About Laura Smith

Archivist

Maurice Sendak and “The Birthday Party”

“Happy Birthday, Maurice!” © The Maurice Sendak Foundation.

Today marks what would have been Maurice Sendak’s 92nd birthday and the 8th anniversary since his death on May 8, 2012. Born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 10, 1928, Maurice Sendak was a largely self-taught artist who went on to illustrate over 100 books during his sixty year career. Books for which Sendak became singularly identifiable include Nutshell Library (1962), Where the Wild Things Are (1963), In the Night Kitchen (1970), Outside Over There (1981), and many others. He was honored with numerous awards, including the international 1970 Hans Christian Anderson Award, the 1983 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award given by the American Library Association, the 1996 National Medal of Arts, and the 2003 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Sendak was the 1964 Caldecott Medal Winner forWhere the Wild Things Are.

He later held a second career as a costume and stage designer in the late 1970s, completing work on operas by Wolfgang Mozart, Sergei Prokofiev, and Maurice Ravel. Of music, Sendak said in a 1966 interview produced by Morton Schindel at Weston Woods Studios in Weston, Connecticut:

“I do most of my work to music, and music plays an extremely important part in my work. Depending on what I’m doing at the moment, there is always a specific kind of music I want to listen to. All composers have different colors, as all artists do, and I kind of pick up the right color from either Haydn or Mozart or Wagner while I’m working. And very often I will switch recordings endlessly until I get the right color and the right note and the right sound and then settle down happily to whatever I’m doing.”

Maurice Sendak moved to Ridgefield, Connecticut in 1972 with his partner, psychoanalyst Dr. Eugene Glynn. He supported the University of Connecticut for many years, speaking to the children’s literature classes of Professor Francelia Butler in the 1970s and 1980s and making important contributions over the years to support the legacy of Professor James. On September 5, 1990, Sendak was the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts at UConn.

Maurice Sendak addresses the crowd in Jorgensen Auditorium on September 5, 1990. University of Connecticut Collections, Archives & Special Collections, UConn Library

To honor Maurice Sendak’s birthday anniversary, it feels appropriate to celebrate with The Birthday Party (1957), one of eight collaborations between Sendak and children’s book author Ruth Krauss (1901-1993) between 1952 and 1960. The Birthday Party follows a young boy, David, who “had been everywhere” except to a birthday party. He arrives home one day and after searching through the rooms in the house, finally finds everyone in the dining room singing “Happy Birthday dear David” and only then does he realize that not only is he at a birthday party but that the birthday is his own.

Final artwork for The Birthday Party, Series 16, Box 3. The Maurice Sendak Collection. Archives & Special Collections, UConn Library. © The Maurice Sendak Foundation.

Sendak reflects on his relationship with Krauss in the 1994 obituary “Ruth Krauss and Me: A Very Special Partnership”:

“Ruth wasn’t so patient, or quiet, and she could frighten me with her stormy tirades. It was hard for such a fiercely liberated woman to contend with a potentially talented but hopelessly middle-class kid. In the end, she slapped me into shape — almost literally. When Ruth approved of a sketch, I was rewarded with the pleasure of her deep belly laugh, which rose upward and exploded in little-girl giggles. But her disapproval could be devastating…

…My favorite Krauss is A Very Special House, published in 1953. That poem most perfectly simulates Ruth’s voice — her laughing, crooning, chanting, singing voice. Barbara Bader, in her American Picturebooks from Noah’s Ark to the Beast Within (Macmillan), sums up that text: “It runs on, it erupts, it runs together — like a dream, daydream or nightdream or playdream; and the disarray, the flux, the indeterminacy were essential to the personal and private fancies that were to chiefly occupy Ruth Krauss thereafter.” “Thereafter” was the series of books Ruth and I collaborated on, eight in all. They permanently influenced my talent, developed my taste, and made me hungry for the best. But nothing was so satisfying as A Very Special House; those words and images are Ruth and me at our best. If I open that book, her voice will laugh out to me. So I will leave it shut a while.”

The Birthday Party charms. A petite book accordingly sized for children’s hands, the images consist of ink drawings with yellow and grey washes. David wanders alone from a scene of a beach, the woods, and a street corner until he reaches the party and suddenly, turning from one page of David peering into a dark room to another, everyone comes into full view. He is surrounded by smiling adults and a young girl, candles set in cupcakes raised high in the air. Sendak’s imagery captures Ruth Krauss’ playful use of rhythm and David’s surprise, delight and joy.

The Birthday Party is a gentle reminder to celebrate the special days of one’s life and to cherish those fleeting moments. Happy Birthday, dear Mr. Sendak!

James Marshall the Educator: Audio Cassette Lectures at UCONN, 1976-1990

The following guest post is by K-Fai Steele, recipient of the 2019 James Marshall Fellowship. K-Fai (www.k-faisteele.com) is an author and illustrator who grew up in a house built in the 1700s with a printing press her father bought from a magician. She wrote and illustrated A Normal Pig. She illustrated Noodlephant by Jacob Kramer (a Kirkus Best of 2019 picture book) and Old MacDonald Had a Baby by Emily Snape. She also illustrated the forthcoming Probably a Unicorn by Jory John and Okapi Tale, the sequel to Noodlephant. She was a Brown Handler Writer in Residence at the San Francisco Public Library, and the 2018 Ezra Jack Keats/Kerlan Memorial Fellow at the University of Minnesota. K-Fai lives in San Francisco. 

K-Fai Steele, 2019 James Marshall Fellow

The job of a professional children’s book author and illustrator is challenging. There’s no one formula for, or definition of success. The job walks the line between commercial and creative disciplines and requires a bizarre combination of skills: not only writing and illustrating books but being able to perform in front of large varied audiences (toddlers one day, fifth graders the next), deftness at publicity and social media, teaching, and generally being able to project an aura of success and expertise. It can often feel competitive and lonely. And one is paid as a freelancer, so (at least in the United States) there is no economic safety net and it’s hard to plan for a long term career.  

Another aspect of the job requires constant learning, growth, and improvisation which can either be stressful or exciting and luxurious (if you have the time and space to fully devote to it). Whenever I feel stuck I end up in a library and I’ve learned that some of the best libraries and collections contain public collections of children’s literature preliminary materials. The University of Connecticut is one of these places, and through the James Marshall Fellowship I was given the time, space, and funding to spend time learning and luxuriating in their collection. 

If you spend enough time with someone’s work you get a sense of their process; in a way it’s the closest thing you can get to a mentorship. In his essays Caldecott & Co.: Notes on Books and Pictures, Maurice Sendak quotes Alphonse Mucha (a mentor to one of Sendak’s heroes Winsor McKay, the creator of the Little Nemo comic): “I think it would be wise for every art student to set up a certain popular artist whom he likes best and adapt his ‘handling’ or style… when you are puzzled with any part of your work, see how it has been handled by your favorite and fix it up in a similar manner.” It’s a very clever way to get a very good (and free) education. 

