Now Available – James Marshall recordings

K-Fai Steele, 2019 James Marshall Fellow, holding a cassette recording from the Francelia Butler papers.

Now available in the CTDA – a series of audio recordings of lectures delivered by author and illustrator James Marshall to Francelia Butler’s Children’s Literature course from 1976-1990. Marshall is best known for the George and Martha series of picture books. The recordings span 16 visits Marshall made to Dr. Butler’s class, and demonstrate with wit and humor Marshall’s thoughts on writing, illustration, the publishing industry, and creativity. Butler’s course became one of the largest and most popular courses at the University of Connecticut, in part because of the opportunity it offered students to learn from guest lecturers that included Madeleine L’Engle, Maurice Sendak, and Isaac Bashevis Singer, among others. 

In Butler’s obituary, the New York Times described her course as “a platform for reform.” Butler lifted the academic standing of the study of children’s literature, establishing the journal Children’s Literature and the Children’s Literature Association in 1972 and helping to create the children’s literature division of the Modern Language Association.  

Listen to the recordings and learn more at http://hdl.handle.net/11134/20002:19970056JML.

Resources in the Archives about UConn Student Government

Various forms of student government date back to when the University of Connecticut was known as the Storrs Agricultural College, from 1881 to 1899. Since the inception of the first version of student government at Storrs its purpose has been to act as a representative of the student body and to advocate for various causes on behalf of its constituency. Some of these causes have included creating and funding other student organizations and petitioning the administration for civil rights reforms.

In the 1896 inaugural edition of the S.A.C. Lookout, the first student run student newspaper, two separate organizations, the “Students’ Organization” and “Council,” were cited as the structures of student government. The former acted as the executive wing and the latter as a senate, and lasted until the early 1920s.

The first big change in student government occurred in 1923 when the Council (by this time referred to as the “Students’ Council”) became the Student Senate. This body remained similar to its predecessor until 1933, when all student representative power was centralized in the Senate, forming the Associated Student Government (ASG). The Students’ Organization existed alongside the Senate until the reorganization of 1933, when both merged to become ASG. The structure of this new government included Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches, but these were not independent of each other, as the Elected Vice President of ASG automatically became the Chairman of the Student Senate.

A Women’s Student Council emerged at the end of the 1910s, and this body existed for over 60 years in various forms, either as the Women’s Student Government or Associated Women Students. Its end in the early 1970s coincided with the founding of the Women’s Center at UConn, along with the merging of the departments of women’s and men’s affairs.

ASG existed from its creation in 1933 until its dissolution in 1973, which took multiple years to take effect. One of the catalysts for ASG’s demise was its presidential election in 1972, where the student body, fed up with their representatives, elected “Bill X. Carlson” as a write-in option. The catch was that Carlson was a fictitious person. Thus, runner-up Dave Kaplan assumed the presidency but resigned within the year, as calls for a Constitutional Convention strengthened. By the next year, ASG was replaced by the Federation of Students and Service Organizations (FSSO), which had been selected from a list of options proposed by various students. Its structure included an eight-person Central Committee that held absolute jurisdiction, with Primary and Secondary committees under it.

The FSSO lasted a mere seven years, as a new Constitutional Convention was called at the end of the decade, leading to the inception of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG). The transition from FSSO to USG was far smoother, as the FSSO was not fully dissolved as ASG was. The convention led to a transition from FSSO to USG that circumvented the total absence of student government that had occurred in the interim between ASG and the FSSO.

USG has continued as the student government of UConn since 1980. Currently it consists of Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches, made up of the Senate, the President and the Advocacy Committees, and the Judiciary respectively.

Researchers interested in UConn’s more than a century of student government will find a plethora of resources on the subject in Archives & Special Collections. From 1944 onward, the Archives has the records kept by the ASG, FSSO, and USG. Student government resources generally include student publications, presidential files, photographic prints, and more. Among some of the Archives’ relevant collections are:

University of Connecticut, Undergraduate Student Government Records. This collection is split into four series: Associated Student Government (ASG) records from 1944-1973, Federation of Students and Service Organizations (FSSO) records from 1973-1981, Undergraduate Student Government (USG) records from 1980-2008, and the records of the Inter-area Residence Council from 1970-1982. While the USG records within the collection end at 2008, the Archives has Minutes and Agendas from 1985 up to the present day. The records include Constitutions, Committee Minutes, reports, Election data, correspondence, speech transcripts, documentation of Constitutional Conventions, and more. The finding aid to the collection can be found at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/721.

University of Connecticut Photograph Collection. This collection includes over 800,000 photographic prints, slides, negatives, and postcards. For content related to Student Government at UConn, look for sections of this collection relating to Student Activities. The finding aid to the collection can be found at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/958.

