Thursday, April 27, 2017

#TBT in the Archives 4/27/17: Rail Trail

Throughout this academic year, a lot of construction has happened on the south end of campus. However, in contrast to other recent campus construction, this earth-moving hasn't involved new buildings. Instead, crews are blazing new trails - by extending the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail.

The Cumberland Valley Rail Trail stretches 11 miles from Shippensburg to Newville along a right-of-way previously used by the Cumberland Valley Railroad. It's a multi-use trail open to all ages, and accommodates pedestrians, cyclists, and horses on a route that traverses beautiful rural Cumberland County. Volunteer organization Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails has been working for 20 years to establish, maintain and expand the trail, which is free to use.

A CVRR train passes south of Old Main. The steam plant is pictured at left.
On the Shippensburg University campus, recent construction on the trail includes extending the route from Fogelsanger Road to North Earl Street, as well as a new pedestrian bridge stretching over Fogelsanger Road connecting campus to Britton Park. But why has the university gotten involved in this project?
This image from the 1900-1901 CVSNS catalog shows the Cumberland Valley Railroad crossing what is now Prince Street.
When Cumberland Valley State Normal School opened in 1873, Shippensburg was served by three railroads - the Cumberland Valley Railroad, the Western Maryland Railroad, and Philadelphia & Reading Railroad. Chartered in 1837, the Cumberland Valley Railroad ran from Harrisburg to Chambersburg, passing through Shippensburg. Tracks ran adjacent to campus - following the route traced by the new rail trail extension - before continuing south on Earl Street to a station that was located in the area of what is now the Shippensburg Beverage Center.

Western Maryland Railroad and the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad had an agreement to share a station located in the vicinity of the 7-11 on West King Street, as well as tracks. Western Maryland ran south to Chambersburg and Maryland, while P&R traveled north towards Harrisburg.

Passengers wishing to ride CVRR and transfer to another line had to walk several blocks between stations to switch trains. But Shippensburg students riding CVRR at the beginning and end of each term had the benefit of being dropped off on campus because the line ran along the south edge of school property. A stone kiosk stood in front of Old Main near what is now Prince Street to handle students and their baggage.
This kiosk stood on the CVRR at Cumberland Valley State Normal School for use by students at the beginning and end of each term.
Look closely at this image of campus and you'll see the kiosk in front of Old Main, roughly in the middle of the frame.
The special station must have been invaluable to students in an era where cars did not exist and it would have been foolish and expensive to take a horse away from family to keep on campus for months at a time. It was so important to student life that railroad information was featured in the CVSNS catalog from the 1880s until the first decade of the 1900s.

CVSNS Catalog, 1899-1900, page 8.

SU Archives & Special Collections has a variety of photos that show the railroad on campus, including photos in historic catalogs and images on display. To check out those images, make an appointment at

Charles Pague, Burkhart Collection, Shippensburg Historical Society, Shippensburg, PA.
Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails homepage, (Accessed April 24, 2017).
Cumberland Valley State Normal School Catalog, 1899-1900, 8.
Cumberland Valley State Normal School Catalog, 1900-1901, 25.
Cumberland Valley State Normal School Catalog, 1901-1902, 16.
Cumberland Valley State Normal School Catalog, 1902-1903, 1.
Cumberland Valley State Normal School Catalog, 1903-1904, 1.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

#TBT in the Archives 4/20/17: Herbaria

The warmer weather of spring brings picnics, baseball and frisbee games, and studying with friends outdoors to the Shippensburg campus. In the 1890s, spring also brought much-anticipated adventures in botany for Cumberland Valley State Normal School seniors. 

As a requirement of graduation, students in the elementary course had to take one term of botany under the guidance of Professor Joseph F. Barton. At the end of the class, they had to produce an herbarium of at least 40 species of plants. Shippensburg University Archives & Special Collections has six herbaria produced by Dr. Barton's students.

An herbarium by R.H. Cunningham includes an ornate cover lettered in gold ink.