Audio recordings of lectures by James Marshall presented to students of Francelia Butler

When you read a picture book you only see the finished product. When you visit archives, you see evidence of an often messy process, from sketches and sketchbooks to drafts, manuscripts, and original art. Occasionally you find very special pieces of media, like collections of audio cassette lectures. Francelia Butler was a professor of Children’s Literature at UCONN from the 1960s to 1990s and she invited dozens of authors, performers, and otherwise impressive thinkers to speak in her Children’s Literature 200 class, or as students referred to it, “kiddie lit 101.” She had the foresight to record most of these lectures which are now housed in the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection. James Marshall lived a couple of miles from the UCONN Storrs campus and would give a yearly lecture to her class of primarily undergraduates from 1976-1990 when he was 34 to 48 years old (he died when he was 50). These lectures are mostly off the cuff; he reads a book aloud (often George and Martha or The Stupids), discusses how he came up with ideas for books like Miss Nelson, then takes questions from the audience. 

Marshall is the perfect guest lecturer. He is funny, insightful, knows how to work a crowd, and best of all he’s a generous lecturer. He knows how to communicate ideas and make them accessible. At his core he was an educator; he worked professionally as one for a while, having taken over Maurice Sendak’s picture book making class at Parsons. Much of the insights he shares in these recorded lectures are still deeply relevant today, particularly in terms of the creative process and the job of a children’s book creator. Marshall agonized about writer’s block and felt the pressure to make money. He also spoke from the perspective of an outsider who worked extremely hard and never took the joy of making books for granted. 

When I arrived at UCONN to start my fellowship I didn’t anticipate that most of my time would be spent using my ears rather than my eyes. I had spent three weeks in 2018 at the Kerlan Collection looking through dozens of his sketchbooks in their collection and since then have tried to read all of his books. I realized I was engaging in a bit of detective work, trying to put the pieces together of a fascinating, talented, funny creator through the crumbs he left behind. Hearing him talk about his work (getting a firsthand narrative) made me feel incandescent. I popped in one cassette after another and was grateful for my fast typing (as of the time of this blog post’s publishing only two of the cassettes have been digitized; according to the archivist it’s an expensive and laborious process). In this post I’m going to share some quotations from these audiocassettes, what surfaced for me as a picture book creator, and what I think other people in the field might find interesting, from his process to how he thought about creative work. 

Character development from the sketchbooks of James Marshall

“I start off drawing. I develop a character, make it as crazy as I can, and put that character in a situation. I start with a visual. I couldn’t sit at a typewriter and start a story with words… Drawings first, and then I type it up” (1977, cassette 504). Marshall was known for his strong characters; consider George and Martha, Fox, or The Stupids; the story revolves around them and how they interact with other characters. It’s not so much about plot; Marshall at one point describes George and Martha as a comedy of manners. “I teach my kids at Parsons that to start out you must have a very solid rounded character that lives. I have lots of sketchbooks and I just develop characters as they go along” (1982, cassette 515). Marshall trusted that a good story would organically come out of a good character, particularly if put in an interesting situation where they have to react. There’s a sort of faith required in starting with a character; you don’t know who’s going to show up on the page. You get to know a character by the way they look, their gesture, and how they react to other characters. 

Marshall didn’t discuss a specific method that he used to generate stories because he didn’t seem to have one. He described working intuitively, relying on his brain and hand to put together funny ideas. “People ask me often where the ideas come from. If I knew that I could probably spell it out to you… I don’t know where the good stuff happens. It happens when I work a lot, and late at night. Usually If I’ve been working 8-10 hours doing just mechanical stuff I’m so tired all my defenses are down. I’m not worried whether it’s going to be a success or not, and some nutty idea comes in, it’s like someone else told me that… You know it came from inside your head but you don’t know why or how” (1979, cassette 506). “What I do is try to sit down, and if I fall down and start laughing that’s a good sign” (1980, cassette 508). It seemed that he didn’t examine his story-making because he was worried that if he figured it out he would lose the muse. “What I do is intuitive and I don’t know why I’m sitting here talking to you because I don’t really know why I do what I do, and to talk about it is a little scary to analyze it. I’m afraid if I look at it too much and try to figure out what I do it’ll go away” (1985, cassette 525). Since he relied so heavily on intuition his fear of losing the muse makes sense. He mentioned this fear in several lectures, and it seems to really be the thing he feared the most: the bucket going down the well and coming up dry. 

Perhaps this fear came from a sense of what we would now describe as imposter syndrome. “Often I have so much trouble coming up with endings. It’s just like hell. Because you think here I am, this is what I do for a living, but maybe I’m not so good anymore, maybe I never had any talent in the first place” (1987, cassette 527). Marshall continues in a 1990 lecture, “I’ve thrown up in my studio from the fear of thinking I’m all finished, I’m washed up, I have no talent, I can’t even write one of these dumb books, I can’t think of another joke” (cassette 531). 

Perhaps it came because making good books for children is deceptively challenging. There isn’t a roadmap, particularly when you’re making something that pushes boundaries of humor, style, etc. “When I’m drawing it’s like heaven, even when it’s not going so well I’m really, really happy. I feel connected, I feel like I belong. Why it’s such hell to get started, I don’t know. I guess it’s because I’m scared. Chekhov had the same feeling, he thought he was no good, couldn’t cut it. If a guy that great can have those feelings maybe it’s not so abnormal, maybe you should have those feelings of insecurity. Because if you’re absolutely sure that what you’re doing is brilliant what you’re doing is copying yourself or copying someone else” (1988, cassette 529). 

Or perhaps the pressure was more external; he needed to make more books in order to keep his career (and income stream) flowing. This is when his practice of writing intuitively probably chafed against a demanding publishing schedule. “I have an artistic problem: when a book is successful, editors like to see success perpetuated, so they hire you to do a sequel. I’ve done so many sequels but I haven’t gotten any quite right. It’s the hardest thing in the world to capture the spirit of another book when you don’t have an idea. I’m doing three picture books, all three are sequels, and I’m stalled on all three. It’s a sickening feeling to think that you’re going to have to turn that money back and that you’ve run out of ideas” (1985, cassette 525). Marshall’s output was prodigious; he made around eighty picture books during his 50-year life. What is the result of working faster than your machine wants to run? The quality may suffer, at least in the creator’s eyes. In one lecture Marshall says, “I’ve made 60 books and only about 20 am I really proud of” (1983, cassette 517). 

Marshall’s writing and drawings have a sense of lightness and ease to them, particularly in the way he draws characters and communicates their emotions through their eyes (often simple dots). In 1997 several years after Marshall’s death, Sendak wrote in the New York Times, “Much has been written concerning the sheer deliciousness of Marshall’s simple, elegant style. The simplicity is deceiving; there is richness of design and mastery of composition on every page. Not surprising, since James was a notorious perfectionist and endlessly redrew those ”simple” pictures.”  