The Daily Campus and other student publications. Student publications have gone by several titles before its current iteration, including the Storrs Agricultural College Lookout, the Connecticut Agricultural College Lookout, the Connecticut Campus and Lookout, the Connecticut Campus, and the Connecticut Daily Campus. Throughout the years, the paper has reported on the affairs of student government at UConn, dating back to its very first issue in May 1896.

You can find issues of the Daily Campus and its predecessors, from the Storrs and the regional campuses, dating from 1896 to 1990, in the digital repository at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/islandora%3Acampusnewspapers

Articles of particular interest include:

S.A.C. Lookout, December 1, 1898, “Student Government,” which outlines the function and structure of the Students’ Organization, as well as the Students’ Council: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860167952#page/8/mode/2up

Connecticut Campus, April 10, 1934, “Committee Formulates Plans For Election May 1,” Associated Student Government and Women’s Student Government Elections are both referred to: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860217304#page/2/mode/2up

Connecticut Daily Campus, September 14, 1976, “Finch outlines FSSO semester projects, goals,” where FSSO Chairman William Finch explained the objectives of the FSSO at the beginning of the semester: https://collections.ctdigitalarchive.org/islandora/object/20002%3A860294245#page/4/mode/2up

Nutmeg, the student yearbook. Nutmeg originated in 1915 and includes photographs and descriptions of different student governments at UConn through the years. Issues from 1915 to 1999 are available in the digital repository beginning at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A02653871

Of particular interest:

• 1934 Nutmeg’s entry on the reorganization of the Student Senate and the origins of the student government, at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A859955016#page/146/mode/2up . Also in the 1934 Nutmeg is an photograph of the 1933 Women’s Student Government, at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A859955016#page/138/mode/2up

• The 1973 issue has information about the dissolution of the Associated Student Government, at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A859981755#page/174/mode/2up

• 1979 Nutmeg’s entry on the Federation of Students and Service Organizations, featuring a Connecticut Daily Campus article entitled “FSSO committee dumps clubs,” detailing the FSSO’s recall of over $30,000 from student organizations, at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A859981740#page/168/mode/2up

University of Connecticut, President’s Office Records. This collection includes the records of all of UConn’s Presidents, starting with Solomon Mead in 1881 and currently ending with Susan Herbst, whose tenure in office ended in 2019. The collection is updated as records are periodically transferred by the President’s office for permanent retention in the Archives. While this is not a chiefly important source of information on UConn’s student government organizations, small mentions may be found in many of the Presidents’ documents.

This post was written by Sam Zelin, a UConn undergraduate student in the Neag School of Education who is a student assistant in Archives & Special Collections. 

Resources in the Archives about the UConn Marching Band

Music and bands have been a tradition at the University of Connecticut for over a century.  Beginning with small musical organizations and military bands, there were many predecessors to what is now referred to as the UConn Marching Band. The origins of the current organization can be traced back to 1939, the same year that the Connecticut State College in Storrs became the University of Connecticut. In that year Jack Brocjek, at the time an assistant instructor of music at the school, became director of the school’s “College Band” and decided to make his band open to all students, which effectively merged his with the ROTC’s band.

While the creation of the band occurred at the end of the 1930s, the 1950s was really when it gained prestige and an increase in the number of participants.  Professor Allan Gillespie took the reins in 1956, and the band grew immensely during his 25-year tenure. It was under Gillespie’s leadership that the band embarked on three separate tours of Europe in the summers of 1970, 1974, and 1978.

Gillespie’s time as director was followed by the terms of David Maker and Gary Green in the 1980s. Current director David Mills took over in 1989 and led the band in such special performances as President Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration parade, the 2003 opening of the 40,000 seat Rentschler Field in Hartford, and performing for over 100,000 fans at the University of Michigan in 2010.

Researchers interested in the UConn Marching band will find a plethora of information in Archives & Special Collections. In addition to the marching band’s official records, the UConn Archives has student publications, photographic prints, files belonging to past band personnel, administrative documents, and more. Among some of our archives’ relevant collections are:

University of Connecticut Marching Band Records.  This is the most comprehensive of all collections pertaining to the UConn Marching Band. It includes various forms of primary sources from the band, including pamphlets for performances, musical scores, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, photographs, and cassette tapes. The records date back to the early 1960s, corresponding closely with the first few years of Allan Gillespie’s tenure as band director. The finding aid to the collection can be found at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/1020

Maker Collection of the UConn Marching Band. Comprised of arrangements, arranged for the marching band by Dr. David Maker, who worked with the band for many years, dating from 1969 to 1983. The finding aid to the collection can be found at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/512

University of Connecticut Photograph Collection.  The collection holds hundreds of photographs of the UConn Marching Band. The band’s images are filed with the UConn Athletics items and are sometimes merged with the Pep Band’s photos. Another area to find early images of the marching band are those taken by Jerauld Manter, a professor at UConn from 1912 until 1953.  The finding aid to the UConn Photograph Collection photographic prints can be found at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/5. A finding aid to the Manter images is at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/946

