Spirited: Cheers to RIT School Spirit

School spirit is the enthusiastic expression of support for an academic institution, commonly expressed through school colors, mascots, sports teams, and songs. This exhibit traces the fascinating history of how school spirit was expressed, from the earliest days of the Mechanics Institute to today by RIT students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Through vintage photographs, archival documents, and memorabilia from the RIT Archive Collections as well as personal collections, it examines the ways in which school spirit was initiated by students, faculty, and staff of RIT eager to demonstrate their pride.

This exhibition has been a long time in the making. The idea first emerged as a hypothetical display proposed by Jennifer Roeszies and Lisa Witt, museum studies majors, and employees of The Wallace Center, as a project for a museum studies course taught by Professor Rebecca DeRoo during the 2015-16 school year. Two years later, in the fall 2017, the idea was brought to fruition as part of another course, Cultural Informatics (MUSE 359) taught by Professor Juilee Decker, which fosters an annual collaboration between the Museum Studies Program and the RIT Archives to curate from the collections.

Under the direction of Decker and Associate Archivist, Jody Sidlauskas, the following students created the display on view here: Lizzy Carr, Mitchell Cartner, Dante Edgar, Kaye Knoll, Daniel Krull, Elisha Muir, Seth Newburgh, Jen Roeszies, and Anna Vernacchio. Each student researched, selected, and designed one of the nine exhibit cases you see here. In the process of bringing the hypothetical into the actual, the exhibition plan was constrained in some areas and expanded in others—a process that speaks to the iterative work of curation.

For more information on the process of creating this exhibition, see https://ritmuse.wordpress.com/.

Mary Anne Cross-Ehasz Collection

Mary Anne Cross was an Art and Design student at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her design skill was acknowledged by RIT’s adoption of her logo design for the university’s official seal from 1956 to 1966. In fact, it was Mary Anne who first utilized the dots between the three letters in the acronym RIT. Even though the university changed logos again in 1966, Mary Anne’s influence on the aesthetics of the logo remain. Just take a peek at the seal she created in this exhibit to see the similarities with our present day logo.

 

Robert Bagby Photographs and Other Material
A success in his field, Robert C. Bagby (1896-1972) traveled around the world helping to shoot advertisements for various companies and organizations. Awarded the title of "Fellow" in the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain in 1948, by 1953, he closed his firm in New York City and accepted a position at RIT in the university's School of Photography. To our twenty-first-century eyes, Bagby's photography seems to reveal much about the society, culture, and stereotypes of our Western world in regard to the "other."

Wiltsie and Field Families Collection

The collection materials span more than 100 years of history (1852-1967) associated with the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute and the Rochester Institute of Technology from these two families who have held long ties to the university and its predecessors. Of interest is the material pertaining to the Wiltsie Watercolor Prize, established by Charles H. Wiltsie, who served as a trustee for RAMI from 1892 until 1914. The award was given annually from 1892-1943.

RIT's Downtown Campus

RIT's long history begins in 1829 with the founding of The Athenaeum, twelve years after the incorporation of Rochester as a town. In 1885, Henry Lomb, Max Lowenthal, Frank Ritter and others founded the Mechanics Institute. These two organizations merged in 1891 to become the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute.  It wasn't until 1944 that the Institute believed they needed a name change to give it a more modern identity.  Rochester Institute of Technology continued growing in their downtown Rochester location until 1968 when they moved to Henrietta.

The Heyday of RIT Women's Fencing 1953-1957

The RIT women’s fencing team is still remembered for their stellar performances and four season winning streak. They  managed to win every match they competed in from 1953 until 1957.  A record of that kind was previously unheard of for the RIT fencing team. This success resulted in many national championships and one member, Barbi Brill, actually qualified to try out for the Olympics.

Recently, the RIT Archives received a collection from Jackie Carson, the daughter of Art Plouffe. Art Plouffe was the fencing coach during the 1950's and 1960's. This exhibit contains images and news articles from this collection that documents the successes of this team, and highlights a spectacular time in RIT women's sports.

Skating through the decades of men's hockey at RIT

RIT’s hockey program began as a club team in the fall of 1959.  In 1962, the team became part of the Finger Lakes Collegiate Hockey League. Three years later in 1965, men’s ice hockey became an official varsity sport.  Since then, the team has played in Division III and Division II and most recently in 2005, the Tigers moved up to the elite Division I level and joined the Atlantic Hockey Association.

This website is the digital version of the exhibit that ran from October 2011 through March 2012 in the RIT Museum featuring five decades of photographs and memorabilia found in the RIT Archive Collections. The exhibit was greatly enhanced by donations from hockey alumni who generously loaned their jerseys, equipment, scrapbooks, and the memories they still hold of playing hockey at RIT. Included is a history of the famous RIT Corner Crew established in the 1980’s as ardent hockey supporters making their presence known at every game.

Use the Contact Us button above to let us know what you think of the exhibit. Thanks!

Harry Lang Collection on Robert Panara

This collection consists of the research files compiled and used by Harry Lang when writing his book, Teaching From the Heart and Soul: The Life and Work of Robert F. Panara. Born and raised in the Bronx, Robert Panara lost his hearing to spinal meningitis in 1931, at the age of ten. In 1967, he was hired by NTID where, for the next twenty years, Panara educated not only his students, but also the world about literature, poetry, and communication.

 

Ruth E. Gutfrucht Design Collection
This collection looks at the life and work of Ruth E. Gutfrucht, a professor of design at RIT from 1947-1981. The collection contains copy prints of Gutfrucht's calligraphy and publications that included her design work as well as examples of work created by her students.

NTID Dedication

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the National Technical Institute for the Deaf Act and the search for a permanent site to host a new NTID was soon underway. On November 14, 1966, Representative Hugh Carey officially announced the selection of RIT as the site for NTID; the subsequent years were to be of vital importance for the establishment of the new campus.  

Throughout the next several years, NTID and RIT worked tirelessly to provide education and training that would change employment outlook for deaf graduates. Although the final building designations would not be until 1979, the Dedication ceremony of the NTID Facilities in October,1974 marked an important milestone; the Dedication is still considered one of the most memorable events in the institute’s history.