Northeast Conference on British Studies

Lion_Rampant_TitleOn October 4th and 5th, the red coats are coming to UConn!  This years annual meeting of the Northeast Conference on British Studies, organized by Prof. Brendan Kane of UConn’s History department, is working collaboratively to promote historical research in archival collections.  The Dodd Center and Archives & Special Collections will be on display the evening of October 4th for the initial day’s reception.  Archives & Special Collections will have materials on display from the early modern period to anti-colonial struggles of the late twentieth century.

A New Exhibit in the Dodd Center Gallery — “Workers at Play” showing photographs from the Connecticut Business History Collections

Winners of a rolling pin throwing contest at a Bristol Brass Company picnic, 1950

An exhibit now in the Dodd Center Gallery — “Workers at Play: Baseball Teams, Basketball Competitions and Company Picnics” — shows photographs from the Connecticut Business History Collections of workers around the state participating on all types of company-sponsored sports teams and enjoying company picnics, parties and outings.  You’ll see photographs of operators from the Southern New England Telephone Company at a beach outing in 1913, workers of the Thermos Company in Norwich enjoying a movie at Christmastime in 1954, and the men’s bowling team of the Hartford Electric Light Company in the 1950s, among many dozens of other fascinating historical images.  Companies represented include the New Haven Railroad, Cheney Brothers Silk Company of Manchester, New Britain Machine Company of New Britain, and Wauregan-Quinebaug Textile Company, all companies for which we hold historical records.

Sports teams and recreational activities were encouraged in companies around the United States in the early to mid-1900s because the companies believed it engendered worker loyalty, reduced worker discontent, and improved productivity.  Employees participated to reduce the monotony of work on the factory floor, to bond with coworkers, and to develop athletic skills for fun and fitness.  It was a win-win situation for all involved!

We’re having a reception for the exhibit on Sunday, July 29, from 2:00 to 4:00p.m. The exhibit will be up in the gallery until October 19, available when the building is open 8:30a.m. to 4:30p.m., Mondays through Fridays.  For more information about the exhibit please contact me at or 860-486-2516.  After October this exhibit will be a traveling exhibit and we will be happy to loan it out to facilities around the state, so let me know if you’re interested in hosting it.

UConn Today, the campus magazine, featured the exhibit in their July 6 issue!  See the article here:

Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections

Nellie and Pinocchio go a-roaming

The Wenham Museum in Wenham, Massachusetts is borrowing artifacts, sketches, and illustrations from the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection for their upcoming exhibit Picture This: 90 Years of Storybook Art (February 3- May 6, 2012).  Classic toy stories will come to life through more than 50 original illustrations, vintage toys, and antique books in a colorful display that is engaging for all ages. In the gallery visitors will be able to make their own picture book to take away after their visit, dress in costume to become part of the story, and use story cubes to create their own picture stories all while enjoying the illustrations and reading classics of children’s literature.

The NCLC is lending two artifacts from Nellie, a cat on her own, written and illustrated by Natalie Babbitt and published in 1989 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.   Ms. Babbitt was born in 1932 in Dayton, OH, the daughter of Ralph Zane and Genevieve (Converse) Moore. She received her B.A. from Smith College in 1954. That same year she married Samuel Fisher Babbitt, who also collaborated with her on her first book, The 49th Magician.

The Babbitt Papers hold the manuscripts, preliminary sketches, finished artwork and models for this and many other Babbitt titles, including her most famous work, the multiple award-winning Tuck Everlasting.   Seven paintings and two sketches by Ms. Babbitt will accompany Nellie and her hat to Wenham. Nellie a cat on her own written and illustrated by Natalie BabbittTo keep Nellie company, eight collages by Ed Young will be featured in the Wenham show as well.  These collages are the finished works of art for his Pinocchio, published in 1996 by Philomel.  Mr. Young, a children’s book author/illustrator and winner of many awards was born in Tientsin, China and raised in Shanghai and Hong Kong, where he was interested in drawing and storytelling from an early age.  He moved to the U.S. in 1951 to study architecture but quickly changed his focus to art.  Mr. Young has illustrated over eighty books, many of which he also wrote.

Pinocchio by Ed Young

The mission of the Wenham Museum is to protect, preserve, and interpret the history and culture of  Boston’s North Shore, domestic life, and the artifacts of childhood.  The Museum was established in 1922, making 2012 its 90th anniversary. It began as an historic house museum, but the first donor, Elizabeth Richards Horton – who also happened to be the last child to grow up in the house – donated nearly 1000 dolls to the museum that had been her childhood home, thus establishing the Wenham Museum as one of the premier museums of dolls, toys, and the artifacts of childhood from the 17th century to the present. Since then the museum has maintained a tradition of celebrating childhood and domestic life through its exhibitions of artifacts that have been a part of childhood for the past 400 years, including children’s books, toys and dolls of all kinds, electric trains, and textiles and objects of domestic life.

Mark Twain and the Science of Dr. Conn

Prof. Ken Noll (far left) and students with their exhibit "Mark Twain and Herbert W. Conn"

As curators we often work with undergraduates on their class projects, and I recently had the opportunity to work with Professor Kenneth Noll of the Molecular and Cell Biology department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  Prof. Noll devised a project for a INTD class he taught this semester, “Mark Twain and Herbert W. Conn: Science in Literature and Society in Late 19th Century Connecticut.”  We all know who Mark Twain is but who is Conn?  H.W. Conn was a very prominent scientist at Wesleyan University in the late 1800s/early 1900s, and although he was not a faculty member at what then the Connecticut Agricultural College (now known as UConn), he was the driving force in establishing the Storrs Agricultural Experiment Station.  Prof. Noll’s objective for the class was to have the students create an exhibit that describes Conn’s work as the Connecticut state microbiologist, juxtaposing it to Mark Twain’s 1905 essay, “3000 Years Among the Microbes,” which deflates human beings’ inflated sense of importance. 

Ken Noll and the exhibit, in the Plaza Alcove at Homer Babbidge Library

The class, all of them freshmen honors students, was split into three groups to research Conn and Twain, as well as the science behind Conn’s work, particularly his 1893 Chicago World’s Fair exhibit on dairy microbiology.  The students used many materials in Archives & Special Collections, including photographs from the University Archives, Storrs Agricultural Experiment Station catalogs, and maps, and made a field trip to the Connecticut Science Center.

 The result is an exhibit now up in the Plaza Alcove in Homer Babbidge Library until December 17. 

On December 6, at 11:00a.m., there will be a celebration of the exhibit that will feature a reading from Twain’s story by retired Prof. of Dramatic Arts Jerry Krasser and Prof. Noll.  The public is invited to the celebration, in the Class of ’47 room in Homer Babbidge Library

Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections