Memories of a College Life

Each class of Wheaton College brings new traditions, experiences, and stories to the long history of the campus. One of the ways the College Archives seeks to preserve these transitory memories is by collecting student scrapbooks. With their rich ephemera of college life – jokes, notes, invitations, photographs, and other mementos – student scrapbooks offer a glimpse into a strange yet familiar past. While clothing has changed, new buildings have appeared, and student groups have come and gone, these scrapbooks document the continued vibrancy and experimentation of a liberal arts college education. Here are the snapshots of jaunts off-campus, the portraits of new friends, the paper remains of events (official and unofficial), and the scraps from the programs and clubs that come to define many students’ college experience.

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Music to the Glory of God

Dr. Hans Rookmaaker (SC-18, Box 25)

The meeting of Hans Rookmaaker, a Dutch art critic, and Mahalia Jackson, a Black American gospel singer seems, at first impression, unlikely. Yet, archives are full of such improbable pairings.

Born February 27th, 1922, in the Netherlands, Hans Rookmaaker came to adulthood under the storm of Nazism and war. As the Dutch Nazi Party organized, teenaged Hans pursued a growing interest in art and music, developing an abiding passion for jazz. Spending his pocket money on albums and phonograph needles; some of his favorites included Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday. Under the Nazi occupation, Hans joined the Underground Press and agreed to distribute anti-Nazi leaflets. Arrested after his first night, he was eventually freed through his father’s political connections. However, in 1943, thousands of Dutch reservists, including Hans, were “officially” enlisted for service at a collecting center where they were herded into trains and transported to concentration camps.

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