Thomas Trueblood

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Thomas Clarkson Trueblood
Thomas Trueblood.png
Trueblood from the 1948 Michiganensian
Born(1856-04-06)April 6, 1856
DiedJune 5, 1951(1951-06-05) (aged 95)

Thomas Clarkson Trueblood (April 6, 1856 – June 5, 1951) was an American professor of elocution and oratory and the first coach of the University of Michigan golf and debate teams. He was affiliated with the University of Michigan for 67 years from 1884 to 1951, and was a nationally known writer and speaker on oratory and debate. He founded UM's Department of Elocution and Oratory as well as the campus debate program. He became the subject of national media attention in 1903 when the Chicago Tribune ran an article stating that he was offering a new "course in love making." His golf teams won two NCAA National Championships and five Big Ten Conference championships. He was posthumously inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor in 1981.

Elocution is the study of formal speaking in pronunciation, grammar, style, and tone.

Public speaking process and act of speaking or giving a lecture to a group of people in a structured, deliberate manner intended to inform, influence, or entertain a listening audience

Public speaking is the process or act of performing a speech to a live audience. Public speaking is commonly understood as formal, face-to-face speaking of a single person to a group of listeners. Traditionally, public speaking was considered to be a part of the art of persuasion. The act can accomplish particular purposes including to inform, to persuade, and to entertain. Additionally, differing methods, structures, and rules can be utilized according to the speaking situation.

University of Michigan Public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States

The University of Michigan, often simply referred to as Michigan, is a public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The university is Michigan's oldest; it was founded in 1817 in Detroit, as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the territory became a state. The school was moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet spread out over a Central Campus and North Campus, two regional campuses in Flint and Dearborn, and a Center in Detroit. The university is a founding member of the Association of American Universities.


Professor of Elocution and Oratory

Trueblood was a native of Salem, Indiana. [1] He attended Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana and received an A.M. degree. [2] In 1878, Trueblood and Robert I. Fulton established the Fulton and Trueblood School of Oratory in Kansas City, Missouri, which became "one of the largest and best known institutions of its kind in the United States." [2] In 1884, Trueblood came to Ann Arbor as a lecturer on public speaking, intending to give a six-week course. The next year he was invited back. [3] At the time he also was lecturing at Missouri, Kentucky and Ohio Wesleyan, and working out of Fulton and Trueblood School. [3] Michigan asked him to join the faculty, and he stayed for 67 years. In 1892, he founded the Department of Elocution and Oratory and became its first chairman. [4] [5] Michigan's Oratory and Elocution Department was the first such unit in any major university or college in the country. [3] He also established the first credit course in speech at any American university. [3] At the turn of the century, speech and oratory played an important role in American society and academia, so much so that Trueblood was the highest paid professor on the University of Michigan faculty, and students were required to take Trueblood's courses. [6]

Salem, Indiana City in Indiana, United States

Salem is a city in Washington Township, Washington County, in the U.S. state of Indiana. Salem serves as the county seat. The population was 6,319 at the 2010 census.

Earlham College college in Richmond, Indiana

Earlham College is a private liberal arts college in Richmond, Indiana. The college was established in 1847 by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and has a strong focus on Quaker values such as integrity, a commitment to peace and social justice, mutual respect, and community decision-making. It is primarily a residential undergraduate college but it offers a Master of Arts in Teaching and has an affiliated graduate seminary, the Earlham School of Religion, which offers three master's degrees: a Master of Divinity, Master of Ministry, and Master of Arts in Religion.

Richmond, Indiana City in Indiana, United States

Richmond is a city in east central Indiana, United States, bordering on Ohio. It is the county seat of Wayne County, and in the 2010 census had a population of 36,812. Situated largely within Wayne Township, its area includes a non-contiguous portion in nearby Boston Township, where Richmond Municipal Airport is.

In addition, Trueblood organized and coached the competitive debate and oratory contests at Michigan. [4] [6] He established the Northern Oratorical League, and later the Central Debating League, for the purpose of conducting competitive debates among Midwestern Universities, including Michigan, the University of Chicago, Northwestern, Oberlin College, Iowa, and Minnesota. [2] In 1903, an Iowa newspaper noted: "It was due to his zeal in organization, his success in persuading students to enter the competitive contests, and his skill in drilling them, that has enabled Michigan to take so high a rank in oratory in these league contests, with seven first honors to her credit in ten years, and nine of the twelve victories in debate." [2]

University of Chicago Private research university in Chicago, Illinois, United States

The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1890, the school is located on a 217-acre campus in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, near Lake Michigan. The University of Chicago holds top-ten positions in various national and international rankings.

