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About Jean Cardinale

Jean Cardinale is the head of the UConn Libraries' Public Programming, Marketing & Communications efforts.

“… I will never give up going to archives.”

Evan Rothera, a PhD Candidate from the History Department at The Pennsylvania State University is one of our 2012 Strochlitz Travel Grant awardees. He visited us in early August to research the Latin American Newspaper Collection. Below is his essay that document his experience using the collection, preliminary findings and future directions for his research.

I applied for a Rose and Sigmund Strochlitz Travel Grant from the Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center so that I could conduct research on Domingo F. Sarmiento and Argentine uses of Abraham Lincoln’s image. My primary research question concerned the reception in Argentina and Latin America of Sarmiento’s biography of Abraham Lincoln, Vida de Lincoln. While serving as Argentine Minister to the United States, Sarmiento published Vida in 1866, which made it one of the earliest post-assassination Lincoln biographies and the first published in Spanish. My previous research indicated that the biography received a great deal of positive press in the United States, but was generally ignored in Latin America. This was ironic, because Sarmiento intended the biography to serve as a model and guide for Argentines and Argentina, as well as a vindication of his actions as Governor of the Province of San Juan. In order conduct further research on Sarmiento and Vida, I came to the Dodd Center to use their extensive collection of Latin American newspapers. This collection includes important Argentine newspapers such as The Weekly Standard and La Prensa, which are invaluable to the study of the Argentine Republic, but also a variety of smaller papers. Therefore, I was able to comb through a variety of papers, large and small, most published in Buenos Aires, but some in the provinces, to see what, if anything, Argentines said about Vida. What I found did not really surprise me. I did not discover any comments on or analysis of Vida. Still, in the absence of positive evidence, negative evidence can often paint as compelling and nuanced a story.

On the other hand, while the negative evidence from the Argentine papers was useful, I did not come to the Dodd Center just to sample from Argentine papers. All collections have both strengths and weaknesses and two of the greatest strengths of this collection are its volume and its breadth.  The Southern Cone is well represented, so I found useful Uruguayan and Chilean newspapers (and if I was able to read Portuguese, the Brazilian papers would also have been helpful). Furthermore, I examined Bolivian, Peruvian, and Colombian newspapers. Reading through these papers I saw many articles about Sarmiento, which I transcribed or photographed for future use, but nothing about Vida.  My search, it seems, turned up reams of negative evidence, which, while useful in analyzing the reception of Vida, cannot compose the bulk of a dissertation.

Simply searching for information about Vida would have been a bit analogous to looking through a haystack for a proverbial needle, so I came armed with additional questions. In my research proposal I noted that the research I would be conducting would allow me to begin to probe larger questions. How, for instance, did people in Argentina and the United States seek to construct usable figures (in Argentina, a usable Lincoln; in the United States, a usable Sarmiento). What drew Sarmiento to Lincoln and how did Sarmiento adapt and alter Lincoln’s image for an Argentine context? What about the idea of comparative constitutionalism? By this I do not mean simply the links between the constitutions of the United States and Argentina, but constitutional practices during times of war, such as the suspension of habeas corpus, the suppression of opposition newspapers, and the declaration of “state of siege.” That is to say, I had additional questions to think about over the course of my stay in Connecticut.

As I began my research, I found that the material I was reading suggested additional questions. Given that we live in a digitized world, the enterprise of research has altered quite considerably in the past decades. Of course we are fortunate in the sense that so many primary source materials are online, and therefore easily accessible, but I have found that, convenience aside, there are drawbacks to researching online. For one, no database is infallible. Second, people often use the word search function and grab articles without looking at rest of the items in the newspaper and therefore lose vital context. Finally, looking at a document on a computer screen is simply not the same as looking at it in person. Researching in archives and getting your fingers dirty in the primary sources (I mean this literally – newspapers can be messy) – is an experience that all historians should have and the reason why, for all that I think online research is convenient, I will never give up going to archives.

