Bill Berkson, Poet, Teacher, Art Critic, Archivist and Friend: 1939-2016

Bill Berkson 1985We are saddened to learn that Bill Berkson died last Thursday in San Francisco at the age of seventy-six.  Berkson, a prolific American poet, art critic, and teacher, was also a muse, a world traveler, a lifelong gatherer and archivist, and to many of us in Archives and Special Collections at UConn, home of the Bill Berkson Papers, a literary giant, a generous collaborator and donor, and a friend.

The Bill Berkson Papers comprise over one hundred linear feet of literary manuscripts, letters, drafts of poetry, notebooks, lecture notes, interviews, Big Sky Books and Press records, photographs, audio recordings, broadsides, rare publications, family papers, and personal ephemera.

Used by students and scholars alike, the archive spans from 1959 to 2016 and documents the poet’s extensive body of work, his collaborations in and among the realms of visual art, media, and literature, and his affinities with the poets and artists of the New York School.

berksonrootsBigSky5-1973

Mr. Berkson wrote more than twenty collections of poetry, beginning in 1961 with “Saturday Night: Poems 1960-61.” His most recent book, “Invisible Oligarchs: Russia Notebook, January-June 2006 & After,” a travel journal, was published this year.  He is survived by his wife, curator Constance Lewallen; son Moses Berkson and daughter Siobhan O’Hare Mora Lopez, from his first marriage, to Lynn O’Hare Berkson; stepchildren Jonathan Lewallen and Nina Lewallen Hufford; and six grandchildren.

According to San Francisco Chronicle, donations in Mr. Berkson’s name may be sent to Foundation for Contemporary Arts and Poets in Need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding the Artist in His Art: A Week with the James Marshall Papers

By Julie Danielson

James Marshall (called “Jim” by friends and family) created some of children’s literature’s most iconic and beloved characters, including but certainly not limited to the substitute teacher everyone loves to hate, Viola Swamp, and George and Martha, two hippos who showed readers what a real friendship looks like. Since I am researching Jim’s life and work for a biography, I knew that visiting the James Marshall Papers in Archives and Special Collections at the University of Connecticut’s Northeast Children’s Literature Collection would be tremendously beneficial. In fact, Jim’s works and papers are also held in two other collections in this country (one in Mississippi and one in Minnesota), which I hope to visit one day, but I knew that visiting UConn’s Archives and Special Collections would be especially insightful, since Jim made his home there in Mansfield Hollow, not far at all from the University. Indeed, I spent my evenings, as I wanted to maximize every possible moment during my days for exploring the collection, talking to people there in Connecticut who knew and loved Jim, including his partner William Gray, still living in the home they once shared.

The collection is vast and impressive, just what a biographer needs. I had five full days, 017revthanks to the James Marshall Fellowship awarded to me, to explore the archives and see, up close, many pieces of original artwork, as well as a great deal of his sketchbooks. I saw manuscripts, sketches, storyboards, jacket studies, character studies, preliminary drawings, dummies, proofs, original art, and much more from many of Jim’s published works, including a handful of his early books — It’s So Nice to Have a Wolf Around the House, Bonzini! The Tattooed Man, Mary Alice, Operator Number 9, and more. To see sketches and art from his earlier books was thrilling, because I’m particularly fond of many of those titles. (Bonzini!, I learned in the sketchbooks, was originally titled Cairo.) Also on hand in the collection are sketches and art from his more well-known books, as well as books published at the end of his career (he died in 1992), including the popular George and Martha books and Goldilocks and the Three Bears, which received a 1989 Caldecott Honor.

To hold Jim’s original watercolors in hand is something I will never forget; as a fan of his books, I admit to getting a bit misty-eyed on more than one occasion (happy cries, to be sure). Seeing his artwork and sketches up close also afforded me rare insight into his unique talents as a children’s book illustrator, his process as an artist, his work ethic as a whole (he diligently worked and repeatedly re-worked the artwork that, in its final form, communicated an unfussy, uncluttered, and perfectly delightful simplicity) , and even his personality. This goes a long way in informing a biographer about her subject, and for that I am grateful.

The collection also includes many of Jim’s unpublished works, including story ideas for the George and Martha books. (Readers never got to read stories about a sack race, football, fishing, and more.) There are also incomplete short stories, art for greeting cards (how I wish the one pictured here were available today; inside, it was to say “let’s have a look at those grades”), 066revmany unidentified sketches, and much more. These unpublished works, as well as the series of sketchbooks available in the collection—there are a whole host of sketchbooks featuring both published and unpublished works—tell me a great deal about how Jim approached his work. For one, he always did so with a deep and abiding respect for children, which is my favorite aspect of his work. Never did he talk down to child readers. As Maurice Sendak wrote about Jim in an item in the collection, “never condescending to the child, allowing for freshness—sometimes rudeness—of the child’s genuine mind and heart.” In many of his sketchbooks, he also made detailed notes (illustrated, of course) about his days – what he did and whom he saw. These are intermingled with notes about book ideas. Needless to say, this is pure gold for a researcher/biographer, as are the personal papers in the collection. This includes some correspondence, an undated music book (Jim studied the viola before entering into the field of children’s books), his Caldecott Honor citation, and more.

A relatively recent addition to the collection is one that was added after the 2012 death of legendary author-illustrator Maurice Sendak. Jim and Maurice were close friends, and included in this series in the collection is a birthday book Jim once made for Maurice; books he gifted and autographed to Maurice; some of Jim’s original art, which Maurice had purchased; and more. This series told me a lot about the abiding friendship between the two, which is quite moving. It included a wooden box that contains some of Jim’s brushes and his glasses. (I find myself having to constantly remind my twelve-year-old daughter to clean her glasses, but I was able to tell her later that day, “you’re in good company. The brilliant James Marshall had smudges on his glasses as well.”) Also included is a letter from Maurice, noting the contents of the wooden box. In this letter he talks about being with Jim in July of 1992; this was about three months before Jim’s death from AIDS. Jim, unresponsive, was on his first day of morphine. “His last words … to me,” Maurice wrote, “on the telephone [had been] ‘Lovely, Loyal Maurice.’” Maurice, in fact, drew Jim as he was dying, though these drawings are not in the collection.

On my last day in Archives and Special Collections, I watched video footage of Jim speaking in one of Francelia Butler’s children’s literature courses at UConn. (Also included in the collection are Jim-related items in the Francelia Butler Collection, which were extremely helpful for my project.) It is a lecture that is, at turns, laugh-aloud funny, incisive, and smart. Jim was deliciously opinionated about others’ books. I now know first-hand how much biographers can learn from seeing video footage or hearing audio of their subjects. It was the first time I’d seen (or even heard) Jim speak.

111revI’ll close with this rare self-portrait (on canvas), which curator Kristin Eshelman thought I’d want to see. Kristin said that Jim had painted it for his mother, with whom, I have learned, he had an affectionate yet probably complicated relationship. (He adored her and remained close to her all his life, yet she refused to accept that he was gay. She was strong-willed, and I quickly discovered that one cannot hear stories about Jim without also often hearing about her.) I love this painting. It’s happy (the pink!), a bit unsettling (note the placement of his right eye), and gloriously weird, all at once. Jim stares at us, in between brush strokes. I like to imagine he’s still here, looking askance at us just like this. With the same “genuine mind and heart” he acknowledged in his child readers.

Julie Danielson holds an MS in Information Sciences and blogs about picture books at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. The co-author of Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, she also writes a weekly column and conducts Q&As for Kirkus Reviews. She reviews picture books at BookPage and has written for the Horn Book and the Association for Library Services to Children. She has been a judge for the Bologna Ragazzi Awards in Italy, as well as the Society of Illustrators’ Original Art Award, and she is a Lecturer for the University of Tennessee’s Information Sciences program.  Ms. Danielson was awarded a James Marshall Fellowship in 2015.  The James Marshall Fellowship is awarded biennially by Archives and Special Collections to a promising author and/or illustrator to assist with the creation of new children’s literature. Support is provided for research in the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection for the creation of new text or illustrations intended for a children’s book, magazine, or other publication. 

Looking Back and Looking Forward

No matter where your political allegiance lies it is impossible to deny the significance of Hillary Clinton’s ascent towards the Democratic nomination for president.  It is also a time to acknowledge the importance of women who came before her. Through the generous donation and support of one of her family members we are lucky to have the personal and professional papers of one such woman, Vivien Kellems, in our care.

Kellems on steps

Born in 1896 Kellems (or ‘Viv’ as we fondly refer to her) is a gem of Connecticut women’s history.  She owned and dedicatedly operated Kellems Cable Grips company first out of Westport and then Stonington.  The company produced and sold her brother Edgar’s invention for stringing electrical wiring.  She ran for senate a total of four times in the years 1950, 1956, 1962 and 1965.  She also made a run for governor of Connecticut in 1954.  Although she was unsuccessful in her campaigns, Kellems was in no way defeated.

Believing the tax system to be unfair both to small business and unmarried individuals Vivien Kellems very publicly fought for tax reform; publishing a book on the subject in 1952 “Toil, Taxes and Troubles”.  She also headed the formation of a group of like-minded individuals dubbed ‘The Liberty Belles’.  Yet another campaign for Vivien was a call for voting reform – deeming it unfair Americans be forced to vote along party lines only and not for individual candidates.  In demonstration of her protest Kellems camped out in a voting booth for hours only having to leave when she fainted.

Currently her papers including family, business and political correspondence are being thoroughly processed and digitized.  You’re invited and encouraged to keep checking in on the progress through this link.  As we celebrate the accomplishments of our contemporaries let’s also remember that women have always been bold and remarkable.

Oh and Viv also has pretty fabulous handwriting.

Our Comics, Ourselves on Exhibit

Our Comics, Ourselves at Interference Archive
Our Comics, Ourselves at Interference Archive Brooklyn, New York

The Archives & Special Collections at the University of Connecticut will host the first traveling installment of the exhibition Our Comics, Ourselves co-curated by Jan Descartes and Monica McKelvey Johnson.  Premiering at the Interference Archive in Brooklyn, NY in January of 2016, this exhibition featured comics  selections from the Interference Archive collections as well as private collections on loan.  The exhibition includes comic books, graphic novels, DIY comics, and various comics paraphernalia primarily from the United States, 1945 to present. The works range from autobiographical to sheer fantasy, and explore feminism, abortion, racism, cultural identity, social activism, veterans of war, sexual abuse, immigration, public health, civil rights, gender and sexual identity, and more.

Video of Exhibit Installation

The works on exhibit are outside what has been called “mainstream” in comics—in other words, they do not replicate heroic aspirations of a monolithic American boyhood. They do not aspire towards unified idealism. Instead, these are the stories about all of us—either made by us, for us, or in our names. They are complicated, and sometimes messy. By attempting to narrate around mainstream standards and into uncharted territory, these comics let more of us know that we, too, belong to this world and that maybe, therefore, we are also able to participate in and shape it.
UConn’s Graham Stinnett, Archivist for Human Rights and Alternative Press Collections, guest curated a portion of the digital supplement of the exhibition on tumblr featuring materials from the University of Connecticut’s Alternative Press Comix Collection earlier this year. The curated tumblr blog is part of an ongoing contributor driven narration of comic books, personal history and identity.
The UConn Archives exhibition of Our Comics, Ourselves will run from June 14th – August 22nd 2016 in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center Gallery which is open to the public, Monday – Friday 8:30 – 5pm.

ROTC TURNS 100: UConn and Military Training, Part Five: The Modern Era, 1971-2016

Though it might not have seemed like it at the time, there were certain things to be thankful for during the winter of 1970. Storrs had seen its fair share of turmoil, to be sure, but the events of the late 1960s had not forced a closing of the university at any time. Even the fire of December 1970 failed to have the desired effect; although Colonel Richard DeKay admitted to the Connecticut Daily Campus that the incident was “a bit of an inconvenience,” military science classes continued as scheduled and repairs to the affected offices began the day after the fire. “I’ve been trying to get this placed remodeled,” DeKay joked as he sifted through the charred remains of his office. “I guess now it’ll be easier.”

Although things began to settle down during the 1970-71 school year, the continuous confrontations over Vietnam and other social issues raised by university groups during the late 1960s seemed to have taken their toll on UConn’s president. In October of 1971, Homer Babbidge tendered his resignation, stating that it was his time to pass “the baton of leadership” to someone else and denying that his leaving had anything to do with recent events. Whether or not that was true is difficult to ascertain; what is clear, however, is that regardless of the criticism he had faced from campus radicals during the late 1960s, Babbidge has retained his popularity with a majority of the student population. A petition asking him to reconsider his resignation garnered over 7,000 signatures, but to no effect, and Glenn Ferguson was appointed as the new president of UConn in May of 1973.

As always, changes to the university during this time were mirrored by changes to its Cadet units. This time, it wasn’t the introduction of a new branch, but a new gender that would forever change the face of ROTC. Until the late 1960s, female involvement in ROTC was primarily through auxiliary programs meant to support and encourage interest in Cadet training. One such program known as “Angel Flight” was active at UConn beginning in 1956. While those involved referred to one another using military ranks (the head of the chapter was known as a flight leader) and had some semblance of a uniform, they were not officially affiliated with the military. They served as hostesses at Air Force ROTC events, helped Cadets type term papers, and sponsored events like the annual military ball. While the organization still exists nationally today (now co-ed and known as Silver Wings), the UConn chapter appears to have died out sometime in the 1970s.

By 1969, however, certain administrative and legislative changes within the military meant that a number of jobs had been opened to females, and the demand for female officers increased significantly. Both nationally and at UConn, the Air Force took the lead in incorporating women into ROTC on a trial basis, and women were admitted to AFROTC units at several universities during the 1969-70 school year. The response was so overwhelmingly positive that the original plan of gradual integration was abandoned, and dozens of programs were opened to women by the fall of 1970.

