Children of the Soil: Generations of South Africans under Apartheid – Exhibition Opening and Keynote

IMG_20160425_Children1revChildren of the Soil is a new and fascinating exhibition that explores the human and cultural impact of Apartheid on generations of South Africans from the 1940s to the 1990s. Featuring archival photographs, oral histories, illustrations, maps, newsprint, and data derived from archival sources including the African National Congress Oral History Transcripts Collection, The Impact Visuals Photograph Collection, and
Aluka, a database of materials on liberation movements, the exhibition is the culmination of months of research, design, and analysis by UConn undergraduates, graduates students, faculty and independent researchers under the direction of Project Director Fiona Vernal, Assistant Professor, Department of History, The Human Rights and Africana Studies Institutes, and staff in the Digital Media and Design Department.  The exhibition is now on view in the west hallway gallery of UConn’s Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.


From the 1940s to the 1990s, Africans debated the best strategies for defeating the apartheid regime that came to power in South Africa in 1948.  After three centuries of Dutch and British colonialism, apartheid introduced Africans to an unprecedented scale of state-sponsored violence, land dispossession, and segregation.  Successive generations of youth pursued vastly different visions of the role of mass demonstrations, armed revolt, non-racialism, and cultural nationalism in achieving freedom, equality, and human rights.  In the 1990s, the African National Congress revisited the strategy of negotiation and compromise from a non-racial platform that viewed all South Africans as children of the soil, proclaiming: “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.”

Join us for the Exhibition Opening and Reception tomorrow, Wednesday, April 27 at 4:00pm in Konover Auditorium at the Dodd Research Center.  Dr. Angel Nieves, Associate Professor of African Studies and Digital Humanities at Hamilton College, is the Keynote Speaker for this special event.  The event is free and open to the public.

In a related event, Dr. Nieves is also scheduled to speak at the UConn Humanities Institute on Thursday, April 28, 12:30-2:30pm (Austin Building Room 301).  His talk Building a 3D Human Rights Platform: Witness Testimony and Spatial History in South Africa will engage the question  “How do we map violence, resistance, and freedom across space and time?”  Dr. Nieves will discuss considerations and challenges in the design and development of a digital platform for human rights and historical recovery work for use in communities not only in South Africa but across the African Diaspora.  Dr. Nieves is Co-Director of Hamilton College’s Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi).

Supported by funding from the Department of History; Humanities Institute; The Africana Studies Institute; UNESCO Chair in Comparative Human Rights; Digital Media & Design Department; UCHI; UConn Global Affairs; Archives & Special Collections; and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.


TODAY! Archives Reveal, Archives Inspire, Archives OPEN

SeeingDon’t miss the grand opening event today March 10 between 4:00 and 6:00 PM – a special Open-House to mark the opening of Spring exhibitions in Archives and Special Collections, located in the McDonald Reading Room at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. The event is free and open to the public.  Follow the event at #ArchivesReveal

Hear talks and commentary by exhibition curators, browse collection materials first-hand, and catch up on news happening behind the scenes with the archivists.  Spring 2016 exhibitions include:

Seeing Comes Before Words: Artists’ Use of the Male Nude

Elizabeth Barbeau (curator)

Inspired by the collection of artist and teacher Roger Crossgrove, and drawing from materials across the Archives’ holdings, this exhibition explores collaboration and the creative process through the lens of the male nude.  Featuring photography, artists’s books, broadsides, and posters from Archives and Special Collections, materials on display emphasize the relationships between (and among) artists and their models, and art and its audiences, and illustrate ways “the male nude” is used in different mediums for a variety of political, social, and cultural purposes.

Woman a Machine: Gender, Automation, and Created Beings

Giorgina S. Paiella (curator)

Featuring a variety of materials sourced from Archives and Special Collections, and archives external to the University of Connecticut, Woman a Machine will explore the intersection of gender and automation from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century. This exhibition will explore the intertwined history of female created beings and human female embodiment, including representations of eighteenth and nineteenth century female android automata, the twentieth-century mechanized housewife, and cyborg imagery in twentieth and twenty-first century visual culture.

We’ll see you in the Archives!

