This guest blog post is written by Aidan Brueckner, a graduating honors student majoring in Digital Media and Design, and minoring in Human Rights which he completed an internship for at the Archives & Special Collections in the Spring Semester of 2021. Aidan’s descriptive work can be found in the Alternative Press Collection online.
It is no secret that youth activism is on the rise. Across the world, demonstrations occur for myriad reasons related to racial justice, climate change, drug control, and countless more key issues. Not only are these matters far-reaching across all aspects of society, touching on numerous disparate sectors, but the apparent frequency of social justice events is increasing quickly as well. The push for recognition and change from a world that has proven unforgiving and unfair is picking up steam. Naturally, college-age students tend to be a large portion of the ones driving these agendas, as the nature of college itself encourages collaboration and a drive to excel, as well as an increased emphasis on critical thinking. Most importantly, however, college allows students to collect as a group of like-minded individuals, and presents them with an opportunity to make their voices heard. UConn is no exception, having had a well-documented history of activism on campus from its inception. Much of this activism is contained within the Archives, and this semester I had an opportunity to explore and evaluate some of it.
In the Spring semester of 2020, an exciting use of historical photographs by UConn Digital Media and Design students brought to life the images of student protest in the 1960s and 1970s held by the University of Connecticut Archives. In collaboration with Assistant Professor Anna Lindemann and MFA graduate Instructor Jasmine Rajavadee of the Digital Media and Design Department, the Motion Graphics 1 class (DMD 2200) spent a portion of their semester in the archives to understand the context of photographic collections and practice their skills on digital collection items. This exploration led to the creation of new uses for the recorded past. The class assignment drew on digitized 35mm negatives, Kodachrome color slides, and black&white photographic prints to demonstrate a 4D animation process of still images to bring static subjects to life. Collections utilized for this project ranged from the Cal Robertson Collection of anti-nuclear demonstrations in New London, Howard S. Goldbaum’s Photography for the Daily Campus newspaper documenting anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in Storrs, New York, and Washington D.C., and University of Connecticut Photography Collection images of the 1974 Black Student sit-in at Wilbur Cross Library. To view a selection of the Student Unrest Photography in 4D project, follow this link to our Youtube page.
This is the second time that the UConn Archives has worked with Prof. Lindemann and the DMD department to utilize photographic collections for class projects, the first drew on child labor images from the U. Roberto Romano Collection which can be viewed here.
The Spring 2020 semester is off to a roaring start with curricular engagement in the Archives & Special Collections. In addition to several classes visiting the archives for introductory sessions, return visits for collections use, and weekly sessions about memory and the recorded past, the UConn archives is taking part in teaching a School of Music seminar for the first time this semester. Currently, Archivist Graham Stinnett is co-teaching Music 3410W on Archives, Music, Memory and Culture with Prof. Jesús Ramos-Kittrell, Assistant Professor in Residence of Music History and Ethnomusicology in the UConn School of Fine Arts.
Students have engaged with assigned readings from popular culture scholars to critical theorists, amateur historians and archivists, as well as producers in the record business and public librarians. The course works with three major musical genres, the Country Blues, Psychedelic Rock, and Punk Rock drawing from the respective collecting areas at the UConn Archives: Samuel and Ann Charters Archives of Blues and African American Vernacular Musical Culture; Alternative Press Collection; Joe Snow Punk Rock Collection. Students are asked to engage with primary sources to investigate the production of a musical culture through its recorded past. As a writing class requirement the students will produce a research project and presentation drawing on topics found in the archives as well as their personal experiences with music in the digital age and notions of their own personal archives as far as the materialist commodity of music is concerned.
We look forward to working with students this semester to develop their critical learning skills through archives and producing unique and engaging projects that shed light on how young adults engage with music and make it their own.
An exhibition is currently on display about Hobo culture, train hopping, and boxcar art over the last 150 years. The exhibit will run from January 9 – February 28, 2020 in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center Gallery at the University of Connecticut. Drawing from the extensive railroad collections at the UConn Archives & Special Collections, this exhibit seeks to present the love of trains from an alternative approach through art, folklore, and travelogue.
