Introducing Aeon: A New Online Request System for Archives & Special Collections 


We’re excited to announce that a new researcher registration and request system is now available in Archives and Special Collections!  

If you’ve done research in the Archives previously, you’ll be familiar with our online booking form through a platform called Springshare, as well as our separate reproduction request form. We are introducing a new system, Aeon (created and supported by Atlas Systems), which will be taking the place of these online forms, so you’ll be able to do everything research-related through one online platform, including: 

  • Registering as a researcher (a one-time process) 
  • Making appointments 
  • Making requests for materials for both in-person visits and reproductions. 
  • Viewing your request history so you have full citation information for all the materials you’ve consulted 
  • Viewing the status of your reproduction requests and downloading reproductions you’ve requested 

If you are a UConn affiliate (student, staff, or faculty), you’ll be able to use NetID single sign on to create and sign into your Aeon account. If you are a researcher who has created an Aeon account previously at another institution, you won’t need to make a new account, and can use your pre-existing account. All other researchers will create a new account.  

When using the “book an appointment” or “request reproductions” buttons from the Archives and Special Collections homepage, you’ll now be directed to sign into your Aeon account or create a new account if you don’t yet have one. 

ASC staff have prepared a guide for patrons to help you register for and navigate your new Aeon account. For more information or for help setting up your account, please email us at  

Please Reduce Racism at UConn: The December 3, 1987 Incident

The exhibit is available at Homer Babbidge Library Plaza Level, from April 2 until May 5, 2024.

An exhibit created by Edward Junhao Lim, the Business & Entrepreneurship Librarian of the UConn Library, and a member of the Association for Asian American Faculty and Staff (A3FS).

Target Practice was a comic strip published in the Daily Campus illustrated by Chris Sienko ’88 (SFA). This bigotry – depicting Asian teaching assistants as illiterate and stupid because of their accent or English language ability – reflected the sentiment in many American university campuses in the 1980s-1990s. This was published in the October 7, 1987, issue, p. 13.
The Target Practice comic strip on Asian teaching assistants sparked off a series of letters to the editor published in the October 12 & 14, 1987 issues of the Daily Campus. The Vice President of the UConn Korean Club defending Asian T.A.s, two letters suggesting that Asian T.A.s are poor in communicating in English, and even the comic artist (Sienko) defending and denying its racist intent.

December 3, 1987, was a significant marker for the Asian American movement at the University of Connecticut. Eight Asian American students boarded a bus at Belden Hall to attend an off-campus semi-formal dance at the Italian American Club in Tolland. Belden and Watson Hall sponsored the semi-formal.

The written statement to the UConn Department of Police about the bus incident by Feona Lee ’87 (CLAS, BUS) – one of the eight victims – dated December 12, 1987. She describes how the perpetrators – a group of white, drunken students, some of whom were chewing tobacco – spat on her and her friends and making racist remarks.

During the 45-minute bus ride, they were spat upon and subjected to racial slurs and physical intimidation from a group of UConn football players. Even at the dance hall, one of them continued harassing the group, including indecent exposure. The victims asked one of the Resident Advisors for help and permission to leave but were denied and asked to stay away from the troublemakers. The female victims hid in a closet until the threat of violence had seemed to pass.

This photograph published on the May 16, 1988 issue of the Hartford Advocate featured two of the eight victims of the December 3, 1987 bus incident: Marta Ho (left) and Ronald Cheung ’89 (CLAS, BUS) (center). Accompanying them is Maria Ho ’88 (CLAS) (right), sister of Marta. Both sisters played an important role in the founding of the UConn Asian American Association student group in January 1988, formed as a response to the bus incident.

The inability of both local law enforcement and university officials to address and remedy the situation led to eighteen months of struggle, protest, and examination. No one seemed willing to help at the beginning: the UConn affirmative action office could not interfere because it did not involve faculty and students; the UConn campus police claimed no responsibility since it happened off campus, and three other local police departments (Vernon, Stafford Springs, and Tolland) claimed to have no jurisdiction since the incident started on campus.

