Homer Babbidge Library

Homer Daniels Babbidge, Jr., was born in West Newton, Massachusetts, on May 18, 1925. His father was a captain of merchant ships and the family soon moved to New Haven, Connecticut; in 1935 the family moved again, this time to Amherst, Massachusetts. Babbidge graduated with his undergraduate and doctoral degrees from Yale University, and taught at Yale’s Department of American Studies before taking positions with the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare and acting as the Vice-President of the American Council on Education.

In 1962, at the age of 37, Babbidge became the 8th President of the University of Connecticut. In his Inaugural Address on October 20, 1962, he said “The task of a public university is to wed the new spirit of democracy to the old values of learning.”

In 1962 total enrollment at the University of Connecticut was 12,000 at the main campus in Storrs and across the regional campuses; by 1971 enrollment had grown to over 23,500. During Babbidge’s tenure he oversaw the development of a Junior Year Abroad program, the elimination of the rule that women students be forbidden to wear slacks in the Student Union, and the formation of the Benton Museum of Art on the Storrs campus, the School of Social Work on the Torrington campus, and the UConn medical and dental schools, including the UConn Health Center in Farmington. While serving as President he also taught classes in the Department of History on the History of American Higher Education.

Babbidge led the university at a challenging time. As it was on almost every campus in the country, UConn students demonstrated against the war in Vietnam and on racial discrimination. On November 26, 1968, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) demonstrated against the recruitment on campus of students for the chemical company Olin-Mathieson. Sixty-seven students were arrested for demonstrating and Babbidge called it “the saddest day of my life.”

For what he stated was a promise he made to himself to not hold the job for more than ten years, in October 1971 Babbidge announced that he would resign from the Presidency of UConn on October 1, 1972. More than 7000 students, staff and faculty petitioned his resignation, asking him to reconsider, but to no avail.

After his time at UConn Babbidge returned to Yale as Master of the university’s Timothy Dwight College; in 1976 he became the Hartford Graduate School’s first president. He even briefly dabbled in politics, running for Governor in 1974. Babbidge died on March 27, 1984, from cancer.

During Babbidge’s tenure the UConn library gained its 1,000,000th book. Even before Babbidge left office plans were drawn up to build a new library, given that the space in the Wilbur Cross Library had exceeded the limits of the collection and library services. A study done after 1972 determined that the Wilbur Cross Library had space for just 753 students, less than 5% of the student population.

Groundbreaking for a new library costing $19 million was on July 10, 1975. The library had seven floors with a total 385,000 square feet and shelf space for 1.6 million volumes.

The building opened in 1978, known then as simply the University of Connecticut Library. After Babbidge’s death in 1984 the name was changed to honor the university’s 8th president.

The Handicapped Homemakers Project at UConn in the 1950s

Written by Shaine Scarminach, a UConn History doctoral candidate, who is currently serving as a Graduate Intern in Archives & Special Collections.

In the mid-1950s, the University of Connecticut led a pioneering studying in the rehabilitation of disabled homemakers. The study sought to examine the challenges faced by orthopedically handicapped women in caring for young children.

Mrs. Mathews of the Handicapped Homemakers Project

Supervised by Elizabeth E. May, Dean of the School of Home Economics, the project received generous funding from the U.S. Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, a part of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. It ran from 1955 to 1960 and included a pilot program of in-home research and a series of academic conferences.

The immediate goal was to produce educational materials for disabled homemakers and their families. But the project had loftier aims as well. Expanding the abilities of disabled homemakers, May thought, could boost individual morale, smooth family relations, and increase the numbers of workers both in and outside of the home.

Mrs. Mathews of the Handicapped Homemakers Project

When organizing the project, May and research coordinator, Neva R. Waggoner, adopted a team approach. The project team comprised a diverse group of researchers – including nurses, therapists, engineers, sociologists, and home economists. Together, they hoped to develop labor saving devices and techniques to help disabled homemakers more easily perform household tasks and increase their overall independence. Collaboration would be key. As May made clear in one report, “This is not an ‘ivory tower’ project!”

The bulk of the study involved holding interviews with disabled homemakers throughout Connecticut. The project team developed a list of interview questions and then identified around 100 suitable subjects. The women chosen came from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds and lived with various disabilities.

