Interview with Hazen Nutter, September 17, 1979

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Interview with Hazen Nutter, September 17, 1979
Nutter, Hazen ( Interviewee )
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Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
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INTERVIEWEE: Mr. Hazen Nutter
DATE: September 17, 1979

I: Hi, my name is Emily Meyers, and I'm interviewing retired professor
Mr. Hazen Nutter from the University of Florida Department of Ed-
ucation. Mr. Nutter, start out by telling me a little about your-
self and your family. Where are you from? Where were you born?
S: Originally came from Bangor, Maine. Came to Florida in 1932.
I: Your parents, were they from Bangor, Maine also? And their parents
were from Bangor?
S: Yes.
I: Your ancestors are all from up around the Northeast?
S: Oh, yes.
I: And you moved to Florida in 1932?
S: '32.
I: '32. You and your mother moved down here at that time because of
her health or did...?
S: My health.
I: Your health, all right. You said your mother lived to be ninety. So,
it was your health that brought you to Florida and she came with you.
Was your mother a housewife or...?
S: That was what it was called around here.
I: And what about your father, what was his occupation?
S: He ran a stove foundry, manufactured stoves and furnaces.
I: Was he deceased when you moved down here?
S: Yes.
I: So just you and your mother moved down here. What year were you born?
S: 1905.

I: 1905. How would you characterize your home situation when you were a
S: Very good.
I: Were you an only child?
S: Yes.
I: You were an only child. Did your parents put across the notion or idea
that they wanted you to get a lot of education?
S: It was understood that I
who died when I was very
while I was growing up.
accepted that I would go
would. I had two older brothers, half-brothers,
young. That's why I said I was an only child
They both graduated from college. So it was
to college.
I: Follow in their footsteps. Now, where did you go to elementary school?
S: Bangor, Maine.
I: And elementary schools
did you go to school?
many months out of the
at that time, were they small? How many hours
A lot of them at that time, they only met how
year and then the schools were dismissed?
S: No, it was a nine-month school and we went from 8:00 until 3:00, as
I recall. A recess, a lunch hour.
I: Like today then. Do you remember anything about your high school?
S: Very much.
I: Okay. What would you like to say about that?
S: ELaughter] Well, it was still in Bangor, Maine. I enjoyed high school
very much. I took a college preparatory course.
I: While in high school?
S: Yes. In those days, there was a college preparatory course, a home-
making course, an industrial arts course, and a business course.
I: So you took the preparatory course to go on to college. Anything par-
ticular about the school curriculum other than that?
S: I don't think so.
I: What year did you graduate from high school?

And after graduation, did you go right into college or did you work
that summer?
Yes, I went one year to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.
You didn't work during the summer after you got out of school?
I went to work during the eighth grade for my father, in the after-
noon from one or two and all day Saturday.
And you said he built stoves?
Manufactured stoves, furnaces.
Then you went one year to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. How
did you pick that college?
CLaughter] That's where my brothers went.
Oh, you followed their footsteps.
It was also considered the best college in Maine.
Was that an education college?
No. Liberal arts. Four year liberal arts. At that time, there were
about 500 students.
And you went there one year?
I: And then why did you change colleges?
S: I went to work full-time for my father.
I: What year would that have been? Was that because of the war or...?
S: He had a heart attack.
I: He had a heart attack. And how did you get back into going back to
S: He died and I was taken ill. The business had to be sold. And I then
was free, I was looking for something to do. And I much preferred to
continue my education.

I: Your older brothers, you said, were deceased. Were they alive at
that time?
S: No. They died in the teens. 1911 and 1918.
I: But they had gone to college?
S: Oh yes, and graduated.
I: Were they in education or what were they in?
S: Liberal arts, I suppose.
I: So your first year at Bowdoin, you just got a general liberal arts
S: That's all you would Cget] anywhere.
I: Yeah, that's what I got in my first two years. So what college did you
decide to go to then after you went back to school?
S: Remember, I came to Florida for my health.
I: Oh, you are down in Florida now, you have already moved to Florida?
S: I went to St. Petersburg. So, the best thing to find out if I was
able physically to return to college, was at St. Petersburg Junior
College, which I attended a year. And then I came to the University
of Florida.
I: How did you pick St. Pete when you moved down here? Did you have rel-
atives down there, or...?
S: Friends had recommended it. It was considered a quiet, stable place
and it was.
I: I think it still is.
S: Well, it's a little more exciting than it was.
I: Bigger now.
S: A little more exciting than it was then. That was the height of the
Depression [laughter].
I: And when you went to St. Pete Junior College? You were probably lucky
to go to college at all then.
S: I could walk from where I lived.