As I read through these newspapers I found that new questions were pushing their way into the forefront of my brain. The period I am studying was the period of the War of the Triple Alliance, where Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil took on Paraguay and the dictator Francisco Solano Lopez. This was a particularly brutal conflict and cost a great deal of lives, material, and treasure. As I read through articles describing the war, I saw many focused on the participation of women. Perhaps some of these articles were meant only to mock Eliza Lynch, the mistress of Lopez, for they said that she rallied the women of the country to fight in the army and die alongside men. On the other hand, other articles suggested that women were being employed in combat. It made me think of the Civil War in the United States and the fact that historians have, of late, become much more attentive to the multiple roles women played in the conflict. Women, as a variety of historians have demonstrated, could motivate soldiers to desert or help strengthen Confederate nationalism; women were involved in benevolent activity; women persuaded men to vote Republican or Democrat; and women were often chided for lukewarm patriotism and inhibiting the war effort. Of the work on women, however, the least attention has been devoted to women in combat. We know that only a handful of women fought on either side during the Civil War, but why was so much more attention given to South American women who fought than North American women? Was it simply because the Paraguayan War was a more desperate conflict or were there deeper reasons?

I also began to think about the problem of the frontier. I contend that we need a good monograph surveying policies against indigenous people throughout the Americas. How were actions against Native Americans caught up in the rhetoric of nationalism and empire? Why did different countries adopt different methods for removing or exterminating their indigenous populations? How did the ideas of civilization and barbarism determine policy throughout the Americas? Finally, returning to Sarmiento, I read a lot of anti-Sarmiento articles that excoriated Sarmiento as a traitor to Argentina because he opposed Argentina and sided with Chile in a border dispute. Sarmiento did this, in part, because Argentina was, at that point, under the control of the dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas. Newspapers asked how could Sarmiento profess to be a patriot when he opposed his country and was therefore disloyal. This was the very same question that the Copperheads, the anti-war Democrats, faced in the United States. In Senator Stephen Arnold Douglas’s famous formulation, there was no room for dissent, because, in such a conflict as the Civil War, there could only be patriots and traitors. But anti-war Democrats insisted that they were the true patriots, loyal to the spirit of 1776 and to the nation, and opposed to a tyrant and a despot, Lincoln. Without reviving the pointless debate over whether Lincoln was or was not a dictator (he was not) a serious interrogation of the fears of the Democrats that Lincoln was a despot could prove enlightening, particularly when compared with the case of Sarmiento. Furthermore, such a comparison could help historians make progress in understanding the role and function of the opposition (loyal or otherwise).

From my report it should be evident that my project is both comparative, and therefore explores the United States and Argentina, as well as transnational. A good comparative project sheds light on both of the areas or countries that it examines and does not reduce one country to a pale reflection of the other. I am also interested in exploring linkages between the United States and Argentina, namely the flow of people, goods, and ideas. Hence, the discussion of how Vida was received in Argentina and the United States and its impact. But there are other elements, besides the diffusion of Vida, to be explored as well. For instance, migration of people from the United States to Argentina (as President, Sarmiento brought in educators and scientists from the United States) and from Argentina to the United States (Argentines who fought in the Civil War, for instance). Although still in the early stages, I believe that the information I found sheds light on both the United States and Argentina and holds intriguing possibilities for further study.

In closing, I would heartily recommend the Latin American Newspaper Collection at the Archives & Special Collections at the Dodd Center. It is an underutilized, but vitally important resource. In two weeks, I barely scratched the surface. It is a collection that holds a great many hidden gems and should appeal to a wide array of historians.

Evan Rothera, PhD Candidate, History Department at The Pennsylvania State University and 2012 Strochlitz Travel Grant awardee. To contact him, email Evan at ecr5102 (at) psu.edu


The Many Faces of James A. Slater

The James Slater Papers are ripe for any interested researcher, whether the topic is scientific, entomological, or historical. Here we have a fascinating man’s life, observations, and accomplishments awaiting study and reference.  James Slater was a remarkable person, and his papers, dating from the early 1930’s to 2004, prove it.

Slater’s chosen career at UConn was as a professor of entomology, but entomological study was not enough for him. There was another field that also caught his interest—the study of gravestones of the American Colonial period, and their carvers. He visited even the most neglected graveyards in Connecticut, carefully recording his discoveries of particular carvers, and published a book on the subject. The sheer amount of writing required for his scientific and historical work would be more than enough for most people, but not for Slater. Even while he was carefully recording data and writing on bugs and gravestone carvers, he recorded the daily events of his own life in a long-running daily diary. A look at all these things in the James Slater Papers offers us a glimpse of his scientific career, his historical avocation, and his inner thoughts.

