UConn Protest and the Alternative Press 1968-2018

Moments of student protest on UConn’s campus demonstrate the continuity and relevance of student activism for the Alternative Press Collection held at Archives and Special Collections.  While the topics of protest often change with the political and social context of the moment, sometimes the similarities can be uncanny.

WHUS News Director Daniela Doncel reported on the student protests held during the recent university sponsored event Lockheed Martin Day:

“On Thursday, September 27, students protested the partnership between the Lockheed Martin company and the University of Connecticut due to a Lockheed Martin bomb that killed 40 children in Yemen in August, according to CNN.”

 

Sign Protesting Lockheed Martin Day 2018

History, so the cliché goes, has repeated itself.

The circumstances of the Lockheed Martin’s presence on campus and the student protests resembled a smaller scale, and decidedly non-violent version, of the student and faculty protests of military recruiting that happened during the Vietnam War.  In 1967 & 1968 students and faculty staged multiple sit-ins protesting the ties between the University of Connecticut and weapons manufacturers such as: General Electric, Olin-Mathieson, Dow Chemical, and Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation (which was sold to Lockheed Martin in November of 2015).  In particular the recruitment attempts of Dow Chemical, a producer of napalm during the Vietnam War, and Olin-Mathieson drew large turn outs from students and faculty who thought that weapon manufacturers had no place trying to recruit students for jobs on the university campus. Continue reading

Merlin D. Bishop Center

Merlin D. Bishop was born in 1907 in Illinois, worked at the Ford Motor Company between 1925 and 1931 and attended  Wayne University in Detroit, Michigan, while serving as a member of the Extension Staff of Brookwood Labor College. Following Brookwood, he joined the teaching staff of the  Federal Emergency Relief Administration as assistant state supervisor of the worker education program. In 1936, he was appointed temporary education director of the  United Automobile Workers (UAW) and became the union’s first full-time director in 1937-1938. He was the educational director of the Philadelphia joint board of the  Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (1939-1943). In 1943 he was the international representative, sub-regional director, of the International Union, UAW, and held that position in Hartford beginning in 1947. In his career as a labor leader he also wrote several labor education leaflets, pamphlets and instruction guides.

Mr. Bishop was also active in higher education in Connecticut, serving on the Governor’s Fact-Finding Commission on Education from 1948 to 1951. In 1950, he was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the  University of Connecticut and served as secretary of the Board from 1963 until 1972; he left the board in 1975. He was also on the Governor’s Library Study Commission (1961-1962), the Governor’s Higher Education Study Commission (1963-1964), and the Labor Education Center Study Committee (Bishop Committee) (1964-1967).

We hold Bishop’s papers in Archives & Special Collections, and they include  publications, correspondence, reports and notes relevant to labor and labor education, the Young Women’s Christian Association,  the United Auto Workers and multiple University and State commissions. For more information about the Bishop Papers see the description in our digital repository at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860130716

Merlin D. Bishop died on August 1, 2002, at the age of 94

The building named in his honor was completed in 1971 and then known as the Merlin D. Bishop Center for Continuing Education. For years it held the Labor Education Center. Today it holds the Digital Media and Design Department and the College of Continuing Studies.

Weston A. Bousfield Psychology Building

 

In 1972, when ground was broken for what would be a new home for the Psychology Department, the university’s Building Names Committee was contacted by several members of the faculty who advocated for the building to be named in honor of Professor Weston A. Bousfield, who served as head of the department from 1939 to 1960 and continued on as a respected Professor until his retirement at the end of the Spring semester in 1972.

Bousfield’s colleagues, including Karl Hakmiller, A. Robert Rollin and Sam L. Witryol, pleaded with the committee, writing  that he “built the department in every sense and has been as strongly identified with the University of Connecticut as he has been with the Psychology Department.” Also, “In addition to his tireless and dedicated efforts on the local scene, he achieved national prominence for his research on organization in memory and recall…he is a pioneer in this area which really flourished 10 years after his initial investigation…”

Albert Van Dusen, the committee chairman, wrote Dr. Hakmiller on May 22, 1972, to tell him that the committee would “keep in mind the name of Weston A. Bousfield for future reference in connection with the Psychology Building…[but] believed, however, that it would be wise to adhere to the Trustees regulation that an academic building be named only for a deceased faculty member. Committee members individually, without exception, expressed the highest praise for Bousfield as a man and scholar. Everyone was very unhappy about this decision, yet we all felt that it was the correct one.” Three days later, on May 25, a petition was sent to the committee, making clear that the faculty was disappointed with the decision, but to no avail.