Sponsored by the UConn Libraries and the Office of Undergraduate Research IDEA Grants Program.


Celebrate People’s History

Ca9Nle9XIAEJt8p (1)Currently on display at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, a recently acquired set of Celebrate People’s History Poster Series from the Justseeds artists cooperative.  The Archives & Special Collections has added this poster series to its collection because of the strong linkages to the Alternative Press Collection which contains posters, flyers, pamphlets and newspapers about the movements depicted in the series.

This collection was organized and curated by Justseeds founder Josh MacPhee for distribution to all corners of public and social spaces:

“The Celebrate People’s History posters are rooted in this do-it-yourself tradition of mass-produced and distributed political propaganda, but detoured to embody principles of democracy, inclusion, and group participation in the writing and interpretation of history. It’s rare today that a political poster is celebratory, and when it is, it almost always focuses on a small canon of male individuals: MLK, Ghandi, Che, or Mandela. Rather than create another exclusive set of heroes, I’ve generated a diverse set of posters that bring to life successful moments in the history of social justice struggles. To that end, I’ve asked artists and designers to find events, groups, and people who have moved forward the collective struggle of humanity to create a more equitable and just world. The posters tell stories from the subjective position of the artists, and are often the stories of underdogs, those written out of history. The goal of this project is not to tell a definitive history, but to suggest a new relationship to the past.

CPH posters have been pasted up in the streets of over a dozen cities. Each time I receive emails from people wanting to know more. Our streets can be a venue for asking these questions, and the CPH posters can play a role in answering them. Soon after the first poster was printed, educators began asking for posters for their classrooms. It’s been great to see the posters become part of curriculum, and to see lessons built around them. Once when giving a talk about CPH, I was approached by a student in training to become a teacher. She was first introduced to the posters when they hung in one of her grade school classrooms, almost a decade earlier. Now she intends to use them in her future classes. I hope that these posters can continue to act as some small corrective to the dominant narratives told in schools, and that more teachers engage students in alternative ways of understanding the past.”

This exhibition will be up in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center from February 1st – April 15th, 2016.


Water: Pollution / Protection and Play

Ca4WHLTW4AIJNTh2On display now in the McDonald Reading Room, and through February, a new exhibition by Archivist Graham Stinnett examines the role that water plays in our daily lives.  From consumption and utility to containment and disposal, clean water relies heavily on human impact on the ecosystem.  As archival documents reveal, water protection and access to clean drinking water has been a rallying cry for decades, long before it made national headlines, again, last month.

Since the breaking news of the Flint Water Crisis began, a state of emergency within the city of Flint, Michigan was called on January 5, 2016.  The city had incorporated its drinking water from the nearby contaminated Flint River which led to the corrosion of aging lead pipes in the city’s waterworks.  This leaching of lead began in April of 2014, exposing the population to health risks associated with drinking and bathing in the water unbeknownst to them.

This exhibition draws from collections in Archives and Special Collections, including the Connecticut Citizens Action Group Records and the Alternative Press Collection, relating to water and our demands upon it as a resource and a necessity. The materials document that water protection is not a new social issue in the US.  Since the 1960s, as the historical record illustrates, failing economies, and lack of investments in cleanup in the long term, have lead to crises for already marginalized communities.  Materials in the exhibition, encompassing photographs, leaflets, serials, clippings, and government documents, examine how people in those communities have responded through time.


2016 Events Spring Into View

edicionesvigiaArchives and Special Collections is excited to announce its preliminary schedule of programs and events for Spring 2016.  In the months and weeks ahead, handmade books, photographs, and rarely-displayed visual materials highlighting artists and artwork found in Archives and Special Collections will be featured in a series of exhibitions in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center and Homer Babbidge Library.  Below is a list of exhibitions and events coming your way.  All are free and open to the public.

