Great Years, Great Crises, Great Impact: Reexamining the Life and Writing of Edwin Way Teale

by Richard Telford

uconn_asc_1981-0009_box270_env1724_ed_and_nellie_1948Shortly before American natural history writer Edwin Way Teale died in 1980, he agreed, with his beloved wife and working partner, Nellie Donovan Teale, to donate all of his literary and personal papers and related materials to the University of Connecticut. It was an extraordinary gift. Teale documented his working life and his personal life to an astonishing degree, often keeping several journals concurrently, each with a distinct purpose. For example, from 1938 until 1980, Teale kept an annual daily diary. In 1945, of these diaries he wrote, “These books record the days of the great years of our lives.”[i] These were short but highly detailed records. During the same period he kept these diaries, Teale likewise wrote more elaborated journal entries in Adventures in Making a Living, an unpublished, ongoing narrative of his life. This he called the “book of my heart.”[ii] While here, too, he recorded daily events, frequently overlapping those recorded in the diaries, he also reflected on them in deeper ways. Here, he celebrated the triumphs of his life and reconciled the tragedies. Here, he tried to confer order and sensibility on the world of human affairs, a world that often bewildered him. The ninth and final volume of this 43-year journal was dedicated solely to the final days of his life, beginning with his prostate cancer diagnosis in 1974. Even this most personal and final journey he documented in detail and left as a record. And, these two records of a meaningfully-spent life, as rich as they are, represent only a very small fraction of the materials housed in his voluminous papers.

This year, through the generosity of the Administration and the Board of Trustees of Woodstock Academy, where I have taught for two decades, I have been granted a year-long sabbatical to complete research at the Dodd Research Center, research that will enable me to write a book-length work on Edwin Way Teale. This builds upon three years of generous support of my work by the Archives and Special Collections Department at the University of Connecticut, which has provided me financial assistance through the Rose and Sigmund Strochlitz Travel Grant program. I am very grateful for this support, and for the extensive on-site help of the Archives staff, particularly Melissa Watterworth Batt.

John Burroughs, whom Edwin Way Teale admired greatly, wrote in 1902, “The day inevitably comes to every writer when he must take his place amid the silent throngs of the past.”[iii] While this has come to be the case for Edwin Way Teale—and John Burroughs too—I am not convinced it has to be. Teale has much to offer us now, especially as we face an environmental crisis in which our resource exploitation and waste production cannot continue at current rates without grave consequences for the Earth and, ultimately, for ourselves. Now, as I continue my research within the vast holdings of the Teale Papers and begin the book in earnest, I am both awed by the enormity of the task and excited by the opportunity. Teale’s significant body of published work and his profound impact on the modern conservation movement—particularly through his support of and influence upon many of its principle figures, including Rachel Carson and Edward Abbey—merits reexamination.

The generosity of the Archives and Special Collections staff has extended so far as to allow me to publish a series of representative chapter drafts in this forum as the research and writing processes unfold. These will inevitably evolve as I make new discoveries in the collection. Still, even in draft form, I believe that these chapters can play a meaningful part in bringing the contents of the Teale Papers out into the light of public view, perhaps prompting thoughtful reflection on their importance. I am deeply grateful to the Archives and Special Collections staff for this opportunity, and I welcome public comment and insight on my work here, either through the comment forum on the blog or through direct communication (contact information below). .

On a practical note, the first three chapters to be featured in this forum document events in roughly the middle period of Edwin Way Teale’s life. Though I plan to address Teale’s early life in the book as well, my intuition told me to start where I did, during the period when Edwin and Nellie’s beloved son David, their only child, was serving in Europe late in the Second World War, a period that Edwin called “one of the great crises of our lives.”[iv]

Richard Telford teaches literature and composition at Woodstock Academy in Connecticut.  He has a BA in English from the University of New Hampshire, an MS in English Education from the University of Bridgeport, and an MS in Environmental Studies from Green Mountain College. Working with the Connecticut Audubon Society, he helped design and found the Edwin Way Teale Artists in Residence at Trail Wood program, which he directs.  He was recently awarded a Rose and Sigmund Strochlitz Travel Grant by the University of Connecticut to support his manuscript for a book-length work on naturalist, writer and photographer Edwin Way Teale.