Weston A. Bousfield was born on April 22, 1904, and came to UConn in 1939 as an Assistant Professor and Head of the Department of Psychology after teaching at Tufts University. He earned degrees from Northeastern University, Boston University and Harvard University (including his PhD from the latter). At UConn he was promoted to Associate Professor in 1941 and full Professor in 1946. He was a pioneer in the concept of organization in memory, clustering in recall, and the knowledge that materials we have learned become organized in memory, even though they were originally learned as separate, unconnected units. Bousfield was a prolific author in the field with over seventy publications to his credit.

Professor Bousfield died on September 6, 1986, and the building was finally named for him on April 29, 1989.

Benjamin Franklin Koons Hall

 

In recent years, the University of Connecticut has seen ever-larger classes of students arrive on campus each fall, swelling the school’s already overburdened facilities. But it was ever thus. Around the turn of the twentieth century, an expanding student population at what was then called the Connecticut Agricultural College similarly overwhelmed classrooms and dormitories.

A 1904 issue of The Lookout, an early version of the student newspaper, reported that laboratories once built for soil physics were being outfitted with rows of beds. And even the president’s residence was overtaken by nine students and two instructors. The president and his wife had to relegate themselves to two small rooms in another building on campus.

In response, the Connecticut General Assembly appropriated funds for new construction in 1911. One building to emerge out of this appropriation was Koons Hall, built in 1913 as a men’s dormitory at the cost of $75,000. The building was almost an exact replica of Storrs Hall, built just a few years before in 1906. Koons Hall was named after Benjamin Franklin Koons, an early faculty member and the first president of what would become the University of Connecticut.

Koons was born in Sulphur Springs, Ohio, in 1844. He was one of twelve children in a typical farm family, and his parents sent him and his siblings to the local school. In 1862, Koons enlisted in the Union Army and fought in several major battles, including Cedar Creek and Appomattox. He escaped major injury, and his regiment even received special praise from General Ulysses S. Grant.

After the war, Koons returned to his education, enrolling in Oberlin College in 1870. He graduated in 1874, and then spent several years teaching in schools across the South. He returned to Oberlin in 1878 to continue his education and then went on to study at Yale University. He graduated from Yale in 1881 and took a job teaching at the Storrs Agricultural School, which opened in the fall of that year.

Koons was hired as a professor of natural history, and taught classes as well as published research in a range of fields. He dedicated much of his career to the kinds of research that would serve the school’s initial focus on agricultural education. But he was also drawn into administrative work early on, and when the Board of Trustees voted to change the school’s name to Storrs Agricultural College in 1893, they appointed Koons as its president.

Yet Koon’s time as president would prove short-lived. He resigned from the position in 1897 and stepped down the following year. Although the reasons for his resignation are largely unknown, some have speculated that Koons rankled the Board of Trustees by allowing professors too free a hand on campus. Still, the school grew significantly under his direction. During the Koons years, the number of students and faculty multiplied, female students were admitted for the first time, and educational activities grew along with state funding.

After he left the presidency in 1898, Koons retained an appointment as professor of natural history and political economy. He was also appointed curator of the Natural History Museum, and his family moved into a newly-built cottage on campus. Koons died on December 17, 1903. The ceremony began at his home before moving to a local Congregational church for public services. He was finally buried in Storrs cemetery. In a final symbol of his influence on campus, former graduates served as coffin bearers while students in uniform led the procession from the church to his grave.

This post was written by Shaine Scarminach, a UConn History Ph.D candidate who is a student assistant in Archives & Special Collections. 

The Ramnapping Incident of 1934

 

In 1934 the football rivalry between Connecticut State College (as the University of Connecticut was known then) and the Rhode Island State College (now the University of Rhode Island) was white hot. As these two institutions of higher learning looked forward to the showdown of the game in Storrs on November 10, their rivalry was jolted by what is now known as the infamous Ramnapping Incident of 1934.

In the early hours of Friday, November 9, intrepid students of the CSC drove east to Kingston, Rhode Island, stole into one of the campus barns, kidnapped the RISC’s mascot, a two-year old ram with the regal name of Rameses II, and brought him back to the Storrs campus. Rameses was briefly paraded, wearing a Connecticut banner and hat, before the students during a pep rally that evening but was otherwise hidden in various buildings, including fraternity houses. It was said that while Rameses was hosted in Storrs he feasted on oats, alfalfa and cabbages and seemed quite content.

