The Kid in Upper 4, a wartime advertising campaign of the New Haven Railroad

The first in The Kid in Upper 4 advertising campaign, reprinted in the December 1942 issue of the New Haven Railroad’s employee magazine Along the Line.

During World War II the New Haven Railroad, which provided passenger and freight service to southern New England including New York City and Boston, found that despite wartime stresses on the railroad company the riding public would consistently and constantly complain about poor service. The railroad suffered during the Great Depression but had a resurgence during the war, which began in December 1941. Its efforts to transport troops, munitions and other wartime supplies to the ports, which were then shipped to the various war fronts in Europe, North Africa and Asia, strained the railroad’s limited resources and resulted in fewer seats and trains available for the general riding public.

The railroad soon turned to its advertising agency, the Wendall P. Colton Company of Boston, to find a way to mollify the complaints and griping. The agency’s first efforts tried to educate the public about the important role played by the New Haven Railroad in the country’s efforts to win the war and defeat fascism. Two ads, “Right of Way for Fighting Might,” which ran in newspapers in New York City and New England in October 1942, and “Thunder Along the Line,” which ran in November 1942, were marginally effective and the complaints continued.

In late 1942 the advertising company gave control of the campaign to Nelson Metcalf, Jr., a 29-year-old Harvard graduate who was fairly new to the advertising profession. Metcalf decided that the best approach was to talk directly to the readers of the ad and play at their emotions. At that time the war touched virtually every citizen of the country, and almost every rider of the railroad had a father, husband, brother or son in the military. Metcalf’s approach played on the thoughts of one soldier, to which all could relate, going to the front on a troop train.

The ad included an image of a fresh-faced young man lying awake in a berth in a sleeping car, and the prose of the ad could not be more compelling. Here is the text in full:

It is 3:42 a.m. on a troop train.
Men wrapped in blankets are breathing heavily.
Two in every lower berth. One in every upper.
This is no ordinary trip. It may be their last in the U.S.A. till the end of the war. Tomorrow they will be on the high seas.
One is wide awake … listening … staring into the blackness.
It is the kid in Upper 4.
Tonight, he knows, he is leaving behind a lot of little things – and big ones.
The taste of hamburgers and pop … the feel of driving a roadster over a six-lane highway … a dog named Shucks, or Spot, or Barnacle Bill.
The pretty girl who writes so often … that gray-haired man, so proud and awkward at the station … the mother who knit the socks he’ll wear soon.
Tonight he’s thinking them over.
There’s a lump in his throat. And maybe – a tear fills his eye.
It doesn’t matter, Kid. Nobody will see … it’s too dark.
A couple of thousand miles away, where he’s going, they don’t know him very well.
But people all over the world are waiting, praying for him to come.
And he will come, this kid in Upper 4.
With new hope, peace and freedom for a tired, bleeding world.
Next time you are on the train, remember the kid in Upper 4.
If you have to stand enroute – it is so he may have a seat.
If there is no berth for you – it is so that he may sleep.
If you have to wait for a seat in the diner – it is so he … and thousands like him … may have a meal they won’t forget in the days to come.
For to treat him as our most honored guest is the least we can do to pay a mighty debt of gratitude.

The ad ran first in the New York Herald Tribune, on November 22, 1942. It was immediately obvious that the ad struck a chord with not just the railroad’s ridership but across America. The railroad and the ad agency immediately started fielding calls and receiving letters with positive responses from the public, other businesses in the industry, and government offices. The ad was soon running in newspapers around the country, as well as Life, Newsweek and Time magazines.It was used to raise money for the Red Cross, to sell U.S. War Bonds, and by the U.S. Army to build morale among servicemen.

As noted by Charles Pinzon and Bruce Swain in their Journalism History article of Fall 2002 about the ad campaign, “by the end of January 1943 even competing railroads had hung full-color posters of the advertisement in their terminals. Within four months of its publication a radio station had dramatized the ad, [famous comedian and actor] Eddie Cantor had read the copy over the air on his hit radio show, a popular song had been written and MGM was in production on a film short.” By March 1943 55,000 reprints had been requested.

The New Haven Railroad was delighted by the ad’s success and ordered the ad agency and Metcalf to create similar “Kid” ads. Although the additional ads, for “The Kid in the Convoy,” “The Kid in the Ward Car,” and others, were similar in tone, none had as much of an impact as the original “Kid” ad. The agency and Metcalf received multiple journalism awards and the railroad was able to guilt the riding public into ceasing their complaints about bad service, at least for a while.

James Twitchell’s book 20 Ads That Shook the World, published in 2000, lists “The Kid in Upper 4” among the most successful campaigns in American history but notes that its success was based on the fact that unlike the typical advertisement it was not selling anything but was “drawing attention away from the client’s lousy product.”

The “Kid” ads shown above are those published in the New Haven Railroad’s employee magazine Along the Line, which can be found in our digital repository at
https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860565482

Resources in the Archives on Immigration and Ethnic Groups in Connecticut

When John Lukasavicius first came to this country, he went weeks without seeing the sun. In 1903, Lukasavicius left his native Lithuania at the age of twenty to join his father in the Pennsylvania coal fields. Soon after he arrived, he found himself heading underground before sunrise and working in the pits until after dark. He only lasted three weeks. Lukasavicius told his father he didn’t like the miner’s life, and left to look for something better.

He joined some relatives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he found work in a furniture factory. This job was more to his liking. Not only did it pay better, but bright sunlight streamed in through the windows each day, bathing the shop floor in a warm glow. Despite his rough beginnings, Lukasavicius grew to enjoy his new life in the United States, eventually settling in New Britain, Connecticut.

Lukasavicius told his story to an employee of the Works Progress Administration in 1939. Created by President Franklin Roosevelt four years earlier, the WPA grew to be one of the largest and most diverse New Deal jobs programs. It employed millions during the Great Depression, often in public works projects like roads, bridges, and dams. But it also hired writers, artists, and photographers to study and document local communities.

One such project was the Connecticut Ethnic Survey, a local part of the larger WPA Ethnic Group Survey conducted by the Federal Writers’ Project. Harry Alsberg, head of the Federal Writers’ Project, wanted to represent America’s diverse population in their work. Connecticut would prove a welcome site for the project since by the 1930s, immigrants made up two-thirds of the population.