References

Burroughs, John. Literary Values and Other Papers. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company,1902.

Teale, Edwin Way. Adventures in Making a Living: Volume II, unpublished journal, February 1944 to May 1946. Box 113, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary, 1945. Box 99, Edwin Way Teale Papers 1799-1995, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Footnotes:

[i] Teale, Edwin Way. Adventures in Making a Living, Vol II. 3 January 1945.

[ii] Teale, Edwin Way. Adventures in Making a Living, Vol II.18 April 1945.

[iii] Burroughs, John. Literary Values and Other Papers. 1

[iv] Teale, Edwin Way. Guild diary 1945. 4 April 1945.

The Romano Papers: Stolen Childhoods in 4D

Students from Prof. Anna Lindemann's Motion Graphics I course explore the Romano Stolen Childhoods Collection.

Students from Prof. Anna Lindemann’s Motion Graphics I course explore the Stolen Childhoods Collection, part of the U. Roberto (Robin) Romano Papers.

At the end of October, I was delighted to help facilitate a class visit to the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, along with Graham Stinnett, the Archivist for Human Rights Collections and Alternative Press Collections at the Archives & Special Collections Department. Digital Media & Design Professor Anna Lindemann brought her Motion Graphics I course to see the U. Roberto (Robin) Romano Papers in person; the two classes were able to get a look behind the curtain of the Stolen Childhoods collection, to see and handle the physical materials and to learn some context surrounding the digital collection that they were already familiar with.

Professor Lindemann charged her students with exploring the application of motion graphics to still photographs, and then added the challenging component of upholding the intentions of a collection dealing with the gravity of child labor. To Lindemann, it was integral that the students experience the physicality first-hand, and were able to learn more about the motivations behind Romano’s work.

“Working with the Robin Romano collection was eye-opening. Seeing his life-long devotion to photographic art form as a way to raise awareness about child labor definitely made the class and me reflect on our own modes of working and the potential significance of our work. There was something especially striking about seeing his boxes upon boxes of work prints, negatives, photographs, and hard drives, including one of his hard drives labeled “not working.” This brought to mind so many of the aspects that we grapple with in digital media classes: the great mound of (often unseen) work behind a single effective image, and the capacity for an image or animation to be at once impactful and ephemeral.” – Professor Anna Lindemann

Continue reading

Major Gift of Victorian Illustrated Children’s Literature to be Preserved in the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection

DoyleREVArchives and Special Collections at the University of Connecticut Libraries has acquired a major collection of illustrated children’s books by prominent Victorian authors from Melissa Dabakis, Professor of Art History at Kenyon College, Mt. Vernon, Ohio and wife of the late Daniel P. Younger.  For thirty-five years, Daniel Younger collected rare nineteenth and early twentieth-century children’s illustrated books.  Hand-selected by Younger for donation to the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection, this generous gift includes one-hundred and forty-four illustrated books for children published between 1841 and 1935.  Included in the gift are works by authors such as Lewis Carroll, Charles Kingsley, Edward Lear, Christina Rossetti, John Ruskin, and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Many of the works selected by Younger for the gift represent the origins of the fairy tale in children’s literature.  The early period of children’s literature that was characterized by stories intended to teach morality, gave way to the magic of fairy tales designed to provide an alternative to ordinary life.  This shift in story-telling was also accompanied by improvements in the quality of illustration in children’s books.  Books by the illustrator George Cruikshank, who worked in copperplate etching, and Richard Doyle, founder of Punch, are examples of the detailed, imaginative style developed during the Victorian period. The collection includes George Cruikshank’s Fairy Library, 1865 and The Princess Nobody: a tale of fairy land, illustrated by Richard Doyle, 1884.  The donation includes an American edition of [Hans Christian] Andersen’s Tales for Children published in 1861.  In 2001, Younger, who served as Director of Olin Art Gallery at Kenyon College, featured many of the works in the collection in an exhibition Once Upon A Time: Victorian Illustrated Children’s Books dedicated to the memory of puppeteer and children’s book collector Herbert Hosmer..