I: When you were at St. Pete Junior College, then you decided to come up
to Gainesville. At that time had you decided on education?
S: Yes.
I: You paid for your own way through school then?
S: Yes.
I: Do you remember how much it was back then? I don't remember, I don't
even know how much it is now.
S: No, I really don't. The only assistance I ever received was when I
applied for and received a grant to help for the master's degree. I
well remember that it was $300. It makes me kind of smile when students
complain at $300.
I: And yours was for $300.
S: It seemed a large amount at the time.
I: You didn't work any while you went to school because of your health?
S: Right.
I: Then you came up here and went into education. Why did you choose
education? You just wanted to teach?
S: I always have liked schools, being around schools, being part of schools,
being with boys and girls who go to school, and that seemed the logical....
It fitted me physically, it fitted emotionally, it fitted me mentally.
The only thing I knew was making stoves. They didn't make many in
I: No, they didn't have any, but since then everybody is building them
now, putting them in.
S: Right.
I: So, you came up here and in two years you graduated with a B.A. degree
in Arts and Sciences. And did you work during any of that time period
over here at the college?
S: No.
I: So, what was your job when you graduated? You stayed in Gainesville?
S: No. I went to a high school and held classes for two years.

I: What high school?
S: Leon High School in Tallahassee.
I: In Tallahassee. Did you take your mother with you then, or was she
settled in Gainesville?
S: We just moved there.
I: You've been through the state now [laughter]. You taught two years there.
And what did you teach?
S: Social studies.
I: Senior high school level?
S: Yes.
I: And then, after two years, you went where? Came back to Gainesville?
S: I came back to the University of Florida to graduate school.
I: And worked on your master's. What did you get your master's in?
S: Economics.
I: Oh [laughter].
S: That was a shock, wasn't it?
I: Yes, it was. I thought you were going to say something about education,
you got your master's in.
S: Oh, I took a lot of education courses, but it just happened to be in
I: How did you choose economics?
S: Oh, I liked the professor. I had met him before. The professor I
worked under, I mean. I had worked with him as an undergraduate, I mean
scholastically, I studied with him. It didn't seem to make much differ-
ence what you got your degree in, as long as you had the proper education
courses. I carried more courses, perhaps, than I needed to.
I: So, you have your master's in economics and at the same time took your
education courses?
S: Right.

I: What were you going to do with your master's in economics, in the
teaching field? You didn't know?
S: I had no plans.
I: That's interesting. Was there any person that may have influenced you
the most, outside your family, in choosing your field of education? You
said you just always liked kids. Was there a teacher here at the uni-
versity that...?
S: No. In Maine, schools are organized by towns.
I: Townships?
S: Townships. And the city of Bangor had a school system with a super-
intendent and a number of school principals. The superintendent of
schools had his office in the high school, the Bangor High School. I
was very much interested in publication of the school monthly magazine
and annual, an annual issue. The only mimeograph machine, believe it
or not, in the school, was in the superintendent's office. I was in
there one day, trying to talk his secretary into lettingme use the mime-
ograph machine. And that was forbidden. It just so happened that the
man, superintendent, came in and got into the conversation. Before
he got through, he allowed me to come and watch the secretary use the
I: Come and watch her use it.
S: And perhaps I might become proficient, if I used it enough. I became
proficient. And before I got through, I had a small desk in his office
for my senior year because I was in a lot of activities that involved
using equipment.
I: Production equipment, is that what it was?
S: I guess you would call it that, it's a little vague. And I was so,
you might say, pleased with the arrangement during my senior year,
and I often talked to the superintendent and saw him operate. It's
a pretty good job. And, of course, I knew at the time it wouldn't do
me any good to want to do that kind of work because I had always been
building stoves.
I: You had your lifestyle decided on.
S: Planned on.
I: That happens still, I know, to a lot of people.

S: Oh, sure. Well, I'm sure if I hadn't been taken ill (partially I
would say) before my father died, the Lord knows what would have hap-
pened. I would try to hang on and that sort of thing.
I: So you were in Florida then, worked out well.
S: So far, so good [laughter].
I: You have been down here quite a few years. You came back and worked
on your master's. Then did you stay at the university or did you go
back out?
S: No, I was invited, hired to be a research assistant in the Bureau of
Educational Research at the College of Education.
I: I feel that you hadn't told me that before. Do you remember what your
salary was when you started there?
S: I worked half-time. I think $1000 a year.
I: What was your salary when you were up at Leon? Do you remember that?
S: $1,200 in nine months.
I: This one was less.
S: Well, you see it was more or less like a graduate assistantship.
I: Part-time. What did you do in this job? What were your duties?
S: I worked for Dr. A.Erthur. R. aymond3 Mead, who was the director. He
always had a half a dozen research projects going. And my job was to
collect data, furnish him information, arrange meetings for him and
the faculty of the college in cooperation with him.
I: What was Dr. Mead's position then?
S: He was director of the Bureau of Educational Research.
I: Well, that makes sense. Did the University Library, at that time,
have branches?
S: No.
I: Was there just one main library?
S: There was a main library, but I had no connection with the library at
this point.

I: I see. What year did you become involved with the library? That was
S: The next year, I was asked or hired by the college and the State De-
partment of Education to organize a curriculum laboratory in the College
of Education. Dr. Mead helped with that, and Dr. Mode L. Stone of
the State Department of Education. Dr. Stone later became Dean of the
College of Education at Florida State University, but that was many
years later.
I: So you organized a curriculum laboratory. Was P. K. Yonge established
at that time, or was this about the same time it was being established?
S: Not yet. After.
I: This was after.
S: P. K. Yonge was established in 1934. The building was opened in Feb-
ruary of 1934. But the second semester of my junior year at the uni-
versity, I attended the first college class ever held at Norman Hall.
I: In your junior year. What class was it?
S: Educational psychology. There were ten students, all men. You see,
we were not co-educational until 949t actually.
I: Were the women coming to summer school, summer sessions?
S: They were allowed to come to summer sessions. Dr. Alfred Crago taught
the class. And I remember Dean [James W.] Norman came into the class
soon after we started and asked us to write our names on some kind of
piece of paper he had, because this was supposed to be history. I
often wonder what became of the piece of paper [laughter].
I: Who was president of the university then?
S: Dr. John J. Tigert.
I: And Dr. Norman, what was his title at that time?
S: He was Dean of the College of Education.
I: How big was P. K. Yonge when it opened to students in 1934?
S: It was limited to 500.
I: 500 students. It was grades K-12 when it opened?
S: Right.

I: What is the enrollment today? It's probably not much higher, is it?
S: Oh, yes. I'm pretty sure it is. It was increased later on in the
1950s. Instead of having only one section, for example, of each grade,
they had two. That doubled it. I really don't know how they stand
now. But I would expect between 1,000 and 1,200.
I: What was your next job?
S: Well, the war came then. I was unable to go to war. So along with
the curriculum laboratory, I became principal of P. K. Yonge School
I: Why are you chuckling?
S: Well, I mean you are going to find me in a varying number of situations
if you keep this up.
I: What do you mean?
S: I mean different kinds of jobs.
I: You mean we aren't half-way through all of your jobs yet [laughter]?
What did you do as principal of P. K. Yonge? Of course, the popula-
tion, did it stay the same, the school?
S: Yes.
I: And the curriculum stayed the same?
S: Well, it was more rigidly constructed during the war years because we
tried to prepare young men particularly for service. We had to prepare
students for examinations. We expected them to study as much back-
ground as possible before they were drafted.
I: Were the majority of the students male then?
S: Oh, no. The school was always co-educational.
I: Co-educational.
S: The attempt was made to, I don't know about rigid, I can't remember
any rigid fifty-fifty, but there was really a desire that it would be.
It really came up that way, by a few percentage points, not noticeable.
I: There, you said before that at that time, the university had men only.
So did P. K. Yonge have mostly male teachers?