The scientific, professional part of Slater’s life is the most prominent in the collection, with scientific subjects occupying much of the correspondence. It is here that Slater’s career is laid out in detail, and we can see how devoted and interested he was in his field. He frequently corresponded with other entomologists as far away as Russia, Germany, Australia, and South Africa, often assisting others in the study of true bugs (hemiptera) of the family lygaeidae, while gathering his own research through field work and specimen collections. We can see the product of this research in the large number of printed publications, detailing the discovery of new species of bugs, including Atrazonotus umbrosus, pictured here.

Atrazonotus umbrosus

Slater’s gravestone research and personal diaries are somewhat secondary in number to the extensive amount of entomological research, but they do not dwindle in importance or interest, and are far from sparse. The diary is composed of 61 volumes of its own, while the gravestone research is monumental enough to be distributed across several boxes. As a result of his long research into gravestones, Slater wrote a detailed book, The Colonial Gravestones of Eastern Connecticut and the Men Who Made Them.

Several iterations of the manuscript of this book, along with Slater’s detailed notes and correspondence on gravestones, can be found in the collection. The manuscripts and galley proofs provide photographs of all the stones that Slater describes. The large number of carefully organized drafts and research notes illustrate the careful, accurate research that Slater put into this project in his meticulous analysis of the work of early American carvers such as Jotham Warren, Obadiah Wheeler, and many others.

Excerpt of James Slater diary entry for August 8, 1945

James Slater approached this avocation with a professional interest, working with as much care as he devoted to the study of the bugs of his professional career. The same can be said for his diary. The 61 volumes present an almost uninterrupted account of his daily inner thoughts and observations from the years 1937 to 2004. It is here we can learn about his life in the days before his entomological career, and before his study of gravestones, of his time in the Navy in World War II, his thoughts on the war itself, its beginning in Europe and then the United States, and his horror at the news of the atomic bomb, pictured here in his entry for August 8, 1945.

The sheer extent of the time covered by the diaries provides us with both these descriptions of important historical events, while also illustrating the progress of this one remarkable, multifaceted, prolific man, from youth into old age. Through its extensive amount of documents, and such a wide range of topics, such a collection as this cannot be consigned to obscurity, but will surely remain an important resource to researchers from many different disciplines for many years to come.

– Daniel Allie, student employee

A Manchester Native Heads to the South Pacific

A recent addition to the Connecticut Soldiers Collection at the Dodd Center are the Raymond E. Hagedorn Papers.  Chronicling the training and war service of Major Raymond E. Hagedorn of Manchester, Connecticut, the papers will be of great interest to scholars and the public at large. Describing in vivid detail his training prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, and his service in the South Pacific, the Hagedorn Papers provide an invaluable account of America’s preparation for war and life in the Army.  From Camp Blanding, Florida to Guadalcanal, and back to Manchester, the letters between Hagedorn and his family and friends provide one family’s perspective on the Second World War.

From the quality and quantity of the food, and his constant battle to stave off boredom, Hagedorn brings life in the army and the war to life. Through detailed descriptions of army victuals, island life, his health, and his wife Gertrude’s descriptions of life at home, the Hagedorn Papers illustrate the sacrifices made by Americans at home and abroad.  Exposing the reality and quotidian nature of war, the Hagedorn Papers will be an invaluable source for anyone interested in daily life during World War Two. Providing often humorous details about the environments he encounters, including squawking birds, swarms of mosquitos, the variety of fruit available, and the activities of the native populations, Hagedorn’s letters confirm the military axiom that war is ninety-nine percent boredom and one percent sheer terror.


Cartoon Birthday Card, Jan. 1943. Raymond E. Hagedorn Papers


An officer in the Army’s 43rd Infantry Division, Hagedorn traveled from San Francisco to New Zealand, New Caledonia, and Guadalcanal between October 1942 and April 1943 before being diagnosed with low blood pressure and a nervous disorder. Focusing on his declining health, and the activities he engages in to stay busy, Hagedorn’s letters lose much of their early humor and by March 1943 take on a much more serious tone.

