Tag Archives: pepperdine history

The Pepperdine Rock and more: Introducing Today’s Featured Digital Object

Welcome back students, faculty, and staff! Over the summer, Pepperdine University Libraries started this twice-monthly blog designed to feature an item from our digital collections, which include a wide range of digitized rare and unique materials from our archives and special collections. Each featured digital object tells a fascinating story about Pepperdine’s history, scholarship, and mission, and some additionally shed light on the cultural heritage of the Malibu.

Disco is Dead!

For example, have you ever wondered about the origin of the brightly painted Pepperdine Rock in front of the Tyler Campus Center? This yearbook photo from 1983 reveals just how much it has grown in the intervening years. Or perhaps the giant wooden American eagle that greets visitors to Payson Library caught your eye—where did that come from? You can click here to see a complete list of our featured digital object blog entries to date, and please stay tuned to the library website for new entries every two weeks.

We also invite you to visit our Pepperdine Digital Collections directly, where you can find over 6000 digitized photographs, a complete run of the Pepperdine yearbook, student scholarship, a digital surfboard collection, and much more.

Betty Ford at Pepperdine: Today’s featured digital object

Betty Ford and Pearl Williams

As we say goodbye to Betty Ford, who passed away last Saturday, we remember her not just as the consummate first lady, but as a great friend of Pepperdine University. Mrs. Ford made two notable appearances at Pepperdine during her husband’s presidency. On May 19, 1975, at the height of her battle with breast cancer, Mrs. Ford made a special appearance at Pepperdine’s Foster Grandparents Day ceremony, which took place at the old Los Angeles campus. The ceremony honored 109 elderly volunteers in a federally sponsored, Pepperdine administered program that matched at-risk and developmentally challenged children with elder companions. In this photo, we see Mrs. Ford congratulating Pearl Williams, the oldest of the foster grandparents, who also celebrated her 106th birthday at the event.

Later that same year, on September 20, Betty Ford returned to Pepperdine University, this time to Malibu to accompany her husband’s dedication of the Brock House and the Firestone Fieldhouse. Notably, the great benefactor honored at this event, ambassador Leonard K. Firestone, would go on to provide the financial backing for the Betty Ford Center in 1982.

In honor of her memory, I invite you to view photographs of Betty Ford at these Pepperdine events in our University Archives digital photograph collection.

The Rock: Today’s featured digital object

Disco is Dead!

Do you recognize our beloved Pepperdine Rock? In the photograph above, which appears in the 1983 yearbook with the caption “Disco is DEAD, but the Rolling Stones live on,” the Rock is noticeably smaller and is paired with a tiny companion. In the intervening decades, the Rock has “grown” through countless coats of paint at the hands of Pepperdine University undergraduates to its current impressive size, and has emerged as one of the most persistent student traditions in Pepperdine’s history.

Situated in Adamson Plaza at a busy foot-traffic intersection, the Rock changes color and message several times a week during the academic year. Undercover of night, student groups paint the Rock anew, often surrounding it with elaborate decorations. In doing so, generations of Malibu campus students have carried on the Pepperdine College tradition of painting and decorating (and stealing) the fountain statue named Dolores that graced the heart of the old Los Angeles campus. The Rock, as Dolores’ descendent—although decidedly less anthropomorphic and a great deal harder to steal—occupies a similar place in the student experience in Malibu.

According to Pepperdine myth-history, the Rock traces its origins to one night in 1980 when members of the Sigma Epsilon fraternity hauled a 400-pound boulder to Adamson Plaza. The Rock, often called “Greek Rock,” quickly became the campus shorthand message board, providing a space for political messages, famous quotes, announcements, birthday greetings, event advertisements, and memorials (and, of course, astute commentaries on passing music fads). The tradition of building elaborate, float-like structures around the Rock began in the late 1980s. Around this time, the Rock was also (somehow) stolen and quickly returned.

You can follow the history of the Rock and other student traditions in our digitized Pepperdine Yearbook Collection, which is fully searchable and current up to 2006.

Pepperdine Digital Collections featured item: Dolores!

With this post, I’m launching a blog series designed to highlight some of the rare and unique digital objects (photographs, historical papers, monographs, student publications, films, etc.) that compose Pepperdine University Libraries’ digital collections. It is our mission to scour the best of our Special Collections and University Archives, digitize hidden materials, and make these fascinating gems available for research and/or pleasure online. My goal here is to pick just one of these digital discoveries to feature in a twice-monthly blog.

Doleres at night

Fountain statue Dolores at Pepperdine College

And where better to begin than Dolores? Long before Willie the Wave, the unofficial icon of the Pepperdine community took the form of a demure two-year-old girl carved in stone and placed atop the fountain that marked the heart of the old George Pepperdine College (GPC) campus in Los Angeles. Shortly after she appeared in 1941—four years after the founding of GPC—the students that gathered around the fountain to socialize between classes dubbed the statue “Dolores.” Although her name has multiple origin myths, I’m most partial to its derivation from “Dolor,” a mythological nymph that personifies sorrow (and possibly the official name of the statue). Still, this moniker seems oddly wistful given her calming, cherubic presence.