Northwestern University Private research university in Illinois, United States

Northwestern University (NU) is a private research university based in Evanston, Illinois, United States, with other campuses located in Chicago and Doha, Qatar, and academic programs and facilities in Miami, Florida; Washington, D.C.; and San Francisco, California. Along with its selective undergraduate programs, Northwestern is known for its Kellogg School of Management, Pritzker School of Law, Feinberg School of Medicine, Bienen School of Music, Medill School of Journalism, and McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Oberlin College Private liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio, United States

Oberlin College is a private liberal arts college and conservatory of music in Oberlin, Ohio. It is the oldest coeducational liberal arts college in the United States and the second oldest continuously operating coeducational institute of higher learning in the world. The Oberlin Conservatory of Music is the oldest continuously operating conservatory in the United States. In 1835 Oberlin became one of the first colleges in the United States to admit African Americans, and in 1837 the first to admit women. Today, it its known for its progressive student activism.

Trueblood also delivered speeches and gave dramatic readings on tours all over the world. [4] One newspaper noted: "As a reader Prof. Trueblood is well known throughout the west. His readings are taken from the best literature, with special attention to Shakespearean work. It is his plan to give the principal scenes of the play, narrating the unimportant parts, thus providing an entertainment acceptable to those who do not attend the theater." [2] After a performance of Hamlet in 1908, an Iowa newspaper wrote: "Prof. Trueblood is a man of remarkable personality. His cuttings of the play were taken from the most dramatic parts, giving a wide range of understanding of all the characters. Not only were the different parts interpreted with extremely keen judgment of the most real kind, but the speaker introduced each division with a brief description and delineation of the men and women who appeared. Prof. Trueblood's manner of speaking and his diction are acquirements of a very high character and he held the interest of his hearers from beginning to end." [7]

<i>Hamlet</i> tragedy by William Shakespeare

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, often shortened to Hamlet, is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare sometime between 1599 and 1602. Set in Denmark, the play depicts Prince Hamlet and his revenge against his uncle, Claudius, who has murdered Hamlet's father in order to seize his throne and marry Hamlet's mother.

Trueblood was president of the National Association of Elocutionists when they met in June 1899 for their annual convention at Chautauqua Institute, New York. [8] He brought with him Charles Casper Simons, a law student who coached the debate team for Trueblood. Simons had won first honors in a speech contest with his oration on abolitionist John Brown. Knowing that Southern elocutionists would be in attendance, Trueblood asked Simons to deliver his tribute to Brown at the conference. [8] One account of the conference states: "The introduction was delivered without much reaction; but when Simons intoned, 'The South had slain the man, but the spirit which animated him was beyond the reach of earthly power,' the Southerners were distressed. Simons went on to proclaim that John Brown 'taught the South that a new era had begun, that not by persuasion, threat or rant, but by force was slavery to be exterminated.' The Southern members of the association walked out of the amphitheater in angry protest." [8]

John Brown (abolitionist) American abolitionist

John Brown was an American abolitionist. Brown advocated the use of armed insurrection to overthrow the institution of slavery in the United States. He first gained national attention when he led small groups of volunteers during the Bleeding Kansas crisis of 1856. He was dissatisfied with the pacifism of the organized abolitionist movement: "These men are all talk. What we need is action—action!" In May 1856, Brown and his supporters killed five supporters of slavery in the Pottawatomie massacre, which responded to the sacking of Lawrence by pro-slavery forces. Brown then commanded anti-slavery forces at the Battle of Black Jack and the Battle of Osawatomie.

