of Partridge and the Norwich, Vermont campus.

Crowell is listed as a performer on the playbill for the King Phillip’s War play–we were so pleased to make this connection across time and space with one of our best loved collections!


Apr 242015

Here in the Kreitzberg Library, we’ve had construction on the brain for the last few months. Every day brings new sights, sounds, and walls that weren’t there before! You can keep up with the latest news on the library’s renovation blog.

It’s so exciting to watch the transformation to a state-of-the-art 21st-century library happen right under our noses. We thought this would be a great time to share some images of Norwich under construction throughout its history. A lot has changed in 200 years!

Building under construction

Alumni Hall under construction, 1905

Work crew in front of excavated hillside

Excavation for either Carnegie (later renamed Chaplin) Library or the heating plant, circa 1905-1907

Building foundation under construction

Foundation for Carnegie (later renamed Chaplin) Library, circa 1904-1905

Building under construction

Construction of Taylor Riding Hall, 1920. The riding hall was later converted to a hockey arena, and the Kreitzberg Arena now occupies this spot.

Team of horses and men at excavation site

Excavation for Sabine Field, circa 1921

Steel building frame

Steel structure for the new Jackman Hall, circa 1965

Apr 202015

For the last few weeks, we have been highlighting the members of our wonderful University Archives staff. The newest member of our staff, Alison, joined us in January as the Archives Associate. She is currently studying for her Master of Library and Information Science. To wrap up our “Meet the Archivist” series, Alison agreed to share with us about her experience at Norwich so far!

Why did you want to go to library school? I decided to apply to library school after volunteering at my local library.  I tutored elementary school kids, held a workshop on digital resources, and inventoried materials for the archive.  I applied to library school because I wanted to be able to connect people to information and inspire a love of learning.  My first library job was working at the University of Washington and I found I really enjoy working with college students.

What do you enjoy most about working in the Norwich Archives? My favorite part of working in the archive is working with students and helping them learn how to use archival material in their homework and research.  Sometimes archival reference questions can be teaching moments as well. Many of our visitors have never used archival sources before.

What has been the biggest difference between working in a library and an archive? The biggest difference for me has been the amount of time I spend with patrons.  When I worked in a library, I only spoke to people briefly to answer questions or check out books.  In the archives I get to spend more time getting to know our patrons and the projects they are working on. I love seeing returning visitors!

What is your favorite part of the University Archives collections (so far)? My favorite part of the archives has been working with our manuscript collection.  It is something I have never done before and it is really fascinating to read an original document written in the 1800s.  It has been fun trying to decipher Alden Partridge’s handwriting!

Apr 102015

Happy Friday! We’ve been making you read a lot lately, so we thought we’d “ring out” the week with some neat things to look at instead!

Have you ever wondered what it looks like inside the Adams Carillon Tower, which stands to the east of Jackman Hall? Our Digital Collection features these great photos of the bells’ installation in 1956:

Workmen moving a large bell

Installation of carillon bells, 1956. Click to view in our Digital Collections.

Bells on a crane next to a building frame

Installation of carillon bells, 1956. Click  to view in our Digital Collections.

Man inside a bell tower.

Installation of carillon bells, 1956. Click to view in our Digital Collections.

Don’t forget about the free summer carillon concert series that NU hosts every year! Check out the NU Carillon page for more information.

Mar 312015

One of our goals on this blog is to pull back the curtain on the work we do in the University Archives. A lot of people wonder what an archivist does, so we thought we’d introduce ourselves and explain why we love our jobs! 

How long have you worked in the Norwich University Archives and what is your role? I joined the Norwich family in October of 2003. My first years here were spent building the archives program and ensuring we followed professional standards and best practices and developed sound policies to guide and govern our work here. Initially the staff was just me – now we are a staff of four and I act as Head of the University Archives.

Why are you an archivist? Because nothing thrills me more than creating order out of chaos. We have more than 1,700 boxes of records here in the archive – that requires a whole lot of organization! When I was a very little girl I would stick little masking tape spine labels on all my Little Golden Books. I still have those books! I’m lucky – working in this field was a true calling.

What is the best part of your job? Teaching –no question! I love to work with our students and our faculty to create just the right class to help students learn archival literacy skills: the terminology, organization and how to navigate our collections. It’s an awesome moment when a student works with a primary source, perhaps a letter written by a fellow student nearly 200 years ago, and connects via a common human experience (girls, mischief, etc.). Our students will smile in recognition and it lights up my life and reminds me why I do what I do.

What is your favorite part of the University Archives collections? This is like choosing your favorite child! My favorites tend to evolve as the collection grows or my work takes me deeper into various parts of it; however, this photograph has been a favorite of mine for at least ten years.

Surveyors working in a field near cows

To me, this image is a poignant summary of who we are (via the elegant military uniforms), where we are (our rural location – cows graze peacefully alongside the students), and what we do here, our instructional mission (students doing field work in surveying, which has been taught here at NU since the beginning).