Thousands of images from the University of Connecticut Photograph Collection can be found in the UConn Library digital repository, beginning at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3AMSS19880010. Those showing the marching band are available at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/search/marching%20band?type=edismax&cp=20002%3AMSS19880010

University of Connecticut, President’s Office Records [Glenn W. Ferguson].  Glenn Ferguson served as the President of UConn from 1973 to 1978. His records include information about plans for the marching band to travel on tour in Europe. The finding aid to the Ferguson records is at https://archivessearch.lib.uconn.edu/repositories/2/resources/606

Daily Campus and other student publications. The origins of a music program at the university occurred concurrently with that of the student newspaper and are a great source to show the formation and evolution of the marching band program. The student newspaper originated with the Lookout in 1896 and transitioned to other titles, including The Connecticut Campus and Connecticut Daily Campus, to The Daily Campus of today. A full run of newspapers up to 1990 available in the UConn Archives can be found in the digital repository beginning at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860408189.

Articles of particular interest include:

Nutmeg, the student yearbook.  The Nutmeg originated in 1915 and includes photographs of the marching bands through the years. You can find issues from 1915 to 1999 in the digital repository beginning at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A02653871

Of particular interest:

This post was written by Sam Zelin, a UConn undergraduate student in the Neag School of Education who is a student assistant in Archives & Special Collections. 


Wikipedia and the Archives

This post was contributed by Sophie Archambault, a rising junior at the University of Connecticut. In Summer 2021, Sophie interned with Michael Rodriguez, Collections Strategist, and Rebecca Parmer, Head of Archives & Special Collections, to help increase the visibility and accessibility of UConn Library’s archival collections by adding content, references, and media to Wikipedia. 

Wikipedia logo Version 1 by Nohat (concept by Paullusmagnus); CC BY-SA 3.0

All through school, I’ve been taught that Wikipedia is a risky resource. Anyone can edit or contribute, and the sources used to build the articles aren’t always reliable. Additionally, though editors are anonymous, the topics covered on Wikipedia are overwhelmingly white male centric. When topics outside of this realm are introduced they are often shut down by fellow editors who claim a lack of adherence to protocol. Recently, however, efforts have been made to diversify Wikipedia editors and content, so that marginalized groups are given more attention. This is what my project with the UConn Archives focused on. I was to find topics covered by archives collections that could use increased visibility on Wikipedia. I generated a list of possible topics and ended up working on four Wikipedia pages, all of them female authors.

After completing a few training modules, I began this project with Grace Lin. I remember reading her books in middle school, so she was a familiar name. Her page was also in a good place for me to jump in as someone very new to editing Wikipedia. The page was already pretty clearly established, but there was obvious room for improvement. After investigating the already cited sources and doing some research of my own, I ended up adding information to the biography section and creating an awards section. Something I had not expected to encounter was references that could not be accessed. A few of the sources for Grace Lin linked to pages that were no longer active. Did that mean I had to remove those sources completely? Find the information that had supposedly come from those sites in different places? I brought the issue up to Rebecca and Michael, who suggested I use the Wayback Machine (yes, that’s what it’s actually called). Using the Wayback Machine site, I could put in a dead link and have access to all previous versions of the page. I could then insert a link to an archived version of the page in the resources section of Wikipedia. Nothing ever really disappears on the internet.

Lin’s page took me a couple of weeks to complete, but it was a good chance to get used to navigating Wikipedia. After Grace Lin, I tackled Magdalena Gómez, a playwright, poet, and social activist based in Springfield, MA; Eleanor Estes, a late children’s book author known for The Hundred Dresses and The Moffats; and Rosemary Wells, whose picture books of animal characters—Max and Ruby, Noisy Nora—my parents read to me. It got easier to edit the pages. I got into a routine of reading what was there, making note of what needed to be changed or added, investigating the already cited sources, and finding more sources if necessary.

One of the main goals of this project was to hopefully increase web traffic to the UConn archives. On every page I completed, I added that so-and-so’s papers were held at the University of Connecticut, and I provided an external link to the specific finding aid. Unfortunately, as it was summer and covid, I was not able to go to the archives and take a deeper look into each of these women’s collections. However, I hope that my small contribution to the vast world of Wikipedia will bring more people to the archives’ site and encourage them to find out more in person. I was inspired by each of the authors I researched and it made me feel good to increase their visibility on a widely accessed site. Hopefully, with edit-a-thons and projects like this one, those who have been deemed irrelevant or unestablished by editors will get the attention and space they rightfully deserve.

