The next installation of the traveling exhibition, Live at The Anthrax, is currently hosted at Counter Weight Brewing Co. in Hamden, CT and will run from September 5th-December 15th, 2019. This exhibition features 20 black & white photographs from the Joe Snow Punk Rock Collection, taken by Joe in the late 1980s during the final years of The Anthrax club in Norwalk, CT. Bands featured in the selection include local CTHC staples such as Wide Awake and NY Hardcore bands Up Front and Absolution to seminal acts such as Fugazi. This curated exhibition highlights the dedication, energy and lived values of those who formed the hardcore scene and turned it into a community. This exhibit seeks to expose the public to archival collections outside of a traditional archives setting in order to promote access to rich cultural materials like those of the Joe Snow Punk Rock Collection in everyday spaces like record stores, breweries and community spaces. This exhibition is free and open to the public.
This guest post by Prof. Len Krimerman is in conjunction with the current exhibition Day-Glo & Napalm: UConn 1967-1971, an exhibition guest curated by alumnus George Jacobi (Class of ’71) on the student times of the late 1960s and early 1970s at UConn and in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival of 1969. Currently on display until October 25th, 2019.
By Len Krimerman*
BEFORE THE BEGINNING
“Anarchism at UCONN” may seem a baffling title or an attempt at dry humor. We are, after all, not talking about the ‘60s and ‘70s at UC Berkeley or Ann Arbor’s University of Michigan. And today our own state’s flagship university is safely and securely nestled within what its region delights in calling itself – “the quiet corner”.
But I can assure you, there really were years, not days or months, when anarchy, or something very much akin to it, had a place within and was tolerated by UCONN. Though there is now no tangible trace of this anarchic educational venture, and no documentation of it in the official histories of this University, it actually did emerge, and it had a great run.
So let me tell a bit of this radical experiment’s story. The idea of it came to life in an undergraduate course in social and political philosophy I was teaching in the Fall of 1968. We were discussing social critic Paul Goodman’s The Community of Scholars, which certainly sounds tame enough. But his book’s challenging anarchic thesis was that several of Europe’s finest universities were founded, during the Italian Renaissance, by “secession”. Faculty thwarted by rigid state or clerical bureaucracy simply quit, taking with them dozens of their students, and created self-directed places like the University of Florence.Continue reading
August 5th – October 25th, 2019
Reception: September 19th, 2019 6-8pm at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center Gallery
Archives & Special Collections Gallery
Thomas J. Dodd Research Center
An exhibition guest curated by alumnus George Jacobi (Class of ’71) on the student times of the late 1960s and early 1970s at UConn and in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival of 1969. Jacobi has curated materials from the Archives & Special Collections photography, periodicals and Alternative Press Collections and incorporated personal collections and narratives from those who lived through it to create a robust personal exploration of the times.
The following essay is an extended introduction to the exhibition Day-Glo and Napalm: UConn from 1967-1971 by guest curator and contributor, George Jacobi (’71).
DAY-GLO AND NAPALM: UCONN FROM 1967 to 1971
Recollections and Impressions for my University of Connecticut Archives Exhibit
George Jacobi ©2019
A small innocuous on-campus house is surrounded by angry UConn students, its front porch protected by armed, helmeted State Police and University Security Officers. The Riot Act has already been read to the 100 or so protesters, whose shoulders are hunched in Navy pea coats against a bitter north wind. It’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, 1968. Some of those students spent the previous night with faces lit only by black lights, psychedelic music swirling around them. Smoke from illegal hash pipes drifted out dorm windows. A relaxed but resolute fellowship, they temporarily dwelt in an imaginary world.
Today, back in the daylight, they want UConn to divest itself from the military industrial complex, to end its involvement with Olin Matheson, manufacturer of missiles for the Vietnam War. In fact, they insist. They chant, they yell, they watch as the most committed among them climb onto the recruiting location’s porch to put their bodies in the way of the war machine. This world is far from imaginary. Clubs swing, rocks fly, heads are bloodied. Twenty-one are arrested.
