Jean Nelson

About Jean Nelson

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

And Then There Were Two – March 1914

From its beginnings as the Storrs Agricultural School in 1881, Connecticut Agricultural College operated on a trimester system, with fall, winter, and spring terms.  That came to an end in 1914, when a meeting of the faculty (this was well before creation of the University Senate), voted to change to a two semester academic calendar.  The three semester system had terms of uneven duration – a 15 week fall term, 11 week winter term, and 13 week spring term.  After the change to two semesters, the calendar was virtually unchanged for decades. Until 1972, the fall semester began in late September and ended by mid-January. Students went home for the Christmas/New Year break, came back for final exams, then went home again for semester break.

–Mark J. Roy, University Communications (retired)

Celebrate the Opening of the Michael Rumaker Papers

Michael Rumaker was born in South Philadelphia in 1932. The fourth of nine children, he grew up in National Park, New Jersey, a small town on the Delaware River, and later attended the school of journalism at Rider College in Trenton on a half-scholarship. After hearing artist Ben Shahn speak enthusiastically of Black Mountain College during a lecture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, he applied to the college and was granted a work scholarship. In September 1952 he transferred to Black Mountain–washing dishes seven days a week, managing dishwashing crews–and studied in the writing classes of Charles Olson and Robert Creeley.

His breakthrough was “The Truck,” written for Olson’s writing class in October 1954: “after two years of confused false starts and superficial scratchings, I wrote my first real short story, although, in what was to become usual for me, I didn’t know it till after the fact.” He had “reached back,” by his own account, into his adolescence in the mid-1940s and a street gang he knew in the northern section of Camden, New Jersey, “to get it.” Olson’s response was enthusiastic, and he suggested that Rumaker send the story to Robert Creeley for the Black Mountain Review.

Since 1955, Rumaker has published works of fiction, poetry and non-fiction in literary periodicals, novels including A Day and a Night at the Baths (1979), My First Satyrnalia (1981), and To Kill a Cardinal (1992), a collection of short stories, and the memoirs Robert Duncan in San Francisco (1996) and Black Mountain Days  (2003).

According to George Butterick, who began collecting Michael Rumaker’s literary papers at the University of Connecticut in 1975, where they reside today, “Rumaker has proceeded from writing about disengaged youth in a generation willing to declare its difference, to being a celebrant of total life and human joy. Actively participating in his own destiny, he has left a glowing trail of work to document the struggle toward identity. He represents, in his later writings, one extension of the Beat revolution: the embracing of sexual diversity. Governing all his work is an indefatigable spirit that gives the creative life reward.”

Join Archives and Special Collections and special guest — novelist, poet, short-story writer, and Black Mountain College alumnus Michael Rumaker — as we celebrate the much-anticipated opening of the Michael Rumaker Papers. The event will feature an interview with and readings by Michael Rumaker, an exhibition of the author’s manuscripts, letters and photographs, ribbon-cutting ceremony, and reception with students and special guests.  All are welcome.  This event is free and open to the public

April 10, 2012
4:00 to 6:00pm
McDonald Reading Room
Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut

– Melissa Watterworth Batt, Curator of Literary Collections

Malka Penn Children’s Book Collection on Human Rights

In 2005, Michele Palmer of Storrs, Connecticut, established the Malka Penn Children’s Book Collection on Human Rights as part of the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.  The picture books, young adult novels and non-fiction works address issues such as the Holocaust, racism, prejudice, war and conflict.  The works below were  published in 2010 or were made available in the U.S. for the first time in 2010.  Ms. Palmer, who has written several children’s books under the pseudonym Malka Penn, is also a volunteer for the Windham Textile and History Museum.

Chapman, Fern, Is It Night or Day? (New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 2010).

Ellis, Deborah, No Safe Place. (Toronto : Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2010).

Engle, Margarita, The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba.  (New York : Henry Holt and Co., 2010).

Jablonski, Carla, Resistance: Book 1 (New York : First Second, 2010).

Kittinger, Jo, Rosa’s Bus.  (Honesdale, Pa. : Calkins Creek, ©2010).

Lottridge, Celia, Home is Beyond the Mountains. (Toronto : Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2010).

Molnar, Haya, Under A Red Sky: Memoir of a Childhood in Communist Romania. (New York : Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2010).

Nelson, S.D., Black Elk’s Vision. (New York : Abrams Books for Young Readers, ©2010).

Pinkney, Andrea, Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down.  (New York : Little, Brown, ©2010).

Ramsey, Calvin, Ruth and the Green Book. (Minneapolis, MN : Carolrhoda Books, ©2010).

Reynolds, Aaron, Back of the Bus. (New York : Philomel Books, ©2010).

Robinson, Anthony, Hamzat’s Journey: A Refugee Diary. (London, England : Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2010, ©2009).

