Radio Legend Fred Allen Brings the Funny

Fred Allen turns to a different medium. Yes, it’s still radio in this 1954 broadcast of a Books and Authors Luncheon, but the former king of the comedy airwaves is here to plug his book, Treadmill to Oblivion. As the title indicates, Allen’s acerbic wit is still much in evidence. He has been preceded by the author of a book on taste. Don’t worry, he assures the audience. “My book has no taste whatsoever.” He then talks about his youth in a small New England town. There is an almost surreal streak to Allen’s humor. He describes how he was “drawn” to New York: he was standing by the train tracks with a bunch of nails in his pockets when a flatbed car carrying a huge magnet sped by and…. He then riffs on how to go about selling this book, imagining various special editions, including a snack edition; page 80 would be a slice of rye bread, page 81 a piece of ham….

Too much of a reserved New Englander to be really nasty, Allen saves most of his vitriol for the medium that pushed him off the air: television. He envisions a special edition aimed at “…television addicts who are reading a book for the first time.” He takes aim at his Boston-based publishers for their timid attempts at publicity (a boy running up and down Beacon Street shouting the name of the book into people’s keyholes) but finally admits, “a book becomes successful because people read it, like it, and tell other people.” Despite being the essence of a show business personality, Allen comes across here as a level-headed, regular guy.

Fred Allen was born in 1894. He spent many years in vaudeville as a juggler and ventriloquist before that medium’s collapse drove him into radio, where his instantly recognizable, flat, nasal voice caught the attention of sponsors. But Allen was far more than a one-note ex-vaudevillian. As Dennis Drabelle, writing in The American Scholar, notes: 

Allen’s wit was the funnel through which all manner of nonsense passed. He specialized in satirical takeoffs on the news, though not so much the headline stories as the human-interest fillers, mined from the nine newspapers he read daily and served up as “The March of Trivia.” To enact his riffs, he invented a parade of eccentrics played by a stock company. His lust for the highs and lows of the English language was another constant. … Sometimes he struck a note of homespun poetry, as when one of his characters described his own inamorata as “prettier than a peacock backin’ into a sunset.”

For almost two decades Allen’s comedy show reigned at or near the top of the radio standings. Whereas his competition, notably Jack Benny with whom Allen conducted a mock feud, relied exclusively on teams of writers, Allen was famous for taking a much more hands-on approach to his scripts, eschewing the musty fodder of “joke files” or reliance on cheap laughs. Al Lewis, a writer who worked on the show, recalls for the Comedy-O-Rama website: 

“Fred was wonderful…I tried to write for him, but he always added better lines that would knock my socks off. Once a college girl was on, talking about how George Washington Carver had discovered a way to make ink out of a peanut, glue out of a peanut, and milk from a peanut. And Fred ad-libbed, “Milk from a peanut? He must have had a very low stool!” That was the greatest non-thinking rejoinder I ever heard. There I was sitting in a room struggling to put the black stuff on the white stuff, and he made it look easy.”

But the Golden Age of Radio was a short one. Television posed a particular threat to Allen who, unlike Benny, could not make the transition to situation comedy. He was also in failing health, suffering from hypertension and heart disease. As Garrison Keillor relates in the New York Times:

He was beaten badly in the 1948-49 ratings by a dumb quiz show, ”Stop the Music” – a bitter fate, losing to smiling nonentities like Bert Parks and the show’s producer, Mark Goodson. Allen fought back with a parody, ”Cease the Melody,” in which dimwitted contestants won 4,000 yards of dental floss and two floors of the Empire State Building by identifying the anthem ”America,” and he took out an insurance policy to compensate his listeners in the event that ”Stop the Music” telephoned any of them during his show. But he dropped from the Top Ten to No. 38 in just a few weeks, and left the air on June, 1949.

This prepared speech does not show Allen at his best. His now sixty-year-old brand of humor is perhaps best appreciated for what it is not. He does not talk down or pander. He cannot bring himself to be cruel. Yet this is not “gentle” comedy. Rather, it appeals to the intelligence without being intellectual, a neat trick, one not often seen duplicated since.

After this book, Allen worked on an autobiography, Much Ado About Me, which was published posthumously.

Fred Allen died in 1956. 

 

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection.

WNYC archives id: 150152
Municipal archives id: LT2987

Digital Exhibit Now Available

For those unable to visit the Heritage Museum, an online exhibit has been created for the Heritage Protocol & University Archives project Degrees of Discovery. The digital exhibit includes additional items and information not included in the physical exhibit, providing new understandings about the various scientific developments on campus over the years.

Atiz
Digitizing a chemistry notebook on the Atiz book scanner.

Creating the digital exhibit offered an entirely fresh perspective of the objects I had curated for Degrees of Discovery. The first step was to determine the best way to view each object on a screen, rather than in person. Staging a physical exhibit requires an awareness of how items play off each other’s size, color, and texture; because digital items are more likely to be viewed individually, the focus lies with image clarity and whether the digital copy is a faithful representation of the original. After digitizing each object using scanners and conventional photography, I sat down to compile the information that would help people understand the objects they would now see on a computer screen. Rather than interpreting the items in relation to each other to tell a story, I needed to objectively observe each object in terms of size, genre, creator, and subject matter. The information I could glean from the item became its metadata. If you’ve used a catalog record in a library, you’ve seen metadata; it’s the information that describes the item, like the date of publication or its place in a larger series. This metadata allows users to search for objects if they have a subject, keyword, or title already in mind. Though arguably less creative than the initial curatorial development, the creation and implementation of the objects’ metadata is what makes it possible for users to find what they’re looking for.

To explore the digital exhibit, visit degreesofdiscovery.omeka.net.

Irrepressible Reformer

Letter 1Letter 2Letter 3

In addition to developing the library classification scheme that still bears his name — the Dewey Decimal System — Melvil Dewey was a champion of spelling reform. If one didn’t know that this letter to Amherst Trustee George Plimpton was written by Melvil Dewey, one might assume it was the work of a semi-literate crank.

Dewey came to Amherst College in the fall of 1870 and the catalog for his Freshman year shows he had not yet lopped the superfluous letters from his first name: “Melville.”

Freshman catalog

Sometime in his second year at the college he became obsessed with libraries and library classification. He spent much of the next two years working in Morgan Library at Amherst as well as visiting nearby libraries such as Boston Public Library and the Boston Athenaeum in search of the ideal classification system.

Dui CDV

Melvil Dewey, Amherst College Class of 1874.

After graduating in 1874, Dewey was hired by the college to serve as Assistant Librarian, a position he held for two years before moving on. He continued to develop his classification system and in 1876 arranged for it to be published.

Classification TP

The letter at the top of this post is on Lake Placid Club stationery, another of Dewey’s passion projects. Dewey founded the Lake Placid Club in 1895, possibly inspired by the physical fitness program he experienced as an Amherst undergraduate.

Dewey died in 1931, but his efforts to promote Lake Placid and the Adirondacks High Peaks region as a site for winter recreation paid off handsomely when Lake Placid hosted the Third Winter Olympics in 1932. When the Lake Placid Club held a dinner in celebration of Dewey’s 100th birthday, they printed the menu using his “Simpler Speling.”

Menu inside

While the Dewey Decimal Classification system remains popular around the world, and Lake Placid hosted a second Winter Olympics in 1980, little remains of Dewey’s spelling reforms. I wonder how many visitors to the Adirondacks realize that the same guy who developed the Dewey classification system is also responsible for the idiosyncratic spelling of the “Adirondack Loj” at Heart Lake…

Loj

1956 National Book Awards, Part 2 – Senator John F. Kennedy

JFK addresses his colleagues. Or are they his adversaries? In this speech at the 1956 National Book Awards, the junior senator from Massachusetts would appear to be among his fellow writers. As the introductory speaker notes, Kennedy’s book of essays, Profiles in Courage, is “rapidly climbing the bestseller list.” Yet the tack he takes in his keynote speech is to set in opposition the writer and the politician. He playfully casts himself as being “in the camp of the enemy; you, the authors, the scholars, the intellectuals, and the eggheads of America, the traditional foes of politicians in every part of the country.”

He makes a plea for a truce between the political and literary world. Citing such historical oddities as a poem by Senator Sam Houston, he argues that in the past the two sides were not so far apart. “Where are the scholar-statesmen of yesteryear?” he laments. Claiming they should be natural allies, he points out how politicians, who actually deal with the rough-and-tumble of conflict, have a great deal to offer the sedentary author in the way of dramatic material and life experience. Writers, for their part, can keep politicians honest, prevent them from going down “the primrose path of never-ending compromise.” Perhaps most impressive about this speech are the many historical and literary references Kennedy uses to illustrate his points. Casually mentioning Charlemagne, Lear, Byron, and many others, he displays that rare politician’s ease in seeming to share with his audience certain basic values. He flatters them (or perhaps he is being sincere) in suggesting that both they and he have a significant role to play in the future workings of American democracy. He treats them as his equal. By the end one senses he has won over yet another constituency, as he sets his sights on the 1960 presidential election.


Theodore C. Sorensen, Special Counsel to U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

The question of John F. Kennedy’s authorship of Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize the following year, has long been a subject in which politicians and writers truly do share a compelling interest. Almost immediately upon publication rumors swirled to the effect that work was largely ghost-written by his aide Ted Sorensen. Despite Sorensen’s denials, these persist to the present day. In the end, Sorensen described what can be best seen as a murky creative process. The website Liquisearch explains how:

In May 2008, Sorensen clarified in his autobiography, Counselor, how he collaborated with Kennedy on the book: “While in Washington, I received from Florida almost daily instructions and requests by letter and telephone – books to send, memoranda to draft, sources to check, materials to assemble, and Dictaphone drafts or revisions of early chapters. Sorensen wrote that Kennedy “worked particularly hard and long on the first and last chapters, setting the tone and philosophy of the book” and that “I did a first draft of most chapters” and “helped choose the words of many of its sentences.” JFK “publicly acknowledged in his introduction to the book my extensive role in its composition.” Sorensen claimed that in May 1957, Kennedy “unexpectedly and generously offered, and I happily accepted, a sum to be spread over several years, that I regarded as more than fair” for his work on the book. 

As for the speech’s olive branch held out to writers and, by extension, the arts in general, the Kennedy White House was certainly perceived as a more welcome to and appreciative of artists than its Eisenhower-era predecessor. Some of this must be attributed to Jacqueline Kennedy, who, as her subsequent career in publishing showed, genuinely respected the written word. As for Kennedy himself, the enigma, the essential unknowability of a master politician’s true feelings (if he has any) makes his attitude difficult to judge. Even a website as naturally inclined to praise as that of the JFK Library admits: 

JFK enjoyed literature and poetry, especially the work of the Romantic era English poet Lord Byron and the American Robert Frost. Jacqueline Kennedy loved poetry as well and was also deeply committed to both music and the visual arts. There is little evidence that JFK was particularly sophisticated about the arts. He read widely, but never considered himself an intellectual or an original thinker. His musical tastes ran to Broadway show tunes and Irish ballads rather than Mozart or Beethoven. Once, when asked about the president’s taste in music, the first lady replied that his favorite piece was “Hail to the Chief.” 

 

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection.

WNYC archives id: 150222
Municipal archives id: LT7121

JFK 100 Centennial Celebration

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of President John F. Kennedy. In commemoration of this centennial, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum will be hosting a series of events and activities throughout the year.

JFK 100: Milestones & Mementos is the newest exhibition at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, opening on Friday, May 26 at 11:00 am. This exhibition chronicles historic milestones in the President’s career and administration, as well as the events of his personal and family life. Discover all of the JFK100 events and activities during the centennial celebration: learn more about the legacy of JFK, explore and contribute to the “Where in the World is JFK?” interactive map, find an event near you, and see how the National Archives is celebrating throughout the year.

Join us today for #JFK100 Social Media Day! Throughout the day, the National Archives will join other archives, museums, and cultural organizations to celebrate the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s birth.

Learn about the life, Presidency, and legacy of JFK through social media activities hosted by the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) community. Experts will be on hand to talk about the impact of President Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and the Kennedy White House. Whether your interests are in science and innovation, arts and culture, public service, civil rights, or peace and diplomacy, there will be so much for you to explore!

Explore the full schedule of events and activities.

New York Mayor John F. Hylan on WNYC’s Opening Night

Some Context

Mayor John F. Hylan made the remarks reprinted below when radio was still very much in its formative stages. KDKA Pittsburgh, with which WNYC was frequently compared because our transmitter was a replica of theirs, was the first commercially licensed station and only four years old. The Commerce Department was overseeing the issue of licenses and regulations that had not kept pace with rapid changes and innovations in the technology. The establishment of the Federal Radio Commission was still three years off, and its successor agency, the FCC, wouldn’t come on the scene for another ten.