It was about this time that UConn AFROTC had its first participating female Cadets, and in May of 1973 Ann Orlitzki became the first female Second Lieutenant commissioned through UConn ROTC. She would be followed the next year by Martha Bower and Mallory Gilbert, who also received commissions as Air Force officers. Army ROTC followed close behind; by 1972, at least one woman was participating in training, and the program’s first four female Second Lieutenants were commissioned in 1977.

Even with the introduction of women, ROTC programs faced a sharp decline in enrollment during the early 1970s. The transition to an all-volunteer military, the decision by many land-grant colleges to make ROTC optional, and a pervasive anti-military atmosphere all served to decimate the ranks of Cadet units across the country; by one account, Army ROTC enrollment fell from over 140,000 to just over 38,000 between 1967 and 1975. In 1969, amid protests similar to those at UConn, Yale banned ROTC, leaving the Army and Air Force units at UConn as its sole representatives in Connecticut.

ROTC was therefore faced with the difficult task of maintain sufficient enrollment during a time when the military was an increasingly unpopular career choice. The obvious solution, far easier in theory than implementation, was to make the military more appealing to young men and women. While an increase in both the number of scholarships offered and the size of a Cadet’s monthly stipend were critical to this goal, changes to the daily on-campus life of a Cadet were even more beneficial in improving the appeal of ROTC. Haircut regulations were relaxed to allow sideburns, Afros, and haircuts below the ears, and many programs significant reduced the amount of time Cadets spent in uniform each week. Training was altered to focus less on the “spit and polish” subjects of drill and ceremony, and the traditional system of discipline through demerits was done away with, as were other forms of physical hazing and punishment previously considered rites of passage for new Cadets.

Campus Carnival, ROTC Hangar, 1978.

Campus Carnival, ROTC Hangar, 1978.

As intended, the relaxed environment and increased monetary incentives that came to characterize ROTC during the post-Vietnam period served to portray the program as less of a burden and more of an opportunity, and to blur the line between an ROTC Cadet and a normal college student. At UConn, the hangar provided a unique opportunity to improve relations between the university and the ROTC. Thanks to its spacious drill floor, it was used as a venue for a number of student activities throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, including carnivals, dances, and even “Beerfests.”

The ROTC reforms of the 1970s resulted to a rise in enrollment by the end of the decade. At many institutions, however, the outright ban on military training continued. Yale, for example, continued its no-ROTC policy well the 1990s due to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy enacted by the Clinton administration in 1994, which barred openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons from military service. Similar protests were raised at UConn, with critics of the legislation pointing out that exclusion of homosexuals from the military—and therefore ROTC—conflicted with the university’s policy against discrimination due to sexual orientation. Although an April 1995 vote by the University Senate proposed the phasing out of ROTC by June 2000, the recommendation was not accepted by the Board of Trustees. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed in 2011, and a year later ROTC returned to Yale in the form of Air Force and Navy Cadet programs (UConn still has the sole Army ROTC unit in Connecticut.)

Cadet weapons have come a long way since the days of black powder muskets and bolt-action rifles. In this undated photo, two UConn Cadets examine an M14 Automatic Rifle, the standard issue infantry rifle for U.S. military personnel from 1959-1970.

Cadet weapons have come a long way since the days of black powder muskets and bolt-action rifles. In this undated photo, two UConn Cadets examine an M14 Automatic Rifle, the standard issue infantry rifle for U.S. military personnel from 1959-1970.

Looking at the current ROTC curriculum, it is interesting to see what has changed and what has stayed the same. While the lax grooming standards of the 1970s and 80s have been replaced by a return to short haircuts and minimal facial hair, the uniform requirement has remained more or less the same; Cadets are required to wear their uniform while attending Military Science and Aerospace Studies classes and during leadership labs and field exercises, but spend a majority of the week in civilian clothes. As they have for decades, Cadets continue to spend several weeks in the field during the summer, with Army Cadets training between their junior and senior years at the Cadet Leaders Course (CLC) at Fort Knox, Kentucky (previously known as the Leadership Development and Assessment Course (LDAC), and before that “Advanced Camp”), and Air Force Cadets between their sophomore and junior years at Maxwell Air Force Base, Kentucky and Camp Shelby, Mississippi.

Currently, UConn ROTC benefits from a close relationship to the CT National Guard, which provides equipment and other support for Cadet training. In this 2010 photo, Army Cadets prepare to board UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters of the CTARNG’s 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment, which will transport them to a Field Training Exercise (FTX) at Camp Niantic, CT.

Currently, UConn ROTC benefits from a close relationship to the CT National Guard, which provides equipment and other support for Cadet training. In this 2010 photo, Army Cadets prepare to board UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters of the CTARNG’s 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment, which will transport them to a Field Training Exercise (FTX) at Camp Niantic, CT (Photo: Nick Hurley)

At UConn, the ROTC hangar, long a fixture on campus, was demolished in 1999, with the UConn Foundation Building quickly being built in its place. Both programs had moved out of the hangar the previous year, taking up residence in the former admissions building on North Eagleville Rd (now the Islamic Center, across from Swan Lake.) By the 2002-2003 school year, both programs had moved again, this time to their current homes on the third and fourth floors of Hall Dorm. Hawley Armory remained in use throughout this time, and is still utilized today; the court serves as a parade deck for Army and Air Force Cadets, and the building also houses the Army program’s supply offices.

After several decades of relative peace following the Vietnam War, UConn ROTC Cadets were once again faced with the realities of war following the terror attacks on September 11, 2001 and the beginning of the Global War on Terror. Many of those who commissioned through UConn, both before and after the outbreak of war, would go on to serve combat tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, and at least two Army ROTC alumni have to date paid the ultimate price for their service during this current conflict. Captain Jason Hamill (’98) was killed in Baghdad in 2006, and First Lieutenant Keith Heidtman (’05) died on Memorial Day 2007 when his helicopter was shot down in the Diyala province of Iraq.

Cadet Lieutenants Nick Hurley (hmm..the name sounds familiar!) and Ashley Cuprak, both CLAS ’13, pose with Jonathan the Husky during a UConn football game at Rentschler Field in 2011.

Cadet Lieutenants Nick Hurley and Ashley Cuprak, both CLAS ’13, pose with Jonathan the Husky during a UConn football game at Rentschler Field in 2011 (Photo: Nick Hurley)

Several weeks ago, UConn Army and Air Force ROTC graduated its newest officers. Thirty-eight young men and women from the Class of 2016 put on Second Lieutenant rank for the first time and set out to begin their careers. Like their predecessors a hundred years ago, they cannot know what the future holds, but it is my hope that in reading these posts, they will now have a better understanding of where they came from, and the legacy that they, as UConn ROTC alumni, are now a part of.

It is a legacy that bears the names of thousands of Cadets who made their start at Storrs and went on to show the world the true meaning of professionalism, leadership, and heroism at places like Belleau Wood, Bataan, Normandy, the Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh, and Baghdad. When their country needed them, UConn ROTC graduates have been there to lead young American men and women in combat—and all too often, they’ve given their lives while doing so.

