About Our Blog

Posted by Amy the Archivist on December 1, 2007

This blog is published and maintained by the archivists in the Institute Archives and Special Collections at Rensselaer and reveals almost two centuries of history in the making. Through images, artifacts, documents and memorabilia housed in the Archives  the archivists strive to continually highlight bits of information that pertain to the cultural and social landscape of the Institute by putting a name to a face, locating a building, describing an object or getting the full story behind events, traditions or incidents. We want you to be in the know!  Better yet, you may have witnessed RPI history in the making — tell us about it! Additionally, there are many unidentified or under-identified items in the Archives that you may know something about!

And if you’ve got a question, please feel free to ask the archivists in the Institute Archives and Special Collections of RPI!


Dan Hildebrand
Wed, 03/05/2008 - 10:03 Permalink

This is great! I look forward to reading in the future. Unfortunately I won’t be of much use as a sophomore.

Wed, 04/30/2008 - 15:05 Permalink

Thanks for the positive comment Glen! Image removed. It’s great to see that the blog has attracted some attention. I’ll be posting another unidentified photo this week.

Skip Charles '55
Mon, 02/23/2009 - 17:30 Permalink

Enjoyed seeing the 1952 snow scuptures.

The horse and sleigh was Theta Chi’s entry and I seem to remember we won. Graham Williams lead that effort

In reply to by egglel

Tue, 02/24/2009 - 09:14 Permalink

There were some great sculptures that year, but this one would have received my vote. Thanks for identifying it as Theta Chi’s.

Tue, 04/21/2009 - 09:05 Permalink

Amy, I have heard rumors that Led Zeppelin, possibly The Who, and other big name bands played at RPI during the 70s. Can you give me some more information about this such as what bands played and when they did (specifically Zeppelin). Also if you have any of the concert posters available for scan that would be sweet, my friend’s and I would love to see that.



Tue, 04/21/2009 - 14:57 Permalink

Chris, I’m so glad you asked this question! A topic like this has been in the back of my mind for a long time. I haven’t come across info. about Zeppelin, but I’ll take a closer look and get back to you. Look for a post regarding big name concerts at RPI in the near future! I can say for certain that we do NOT have concert posters — I know, too bad. A Doors poster recently came up for sale on Ebay, but it was way out of our price range!

Wed, 04/22/2009 - 13:40 Permalink

Led Zeppelin did not appear at RPI. The closest they got was Schenectady in 1969. The Who also never made it to Troy. I think their only gig in upstate NY was Woodstock!

Carl Smarling
Fri, 07/10/2009 - 22:12 Permalink

I am trying to establish the chronology, and life story, of a man – LeGrand Bouton Cannon. He was raised in Troy, attended “The Institute” sometime in 1828-1830 (did not graduate) and was a Trustee of RPI, 1849-1864. He died a very wealthy man in Burlington, Vermont in 1906. He was an officer of many companies, and was the president of the Champlain Transportation Company for more than thirty years. I know, and have seen them, that some of his papers are in the Rauner Library at Dartmouth. I also know that the Transportation Company archives are at UVM. But, there has to be more material on him someplace else. RPI? He died at age 91 (and two days) but the first half of his life is a mystery. The mystery starts with his birth in 1815—and his attendance at “The Institute” in, or before 1830. That makes no apparent sense. Any ideas? Thanks!

In reply to by egglel

Tue, 07/14/2009 - 09:20 Permalink

Carl, there is no manuscript material regarding LeGrand B. Cannon here at RPI. We don’t even have a biographical file on him. There is a brief biography in the Biographical Record, published in 1887, which states that He received his early education in the select schools of
Troy, and at the Rensselaer Institute. After leaving school he
went into the store of his father, and afterwards became a partner
in the dry goods business. Later he was connected with the
rolling mills and iron works in Troy. He moved to New York
city in 1850, and has since been actively and largely interested in
manufacturing, mining, railroad and other business enterprises.

He attended the Rensselaer Institute in 1829 and I believe it is quite possible that he was in the “Junior Branch,” which accepted “those who are too young to take a part with those of mature years.” The ages of the students ranged from 13 to 16 years so Cannon at 14 yrs. would have fit the demographic of this particular class. The junior branch was taught in a separate building on the property of the Old Bank Place.

Howard Henz
Thu, 10/29/2009 - 22:21 Permalink

Can I send you pictures from the 60’s ? I was a Glee Club member and have several pictures of the “boys” in that era.

Howard Henze
Thu, 10/29/2009 - 22:23 Permalink

I also have a review of our performance at Town Hall in New York by the New York Times and a letter from a board member of some significance regarding our performance and ou professionalism on stage

Darel J. Coterel
Tue, 12/22/2009 - 20:11 Permalink


LeGrand Bouton Cannon is a member of my Cannon family from Staten Island, NY.

I would be more than hapy to share what I have on him including pictures etc.

