Call Number: UA-22/8

Name: A finding aid and inventory of the SGSNC and GSWC Christmas Festivals held in the Valdosta State University Archives

Dates: 1913-1999 (sporadically)                              

Size: 3 boxes                                     


The Old English Christmas Festival was a tradition that was started in 1913, at the creation of South Georgia State Normal College. It continued until 1950, with the exception of the war years, and ended with the last year of Georgia State Womans College. The Festival was characterized by the recreation of medieval holiday traditions, but was not limited to such. Ceremonies were handed down year after year, such as the creation of the Lord of the Castle, the Lord of Misrule, the fool, pages and heralds. The President of the college was usually featured as the Lord of the Castle, and the Lord of Misrule oversaw the festivities. The decorations and preparation for this festival were elaborate, and all created by student effort. Entertainment was the main event, with songs and skits planned, written, and performed by students themselves. A costumed minuet was among the festivities, and the evening was always ended by the Christmas carol Silent Night sung by candlelight. The festival reached its height in the 1920s and 30s, but was discontinued in response to World War II. When it resumed, some new things were added, such as the Hanging of the Greens and the Holly Hop (a dance). Most of the images in the collection date from 1924 to 1941. As you look at the images that date from 1944-50, the festival has changed so much it is hardly recognizable as an Old English Christmas Festival. These later images document the shift away from old traditions and the creation of new ones.

Scope and Content:

The papers consist mostly of records of the work that went into planning Christmas events. This work can be divided into four groups; committee plans, memoranda, graphic art, and memorabilia.

Committee planning: Represents the beginning process of creating the school festivals. They include business letters, guest lists, invitation lists, duty lists, was well as rough drafts of event programs, directions for decoration, lyrics of suggested music, and material lists. Most of this material exists in its original form, although there are some photocopies. Also included in this category are handwritten notes to and from faculty members, and reminders to self about ideas for event planning. Correspondents include college President James R. Thaxton, Leonora Ivey (head of Physical Education), Ruth Parker Jenkins (Dean of Women), Dr. Tayloe Harding, Joan Bailey, Thera Hambrick, and Susan E. Thomas.

Memoranda: Includes circulated reminders to faculty and participants of what is being planned. They include flyers, typed mimeograph copies of programs, and participant directions. They represent the semi-finalized plans for festivities.

Graphics: Ranges from black and white magazine pictures to watercolor paintings by artists M. Small and W. Parrish. Costumes design for Lady Bountiful, reindeer, ice-skaters, marching band members, Foolish Funnies, Certayne Dancers, The Morris Men, the Lords of Misrule, Pages, Court Fools, Knights of the Hobby Horse, St. George and the Dragon, a peasant girl, Swiss mountaineers, Greeks, a Gay 90s Girl, a shepherd, clowns, and minuets are included. Also preserved are the magazine clippings which inspired the costume designs, and their sources including McCall’s Pattern CatalogThis Week magazine, The Ladies Home JournalThe Detroit Free PressThe Atlanta JournalThe New York Times, and School Arts Magazine. Pictures of popular culture icons of the 1920s and 30s such as actors Dorothy Gish and Maurice Chevalier are included in this collection and reflect of the entertainment influences of the time. Some costume plans include fabric swatches as well as cost of materials during that period.

Memorabilia: Represents the end result of all the planning. They include original Christmas programs from years past, old Christmas cards, and excerpts from the college’s earlier publications. Some notable correspondence is that of author Ebele Eko to a member of staff. Some of the old college customs described in the handbook are The Hat Picnic, May Day, Thursday Night Supper, After Dinner Coffee, Big Sister-Little Sister Week, Campus Songs, Thanksgiving Dinner, Valentine’s Day, and Easter. Related newspaper articles reporting on the college festivities are also included in this section.

Subject Headings:

Old English Christmas Festival

Glee Club

Eko, Ebele

Georgia State Womans College at Valdosta

South Georgia State Normal College

Ivey, Leonora

The Campus Canopy

Costume Design

Campus Traditions/College Customs

Thaxton, James R.

Christmas decorations

May Day Celebration


The papers include the following parts:

Box 1: Christmas Feast Programs

[Folder 1] Two original programs, one reproduction

[Scroll 1] 1927 program

[Scroll 2] 1928 program

[Scroll 3] 1929 program

[Scroll 4] 1933 program

[Scroll 5] 1935 program

[Scroll 6] 1940 program

[Scroll 7] 1941 program

[Scroll 8] 1950 program

[Scroll 9] unknown date

[Scroll 10] unknown date

[Scroll 11] unknown date (1924)

Box 2: Programs, Preparations, and Costume Design

[Folder 1] Christmas Tea Preparation (1957-1964)

[Folder 2] Photo copied Materials (1913- 1991 sporadically)

[Folder 3] Copies of Costume Design and Event Photos

[Folder 4] Campus Canopy articles (1934-45, 1957)

[Folder 5] Costume Plans (1932, 1957)

[Folder 6] Costume Sketches (undated)

Box 3: Programs, Preparations, and Costume Design

[Folder 1] Preparations (1944-59 sporadically)

[Folder 2] Festival Dancer Information (1930)

[Folder 3] Description of Job Title

[Folder 4] Programs (1913-41)

[Folder 5] Preparations (1913-41)

[Folder 7] Programs (1946-48)

[Folder 8] Preparations for Party (1948)

[Folder 9] Preparations (1950)

[Folder 10] Programs (1949-1950)

[Folder 11] Christmas Tea Preparation (1952-56)

[Folder 12] Preparations (1949)

[Folder 13] Costume Ideas: Artwork from magazines, watercolor, fabric swatches (1919, 1926, 1928, 1932, 1939)

[Folder 14] Christmas Festival Memorabilia- publications and a commemorative napkin (1930, 1934, 1937, 1999)

[Folder 15] Costume Sketches: Watercolor, fabric swatches (1931-32)

Processing Date: 3/02/05

Author of Finding Aid: Rachelle Hostetler for History 3000, Dr. Dunn