Paul Bock was the Professor Emeritus of Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Connecticut. He pitched a tent on the Student Union lawn at Storrs campus and conducted a hunger strike to call attention to their demands. He obtained seven hundred signatures on a petition to bring about an investigation of the incident. He chose the window between the end of the summer session and the beginning of the fall session in August 1988 to avoid disrupting classes. This photograph by Rick Hartford was published in the Hartford Courant as an update a decade after the bus incident on May 17, 1998.

The perseverance of the victims eventually led to the identification and prosecution of only two from a group of attackers. One was suspended for one year. The other was barred from living on campus but continued to play for the UConn football team until his graduation.

This exhibit seeks to raise awareness about the incident on December 3, 1987, against Asian Americans at the UConn. This incident was a catalyst for change at UConn, leading to the establishment of the Asian American Cultural Center (AsACC), which provides resources to enhance the University’s diversity commitment through its recruitment and retention efforts, teaching, service, and outreach to the Asian American community on campus.

Through personal narratives and historical documents, the exhibition will explore this event’s origins and immediate consequences on the Asian, Asian American and broader campus communities. The day after the incident, Homer Babbidge Library was where Marta Ho told her sister Maria Ho what had happened. Maria insisted on reporting the incident to the police.

Archives Are for Everyone – Join Us! Open House March 28

Students encountering materials from the Alternative Press Collection in the John P. McDonald Reading Room, image by Zoey England.

Come visit – a lot is new!

On Thursday, March 28, 2024, from 3-5 pm, Archives & Special Collections will host an open house to welcome our community into our newly-renovated John P. McDonald Reading Room. More information about how to find us is available on our website

We have recently updated our reading room to enhance patron services, instruction, and exhibition for our unique and diverse collection. This open house will feature curated materials on display and staff archivists to engage with about the work we do.

Learn about the 1974 Black student sit-in

In conjunction, the archives will be opening a new exhibition in the Schimmelpfeng gallery to mark the 50th Anniversary of the 1974 Black student sit-in at Wilbur Cross Library. During the sit-in, 370 students occupied the library at varying times across three days. The sit-in was the culminating event during a semester-long campaign of student organizing to demand representation and resources for students of color at the University of Connecticut. 

Through curated documents this exhibition will feature the perspectives of the student organizers, the Afro-American Cultural Center, the University and its administration to remember this campus-wide call to action which resonates to our present day.  This 50th anniversary is also an opportunity to highlight approaches to student activism and the centrality of the library as an institutional setting both for democracy and also one vulnerable to upholding systems of oppression. 

Talk with an archivist

Have a question about your research interests? Want to learn more about Zine making?  All are welcome to explore the archives and hear from archivists about how we can connect you to your history!

We hope you join us

This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. If you have further questions or accommodation requests, we are eager to have you contact us

Archives Exhibition Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Black Student Sit-In at Wilbur Cross Library in 1974

Anthropology Protest, Nutmeg 1974

Please Respond Personally: Commemorating the 1974 Black Student Sit-In 

March 11th – July 19th, 2024, Schimmelpfeng Gallery, Monday – Friday, 9-4pm 

Dodd Center for Human Rights, University of Connecticut 

Exhibit Opening Event: March 28th, 3-5pm @ Archives & Special Collections, Dodd Center

Opening to the public Monday, March 11th, 2024, the UConn Library’s Archives & Special Collections will mount a 50th Anniversary Exhibition commemorating the direct action taken by Black and Brown students on the Storrs campus to challenge structural racism in higher education by sitting in at the Wilbur Cross Library on April 22nd 1974.  This historic event of activism, where roughly 370 students occupied the library at varying times across 3 days, was the culminating event during a semester long campaign of student organizing to demand representation and resources for students of color at the University of Connecticut.  Through curated documents this exhibition will feature the perspectives of the student organizers, the Afro-American Cultural Center, the University and its administration to portray this campus-wide call to action which resonates to our present day.  This 50th anniversary is also an opportunity to highlight approaches to student activism and the centrality of the library as an institutional setting both for democracy and also one vulnerable to upholding systems of oppression. 

This exhibition draws from the experiences of alumni Rodney Bass (’75BA/’76MA) who read the demands during the sit-in and was co-chair of the Organization of African American Students (OAAS). The archives podcast d’Archive produced an interview with Rodney about Black student organizing in the mid-1970s on the Storrs campus which is revealing in understanding their approach to making demands upon the university for their representation in the student body.

There’s Something About an Aqua Velva Man: the J.B. Williams Company, Connecticut’s Maker of Men’s Toiletries

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An exhibit of historical records and items manufactured by the J.B. Williams Company, shown on the Plaza Level of Homer Babbidge Library through March 2024.

The exhibit shows photographs, advertisements, and historical documents from the J.B. Williams Company Records, but includes a special component — almost 80 collectible items manufactured by the company.

All of the collectibles shown in this display are from the collection of Boyd and Melissa Williams, residents of Franklin, Tennessee.

Melissa and Boyd Williams, 2023

About eight years ago Mr. and Mrs. Williams were in an antique store and found a J.B. Williams Company shaving soap box. Knowing nothing about the company, with no connection to Connecticut, they purchased the box on the basis that the company’s name was theirs as well. After that, they perused antique shops and Ebay for other company items and slowly amassed their collection of about 150 items, which they display in a vacation cabin they own.

The focus of the collection is solely on items that indicate that they were produced in Glastonbury, 1960 and earlier.

In June 2023 Mr. Williams contacted the UConn Archives asking for information from the J.B. Williams Company Records about their products, to supplement his knowledge of the company. When the archives staff learned about the Williams’ extraordinary collectible collection, the couple generously agreed to loan the items for this display.

About the J.B. Williams Company:

James Baker Williams was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, in 1818 and worked at a general store in Manchester beginning at the age of 16. When he was 22 he began to experiment with soaps to determine which were best for shaving, and developed Williams’ Genuine Yankee Soap, the first manufactured soap for use in shaving mugs.

In 1847 Williams opened his soap company on Williams Street in Glastonbury, where he continued to manufacture shaving soap and other products.

By the early 1900s the company was known throughout the world for its line of shaving creams, talcum powder, toilet soaps, and, later, for Aqua Velva, Lectric Shave, and Skol. After 1950 the company, in mergers with other businesses, became known for producing Conti Castile Soap, Kreml Hair Tonic, and Kreml Shampoo.

In 1957 a New York based conglomerate, Pharmaceuticals, Inc., acquired the J.B. Williams Company and moved the headquarters to New Jersey. In 1971 the company was sold to Nabisco.

The plant in Glastonbury was taken over by former Williams Company employees and became Glastonbury Toiletries, producing shaving soaps, bathroom soaps, aerosol shaving creams, body lotions and shampoos. This company closed in 1977. The original 1847 factory was converted to condominiums and, in 1983, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The company records were donated to the UConn Archives in 1967.

In Memoriam: Normal Finkelstein

Norman Finkelstein

The UConn Archives is sorry to hear about the death of one of our donors, Norman H. Finkelstein, on January 5, 2024. He was an author of over 20 non-fiction books for young readers, a retired school librarian for the Brookline (Massachusetts) Public Schools and teacher of history for the Prozdor Department of Hebrew College. Among his writing honors are two National Jewish Book Awards, the Golden Kite Honor Book Award for Nonfiction and a “highly recommended” award from the Boston Author’s Club.

In an interview with Contemporary Authors published in 2011 Finkelstein remarked, “Readers often want to know what keeps me going as a writer. When I asked the late CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt to share a memory of Edward R. Murrow, about whom I was writing a biography, Kuralt responded: ‘Beginners need confidence; of course, I never had the nerve to ask Murrow for advice directly, but if I had, I believe he would have said, “Become good at what you do, and everything else will take care of itself.”‘ I couldn’t have said it better myself. I would, however, add two more words, persistence and patience.” (Source: “Norman H. Finkelstein.” Gale Literature: Contemporary Authors, Gale, 2011. Gale Literature Resource Center, link. Accessed 9 Jan. 2024.)

Norman Finkelstein’s work as an author is preserved at the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection, Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut.

In Memoriam: Laurie S. Wiseberg

Laurie Sheila Wiseberg, of Montreal but also of the world, passed away on October 11th, 2023, at the age of 81. Dr. Laurie S. Wiseberg was known as a human rights educator, defender, and advocate.

