Convention!

Currently on display in the John P. McDonald Reading Room at the Archives & Special Collections: Convention!: An Exciting and Educational Board Game Created by Homer and Marcia Babbidge 

In 1960 Homer D. Babbidge, who would later became UConn’s President (1962-1972), Convention Board Gamewas an Assistant for Higher Education in the U.S. Office of Education. To whet his appetite for the game of politics, in the midst of the 1960 Presidential campaign, he and his wife, Marcia, invented a board game published by Games Research, in which the players seek to accumulate enough delegates to win the nomination.

President Homer D. Babbidge

President Homer D. Babbidge

The UConn University Archives has recently acquired two editions of this long-forgotten game for its collection, thanks to Norman D. Stevens, Director of University Libraries Emeritus. When Norman became aware of the game, he contacted David Beffa-Negrini (Class of 1976), a noted jigsaw puzzle maker and an active game collector. Mr. Beffa-Negrini immediately located the two copies of the game currently on display and generously donated them to the Archives.

The probable first edition of the game includes a colorful tube which contains a rolled paper game board sheet and two instruction sheets, game pieces, dice and score sheet. The likely later edition is a typical board game housed in a cardboard box containing the game board, similar in many ways to Monopoly™. Convention!, which reflects the Babbidge’s fondness for satire, is much more volatile than any other board game. As one newspaper reporter who played the game wrote, “It is filled with all sorts of pitfalls and windfalls whereby a player might lose or win delegates. One neighbor lady…had won most of the primaries and was pressing in for the kill. I was down to a few delegates and was about to withdraw. Then I remembered a maneuver that Babbidge had told me about but which I had neglected to mention while explaining the rules. In one stroke I had captured enough delegates from the other players to win the nomination.” It was also reported that John F. Kennedy had a copy of Convention! on his campaign plane but how well he was doing was a secret.

In addition to the spaces around the board, through which delegates may be lost or won, there are seven caucuses, leading from a perimeter space that candidates may enter in hopes of winning more delegates. In the New York caucus a candidate can win votes for landing on the Wall Street Likes You space, or lose them for landing on the Greeted by a Bronx Cheer space. It can be the desperation move mentioned above for, if a player chooses to enter the Smoke Filled Room, on 2 of each six spaces the Bosses Approve, Disapprove, or Ignore you. Approval garners the player half of the Uncommitted Delegates held by each other candidate but Disapproval eliminates the player from the game.

Exhibit contents are from the Papers of Stuart Rothenberg and Herman Wolf and recent donations from Emily Roth (Class of 1965), Bill Heath and Henry Krisch (Professor of Political Science).

Curated by A. Gabrielle Westcott and Betsy Pittman

 

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. 

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.

John Temple Papers Project Now Open

0a831b0c3d2aeb112f08aeb7a5084fcdAs the spring semester ends and students turn their collective gaze and energies happily elsewhere, those of us that remain on campus pause to catch our collective breath.  Today I ponder and feel a heady lightness of gratitude as I reflect on the amazing exhibitions (such as Archives Reveal and Cuban Bricolage), student projects (such as Children of the Soil), and partnerships (including Celebrate People’s History and Interference Archives) of this past semester.  Wow!  Each incorporated and illuminated archival materials from collections here in Archives and Special Collections and in very different ways. It brings to mind that other activity of spring time in Storrs, the engine-like turning and tilling of the soil, the annual aeration and tending of ground that make deep roots and plentiful, fertile, bee-worthy blossoms possible.

It was a special pleasure on April 21 to attend the launch of the John Temple Papers Project and to hear the clever, funny and wise words of Eleanor Reeds, PhD candidate in UConn’s Department of English, teacher, blogger, and now publisher and creator of the John Temple Papers digital exhibition and digital humanities project. The celebration featured poetry readings, a demonstration of features of the web site,  and a presentation by Reeds who emphasized the theoretical foundation and origins of the project.  After two years of work, close-reading, experimentation, textual analysis and transcription, and decision-making, the John Temple Papers Project – a work of scholarship and an inventive peeling back and applying of layers of 31b3c55a8b8d126f2491e0c560aa80c3b92f03029026e90c67d51c46269ab47ctechnological onion skin – makes available digitally for the first time a selection of the poet’s literary manuscripts, typescripts, letters and production galley proofs.  Readers are invited to “Experience the Archive” and to explore Temple’s revisions of individual poems via a digital interface.  The materiality and arrangement of the manuscripts, and the play and presence of the author’s hand, are emphasized.  With permission of the poet himself, Reeds presents the manuscripts as high-resolution images derived from the original documents in the John Temple Papers preserved in Archives and Special Collections.

Reeds explains,

As a scholar of predominantly nineteenth-century poetry and print culture, I had always been interested in the process of editing poems and the assumptions underlying any approach to the reality that almost every poet significantly revises their work, before and even after publication. By making available all the possible versions of a poem—including those represented within a single document through annotation—I hope to prompt further interest in how we can allow readers to appreciate poems as far from fixed entities that should not be regarded through a narrative timeline that privileges either original inspiration or teleological perfection.

 

With this end in mind, the Omeka platform has been utilized to enable users of this website to browse multiple instantiations of three poems written by John Temple as his 1973 collection, The Ridge (originally titled The War Changed Me), was developed for publication under the editorship of Andrew Crozier. Temple is a British revival poet whose connection with Charles Olson is what likely led to some of his papers coming to the University of Connecticut’s Archives and Special Collections.

 

Writing in 1970, Jim Burns described Temple as “too little known or published,” noting how he had “absorbed American technical innovations and applied them to his own experiences in the North-East of England.” Burns’s essay—now collected in Brits, Beats, and Outsiders (Penniless Press, 2012)—is entitled “English-English Poetry.” It surveys a contemporary group of “non-Establishment” poets with “small, quiet voices,” poets characterized by their “long-lined dense texture in which they seem to write around the subject rather than about it.” The three poems by Temple I have chosen to feature in this exhibition tend toward a shorter line length. However, in their evocation of complex emotions through the anecdotal details of otherwise quotidien experiences, they can certainly be regarded as exemplifying Burns’s judgment.

 

Congratulations Eleanor Reeds!  Thank you John Temple, and thank you to staff of the University of Connecticut Libraries’ Scholars Collaborative, and UConn faculty.  I am delighted that John Temple’s poetry and his archives are available and presented anew, from the page to new fertile ground, to another generation of readers.  Read on!

 

The Same Heart Film Screening

c8d1d1ec-0e61-4abe-89a8-a6547d08c2c5Len & Georgia Morris will be screening their film on child poverty The Same Heart this Wednesday, April 20th 2016 from 4-6pm in the Konover Auditorium at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. The film, screened as part of the Human Rights Institute’s Film Series, follows a growing number of global economists, joining their voices with moral leaders of the world. They agree that an extremely small financial transaction tax, The Robin Hood Tax,” could for the first time, place the needs of children at the heart of the global financial system. Suggesting a sustainable approach,The Same Heart also follows a dynamic Kenyan community organizer who devotes his life to making programs work from the bottom up.

This film connects significantly with our U. Roberto (Robin) Romano Papers in the Archives & Special Collections, recently donated by Len Morris.  Robin Romano, credited as Cameraman in The Same Heart, directed and shot several films on child labor and global income inequality.  Although he passed away in 2013, his creative legacy involves a focus on human rights violations experienced by children around the world. His complete body of work including photos, films, and interviews, is now archived with at the Archives & Special Collections.

Len Morris and Robin Romano

Len Morris and Robin Romano

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016
4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Konover Auditorium 

Thomas J. Dodd Center, Storrs Campus

Civil War Diaries and Letters Now Available Digitally

alonzosmithdiaryOn this day, April 12, in 1861, the first shots were fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina in the Battle of Fort Sumter, effectively beginning the US Civil War.

Students and researchers interested in the experiences of Civil War soldiers and their families can now access the diaries, letters, family papers, and photographs from Archives and Special Collections’ Connecticut Soldiers Collection digitally in the digital repository.    The following collections are currently available:

 

To explore related collections, browse the list of collection guides or contact an archivist for more information.

Cuban Bricolage: The Artists Books of Ediciones Vigia

 

Cuban Bricolage takes place within an exceptional context. Since December 2014 –when U.S. and Cuban Presidents, Barack Obama and Raúl Castro, announced their mutual intentions of reactivating the relationship between the two nations—the general interest in Cuba has unexpectedly increased.  This exhibition, about one of Cuba’s most innovative fine art publishing houses, sheds light on this often misunderstood country.  While showcasing pieces of remarkable aesthetic value, the exhibition also exposes the entire UConn community to a little known aspect of Cuba’s cultural production. –Marisol Ramos

borges72dpi1234_00321-1024x497An exhibition of handcrafted books by members of the world-renowned Ediciones Vigía, an artist collective and publishing house in Cuba, is on display in UConn’s Homer Babbidge Library through May 2, 2016.

