Tag Archives: pepperdine history


Pepperdine during World War II: Remembering “On the Beam”

On_the_beam_graphicIn September of 1944, as Allied efforts in World War II neared crescendo, George Pepperdine College (GPC) reported 350 students in service to the nation. Total enrollment at the time was only 418. Many students, such as basketball star June Tuggle, put their education on hold to serve in the armed forces. As a labor of love, GPC basketball coach Al O. Duer started a monthly newsletter called On the Beam in order to maintain communications with GPC students and alumni serving in the U.S. Armed Forces during the Second World War. Carrying the motto “Dedicated to Young Pepperdiners in the Service,” the newsletter ran from June 1943 to at least January 1946. Coach Duer, who edited the newsletter, often closed his monthly message with: “Keep those chins up and stay ‘on the beam’.” The publication included news updates about student and alumni wartime activities and deployments, including photographs and contact information. On the Beam was a critical resource for GPC students, faculty, and friends on the home front who sent letters and care packages to the troops overseas. The newsletter claimed a circulation of 4,500 by July 1945.

Of course, not every GPC student would return from the war. In February 1945, On the Beam retroactively reported the death of Pfc. June Tuggle, the first Pepperdine casualty of the war. There would be five others: Robert Carter, Bruce Munday, Charles Stivers, Hugh McCullough, and Jack Slade. In this 70th anniversary year of Allied victory in World War II—and on this Veteran’s Day—Pepperdine University Libraries are pleased to announce the fully searchable online publication of On the Beam in Pepperdine Digital Collections. We extend a very grateful thanks to Pepperdine veterans of past and present, and to all veterans everywhere.

Cover of "On the Beam," May 1945

Cover of “On the Beam,” May 1945

Photo spread of GPC servicemen in "On the Beam"

Photo spread of GPC servicemen in “On the Beam”

Pepperdine’s Fight against Communism: Announcing the Pepperdine College Freedom Forum digital collection

Freedom Forum luncheon in the Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, 1960

Freedom Forum luncheon in the Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles, 1960

The Pepperdine College Freedom Forum was an annual, three-day seminar designed to promote American values as a defense against communism, held in Los Angeles between 1959 and 1971. The model for the Freedom Forum grew out of the National Education Program developed by George S. Benson, President of Harding College. At Pepperdine, President M. Norvel Young carried the idea forward, where it was sometimes referred to as the California Freedom Forum. The Freedom Forum was part of a larger constellation of anti-communist activities at Pepperdine College, which included a weekly Speaker’s Bureau, an anti-communist film series, and various citizen education and teacher training programs.

Billed as a “seminar to prepare leadership for American resistance to the spread of Communism and Socialism,” the inaugural Freedom Forum in 1959 featured talks such as “Communism’s Invisible Weapon—Brainwashing” and “What Socialism Has Delivered in Europe.” The featured speaker that first year was Senator John L. McClellan, who delivered the keynote “Can American Freedom Survive?” before a packed house of 800 California business leaders in the ballroom of the Biltmore Hotel.

Pepperdine University Libraries is pleased to announce that hundreds of program booklets, typed speeches, photographs, newspaper clippings, and interviews from all thirteen years of the Freedom Forum are now available to researchers and the interested public through the Pepperdine College Freedom Forum digital collection. This collection is a digitized subset of the Pepperdine College Freedom Forum Records available for research in our Special Collections and University Archives located in Payson Library on the Malibu campus.