In 1971, Laurie and Harry began a 17-year collaboration on human rights. They created a documentation center and international network of NGOs called the Human Rights Internet (HRI). Laurie was HRI’s Executive Director from 1976 until 2000.

In 2000, Laurie left HRI and joined the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) as NGO Liaison Officer for the World Conference Against Racism (Durban, South Africa, 2001). In March 2002, she took up the position of Head of the sub-office for OHCHR in Podgorica, Montenegro; and subsequently, as acting Head of Office in Belgrade, for Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo.

In April 2006 she joined a new UN inter-agency program, ProCap (Protection Capacity), intended to strengthen the capacity of UN agencies to deliver human rights protection in emergency situations. In the role of human rights advisor, Laurie worked in over 20 countries, until COVID forced her very reluctant retirement in 2018. These locations included: Kashmir, Pakistan; Darfur, Sudan; Juba, Southern Sudan; Amman, Jordan; Kathmandu, Nepal; Kabul, Afghanistan; Dili, Timor-Leste; Kotido, Uganda; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; Lilongwe, Malawi; Mindanao, Philippines; Libya; Northern Iraq; Southern Turkey; the Solomon Islands; and Nigeria.

Laurie and Harry’s work for HRI has been preserved since 2004 as the Laurie S. Wiseberg and Harry Scoble Human Rights Internet Collection at the University of Connecticut Archives & Special Collections to advance human rights research, educate students, and maintain this important and relevant history of the past century.

Laurie’s final works include an unpublished memoir: A Girl from St Urbain Street – Part 1: Fleeing the Nest, and a cookbook 25 years in the making: Food from the Field: Laurie’s Cookbook, A Modest Contribution to the Struggle Against Racism.

Forgotten, Neglected and in Ruins: Abandoned Industrial Spaces in Connecticut

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Sometimes it is hard to recall that the Connecticut of not too long ago was an industrial powerhouse. From the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s the state was a major producer of brass, tools, textiles, clocks and household goods that were valued throughout the nation, and the world. While Connecticut today is still an industrial engine, we remember a time when large factories teemed with workers and railroad lines traveled into almost every town and city in the state.

There is a mix of emotions when we view images of abandoned factories and railroad stations. There is a nostalgia for the past, one that we know through old photographs or movies, a time we somehow imagine was simpler. Or there is a curiosity in the creepy side of the structures, covered in vines, roofs sagging, broken windows, old equipment splayed about the factory floor, and, if we’re lucky, perhaps a spray of graffiti on the walls.

Now available in the Richard Schimmelpfeng Gallery in the Dodd Center for Human Rights is an exhibit that shows photographs from the Railroad History Collections and the Connecticut Historic Preservation Collection, both held in the UConn Archives.

The foundational collection for the Railroad History Archives are the corporate records of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, better known as the New Haven Railroad, which was established in 1872 from the merger of smaller lines throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island, southern Massachusetts and eastern New York, and spanned from Grand Central Terminal in New York City to Boston. Other collections, from photographers, collectors and historians, supplement the corporate records and provide resources that illustrate the impact of the railroad on the industry and culture of the region until it was absorbed into Penn Central in 1969.

While the railroad collections provide documentation on the entire New Haven Railroad region, for purposes of this exhibit we have focused exclusively on Connecticut sources.

The Connecticut Historic Preservation Collection (CHPC) is comprised of architectural and archaeological surveys, maps and documentation studies of historic buildings and sites in the state. They are provided to the UConn Archives by the State Historic Preservation Office. The CHPC materials you see in the exhibit are almost solely those in the documentation studies series, which were created by professional industrial historians to document historical properties that were planned for demolition or renovation.

The exhibit is available Mondays through Fridays, 8:00a.m. to 4:30p.m., until October 13.

Several historians have graciously aided us with this exhibit, by either providing their advice or expertise of railroad properties, or by allowing the use of photographs they have taken of abandoned sites.

Robert Joseph Belletzkie has done extensive research into the history of Connecticut railroad stations. He created and maintains a website – Tyler City Station, at — that details the history of virtually every station and depot in Connecticut.