Marshall drew with joy, and this is most evident in UCONN’s collection of his sketchbooks. In his lectures he talks about the phenomenon I hear a lot of other author-illustrators experiencing when they move from sketches to final art; some freshness is lost. “It’s when you have to prepare something that’s going to get published, at least not only me but everyone I know in the business, you get tense and frightened because this is going to be out there, there are going to be 20,000 copies of this, and it gets tighter and tighter. The best stuff I’ve done of any quality is in my sketchbooks and I pick that stuff out and I’m like why can’t I do that here?” (1984, cassette 520). Perhaps it’s different when you’re making final art because you know that you have an audience, that you’re relying on the art to make money. It’s less about amusing yourself; it goes from a private activity to a very public one. “The sketches are so much more interesting, that’s the fun part. It’s when you do a line that you know is going to be published you start to clutch and tighten up. I’m just now learning to do books and get a line that’s going to be published that’s as good as the one in the sketches. I’d love to take my old sketches out and publish them. I feel so much more comfortable with them. I don’t know if it’s a fear of success or fear of failure, it’s a really terrifying process to go through” (1981, cassette 511). 

Preliminary sketches by James Marshall

Marshall also shared insights into how he thought he was perceived by gatekeepers of the industry, specifically librarians who had a more traditional sense of illustration and who also reviewed books and selected for awards (in particular the Caldecott Award). “I work in basically creative periods of about 3 weeks that’s all I can stand… This is dangerous because when I tell librarians (“conventional people”) if I tell them how short it takes me to do a book I can see in their eyes my stock going down. You have to tell them you worked 5 years on this book and you’ve drawn with the blood of your slaughtered children and then it’s a masterpiece” (1985, cassette 519) Marshall drew somewhat injured and bitter conclusions about why he had been overlooked, “People who are in children’s books are ashamed of being in children’s books. People on committees want to pick a book that shows they’re an important, art-minded profession” (1985, cassette 519). 

Sendak wrote that Marshall “paid the price of being maddeningly underestimated — of being dubbed ”zany” (an adjective that drove him to murderous rage)… he was dismissed as the artist who could — or should or might — do worthier work if he would only dig deeper and harder. The comic note, the delicate riff were deemed, finally, insufficient. James knew better, of course, and he was right, of course, but he suffered nevertheless. There was nothing he could do to impress the establishment; that was his triumph and his curse. Marshall did fulfill his genius, and its rarity and subtlety confounded the so-called critical world. The award-givers were foolish enough to consider him a charming lightweight, and when Caldecott Medal time came around, they ignored him again and again.” Marshall also spoke about competition in the children’s literature world, which undoubtedly was connected to him not feeling appreciated, validated, or celebrated by the people who held power. “The world of children’s books I used to say is a nice world. It is not, it’s a nest of vipers, we all hate each other… we’re very competitive” (1982, cassette 513).  

It was interesting to hear Marshall talk about the other authors and illustrators he was in community with. In nearly every lecture he named some of the people who he thought were doing the best work in children’s literature: Arnold Lobel, Edward Gorey, Maurice Sendak, Tomi Ungerer, Rosemary Wells, William Steig, Edward Ardizzone, and Quentin Blake were all mentioned. “If you want to see some magnificent small jewels, look at the Frog and Toad books. I thought, oh I can do that. First I saw Sendak: oh, I can do that. Lobel: oh I can write stories about two friends too. They sort of gave me confidence. I didn’t know how hard it is. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s impossible to try and write two-page stories with a beginning, middle, and end” (1990, cassette 532). He clearly adored Maurice Sendak, who he referred to as “the granddaddy of us all” (1980, cassette 508) in terms of contemporary illustration. The Maurice Sendak Collection of James Marshall at UCONN contains several of Marshall’s books that he inscribed for Sendak, including a rare copy of his first illustrated book, Plink, Plink, Plink (1971) by Byrd Baylor which Marshall said “sunk, sunk, sunk” due to the “awful poems and awful pictures” (1977, cassette 504). 

Copy of Plink, Plink, Plink inscribed to Maurice Sendak

This collection of recordings is a very rare and special item; you just don’t find a lot of authors speaking in their own words, at length, about their work. I think that this speaks to Marshall’s experience as an educator; someone who has good communication skills, a sense for what might be interesting content, respect for their audience, a willingness to be generous with the knowledge they possess, and their love for the work. 

One of my favorite things that Marshall said had to do with the joy of getting to do the thing you love most in the world as a job. “To be able to support myself by doing what I really like to do best and by being creative, I never dreamed that that could be. I was raised with protestant puritant [sic] ethics. In Texas you had to bring home the bacon by doing stuff that you hated; my daddy hated his job, my mama hated being a housewife, everyone in my family hated everything. I thought when I became an adult I had to just swallow it. It’s not true. It’s a wonderful, wonderful feeling” (1983, cassette 517). This is something that you can easily lose sight of a children’s book maker as you get involved in the day-to-day of trying to meet deadlines, negotiate with art directors, redo cover art, schedule school visits, make money and budget wisely, etc. I’m writing this blog post in late spring 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic which has made clear that nothing is guaranteed, in particular human life, especially those most vulnerable in our society. For a while I wasn’t sure if books or art even mattered. But of course they do, and the act of engaging in joyful creative work is a much-needed lifeline, as Marshall attested to during his short life, ended by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in 1992. “One of the most wonderful things in the world is to do creative work, it is the greatest high, it makes your life come together” (1987, cassette 527). 

Audio recording of James Marshall lecture from the Francelia Butler Papers

A Note from the Director of Archives & Special Collections

An exterior view of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center on June 21, 2013. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

To our community of scholars, donors, and supporters,

I’m reaching out to provide an update on the status of Archives & Special Collections. In accordance with the University of Connecticut’s response to the COVID-19 situation, Archives & Special Collections remains closed to the public. Although our facilities are currently closed, we remain committed to providing the highest level of care and support for our collections.

In preparing for the shutdown, our staff made all necessary provisions to secure the collections and ensure their safety. We have onsite security staff monitoring our collections, research, and exhibition spaces, and receive daily briefings on the status of our facilities. We also maintain an up-to-the-minute environmental monitoring system, which includes the ability to check on the temperature and humidity of our spaces remotely.

Although some of our services are limited at this time, we are working hard to ensure that you can continue to engage with our collections throughout this closure, from providing virtual instruction sessions to developing online exhibitions from our rich digital collections.

We recently launched a new online search portal, where you can access guides to our collections remotely, and have made more than 750,000 digital objects from our collections available for research and use through the Connecticut Digital Archive. We are active on social media – I encourage you to check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram regularly for new content, programming, and collection highlights.

Our staff are teleworking and remain accessible by email and phone – please feel free to contact us at any time with questions or concerns: archives@uconn.edu or 860-486-2524. We will keep you informed about service and facility updates via the UConn Library’s COVID-19 response webpage and our social media outlets.

We appreciate your continued support as we work together to ensure the safety and well-being of our communities, and look forward to seeing you again in the near future.