Pressing communications issues of the day had Hylan focused on a handful of key points to justify a government, tax-supported broadcaster. He clearly opposed a broadcast system like that found in Britain, supported by receiving set license fees. He and WNYC founder Grover Whalen had just fought against what they called ‘the Radio Trust,’ characterized  as a corporate conspiracy to control the airwaves through patent ownership of the technology. Like most politicians of every era, Hylan felt he wasn’t getting a fair shake from the press and argued the print media alone was not up to the task of providing for an informed citizenry. Commercial broadcasting too, he believed, could not sufficiently fill certain gaps in information, education and entertainment. And finally, Hylan argued that the emerging technology would be a boon to police, fire and health departments by helping to capture criminals, smother flames sooner and keep the public up to date in the war on disease.   

But even as WNYC was just getting on the air, the chief concern among its critics was the potential for abuse by a government-controlled broadcaster; a concern that would cast a shadow over the station for the next 73 years. One wary editorial board wrote: “There will be a strong temptation to make the municipal radio a partisan instrument. Nor is there anything in the record of this Administration to inspire the belief that the temptation will be resisted.” Indeed, Hylan would prove that he couldn’t resist using the station for political ends, provoking a threat to its existence. Fortunately, the baby WNYC wasn’t thrown out with the bath water. In fact, the amazing thing is that the station went on to survive nearly annual calls for its defunding in the name of weary taxpayers, as well as periodic charges of censorship, commercialism, communist propaganda, and bias toward one group or another through twelve more administrations: Democratic, Fusion and Republican.

More than just surviving, WNYC became a fertile ground for innovation and leadership in broadcasting; provided countless opportunities for those who would advance journalism and art; and provided a forum for debate, discussion and exploration of the pressing issues of the day. And it could enter the home and heart like few other outlets, creating an unprecedented type of personal connection, free of commercials.  

The following speech by Mayor John F. Hylan was delivered over WNYC, July 8, 1924 commencing at 9:22 PM.

_______________________________________

The City of New York employs tonight a new medium for the entertainment and education of the people — The Municipal Radio Broadcasting Station. There are some five hundred broadcasting stations throughout the country, but this is the first one to be conducted under municipal auspices.*  In view of the existence of so many private stations, inquiry might very properly be made as to the necessity for the operation of an independent station by the City of New York. A few observations may be helpful.

In the field of entertainment by radio, acknowledgment is at once made that for the past three years private broadcasting stations have performed a most commendable civic service. The sign-boards of the time, however, hold out no assurance of a continuance of free reception on the same scale as the radio audience has been enjoying.

We are told that many artists, heretofore content with the flowers of publicity and popularity garnered through radio performances, are now seeking something which appeals to the purse as well as to the heart. Pocket-filling as well as soul-filling appreciation is rapidly becoming the order of the day. Who shall meet the expense incident to the gratification of this very human impulse is a subject inviting a great diversity of opinion.

National organizations are reported to have issued orders against radio performances by any of their concert artists because gratis radio performances have in many instances not only failed to increase subsequent paid admissions to concerts but have also occasionally reacted unfavorably on the box office. Opposed to this contention, the broadcasting of plays and musical comedies, some of which have not been overburdened with theatre patronage, is said to have given a healthy impetus to increased attendance.

An announcement that is becoming more and more familiar to all owners of receiving sets is: “Owing to copyright complications, this number cannot be broadcasted.” That, at least, is definite, tangible, evidence that lavish broadcasting of popular musical numbers or those from which a maximum of revenue has yet to be derived, is now a thing of the past.

Manufacturers and private business establishments, which have been paying for broadcasting of radio programs, generously interlarded with references to their enterprises, are not a unit in proclaiming that this method of advertising their wares brings results justifying the expenditure. In fact, it is not unusual to hear that an audience, which has been prepared for a program free from advertising, takes with ill-grace a  program decorated with propaganda and declines to be numbered among the well-wishers of the business exploited.

Viewing the future situation of the radio from these many angles, one may, with good cause, anticipate a retrenchment rather than an expansion of free radio entertainment.

Many suggestions have been put forward for bridging the gulf between the cost borne by private enterprise and the radio services enjoyed by the public. A monthly tax to be paid by all “listeners-in” and to be collected by the private broadcasting stations, but in a manner not yet disclosed, is one plan.  The use of an unusual wave length or other expedient, requiring the purchase of a special device for reception, is another.  The simultaneous broadcasting by widely scattered stations and the construction of a national super-broadcasting station, furthering the purposes of economy, are still others. Running through most of the suggestions offered is the disquieting conclusion that the public need hardly expect to continue indefinitely to receive entertainment with no greater contribution than the mere turning of a dial.

It would not be well for the City of New York to be laggard in recognizing the possible evil effects of a discontinuance of free radio service or a centralization of control of broadcasting which might mean the placing of a financial impost upon the public, or, the acceptance by the public, in lieu thereof, of odds and ends of educational and recreational programs.  Doubtless, there are many individuals upon whom a special tax for radio reception would rest with no great weight. But they are decidedly in the minority. Countless thousands could not afford to bear an expense other than the original cost of a radio set and occasional replacement parts.

Hence, the responsible officials of the City of New York, appreciating their obligation to provide for such a contingency and any other possible untoward developments in the radio industry, have opened Station WNYC, a powerful and efficient broadcasting equipment, for the benefit of the people, not alone of New York but of all the nation, to whom this city belongs.

To insure uninterrupted program of recreational entertainment for all the people is one of the compelling reasons for the installation of the Municipal Radio Broadcasting Station. To assist the police department in the work of crime prevention and detection; the fire department in the expeditious employment of its land and marine equipment in fighting fires; and the health department in safeguarding the physical well-being of New York’s gigantic population are also some of the conspicuous services to be rendered by this municipal plant. The improvement of the people in every walk of life, through the educative power of the radio, may also be considered one of its paramount purposes. Good government, depending as it does upon an intelligent, active and alert citizenship, demands the employment of every possible means for a wider diffusion of authoritative information upon municipal matters.

Generally speaking, facts and information regarding the municipal service are obtained through three principal channels: personal observations of actual conditions; daily newspapers; and official reports summarizing, quarterly and annually, the activities of service.

Those who have opportunities to become personally familiar with the operations of the municipal machinery, because of business relations which bring them in contact with particular arms of the service are few in number. The great majority of the people lose such contact because there is no business necessity or personal inclination for making a dreary round of department. There is, however, a very general desire to become acquainted with the operations of government if the information but be imparted in an attractive manner. The Silver Jubilee Exhibit is an example. A comprehensive idea of how the municipal government functions was there given, and hundreds of thousands were not slow to take advantage of it. The lessons in civic science, graphically presented, constituted an advance in popular education that brought forth many favorable tributes of appreciation.

The second channel of information — the daily newspapers –unquestionably reaches the greatest number of people. For a variety of reason, however, the press does not always find it expedient to devote much space to the routine of government and hence educative features pertaining to municipal government, are now, as a rule, particularly stressed.

Official reports, constituting a dependable channel of information, are always of interest to the student of the science of government. Unfortunately, they lack appeal to the average citizen because of the abundance of statistical data necessarily included for comparative as well as record purposes.

Thus is will be seen that in none of the three principal channels for public enlightenment on municipal government are the great masses of the people effectively reached. Yet an enlightened citizen interest is imperative if government is to be made either representative or successful.

We have, therefore, been confronted with the necessity of providing a new channel for the dissemination of municipal information. That new channel is the Municipal Radio.

Municipal information, formerly available only after patient perusal of reports, is now to be brought into one’s home in an interesting, delightful and attractive form. Facts, civic, social, commercial and industrial, will be marshaled and presented by those with their subjects well in hands. Talks on timely topics will also be broadcasted. Programs sufficiently diversified to meet all tastes, with musical concerts, both vocal and instrumental, featured at ll times, should make “tuning-in” on the Municipal Radio pleasant as well as profitable.

Through the employment of this modern and very effective means of transmitting information, an aroused public interest in the municipal government may logically be expected to ensue upon a broader understanding, a clearer knowledge and a deeper appreciation of its functioning. And it follows, as night the day, that the more enlightened the citizenship the better it becomes.

That there is need of an extension of education in public matters at this time, even to a greater extent than has heretofore been considered necessary, will be appreciated when it is recalled that for the first time, after more than a half century of struggle, the City of New York now enjoys some measure of Home Rule. How well we shall use the new grant of power depends both upon the people themselves who are the paymasters of their public servants.

The best results will be achieved when each group, appreciating its individual responsibilities, cooperates with the other toward a common end. The pressure of public opinion is essential to the safe guidance of the official craft. Cooperation is the compass which will insure the safety of our municipal argosies from the stray winds of private interests on the new uncharted seas of Home Rule.

Community needs and official acts are inter-dependent. They must be reflective of the other.

If the people would have their wishes interpreted, economically and efficiently, they must maintain a continuing interest in the administration of the government. “The inarticulate public” and “the voiceless masses” are flare-backs to the days when government was administered for the benefit of the favored few. An enlightened citizen interest, militantly expressed, is now in keeping with the trend of the times.

We are prepared to tell you over your own radio just exactly what is being done to make your city a better place to work in and to live in. Essential information as to the progress and problems of city government will be broadcasted. This will provide a fact basis upon which the people may found constructive criticism. That is what is needed and always welcome.

Send along your suggestions. Even if you think they are poor and insignificant, send them along. They will, at least, indicate civic interest. And civic interest is the most necessary fundamental for the progress and perpetuity of any government.

You are as free to write as the very air which carries these words to your home. Write us! Letters, you know, do bring brains and hearts together. If you close the doors of your lips or decline to give expression to your thoughts on pertinent municipal matters, we shall have to guess what is in your mind. And guess work is a very sandy foundation upon which to build any permanent structure.

Without the support and confidence of an enlightened citizenship, no administration can effectively discharge its full obligation to all the people. And an enlightened citizenship is one that appreciates its obligations as well as its privileges. I thank you.

________________________________

Thanks to the New York City Municipal Archives and archivist Alexandra Hilton for making a copy of Mayor Hylan’s original address available to us.

*Note: WNYC was not the first municipally owned radio station in the United States. That distinction goes to WRR in Dallas, Texas.

Preserving the City’s website with Archive-It

We are pleased to announce that we have begun preserving and providing access to crawls (snapshots) of the City’s website using Archive-It, a web application developed and managed by the Internet Archive. Archive-It uses an open-source crawler called Heritrix to crawl specific web content based on instructions provided by the user (in our case, that’s us), and the venerable Wayback Machine to provide access. Over time, the preserved crawls will show how the City’s website has changed in terms of content, look and feel.

vancouver.ca today

How it works

Each crawl directs Heritrix to one or more “seed” URLs, which you can think of as the starting points of the crawl. From each seed, Heritrix browses through all links and saves any content it encounters that falls within the scoping rules for the crawl. Crawled content is saved in the WARC file format, an ISO standard for storing web content.

City of Vancouver web content seed list

WARC files for download and in-house preservation

We are preserving the resulting WARC files in-house using our digital preservation system, Archivematica. However, the WARC format stores chunks of content somewhat arbitrarily, and providing meaningful access to the content of WARC files requires highly specialized software and expertise. That’s where the Archive-It service really shines – all crawled content can be viewed via the Wayback Machine, just as if you were browsing the live web. To get started, visit our City of Vancouver web content collection page and select which URL you would like to use as your access point.

Our Archive-It collection page

From there, you will see how many times the URL has been captured, and on which dates. Selecting a date will open the content in Wayback.

Capture date list

When you are viewing the content in Wayback, a handy banner will appear to show you the date and time of capture and remind you that you’re not looking at a current page!

Viewing a page in Wayback

How it doesn’t work

Search boxes and some drop-down navigation do not work in Wayback the way they do on the live web, and interactive content such as contact forms will not display. Instead, you will see a “Not in Archive” notice.

Part of the Archives’ pages on vancouver.ca. Note the missing contact form

Some content has been excluded from the crawl because the nature of the content – often a searchable calendar or complex database – creates what’s known as a “crawler trap.” A crawler trap causes the crawler to get stuck in an infinite loop as it attempts to try every possible combination of factors and save the result. Examples of crawler traps include the Park Board’s recreation calendar system and our very own database, searcharchives.vancouver.ca! For this reason, you won’t see this content in the crawls.

