KU alumnus curates historical displays in Old Main

By Kaylee Lindenmuth
News Editor

What began as a display celebrating KU’s sesquicentennial in 2016 continues to this day, thanks to the efforts of an alumnus.

Jason Graver, a member of the class of 1992, assisted in creating the display and continues it to this day.

“The first year that the display was here was to get ready for the 150th anniversary of the school. It was professor Bill Bateman, who is a retired professor; he was the driving force in getting the display here, and also professor [Susan] Czerny. She is the archivist at the Rohrbach Library. Karen Stanford, she does the Miller Gallery here on campus,” said Graver. “It was really Bill Bateman’s idea to have the display, and I was lucky enough to be asked to have some of my items here, and then after the 150th anniversary was over, the university considered continuing it.”

The displays, found throughout the concourse of Old Main, consist of a wide variety of items from Graver’s collection, including yearbooks, football programs, diplomas and other items.

“I’m very lucky to have the space to be able to show Kutztown’s history like this,” added Graver.

Jason Graver, curator of the Old Main historical display, stands with the display – Photo courtesy of Kaylee Lindenmuth

Graver pointed out a painting in the central display case, a 1925 painting by Henry Sharadin of a scene on what is today South Campus, depicting a corner of the Multicultural Center with rolling hills and fields.

“In 1938, it became the Sharadin Art Gallery, so it was pretty cool, he painted the building, and a few years later, it was named for him,” said Graver.

Nearby were postcards depicting the building when it was the infirmary for KU.

Graver then pointed out two certificates from the Keystone Literary Society, a father’s and a daughter’s. He noted that there were once two literary societies on campus, which operated the libraries.

“It was kind of the social organization for the schools, and they competed to see who could outdo each other,” said Graver.

In a separate display case were graduation announcements from as early as 1899. In another were photos and postcards of the graduate center as a library and when it was still a planned building.

When asked about how he amassed such a collection, Graver said, “Mostly through online auctions and going to antique shows and things like that. I’m a history teacher, so naturally, I have the interest, but Kutztown has always been a very special place. My wife and I both went here, and my wife and I met here.”

“I feel it’s kind of my obligation to collect the history and share the history of Kutztown,” added Graver.

Graver was asked about the importance of the display, and added, “I think it helps connect students and alumni and faculty and everyone else to the school. As you look at the old pictures and you walk around campus, you realize that, although things have changed quite a bit, there’s still a lot that has not, and I think that really helps connect people to the place.”


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