The exhibition will feature an opening reception and film showing of Bill Daniel’s Who is Bozo Texino:the epic account of the improbable discovery of the true identity of the world’s greatestboxcar artist. (2005) on Thursday, February 6th, 2020 from 7-9pm.
The following guest posts by alumni Chris Malis (’72) and Ellie Goldstein/Erickson (’70) are in conjunction with the current UConn Archives exhibition Day-Glo & Napalm: UConn 1967-1971 guest curated by George Jacobi (’71). The exhibition is on display until October 25th in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. The Gallery is open Mon-Fri 9-4pm, with a Saturday viewing on October 12th, 9-5pm.
Guest Post by Chris Malis (’72):
We Are Stardust
Coming of age in the Sixties (c.1965-c.1972) was a gift; it
made me who I am now. Contrary to the changes of many as they age, I have not
grown more conservative over the years. Am I the same person I was then? Of
course not. Would my 20-year-old self like my 70-year-old self? Perhaps not so
much. Would I do (or not do) certain things differently if I could go back in
time? Sure. But on the whole, I feel grateful to have come of age in that time
and space. It was the most magical, earth-shaking decade of the 20th
Century. I won’t say earth-changing, because … look around. Who would have
thought that, 50 years later, we’d still be fighting racism, poverty, war,
women’s reproductive rights, income inequality, sexual violence, and impending
In the words of Lincoln’s first inaugural address on March
4, 1861: “We
are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have
strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory
will swell … when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels
of our nature.”
The Sixties, for me, was a time of better angels coming to
the fore. I desperately hope they return in force… and soon!
Reception: September 19th, 2019 6-8pm at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center Gallery
Archives & Special Collections Gallery
Thomas J. Dodd Research Center
An exhibition guest curated by alumnus George Jacobi (Class of ’71) on the student times of the late 1960s and early 1970s at UConn and in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival of 1969. Jacobi has curated materials from the Archives & Special Collections photography, periodicals and Alternative Press Collections and incorporated personal collections and narratives from those who lived through it to create a robust personal exploration of the times.
The following essay is an extended introduction to the exhibition Day-Glo and Napalm: UConn from 1967-1971 by guest curator and contributor, George Jacobi (’71).
DAY-GLO AND NAPALM: UCONN FROM 1967 to 1971
Recollections and Impressions for my University of Connecticut Archives Exhibit
A small innocuous on-campus house is surrounded by angry UConn students, its front porch protected by armed, helmeted State Police and University Security Officers. The Riot Act has already been read to the 100 or so protesters, whose shoulders are hunched in Navy pea coats against a bitter north wind. It’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, 1968. Some of those students spent the previous night with faces lit only by black lights, psychedelic music swirling around them. Smoke from illegal hash pipes drifted out dorm windows. A relaxed but resolute fellowship, they temporarily dwelt in an imaginary world.
Today, back in the daylight, they want UConn to divest itself from the military industrial complex, to end its involvement with Olin Matheson, manufacturer of missiles for the Vietnam War. In fact, they insist. They chant, they yell, they watch as the most committed among them climb onto the recruiting location’s porch to put their bodies in the way of the war machine. This world is far from imaginary. Clubs swing, rocks fly, heads are bloodied. Twenty-one are arrested.
Within two years, the Student Union Mall will be filled with 4000 UConn students – now the entire college is on strike. What is it with these young people? For many, trust in the establishment, from government to church to the University, has completely evaporated. Something is badly broken. How have these middle-class kids, in just a year or two, come to a point of complete resistance to America herself?
The 50th Anniversary of 1969 is more than an appropriate time for this exhibit; it’s also the last significant anniversary when many participants in this bit of history will be alive. Most of the counter-cultural political drama at UConn took place between 1968 and 1970 – ‘69 is a fitting centerpiece. Despite continued racial and anti-war protests, such communal events as the Woodstock Music Festival made 1969 almost feel like a short respite between the more violent bookends of the other two years.