Another area of trouble for Heritrix is content that relies heavily on JavaScript in the underlying code (interested folks can read more about that here). We encountered this problem during test crawls, primarily with the part of the site where council minutes and agendas are posted. When you attempt to navigate to this content in Wayback, you will see the “Not in Archive” notice and be able to link to the URL in its current state on the live web.

“Not in Archive” notice, with links to the live web and the global Wayback Service

You can also discover crawled web content via our online database, searcharchives.vancouver.ca, and link to our Archive-It collection page from there.

External link to archive-it.org from file description in searcharchives.vancouver.ca

We welcome your feedback and questions about using Archive-It to access legacy web content. Happy browsing!

Electronic Composer Jean-Jacques Perrey Hears the Future

The bouncy beat of a synthesizer-driven tune, Island in Space, provides the incongruous opening music for this 1968 installment of the usually staid series Music and the Message. The guest is Jean-Jacques Perrey, electronic composer and fervent advocate for the then-new Moog Synthesizer as well as the Ondioline, one of the first electronic keyboards. Perrey, with his Inspector Clouseau accent and seemingly outrageous belief that electronically-generated sounds will provide the music of the future, is treated with good-humored condescension by the interviewer, who clearly regards him more as a curiosity than a harbinger of the 21’st century sonic landscape, the reason being perhaps that Perrey does not resemble one’s picture of the typical avant-garde composer producing inscrutable works that challenge the listener’s very concept of music. Instead his aim is to raise synthesized sounds “to the level of pop music.”

Asked about his training, Perrey describes a background in the “musique concrète” of the time, taking samples of seemingly “unmusical” sounds, making tape loops, converting, through filters and distortion, a car horn, say, into a “lion roaring.” “But then,” he disarmingly admits, “I realized it would be more fun…to make it more approachable to the public.” Looking towards the future, he predicts “a complete change in musical expression” as electronic sounds become “a part of life.” While the interviewer expresses skepticism, Perrey accurately perceives that “it has to happen.”

Jean-Jacques Perrey (1929-2016) may not be one of the best-known of the first wave of electronic composers but it is more likely that you have heard his music than that of his more famous contemporaries. His ubiquitous jingles are still used in television commercials, his more engaging “hooks” are sampled by today’s rappers, and anyone who has visited a Disney theme park has likely heard his Baroque Hoedown during the Main Street Electrical Parade. As Perrey’s frequent collaborator Dana Countryman told Rolling Stone:

“For those who don’t realize it, Jean-Jacques first started recording electronic music in 1952, long before the Moog synthesizer was first made for sale in 1967. Relocating from Paris to New York City, JJ actually owned and recorded with the second Moog ever produced, and with his musical partner Gershon Kingsley, they released their first Moog album – almost two years before Wendy Carlos released her first Moog album. Jean-Jacques was truly the pioneer of popular electronic music.”

Perrey straddled that fascinating line between willfully obscure Bohemianism and an almost deliberately vulgar pandering to a mass audience. Humor seems to have been the common element. In its obituary, the New York Times recounts how:

…his 1970 album, “Moog Indigo,” included one of his most daring adaptations, a version of “Flight of the Bumblebee,” which was pieced together from recordings of real bees. The pitches of their buzzing were shifted and arranged to recreate Rimsky-Korsakov’s familiar melody, a process that Mr. Perrey said took 46 hours.

It would be a mistake to dismiss such compositions as mere pranks. This interview shows Perrey envisioning with great prescience an auditory world that has since come to be. His subsequent work included film scores, commercials, and music for ballet, but also albums intended to help insomniacs sleep and other adventures in ambient sound which pre-figure the aesthetic of Brian Eno and Terry Riley. His music has been featured on South Park, The Simpsons, and saluted by The Beastie Boys. Yet Perrey can also be seen as very much exemplifying his time: the boundless optimism of Sixties, when the notion of fusing serious artistic exploration with commercial success and broad public appeal did not seem as fraught with danger or essentially contradictory as it perhaps does today. Richie Unterberger, writing for allmusic.com, contends:

 …his work was never intended to be part of the avant-garde, as Perrey himself cheerfully declared in his liner notes. His goal was to popularize electronic music by deploying it in happy, simple tunes and arrangements. That’s why his music falls far closer to easy listening/space age pop than any sort of cutting edge — and that is also why his music sounds more cheesily nostalgic than futuristic.

But of course the very feelings summed up by the word “futuristic” could be seen as yet another branch of nostalgia. Perrey, in this interview, very sweetly embodies both the strangeness of the new and a comforting assurance that what is good will remain.

 

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection.

WNYC archives id: 150971
Municipal archives id: T4399

Jim Alder: marathon runner, baton bearer

To celebrate the occasion of the first Stirling Marathon which takes place on Sunday 21st May our Exhibitions Assistant, Ian Mackintosh, writes about one of Scotland’s greatest marathon runner’s contribution to Commonwealth Games history.

Jim Alder is without doubt one of the greatest distance runners in the history of Scottish Athletics. Jim competed in the 1966 and 1970 Commonwealth Games and also represented Great Britain at the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games. Jim collected a complete set of medals at the Commonwealth Games winning gold in the marathon and bronze in the six mile race in Kingston in 1966, and silver in the marathon in Edinburgh in 1970. Another of Jim’s claims to fame is that he was involved in all three Queen’s Baton Relays when Scotland hosted the Games (in 1970, 1986 and 2014).

Jim Alder returns from Kingston, Jamaica, with his marathon gold and six-mile race bronze medals.

Edinburgh 1970

Jim’s first involvement with the Baton Relay came at the opening ceremony of the 1970 British Commonwealth Games where he had the honour of bringing the baton into Meadowbank Stadium and presenting it to Prince Philip. Jim recalled the day in a recent interview for the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive:

“I was captain of the Scottish Cross Country Team and a Gold Medallist for the Marathon at the last games. I got a letter from the Scottish Amateur Athletics Association asking me if I would be interested in taking part in the Baton Relay in Edinburgh. I replied that I was honoured to take part. They asked me to keep it secret and not to let my family know because I was to be the involved in the last leg of the relay in Edinburgh. I received a phone call a few days later during which they then told me that I would be carrying the baton into the stadium to hand it over to Prince Philip.

I was also given specific instructions as to what I was to wear. I was to wear my Scotland Vest a pair of white shorts and a pair of plain white canvas shoes. On no account was there to be any branding. At the time Adidas were my running shoe sponsors and they provided me with all of my gear. So I had to go out and buy a pair of shorts and shoes for which I was reimbursed. My wife and family were in the top stadium waiting on the teams coming in and when the Scotland team appeared I wasn’t in the team. She turned to her dad and our son and said yer dad is late again he’s missed the team. You see I had a reputation for being late. It was then that I made my entrance and it was flashed up on the scoreboard that the mystery Baton Relay runner was Jim Alder. It was great running round the track. The roar of the crowd was amazing. They were clapping and cheering and of course I knew most of the other British team’s athletes and they were cheering me on. It brought a lump to my throat and I was very emotional when I handed over the baton to Prince Philip. It was a fabulous occasion and when I handed the baton over to Prince Philip he asked if I had run all the way with the message.”

Jim Alder hands the Queens Baton to Prince Philip at Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh, 16 July 1970

Edinburgh 1986

In 1986 Jim was asked if he would like the honour of carrying the baton over the border into Scotland during the relay. Recalling the day Jim noted that:

“I was advised to be in Coldstream for midmorning and I was met by the committee. This was a very different occasion [from 1970] because my role was to carry the baton over the border and hand it over to someone at Coldstream. It was a less formal affair and I didn’t need to worry about what I wore. In fact I wasn’t even advised about what to wear so I decided I would wear my 1970 Scotland Uniform which still fitted me. I was still a serious runner back then and I maintained my weight well. I was still competing regularly in Cross Country, Road Races and Marathons. I was really happy to be involved in the baton relay once again and I never thought I would ever be involved in it again.”

Glasgow 2014

In 2014 Jim had the honour of being part of the final stages of the baton relay on the opening day of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. At an event in Scotland House (The Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow) he presented the baton to Prince Imran, Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation. For Jim “it was a great day, because it was an opportunity be in my hometown and the reception I received showed that people hadn’t forgotten what I had achieved nearly 40 years before.”

Our exhibition Hosts and Champions: Scotland in the Commonwealth Games was also officially opened that day and we were present to witness Jim’s contribution to the day’s events. After the ceremony was completed, we met Jim and chatted to him about his career. Jim was very interested in our exhibition and was delighted when he saw that we had featured him in the display. The exhibition included a photograph of Jim taken shortly after he had won his silver medal in the 1970 marathon. The photograph was titled “A helping hand”. Jim was delighted to see the picture and was more than happy to chat with us about the race. He spoke fondly of his great friend and rival Ron Hill and highlighted the fact that five of the fastest Marathon runners in the world were competing in the race. For Jim “it has been a great privilege to be asked to take part in all three Commonwealth Games Relays and the fact that I was involved in the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay completes a unique set for me.”

Jim Alder with his photograph from the 1970 Commonwealth Games which features in our Hosts and Champions exhibition.

 

‘A helping hand.’ Jim Alder crosses the line to win silver in the marathon at the 1970 Commonwealth Games.

May 15th, 1947: The Beginning of a New Era

headlinesToday marks the 70th anniversary of the creation of FSU! On May 15th, 1947 at 9:50am, legislation was passed to make the Florida State College for Women and University of Florida co-educational. After WWII, young men were enrolling to universities in record numbers, which included the University of Florida. However, UF couldn’t accommodate so many new students and turned them away. Veterans in Tallahassee and surrounding areas petitioned to take classes at Florida State College for Women, but Florida’s attorney general, Thomas J. Watson, declared it illegal. Circumventing the law, Secretary of State R.A. Gray established the Tallahassee Branch of University of Florida. In 1946, just under 1000 men moved into temporary housing at Dale Mabry Field and started taking classes alongside women at FSCW. By 1947, support for co-ed education had increased, and in May, Governor Millard Caldwell signed  the legislation to create Florida State University.>

tallyhoAs soon as men stepped on campus in 1946, the culture of the women’s college started to change. While regulations about what constituted dating were relaxed, many of the women were resentful of the changes. Traditions like the Thanksgiving celebrations and color run were canceled, and the name of the annual yearbook was changed from Flastacowo to Tally-Ho. The male population’s requests were taken more seriously than they were when women voiced them, including changing the weekly convocation to a monthly assembly. The changes weren’t all bad, however. State funding for the university became better and varsity athletics teams were established. Women were allowed to drive and have cars on campus, and gained autonomy in where they traveled in town. As the years went on, FSU would turn into the world class institution we know today.
classof1947
The Class of 1947 at their 50th Reunion, 1997.

To see more photographs, ephemera, and artifacts related to the history of Florida State, check out the FSU Heritage Protocol Digital Collections or like the Heritage Protocol Facebook page.

Celebrating Public Service Recognition Week

Today we celebrated Public Service Recognition Week with our annual 2017 Archivist’s Achievement Awards Program. Since 1985, the first week of May has been set aside to honor the men and women who serve our nation as Federal, state, county, and local government employees. The Archivist’s Awards Ceremony provides the opportunity to thank all staff for their passion and dedication to serving the mission of the National Archives and the American people.

Because the good work of this agency takes place in all our facilities across the nation, we sent NARA executives to Valmeyer, Lee’s Summit, Denver, San Francisco, Fort Worth, Seattle, as well as the Carter and Nixon Presidential Libraries and the Ford Presidential Museum so they could congratulate Archivist’s Award winners in person.

Just about every day I receive comments praising the work of NARA staff, so this year we gave our customers a chance to directly sing their praises. Throughout the ceremony, we featured videos of researchers and customers thanking our staff and sharing how they benefit from the work that we do.

The Archivist’s Awards Ceremony is important to me. This event honors the remarkable work that happens at this agency every single day. And it gives me the opportunity to highlight some of our staff’s amazing accomplishments.

NARA staff disposed of a LOT of temporary records; expedited requests for World War II military service verifications; declassified and released 113,000 pages of withheld records; transferred the electronic Presidential records of the Obama administration; planned and executed the Obama Presidential Library temporary site; cut the aging rate of records at Archives II by 45 percent; ensured the protection and repair of records after a fire incident; and closed the 10 oldest FOIA requests. And these are just a few examples!

This year, we had 66 nominations for awards. Today, we recognized our colleagues who gave their time and talents to make the National Archives a great place to work. We recognized colleagues who went above and beyond expectations and succeeded in ways not intended. View all of the award winners in the 2017 Archivist’s Achievement Awards Program.