Since its creation in 1985 in the city of Matanzas, Ediciones Vigía has been internationally recognized as a unique artist’s collaborative, whose work is produced in limited editions and housed in private and public libraries, such as the British National Library, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), the Library of Congress, and universities throughout the world. Ediciones Vigía’s catalog encompasses works by authors such as Baudelaire, Emily Dickinson, Pasternak, Tolstoy, Tagore, and Verlaine, Spanish-language authors such as Borges, Federico García Lorca, and Gabriela Mistral, and renowned Cuban writers such as José Martí, Lezama Lima, and Nancy Morejón.

According to the exhibition co-curator Marisol Ramos, Latin American & Caribbean Studies, Latino Studies, Spanish & Anthropology Librarian at the University, “each entirely handmade volume is a genuine piece of art, as well as a powerful testimony of struggle and artistic survival and sustainability, showing its creators’ ‘advocacy of the aesthetics of the poor, of what’s ugly, and inexpensive’, as Ediciones Vigía’s co-founder and chief designer, Rolando Estévez said in a recent online interview.”

Read more…

 

 

“Our Community at Winchester” — an exhibit that evokes an era of union and community solidarity

 

“Our Community at Winchester: an Elm City Story,” is an exhibit, created by the Greater New Haven Labor History Association (GNHLHA), that reminds us of how communities are formed within and around factories and industrial workshops, as well as the impact and rippling effect that the disintegration of these industries have on the lives of their workers and the greater communities, towns and cities where they are located. The exhibit is currently available for viewing in the Norman Stevens Gallery in Homer Babbidge Library until early June.

As one of New Haven’s most important employers in the latter half of the 20th century, the Olin-Winchester Repeating Arms plant had an enormous impact on the Newhallville community and the city of New Haven, Connecticut. During this time, workers created a variety of social outlets, from the Winchester Club to bowling to musical performances, plays and gatherings of all kinds, creating a community within a community. But the struggle to achieve better, more equitable, working conditions was ongoing and often met with brutal resistance from the company. Later, with the introduction of Science Park, employment at the plant was repeatedly downsized until accessible work opportunities for people in the community no longer existed. The plant closed in 2006, throwing its remaining 198 employees out of work.

The stories of Winchester’s workers and the impact of this important employer throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries are told in this exhibit through the use of oral histories, photographs and documents. The exhibit utilizes materials from the records of the International Association of Machinists Local 609, now held by the GNHLHA, which represented workers at the plant beginning in 1956, as well as articles, donated images and personal recollections from those who were involved with the plant.

The photographs above show some of the panels in the exhibit as well as Greater New Haven Labor History Association director Joan Cavanagh and member Monica McGovern.

Celebrate People’s History

Ca9Nle9XIAEJt8p (1)Currently on display at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, a recently acquired set of Celebrate People’s History Poster Series from the Justseeds artists cooperative.  The Archives & Special Collections has added this poster series to its collection because of the strong linkages to the Alternative Press Collection which contains posters, flyers, pamphlets and newspapers about the movements depicted in the series.

This collection was organized and curated by Justseeds founder Josh MacPhee for distribution to all corners of public and social spaces:

“The Celebrate People’s History posters are rooted in this do-it-yourself tradition of mass-produced and distributed political propaganda, but detoured to embody principles of democracy, inclusion, and group participation in the writing and interpretation of history. It’s rare today that a political poster is celebratory, and when it is, it almost always focuses on a small canon of male individuals: MLK, Ghandi, Che, or Mandela. Rather than create another exclusive set of heroes, I’ve generated a diverse set of posters that bring to life successful moments in the history of social justice struggles. To that end, I’ve asked artists and designers to find events, groups, and people who have moved forward the collective struggle of humanity to create a more equitable and just world. The posters tell stories from the subjective position of the artists, and are often the stories of underdogs, those written out of history. The goal of this project is not to tell a definitive history, but to suggest a new relationship to the past.

CPH posters have been pasted up in the streets of over a dozen cities. Each time I receive emails from people wanting to know more. Our streets can be a venue for asking these questions, and the CPH posters can play a role in answering them. Soon after the first poster was printed, educators began asking for posters for their classrooms. It’s been great to see the posters become part of curriculum, and to see lessons built around them. Once when giving a talk about CPH, I was approached by a student in training to become a teacher. She was first introduced to the posters when they hung in one of her grade school classrooms, almost a decade earlier. Now she intends to use them in her future classes. I hope that these posters can continue to act as some small corrective to the dominant narratives told in schools, and that more teachers engage students in alternative ways of understanding the past.”

This exhibition will be up in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center from February 1st – April 15th, 2016.

 

Archives Reveal, Archives Inspire, Archives OPEN

ArchivesOpenFlyerFinalCMYKJoin us for an after-hours Open-House to mark the grand opening of Spring exhibitions in Archives and Special Collections, Thursday, March 10, 4:00 – 6:00 pm in the McDonald Reading Room at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

Archives Reveal, Archives Inspire, Archives Open is a special invitation to explore the new and the rarely-seen assembled and animated by guest curators.  Hear talks and commentary by exhibition curators, browse collection materials first-hand, and catch up on news happening behind the scenes with archivists from UConn’s Archives and Special Collections.  Sponsored by the UConn Libraries and the Office of Undergraduate Research IDEA Grants Program, the event is free and open to the public.  Spring 2016 exhibitions include:

Seeing Comes Before Words: Artists’ Use of the Male Nude

Elizabeth Barbeau (curator)

Inspired by the collection of artist and teacher Roger Crossgrove, and drawing from materials across the Archives’ holdings, this exhibition explores collaboration and the creative process through the lens of the male nude.  Featuring photography, artists’s books, broadsides, and posters from Archives and Special Collections, materials on display emphasize the relationships between (and among) artists and their models, and art and its audiences, and illustrate ways “the male nude” is used in different mediums for a variety of political, social, and cultural purposes.

Woman a Machine: Gender, Automation, and Created Beings

Giorgina S. Paiella (curator)

Featuring a variety of materials sourced from Archives and Special Collections, and archives external to the University of Connecticut, Woman a Machine will explore the intersection of gender and automation from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century. This exhibition will explore the intertwined history of female created beings and human female embodiment, including representations of eighteenth and nineteenth century female android automata, the twentieth-century mechanized housewife, and cyborg imagery in twentieth and twenty-first century visual culture.

#ArchivesReveal

We look forward to seeing you in the Archives!

 

Water: Pollution / Protection and Play

Ca4WHLTW4AIJNTh2On display now in the McDonald Reading Room, and through February, a new exhibition by Archivist Graham Stinnett examines the role that water plays in our daily lives.  From consumption and utility to containment and disposal, clean water relies heavily on human impact on the ecosystem.  As archival documents reveal, water protection and access to clean drinking water has been a rallying cry for decades, long before it made national headlines, again, last month.

Since the breaking news of the Flint Water Crisis began, a state of emergency within the city of Flint, Michigan was called on January 5, 2016.  The city had incorporated its drinking water from the nearby contaminated Flint River which led to the corrosion of aging lead pipes in the city’s waterworks.  This leaching of lead began in April of 2014, exposing the population to health risks associated with drinking and bathing in the water unbeknownst to them.

This exhibition draws from collections in Archives and Special Collections, including the Connecticut Citizens Action Group Records and the Alternative Press Collection, relating to water and our demands upon it as a resource and a necessity. The materials document that water protection is not a new social issue in the US.  Since the 1960s, as the historical record illustrates, failing economies, and lack of investments in cleanup in the long term, have lead to crises for already marginalized communities.  Materials in the exhibition, encompassing photographs, leaflets, serials, clippings, and government documents, examine how people in those communities have responded through time.

 

Today: Of Mice and Men – Emerging Infectious Disease in a Warmer, More Fragmented World

Today February 4 at 4:00pm in UConn’s Konover Auditorium, the Edwin Way Teale Lecture Series on Nature and the Environment presents disease ecologist Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies for his lecture  “Of Mice and Men: Emerging Infectious Disease in a Warmer, More Fragmented World.”

ostfeldWe are living in an age of emerging infectious diseases, scientists and health officials agree.  Most of these diseases are transmitted from wildlife to humans, but scientists are only beginning to understand the ecological causes of disease emergence in the 21st Century.  In this talk, Ostfeld will describe the ecology of three emerging tick-borne diseases in the northeastern United States, most prominently Lyme disease.  He will show how small mammals, such as white-footed mice, are instrumental in fostering both blacklegged ticks and the pathogens they transmit.

More than 20 years of ecological research in Ostfeld’s lab reveal how anthropogenic environmental changes, such as reduced biodiversity and global warming, affect our risk of exposure to infectious diseases both locally and globally.  The presentation will demonstrate the importance of ecology as a health science.

Co-sponsored by UConn’s Junior Faculty Forum of the Humanities Institute, the Dodd Research Center, and several UConn departments, the event is free and open to the public.

Since 1995, UConn presents the award-winning Edwin Way Teale Lecture Series that brings distinguished speakers to the University to speak in public lectures on various aspects of nature and the environment.  The Lecture Series is named in honor of the Pulitzer-prize winning naturalist and author, Edwin Way Teale, whose vast archive of literary manuscripts, letters, diaries and photographs is preserved and accessible at UConn’s Archives and Special Collections.