From the Archives: Club Banners

By - Library Web Services / Archives Assistant May 10th, 2011

Most people who look up and notice the club banners on display in the lobby of the Blass Club House probably associate them with the club sports competition begun at St. Paul’s School in 1888. In actuality the Isthmian, Delphian and Old Hundred banners have nothing to do with sports. Their origins have more in common with this year’s revived Club Cup competition than with the sports-only club rivalries that are a better-known part of school history.

The club banners were the inspiration of Samuel Smith Drury, Rector of St. Paul’s School from  1911 to 1938. In the Spring 1921 Alumni Horae he described his new plan to use the existing rivalries from the club sports competitions to inspire academic excellence among the students:

It occurred to some of us that we might utilize commendable athletic club rivalry in the realm of studies. So we took all the examination marks and by reckoning to what club each boy belonged, we found that a certain club led the School in studies. At the reading of the ranking I had the banner of that club on the desk, and then handed it to Davis I, the captain of the Hockey Team, asking him to place that banner in the Big Study until another club by its average won the privilege.

In a letter dated December 21, 1922, Drury asks John Gregory Wiggins, family friend and original carver of the Form Plaques located in the Upper Dinning Hall of Coit, if he would send along “any designs you may have of your rendering of the Old Hundred, Isthmian and Delphian emblems to be used on scholastic banners.” A few months later, in the Spring 1923 Alumni Horae, the School in Action entry announces:

At the recent half-term ranking the silk banners presented by Mr. F. Kingsbury Curtis (79) were used for the first time. The body of the banner is of the club color, the name in white letters above and the club emblem below. The Delphian Club led in scholarship for this period, an honor held by the Isthmians at both rankings in the Fall.

This documents the first time the club banners that we now have on display in the Blass Club House were used to reward academic excellence among the club teams. Later, in the Winter 1930 edition of the Alumni Horae, Drury reminds readers of the purpose of the stars on the banners:

You will remember that at each ranking one of the three Clubs wins a star for its banner by out-ranking the other two in studies.

It isn’t clear how long this tradition was carried out at St. Paul’s School, or how frequent the rankings took place, but by counting the stars it is clear who dominated the competition: Isthmian had 54 stars,  Old Hundred had 36 stars, and Delphian had 24 stars.

Elements of the tradition started by Samuel Smith Drury have been revived by the new Club Cup competition this year, which awards points for scholastic as well as athletic achievements.  Drury’s enthusiasm for the academic banners comes through in his writing in the Alumni Horae, and it is easy to imagine that he would be just as excited by the new Club Cup competition.

Read more about the Club Banners HERE.

Read more about the history of the club system HERE.

The Year in Review: 1910

By - Library Web Services / Archives Assistant December 9th, 2010

The Record of 1910 and 1911, School publications covering the 1910-1911 academic year,  provide some insight into what student life was like one hundred years ago.  The Reverend Dr. Henry Ferguson was Rector, only the third Rector in the School’s then fifty-four year history.  Interestingly, Ferguson served as Rector from 1906 to 1911, a one-hundred year parallel to our current – and retiring – Rector, William R. Matthews, Jr.

In 1910, Kimball Studio of Concord took this photograph of the entire School.  The Record tells us that there were 328 students, all boys,  with 1.5% of them listed as coming from outside the United States.  In 2010, the students number 537, with a roughly equal portion of girls to boys,  and 18% coming from outside the U.S.

Club sports were a very large part of student life in 1910, and The Record is full of statistics from the various competition results. For example, in addition to the main SPS football team of eleven students (whose average weight, The Record informs us, was 165 lbs.), each of the Clubs – Isthmian, Old Hundred, and Delphian – had three football teams: First, Second and Third Elevens.  That must have made for a lot of football games!  The Isthmian First Elevens won the championship that year with a 4 – 0 record, scoring a total of 33 points. In 2010, the Club Cup was organized to help renew interest in the long tradition of Club spirit at St. Paul’s School.

One hundred years ago, on December 5th, The Record notes the first skating on School Pond, and two days later the last two hours of classes were given off as a skating holiday.  On December 8th, Long Pond was “entirely open for skating.” Although Lower School Pond has only a thin skim of ice today, it won’t be long before the rinks are set up and the sound of freshly sharpened skates scraping against the ice will be heard outside Ohrstrom Library.  For all the differences that have emerged over the last one hundred years, there are still some things that would be comfortingly familiar to the students of 1910.

From the Archives: Delphian Football Eleven, 1897

By - Library Web Services / Archives Assistant April 1st, 2010

The following photo from the St. Paul’s School Archives, located in the basement of Ohrstrom Library, was scanned recently as part of the planning process for a digitization project.  From time-to-time we will be sharing some of these newly scanned images on the Ohrstrom Blog to provide a glimpse into the wealth of visual history contained within the Archives’ photo collections.

The first photo in this blog series is of the Delphian Club football team from 1897.  Each of the three clubs at St. Paul’s School – the Isthmian Club, the Old Hundred Club (both founded in 1859),  and the Delphian Club (founded in 1888), had three strings of eleven players on their club football teams.  This photo is likely of the first string, the Eleven I.  It is easy to imagine that the Delphian Club colors of maroon and black are being worn  in this photo.

Although there are no names listed on the photo itself, The Record, St. Paul’s School, 1898, lists the members of “The Delphian Club Foot-Ball Elevens, Fall, 1897”  as follows:

Henry Blackstone Farrar, Captain

Line: Prescott M. Metcalf, Ethelbert I. Low, Ernest T. H. Metcalf, Douglas Kimball, Peter F. Rothermel, Robert W. Glendinning, Franklin Farrel, Jr.

Quarter-Back: Henry B. Farrar

Half-Backs: William C. Douglas, William Frew

Full-Back: Lion Gardiner

Fall of 1897 was not a good season for the Delphians – they didn’t win any of the four games played, and scored zero points.  An average of the previous ten years has them in better standing, winning 18 of a possible 38 games, and putting them second to the Isthmian’s record of 30 out of 38.  This detail of the photo gives a better view of the clothing worn to play football at that time – very little padding and quite a few rips and  tears.