I also took a moment to remember our six colleagues who passed away this past year: Kahlil Chism, Terryll Lumpkin, Joseph Doucette, Jerry H. Griffith, Marilyn Redman, and Cathryn Westfeldt. We acknowledge their lasting contributions to the work of the National Archives.

Congratulations to this year’s recipients. And I thank you each of you who protect, release, move, store, process, dispose, transfer, declassify, exhibit, digitize, and promote our records and support our staff in all that they do.

It takes every one of us working together as a team in pursuit of NARA’s mission to successfully provide access to Federal records. Especially in times of budgetary uncertainty, it is important to remind ourselves of the importance of our mission. Democracy depends upon the work that we do.

Thank you for your service.

An Update on FOIA Improvement

The Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) in the National Archives drives improvements to the federal government’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process by serving as a neutral party to help resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and agencies, and also by reviewing and identifying strategies to improve agency FOIA compliance. By carrying out these dual missions, OGIS is uniquely situated to understand FOIA issues from the perspective of agencies and requesters and make recommendations to improve the FOIA process for all of the stakeholders  As I blogged about last summer, the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 further strengthened and solidified the office’s role as the FOIA Ombudsman.

Since October 1, 2016, OGIS has been contacted by customers for assistance with FOIA requests more than 2,500 times.  These requests for assistance range from simple questions about how the FOIA process works to complex matters involving information that an agency is withholding. Over the same time period, OGIS has also issued targeted recommendations to strengthen the FOIA programs at the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the Privacy Office, which has Department-wide responsibility for setting FOIA policy.

Office of Government Information Services Sunshine Week Program. David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States (right), and Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, answer questions at a dialogue about access to the nation’s treasures at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., on 3/13/17. NARA photo by Jess Deibert.

OGIS’s dispute resolution and compliance programs are supported and influenced by robust outreach efforts that ensure the office is constantly learning more about our customer’s views and issues with the FOIA process. I recently had the pleasure of helping to kick off a series of OGIS events in the William G. McGowan Theater that reflect the office’s engagement of the community and special role in the FOIA process.

The morning of April 20, 2017, I gave opening remarks at OGIS’s first annual Open Meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to allow the public to comment on the office’s reviews and reports. After an informational presentation on OGIS’s recent work given by the office’s Director, Alina M. Semo, several members of the public made comments on the office’s work. The comments made during the session covered diverse topics such as the link between the National Archives’ ongoing work to improve agencies’ management of electronic records—especially email—to a good FOIA process, and the increase in demand for OGIS’s dispute resolution services. In addition to posting video of the event and a transcript, OGIS is also posting the written comments they receive. If you have any feedback for the office, please direct your comments to ogis@nara.gov.

After the public comment period for the Open Meeting ended and a short break, we reconvened so that I could greet the audience for the quarterly meeting of the FOIA Advisory Committee.  I authorized the creation of the FOIA Advisory Committee by signing its initial two-year Charter on May 20, 2014, and renewed the Committee for an additional two-year term on July 21, 2016. The Committee brings together an equal mix of FOIA expertise from inside and outside of government to address FOIA’s greatest challenges. OGIS’s Director, Alina M. Semo, serves as the Committee’s Chair and OGIS staff provides the Committee with administrative support.

During its current term, the FOIA Advisory Committee has chosen to focus on three issues that reflect how technology has changed significantly the way government operates and the public’s expectations for access. Confronting these issues and developing consensus solutions is critical for the long-term health of the government’s FOIA process. The three issues are:

  • Search – In order to release records that are responsive to a FOIA request, agencies must first be able to find them; this task is complicated by the growth in the number of electronic records agencies produce each year. The Search Subcommittee is evaluating how agencies search for records, and what practices are the most effective.
  • Proactive Disclosure and Accessibility – The Proactive Disclosures and Accessibility Subcommittee is investigating strategies for reducing pressure on the FOIA system by releasing agency records in advance of a request. This Subcommittee is also looking at steps FOIA programs need to take to ensure records are accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Efficiencies and Resources – The Efficiencies and Resources Subcommittee is researching strategies agencies can use to make the best use of their FOIA program’s resources.

The subcommittees provide updates and discuss their work at the quarterly meetings. These meetings have also proven to be great opportunities to hear from guest speakers about particular areas of interest; during the April 20th meeting, a guest speaker from the Department of Justice spoke about the use of high-powered e-discovery tools in the FOIA process. The speaker, Doug Hibbard, shared some great insights into how these tools can improve the efficiency and efficacy of an agency’s search for responsive records. These presentations help inform the Committee’s understanding of the issues. As the current term of the FOIA Advisory Committee approaches the one-year mark, I am looking forward to hearing more about their findings, and reviewing their recommendations.

If you are interested in learning more about OGIS’s role in improving the FOIA process, I encourage you to check their regularly-updated blog, The FOIA Ombudsman. You can also keep up with their work and the latest news from the FOIA Advisory Committee by following @FOIA_Ombuds on Twitter.

David Ben-Gurion comes to New York

David Ben-Gurion comes to New York in these two reports, one from City Hall, the other from the Waldorf-Astoria. It is 1951, only three years after the founding of the state of Israel. Ben-Gurion, the country’s first premier, is given a hero’s welcome. The first report comes from outside City Hall, where a somewhat hysterical announcer “vamps” while the assembled dignitaries await the start of the festivities. “I never heard such a buzz of excitement and talk,” he exclaims, trying to convey the huge crowd’s sense of anticipation. There follow the national anthems of both countries, an introduction by the city’s ubiquitous Master of Ceremonies, Grover Whalen, and remarks by Mayor Impellitteri, who draws comparisons between Israel’s nascent democracy and that of the United States less than two hundred years earlier. Ben-Gurion, when he finally speaks, takes up the analogy, praises the United States being built by “waves of immigration” and pointing out that Israel’s influx of refugees, “though more modest…is similar.” The Glee Club of the Fire and Police Department entertains. Whalen makes one final introduction, “a Brooklyn girl who made good.” She is the former Paula Munweis, now Mrs. David Ben-Gurion.

The second report is from a dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria. Speeches by Mayor Impellitteri and Governor Dewey are followed by an appeal to buy State of Israel Bonds by former Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. and City Comptroller Lazarus Joseph. Ben-Gurion, in his remarks, stresses the continuity of a Jewish state, explaining that the Jews were exiled by the Babylonians, then the Romans, but…”return we did!” He points out that the state has been under attack since within eight hours of declaring independence. His final words certainly leave today’s listener with much to think about: “We are trying to fashion an exemplary nation.”

David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973) was that rare leader who was able to fight for his people’s independence and also successfully led the ensuing democratic institutions he helped found. A dedicated Zionist, he was the first to sign Jewish Declaration of Independence and managed to unite various military factions to coordinate Israel’s armies during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. He was Israel’s first Prime Minister and first Minister of Defense. As leader of the new state, the Encyclopedia Britannica reports:

…Ben-Gurion presented the people of Israel with a series of challenges: the absorption of mass immigration from all over the world; the assimilation of newcomers of diverse communities and backgrounds; the creation of a unified public education system; the settlement of the desert lands. In his foreign policy, he adopted an independent and pragmatic course. He used to say: “What matters is not what the Gentiles will say, but what the Jews will do.” His defense policy was firm, and he answered violations of the cease-fire agreements by neighboring Arab states with military reprisals.

While one of Israel’s “Founding Fathers,” Ben-Gurion also established the policy of mass expulsions of Palestinians that sowed the seeds for today’s terrible conflicts in that region. Reviewing Anita Shapira’s Ben-Gurion; Father of Modern Israel, the New York Times noted how:

…in 1948 when the commanders Yigal Allon and Yitzhak Rabin came to Ben-Gurion asking whether to carry out “a large-scale population evacuation.” Rabin reported that Ben-Gurion responded with a wave of the hand, saying “Expel them.” Shapira explains here that while he forbade the evacuation of some areas, like Nazareth, “like most of his ministers, he saw the Arabs’ exodus as a great miracle, one of the most important in that year of miracles, since the presence of a hostile population constituting some 40 percent of the new state’s total populace did not augur well for the future.”

Ben-Gurion was both a decisive leader and a cagey politician. The example he set for the country he helped will into being is still followed today. Benjamin Balint, writing in The Weekly Standard, claims:

Ben-Gurion remains in the marrow of a country impossible to imagine without his fatherhood. As befits the People of Ben-Gurion, Israel’s political game still follows his rules. If, today, his successors at once play up the country’s defiant self-reliance (we can only count on ourselves), anxiously gauge its international support (can we still count on them?), and pragmatically cultivate alliances (we must count on them)—they are, for better or worse, largely playing the hand that Ben-Gurion dealt.

 

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection.

WNYC archives id: 5712
Municipal archives id: LT2201

Remembering Two Political Crusaders in Government


Claude Pepper talking to President Jimmy Carter ca. 1978

Former President Jimmy Carter and the late Congressman Claude Pepper will always be remembered for combating the complexities of our society by sponsoring legislation that legitimized sufficient welfare for all humanity. President Carter served as the 39th president of the U.S. from 1977-1981. Carter also served as a member of the Democratic Party and as Governor of Georgia prior to his election as president. Claude Pepper was a Democratic politician who was elected into the Florida House of Representatives in 1928 and served from 1929-1930. Pepper represented Florida in the U.S. Senate from 1936-1950 and in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1962 until his death on May 30, 1989.

During that time period, Carter and Pepper shared a loyal friendship and comradery in government which proved to be a conscientious commitment to securing the rights and liberties of all citizens. The trailblazers advocated for health and education reform, overturning segregation and providing equal housing and job opportunities for all races including women, the handicapped and the aging population. The two also helped pass the Mandatory Retirement Bill in 1986 which abolished age discrimination in the workplace. Throughout their exemplary careers, they both remained steadfast during moments of opposition by the Republicans and their own Democratic party. Despite opposition, both leaders worked towards eradicating ignorance and delving into public policies by levying Republicans and Democrats to form an alliance, conducive to creating good government.

Amazingly, Carter and Pepper shared similar backgrounds. Both men were raised around African Americans who were loyal friends that worked beside their families each day. As young men they both witnessed families living in poverty stricken areas who lacked adequate healthcare, food or housing. They were raised in Christian homes in rural areas in the south where electricity and indoor plumbing were uncommon. Carter was born on October 1, 1924 in Plains, Georgia on a peanut farm owned by his father, James Earl Carter Sr. Claude Pepper was born on September 8, 1900 in Chambers County, Alabama in a poverty stricken rural area. Pepper’s parents (Joseph and Lena Pepper) were sharecroppers. Even though both men grew up in remote areas, their families embraced the importance of receiving an education which equipped them for their aspirations in life. The pure nature of humble beginnings bestowed a notion of morality and validity in leadership among these courageous men. Thus, allowing Pepper and Carter to vigorously use their platform in government to harness the needs of others by serving as a surrogate to reduce impoverishment in our society.

Today the Claude Pepper Library & Museum at Florida State University holds the Claude Pepper Papers which contains correspondence that exhibits Carter and Pepper support and respect for each other. These materials are available for researchers and may be discovered through the collection’s finding aid. The library also displays several photographs of the two leaders attending various events and solidifying legislation together not only in the Claude Pepper museum but through DigiNole, the FSU Digital Repository.

We invite all researchers from various backgrounds to come in and take a glimpse back into time on how several politicians have changed the scope of government to maximize various opportunities that we are all benefiting from today. We hope that our collection will not only educate you but inspire each of you to be great leaders of merit academically and professionally.

Tammy Joyner

Claude Pepper Library Associate

Sir Cedric Hardwicke Reflects

“What business does an actor have writing a book?” the venerable star of stage and screen asks at this 1961 Book and Authors Luncheon. His memoir, A Victorian in Orbit, came about because of an unusual offer. A friend working at a newspaper offered to let Hardwicke have a sneak peek at his already prepared obituary. The article, Hardwicke declares, was “deadly dull.” He decided to have his say on his life while was still capable of doing so. He then tells a deceptively simple anecdote which illustrates the underlying thought of both his book and this talk: Sir Henry Irving was acting in a scene that took place in a dungeon. The one barred window let in a spill of green limelight. Someone asked why there was green light in a dungeon. “This is not a dungeon, it’s a theater!” Irving replied.

Hardwicke makes a plea for more magic, more “gaiety and glamor” in today’s unrelentingly “realistic” theater. Although pundits claim the theater has been dying for fifty years, it is now, he warns, threatening to commit suicide. Why? Because it is “moving away from the people.” Despite this rather backward-looking message, he does not come across as a hidebound reactionary. His is a more wistful lament, and also the sounding of genuine alarm for the fate of a community that obviously means a great deal to him. Hardwicke’s remarks are brief and he seems to be suffering from a cold, but one can still revel in the beautifully clean diction and crisp tone of a great, classically trained British actor.