Richard Arens of the House Committe on Un-American Activities speaking at the 1959 Freedom Forum

Richard Arens of the House Committe on Un-American Activities speaking at the 1959 Freedom Forum

Program cover featuring Senator Barry Goldwater, 1961

Program cover featuring Senator Barry Goldwater, 1961

Don McCulloch presenting on Communism and brainwashing at the 1959 Freedom Forum

Don McCulloch presenting on Communism and brainwashing at the 1959 Freedom Forum

Introducing the Alumni Memories digital collection

Bernice Pitts receiving her degree at GPC from President Tiner

Bernice Pitts receiving her degree at GPC from President Tiner

Pepperdine University Libraries is pleased to announce the launch of the Alumni Memories Collection, a new digital collection designed to honor the lives of our alumni and the special bond they’ve formed with Pepperdine University. The collection, freely accessible online, is composed of photographs, memorabilia, documents, scrapbooks, correspondence, and other materials donated to Pepperdine University Libraries by alumni of George Pepperdine College and Pepperdine University. The items in this collection, arranged by theme or donor, strive to capture the “Pepperdine experience” while providing a glimpse into the lives of the men and women that call Pepperdine their alma mater.

Christmas Card sent to the Pitts from M. Norvel Young and Family

Christmas Card sent to the Pitts from M. Norvel Young and Family

The flagship donation for the Alumni Memories Collection comes to us from Bernice M. (Carr) Pitts (’49), who provides numerous photographs and documents related to the life she shared with her husband, Carroll Pitts, Jr. (’54). Bernice and Carroll were the first African-American students to live in Normandie Village, the married student housing complex on the original Los Angeles campus of George Pepperdine College. In addition to photos of campus, the collection includes photos and clippings related to the Pitts family, Churches of Christ history in Southern California, and the Pitts’ ongoing relationship with fellow GPC alumnus Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn.

Bernice and Carroll Pitts receive a commemorative certificate from L.A. County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn in 1982

Bernice and Carroll Pitts receive a commemorative certificate from L.A. County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn in 1982

Carroll Pitts, Jr. also earned an M.A. in Religion from Pepperdine College in 1969, producing his thesis A Critical Study of Civil Rights Practices, Attitudes and Responsibilities in Churches of Christ. Throughout his career, Carroll specialized in church administration and personal evangelism, serving as the Minister of the Normandie Church of Christ in Los Angeles for over two decades. Carroll and Bernice traveled widely in support of Christian education, conducting workshops and gospel meetings in places as diverse as South Africa, Egypt, Rome, London, and Haiti. Carroll also taught classes at the annual Pepperdine Bible Lectures in addition to teaching part-time in Pepperdine University’s Religion Division. He passed in 1987. We are very grateful to Bernice for this donation, which we hope will honor his memory and celebrate the achievements they made together through a life devoted to God and Christian education.

If you are an alumnus interested in donating materials to this collection, please contact our Archivist, Katie Richardson at (310) 506-4323 or Katie.Richardson@pepperdine.edu.

Guess who’s turning 40? Stauffer Chapel (slideshow)

Stauffer ChapelPepperdine University’s own “little chapel on the hill” turns 40 years old today. Stauffer Chapel was dedicated on November 4, 1973 about one year after Pepperdine’s Malibu campus opened its doors. Named for longtime Pepperdine supporter Beverly Stauffer, the chapel stands at the southern edge of campus overlooking the wide vista of the Pacific Ocean. Encased by 3,000 square feet of stained glass, Stauffer Chapel is the spiritual heart of campus, providing a sanctuary for worship, prayer, song, or quiet reflection.

Our chapel has played this role now for four decades. To mark this milestone, we’ve assembled a brief slideshow of archival photos from Stauffer Chapel’s history. All of these images can also be found in the Pepperdine Digital Collections. Enjoy.

Happy World Day for Audiovisual Heritage!

Here’s something that you may not have known: this Sunday, October 27th, is World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. And why should you care? While you may be hard pressed to find a Happy World Day for Audiovisual Heritage card at the Hallmark store, it speaks to a very important issue. Experts estimate that we have only 10 to 15 years left to digitize the wealth of content on analog audiovisual media—such as film, reel-to-reel tape, and even VHS—dating to the mid to late 20th century. This material constitutes an indispensable complement to the written record of our collective world history, and it is at risk of permanent loss due to the vulnerability of these media to decay, damage, and playback obsolescence.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage in 2005 in order to acknowledge the importance of audiovisual recordings and raise general awareness of the need for urgent measures to be taken to preserve them.

