Interview with Mary Etta McManus, Class of 1948



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Oral history interview with Illinois State Normal University alum Mary Etta “Marietta” McManus, Class of 1948. The interview was conducted on October 29, 1983, by Sandi Cupples of the Student Alumni Council.

McManus reminisces about the significant impact of World War II on campus life during the transition from a wartime atmosphere to peacetime. She highlights the scarcity of men on campus during the war and the collective focus on contributing to the war effort. Because of rationing, she says, “we just had to go without.” Despite the challenges, there was a sense of unity and determination among students, who juggled rigorous academic schedules with part-time jobs.

McManus fondly recalls President Raymond Fairchild as a dignified figure who maintained a formal relationship with students. The interview reflects on the stricter regulations of that era, such as the prohibition of alcohol and tobacco on campus, contrasting with the more relaxed social norms of the 1980s. McManus discusses notable professors and administrative officials, emphasizing their high academic standards and personal mentorship.

Extracurricular activities, particularly speech and drama, were central to McManus's college experience. She also discusses the importance of the two campus-wide literary societies, Wrightonia and Philadelphia, and the football rivalry between ISNU in Normal and Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington.

McManus reflects on the close-knit communities of Bloomington and Normal, the limited dining options, and the dominance of rooming houses over dormitories. She expresses a desire for broader exposure to diverse perspectives and experiences. Despite the challenges and limitations of the time, McManus cherishes her college years for the camaraderie, academic rigor, and sense of purpose they provided. The interview concludes with anecdotes about memorable events, such as football victories and notable alumni.

Interview Date


Biographical Statement

Mary Etta “Marietta” Edwards (1925-2022) was born to Oliver Delwin and Catherine C. (Clark) Edwards in Monica, Illinois. She graduated from Illinois State Normal University in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. While at ISNU she was active in dramatics and served as president of the sophomore class. Immediately upon graduation she accepted a position teaching high school in LeRoy, Illinois. In 1950 she married fellow ISNU graduate Edward J. McManus and the couple settled in Downs, Illinois, where Edward was working as postmaster. Over the coming years they would have seven children together. Marietta continued teaching English and drama in the Downs and LeRoy school districts until her retirement in 1979.

Interview with Mary Etta McManus, Class of 1948