~ Rebecca Parmer, Head of Archives & Special Collections

UConn COVID-19 Collection

The UConn Archives is interested in documenting the wide range of recent reactions, experiences, and activities undertaken by members of the UConn Nation as we all adjust, struggle and move forward through the challenges of a world-wide pandemic.

Archived news and internet sites will be excellent primary sources for future historians studying the pandemic. It is well documented, however, that the day-to-day activities and social and emotional experiences of people can get lost if not collected and preserved while memories, experiences, and reactions are fresh.

We are reaching out to the UConn community–students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, and other affiliated community members–to share your stories, in whatever form you wish, to be collected, preserved for posterity, and made accessible for research and study in Archives & Special Collections’ UConn COVID-19 Collection.  More information and instructions on how you can participate can be found on our website at https://lib.uconn.edu/location/asc/about/documenting-covid/

Thank you for contributing to this important new collection!

Walking with Edwin Way Teale at Trail Wood

On April 26, 1962, Edwin Way Teale, at Trail Wood, his home in Hampton, Connecticut, wrote this passage:

A little after 5 am, just as the sun was rising above the trees along the brook, this morning, I walk down Veery Lane, up over the tundra and to Juniper Hill the long way. The air – down to 35 [degrees] — has an autumn sparkle. I see the earliest tent caterpillar nests shining silver in the crotch of a wild cherry sapling. All the ravines are filled with the yellow-green stippling of the spicebush blooms. Where a maple has fallen across the path near the crossing before Juniper Hill, I see where some animal has gnawed the bark from several branches near the ground. What was it – a rabbit? Because only the lower and smaller branches were attacked a rabbit seems to be the most likely possibility rather than a deer or porcupine…

Edwin Way Teale (1899-1980) was a naturalist, photographer and writer, born in the Midwest but who lived in New York after earning his masters degree at Columbia University. In the 1930s he worked as a writer and photographer for the magazine Popular Science and began his career as the author over 30 books on natural history topics. His books include Dune Boy: The Early Years of a Naturalist (1943), The Lost Woods (1945), North With the Spring (1951), Journey into Summer (1960), and Wandering Through Winter (1965), for which he won the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction.

In 1959 Teale and his wife Nellie left suburban Long Island for 130 acres of farmland in Hampton. They named the property Trail Wood and developed a series of looping trails, which the Teales walked almost daily. He describes the property in such books as A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm (1974) and A Walk Through the Year (1978).

A constant writer, for much of his life Teale kept a daily journal with the details of his habits and musings. He also kept a special journal – The Trail Wood Journal – about his observations of the change of seasons of the landscape of his beloved patch of land.

Fifty-eight years after Teale wrote the journal entry noted above, the author of this blog post visited Trail Wood, which is now managed as a nature preserve by the Connecticut Audubon Society and open to the public. It is my impression that the landscape I walked on my visit on April 25, 2020, was fairly close to that of which Teale wrote about on April 26, 1962, excepting the existence of trail signs installed along the way for visitors. The streams of this mid-Spring were running freely, the day was warm and the bugs abuzz. While I cannot claim to be as observant a nature lover or as skilled a writer as Edwin Way Teale, I can claim the same joy he must have felt whenever he strode the trails, discovering whatever revealed itself to him.

Archives & Special Collections holds Edwin Way Teale’s extensive papers and photographs, truly one of our premier collections. Some of the photographs, as well as Trail Wood Journal, can be found online in our digital repository.

The finding aid to the Edwin Way Teale Papers is at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/788

Trail Wood Journal, in our digital repository: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860204261#page/1/mode/2up

Photographs of and by Teale photos in digital repository: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3AMSS19810009

In late 2016 and the first half of 2017 author Richard Telford spent many months intensively researching the Teale collection in preparation for a book he was writing on Teale’s life. Mr. Telford contributed many posts to our blog, which are drafts from the book. In them the details of Teale’s life, as revealed in the diaries, correspondence and publications, are beautifully placed into context. You can find Telford’s writings, which he titled Reexamining the Life and Writing of Edwin Way Teale in our blog:

Great Years, Great Crises, Great Impact, November 2016: https://blogs.lib.uconn.edu/archives/2016/11/30/great-years-great-crises-great-impact-reexamining-the-life-and-writing-of-edwin-way-teale/

The Lonely Suffering of the Fallible Heart, January 2017: https://blogs.lib.uconn.edu/archives/2017/01/12/the-lonely-suffering-of-the-fallible-heart-reexamining-the-life-and-writing-of-edwin-way-teale/

Throwing Bricks at the Temple, February 2017: https://blogs.lib.uconn.edu/archives/2017/02/14/throwing-bricks-at-the-temple-reexamining-the-life-and-writing-of-edwin-way-teale/

Losing the Remembrance of Former Things, March 2017: https://blogs.lib.uconn.edu/archives/2017/03/16/losing-the-remembrance-of-former-things-reexamining-the-life-and-writing-of-edwin-way-teale/

Into the Beautiful, Free Country, May 2017: https://blogs.lib.uconn.edu/archives/2017/05/25/prologue-into-the-beautiful-free-country-reexamining-the-life-and-writing-of-edwin-way-teale/

Chasing the Erratic Spotlight of Memory, June 2017: https://blogs.lib.uconn.edu/archives/2017/06/29/chasing-the-erratic-spotlight-of-memory-reexamining-the-life-and-writing-of-edwin-way-teale/

Nobody and Somebody: The Loving Ways of Lone Oak, August 2017: https://blogs.lib.uconn.edu/archives/2017/08/24/nobody-and-somebody-the-loving-ways-of-lone-oak-reexamining-the-life-and-writing-of-edwin-way-teale/

The Connecticut Audubon Society, which maintains Trail Wood, has information about Edwin Way and Nellie Teale online and on the signs throughout the trails. Happily most of the boards are reproduced on their website. You can find this information at these links:

Trail Wood website: https://www.ctaudubon.org/trail-wood-home/

Trail Wood signs: https://www.ctaudubon.org/trail-wood-the-teales-legacy/

Teale bio: https://www.ctaudubon.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/tealebio1.pdf

Sales catalogs of the E. Ingraham Company, makers of clocks and watches

For more than a century, the E. Ingraham Company was a prominent family-operated manufacturer of clocks and watches, with headquarters and plants located in Bristol, Connecticut. Most of its employees were natives of the Bristol region, and members of the Ingraham family of Bristol controlled its management.

The company was founded in 1831 by Elias Ingraham (1805-1885), who opened his own shop in Bristol as a cabinetmaker and designer of clock cases. After several mergers with other companies and name changes the company was known as E. Ingraham and Company by 1884. From 1884 to 1958, the period during which most of the surviving company records were created, the firm was known as E. Ingraham Company. In 1958, the name was changed to Ingraham Company, and in November 1967, when the company was sold to McGraw Edison Company, it became Ingraham Industries.Through much of the company’s history, members of the Ingraham family served as its presidents and in other official capacities. The last to hold the office of president was Dudley Ingraham, until 1954.