Pepperdine University Libraries has responded to this charge by partnering with the California Audiovisual Preservation Project, an initiative of the California Preservation Program that provides digitization and access services for historic California audiovisual recordings. So far, more than two dozen films, reel-to-reel tapes, and other vulnerable recordings in our Special Collections and University Archives have been digitized for preservation purposes through this collaboration. These recordings, such as this recently digitized speech by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor at the 1985 Pepperdine Law School Dinner, are now available in our Pepperdine Digital Collections.

Please visit the links above to discover how you can contribute to the preservation of the world’s audiovisual heritage.

Change at the Corner of Manchester and Vermont

A few months ago, the archives received a reference question asking us to search for photos and information about early landscaping at George Pepperdine College, at the campus located at 79th and Vermont in Los Angeles.  Hmm, tough…  While I searched the archives for pictures of landscaping and the Los Angeles campus, the first collection I went to was the George Pepperdine College records.  The collection was recently created by gathering materials from University Archives files (mostly papers and photographs) about Pepperdine between 1937 and 1972 not already divided into other collections.

What completely surprised me was a pile of photographs in the middle of an enormous stack — panoramic photographs of the intersection of Manchester Avenue and Vermont Avenue, just half a mile south of the site of the Los Angeles campus!  Best of all, there were five photographs, taken in 5-year intervals to document the changes at the intersection from 1920 to 1945.

Notice how the Clark Drug Store stays consistent in the early photographs (but gets a building upgrade!), and how there is even a Western Auto Supply Company store in the 1930 and 1940 photographs?  Take a closer look for yourself to see how the area changed.  (Click the images to make them larger, and click once again to see the full size image.)

To view these images in person, to view the George Pepperdine College records or other collections, or do research on any of these materials or other collections in the archives, please contact Katie Richardson, Archivist for Special Collections and University Archives, at katie.richardson@pepperdine.edu or (310) 506-4323.






When the President came to Pepperdine: Today’s featured digital object

President Gerald Ford (right) greets actor John Wayne, with benefactor Richard Seaver (center)

On Founder’s Day, September 20, 1975, as Pepperdine University’s Malibu campus began its fourth year of activity, the university was honored by an official visit from the President of the United States, Gerald R. Ford. This was the first time a sitting President had visited Pepperdine, a milestone indicative of both the prestige the university had gained nationally and the ties its administration held with the Republican Party. The day was marked by two building dedications on the rapidly growing campus, both of which featured remarks by President Ford. A VIP brunch ceremony dedicated the Brock House, home to the university president, and this was followed by a public gathering of over 18,000 attendees to witness the dedication of the Firestone Fieldhouse, the campus’ athletics facility. Newly discovered and digitized, the audio recording of President Ford’s dedication of the Firestone Fieldhouse is now available online in our Historic Sound Recordings collection.

The 18,000 strong crowd at the Firestone Fieldhouse dedication, 1975

In addition to a twenty-minute speech by President Ford (on the important role of independent universities and free enterprise in the national education system), the recording also features the pomp and ritual particular to that era, including Pat Boone singing the national anthem and John Wayne leading a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Although it may not be apparent in this recording, President Ford’s visit to Pepperdine occurred during a period of heightened anxiety for both the president and the university. Just two weeks earlier, Squeaky Fromme, a follower of Charles Manson, had attempted to assassinate President Ford in Sacramento (the gun failed to discharge). Security at Pepperdine was intense and there were no incidents; however, just two days later, Sara Jane Moore fired on the president in San Francisco in a second failed attempt. Meanwhile, four days before President Ford was to arrive at Pepperdine, M. Norvel Young, Chancellor of Pepperdine University, crashed his car into another vehicle on the Pacific Coast Highway, causing the death of two motorists. The shadow of this tragedy nearly derailed the Presidential visit, but the event continued as planned.

In addition to listening to the recording, you can also view photographs of the day’s events. Enjoy.