Within two years, the Student Union Mall will be filled with 4000 UConn students – now the entire college is on strike. What is it with these young people? For many, trust in the establishment, from government to church to the University, has completely evaporated. Something is badly broken. How have these middle-class kids, in just a year or two, come to a point of complete resistance to America herself?
The 50th Anniversary of 1969 is more than an appropriate time for this exhibit; it’s also the last significant anniversary when many participants in this bit of history will be alive. Most of the counter-cultural political drama at UConn took place between 1968 and 1970 – ‘69 is a fitting centerpiece. Despite continued racial and anti-war protests, such communal events as the Woodstock Music Festival made 1969 almost feel like a short respite between the more violent bookends of the other two years.Continue reading
On display at the UConn Archives Gallery in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center from March 20 – May 31, 2019, an exhibition of research collections on incarceration. Drawn from ephemera, art, and personal and political papers, this story is Illustrated with the writings of the incarcerated from inside Connecticut prisons, the state’s documentation and formation of prisons, artists’ and activists’ responses to Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, and advocacy from inside and out. This exhibition is in conjunction with the Humanities Action Lab States of Incarceration exhibit at the Hartford Public Library, March 11 – April 18, 2019 and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center from March 25th – April 18th, 2019.
Materials on display in the gallery were drawn from the Alternative Press Collection, Cal Robertson Papers, Thomas J. Dodd Papers, Connecticut Politics and Public Affairs Collections, and Storrs Experimental Station Records.
Moments of student protest on UConn’s campus demonstrate the continuity and relevance of student activism for the Alternative Press Collection held at Archives and Special Collections. While the topics of protest often change with the political and social context of the moment, sometimes the similarities can be uncanny.
WHUS News Director Daniela Doncel reported on the student protests held during the recent university sponsored event Lockheed Martin Day:
“On Thursday, September 27, students protested the partnership between the Lockheed Martin company and the University of Connecticut due to a Lockheed Martin bomb that killed 40 children in Yemen in August, according to CNN.”
History, so the cliché goes, has repeated itself.
The circumstances of the Lockheed Martin’s presence on campus and the student protests resembled a smaller scale, and decidedly non-violent version, of the student and faculty protests of military recruiting that happened during the Vietnam War. In 1967 & 1968 students and faculty staged multiple sit-ins protesting the ties between the University of Connecticut and weapons manufacturers such as: General Electric, Olin-Mathieson, Dow Chemical, and Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation (which was sold to Lockheed Martin in November of 2015). In particular the recruitment attempts of Dow Chemical, a producer of napalm during the Vietnam War, and Olin-Mathieson drew large turn outs from students and faculty who thought that weapon manufacturers had no place trying to recruit students for jobs on the university campus. Continue reading
On display at the UConn Avery Point campus this fall is U. Roberto Romano Papers: Photographs of Child Labor in Coastal Countries. This exhibition is an exciting mix of student work, fine art prints from the archives, and never before exhibited work from the fishing platforms off the coast of Indonesia.
U. Roberto (Robin) Romano (1956-2013) was a prolific photographer and documentarian in the late 20th century. He created work all over the world primarily in Africa, India, the Middle East and the United States that documented child labor and human rights issues. He created the first feature length film on child labor titled Stolen Childhoods with his long time creative partner Len Morris. On display at Avery Point are fine art prints from Stolen Childhoods that were donated to the archives in 2009. These prints are beautiful examples of his early analog work that was shot in both color and black and white. The descriptions of these photographs detail the lives of children trapped in the horrors of child labor in the late 20th century.
In addition to fine art prints, this exhibition will also showcase the student work that has been created from this collection. Dr. Fiona Vernal, Associate Professor of History at UConn, led her students this past spring to create an exhibition on child labor in Africa called The Hidden Costs of Chocolate: How Child Labor Became a Human Rights Crisis. The panels that they created utilize Robin’s photographs to put faces to the countless children that have been victims of child labor in the chocolate industry. They explain what the children are doing on the cacao farms, the tools they use, and how the industry is slowly eliminating the use of child labor through legislation. It is an excellent example of how the Romano papers are being used on campus to educate students, scholars and the public on child labor. There will also be samples of work created by Professor Anna Lindemann’s Digital Media & Design students.
