Be Bold: Connect with Customers

Connect with Customers
State Fair, 10/1972. National Archives Identifier 545457

The second of our new strategic goals is to “Connect with Customers.”

Having spent most of my career working with the public, customer service is a passion of mine. In my personal life I am always looking for exemplars—places where I am dazzled by attention to service, places which learn from their customers, places which put their customers at the center of the service equation.

At the National Archives, we connect with customers in a multitude of ways: nationwide, face-to-face, over the phone, across the desk, in our research rooms, in the classroom and of course, online.  We have a wide-variety of customer communities, including educators, historians, genealogists, researchers, veterans and now groups such as civic hackers, Wikipedians and many more. We need to become more agile, more creative in connecting with them – whoever they are, wherever they are, to deliver what they want when they want it.

But connection is not just about delivery, it is about engaging with the public in ways we have not done in the past. Much of the work we have been doing with Open Government has been about connecting with customers in new ways.  In speaking about Open Government, President Obama said, “Our commitment to openness means more than simply informing the American people about how decisions are made.  It means … [ Read all ]

The Yip Sang Correspondence Project 葉生信件翻譯工程

The Project
葉生信件翻譯工程

This project sought to make available Chinese-language documents which are held in a predominantly English-language archives. A selection of correspondence from the Yip family and Yip Sang Ltd. fonds (AM1108) was used. One of the difficulties with making these materials available is that there are so few local people who can read the old-style Chinese writing. We decided to digitize the letters so that they are available to readers of the old script throughout the world, and to invite them to contribute their translations and interpretations.

This work, completed in 2008, was done in cooperation with the Department of History at the University of British Columbia. W. Wang translated some of the letters under the supervision of Dr. Henry Yu. We are grateful for the financial assistance of the Government of Canada for the digitization of photographs and letters.

See the result of the joint digitization project with UBC Library: http://www.library.ubc.ca/chineseinbc/search.html

Search the Yip Sang materials: http://digitalcollections.library.ubc.ca/cdm4/search.php?CISOROOT=/yipsang

envelope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

這個翻譯工作,目的在協助一個以英語為主的檔案館 ;例如温哥華檔案館; 找出最可行的方法,令公眾能夠使用館內的中文資料。工作主要是將部份葉氏家族及其公司的信件(館蔵編號: AM1108),翻譯成英文。 其中最困難的地方,是書信的手寫字體較難辨認,以及解讀信中的舊式文體。為求得到世界各地人仕的幫助, 温哥華檔案館決定將信件製成數碼影像,然後將影像透過互聯網發放到世界各地,好讓有識之士,協助完成翻譯工作。

翻譯工作在温哥華檔案館和卑詩大學歷史系合作下,於2008年完成。而份信件的翻譯是在余全毅博士的指導下,由王小姐完成。

查閱翻譯和數碼化工作的背景資料及成果,請瀏覽以下網址:
http://www.library.ubc.ca/chineseinbc/search.html

查閱葉氏家族及其公司信件的數碼檔案,請瀏覽以下網址:
http://digitalcollections.library.ubc.ca/cdm4/search.php?CISOROOT=/yipsang

Yip Sang
葉生

The Yip family in Vancouver began with Yip Sang’s arrival in B.C. in 1881. Yip Sang, whose real name was Yip Chun Tien (along with two other Chinese names, Yip Loy Yiu and Yip Lin Sang), was born in China in 1845. In 1864, he left his home village, Shengtang Cun, Duhu County in Guangdong province, to travel to San Francisco, where he worked as a dishwasher, cook, cigar maker, and labourer in the goldfields.

Eventually he left for B.C., and in 1881, after first looking for gold in the north, settled in Vancouver and found work as a pedlar, selling sacks of coal door to door. In 1882, he was employed by the Canadian Pacific Railroad Supply Company, where he worked as a bookkeeper, timekeeper, paymaster and then as the Chinese superintendent. In 1885, Yip Sang left the company and returned to China. In 1888, he returned to Vancouver and established the import and export firm of Wing Sang Company.

During his lifetime, Yip Sang had four wives and a total of twenty-three children. He became a naturalized British subject in 1891. Yip Sang was one of the driving forces in the establishment of the Chinese Benevolent Association, the Chinese School and the Chinese Hospital (now Mount St. Joseph’s) in Vancouver. He was a lifetime governor of Vancouver General Hospital, and was also a benefactor of the Public Hospital in Guangdong province in China. He died in 1927.

Yip Sang at his 80th birthday celebration October 22, 1925. Photographer Cecil B. Wand. Detail from City of Vancouver Archives CVA 749 葉生80大壽,攝於1925年10月22日。温哥華檔案館相片編號﹕CVA 749

Yip Sang at his 80th birthday celebration October 22, 1925. Photographer Cecil B. Wand. Detail from City of Vancouver Archives CVA 749
葉生80大壽,攝於1925年10月22日。温哥華檔案館相片編號﹕CVA 749

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

温哥華葉氏家族是由第一代移民葉生於1881年建立,葉生原名葉春田,又名葉來饒或葉連生。葉生在1845年出生於中國廣東省一個農村,他在1864年離鄉後,曾到美國三藩市, 當過洗碗、廚師、雪茄煙工人, 亦曾在金礦場工作。

葉生在 1881 年遷移到加拿大卑詩省, 曾在省北部淘金。 葉生定居於温哥華後, 曾做過賣煤炭小販。一年後葉生受僱於加拿大太平洋鉄路物料公司, 負責入數、 記錄工時及出納等工作, 及後葉生更獲委為華人監工。 葉生在1885年離職返回中國 , 他在1888年重返温哥華創立永生號 ,經營出入口生意。

葉生有4位妻子及23名子女,他在1891年歸化英籍加人。葉生一生致力推重社區發展,他曾參與建立温哥華中華總會、 温哥華中文學校及温哥華中醫院( 即現時的聖約瑟醫院 ),他亦是温哥華綜合醫院的終身理事。 除温哥華外,葉生也曾捐助廣東省公立醫院。葉生於1927年逝世。

The Wing Sang Company
永生號

Wing Sang Company was one of the wealthiest firms in the Chinatown area of Vancouver. It engaged in contracting Chinese workers for the Canadian Pacific Railway Company; the import and export of general merchandise from China and Japan; money remittance from Vancouver to Hong Kong; and the dry-salt herring business with China. It also functioned as a passenger agency with the Canadian Pacific Steamships Ltd. The Wing Sang Company was renamed Yip Sang Ltd. in 1950.