Sir Cedric Hardwicke (1893-1964) was the ultimate professional, with a career encompassing both the London and New York stages, Hollywood, radio dramas, and spoken word recordings. The British Film Institute, surveying his achievement, concludes:

The main film career of this illustrious film character actor belongs to Hollywood, where he first went in 1934, and returned in the late 1930s, staying to play dozens of dignified persons, sometimes villainous, occasionally benign, at times imperious. From 1912, after RADA training, he had a very long and distinguished stage career in London and New York, excelling as an interpreter of Shaw. He was knighted in 1934….”Intimidating” was perhaps what he did best, but the range is wide and the pickings rich: he was apparently always short of cash which was bad luck for him but not for filmgoers as it meant he played over 80 roles with consummate authority.

Although Hardwicke is remembered now mostly as a character actor, he introduced many of George Bernard Shaw’s works and toured the United States in a “concert version” of Don Juan in Hell. In reviewing this memoir when it appeared, New York Times theater critic Brooks Atkinson pointed out:

In general, Sir Cedric regrets that magic has gone out of the theater. It would be impossible not to agree with him. But his comments present a dilemma rather than a solution; and as he realizes, involved him in a paradoxical situation. For Shaw has been the most decisive influence in his career, and it was Shaw, more than any other dramatist, who destroyed the old romantic theater in favor of the theater of ideas. …In the modern theater, the size that Sir Cedric remembers from his apprentice days can only come from a dramatist of size. No matter how small the scale of living may be, a dramatist with a powerful imagination can transmute it into a great audience experience.

Perhaps this reverential nostalgia is just another part for the then sixty-eight-year-old actor to assume. There is a playfulness to Hardwicke’s complaint that makes one suspect that he is “trying it on for size.” In its obituary, the Tuscaloosa News paints a more relaxed portrait:

During an interview, the neat and precisely spoken actor complained of a public misperception of him as a “dignified, stuffy prig, whereas by nature and training I really am a clown, and started out to be a clown.”

Shaw may have sensed this as well. The playwright is reported to have told Hardwicke he was his fourth favorite actor. The first three were the Marx Brothers.

 

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection.

WNYC archives id: 71193
Municipal archives id: LT9252

Senior Agency Officials for Records Management

The National Archives recently hosted a meeting of Senior Agency Officials for Records Management (SAORM) and agency records officers from across the federal government. This meeting covered progress and plans for modernizing Federal recordkeeping and implementing strategic records management mandates and priorities.

I was pleased to greet so many Senior Agency Officials for Records Management here at the National Archives. For many, this was their first meeting in the new Presidential Administration.

These senior officials have direct responsibility for ensuring their department or agency efficiently and appropriately complies with all applicable records management statutes, regulations, NARA policy, and the requirements of the Managing Government Records Directive.

Under the direction of Laurence Brewer, Chief Records Officer of the United States, our Office of the Chief Records Officer does great work every day engaging with the SAORM community and ensuring that all SAORMs, especially those newly appointed, are briefed and ready to step into their critical roles in ensuring records and information are managed appropriately across the Federal government. The Office of the Chief Records Officer also completes important work collecting and analyzing the SAORM and agency reports on records management. It’s one of the ways we understand how much progress has been made in improving records management in agencies and how far we have to go.

Federal agencies and officials must remain aware of the laws, regulations, and guidance governing how records and information are identified and managed in compliance with the Federal Records Act. Managing government records is essential not only to ensure agency activities are documented in order to meet legal requirements, but also to preserve our history for future generations. Properly executed, records management increases the efficiency and effectiveness of every government activity by ensuring that federal employees can find what they need, when they need it.

SAORMs bear a special responsibility for ensuring their agencies meet these obligations. In particular, we rely on agency SAORMs to ensure that the political appointees and agency heads are properly informed of their records management responsibilities. We want all agencies to be successful in meeting these responsibilities, and to help drive the change needed to modernize recordkeeping in the Government as envisioned in the 2012 Managing Government Records Directive. To achieve this goal, records management must be a critical component of every agency’s overall information governance strategy.

At this meeting, I shared this brief video with our SAORMs describing the records management responsibilities political appointees should be aware of when entering, working in, and leaving Federal Service:

We are pleased to have such an engaged community of Senior Agency Officials for Records Management continuing to improve records management across the federal government. I thank all the SAORMs for their attendance and for their consideration of how they can be advocates for records management in their respective agencies to elevate its profile and importance.

For additional guidance, please consult the following resources:

Documenting Your Public Service: https://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/publications/documenting-your-public-service.html

Records Management Guidance for Political Appointees: https://www.archives.gov/files/records-mgmt/publications/rm-for-political-appointees.pdf

Records Express blog: https://records-express.blogs.archives.gov/2016/11/16/records-management-guidance-for-the-presidential-transition/

The Mud Angels: Florence During the Flood

Today’s blog post was written by Lindsay Fasce, a senior history major and Heritage Protocol & University Archives intern.Florence-Poster-Mockup

As of 2017, the Florida State University has a vast international studies program, which offers just under 50 programs in over 15 countries around the world. This program has grown rapidly since the launch of the first study abroad program in the fall of 1966, when 120 university students traveled to Florence, Italy for an 8-month program in the historical city. While in Florence, the students and faculty witnessed the flooding of the city when the Arno River broke its banks and poured into the city streets. They joined the aid effort to help the city protect, salvage, and preserve the priceless works of art and manuscripts damaged in the flood.

brochure
Florence brochure, 1966

As an intern with Heritage Protocol & University Archives, I was given the task of researching these students and the efforts they made to help the city of Florence. This project began just in time for the former students to return to Florida State University in April of 2017 for a 50th reunion celebration.

I started from the beginning, searching through the existing materials in the archives for information on the inaugural Florence program. I then read through and studied all the donated materials from the alumni. I was able to use the materials I found with those donated to the archives recently to attain a better understanding of what happened leading up to the flood and the events succeeding the flood.

nancyjones
Nancy Jones in Pompeii, 1966.

In 1964, Dean Dr. Ross Oglesby brought a group of Flying High Circus students on a performance tour through Europe. While in Europe, Dr. Oglesby was inspired by his surroundings and developed the idea for a study abroad program that would be conducted in the historical Italian city of Florence. The idea developed into a program, and with the help of a Florence Committee under President Blackwell, the program opened in the fall semester of 1966 headed by Dr. Conrad Tanzy.

Students interested in the program received brochures with information on the program costs, the curriculum, faculty, the facilities, and the application process. Once the applications were turned in and interviews conducted, 120 students were chosen to participate in the inaugural Florence study abroad program. Not only were the students and their families excited about the Florence program, the communities of the chosen students began to cover their stories and interview them on their upcoming historical trip. After months of preparation, the selected students flew out of New York on August 1, 1966, and arrived in Florence on September 1, 1966, for eight months of study in Italy.

The students and faculty were housed in the Hotel Capri, located close to the heart of Florence, just west of the Arno River. The Hotel Capris was not the first facility considered to house the program when Dr. Oglesby was developing and planning the idea of a study abroad program with the Florence Committee. While in Europe in 1964, he met an Italian Countess in Florence who wanted to sell her Villa to the University to use for the program. Florida State University officials informed the committee that the University, as an institution, could not buy property and they would have to find accommodations elsewhere. The program was then moved to the Hotel Capri, as its size could efficiently handle the program and its location was advantageous to the students and faculty studying in Florence.

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Car destroyed by flood, 1966.

The first days of November brought unwavering heavy rains that filled the dams along the Arno River. On November 4, 1966, the waters of the Arno River broke through the embankment and flooded Florence. Flood waters reached threatening levels in the blocks surrounding the river and caused damage as well as casualties. When the flood waters receded, it left deep deposits of mud and silt in its wake, mixed with spilled oil from cars caught in the flood. The mud made rescue and clean-up efforts difficult, and every passing day added to the destruction of the priceless art works and manuscripts housed in Florence. The Hotel Capris, the home of the FSU Florence program, was far enough away from the river where damage was minimal and all the students were safe, but the hotel was without power. The students had the choice to travel back home, but all the students and faculty decided to remain in Florence. President John E. Champion sent letters to the guardians of the students informing them of the situation and the students’ decision to stay in Florence.

afterflood
Street in Florence after the flood, 1966.

Volunteers that aided in flood relief efforts were later called the “gli angeli del fango,” or “Mud Angels.” Among these Mud Angels were Florida State students who assisted volunteers with digging through the mud and oil to preserve priceless artwork and manuscripts. The students trudged through the mud every day to libraries and churches to help with disaster recovery, then returned to their hotel covered in mud which still had no power or running water. After many days of aid work, the risk to the student’s health grew too great and the students and faculty were sent to Rome until conditions improved. In Rome, the students were awarded a certificate by the City of Rome officials for all their efforts to aid Florence and were even thanked by Pope Paul VI. In March 1967, the students left Florence and returned home safe. In 2016, the 50th anniversary of the flood, the students were invited back to Florence to be awarded and thanked for all their efforts.

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Impeccable Science: Habits of Expression, Arm Joints and Atheists

Today’s long-overdue impeccable science is drawn from a pleasantly-sized 1832 volume entitled The Youth’s Book on Natural Theology; Illustrated in Familiar Dialogues, With Numerous Engravings. 

For those who don’t know, natural theology argues for God’s existence based on observations of nature, so, while not a purely “scientific” tome by contemporary definitions, this book does contain highly-detailed descriptions of entomology, human anatomy, animal behavior, electricity, and air pressure, all of which the author relates to intelligent design.

The chapter descriptions are truly brilliant litanies. My favorites are “Radius. Ulna. Button-head. Joint-oil. Gristle. Ligament. Wisdom and goodness of God.” and (not pictured here) “Mouth of animals; particular design in forming them. Wood-pecker. Cross-bill. Bills of ducks and geese. Oyster-catcher. Choetodon. Chance. Atheism.”

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I will give an extremely special prize as well as certain micro-celebrity to any blog reader who can provide documentation of herself reciting these enumerations at a poetry reading.

As for the impeccable science that I’ve promised you: after a lengthy description of the nerves of the face and the ways that nerves control muscles, author Rev. T. H. Gallaudet proceeds to explain facial expressions, which “seem to be the very coming out of the soul.”

You, like me, may be thinking, “but I want my soul to stay in, where it belongs,” but that’s not what Rev. T. H. Gallaudet wants to talk about! No, he wants us to understand how uniquely human are facial expressions:

Many animals, you know, have no such expressions of face at all; and none of them have any thing like the different kinds,–the beauty, the strength, and the meaning, which the expressions of the human face have… a dog expresses a very few things by his face. A man can express,–oh! how many different kinds of thoughts, and feelings, in his countenance.

To which I say:

surprised dog

Gallaudet has proof, though! Just look at these lifelike engravings of a woman with soulful eyes and a disenchanted pup with Farrah Fawcett hair:


Why, you may ask, does that dog look so vacuous? In part, explains Gallaudet, it’s because animals don’t have souls, which I’m not prepared to debate here. In other part, it’s because:

Some [beasts] have some muscles and nerves, in their faces, like ours; but none of them as many; and most of them have very few, indeed… They do not think and feel, as we do… even, if they had a soul like ours, it could not show itself, its thoughts and its feelings, on their faces, as our souls do; because they have not the muscles and nerves, that are necessary to give all kinds of expressions to the face.

Hmmm. We may have to agree to disagree here, sir.

What about human facial expressions, though? What do those do, besides proving that we have souls?

Well, they can show our habits of expression, which I think is an old-fashioned way of saying that if you make a funny face for too long, you’ll get stuck that way. For instance, look at this disheveled man who apparently strikes strange children in the street. He’s been angry for so long that “he can hardly look pleasant, if he tries”:

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And here’s the same man after brushing his hair and putting on a less-floppy collar:

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Just kidding! That’s a different man. That’s Uncle John, who’s full of kind and benevolent feelings. That’s why his eyebrows look so neat.

On a completely different note, I would be loathe to sign off without showing you this engraving–demonstrating the difference between instinct and behavior–of a woman frightening off a tiger with her parasol. It’s science! Impeccably!

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Emmett Till & the Press: The Davis Houck Papers

One of our most meaningful projects in Special Collections & Archives is the management of the Emmett Till Archives.  The Till Archives collects, preserves, and provides access to primary and secondary source material related to the life, murder, and memory of Emmett Louis Till, whose death in 1955 is significant in the history of the African-American Civil Rights Movement.  Our most comprehensive resource for researchers interested in national press coverage of the Till murder and related events is the Davis Houck Papers.

Dr. Davis Houck joined the faculty of the College of Communication & Information at Florida State University in 2000, and in 2016 was named Fannie Lou Hamer Professor of Rhetorical Studies.  Dr. Houck’s research interests include rhetorical criticism, presidential rhetoric, the Black Freedom Movement, historiography and archival research.  In the course of his academic career, Dr. Houck has written several papers and a book on the Emmett Till case.  While researching these works, Dr. Houck amassed thousands of pages and bytes of newspaper clippings, government files, photographs, scholarly articles, monographs, and creative works related to Till.  In 2015, Dr. Houck donated these research materials to the FSU Libraries Special Collections & Archives division, where they are available to FSU students, faculty, visiting scholars, and the general public alongside other resources on Emmett Till and the civil rights movement.

Mose Wright Home, circa 1955
Photograph of Mose Wright’s former home near Money, MS, and site of Emmett Till’s kidnapping.  http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_MSS_2015-007_S03_SS02_I019

Researchers can see the Davis Houck Papers by visiting the Special Collections Research Center in Strozier Library.  Some materials from the Houck Papers are available through the FSU Digital Library.  For more information on the collection, please visit the online finding aid or contact Special Collections & Archives staff at lib-specialcollections@fsu.edu or (850) 644-3271.

 

Conductor Sir Thomas Beecham on his 70th Birthday

“I don’t feel seventy and I never shall,” Sir Thomas Beecham declares in this 1948 birthday tribute. The famous British conductor is interviewed by British poet, memoirist, and travel writer Sir Osbert Sitwell. Beecham, known for his blunt speech, does not disappoint. Asked about the future of the large orchestra, he says it “depends upon the production of good music,” which is sadly lacking in this age. Without more masterpieces, “players will gradually lose much of their interest.” Grand opera is in similar straits, although here the danger lies less in not having enough material as in the quality of today’s singers. They have been lured away by “radio, gramophone, and musical comedy,” all of which offer  an “easier means of livelihood.” Sitwell then takes him through his recent recordings and concerts. Beecham gives short descriptions of works by Gounod, Mozart, Dvorak, and others. Liszt’s tone poem Orpheus “has the further merit of being comparatively brief.” Excerpts from The Bartered Bride have the advantage of being “tolerably unfamiliar.” The talk takes a political turn, with Beecham being asked about state support of the arts. While allowing that such patronage is “admirable,” he notes how all arts institutions controlled by government end up with “the wrong people in charge, with devastatingly unsatisfactory results.” In conclusion he makes a plea for organizations “devoted to the pursuit and achievement of excellence.”

This is a scripted talk. Half the fun is hearing these two aristocrats trot out their carefully cultivated upper class opinions and elocutions. While the emphasis is on music, there is a sense of Beecham as, if not a “character,” certainly a British institution. One might even venture to detect a note of self-parody.

Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961) did not climb the ranks of the music world through arduous apprenticeships. Rather, when the heir to the Beecham’s Pills fortune wished to conduct he simply used his wealth to form an orchestra and installed himself on the podium. A musical prodigy, he quickly became the face of British classical music. As the website allmusic.com relates, this collection of players, the London Philharmonic,

…quickly became a top-rank ensemble and successfully toured the Continent. He became artistic director at Covent Garden in 1932, and ruled there in his customary autocratic manner. When the war began, Beecham toured the United States and Australia. He was appointed music director and conductor of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra (1941-1943) and was a frequent guest conductor at the Metropolitan Opera Company until he returned to England in 1944. Upon his arrival in England, Beecham discovered that the orchestras there weren’t overly enthusiastic at the prospect of working permanently in proximity to his withering tongue and dictatorial manner. Even the London Philharmonic Orchestra, with a new charter that permitted it to make some of its own decisions, showed little interest in having him at the helm full-time. So, typically, Beecham founded a new orchestra in 1946 — the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra — and maintained his relationship with this group for the remainder of his career.

Reading about Beecham now takes one back to a different time, the “great man,” male-dominated, somewhat juvenile world of Brahms as opposed to the present-day emphasis on orchestral teamwork and collaboration. It is difficult to imagine a conductor today being applauded for such dubious remarks as these, reported by the Guardian:

During a rehearsal, conductor Sir Thomas…thought that his female soloist was playing less than adequately on her fine Italian cello. He stopped the orchestra and declared: “Madam, you have between your legs an instrument capable of giving pleasure to thousands, and all you can do is scratch it!” Once he described the sound of the harpsichord as “two skeletons copulating on a tin roof”; on another occasion he declared that “the British may not like music, but they absolutely love the noise it makes”. His pointed goatee beard, his proud and portly stature and, most of all, that dry, acerbic wit have passed into musical mythology. No other conductor could possibly have got away with saying: “There are two golden rules for an orchestra: start together and finish together. The public doesn’t give a damn what goes on in between.”

But to dismiss Beecham as an amusing relic is to deny his true musical gift. Beneath all the showmanship (which was really no different, for its time, than Leonard Bernstein’s well-documented public persona several generations later) was a dedicated promoter and interpreter of the arts. As the critic Charles Spencer writes in the Telegraph:

What I admire most about Beecham, and I have been collecting his recordings for many years now, is the palpable sense of style and enjoyment he and his orchestras almost always communicate. There may be more searching interpreters of classical music but for sheer pleasure Beecham often strikes me as unbeatable.

 

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection.

WNYC archives id: 150201
Municipal archives id: LT5525

State Department Releases Historically Significant Records on Human Rights Abuses in Argentina

Yesterday, President Trump presented Argentine President Mauricio Macri with a CD containing approximately 3,300 pages of records relating to human rights abuses committed in Argentina between 1975 and 1984.  The documents are part of a comprehensive interagency project by 14 Government departments and agencies to search their archives and identify and review for public access records documenting these abuses.  They have been long sought by the Government of Argentina and researchers.

The documents released today are grouped into two collections.  The first group contains newly available information from previously withheld documents.  They were originally reviewed by the State Department in 2002 but reviewers determined they could not be released to the public at that time.  They provide new details on U.S. policies, information on specific abuse cases, and U.S. efforts to end abuses.  These documents are integrated into a database titled, “Argentina Declassification Project” and can be viewed here.

The second group of documents consists of records identified by State Department historians as they compiled the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) South America, 1977-1980 volume.  They document high-level policy discussions and deliberations as the Carter administration sought to deal with the Argentine dictatorship.  These documents were identified for inclusion in the Argentina and Latin American Region chapters and can be viewed here.

The Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) has long recommended the importance of prioritizing records for declassification.  In 2012, we wrote our report to the President on Transforming the Security Classification System and focused on this recommendation in our 2014 report to the President titled Setting Priorities: An Essential Step in Transforming Declassification.  The recommendations in these reports advocated that the best use of department and agency resources should be spent on reviewing relevant topics of historical interest. The PIDB commends the cooperative effort by all departments and agencies undertaking exemplary projects like this one which are of great historical value and should become a prototype for the declassification of significant government information.

Other Links of Interest

The Department of State publicized these documents with a press release as well as through a DipNote blog post

IC on the Record has publicized the release on their official blog.

The release was publicized in Argentina, including in the Buenos Aires Herald, an English language newspaper.

In the U.S. the National Security Archive blogged about it and posted an Electronic Briefing Book here.

A Stereoscopic Multi-Dimensional Experience

The Digital Library Center partnered with the Department of Art History to host a UROP student this semester, Chase Van Tilburg. Here is a bit about him and his work over the last two semesters.

My name is Chase Van Tilburg, I am working towards my Bachelor’s of Arts in Art History and my Masters of Arts in Museum and Cultural Heritage Studies. I currently work for University Housing as a Resident Assistant. In Fall 2016 I was granted the life changing opportunity to be a part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP). Through UROP I was introduced to the John House Stereograph Collection.

Going into this project, I was both excited and nervous. I truly did not know what to expect. I began with little knowledge of digital archival work and of what a Digital Archivist was. While working with the John House Stereograph Collection, I really looked deep into the images when identifying them. With each card I wrote metadata for, it felt as if I was a part of the image. Documenting each card forced me to dig deep into the historical and visual context of each image and do detailed research into each card to properly identify the locations, monuments, and architecture.


Panorama de Paris, 1890-1900

Working with this collection I realised that it is not enough to just look at the cards on the computer. The experience of physically handling each card and viewing them stereoscopically is an extraordinary and vital experience, one in which I want to make available to everyone. To do this I am taking this collection beyond the 2D digital image and am taking these cards into the 3D realm by scanning each card into a 3D model with the help of the FSU Morphometrics Lab. This project helped me to discover a passion for Museum and Cultural Heritage Studies, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

Norman Thomas

Approaching eighty, Socialist icon and perennial US Presidential candidate Norman Thomas surveys the political and moral state of America. Speaking at this 1964 Book and Author Luncheon, Thomas offers an interesting mix of unvarnished pessimism and Christian-Socialist uplift. He is able to discern “no straight moral progress of Man.” Indeed, wars of exploitation with their subsequent accumulations of capital are responsible for what we call “civilization.” But what are we to do now that large-scale war, with the invention of nuclear weapons, is no longer an option? On the other hand he complains we are not “elated” enough. We do not “rejoice.” With technological advances we are in a position to do away with poverty. What stands in our way? The population explosion, because of improvements in health and sanitation, threatens to overwhelm the world’s resources. The “religion of nationalism” still leads to small wars, “our time-honored arbiter of disputes.”

What he calls for is a massive expression of public opinion, which he insists is fundamentally good. “There is conscience,” although, “there is very little excuse for us being as dumb as we are.” Specifically, he calls for the passing of the current Civil Rights Bill. In closing, he warns against a pervasive feeling of helplessness, the attitude that nothing can be changed and that it would be best if the whole rotten corrupt system were simply swept away. The biblical Flood, he reminds the audience, was unsuccessful, so why wish for another? Instead he pleads for “…fraternity and, yes, love!” 

Norman Thomas (1884-1968) typified the Ivy League-educated gentleman-Radical of the twentieth century. A product of Princeton and the Union Theological Seminary, he started out as a Presbyterian minister before pacifism in the face of World War I lost him his congregation and gained him the attention of the Socialist Party. Thomas eventually left the ministry and developed a distinctive style of political engagement. The Nation reported: 

In last autumn’s campaign Thomas made more than sixty speeches in two months, most of them out-of-doors, and he wrote enough words to fill a double-decker novel—all because he had been nominated for alderman by a small local of the Socialist Party in a strong Tammany district. When the votes were counted, an ignorant Tammany optometrist, whose boast was “I never go outdoors during a campaign,” was sent back to the aldermanic chamber with a big majority. And now Thomas is running for President of the United States, as the leader of a party whose death has been officially announced time and again these past few years by conservatives and liberals and extreme radicals alike. No one need feel sorry for Norman Thomas. There is little glory in what he is doing. Long nights in stuffy sleepers, long days filled with speech-making in labor halls, at farmers’ picnics, at Socialist rallies; party conferences; newspaper interviews; pamphlet-writing; handshaking (at which, by the way, in spite of long practice Thomas is still singularly inept)—this is not most people’s idea of a good time. But Thomas is having a magnificent time. He is doing what he wants to do and doing it well. 

Thomas ran for Alderman, Mayor, Governor, Senate, and then six times for President. He presented left-leaning voters with a non-threatening alternative to Communism. Although he never amassed the totals of his predecessor Eugene V. Debs, he made respectable showings throughout the Twenties and Thirties and influenced the debate on where the country was heading. As Encyclopedia.com notes: 

As the Socialist candidate for president every 4 years, Thomas at least had the satisfaction of seeing much of his program taken over by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Many Socialists joined Roosevelt and the Democratic party, others left the party to endorse the Popular Front movement of the late 1930s, and still others left because Thomas opposed United States involvement in the European and Asian wars after 1939. Thomas gave his “critical support” to the American war effort after Pearl Harbor. Yet he also denounced the forced relocation and internment of Japanese-Americans, attacked big business dominance in the war production effort, and argued that Roosevelt’s “unconditional surrender” doctrine handicapped prospects for a just and lasting peace. 

In the post-War years Thomas became the Grand Old Man of Socialism, a benign, patriarchal figure whose stances prefigured much of the Sixties radicalism to come. This is the Thomas we are listening to here. His views are still uncompromising and perhaps unpopular with the well-heeled audience, but they are presented with all the spirit and optimism of a former minister. As the Educational Technologies Center of Princeton website reports, in a speech given to the students of thirty countries just before his 83’rd birthday he:

…castigated the United States for its policies in Vietnam and its inadequate antipoverty efforts, but he insisted nevertheless that he had affection for his country as well as criticism. He didn’t like the sight of young people burning the American flag. “A symbol?” he asked, “if they want an appropriate symbol they should be washing the flag, not burning it.” He thought loyalties necessary in life. “Most of us live by our group loyalties . . . but we have to rise above them to the values of humanity so that we can co-exist lest we don’t exist at all.”

 

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection.

WNYC archives id: 150523
Municipal archives id: RT159

Magician of the Week #48: Rabbits!

This week’s featured magician isn’t technically a magician, but rather a magician’s most classic, well-loved, time-honored sidekick: the rabbit.

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There’s a bit of debate about the first magician to pull a rabbit from a hat–some say it was Louis Comte, in 1814, while others claim it was John Henry Anderson, “The Great Wizard of the North”. Either way, rabbits in hats have become synonymous with stage magic, as evidenced by the expressively-eyebrowed fellow above.

Today’s featured rabbits span decades, but all are taken from various covers of Ireland’s Magic Company Yearbook. We made a rabbit-y collage to showcase some of these soft sidekicks!

rabbit collage

You can find issues of Ireland’s Magic Company Yearbook, along with innumerable other rabbit illustrations, in our John H. Percival Collection on Magic.

Frederick C. Jackson Collection online

The Institute on World War II and the Human Experience has partnered with the Digital Library Center to bring selections of its holdings to DigiNole. Some of the recent additions are from the Frederick C. Jackson collection. We welcome guest contributor Emily Woessner, the student who is processing the Jackson collection and completed the description for the digital items.

Frederick C. Jackson was a 21 year old infantry soldier from Connecticut when he was shipped to Anzio with the 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division during World War II. I myself am 21 years old, but instead of fighting in the Battle of Anzio I am processing Jackson’s collection here at the archives of the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at Florida State University. After researching the battle and connecting the dots, I am reminded and beyond grateful for the service and sacrifice of these brave men.

Beginning on January 22, 1944 the Battle of Anzio would be a four month long ordeal between British and American Allies against the Germans in Italy. The main goal of this campaign was to break through the Gustav Line just south of Cassino, Italy. Another potential aim was to take Rome. The Allied campaign was led by British General Holder Alexander, American Lieutenant General Mark Clark with the help of American Major Generals John P. Lucas and Lucian Truscott.

The Battle of Anzio, unfortunately, turned into a poorly executed campaign that saw too few Allied troops assigned to such a major task. The Allies had roughly 75,000 troops compared to the German’s 100,000+. After four months of fighting, gridlock, and a command change the Allies were eventually able to capture Rome, but ultimately unable to break the Gustav Line. The Battle of Anzio saw the death of 7,000 and wounding/missing of 36,000 Allied soldiers. The Germans sustained losses of 5,000, wounding/missing of 36,000, and the capture of 4,500 soldiers. Although the campaign was widely criticized afterwards for its poor handling and communication, Churchill defended it saying it accomplished the goal of keep German troops occupied and away from Northwestern Europe where the invasion of Normandy was to take place several months later.


Undated Letter to Dad from Frederick C. Jackson presumably after his injuries in 1944.

Frederick C. Jackson was not left unscathed by the battle, however he did survive. On March 23, 1944 he was hit by shrapnel causing damage to both of his arms and the loss of his right eye. He was subsequently evacuated and returned to the U.S.

We are fortunate enough today though that the letters between Frederick and his parents along with a few other personal belongings have found their way to our Institute. The new digital collection includes those letters as well as a diary from 1944. We are given a chance to revive this young man’s story and reflect on all he and his fellow soldiers did for this country and the world. I recommend anyone taking the time to glimpse into the past so that they may better understand and appreciate the present.

Emily is a third year international affairs major with minors in German, museum studies, and art history. Since August 2016, she has worked as an assistant archivist at the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at FSU and will continue to do so until she graduates in spring 2018. This summer she looks to expand her archiving experience as she embarks on an internship at the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.

An Ample Nation

I’ve known her — from an ample nation —
Choose One —
Then — close the Valves of her attention —
Like Stone —

I have heeded beautiful tempters…*

All 25 graduates of the Class of 1850.

Open the valves of your attention and heed the beautiful tempters of the Class of 1850, William Austin Dickinson’s class. These students were all known to the Dickinsons, some better than others, some mentioned in Emily Dickinson’s surviving correspondence, some not.  The class had 25 graduating members,** and there are daguerreotypes for all of them in the Archives and Special Collections.  Unfortunately, most of them are unidentified.  Even worse, the class members graduated into a world of extreme facial hair, so in trying to put names to the 22 unidentified daguerreotypes one must attempt to match a smooth-shaven 22-year-old with a hirsute 75-year-old who left off shaving upon leaving Amherst and never picked it up again.  Believe me, it hurts:

Daniel Worcester Faunce at his 50th Reunion.

Even so, we know or have good guesses for many of the graduates, in particular those who wear a fraternity pin in their daguerreotype. For example, there were four students known to be in Alpha Delta Phi, Austin’s fraternity. Three of them had been identified earlier, but the fourth remained unidentified until the daguerreotypes were conserved and their details became clear and allowed us to see the fourth student wearing the Alpha Delta Phi pin. By elimination, then, this would be John Howland Thompson, Austin’s roommate in their sophomore and junior years.




Delta Upsilon had three members, Albert Beebe, John Cory, and Daniel Faunce. Beebe had a photograph taken when he became a missionary about five years later, so there’s something to compare against the daguerreotypes showing the Delta Upsilon pin. Faunce had three photographs online, and even though they showed him quite a bit older, they were helpful. Once again, we identified a potential Cory daguerreotype by the third pin.



When all the daguerreotypes were sorted by fraternity pins – or by no pin at all – and sorted against all the identified photographs of class members we found online, we were left with a small group of No Hopers.  For this handful, we couldn’t even guess their identities within two possibilities, the way we could with (for example) the five members of Delta Kappa Epsilon, three of whom were comfortably identified (Avery, Garrette, and Newton) with two that had to be one person or the other (Hodge or Nickerson). Even if we had tentative identification for the No Hopers, it wasn’t comfortable. Three of the five remaining are Augustine Milton Gay, Sylvester John Sawyer, and Thomas Morrill Stimpson.  They may be these three men — but which is which?



Another man we couldn’t identify is the Seed King, James J.H. Gregory. Yes, the charitable, ahead-of-his-time Seed King belongs to Amherst, which suggests that we may have missed the opportunity for a cruciferous mascot.  Although there are three older photographs of Gregory online, he still proved difficult to identify and we remain of mixed opinion about which student he might be.  Unfortunately for our purposes, he doesn’t seem to have belonged to a fraternity, so there was no help available that way either.  If we can agree on a match in the future, he should have his own blog post.

One student identified in a half-proven, half-hopeful way is Henry Shipley, apparently the bad-boy of the class. Shipley spent 1846-47 at Harvard studying medicine (he appears in a catalogue) before he transferred to Amherst in early May of 1847, when he shared a room with Martin Root ’49 in North College (“Shipley is my chum,” wrote Root in his diary).  While at Amherst, Shipley was an editor of the student paper the Indicator, which published Emily Dickinson’s valentine in February, 1850. Shipley commented on the valentine coyly, suggesting that he didn’t know the author when–even if Carlo the dog was the only tip-off–he probably knew perfectly well who it was.  After Dickinson signs off with “C.,” Shipley answers the valentine in the same romping style.

Shipley proves to be quite a character.  William Gardiner Hammond’s “Remembrance of Amherst, 1846-48” describes Shipley and another student sliding into campus drunk after a sleigh ride to and from Northampton:

It would appear from this account that Shipley’s nickname was “Chicken,” and I wish I knew why but I don’t. Now, you know the administration must’ve heard about Chicken’s caper, and sure enough, the Early Presidents Collection contains Henry Shipley’s required “confession,” a document unexamined until now:


Here’s what the letter says:

To the Faculty of Amherst Col.

Gentlemen

In addressing you upon a subject which has weighed heavily upon my mind I shall not attempt any palliation of the fault[.] But wish to express to you as a body, the sincere regret I feel in having thus wounded your feelings by committing such an open violation of your laws.

I know that I have disgraced myself. I feel it deeply. And that alone will I think deter me from the commission of a like offence. But the gratitude, which I owe you for your undeserved clemency in this affair is even a stronger barrier[,] and must not be expressed by me in words, but I shall endeavor to let my actions speak [“for” scratched out] That I may not abuse but repay your kindness is the heartfelt wish of your much obliged & humble sevt’,

H Shipley

Amherst Col’ Feb 29th 1848

The faculty minutes record the request for his confession and the result:

March 1st…A confession from Shipley was read, upon which Voted — that it be accepted.

Shipley got off rather lightly: he wasn’t expelled and his confession seems to have been the end of the matter.  However, John Thornton Wood, his partner in crime, was escorted off the property — the faculty minutes record that “Profs Warner & Snell be a com. [committee] to see that he leaves town tomorrow” — and sent home. The minutes are full of notes detailing which faculty member was assigned to write to the fathers of other students to describe their “deficiencies,” “deliquencies,” and “misdemeanors,” and often to take them home. It may be that Shipley’s talents kept him from being dismissed – Hammond mentions Shipley several times and describes him as “a first-prize man,” and Dickinson biographer Al Habegger pegs him as “a gifted reprobate,” identifying Shipley as the student whom Professor Tyler described as “one of the most hardened & hopeless & at the same time one of the most talented men of the Senior Class.” (Wars, p 237.)

Of course, despite the religious nature of the early college, drinking had always been at least an occasional problem. In “the Seed and the Sowers,” F. Curtis Canfield writes of the fall of 1821, shortly after Zephaniah Swift Moore had arrived in Amherst on a cropped-tail horse to take on the presidency of the new college, when “an [Amherst] Academy pupil, one Charles Jenks, had invited certain college students [including a young Edward Dickinson]***…to his rooms after nine o’clock for an oyster supper and ‘that after supper they had cherry rum and gin, that they drank to excess, and that about twelve o’clock they all of them came to the institution and behaved in a very indecent and riotous manner and made great disturbance until one o’clock or later.’ Which goes to show that the authorities couldn’t be too sure, always, that Old Scratch had been driven off Mt. Zion. ‘Segars’ and cherry rum and oyster suppers were a mighty potent combination – the road to infamy and ruin was paved with them.” (Seed, p. 19.)

Shipley seems to have remained on the straight and narrow enough to graduate, even though in his final months at Amherst he managed to insert a story in the Indicator that quotes Swift on the subject of inebriation — it was as if he couldn’t resist poking a finger in the eyes of the administrators who would read the piece:


To be continued,” indeed.  Shipley’s subsequent career sounds suitably adventurous.  Initially, he returned to Harvard and briefly studied law (he appears in a catalogue for 1850-51), then he is said in later accounts to have been a druggist in Kentucky (presumably using what he learned at Harvard before he went to Amherst).  Then he headed west and worked as an editor on several newspapers in California and Oregon.  In 1854 we find him as the editor of “the Grass Valley Telegraph,” the newspaper for a gold mining town in Nevada County, California.  It was at this post where he met dancer-actress-adventuress Lola Montez, who, in a respite from her career, also took up residence in Grass Valley.  In November 1854 Lola and Henry Shipley had at least two documented encounters: in the first, she pulled a gun on him, and shortly thereafter she took a horsewhip to him.  The story was recounted in several newspapers — his account and her account were repeated enough to reach Amherst and the eyes and ears of the Dickinsons.  They both left Grass Valley in 1855.   Shipley’s old acquaintances would have heard of him again in November 1859, when he committed suicide almost a year after he fell off a horse, sustained severe injuries, and suffered from depression.  Montez’s earlier taunt, reframed from one Shipley had thrown at her, seemed apt — “Sic transit gloria Shipley.”  To recap his career, then:












In attempting to identify Shipley among our daguerreotypes, we must go by a fraternity pin, the number of students attached to a given fraternity, and one source that refers to him as a blonde. And then there is that flamboyant personality.  All these things lead me to hope with all my heart that the following image is Shipley because no other daguerreotype suits his biography so well.  Note his rings, his manicured fingers, his fancy, patterned neckcloth, and the fraternity pin, gilded by the photographer no doubt at the sitter’s request since no other daguerreotype in this group has this detail.   Is he not a beautiful tempter?

************************************************************

 

* Quotations above from Emily Dickinson, excerpts from Johnson Poem 303 and Letter 35 (April 3, 1850).