The final element of this exhibition are the never before exhibited jermal prints. These prints were created specifically for this exhibition and showcase Robin’s work from the jermals off the coast of Southeast Asia. A jermal is a fishing platform about the size of a tennis court perched out at sea. Children on these platforms are out there months at a time working for as much as 20 hours a day fishing for tiny fish called teri. They leave their families to do this work, working long hours out at sea for little pay. Robin’s photographs show the lives of these child workers and the greater system that they are victims of. The photographs on display are just a sample of robin’s oeuvre which can be seen in the repository through the following link: https://lib.uconn.edu/libraries/asc/collections/the-u-roberto-robin-romano-papers/
U. Roberto Romano Papers: Photographs of Child Labor in Coastal Countries will be on display from September 13, 2018 to December 16, 2018 at the Alexey Von Schlippe Gallery in the Branford House on the Avery Point Campus at the University of Connecticut.
When: 9/13/18 – 12/16/2018 (Opening Reception 9/12/18 from 5:30-7:30pm)
Where: Branford House on the Avery Point Campus (1084 Shennecossett Rd, Groton, CT 06340)
Patrick Butler, Assistant Archivist for the Alternative Press Files Collection and Human Rights Collection, is a 2018 Ph.D. graduate of the UConn Medieval Studies Program. During his time as a graduate student he worked in the UConn Archives to broaden his materials handling experience and develop skills as an archivist. He has specialized training in medieval paleography and codicology.
On August 21, 1971, African-American activist and author George Jackson took hostages in order to escape San Quentin State Prison. Five of Jackson’s hostages: three prison guards and two inmates, died in the ensuing violence. The attempted escape ended with a prison guard shooting and killing Jackson.
Two weeks later, on September 9th, 1971 approximately 1000 inmates at the Attica Correctional Facility rioted and ultimately took control of the prison facility. The inmates took 42 staff members of the facility hostage in a bid to negotiate for prisoners’ rights. During the four days of negation, prisoners made 27 demands among which included: better medical care, better sanitation, the end of racial discrimination, updated labor policies aligned with New York State law, and the end of the violent abuse of inmates by guards and prison administrators.
While negotiations with Corrections Services Commissioner Russel G. Oswald and the Attica inmates had initial success, the dialogue would ultimately breakdown when Governor Nelson Rockefeller refused to appear at the prison in a bid to help quell the riot. In the wake of the Governor’s refusal Oswald stated that they would retake the prison by force; Rockefeller agreed.
When the New York State Police had regained control of the prison 43 people were killed, 10 of which were hostages.
These two moments served as a flash point to bring prison conditions and prisoners’ rights into sharp focus during the seventies. However, part of the danger that comes from thinking of prisons and prisoners exclusively in terms of the violence is that it risks reducing the bodies of prisoners as little more than sites for violence. The aim of developing this exhibit has been to examine how materials within the Alternative Press Collections focus on the vulnerability of prisoners to the violence of the systems that shape their incarceration, how they respond to the systematic pressures that seek to justify subjecting their bodies to abuse and neglect, and the power that comes from forging communities in response to these pressures. A quote from an Attica inmate Roger Champen distills the physical, social, and bureaucratic pressure of incarceration succinctly and eloquently, “Everything is done to you, not for you.”
While the killing of George Jackson and the Attica Prison Riot serve as a starting point for the exhibition’s historical and social context, the materials in this exhibit come from a broad historical range and include a focus on documents produced by and for Connecticut Prisons. The Alternative Press Collection contains a wealth of material that document how prison communities develop and sustain themselves through creative writing, activism, correspondence, and even revolt. In order to accomplish this, I looked at the materials prisoners created while in prison, or shortly after leaving prison: newsletters, protest writing, creative writing, and original artwork. Even work published under the auspices of prison administrators allows for an avenue of expression and solidarity centered on vulnerability;
“To Be Black”
To be Black is to be seated
in Jim Crow vain
in the lonely south on a bus or
Because you’re Black and
your Blackness is symbolic of shame
To be Black is to hear a baby’s
screams in the rain
while be eaten by rats
in some dilapidated tenement
or some other place the same
To be Black is to see your mother’s
after caring for another person’s home
somebody else’s child
the long lines of distress
as they disfigure the make-up of her
To be Black is to search in deep
some other place
Abdur Rahman (Clinton Fields) from Inside: Writings by Attica Inmates 1977-1978.