What's an herbarium? In the case of CVSNS, it was a scrapbook of dried plants and specimens, and their descriptions. Descriptions included common and botanical names, and in some cases, where and when the students collected the plants. The projects were small-scale siblings to larger herbaria collected by scientists and large universities.

In this herbarium Dill Stevens, Class of 1899, arrayed Judas Tree specimens in the shape of a cross.

According to the CVSNS catalog, botany students were tasked with learning how to observe plant life in order to make identification on sight. To do this, botany classes took at least one exploratory excursion a week for field work. 

Mary Kerr Hays Main's herbarium includes botanical information about the blood root.

Several of the herbaria in the archives include listings of where the students found the plants. Locations listed include "Old Main Veranda," "C.V.R.R. tracks" or local farm fields identified by farmer. 

Wild carrot specimens included in Fannie Geiger's herbarium include the name of the field where she collected the specimen and the date of the collection.

Other herbaria include general habitat information where plants could be found. Although students were only required to include 40 specimens in their books, the Class of 1897 was reported to include between 60 and 70 in their collections.

Pampas Grass collected by Nellie Geiger specified the plant could be found in lowlands.

Each of the books is tied together with ribbon or cord, and includes dried, pressed specimens mounted on thick pages. The six books in the archives date from 1892 to 1899 and at 120-125 years old, many of them are in great shape, offering a fascinating look at class projects in the 1890s. In 2017, scientists are using historic herbaria to study the history of plants and how ecosystems have evolved or survived over time.

You can see herbaria as well as other scrapbooks from students of the past at Archives & Special Collections. Just make an appointment by emailing

Cumberland Valley Normal School Catalog, 1888-1889.
Cumberland Valley Normal School Catalog, 1893-1894, 41.
Normal School Herald, Shippensburg, PA, July 1897, 28-29.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ship Earth Day Celebration: Thursday April 20, 2017

Shippensburg Campus Earth Day Celebration

Academic Quad, April 20th 11am - 4pm

SEAS will be hosting the Earth Day celebration on Thursday Aptil 20th from 11:00 - 4:00.  Featuring booths and activities by student and local groups and companies:  SEAS, Solarcity, PMI, Counseling Center, Phi Sigma Pi, Beta Beta Beta, GTU, Cycling Club, GESO, Kappa Delta Phi, Spanish Club, Delta Zeta, Equestrian Club, FUSE, Dining Services, Fencing Club, The Slate, Maker Club, Health Sciences Club, and others.

Activities Include:

  • Solar cookout
  • Bike powered milkshakes
  • Games & prizes
  • DIY Recycled crafts
  • Bike repairs
  • Electronics drop off for recycling
  • Plastic bag drop off for recycling
  • Live music
  • And more!
SEAS, Students for Environmental Action and Sustainability,

Shippensburg Campus Earth Day Celebration Thursday April 20th from 11:00-4:00.
Students for Environmental Action and Sustainability (SEAS) will be hosting the Earth Day celebration. Featuring booths and activities by student and local groups and companies.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

National Library Week Wrapup: Why We Love the Library

To celebrate National Library Week, April 9-15, we put a poster board in the Reference area and invited anyone to take a paper heart, write a response to the prompt “Tell Us Why You Love Your Library!” and post it on the display.

We also offered Hershey’s Kisses on April 10 and cookies on April 11. We had a very positive response. Here's a breakout of response themes:

Tell Us Why You Love Your Library
Theme Hearts %
Positive Learning/Study Environment 19 18%
Staff/Librarians/Service 16 16%
Student Workers 13 13%
Learning Center 11 11%
Computers/Scanners/Printing 9 9%
Social Environment 8 8%
Quiet Areas 7 7%
Cookies/Cookies with President 7 7%
Books/Reading 7 7%
Tech Help 3 3%
Starbucks 3 3%

Thursday, April 13, 2017

#TBT in the Archives 4/13/17: CVSNS Historic District

Shippensburg University is fortunate to retain its five original academic buildings, which are still used today by students, administrators and faculty as offices and classrooms and in the case of one building, a residence.

