This book is written for both scholars and a general readership interested in University Circle, Cleveland, educational and cultural institutions, and American history and urbanism generally. The idea of writing a history of University Circle, and specifically of University Circle, Inc. (UCI) — and its predecessor, the University Circle Development Foundation — was proposed by Leonard Mayo, then a trustee of University Circle, Inc. His proposal was supported by Mrs. William Treuhaft, another UCI trustee who was active in many civic and educational institutions. With funding from the Cleveland Foundation, the project was undertaken by Clarence H. (“Red”) Cramer, then a former professor and dean of Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Cramer was the author of several authoritative histories of the university and its schools. After several months of research focusing on the history of UCI, Dr. Cramer’s increasingly severe, and eventually fatal, illness led to suspension of the project.
Murray Davidson, a Vice-President of UCI, was a champion of the history project since its inception, and after it was dormant for some months, sought the advice of several historians who recommended that I be selected to continue it. I agreed to continue the project on the condition that it would be a history of University Circle as a whole, rather than focusing on the history of University Circle, Inc. In the latter stages of my work on the project Elizabeth deBruin succeeded Murray Davidson as a Vice-President of UCI, and graciously supported the projects while bringing her own questions and concerns to it. The Cleveland Foundation generously funded the research and initial preparation of manuscript under grant no. 83-589-14R.
In carrying out the project I have been privileged to have the assistance and advice of numerous knowledgeable and enthusiastic people. Researchers Holly (Rarick) Witchey, Bari Stith, and Elizabeth (Liz) Palay were indefatiguable and contributed to the intellectual as well as the factual content of the book. Professors Park D. Goist and Stephen Brobeck, with whom I co-taught the American Studies course, “Cleveland: Growth and Modernization,” at Case Western Reserve University from 1978 to 1986, introduced me to the many absorbing aspects of Cleveland’s history. Students in that course contributed numerous observations, wrote helpful term papers on various aspects of University Circle, and tested many of the concepts which frame this book. Dr. Mary Stavish and others connected with the gestation and development of the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History answered questions about Cleveland history even before the Encyclopedia was published. Invitations to write three essays for the Encyclopedia gave me further opportunities to research Cleveland history.
Any book based on original research relies on librarians and archivists for direction and support. My research in particular has been greatly enriched by the advice and assistance of staff at the Western Reserve Historical Society and the Case Western Reserve University Archives, both in Cleveland, and the Rockefeller Archive Center in Sleepy Hollow, New York. When I moved from Case Western Reserve University to the Rockefeller Archive Center in 1986 I found that the archives of the Rockefeller family and of the Rockefeller Foundation were treasure troves of material on the history of University Circle. I recommend that anyone conducting research on the history of University Circle and Cleveland contact the Rockefeller Archive Center regarding the possibility that valuable supportive materials may be there.
The manuscript of this book had several reviewers over the years. Donna L.H. Stapleton, my wife and support of now nearly a half-century, read the manuscript in varying stages with an eye to accuracy, consistency and felicity of phrase, and has been encouraging in innumerable and loving ways. She invested in documenting the history of University Circle photographically, and it is regrettable that in this version her photographs are not included. At an early point Henry D. Shapiro and Zane Miller provided wide-ranging criticisms of two drafts that helped me to rethink some of the big questions. I had helpful advice on several chapters from Professor Morell Heald, professor of American Studies at Case Western Reserve University; Dr. Kenneth W. Rose, Managing Editor of the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, and for twenty years Assistant Director at the Rockefeller Archive Center; and Dr. Judith Sealander, while a Visiting Scholar at the Rockefeller Archive Center. At the Rockefeller Archive Center I had the support and forbearance of two wonderful Executive Assistants, Madeleine Tierney and Camilla Harris. At an important point Assistant Norine Hochman of the Center generously took the time to convert the book manuscript into an up-to-date word-processing format.
While the stimulation and insights of other have been invaluable to the development of this book, I have persisted in the historian’s professional obligation to apply his best judgment to the interpretation of the evidence. The story is therefore presented in my words and from my perspective. I recognize that readers may disagree with my views, and it is my hope and expectation that this work will encourage others to study, interpret, teach, and write about the history of University Circle with new understandings.
