LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 27, 2016) — In celebration of the University of Kentucky sesquicentennial in 2015, UK Special Collections Research Center began releasing the diary entries of former student Virginia Clay McClure in fall of 2014. The diary chronicles the day-to-day activities of McClure's junior and senior years at the State University of Kentucky (now UK) from 1910-1912. McClure's 233rd, 234th and 235th diary entries from May 27, 28 and 29, 1912, recalls preparations for the Senior Ball, attending a student government election, and a pleasant trip home to Mount Sterling with friends.
May 27th. Can this be Monday and absolutely no classes to attend? But I don’t loaf — Southern Depot with a letter, fix my dress, go to Student Government Election (which, however, does not elect) fix a dress and wash it, and finish up the afternoon playing tennis with Ruth and Jessie Milton. Then in the evening wash my hair, and write up my book while Addie addresses invitations.
May 28th. Give the first exam in German, then grade papers at night.
May 29th. Give another exam, then in the afternoon sign up for Senior Ball, and go to town between “showers.” Jessie Milton, Addie, and I go to Mount Sterling. See Cousin Mayme on the train. Addie does get some supper. Have an awfully good time. We go “Daisy” hunting in the afternoon, but fail to find any daisies.
More on Virginia Clay McClure
Virginia Clay McClure, a native of Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, graduated in 1912 with an AB degree and received her master’s degree in 1928 from UK. After receiving her AB, she taught for a year at Middlesboro, Kentucky, another year at Paducah, Kentucky, and seven years in Cynthiana, Kentucky. After this, she returned to Lexington, where she taught for nine and a half years in the Fayette County schools. At this point, she took two and a half years off of work to complete her doctorate.
The first woman to receive a Ph.D. from UK, McClure said that her department chairman did not “want a woman to get a doctor’s degree.” In spite of those words, McClure received her doctoral degree in American history in 1934.
Her dissertation was “The Settlement of the Kentucky Appalachian Region,” about which “nothing had been done before.” McClure did significant original research for the dissertation and made several trips to Eastern Kentucky with Katherine Pettit, who had taught in settlement schools, including Pine Mountain School, which she helped to establish.
McClure planned to teach at the college level but after finishing her dissertation in the midst of the depression, colleges were laying off faculty rather than hiring them. She then joined the Fayette County School system, then Lexington City Schools, and taught United States history and government at Henry Clay High School from 1934-1959. A position that she found quite rewarding.
The UK alumna and educator was very active in the community. McClure was a member of Central Christian Church and Kappa Delta Pi Honorary, Kentucky and National Retired Teachers associations, Salvation Army Auxiliary, Cardinal Hill Hospital Auxiliary and numerous historical societies. She was also a charter member of the Lexington Rose Society, twice serving as president, and was a member of the American Rose Society.
McClure passed away in 1980 at 91 years of age.
The Virginia Clay McClure papers are housed at the Special Collections Research Center and include a diary/scrapbook, a photograph album and other assorted photographs related to McClure's time as an undergraduate at State University, Lexington, Kentucky from 1910-1912. The scrapbook includes clippings, small artifacts, programs and invitations, but the bulk of the material is McClure's many personal writings. The photograph album and loose photographs also document this time period and include photographs of her UK classmates (many of whom are identified and also mentioned in her scrapbook); class trips and events (such as Arbor Day); and women playing basketball among other casual snapshots.
This story on UK's history is presented by UK Special Collections Research Center. UK Special Collections is home to UK Libraries' collection of rare books, Kentuckiana, the Archives, the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the King Library Press, the Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center, the Bert T. Combs Appalachian collection and the digital library, ExploreUK. The mission of the center is to locate and preserve materials documenting the social, cultural, economic and political history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Diary transcriptions completed by senior Taylor Adams, Special Collections Learning Lab intern and history major from Ashland, Kentucky.
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