Evacuated to the United States in April 1943, Hagedorn describes life at military hospitals in and outside of the United States and the process of medical retirement from the Army, providing a wealth of information on an often overlooked aspect of war. Plagued by poor health, and the effects of the South Pacific’s tropical climate, Hagedorn’s letters present one soldier’s ongoing struggle to remain patriotic in the eyes of the army while also maintaining his health and well-being for his family.

Retired from active duty in May 1944 Hagedorn remained in the Connecticut National Guard following the war and was eventually promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. During the Korean War, Hagedorn served as an intelligence officer and aide to Connecticut’s Adjutant General. Briefly resuming his electrical business after the war, Hagedorn went on to become the plant engineer for the New Departure Division of General Motors in Meriden, Connecticut. Retiring in 1962 Raymond Hagedorn spent the rest of his life in Manchester, until passing away on September 21, 1985.

– James Brundage, Graduate Intern

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

On 12 December 1997, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 26 June the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, with a view to the total eradication of torture and the effective functioning of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  Background, information and links are available from the UN website.


–Betsy Pittman, University Archivist

Where Have You Gone Connecticut Husky?

Campus songs have been a tradition at American colleges and universities for over a century, and at one time the University of Connecticut had enough to fill its own songbook.  Published in 1949, Songs of UConn featured about a dozen songs, and its highlight was the first publication of a new fight song written by Prof. Herbert France, head of the music department. The songbook introduction notes that “UConn has many songs, but there are three which you’ll find sung at all rallies and football games. These are the fight song, Connecticut Husky, better known by its first line ‘On the Rolling Hills Beneath the Blue”, the driving UConn Husky, and the nostalgic Alma Mater. By the end of the 1950s, only two songs would be known on campus. Today, while few will know the Alma Mater, the success of Connecticut basketball has made UConn Husky a nationally recognized tune.  Connecticut Husky, a favorite for a little over two decades, has faded from memory. It was written at the request of a student by musician Fred Waring, who composed and premiered college songs on his popular NBC radio program in the late 1930s. You can hear an excerpt of the Waring premiere of Connecticut Husky here [http://advance.uconn.edu/1999/990405/waring1.mp3] and a recording of the full song here. [http://advance.uconn.edu/1999/990405/waring2.mp3]

–Mark J. Roy, University Communications (retired)

New Acquisitions: University Archives

The University Archives is a rich resource of information about the activities, events, interests and programs of UConn’s faculty, students, staff  since the establishment of the University in 1881.  Here are some of the materials that have been recently added to the collections:

Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Records

Documents, reports, studies and correspondence pertaining to the finances of the institution from 1999 to the present.


Asian American Studies Institute Records

Materials associated with the “Day of Remembrance” program that were collected, produced and/or distributed by the Institute.


Bruce Bellingham Papers

Notes, photocopies, transparencies, research, scores, correspondence and publications pertaining to Professor Bellingham’s scholarly research in the history of music.


Carl W. Rettenmeyer Papers

Professional correspondence with the National Science Foundation, colleagues and both personal and professional trip notes, i.e. – some from leading groups on trips (Galapogos) and some regarding collecting field trips (Panama).  (Inventory not yet available.)


Richard D. Brown Papers

Documentation of the professional and administrative career of historian, Richard D. Brown.  (Inventory not yet available.)

Cell Stress Society International Records

Publications, administrative records, legal and financial records, ephemera, posters, and correspondence documenting the establishment, management, development and growth of the Cell Stress Society International and its associated journal publication on the Storrs campus of the University of Connecticut from 1995 to the present under the direction of Lawrence Hightower and Helen Neumann. (Inventory not yet available.)

School of Nursing War Veteran Oral History Collection

Oral history video interviews with graduates of the UConn School of Nursing who are (or were) nurses in the military.  (Inventory not yet available.)

Donald W. Cameron Papers

Bound manuscript written by UConn alum.  https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/880

Eduard Mark Papers

Materials used by Mark (UConn alum) in his research as a historian of the Cold War era in U.S. history. A majority of the collection spans the years 1945-1960, with some materials falling before and after this timeline. The collection includes correspondence, notes, administrative records, transcripts, legal documents, manuscripts, photographs, clippings and books. These sources, which contain military and government correspondence, military reports, declassified documents and other materials, shed light on a myriad of topics relating to the Cold War, including military strategies and positioning, negotiations, intelligence and national security, territorial problems, military propaganda, international relations and European affairs.  https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/836

Waterbury Campus Records

Administrative records, awards, clippings, ephemera, notes, and publications about the programs, activities and history of the Waterbury campus since its establishment in 1946.  https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/archival_objects/7536

Collins-Levine Family Papers

Correspondence, school papers, memorabilia, photographs and ephemera associated with two generations of the Collins and Levine families who attended the University of Connecticut between 1922 and 1948. The materials in the collection are useful in providing a perspective of college life and experiences from the student’s point of view.  https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/757

Albert F. Blakeslee Papers

The collection contains reprints of scholarly articles published by Albert F. Blakeslee.  Also included are several journals with articles about Blakeslee, correspondence, calendars, travel diaries, as well as photographs and negatives associated with or documenting the career of noted scientist A. F. Blakeslee, professor at UConn 1907-1915.  https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/871

University of Connecticut Educational Properties, Inc. Records

Administrative, financial and legal records pertaining to the development of property adjacent to the north side of campus for a Technology Park.  Of particular note is the documentation of the communication and documention between the parties involved in the development of the Park, the range of programs and properties and the complexity of the overall project.  (Inventory not yet available.)

Eric W. Carlson Papers

Notes, correspondence, reports, studies and similar materials pertaining to Dr. Carlson’s tenure as a professor of English at the University of Connecticut from 1942-1979.  (Inventory not yet available.)

Greater Hartford Campus Records

Course syllabi and schedules of classes for the Greater Hartford campus of the University of Connecticut.  (Inventory not yet available.)

–Betsy Pittman, University Archivist

Celebrate National Poem In Your Pocket Day

The Academy of American Poets sponsors the annual National Poem in Your Pocket Day today.  Since the Fall of 2000, Poetic Journeys  has brought the campus community a “poetic respite from their busy days, and an opportunity” to enjoy poetry written by UConn students, faculty and staff every time they ride a bus or enter an elevator in the Library.  So if you don’t have a pocket, take a look at the past Poetic Journeys poetry available on their website or in the University Archives and celebrate the end of the semester with a poem.

–Betsy Pittman, University Archivist

Preserve Your Digital Stuff: Free Webcasts, Tutorials, Tips

This week is Preservation Week and the Library of Congress, and other libraries across the country, are hosting free webcasts and offering tips and tutorials.

In 2005 the first comprehensive national survey of the condition and preservation needs of the nation’s collections reported that archives, libraries, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions in the U.S. hold more than 4.8 billion items.

A treasure trove of uncounted additional items is held by individuals, families, and communities. These collections include letters, diaries, manuscripts, film, audio recordings, photographs, prints and drawings, and objects such as maps, textiles, paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts.

The volume of digital collections are growing fast.  These items are fragile, and their formats quickly become obsolescent, if not obsolete.

Check out Preserving Your Personal Memories for best practices, methods, and storage media tips, and American Library Association’s @ your library for more like:

Thursday, April 26, 2 pm Eastern, Webinar: “Preserving Personal Digital Photographs” From the Association of Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) Visit the ALCTS website for more information. See their list of other free webinars at the same link, includes Book repair basics, Disaster response, and Mold prevention.

Thursday, April 26, at 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Webinar: “Preserving Your Personal Digital Photographs” From the Library of Congress. The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program will present information about learning to care for digital photos. Hosted by the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services. Free; registration required .

– Melissa Watterworth Batt, Curator of Literary, Natural History and Rare Books Collections

2012 Connecticut Children’s Book Fair planning underway

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The planning committee for the CT Children’s Book Fair is already busy lining up presenters and programs for the 21st Fair to be held on the Storrs campus on November 10-11, 2012.  So far we’ve lined up Patricia MacLachlan, author of Sarah Plain and Tall and many other great books; Robert Sabuda, the paper engineer par excellence and creator of marvelous pop-up books; Barbara McClintock, author and illustrator of the award-winning Adele and Simon books; and Katie Davis, author and illustrator of Little Chicken’s Big Day, which won the 2011 Trailee Award.  The exhibit in the Dodd Center’s Gallery From October 2012 to February 2013 will showcase Katie’s archives which are housed in the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection.  We’re considering presenting a panel on bullying in addition to the panel on literature for teens, which has been popular for the last two years.  Breakfast with Clifford will of course be a highlight both Saturday and Sunday mornings.  For more information get automatic updates from the Fair’s Facebook page. 