Shimko, Bonnie, The Private Thoughts of Amelia E. Rye. (New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010).

Slade, Suzanne, Climbing Lincoln’s Steps. (Chicago, Ill. : Albert Whitman, ©2010).

Stanley, Diane, Saving Sky. (New York : Harper, ©2010).

Warner, Jody, Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged. (Toronto : Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2010).

Terri J. Goldich, Curator, Northeast Children’s Literature Collection

The “Wicked Picket” Takes a Walk – February 25, 1968

It was the height of the war in Vietnam, and when the lead singer of the vocal group “The Happenings” was drafted, their appearance at UConn’s Jorgensen Auditorium was canceled. In their place was a concert on February 25 by soul singer Wilson Picket, whose hits included “Mustang Sally” and “In the Midnight Hour”, among others.  As the concert progressed, Picket encouraged UConn students to get up and dance – but an auditorium manager concerned about safety had the house lights turned up and asked that Picket tell students to get back in their seats. Picket refused, the manager cut power to the stage, and Picket walked off and never returned.


–Mark J. Roy, University Communications (retired)

UConn’s First Computer Network 1968

We take it for granted now, but in 1968 the networking of computers was cutting edge, and UConn had it first network was in development in 1968. Actually, there was only one computer, an IBM 360 mainframe, and the network was comprised of 30 remote terminals.  The Connecticut Daily Campus noted in February that the network was “being developed here allow students and staff to plug into the huge new IBM 360 computer.” Funding of $366,000 came from the National Science Foundation for the then-University Computer Center. Started in 1962, the UCC was headed by John L. C. Lof in the late 1960s. At the time it must have seemed amazing – the network would allow use of the mainframe by 30 people at the same time.

Katie Davis, Grace Lin win 2012 SLJ Trailee Awards

Many congratulations to NCLC donor Katie Davis, for her well-deserved School Library Journal Trailee Award given annually at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference for the video trailers that best promote books for children and teens.  “Book trailers raise awareness about the big power of little books to reach readers,” said Davis after learning that she had won. Davis, who also illustrated the book that she co-authored with her husband Jerry Davis, thanked “all those nice little chickens (and people!) who voted” for her entry. In the category of Publisher/Author Created for Elementary Readers , the trailer tells the story of Little Chicken’s Big Day, when Little Chicken goes with his mother to do errands and gets lost.  The School Library Journal web site has more information about the Trailee Awards including winners in other categories, such as Grace Lin’s Award in the Student Created for Elementary Readers category for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Little, Brown, 2009; Trailer by the members of the Bookie Woogie Book Blog).  Grace Lin appeared at the 2011 Connecticut Children’s Book Fair and we hope to see her again soon.  Congratulations, Katie and Grace!

Terri J. Goldich, Curator, NCLC

Scarlet Fever Outbreak Shuts Down the Campus in January 1916

Many students had already gone home, so as of January 18, 1916, Connecticut Agricultural College suspended classes until February 2. Then, on January 30, the suspension of classes was extended, and the college would not reopen before February 9. It was determined that final exams would not be given for the winter term – the college was then operating under a system of three semesters. Final grades for the semester were based on a student’s class average, and anyone who had a 60 or below (out of 80), could take what was called “a free condition exam”.  More than 1200 cases of scarlet fever were reported in Connecticut in 1916. Twenty nine resulted in death.


–Mark J. Roy, University Communications (retired)

SideStream: Going Green – UConn’s Recycling Roots

Four months ago, the University of Connecticut “rose from 49th to 16th place” amongst greenest colleges in the Sierra Club’s Coolest Schools rankings (Kirk). This was encouraging news, especially to Office of Environmental Policy (OEP) director Rich Miller, who asserted that: “UConn’s score shows that our sustainability efforts cover a wide range of activities and engage many people” (qtd. in Kirk). Indeed, Miller’s Husky pride seems justified given the ever-expanding campus consciousness about environmental responsibility, largely due to the countless OEP initiatives since its founding in 2002.

The conservation efforts are apparent all over campus: a recycling station is located on each dormitory floor, recycling bins are placed throughout campus, sneaker recycling drives are held annually, and UConn even participates in the ever-popular Recyclemania competition. However, the progress that UConn has made in its efforts over the years begs the question—did past UConn students ever get the recycling itch?

Naturally, the answer to this question lies in the Dodd Center. According to the Undergraduate Student Government and President’s Office records, students in the Environmental Concern Committee helped implement an experimental glass recycling program during the fall 1972 semester. This program was launched in the Towers dorms and, after having recognized its initial success, was later expanded to other campus dorms. The glass-recycling program served as a model for students hoping to implement paper and aluminum-recycling programs as well.

Unfortunately by January 1974, the Inter-Area Residence Council Recycling Committee recognized that certain dorms in the glass recycling program were having problems with “not enough voluntary action and student cooperation” (IARC Minutes). The program continued in fall 1974, though with great difficulty as enthusiasm fell.

Fortunately, such spurts of recycling-related activism—which may be considered the early predecessors to the current array of UConn OEP / EcoHusky projects—will not be forgotten, as they are well-documented here at the Dodd Center.

Krisela Karaja, Student Intern


Glass Recycling Folder, Box 1 (1972-1973), University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government Records. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

The Inter-Area Residents’ Council Minutes, Jan. 17, 1974, Summer Recycling Workshop Folder, Box 9 (1974), University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government Records. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Kirk, Michael. “UConn Rises to 16th Among ‘Greenest Colleges.’ ” UConn Today. University of Connecticut Office of University Communications 25 Aug. 2011. Web. 18 Nov. 2011. <>.

Recycling Committee Folder, Box 161 (1972), University of Connecticut President’s Office Records [Homer D. Babbidge, 1962-1972]. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Summer Recycling Workshop Folder, Box 9 (1974), University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government Records. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Benjamin Koons Dies, December 18, 1903

Professor Koons with honeybees

Professor Koons studying honeybees with teachers, undated

“Immediate cause of death was exhaustion due to cancer of the throat.” Those words in the December 19, 1903 edition of The Hartford Courant related the cause of death for a beloved member of the campus community in Storrs.  The day before, at his home in Storrs, Benjamin F. Koons, first president of Connecticut Agricultural College, died. He was 59. Koons had begun his Connecticut career as an instructor of natural history at Storrs Agricultural College when it started its first semester in September of 1881. By the end of 1882 he was acting principal of the school for boys, and in 1883 held the position in full. He became president in 1893 when legislation changed the school into the Storrs Agricultural College, and officially admitted women.  Koons had allowed local women to attend starting in 1891, noting that in creating a boys school, the legislature did not forbid the enrollment of women.  Koons was replaced in 1898 by George Flint. In retirement, as the first president emeritus, he continued to teach natural history, maintained a botanical garden, and started the college’s first museum of natural history.

SideStream: Global Warming – Heating up the ’70s and Today (Part II)

Members of Congress on Bicycles, Stewart McKinney Papers

The Clean Air controversy was exacerbated by environmental taxes on “indirect sources”—such as mall parking lots—in which large numbers of pollution-causing automobiles could potentially congregate. Again, while many environmentalists favored this notion, private industry owners and especially urban renewal project developers such as those in charge of the Stamford Downtown urban redevelopment project, felt that the Clean Air Act delivered a direct and unnecessary blow to their interests in this regard (CAA Folder, Box 23).

Similarly, the more that was learned about the detrimental effects of aerosol fluorocarbons at this time, the more agitation there was for regulation of these greenhouse gases, as well, given their potential to destroy the earth’s ozone layer. In addition to many other undesirable complications, it was revealed in 1974 that fluorocarbons caused “a chemical reaction that led to a breakdown of the ozone belt […] and dramatic changes in world weather patterns” (“Clean Air Act Amendments, 1976”).

The amendments to the Clean Air Act were not passed until 1977. These amendments included among others the extension of auto emission standards for two years, the extension of air quality standards for U.S. cities for five-to-ten years, and a three-year extension for air polluting industries to comply with standards before facing significant fines (“Clean Air Act Amendments, 1977”). However, debates over altering the act continued in the ’80s, and legislation was finally later passed in 1990. This legislation imposed greater federal standards on limiting smog, auto exhaust, toxic air pollution, etc. The 1990 amendments also included a measure that would foster more research on global warming, so that scientists and politicians alike could understand the pollution-induced worldwide environmental changes attributed to this phenomenon (“Clean Air, 1989 – 1990”).

Thus, although it wasn’t defined as such in the ’70s, global warming was the ultimate culprit behind the debate in Congress—the debate that unfortunately remains heated in recent times. In fact, the “Clear Skies” program presented by the Bush administration in 2002 was perhaps most controversial as it proposed to alter the CAA using a more market-driven approach supported by the power industry. However, this initiative was eventually rejected by environmentalists for its failure to regulate carbon dioxide emissions in addition to sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury (“Clean Air, 2003-2004”). This debate actually resurfaced only a year ago, when the proposed 2010 Clean Air Act Amendments were rejected. Interestingly enough, although this bill did address issues regarding the ozone layer, it still failed to touch upon the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions. Needless to say, the proposed bill did not become a law.

Krisela Karaja, Student Intern


 Clean Air Act Folder, Box 23 (1975), Stewart B. McKinney Papers. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

 “Clean Air, 1989-1990 Legislative Chronology.” In Congress and the Nation, 1989-1992, vol. 8, 473. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 1993. <>.

“Clean Air, 2003-2004 Legislative Chronology.” In Congress and the Nation, 2001-2004, vol. 11, 437. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2006. <>.