Built between 1873 and 1915, Old Main, Stewart Hall, Horton Hall, Martin House, and Gilbert Hall comprise the Cumberland Valley State Normal School Historic District. The district was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 11, 1985.

Old Main renovations in 1983. The university began work to include the building in the Cumberland Valley State Normal School Historic District during the project.

Finished in 1873, Old Main is the original college building and originally hosted all school facilities until the 1890s. Designed by Samuel Sloan, the Classical Revival building was renovated in 1983-1984. The university nominated Old Main and the other four buildings for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places based on their architectural styles and preservation.

Stewart Hall in the late 1930s.

Stewart Hall, designed by Arthur P. Rosser, was constructed between 1893 and 1895 in the Romanesque Revival style. Originally the school gymnasium, Stewart Hall was later home to the Communications Journalism Department before its current role hosting Theatre Department labs and art studios.

Horton Hall in the 1970s.

Also built in the 1890s, Horton Hall was the second building constructed in the Romanesque Revival style. The building, connected to Old Main by a second-floor bridge, was the CVSNS women's dorm before being converted to offices and the Women's Center.

Martin House in the early 1990s, when it was the home of President Anthony Ceddia.

Martin House was completed in 1908. Designed by Maurice R. Rhoads, the classical-style house is named after its first resident, Principal Samuel Martin and is today the university president's house.

A 1920s postcard showing Gilbert Hall when it was the model school at CVSNS.

Gilbert Hall was the last building to be completed in the historic district. Constructed as the model school in the second decade of the 1900s, it was also designed by Rhoads in the Renaissance Revival style. Today the building is home to classrooms and Multicultural Student Affairs.

The university's application to establish the historic district was signed by the state historic preservation officer on April 19, 1984. This officer, from the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission, certified the five buildings were important architectural remnants from their period and confirmed the historic district has state significance because of its history as a state normal school. The National Register, a component of the National Park Service, approved the district eight months later.

SU Archives & Special Collections has a copy of the original application to the National Register of Historic Preservation as well as historic photos of these and many other buildings on campus at various times throughout the university's history. To learn more, email

National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form, Record Group 24, Subgroup 24.8, Box 1, Folder 15. Shippensburg University Archives & Special Collections, Shippensburg, PA.
Photographs: Buildings and Structures on Campus, Record Group 30, Box 1 and Box 1a. Shippensburg University Archives & Special Collections, Shippensburg, PA.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

National Library Week: Take Action for Libraries

Image courtesy of American Library Association
Take Action for Libraries Day
Join with libraries and communities to safeguard funding for the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which serves as a critical funding resource for libraries and museums in every state. IMLS funding supports literacy programs for youth, small business service centers, services for veterans, and much more.

During Take Action for Libraries Day, the American Library Association (ALA) encourages communities, library employees, and library patrons to advocate for full funding of IMLS to safeguard federal funding for our nation’s libraries. Please fight for libraries by making at least five calls to your federal legislators to ask for full support of IMLS funding.

“We must stand-up and voice our support for libraries to legislators and local, state and federal leaders,” said ALA President Julie Todaro. “Librarians and library workers transform lives every day though educational resources and expert guidance. While many value the contributions of libraries, libraries can’t live on love alone. The loss of crucial federal funding will have a profound impact on library service and the more than 1. 5 billion who rely on them.

In Philadelphia, IMLS and other federal funding is used to support print and digital collections, databases and business resources. Cuts at the federal level will negatively impact library job training. Literacy services that are available to the city’s most vulnerable and marginalized members will be reduced or eliminated. Philadelphia’s unemployed, low literacy, and immigrant populations will have fewer resources to choose from, and the thousands of citizens that rely on the library for internet access will experience a deeper digital divide.

Shippensburg-area federal legislators include:
Senator Toomey, Senator Casey
Representative Perry (4th District), Representative Shuster (9th District), Representative Marino (10th District), Representative Barletta (11th district)
Map of PA Congressional Districts