Resources in the Archives on Storrs and Mansfield, Connecticut

As indicated in Wikipedia, Storrs, Connecticut, is a village and  census-designated place in the town of Mansfield, within eastern Tolland County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 15,344 at the  2010 census. It is dominated economically and demographically by the presence of the main campus of the University of Connecticut.

Yes.

But…

From the Pequot and Mohegan people who originally inhabited the region to the legal incorporation of the Town of Mansfield in 1702, the area around the University of Connecticut’s Storrs campus has a long and eventful history.

The Storrs name first became associated with the area in the seventeenth century. In 1663, Samuel Storrs left Nottinghamshire, England, to begin a new life in North America. Landing first in Massachusetts, he moved to what is now Mansfield, Connecticut, in 1698, where he founded a family farm in the area around UConn’s present-day campus.

The more proximate connection between the Storrs family and the University of Connecticut centers on brothers Charles and Augustus Storrs. Descendants of Samuel Storrs, the Storrs brothers were born in the early nineteenth century and raised to work on the family farm just as members of the Storrs family had done for generations. As young men, though, Charles and Augustus left the farm for New York, where both became successful businessmen.

In 1880, the Storrs brothers offered $5,000 and 170 acres of land and some buildings to found an agricultural school in Connecticut. After some investigation, the General Assembly accepted the offer and established the Storrs Agricultural School in 1881. In the following decades, the school continued to grow and change. During the 1930s, the agricultural school completed its transformation into a modern research university and after several name changes became known as the University of Connecticut in 1939. Since then, the University has continued to expand and adapt to the needs and interests of the state, the student population, and the wider landscape of higher education.

But some lineages of the late nineteenth century still remain. For example, the original Storrs post office, run by the Whitney family, still stands near Mirror Lake (though it’s not currently in use). The Storrs Brothers are still around too. Both are buried in the New Storrs Cemetery located along North Eagleville Road.

If you’d like to know more about the history of the Storrs area beyond the confines of the University, one place to look is Archives & Special Collections. Among some of our relevant collections are:

Women’s Club of Storrs Records. The Women’s Club of Storrs was founded in 1903. Originally called the College Club, the purpose of the organization was to promote literary and social culture. Membership consisted of women associated with the University of Connecticut, including some of the university’s female faculty and the wives of male faculty members. In 1917, the club changed its name to the Women’s Club of Storrs and opened membership to any women in the local community interested in joining. The collection comprises the organization’s working papers, including meeting minutes, reports, bulletins, yearbooks, as well as photographs and newspaper clippings concerning the Club’s activities. The yearbook (membership directory) of the organization is restricted for ten years from the date of publication. https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/755

Storrs Agricultural Experiment Station Records. The Storrs Agricultural Experiment Station is one of the first of its kind was established in 1888 with Wesleyan University Professor Wilbur Olin Atwater as its director. The station conducted research and experiments to further agricultural science in Connecticut. The station published its findings in bulletins that were made available to local residents. Field experiments were conducted at Storrs Agricultural School, while laboratory work was performed at Wesleyan. In 1903, Professor Atwater resigned and the station became associated solely with the University of Connecticut. The collection comprises substantial information on the early history of the station, especially correspondence between station staff and local farmers and businesses interested in their findings. https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/40

World Federalist Association, Mansfield (Connecticut) Chapter Records. The World Federalist Movement emerged in the 1930s and 1940s out of concerns about the perceived inadequacies of the League of Nations. Members hoped to create a world government that would abolish war and ensure peace by using international law to manage global problems. The Mansfield Chapter of the World Federalist Association, the oldest continually operating chapter in the United States, was founded in 1948. The collection comprises pamphlets and newsletters from both the national association and the local chapter; material on the arms race, nuclear winter, and other topics; as well as correspondence, membership lists, memos, and statements. The collection also includes the personal files of Lawrence Abbott, who ran the chapter for many years. https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/743

Storrs Congregational Church Records. The Second Ecclesiastical Society, creator of the Storrs Congregational Church, was authorized by the Connecticut General Assembly in 1737. Its parent church was the First Congregational Church of Mansfield Center. The first meeting house was built in 1745-1746 on the site of the current church, the present corner of North Eagleville Road and CT Route 195. Situated adjacent to the campus of the University of Connecticut, the church has served the town and the university jointly since the creation of the Storrs Agricultural School in 1881. The collection comprises administrative records and historical documents of the Storrs (Connecticut) Congregational Church. https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/684

Edwin O. Smith High School Records. In 1955, the Connecticut General Assembly authorized funding for the construction of a junior-senior high school in Mansfield, Connecticut, to be administered by the University of Connecticut. The purpose of the school was to provide secondary education in the Town of Mansfield, as well as to train teachers for schools throughout Connecticut. The school opened in the fall of 1958 as a division of the UConn School of Education. The University named the school after Edwin Oscar Smith, who served as acting-president of UConn in 1908. In 1987, the University formally transferred the property and buildings to the Town of Mansfield. The collection comprises administrative records and correspondence from the early years of the school, as well as blueprints from a building addition to the school in the mid-1960s. https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/361

Storrs Family Photograph Collection. The collections contains photographs of the property of Augustus Storrs in Mansfield, Connecticut, that is now part of the Storrs campus of the University of Connecticut. Monographs associated with the photographs have been separated and catalogued. https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/683

We invite you to view these collections in the reading room at Archives & Special Collections in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. Our staff is happy to assist you in accessing these and other collections in the archives.