The Wing Sang Building, at what is now 51-69 East Pender Street (renamed and renumbered in 1907 from 29-35 Dupont Street), was built in 1889 and greatly extended in 1901, and is thought to be the oldest surviving building in Vancouver’s Chinatown.

Wing Sang building, ca. 1901-07. Photographer unknown. City of Vancouver Archives CVA 689-54 永生號大樓, 攝於約1901-1907年間。温哥華檔案館相片編號﹕CVA 689-54

Wing Sang building, ca. 1901-07. Photographer unknown.
City of Vancouver Archives CVA 689-54
永生號大樓, 攝於約1901-1907年間。温哥華檔案館相片編號﹕CVA 689-54

永生號曾經是華埠其中一間最興旺的商號,主要業務包括為加拿大太平洋鉄路公司輸入中國勞工、中國及日本的商品貿易、温哥華及香港兩地的往來滙款、以及中國的咸魚貿易,永生號亦是太平洋輪船公司的其中一個代理。永生號在1950年改名為葉生有限公司。

永生號大樓位於片打東街51至69號,大樓建於 1889年,及後在1901年作大幅擴建。永生號相信是温哥華華埠現存最古老的建築物。

Acquisition of the Materials
葉氏家族檔案的捐贈及存館過程

In June 1989, Randall Yip contacted the Archives on behalf of the Yip family regarding the Wing Sang Company building, which was still owned by the family but had not been in recent use. The building was to be renovated, and there were papers and artifacts within which might be of historical interest. Over three days that August, five staff members packed and retrieved over forty boxes of materials found in two levels of the building.

Additional materials were later donated by family members, but the majority of the fonds was salvaged from the building.

Materials after acquisition and freeze fumigation. Archives staff photo, 1991 經泠涷殺菌及除蟲處理後的部份文件,攝於1991年。

Materials after acquisition and freeze fumigation. Archives staff photo, 1991
經泠涷殺菌及除蟲處理後的部份文件,攝於1991年。

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1989年6月, 葉氏家族的一名成員,代表家族聯絡温哥華檔案館,商討一批存放在永生號大樓內的文件及文物。當時葉氏家族仍然擁有該大樓,但大樓已空置多時。由於大樓將會 重建,葉氏家族希望該批有歷史價值的文獻,能夠得到妥善保存。 温哥華檔案館遂於同年8月在大樓展開工作,5位檔案館的職員在3日內,整理及包裝超過40多箱文件。

大樓內發現的文件,成為葉氏家族檔案的主要部份。而葉氏家族的成員,亦捐出個人珍藏的家族資料。

Opening the Safes
打開保險庫

Two safes, including a large walk-in, were opened by a professional safecracker. The walk-in safe was unlocked, but the outer set of doors was rusted shut, so the metal had to be cut away with a torch in order to gain access. The contents were protected from the shower of sparks by the inner doors.

The smaller safe was empty.

recovery-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

永生號大樓內有一個大型的保險庫,保險庫有內外两層門。 雖然保險庫沒有上鎖,但由於外門已生銹至不能開啟 ,要由技師用燒焊器,將外門燒開,才能取出保險庫內的文件。由於有保險庫的內門保護,文件未為燒焊火花所破壞。

大樓內亦有一個較小型的保險庫,但裡面空無一物。

Document Recovery
文件修復

Eleven of the boxes of documents were taken from the walk-in safe, but as many of them had been wet and moldy for a long time due to a leak in the ceiling, even after freeze-drying only four boxes could be salvaged. All materials, both wet and dry, were fumigated in a freezer to kill insects.

Rotted wooden shelf and moldy ledger books, walk-in safe, 1989. Staff photograph. 大型保險庫內,已腐爛的木書架及已發霉的帳簿,攝於1989年。

Rotted wooden shelf and moldy ledger books, walk-in safe, 1989. Staff photograph.
大型保險庫內,已腐爛的木書架及已發霉的帳簿,攝於1989年。

檔案館職員在保險庫內取出11箱文件,但由於大樓的天花板長年漏水,大部份保險庫內的文件,因長期受潮而發霉。縱使經泠涷殺菌及抽濕處理,只有其中4 箱文件能保存下來。所有保存的文件,無論乾或受潮,都要存放泠藏庫內,進行殺菌及除蟲。

The Correspondence
關於這些信件

Yip Sang acted as an unofficial postmaster for his own employees and other local Chinese workers for correspondence to and from China. Letters addressed using Chinese characters would not be delivered by the Canadian postal system. Yip Sang had the means to transport mail to China using his import/export business. In addition, his building served as a poste restante for incoming mail to be delivered to itinerant workers.

While the characters are no different than those which have been used for thousands of years, the writing style of the time employed fewer characters than are used today to express the same idea, making interpretation a challenge. In addition, many of the handwritten characters are difficult to read. We chose only legible letters for the project.