Flight by Force or Free Will (exhibition)
On view: 1 January – 26 February, 2016
Gallery: Thomas J. Dodd Research Center Gallery, UConn
Curator: Graham Stinnett, Archivist for Human Rights and Alternative Press Collections

Migration has occurred throughout human history.  The fluctuations of population from one geographic location to the next has occurred in times of tragedy, opportunity and emergency; by flight, by force and free will.  This exhibition highlights selections from Archives & Special Collections about expressions of displacement, forced migration, coercive settlement, asylum under the state and the globalization of refuge-seeking.  Prints, illustrations, pamphlets, artists books, multimedia, and photographs from the Human Rights Internet Collection, Mia Farrow Collection, University of Connecticut Films Collection, International Rescue Committee, (Central America) Records, Eric Reeves Papers, and Artist’s Book Collection, are represented.

Of Mice and Men: Emerging Infectious Disease in a Warmer, More Fragmented World” (Lecture, Teale Lecture Series)
Date: 4 February 2016, 4:00 PM
Location: Konover Auditorium, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, UConn
Speaker: Rick Ostfeld, Senior Scientist, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, New York

Exhibition prepared by Guest Curator Elizabeth Barbeau (title forthcoming)
On view: 7 March – 13 May 2016
Gallery: Thomas J. Dodd Research Center Gallery, UConn

Cyborgology: Female Automata and Science Fiction (tent. title) (exhibition)
On view: 1 March – 29 April 2016
Gallery: John P. McDonald Reading Room, Archives and Special Collections, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, UConn
Curator: Giorgina Paiella

Comedy, Economics, and Climate Change” (Lecture, Teale Lecture Series)
Date: 3 March 2016
Location: Konover Auditorium, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center
Speaker: Yoram Bauman, Author, “standupeconomist,” and carbon tax activist

Cuban Bricolage: The Artists’ Books of Ediciones Vigía /
Bricolaje Cubano: Los libros artesanales de Ediciones Vígia (exhibition)
On view: 21 March – 21 May 2016
Gallery: Homer Babbidge Library, UConn
Curator: Marisol Ramos, Librarian for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Latino Studies, Spanish, and Anthropology


Leap Before You Look @ICAinBoston: National Exhibition of Black Mountain College Arts and Artists

uconn_asc_1969-0001_gm_this_artThe teachers and students at Black Mountain College came to North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains from around the United States and the world.  Some stayed for years, others mere weeks. …They experimented with new ways of teaching and learning; they encouraged discussion and free inquiry; they felt that form in art had meaning; they were committed to the rigor of the studio and the laboratory; … They had faith in learning through experience and doing; they trusted in the new while remaining committed to ideas from the past; and they valued the idiosyncratic nature of the individual. But most of all, they believed in art, in its ability to expand one’s internal horizons, and in art as a way of living and being in the world.

Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957 is the first comprehensive museum exhibition on the subject of Black Mountain College to take place in the United States. Featuring works by more than ninety artists, from painting and sculpture to photography and ceramics, the exhibition will be accompanied by a robust program of music, dance, performance, lectures, and educational programs. The exhibition had its premiere on Saturday at the ICA/Boston and will be on view from October 10, 2015 to January 24, 2016.

Archives and Special Collections is thrilled to be a part of the exhibition, where items from the literary collections are on display together with works loaned from archives and museums throughout the United States and Europe. Items on loan from Archives and Special Collections include a painting by poet and artist Fielding Dawson titled “Cy Twombly.”  Dawson, whose papers reside here in the archives, was a student at Black Mountain College in the early 1950s along with fellow students Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg, and Dan Rice.  Rare documents, manuscripts and “This” (pictured) a poetry broadside by Charles Olson printed at Black Mountain College are also on view in the exhibition. Charles Olson’s archive of manuscripts, letters, diaries, photographs and books resides here at the Dodd Research Center. A rich document of the poet’s life and work, the archive includes a variety of materials from his time at Black Mountain College where he began teaching in 1948 and assumed the role of rector (formally) in 1954. Olson’s poetics were very much influenced by the artists, faculty, students and atmosphere of experimentation that he encountered at Black Mountain College, and that in turn influenced a generation of writers that were later associated with, according to the New American Poetry editor Donald Allen, the “Black Mountain School.”

Organized by Helen Molesworth, the ICA’s former Barbara Lee Chief Curator, with ICA Assistant Curator Ruth Erickson, the exhibition argues that Black Mountain College was an important historical precedent, prompting renewed, critical attention to relationships between art, democracy, and globalism.  The college’s influence, and its critical role in shaping many major concepts, movements, and forms in postwar art and education, can still be seen and felt today.