Over her nearly fifty-year history in the Pepperdine spotlight, the college grew and changed around her, and Dolores changed too. The flipside of the reverence bestowed upon her by the students was that she was also the focus of student rituals (decorating, dressing, or painting her, much like the Pepperdine Rock today) and pranks (she was stolen several times and occasionally damaged). In the photo I’ve chosen, she appears in her final form, beautifully lit at night amidst her waterworks.

After Seaver College opened in Malibu in 1972, Dolores remained on the Los Angeles campus (which continued to serve graduate students) before finally making the move to Malibu in 1982. She was given a place of honor in front of the Tyler Campus Center. Sometime in the late 1980s she disappeared once again. This time she did not return, and her era quietly came to an end. Visit the University Archives Photograph Collection to see more photos of Dolores from throughout her surprisingly active life.

Pepperdine Digital Collections now online

Pepperdine College CheerleaderPepperdine University Libraries announces the opening of its new online digital collections. Through the digitization and display of rare or unique materials, each extraordinary collection provides a unique perspective on the history and scholarship of Pepperdine University and the cultural legacy of Malibu.

View the Pepperdine Digital Collections here.

Inaugural collections include:

The Pepperdine Yearbook Collection: A complete and searchable collection of the Pepperdine University yearbooks through its various incarnations as a bound publication (1939-2006).

The University Archives Photograph Collection: This ever-growing collection presents high-resolution digital renditions of the thousands of photographic prints, slides and negatives that compose the Pepperdine University archival image collection, dating from its founding in 1937.

John Mazza Historic Surfboard Collection: Featuring over thirty surfboards from the personal collection of Malibu resident John Mazza, this collection represents the evolution of surfing and surfboard technology in the twentieth century. Examples range from the 1910’s to living legends; even Gidget’s surfboard is represented. Digital imagery allows the viewer to focus on various angles and aspects of each board.

The Bruce Herschensohn Collection: This expanding collection features the personal papers of this important politician, scholar, and filmmaker, including his notes, correspondence, media clippings, films, and other ephemera.

Electronic Theses and Dissertations: The ETD collection includes recent graduate level theses and dissertations from a variety of schools and programs within Pepperdine University.

Pepperdine Digital Collections are open to the public to encourage discovery and scholarship at the widest possible breadth. Furthermore, the materials that compose our digital collections are optimized for online information seeking and archived for long-term digital preservation.

October is American Archives Month

What is an archives?

October has been deemed “American Archives Month.” So what, you may ask, is an “archives”? The word archives can be used to describe a collection of historic materials, or the place where the materials are preserved and available to researchers. Archives generally include materials that are not published, such as letters, reports, memos, photographs, audio and video recordings, and other primary sources.  These sources contain firsthand data or evidence of people, events, and places.

Where do you find archives?

Many organizations such as churches, schools, hospitals, historical societies, governments, and businesses have their own archives that maintain historic documents related to their organization. Universities and research libraries often have archives that also include the personal or family papers of well-known literary authors, scientists, politicians, and other notable individuals, as well as the records of historic organizations.

How can I use an archives?

Archives are often used by students and researchers who are writing books, papers, or articles about various topics. Some archives are not open to the public, but many, including Pepperdine’s, are open to anyone.

The Society of American Archivists suggests other potential uses for archival materials: “For example, Native Americans may use archival records to establish legal claims to land and privileges guaranteed by federal and state governments; medical researchers utilize records to study patterns of diseases; authors use archives to acquire a feel for the people and times about which they are writing; historians and genealogists rely on archival sources to analyze past events to reconstruct family histories; and businesses use the records to improve their public relations and to promote new products” (http://www2.archivists.org/profession).

What are Pepperdine’s archives?

At Pepperdine, the archives are a part of the Special Collections and University Archives. The University Archives is the largest archival collection at Pepperdine. This collection includes papers of past university presidents, minutes of decision-making bodies on campus, historic photographs and videos, historic editions of the Graphic and the yearbooks, and other materials that document the history of Pepperdine. For the month of October, a few of these materials are in display in the Payson Library Lobby.

Pepperdine’s archival collections also include the archives of the Malibu Water Company, the Malibu Dam, and the Malibu Stage Company. We have a large collection of Los Angeles Tourism Ephemera, which includes brochures and news clippings related to early museums and art galleries in the LA area. A collection of the papers of former Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn is a great resource for LA history.

Find out more about using Pepperdine’s archives here: http://library.pepperdine.edu/special-collections/using/.

Historic Articles from the University Archives in The Graphic This Week

This week’s Graphic student newspaper features a section of historic articles, images, and comics that were gathered from past issues of the Graphic, which are housed in the University Archives on the second level of Payson Library. The articles, which were selected by Graphic Historian Nathan Stringer, are from various time periods between 1937 (the founding of George Pepperdine College) to 1972 (the year students started classes on the Malibu campus). Topics addressed in the articles range from war-time issues to the first fluorescent lights on Pepperdine’s campus.

The University Archives also include other publications, photographs, and paper records that document Pepperdine’s history. In order to gain access to the materials, please contact Melissa Nykanen at melissa.nykanen@pepperdine.edu, or at 310-506-4434. Find more information about using resources in the University Archives here.