Owning a piece of Elon’s history

From a Grove of Oaks: The Story of Elon University, the first detailed study of Elon’s history in more than 30 years, is available now.

George W. Troxler could not have been more at ease Wednesday afternoon as he sat in the Isabella Cannon Room autographing copies of his latest book.

“It’s fun,” said the university historian and professor emeritus of history as people waited in line holding a copy of From A Grove of Oaks: The Story of Elon University. “This is the easy part. The hard part is done.”


Troxler, who first arrived on campus in 1969, spent three years of his retirement painstakingly researching primary source materials for the book, which was released March 11 to commemorate Founders Day. “When you retire, you get to do what you want to do,” he said. “I am a historian, I taught history for 20 years, then I went into administration and didn’t get to be a historian any longer, and now I’ve sort of ended my career being a historian again. So I’m happy.”

Described by the author as a pictorial history of Elon from 1889 to the present, the book includes hundreds of photographs and offers new insights into the university’s 125-year history.

“One volume with 400-plus photographs cannot tell 125 years of Elon history,” Troxler said. But, he added, “I hope people would find something in it that they didn’t know, a photograph they haven’t seen and they would enjoy the retelling of what is a very amazing story of a college that survived and transformed itself.”

That’s exactly what Nick Hood, a network communications technician in Elon’s instructional and campus technologies department, hopes to get out of the book. “I’m very interested in history, and Elon has an interesting and rich history,” he said, adding that he learns something new about Elon almost every day.

“I didn’t realize it was going to have so many photographs,” said Stacey Rusterholz ’11, a Student Life fellow for the Center for Leadership, as she browsed through the 374-page book for the first time. “It’s beautiful.”

“A lot of the pictures in [the book] you are going to see again in this exhibit,” Troxler told Rusterholz referring to the photographs adorning the walls in the Isabella Cannon Room as part of a historical exhibit going on right now in honor of Elon’s quasquicentennial.

Other photographs, however, can only be found in the book, which can be ordered at the campus bookstore, Barnes & Noble at Elon University, or at either of the two book signings scheduled on the following days:

  • Wednesday, March 12 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 19 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“I can’t wait to read the book,” Sherri Wolford, a human resources recruitment coordinator, said. “I look forward to reading his perspective on the history of Elon.”

One of the threads that can be found in the book is Elon’s sense of community, something that did not escape Troxler.

“We are an Elon family and one of the unique things about Elon that I value very highly is the sense of family between staff, students, faculty, alumni,” he said. “We all work together to make it happened.”

Faculty and staff members who want to receive a complimentary copy of Troxler’s book and have it signed by the author can do so at the Isabella Cannon Room at the Center for the Arts on the following days:

  • Wednesday, March 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 13 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Friday, March 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.