1966: Collections from 50 Years Ago on Display

At the Archives & Special Collections, we have been ramping up our interoperability.  What does that mean exactly?  Twinkling screens, chatter of audio recording and tactile interactions with materials on exhibition.  Currently, we are featuring collection materials from 50 years ago in the archives to help highlight the year 1966.  These selections contain personal correspondence and work from famous artists and activists like Ed Sanders, Allen Ginsberg, Diane Di Prima and Abbie Hoffman.  Popular culture and ephemera from comic books to Life magazine relating to the politics of War in Vietnam, LSD, the rise of Black Power and the battle against Communism.

Included in the exhibit are Alternative Press Collection materials documenting the War in Vietnam ranging from the scholarly to the ephemeral. The Poras Collection of Vietnam War Memorabilia contains posters, death cards, publications and satirical army culture objects demonstrating the antagonisms of war at home and abroad.  From a personal collection of Navy Corpsman Cal Robertson, his correspondence from Vietnam in 1966 while deployed over two tours as a medic attached to a marine platoon, detailing the daily grind and uncertainties of waiting in the jungle and relaying safety concerns to loved ones back home.  The Alternative Press also includes a trove of anti-war publications such as the Committee for Nonviolent Action.

CQo9zv4VEAAjShs.jpg largeThe physical exhibit in our reading room is but one element of our program to promote access to collections through outreach.  Media displays within the Archives Reading Room featuring additional photographs and videos demonstrate the interactive qualities of physical objects outside of a static display.  Currently, the newest arrival to the reading room is a large tablet-like touch table which has digital content loaded from our Omeka exhibit on1966 which will be unveiled in the coming month on the web.

For more information, follow us @UConnArchives on twitter and facebook where we1 promote exhibits like this one and events happening around the Archives.


National Festival Celebrates the Art of Puppetry | UConn Today

PuppetsWYATT_CENAC-794x1024From August 10 to 16, UConn will be alive with puppet shows, classes, workshops, exhibitions and events for the 2015 National Puppetry Festival.  A special exhibition of puppetry books, artwork, and illustrations from the collections of Archives and Special Collections will be on display from August 1 to 31 in the McDonald Reading Room in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.  Find out more in today’s UCONN Today article…

National Festival Celebrates the Art of Puppetry | UConn Today

Puppeteers from 12 nations on five continents and from 40 U.S. states will converge on the UConn campus during the week of Aug. 10-16 for the 2015 National Puppetry Festival, a whirlwind week of puppet-related activities including workshops, master classes, and performances.

The festival is presented by Puppeteers of America and is expected to be the largest and most extensive gathering of its kind. It will also mark the 50th year of the internationally renowned UConn Puppet Arts Program, which was founded by the legendary Frank W. Ballard. The last time the festival was hosted by UConn was in 1970.

Highlights of the festival will include 30 public performances by more than 25 national and international puppeteers, 30 professional workshops, six visual art exhibitions, “Reel Puppetry” film series, a giant puppet parade, and nightly Festival Pub Showcase. …

The Ku Klux Klan, Rebel Pride and Anti-Klan Resistance

Anti-Racism Coalition of Connecticut, pamphlet.

Anti-Racism Coalition of Connecticut, pamphlet.

On June 18 2015, Dylann Roof, 21 years old, shot and killed nine African-Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.  When Roof was apprehended, he wore the flags of Apartheid-Era South Africa and Rhodesia, former white supremacist settler colonial states in Southern Africa.  Roof also had Confederate flags hung on his walls and frequented white power websites.  These race based murders fueled an ongoing debate about Confederate symbolism and its usage in the private and public spheres.  The Alternative Press Collection at the Archives & Special Collections is comprised of fringe publishing from both ends of the political spectrum such as White Patriot and Death to the Klan.  The current debate around the Confederate flag draws on long standing uses of historical interpretation and cultural identity dating to the Civil War and Reconstruction era of 1861-1877.  As demonstrated in this exhibition currently on display in the Archives through these selected materials from the Alternative Press, Northeast Children’s Literature and Labor collections, figures such as Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, abolitionists John Brown and Frederick Douglass serve as symbolic totems of heritage, spirituality and citizenship. Continue reading

Brass City/Grass Roots exhibit highlights Waterbury’s agricultural past

Professor Ruth Glasser and her exhibit Brass City/Grass Roots, on display at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center in June and July, 2015

Professor Ruth Glasser and her exhibit Brass City/Grass Roots, on display at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center in June and July, 2015

Now available in the Dodd Research Center corridor is the exhibit Brass City/Grass Roots, which tells the story of Waterbury, Connecticut’s little known agricultural past.