Fall 2021 Research Update

welcome back banner image

We’re excited to announce that UConn Archives & Special Collections will reopen to the public for onsite research visits on Monday, August 30th. We have made some changes to our service model to respond to changing COVID-19 conditions and to best serve our community. Below, you’ll find details about our reopening plans, including how to schedule research visits, information about facilities work which may impact access to our collections, and how to get support for your research (onsite and online). Additional details can be found on our website.

Fall 2021 Reading Room Schedule

9:00 – 12:0012:00 – 1:001:00 – 4:00
Open by appointment onlyClosed for lunch and cleaningOpen by appointment
Walk-ins welcome*

If you are visiting in-person, please book an appointment at least two business days in advance of your visit due to limited walk-in hours and limited space in the reading room. You are welcome to select both morning and afternoon slots on a chosen day or to reserve space on multiple days, if capacity allows. Unfortunately, same-day appointments cannot be accommodated at this time.  

Once you’ve submitted your appointment request, ASC staff will confirm your appointment and follow up with any questions or additional information.  

*Walk-in visits: Please be aware that access to the reading room for walk-in visitors is subject to capacity limits and staffing resources. Due to scheduled facilities upgrades, please be aware that collections materials may not be available for walk-in visitors. The best way to ensure that resources will be available for your research is to book an appointment in advance of your visit. 

As the University responds to changing pandemic conditions, access to our reading room and onsite services may be limited from time to time. Current information about our services will be posted on our website, blog, and social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram).   

Remote Assistance 

If you can’t visit us in person, we’re ready to assist you remotely! 

We continue to support remote research by responding to research inquiries, digitizing materials, and preparing for virtual classes and instruction. Our staff are available to meet with researchers via email, phone, or virtually by appointment

Please use our Reproduction Request form to request scans and copies from our collections. We will try to accommodate reasonable requests free of charge, but large or resource-intensive requests may incur a fee. 

We will do our best to assist you as the situation and our services allow. Please be aware that there may be some delay in the fulfillment of research and reproduction requests. We appreciate your continued patience as we all work through this dynamic, challenging time! 

Please reach out to us at any time with questions, comments, or concerns: 

Research Resources 

We’ve compiled a list of resources to help you get started in your research. We’ll continue to add to this list as additional resources become available. 

Facilities & Construction Update

Over the summer, we began critical maintenance work in our collections storage area. This work, which we anticipate will be completed by mid-fall, includes upgrading the electronic and mechanical systems for our mobile shelving, and will help ensure that our collections will remain safe and accessible for future generations. However, it may occasionally impact our access to collections material. In the event that material is not available for onsite use, ASC staff will follow up with you to discuss other ways of supporting your research.

UConn Archives & Special Collections Acquires the Papers of Lottie B. Scott

Lottie Bell Scott

Archives & Special Collections of the UConn Library has recently acquired the papers of Lottie B. Scott, UConn alumna (‘86), author, civic organizer, and civil rights advocate from Norwich, Connecticut. Ms. Scott’s papers [1969-present] include records from her work with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Norwich chapter, from the 1960s-2010. A founding member of the chapter, Ms. Scott held multiple positions including arts liaison, first vice president, and president.

Ms. Scott’s civic involvement is documented through her service in various positions (often as the first woman of color) with the Norwich Arts Council and the Rotary Club, as a board member of Backus Hospital, and in her work for the Commission for Human Rights and Opportunities over 22 years. Her ongoing contributions to her community are also documented through the various awards and recognition she has received from local and national organizations and individuals of distinction. Ms. Scott’s 2018 memoir Deep South – Deep North: A Family’s Journey is included in the collection, chronicling her family history during the Great Migration from Longtown, South Carolina to Norwich.

For more information on accessing the Lottie B. Scott Papers, contact the UConn Archives: archives@uconn.edu

Human Rights Internship Report with Aidan Brueckner

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.

Continue reading

The Short but Happy Life of Jonathan I, our First Mascot

In the Fall of 1934, after the famous “Ram-napping” incident where students from the Connecticut State College kidnapped the ram mascot of the Rhode Island State College (you can read the story here) prior to a football game between the two rivals, the CSC decided it was time to get its own mascot. Its one attempt at securing a mascot was in October 1906, when a fat white bulldog, who received the unfortunate name of “Piggie,” was hired for the job. Piggie didn’t last long because the students felt it would have been confused with Yale’s bulldog mascot, “Handsome Dan,” and no one liked the name Piggie.

By late November 1934 the student newspaper, the Connecticut Campus, announced that a 14 week old thoroughbred Eskimo dog “of high pedigree,” born on July 23 in Huntington, Connecticut, and donated by the college’s alumni, was chosen as the CSC mascot by an almost unanimous vote of the student body. The students were delighted by their new black and white Husky mascot. It was determined at that point that the athletic teams would be known as the Huskies.

It was purported that the dog’s great-grandfather was one of the team that pulled the sled of famous American explorer Robert Peary, who claimed to be the first to reach the North Pole, in April 1909.