In August 2015, Younger contacted Kristin Eshelman, archivist for the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection, “looking for a good home” for a collection of one hundred and fifty titles. The works, Eshelman discovered later, were hand-selected by Younger especially for Archives and Special Collections at UConn.  “Dan wanted to know why we didn’t have these important illustrated children’s books in our collection,” said Eshelman.   The history of the children’s literature collection at UConn goes back to 1965, when then Director of Special Collections Richard Schimmelpfeng began collecting works from the period 1860 to 1900, a period that had been overlooked by other regional collections.  Illustrated material was also of particular interest. The establishment of the NCLC in 1983 shifted the emphasis to the archives of twentieth-century artists and writers working and residing in the Northeast and East coast.  Younger saw a way to fill the gap created by this shift in collecting focus through his gift of illustrated children’s books by prominent Victorian authors.

Younger’s interest in children’s literature and connection to UConn dates back to a 1979 graduate internship at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts.  It was there that he met the puppeteer and collector of children’s books and toys, Herbert Hosmer.  Hosmer knew Francelia Butler, who taught children’s literature at UConn. Younger noted, “Butler was an informal board member of Hosmer’s all-things-juvenile enterprise, as was I.”  Younger was also mentored by William E. (Bill) Parker, UConn Emeritus Professor of Art in the history of photography during his graduate studies in photography and photographic history.  Younger’s wife, Melissa Dabakis, is also an alumna of UConn.

Kristin Eshelman, Archivist

 

The Romano Papers: An Introduction To Archiving The Collection

 

Toddler Screams Atop Garbage At The Bekasi Dump

As a University of Connecticut alum, I can think back to a handful of trips to the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center while working on projects and papers as an undergraduate. Back in June, I set foot in the stacks of the Archives and Special Collections Department for the first time as I interviewed for the position of Archivist Assistant for the U. Roberto (Robin) Romano Papers. I was introduced to the side of the ASC that students don’t typically get to see, and was presented with a literal mountain of material that would soon become my charge. Continue reading

Human Rights, Children’s Literature, and the Art of Youth Activism

CLHR-Image-300x214Join us for the presentation of the 2016 Raab Associates Prize and a discussion of Human Rights, Children’s Literature, and the Art of Youth Activism featuring Professor Jonathan Todres, Author of Human Rights in Children’s Liteature: Imagination and the Narrative of Law (Oxford University Press, 2016), Pegi Deitz Shea, author of numerous books for young people including Abe in Arms (PM Press, 2010) and The Carpet Boy’s Gift (Tilbury House, 2003), and Reven Smith Spoken word poet, musician, writer, social activist, and UConn student.

TODAY, November 10, 2016
4:00pm to 6:00pm
Konover Auditorium, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center
University of Connecticut

Public reception to follow.  Directions to the Dodd Research Center and event details can be found at Thomas J. Dodd Research Center Events.

ABOUT THE RAAB PRIZE:
The Raab Associates Prize has been given since 1999 to give University of Connecticut students the opportunity to learn about illustrating for children and the children’s literature field. The competition was created and sponsored by Susan Salzman Raab, founder and co-owner of Raab Associates, a children’s book marketing agency based in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.

This year, for the first time, the prize has focused on human rights, and specifically children’s rights, and represents a joint effort between UConn’s Thomas J. Dodd Research Center and the School of Fine Arts.  Ms. Raab, who is also a 1980 UConn alumna with a degree in English, especially wants to encourage and support people who have interests in the arts and in human rights. The competition is held annually and the prize is awarded to students enrolled in the University of Connecticut’s School of Fine Arts’ illustration courses.