Another relevant place for research on the town of Mansfield is the Mansfield Historical Society.

And lastly, let’s not forget that in 2005 Storrs was named by Slate as “America’s Best Place to Avoid Death Due to Natural Disaster.” You can bet the full-time residents of Storrs enjoy that one and throw it out as often as possible.

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

Importance of Grassroots Activism in Crafting a Larger Movement: Student Exhibit

by Mackenzie Caron, Undergraduate Intern

Exhibition Currently on View

Environment of Change: The Importance of Grassroots Activism in Crafting a Larger Movement

December 2 to December 15, 2019, Reading Room

Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut

Historical archives provide students and researchers with a variety of source materials for investigating contemporary social issues and the development of social movements.  In my exhibit I explore environmental grassroots activism, utilizing archival materials including pamphlets, posters, zines, periodicals, underground press publications, artist’s books, and organizational records to highlight environmental issues of the 1970s and 1980s and illustrate how grass roots organizations responded to the political and social pressures of their time.  I also provide examples of how contemporary organizations and activists are responding to environmental changes and crises of the present day.

The 1970s and 80s saw the birth of the environmental movement we know today, as Deborah Lynn Guber explains in The Grassroots of a Green Revolution. That period represented a coalescence of various grassroots efforts throughout the United States. The sources in this exhibition demonstrate the different approaches and viewpoints taken during those decades on environmental protection. Many methods of environmental activism were employed, including conservation and regulation both by protest and by lobbying, education through protest and distribution of independent presses, and spreading awareness through artistic projects. These efforts were aided by an independent press that allowed for a free exchange of ideas outside of commercial news outlets. The viewpoints within the exhibit vary wildly, as does the expertise, but in all of these sources there is a commitment to preserving our natural resources and the tools of protest and free communication by which we protect them.  Together, these sources demonstrate the ways grassroots activism can work effectively to create change.

The sources consulted in the creation of this exhibition are listed in an annotated bibliography.

Exhibition on Display From December 2 to December 15, 2019, Reading Room, Archives and Special Collections, Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut

Free and open to the public, Monday through Friday, 9:00am to 4:00pm.

Resources in the Archives — Jewish Voices: Personal Accounts of the Holocaust

“I remember distinctly how it all began. The day when the gates of the Ghetto were closed and a watch was set at its entrances. It was 1939…and nobody realized that it [was] going to be an overture to what has been the most tragic opera ever played in the history of humanity.” – Irena Urdang de Tour

In her account of life in the Warsaw ghetto, Irena de Tour provides insight into the experience of Jews and other persecuted minorities during the Holocaust. The ghetto and the horrors suffered by its inhabitants would be repeated in other Jewish communities across Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. World War II allowed Hitler and Nazi officials to undertake the “Final Solution” to what they considered the “Jewish question.” Relying primarily on the use of extermination camps, Hitler’s “Final Solution” resulted in the murder of six million Jews (nearly two-thirds of European Jewry) by the end of the war in 1945. The destruction of entire Jewish communities meant that once liberation came, Holocaust survivors often had no homes to which they could return. As a result, displaced persons camps run by the Allied powers and the United Nations Refugee and Rehabilitation Administration took in more than 250,000 survivors. Many Jewish displaced persons left Europe for Israel, while others (including Irena and her family) immigrated to the United States.

Archives & Special Collections holds materials across multiple collections that tell the story of the Holocaust from the perspective of survivors. This includes records from the 1945-1946 Nuremberg Trials, which make up part of Senator Thomas J. Dodd’s papers. At the Nuremberg Trials, prosecutors collected evidence of the atrocities committed by the Nazis against Jews and other groups perceived to be biologically or racially inferior. Additionally, the archives holds collections containing personal stories of Holocaust survivors, some of whom settled in Connecticut after the war. Recorded at different times, these individual narratives give a human face to the events of the war, and offer details concerning life for Eastern European Jews before, during, and after the Holocaust. Also available are publications from a variety of Jewish and human rights organizations, which include accounts of survivors. These collections help to keep the experiences and voices of those who lived through the Holocaust present in the minds of people today and in the future.

Irena Urdang de Tour Collection of Holocaust Materials: The materials in this collection include de Tour’s account of her life and escape from the Warsaw ghetto, as well as stories from other Holocaust survivors. The collection is also comprised of a variety of newsletters, publications, letters, and other documents from Holocaust survivor and support organizations in the United States. Additionally, the collection contains periodicals from American Jewish organizations. The finding aid is available at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/846.

University of Connecticut, Center for Oral History Interviews Collection: Under the subgroup, “Holocaust Survivors in the Connecticut Region, 1980-1981,” this collection contains twenty-six oral histories from Holocaust survivors living in Connecticut. Conducted by UConn’s Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, these oral histories include information about survivors’ lives before, during, and after the Holocaust. In some cases, the survivors discuss how they were able to maintain their faith while living through the horrors of the camps, including one memorable story from Isidore Greengrass about how he and his fellow prisoners celebrated Passover at Auschwitz. The finding aid is available at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/archival_objects/146101.