Around Christmas 1934 the dog settled with the family of Music Professor Herbert A. France, who lived with his wife and four children in North Windham. In 1995 Professor France’s son, Herbert France, Jr., sent a reminiscence to the UConn Archives about life with the first mascot. Mr. France was six years old at the time they owned the dog, who was very much a family dog to the France children. Mr. France recalled a snowy day in January 1935 when he hitched the dog to his sled and tried to get the dog to “mush.” The dog apparently turned around, looked at the boy, jumped over him and the sled, and took off with the sled bouncing behind him, with little Herbert left face down in the snow.

Now that the college secured the dog they also had to give him a name. In January 1935 the Alumni decided they would hold a contest among the students to determine the name, which was to be announced by February 15.

Alas, even before the dog could be formally named his life was tragically cut short. On February 13, 1935, the poor dog dashed into the road in front of the France’s house and was struck by a car. Attempts were made at resuscitation but were futile. The dog died at the tender age of six months. He apparently had been to only a handful of basketball games in his short time of service as mascot.

The CSC students were stunned and saddened by their mascot’s sudden demise. Two days later, on February 15, at a small and somber funeral attended by CSC President Charles McCracken and the presidents of each student class, the dog was formally named Jonathan, in honor of Connecticut’s first governor, Jonathan Trumbull. George Potterton, President of the Student Senate, gave a short speech where he said that Jonathan “…was a symbol of the forward progress that we as students are bound to make. He was a symbol of the coming greatness of our athletic teams as well as those other activities in which we enter in order to make our college greater. Connecticut State’s Jonathans will go out to do battle on the court, field and gridiron, for Jonathan’s is a fighting tradition.”

The next Jonathan, number II, arrived at the college in the fall of 1935 and ably served as mascot until 1947, when he died of natural causes. Apparently three more Jonathans – III, VI and X — also met tragic ends as the victims of car accidents.

You can read more about Jonathan I, and the tradition of Jonathan as the Connecticut State College/University of Connecticut mascot, at these sources:

Articles in past issues of the UConn Advance, written by staff writer Mark Roy, at

The  November 27, 1934, issue of Connecticut Campus, announcing the new mascot: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860217763

The January 8, 1935, issue of Connecticut Campus with a photograph of the new mascot and information about the contest to name him: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860217885

The February 19, 1935, issue of Connecticut Campus showing his funeral:  https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A860218128

An article in the Hartford Courant about Jonathan I’s funeral: https://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/558540864/92E00D4B054C4361PQ/1?accountid=14518 

A photograph of the burial of Jonathan on February 15, 1935: https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A199722353

Strengthening UConn’s Presence on Wikipedia

The post was contributed by Michael Rodriguez, Collections Strategist at the UConn Library. 

The University of Connecticut has a strong presence on Wikipedia, which goes under the tagline “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.” In a personal summer project, I wrote thirty new encyclopedia articles and expanded seven others about influential figures in UConn’s history. For sources, I drew on texts and images from Archives and Special Collections, as well as other UConn Library resources that brought to life the university’s remarkable history and people. 

Background 

Wikipedia logo, by Version 1 by Nohat (concept by Paullusmagnus); Wikimedia. – File:Wikipedia-logo.svg as of 14 May 2010T23:16:42, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33285413

Wikipedia is one of the world’s most-viewed websites. Founded in 2001, Wikipedia has over 6 million articles and 3.5 billion words in English alone. Edits happen at a rate of 1.9 per second. Wikipedia is the first stop for millions of people seeking a quick fact, a topic overview, or links to other sources. But because Wikipedia is 100% crowdsourced, articles exist only if someone cares enough to write them and then navigate Wikipedia’s maze of rules to publish them. 

When I began editing, eleven of UConn’s twenty-one presidents and principals lacked Wikipedia articles about them. Notable scholars such as Henry P. Armsby and Nathan L. Whetten had zero representation. Wikipedia had little coverage of influential faculty and philanthropists whose names we see on campus buildings. Not a single woman who had a campus building named after her was represented on Wikipedia, reflecting Wikipedia’s longstanding gender gap

Wikipedia cautions against editing where editors may have a conflict of interest. I wrote my contributions off the clock, but even so, I generally avoided writing about living people. I wrote about no one I knew. I consulted a range of sources, citing not only university publications, for instance, but also the Hartford Courant and other sources unaffiliated with UConn. 

Who did I write about? 