Letter #454   信件編號 454 Add. MSS 1108-454 envelope, undated Add.MSS.1108-454 信封,年代不詳

Letter #454 信件編號 454
Add. MSS 1108-454 envelope, undated
Add.MSS.1108-454 信封,年代不詳

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

除了是一位商人外,葉生亦充當其員工的非正式郵政局長,負責收發員工往來温哥華與中國两地的書信。原因是當時 的加拿大郵政局,看不懂信封上的中文書地址。恰巧葉生經營两地貨物的出入口生意,故此員工的家書便連同葉生的貨物,一起往來温哥華與中國,而永生號大樓亦 是員工郵件的代收及待領中心。

雖然中文字已沿用了數千年,但由於當時所用的文體跟現代的有所不同,加上當時的人比現代人用較少的字,來表達意思,令翻譯工作遇到困難。由於大部份信件的字體十分潦草,我們只揀選了一些字體容易辨認的信件,來進行翻譯。

Sample Translations
一些翻譯樣本

Letter 352 信件編號 352 Add. MSS 1108-352, undated Add.MSS.1108-352, 年代不詳 Wang Kuopang notified Wang Kuoyue that he has remitted five hundred and ninety dollars to Wing Sang Co. The letter has a literal translation of "being taxed while entering Vancouver (or Canada )." 王擴胖匯至永生寶號與王擴月五百九十六元。內有“打稅入埠”字句。

Letter 352
信件編號 352
Add. MSS 1108-352, undated
Add.MSS.1108-352, 年代不詳
Wang Kuopang notified Wang Kuoyue that he has remitted five hundred and ninety dollars to Wing Sang Co. The letter has a literal translation of “being taxed while entering Vancouver (or Canada ).”
王擴胖匯至永生寶號與王擴月五百九十六元。內有“打稅入埠”字句。

Letter 398 信件編號 398  Add. MSS 1108-398, undated Add.MSS.1108-398, 年代不詳 Cheng Wenzong thanked Mr. Ye for hiring a doctor for the wife of Jiang Boding. She has telegraphed Cheng that "she is recovering [from illness]." 陳文宗來信謝葉公代為為江伯定之妻 " 請醫 ," 其妻已來電“云好轉。”

Letter 398
信件編號 398
Add. MSS 1108-398, undated
Add.MSS.1108-398, 年代不詳
Cheng Wenzong thanked Mr. Ye for hiring a doctor for the wife of Jiang Boding. She has telegraphed Cheng that “she is recovering [from illness].”
陳文宗來信謝葉公代為為江伯定之妻 ” 請醫 ,” 其妻已來電“云好轉。”

Letter 430 信件編號 430  Add. MSS 1108-430, undated Add.MSS.1108-430, 年代不詳 Kuang Shulin informed how he spent the 1,000 dollars that Kuang Maiju sent to him in purchasing properties and taking care of underprivileged family members. 鄺樹林告知去年收到叔父寄與之一千元是如何用以置產與照顧家中弱勢者。

Letter 430
信件編號 430
Add. MSS 1108-430, undated
Add.MSS.1108-430, 年代不詳
Kuang Shulin informed how he spent the 1,000 dollars that Kuang Maiju sent to him in purchasing properties and taking care of underprivileged family members.
鄺樹林告知去年收到叔父寄與之一千元是如何用以置產與照顧家中弱勢者。

Letter #454   信件編號 454 Add. MSS 1108-454 page 1, 1913 Add.MSS.1108-454 頁1, 1913年 I. Liang Xianxi informed Liang Xianen that he has received the twenty dollars, but the medical expense for his grandson was over ten dollars. He also informed that “your parents are both over eighty years old, please return home early.” 信一:梁賢熙告知梁賢恩已收到二十元,但孫兒醫療費“即花十多元,”並叮囑“慈嚴已八十高壽,請儘早回家。”

Letter #454 信件編號 454
Add. MSS 1108-454 page 1, 1913
Add.MSS.1108-454 頁1, 1913年
I. Liang Xianxi informed Liang Xianen that he has received the twenty dollars, but the medical expense for his grandson was over ten dollars. He also informed that “your parents are both over eighty years old, please return home early.”
信一:梁賢熙告知梁賢恩已收到二十元,但孫兒醫療費“即花十多元,”並叮囑“慈嚴已八十高壽,請儘早回家。”

Letter #454   信件編號 454 Add. MSS 1108-454 page 2, undated Add.MSS.1108-454 頁2, 年代不詳 II. Liang Huanfu informed his father, Liang Xianen that "our family is fine. The annual family expenses are two hundred dollars and because there are some young ones, the estimate [expenses] is three to four hundred dollars." 信二:梁換福告知父親梁賢恩“家中安好。每年家中花費約兩百元又有幼小者,估計約需三四百元,以應家用。”。

Letter #454 信件編號 454
Add. MSS 1108-454 page 2, undated
Add.MSS.1108-454 頁2, 年代不詳
II. Liang Huanfu informed his father, Liang Xianen that “our family is fine. The annual family expenses are two hundred dollars and because there are some young ones, the estimate [expenses] is three to four hundred dollars.”
信二:梁換福告知父親梁賢恩“家中安好。每年家中花費約兩百元又有幼小者,估計約需三四百元,以應家用。”。

Letter #454   信件編號 454 Add. MSS 1108-454 page 3, undated Add.MSS.1108-454 頁3,年代不詳 III. Liang Huanfu informed his father, Liang Xianen that "he has given up his studies in order to find a job to meet the family need.” His second uncle is already eighty years old, so please mail the money back home early for buying rice and food. 信三:梁換福告知父親,梁賢恩,為應家急已“棄學圖工,”並且“二伯已八十,請早寄銀兩回家,以應米糧之需 。”

Letter #454 信件編號 454
Add. MSS 1108-454 page 3, undated
Add.MSS.1108-454 頁3,年代不詳
III. Liang Huanfu informed his father, Liang Xianen that “he has given up his studies in order to find a job to meet the family need.” His second uncle is already eighty years old, so please mail the money back home early for buying rice and food.
信三:梁換福告知父親,梁賢恩,為應家急已“棄學圖工,”並且“二伯已八十,請早寄銀兩回家,以應米糧之需 。”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preserving Local History Update

On March 20, I participated in the eighth annual Carolyn & Norwood Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo on behalf of our team.  It was certainly an exciting and informative expo – there were at least a hundred other student presenters!  The expo was particularly well set up, and I greatly enjoyed viewing the presentations and posters of others.