Matthew Chase is dedicated to a project to document the deterioration of the Cedar Hill Rail Yard, located in New Haven. His Facebook page, Friends of Cedar Hill Yard, has hundreds of photographs of the yard, both historical and in its deteriorating condition in the present day.

Richard A. Fleischer is a historian, writer and photographer with a broad and deep knowledge of the history of New England’s railroads.

J.W. Swanberg is a former railroad employee, photographer and historian of the New Haven Railroad, with a lifetime of knowledge about railroads in Connecticut, the region and the world. He is the author of the seminal history of the New Haven Railroad’s locomotive fleet, New Haven Power, and has written extensively on topics related to railroads in the region.

RE:Reference Exhibit

May 19 – August 11, 2023
Archives & Special Collections
Dodd Center for Human Rights
Curated by Graham Stinnett, Archivist

On display is the creative work of David Sandlin (b.1956), comics artist and printmaker. His multi-volume Guggenheim Fellowship project, 76 Manifestations of American Destiny, charts a dreamlike interstellar course from the Big Bang to the present historical moment. Volume 1 of this series depicts iconic references which continuously appear throughout each volume as specters of a disembodied past. In Sandlin’s work, America’s presidents, military icons, and cultural trademarks wreak havoc on the psyche of the family (the artist’s own) caught between cultural performance and the dead weight of its umbilical living past.

Additionally on display are monographs and artist’s books drawn from Archives & Special Collections which illustrate the source material for an artists’ interpretation and the proliferation of ideas through varying degrees of enculturation in print. Featured are early printed pamphlets of President George Washington’s farewell address from 1796 (a character featured prominently in Sandlin’s 76 series), as well as other art forms like poetic interpretations of the Declaration of Independence, and children’s books relating to the science of the Big Bang, the founding fathers, and histories of the Western frontier and the myth-making they engendered. Featured across from Sandlin’s work is the Artists’ Book author Mike Taylor (b.1976) who similarly explores the current state of politics in America through the historical record of presidential speeches, congressional documents, and their foretelling of a dystopian future.

Starting in 2021, Archives & Special Collection’s acquired 76 Manifestations of American Destiny Volumes 1-4 and will add the final volumes to the collection as they are completed.

The d’Archive 50

Logo by Melica Stinnett

The UConn Archives & Special Collections podcast d’Archive will release it’s 50th episode on April 24th, 2023 with a live broadcast at 10am EST on 91.7fm WHUS. Beginning in August of 2017, the Archives staff began expanding its outreach program to the airwaves by training on sound engineering and radio protocols in order to effectively bring its collections to new audiences. Since then the radio program and podcast has featured weekly episodes drawing from countless collections held by the Archives & Special Collections and amplifying the expertise of over 60 collaborators ranging from past and present archives and library staff, artists, journalists, curators, faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, high school students, visiting fellows and international students, activists, alumni, collectors and donors, family, and friends.

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Encounters with the Natural World:  Work by Margaret Waring Buck, Katherine Shelley Orr and Jean Day Zallinger  

The artists and scientists presented in this exhibition began observing their natural surroundings at a young age.  One is the daughter of a draftsman, one a trained portrait painter, one a self-described “doodler and daydreamer” who loved the sea.  Either formally or informally, all have used art to communicate through visual representation what they systematically observed.  Each shared their observations in non-fiction books for children in the hope of instilling a strong desire to learn and a curiosity about the world.   

On view are paintings, drawings, sketches and notes answering the question “what do I see around me?”  These artists responded to what the author of The Beginning Naturalist, Gale Lawrence, encouraged her readers to do, “begin to look at what’s around you, ask yourself questions about what you see, and find answers.  Only in this way will you establish a meaningful and lasting relationship with the natural world – of which you, too, are an important part.”    

This exhibition is being shown to complement Raid the Archive: Edwin Way Teale and New Works on view at the William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut, from January 17 to March 10, 2023.   

UConn Archives & Special Collections 

Richard H. Schimmelpfeng Gallery 

January 31, 2023 – April 21, 2023 

The Many Faces of Vivien Kellems, 1896 – 1975 

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Archives & Special Collections announces the opening of a new exhibition, “The Many Faces of Vivien Kellems,” featuring the life and achievements of the inventor, activist, businesswoman, political candidate, and philanthropist, Vivien Kellems.  The exhibition marks the completion of a multi-year project to digitize the Kellems Papers; generously funded by Suzy Kellems Dominik over the past several years. 

