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.
Courtroom scene during the fight for control of Des Moines University, Baptist fundamentalist institution. In the picture are () Judge Charles F. Bradshaw, attorney of students attempting to uphold injunction to keep university under control of deposed President Harry C. Wayman until June 4, graduation time. (2) Casper Schenk, attorney for students. (3) Donald Evans, attorney seeking to dissolve injunction in interest of Dr. T.T. Shields and board of trustees who ordered school closed after riots May 11. (4) Dr. Shields, who with his secretary, Miss Edith Rebman, has been charged with immoral actions and who, when cleared by the board of trustees May 11, discharged Dr. Wayman and the entire faculty leading to the student riots. (5) Mr. “X”, mysterious companion of Dr. Shields, supposedly from Toronto, Canada who Monday accompanied Dr. Shields and Miss Rebman to Des Moines. (6) Miss Rebman.
The hearing Wednesday continued until Friday when it is expected that sensational charges will be brought against Dr. Shields and Miss Rebman and evidence to show that they are unfit morally to administer the school.
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.
I can’t tell you who took this picture or the association behind it. It’s covered up by the by-line covering the back of the photo. What I CAN tell you is that it was taken on May 16, 1929, and the back of the photo reads:
COLLEGE PRESIDENT DISMISSED FOR MODERNIST IDEAS
DES MOINES, IOWA – Dr. Henry C. Wayman, President of Des Moines University, a Baptist fundamentalist institution, who together with members of the faculty was dismissed by Dr. T.T. Shields, for harboring modernist ideas, speaking to the students who rioted after hearing of the ousting.
Edith King Campbell was a senior at Des Moines University in 1929. Due to the riots, the trustees closed the University two weeks shy of graduation. The class of 1929 still wanted to graduate so diplomas were draw up and graduation exercises commenced without the trustee’s approval. Once the trustee’s got wind, they quickly whipped out correspondence and sent it to all faculty and students. The official letter declared all of the diplomas null and void. And anyone wishing to receive an official diploma had to petition, Miss Rebman, the Secretary of the Board of Trustees. The letter also stated that anyone involved or claiming to be involved in the riots would not receive their credits or their diploma.
After a tense letter exchanged between Miss Rebman and Miss King on June 22, 1929, where Miss Rebman charged Miss King with instigating the riots. Rebman demanded that King appear before the trustees and argue her side. Until then, Miss King would be denied her credits and her diploma. King decided to seek legal counsel.
An injunction was granted by District Court Judge Shankland demanding the the trustees give King her credits. If they refused, her attorney said, “Judge Shankland is not inclined to be especially charitable with any effort made on the part of Des Moines University officials to discredit his orders.”
King received her credits and transferred to Northwestern University where she completed her education.
**If you’d like to read many of these letters yourself, visit the Iowa State Historical Library in Des Moines, Iowa. Edith’s husband donated her scrapbook of newspaper clippings and information about the riots in 1975.
The Students of Des Moines University. The Tiger. Des Moines, Iowa, 1930.
Wiggins, David. An Iowa Tragedy: The Fall of Old Des Moines U. Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin: Historical-Midwest Books, 1988.
Edith Rebman, Secretary, Board of Trustees to Miss Edith May King, June 22, 1929. Edith King Campbell papers, 1929-1943. Iowa State Historical Library, Des Moines, Iowa.
“Resolution Respecting Diplomas and Credits, Passed by the Board of Trustees at the Annual Meeting”, June 20, 1929. Edith King Campbell papers, 1929-1943. Iowa State Historical Library, Des Moines, Iowa.
Casper Schenk, Attorney with the Law Offices of Bradshaw, Schnenk & Fowler to Edith M. King, July 17, 1929. Edith King Campbell papers, 1929-1943. Iowa State Historical Library, Des Moines, Iowa.
Casper Schenk, Attorney with the Law Offices of Bradshaw, Schnenk & Fowler to Edith M. King, July 22, 1929. Edith King Campbell papers, 1929-1943. Iowa State Historical Library, Des Moines, Iowa.
United Press. “Student Rioters Get Injunction Opening Des Moines College.” Washington Daily News, May 13, 1929. Edith King Campbell papers, 1929-1943. Iowa State Historical Library, Des Moines, Iowa.