The expo was set up in an interesting way that really provided students the opportunity to present in ways that best suited individual needs and presentation styles.  There were three options for presenting:  poster, verbal presentation, and creative presentations.  I chose to make a poster to hang for public viewing, as did most of the other participants.   Several judges came by to view each poster and ask questions.  The judges seemed interested in what we are doing, and several commented that this project seemed innovative and well done.  That feedback was certainly the type that we like to hear, and it was encouraging – we want to see how outsiders view our purpose and our mission as much as possible.

Next up on the agenda is wrapping up calls to potential participants, making possible on-site visits, creating charts and a modified presentation for a few upcoming events, and working on that all-important best practices manual!

The Lasting Appeal of Night Mail

Nearly eighty years after its release, Night Mail (Wright & Watt, 1936), produced by the General Post Office Film Unit, is still relevant to documentary filmmaking – its style, content and representation being key to the fundamentals of the non-fiction film. Night Mail follows the journey of the London, Midland & Scottish Railway postal service from London to Scotland, as it collects and delivers Britain’s mail.

A scene from Night Mail (ref. Grierson Archive, G Photo 55)

A scene from Night Mail (ref. Grierson Archive, G Photo 55)

Forsyth Hardy, film critic and John Grierson’s biographer, wrote in 1979 about the lasting appeal of the film in his book Grierson on Documentary – “Of all the hundreds of films which emerged from the documentary movement in the 1930s it has most surely stood the test of time.” Perhaps this is because the nostalgia evoked, was of a time in British culture that seemed untouched by modernity. Paradoxically however, the film proved to be stylistically and socially progressive. Modernist concepts such as commercial rebranding and details like expressionistic images – the beveled, clean lines of the titles, the specially commissioned music and poetic verse suggested a cultural shift.

Founded by Grierson in 1933, the G. P. O. Film Unit made documentaries to promote British industry to the British public. Films such as Granton Trawler (Grierson, 1934), about the fishing industry reminded the nation that respect and gratitude should be given to everyday workers. Referring to this concept Night Mail director Basil Wright said that the film was, “commissioned by the post office […] to explain to the Post Office workers how this particular aspect of the vast organization happened” (ref. Grierson Archive, GA.10.55). Grierson went on to say, “It was some satisfaction to take those letters G.P.O and make them stand for what was most progressive in the cinema” (ref. Grierson Archive, G3.14.5).

Night Mail’s appeal was partly due to the collaboration of modern disciplines and experimentation in sound and visual style. The combination of Grierson’s production, Cavalcanti’s sound direction, W.H.Auden’s poetic verse and music by composer Benjamin Britten constructed an almost avant-garde aesthetic. The juxtaposition between man and machine – the close-up shots of the moving pistons, the point of view shots from the engine drawing the audience in and the precise timing of the mail bag pick-up as postal workers listen to the beats of the wheels on the track – evokes a poetic artistry. Talking to the B.B.C about the pre-production, Grierson recounts the emotional connotations, “The train had become the living embodiment of a whole slice of British life” (ref. Grierson Archive, G7.23.3).

Detail of bust of John Grierson by the sculptor Kenny Munro at Stirling Train Station.

Detail of bust of John Grierson by the sculptor Kenny Munro at Stirling Train Station.

On its release, Night Mail was successful, in part due to transportable projection units. In Sight and Sound in 1937, J.B. Holmes, director of productions at the G.P.O discussed their method of distribution, “With machines, operators, screens and films, they were capable of showing in almost any sort of premises” (ref. Grierson Archive, G3.P4). Aside from the influential use of the cinematic device and the modernist propaganda ascribed to the film; far beyond the filmmaking world, railway enthusiasts have sustained the appeal of Night Mail and as a result, in 2013 a sculpted bust of Grierson was introduced to Stirling railway station.

(Susannah Ramsay, M. Litt. in Film Studies)

Typographical Ransom Notes #1: Fine Port and Ham

For a while now I’ve been planning on making a repository to store interesting pages from type specimen books that I come across during the day. And, more importantly, I wanted a place for visitors who use the Updike Collection to share their own images (we welcome researchers taking pictures of the materials they’re using when they visit). That site is now up and running: typesampling-logo1There are only a few images available at present, but expect many more in the future. And to celebrate, here’s the first post in an occasional series of ransom-note-style collages taken from images on the site: FinePortAndHam

Be Bold: Make Access Happen

Women Working at a Switchboard
Photograph of Women Working at a Bell System Telephone Switchboard. National Archives Identifier 1633445.

 

The first of our new strategic goals is to “Make Access Happen.”  Increasingly, access means digital, online access. Our first goal has one objective, to make our records available to the public in digital form to ensure that anyone can explore, discover and learn from our records.

Here are a few of the initiatives listed under this goal:

  • First, we want to complete the long journey of describing our holdings in our online catalog. We launched our first agency-wide online catalog in 2003, and now we are within just a few years of being able to say that over 95% of our records are described at the series level. Currently we are at 83% and going strong. Archivists across the agency continue to provide basic archival metadata to the catalog so that people around the world can know what we have.
  • We will also accelerate the processing of analog and digital records to quickly make our records available to the public. Foundational technology for that effort will be the development of a digital processing environment that will allow archival, digitization and description staff to work in an environment that supports and enhances accelerated processing of the records.
  • We want to digitize our records and to make them available online.
  • [ Read all ]

An Opera Impresario Looks at Radio

From the March, 1941 WQXR Program Guide:

The magic of radio has broadened the ranks of the Metropolitan Opera audience until it extends from coast to coast and beyond to the countries of South America. But radio has not been able to bring back to our stage the great voices of the past which were stilled before opera performances went on the air, nor can it repeat an opera again and again to satisfy the appetite of the enthusiast.