 

The team then dispatched a field worker to conduct in-home interviews. This was no small undertaking. Because the interview subjects were scattered around the state and sometimes difficult to locate, the field worker ultimately traveled 8,000 miles over the course of the project.

Mrs. Wilson of the Handicapped Homemakers Project

The interviews were extensive, with questions running to ten pages. Despite the careful research design, the responses left the researchers feeling somewhat discouraged. It became difficult to group the responses into general categories because the subjects experienced their disability in highly individualized ways.

But according to the field worker, the interview subjects cooperated willingly and appreciated the researcher’s interest. The worker even remarked on the “ingenious” ways those interviewed had already adapted their abilities to routine household tasks.

Advertisement for the Handicapped Homemakers Project

After the initial round of interviews, the research team chose to continue working with some women. One case was Mrs. M., “a warm, friendly woman” who had lost an arm to cancer but was eager to return to work. Over a series of visits, a social worker observed Mrs. M. throughout her day and suggested how to adjust her daily tasks or use new equipment as needed. Changes could range from using new cutting sheers or adjustable ironing boards to relearning how to type or drive a car.

 

The project even had an international dimension. At one point, May took a sabbatical from her teaching and research to explore the European approach to helping disabled homemakers. She traveled across a number of countries in Great Britain, Scandinavia, and elsewhere. At each stop, May lectured about the project underway at UConn and learned about the programs available in the countries she visited. Finland, she found, had made some of the greatest strides in meeting the needs of disabled people in the home.

Mr. Ackerman of the Handicapped Homemakers Project

By the time the project ended in 1960, the research team had made significant progress in understanding the needs of disabled homemakers. The final step involved translating the study into

Mrs. Fersch of the Handicapped Homemakers Project conducted by the University of Connecticut in the 1950s

educational materials that included films, slideshows, and pamphlets. May and Waggoner, along with another co-author, also published a book based on the study. Ultimately, the project had achieved its goal of drawing attention to the needs of disabled people working in the home.

For more information about the Handicapped Homemakers Project, see the finding aid to the Elizabeth E. Mays Papers at http://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860129674 and several hundred photographs from the project at http://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/search/%22handicapped%20Homemakers%20Project%22?type=dismax

Shakespeare First Folio Transcribathon

TitlePageFirstFolio_FirstFolioFolger-1024x754The UConn Humanities Institute-Folger Library will host a “Transcribathon,” to be held Wednesday,  September 14th, 10 am – 4 pm in the Great Hall of the Alumni Center. The Transcribathon is an event connected with the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Early Modern Manuscripts Online project, which is an effort to transcribe and digitize hand written documents from the Age of Shakespeare. [http://folgerpedia.folger.edu/Early_Modern_Manuscripts_Online_(EMMO)] Staff from the Folger will be on site to lead the event. Participants will transcribe and encode manuscripts, individually or in small groups. There will be food (lunch and pizza at the end of the day), fun, entertaining manuscripts, transcription sprints, prizes, and an easy-to-use online transcription platform called Dromio. UConn will be working on the seventeenth-century diary of the fascinating Rev. John Ward, who in addition to his church duties was a learned humanist and active in medical and scientific circles. Learn to read the original documents of the English Renaissance, and be a part of history by getting your name on the completed edition. Please join us, and encourage your students (classes welcome) and colleagues. The more the merrier!

For more information, contact: Brendan Kane at brendan.kane@uconn.edu

Commemorating the Flood of 1936

1936 Flood in Hartford

In March 1936, after experiencing heavy storms that swept from Ohio to Maine and as far south as Virginia, the Connecticut River, swollen beyond its banks, spilled over into Hartford, Connecticut, flooding over one-fifth of the city.  Adding to that was the late winter melting of snow and ice, causing the river to crest at 8 1/2 feet, the highest ever recorded at that time. Other cities and towns along the Connecticut River were equally affected — in Springfield, Massachusetts, 20,000 townspeople lost their homes.

You can find photographs of the devastation of the Flood of 1936 on our digital repository, mostly from the Southern New England Telephone Company Records.

Breaking news — 74th anniversary of the “day which will live in infamy”

Andre Schenker, 1930

Andre Schenker, 1930

About 1935, Andre Schenker, Associate Professor of History at UConn, began a regular broadcast series entitled “History in the Headlines” airing on WTIC.  The series provided context and analysis of current events for the listening audience. In a reminiscence, Dr. Schenker’s son remembers attending a performance in Hartford on the evening of December 7, 1941, when an usher came to quietly speak with his father. Immediately leaving the performance, Dr. Schenker went on the air later to share the breaking news. The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States had declared war.