We here at Archives and Special Collections take pride in the knowledge that, in preserving the documents and artifacts related to UConn ROTC for future generations, we are playing a small part in safeguarding that legacy. If after reading these posts you are interested in donating artifacts or documents related to your own time in UConn ROTC to the collections, please contact Betsy Pittman, University Archivist, at betsy.pittman@uconn.edu.

Thank you for reading! And Happy 100th Birthday ROTC!

 

 

Sources

Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries

Connecticut Daily Campus, 1970-1989
Nutmeg (University of Connecticut Yearbook), 1970-1995
University Archive Subject file, “ROTC”

University of Connecticut Photograph Collection:
Record Group 1, Series VI, Boxes 93-95
Record Group 1, Series II, Box 244
Record Group 1, Series XIV, Box 222

Misc.

Neiberg, Michael S. Making Citizen-Soldiers: ROTC and the Ideology of American Military Service. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.

Renner, Gerald. “Does ROTC Belong on UConn Campus? The Debate Is Boiling Over.” Hartford Courant, April 5, 1995.

Stave, Bruce M. Red Brick in the Land of Steady Habits: Creating the University of Connecticut, 1881-2006. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 2006.

 

Archiving Robin Romano’s Work

This guest post by Archivist Assistant Cristobal Ortega-Berger details his work with the U. Roberto Romano Papers which document child labor in still photography and documentary film.  This collection is a massive resource for film makers like Cris, as well as human rights and photo-journalism researchers. Selections from the Romano Papers are on display in May and June of 2016 in the John P. McDonald Reading Room at the Archives & Special Collections.

The unlock tone rang, I inhaled sterile air, and slid the rubber lid off of a box. Silver and dark hard drives line the inside of six boxes; scores of video cassette tapes and DVDs populate the rest. Data storage’s ubiquity almost make me forget these media preserve evidence of child labor, and progress from it. The question I asked on my first day of work is a simple one that archivists alongside humanitarians ask:

“What are we working with here?”

  1. Roberto (Robin) Romano worked as an international news and documentary producer and photographer. A prolific filmmaker and photographer, Romano worked commercially under Alan Kaplan Studios for private clients like Budweiser, AT&T, and Coca Cola. Romano also worked as a visual journalist for Sept Jours, a Canadian news show, and as a photojournalist for Impact Visuals before he took on his pivotal work Death of the Slave Boy (1997). The two-hour documentary investigated the life and death of Pakistani Iqbal Masih, an outspoken 12 year old child slave and activist.

We are working with files from a well-traveled humanitarian who was as comfortable filming in an illegal quarry as he was researching child labor laws in his cigarette-smoke stained studio.

Young American Migrant Farm Worker Picking Onions

Romano ignited his work on global child labor. He soon traveled to Mexico, Pakistan, Kenya, Brazil, Indonesia, India, Nepal, and inside the United States to interview and photograph working children. The result was the beginning of a movement. Romano Productions and Galen Films premiered Stolen Childhoods in New York on May 20, 2005. The same day, Dana Stevens, of the New York Times, wrote about the film “The bleakness of ‘Stolen Childhoods’ is not completely unremitting; the film also celebrates the efforts of a few successful programs to combat the scourge of child labor around the world.”

We are working with a collection of dangerously and meticulously documented voices and faces that changed legislation, and may continue to do so. Romano left behind photos of child laborers, hidden camera interviews with traffickers and victims, filmmaking budgets, working film scripts, and professional correspondences. During the last decades of his life – Romano made professional relationships with non-profit organizations like RugMark, Goodweave, Human Rights Watch, and other humanitarian organizations. RugMark: Faces of Freedom photo exhibition is one of Romano’s signature projects that shatters preconceptions of human, and especially, child trafficking.

My first work as an archivist is on the Robin Romano collection; my background is in documentary visual journalism. At the time I was approached to work on Romano’s collection, I was editing a documentary about human trafficking called Free Time. In it – academics and prominent leaders who tangibly challenge human trafficking explain the problems in understanding what is human trafficking and its forms.

Human trafficking is discussed using an established visual grammar. Films like Taken (2007) show white, adolescent, rich female tourists who are kidnapped to sell for sex work in Eastern Europe. This is not entirely inaccurate, but repeated exposure to this visual pattern allows others to devalue and ignore hundreds of millions of stories like those shown in Stolen Childhoods. Romano’s evidence disproves the single narrative approach of human trafficking, and the single narrative approach to solutions.

I am not going to be the first photographer filmmaker researching Romano’s collection. As a young visual journalist, I am learning about professional workflow by ingesting and archiving documents like a list of questions for a subject, an equipment budget, or a photo contact sheet. Given the gravity of the collection, I have been forced to ask new questions about perspective and agency: how does one reconcile their privilege as a documentarian relating with the subject or interviewee, how does a filmmaker ask a child questions that conjure up memories of skin-peeling work? Will this collection of child labor ever be obsolete in describing contemporary social problems?

Len Morris, Romano’s co-director for Stolen Childhoods and longtime friend donated the majority of Romano’s physical and digital collections to the Archives and Special Collections in 2015. Morris recently premiered The Same Heart, a documentary discussing solutions to child labor, and used many of Romano’s final moving images. Posthumously, Romano’s work may continue to work to educate and challenge ignorance about poverty, policy, prejudice, and profit.

Cristobal Ortega-Berger

ROTC TURNS 100: UConn and Military Training, Part Four: Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War, 1946-1970

Students at the Fort Trumbull Campus in New London, circa 1946.

Students at the Fort Trumbull Campus in New London, circa 1946.

UConn, like many other American universities, experienced a period of significant growth during the immediate postwar period in terms of enrollment and campus expansion. Long-serving president Albert Jorgensen struggled to accommodate the influx of returning students, mostly veterans, which doubled the university’s student body to almost 3,300 by 1946. The opening of the Fort Trumbull campus in New London, previously an officers’ training school acquired by UConn in 1945, provided a partial solution. Hundreds of returning servicemen were sent there to resume their education, receiving two years’ instruction at Fort Trumbull before transferring to Storrs for their junior and senior year. While effective, the campus was meant only as a temporary measure; it was returned to the federal government in 1950 and demolished in 1954.

At Storrs, meanwhile, the solution was to build, and build fast. In the five years following the end of the war, countless temporary and permanent structures were built on the Storrs campus to provide housing for students and staff alike. In 1948, construction was completed on a new building composed of surplus Army Air Corps hangars. Known as “the Cage,” it was originally built for the school’s basketball team, but would eventually become the new home of UConn ROTC when the former moved to Greer Field House in December of 1954. The School of Insurance followed in 1949, and in 1950 no less than twenty-five new structures were dedicated, including the Williams Health Service Building, the Budds Building, and the North and Northwest Campus residence halls (all but one, Wright, are still standing and in use today.)

An Air Force ROTC Color Guard passes in review on Gardner Dow Field in 1952.

An Air Force ROTC Color Guard passes in review on Gardner Dow Field, 1952.

