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Looking for Memories

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University’s Child Development Center, a fixture in White Hall for decades, will close and move to a new location this spring. Before it does, Brenda Boyd, it’s director, wants to celebrate its rich history.

“The program has existed in White Hall for 70 years,” Boyd said. “We would like to commemorate all the training that has gone on in that facility and all the children who have been served.”

The Child Development Center is located in the Fireplace Room on the first floor. It serves as an observation laboratory for undergraduate and graduate students studying child behavior, helping them prepare for careers in teaching, social work and a variety of other fields.

The center, as well as all other units in the building, are being relocated so that the 72-year-old building can be converted into the new home for the Honors College as well as a dormitory. The center will be housed in the recreation center at Nez Perce Village Apartment complex until permanent quarters are ready in the university’s new Children’s Center in 2001.

Boyd has sifted through old college catalogs to trace the center’s beginning. “I know there was a program in 1930 because I can find the course that reflects working in the pre-school lab in the 1930 catalog. There’s a period of years from about 1934 to 1938 where that particular course number doesn’t show in the catalog. I haven’t been able to get anybody to tell me why it would have gone away for so short a period of time after its beginning.

“Interestingly enough,” she said, “during World War II the course was still offered, so it wasn’t related to wartime constraints.

“Originally there was a single course where students went in and worked in a lab. Over the years a variety of courses have utilized the labs. A parent education course developed in the 1940’s by Roberta Frasier Anderson exists today. It’s now called Parent-Child Relationships.”

Pictures from the 1940’s show students observing youngsters at play from benches around the edges of the room. An observation booth was added later. Boyd is not certain when. She hopes former WSU students and faculty can fill in some gaps of the center’s history.

Boyd said a separate childcare facility was opened on the fourth floor of White Hall after World War II for families of returning veterans. “A full-day childcare program was offered at the behest of President Compton,” Boyd said. “Parent education was offered as part of it to help families make the transition back to being families again.”

Boyd invites former faculty who taught there, former WSU students who studied there and adults who matriculated there as children to send recollections of their experiences to her. Cards, letters and even pictures will be displayed during an open house on April 28. She hopes some who write might be able to attend the event, which is still being planned.

Cards, letters and pictures can be sent to Dr. Brenda Boyd, assistant professor of Human Development, Washington State University, P.O. Box 646236, Pullman, WA 99164-6236. E-mails can be sent to her at boydb@wsu.edu.

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