Created by UConn Assistant Professor in Residence Ruth Glasser, who teaches in the Waterbury campus’s Urban and Community Studies Program, the exhibit boards beautifully detail the rich history of farming in Waterbury, with photographs, quotes from interviews of members of farming families, and historical documents.

The exhibit shows that Waterbury, best known as the “Brass City” due to its wide renown as an industrial center, has had far more farms and farmers than may have been previously supposed. As Dr. Glasser writes in the exhibit: “Farming did not disappear when the first factories started. But farmers have had to constantly reinvent themselves as they faced hilly land, rocky soil, mechanization, and competition in an increasingly tough regional, national, and international market.” Presently the city has a wealth of community gardens and greenhouses, and thousands of vegetables are raised for personal use as well as for soup kitchens.

Dr. Glasser began her research for the project in 2013, when she connected with Sue Pronovost, the Executive Director of Brass City Harvest, a non-profit organization that alleviates food deserts in the city and educates city residents about the legacy of farming and the present opportunities for farming in the city. In her efforts to gather sources for the project Dr. Glasser spoke on local radio programs, gave presentations, and conducted interviews. She conducted extensive research into land records in the town clerk’s office, consulted historical maps, and studied photographs from private collections as well as from such cultural heritage institutions as the Mattatuck Museum, the Connecticut Historical Society, and the Silas Bronson Library. She also was able to access the archive of Waterbury’s local newspaper, the Republican-American.

With funding from the Connecticut Humanities Fund, the Connecticut Community Foundation, and the Waterbury Environmental Benefits Fund, and with the assistance of students in her Historical Methods seminar, Dr. Glasser wrote the exhibit script and captions, chose preferred photographs for the boards, and worked with a designer on the look of the exhibit panels. Last summer the exhibit was shown at local farmers markets, and has been available at UConn’s Torrington and Waterbury campuses.

The exhibit will be up in the corridor until July 31.

UConn Professor Ruth Glasser shows her exhibit Brass City/Grass Roots to UConn Libraries staff member Bill Miller, June 2015

UConn Professor Ruth Glasser shows her exhibit Brass City/Grass Roots to UConn Libraries staff member Bill Miller, June 2015

We are the Armenians

Currently being installed in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center Archives & Special Collection’s Gallery, an exhibit We are the Armenians. A two month community exhibition celebrating the history, strength, vibrancy, and accomplishments of New England’s Armenian American community.  Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, the exhibition will showcase artifacts, photographs & family heirlooms belonging to members of Connecticut’s Armenian community and the Armenian Museum of America (Watertown, MA).

We are the Armenians, an exhibition sponsored by UConn Global Affairs, is part of the 2015 Norian Armenian Community Exhibition Project.  This project aims to provide a forum for individuals from the Armenian American community throughout Connecticut and the greater New England region to record, share, and preserve their stories, and in so doing, to contribute to the understanding of themes relating to immigration, cultural diversity, and identity relevant to the Armenian diaspora.  The historical foundation of this outreach program was established with the Norian Armenian Oral History Project, directed by Bruce Stave and Sondra Astor Stave, which encompasses twenty interviews, archived in the Connecticut Oral History Collection in UConn’s Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

Exhibition Schedule

March 12th – May 15th, 2015; 9am-5pm, M-F

Location: Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, Storrs CT


Annual Alice K. Norian Lecture, March 24th, 2015; 6:00pm-8:15pm

“Remembering Armenia: A Journey through Historical Fiction & Memoir”

Author Chris Bohjalian and Professor Armen T. Marsoobian

Location: Konover Auditorium, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, Storrs CT