E. Ingraham Company’s products throughout its history reflected technological advances and changing consumer demands for timepieces. Until about 1890, the company manufactured only pendulum clocks. During the 1890s, they began making lever escapement time clocks and alarm clocks. Radical changes in manufacturing methods during the following decade enabled E. Ingraham Company to produce 30-hour alarm clocks, pocket watches (1914), and 8-day alarm lever and timepieces (1915). In 1913 the company began to manufacture the popular “dollar watch.” In 1930, Ingraham added non-jeweled wrist watches and in 1931 began marketing electric clocks.

The depression of the 1930s did not affect E. Ingraham Company as severely as it did many other businesses. Employment never dropped more than 15% and wage and salaries were not cut. By the beginning of the Second World War, the company was producing clocks and watches at maximum capacity in order to meet the great export need after many European supplies were cut off. However, in 1942 the War Production Board ordered E. Ingraham Company to cease manufacture of all clocks and watches. By August 1942 the company had entirely re-tooled for production of items of critical war use, such as mechanical time-fuse parts for Army and Navy anti-aircraft and artillery. Full production of clocks and watches was not resumed until 1946, but the years 1946 to 1948 were boom years for company sales.

The company was sold to McGraw Edison Company in November 1967 and its name changed to Ingraham Industries.

In 1980 the company donated its records to the University of Connecticut Library. They consist of account books, general business records, correspondence, printed materials, photographs, maps and drawings which document the company’s history from 1840-1967. Also included are general accounting and administrative records; records relating to sales, purchasing, production, and labor; subsidiary company records. The general correspondence, which comprises more than half of the records, is particularly voluminous for the years 1916-1947. 

Now available online in the UConn Archives digital repository is a set of sales catalogs of the E. Ingraham Company’s clocks and watches, beginning at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A19800034Catalogs. These catalogs are a terrific resource for clock collectors and historians.

Outside Over There: Maurice Sendak and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Maurice Sendak signs books at the UConn Coop bookstore on April 28, 1981. Photo: Jo Lincoln, Archives & Special Collections, UConn Library.

“All of my pictures are created against a background of music. More often than not, my instinctive choice of composer or musical form for the day has the galvanizing effect of making me conscious of my direction. I find something uncanny in the way a musical phrase, a sensuous vocal line, or a patch of Wagnerian color will clarify an entire approach or style for a new work.”

-The Shape of Music, Maurice Sendak, 1964

Maurice Sendak, celebrated and renowned author and illustrator of children’s books such as the revolutionary 1963 Where the Wild Things Are and 1970 In the Night Kitchen, held a life-long and deeply intimate and interwoven relationship with music. Holding in high esteem composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Wolfgang and Franz Schubert, he was in the habit of listening to music while working on his creations, and often, references to music crept into his preliminary and final drawings. A significant example occurs in the artwork for the 1981 Outside Over There.

Musically inspired and layered with resounding personal overtures, Sendak was already working on Outside Over There when stage director Frank Corsaro asked him in 1978 to design the costumes and sets on a production of “The Magic Flute” for the Houston Grand Opera. A catalyst for the creation of Outside Over There, Sendak explained: “In some way, Outside Over There is my attempt to make concrete my love of Mozart, and to do it as authentically and honestly in regard to his time as I could conceive it, so that every color, every shape is like part of his portrait. The book is a portrait of Mozart, only it has this form-commonly called a picture book. This was the closest I could get to what he looked like to me. It is my imagining of Mozart’s life.”[i]

In the 1964 essay, The Shape of Music, Sendak describes in beautiful terms the definition of “quicken” as it relates to illustration and animation and that to him to quicken “suggests a beat-a heartbeat, a musical beat, the beginning of a dance.” In other words, to “quicken” is to bring life into the inanimate – a source of rhythm so that a picture grows alive in the flow of imagery, color, and shape, or more succinctly, music in physical form. Outside Over There follows Ida, a young girl bearing the brunt of responsibility for caring for her baby sister while her father is away at sea and her mother immobile from melancholy. While music, or rather the act of Ida playing on her wonder horn and neglecting to attend to her sister, helps to cause the kidnapping of the baby by the goblins, music is the tool or action which redeems Ida. For by playing on her wonder horn, Ida drives and melts the goblins away and results in the siblings’ reunion and reconciliation.  

Sendak acknowledged that “right in the middle of Outside Over There, everything turned Mozart. Mozart became the godhead.”[ii] Dully, Mozart is seen in profile during the children’s return journey from “outside over there,” omnipresent to the scene and story but in shadow across the river in his Waldhütte, the creative cabin in the woods that becomes a recurrent Romantic theme for Sendak.[iii] In the final artwork for Outside Over There, for some drawings Sendak included not only notations for the creation dates, but also, the exact music which helped to inspire his illustrations. For example, for the artwork for page 13, a scene where Ida is playing the wonder horn and an ice baby is substituted by the goblins for the real child, the notation reads “Dec. 28, 77-Dec 30, 77 (tracing & inking)-Jan. 2, 78-Jan. 18, 78.” Above these dates, “string quartet in C- Mozart” is written in pencil. Mozart, by way of this inscription, receives his due acknowledgement as muse.

Outside Over There, after Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen, is heralded as the final book in a trilogy of “variations of a theme” in which children cope with the day-to-day pressures of life by way of fantasy.[iv] Maurice Sendak, in speaking of Ida, says, “What she did is what I did and what I know for the first time in my life I have done. The book is a release of something that has long pressured my internal self. It sounds hyperbolic but it’s true; it’s like profound salvation. If for only once in my life, I have touched the place where I wanted to go, and when Ida goes home, I go home too.”[v] If Sendak’s love of Mozart helped to guide the textual and visual feel of Outside Over There and Ida’s journey, it is the underlying touch of the intangible which roams within the other world only to finally return home and perhaps, it is this element which ultimately touches the images and “quickens” them within their physical boundaries.

A curated playlist is available on Spotify based on notes made by Maurice Sendak on final drawings on deposit at UConn Archives & Special Collections. Follow the link to listen: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3YCXQ975xKzXhsWZ4aciG3?si=nrc-j7aKR7i5O0TZ8MYRjw


[i] Jonathan Cott, Pipers at the Gates of Dawn: The Wisdom of Children’s Literature (New York: Random House, 1983), 74.

[ii] Steven Heller, ed., “Maurice Sendak,” in Innovators of American Illustration (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1986), 81.

[iii] John Cech, Angels and Wild Things: The Archetypal Poetics of Maurice Sendak (Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995), 218.

[iv] Heller, ed., “Maurice Sendak,” 81.

[v] “Sendak on Sendak as Told to Jean F. Mercier,” Publishers Weekly, 10 April 1981, 46.

Resources in the Archives on Medical History

As we now experience the shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us in self-quarantine, our thoughts turn to those who are essential to caring for those afflicted by the deadly virus. Doctors, nurses, EMTs, hospital workers and others in the medical fields are providing services for the sick and selflessly keeping us all safe. People across the country are rightly acknowledging and thanking them for their devotion to their work and to our well-being.

