Friday, June 22, 2018

Webster Hall Thronged

Last lines of letter from Booker T. Washington showing signatureDoing some research for a reference question this week, we ran across a headline in The Dartmouth from April 1908 that caught our attention: "Webster Hall Thronged to Hear Booker T. Washington." Since we reside in the venerable old Webster Hall, it was inspirational to think of him addressing the student body here in the building that had just recently opened. It took a while to build Webster Hall because it was interrupted by the need to rebuild Dartmouth Hall after it burned. But, it was seven years earlier, at the laying of the cornerstone of Webster Hall, that Booker T. Washington was again on campus to receive an honorary doctorate. So, he was here, at least on this site, twice!

The signature above is from the thank you letter Washington sent to President Tucker after the honorary degree was conferred:
You cannot appreciate how very deeply I am moved by reason of the fact that Dartmouth College has seen its way clear to confer upon me the degree of Doctor of Laws.  I cannot in the slightest degree feel I am worthy of such a distinguished honor, but I wish to assure you and your trustees that that I am deeply grateful for this recognition and that I shall accept it and try to make my work in the future for the upbuilding of the race prove that no mistake has been made. I count it as an honor as well as a great privilege to be one of the alumni of one of the oldest, most conservative and useful institution of learning in our country.
To see the letter, ask for MS 901557.1.

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