For researchers interested in the history of Connecticut’s ethnic heritage and immigration, Archives & Special Collections at the University of Connecticut holds a wealth of material on these subjects. In addition to the extensive files of the Federal Writers’ Project, the archive also holds a number of valuable oral history collections that provide a direct window onto the lives and experiences of the state’s many peoples. Among the relevant collections are:

Connecticut Federal Writers’ Project (Works Projects Administration) The collection comprises research materials for the Connecticut Ethnic Survey, carried out by the local office of the WPA Federal Writers’ Project between 1936 and 1939. The material covers all aspects of the immigrants experience and represents people from England, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Poland, and other European countries. It also covers the experience of African Americans who migrated to Connecticut during the Great Migration. Along with surveys and interviews with individuals, the material contains extensive written research produced by WPA employees on work, housing, history, community organizations, education, racial resentment, and many other aspects of the immigrant experience. While a finding aid is not available online, an extensive card catalog is available for researchers to consult in the Archives & Special Collections reading room. Digitized materials can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A19720002

University of Connecticut, Peoples of Connecticut Project Records The collection comprises a wide variety of material from the Peoples of Connecticut Project. The Project began in 1974 with the goal of educating students about Connecticut’s ethnic heritage. Through research, oral history, and curriculum development, the project provided teaching and learning guides to help students learn about the Connecticut’s rich ethnic heritage. Materials from all aspects of the project are reflected in the collection, from administrative and research files, curriculum guides, bibliographies, and photographs. The oral history materials have been moved to the Center for Oral History Interviews Collection. The finding aid is available here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860140982 and digitized material can be found here: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002:19790014

University of Connecticut, Center for Oral History Interviews Collection The collection comprises interview transcripts conducted by the University of Connecticut Center for Oral History, and individuals and programs associated with the Center. The Center began life as the Oral History Project in 1968 and after expanding over the 1970s was made a center by the UConn Board of Trustees in 1981. Among other collections, the Center holds the oral history transcripts for interviews conducted as part of the Peoples of Connecticut Project. These interviews were conducted by Professor Bruce Stave, who also served as Director of the Center. The finding aid can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860133922 and digitized material can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A19840025

Waterbury (CT) Area Immigrant Oral History Collection, University of Connecticut Urban and Community Studies Program The collection comprises digitized transcripts from oral history interviews conducted by students enrolled in Professor Ruth Glasser’s history courses at the University of Connecticut, Waterbury campus. Most of the interviews are with immigrants living in Waterbury and surrounding towns who came to the United States after 1965. Immigrants from countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, especially Puerto Rico, are well represented. As are immigrants from Albania and ethnic Albanians from Macedonia. But the collection also features interviews with immigrants from other parts of Europe, Asia, the Cape Verde islands, and elsewhere. The finding aid can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860115453 and digitized material can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A20090014

Italians of New London Oral History Collection The collection comprises video tape recordings of oral history interviews with people of Italian descent living in the area of New London, Connecticut. The interviews were conducted by Jerome Fischer, director of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut, based in New London. The finding aid can be found here: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860120112

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. 

Resources in the Archives: Pre-1830 Materials

While most of the papers, records, and collections housed in the Archives & Special Collections date from the mid-nineteenth and twentieth centuries, we do get inquiries for documents from periods before the 1830s. There are a variety of collections that document the history of Connecticut and the United States before the 1830s, some even dating from the colonial period. Some of these collections include materials on the administration of the local and federal government, such as the Gaines Collection of Americana. Other collections, such as the records from the Slater Company and Hartford Bank, present a variety of lenses with which to view the establishment and growth of influential Connecticut businesses. Also collections which have documents before 1830 include the personal papers of Connecticut families. Family papers, besides being valuable for genealogical purposes, offer a wealth of information in the form of deeds, wills, receipts, and personal correspondence and papers. One notable example is the Henry Hill Papers, which includes a journal documenting life on a plantation in Brazil in the 1820s.

Local and Federal Government documents:

Gaines Collection of Americana: this collection contains a variety of documents from 1786 through 1842, which were collected by Connecticut scholar and attorney, Pierce Welch Gaines (1905-1977). The materials in this collection include legal documents, personal and professional correspondence, receipts, and official reports issued by the federal and state government. One notable document signed by Alexander Hamilton in 1790 details the Treasury Department’s concern with the payment of duties. The collection contains other interesting examples of commerce and government business during the early American republic, some detailing aspects of Connecticut’s history. For example, the collection includes a tax notice issued by Connecticut’s government from 1800 announcing the tax on “Dwelling-Houses, Lands and Slaves” within the district. Gaines also collected political pamphlets and periodicals, some related to Connecticut’s constitutional politics in the early nineteenth century, however these are part of the library’s main catalog. The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860138330

Connecticut Business & Local History

Slater Company Records: These records detail the history of a Griswold, Connecticut cotton textile mill shortly after its founding in 1809. First established by John and Lafayette Tibbits in the Jewett City borough of Griswold, the Jewett City Cotton Manufacturing Company experienced limited success until it was eventually sold to Samuel and John Slater in 1823. Samuel Slater had immigrated to America from England in 1789 and built the U.S.’s first cotton mill in Rhode Island, and with the help of his brother, incorporated the latest technological advancements from England. The Slater brothers made significant improvements to the Jewett mill, turning it into a prosperous cotton manufacturer and providing employment for many in the area. The mill remained under the control of the Slater family for the rest of the nineteenth century. Much of the materials in this collection concern the financial business of the Slater mill at Jewett City. These include administrative accounts, correspondence, daybooks, cashbooks, ledgers, as well as labor and production records. The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860135006

Hartford National Bank & Trust Company Records: this collection includes documents from the Hartford Bank from the late eighteenth century through the twentieth century. Established through the efforts of influential Connecticut men, including Noah Webster, John Trumbull, and Jeremiah Wadsworth, the bank was granted a charter from the state on May 29, 1792. It opened to the public on August 8, 1792 on Pearl Street in Hartford. Although it would eventually move to other locations, the bank has always been an important part of Hartford’s business center, and it contributed to the development of Connecticut’s insurance industry. It became the Hartford National Bank in 1865, when it became part of the national bank system. The collection includes financial records dating back to 1792, some of which include daybooks, deposit ledgers, checkbooks, and balance sheets. Also part of the collection are an assortment of corporate records, such as minute books, records of agreements and contracts, and correspondence, with some documents dating to before 1830. The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860289303