In the scheme of things at this moment in time the work of archivists seems pretty inconsequential, although my colleagues and I will contend that any event that we are dealing with in the present can, and should, be looked at through the lens of history. So that’s where we come in. That’s what we do.

The UConn Archives has an ample number of resources about the tireless work of those who care for others.

We hold an extensive number of collections on the history of nursing, many of which provide context and support to the materials found in the University of Connecticut School of Nursing Archives. This area is particularly strong in its documentation of the professional development, status, and legal activities associated with nursing by the organizations in Connecticut on behalf of their members as well as 20th century nurse training. There is limited, but significant, documentation of information on 19th century nursing activities during the American Civil War in the Josephine Dolan Collection. Formats accepted include manuscripts, diaries, correspondence, photographs, ephemera, sound recordings, and moving images. More information about these collections can be found in our collection management system at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/classifications/9 but a few of the more significant collections are highlighted here:

UConn School of Nursing Records.  As early as 1937, public health personnel in the state explored the possibility of organizing courses for public health nurses at Connecticut State College but, lacking funds, the project was shelved. In 1940, a committee of 18 members was formed and in 1941 presented a report entitled “A School of Nursing for Connecticut.” The proposal envisaged a program for registered nurses leading to the Bachelor of Science degree and a curriculum which would include 33 to 36 credits in required general courses plus a major in Nursing Education, School Nursing/Health Teaching or Public Health Nursing. The newly created University of Connecticut (named changed in 1939) Administration decided that a School of Nursing that would provide basic preparation in nursing as well as curricula for registered nurses would meet the need expressed in the report. The new School of Nursing was established in Fall 1942; the first Dean, Carolyn Ladd Widmer, was appointed in July, 1942, and arrived on campus in August. The finding aid to the collection can be found at  https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/668

UConn School of Nursing War Veteran Oral History Collection, of interviews with nurses who served during military conflicts: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A20100100

Josephine A. Dolan Collection of Nursing History consists of materials gathered by Dolan, the first nursing professor at the University of Connecticut School of Nursing, consisting primarily of correspondence of the Wolcott family, articles and proceedings of various nursing organizations.https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/346. Items related to wartime nursing and the Wolcott family can be found in the digital repository at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A19950028

Ona M. Wilcox School of Nursing, of records associated with this nursing school affiliated with Middlesex Hospital in Middletown — https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/923

Connecticut Nurses’ Association Recordshttps://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/311

Connecticut League for Nursing Historyhttps://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/310

Connecticut Training School for Nurses Records, first school for nurses in Connecticut, open from 1873 to 1926 — https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/331

Eastern Nursing Research Society Recordshttps://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/360

North East Organization for Nursing Recordshttps://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/555

Meriden-Wallingford Hospital School of Nursing Recordshttps://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/542

Eleanor Herrmann Nursing History Collection; professor of nursing at UConn from 1987 to 1997 and a member of the American Association for the History of Nursing, was one of its past presidents, and served on editorial boards and review panels for several professional journals. She also was a member of Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society; a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing — https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/43

The digital repository has a large number of photographs of the 2016 School of Nursing Commencement, available beginning here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/search/nursing%20commencement?type=edismax&cp=20002%3AUniversityofConnecticut

Records of the UConn Health Center. Founded in 1961 the University of Connecticut Health Center is composed of the School of Medicine and School of Dental Medicine, John Dempsey Hospital, the UConn Medical Group and University Dentists pursues a mission of providing outstanding health care education in an environment of exemplary patient care, research and public service. The Health Center’s main campus is situated in Farmington, Connecticut. The finding aid to the Heath Center records can be found at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/713

UConn Health Board of Directors Recordshttps://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A19970129BOD

Oral History interviews of those familiar with the early history of the Health Center — https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A19970129OH

UConn Health Center Library’s publication Update, 1995-2002: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20004%3A19970129Update

UConn School of Medicine:

Faculty Forums, 2006-2020 — https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A19970129FF

School of Medicine Governance — https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A19970129SOMResCouncil

Records of the UConn School of Pharmacy. The Connecticut College of Pharmacy was established in 1925 and located in New Haven, Connecticut. the course in pharmacy was extended from two to three years (1927) and to four years in 1932 (B.S. degree). In 1941, the Connecticut General Assembly incorporated the College as a School of the University of Connecticut. Beginning in 1942 diplomas were awarded in Storrs rather than in independent ceremonies at Yale University as had been the practice to date. In 1951, the School moved to the Storrs Campus of the University of Connecticut.   The collection contains an extensive collection of clippings (scrapbooks) concerning the program and its faculty, students and graduates in addition to historical papers, documents and reports about pharmacy and the program at the University. The finding aid to the collection can be found at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/592 and a small number of items associated with the School of Pharmacy are in the digital repository at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20004%3A19930077

Other collections touching on medical issues:

George W. Hanford correspondence from World War I. Hanford worked in the medical corps in the war and wrote to his parents in Kensington, Connecticut. The letters, from 1917 to 1918, can be found at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A20050140

In Remembrance of Our Friend Tomie dePaola

“An idea for me must be ‘heartfelt’–something that rings true for me–something worthy to share with children.” – from an interview with Tomie dePaola by Phyllis Boyson, Tomie dePaola: Storyteller of a New Era, New Era, Vol. 62, Issue 3, 1981

We are saddened to hear of the passing of beloved illustrator and author Tomie dePaola, donor, supporter and friend to the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection, held in the Archives & Special Collections at the University of Connecticut Library.

Tomie dePaola was born September 15, 1934 in Meriden, Connecticut. He received a Bachelor’s degree from Pratt Institute in 1956 and later a Master’s degree from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. dePaola shared his ideas with children in over 250 books over his 55-year career, and for that effort has won many accolades. In 1976, he was awarded a Caldecott Honor for Strega Nona and in 2000 a Newbery Medal Honor for the autobiographical work, 26 Fairmount Avenue. The Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, awarded dePaola the biennial Children’s Literature Legacy Award in 2011. A year later, the Society of Illustrators honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

In the interest of assuring that children and others would have an opportunity to explore the process of turning worthy ideas into award winning children’s books, dePaola assembled and donated 70 linear feet of archival material to the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection in 1999. dePaola was urged to preserve his papers by his former professor at Pratt Institute, Roger L. Crossgrove, who had also been Department Head at the School of Fine Arts at UConn and was co-founder of the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection. The mission of the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection to preserve the history of the creation of our best literature written for children with an emphasis on illustration as an art form appealed to dePaola’s concern for showing the entire creative process, including the errors, revisions, and failures that occur prior to an idea becoming a successful publication. dePaola continued to donate material through 2015, lending additional depth to the collection through illustrations, book manuscripts, new publications, and original artwork.