John Zywar '73
Sat, 09/04/2010 - 22:42 Permalink

Hi Amy,

I have a fond recollection of the 10/16/1971 Blood, Sweat & Tears concert as this is where I met my future wife who was going to Green Mountain College at the time. The other thing that might be of interest to others is that the warm up act to BS&T was Don McLean. Nobody had heard of him and he came out alone on stage. He sang “American Pie” and the place went nuts. Two weeks later “American Pie” stated to be played on the radio and he went on to fame and fortune. We saw him first at RPI! He was the highlight of that concert.

-John ’73 (Phi Sigma Kappa)

Carlton Hommel
Thu, 11/04/2010 - 19:17 Permalink


I am a member of the Olmstead Family Association, and request your permission to use your article about Aaron Olmstead for our Family Association Newsletter. I have the birth, marriage and death information for Aaron, and can add my information to yours to make a very nice article.

Carlton Olmsted Hommel
MS Chemistry, 1957

In reply to by egglel

Wed, 11/03/2010 - 09:28 Permalink


Please feel free to use the information in my blog post for your article. I would appreciate it if you would credit the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Archives and Special Collections as a source. Could you also send me a copy of the newsletter for our files? Thank you.

Tom Mellett '70
Wed, 01/05/2011 - 14:51 Permalink

Hail brother John ’73, fellow Phi Sig!

The concert that sticks in my mind because I missed it was the Doors’ concert in 1968, or maybe 1969? when Jim got arrested for taking a whizz onstage. I was on “Work Study” that Friday night and had to guard Russell Sage Hall during the concert. On my way walking home to Phi Sig, I took the turn left at Burdett and Fieldhouse Way, and lamented the fact that I was missing the concert up there. But it sure got a lot of press coverage in the Troy Record and of course the Poly.

Tom Mellett '70
Wed, 01/05/2011 - 14:57 Permalink

As for concerts I did attend — in the 1966-70 time frame — the best of all was Simon & Garfunkel.

The Association put on a great show as did Tom Rush.

And I recall going over to Union College in Schenectady to see Judy Collins. Fabulous performance!

I’m sure I’ll recall more as I rattle the old memory bank.

Dick Lawrence
Wed, 02/02/2011 - 15:09 Permalink

Amy & others,
I acquired from a former roommate an LP record of RPI Glee Club songs, “Songs of Rensselaer”, directed by Joel Dolven. It’s a custom stamping, limited production, produced and pressed on translucent red vinyl by RCA Victor. Bob basically inherited it from his father, now deceased.

The record is in its original cardboard sleeve. Unfortunately there was a flood at some time in its life and much of the print on the sleeve, and on the paper label of the record itself, was obliterated. What I can read indicates that Dolven directed the Glee Club since 1947 so I would guess – based on that, as well as the style of the cover’s graphics and printed title – that it dates from sometime in the mid-1950’s.

The song titles are hard to read, but this is best-guess on the tracks on the record:

Side One:
– Steven Van Rensselaer
– When Evening Shades are Falling
– Son of Old RPI
– Drink a Highball
– How Do You Spell Rensselaer
– (can’t read)

Side Two:
– Loyal to Rensselaer
– Old Rensselaer
– The Hills of Troy
– Now and Forever
– Hail, Dear Old Rensselaer
– Alma Mater

Some of the (lyrics, tune) authors’ names are readable but I won’t list them here.

The record has had its share of scrapes and scratches but most of it is quite listenable. With headphones, one becomes aware of the excellent acoustic space in which the recording took place – one with quite long reverberation times – and the performances are of high quality. I wonder if they recorded it in the Chapel? (formerly the Library, now the Computing Center).

I digitized and did some signal processing on recorded tracks to remove the worst of the ticks, pops, and other surface noise on the record. Then I MP3-converted all the tracks at 320kbps and stored them on several computers.

If anyone is interested in hearing some of these Glee Club tracks, please let me know, and I can email them to you. File sizes are from 1.7 to 5MB.

Warm wishes,
Dick Lawrence ’72

Devin Glenn
Fri, 05/13/2011 - 19:37 Permalink


As a current student at RPI and member of most of the music groups here I would love to hear those recordings.

Devin Glenn ’14

John Bishop
Fri, 08/05/2011 - 10:47 Permalink

I was at the Led Zeppelin concert in Schenectady in 1969 at the old Aerodrome on Route 5 (Albany-Schenectady Road). I also attended the Doors concert at RPI in 1967 at age 14 with my entire family (my youngest sib, sister was 7). My parents were passed some “funny cigarettes” which they declined and the smell was peculiar to me at the time.

Wed, 09/07/2011 - 14:17 Permalink

Hello again-
The 1952 album “Songs of Rensselaer” is available online through Rensselaer Digital Collections, which is a component of the RPI library’s web site. You can listen to any of the twelve songs by following these steps:
1. Go to RensSearch
2. Click on the Rensselaer Digital Collections icon near the lower left corner of the page.
3. Type “songs of rensselaer” in the search box and select the Exact option.
4. Click the red button marked Go on the right side of the page.
5. Select any of the songs or the entire album by clicking on an icon on the results page.