Hartford National Corporation Records: In 1969, the Hartford National Bank and Trust Company was purchased by the Hartford National Corporation (HNC). The documents in this collection supplement the Hartford National Bank & Trust Company Records, as they include records from the Hartford Bank from the time of its founding. The pre-1830 records in this collection includes an assortment of financial records, such as a daybook, ledgers, and a record of original subscriptions.
The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860124073

Hampton Antiquarian and Historical Society Collection: this collection is comprised of the Hampton Antiquarian and Historical Society’s archive. While the collection includes items that date up until the early twentieth century, it also contains a variety of documents from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that illustrate the lives and business of people who lived in Hampton, Connecticut. Documents dating before 1830 in this collection include wills, deeds, and family letters, as well as store ledgers and account books from businesses in Hampton. Also included are official town documents, for example legal contracts and correspondence concerning road construction in the area.  The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860133980

Wauregan and Quinebaug Company Records: this collection holds the records of the Wauregan and Quinebaug textile mills, as well as a variety of documents related to members of the Atwood family, who were connected to the management of the mills from the early nineteenth century. While most of the materials in this large collection date from between 1850 and 1950, there are some records before 1830. These detail Atwood family history, and include land transactions, surveys, and deeds going back to 1809. The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860134117

Sargent and Company Records: Founded in the mid-nineteenth century, Sargent and Company was a manufacturer of locks and hardware based in New Haven, Connecticut. Established by Joseph B. Sargent, Sargent and Company began as a commission business in New York City. In 1865, Sargent moved his company to New Haven, Connecticut, where it made small hardware items which were then sold to manufactures in New York. By 1900, the company had grown to become one of the largest in the lock and hardware industry. Most of the records in this collection are from after 1850, however it contains earlier materials related to Joseph Sargent and his family. This includes family correspondence (the earliest from 1720), as well as records such as receipts and contracts that detail the business and finances of the Sargent family from the early nineteenth century. The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860134544

Family Papers:

Fitts Family Papers: this collection is made up of personal documents from a family located in Ashford, Connecticut. The primary individuals mentioned in the collection are Stephen Fitts, John Moore, and Frederick Knowlton. The collection includes correspondence, legal papers, bills and receipts, tax records, deeds, and other papers dating from 1770 to 1909.  The finding aid can be found at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860128094

Leavenworth Family Papers: this collection includes both personal and professional documents that span many generations of the Leavenworth family of Connecticut. The first Leavenworth documented in the collection is David Leavenworth, who fought in the Revolutionary War. The collection contains a small assortment of legal documents from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, many of which concern the granting and division of land. The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860118336#ref3

Smith Family Papers: The Smith family founded and ran mills in the Canterbury area of Connecticut from the mid-eighteenth century until the 1940s. The collection includes personal and business-related documents, including letters, financial records, ledgers, account books, and daybooks, with the earliest business records date from 1774. The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860138668

T.S. Gold Family Papers: this collection contains a wide variety of personal papers, legal and financial documents, correspondence, printed material, and memorabilia regarding the Gold and Cleveland families. Much of the collection details the life and work of Theodore Sedgwick Gold (1818-1906), who was the co-founder of the Cream Hill Agricultural School in West Cornwall, Connecticut. Gold also helped establish the Connecticut State Agricultural Society in 1853, and was a trustee of the Storrs Agricultural School from 1881 to 1901. While most of the collection dates from the second half of the nineteenth century, it contains a number of legal and financial documents from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, as well as family letters from the 1820s. The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860134074

Henry Hill Papers: this collection contains family correspondence to and from Henry Hill, who was born in Guilford, Connecticut in 1778. Hill was appointed by President Thomas Jefferson in 1808 as U.S. Consul to San Salvador, Brazil. He resigned from this post due to health issues in 1819, and moved to a large plantation, Columbiano. Eventually, in 1833, he returned with his family to the U.S., and lived in Buffalo, New Yok, until his death in 1841. The Henry Hill Papers include many personal letters from Henry Hill to his wife, Lucy, before she joined him in Brazil. In one notable letter to Lucy, Hill gives a description of San Salvador upon his arrival. The collection also contains letters from Henry and Lucy’s children and other family members. Besides correspondence, the collection includes financial and government documents, as well as a fascinating account of Hill’s voyage to Columbiano, which includes details of everyday life on a plantation growing coffee, cotton, and sugar cane. The finding aid is available at: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860120373#ref3

We invite you to view these items in the reading room in Archives & Special Collections at 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 Alexandra Borkowski, a UConn PhD student and student assistant in Archives & Special Collections.

Resources in the Archives on the Civil Rights Movement as depicted in Children’s Literature

She had not sought this moment but she was ready for it. When the policeman bent down to ask “Auntie, are you going to move?” all the strength of all the people through all those many years joined in her. She said, “No.”—From Rosa

Imagining the moment when Rosa Parks was arrested for protesting segregation in 1955, Nikki Giovanni is one of many authors of children’s literature who has made the history of the Civil Rights Movement accessible to a younger audience. By focusing on well-known and pivotal events that helped to galvanize the movement, such as Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of the bus, or Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, authors and illustrators bring to life the struggle of African Americans who fought for equal rights under the law during the 1950s and 1960s. Books like Rosa educate young readers about the fight for social justice during a time of rampant racial discrimination and inequality for blacks in America. Introducing children to concepts such as racial violence and intolerance, authors and illustrators have the delicate task of explaining these concepts in a way that will encourage empathy in young readers. They often do so by depicting this history through the eyes of children, and considering how children would have participated in or been affected by these events.

Many titles on the topic of Civil Rights can be found in the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection at Archives & Special Collections. These books tell the story of the Civil Rights Movement in different ways, from how people joined in historic marches, to the methods people used to stand up against segregation. Some of them focus specifically on historical figures, such as Rosa Parks and Dr. King, in order to show their courage in times of adversity and to honor their legacy. These books are valuable resources for educators in elementary and middle schools. As the country continues to grapple with the effects of its past, educating young readers about this aspect of U.S. history is an important step in encouraging tolerance and awareness.