University of Connecticut Film Collection: This collection includes videos and films taken during conferences, presentations, and activities at the university. Two videos in particular contain stories from Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel. These were recorded in October of 1995 at the “Fifty Years after Nuremberg: Human Rights and the Rule of Law” event, which was held to dedicate the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. The first video, “Fifty Years after Nuremberg: Nobel Laureate Address by Elie Wiesel” (1995), is available at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860073877. The second, “Fifty Years after Nuremberg: Nuremberg and the Legacy of the Survivors” (1995) is available at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860073866.

Thomas J. Dodd Papers: this collection consists of materials pertaining to Dodd’s career as an attorney and Connecticut senator. Significantly, the collection contains records of Dodd’s work as a member of the team of U.S. prosecutors at the Nuremberg war crimes trial before the International Military Tribunal from 1945-1946. Included is a section on human rights, specifically from the case for crimes against humanity. This consists of trial briefs and translated documents used as evidence, including materials dating back to 1936 detailing anti-Semitic measures taken by the German government. Also part of this collection are transcripts of presentations Dodd gave before the court about the concentration camps. Some of his evidence came from affidavits taken right after US troops liberated certain camps (such as Flossenburg and Mauthausen), as well as translated letters from survivors recounting their experiences. Dodd’s papers also include excerpts from the “Israelitisches Wochenblatt,” a Jewish newspaper that recorded atrocities against the Jews during the war. The finding aid is available at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/771 and digitized documents and photographs are at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3AIMTNuremberg

Norman H Finkelstein Papers: An award-winning author of nonfiction for children and adults, Norman Finkelstein writes on the Holocaust, the Jewish-American experience, and other topics within Jewish history. This collection contains Finkelstein’s manuscripts, galleys, proofs, professional correspondence, as well as published and unpublished works. The finding aid is available at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/374.

Laurie S. Wiseberg and Harry Scoble Human Rights Internet Collection: Founded with the purpose to educate people on human rights issues, the Human Rights Internet Collection holds thousands of publications from around the world on human rights related topics. The materials in this collection date from 1977 to the present, and contain materials not available in other North American libraries. Most of the publications consist of non-professional reports and studies, newsletters, and other documents collected from non-government organizations. Also included in the collection are books, journals, magazines, and newspapers acquired from human rights groups such as the Human Rights Watch, the International Council on Human Rights, Amnesty International, and Anti-Slavery International. In particular, the collection holds publications concerning the Holocaust and information about Jewish survivors. The finding aid is available at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/110.

We invite you to view these collections in the reading room in Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center if you need resources on Jewish accounts of the Holocaust. Our staff is happy to assist you in accessing these and other collections in the archives. Additional information on the Holocaust can be found at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum at https://www.ushmm.org/, and Yad Vashem: the World Holocaust Remembrance Center at https://www.yadvashem.org/.

This post was written by Alexandra Borkowski, a UConn PhD student and student assistant in Archives & Special Collections.

DAYGLO AND NAPALM – In Closing: The Making of a Dissident

Peace March, New York City, April 15,1967.
Howard S. Goldbaum Collection of Connecticut Daily Campus Negatives.

The following essay is an extended closing remark to the exhibition Day-Glo and Napalm: UConn from 1967-1971, by guest curator and contributor, George Jacobi (’71).The exhibition runs until Friday, October 25th, 2019.

Thanks to the GI Bill, the Fifties are a favorable time for most Americans home from the war to build a career and raise a family. Powered by Unions as well, the rise of the largest middle class in history finally includes some Black and Latino citizens. Suburbia is invented. The 1964 World’s Fair in New York promises we’ll all be working far fewer hours and getting there in a flying car, asserting that technology only benefits mankind. Robots will do the tough jobs. The future seems so far away that this is almost believable. Are white kids in New England spoiled? Compared with previous generations, sure we are, and so has each generation since. Growing up then is generally benign, and the result is a chance to examine ourselves and America with less national responsibility than our parents. Our patriotism thus leans toward social betterment, not defense or personal economic progress.                                                              

Under the veneer of white middle-class American life rumblings of unrest have begun. Academics are suggesting that modern society is unfulfilling. Rachel Carson has shown America that it is in the process of killing nature with chemicals. Kerouac has been “On the Road” and Jackson Pollock has blown up the art world. Jazz has turned from big band dance music into individual expression. Ginsburg writes “Howl” and thus comes out as a gay man; the book is immediately banned. Yet in Greenwich Village people are “suddenly free of the shackles, the baggage of tradition”: Liam Clancy. Nevertheless, beatniks are portrayed as a joke on TV.                                                                                                                                                  The political and cultural events that took place at UConn during the years 1967 to 1971 of course reflect wider American historical forces. For simplicity, label these Politics, Spirituality, Culture, and the Arts. In reality, they are jumbled together; breaking them down in order to clarify each is a rare side benefit of the passage of time.                                                                                                                                         