The Tomie dePaola Papers contain artwork and sketchbooks, manuscripts, research files and reference works, printed material, marketing products, and video recordings from 1949-2015. The strength of the collection is in the number of paintings and sketches produced by dePaola from 1953-1978, during his early artistic career. The collection also includes dePaola’s reference library, mainly graphic design, illustration, and art and craft magazines and encyclopedic book collections on the ages of man and historically important painters. Actively used by students and researchers, works from the collection are often shown and loaned for exhibition. All of Our Angels, a picture book dePaola created for a Pratt class project was recently exhibited in The Picture Book Re-Imagined: the Children’s Book Legacy of Pratt Institute and the Bank Street College of Education (Pratt Manhattan Gallery, 2016).

dePaola was a fervent supporter of UConn not only with the generous donation of his collection but also through his participation in the Connecticut Children’s Book Fair. In the 23-year history of the Fair, he joined us 9 times, most recently in 2018. A popular guest, he seemed to relish in the idea of bringing together children from all over the state to tell his stories, and to hear theirs. In fact, the committee learned early on that they would need to rearrange both the presentation room and signing spaces to accommodate the large crowds he drew.

In 1999 the University honored dePaola with an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, which was celebrated in true Tomie dePaola fashion with a lighthearted roast and plenty of singing. In 2007 the Library honored him with the inaugural Northeast Children’s Literature Collection Distinguished Service Award for his long-standing contribution to the field of children’s literature and support of the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection.

While dePaola’s legacy will live on in the archives, we will miss his personality and passion for children’s literature. We send our condolences to his friends and family.

LGBTQ+ Activism in Connecticut

For many, the gay liberation movement began on June 28, 1969. At the Stonewall Inn, a bar located in New York City’s Greenwich Village, patrons and neighborhood residents fought back against a violent police raid in the early morning hours. The crowd’s fierce resistance against law enforcement quickly grew into an uprising that lasted six days and signaled the arrival of a militant and confrontational movement for the liberation of LGBTQ+ people.

For students attending the University of Connecticut, something like their own Stonewall moment came a few years later, in the 1971-1972 academic year. By then, the UConn Gay Alliance, founded in 1967 by Peter Aubichon and Paul Harrison, had grown from a small private group to an officially recognized student organization. As part of its activities, the organization began to hold dances at the Inner College trailer on campus.

Around 2:00 am on the night of the first dance, some fraternity members “started screaming obscenities, yelling, and throwing bottles and rocks” at the trailer and those gathered outside. But similar to Stonewall, those attending the dance fought back. “Of course we started yelling back like maybe we could start something, like crack their heads,” one of dance attendees later recounted, “It was amazing!”

The meetings, dances, and other activities organized by the UConn Gay Alliance proved that by the early 1970s, the gay liberation movement had arrived on campus. Yet the State of Connecticut and its flagship university had long been home to various forms of LGBTQ+ activism and organizing.

In the 1950s, the homophile movement took shape as LGBTQ+ people began to organize and agitate for their rights. Groups like the Mattachine Society, ONE, Inc., and the Daughters of Bilitis sought to raise awareness, unify LGBTQ+ people, and challenge widespread social stigmas. Yet unlike later struggles for gay liberation, the homophile movement adopted a more cautious and gradual approach.

In the early 1960s, Foster Gunnison, Jr., who had arrived in Hartford, Connecticut, to pursue a master’s degree at Trinity College, began to immerse himself in the homophile movement. He offered his services as a secretary to the Eastern Conference of Homophile Organizations (ECHO), an early coalition of organizations working to create a national homophile organization. Then, in 1966, he was appointed Chair of the Credentials Committee for the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO).

From 1965 to 1969, Gunnison collected the office and conference records of ECHO and NACHO, along with the records and periodicals of several LGBTQ+ organizations throughout the United States. During this period, Gunnison even founded his own organization, the Institute for Social Ethics (ISE) and in 1967 wrote the pamphlet, An Introduction to the Homophile Movement.

While Gunnison busied himself with preserving and documenting the homophile movement, students such as Daniel Campbell explored the spaces opened up by a burgeoning counterculture back on the University of Connecticut campus. Campbell attended UConn as a graduate student in 1967-68. In a poignant memoir, Campbell describes his pre-Stonewall experience on campus. “We may have been closeted to one degree or another,” he writes, “but we did not live in isolation.”

The rise of the counterculture and the hippie movement supplied a shared context. As young men faced the prospect of the military draft, and young women, the loss of their brothers and boyfriends, “they escaped into a separate reality and took liberties no generation had dared take before.” Campbell notes that LGBTQ+ people “shared in those liberties” in different ways. For Campbell and others, the popular slogan, “the personal is political,” became an everyday reality.

In the 1980s, The HIV/AIDS crisis that racked the LGBTQ+ community also generated notable forms of organizing and activism in Connecticut. The Connecticut Women’s Educational and Legal Fund (CWEALF), a non-profit public interest law firm founded in 1973, originally sought to help women gain equality under the law. But along with this mission, CWEALF began to hold conferences and other events in Hartford and around Connecticut to share information about HIV/AIDS and provide the LGBTQ+ community with resources to secure their legal rights.

Much of the LGBTQ+ activism, organizing, and educational work that continued in the 1990s and the first decades of the twenty-first century also made their mark on the University of Connecticut and around the state. After several years of organizing, planning, and lobbying by students and staff, UConn opened the Rainbow Center on campus in 1999. Still operating today, the center is dedicated to serving the needs of the LGBTQ+ community on campus. Throughout this period, LGBTQ+ activists and organizations across Connecticut also helped lead the movement for marriage equality, both in the state and the nation.

If you’d like to learn more about the history of LGBTQ+ activism and organizing at the University of Connecticut and across the state, Archives & Special Collections holds a wealth of material that may interest you. Among some of our relevant collections are:

University of Connecticut, President’s Office Records The collection comprises extensive material, especially administrative files and correspondence, from the offices of UConn’s various presidents. The records of presidents Homer D. Babbidge (1962–1972) and John A. DiBiaggio (1979-1985) are particularly useful. Both contain correspondence and other material relating to LGBTQ+ issues on campus, such as the emergence and activities of the gay liberation movement in the early 1970s. The finding aid for Homer Babbidge’s office records can be accessed here: https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/789 and the finding aid for John A. DiBiaggio’s office records can be accessed here: https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/603

Alternative Press Collection The Alternative Press Collection (APC) includes thousands of national and international newspapers, serials, books, pamphlets, ephemera and artifacts documenting activists and organizations from the 1800s to the present. Alongside the President’s Office Records, the APC files provide a bottom up look at LGBTQ+ organizing at UConn. Especially notable are materials from the Storrs Gay Coalition and the UConn Gay Alliance. The APC also contains voluminous materials from other LGBTQ+ organizations in Connecticut and throughout the United States. The APC can best be consulted using the card catalog available at Archives & Special Collections, though some digitized materials can be accessed here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A19920001APCFiles