The Northeast Children’s Literature Collection available at Archives & Special Collections includes a variety of titles concerning the Civil Rights Movement, most of which have been published within the last twenty years (note that the call number for each book is placed after the year of publication):

Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott:

  • Edwards, Pamela Duncan, The Bus Ride that Changed History (2005) CLC C4260
  • Giovanni, Nikki. Rosa (2005) CLC C4109
  • Kittinger, Jo S., Rosa’s Bus (2010) CLC D6405
  • Pinkney, Andrea Davis, Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation (2008) CLC D2342
  • Reynolds, Aaron, Back of the Bus (2010) CLC D2710
  • Romito, Dee, Pies from Nowhere: how Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott (2018) CLC D9629

Historic Marches:

  • Clark-Robinson, Monica, Let the Children March (2018) CLC D9667
  • Evans, Shane, We March (2012) CLC D6844
  • Johnson, Angela, A Sweet Smell of Roses (2005) CLC D1393
  • Partridge, Elizabeth, Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow Weary (2009) CLC D2448
  • Shelton, Paula Young, Child of the Civil Rights Movement (2010) CLC D6401
  • Swain, Gwenyth, Riding to Washington (2008) CLC D2562

Martin Luther King, Jr.:

  • Bausum, Ann, Marching to the Mountaintop: how Poverty, Labor Fights, and Civil Rights set the Stage for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Final Hours (2012) CLC C8192
  • Bolden, Tonya, M.L.K.: Journey of a King (2007) CLC C5135
  • Bunting, Eve, The Cart that Carried Martin (2013) CLC D7202
  • Duncan, Alice Faye, Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: the Sanitation Strike of 1968 (2018) CLC D9630
  • Michelson, Richard. As Good as Anybody: Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom (2008) CLC C5719
  • Nelson, Kadir, I Have a Dream (2012) CLC D6631
  • Pinkney, Andrea Davis, Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song (2013) CLC D6995
  • Pinkney, Andrea Davis, Martin Rising: Requiem for a King (2018) CLC D9631
  • Rappaport, Doreen. Martin’s Big Words: the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (2001) CLC D591
  • Woodson, Jacqueline. Martin Luther King, Jr., and His Birthday. 1990. CLC A14499

Desegregation of schools

  • Coles, Robert, The Story of Ruby Bridges (1995) CLC D9093
  • Kanefield, Teri, The Girl from the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the Advent of the Civil Rights Movement (2014) CLC D7890
  • Rappaport, Doreen, The School is not White! A True Story of the Civil Rights Movement (2005) CLC D1435
  • Tonatiuh, Duncan, Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & her Family’s Fight for Desegregation (2014) CLC D7573

Other notable books:

  • Bass, Hester, Seeds of Freedom: the Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama (2015) CLC D8280
  • Brantley-Newton, Vanessa. Let Freedom Sing (2009) CLC D2570
  • Corey, Shana, A Time to Act: John F. Kennedy’s Big Speech (2017) CLC D9519
  • Haskins, James, Bayard Rustin: Behind the Scenes of the Civil Rights Movement (1997) CLC C1349
  • Hunter-Gault, Charlayne, To the Mountaintop: My Journey through the Civil Rights Movement (2012) CLC C8284
  • Levy, Debbie, We Shall Overcome: the Story of a Song (2013) CLC D7194
  • Pinkney, Andrea Davis, Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood up by Sitting Down (2010) CLC D2808
  • Ramsey, Calvin A., Ruth and the Green Book (2010) CLC D2670
  • Ramsey, Calvin A. & Bettye Stroud, Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend: A Civil Rights Story (2011) CLC D6351
  • Weatherford, Carole Boston, Freedom on the Menu: the Greensboro Sit-ins (2005) CLC D1389
  • ZuHone, Diane, This is the Dream (2006) C9893

We invite you to view these items in the reading room in Archives & Special Collections at 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 Alexandra Borkowski, a UConn PhD student and student assistant in Archives & Special Collections.

Resources in the Archives on the History of Rights

 

The concept of rights stretches back centuries, if not millennia. Whether the natural rights of the Ancient Greeks or their Enlightenment descendants, the Rights of Woman in the Age of Revolution, or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after World War II, ideas about, and claims for, rights have accompanied many of the major events and developments in world history.

Organizing and advocacy around rights played an especially important role in the course of U.S. history. The early twentieth century experienced an efflorescence of movements agitating for women’s rights, African-American rights, the right to protest and free speech, among many others. The decades after World War II saw a similar flowering of activity around rights, whether revitalized versions of the aforementioned movements or subterranean currents rising to the surface as with movements for LGBTQ and disability rights.

Later decades also saw the emergence of movements around consumer protections and human rights, in the United States and abroad. But whatever their subject, individuals and organizations dedicated to expanding rights help us to understand how people throughout history have contested authority, protested discrimination, and secured official recognition.

Archives & Special Collections of the University of Connecticut Library holds a wealth of materials for those interested in exploring the history of rights in greater depth, especially the history of local movements in Connecticut. Among the relevant collections are:

Connecticut Commission on Civil Rights Collection. Founded in 1943, the Connecticut Civil Rights Commission aimed to help the State of Connecticut overcome problems of racial discrimination and prejudice. The organization focused its efforts on gathering information about racial discrimination in the state; investigating incidents of discrimination and filing legal sanctions when appropriate; and educating the public about the state’s diverse population and the problems of racial and ethnic discrimination. The collection consists of pamphlets distributed to state offices on the commission’s work and related issues, as well as bulletins and pamphlets related to state and federal civil rights legislation. https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860113036

Connecticut Civil Liberties Union Records. The Connecticut Civil Liberties Union, a local affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, was founded in 1949 as the New Haven Civil Liberties Council. The CCLU is a non-partisan and non-profit organization dedicated to upholding the rights of Connecticut residents. The collection consists of archival materials documenting the CCLU’s work and history. The records contain the administrative files of the New Haven Civil Liberties Council (1949-1958), the administrative files of the CCLU (1958-1990), as well as material relating to some of the CCLU’s major court cases, such as Women’s Health Services v. Maher (1979-1981), Doe v. Maher (1981-1990), and Sheff v. O’Neill (1989-1998). These latter records consist of court documents, trial transcripts, correspondence, and research materials. https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860124277

Connecticut Citizen Action Group Records. Founded in 1971, the Connecticut Citizens Action Group was the state’s first consumer advocacy organization. Created by Ralph Nader and led by Toby Moffett, the CCAG directed its efforts at informing, organizing, and mobilizing the citizens of Connecticut to take action on issues relevant to their everyday lives. The group helped lead local residents in campaigns against illegal business practices, consumer fraud, utility-rate increases, and environmental pollution, among many other issues. The collection consists of significant archival materials documenting most of the major consumer and public interest issues taken up by the organization. It also contains records on the organization’s history, structure, chapters, and other institutional information. https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860133772

