In the spring of 1929, there were two fractions at war at the University. Those who were on Dr. Shields, President of the Bible Baptist Union (the organization that owned the school) side and those against Shields. After some tense exchanges between the trustees, the Shields fraction won their battle. As of June 4, 1929, all the faculty at Des Moines University were terminated. Anyone who wanted their job back had to petition the Bible Baptist Union Secretary, Edith Rebman, for their job. During these tense meetings, students gathered on campus. A few boys arrived with some unhatched eggs from a hatchery in town. The manager had looked the other way when the boys took them because he could no longer sell them. Those eggs ended up splattered on the administration building. Later they were thrown through the administration building windows as the students’ agitation later spilled over into violence.
The photograph above shows a policeman signing one of the eggs that might have ended up thrown on the administration building with the hopes of hitting Dr. Shields.
I didn’t want to distort the image below by adding or describing the location of each building so you can go here: Arial View of Des Moines University 1929 to find out. I hope I got the locations correct. If not, please post a comment and I’ll correct. Thanks!
This is another image posted in nearly the same location as this one, but less damaged. The back reads:
“Dr. Harry C. Wayman, president of Des Moines Univresity, opening the institution in a short address to the student body after the school had been closed following the riots Saturday night. Students resorted to the law to enjoin the president from closing of the university. Dr. Wayman was a party to the friendly injunction which set aside closing order issued by Dr. T.T. Shields just before he left the city under police guard Saturday night. The police had rescued Dr. Shields from a band of 150 rioting students whose war cry was ‘Get Shields! Break his neck!'”
I made a visit to Sioux Falls, South Dakota over a long weekend. Partly to get away and partly to dig through the Norman B. Mears Library‘s archives at Sioux Falls University.
After the riots, the trustees waited a few months before publicly announcing what everyone already knew. Des Moines University was closed for good. All the students records were carted off to Sioux Falls College. In the 1990s the college’s name changed to Sioux Falls University.
While the student records were off limits, thanks to a very helpful acquisitions librarian, I was able to view several items in their collection. Pictures. Documents. Athletic uniforms and even a “President’s” shirt. I’ll be posting several of the items that were available to me over the course of a couple weeks. Perhaps seeing some of these items will spark a desire to experience Norman B. Mears Library archives for yourself.