Change came to ROTC as well. The program was not only reinstated under the prewar model, but joined by a new branch. So-called Air ROTC programs had been in existence since the early 1920s, but not at UConn, which only maintained “an Infantry unit of the Senior Division, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps” in accordance with its original 1916 mandate from the War Department. That changed in the fall of 1946 when the university’s application for an Air ROTC unit was accepted by the War Department, and Lieutenant Colonel Converse Kelly and Major Robert Eaton arrived on campus to oversee its formation. This action was superseded a year later by a Department of Defense order transferring all personnel of the Army Air Forces, including Air ROTC units, to the newly-created United States Air Force. Air ROTC became Air Force ROTC, and the instructors at UConn became known as Assistant Professors of Air Science and Tactics. The new program produced its first officers in the spring of 1948, and by the early 1950s both it and Army ROTC had relocated from the armory to more spacious offices in the basketball hangar.

UConn Army and Air Force ROTC units assembled at Memorial Stadium for Military Day observances, 1955.

UConn Army and Air Force ROTC units assembled at Memorial Stadium for Military Day observances, 1955.

In many ways the 1950s represented the “golden years” for UConn ROTC. As the campus grew, so did the program, and by the middle of the decade the combined strength of the Cadet Regiment (Army) and Division (Air Force) exceeded 2,000 students. With the increased enrollment came a proliferation of military-related social activities and clubs. In 1950, a UConn chapter of the Arnold Air Society was founded. Open to Cadets in the advanced Air Force ROTC, the aim of the organization was, according to the 1951 Nutmeg, “to help accomplish the mission of the Air Force, aid the Air Scout program, and to recruit for the ROTC program.” The chapter is still in existence today. An associated all-female group known as Angel Flight, founded at UConn in 1956, acted as an AFROTC auxiliary of sorts; members served as hostesses at Air Force ROTC events, helped Cadets type term papers, and sponsored events on campus.

Not to be outdone, Army ROTC established E Company, 10th Regiment of the National Society of Scabbard and Blade in the fall of 1951. A military honor society that promoted scholastic and leadership excellence on college campuses, the UConn chapter of Scabbard and Blade numbered some twenty-two Cadets by 1957 and was best known for its sponsorship of the annual Military Ball. Company F-12 of the National Society of Pershing Rifles came to Storrs in 1954. As a military fraternal organization, its members were dedicated to promoting the principles of discipline, loyalty and devotion through a focus on close-order and exhibition rifle drill.

Company F-12, UConn Pershing Rifles performs during a Military Day ceremony sometime in the 1950s.

Company F-12, UConn Pershing Rifles performs during a Military Day ceremony sometime in the 1950s.

The highlight of each school year continued to be Military Day, typically held in mid-May just prior to graduation. Alternatively referred to as Military Day, Military Commencement, Armed Forces Day, and 76th Division Day (due to ROTC’s relationship with the nearby 76th Infantry Division in West Hartford), the event dated back to the mid-1930s and was always well-attended. Each year, friends, family, and distinguished military guests turned out to watch as senior Cadets received their commissions as Army and Air Force officers. Beginning in 1954, the event was held on the football field of the new Memorial Stadium (dedicated 1953), and typically included a drill demonstration by the Pershing Rifles, a parade of the combined ROTC unit and band, the presentation of awards to outstanding Cadets, and a keynote address (usually delivered by President Jorgensen.) The festivities were often accompanied by a demonstration of military technology or firepower. In 1957 an Army assault force “captured” Hawley Armory after a helicopter insertion on Gardner Dow field (at that time spectators at Memorial Stadium could see clear across campus to the Armory, as Oak Hall, Babbidge Library, the Business Center, the ITE Building, and Gampel Pavilion had not yet been built.)

Brigadier General Walter Larew pins Second Lieutenant rank onto his son Karl’s uniform during Military Day ceremonies, 1959.

Prosperous as they were, the 1950s were not without hardship. The war in Korea, though perhaps less impactful than the Second World War had been on the campus, claimed the lives of seventeen alumni, including at least two Army ROTC graduates. The Cold War, and the U.S.-Soviet tension that characterized it, also took their toll. In 1958, Air Force Captain Edward Jeruss (’47) was killed when his unarmed aircraft was shot down over Armenia, and Lieutenant Paul Drotch (’57) died in May of 1960 while conducting a training flight near Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Still, the growth and improvement seen during the fifteen or so years following the end of the Second World War represented a high point in the history of UConn ROTC—especially considering what the 1960s would bring.

The decade began with a major shift in ROTC curriculum. In 1935, President Albert Jorgensen had arrived at UConn amidst a wave of protest against compulsory military training on campus. In the early 1960s, as he prepared to retire as President Emeritus, the issue had again come to the fore. In December 1961, after several months of debate, the Board of Trustees voted to drop the mandatory basic ROTC course beginning with the 1962-63 school year. The reason? In the words of President Jorgensen, “required ROTC is not considered essential to production of the necessary number of officers for the Armed Forces.” The decision at UConn reflected the general opinion of the Department of Defense that a large pool of reserve officers, and thus the compulsory ROTC program that produced them, was no longer vital to national defense as it had been previously. It was felt that an all-volunteer force could adequately meet the military’s manpower demands. Student response to the decree was exceedingly positive; the Student Senate had for years notified the Trustees that the student body was in favor of voluntary ROTC, and now they had finally gotten their wish. Many students believed that while enrollment numbers would plummet, the new system would lead to “less confusion, bad feelings and apathy among the cadets,” because those who remained in the program would truly want to participate.

In the fall of 1962, as the first year of voluntary ROTC got underway, Jorgensen left campus and UConn welcomed its new president, Homer D. Babbidge Jr.. Almost immediately, Babbidge gained favor with the campus community for his quick wit and empathy when it came to student issues. In the first few years of his tenure, he greatly expanded the library budget, rejuvenated interest in the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts, and took steps to increase private funding for the university. The popularity he gained early on would be put to the ultimate test during the latter half of the decade, however, as events abroad manifested themselves at Storrs in a major way.

Cadets and Protesters at Military Day ceremonies, May 1968.

Cadets and Protesters at Military Day ceremonies, May 1968.

As the war in Vietnam escalated during the late 1960s, protests erupted on college campuses throughout the country, including UConn. As the most conspicuous military presence on campus, ROTC was an early and frequent target. The trouble began in earnest in 1967, with a small demonstration of eight students outside the hangar. While this occurred without incident, more serious events were soon to follow. The following May, demonstrators led by members of the UConn Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) picketed the annual Military Day ceremonies at Memorial Stadium, taunting Cadets as they marched onto the field and chanting during Babbidge’s keynote address. Several protesters engaged in what they termed “guerrilla theater,” donning bloody makeup and ragged clothes and limping around the parade field. The object, they stated, “was to drive home to the ROTC cadets and all present that they…were being trained to kill and be killed.”

The trouble continued into the fall semester. On two separate occasions, SDS-backed protesters disrupted interviews taking place on campus between students and recruiters from the Dow Chemical Company and the Olin Corporation, both of which produced weapons and ammunition for the military. During the Olin protests, on what he would later refer to as “the saddest day of my life,” Babbidge was forced to call in the state police to disperse the crowds and restore order. Blows were exchanged, and several students and faculty members were arrested.  Similar actions against on-campus interviews continued into the 1969-1970 school year.

