Three Augustana College seniors turned their head-over-heels fascination with the soap opera-like romances of three early Augustana College students into an exhibit titled, "Augustana Sweethearts."
The exhibit, nestled on the first floor of Augustana's Thomas Tredway Library, chronicles the lives of Netta Bartholomew Anderson, who graduated from Augustana College and Theological Seminary in 1888; Lydia Olsson, who completed her studies in 1894; and Ethel Pearson, a student in the late 19-teens who co-founded the Phi Rho sorority.
The journals, love letters and scrapbooks the three left behind shed light on their love lives -- the dull dates, overbearing suitors, stormy relationships and other melodrama.
Student curators Becky Hopman, Anna Pusateri and Natalie Markovich, said the documents show Ms. Bartholomew Anderson, one of the first six women to graduate from Augie, was known for rejecting suitors and had a fancy for K.T. Anderson, later referred to as"Dear Hubbie."
The records in special collections -- mostly donated -- show while she married Mr. Anderson, her first love was Asbury Chester. Then there's the Rev. L.J. Motschmann, described as the lonely pastor who liked "spreading the Word of God, living in Nebraska and Netta."
The three girls who put together the exhibit found diaries and other artifacts that showed Ms. Olsson was sought after by both Clarence Cederquist, whom they described as "the devoted lover," and Carl Appell, the "jealous admirer."
Their research also revealed Ms. Pearson was pursued by Martin Collins, who was Ms. Pearson's first date, and Paul Reinertsen, who was known as "the right guy."
Ms. Hopman said the exploration of the lives of the three women started when she found a listing for a diary while serving as a student worker at the library this summer with Ms. Pusateri.
"I was rifling around in the back, just looking for things I hadn't seen before. I'm kind of a history nerd, and I just kind of latched on," Ms. Hopman said. "We started out with the idea of Lydia and wanted to share how cool she was."
Both girls said they fell most in love with the stories from Ms. Olsson, who was the youngest daughter of Augustana's third president, Olof Olsson.
"We, like, became friends with her over the summer," Ms. Pusateri said.
Ms. Hopman and Ms. Pusateri said they found it easy to relate with her, although nearly a century separates their time at Augustana. Ms. Olsson's writings were filled with stories about boys, classes and the responsibilities Ms. Olsson had at home, Ms. Hopman said.
The girls described Ms. Olsson as "pretty sassy for being the president's daughter" and said among the highlights from her papers was an account of Ms. Olsson climbing atop Old Main while it was being built.
Among other suitors, Ms. Olsson was particularly enamored with Augustana student Clarence Cederquist. Ms. Hopman said things did not work out as planned, and he eventually moved away to be a lawyer in another Illinois town.
"It was awful when I found out they didn't end up together," she said.
Meet the sweethearts
The public is invited to a Valentine's celebration featuring the "Augustana Sweethearts" exhibit at 4 p.m. today (Thursday) on the first floor of the Augustana College library. The student-curated exhibit features the love lives of early women Augustana students, Netta Bartholomew Anderson, Lydia Olsson, and Ethel Pearson. The exhibit will remain on display until mid-April.