For these two special contributions I find that many members of the Metropolitan public look to the special facilities of WQXR, which combine the advantages of both radio and recordings for the opera-loving public. Even the artists of my company tell me that they look for the WQXR programs of such legendary singers as Tamagno and Plançon and of Caruso and Geraldine Farrar in our own generation. To bring these voices back to us by their recordings and to present them with intelligent commentary on the repertoire and special gifts is, to my mind, a most valuable service to the cause of opera today.

Then again I congratulate WQXR on the generous list of operatic selections on its programs. Each week in The Metropolitan Opera Guild’s publication Opera News, I read of a wealth of arias, orchestral selections and adaptations, and even condensed performances of opera which can be heard on this station. With my own busy schedule, I find little time to relax at my radio to listen to more opera, but many people tell me of their pleasure in doing so.

The complex operatic scores of the later Verdi and the repertory that has grown up since his day demand frequent hearings before we can enjoy them to the fullest extent. It may not be possible for the average person to hear every Otello that we put on at the Metropolitan, nor is it always possible for us to repeat an opera as often as we should like to. The exigencies of casting inevitably restrict our work. How valuable, then, it becomes to the opera lover–especially if, like so many of the young people in the audiences, he is a novice in the art–to listen to such music again and again, through the recorded programs of radio, until he is sufficiently familiar with it to enjoy it to the maximum.

Familiarity with the voices and vocal styles of the past, as well as the singers of our own day, is enhanced for the radio listener if he is able to follow the music with score in hand. This is, of course, impractical in the Opera House, where the lights must be lowered to secure the most effective stage picture. But with the advance information conveyed by the WQXR monthly program booklet, and the opportunity that is offered to secure the music ahead of time, from either a music library or a publishing house, it is a simple matter for the opera lover to become intimate with the operatic music to an extent never possible before. I congratulate the WQXR audience on this unique facility to further its musical education.

A brief glance at the January WQXR program booklet shows me that on three separate occasions this station has broadcast excerpts from Madama Butterfly, while the Ride of the Valkyries has also been heard three times, not to speak of dozens of other excerpts from Puccini and Wagner. It is this very repetition that I commend so strongly.

In planning our Metropolitan repertory, we arrange to give the subscriber to each of our subscription series a balanced and varied diet. We try to meet all tastes, and to avoid repetition during any one season. Such a procedure is inevitable; it is the only way we can answer the demands of a sophisticated public. And yet, as I have said before, the opera public includes many young people. For them Die Walküre or Madama Butterfly may be a new experience. They wish to familiarize themselves with these masterworks. How can this be accomplished? I turn to the cultural contribution of the Interstate Broadcasting Company as a very real adjunct to the work which the Metropolitan Opera Association is doing in both the Opera House and over the air. 

 

Harbingers of Springtime

Celebrating the coming of spring, I took a gleeful stroll through our Rare Books Collection and pulled out some of my favorite harbingers of the season.  This also happens to be a great way of highlighting our substantial holdings in Natural History, Earth Science, and Nature .  And, of course, Emily Dickinson, who cannot meet the spring unmoved.  She and I have that in common.

Emily Dickinson "I cannot meet the spring unmoved," AC 230, F 1122, J 1051

Emily Dickinson “I cannot meet the spring unmoved,” AC 230, F 1122, J 1051

Our holdings in Ornithology include an outstanding copy of the double elephant folio edition of John James Audubon’s Birds of America, as well as the Richard L. Soffer (Class of 1954) Ornithology Collection.

Richard L. Soffer ’54 has donated an extensive collection of volumes about birds, with many books specifically focused on the various methods and techniques that have been used to reproduce illustrations of birds. The books in the collection provide examples of every type of illustrative technique: hand painting, woodcut and wood engraving, etching and engraving, lithography, and modern photomechanical methods.

robin018

Brasher, Rex, and Lisa McGaw. Birds & trees of North America. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 1961.

Early signs of spring in our area are the return of the American Robin (Turdus migratorius) and the Woodcock (Scolopax minor).

Rickman, Philip. A selection of bird paintings and sketches. London: Curpotten, 1979. Print.from the Richard L. Soffer (Class of 1954) Ornithology Collection

Rickman, Philip. A selection of bird paintings and sketches. London: Curpotten, 1979. from the Richard L. Soffer (Class of 1954) Ornithology Collection

Emily Dickinson  wrote several poems about the early returning Robin.  This and all of Amherst College’s Dickinson manuscripts have been digitized and are viewable on the Amherst College Digital Collections repository.

Emily Dickinson "The robin is the one," AC 92-1, F 501, J 828

Emily Dickinson “The robin is the one,” AC 92-1, F 501, J 828

 

The Robin is the One
That interrupt the Morn
With hurried—few—express Reports
When March is scarcely on—

The Robin is the One
That overflow the Noon
With her cherubic quantity—
An April but begun—

The Robin is the One
That speechless from her Nest
Submit that Home—and Certainty
And Sanctity, are best

 

 

 

In the yard and woods, early appearances of the season include the blooming croci and bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis).  The two images below are hand colored engravings from a 4 volume 1850s publication of A.B. Strong’s The American Flora.

crocus009

Strong, A. B.. The American flora: or history of plants and wild flowers. New-York: Strong and Bidwell, 1853.

bloodroot012

Strong, A. B.. The American flora: or history of plants and wild flowers. New-York: Strong and Bidwell, 1853.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just this week we’ve started hearing spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) and the salamanders have begun to emerge after the rains.  These images are from a 1842 publication of the Natural History of New York.

peepers001

DeKay, James E.. Natural history of New York: Zoology. New York: D. Appleton :, 1842.

salamanders002

DeKay, James E.. Natural history of New York: Zoology. New York: D. Appleton :, 1842.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Charles M. Pratt Lepidoptera Collection includes numerous volumes about New England butterflies, some containing beautiful hand colored plates.  At this time of year, the Brown Elfin (Callophrys augustinus) and the Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) can be found throughout Massachusetts.
butterfly015

Butterflies, 67 plates

butterfly014

Butterflies, 67 Plates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, one of the more bizarre springtime beauties which I have seen coming up recently: the Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus).  This image is also a hand colored engraving from The American Flora.

skunkcabbage011

Strong, A. B.. The American flora: or history of plants and wild flowers. New-York: Strong and Bidwell, 1853.