The following account lists this history, phenomena that took place or began prior to 1967. By that year, society is increasingly seen by an influential youth minority as hypocritical or empty of value. It has become apparent that the norms are mythological and serve only the powerful. Alienation results with what is initially a quiet insurrection against uncritical acceptance of the status quo. While most of the country isn’t paying attention, there is a cultural shift; all of a sudden something changes. Several small groups at first, an anti-establishment minority slowly appears. Most folks in America and at UConn in the mid-1960s go about their own lives whether they are sympathetic to this rebellion or not. A majority of UConn students, including us, will spend most of our hours being students.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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Resources in the Archives on Student Unrest at UConn

Beginning in the late 1960s, the University of Connecticut experienced a wave of unrest that rolled across the campus, leaving few areas of the university untouched. Sit-ins, demonstrations, racist incidents, canceled classes, experimental education—everything about university life in sleepy Storrs, Connecticut, seemed to be coming unmoored from its foundation.

Luckily for those who came after, UConn survived those turbulent years. Yet that intense period of upheaval, unrest, and experimentation left a lasting legacy on the Storrs campus. Much of that legacy has furnished material for the recent Archives & Special Collection exhibit, Day-Glo and Napalm: UConn from 1967 to 1971, guest curated by alumnus George Jacobi.

If the recent exhibit has piqued your interest in learning about how the 1960s shaped the University of Connecticut, Archives & Special Collections has a wealth of archival material that may interest you. Among the relevant collections are:

President’s Office Files. The collection comprises extensive material relating to each presidential administration at UConn. The records of President Homer D. Babbidge (1962–1972) are especially relevant. Many of the most significant events from this period occurred under his tenure, and his office files, as well as those from others in his administration, shed light on key events. Especially useful is the correspondence received by the president’s office, which provides insight into how community members viewed this period of campus unrest. The finding aid can be found at: https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/789

Crisis at UConn. The confluence of events at UConn in the late 1960s and early 1970s turned out to be so unprecedented that the administration commissioned a report to study the situation. The report, titled Crisis at UConn, provides useful background and supporting material on the events of the period. The finding aid can be found at: https://rhel7-arcspc251.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/324

Student and Student Organization Newspapers, Publications and Periodicals:

Connecticut Daily Campus and the UConn Free Press.There are few better sources to study the daily activities on campus than student publications. Especially relevant, in this respect, are the digitized copies of the Connecticut Daily Campus, the name of the student newspaper at the time (now simply the Daily Campus). Along with the official student newspaper, archivist have also painstakingly digitized alternative publications like the UConn Free Press. Digitized versions of the periodicals are available here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/islandora%3Acampusnewspapers

Nutmeg. Along with student publications, the Nutmeg, the University of Connecticut’s student yearbook, provides another useful source of information on this period. In particular, it provides a rich visual source for events at the time, as well as yielding significant information about student clubs, organizations, events, and the student body more generally. Digitized versions of the yearbook are available found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A02653871

Inner College Collection. One product of the upheaval at Storrs during this period was the Inner College, an experiment in alternative education founded by students and faculty in 1969. This collection contains publications produced by the Inner College faculty and students documenting the radical experiment in democratic education at UConn. The finding aid can be found at: https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/971

Husky Handjob. Along with the official student newspaper, a number of alternative publications, such as the aforementioned UConn Free Press, appeared during these tumultuous years. The Husky Handjob provides an irreverent, radical alternative to the Daily Campus for researchers interested in a more direct line to the student movement at UConn. Digitized versions of the periodical are available here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860224315

African American Cultural Center. Periodicals produced by staff and students affiliated with the African American Cultural Center can also usefully supplement the official and alternative publications mentioned above. In particular, the student-produced journal Contact documents black student activism on campus, such as an occupation of the university library by black students in 1974. Digitized versions of the periodicals are available here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20004%3AAACC

Alternative Press Collection. The Alternative Press Collection (APC) includes thousands of national and international newspapers, serials, books, pamphlets, ephemera and artifacts documenting activist themes and organizations from the 1800s to the present. Among the APC files can be found archival materials related to activism and unrest on campus, such as files produced by the UConn-chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), files produced by the coalition of black students (The Coalition) who occupied the UConn library, and files related to the Inner College (IC). The best way to consult the APC files is to use the card catalog available at Archives & Special Collections, though digital lists of available materials can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A19920001APCFiles

Howard Goldbaum Collection. The photographs contained in the newly-acquired Howard Goldbaum Collection provide a rich visual document of campus upheavals in the late 1960s and early 1970s. A student photographer who worked for the Connecticut Daily Campus, Goldbaum’s photographs provide a raw, intimate portrait of campus unrest and wider student activism during the period. Digitized items draw from the collection are available here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A201900750078

Diary of a Student Revolution. When it comes to visual material, few documents provide a more rewarding viewing experience than the documentary Diary of a Student Revolution. The film was made in 1969 for National Educational Television (NET), the predecessor to the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), and its program “NET Journal,” the forerunner of today’s PBS shows “Frontline,” “POV,” and “Independent Lens.” It documents protests led by the UConn-chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) against on-campus recruitment by companies such as Dow Chemical. A digitized version of the film is available to watch here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860070394

We invite you to view these collections in the reading room at Archives & Special Collections in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. Our staff is happy to assist you in accessing these and other collections in the archives.

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

DAYGLO AND NAPALM: Singular Sixties Stories

The following guest posts by alumni Ken Sachs (’71), Michael Pagliaro (’72), Lori Wallach (’70), and Janet Rogers (’72) are in conjunction with the current UConn Archives exhibition Day-Glo & Napalm: UConn 1967-1971 guest curated by George Jacobi (’71). The exhibition is on display until October 25th in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

Guest Post by Anonymous:

In 1969 I had a IIs deferment at UCONN that would run out in January 1970 when I completed my B.A. My roommate had served in Vietnam where he survived the battle that has been called “Hamburger Hill.” When I received my physical notice, he informed me that I needn’t worry about the draft as he would “kill me” before I was drafted rather than let me participate in that ill-advised war. Fortunately, T_____had access to some black beauties (little black capsules containing an amphetamine commonly referred to in those days as “speed”).

On the morning of my physical in the fall of 1969, I popped one of the “beauties” into my mouth and headed off to our local draft board. At age 22, I was the oldest on the bus, surrounded by a lot of naïve 18-year-olds, many just out of high school. Before the bus left, the middle-aged clerk at the draft board got on the bus waving a little U.S. flag and telling us all “how proud” she was of us all. Frankly, I wanted to strangle her for her “patriotism.” Before the bus arrived in New Haven I popped my last black beauty.

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An Incident of Racism on the UConn Campus on October 9, 1969

The Fall semester of 1969 was a time of frequent protests on campuses across the country, and the students of the University of Connecticut were ready participants and initiators of protests expressing outrage at the Vietnam War, recruiting on campus by the U.S. military and by manufacturers of weapons of war, and of racism in society. A racial incident that occurred on October 9, 1969, brought violence to campus and a resulting protest by the students.

The incident was written about in Red Brick in the Land of Steady Habits: Creating the University of Connecticut, 1881-2006, by UConn History Professor Bruce Stave:

“On Thursday, October 9, an estimated fifty to sixty black students damaged lounges and rooms in the Delta Chi fraternity house and Lancaster House. They overturned couches, broke windows, and smashed mirrors. Paint was thrown into some of the rooms at Delta Chi. That incident, which lasted no more than five minutes, stemmed from a confrontation between blacks and whites from the previous night. Lew Curtiss, one of the black students, suggested that the disturbance represented an example of “collective defense” – blacks had to be concerned with the protection of black people. The fracas at Lancaster House resulted from insults leveled at a group of black women from the fourth floor. The protesters went directly there, smashing along the way the staircase, doorway, and lounge windows; upstairs windows were also broken, beds knocked down, and a bureau smashed. Three residents received minor cuts on their hands and faces when they met the protesters at the front door. After the incident, however, Lancaster residents issued a statement taking blame for initiating the confrontation and expressing the hope that others would learn from the situation and work to solve the racial problem rationally.

Front page of the Connecticut Daily Campus of October 10, 1969

The next morning three hundred white freshmen marched quietly in single file to Gulley Hall to “express…deep concern over the failure of the University of Connecticut community to take substantive steps toward ending the racial turmoil and injustice within our community and the desire that remedies be found. Provost Gant, who had been serving as acting president during Homer Babbidge’s sabbatical (during the 1969 Fall semester), called on all to embrace with conviction the spirit of the statement and promised to distribute it throughout campus. Babbidge returned to spend the day of October 10 in conferences with students and faculty to ascertain just what had happened – and to discuss its root cause. He said he could not and would not condone property damage but emphasized, “I must assert that we cannot and will not condone d damage to person by racial insult, for whatever reason.” The insult was the more truly violent act, the more threatening to public safety, the least comprehensible. The president then announced that he had asked the chairman of the board of trustees to call a special meeting for Sunday, October 12. After meeting in executive session, the board endorsed Babbidge’s statement and called on him to give highest priority to remedying the cause of racial tension on campus.”

Statement by the Lancaster House students on page 2, of the October 10, 1969, issue of the Connecticut Daily Campus

These photographs of the October 9, 1969, silent protest were taken by Connecticut Daily Campus photographer Howard Goldbaum and can be found in our digital repository beginning here:
https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/search/%22north%20campus%20against%20racism%22?type=edismax&cp=20002%3AUniversityofConnecticut

Resources in the Archives about Labor Strikes in Connecticut

Near the center of the University of Connecticut campus sits Hawley Armory, one of many oblong brick buildings. Built in 1915 and named after Willis Nichols Hawley, a UConn graduate who died of yellow fever in the Spanish-American War, the armory has long served as a site for athletic events, campus gatherings, and military exercises.

Yet as the historian Jeremy Brecher reminds us, sturdy brick-buildings like Hawley Armory once appeared across the United States for another purpose. They were designed to help defend the country, though not from distant enemies but rather disturbances at home.

In the late nineteenth century, working people across the country began to organize and agitate for higher wages, improved working conditions, and a better quality of life. In these efforts, their key weapon was the strike—the mass refusal to work. But capitalists and their political allies had weapons of their own, and they didn’t hesitate to use them.

During the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, for example, when local police refused to break up strikes, governors called in state militias to do it for them. In these grisly skirmishes, armories proved useful to government officials intent on breaking the power of workers. Even though the Great Railroad Strike ended in failure, labor militancy continued in the following decades, and the strike remained an essential tactic for workers.

As a leading industrial state, Connecticut has been home to a fair share of labor unrest, much of it well documented in the business and labor collections held by Archives & Special Collections.

One early example was the 1935 strike of 1,000 workers at the Colt Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company located along the Connecticut River in Hartford. In the middle of the Great Depression, workers routinely used work stoppages and picket lines to improve their working conditions. And the workers at the Colt plant had good reason to strike. As one striking worker, Leo LaForge, later recounted, “There was, in them days, no holidays, no vacation, no sick days, no time and a half.”

The strike was a raucous affair, involving violence and intimidation against workers, as well as an attempted bombing of the plant manager’s home. Students from Yale and Wesleyan University even joined the picket lines. Yet despite new laws protecting collective bargaining, the company refused to negotiate with the workers and the strike was eventually called off after a few weeks.

Workers at the Pratt and Whitney Division of the Niles-Bement-Pond Company had greater success when they went on strike in 1946. Organized by Unity Lodge 251 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, several thousand workers refused to work in an effort to achieve higher wages. They aimed to raise their pay 18 ½ cents an hour, equal to industry-wide rates. The company’s president, Charles W. Deeds, rejected the worker’s demands, citing labor costs and supply shortages left over from World War II.

But the striking workers had the wind at their backs. In the years 1945-1946, the United States saw the largest strike wave in the nation’s history. In 1946 alone, as many as four million workers walked off the job. Despite concerted opposition from management, and tensions with local authorities, thousands of Pratt & Whitney workers led mass pickets at the plant. After twenty-one weeks, the company eventually settled, agreeing to a 12-cent raise.

The years after the Pratt & Whitney strike saw significant improvements in the lives of American workers. Between 1947 and 1973, the working-class standard of living nearly doubled, and much of that growth owed to the strength of organized labor. Yet the heyday of the labor-management accord would not last long. Organized labor’s fortunes began to wane as early as the late 1960s.

In 1967, for example, 100 workers at the Sessions Clock Company in Bristol, Connecticut, voted to go on strike. Through their union, Local 261 of the International Union of Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers, the workers at Sessions, many of them women, sought a 20-cent pay increase. The company response was all too familiar. Picketing workers were beaten at one point during the strike, sending one union organizer, James Ingalls, to the hospital.

After nine weeks, the union accepted a 10-cent pay increase and the workers returned to the factory. Despite the measured success, the writing was on the wall: organized labor was in decline. Only a few years later, the same union representing workers at the Sessions Clock Company was lobbying members of Congress to increase worker protections. Foreign competition combined with laws allowing corporations to easily move production was battering once-thriving union towns. Rather than face strikes, companies closed plants and moved them to areas with low taxes, low wages, and laws that made it difficult to unionize.

Since the 1970s, the declining fortunes of organized labor has been a key feature of American life. But this trend may soon be changing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018 saw more work stoppages than at any time since 1986. Either way, there’s no better time to explore the exciting history of strikes in Connecticut, and no better place to do it than Archives & Special Collections at the University of Connecticut. Among the relevant collections are:

Henry Stieg Collection of the Pratt & Whitney Company The collection comprises materials gathered by Henry R. Stieg, a master gage inspector at the Pratt & Whitney Division of the Niles-Bement-Pond Company from 1940 to 1973 and departmental steward in the Unity Lodge Local 251 of the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers and, after 1948, Unity Lodge, Local 405 of the United Automobile, Aircraft and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, CIO. The materials include publications, newsletters, flyers, and memoranda related to the company and unions, including the 1946 strike. They also contain drawings and machine plans, reports and maps, correspondence, contract proposals, as well as other union-related material, such as work agreements, job evaluations, newspaper clippings, and pamphlets. The finding aid can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860129469

James A. Ingalls Papers The papers comprise materials generated and gathered by James A. Ingalls when he served as a Field Representative of the International Union of Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers, AFL-CIO. They include contracts, correspondence, legal records, financial records, and newspaper clippings. They also contain notes from when Ingalls represented Connecticut local chapters to negotiate contracts, resolve strikes and lockouts, and develop collective bargaining agreements, pension plans, and compensation and health benefits packages. Included in the papers is material on the 1967 strike at the Sessions Clock Company. The finding aid can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860131622

Nicholas J. Tomassetti Papers Nicholas J. Tomassetti was a labor organizer associated with the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers Union, as well as a Democratic representative to the Connecticut General Assembly. The papers document Tomassetti’s labor activities and involvement in the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers Union (UE) and include correspondence, reports, administrative and legal records, strike and negotiation materials, directories, minutes, publications, scrapbooks, photographs, and newspaper clippings. The finding aid can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860133876

Ralph J. Pancallo Papers Ralph Pancallo was a long-standing member of the International Typographical Union (now the Communications Workers of America). Pancallo also served as vice president of the Connecticut State Labor Council, secretary and president of the New Britain Central Labor Council, and as both president and treasurer of the New Britain Typographical Union #679 (now the Connecticut Typographical Union #679). The papers comprise materials collected by Pancallo, including union meeting minutes, financial ledgers, printed materials, correspondence, clippings, convention reports, programs, and films. Other materials include publications from a variety of local typographical unions, as well as the AFL-CIO. The finding aid can be found at
https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860131309

University of Connecticut, Center for Oral History Interviews Collection The collection comprises interview transcripts conducted by the University of Connecticut Center for Oral History, and individuals and programs associated with the Center. The Center began life as the Oral History Project in 1968 and after expanding over the 1970s was made a center by the UConn Board of Trustees in 1981. The collection includes the transcripts of interviews with workers who participated in the 1935 Colt strike, along with other collections focused on labor and industry in Connecticut. The finding aid can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860133922 and digitized material can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A19840025

We invite you to view these collections in the reading room at Archives & Special Collections in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. Our staff is happy to assist you in accessing these and other collections in the archives.

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

Day-Glo & Napalm: Committed Sixties

The following guest posts by alumni Chris Malis (’72) and Ellie Goldstein/Erickson (’70) are in conjunction with the current UConn Archives exhibition Day-Glo & Napalm: UConn 1967-1971 guest curated by George Jacobi (’71). The exhibition is on display until October 25th in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. The Gallery is open Mon-Fri 9-4pm, with a Saturday viewing on October 12th, 9-5pm.

Guest Post by Chris Malis (’72):

We Are Stardust

Coming of age in the Sixties (c.1965-c.1972) was a gift; it made me who I am now. Contrary to the changes of many as they age, I have not grown more conservative over the years. Am I the same person I was then? Of course not. Would my 20-year-old self like my 70-year-old self? Perhaps not so much. Would I do (or not do) certain things differently if I could go back in time? Sure. But on the whole, I feel grateful to have come of age in that time and space. It was the most magical, earth-shaking decade of the 20th Century. I won’t say earth-changing, because … look around. Who would have thought that, 50 years later, we’d still be fighting racism, poverty, war, women’s reproductive rights, income inequality, sexual violence, and impending environmental collapse?

In the words of Lincoln’s first inaugural address on March 4, 1861: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell … when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

The Sixties, for me, was a time of better angels coming to the fore. I desperately hope they return in force… and soon!

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The Death of Gardner Dow

On September 27, 1919, Connecticut Agricultural College student Gardner Dow, class of 1921 and 20 years old, was looking forward to the first football game of the season, an away game to be played at New Hampshire State College. The football team and the CAC student body were particularly looking forward to the game because it signaled an end to the suspension of the team during the years of World War I. Dow, who played center, was originally not slated to play the game due to an ankle injury, but he rallied and thus traveled with the team up to Durham with high hopes of coming back to Storrs as the victors.

What happened at the game was well told in the October 3 issue of The Connecticut Campus, the CAC student newspaper:

Gardner Dow

“It  was during the last quarter that the tragedy occurred. Hopwood punted to Farmer, New Hampshire’s Right Half-back, who started down the field and was tackled by Voorhees, who caught him by one ankle and tripped him, but he regained his feet and plunged forward, coming in contact with Dow who had rushed in to tackle him. Dow was knocked unconscious and, after vainly trying to bring him to, for a few minutes, a doctor was called. The doctor had him moved from the field into the office of the Athletic Director, where he worked over him until the close of the game, when he was removed to the A.T.O. fraternity house.

It was thought at first that he had received a solar plexis blow, as the doctor was unable to find any injury on his body. Later, however, the doctor found a bump on his head and the patient seemed in a deeper stupor than he had been at first, so an ambulance was called for his remove to the Dover Hospital. He passed away before the ambulance arrived in spite of all that could be done to revive him. The body was removed at once to an undertakers establishment in Dover where it was prepared for subsequent removal to Dow’s home in New Haven.”

The football team returned to Storrs in stunned silence, unable to believe that a treasured teammate was gone. For the next three days all activities on campus of “light amusement, ” including the Freshmen dance, were canceled or postponed while the students mourned their loss. Students took up a collection for flowers and undertaking expenses for Dow’s family.

On Tuesday, October 1, at the time that Dow’s funeral was taking place in New Haven, all afternoon classes were canceled and the entire student body, faculty and staff assembled in the Armory for a ceremony to honor Dow. President C.L. Beach described Dow as “a friend, a scholar and a gentleman.” Others spoke of “our College Hero;” the members of the football team placed a spray of flowers on a vacant seat.

Less than a week later the Athletic Association voted to name the college’s athletic field the Gardner Dow Field. The field extended from the rear of Hawley Armory westward toward what is now Hillside Road. For five decades following Dow’s death it was the home court for the CAC/University of Connecticut’s football, baseball, soccer, field hockey and track teams. By the 1970s building on campus overtook the field, with Homer Babbidge Library, the School of Business and the Information Technology Engineering buildings now on the site.

A plaque that had been placed at the field was moved to Hawley Armory, where it stands today.

The 1920 yearbook was dedicated to Dow and the college posthumously granted him a varsity letter which was sent to his family. Dow’s father Arthur wrote to the campus community on October 16, 1919, expressing his appreciation for the “sympathy extended in our sorrow,” confirming “the love that Gardner had for his college, and our one hope is that you will all work for it as he did, until the very end, thereby making it better and bigger as the years go by.”

Day-Glo & Napalm: Conflicted Sixties

The following guest posts by Asst. Prof. Charlie Brover and Alumnus John Palmquist (’71) are in conjunction with the current UConn Archives exhibition Day-Glo & Napalm: UConn 1967-1971 guest curated by George Jacobi (’71). The exhibition is on display until October 25th with an evening reception on September 19th, from 6-8pm in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

Guest Post by Asst. Prof. Charles Brover:

My Lear year reflection: Was it pissing in the wind?

I will be 80 in September. I’m King Lear’s age. (“Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less”). Some 50 years ago in my course on Shakespeare’s tragedies, we talked about how much easier it was to identify with Hamlet, that flashy student on spring break from Wittenberg, than the benighted old man who hath ever but slenderly known himself. Lear began his education at 80, and one hell of an education it was—a fierce warning against the unreflected life. So now in the fifth act of my own education I am grateful to my old comrade Larry Smyle for reaching out to me and to George Jacobi and Graham Stinnett for the opportunity to reflect on those superheated days at UConn 50 years ago. Were they formative in my life? Were they just an episode of frothy anti-authoritarian rebellion?

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Resources in the Archives on Naturalists and Environmental History in New England

In Circle of the Seasons: The Journal of a Naturalist’s Year, famed naturalist Edwin Way Teale writes, “The long fight to save wild beauty represents democracy at its best. It requires citizens to practice the hardest of virtues—self-restraint…To provide protection for wildlife and wild beauty, everyone has to deny himself proportionately. Special privilege and conservation are ever at odds.” As relevant today as when his book was first published in 1953, Teale’s message of the necessity of conservation lies at the core of the study of environmental history. Defined generally, the study of environmental history examines the interaction between humans and the natural world over time. Naturalists contribute to our understanding of environmental history through their fieldwork, where they observe and comment on the behavior of species within their natural environments. As described by author John Terres, a naturalist is “a lover,” different from the scientist, who is “an investigator.”

Archives & Special Collections holds the writings of several influential New England naturalists. These include Edwin Way Teale (1899-1980), John K. Terres (1905-2006), and Margaret Waring Buck (1905-1997). Continuing in the august tradition of Henry David Thoreau, Teale and his fellow naturalists helped facilitate a discovery and interest in the natural world among a variety of audiences, including children. For example, Teale’s book The Strange Lives of Familiar Insects encourages an appreciation for the insect world by drawing attention to often overlooked and misunderstood creatures. The collections of these naturalists housed in the archive include field notes, diaries, photographs, illustrations, letters, publications, and artifacts. These materials allow for an examination into the mentality and practices of people who devoted themselves to the documentation and preservation of the natural world, which has furthered the study of environmental history.

Edwin Way Teale Papers: Born in Illinois in 1899, Teale was interested in nature from an early age. After earning degrees at Earlham College and Columbia University, Teale pursued a career writing articles for the magazine Popular Science. Teale left the magazine in 1942 in order to work full-time on his own books. In 1959, motivated by a desire for a more bucolic way of life, Teale and his wife purchased seventy-five acres in Connecticut. Teale wrote thirty-two books throughout his lifetime, and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1966. Teale and his wife donated their land to the Connecticut Audubon Society. His papers at the Archives & Special Collections include field notes, drafts for his books, magazine and newspaper articles, letters, family documents, photographs, and his personal library. The finding aid is available at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860134418 .
To find a digitized copy of Teale’s “Trail Wood Journal” from 1962-1965, go to https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860204261#page/1/mode/2up

John K. Terres Papers: Award-winning author and naturalist John Terres was born in 1905 in Pennsylvania. He attended Cornell University and New York University before becoming a field biologist for the Soil Conservation Service in 1936. He wrote and edited more than fifty books concerning natural history, and became well known for his books on North American birds. One of his best-selling books, Songbirds in Your Garden (1968), teaches readers how to attract and feed birds in their own backyards. Another acclaimed book, The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds (1980), earned Terres the Merit Award of Art Directions Club of New York and the Silver Medal and Citation from the German government. The collection includes Terres’ professional and personal correspondence, research notes, publications, photographs, and manuscripts of his work.The finding aid is available at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860124281

Margaret Waring Buck Papers: Buck was a Connecticut-based naturalist and artist. She illustrated a variety of books on the natural world, including Where They Go in Winter, published in 1968, and Animals Through the Year, published in 1979. Buck also practiced and wrote about physiognomy, the study of face reading. Her papers contain original artwork and manuscript items for several of her books. The collection also holds her personal papers, including photographs, notebooks, and newspaper clippings. The finding aid is available at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860138800

We invite you to view these items in the reading room in Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. Our staff is happy to assist you in accessing these and other collections in the archives.

This post was written by Alexandra Borkowski, a UConn PhD student and student assistant in Archives & Special Collections.