–Terri J. Goldich, Curator

Dissertation research in the Archives

At Archives & Special Collections in the Dodd Research Center, I examined the papers of three former members of Congress and the regional office of an organization of labor unions.   My dissertation is about the politics of foreign trade in the United States since the late 1920s.  The goal is to present the history in a way that makes possible an informed evaluation of the responsibility of the groups involved in the political process for the outcomes reached.  To that end, my research has focused on the papers of politicians and politically active groups interested in trade issues.

Each of the collections that I examined fit this description.  The William Cotter Papers provided insight into the thinking of a Democratic Congressman in the 1970s, who stuck with the traditional stance of his party in favor of lower trade barriers at a time when some of his colleagues were questioning that position.  Cotter’s papers revealed his support for trade liberalization in the legislative efforts of 1974-75 and 1979, which allowed the Executive Branch to begin the multilateral Tokyo Round talks under the auspices of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and to implement in American law the resulting agreement to reduce trade barriers.  Cotter’s letters showed the rhetorical nimbleness that a member of Congress from a state with economic interests as varied as Connecticut’s were in Cotter’s time had to possess on trade matters.  Pursuing a pro-liberalization agenda would please Connecticut’s larger enterprises that had done well in the international economy, and would endear a Congressman like Cotter to successive presidential administrations that advocated freer trade.  But it left him vulnerable to attacks by businesses and workers for whom foreign competition represented a threat rather than an opportunity.

The Barbara Kennelly Papers provided evidence of the same type, but of a different character.  In the 1980s, like most other members of Congress, she opposed the efforts of a Democratic minority that sought to protect industries such as textiles, shoes, and steel that seemed to have been badly impacted by earlier trade liberalization.  Connecticut had already lost most of these industries, and Kennelly positioned herself as the defender of her state’s consumers against the attempts of special interest groups to escape the competitive forces that kept prices down.  Kennelly also jointed in the heady talk of expanded American exports that was common at the time, but did little to change the country’s long-term trade deficit.  However, she viewed the interests of her state differently in the debates over NAFTA in 1993, when she became one of its leading opponents.   Both Cotter’s and Kennelly’s papers contained a variety of materials that I can put to different uses:  constituent letters and speeches that put their views in writing, background materials supplied by supporters and opponents of trade legislation, and internal memorandums from the Democratic House leadership and  Study Group and various Congressional caucuses that suggested what those groups thought of these issues.

The Prescott Bush Papers are older and consisted mostly of his speeches and press releases, but they will help me a lot, because they show the perspective of a leading Republican opponent of trade liberalization at a time when the mainstream of his party was moving towards support for it.  Bush’s position made him useful to the Eisenhower Administration, which included him as a needed dissenting voice on the Randall Commission, a body intended by the Administration to supply a report that would justify further trade liberalization.  The Papers don’t contain much about Bush’s service on the Commission, but they show the fairly straightforward, anti-liberalization stance on trade issues that he  took over the course of a decade, which encompassed the Eisenhower years and the Kennedy Administration’s push for the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.  The Papers also show how a trade-skeptical Republican dealt rhetorically with the turn in his party’s trade politics.  The copy of the oral history of Bush, which dated to the early 1970s usefully supplemented these papers with a few anecdotes and a plain-language statement of Bush’s understanding of trade liberalization.

The New England Region of the AFL-CIO Papers contained several folders containing the national body’s communications with its regional affiliates about NAFTA.  Because of the prominent role of the AFL-CIO in the NAFTA debate, it was very handy to find so many of its press releases, materials for distribution both to members of unions and members of Congress, and internal communications in one place.

I also had the chance to visit the Homer Babbidge Library, where I found an memoir important to my topic that was published in Britain– one that I had not been able to find in libraries in my area.