These and other holdings in Botany, Ornithology, Zoology and Nature can be found in the Archives and Special Collections.  And don’t forget that a little madness in the spring is wholesome, says Emily Dickinson.

Emily Dickinson "A little madness in the spring," AC 106, J 1333, F 1356

Emily Dickinson “A little madness in the spring,” AC 106, J 1333, F 1356

 

Harbingers of Springtime

Celebrating the coming of spring, I took a gleeful stroll through our Rare Books Collection and pulled out some of my favorite harbingers of the season.  This also happens to be a great way of highlighting our substantial holdings in Natural History, Earth Science, and Nature .  And, of course, Emily Dickinson, who cannot meet the spring unmoved.  She and I have that in common.

Emily Dickinson "I cannot meet the spring unmoved," AC 230, F 1122, J 1051

Emily Dickinson “I cannot meet the spring unmoved,” AC 230, F 1122, J 1051

Our holdings in Ornithology include an outstanding copy of the double elephant folio edition of John James Audubon’s Birds of America, as well as the Richard L. Soffer (Class of 1954) Ornithology Collection.

Richard L. Soffer ’54 has donated an extensive collection of volumes about birds, with many books specifically focused on the various methods and techniques that have been used to reproduce illustrations of birds. The books in the collection provide examples of every type of illustrative technique: hand painting, woodcut and wood engraving, etching and engraving, lithography, and modern photomechanical methods.

robin018

Brasher, Rex, and Lisa McGaw. Birds & trees of North America. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 1961.

Early signs of spring in our area are the return of the American Robin (Turdus migratorius) and the Woodcock (Scolopax minor).

Rickman, Philip. A selection of bird paintings and sketches. London: Curpotten, 1979. Print.from the Richard L. Soffer (Class of 1954) Ornithology Collection

Rickman, Philip. A selection of bird paintings and sketches. London: Curpotten, 1979. from the Richard L. Soffer (Class of 1954) Ornithology Collection

Emily Dickinson  wrote several poems about the early returning Robin.  This and all of Amherst College’s Dickinson manuscripts have been digitized and are viewable on the Amherst College Digital Collections repository.

Emily Dickinson "The robin is the one," AC 92-1, F 501, J 828

Emily Dickinson “The robin is the one,” AC 92-1, F 501, J 828

 

The Robin is the One
That interrupt the Morn
With hurried—few—express Reports
When March is scarcely on—

The Robin is the One
That overflow the Noon
With her cherubic quantity—
An April but begun—

The Robin is the One
That speechless from her Nest
Submit that Home—and Certainty
And Sanctity, are best

 

 

 

In the yard and woods, early appearances of the season include the blooming croci and bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis).  The two images below are hand colored engravings from a 4 volume 1850s publication of A.B. Strong’s The American Flora.

crocus009

Strong, A. B.. The American flora: or history of plants and wild flowers. New-York: Strong and Bidwell, 1853.

bloodroot012

Strong, A. B.. The American flora: or history of plants and wild flowers. New-York: Strong and Bidwell, 1853.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just this week we’ve started hearing spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) and the salamanders have begun to emerge after the rains.  These images are from a 1842 publication of the Natural History of New York.

peepers001

DeKay, James E.. Natural history of New York: Zoology. New York: D. Appleton :, 1842.

salamanders002

DeKay, James E.. Natural history of New York: Zoology. New York: D. Appleton :, 1842.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Charles M. Pratt Lepidoptera Collection includes numerous volumes about New England butterflies, some containing beautiful hand colored plates.  At this time of year, the Brown Elfin (Callophrys augustinus) and the Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) can be found throughout Massachusetts.
butterfly015

Butterflies, 67 plates

butterfly014

Butterflies, 67 Plates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, one of the more bizarre springtime beauties which I have seen coming up recently: the Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus).  This image is also a hand colored engraving from The American Flora.

skunkcabbage011

Strong, A. B.. The American flora: or history of plants and wild flowers. New-York: Strong and Bidwell, 1853.

These and other holdings in Botany, Ornithology, Zoology and Nature can be found in the Archives and Special Collections.  And don’t forget that a little madness in the spring is wholesome, says Emily Dickinson.

Emily Dickinson "A little madness in the spring," AC 106, J 1333, F 1356

Emily Dickinson “A little madness in the spring,” AC 106, J 1333, F 1356

 

A Walking Tour of Don Draper’s New York

Don Draper probably isn’t hustling into the 1970s, but rumor has it this season’s Mad Men might end at the dawn of that tumultuous decade. What did New York actually look and sound like at the time? We resurrected an audio tour guide of midtown Manhattan from 1971 that offers a clue.

Produced by Pan American Worldwide Airlines, the guide is oddly sunny, given that the prevailing narrative of the era is of a city in turmoil: economic stagnation, historically high crimes rates, a failing subway system, poor social services, riots, blackouts. We learn instead that Madison Square Garden cost more than $100 million to build, that Penn Station has a “magnificent circular arena,” and that 42nd street, with its skyscrapers and open spaces, is a “showplace of the city.”

There are 19 spots on the tour, including vestiges of old New York like the Fur District and the Millinery District (600 hat companies were once housed there!). We’ve plotted them all on the interactive map below. Take a listen, and if you’re so inclined, dig out your platform shoes and make the trek yourself. Slideshow images courtesy of NYPL Digital Galleries.

‘Educating Londoners’ Event at London Metropolitan Archives

On Friday 9 May, 2014, along with London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), we are holding a study day conference, Educating Londoners: Sharing Experiences in the Archives, taking place at LMA.