 “Clean Air Act Amendments, 1976 Legislative Chronology.” In Congress and the Nation, 1973-1976, vol. 4, 303. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 1977. <>.

“Clean Air Amendments, 1977 Legislative Chronology.” In Congress and the Nation, 1977-1980, vol. 5, 535. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 1981. <>.

 Environment—Air Folder, Box 16 (1974), Stewart B. McKinney Papers. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

 Environment—Air Folder, Box 28 (1976), Stewart B. McKinney Papers. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Stewart McKinney to D.W. Sweeney, May 24, 1974, Environment—Air Folder, Box 16, Stewart B. McKinney Papers. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

Stewart McKinney to Joel M. Berns, July 1, 1975, Clean Air Act Folder, Box 23, Stewart B. McKinney Papers. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

United States. Cong. Senate. Clean Air Act Amendments of 2010. 111th Cong. S. 2995. Civic Impulse, LLC. Web. 11 Nov. 2011. <>.

Nellie and Pinocchio go a-roaming

The Wenham Museum in Wenham, Massachusetts is borrowing artifacts, sketches, and illustrations from the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection for their upcoming exhibit Picture This: 90 Years of Storybook Art (February 3- May 6, 2012).  Classic toy stories will come to life through more than 50 original illustrations, vintage toys, and antique books in a colorful display that is engaging for all ages. In the gallery visitors will be able to make their own picture book to take away after their visit, dress in costume to become part of the story, and use story cubes to create their own picture stories all while enjoying the illustrations and reading classics of children’s literature.

The NCLC is lending two artifacts from Nellie, a cat on her own, written and illustrated by Natalie Babbitt and published in 1989 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.   Ms. Babbitt was born in 1932 in Dayton, OH, the daughter of Ralph Zane and Genevieve (Converse) Moore. She received her B.A. from Smith College in 1954. That same year she married Samuel Fisher Babbitt, who also collaborated with her on her first book, The 49th Magician.

The Babbitt Papers hold the manuscripts, preliminary sketches, finished artwork and models for this and many other Babbitt titles, including her most famous work, the multiple award-winning Tuck Everlasting.   Seven paintings and two sketches by Ms. Babbitt will accompany Nellie and her hat to Wenham. Nellie a cat on her own written and illustrated by Natalie BabbittTo keep Nellie company, eight collages by Ed Young will be featured in the Wenham show as well.  These collages are the finished works of art for his Pinocchio, published in 1996 by Philomel.  Mr. Young, a children’s book author/illustrator and winner of many awards was born in Tientsin, China and raised in Shanghai and Hong Kong, where he was interested in drawing and storytelling from an early age.  He moved to the U.S. in 1951 to study architecture but quickly changed his focus to art.  Mr. Young has illustrated over eighty books, many of which he also wrote.

Pinocchio by Ed Young

The mission of the Wenham Museum is to protect, preserve, and interpret the history and culture of  Boston’s North Shore, domestic life, and the artifacts of childhood.  The Museum was established in 1922, making 2012 its 90th anniversary. It began as an historic house museum, but the first donor, Elizabeth Richards Horton – who also happened to be the last child to grow up in the house – donated nearly 1000 dolls to the museum that had been her childhood home, thus establishing the Wenham Museum as one of the premier museums of dolls, toys, and the artifacts of childhood from the 17th century to the present. Since then the museum has maintained a tradition of celebrating childhood and domestic life through its exhibitions of artifacts that have been a part of childhood for the past 400 years, including children’s books, toys and dolls of all kinds, electric trains, and textiles and objects of domestic life.

Any Day Can Be A Holiday

Putting together your holiday music playlist?  Considering gifts of music?  My pick is Bobby Timmons’ Holiday Soul, on Prestige Records.  This rerelease by Fantasy Records of the original 1965 recording includes Bobby Timmons on piano, Butch Warren on bass and Walter Perkins on drums.  All the well known classics are improvised including Deck the Halls, White Christmas and my favorite We Three Kings.  You don’t need to be a jazz enthusiast to appreciate the “glittering” and “stimulating” nature of the tunes.  You don’t even have to enjoy the holidays.  As Jack McKinney wrote in the original liner notes, “…this album is to be played in June as well as in January, for joy and jazz are not confined to the calendar.  It is as cool and as warm as your own senses, and the effect is stimulating in any climate.” 

Fantasy Records, Berkeley California, acquired the Prestige Records catalog in 1971 and in 1983 established the subsidiary record label Original Jazz Classics, rereleasing for serious jazz enthusiasts a series of reproductions from Prestige.  Holiday Soul is one of them.  Review a listing of Fantasy Original Jazz Classics recordings held in the Charters Archive of Vernacular African American Musical Culture.

Kristin Eshelman, Curator of Multimedia Collections