In the early hours before the game on November 10 several carloads of RISC students hightailed it to Storrs, intent upon rescuing their beloved mascot. Connecticut students surrounded their cars and forced them to return to Kingston without the ram.

As it is written in the November 13, 1934, issue of the student newspaper, the Connecticut Campus, before the game commenced “while the grandstand strained its collective ear, the ram was brought around in an automobile to the Rhody side of the field and presented to Rhode Island with due ceremony and the snapping of camera shutters.” The heist failed to help the Connecticut team with their efforts on the field, for Rhode Island won the game 19-0.

Also as written in the student newspaper, “Rumors as to who had a hand in the odd disappearance of the Rhody ram have been flying thickly and furiously around the Connecticut State campus. Thousands of solutions have been put forth by would be Philo Vances, but it is likely that the Rhody ramnaping [sic] will remain forever unsolved in the annals of Connecticut crime.”

Hugh S. Greer Field House

The Hugh S. Greer Field House was built in 1954. It originally served as the University of Connecticut’s basketball stadium, replacing the “Cage,” a temporary structure composed of two airplane hangars. In 1990, it became part of the student recreational facilities after the basketball teams left for the new Gampel Pavilion. A year later, the University Board of Trustees voted to rename the building after former UConn basketball coach Hugh S. Greer.

Hugh Scott Greer was born in Suffield, Connecticut, on August 5, 1904. He attended the Connecticut Agricultural College, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in 1926, and later received a Masters of Education from Springfield College. After a successful career as a high school coach, Greer came back to the University of Connecticut in 1946. He was hired as an Assistant Professor of Physical Education and coached the Men’s Basketball team. According to one report, Greer “never lost his composure on or off the court,” and he was awarded the Gold Key from the Connecticut Sports Writer’s Alliance in 1957 for outstanding contributions to sports in his home state.

At the time of his death in 1963, Greer held the record for most wins as UConn basketball coach. After he unexpectedly died from a heart attack, a plaque was installed in the Field House to commemorate his celebrated service at the University of Connecticut.

This post was written by Shaine Scarminach, a UConn History Ph.D candidate who is a student assistant in Archives & Special Collections. 

Deep Dives: Bringing the APC Files Collection Online

Patrick Butler, Assistant Archivist for the Alternative Press Files Collection and Human Rights Collection, is a 2018 Ph.D. graduate of the UConn Medieval Studies Program.  During his time as a graduate student he worked in the UConn Archives to broaden his materials handling experience and develop skills as an archivist.  He has specialized training in medieval paleography and codicology. 

Over the past year I have been shepherding a project in order to make the APC Files Collection discoverable outside of a card catalog cabinet in the lobby of the UConn Archives.  This collection consists of over four-thousand subject files of single issue publications, fliers, newsletters, comic books, and various ephemera relating to the underground press and political activism from the 1960s to the present.  The ultimate goal of the project is to digitize and upload the entire APC Files collection to the Connecticut Digital Archives (CTDA).

At the moment I am uploading the first collection of scanned materials, which means this project, as a whole is entering into what could be considered its final phase.  Final of course may belie the fact that it will require a tremendous amount of effort and continuing coordination to scan these materials in conjunction with the staff of the digitization lab at Homer Babbidge Library, without whom this project would not be possible.

This project has come with a new host of challenges for me as an aspiring archivist and seasoned academic, and has given me new opportunities to engage my more specialized research interests through different materials and addressing a broader audience as a result.

The Activist -A Student Political Quarterly published out of Oberlin College: 11.1, 1970

Continue reading

“U. Roberto Romano Papers: Photographs of Child Labor in Coastal Countries” On Display At Avery Point

On display at the UConn Avery Point campus this fall is U. Roberto Romano Papers: Photographs of Child Labor in Coastal Countries. This exhibition is an exciting mix of student work, fine art prints from the archives, and never before exhibited work from the fishing platforms off the coast of Indonesia.