S: No, now wait a minute. P. K. Yonge always had men and women, boys and
I: I meant the teachers.
S: The teachers were just like any public school. The teachers were chosen
when the school opened, from the public schools. They were experienced
public school teachers. They were selected for their abilities regard-
less of sex.
I: Dr., here's what I don't understand. You said that--this was many years
before, I guess--the university, we were talking about your psychology
class only had males in it.
S: That was right.
I: So, how many years later was this that you were at P. K. Yonge? That was
about ten years?
S: That first class in educational psychology was in the winter, February
of 1934. I was principal of P. K. Yonge, during the war years, which
would be '42, '43, and '44.
I: When were women admitted to the university on a full-time basis?
S: After World War II is the easy way to get out of this. It is either
'47 or '49.
I: Do you see what I was getting at? Where were the women getting their
S: At FSU.
I: At FSU.
S: And Stetson and Southern.
I: So, the University of Florida was one of the last to admit women?
S: Well, FSU was one of the last to admit men. Either way you want to
look at it Claughter3. Summer schools at both U of F and FSU always
were co-educational because they were designed mainly for teachers
in those years. And it would be very silly not to be geographically
convenient to everybody.
I: Wasn't there a special name that they called that?
S: Called what?

I: The summer session?
S: No.
I: I thought I read that somewhere.
S: Well, it may be.
I: After the war, you were relieved of your duties as principal and went
back and had a new job?
S: Well, I stayed with the curriculum laboratory and I had acquired, during
the war years, a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation of New York
to see, in a project in applied economics, what influence the use of
certain classroom materials which we developed in the schools would
have on the improvement of housing in a given community. This project
was paralleled by a similar project in Kentucky in the area of food
and nutrition, and in Vermont in the area of clothing. That project
went on until 1952, about 10 years.
I: What did it prove? Was there a connection?
S: It was very difficult to determine. We surveyed before and after and
found out that there was improvement. But there were two things to
remember. One is that the war came along. Everybody had a job. And
there was more money available. It's possible that hopefully that the
influence of the schools put some of that money into housing, perhaps
more than it would have if it hadn't been for the program. Secondly,
there was an old song, "How Are You Going to Keep Them Down on the Farm
After They Have Seen Paris?" And how are you going to keep returning
veterans in poor housing after they have seen what they saw in various
spots in the world? The young men that came home from the war wanted
something better than what they left, particularly in the rural regions
of Florida. And that made a great incentive to improve their homes.
I: So you helped, you worked on that foundation along with your curriculum
laboratory job?
S: And also as the principal of P. K. Yonge for awhile.
I: Oh, my. You did have a lot of jobs when you said that. The main thing
that you did when you worked on the curriculum laboratory, were you
developing ideal curriculums for schools?
S: We worked in cooperation with the State Department of Education, brought
in teachers, particularly in the summer, to prepare bulletins in various
subject areas to be used by all teachers in-the state, suggestive guides,
suggestions for improvement in various areas.

I: That's probably why you were really qualified then for P. K. Yonge.
Is that why you were made principal, or because everybody else
left Elaughter]?
S: I think I was made principal because I was available.
I: Went to war, huh, and you didn't [laughter]. After your foundation,
you said you worked on that until the 1950s.
S: 1952.
I: Are you into the library yet or how did...?
S: Well, the curriculum laboratory grew into the library. When it
became evident that it was a handicap for education students to use
the main library exclusively, there needed to be an educational
collection in Norman Hall. That also applied to the engineering stu-
dents who found it a handicap to use the main library when Weil Hall
is where they studied. They needed their materials handier and you
can carry that same thought in the reason for the organization of
all the branch libraries. For example, the law school library. When
the medical school came, they had their own library from the very
I: So what year was this approximately? The middle '50s?
S: I would say the early '50s. The idea began slowly tbward that. There
wasn't an awful lot of money available right after the war. Things
were held up until plans could be finalized, when they could be fin-
anced. I'm sure you know what I mean.
I: Was the library moved into the room that it is in, in Norman Hall
presently? Not counting the move they have just made into their new
S: It was moved into the first reading room. The second reading room
was acquired in 1954 when P. K. Yonge moved out of Norman Hall into
their new, so-called school. It's five years old, but I still refer
to it as new. There was a passageway cut through. That room was the
music room of the former school. Therefore, it was a large room to
start with. It would hold 250-300 people in folding chairs. It was
a logical next step for the library to cut a hole through, you might
I: Expand.
S: Expand.