Join us for a day of talks, recollections and document viewing to explore the stories of Londoners and their education. LMA partners with the Archives at the University of London’s Institute of Education to inspire discussion and reflection on education in London in the 20th century. From school architecture to school yard play, teacher unionism to after school detention, school dinners to curriculum reform, this day’s timetable can cover it all.

Places can be reserved here, free of charge.

Architects & Buildings Branch Archive Collection

Architects & Buildings Branch Archive Collection

fff

Programme for the day

As the programme illustrates, subjects for the day will be quite varied, and we’re looking forward to hearing about attendee’s experiences with their own education, in addition to hearing from four very unique, engaging speakers…

Professor Jane Martin (University of Birmingham) is the School of Education’s Deputy Head with responsibility for Strategic Development and Head of Department of Education and Social Justice. She moved to Birmingham from the Institute of Education, University of London, where she was Head of Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. She has lectured in Education Studies, History, Sociology and Women’s Studies. Her publications include Women and the Politics of Schooling in Victorian and Edwardian England, winner of the History of Education Society (UK) Book Prize 2002 and Making Socialists: Mary Bridges Adams and the Fight for Knowledge and Power 1855-1939 (2010). Her books with Joyce Goodman include Women and Education 1800-1980 (2004) and a 4-volume set for Routledge Women and Education: Major Themes in Education (2011). She is a past editor of the journal History of Education, past president of the UK History of Education Society and was the Brian Simon BERA Educational Research Fellow for 2004/5. She is a member of the Education Sub-panel for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) on behalf of the UK Higher Education Funding Councils and the holder of a British Academy / Leverhulme Small Grant: Caroline DeCamp Benn: A Comprehensive Life, 1926-2000.

Professor Michael Fielding: Currently Emeritus Professor of Education at the Institute of Education, University of London and Visiting Professor of Education at the University of Bristol, Michael Fielding taught for 19 years in some of the UK’s pioneer radical secondary comprehensive schools and for a similar period and with identical commitments at the universities of Cambridge, London and Sussex.

Widely published in the fields of student voice, educational leadership and radical democratic education, his latest book, co-authored with Peter Moss, Radical Education and the Common School – a democratic alternative (Routledge 2011) seeks to reclaim education as a democratic project and a community responsibility and school as a public space of encounter for all citizens. He has recently received a grant from the Leverhulme Foundation to continue his research on the life and work of Alex Bloom, from 1945-55 headteacher of St George-in-the East, Stepney, one of the most radical democratic secondary schools England has ever seen.

Dr Hilda Kean is former dean of Ruskin College, Oxford where she taught history for many years (and campaigned to keep their student archives from destruction!) She has published widely on cultural/public history/family history and non-human animals. Hilda’s numerous books include Deeds not Words. The Lives of Suffragette Teachers (Pluto,1990), London Stories. Personal Lives, Public Histories (Rivers Oram, 2004) and The Public History Reader (Routledge, 2013) edited with Paul Martin. She is currently writing a book for the University of Chicago Press on the animal-human relationship on the Home Front during the 1939 – 45 war. Hilda has run many workshops on researching and writing family history at the London Metropolitan Archives and conducts guided walks with a London animal theme. She can be contacted via her website http://hildakean.com/

Professor Ken Jones has been Professor of Education at Goldsmiths since 2010, having previously worked in London secondary schools, at the Institute of Education, and at Keele University. As a teacher, he was secretary of the Barking & Dagenham Association of the NUT and for 8 years a member of the union’s national executive.

As an academic, the main area of his current interest is education policy, and the conflicts around it. He writes about the economic and social crisis through which Britain, and other countries in Europe, have been living since the financial crash of 2008. He analyses the education policies developed by governments in this period, and the ways in which these policies are critiqued and challenged by those who do not share current policy orthodoxies. Some of his articles are about the ideas and practices developed in the radical education of the twentieth century; others look at more recent alternatives. His two latest, edited, books are ‘Education in Europe: the politics of austerity’ (free to download at http://radicaledbks.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/education-in-europe.pdf) and, with Catherine Burke ‘Education, Childhood and Anarchism; talking Colin Ward’.

 

We hope to see you there!  If you’d like any further details, please contact me at alexandra.hall@ioe.ac.uk. 

Tagged: 11+, archives, Democratic Education, education, Gendered Education, Hilda Kean, Jane Martin, Ken Jones, LMA, London Metropolitan Archives, Michael Fielding, Teacher Strikes, women teachers

Textiles, Teachers, and Troops project launch

Textiles, teachers, and troops project launch from jdgwynn

The Digital Projects team are proud to announce the launch of Textiles, Teachers, and Troops: Greensboro, 1880-1945. The website was publicly presented last night for the first time during an event at the Greensboro Historical Museum. Speakers included Dr. Kevin Cherry, Deputy Secretary of Archives and History in the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources; Stephen Catlett; Digital Project Manager for the UNCG University Libraries; and David Gwynn, Digital Projects Coordinator at UNCG.

Textiles, Teachers, and Troops makes available more than 175,000 digital images including photographs, manuscripts, rare books, scrapbooks, printed materials, and oral histories documenting the social and cultural development of Greensboro. The project is a collaboration between UNCG, Bennett College, Greensboro College, Greensboro Historical Museum, Greensboro Public Library, Guilford College, and N.C. A&T State University, documenting the history of Greensboro from 1880-1945 through the influence of the textile industry, education, and the military.

The project was funded in part through a Library Services and Technology Act Grant administered by the State Library of North Carolina.

The project website may be seen at http://digitalgreensboro.org/.

Derby Police Journals go to Canberra

Lise Summers
Wednesday, April 9, 2014 – 12:06

A guest blog from George Main, from the National Museum of Australia.

Notes made by Constable Napier in his police journal, 1907.  (WAS 76,cons 430, 1907/1571)

Brief description from PC Napier about Aboriginal prisoners.