First, I wrote about UConn women with buildings named in their honor. Did you know that Josephine Dolan—the first nursing professor at UConn—built the school’s Dolan Collection of Nursing History? Did you know that the namesake of the M. Estella Sprague Residence Hall served as UConn’s first dean of home economics in the 1920s? Did you know that the Frances Osborne Kellogg Dairy Center is named for one of Connecticut’s earliest female business executives? Her home is a state museum on the Connecticut Women’s Heritage Trail

Second, I wrote about UConn presidents. Did you know that the college’s first leader, Solomon Mead, patented a special plough? Or that Harry J. Hartley was named Man of the Year by the Daily Campus student newspaper in 1978? Or that Charles L. Beach commissioned Ellen Emmet Rand to paint a posthumous portrait of his beloved wife, Louise? Or that Benjamin F. Koons fought in 17 Civil War battles and ran an Alabama freedman’s school during Reconstruction?

By Topshelver – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=92832868

Third, I wrote about the chroniclers of UConn’s history. Did you know that Jerauld Manter, who served as UConn’s unofficial photographer for half a century, has a gnat named after him? Or that forty-eight erstwhile Daily Campus student editors attended the retirement party of their mentor Walter Stemmons, chronicler of UConn’s first semicentennial? Or that Bruce M. Stave, who literally wrote the book on UConn, was president of the Federation of University Teachers during the campaign that brought collective bargaining to the university in 1976? Stemmons and Stave wrote authoritative histories, including Connecticut Agricultural History: A History (1931) and Red Brick in the Land of Steady Habits (2006). These chroniclers were such key sources for so many articles that I had to celebrate them with articles of their own. 

Fourth, I wrote about influential faculty. Sidney Waxman brought along his .22 rifle on car trips, shooting down pinecones to augment his dwarf conifer collection. Henry Ruthven Monteith’s daughter, Marjorie, scored the second goal at UConn’s first women’s basketball game. George Safford Torrey played the organ and carillon at Storrs Congregational Church. Albert E. Waugh, provost for decades, was the only American member of a German group called Friends of Old Clocks. While I necessarily focused on getting facts right, the humanity of these figures, as well as their remarkable contributions to science and to the school, shone through my sources. 

Finally, I wrote about figures who, while not faculty members or presidents, nevertheless exerted a powerful influence on the university’s history. Charles and Augustus Storrs donated land and money to start the university in 1881. T. S. Gold was godfather of the school from its inception, shepherding it through its infancy and ensuring it remained viable and appropriately resourced. The Ratcliffe Hicks School of Agriculture was named for an industrialist up the road in Tolland. Ratcliffe’s daughter, Elizabeth Hicks, has a UConn residence hall named in her honor.  

Using the archives 

UConn Library’s Archives & Special Collections (ASC) were an incredible resource. ASC collects the papers of presidents, prominent faculty, and other figures associated with the University. To inventory materials and guide researchers, archivists write finding aids, which often include biographical information. Finding aids proved a valuable source, as well as helping me assess who was notable enough to merit Wikipedia articles about them. I linked to finding aids in the “External links” section of most of my Wikipedia contributions, ensuring bibliographical depth. 

For each article I wrote, I searched the Connecticut Digital Archive (CTDA), a UConn-sponsored statewide repository for digital cultural heritage materials. I searched the CTDA for digital scans of old photographs, newspapers, Nutmeg yearbooks, and booklets such as Three Pioneers and Handbook of Connecticut Agriculture. I combed past issues of UConn Today and its forerunner, UConn Advance, looking for commemorative essays. Mark J. Roy’s charming series A Piece of UConn History, which ran from 1997 to 2005, was especially useful. In addition, I drew on posts by archivists and graduate students on UConn’s Archives & Special Collections Blog

Finally, I drew on the expertise of archivists. I requested high-resolution images from University Archivist Betsy Pittman when scanned online copies proved too pixelated for Wikipedia. Betsy even found me a never-before-digitized photo of UConn coach and acting president Edwin O. Smith. I am grateful for both archives and archivists—the collective memory of the university. 

By Topshelver – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=92092570

In addition to contributing text, I contributed images to Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia. I took photos of various named campus buildings—and a European larch dwarf conifer cultivated by Sidney Waxman—and released the images for unlimited public use on Wikimedia Commons. I downloaded pre-1925 portrait photographs from the CTDA and uploaded them to Wikimedia Commons too, maximizing their discoverability and linking back to the CTDA. Where no portrait existed online, I tracked down group photos in yearbooks or newspapers, took screen captures, and cropped them. When the only extant photos were not clearly uncopyrighted, I used one of the very few fair use exceptions permitted by Wikipedia, in which historic portraits of deceased persons may be uploaded solely to illustrate their Wikipedia biography. I sourced most images from UConn’s archival collections, as well as from UConn Today and various books and serials in HathiTrust Digital Library. Contributing images to Wikipedia is a great way to boost visibility of those images while driving traffic to UConn’s digital archival content in the CTDA. 

What’s next? 

