Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday's Tips: Looking Beyond Just BMD Records

It’s that old familiar story. A couple meets. They fell in love. They get married. They live happily ever after. The big three, Birth, Marriage, and Death Records (BMD), provide an outline of the story, but they just don’t give enough details.

Take, for example, the marriage of a Perkinson family cousin, Louie Dean Stephens, and her husband, Robert Lee Hays, Jr. Louie Dean was born and raised in Georgia, graduating from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia.(1) Robert, according to every census record, was born and raised in Oklahoma. How did these two meet?

Several years ago I was researching in several Georgia libraries. At the Marietta (GA) City Library, I found an obituary for Robert L Hays.(2) It gave me some clue as to how these two probably met. It turned out that Robert had been a student at the Georgia School of Technology in Atlanta, the university more commonly known as Georgia Tech. Louie Dean, meanwhile, had attended nearby Agnes Scott College. For many years, girls from the all-girls Agnes Scott College were invited to parties at then all-male Georgia Tech and vice versa.

Following their marriage in June of 1926, the couple, according to census records, city directories, and obituaries, lived in several different places. They resided in Memphis, TN, Richmond, VA, and later lived for over 30 years in New York City. Not what most would expect of a girl from the small town of Woodstock, Georgia, and a fellow from Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Looking back at the obituary from the Marietta Daily Journal, I also learned that Robert had been active in Civil Defense activities and was the director of Civil Defense for Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.(2)

Last week I stumbled upon a great website for learning more about Georgia Tech, SMARTech. Most of the digitized materials are research and scholarly publications, but the website also has online copies of several Tech publications. Included were The Blue Print (yearbook) as well as past issues of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine, the student newspaper, and campus humor magazines.

Through materials on SMARTech, I learned more about Robert L Hays, Jr. After looking online through several years of The Blue Print, I found Robert listed as a senior in the 1925 edition.(3) I downloaded the pdf file onto a jump drive and spend some time looking through the yearbook. Besides finding several pictures of Robert, I also learned something about his years at Georgia Tech.

Robert Lee Hays, Jr, class of 1925

The yearbook mentioned that he was from Oklahoma, a member of Beta Theta Phi fraternity, a member of Scabbard and Blade (military honor society) and a Mechanical Engineering graduate.  In the short, humorous biographical sketch, it also said that he “had the girl” as well as an impressive military record in Georgia Tech’s then mandatory ROTC program.

The highlight of browsing the yearbook was finding this picture of Robert and Louie Dean in the ROTC section.

ROTC Regimental Staff, Georgia School of Technology, 1925

Robert L Hays, Jr. was the highest ranking cadet officer of the ROTC regiment at Georgia Tech in 1925. Pictured next to Col. Hays was the regimental sponsor, Miss Louie Dean Stephens. A year after Robert’s graduation from Georgia Tech, the two married.

Searching through Georgia Tech Alumni Magazines available online through the Georgia Tech Alumni Association, I found more information concerning Robert. In the April 1953 issue, Robert was pictured along with information of his appointment as an assistant Vice President of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.(4) Later, there was a brief obituary for Robert in the Feb 1960 alumni magazine. The obituary noted that Robert had been in charge of building services for the Metropolitan Life Insurance offices in New York City and had been with the company since the late 1920s.(5)

Thanks to a college yearbook, I now had an idea as to how these college sweethearts met, and the two articles in an alumni magazine provided a closer look at Robert's career. I also appreciate my husband, himself a Tech graduate, for passing on to me so many details of Tech history, traditions, and lore. After all, it is things like this which provide those details about relatives that help us better know them as persons.

(1) Agnes Scott College, Silhouette, published 1922; accessed through www.Ancestry.com.
(2) "Ex-Mariettan's Husband, Dies", Marietta Daily Journal, Nov 25, 1959.
(3) Georgia School of Technology, The Blue Print 1925, published 1925; accessed through https://smartech.gatech.edu.
(4) “News of the Alumni by Classes”, Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine, Mar/Apr 1953; accessed through www.issuu.com.
(5) "News of the Alumni", Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine, Feb 1960; accessed through www.issuu.com.

1 comment:

  1. Great story - it is always worth exploring beyond the BMDs you can find fascinating info