Artifact of the Month

Thad Berry's Chautauqua Debate Medal
From the estate of Mary Braun

Springdale News, June 8, 1900
Springdale News, June 8, 1900
1909 Chautauqua Pin

In 1898, Professor Josiah Shinn, president of Springdale College, (located at the site of the present-day Springdale Public Schools administration building), organized Springdale's first chautauqua, a summer event that featured educational entertainment. Originating in Chautauqua, New York, chautauquas enjoyed great popularity across the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Springdale's third chautauqua ran from June 24 to July 4, 1900, offering 33 lectures and cultural programs over the course of 11 days. On Thursday, June 28, a debate was held featuring three students from Springdale College:  L.T. (Lewis) Farrar, Thad Berry, and Guy Phillips. The debate was briefly mentioned the next day in the Springdale News:

Springdale News, June 29, 1900Springdale News, June 29, 1900

Berry's medal is enscribed with his name and the Latin phrase, "Ad Superandi Disputatione," or "to conquer, surpass, or have the upper hand [in a] debate."

The medal was discovered among items donated to the Shiloh Museum as part of the Mary Braun estate in September 2014, 114 years after Thad Berry's triumphant debate.

Springdale College Class of 1901

In this photo of Springdale College's graduating class of 1901, Thad Berry is standing second from left, and yes, he's wearing his chautauqua debate medal.

Standing left to right: Ethel Berry, Thad Berry, Cora Pritchard, John Young, Otto Christian, and Floy Daily. Seated left to right: Guy Phillips (one of the debaters bested by Thad Berry), Sophia Walker, Gussie Keeney, and Henry Ogden.

Washington County Historical Society Collection (P-709)

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