U. Roberto (Robin) Romano (1956-2013) was a prolific photographer and documentarian in the late 20th century. He created work all over the world primarily in Africa, India, the Middle East and the United States that documented child labor and human rights issues. He created the first feature length film on child labor titled Stolen Childhoods with his long time creative partner Len Morris. On display at Avery Point are fine art prints from Stolen Childhoods that were donated to the archives in 2009. These prints are beautiful examples of his early analog work that was shot in both color and black and white. The descriptions of these photographs detail the lives of children trapped in the horrors of child labor in the late 20th century.

In addition to fine art prints, this exhibition will also showcase the student work that has been created from this collection. Dr. Fiona Vernal, Associate Professor of History at UConn, led her students this past spring to create an exhibition on child labor in Africa called The Hidden Costs of Chocolate: How Child Labor Became a Human Rights Crisis. The panels that they created utilize Robin’s photographs to put faces to the countless children that have been victims of child labor in the chocolate industry. They explain what the children are doing on the cacao farms, the tools they use, and how the industry is slowly eliminating the use of child labor through legislation. It is an excellent example of how the Romano papers are being used on campus to educate students, scholars and the public on child labor. There will also be samples of work created by Professor Anna Lindemann’s Digital Media & Design students.

The final element of this exhibition are the never before exhibited jermal prints. These prints were created specifically for this exhibition and showcase Robin’s work from the jermals off the coast of Southeast Asia. A jermal is a fishing platform about the size of a tennis court perched out at sea. Children on these platforms are out there months at a time working for as much as 20 hours a day fishing for tiny fish called teri. They leave their families to do this work, working long hours out at sea for little pay. Robin’s photographs show the lives of these child workers and the greater system that they are victims of. The photographs on display are just a sample of robin’s oeuvre which can be seen in the repository through the following link: https://lib.uconn.edu/libraries/asc/collections/the-u-roberto-robin-romano-papers/

U. Roberto Romano Papers: Photographs of Child Labor in Coastal Countries will be on display from September 13, 2018 to December 16, 2018 at the Alexey Von Schlippe Gallery in the Branford House on the Avery Point Campus at the University of Connecticut.

When: 9/13/18 – 12/16/2018 (Opening Reception 9/12/18 from 5:30-7:30pm)

Where: Branford House on the Avery Point Campus (1084 Shennecossett Rd, Groton, CT 06340)

Francis L. Castleman Building

Francis L. Castleman Building

The Francis L. Castleman building rests along one edge of the quad on the University of Connecticut’s Storrs campus. It’s marked out by its central stone façade and curved staircases. Originally called Engineering I, the building was officially completed in 1941 (though it opened for partial use the year before). It was constructed during a major period of campus renovation carried out by the Works Progress Administration in the late 1930s-early 1940s under the direction of President Albert N. Jorgensen (whose presidency from 1935 to 1962). In 1970, the building was renamed after Francis Lee Castleman, Jr., a noted professor of civil engineering at UConn.

Francis L. Castleman Building

Castleman was born in Trenton, New Jersey, in 1902. He received an undergraduate degree in civil engineering from Lehigh University in 1925 and received the John B. Carson prize for distinguished work there. He later pursued graduate study at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving his doctorate in 1935.

After completing his studies, Castleman designed bridges for the well-known American Bridge Company, formed out of a merger of twenty steel companies in 1900 by J. P. Morgan & Company. He also served as a professor of structural engineering at Vanderbilt University before coming to UConn in 1942.

Francis L. Castleman, Professor of Engineering

At UConn, Castleman was appointed professor of civil engineering and named chair of the department. He was then named Dean of the School of Engineering just a few years later in 1946. He was a member of several professional organizations and published widely on topics involving structure and mathematics. In addition to his teaching and administrative duties, Castleman was active in and around Storrs. He served as a faculty adviser to UConn’s Engineers’ Club and on the Connecticut State Building Code Commission. Castleman died on December 30, 1955.

Francis L. Castleman Building

The Castleman Building continues to house offices for the Dean of the School of Engineering, as well as classrooms, laboratories, and faculty offices for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. It remains one of the older buildings on campus, though it underwent significant renovation in the 1990s.

This post was written by Shaine Scarminach, a UConn History Ph.D candidate who is a student assistant in Archives & Special Collections. 

Alfred Gordon Gulley Hall

Gulley Hall, 1922

 

The cornerstone of Gulley Hall was laid on May 28, 1908. Back then, UConn was known as the Connecticut Agricultural College, and Gulley Hall had a different name too— Horticultural Hall. A brick building in the colonial style, it was built at a cost of $55,000 during the presidency of Charles Lewis Beach.