**The graduating members of the Class of 1850 are: William Fisher Avery, Albert Graham Beebe, Henry Walker Bishop, John Edwin Cory, Minott Sherman Crosby, William Austin Dickinson, John Graeme Ellery, Daniel Worcester Faunce, Thomas Legare Fenn, Edmund Young Garrette, Augustine Milton Gay, Archibald Falconer Gilbert, George Henry Gould, James John Howard Gregory, Leicester Porter Hodge, George Howland, Jacob Merrill Manning, Jeremiah Lemuel Newton, Joseph Nickerson, David Temple Packard, Sylvester John Sawyer, Henry Shipley, Thomas Morrill Stimpson, John Howland Thompson, and Lyman Richards Williston.

***Polly Longsworth reminds me that Edward Dickinson was among the cherry-rum drinkers in this affair and that his friend Osmyn Baker alludes to it in a letter to Dickinson from this period (the letter is at Harvard’s Houghton Library) .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travelling the world from the library

Have you planned your next holiday? Do you enjoy poring over travel books, dreaming about exotic locations? If so, you might want to take a look at the display in the library stairwell.

The display of 19th century books on travel and exploration includes several beautiful books about India, Jamaica, Morocco and New Guinea. There is also a book about David Livingstone’s explorations in Africa.

The books are all from Innerpeffray Library in Perthshire ( http://www.innerpeffraylibrary.co.uk/).

The Best 1869 Fashion Trends to Try This Spring

As the weather’s warming up, you may be considering a refresh to your spring and summer wardrobe. Luckily, we have an 1869 issue of The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine to help you find the season’s most stunning looks.

First and foremost, of course, one must consider the proper bonnets: billowy, floral, and decidedly dainty.

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Once one’s coiffure is properly obscured, it’s time to shop for the essentials–layered silhouettes, miles of ruffles, and all the best trends to try this spring!

Embrace the season in this breezy day-to-night look, which includes ample tassels and a wee parasol to help you keep your cool street-side.

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If you’re ready to trade in your sarong and get creative with this season’s swimwear, our magazine has some beach-ready looks for you:

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For those who prefer strolling to swimming, we have an airy ensemble that also sounds like a spooky plumbing malfunction:

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If you’re searching for hot summer looks for the whole family, may we suggest these voluminous ensembles for your young lady’s puppet-watching needs?

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This smart and wearable ensemble is perfect for feeling giddy near swans:

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We hope these bold styles and versatile classics will help inspire your new look!

Tensions High at 1969 Conference on Marijuana

Future New York City Mayor Ed Koch opens this 1969 Conference on Marijuana at the Guggenheim Hall of the Mount Sinai Medical Center School of Nursing.1 He hopes it will be

“a blue-ribbon panel to examine the medical, social and legal questions involved—an authoritative study that sweeps away old myths and shibboleths and establishes in their place intelligent, up-to-date conclusions and recommendations.”

Mitchell Krause, host of Channel 13’s nightly news, moderates the panel of lawyers, doctors and advocates—with a break for a “cigarette or whatever.”

Dr. Joel Fort, professor at the University of California School of Welfare in Berkeley, and Bardwell Grosse, Director of the National Student Association’s drug studies program, both dismiss the “gateway drug” concept, and assert that marijuana is no more harmful than legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco. Harold Rothwax, a lawyer and director of the Mobilization for Youth Legal Services, shies away from providing a medical opinion, but believes that if it is harmful, the medical profession should treat abuse of the substance rather than the legal system.

Dr. Sidney Cohen, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, and Dr. Henry Brill, Psychiatrist and Director of the Pilgrim State Hospital, both agree that there is a correlation between marijuana use and further experimentation with drugs like heroin. Brill further argues that consumption can result in aggressive behavior. Cohen, however, argues that there is no tendency to be aggressive but rather to withdraw and furthermore, no pharmacological quality in marijuana that leads to crime. Frederick M. Garfield, Assistant Director at the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, believes that a link between marijuana and further drug use is inconclusive.

With regard to the legal aspects of marijuana use, however, Garfield takes the most conservative approach. He declares that there is statistical evidence showing that marijuana use causes damage to individuals and society, argues that there is too much freedom to conduct drug experiments by “amateur investigators,” and that the public should not have “unrestrained freedom in the drug area.”

Garfield maintains that the benefits of laws regulating the use of marijuana outweigh the risks, but that there should be a clear and rational review of laws that penalize drug possession as well as proposed laws. Brill and Cohen similarly concede that current laws pertaining to marijuana are too excessive and deserve review—Cohen describes them as “…draconian, doing more harm than good.”

Grosse and Rothwax stand on the other side of the issue, arguing for full legalization; Rothwax qualifies marijuana use as an “invisible crime” and therefore too difficult to regulate. Criminalization of marijuana consumption, he further argues, is used as a tool to harass people of color, inhibits medical research, and represents a too-great invasion of privacy. Meanwhile, Dr. Fort calls for the decriminalization of all drugs in favor of focusing on broader social problems, riffing, “We should encourage people to turn on to the world around them, to tune into knowledge and feeling, and to drop into changing and improving the quality of American life.”

Reporting on the conference for the New York Times, C. Gerald Fraser separated the opinions of the speakers based on an age gap: “under 40 years of age supported legalization. The three others, over 40, opposed total decontrol.”2 Listening to the recording begs the question: If those “under-40-year-olds” supporting legalization are today the same “under-90-year-olds,” why haven’t the legal and medical questions surrounding marijuana been settled by now?

At the beginning of the recording, Koch—then a US Representative—mentions his hopes that the House of Representatives will pass a bill, under his co-sponsorship, to create a presidential commission on marijuana. Indeed, in the early 1970s, shortly after this conference, President Nixon appointed the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, also called the Shafer Commission.3 In a report released in 1972, the commission concluded that marijuana is not addictive, does not lead to further drug use or crime and advocated for the decriminalization of marijuana possession, which would have vastly eased state and federal sentences. The commission did not recognize any medical benefit to marijuana nor was the goal to create a path for legalization, but rather to “de-glorify, de-mythologize, and de-emphasize the use of marijuana and other drugs.”5 

The report failed, however, to elicit a response from the White House. The commission was just beginning its research when Nixon declared the so-called “War on Drugs,” with marijuana being added to the most punitive classification of drugs in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Later, Nixon indicated his opposition a year before the report was released, stating that “Even if the commission does recommend that it be legalized, I will not follow that recommendation.”4

Each president has since continued the policies created by the war on drugs, particularly President Ronald Reagan who signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 and 1988. These laws created mandatory minimum sentences and focused on increasing penalties for possession of crack cocaine, a provision that disproportionately affected those with low income and people of color. According to a 2000 report by Human Rights Watch: 

The war on drugs precipitated soaring arrests of drug offenders and increasing racial disproportions among the arrestees. Blacks had long been arrested for drug offenses at higher rates than whites. Throughout the 1970s, for example, blacks were approximately twice as likely as whites to be arrested for drug-related offenses. By 1988, however, with national anti-drug efforts in full force, blacks were arrested on drug charges at five times the rate of whites.6

In 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reversed the mandatory five year minimum sentence for possession of crack cocaine and directed the United States Sentencing Commission to review its guidelines. Marijuana, however, is still considered an illegal Schedule I substance under federal law and is not considered medicine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, despite becoming legal in several states for medical and recreational use. In a March 15th speech, Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled an increase in federal enforcement of drug policies. 

I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.7

 

Learn more about the War on Drugs from On the Media.

[1] Unfortunately this recording is incomplete. The five open reel tapes that comprise this recording were found in a previously uncataloged group of recordings, mainly ranging in date from 1968 to 1970. 

[2] “Easing of Laws on Marijuana Proposed at a Conference Here,” New York Times, June 21, 1969

[3] Dr. Henry Brill, a panelist at the Conference on Marijuana, was also a member of the Shafer Commission.

[4] “Excerpts From the Report of National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse,” New York Times, March 23, 1972

[5] “National Commission to Propose Legal Private use of Marijuana,” New York Times, February 13, 1972

[6] Punishment and Prejudice: Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs, VII. Racially Disproportionate Drug Arrests“, Human Rights Watch, 2000, Vol. 12, No. 2

[7] Attorney General Jeff Sessions Delivers Remarks on Efforts to Combat Violent Crime and Restore Public Safety Before Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement, Richmond, Virgina, Wednesday, March 15, 2017

 

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection.

WNYC archives id: 150790
Municipal archives id: T7805-T7809

What a gem! The Toni Cavelti fonds

We are pleased to announce that descriptions and accompanying scans for the records of prominent Vancouver-based jeweller Toni Cavelti are now available. The Toni Cavelti fonds contains over 2,400 drawings and design materials, promotional materials, correspondence related to the design of a necklace for Queen Elizabeth, and an unpublished autobiography. We have made a small subset of his drawings and transparencies available on flickr.

A promotional photograph showing a gold necklace.
Reference code: AM1670-S2-F3-: 2016-051.385

Cavelti was born in Illanz, Switzerland in 1931. When he was fifteen he began his apprenticeship with the goldsmith Richard Bolli in St. Gallen, Switzerland. He completed his apprenticeship in 1950. Soon afterward he moved to Geneva and began work at a watch and jewellery atelier in an industrial setting. There he felt unable to fully utilize his skills and expand his craftsmanship. After seeing a painting of the Vancouver Harbour in a display at a hotel, he made the decision to move to Canada. He arrived in Vancouver on June 13, 1954.

Designs from Cavelti’s first workbook, 1946-1950. Photo by Kristy Waller. Workbook described at Reference code AM1670-S1-: 2017-005.03

After his arrival in Canada, Cavelti worked as a goldsmith for another jeweller for just over a year until he had saved enough to open his first shop. Never interested in mass production, he operated his jewellery business with a vision of quality and craftsmanship guiding his practice. Between 1956 and 1999 he ran his jewelry shop and though the location moved, one thing remained; he established connections and friendships with his clients, artists and neighbours wherever he went.

View of Cavelti’s storefront at 692 Seymour Street. He operated out of this location between 1971 and 1991. Reference code: COV-S509-: CVA 778-418

Always in a jacket and a tie, often his white coat, Cavelti maintained a sense of respect for his customers that was central to his business. During one of my conversations with him, he demonstrated the way he would sit down across from a customer and draw a piece for them upside-down so that they could see the drawing as he was completing it. Cavelti considers himself a craftsman and emphasizes that he designed jewellery for his clients, many of whom he maintained very close relationships with over the years.

Drawing by Cavelti showing the necklace he designed for Queen Elizabeth, winner of a Diamonds International Award. Reference code: AM1670-S1-F18-: 2016-051.466

The Toni Cavelti fonds contains over 1850 original drawings of jewellery. Included is the original drawing of the necklace that he designed for Queen Elizabeth. In 1971 the government of British Columbia commissioned him to create the design. He also designed a bracelet for Princess Anne. Princess Anne was ill the day her appearance in the bracelet was scheduled and there are no photographs showing her wearing the design.

Album page showing a quartz brooch by Cavelti that was on display at Goldsmith Hall, London in 1961. Reference code: AM1670-S1-F19-: 2016-051.444

Cavelti had a very successful career and worked hard to make a name for himself in Vancouver. In 1961 he was the only Canadian participant to show work in an exhibition of contemporary jewellery at Goldsmith Hall in London, England. The work shown was a brooch with natural quartz from Switzerland. Cavelti told me that this was his favourite piece he ever designed. He was the recipient of four Diamonds International Awards; considered to be the ‘Oscars’ of the jewellery industry, they are awarded for excellence in diamond jewellery design and craftsmanship. The first award won by Cavelti was for a ring design in 1957 and he was awarded another for a brooch design in 1963. He won his third Diamonds International Award for his necklace design for Queen Elizabeth and his fourth was awarded in 1977 for a pavé-set platinum necklace.

18-carat gold brooch, influenced by the contrast of the density of downtown Vancouver and the natural landscape. Reference code: AM1670-S2-F3-: 2016-051.321

Although Cavelti considers himself a craftsman, his work displays impeccable technique and a unique vision. This style was not only influenced by his training and background, but also by his surroundings. Both the physical and social landscape of Vancouver informed his work. He became friends with local artists and architects and what he learned from them can be seen in his designs.

Gold bear pin, co-design by Bill Reid and Toni Cavelti.
Reference code: AM1670-S2-F3-: 2016-051.461

After a successful and long career, Cavelti sold his company to Birks in 1999. Cavelti continued to design and consult there until early 2008. Since 2008 he has been working on wire sculptures, spending time with his family and managing a building he owns in downtown Vancouver. We would like to thank Toni Cavelti for donating his records to the City of Vancouver Archives, and for his subsequent generous financial support of their description and digitization.