While the specific concerns of an individual piece of writing vary between violence against inmates, unjust imprisonment, political oppression, and basic human rights concerns, the language used throughout these writings, creative or otherwise is a desire for their concerns to be legible to others – to understand and to be understood. Distinct from sympathy, the specific vulnerabilities that emerged among prison writers seems to stem from a lack of acknowledgement of their embodiment as genuinely human. Almost reflexively, there is a recurrent theme to dismiss sympathy as a pressing desire among inmates. Sympathy is antithetical to the goals of these writers, a source of dismissal that does not seek to understand a fundamental connection between the prison author and the audience of the text.
The relentless desire for community, intelligibility – to not be forgotten or silenced by their isolation – makes the writings of prisoners within the Alternative Press Collection a powerful and humbling selection of materials. It holds its audience accountable for the undeniable connections that are present between individuals despite legal and societal practices of separation.
You can do two things in prison. You can be a man or you can be a robot. See, if you be a robot, you stand a very good chance of going home. But notice this, all the papers record this is a fact, that those who stay in here become submissive. When they get outside, all the things that they have inside, boil over onto society after they come back.
Roger Champen We are Attica, 1972.
The exhibition: “Locked Down and Speaking Up: Prison Riots, Reform, and Writing from The Alternative Press Collection” will be on view in the John P. MacDonald Reading Room of the Archives & Special Collections at the Dodd Research Center from June 15th – August 20th.
For more information on the Cal Robertson Papers please consult the Archives & Special Collections Finding Aid.
Anna Zarra Aldrich is majoring in English, political science and journalism at the University of Connecticut. As a student writing intern, Anna is studying historical feminist publications from the collections of Archives and Special Collections. The following guest post is the final post in the series.
The feminist movement has long struggled with incorporating different groups’ concerns and modes of oppression into the movement. This problem was exacerbated by the multifaceted, turbulent U.S. political atmosphere that characterized the 1960s and 1970s. The differences between black and white women’s views of the movement clashed on several essential dimensions. But the issues of other minority groups were given less attention by the feminist movement, and by society in general, due to the fact that their ethnic/racial factions were much smaller than African Americans’.
Another marginalized group that galvanized in the activist culture of the 1960s and 1970s in America were Native Americans. These men and women sought to have their tribal autonomy recognized. They were also fighting issues such as environmentally harmful mining practices on their resource-rich lands and high rates of substance abuse and poverty within their communities.
Native American women had a unique relationship with the feminist movement because the issues this minority group faced were different from those that white or black women faced, and the ethnic population of which they were a part was a severely marginalized minority. U.S. Census data from 1970 shows that a whopping 98.6 percent of the total population was either white or black/African American (87.5 percent and 11.1 percent respectively). Native Americans constituted less than .004 percent.
The March 1977 issue of “Off Our Backs” includes an article summarizing the findings of a report by the Association on American Indian Affairs (AAIA), a non-profit organization founded in 1922 to promote the well-being of Native Americans and Alaskan Natives. The report found that Native American children are placed outside of their families at a rate 10 to 20 times higher than that for non-Native American children.
The AAIA argued that this practice deprives Native American children of the ability to be raised with a proper awareness of and appreciation for their culture. This concern emphasizes the fact that Native American women who were involved in the feminist movement during this time were simultaneously combatting the United States government’s systematic efforts to diminish their independence and culture as well as the wide-spread sexism that was the feminist movement’s main concern.