Michigan's first African-American debate champion

In the early 1900s, Michigan's athletic teams (and those throughout the country) were re-segregated. While George Jewett had played for the Michigan football team in 1890 and 1892, the next African-American to play on the football team was Willis Ward, forty years later in 1932. During this period of athletic segregation, an African-American, Eugene Joseph Marshall, was permitted to compete in Trueblood's debate competitions and won the university debate championship in 1903. [6] The Ann Arbor Argus reported: "For the first time in the history of American universities, a colored man has won his highest honors in oratory in fair and free competition with all comers. The announcement of his victory will be read with pleasure by all who are working for the betterment of the colored race." [6] Trueblood entertained Marshall at his home and presented him with the Chicago Alumni Medal. Marshall subsequently placed second in the Midwest regional collegiate competition. [6]

Racial segregation in the United States Historical separation of African Americans from American white society

Racial segregation in the United States, as a general term, refers to the segregation of facilities, services, and opportunities such as housing, medical care, education, employment, and transportation in the United States along racial lines. The term mainly refers to the legally or socially enforced separation of African Americans from whites, but is also used in regards to the separation of other ethnic minorities from majority mainstream communities. While mainly referring to the physical separation and provision of separate facilities, it can also refer to other manifestations such as the separation of roles within an institution. Notably, in the United States Armed Forces up until the 1950s, black units were typically separated from white units but were nevertheless still led by white officers.

George Jewett Player of American football

George Henry Jewett II was an American athlete who became the first African-American football player at both the University of Michigan and Northwestern University, and in the Big Ten Conference. He played for the Michigan Wolverines as a fullback, halfback, and field goal kicker in 1890 and 1892 and was considered one of Michigan's greatest players in the pre-Fielding H. Yost era.

Michigan Wolverines football Football team of the University of Michigan

The Michigan Wolverines football program represents the University of Michigan in college football at the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision level. Michigan has the most all-time wins in college football history and has the highest all-time winning percentage of all FBS teams. The team is known for its distinctive winged helmet, its fight song, its record-breaking attendance figures at Michigan Stadium, and its many rivalries, particularly its annual, regular-season-ending game against Ohio State, known simply as “The Game,” once voted as ESPN's best sports rivalry.

The Jam Handy incident

Lampoon of "Professor Foxy Truesport," Chicago Record-Herald, May 9, 1903 TruebloodCartoon.gif
Lampoon of "Professor Foxy Truesport," Chicago Record-Herald, May 9, 1903

In May 1903, Trueblood became the subject of national media attention as a result of a newspaper article written by a 17-year-old freshman student claiming Trueblood was teaching a new "course in lovemaking." [4] [9] The student, Jam Handy, was a campus correspondent for the Chicago Tribune . In the class, Trueblood taught "the delivery of short extracts from masterpieces of oratory." One such extract involved a scene from a play in which a man kneels in front of a woman pleading for her hand. In his 1893 textbook Practical Elements of Elocution, Trueblood used the scene to illustrate the "aspirate explosive" form of speech. [4]

After watching Trueblood act out the kneeling scene, Handy wrote an article that was published on the front page of the Chicago Tribune on May 8, 1903, with a headline stating: "Learn Sly Cupid's Tricks; Students at Ann Arbor Take Lessons in Love Making." The article suggested that Trueblood was instructing his male students on romance rather than oratory technique. The next day, the Chicago Record-Herald published a three-panel cartoon of "Professor Foxy Truesport" dreaming up ways to "teach his class how to properly make love." [4] Newspapers across the country picked up the story. The Daily Northwestern wrote: "Professor Trueblood of Michigan University has inaugurated a course in love making, his motive being to stimulate interest in his classes. The oratorical students are compelled to kneel and make fervid declarations to lady students." [9] The Newark Advocate's headline read: "Lovemaking Lessons: Novel Course In the University of Michigan; Sly Cupid's Tricks Taught." [10] The Salt Lake Tribune reported:

On May 12, the Chicago Tribune ran a photograph of Trueblood with the caption: "Trueblood has nearly worn out his trousers at the knees, showing young men how to kneel, and has strained his voice and eyes in efforts to show his pupils how to throw fire and passion into their appeals." [4]

The story was an embarrassment for Trueblood and the university. In his memoirs, Handy recalled being summoned to Trueblood's office: "His desk was piled high with letters...and clippings...from around the country...and he also had a copy of the McCutcheon cartoon. (He) was taking all of this as ridicule, although I had publicized the story with sincere enthusiasm for a new advance in education of which I felt the University of Michigan should be proud." The faculty voted unanimously to suspend Handy for a year for "publishing false and injurious statements affecting the character of the work of one of the Professors." [4] In addition to the suspension, Handy was charged as a "faker" in the press:

Henry J. Handy, the student-correspondent at the University of Michigan who sent a sensational story to the Chicago newspapers, relating how Professor Thomas C. Trueblood had a class in love-making, has been suspended for one year and the story has been branded as a 'fake.' Handy based the story on an incident that occurred during the rehearsal of a drama, when Professor Trueblood showed one of the students how to kneel to propose. [11]

Shortly after the incident, Trueblood left for a trip giving dramatic readings on the West Coast. Handy went on to become a successful public relations man. [4]

Golf coach

Trueblood from 1948 Michiganensian Thomas Trueblood (professor).jpg
Trueblood from 1948 Michiganensian

Trueblood was the faculty tennis champion, but at age 40 his doctor told him to give up the game because it was too strenuous. [3] [5] He took up golf, and enjoyed success in that sport, too. "I took it up in August and in October I won the Ann Arbor Golf Club championship," he said. [3] [5] In 1901, Trueblood organized the first Michigan golf team. On October 24–25, 1902, Michigan defeated the University of Chicago 16-12 in "the first intercollegiate golf match held in the West." [12]

In 1921, golf became a varsity sport, and Trueblood was the school's first official coach. [5] In 1926, Trueblood retired as a professor emeritus at age 70. At that time, he turned his attention full-time to coaching. [5] His coaching record at Michigan was 71-9-2. During his 15 official seasons as golf coach, his teams won two NCAA National Championships (1934-1935) and five Big Ten Conference championships (1932-1936), and were Big Ten runners-up eight times. He coached two NCAA individual champions, Johnny Fischer (1932) and Chuck Kocsis (1936). Trueblood continued as golf coach until he was 80, when athletic director Fielding H. Yost named him emeritus coach. [4]

In 1932, Chuck Kocsis (the first golfer inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor), enrolled at the university. When a promised alumni pledge to pay his expenses fell through, Trueblood agreed to make a loan (at five percent interest) so Kocsis could pay his tuition. [13] The Wolverines with Kocsis won the NCAA championship twice. Kocsis recalled that the team often traveled to tournaments in Trueblood's car. "Professor Trueblood had a seven-passenger Buick," Kocsis said. "He designated me as the chauffeur. So if we had a golf match, we'd all get into the car and go to Chicago, or go to Ohio, wherever we were going to play." [13] Another teammate recalled the trips in Trueblood's car: "It wasn't a very big Buick, as I recall. We rode with six guys. Chuck used to do most of the driving. I remember that trip down to Washington (for the 1935 national championship at Congressional, which Michigan won). We started in the morning and drove all the way down there. Professor Trueblood was a big guy, too." [13] Trueblood took the team on a side trip to Mount Vernon, where one of the players accidentally bumped the shifter into gear and hit the accelerator as he exited Trueblood's car. The car lurched forward; the open door hit something and was torn off its hinges. [13]

Ralph M. Cole, a member of the golf team of 1926-1928, later wrote of a humorous incident involving the septuagenarian Coach Trueblood. Cole recalled: "As golf coach he could add very little about the mechanics of the game. But he added one piece of advice which was very helpful when followed, and which he drilled into us at every practice session. It was: 'Up and out in two, boys.' As any golfer would know, it meant, when hitting a short approach shot, get it close enough to the pin to make the next putt. Now for the humorous part of that admonition. We had played Purdue in Lafayette on a Thursday and were to play Illinois on Friday. The Professor was to call us at 4:30 a.m. to catch a 5:30 train for Urbana. Well, he got confused on our room number and awakened a man who called the front desk and told the night clerk that there must be some nut calling at 4:30 a.m. and shouting, 'Up and out in two boys!' We did make the train, anyway." [14]

A.H. Jolly, Jr., captain of the 1933 golf team, noted: "Truby, as he was referred to when out of earshot, was still a most active and attentive coach. But the only club or clubs I recall seeing him handle in those days, was a Left-Handed Putter!" [15]

