Recently, the Student Life and Culture Archives processed the family papers of Charles E. Keck and his sister, Marjorie Keck Koehler. Growing up, they moved around in Central Illinois along with their father and uncles’ furniture store, Keck Furniture. Each spent time at the University of Illinois and Illinois Wesleyan and were involved extensively in campus life.
Marguerite Aileen Keck was born on October 28, 1891 in Decatur, IL, and received her Bachelor’s degree in Music from Illinois Wesleyan in 1915. Marjorie spent a great deal of time performing in musicals and singing at various events. She formed the “Wesleyan Ladies’ Quartette” with friends and they sang at several events, including the Firemen’s Benefit in 1914, as well as church services. She played the role of “Property Woman” in “Contrary Mary” under the direction of Miss Winifred Kates on December 17, 1914. Aside from her musical talents, Marjorie was a straight “A” student and studied French, Italian, and Latin, and petitioned the founding of Pi Delta Phi Sorority, an organization that is now known as a National French Honors Society. In Marjorie’s personal scrapbook pages, a newspaper clipping reads, “Members of the Pi Delta Phi Sorority were pleasantly entertained Thursday night at a slumber part at the home of Miss Margaret Keck.”
In addition to collecting physical items and materials on paper, the Student Life and Culture Archives also collects digital materials, like the photographs and videos in the new Being Black at Illinois record series.
This series documents the efforts of individual students and student groups to bring awareness of racial and political issues to campus in recent months. There are videos, for example, from the #BlackLivesMatter march through campus in December, allying the campus with the protests in Ferguson, Missouri and across the country against racially-charged police violence.
In December of 1961, the University of Illinois was the birth place of an odd fashion trend that spread across the campus and through universities all over the country. It began when Charlene Levine, a sophomore in Education, received a knitting lesson from her roommate in Busey Hall. After completing a small square, she realized she could wear the material over her nose in the cold weather. She added elastic loops and a tassel and named her invention “the Snoot Boot.” To Charlene’s surprise, the trend caught on. After seeing Busey girls sporting Snoot Boots around campus, a News-Gazette reporter suggested the girls sell their winter wares.