Native American culture celebrates its strong connection to and appreciation of nature. When Native American tribes were forced off their lands in the nineteenth century, they were put on reservations in states like Oklahoma and South Dakota. The U.S. government later came to realize these areas were rich with natural resources such as oil and uranium.
“In the days of diminishing U.S. energy resources, the push is on to take what’s left of Indian land,” according to an article in “Off Our Backs.”
The U.S. government used environmentally hazardous practices to extract these resources, exposing people living on the land to cancer-causing radioactive materials. It also paid the Native Americans working in these hazardous mines very low wages. These practices led to outcry by Native American men and women.
In 1978, thousands of Native Americans participated in The Longest Walk, a protest organized to bring attention to threats to tribal lands pose by several pieces of proposed legislation.
“In effect, these bills could force Native Americans to complete assimilation into the U.S. mainstream and destroy all sovereignty of the Indian nations,” the article on the march said.
In the same August/September 1978 issue that covered the march, “Off Our Backs” included coverage of a conference in New Mexico that addressed the upsurge in domestic violence against Navajo women. This increase was attributed to a “pressure cooker syndrome” created by white culture: “women-battering and child abuse (were) once practically non-existent…and has now reached crises proportions.”
The attempted forced assimilation of native people into white culture created a class system that did not exist in Navajo tribal society. This led to high poverty and unemployment rates which in turn came to be correlated with high rates of substance abuse and domestic violence.
The writers draw attention to the fact that few of the speakers at the conference were from the Navajo or from any other Native American community. Calling attention to the lack of authentic representation at this conference may be an indication of the evolution of “Off Our Backs” in how it dealt with minority issues. When the paper first began in 1970, it struggled to expand their coverage to minority women’s issues, as evidenced by its problematic coverage of a black feminist group’s conference in 1974.
Similar to black women who were involved with groups like the Black Panthers, politically active Native American women were part of efforts led by men. Women of All Red Nations (WARN) was a Native American women’s group that brought attention to issues that affected their community including the displacement of their children, forced sterilization, tribal rights, resource exploitation and racism in the educational system. The group invited several Native American men to speak at a conference it held in South Dakota in 1978 as it did not “believe in the separation of men and women who were working for the same objective.” This serves as a perfect parallel to black women activists who wanted to be a part of the black and feminist movements.
In the December 1978 issue of “Off Our Backs,” the editors printed a letter from Burning Cloud, a self-described “Filipina/Indian Dyke.” In the letter, Burning Cloud shared a sentiment common with those expressed by black women — that she was “Indian first and above all other matters.”
Burning Cloud felt she could not be both an Indian and a gay woman in society. She also expressed frustration with the fact that non-black minorities’ concerns are much more widely disregarded because there are comparatively few of them in number.
Burning Cloud’s letter included a call to action for environmental activism which, from her perspective, was something of which native people were much more conscious due to their spiritual cultural connections to the earth.
“If Mother Earth is to die WE ALL DIE. Think about that one. What is the future of your children and sisters and mothers to be?” she wrote. “Are we not killing each other because we allow such things as racism, classism, separatism right here in the Lesbian community. How shall wimmin be totally free when three-quarters of the (Coloured Wimmin) are dying?”
(Feminists took to using alternative spellings of “women” and “woman” in order to avoid using the masculine root of those words.)
Native American women also faced the issue of forced or coerced sterilization. In “Off Our Backs” article from December 1978, WARN said that 25 percent of Native American Women were forcibly sterilized.
During this period, the United States government instituted polices of population control that targeted minority, underclass women. One third of Puerto Rican woman of reproductive age had been sterilized in 1976. This policy was veiled as a necessary method of population control that would help Puerto Rico develop economically. However, many argued that the problem was not overpopulation, rather that the available resources were concentrated in the upper echelons of society.
In her 1976 University of Connecticut Ph.D. thesis “Population Policy, Social Structure and the Health System in Puerto Rico: The Case of Female Sterilization,” Peta Henderson found that in addition to medical reasons, the law in Puerto Rico regarding female sterilization allowed for women to be sterilized or use other contraceptive methods in cases of poverty or already having multiple children. Henderson found that most sterile Puerto Rican women said they voluntarily chose to have the operation. However, she explores how this choice was corrupted by the fact that government actors worked to persuade these women that sterilization was in their best interest.
These kind of population control polices were also implemented elsewhere in Latin America.
The April 1970 issue of “Off Our Backs,” a female member of the Peace Corps who went to Ecuador said, “Providing safe contraceptives must be a part of a comprehensive health program,” Rachel Cawan said. “Most importantly, however, there must be available other emotionally satisfying alternatives to child raising.”
The prevailing feminist interpretation of these population control programs was that they masqueraded as liberating family planning alternatives when, in fact, many of these women were being coerced or forced to stop having children.
The Young Lords Party was founded in 1960. The men who founded the organization had a series of objectives including self-determination for Puerto Rico, liberation for third-world people and, problematically, “Machismo must be revolutionary and not oppressive.”
Early in the party’s history, the men in the movement did not listen to women’s ideas and concerns during meetings. These women were limited to essentially being glorified secretaries for the party according to a November 11, 1970 New York Times article.
The women in the movement soon tired of this dynamic and demanded to be taken seriously – and they succeeded. Several women were able to assume leadership positions in the party and the pillar relating to machismo was changed to one supporting equality for women. However, this victory did not mean women were automatically able to achieve true political and social equality within the party or on a larger scale.
In a subsequent issue of “Off Our Backs,” a black/Native American woman wrote a response to Burning Cloud’s letter, which had also said black people should support Native Americans’ issues, saying that: “There is a need for Dialogue, a conversation, between Indian people and Black people…We have been divided in order to be conquered, even though for many, our blood flows together.”
A theme that emerges again and again when studying the second-wave of the feminist movement is that by separating women into sects with seemingly irreconcilable differences, men have managed to prevent them from forming a powerful united front capable of combatting not only sexism, but racism and other social ills that afflict them.
-Anna Zarra Aldrich
This summer the Dodd Research Center Gallery exhibits Season 1 of d’Archive, the archives podcast hosted by WHUS campus radio. After wrapping up a 15 episode season over the course of Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 semesters, which is available on itunes or wherever you catch podcasts, materials featured on the show are currently on display.
This exhibition will run from May 14th – July 7th, 2018 in the Dodd Research Center Gallery, Monday – Friday 9-5pm Continue reading
Charles Lewis Beach was born in Whitewater, Wisconsin in 1866, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1886, and came to the Connecticut Agricultural College as an instructor in Dairy Husbandry in 1896. He stayed with the college until 1904 when he then went to the University of Vermont, but returned to Storrs in 1908 to take the position of the CAC’s 4th President, a role in which he served until 1928.
Under Beach’s leadership the CAC grew and prospered. In 1908 the college had just 165 students enrolled; by 1928 there were 518 student enrolled. Beach sought to increase the number of women enrolled so in the same approximate time period the number of women students grew to 133 from 22. In 1908 there were 18 bachelor degrees granted; by 1924 that number increased to 78. Beach recognized that the growth of the college depended upon increased funding from the state, and, as Walter Stemmons wrote in his book Connecticut Agricultural College – A History, “Beach compelled a reluctant State to take pride in its college.”
Other initiatives under President Beach included an expanded curriculum that included courses in the liberal arts, a fairly radical idea for a college with such deep roots in the study of agriculture. He believed that “students graduating from the college [go] into the world equipped not only to be efficient farmers but also to be understanding individuals” as is written in his obituary.
Charles Lewis Beach retired from the presidency on July 31, 1928. He suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on September 1, 1933, and died on September 15, 1933.
Beach Hall is, of course, named in his honor. Built in 1927 for $343,000, it was originally used as an administrative building and held the library and science classrooms. An extensive renovation of the building was done in the 1970s.
You can find more information about the life of Charles Lewis Beach in this profile of him in our digital repository at Conecticut Digital Archive.
Anna Zarra Aldrich is majoring in English, political science and journalism at the University of Connecticut. Anna is a student writing intern studying historical feminist publications from the collections of Archives and Special Collections. The following guest post is one in a series to be published throughout the Spring 2018 semester.
In February of 1970 a terrorist group took over a prominent underground newspaper in New York.
The Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell (W.I.T.C.H.), a direct-action political group, along with several other women’s groups and female “RAT” staffers took over the newspaper for what was supposed to be a single, token issue of the paper. The headline on this issue read, “Women Seize RAT! Sabotage Tales!”
The women’s issue featured an essay by Robin Morgan, an American writer and noted feminist activist, titled “Goodbye to All That.” The essay sharply criticizes the advertisements using photos of women that bordered on pornographic and the continual exclusion of a feminist viewpoint from the paper.
“We have met the enemy and he’s our friend. And dangerous,” Morgan wrote.
Morgan’s article rallied against the white, male domination of the radical anti-war/anti-establishment movement. She said, “Goodbye, goodbye. To hell with the simplistic notion that automatic freedom for women – or nonwhite peoples – will come about zap! with the advent of a socialist revolution. Bullshit.”
Grievances against male radicals were common among feminist writers during this period. A pamphlet written by Andrea Dworkin in 1973 titled “Marx and Gandhi Were Liberals” stated that men permitted women to take part in their vision of the revolution so long as they kept their own demands moderated and subsumed within the male-dominated agenda.
“Liberal gestures of good will are made when we are shrill enough or when we are fashionable enough as long as we do not interfere with the ‘real revolution.’ Increasingly we understood that we are the real revolution,” Dworkin wrote.
The January 25-February 9, 1970 issue of “RAT,” the last one published by the male editorial staff, included numerous articles on pornography and masturbation. An article by Uncle Leon Gussow argued that pornography gives young men unrealistic views of sex and creates a separation between him and the act of sex. The women who worked at “RAT” took issue with how this topic was approached by the male staff; they believed this article, and the paper in general for quite some time, promoted pornography. Many women saw pornography as problematic as it often portrayed violence against women and this became a major issue in the women’s liberation movement.
The women also disliked the fact that the tongue-in-cheek titles that appeared on the masthead of each issue were often demeaning and stereotypical to women, referring to them as “princess” or “muffin purchaser.”
After the women of “RAT” published their issue they were loath to return control to the men who had been running the paper since its inception in 1968. So they didn’t.
In the next issue, the women still made up the entirety of the editorial staff, but some men came back temporarily as production staffers to ease the transition. In a letter to the readers, the editors said they were trying to “work it out” with the men. All male staff members were eventually asked to leave the paper and control remained in exclusively female hands.
A letter to the readers from former editor Paul Simon explained that after a “stormy” meeting between the men and women of the paper, it was decided that the paper would continue to be published by the women.
The takeover at “RAT” inspired women working at other papers across the country to follow suit. In the April 4, 1970 issue of “Vortex,” an underground paper published out of Lawrence, Kansas, W.I.T.C.H. wrote a letter to the paper saying, “you are a counterfeit left male-dominated cracked-glass-mirror reflection of the American nightmare.” The letter said the group was preparing to organize a boycott of the paper.
This letter was published in the issue of the paper following issue on the women’s liberation similar to the one that initiated the permanent takeover of “RAT.” In September of that same year, “Vortex” moved to a collective model of publication. This altered the existing editorial structure at the paper and gave women a larger say in its production beyond their single issue which, unfortunately is not available at the Dodd Center Archives.
“RAT” continued its coverage of issues like the Vietnam War and the trial of the 21 members of the Black Panther Party who were charged with coordinating attacks on a series of New York City buildings. However, the new editors made sure to make women’s issues and the accomplishments of female activists more prominent.
They featured letters from Mary Moylan, one of the Cantonsville Nine, a group of activists who burned draft files to protest the war. Moylan went underground, hiding from the authorities for a period and her letters about her time underground were published in “RAT” and other publications like the women-run “Off Our Backs.” “RAT” also featured articles about women’s role in the Israeli-Palestine conflict.
