William H. Lander papers, 1919-1990

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Lander, William Hall, 1903-
Contains papers and a scrapbook of William Hall Lander, a Trinity College/Duke University student from 1919 to 1924. Types of materials include pamphlets, short writings, photographs, correspondence, artwork, receipts, report cards, class schedules, a plaque, patches, letters, cards, playbooks, programs, invitations, telegrams, and clippings. Major subjects include life at Duke University, adoption of the Blue Devils mascot, the Beta Lambda chapter of Sigma Chi, secret societies, and general fraternity governance. Materials date from 1919 to 1990.
2 Linear Feet
Material in English
Collection ID:
University Archives Record Group:
30 -- Student and Alumni Papers and Materials
30 -- Student and Alumni Papers and Materials > 01 -- Individuals


Scope and content:

This collection contains a brief biography, clippings, graduating exercises booklets, a Sigma Chi, Beta Lambda chapter history (1962), a thesis written for the Master of Arts in History degree (1924), short writings, and a scrapbook. The scrapbook contains photographs, correspondence, artwork, receipts, report cards, class schedules, a plaque, patches, letters, cards, playbooks, programs, invitations, telegrams, and clippings. The scrapbook was created by William Hall Lander. It was about 70 pages long and contained general items which reflected his active social and academic life at Duke University from 1919 to 1924. Because the original scrapbook was in poor condition, items were removed and placed in archival folders for preservation. Also included is William Lander's autobiography, "My Life on Three Continents," which includes details of his career as a journalist.

Biographical / historical:

From http://www.duke.edu/web/Archives/history/why_blue_devil.html

William H. Lander was born in Williamston, South Carolina in 1903. Lander attended first grade in Greenwood, S.C. and other elementary grades in private and Methodist schools in Brazil. From 1917 to 1919, he attended Wofford Fitting School in Spartanburg, S.C.

In fall 1919, he began school at Trinity College (the early name of Duke University, used until 1924). Lander chose to join the Beta Lambda chapter of the Sigma Chi social fraternity, the Columbian Literary Society, and Sigma Upsilon literary fraternity. He joined the Order of the Tombs secret society during his junior year and the Order of Red Friars during his senior year. During the summer of 1922, Lander worked his way to Brazil as a sailor and got a job as an interpreter for an agency supplying American newspapers. He was assistant manager of the Trinity baseball team for three years and also served as writer, associate editor, and editor of the Trinity Chronicle.

As editor, Lander had a part in naming the school mascot the "Blue Devils". The editors of The Archive and The Chanticleer, two of the other student publications, agreed that the newspaper staff should choose a name and "put it over." Lander, editor-in-chief, and managing editor Mike Bradshaw began the academic year 1922-23 referring to the athletic teams as the Blue Devils, in honor of a World War I French Alpine regiment. Their class had been the first post-war freshmen, and the student body was full of returning veterans so the name needed no explanation. Acknowledging that it was somewhat unpopular, they nevertheless believed it to be the best name nominated. The Trinity Chronicle staff continued its use and through repetition, Blue Devils eventually caught on. Lander received is two degrees from Trinity College: an AB (1923) and AM in History (1924).

In 1924, he went to New York to work for J. Walter Thompson, a leading advertising agency. He later joined United Press, where he worked for 11 years in the United States and 11 years abroad. In 1946, he joined the Public Relations staff of Du Pont in Wilmington, Delaware. In 1960, he took on the position of Director of Public Information of the Organization of American States, an organization that supports legal development in the Americas. From 1961 to 1963, he was an information officer in Mexico City at the United States Embassy. He returned to publicity work at Union Carbide in New York in 1963. In 1969, he joined the staff of the Journal of Commerce at Wall Street, where he worked for 10 years until his retirement.

Lander was a member of the National Press Club, the Society of Silurians, and the Overseas Press Club. In 1942, he was awarded Order of Merit of Ecuador and was made an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa by the Duke University chapter. He and his wife, Margaret Slade Lander, lived in New York City, N.Y. William Hall Lander died in 1993.

Acquisition information:
The William H. Lander papers were received by the University Archives as a transfer in 1986, 1993, 2021.
Processing information:

Processed by Emily Glenn, January 2003

Encoded by Sherrie Bowser, November 2006

Accessions 86-93, A96-37 were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.

Accessions UA2021-0029, UA2021-0034, and UA2021-0052 processed by Tracy M. Jackson, August and October 2021 and January 2022.

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Collection is open for research.

Terms of access:

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], William H. Lander Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.