The building was designed to support the school’s work in horticulture. The basement had a large room to demonstrate and house spray apparatuses for garden cultivation, as well as rooms to prepare produce for market and cool rooms to store fruits and vegetables. The other floors had dedicated areas for classroom instruction, laboratory work, and a large space for the Museum of Natural History. A greenhouse also sat next to the building.

Laying Corner Stone Gulley Hall, 1908

Horticulture Hall was renamed in February 1921 in honor of Alfred Gordon Gulley, a professor of horticulture at Connecticut Agricultural College from 1894 until his death on August 16, 1917. Professor Gulley was born in Dearborn, Michigan, in 1848. He received Bachelor and Masters of Science degrees from Michigan Agricultural College, where he worked for four years. After a year-long stint at the Vermont Experiment Station, he arrived in Storrs to work and teach.

Gulley Hall, 1938

Gulley was described by one school administrator as “a lover fruits, flowers and trees.” He was reportedly a successful teacher and well-liked by his students. Others said he served the school loyally and even helped shape its appearance, managing the ornamental plantings around campus. He also helped promote Connecticut’s fruit growing interests and frequently appeared at meetings of state farmers.

President Homer Babbidge moved into the Gulley Hall during his tenure (1962-1972), and the building has served administration purposes ever since. Today, Gulley Hall is probably best known as home to the offices of the University President and Provost.

This post was written by Shaine Scarminach, a UConn History Ph.D candidate who is a student assistant in Archives & Special Collections. 

Albert Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts

 

When Albert Nels Jorgensen (1899-1978) came to the Connecticut State College as its seventh President in 1935, at the age of 36, enrollment numbered a mere 800 students and consisted of one campus, in Storrs. By the time he retired, 27 years later in 1962 at the age of 63, the school was known as the University of Connecticut, enrollment had grown to 13,000 students, and there were four regional campuses around the state plus plans to build a medical school in Farmington. Jorgensen led the university through trying times that included the Great Depression, the Hurricane of 1938, World War II, and the McCarthy era where academics were targeted as Communists.

On November 12, 1960, at the Silver Convocation honoring Dr. Jorgensen as President in his 25th year, he was heralded for his leadership in building the University of Connecticut from a small, rural college into a major university. Professor of Zoology Dr. Hugh Clark said that “from the beginning President Jorgensen’s tenure has been characterized by vision, by wisdom, by understanding and by courage….It is a result of recognition of the intellectual needs of Connecticut’s citizens; it is the realization of a further purpose of a University to expand the sum of knowledge and to extend its influence into the future.”

Upon notifying members of the University community of Jorgensen’s death in February 1978. then UConn President Glenn W. Ferguson wrote that “Dr. Jorgensen was a…champion of academic freedom…a person who recognized that excellence is the critical quest for a university, and who built an institution that cared about its future and cared about that quest for excellence.”

The Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts was established in 1955, named in honor of the university’s president. Its first performance was the Boston Symphony Orchestra on December 6, 1955.

 

 

Brien McMahon Hall

 

The Brien McMahon Residence Hall opened as a dormitory at the University of Connecticut in the fall of 1964. It was one of the first buildings constructed during the presidency of Homer D. Babbidge. From the outset, the building was named after Brien McMahon, the prominent lawyer and politician from Connecticut.

McMahon was born in Norwalk, Connecticut, in 1903. He attended Fordham University and Yale Law School. He briefly became a judge for Norwalk’s City Court before serving as special assistant to the Attorney General of the United States. McMahon was elected as United States Senator for Connecticut in 1945 and served until his death in 1952. During his time in office, he became an expert in nuclear energy, authoring the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 and promoting the civilian control of nuclear development.

In the Senate, McMahon served alongside William Benton, who later became a member of UConn’s Board of Trustees. In 1958, Senator Benton inaugurated a successful lecture series at UConn, the Brien McMahon Lecture Series, in honor of his late friend and fellow senator from Connecticut. The lecture series ran for a number of years, bringing prominent politicians and scholars to campus, such as Hans Morgenthau, J. William Fulbright, and Romulo Betancourt.

Today, the building is easily recognized by its recently renovated dining hall with a striking glass façade that faces onto Hillside Road.

This post was written by Shaine Scarminach, a UConn History Ph.D candidate who is a student assistant in Archives & Special Collections.