In March of 1971, the paper changed its name to the Women’s LibeRATion.
One thing the women sought to dissemble with their takeover was the hierarchical structure that had allowed men to squelch their voices for so long. This led them to establish a newsroom that was much more free-flowing and less rigidly structured. In a letter to the readers, the editors describe the RAT work collective’s meetings as “un-chaired and chaotic.”
The paper continued publishing with relative consistency through 1972 and then stopped abruptly for several months. Then, in April of that year, a newsletter came out.
The single printed sheet explained to readers that the fate of “RAT” was in limbo due to internal fractionalization. A group of six black gay women had seized control of the paper after airing their grievances against the white feminist viewpoint that had been almost exclusively featured by the paper.
The black women writing the article said there were too many fundamental misunderstandings between the white and third-world women in the movement to be reconciled into a cohesive vision in which all voices could be heard.
The newsletter closed with a request for feedback from readers, “Your responses will determine the outcome of the almost defunded ‘RAT;”. The paper also asked for monetary donations to help keep the presses running.
Unfortunately, it appears these women were unable to keep the paper afloat either due to a lack of interest or lack of funds.
The downfall of “RAT” showcases the lack of an understanding of the idea of intersectional feminism during this time. Perhaps it also demonstrates a lack of will on the part of white feminists to create connections with minority women and engage in meaningful dialogue to understand their issues. Minority voices were not generally included in the more-prominent feminist outlets, or if they were given a space, it was still through the good graces of white editorial staffs. This is an unfortunate truth that the feminist movement continues to grapple with today.
-Anna Zarra Aldrich
Photographs of nature may be many things. Some may be primarily artistic; some may be primarily scientific. In their simplest, most matter-of-fact forms, they are merely “catalogue” pictures of objects or creatures. The best nature photography, however, records both the object and the setting. It arrests, in its normal surroundings, some form of life, portraying it in a characteristic moment of its existence. Such pictures possess emotional as well as intellectual impact [and] carry us on an adventure of discovery. …
– Edwin Way Teale, Photographs of American Nature (NY: Dodd, Mead, 1972)
During his sixty-year career as an author and naturalist that began around 1930 with regular submissions to Popular Science magazine, Edwin Way Teale produced over fifty thousand pictures documenting his travels, nature observations, and personal discoveries. A self-taught (and self-financed) photographer, Teale worked with the utmost economy — careful in framing his shots, utilizing consumer-grade cameras and equipment, writing letters seeking advice from other photographers, and processing prints in his household dark room. By 1966, when Teale was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction, and nearly a million copies of Teale’s books had been sold, the artistic value of his photographs was recognized throughout the world.
For his book Photographs of American Nature, published when the Connecticut-based author was 73 years of age, Teale hoped to showcase the “strange and beautiful” creatures he had encountered in his lifetime. Teale selected two hundred and eighty-nine pictures from his archive of photographs to be included in the book. Half of those pictures selected appeared in print for the first time. As Teale’s choice of images for Photographs of American Nature reveal, depicting the beauty and fragility of the natural world is simple and “matter-of-fact.” Ultimately, the best nature photographs are ordinary and spontaneous, a consequence of our human instincts not only to observe the world around us, but to recognize and to bear witness.
The exhibition “Edwin Way Teale’s Photographs of American Nature” explores Teale’s skill and creativity as a photographer and the role of photography in his writing and storytelling. The exhibition features Teale’s photographs and cameras alongside a selection of notebooks, manuscripts, letters, and drafts from the Edwin Way Teale Papers preserved in UConn’s Archives & Special Collections. A highlight of the exhibition is a collection of original photographic prints on loan from the Connecticut Audubon Society Trail Wood Sanctuary, the former home of Edwin Way Teale located in Hampton, Connecticut.
Edwin Way Teale’s Photographs of American Nature
On view: February 12 through May 4, 2018
Thomas J. Dodd Research Center Gallery
University of Connecticut
Exhibition is free and open to the public Monday through Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm
Presented by: Archives & Special Collections, UConn Library
Contact: Melissa Watterworth Batt, Curator