This album was digitized by Charles Kelly (RPI Class of 1950) before he died a few years ago. Thanks, Chuck!


Nancy Walsh
Mon, 10/03/2011 - 21:59 Permalink

My great-grandfather graduated from Rensselaer in about 1879. I have a pin from him that I believe may be related to Rensselaer. On the bottom it says “Alto Y Derecho”–meaning “straight and tall”. Can’t see a way to send a picture of it. Any help?

Shannon Archer
Fri, 11/25/2011 - 16:52 Permalink

My grandfather had a rent apt near RPI that he owned from the 60’s. He gave me and old jug with date of 1960 Saturnalia on it and some kind of crest. If anyone is interested in buying it please email me.

Dewey Finn
Sun, 12/04/2011 - 00:08 Permalink

An article in The New York Times of June 8, 1939 said that John Marshall Lockhart (Class of 1887) anonymously donated several million dollars to the Institute, and that this money paid for five buildings including a gymnasium (presumably the Class of 87 Gym). It says that this was revealed by the then-Institute President William O Hotchkiss in his annual letter to the alumni. Did the letter specify the other buildings that he was responsible for funding? My guess is that one of them is the Pittsburgh Building, which was funded by alumni from Pittsburgh. Is that correct? What are the other three buildings?

Tue, 12/06/2011 - 15:45 Permalink

Hi Dewey-

When I read your post I have to admit I found the NY Times statement rather suspect. So I checked the 1939 R.P.I. Bulletin “Letter to Alumni and Other Friends of Rensselaer.” Although John M. Lockhart is listed in the Necrology section, he is not named under Gifts and Bequests, nor anywhere else for that matter. I also looked through some of President Hotchkiss’s correspondence from that time and I found no letters to the alumni that mentioned Mr. Lockhart or his contributions to the Institute.

At any rate, I do not know which RPI building projects Mr. Lockhart funded. My former colleague Amythearchivist did some research on that topic, but I have not found the answer in her files. Perhaps she’ll read this comment and shed some light on the subject!


Amy Rupert
Wed, 12/07/2011 - 09:23 Permalink

Palmer Ricketts called John M. Lockhart the “Great Benefactor” and I believe he referred to him as such at the dedication of Carnegie and Walker Lab in 1907. He gave at least $5 million over a long period of time and his identity was not revealed until after his death. His donations were used to help fund Pittsburgh, Carnegie, the 87 Gym, Walker Lab and possibly Russell Sage Lab or the Student Club House.

RPI wanted to honor Lockhart in some way (possibly naming a building for him?), but his family declined. They felt that he would have preferred to remain anonymous. I tried to give Mr. Lockhart credit for his generosity during presentations about campus buildings!

(very happy to be able to contribute to the blog again!)

In reply to by egglel

Lombard John Pozzi
Tue, 07/10/2012 - 13:06 Permalink

While an undergraduate living at the Rensselaer Society of Engineers (RSE) during the mid 1960s, Elmer B. Shupe of the class of ’17 (then treasurer of the Society who often visited the House) related to me that ‘Mr. E. L. Lockhart gave a total of $200,000 to the Society to construct their new ‘clubhouse’ which was built in 1923-24.
In 1974, I wrote a history of the Society and its architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue that is quoted at length in the RSE website. Quoted from my original text as based on Mr. Shupe’s oral history: “The total cost of the Rensselaer Society of Engineers Clubhouse was the considerable sum of a quarter of a million dollars. Initially $150,000 was raised by contributions of members of the Society for the erection of the new building, $100,000 of that sum having been donated by E. L. Lockhart of the class of 1887. As construction progressed on the large frilless structure, it became apparent that this sum would be insufficient, whereupon E. L. Lockhart lent the Society an additional $100,000 which was sufficient to complete the work, Mr. Lockhart later making a gift of the second sum also.”
It is possible that either Mr. Shupe or more likely I got the first and middle initial of Mr. Lockhart incorrect (or did he have a brother?).
Lombard ’67

Milt Claydon
Fri, 08/10/2012 - 12:33 Permalink

Does anybody have any pictures or information about the airplanes that were in the Ricketts Building aero lab. I’m particularly interested in the Grumman Wildcat, especially any markings.

David A. Bainbridge
Mon, 12/05/2016 - 12:33 Permalink

Great to see the images of RPI.

I am the grandson of George Herbert Bainbridge (1910). I suspect that the field school image of 1912 with Flossis is not with GHB as instructor. Compare his picture in the 1910 year book and the face appears to be different….

Great granduncle Francis H. Bainbridge also RPI grad is featured at Structurae for his work on steel dams.

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