A University Archives researcher recently brought to our attention a mysterious statue located on a door jamb in Dr. Robert Kedzie’s organic chemistry laboratory, as seen in the above 1892 photo of the professor delivering a lecture on gasoline. Did the statue have some significance to Dr. Kedzie? Was it some kind of muse?
Cataloger Susan O’Brien thought the statue looked familiar, and unearthed its possible identity as a “Statue of Hope.” Commonly used in the Victorian era, these female figures typically were represented with one hand resting on or holding an anchor, and the figure’s other hand could be resting on her heart, symbolizing faith. (For more information, see the Wikipedia listing) Perhaps the statue was mounted in the chemistry lab to offer hope and inspiration to the students. Or perhaps Dr. Kedzie had a personal reason for keeping her close.
Dr. Robert Clark Kedzie was a Professor of Chemistry at Michigan Agricultural College from 1863 to 1902. Trained as an M.D., he joined the 12th Michigan Infantry as a surgeon following the outbreak of the Civil War and was captured by the Confederates at the Battle of Shiloh. His son, Frank Stewart Kedzie, was president of M.A.C. from 1915 to 1921.