Florida Southern College Alma Mater

... or is that Almae Matres?

Florida Southern College graduates are familiar with the Alma Mater, the anthem sung at graduations and other student gatherings. The current Alma Mater was authored by Professor Charles W. Hawkins, who served on the faculty from 1935 to 1957. This Alma Mater was most likely written between Fall 1943 and January 1947.

Florida Southern College Alma Mater
Charles W. Hawkins, 1945 Interlachen
Charles W. Hawkins
The Mystery

The 1942 Interlachen features an Alma Mater that seems to represent a hybrid between Mary Gatewood Pulliam's Alma Mater (below) and the Alma Mater of Professor Hawkins. Was this a short-lived version penned by Professor Hawkins?

The Foreward of the 1942 Interlachen: "Foregoing the tendency to look in remote places for our theme, we discover this year our 'acres of diamonds' right at home. Our Florida Southern has its own theme - its spirit, its growth, its influence characteristic of impressions deeply ingrained in the lives of its students. For the best positive expression of this theme, we select the words of the Alma Mater, trusting that their repetition introducing the sections of this book will recall cherished memories of the year 1941-42 in years to come." This Alma Mater was reproduced in the September 18, 1943 issue of The Southern.

Florida Southern College Alma Mater, 1942 Interlachen
The Tradition

According to Harris G. Sims '28 in The Story of Southern College: Golden Anniversary Edition, 1885-1935 (p. 60), the "new" Alma Mater was first performed by students during Fall 1927 opening exercises. The Alma Mater was "composed by two students, Miss Mary Gatewood Pulliam (later Mrs. Sam Banks) and Herman Watkins." This Alma Mater was presumably used until adoption of the mystery circa 1942 Alma Mater.

The earliest publication of this Alma Mater appears to be in the 1928 Interlachen, although without attribution. The printing below is from the 1933 Interlachen, and features an arrangement by Iris M. Daniel. Only Mary Gatewood Pulliam is shown as an author.

Southern College Alma Mater, 1933 Interlachen
Mary Gatewood Pulliam, 1927 Interlachen
Mary Gatewood Pulliam, '27
Settling in Lakeland

The first Alma Mater associated with Southern College at the new Lakeland campus appeared in the 1924 Interlaken, annual of Southern College (later known as the Interlachen). This Alma Mater includes references to the Pinellas County location of the College (Clearwater), and to Lakeland.

Roux Library does not own a copy of the 1925 Interlaken, and is actively seeking this volume. If you have this volume for sale, we would appreciate hearing from you.

Alma Mater, 1924 Interlaken
Clearwater to Lakeland: A New Beginning

The June 2, 1922 issue of The Southern, the weekly student newspaper, recounted the laying of the cornerstone of Social Hall on May 25, 1922. The two-page paper was dubbed the "Corner Stone Edition" and included reports of Lakeland's hospitality, a large gathering of alumni at Lakeland's Hotel Thelma, and prospects for growth of the school.

The song "Here's To Southern!" was published on the second page, with this description: "This new Southern College song, the words of which were written by Professor Francis T. Long, Professor of English, and the music adapted from Aletter's Rococo by Professor Louis Alberti, Professor of Vocal Music, was sung for the first time away from the Clearwater Beach home of the college when the college community made its recent visit to Lakeland."

References to the location and characteristics of the school, and the singer's loyalty to Southern suggest that this was intended as an alma mater.

Here's To Southern, 1922

 

Louis Alberti, 1927 Interlachen

The Original?

The 1911 Surf, annual of Southern College (one of the precursors to the Interlachen), included the tune "Hurrah for Southern College," by Ella P. Hilburn, wife of College President John P. Hilburn. It is not known whether this served as an alma mater, but insofar as it refers to the setting and purpose of the institution, and the singer's relationship to the College, it shares key characteristics with later alma maters. Or almae matres ...

Hurrah for Southern College, 1911 Surf

Southern College pennant, 1911 Surf