 

Talk Today: Our Rivers on Drugs – Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products as Agents of Ecological Change

HubbardbrookToday at 4:00pm, UConn’s Edwin Way Teale Lecture Series on Nature and the Environment presents Our Rivers on Drugs: Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products as Agents of Ecological Change in Aquatic Ecosystems, a talk by Dr. Emma Rosi-Marshall, Senior Scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York.  

Dr. Rosi-Marshall’s research focuses on land-use change and restoration, agriculture, hydropower, and urbanization and their impact on freshwater ecosystems.  Her studies recently published, and covered by CNN, investigate the impact of pharmaceutical and personal care product pollution on our nation’s freshwaters.  These include an array of contaminants and compounds that are often not removed by wastewater treatment facilities, from prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs to the antimicrobials found in detergents and cosmetics. When they enter streams and rivers from our households, they can harm aquatic life and compromise freshwater quality.

In her talk, Dr. Rosi-Marshall will discuss her research and outline what is needed to combat the growing problem. Join us today,Thursday, November 3, 4:00 pm, in Konover Auditorium, at the Dodd Research Center.

The Edwin Way Teale Lecture Series, named for Pulitzer-Prize-winning author and naturalist Edwin Way Teale whose papers, photographs, and publications are preserved in Archives and Special Collections, brings leading scholars and scientists to the University of Connecticut to present public lectures on nature and the environment.   All lectures are free, open to the public

Women of the Black Panther Party

The following post is by undergraduate and UConn History Department intern Maggie Peyton about her current project working with materials in the Archives & Special Collections. 

IMG_3562My name is Maggie Peyton. I am a sophomore here at UConn, majoring in business. I took this opportunity to do research at the Archives & Special Collections because I am very interested in social justice and its history in the U.S. Prior to this internship, I had not taken any history classes on campus or engaged in archival work, so this is a very new and interesting experience.

The objective of this internship is to create an exhibit for the archives for the month of December. My fellow intern and I will be constructing an exhibit about minority women in the Civil Rights/social justice movements of the twentieth century. Specifically, I am focusing on the role of black women. What we know as the Women’s Movement was historically very exclusive and only served to represent upper-class white women. It did not acknowledge nor advocate for the issues unique to women who did not belong to this category. Continue reading

Magdalena Gomez: A Story that Inspires Minority Feminists and All Alike

The following post is by undergraduate and UConn History Department intern Diana Alvarado about her current project working with materials in the Archives & Special Collections. 

The Women's Times, 2004

The Women’s Times, 2004

My name is Diana Alvarado, and I am a first-year student at the University of Connecticut. Lots of people seem to think that being a history major is just about learning the facts of the past, but it really is so much more than that. It’s also about making a connections with stories and getting into the minds of the people in those stories.

At the Archives & Special Collections in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, I have been doing research about second wave feminism, and I found an article in “The Women’s Times” about Magdalena Gomez, a Puerto-Rican poet, playwright, and feminist. While reading the article by Allison Tracy, I was able to get a good look at her life as a minority and a woman. I can understand that also being a Puerto-Rican and female would make it easier for me to relate to Gomez than someone who wasn’t, but her story gives us a look inside the mind the of the feminists who weren’t the center of attention in the movement. Why is this important? It’s important because we can learn so much more about how the movement continues to impact our lives today; we can understand who we are a little more, and we can be more inspired to continue the work that feminists devoted their lives to. Continue reading

Graphic Novelist Gene Luen Yang at UConn

gene-yang-flyerThis Thursday, October 27 at 4 pm, acclaimed author and illustrator Gene Luen Yang will give a talk in the Student Union Theater on the UConn campus. Recently named a MacArthur Genius Fellow, Yang is presently the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, an appointment given by the Library of Congress, Every Child a Reader, and the Children’s Book Council.

