Ellen Van Volkenburg, Nellie Cornish, and the Michigan Connection

Photograph of Nellie Cornish and Ellen Van Volkenburg, ca. 1932. Ellen Van Volkenburg and Maurice Browne Papers, Special Collections, University of Michigan Library.

Event Information

Date & Time
June 8, 2017 - 4:00pm to 5:15pm
Hatcher Graduate Library, Gallery (Room 100)
Location Information
Event Type

As the University of Michigan celebrates its bicentennial this year, Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA, is preparing to celebrate the 2018 centennial of its Theater Department, one of the oldest such departments in the country, which was co-founded by U-M alumna Ellen Van Volkenburg and her then-husband Maurcie Browne. Mark Bocek, Media Specialist for Cornish College of the Arts, has been on a multi-year research journey to uncover the history of the Theater Department, which led him to the University of Michigan's Special Collections Library, home to the Ellen Van Volkenburg and Maurice Browne Papers.    

This talk will focus on Van Volkenburg and the remarkable skills she brought to Cornish in 1918, the excitement and glamour her new department brought to the school, and what its creation did to galvanize Cornish’s academic programs. Playing an important role is the intellectual history of Cornish, whose central tenets found their way from Michigan to Seattle via Nellie Cornish’s mentor and former Michigan professor of music, Calvin Brainerd Cady, a colleague of John Dewey’s in the 1880s. Finally, Van Volkenburg and Cornish were two extraordinary women of signature similarities and differences, over-sized personalities who became lifelong friends. Ellen Van Volkenburg and Calvin Cady—the Michigan connection—helped Nellie Cornish create an educational institution the like of which the world had never seen and of a type that is rare even today.

Additional Infomation

Library Contact
Juli McLoone jmcloone@umich.edu
Page maintained by Mary Claire Morris
Last modified: 06/05/2017