UConn’s people, places, and unique resources are better represented on Wikipedia than ever. But this work is hardly done. I plan to monitor the in-memoriam section of UConn Today—what better way of acknowledging a prominent professor’s passing than ensuring that they get the most widely read Who’s Who-equivalent entry on the planet? In fact, one of my most recent articles was on Roger Buckley, founding director of the Asian and American Studies Institute, who died in August 2020. I will continue to create articles for UConn people with landmarks named in their honor, such as puppeteer Frank W. Ballard and cellist J. Louis von der Mehden. 

 On Wikipedia, the editing never ends. 

The Great New England Hurricane lands at the Connecticut State College

On September 21, 1938, just two days before the start of the fall semester, the Great New England Hurricane hit Connecticut State College. The campus had dealt with natural disasters before, such as the ice storm of 1909, but the damage inflicted by the Hurricane of 1938 was unprecedented. The loss of electricity and the impassability of the roads meant that of immediate concern was the water and food supply for the faculty, staff, and students. The College had to resort to using an emergency water pump and chlorinator to provide safe drinking water, and a battery-powered shortwave radio was the only means of receiving outside news. In the days following the storm, workmen and student volunteers scrambled to clear the damage and repair electric lines. The local telephone company hurried to get a pay station working on campus. Fewer than half of the 668 students registered for the fall semester were on campus at the time of the storm, and there were concerns about the rest making it in before classes started.

In the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, news was spread across campus through the College’s publication, the Connecticut Campus. The Campus published special editions on both September 22 and 23 with the use of a hand-cranked mimeograph machine. It supplied updates on the water and food situation, informing students that although the Dining Hall was stocked with enough supplies, “no pie will be served tonight and no ice cream tomorrow.” The newsletter also shared statements made by President Albert Jorgenson and other College staff regarding campus conditions. The superintendent of the grounds speculated that “it would take about one hundred years for the campus to regain its former beauty.” Mixed in with reports on the state of the roads and estimates for the cost of repairs was a concern for returning to the College’s regular activities. The Campus was uncertain if the upcoming football game between CSC and Brown would be cancelled, although it optimistically reported that planning was underway for a barn dance.

Although most buildings on campus suffered some degree of damage, the grounds and barns experienced the worst effects of the storm. In the weeks following the hurricane, various departments across campus reported their losses to President Jorgenson, including those from Forestry, Poultry, Animal Husbandry, Horticulture, Zoology, and Genetics. Some of the campus’ barns, outbuildings, and fences needed to be completely rebuilt, including the horse barn and two sheep barns. One sheep barn was lifted off its foundation in the storm, and the estimated cost to rebuild totaled $16,000. The poultry department also suffered heavy damages, with piles of rubble all that remained of some chicken houses. Not only was the College’s agricultural activities put on hold by the storm, but its scientific research in genetics and animal diseases was also at an impasse until barns could be repaired and rebuilt. While the College’s horses and cattle survived, over 500 birds sadly perished.

There was a great concern with the damage to the trees on campus, and students were involved in assessing and cleaning up some of the destruction. The Campus bemoaned the loss of the Valentine Grove, where some of the trees destroyed had been over 200 years old. Two students counted 1,762 fallen trees on campus, and others were paid 30¢ an hour to salvage apples from the orchard. Workmen used tractors and teams of horses to pull trees back up, however many could not be saved. The College owned over 900 acres of woodlands, and one report advised that the trees lost should be salvaged if possible and cut into lumber. It was estimated that the labor required to clean up the woodlands would cost $10,400.

Fortunately the academic and student housing buildings suffered relatively minor damages. All buildings with slate roofs needed to be repaired, and some of the fraternity houses reported broken windows, leaking roofs, and damaged chimneys. Despite the hurricane, and as a testament to the hard work of both staff and students, the fall semester began on time. However, it would be many months until the campus could return to the extent of its pre-hurricane operations.

Written by Alexandra Borkowski, a UConn PhD student and student assistant in Archives & Special Collections.

Joanna Cole, 1944-2020

Joanna Cole
Credit: Annabelle Helms

Creator of The Magic School Bus non-fiction series of children’s books, Joanna Cole, passed away on July 12, 2020. 

Ms. Frizzle, the teacher leading field trips in the series, reflected Joanna Cole’s own lifelong love of science. “Ms. Frizzle is first and foremost an enthusiast…what she likes most is the subject she is teaching…she carries the class along on her enthusiasm.”1 Joanna Cole’s first book published in 1971 and illustrated by Jean Zallinger was about cockroaches.  She went on to make a career out of sharing that love of science by writing about the wonders of human biology, insects, evolution, our animal friends, the earth and the stars. She was an equally prolific fiction writer and edited over a dozen anthologies for children, compiling party games, riddles, rhymes and tongue twisters among others.

Ms. Cole donated her papers to Archives & Special Collections in 2003.  The collection documents her career authoring over 250 books for children and includes manuscripts, correspondence, book dummies, research materials and storyboards for The Magic School Bus series and other works.