Daniel R. Campbell Papers The papers comprise a manuscript, a published article, and copies of photographs from Daniel R. Campbell, who attended UConn in 1967-1968 and was one of the first openly gay students on campus. The manuscript describes Campbell’s experiences at UConn and elsewhere, and offers insight and perspective on pre-Stonewall LGBTQ+ culture on campus. Campbell describes his life during this period, some discrimination he faced on campus, his interactions with students and professors, and comments on the wider culture of the late-1960s. In particular, Campbell highlights the hippie movement and the counterculture as helping to open space for living as an openly gay person during this period. The finding aid can be accessed here: https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/284

University of Connecticut, Rainbow Center Records The collection comprises administrative records, financial records, correspondence, publications, and other materials such as newspapers, brochures, pamphlets, and posters associated with the UConn Rainbow Center. The center was founded in 1999 after several years of organizing, planning, and lobbying by students and staff. The center is dedicated to supporting the needs of the LGBTQIA+ members of the campus community, and the collection documents the center’s history and activities up to the present day. The finding aid can be accessed here: https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/962

Foster Gunnison, Jr. Papers The collection comprises personal correspondence, organizational records, conference proceedings, serial publications and periodicals, posters and fliers, buttons, newspaper clippings, and photographs relating to LGBTQ+ activism in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as other issues such as smoker’s rights and barbershop quartets. Foster Gunnison, Jr. collected a range of materials from the homophile movement in Connecticut and across the United States, and later founded his own organization, the Institute for Social Ethics (ISE). The collection provides materials on a wide range of LGTBQ+ organizations in Connecticut, many of which have been digitized. The finding aid can be accessed here: https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/413 and digitized materials can be accessed here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A19960009SIIISE

Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund Records The collection comprises administrative files, committee reports, legal testimony, workshop materials, lists of contacts and referrals, records on outreach and education, as well as related materials such as flyers, handouts, surveys, etc. The Connecticut Women’s Educational and Legal Fund (CWEALF), a non-profit public interest law firm, was founded in 1973. CWEALF helps women gain equality under the law and focuses on discrimination in such areas as education, employment, insurance, and health care. CWEALF is also concerned with reproductive rights and LGBTQ+ issues. In particular, relevant materials concern education and outreach on legal rights for gays and lesbians, as well as medical and legal information surrounding the HIV/AIDS crisis. The finding aid can be accessed here: https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/334

Marriage Equality and LGBT Activism in Connecticut Oral History Collection The collection comprises eleven oral histories with leading activists in Connecticut who have been a part of the marriage equality movement and engaged in other forms of LGBTQ+ activism in the state and beyond. The interviews were conducted by Valerie Love, Curator for Human Rights and Alternative Press Collections, between July 2010 and April 2011. Six of the eleven interviews have been transcribed and are available. The finding aid can be accessed here: https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/925 and digitized transcripts from the collection can be accessed here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A20110076

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. 

The Love Game

Oliver O. Jensen was a writer, editor, self-taught historian, and railroad enthusiast born in 1914 who grew up in New London, Connecticut. He attended Philips Academy at Andover, Massachusetts, matriculated to Yale University and graduated a Phi Beta Kappa student in 1936. At that point Jensen became a free-lance writer for several advertising agencies.

On June 25, 1938, Jensen submitted a patent to the U.S. Patent Office for a board game he developed, which he called The Love Game. As part of the advertising for the game he hired models and actors to enact the game “in the flesh.” He designated one of the models as Dorothy Davis, President of “Love, Inc.,” the mock company that designed the game. One of the actors was real life puppeteer Bil Baird and the photographs were taken by the now famous photographer Fritz Henle. The outdoor scenes were taken in Darien, Connecticut.

All of the captions notes were on the back of each photograph and played along with the spoof of Dorothy Davis, her twin sister Dibbie, and various players of the game.

Love goes to a party at the country home of the Love Girls. While enacting a game in the flesh, Dibbie Davis starts to recover her heart from a player who has just nabbed it. What Pres. Dottie Davis of Love, Inc., and another player are doing in the background, God knows. (Meadow is in Darien, Connecticut). [The man in the background is Oliver Jensen]
A chorus of enthusiastic yesses for Love. Picture shows girl guests in specially designed costumes at a party given by Miss Dorothy Davis, President of Love, Inc., at which guests enacted scenes from the new board game in the flesh. Here they are lined up at the start in a Darien, Connecticut, meadow for the photographer.
The villain, Bil Baird, famous puppeteer, pursues lovely Jamie Jamieson in the game of Love. She’s got his heart, which is all right with him, but he wants to gain possession of hers — which is not all right, as far as she’s concerned.
Sent Home to Mother: President Dottie Davis giving a realistic twist to one of the plays in The Love Game, rushing to the matronly arms at her home in Darien, Conn., where Love, Inc., gives a party and plays the Love Game in real life.
[Oliver Jensen with Dottie and Dibbie Davis]
Love, Inc., President Dottie Davis talks about The Love Game. [Oliver Jensen is standing on the right].
In Love’s New York Office: Miss Dorothy Davis (left), President of Love, Inc., maker of the Love Game, talks about business to her sister, Miss Dibbie Davis. Pres. Davis, who originated the humorous game on the theory that America needs Love, is known as the “Most Beautiful Corporation President in the World.”
Page from the Official Gazette of the U.S. Patent Office noting that Oliver Jensen patented The Love Game on June 25, 1938

 In 1940 Jensen landed a permanent writing position on the staff of Life Magazine. After the outbreak of World War II, he took a duration-of-the-war leave from Life to join the United States Navy with the rank of ensign. From 1942-1943 he served on the U.S.S. Babbitt, a First World War destroyer deployed on convoy duties in the North Atlantic and Icelandic waters in addition to Carribean and North African runs. After transferring to naval aviation, Jensen spent time in England among search-plane squadrons and served in the Pacific aboard the U.S.S. Yorktown until the end of the war. Drawing on his experiences in the Navy, Oliver penned Carrier War in 1945 and returned to Life Magazine as a writer/editor until 1950.

Following his employment with Life, Jensen co-founded the American Heritage Publishing Company along with James Parton and Joseph J. Thorndike, Jr. The non-advertising, hardcover, popular history magazine American Heritage was launched soon after in 1954. While serving as editor from 1959-1976, he also wrote numerous articles for American Heritage and its sister publication Horizon Magazine. From 1971-1974, he served as president of the Connecticut Valley Railroad Company and from 1976-1980 as chairman of the board of directors. In 1981, Jensen went on to become chief of the division of prints and photographs at the Library of Congress until 1983. He remained involved with American Heritage Magazine and a variety of clubs and organizations dealing closely with history, railroads and Connecticut, including the Connecticut Historical Society, Acorn Club, Friends of the Alice Austen House, Society of American Historians, Eastern National Park and Monument Association, Century Association, Yale Club, and American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. After spending much of his life in Connecticut, Jensen died on June 30, 2005, and is buried near his home in Norwich.

Oliver Jensen donated his papers to the UConn Archives in 2003.

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.