Introducing Historypin: Putting Pepperdine history on the map

Search for historic photos near you with the Historypin mobile app

Pepperdine University Libraries is pleased to announce the launch of its new channel with Historypin.com, a website and mobile application that allows the pinning of historical photographs, audio recordings, and moving image files to Google Maps. Would you like to see the Malibu hills in 1969 before the arrival of Pepperdine University, overlaid seamlessly with the current Google street view? Or perhaps you’d like to take a drive across the newly opened San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge in 1940? You can do all of these things—and more—in our new, interactive Historypin.com channel.

Historypin.com, developed by the nonprofit We Are What We Do in partnership with Google Maps, facilitates social mapping, in which individuals or institutions create a visual history of a particular spot on Earth through pinning digitized photographs (or other media) along with the stories that contextualize and enrich the history behind the images. Historypin calls this “fourth dimensional mapping,” a phenomenon that enables new ways for users to interact with historical photographs. For example, when you visit the Historypin website or mobile application, you can view the image, compare it with the current Google street view (when available), add your own stories to the image feed, use your smart phone to take a “Historypin Repeat” of the same scene, or link to the original image in our digital collections. In addition to searching or browsing images via the map, you can interact with materials in thematic collections or go on virtual walking tours.

Pepperdine University Libraries is utilizing Historypin to further the twin goals of its Special Collections and University Archives department: to preserve and disseminate the history of Pepperdine University and serve as the primary historical repository for the Malibu community. In addition to creating our own Historypin collections and tours, we are leveraging the unique strengths of Historypin to foster collaborations with other university departments and make new inroads into the Malibu community.

Student life 25 years ago today: Today’s featured digital object

In February of 1988, Pepperdine University’s alumni newspaper, The Pepperdine Voice, featured a photo spread titled “A Day in the Life of Pepperdine University.” The introductory text read:

“On Thursday, Jan. 7, 1988, seven photographers were deployed to scour all areas of campus to capture the daily activities of Pepperdine on film…What sort of day was Jan. 7? It was an ordinary day in Pepperdine life, and that is why it was chosen—to show the miracle of the mundane—students, faculty and staff at work, at play, in solitude and in action.”

The original prints and negatives produced for this project are now housed in our University Archives and were recently scanned for the University Archives Photograph (digital) Collection. Continuing our celebration of 40 years in Malibu, I encourage you to view this photographic time capsule of student life in the ‘80s. Technology and fashion may have changed, but I think you’ll agree that the “Waves spirit” captured in these photos is timeless.

View the slideshow, or explore these photos in our digital collections.

Happy New Year!

1971—Construction commences in Malibu: Today’s featured digital object

Continuing our series on the historical events that shaped Pepperdine University in Malibu—in honor of the Malibu campus’ 40th anniversary—we arrive at April 13, 1971. On this overcast, unusually chilly day, approximately 500 Pepperdine supporters gathered on the freshly leveled dirt building pads of the new Malibu campus to observe ceremonies initiating construction of the campus buildings. Billed as the “Ceremony to Commence Construction of Academic Complex on Pepperdine University’s Malibu campus,” the event saw the dedication of three core buildings: Payson Library, the Pendleton Learning Center, and the Huntsinger Academic Center.

The namesakes of these buildings were on hand to make remarks, and President William S. Banowsky spoke about Pepperdine’s educational philosophy, but the real attraction of the day was the keynote address by Wernher von Braun, Deputy Associate Administrator of NASA. Von Braun, a German rocket engineer brought into the fold of the US government following World War II, was one of the leading scientists behind the Apollo moon mission. His prominence following the first moon landing in 1969 contributed to the phrase “it’s not rocket science” to describe a simple task.

His appearance at the Commencement of Construction ceremony—less than two years after the moon landing—provided Pepperdine University with the perfect symbol of education, innovation, and achievement. It was an auspicious start to the buildings that now form the heart of Pepperdine University’s Seaver College in Malibu.

In our Pepperdine Digital Collections, you can listen to a recording of the speeches made that day, including the address by von Braun (he appears on Part 2 of the recording). You can also view a few of the archival photographs of the event. Enjoy.