We send our sincere condolences to Ms. Cole’s family and friends.

1 Joanna Cole: The Magic School Bus.  Reading Rockets.  December 9, 2013, https://youtu.be/Ws9gjUSnxbE

Maurice Sendak and “The Birthday Party”

“Happy Birthday, Maurice!” © The Maurice Sendak Foundation.

Today marks what would have been Maurice Sendak’s 92nd birthday and the 8th anniversary since his death on May 8, 2012. Born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 10, 1928, Maurice Sendak was a largely self-taught artist who went on to illustrate over 100 books during his sixty year career. Books for which Sendak became singularly identifiable include Nutshell Library (1962), Where the Wild Things Are (1963), In the Night Kitchen (1970), Outside Over There (1981), and many others. He was honored with numerous awards, including the international 1970 Hans Christian Anderson Award, the 1983 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award given by the American Library Association, the 1996 National Medal of Arts, and the 2003 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Sendak was the 1964 Caldecott Medal Winner forWhere the Wild Things Are.

He later held a second career as a costume and stage designer in the late 1970s, completing work on operas by Wolfgang Mozart, Sergei Prokofiev, and Maurice Ravel. Of music, Sendak said in a 1966 interview produced by Morton Schindel at Weston Woods Studios in Weston, Connecticut:

“I do most of my work to music, and music plays an extremely important part in my work. Depending on what I’m doing at the moment, there is always a specific kind of music I want to listen to. All composers have different colors, as all artists do, and I kind of pick up the right color from either Haydn or Mozart or Wagner while I’m working. And very often I will switch recordings endlessly until I get the right color and the right note and the right sound and then settle down happily to whatever I’m doing.”

Maurice Sendak moved to Ridgefield, Connecticut in 1972 with his partner, psychoanalyst Dr. Eugene Glynn. He supported the University of Connecticut for many years, speaking to the children’s literature classes of Professor Francelia Butler in the 1970s and 1980s and making important contributions over the years to support the legacy of Professor James. On September 5, 1990, Sendak was the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts at UConn.

Maurice Sendak addresses the crowd in Jorgensen Auditorium on September 5, 1990. University of Connecticut Collections, Archives & Special Collections, UConn Library

To honor Maurice Sendak’s birthday anniversary, it feels appropriate to celebrate with The Birthday Party (1957), one of eight collaborations between Sendak and children’s book author Ruth Krauss (1901-1993) between 1952 and 1960. The Birthday Party follows a young boy, David, who “had been everywhere” except to a birthday party. He arrives home one day and after searching through the rooms in the house, finally finds everyone in the dining room singing “Happy Birthday dear David” and only then does he realize that not only is he at a birthday party but that the birthday is his own.

Final artwork for The Birthday Party, Series 16, Box 3. The Maurice Sendak Collection. Archives & Special Collections, UConn Library. © The Maurice Sendak Foundation.

Sendak reflects on his relationship with Krauss in the 1994 obituary “Ruth Krauss and Me: A Very Special Partnership”:

“Ruth wasn’t so patient, or quiet, and she could frighten me with her stormy tirades. It was hard for such a fiercely liberated woman to contend with a potentially talented but hopelessly middle-class kid. In the end, she slapped me into shape — almost literally. When Ruth approved of a sketch, I was rewarded with the pleasure of her deep belly laugh, which rose upward and exploded in little-girl giggles. But her disapproval could be devastating…

…My favorite Krauss is A Very Special House, published in 1953. That poem most perfectly simulates Ruth’s voice — her laughing, crooning, chanting, singing voice. Barbara Bader, in her American Picturebooks from Noah’s Ark to the Beast Within (Macmillan), sums up that text: “It runs on, it erupts, it runs together — like a dream, daydream or nightdream or playdream; and the disarray, the flux, the indeterminacy were essential to the personal and private fancies that were to chiefly occupy Ruth Krauss thereafter.” “Thereafter” was the series of books Ruth and I collaborated on, eight in all. They permanently influenced my talent, developed my taste, and made me hungry for the best. But nothing was so satisfying as A Very Special House; those words and images are Ruth and me at our best. If I open that book, her voice will laugh out to me. So I will leave it shut a while.”

The Birthday Party charms. A petite book accordingly sized for children’s hands, the images consist of ink drawings with yellow and grey washes. David wanders alone from a scene of a beach, the woods, and a street corner until he reaches the party and suddenly, turning from one page of David peering into a dark room to another, everyone comes into full view. He is surrounded by smiling adults and a young girl, candles set in cupcakes raised high in the air. Sendak’s imagery captures Ruth Krauss’ playful use of rhythm and David’s surprise, delight and joy.

The Birthday Party is a gentle reminder to celebrate the special days of one’s life and to cherish those fleeting moments. Happy Birthday, dear Mr. Sendak!