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January Madison Moments Through the Years

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Eleanor Beatrice Marable
Eleanor Beatrice Marable
"Blue Stone Hill's First Daugher"

1909
Fifteen year-old Eleanor Beatrice Marable, of Prince George County, became the first young lady to inquire about attending the State Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg. In the coming months, she would also be the first to apply and be accepted into the school. Miss Marable referred to herself as “Blue Stone Hill's First Daughter.” She later lived in Elkton, taught school for many years and remained active with Madison well into the 1970s.

1914
The Stratford Literary Society, a drama group, was organized on January 31 under the motto: “All the world's a stage and all the men and women are merely players” and began giving readings and performances of Shakespeare's plays. The group officially became the Stratford Players in 1950 and represents the oldest student run organization at James Madison University.

First intercollegiate basketball team
The Normal School's first intercollegiate basketball team

1921
Since 1910, the State Normal School's various basketball teams had competed solely against one another but in 1921 the Normal School organized its first varsity team to compete interscholastically. The team won its first game 33-13 again a team from Bridgewater College and went on to a season record of 4-3.

1923
Today, James Madison University boasts many instrumental ensemble groups of varying sizes. The origins of these diverse groups can be traced back to January 20, 1923, performance by five students who had formed the school's first “orchestra.” The group consisted of two students sharing piano duties, one playing the banjo ukulele, one on drums and one “sawing” the violin.

First men's team
The first men's team at Madison College debuted in 1947

1947
On Saturday, January 11, the first all-male basketball team debuted. The Dukes – name in honor of President Samuel P. Duke – hosted a team from Mary Washington College in the Reed (Keezell) Hall gymnasium. The Dukes won 31-24 and, like the first women's basketball team, finished their first season with a 4-3 record.

1969
On January 22, it was announced that the lake on “Back Campus” would be named Newman Lake in honor of Henry Dold Newman, whose farmland created much of the JMU campus. The lake was formed by damming Sieberts Creek, a small steam that run through the JMU campus from Paul Street to Port Republic Road. The lake originally consisted of 11 acres. Portions of the lake have been filled in for construction with the current lake occupying around 9.7 acres.

Preparing field for Astro Turf
Workmen marked off the area where the AstroTurf Field
would be installed

1974
On January 25, the new Madison College AstroTurf Field and Track Facility was opened for use by students. It was a general purpose field, intended for use by students in intramurals, intercollegiate athletics and recreational programs. President Ronald E. Carrier has told the Virginia General Assembly that the playing fields near Godwin Hall were unusable for students following heavy rains. To convince the legislators, Carrier had the field flooded and then asked fraternity member to play football on the muddy field. Photographs by a JMU photographer convinced the legislators of the need for the artificial turf, which became known as “Ron's Rug.” As the president well knew, the new field was also ideal for Madison's fledgling football field. In the fall of 1974, Madison became the first Virginia college to play its home football games on an artificial field.

1970s snow on the Quad
Snows like this one weren't enough to cancel classes
in the 1970s

1978
Fifteen inches of snow had fallen in Harrisonburg during the week but Madison College classes met as usual on January 20. The college's inclement weather policy then was simple – the school just didn't close, no matter what. The last time Madison had closed because of the weather was in March, 1962, when a record two feet of show shut the campus down – for one day. A few years later, as more and more students commuted to classes, the bad weather policy was liberalized.

1980
A report was released by the Harrisonburg Planning Commission on January 26, released a report stating that James Madison University had been responsible for 85 per cent of Harrisonburg's growth in the 1970s, with 32 per cent of the city's population being full-time JMU students.

Nursing students with Dr. Carrier
Student nurses checked President Carrier's blood pressure in the early 1980s

1983
The JMU School of Nursing received full accreditation from the National League of Nursing on January 17, allowing the university's nursing students to apply to graduate schools and received more abundant employment opportunities.

1987
The JMU Varsity Cheerleading team won the national competition on January 8, defeating teams from around the nation at the Ford College National Championship in San Diego, California. The competition was later telecast on ESPN.