Phyllis Zlotnick Papers. Phyllis Zlotnick was a pioneering disability advocate from Connecticut. Born in 1942, Zlotnick had muscular dystrophy, an inherited disease that causes the loss of muscle mass. Using a wheelchair to get around, Zlotnick spent most of her early life and education facing obstacles to accessibility. In response, she dedicated much of her professional life to advocating for people with disabilities. She worked as a legislative liaison for Connecticut Easter Seals and later for Connecticut General Assembly member Ernie Abate. She also served on the National Council on Disability and helped to draft the Americans with Disabilities Act, a landmark piece of legislation passed in 1990. Zlotnick was an expert on issues of accessibility and a fierce advocate for disability rights. The collection consists of newspaper clippings, photos, personal records, advocacy literature, and other media related to Zlotnick’s life and work. https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860356463

Roberto (Robin) Romano Papers. U. Roberto (Robin) Romano was an award-winning photographer, filmmaker, and human rights educator. Through photography, film, and educational activity, Romano documented the lives, poverty, and rehabilitation of children around the world. His work focused, in particular, on the issue of child labor, and his papers contain material on carpet making in South Asia, resource extraction in West Africa, and migrant farm labor in the United States, among other topics. His extensive collection of papers consists of photographic prints, digital video, educational publications, research files, correspondence, and much more. Much of this material is available through our online collections as digitized or born-digital materials. https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860115768

Marriage Equality and LGBT Activism in Connecticut Oral History Collection. In 1991, Connecticut became one of a few states to pass a comprehensive anti-discrimination law concerning sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations and credit. The state also helped lead the way in advancing LGBTQ rights with laws around adoption, civil unions, and same-sex marriage. The Marriage Equality and Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Activism in Connecticut Oral History Project was a pilot project of Archives & Special Collections. The collection consists of eleven oral histories with leading activists in Connecticut who have been a part of the marriage equality movement and involved in other forms of LGBTQ activism in the state and beyond. The interviews were conducted by Valerie Love and transcriptions for some are available through our online collections. https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860114422

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. 

Resources in the Archives for the History of Photography in the 19th Century

 

Photography, or the process of recording an image through the manipulation of light on a light-sensitive material, has undergone a significant evolution since the invention of the first complete photographic process in the 1820s by Nicéphore Niépce. Building on Niépce’s work, Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre created the first photographic process available to the public in 1839. Known as the daguerreotype, it consisted of a detailed image on a sheet of silver-plated copper, and was popular between 1842 and 1856. In order to create an image, the plate was coated in light-sensitive silver iodide, and then placed inside of a camera and exposed to light. After exposure, the plate was developed using heated mercury, which reacted to the iodide and formed an image through the combination of silver mercury. The image was then fixed through a solution of salt. Daguerreotypes were particularly susceptible to damage such as tarnishing, and thus were usually placed behind glass and a metal mat inside of a small case.

The next major photographic process was the ambrotype. First appearing in 1854, the ambrotype was popular from 1855 to 1861. They were made using a collodion process, which involved coating a piece of glass with a layer of iodized collodion, and immersing the glass in a solution of silver nitrate to form silver iodide. While still wet, the plate was exposed to light in the camera, and then developed and fixed immediately. Ambrotypes consisted of an image on the front side of a single plate of glass, with the back of the glass covered with a piece of black paper or cloth, so that the negative appearing image looked positive. Like daguerreotypes, they were delicate and thus were placed in a case under a protective mat and glass.

Derived from the ambrotype was the tintype, which was invented in 1856. The tintype was popular between 1860 and 1870, and it relied on the collodion process like the ambrotype. However, instead of glass, the image was produced on a thin sheet of iron covered by a lacquer or enamel coating. Tintypes were commonly used for portraiture, however they were the first photographic process to capture a wide array of subjects, because they were relatively easy to produce and were inexpensive. Tintypes were commonly displayed in paper envelopes or folding cards.

The carte de visite was the next important development in photography. Appearing 1859, this type of photography was popular between 1860 and 1880, and had a significant impact on consumer photography. This process was particularly attractive to consumers because the materials were less expensive than in other photographic processes, and the image had a more natural appearance than the tintype due to its use of the albumen process of printing. It was also the first photographic process to use a glass negative, which meant that multiple copies of the image could be produced. As a result, people started collecting and sharing photographs on a large scale, and photograph albums started to become popular in the early 1860s. Carte de visite images were developed on a very thin sheet of paper, which was then affixed to a piece of card stock, and were all the same size.

The cabinet card followed the carte de visite. First developed in 1866, this type of photography was popular between 1875 and 1900. The cabinet card became known for its use as the best medium for the family portrait. It was developed using the same process as the carte de visite, however the image of the cabinet card was more than double the size of the carte de visite. Initially, the quality of the image was not that different from the carte de visite, however by the 1880s, advancements in camera technology and the introduction of new photographic papers led to significant improvements in image quality.

The collections available at Archives & Special Collections allow us to trace the development of photography throughout the nineteenth century:

  • American Brass Company Records: Founded in 1893 with the consolidation of several different companies, the American Brass Company grew to become one of the largest brass manufacturers in U.S. history. The collection includes records and items dating from around 1800 to 1978. An important part of the collection consists of photographs that detail aspects of the company’s long history. The types of nineteenth-century photographs included in this collection are daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, and cabinet cards. The finding aid is available at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860129472.
  • Margaret Waring Buck Papers: This collection consists of the personal papers and memorabilia of illustrator and naturalist Margaret Waring Buck (1905-1972). Besides original artwork and manuscripts, the collection contains many photographs from the nineteenth century. This collection includes examples of the daguerreotype, ambrotype, tintype, and carte de visite. The finding aid is available at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860138800.
  • University Railroad Collection: This collection is made up of a wide variety of publications, reports, maps, artwork, and photography all associated with the history of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. Formed in 1872 when the New York & New Haven and Hartford & New Haven railroads merged, the company became the primary method of transportation in southern New England. Examples of daguerreotype and ambrotype photography can be found in this collection as part of the Ferdinand Leppens Papers. The finding aid is available at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860140983.
  • Oliver O. Jensen Papers: This collection consists of the personal and professional writings, records, manuscripts, and photographs of writer and editor Oliver O. Jensen (1914-2005). Examples of the tintype, carte de visite, and cabinet card can be found in this collection. The finding aid is available at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860118803.
  • Ellen Emmet Rand Papers: This collection is made up of biographical materials of painter and illustrator Ellen Emmet Rand (1875-1941). It includes tintypes from Rand’s family history. The finding aid is available at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860257637.
  • Human Development and Family Studies Department Collection of Photographs and Ephemera: This collection features many examples of the tintype, carte de visite, and cabinet card. The finding aid to the University of Connecticut Photograph Collection is available at https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860133571

We invite you to view these collections in the reading room in Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center if you need resources on history of photography. Our staff is happy to assist you in accessing these and other collections in the archives.