Death and honors

Trueblood died in Bradenton, Florida in 1951 at age 95. [1] At the time, the Associated Press noted: "He pioneered the teaching of speech in the nation's colleges during his 42 years on the University of Michigan faculty." [1] His brother, Professor Edwin P. Trueblood, also a speech professor at Earlham College, died earlier the same year. [1] Thomas Trueblood's obituary reported that he "devised the famous college cheer 'The Locomotive.'" [1] He devised the university's famous "locomotive" cheer in 1903 while returning to Ann Arbor on a train from a Big Ten football game. [3] However, other sources indicate that the locomotive cheer began at Princeton in the 1890s. [16] [17]

Trueblood's papers are at the Bentley Historical Library in Ann Arbor. Trueblood has been the subject of two articles by Linda Robinson Walker in the University of Michigan alumni publication Michigan Today. [4] [6] Much of the factual information in this article is distilled from Walker's articles.

In 1921, students of Professor Trueblood honored him by establishing the Trueblood Fund. Today, the Trueblood Fellowship is open to students majoring in Screen Arts & Cultures. [18] In 1981, Trueblood was inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor as part of the fourth induction class. [19] The Trueblood Theater was located in the Henry S. Frieze Building at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater and Dance and named in Trueblood's honor. [20] The Trueblood Theater closed its doors in 2006 when the Frieze Building was razed to make room for the North Quad Residential and Academic Complex. [21]

A portrait of Trueblood painted in 1920 by Merton Grenhagen was originally hung first in Alumni Hall (now the Museum of Art) and then in the Theater Library in the Frieze Building. In 1998, the Trueblood portrait was hung at the University of Michigan Golf Course. At the time of the installation, the University Record noted: "Known as 'Chief' to his teaching associates and 'Trueby' to his students, Thomas C. Trueblood now resides among U-M's golf history." [3]

Books by Trueblood

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 AP wire service report (1951-06-05). "Thomas Trueblood, Noted Teacher, Dies". The Kokomo Tribune.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "A Rare Treat For Students: High School and Coe College Students Will Be Given Recital of Julius Caesar by Prof. Thomas C. Trueblood". The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette. 1903-04-30.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Nesbit, Joanne (1998-04-08). "Trueblood's portrait finds home". The University Record.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Walker, Linda Robinson (March 2005). "The Suspension of Jam Handy: In Which a Professor is Ridiculed, a University President is Unforgiving, and a 17-year-old Freshman Receives Chastisement". Michigan Today. Archived from the original on 2008-07-07.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Madej, Bruce. Champions of the West, page 9.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Walker, Linda Robinson (December 2005). "Michigan's Champion Orator". Michigan Today.
  7. "'Hamlet' Was Interpreted: By Prof. Trueblood of Michigan University Last Night". The Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette. 1908-05-05.
  8. 1 2 3 Juleus, Nels (October 1995). "Michigan Today Letters". Michigan Today.
  9. 1 2 "News Notes". The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wis.). 1903-05-08.
  10. "Lovemaking Lessons: Novel Course In the University of Michigan; Sly Cupid's Tricks Taught; Professor Trueblood, to Stimulate Interest Among Students With Spring Fever, Gives Instruction on How to Propose - Kneels Before Coeds and Pleads in Impassioned Tones For Their Hands". Newark Advocate (Ohio). 1933-05-22.
  11. "'Faker' Gets Into Trouble". The Daily Palladium (Benton Harbor, Mich.). 1903-05-21.
  12. "Notes". The Michigan Alumnus. November 1902. p. 67.
  13. 1 2 3 4 Seanor, Dave. "Kocsis ruled NCAAs in '36". Golfweek.
  14. Cole, Ralph M. (October 1995). "Michigan Today Letters". Michigan Today.
  15. Jolly, A.H. (October 1995). "Michigan Today Letters". Michigan Today.
  16. "Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!". Princeton University. September 1995. Retrieved 2008-03-19.
  17. Leitch, Alexander (2001-05-03). "Princeton Cheers". Princetoniana. Retrieved 2008-03-19.
  18. "The Trueblood Fellowship Award". University of Michigan Department of Screen Arts and Cultures. Retrieved 2008-03-19.
  19. "University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor". Letterwinners "M" Club. Archived from the original on 2007-01-21. Retrieved 2008-03-19.
  20. "Trueblood Theater". The Regents of the University of Michigan. Retrieved 2008-03-19.
  21. "Final curtain for Trueblood". The University Record Online. 2006-04-10. Retrieved 2008-03-19.

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