From the editor
Cornelliana now history
By Dee Ann Rexroat '82
Registrar and Classics Professor Emeritus Charles Milhauser has retired again—this time from writing his Cornell Report history column, Cornelliana.
Charles taught classics at Cornell beginning in 1964, adding the title registrar in 1970. Curious by nature, Charles often uncovered historical facts and anecdotes in his job as registrar, and recorded these on index cards that amassed into a personal Cornell archives and an award-winning historical campus tour. When he retired to Florida in 1993, the note cards went along.
Shortly after I returned to the Hilltop in 1994 and became editor, we redesigned the magazine and asked Charles if he would consider writing a history column. It was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. His columns arrived weeks ahead of deadline, gave me an excuse to dig in the archives for images, and taught us all about what makes Cornell Cornell. Through his columns we learned many things about early life on the Hilltop, not least about the incredible resilience of campus inhabitants in the days before phones, electricity, cars, all-you-can-eat dining halls, and indoor plumbing.
For the college's sesquicentennial, Charles offered to write an illustrated history. The book, "Cornell College: 150 Years from A to Z," has become a Cornell classic and a valuable research tool. Serving as editor of the book was a highlight of my career. Charles returned to Mount Vernon several times to research and when it came time to illustrate the book, we spent hours together mining the archives—one of our favorites places in the world.
Charles carefully marked his page proofs with particularly handsome penmanship. At the end of the project he returned to Florida and we once again communicated by e-mail. I knew I would not only miss seeing him, I would miss that distinctive handwriting.
Fortunately for us all, his writing style itself is distinctive, and often sly and humorous.
In his first column, in 1995, he conveyed the saga of the Rock. "This boulder, weighing 5,000 pounds, is a symbol of solidarity, permanence, and indestructibility," he wrote in closing, "Like Cornell College, despite rough handling and harsh times, the Rock survives
and inspires new generations of Cornellians."
Likewise, Charles inspired generations of Cornellians by unearthing and revealing our history in a compelling way. Thank you, Charles.