This post was written by Alexandra Borkowski, a UConn PhD student and student assistant in Archives & Special Collections.

A Great Moment in UConn Athletics History: The Men’s Basketball Team’s 1999 NCAA Championship

The 1998-1999 men’s basketball season at the University of Connecticut was unlike any other. Since the arrival of Coach Jim Calhoun in 1986, the team had grown by leaps and bounds, winning an NIT title in 1990 and achieving great success thereafter. But the Huskies had yet to capture the biggest prize of all—the NCAA national championship.

From the beginning, though, the 1998-99 season looked different. The Huskies started off with a 19-0 winning streak, though injuries tripped the team up in February 1999 with losses to Syracuse and Miami. But the Huskies would remain undefeated for the rest of the season. And many of the team’s victories were hard won—nine wins came only after the team had been trailing at half-time.

Personnel was key. While college teams tend to lose players after only a few seasons, the Huskies began the 1998-99 season with its full starting line-up from the previous year: senior Ricky Moore, juniors Richard “Rip” Hamilton, Kevin Freeman, and Jake Voskuhl, and star sophomore Kahlid El-Amin. Remarkably, this line-up almost never returned. Rip Hamilton was tempted to leave UConn for the NBA after two seasons, potentially motivating his close friend Kevin Freeman to move on as well.

Yet a discussion with Coach Calhoun convinced Hamilton to change his mind, and Freeman decided to stay too, not wanting to leave his friend and teammate behind. The whole team even had a chance to strengthen their camaraderie on and off the court with an overseas trip to London and Israel during the summer.

By the time spring rolled around, the Huskies were ranked number three in the nation, and were a top seed in the West, playing the opening round of March Madness in Denver. Yet the team to beat was Duke’s Blue Devils, the top-ranked team in men’s basketball and a strong favorite to win the championship.

The UConn players got a sense of the long odds in their hotel room the night before the final game. Gathered around the television, they saw images beamed in from Durham, North Carolina, where throngs of Blue Devils fans were already adorned with championship gear. The premature victory lap pulled the team together, steeling them for the big day.

Coach Jim Calhoun, however, arrived at the championship game feeling calm and confident. While Duke’s team was impressive, Calhoun sensed his player’s experience and determination would carry them to a win. Nevertheless, things did not look so serene on the court. Duke took an early 9-2 lead and bested the Huskies at half-time with a score of 39-37.

Yet the Huskies fell into an old pattern—pushing forward during the second half toward victory. After a series of before the buzzer free-throws delivered by El-Amin, UConn ultimately beat Duke 77-74 under the dome of Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Many have named the March 29, 1999, championship game as one of the greatest match ups in college basketball history.

But the real show may have been the adoring crowds that greeted the Huskies when they returned home to Connecticut. A day after the final game, adoring fans lined the state’s bridges and roads to cheer as the team traveled to campus from Bradley International Airport and made the bus trip back to Storrs to greet waiting fans in Gampel Pavilion.

A victory parade around Hartford, a trip to the White House, and many other celebrations would cement the 1999 NCAA championship as an event to remember in the history of UConn sports.

For those interested in learning more about that historic season, Archives and Special Collections holds a range of materials related to the championship game, along with other collections on UConn sports. We invite you to view these materials in our reading room in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center and 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. 

 

Resources in the Archives about Women at UConn

 

In 1893, after an act of the Connecticut General Assembly, the rustic Storrs Agricultural School was remade into Storrs Agricultural College, a first step on its way to becoming the major research university we know today as the University of Connecticut.

Along with a new name, the college expanded its course offerings, hired new faculty, and admitted new students—most notably, it officially opened its doors to women. Some members of the General Assembly initially tried to bar women from attending, only to be defeated in the end. Even so, it would have been a belated effort. Records indicate that by 1893 about twenty women had already taken classes at the school, either because of the forward-thinking president Benjamin F. Koons or simply because no law existed to discourage them.

Either way, women’s presence at UConn continued to expand in subsequent years. More and more female students attended classes, played on sports teams, and engaged in student activities in and around the campus, while female faculty and staff assumed a greater number of academic and administrative positions. Today, women account for a slight majority of students at UConn, and the evolution from that first twenty students to women’s prominent role on campus today is amply documented by the university archives.

Archives & Special Collections holds a wealth of materials for those interested in exploring the integral role of women at UConn. Among the relevant collections are:

  • President’s Office Records. The collection comprises extensive material relating to each presidential administration at UConn. The records from Glenn W. Ferguson’s presidency (1973-1978) are especially relevant. They contain significant material on attempts to include women’s concerns in the university’s affirmative action plan, and the controversy and activism around the denial of tenure to English professor Marcia Lieberman. The finding aid can be found at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860134674
  •  UConn Women’s Center Records. The collection comprises books, correspondence, notes, fliers, clippings, publications, legal records, and transcripts relating to the University of Connecticut’s Women’s Center from 1970 to 1989. The UConn Women’s Center was founded in 1972 after concerted student activism and continues to exist today. It provides a range of social services, educational opportunities, and community outreach at the University of Connecticut around a host of issues relating to women and beyond. The finding aid can be found at http://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860116494
  •  UConn Women’s Studies Program Records. The collection comprises grant files, administrative records, announcement, fliers, and publications. The University of Connecticut’s Women’s Studies Program began in 1974 and was the first official program for women’s studies in Connecticut. Similar to UConn’s Women Center, the Women’s Studies Program formed after concerted efforts by students, faculty, and staff to include women’s interests and issues on campus, especially amid a renewed wave of feminist organizing in the 1960s and 1970s. The finding aid can be found at http://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860115771
  • One Hundred Years of Women at UCONN Collection. The collection comprises the contents of a scrapbook created to document the 100 Years of Women activities at UConn during the 1991-1992 academic year. The scrapbook contained photographs, clippings, programs, announcements, memoranda, correspondence, flyers, brochures and posters. The scrapbook was created by a committee formed by President Harry J. Hartley in 1991, and then led by Professor Cynthia Adams, to develop a year-long program of activities to celebrate the role of women in UConn’s history. The activities included a convocation, lectures, presentations, awards and an exhibition. The finding aid can be found at http://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860131611
  • Athletic Communications Office Records. The collection comprises materials concerning the full range of UConn athletics, including basketball, softball, field hockey, tennis, swimming, and many other sports. Records for individual sports contain publications, media guides, statistics, correspondence, press releases, newspaper clippings, and other materials, many over long periods of time. The collection also holds a significant archive of press releases and other general materials. Overall, the collection represents some of the most extensive coverage of UConn athletics and provides a detailed portrait of women in sports at UConn. The finding aid can be found at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860123050
  • Student Newspapers. The collection comprises digitized issues of student newspapers from multiple UConn campuses. The most significant collection comes from the Storrs campus, including extensive runs of early to contemporary student newspapers like the Lookout and the Daily Campus. These newspapers provide some of the most far-reaching and wide-ranging coverage of student life at UConn. Both the student newspapers and the student yearbook supply a useful means to chart the history of women at UConn. The finding aid can be found at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/islandora%3Acampusnewspapers
  • Nutmeg. The collection comprises digitized copies of UConn’s student yearbook from 1915 to 2008. Similar to the student newspapers, the student yearbook provides a useful means of understanding the evolving place of women at UConn. The yearbooks contain information on individual students, clubs, sports, campus activities, academics, and information on particular academic years. The yearbooks furnish an especially useful means to survey the expanding presence of women at UConn, both in terms of faculty and students. The finding aid can be found at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860133446
  • University of Connecticut Photograph Collection. The collection comprises digitized photographs from throughout UConn’s history. The extensive collection of photographs documents women in all aspects of university life, from sports and academics to university clubs and social life. The finding aid can be found at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3AMSS19880010

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. 

Litchfield County Writers Project Presentations, 1993-2014, Now Available Online

This post was written by Sarah Morin, a Simmons University graduate student who completed a digital stewardship and metadata internship in Archives & Special Collections.  Ms. Morin received her MLIS degree in December 2018.

For over two decades, the Litchfield County Writers Project (LCWP) has endeavored to support, preserve, display, and celebrate the writers of Litchfield County in ways that further enrich UConn and our community’s creative life.

This program was originally created by Adrienne Lyon, a former director of UConn Torrington, and further developed by Davyne Verstandig, a gifted interviewer, poet, and lecturer at UConn. From 1993 to 2014, the LCWP hosted a range of rich and fascinating lectures, interviews, dramatic readings, and performances by writers and artists of all types and genres. In the earliest days of the program, Lyon spoke of her dearly held dream of making these presentations accessible to the world. Today, over 100 of them are now available online for public viewing.

There is such a wide and wonderful variety of topics that everyone is sure to find a presentation that piques their particular interest. Notable luminaries who gave moving and memorable presentations include Frank McCourt (author of Angela’s Ashes), Madeleine L’Engle (author of A Wrinkle in Time), Tom Schiller (writer for Saturday Night Live), Paul and Linda Fusco (creators of ALF), Candace Bushnell (author of Sex and the City), Barbara Parsons (wrote her memoirs in prison under the tutelage of Wally Lamb), and Gina Barreca (acclaimed academic and humorist). And this list is by no means a comprehensive or complete accounting of all the distinguished writers, artists, musicians, poets, scholars, reporters, filmmakers, and documentarians who presented in the program.

The LCWP presentations can be viewed at the Connecticut Digital Archive

Resources in the Archives about the History of UConn Athletics

 

In the University of Connecticut’s early years, the only thing that passed for organized sports was the mandatory practice of picking up rocks from the fields around campus for three hours each day. Much resented by the students, this “instructional labor” was soon abandoned as football, baseball, and other teams began to form around the turn of the twentieth century. Unfortunately, many of these early teams performed about as well as the aforementioned rocks (though the Board of Trustees proudly reported that the 1900-1901 women’s basketball team was undefeated).

Nevertheless, athletic teams continued to grow and flourish at the university, expanding from those early staples to a wide range of sports whose teams have both achieved great victories and suffered stunning defeats. The growing importance of athletics in university life sometimes produced controversy and concern, but also healthy rivalries and an endless amount of school spirit. All throughout, the story of UConn athletics has been filled with colorful personalities, extraordinary events, and incredible performances.

Archives & Special Collections holds a wealth of materials for those interested in the rich history of UConn athletics. Among the relevant collections are:

  • Athletic Communications Office Records. The collection comprises materials concerning the full range of UConn athletics, including baseball, basketball, rugby, archery, rifle marksmanship, and many other sports. Records for individual sports contain publications, media guides, statistics, correspondence, press releases, newspaper clippings, and other materials, many over long periods of time. The collection also holds a significant archive of press releases and other general materials. Overall, the collection represents some of the most extensive coverage of UConn athletics. The finding aid can be found at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860123050
  • President’s Office Records. The collection comprises broad materials relating to each presidential administration at UConn. Among these materials are files relating to athletics in general, as well as specific athletic directors. Much of this material consists of correspondence with outside groups or details internal deliberations on athletic issues. Topics include everything from athletic cheating scandals to television contracts to outside sponsorships. The finding aid can be found at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860134674
  • Athletic Publications. The collection comprises digitized versions of athletic press guides and programs. The focus is on football and basketball, and the most extensive collection is the University of Connecticut Football Press Guide, which has issues covering the period 1950–1979. The finding aid can be found at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20004%3AAthleticsPublications
  • University of Connecticut Memorabilia Collection. The collection comprises ephemera and artifacts associated with UConn that add a material depth and diversity to the textual collections on university life. While covering a wide range of subjects, the collection features significant athletics-related material from throughout UConn’s history. Examples included basketballs and footballs, tickets, clippings, programs, and other materials. The finding aid can be found at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860133446
  • University Scrapbook Collection. The collection comprises scrapbooks that document programs, activities, events, and individuals associated with UConn. Similar to the memorabilia collection, the scrapbooks add another useful supplement to the official textual materials from university offices. While they cover a range of subjects and time periods, some are dedicated to university athletics. The finding aid can be found at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860133444
  • University of Connecticut Trophies Collection. The collection comprises trophies, awards, photographs and other materials related to the placement of individuals and institutions at UConn in various competitions. Most of the competitions are athletic, though some awards were received by poultry-related departments, reflecting the university’s early focus on agricultural science. Recent trophies have been transferred directly from sports teams, while older awards arrived after department offices were moved. The finding aid can be found at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860124616
  • Student Newspapers. The collection comprises digitized issues of student newspapers from multiple UConn campuses. The most significant collection comes from the Storrs campus, including extensive runs of early to contemporary student newspapers like the Lookout and the Daily Campus. These newspapers provide access to daily updates on UConn athletics, covering everything from game listings and scores to general coverage and in-depth analysis. The finding aid can be found at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/islandora%3Acampusnewspapers
  • Nutmeg. The collection comprises digitized copies of UConn’s student yearbook from 1915 to 2008. The yearbooks provide useful information about teams, such as rosters, images, and scores, along with information about related athletic clubs on campus. They also provide some information about unofficial athletic activities that take place on campus each year. The finding aid can be found at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860133446
  • University of Connecticut Photograph Collection. The collection comprises digitized photographs from throughout UConn’s history. The extensive collection includes photographs of teams, individual players and coaching staff, games, practices, and a host of other subjects related to university athletics. Some of the most notable photographs were taken by Jerauld Manter, a UConn graduate who also played on the basketball team. The finding aid can be found at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3AMSS19880010

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. 

Benjamin Franklin Koons Hall

 

In recent years, the University of Connecticut has seen ever-larger classes of students arrive on campus each fall, swelling the school’s already overburdened facilities. But it was ever thus. Around the turn of the twentieth century, an expanding student population at what was then called the Connecticut Agricultural College similarly overwhelmed classrooms and dormitories.

A 1904 issue of The Lookout, an early version of the student newspaper, reported that laboratories once built for soil physics were being outfitted with rows of beds. And even the president’s residence was overtaken by nine students and two instructors. The president and his wife had to relegate themselves to two small rooms in another building on campus.

In response, the Connecticut General Assembly appropriated funds for new construction in 1911. One building to emerge out of this appropriation was Koons Hall, built in 1913 as a men’s dormitory at the cost of $75,000. The building was almost an exact replica of Storrs Hall, built just a few years before in 1906. Koons Hall was named after Benjamin Franklin Koons, an early faculty member and the first president of what would become the University of Connecticut.

Koons was born in Sulphur Springs, Ohio, in 1844. He was one of twelve children in a typical farm family, and his parents sent him and his siblings to the local school. In 1862, Koons enlisted in the Union Army and fought in several major battles, including Cedar Creek and Appomattox. He escaped major injury, and his regiment even received special praise from General Ulysses S. Grant.

After the war, Koons returned to his education, enrolling in Oberlin College in 1870. He graduated in 1874, and then spent several years teaching in schools across the South. He returned to Oberlin in 1878 to continue his education and then went on to study at Yale University. He graduated from Yale in 1881 and took a job teaching at the Storrs Agricultural School, which opened in the fall of that year.

Koons was hired as a professor of natural history, and taught classes as well as published research in a range of fields. He dedicated much of his career to the kinds of research that would serve the school’s initial focus on agricultural education. But he was also drawn into administrative work early on, and when the Board of Trustees voted to change the school’s name to Storrs Agricultural College in 1893, they appointed Koons as its president.

Yet Koon’s time as president would prove short-lived. He resigned from the position in 1897 and stepped down the following year. Although the reasons for his resignation are largely unknown, some have speculated that Koons rankled the Board of Trustees by allowing professors too free a hand on campus. Still, the school grew significantly under his direction. During the Koons years, the number of students and faculty multiplied, female students were admitted for the first time, and educational activities grew along with state funding.

After he left the presidency in 1898, Koons retained an appointment as professor of natural history and political economy. He was also appointed curator of the Natural History Museum, and his family moved into a newly-built cottage on campus. Koons died on December 17, 1903. The ceremony began at his home before moving to a local Congregational church for public services. He was finally buried in Storrs cemetery. In a final symbol of his influence on campus, former graduates served as coffin bearers while students in uniform led the procession from the church to his grave.

This post was written by Shaine Scarminach, a UConn History Ph.D candidate who is a student assistant in Archives & Special Collections. 

The Ramnapping Incident of 1934

 

In 1934 the football rivalry between Connecticut State College (as the University of Connecticut was known then) and the Rhode Island State College (now the University of Rhode Island) was white hot. As these two institutions of higher learning looked forward to the showdown of the game in Storrs on November 10, their rivalry was jolted by what is now known as the infamous Ramnapping Incident of 1934.

In the early hours of Friday, November 9, intrepid students of the CSC drove east to Kingston, Rhode Island, stole into one of the campus barns, kidnapped the RISC’s mascot, a two-year old ram with the regal name of Rameses II, and brought him back to the Storrs campus. Rameses was briefly paraded, wearing a Connecticut banner and hat, before the students during a pep rally that evening but was otherwise hidden in various buildings, including fraternity houses. It was said that while Rameses was hosted in Storrs he feasted on oats, alfalfa and cabbages and seemed quite content.

In the early hours before the game on November 10 several carloads of RISC students hightailed it to Storrs, intent upon rescuing their beloved mascot. Connecticut students surrounded their cars and forced them to return to Kingston without the ram.

As it is written in the November 13, 1934, issue of the student newspaper, the Connecticut Campus, before the game commenced “while the grandstand strained its collective ear, the ram was brought around in an automobile to the Rhody side of the field and presented to Rhode Island with due ceremony and the snapping of camera shutters.” The heist failed to help the Connecticut team with their efforts on the field, for Rhode Island won the game 19-0.

Also as written in the student newspaper, “Rumors as to who had a hand in the odd disappearance of the Rhody ram have been flying thickly and furiously around the Connecticut State campus. Thousands of solutions have been put forth by would be Philo Vances, but it is likely that the Rhody ramnaping [sic] will remain forever unsolved in the annals of Connecticut crime.”