This and other broadcasts are available in the Schenker Papers held by Archives & Special Collections and online.

 

Veteran’s Day, UConn style

Veteran's barracks, 1946

More than 2000 UConn alumni served in World War II; 114 of them lost their lives in the conflict. After the war the Veteran’s Administration requested that the university accept between 3000 and 4000 returning soldiers as students. In 1946 the campus had 792 veterans enrolled as students (11 of them were women) with another 300 at the Hartford and Waterbury extension campuses and 154 are enrolled in the Law, Insurance and Pharmacy schools. Eleven temporary barracks, nicknamed “Siberia” because of their distance from the main campus, were built on “the site of the former agronomy plots bordering the main road to Willimantic.” This site is now the Fine Arts Complex and E.O. Smith High School.  As more veterans were accepted to UConn more housing was built or found in nearby Willimantic.

More information about the expansion of the campus for returning World War II veterans can be found in the UConn Chronology at http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/collections/chronology/index.cfm and photographs of scenes such as the one above, of “Agronomy Field” can be found on the Digital Repository.

Terri J. Goldich to retire

 

Terri J. Goldich, June 2015

It is with heavy hearts that we will soon bid farewell to our colleague Terri J. Goldich, who currently serves as Curator for the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection, when she retires on July 1.  Terri has greatly contributed to many successes in Archives & Special Collections and the UConn Libraries, where she has been an employee in many different capacities for the last 38 years.

Hired in March 1977 to participate in the Pioneer Valley Union List of Serials cooperative program, the first ever effort for libraries in the region to automate information about serials, Terri soon moved on to other positions in the UConn Libraries, including as the Connecticut List of Serials coordinator and to serve on the reference and information desks.

Terri was among the first staff in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, dedicated in October 1995 by President Bill Clinton, which opened in January 1996 to house Archives & Special Collections.  Her first position in the building was as Events and Facilities Coordinator but she soon became Curator for the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection, and for a time the Alternative Press Collections, working under former Director Tom Wilsted.

Terri’s tenure as Curator for the NCLC was a period of great growth and distinction, as evidenced by an expansion of the archival collections from 30 to its current number of 128 and the acquisition of the papers and illustrations of such well-known authors and artists as Tomie dePaola, Natalie Babbitt, Richard Scarry, and Suse MacDonald.  Terri was also responsible for the great growth of the children’s book research collection from 13,000 to 46,000 under her oversight.

Terri played a pivotal role in the prominence and popularity of the Connecticut Children’s Book Fair, held the second weekend in November every year since 1992.  Terri joined the Book Fair Committee in 1998 and became Co-Chair in 2006, taking on the responsibilities of fundraising and as a primary contact with the authors and illustrators invited to present their books.

Other important contributions undertaken by Terri while at the UConn Libraries was as a judge of the Rabb Prize, a contest for UConn students in the illustration program, and as head of the library’s Exhibits Committee for many years.

When asked for a noteworthy reminiscence of an event that occurred while at the UConn Libraries, Terri told us that in 1996, on her second day of work in Archives & Special Collections, Tom Wilsted asked her to spend a day with a Norwegian gentleman who turned out to be Dr. Francis Sejersted, the Chair of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.  Dr. Sejersted was visiting campus to participate in one of the symposia organized around the closing of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center’s Year of Introspection, in which Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev also played a part.  He had a free day and wanted to see the local sights; Tom was unavailable and so corralled Terri to act as chaperone.  They scared up a limo and driver and went off on a lovely daytrip to Sturbridge Village.  Terri noted that the Dr. Sejersted had a particular fascination with the sawmill operations.

Terri tells us that after a short visit to her daughter Rose, who currently lives and works in Montana, she plans to enroll in the state’s foster parent program.

Terri’s coworkers will sorely miss her deep knowledge of the children’s literature collections, her spirit of collegiality and kindness, her wicked good party planning expertise as well as her infectious laugh and delightful humor.  We wish Terri the best for her retirement and thank her for her hard work and good humor through her years at the UConn Libraries.