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Diplomas in the '40s and '50s
The summer edition article "Diplomatic," by Alison Matthiessen, interested me especially. During the time when I received my bachelor's and master's degrees in 1942 and 1943, the process of producing diplomas was quite different.
A classmate and I were students in architectural engineering. We were taught to draw and letter. He lettered the names and majors in Old English and dates in script on all diplomas in 1942 and most in 1943, including his master's degree. The following quarter, I took over the lettering job and lettered my own master's degree. Dean [John Edward] Williams died in the spring and could not sign any requiring his signature. As a result, I learned to write his signature, and his daughter said she could not tell which was real and which was the forgery.
During the 1950s, I was on the faculty of architectural engineering. By then, diplomas were ordered with names, majors, and dates in place. It was not possible to add "with honors" until grades came in. Consequently, Registrar Clarice Slusher had me come to Burruss Hall early on commencement day to add that.
In the 1950s, some graduates from the early 1900s would lose a diploma and ask for a duplicate. Some large blanks from then were available, so it was possible to honor the request. Back then, all the faculty signed the diplomas, so reproducing the signatures was a challenge!
When you stay around a long time, as I have, you do become a historian!
Bertram Y. Kinzey Jr. '42
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