The UConn Archives presents Live at the Anthrax, an exhibition of performance photography from the Joe Snow Punk Rock Collection, on display for the first time. Joe photographed the thriving Connecticut Hardcore Punk Rock (CTHC) scene in the late 1980s during the final years of the Anthrax club in Norwalk. Bands featured in the selection include local CTHC staples such as Wide Awake and NY Hardcore bands Up Front and Absolution to seminal acts such as Fugazi. This curated exhibition highlights the dedication, energy and lived values of those who formed the hardcore scene and turned it into a community. On display at Willimantic Records from April 19 – August 9, 2019 with a featured opening event on May 3rd from 5-7pm. This event is free and open to the public.
Prisons and Prisoners, Selections from the Alternative Press Subject File Collection.
On display at the UConn Archives Gallery in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center from March 20 – May 31, 2019, an exhibition of research collections on incarceration. Drawn from ephemera, art, and personal and political papers, this story is Illustrated with the writings of the incarcerated from inside Connecticut prisons, the state’s documentation and formation of prisons, artists’ and activists’ responses to Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, and advocacy from inside and out. This exhibition is in conjunction with the Humanities Action Lab States of Incarceration exhibit at the Hartford Public Library, March 11 – April 18, 2019 and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center from March 25th – April 18th, 2019.
The Women’s March, the #Metoo movement, even Hulu’s remake of The Handmaid’s Tale, these events all have their roots in a movement that began, and ended, decades ago.
On view from November 26 through December 14, 2018 in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, Archives & Special Collections Reading Room, the exhibition Write On, Fight On: Continuing Trends and Strategies of the Second-wave Feminist Movement features banners, buttons, graphics, magazines and periodicals from the second wave feminist movement’s independent presses and media outlets.
Curated by Anna Zarra Aldrich, undergraduate in UConn’s Department of English Writing Internship Program, the exhibition highlights, through historic artifacts preserved in the archives, the strategies feminist activists used to achieve their goals. The exhibition also brings into focus the shortcomings of the movement and how modern feminists are responding.
“The second wave achieved a lot, but by the time the movement started to fall apart, there was still a lot of work for women’s equality to be done and that’s where we get these later events,” Aldrich said.
Aldrich, an English, political science and journalism major at the University of Connecticut, had conducted an internship in Spring 2018 in which she studied and blogged about feminist publications from the collections of Archives and Special Collections.
This exhibition is free and open to the public Monday through Friday 9:00am to 4:00pm.
Presented by: Archives & Special Collections, UConn Library
For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Moments of student protest on UConn’s campus demonstrate the continuity and relevance of student activism for the Alternative Press Collection held at Archives and Special Collections. While the topics of protest often change with the political and social context of the moment, sometimes the similarities can be uncanny.
WHUS News Director Daniela Doncel reported on the student protests held during the recent university sponsored event Lockheed Martin Day:
“On Thursday, September 27, students protested the partnership between the Lockheed Martin company and the University of Connecticut due to a Lockheed Martin bomb that killed 40 children in Yemen in August, according to CNN.”
Sign Protesting Lockheed Martin Day 2018
History, so the cliché goes, has repeated itself.
The circumstances of the Lockheed Martin’s presence on campus and the student protests resembled a smaller scale, and decidedly non-violent version, of the student and faculty protests of military recruiting that happened during the Vietnam War. In 1967 & 1968 students and faculty staged multiple sit-ins protesting the ties between the University of Connecticut and weapons manufacturers such as: General Electric, Olin-Mathieson, Dow Chemical, and Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation (which was sold to Lockheed Martin in November of 2015). In particular the recruitment attempts of Dow Chemical, a producer of napalm during the Vietnam War, and Olin-Mathieson drew large turn outs from students and faculty who thought that weapon manufacturers had no place trying to recruit students for jobs on the university campus. Continue reading →
Patrick Butler, Assistant Archivist for the Alternative Press Files Collection and Human Rights Collection, is a 2018 Ph.D. graduate of the UConn Medieval Studies Program. During his time as a graduate student he worked in the UConn Archives to broaden his materials handling experience and develop skills as an archivist. He has specialized training in medieval paleography and codicology.