In the end the work of any historian is a culmination of a lifetime of research, experience, and education. While growing up in small Pennsylvania towns, my experience with cities was limited to tourist visits to Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C. American cities began to interest me as an undergraduate at Swarthmore College (1965-69) when so many crucial currents in contemporary American society seemed to be expressed in urban areas. Courses in my history major seldom dealt with the problems of cities, but courses in urban education, American political systems, and economic development helped me to grapple with many of the issues.
In my first year of graduate school at the University of Delaware (1969-70) I took a course in urban history taught by visiting professor Charles N. Glaab, a pioneer in that field. When faced with the active military draft of the Vietnam War era, I found conscientious objection to the only ethical and Christian alternative. I was drafted in the spring of 1970: facing the requirement of finding appropriate alternative service, I sought and obtained an inner-city social work position. Two years at the Lutheran Settlement House of the Lutheran Social Mission Society in Philadelphia (1970-72) provided valuable and enduring lessons in the frustrations and exhilarations of urban life. While I cannot be sure that I changed lives or circumstances at the Settlement, the experience changed me. As a God-given bonus, my tenure at the Settlement overlapped with Donna’s, and we met and married in my first year there.
I returned to the University of Delaware to pursue a Ph.D. in history. I chose urban history as one of my doctoral examination fields, and studied that field under the enthusiastic direction of Dr. Carol E. Hoffecker. In 1974, before completing my doctorate the next year, I took a position with The Papers of Benjamin Henry Latrobe under the direction and mentorship of Edward C. Carter II, the Editor-in-Chief of the project. Working on Latrobe’s urban engineering and industrial projects over the next decade I did substantial research on the late 18th and early 19th century histories of Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Pittsburgh and New Orleans.
In 1976 I took a position at Case Western Reserve University in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, then composed of the Program in the History of Technology and Science, and the American Studies Program. Dr. Robert E. Schofield, an eminent historian of science, had a deep interest in the industrial history of Cleveland, and encouraged my interest in that area. Two doctoral students, Edward J. Pershey and Rudolph Snowadsky, asked me to direct their dissertations on aspects of the history of the Cleveland machine-tool company, Warner & Swasey, a process that taught me much about Cleveland history. While in Cleveland, Donna and I attended Epworth-Euclid United Methodist Church (now University Circle United Methodist Church), located in University Circle, an institution that often grappled with the issues of its urban location.
Subsequent to our years in the Cleveland area, where we lived in inner-ring suburbs of the city, we settled in the New York City and Boston metropolitan areas. In both cases my institutional employers (Rockefeller University and the University of Massachusetts Boston) were in the core city, and Donna and I enjoyed the cultural offerings both at those institutions and in those cities at large. Our experiences in those settings undoubtedly influenced my perspectives on the history of University Circle.
I completed the major part of the University Circle manuscript in 1990, and made minor revisions and additions to the manuscript over the next three decades. In 1990 it was expected that the book would be published by University Circle, Inc., but when that did not come to fruition I sent the manuscript to Ohio State University Press. Although it was well-received there, and I was given a publishing contract, a subsequent severe budget reduction at the press resulted in revocation of the contract. I did not then pursue other options, but throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and occasionally into the 2000s, I published articles or presented material drawing on my research and the manuscript. Those publications are listed in an appendix to this book: in several cases the publications considerably extended subjects undertaken in this book; in other cases they are only obliquely related to the history of University Circle.
Finally, I am grateful to William C. (Bill) Barrow, Head of Special Collections at Cleveland State University’s Michael Schwartz Library, for contacting me in 2018 regarding the possible publication of this manuscript. I knew that some students of Cleveland history were aware of the manuscript’s existence, and I had hoped at some point to publish it, but it is unlikely that would have happened without Bill’s contact. I am grateful as well to Barbara I. Loomis, Digital Scholarly and Programs Administrator at the Library, and her staff, for their skill in converting my manuscript into publishable form.
A good deal of what is the best and worst of United States history can be better understood by studying cities, which both involved citizens and scholars should do. I hope that this book is a contribution to that process.
Darwin H. Stapleton