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W. Ronald Johnson collection, 1952-1956

Identifier: 038.01.35

Film and scrapbook made by W. Ronald Johnson concerning Illinois Institute of Technology ca. 1951-1955 when he was a student there. The film was made in May, 1997 using historic images primarily from the IIT student yearbooks (1951 - 1955) and photos taken by Johnson during those years, except as noted below. Video details in particular Delta Tau Delta and Fire Protection Engineering program, those in which the narrator participated. Film includes segments on the history of IIT, the construction of State St. campus, Integral (yearbook), sports, honorary fraternities, professional fraternities, clubs, fraternities, sororities, 1956 officers, Technorama, color sides, Chicken Charlie, present day (1996-97), Special FPE's, miscellaneous, and a 1967 Delta Tau Delta get-together. More detailed notes on these sections are as follows:

Film segments

An overview of the 1950's campus building program.
Beginning with this section, most images are taken from the 1951-1955 yearbooks.
Intramural team activities and members.
Student honoraries
Pi Nu Epsilon (music); Honor I (sponsored homecoming and junior week events); Arnold Air Society/Kitty Hawk squadron (sponsored the military ball); Pi Delta Epsilon/The Spynx (journalism); Sigma Iota Epsilon (management); Sigma Pi Sigma (physics); Salamander (fire protection engineering); Rho Epsilon (electronics and amateur radio; IIT's wireless radio, i.e., ham, call number was W94W and was located in Chapin Hall); Phi Lambda Upsilon (chemistry); Pi Tau Sigma (engineering); Eta Kappa Nu (electrical engineering); Phi Eta Sigma (open to all students); Tau Beta Pi (engineering).
Professional organizations
Alpha Xi Sigma (chemistry and chemical engineering); AIIE American Institute of Industrial Engineers (business organization and management); SAE, Society of Automotive Engineers (engineering); IRE, Institute of Radio Engineers (electrical engineers); ASCE, American Society of Civil Engineers; AIEE, American Institute of Electrical Engineers; ASM, American Society of Metals; AICHE, American Institute of Chemical Engineers; ACS, American Chemistry Society; ASME, American Society of Chemical Engineers; FPES, Fire Protection Engineering Society. CLUBS: Glee Club; Band and Orchestra; Westminster Foundation; Lutheran Students; Religious Council; Newman Club (Catholic students); Home Ec Club; Polish Club; Co-Op Club (IIT's co-operative work/study program in Mechanical Engineering, Food Technology, and Metallurgical Engineering); Food Technology Club; Chess Club; Rifle Club; Yacht Club; Bridge Club; Midshipman's Club (Navy ROTC); Radio Club; Gunsaulus Hall; Carman Hall; Fowler Hall; Farr Hall; Bailey Hall; Cunningham Hall. (This last section includes good information on the management and physical facilities of the historic resident halls and apartments.)
Good information here regarding location of fraternity houses and student organizations. Fraternity Row (between 32nd and 33rd Sts. on South Michigan Ave); Brown Hall; Delta Tau Delta house at 3240 S. Michigan Ave. (former home of Philip Armour per narrator); Delta Lambda Xi; Tau Epsilon Phi; Theta Xi; Phi Kappa Phi; Sigma Phi Epsilon; Delta Tau Delta (Johnson's fraternity; nice images of Johnson here, and audio contains nice humor); Phi Kappa Sigma; Alpha Sigma Phi; Daedalians; Sigma Kappa sorority; Delta Zeta sorority; Beta Omega Nu; Sigma Tau Beta. Also: ITWA, Illinois Tech Women's Association; Publication Board; ACSA [Armour College Student Association?], Advisory Committee on Student Activities; Finance Committee; ITSA, Illinois Tech Student Association; Interfraternity Council.
Senior class officers, 1956
Images of officers of the class and senior organizations.
Annual week-long social, sporting, and engineering activities on campus with large-scale outdoor exhibits constructed by fraternities. Ogden BOG featured here. (Note that the images showing a rowboat and swimmer in Ogden BOG are hoaxes; the boat is sitting on the ground, not floating, and the "swimmer" is photo manipulation.) Also photos of The Mecca occur here.
Color slides
Six or eight images of historic/Bronzeville buildings; 30 images of contemporary buildings (i.e., Mies campus). While quality is not superior, these color images show campus buildings in 1950s landscape, views not otherwise available in IIT Archives photo collections. (No narration here.)
Chicken Charlie
Five slides of elderly African-American Bronzeville resident and his pet chicken who provided street entertainment. (Only known images other than one from the student newspaper and one from the yearbook.)
Present day
Comments about the current (1996) status, reputation, and activities of IIT.
Fire Protection Engineering Program
Information about the FPE program, students, Western Actuarial Bureau scholarships, John J. Ahern (program director), annual senior trip to Marietta, Wis. to Ansell (sp. ?) Co. laboratory/training school (good images), and Underwriters Laboratory.
Includes information on three research-related organizations located on the IIT campus in the 1950s - AAR, Association of American Railroads; IPS, Institute of Psychological Services; IGT, Institute of Gas Technology; After "The End," ca. 10 images of classmates Pat and Harry Smith (1967) and Richard and Jane Solomon (ca. 1971- 72) with Ron Johnson. The collection also includes a scrapbook (53 pages plus inserts; complete contents photocopied from original) made by W. Ronald (Ron) Johnson covering his years as a student at IIT. Includes "Entries from the Log Book of Delta Tau Delta, 1950 - 1951," published by the national fraternity's Central Office, and photographs of fraternity activities and people, including Ron Johnson and his brother James, dances, parties, and student social activities. Good coverage of the annual campus event, Technorama, with Ferris wheel and trolley constructions. Also includes a typescript of song lyrics, "Armour Song Book, 1951," complied by C. M. Muto for Delta Tau Delta.


  • Creation: 1952-1956


Language of Materials

Records are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Research

Collection Size

2 Series

Biographical Note

W. Ronald Johnson attended Illinois Institute of Technology in the Fire Protection Engineering Program from 1951 - 1955. Johnson was a member of the wrestling team and of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Formerly 2002.006


Good historical information about topics not otherwise well-documented in the Archives, particularly Technorama and fraternities. Fraternities and Technorama sections are particularly valuable as these activities are not well-documented elsewhere in the IIT Archives. While not professionally produced, this is a very watchable video that functions almost as a self-conducted oral interview with good information on student life in the 1950s from Johnson's memory.

Related Material

2002.018 W. Ronald Johnson Papers, 2009.024 W. Ronald Johnson Papers, 2011.003 W. Ronald Johnson Papers


Catherine Bruck, University Archivist 4/4/2002

Part of the Paul V. Galvin Library. University Archives and Special Collections Repository

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Paul V. Galvin Library

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