Over the past year I have been shepherding a project in order to make the APC Files Collection discoverable outside of a card catalog cabinet in the lobby of the UConn Archives. This collection consists of over four-thousand subject files of single issue publications, fliers, newsletters, comic books, and various ephemera relating to the underground press and political activism from the 1960s to the present. The ultimate goal of the project is to digitize and upload the entire APC Files collection to the Connecticut Digital Archives (CTDA).
At the moment I am uploading the first collection of scanned materials, which means this project, as a whole is entering into what could be considered its final phase. Final of course may belie the fact that it will require a tremendous amount of effort and continuing coordination to scan these materials in conjunction with the staff of the digitization lab at Homer Babbidge Library, without whom this project would not be possible.
This project has come with a new host of challenges for me as an aspiring archivist and seasoned academic, and has given me new opportunities to engage my more specialized research interests through different materials and addressing a broader audience as a result.
The Activist -A Student Political Quarterly published out of Oberlin College: 11.1, 1970
Jermal Off The Coast Of Tanjungtiram, Northern Sumatra, Indonesia
Young Boy Sorts Through Terri on Jermal
On display at the UConn Avery Point campus this fall is U. Roberto Romano Papers: Photographs of Child Labor in Coastal Countries. This exhibition is an exciting mix of student work, fine art prints from the archives, and never before exhibited work from the fishing platforms off the coast of Indonesia.
U. Roberto (Robin) Romano (1956-2013) was a prolific photographer and documentarian in the late 20th century. He created work all over the world primarily in Africa, India, the Middle East and the United States that documented child labor and human rights issues. He created the first feature length film on child labor titled Stolen Childhoods with his long time creative partner Len Morris. On display at Avery Point are fine art prints from Stolen Childhoods that were donated to the archives in 2009. Theseprints are beautiful examples of his early analog work that was shot in both color and black and white. The descriptions of these photographs detail the lives of children trapped in the horrors of child labor in the late 20th century.
In addition to fine art prints, this exhibition will also showcase the student work that has been created from this collection. Dr. Fiona Vernal, Associate Professor of History at UConn, led her students this past spring to create an exhibition on child labor in Africa called The Hidden Costs of Chocolate: How Child Labor Became a Human Rights Crisis. The panels that they created utilize Robin’s photographs to put faces to the countless children that have been victims of child labor in the chocolate industry. They explain what the children are doing on the cacao farms, the tools they use, and how the industry is slowly eliminating the use of child labor through legislation. It is an excellent example of how the Romano papers are being used on campus to educate students, scholars and the public on child labor. There will also be samples of work created by Professor Anna Lindemann’s Digital Media & Design students.
The final element of this exhibition are the never before exhibited jermal prints. These prints were created specifically for this exhibition and showcase Robin’s work from the jermals off the coast of Southeast Asia. A jermal is a fishing platform about the size of a tennis court perched out at sea. Children on these platforms are out there months at a time working for as much as 20 hours a day fishing for tiny fish called teri. They leave their families to do this work, working long hours out at sea for little pay. Robin’s photographs show the lives of these child workers and the greater system that they are victims of. The photographs on display are just a sample of robin’s oeuvre which can be seen in the repository through the following link: https://lib.uconn.edu/libraries/asc/collections/the-u-roberto-robin-romano-papers/
U. Roberto Romano Papers: Photographs of Child Labor in Coastal Countries will be on display from September 13, 2018 to December 16, 2018 at the Alexey Von Schlippe Gallery in the Branford House on the Avery Point Campus at the University of Connecticut.
When: 9/13/18 – 12/16/2018 (Opening Reception 9/12/18 from 5:30-7:30pm)
Where: Branford House on the Avery Point Campus (1084 Shennecossett Rd, Groton, CT 06340)