Yang’s first book, American Born Chinese (2006), was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award and the first to win the American Library Association’s Printz Award.  The book was also the recipient of the Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album-New. His second book, Boxers and Saints (2013), was nominated for a National Book Award and won the L.A. Times Book Prize. A leading figure in contemporary comics, Yang has been affiliated with Dark Horse Comics’ continuation of Avatar: The Last Airbender and D.C. Comics Superman!.

Mr. Yang’s books can be found in UConn’s Archives and Special Collections in the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection, together with a large and growing collection of graphic novels.  Visitors to the Archives’ Reading Room are welcome Monday through Friday, 9:00am to 4:00pm.

For more information about the author talk and event, contact the Asian American Cultural Center or cathy.schlund-vials@uconn.edu.

Railroad Photography Exhibits

In the past few weeks we’ve put up three exhibits in the Dodd Research Center in preparation for our hosting the Conversations Northeast 2016 meeting of the Center for Railroad Photography and Art on October 29. The exhibits are available now for anyone visiting the building.

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The Call of Trains: Railroad Photography by Jim Shaughnessy, is available in the Dodd Research Center corridor until the first week of November. It shows the work of this extraordinary photographer who has spent his life traveling the country photographing trains and railroad scenes. This is a traveling exhibit created by the CRPA.

uconn_asc_2006-0195_box9_folder857_huntingtonave_boston_maDepots by the Number: The Legacy of Lewis Herbert Benton and Irving Newell Drake was created by two guest curators — railroad historians Richard A. Fleischer and Robert Joseph Belletzkie — showing and describing in detail photographs of Mr. Benton, who took thousands of photographs of railroad stations in New England from about 1910 to 1936 with the aid of an assistant, Mr. Drake. This exhibit will be available in the public lounge off of the lobby through fall semester.

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Railroad Photographs in Archives & Special Collections of the UConn Library shows the work of ten photographers whose work is held in the Railroad History Collections. The photograph above was taken by photographer and author J.W. Swanberg and is one of many showing the impact and beauty of railroads in our region. This exhibit is now in the gallery and will be up through fall semester.

All are invited to attend the conference on October 29. You can find information about the conference and how to register at http://www.railphoto-art.org/conferences/northeast-2016/.

Many photographs from the exhibits can be found in our digital repository at http://archives.lib.uconn.edu/.

 

Black Experience in the Arts: Poet and Activist Jayne Cortez

JayneCortez1Guest blog post by Marc Reyes, doctoral student at the University of Connecticut and 2016 Summer Graduate Intern in Archives and Special Collections.

If you think poetry recitals are dull, then you haven’t heard Jayne Cortez read her work.  Her poem, “Dinah’s Back in Town” (dedicated to blues singer Dinah Washington), begins:

“You know, I want to be bitchy.  I said I want to be a bitch.  Cause when you’re nice, true love don’t come into your life.  You get mistreated, mistreated and abused by some no good man who don’t care nothing about no blues.”

After declaring that “…true love don’t come into your life,” the audience laughed and hooted their approval of the sentiment.  The rest of Cortez’s tribute to Dinah Washington cautioned about the promises fast-talking men make to women.  And if women struggled to find the courage to stop shady men in their tracks, they only need to look to the titular heroine for inspiration.  Cortez described Washington as an assertive, tough-as-nails woman with no patience for schemers and scoundrels.  And when a bad man comes around, just tell him, “Dinah’s back in town.”

Cortez read this and several others poems on May 12, 1972.  This 1972 performance was the first of a dozen individual visits she made to the University of Connecticut.  Her twelve trips to Storrs were all for the same reason: she was invited to speak to the undergraduates enrolled in the School of Fine Arts course, Black Experience in the Arts.   The class, which operated under this title for over two decades, heard directly from a variety of talented musicians, actors, dancers, singers, artists, and writers.  Cortez was an ideal candidate to speak to UConn students.  Her acclaimed poetry and spoken word performances, often with musical accompaniment, made her a leading figure in the Black Arts Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Besides her considerable talents as a writer, Cortez was also a teacher, a publisher, founder of Los Angeles’ Watts Repertory Theater Company, and an activist who dedicated her adult life to ending racial and gender discrimination in American society.

CortezEverywhereDrumsWhen Cortez spoke in the spring of 1972, she read selections from her 1971 poetry collection, Festivals and Funerals.  The delivered poems touched on ideas about loneliness, anger, and love.  Others addressed how black Americans adjusted to living in northern cities compared to life in the rural South.  Another, “Watching a Parade in Harlem,” described the frenzy generated by a local Harlem parade and compared the appearance of many New York City policemen to a colonizing force.  Her tribute to Dinah Washington was not the only work that addressed struggles women encounter.  Her composition, “I Am a Worker,” was dedicated to “all my sisters in the garment industry.”  The women depicted in this poem are garment workers who toil under harsh conditions for low pay.  Her words make vivid the swollen legs, stiff hands, and back-breaking labor these women undertake in pursuit of “survival money.”  After listing the many bills and fees that make “survival money” less a reality and more a dream, the narrator asks, “Do you think a revolution is what I need?”

Cortez continued speaking to the Black Experience in the Arts course over the next twelve years, her visits becoming almost an annual occurrence.  Her lectures did not recycle content or repeat poems because she was producing so much new and original work. Between the years of 1972 to 1984, Cortez released four books of poetry, five spoken word recordings, and founded the publishing company, Bola Press.  But there was more to Jayne Cortez than her work and in a February 1984 lecture, she discussed more personal matters including her childhood, her first battles against racial injustice, and her decision to became a writer.

In this lecture, students learned about Cortez‘s birth in Arizona and growing up in postwar Los Angeles.  She recounted how she studied to be an actress and then a director, but found writing to be her true calling.  While studying art, music, and drama in high school and college, Cortez became involved in the civil rights movement.  In the early 1960s, she spent two summers working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), registering black voters in Mississippi.  She told students that this edifying work inspired her to produce art, infused with integrity, which mixed “political language with the poetic.”

JayneCortez2After explaining how her writing career started, Cortez informed students about the opportunities a writing career can produce.  Because of her success, she received invitations to speak at international poetry festivals throughout Europe and Africa.  She described the artistic affirmation experienced by performing at Carnegie Hall or having her books reviewed in The New York Times or The Washington Post.  Lastly, Cortez concluded her presentation by bringing to the stage her band, the Firespitters, who provided musical accompaniment to her poetry.  Cortez’s use of music to emphasize her work was not a gimmick; Cortez and the Firespitters played together for over three decades and released thirteen albums.  By incorporating music into the reading of her poetry, Cortez became a pioneer in the field of poetic performance art.

This summer, additional Jayne Cortez lectures debuted on the Archives and Special Collections digital repository.  Now, six of Cortez’s twelve Black Experience in the Arts lectures can be easily accessed online with plans to digitize the rest.  In addition, Archives and Special Collections possesses physical copies of Cortez’s work in book and audio form.  For scholars interested in poets like Jayne Cortez or the broader Black Arts movement, Archives and Special Collections has many resources available to researchers.  Stay tuned as we continue to make these valuable materials more widely known and available as well as additional blog posts highlighting other prominent lecturers who visited the university and spoke to Black Experience in the Arts students.

Marc Reyes is a doctoral student in the Department of History at the University of Connecticut.  He received his B.A. in History from the University of Missouri and his M.A., also in History, from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His research investigates the United States and its interactions – diplomatically, economically, and culturally – with India.  As a 2016 graduate intern, Marc is excited to gain additional experience working in a university archive and will be exploring the history of the Black Experience in the Arts course here at UConn as well as the broader movement of 20th century black expression in the arts.