I am very glad to have had the chance to visit Archives & Special Collections at the Dodd Center, and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in topics like mine.  The archivists were friendly and extremely helpful, notwithstanding my frequent requests for boxes and the late hour at which I finished.

–Christopher Bordelon, Ph.D. candidate, Brandeis University and 2012 Strochlitz Travel Grant awardee

“Tití Doris taught me dance…”

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Collections in archives and special collections come to life when researchers visit us and use our archival holdings. They turn what seem like a cluster of old, unrelated books and papers into meaningful stories and histories. Case in point is the recent visit to the archives by Margarita Barresi, a novelist doing research for her first book. The setting of the book is in Puerto Rico and she wanted to learn more about the social and cultural life of Puerto Rico during the first half of the 20th century.

“I’ve always wanted to write a novel based on the story of my grandparents,” says Barresi. “They lived during a time of great change in Puerto Rico, when a group of young idealists headed by Luis Muñoz Marín led the island from widespread poverty to great prosperity during the 1940s. I remember Luis Muñoz Marín having dinner at our house, and attending Christmas Eve parties at the house of Don Jaime Benítez, chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico, and a great educator and statesman. Knowing these people did not seem remarkable to an eight-year old child. They were just family friends. I am so grateful for the archives like the Dodd Research Center where I can go to hear their voices once again.”

Barresi wanted access to several rare books and pamphlets from the Puerto Rican Collection, a rich collection of 19th and early 20th century books, pamphlets and government documents assembled by three generations from the Géigel Family from Puerto Rico. “It was particularly helpful to me that the Géigel Family was from Ponce. Part of my grandmother’s story is set in the Ponce of the 1920s, and having access to books that recounted the time, such as Ponce y su Historial Geopolítico-Económico y Cultural by Manuel Mayoral Barnes, was invaluable,” says Barresi.

In addition to gathering information about Puerto Rico in the first half of the 20th century, Barresi found an actual family connection while delving in these books and newspapers. She tells me, “Your archive resources were very useful and fascinating, as were the back issues of ‘El Imparcial’ and ‘El Mundo’ in the library.  I will probably come back to review more of the newspapers once I am further along in my research. On a fun note, I was surprised to see my grandfather’s cousin, Doris Ortiz, listed in the first PR Ballet program. I knew she was a dancer of some renown, who was even in a Hollywood movie dancing Flamenco, but I didn’t know she was also in the first Puerto Rican ballet company. Tití Doris taught me dance in her Hato Rey studio when I was a young girl.”

We look forward to reading Ms. Barresi’s novel in the future and see Puerto Rico’s social and cultural life comes to life  in her work.

Note: Images from:  Les Presages : anunciación de un arte nuevo en Puerto Rico : [programa de ballet]

Marisol Ramos, Curator for Latin American & Caribbean Collections

New Acquisitions: Business Collections

Archives & Special Collections acquires new collections and additions to existing collections throughout the year.  Periodically, I will be posting information about collections that have been acquired or are newly available for your researching enjoyment.  First up are those documenting Connecticut businesses:

John Francis O’Brien Papers

Potographs, correspondence and certificates, most involving Mr. O’Brien’s service as an employee of the Southern New England Telephone Company.  http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/findaids/obrien/MSS20100030.html

Southern New England Telephone (SNET) Collection

Memorabilia and realia from the collections of people who were employed by the company.  The collection includes antique telephones and telephone equipment, include a climbing belt and lanyard of a lineman, an employee service pin and memorabilia of the Telephone Pioneers, a volunteer organization and service club made up of U.S. and Canadian telecommunications industry employees and retirees, a commemorative telephone directory, the cellphone used to make the first cellphone call in Connecticut, and a dress and a shirt made of pages from the SNET Yellow Pages.  http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/findaids/snetcoll/MSS20100118.html

Thomas Dublin Collection of the Jewett City Cotton Manufacturing Company

Research notes and datasets compiled by Thomas Dublin while he conducted research in the 1980s about workers at the Jewett City Cotton Manufacturing Company in Jewett City, Connecticut.  (Finding aid not yet available)

–Betsy Pittman, University Archivist