Tensions reached a boiling point in May of 1970, when National Guardsmen shot and killed four student protesters at Kent State University in Ohio. The incident sparked a new wave of unrest at UConn and elsewhere, as calls for a nationwide student strike led to requests that classes be cancelled for the remainder of the semester in order to allow the campus community “to respond in a constructive way to this ominous situation.” The UConn chapters of SDS and the Black Student Union issued a number of demands, including the end of hostilities in Southeast Asia and the abolishment of ROTC, with the intention that the hangar at UConn be converted into a free on-campus daycare center. When the University Senate failed to act on the latter issue, students took matters into their own hands, and occupied the hangar on May 11th for a “paint in.” Peace symbols and other related artwork were applied to both the interior and exterior of the building before the group dispersed that night. In a counter-protest, some 300 students who supported Babbidge and the ROTC signed up to repaint the building and repair the damage done.

It wouldn’t be the last time that the hangar was targeted that year. In the early hours of December 15th, 1970, a Molotov cocktail was thrown through an office window, and flames soon engulfed several rooms inside the building. The UConn Fire Department was able to contain the blaze, and no one was injured, but substantial damage was done to three administrative offices. Although UConn Police and the FBI began investigations immediately, a perpetrator was never identified.

It was a depressing end to a difficult period for UConn, Babbidge, and the university ROTC. The future of all three remained unclear as the new decade began and the war in Vietnam showed no signs of stopping. In the fifth and final installment of this series, we’ll look at the resolution to the events of 1967-1970, the introduction of women to ROTC, and the ever-changing relationship between the university and its Cadet units during the 80s, 90s, and present day.

Sources

Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries

Connecticut Daily Campus, 1946-1970
Nutmeg (University of Connecticut Yearbook), 1946-1970
University Archive Subject file, “ROTC”

University of Connecticut Photograph Collection:
Record Group 1, Series VI, Boxes 93-95
Record Group 1, Series II, Box 244
Record Group 1, Series XIV, Box 222

Misc.

Starger, Steve. “Military Day Punctuated By Protest.” Hartford Courant (Hartford, CT), May 17, 1968
Stave, Bruce M. Red Brick in the Land of Steady Habits: Creating the University of Connecticut, 1881-2006. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 2006.

American Montessori Society Archives Committee meeting

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Thanks to the Archives Committee members of the American Montessori Society for their visit yesterday to Archives &  Special Collections, to conduct a meeting, learn about the digital repository, and help identify images in the collection. The AMS donated their records in 2006 and the Society’s Archives Committee has advised us on the records since then, frequently adding important documents and media. The finding aid and selected documents from the records are available in our digital repository, as well as a full run of their publication The Constructive Triangle.

Present at the meeting, as shown in the photograph, are (seated) Robert Rambusch (husband of AMS founder Nancy McCormick Rambusch) and Marilyn Jean Horan, (standing) Maria Gravel, Matty Sellman, Archives Committee chair Marie Dugan, Carolyn Dodd, Susan Kambrich, Phyllis Povell, Laura Smith, Keith Whitescarver, and Natalie Danner.

Connecticut History Day winners of the ASC prize!

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Congratulations to Nina Lestrud, Jocelyn Zordan and Bayleigh DiMauro, students at Torrington High School, who were the winners of the Outstanding Entry Related to Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in Connecticut History, sponsored by Archives & Special Collections and presented to these students at the Connecticut History Day contest held on April 30 at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

The project for which Nina, Jocelyn and Bayleigh won the prize was a Senior Group Documentary titled: Ivory Trade and the Impact it had on Connecticut.

Unearthing and Preserving Elusive State Party Platforms

The following is a guest post by Matthew Carr, PhD candidate in the Political Science Department at Columbia University studying American politics, specifically institutions, political parties, and judicial politics.  In 2016 he was awarded a Strochlitz Travel Grant to further his research using the political papers in Archives and Special Collections. 

Carrphoto1rev I was able to spend a few days searching the rich collection of political papers in Archives and Special Collections at the Dodd Research Center for an often neglected document – state-level political party platforms. Every four years, the national Democratic and Republican parties issue lengthy platforms, explicating their policy goals and objectives. However, the Democratic and Republican parties of the 50 states issue their own, independent platforms. While the historical national platforms are well-preserved and somewhat well-known political documents, the state party platforms are almost ephemeral and have never been systematically preserved. Although the most recent state party platforms are readily available on the party websites, the goal of myself and my fellow researchers is to locate all state party platforms from 1960 until present.

Since most state parties issue a new platform every two years, the enterprise of collecting all of them entails finding hundreds of (usually elusive) documents. Locating them presents several challenges. Chief among these is that, unlike many other documents related to politics and the policy making process, state governments do not archive party platforms. Therefore, in order to find them we have turned to a variety of sources. We initially thought that the state parties themselves might be the best preservers of their own history, but we quickly found that the parties rarely maintain any significant archives. There are encouraging exceptions; a handful of party offices maintain an attic or storeroom that serves as an informal archive with decades’ old documents. On the other hand it is a distressing experience being just a few years too late, which must be all too familiar to archivists and others concerned with historic preservation. Some parties told us that they once had a large collection of old platforms, but that – during the latest office move or a spring cleaning a few years earlier – they were purged.  We have therefore turned to other sources to find the documents. A small percentage of the platforms are given a call number and placed on a library shelf, and we attained those through interlibrary loan. We have also directly reached out to those currently involved in politics and received some platforms from long-term activists Carrphoto2who happened to keep them.

Archives and manuscript collections, however, have been by far our most fruitful source of platforms. The hope is that a politician, political activist, or political observer attained a copy of the platform (e.g., through being directly involved in the platform drafting process at the state convention that produced the document or simply by being given one by the state party) and kept it in his or her records. Given that the Archives’ at the Dodd Research Center is the premier repository of the papers of Connecticut political figures, searching its collections was essential in our effort to attain Connecticut platforms. Thanks to the Strochlitz Travel Grant, I was able to take a few days searching through the papers of Connecticut’s political luminaries. The Center has a rich political collection, housing the papers of senators (Prescott Bush and Thomas Dodd) and members of the House (Robert Giaimo, Stewart McKinney, Sam Gejdenson, and Nancy Johnson, among others). Although I found platforms among those collections, the most valuable source for the purpose of locating the documents I am looking for was the collection of the lesser-known Herman Wolf. He ran a public relations firm and was heavily involved in politics. Fortunately, he saved several state platforms – and for both parties, which is rare as most collections heavily document only one party or the other. Another particularly valuable resource was the collection of Audrey Beck, a state legislator who had a penchant for holding onto the platforms.