Vivien Kellems was born 7 June 1896 in Des Moines, Iowa, to David Clinton and Louisa Flint Kellems. Shortly after her birth, her parents, both Christian Ministers, moved their family to the west coast and settled in Eugene, Oregon. The only girl of a family with seven children, Vivien developed a rugged and competitive personality from an early age. Attending the University of Oregon, she made her mark as the only female on the debate team. Vivien Kellems obtained a bachelor’s degree in 1918 and a master’s degree in economics shortly thereafter. After graduation, she moved to New York City pursuing a doctorate from Columbia University and then, nearer the end of her life, University of Edinburgh.  

While she resided in New York, her older brother, Edgar E. Kellems, invented a significant improvement to an existing cable grip, which he patented in the late 1920s. With the patent as a foundation, Ms. Kellems founded Kellems Cable Grips, Inc. in 1927, moving the new company to Stonington, Connecticut. In the early years, the company’s devices were used most notably during the construction of the Chrysler Building, George Washington Bridge, and later played a vital role in production of wire and artillery shell grips used during World War II.  Her thirty-year tenure as president of the Kellems Company brought many challenges, travel, and opportunities for expansion.  For example, during WWII, Kellems’ business interests and travels converged with her personal life—bringing unwanted attention and controversy. Vivien’s connections and subsequent relationship with Count Frederic von Zedlitz, a German national from a prestigious family, was scrutinized by the U.S. Congress because of her “love letters” to a “Nazi agent.” 

In addition to her business interests, Vivien Kellems was actively engaged in various struggles for justice as she fought for women’s equality, equal suffrage along party lines, and tax reform. As a member of the Liberty Belles, Vivien led by example as the group encouraged equality of women in the home, workplace, and society. Running as an independent candidate for U. S. Senate, Ms. Kellems protested strict party line voting that only required a single lever pull rather than voting individually for a preferred candidate. She made several bids for United States Senate, for the Connecticut Governorship in 1954, and, in 1964, led the Barry Goldwater Presidential Campaign in Connecticut. 

Vivien Kellems practiced active civil disobedience to support her positions on state and government practices, particularly those of taxation and party voting. She famously sat in a voting booth for nine hours straight before fainting from exhaustion in her protest of the party lever. With her degree in economics, unfair taxation by the government was a frequent and long fought battle. In 1948, alongside her business partner and brother David Kellems, she protested the “requirement” of withholding taxes from her employees’ checks claiming, “if they wanted me to be their (tax) agent, they’d have to pay me, and I want a badge.” A lengthy court battle ensued, during which it was determined that the Kellems Company would go bankrupt if taxes were not withheld and paid. Admitting defeat on this issue, Kellems turned her focus to the inequality of taxes paid by single individuals compared to married couples.  The income tax law enacted after World War II required unmarried citizens to pay twice the amount of income tax than did those citizens of equal earnings who were married. In protest, from 1965 until her death, Vivien Kellems would send in blank tax forms with her signature. Coming close to victory many times in the United States Supreme Court during the first half of the 1970s, Ms. Kellems’ fight in this case came to naught.  She died before her final appeal was heard in 1975.  On this issue, she traveled the country speaking at numerous events and appearing on television to highlight the cause of the singles income tax.  She amassed a nationwide fanbase who wrote to her extensively in support and admiration for her campaign against unfair taxation. 

Vivien Kellems left a vibrant legacy, documented in an impressive collection of photographs, business records, legal and tax documents, political ephemera, and memorabilia that is available for research and study in the University of Connecticut’s Archives & Special Collections.  Come and explore the story of a trailblazing firebrand who faced great odds but refused to back down. 

The exhibit is scheduled to run through 13 January 2023 and features highlights from Vivien Kellems storied life, focusing on her activist causes, business achievements, and political aspirations.  The installation of exhibit documenting the life of this remarkable woman is also in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the University of Connecticut Women’s Center.