I: They have been where they are now today, approximately twenty-five
S: You are asking about the library?
I: Yes.
S: Yes.
I: Were you the department head of the library, was that what your
title has been, or you just helped to get the library going?
S: No, I ran the library. I was in charge of the Education Library.
I: From the start?
S: From the start.
I: And when did you retire?
S: In 1975.
I: You had one job, then, for a long time. You must have found where you
were going. Your original goal when you graduated from college was to
teach, but you never really did teach, did you? You had so many other
S: I just went from one administrative position to another.
I: After you then became the head of the library and got it going, were
there any major developments?
S: No, I really can't think of any. We did help organize an audiovisual
center which started out in one small office. It has now grown to
the present media center in the College of Education. I was instru-
mental in getting it going, began it with help from other grants,
from Teaching Films Custodians of New York City. The college later
took that over. The fact that the media center was removed one
floor from us made it a little bit more difficult, and there was a
very capable person running it. And it made my activities limited
mostly to policies, not actually everyday running of affairs.
I: Did you have anything to do,when you were in the curriculum laboratory,
with the development of certification requirements that colleges use?
You know, what a teacher would do to be certified?
S: That's the province of the State of Florida Education, not the College
of Education.

I: I didn't know if they had....
S: Well, now, the faculty members of the College of Education were invited
to help, they had an input into the preparation and to the continued
refinement, you might call it, of certification. But so were all
other colleges in the state asked to contribute. And so were the public
schools asked to contribute. But the responsibility of certification
is the responsibility of the State of Florida Department of Education.
I: You didn't have anything to do with the course work, anyway, did you?
S: Well, for a number of years, I scheduled the courses that were held,
that were taught in the College of Education. Some were held in
Norman Hall, some, because of the fact that Norman was filled, in
other buildings throughout the campus.
I: You were there then, you mentioned this the other day--I'll try very
hard to get you going on your story that you told the other day--
when the university first started admitting blacks to the college, you
told you had a funny little situation that you told about at the
S: It wasn't a common practice for blacks to use the library facilities.
In fact, I don't know if they ever did to any extent. There might
be one or two exceptions. People who lived in Gainesville might have
met and known some of the librarians. But when students were actually
admitted, it became necessary to find out what the libraries would do.
When blacks were first admitted, it became obvious that there would
have to be some changes in library policies. This was discussed at
a meeting of all the librarians on campus. And some suggestions were
made in a table discussion. And all the things that were suggested
we had been doing in the Education Library for two or three years,
simply because it seemed foolish not to. I didn't realize that there
was any real problem, because the black students that came were very
serious students, very considerate. And the whites that used the li-
brary were equally concerned that the blacks received the equal chance
at an education that they did.
I: You said, they hdd asked, you had talked about this and you said that
they had already been using your library for a couple of years before
you realized there was a problem.
S: But that is because the Education Library was used by blacks before,
because they were allowed to take summer school courses a few years
before they actually admitted as residents at the university. There
was no other place for them to go. It was quite obvious that they

should use the Education Library. We simply had no trouble whatsoever.
There didn't seem to be anything that should be done. It seemed to
me to be the proper thing.
I: Do you have any thoughts on if you left an impression on the university
at all?
S: If I left an impression?
I: Yeah, you established the library, you said. So you really left some-
thing behind.
S: I left something behind all right. I don't know that I have ever done
anything actually chiseled in stone.
I: You never know.
S: You never know is correct. I like to think that there were some people
who used the library whom I came in contact with who have gone on to
be successful in the field of education. I know that I met and worked
with a number of very fine young men and women during the time. I
still have contacts with many of them, some of them at least. As
many as I could, because there are so many that used the library, par-
ticularly in the summer.