Carrphoto3Searching the papers illustrated the array of record-keeping practices, even among similarly situated political figures. Some collections are vast with a wide variety of documents, and other collections are smaller, even though the donor had a lengthy career. In short, the individual discretion they each had was on full display, and it was, of course, nice to encounter large collections with donors who were inclined to keep a wide variety of documents (including platforms!). I found clear evidence that some documents survived only by the skin of their proverbial teeth. The picture of the 1974 Democratic platform showcases this, as the original post-it note, with discussion of whether to keep or discard the document, is still attached.

Culling through literally hundreds of feet of political documentation requires calculation in order to efficiently find what you’re looking for. Here, the collections’ finding aids, describing the contents of each box, are invaluable. But when a single collection contains thousands of documents, it is impossible for the finding aid to have extreme specificity. Therefore, to get a full sense of exactly what’s in the collection, one really needs to take some time to go through the boxes in person. Thankfully, my trip to Storrs was successful in that I found several platforms. However, we’re still searching for the Connecticut Democratic platforms for 1988, 1992, 1996, and 2000, and looking to confirm that the Connecticut Republicans stopped making platforms in 1974. The collections at the Dodd Research Center provided us with a firm foundation to eventually acquire a complete set of Connecticut platforms.

A lone state platform might be mildly interesting to those deeply invested in political history, but, frankly, the historical appeal and value of a single state party platform is limited. However, the entire corpus of state-level political platforms offers a rich documentation of political history and partisan belief which can help us better understand several phenomena highly relevant to the field of political science: the emergence and dispersion of political issues, the extent to which Carrphoto4the state parties differ from each other and their national counterparts, and the polarization and nationalization of the two parties. Some might expect these documents – crafted by politicians and political activists – to be stereotypically sparse and platitudinous. However, they tend to run several pages and offer highly specific policy recommendations on a diverse set of issues, including agriculture, criminal law, constitutional rights, transportation, education, and immigration, among many other topics. Therefore, we are hopeful that a systematic hand coding of these documents will allow for a better understanding of America’s two party system and the evolution of policy goals.

– Matthew Carr

 

The Balkans from Past to Present

–This is a guest post by UConn Senior Matthew Kosior (Political Science and French/Francophone Studies Major and a Human Rights, Spanish and International Studies Minor), recently completing his internship at the Archives & Special Collections, focusing his work on the Laurie S. Wiseberg and Harry Scoble Human Rights Internet Collection.  

The Balkans are once again becoming a highlight in international news with the upcoming appointment of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Of the 9 nominees from throughout the world,  5 have originated from the Former Yugoslavia, reflecting the importance of the region and its role in sculpting leaders that are prepared to lead one of the world’s most crucial international security organizations. The news could not put more light onto the region and my current work at Archives & Special Collections in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

Through my research that has analyzed the various intricacies of the region, I have come across numerous UN resolutions and other documents written by Amnesty International that had been written by Slovenia’s Danilo Türk, one of the current nominees to the UN head position. With his nomination, we see that the plethora of archives possessed by the University of Connecticut have a deep and critical importance not only in the historic realm, but also in contemporary human rights and international relations sphere. These documents demonstrate Türk’s dedication to peace and an end to human rights violations early on in his political career and this nomination has evidently confirmed his fit for one of the most important positions for human rights.

Having spent four months on my research guide, I have taken the hundreds of documents, which are found in the Human Rights Internet archives, and broken them down into topics that easily pinpoint any reader to specific topics of the war. Many underlining factors for example lead to the Yugoslav war, and under my research guide, one can find information relating to the Polish Solidarity movement and how it had triggered revolt and unrest in Yugoslavia. In addition, Yugoslav-Soviet relations and the economic crisis of the 1980s, which had undercut stability in the country also had a detrimental effect to the incitement of the war. The indicators of violence and economic downturn before the outbreak of the war illustrate the factors that all together sparked a horrific genocidal and bloody war in Yugoslavia.

In addition to helping understand the underlying factors of the war, the research guide also has given a fundamental understanding of the wide amounts of advocacy that had been calling for an end to the war and the mass amounts of human rights violations. Amnesty International for example had initiated global advocacy for a cease-fire. Being able to gather all the advocacy reports and systematically break them down into specific topics within the over 50-page guide was very difficult, but it gave me the skills to analyze quickly and effectively within a very organized structure. Without a doubt, the time spent in the Archives had not only made me more knowledgeable about such a complicated history, but further provided skills that are critical for my future career as an International lawyer, such as efficient reading skills, an ability to apply the knowledge attained to the current contemporary events in relation to that part of the world.

I believe that one of the highlights of this internship must be the clear bias that western agencies have when covering an international conflict. The documents at the archives center, without a doubt, are heavily biased. Had I no background in the topic, I would have left this internship believing that the blame for the eruption of war was solely due to Serb aggression. Nevertheless, if we look into history and understand that for example there had been massive Serb emigration from Kosovo due to ethnic discrimination and cleansing of Serbs in Kosovo for hundreds of years, one should have a very different perspective on the current status of the quasi state. The sheer lack of documents that touch on the NATO bombings of Serbia and how thousands of innocent Serbs died essentially by American aggression is one of many examples that help us see this bias. While there may have been a few documents that touch on the topic, most Amnesty International documents avoid to discuss the horrific deaths of women in labor when NATO had “mistakenly” bombed hospitals.

In all, I would say that this internship has well prepared me for my future career and has allowed me to spread awareness of the importance of the region, and advocate for the halt of human rights violations, especially acts of genocide. Furthermore, the ability to organize a very complicated research guide that arranges various topics and hundreds of documents has benefited my skills to research and will further facilitate research for scholars in the future.

Matthew Kosior and the Laurie S. Wiseberg and Harry Scoble Human Rights Internet

ROTC TURNS 100: UConn and Military Training, Part Three: The Second World War, 1941-1945

Maurice “Moe” Daly, Class of 1923.

Maurice “Moe” Daly, Class of 1923.

While many Americans had expected for some time that sooner or later the country would be drawn into the war, the Japanese attack of December 7th nonetheless came as a shock. Even as the UConn community processed the news, ROTC alumni halfway around the world found themselves under fire. Major Maurice F. “Moe” Daly, Class of 1923, was stationed at Clark Air Base in the Philippines during the Japanese attack there on December 8th, and was eventually taken prisoner when Bataan fell the following April.

While ROTC alumni went into action overseas, the campus at Storrs underwent a significant transformation. In February 1942, the Connecticut Campus ran an article asking for volunteers to man an air raid post located atop the university water towers (located between Towers residence halls and Husky Village, torn down in 2010), and practice blackouts were conducted to prepare for potential enemy air raids. Male students and faculty members alike left in droves to join the armed forces, and by April of 1943, for the first time in the school’s history, female students outnumbered their male counterparts.

In contrast to the standardization that defined ROTC curriculum during the interwar period, the war years brought significant changes to officer training programs across the country. By September of 1942, the unit at UConn was drilling without rifles, having had to return them to the army the previous summer, and the normal summer training for advanced course Cadets had been suspended due to a lack of facilities, equipment, and instructors. In February of 1943, the advanced course was done away with altogether, with no new contracts being issued for the duration of the war. The basic course was reduced in size, and upon completion, if slots were available, Cadets would be sent to Officer Candidate School (OCS) rather than continue onto the advanced course.

