At the twentieth reunion of the class of 1902, an unusual gift was given to Lehigh’s President Richards.
Before the reunion banquet, the class presented him with a large war club with a brass plate inscribed with who it was from and how to use it. The part on how to use it is missing from the artifact today.
It is thought that this artifact is a copy or mock of a ceremonial mace, which would be used in important ceremonies to represent a persons, particularly the president’s in this case, authority.
The class seemed to have an infamous reputation at Lehigh for stuff like this. In the alumni bulletins leading up to the presentation of this mace, there were many comments on the class. Class of 1902 member, “Bob” Bird said that the reunion would be a quiet one and, in response, the author of the Bulletin responded saying “If so, it will be the first time this class has ever been quiet. I think they are trying to spring a surprise on the other reunion classes.” The Reunion Committee was described as “live-wires” and the class itself was said to be “one of those dangerous small classes.”
The war club was brought to Special Collections after being discovered in Packard Laboratory storage. It is cataloged and shelved with the other curious and divergent items in the Lehigh Memorabilia Collection.
Here are the links to the Alumni Bulletin online articles about the Class of 1902:
A Day that Will be Remembered in History
On June 28, 1919, Lehigh University held its Victory Peace Reunion in celebration of the end of World War I and in mourning of the alumni who gave their lives in service to the country. According to the Lehigh Alumni Bulletin article*, Lehigh was the only University to hold a peace celebration on this day, the same day as the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Every class from 1870 to 1919 was represented in the attendance for this event. There was an event known as the P-rade that is one of the most remembered events during this celebration. Each class marched with its class flag while returning veterans held American flags and their squad numbers. The air was filled with cheers of “Lehigh! Victory!! Peace!!!” That night, the entire student populace and the returning alumni witnessed Lehigh defeat Lafayette four to one in a baseball game. The next day, memorial services were held at the chapel. Many who attended these two days said that this event would be remembered forever.
Lehigh Alumni Bulletin, volume 7, issue 1, August 1919
*LTS and Special Collections are proud to bring you digital archives of Lehigh’s historical publications such as Lehigh Alumni Bulletin (1913-1951), The Brown and White (1896-2012), The Epitome (1875-2008), Course Catalogs (1866-1994). Contact Special Collections to access to these and many other significant collections.