The suspension stemmed from the War Department’s realization that prewar ROTC was ill-suited to meet the demands of the current situation. With the military growing at an unprecedented rate, and casualties mounting as the war escalated, the armed forces needed thousands of junior officers, and they needed them fast. To be sure, the existing pool of leaders commissioned through ROTC during the interwar period represented a valuable source of manpower and leadership during the early days of the war, but by 1942 the demand was simply too great to be met by the traditional four-year commissioning track.

ROTC Cadets prepare to receive commissions from President Jorgensen during Military Commencement Ceremonies, May 1943. This occasion marked the last full dress parade of the ROTC unit for the duration of the war.

In place of the old structure, a number of programs designed to provide the military with officer candidates, enlisted men, and technical specialists were modified or put into effect. To begin with, existing OCS programs in all branches were significantly expanded. In addition, efforts like the Navy V-12 College Training Program provided would-be midshipmen and naval aviators with a college education before sending them on to advanced training for their specific duties. UConn hosted a small contingent of V-12 men during the war, and those enrolled in the aviation program (designation V-5, later V-12A) even took to calling themselves the “Husky Squadron.”

A group of students are inducted into the Army Air Corps Reserve by Captain Raymond Flint in front of Wood Hall, October 1942.

A group of students are inducted into the Army Air Corps Reserve by Captain Raymond Flint in front of Wood Hall, October 1942.

A Joint Enlisting Board, consisting of representatives from the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, arrived at UConn in October of 1942. By the time they left, more than 500 students had joined the Army Enlisted Reserve Corps (ERC), Air Corps Reserve, and Marine Corps Reserve. In doing so, they were allowed to continue their university work until called to active service, at which point they would report for basic training. The first such groups appear to have left campus during the spring and summer of 1943.

The Army’s answer to the demand for commissioned officers and specialists was the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP). Initiated in September of 1942, it involved more than 200 universities, and like the Students’ Army Training Corps of the First World War, the idea was to provide a large pool of technically trained recruits who could go on to serve in military branches deemed vital to the war effort. Accordingly, training was focused on subject like foreign languages, medicine, and engineering. The first recruits arrived at Storrs in June of 1943, and at peak strength the unit numbered some 800 trainees. The majority of the men departed in March of 1944 for active service, and the final semester for ASTP concluded in the fall of that year.

The ASTP came to represent the largest military presence at UConn during the war. Although they lived on campus, the men were enlisted soldiers and distinguishable from regular students. They wore uniforms, marched to class, and were subject to military discipline. That’s not to say that they were segregated from the general student population, however; trainees were allowed use of university facilities, invited to sporting events and social gatherings, and given their own weekly column in the Connecticut Campus where Private John Meyer entertained readers with the antics of “Homer Sapiens, Private at the U of C.” Relations between the two groups seemed more or less amicable during the nine months the ASTP men remained on campus; the Connecticut Alumnus, commenting on the program, called them “a clean cut group of young men,” and remarked that “it is just possible that a co-ed here and there shed genuine tears at their departure.”

The widespread changes to campus were also evident on the pages of the school newspaper. Ample space in each issue was taken up by news from the front or war-related issues affecting the UConn campus. Especially common were articles detailing the whereabouts and activities of UConn alumni in the military, including many who had received ROTC commissions before the 1943 suspension. News ranged from the mundane to the tragic. The February 2nd, 1942 edition of the Connecticut Campus detailed the exploits of James “Angie” Verinis, ’41, co-pilot of the famous B-17 bomber Memphis Belle, while an October issue announced the death of Captain H.R. Freckleton, an ROTC graduate from the Class of 1935 and the first UConn alumni to die during the war.

Then there was Lieutenant Theodore Antonelli, who had received his commission through UConn ROTC in the spring of 1941. By late 1942 he was serving with a rifle company of the First Infantry Division in North Africa. During a particularly brutal assault on a German-held hill, Antonelli’s commander was wounded. Taking command of the company, he ordered his men to fix bayonets, drew his pistol, and led them in a charge up the hill. The ground was taken, but at great cost to the young officer; fragments from an enemy grenade had torn through his chest, putting him out of action for several months. He later rejoined the division and served throughout the rest of the war, earning a Purple Heart, two Silver Stars, and two Distinguished Service Medals for his actions.

Antonelli was not alone in his bravery. Many UConn graduates and ex-students would be decorated during the course of the war, including Lieutenant Colonel T.R. Philbin, Jr. who had received an engineering degree and an ROTC commission with the Class of 1940. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his daring capture of the Saar River Bridge before its intended demolition by the Germans on December 3, 1944.  Such actions directly contributed to the final defeat of Germany, made official on May 8th, 1945.

V-E Day observances in Hawley Armory, May 8th, 1945.

V-E Day observances in Hawley Armory, May 8th, 1945.

At nine o’clock on that fateful morning, UConn students gathered in the Engineering building and Library to hear President Truman’s radio address announcing Germany’s unconditional surrender and the end of the war in Europe. That afternoon, a modest ceremony was held in Hawley Armory, where President Jorgensen reminded those present that while victory had been achieved in Europe, the war still raged on in the Pacific. Fighting in that theater finally ceased some three months later, and on September 2nd, 1945, the official surrender documents were signed aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. After almost four years, the war was over.

The end of the war brought a sense of relief to the Storrs campus, but also the sobering realization that peace had come at a terrible cost; by 1945, at least 114 UConn alumni had been killed in action or were missing. Four of the fourteen members of the Class of 1939 who had received ROTC commissions that year had lost their lives, and Augustus Brundage, a long-serving Professor of Agricultural Extension at the school, had lost two of his four sons (also UConn graduates.) While there were occasionally bits of good news of men previously thought dead or missing turning up alive, there were also confirmations that others would never be coming home. Moe Daly, who had endured the fighting on Bataan, the Death March following his capture, and nearly three years in captivity, was unfortunately one of the latter; word came to campus in September of 1945 that he had died aboard a prison ship the previous January.

(The Roll of Honor, which hangs in the west end of the Alumni Center on campus, lists the names of UConn alumni lost in every conflict from the Spanish-American War to the present. An online version can be found here.)

Even as it mourned the dead, however, UConn and its ROTC program looked with determination into the future. Many young men had died, but many more had not, and those who had survived were determined to come back to campus, finish their education, and get on with their lives. The influx of veterans during the postwar period signaled the beginning of another period of drastic change. Next time, we’ll follow the UConn community as it faces the trials of the Cold War and the turbulent Vietnam era, and look at some of the resulting transformations to both the campus and its Cadet battalion.

Sources

*Unless otherwise noted, all sources courtesy of Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

The Connecticut Campus, 1919-1940 (digitized through 1926)
Nutmeg (University of Connecticut Yearbook), 1923-1944
University Archive Subject file, “ROTC”
University of Connecticut Photograph Collection, Record Group 1, Series VI, Boxes 93-95
Connecticut Alumnus, Vol. 22 No. 4, 1944