My name is George Main, and I work as a curator at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra. In 2011 the Museum opened a new gallery called Landmarks: People and Places around Australia. This gallery explores a broad history of Australia through stories of places and their peoples. In the ‘Grazing the Grasslands’ section, the West Kimberley town of Derby features as one of four places through which stories of Australian pastoralism are told.

The Derby exhibit contains a rich array of objects, from prize cups won by the pioneering Emanuel family for their Shorthorn cattle, to boab ‘nuts’ carved by local Aboriginal man Jack Wherra in the 1960s. Also on display are pages from police journals held by the State Records Office of WA (SROWA), generously on loan to the Museum. These documents offer fascinating insights into the tense and often bloody relationships that existed between Aboriginal groups in the West Kimberley, pastoralists and police.

When pastoralists moved into the west Kimberley region in the 1880s, they occupied the territories of the Nyikina, Warawa, Bunuba, Yungngora and other Aboriginal peoples. Aboriginal men and women resisted pastoral settlement by burning pastures and livestock, making deadly spearheads of glass and iron, and fighting police and pastoralists with guns. Settlers and colonial authorities responded with their own weapons. In a major uprising in 1894, police shot 50 Aboriginal people on west Kimberley stations.

During the decades of conflict, police arrested many Aboriginal men for killing cattle and walked them to Derby for trial. In 1909 alone, the town magistrate convicted 113 Aboriginal men for such crimes. Cattlekillers were sentenced to years of hard labour. Some served their sentences in Derby; others were sent to prisons as far away as Rottnest Island. The pages on loan from SROWA record the long journeys made by policemen as they walked Aboriginal prisoners arrested for cattle killing into Derby for trial.

To learn more about the Landmarks gallery and the Derby exhibit, click here: http://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/landmarks/about_landmarks/grazing_the_grasslands

 

Gravesite of PC Napier

The grave of policeman William Richardson, a victim of the West Kimberley conflict, Derby. Photography by George Main, National Museum of Australia.

Music For American Youth

From the January, 1941 WQXR Program Guide:

Mr. Ganz is conductor of the Young People’s Chorus of the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Society. He is a pioneer in the field of children’s concerts, having directed such concerts for the past eighteen years. The Young People’s Concerts from Town Hall, New York, January 13th and February 17th at 3:45 P.M. will be broadcast by WQXR.

There seems to be in some uninformed circles, the general impression that the musical education of American youth is being neglected. Yet nothing could be farther from the truth. At the moment America offers a unique opportunity for the presentation and appreciation of the better music. Nor is this, as many might be tempted to think, solely because a European war has put an end for the time being to cultural development abroad.

Young people’s and children’s concerts, which for the past eighteen years have flourished in the United States, bringing music of the highest type to hundreds of thousands, indeed millions of the younger generation, are a purely American institution. They were tried for a short time in Switzerland, but the project was abandoned. They were suggested, needed, desired in Paris, but given up for lack of money. Naturally all such institutions abroad are state-supported, and securing the passage of an act of Parliament solely to give children an opportunity to hear fine music seems difficult to negotiate.

I doubt very much if Americans generally realize how much they owe to women’s clubs for the cultural progress of this country. Had there been such organizations abroad I am sure that the musical education of children, particularly in the smaller countries, would have been better safeguarded. For it is the women’s clubs in many cities in the United States that have done much to stimulate interest in good music in the home, club and concert hall and so have given indirect impetus to our most successful experiments in musical education for American youth.

Traveling, as I do, all over the country, I am increasingly impressed, year by year, by the growth of musical interest among the young. Through the great number of high school orchestras and bands the instinct for self expression through music has been reawakened. Our young people are no longer content merely to hear music. They want to perform it themselves.

The wealth of good musical literature adapted to youthful presentation which has been turned out by American composers during the past few years is yet another factor in the increasing musical consciousness of our young people. The ability to write good music in easy style is not only a high form of musical art, but the mastery of this technique by American composers has had tremendous influence in teaching our young people to enjoy performing music, rather than to accept it as an arduous but necessary phase of their cultural education. So that we are now in an encouraging stage of our musical development.

Naturally, I could not write of musical education for young people without reference to children’s and young people’s concerts as an important factor in the general educational program. The late Ernest Schelling, who for so many years conducted these concerts here in New York, created standards of efficiency which should be an inspiration to directors of children’s concerts everywhere. Particularly commendable is the widespread participation of the children in preparations for the concert, such as writing the notes which are published in the program, keeping notebooks dealing with the compositions performed, etc. This actual participation in the concerts gives them far greater value than if the children were merely to come and listen to the music. Moreover such concerts are a factor greatly to be reckoned with in adult education. Many parents who thought themselves non-musical have become musical enthusiasts merely by accompanying the young people of their family.

I am not, of course, in New York all the time, and so cannot listen regularly to the musical programs given by station WQXR, but I have been studying some of its program announcements and am astounded and delighted by the wealth and variety of fine music it offers and infinitely pleased that it gives young people outside the metropolitan area an opportunity to share in the Town Hall concerts of our Young People’s Series. Certainly the owners and managers of a station which presents so much of musical worth are entitled to seats in the grande estrade in Heaven, even though theirs may be smaller chairs than those of the musical immortals. 

 

New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concert program cover from November 13, 1943 with Rudolph Ganz conducting. (Program scan courtesy of New York Philharmonic Leon Levy Digital Archives)

Parliament, Stars and ‘Suffragette’

One of my favourite things about the NUWT collection is the range of causes members were involved in throughout the first half of the twentieth century.  Obviously the issue of equal pay for women teachers was the driving force of their campaigning, but that didn’t stop them from becoming involved in a range of causes – including the interwar peace movement; the education of girls; the impact of cinema on children; the nationality of married women issue; and women’s suffrage.

If you’re interested in any of the issues that pop up in our NUWT archive or this blog, you’ll probably also be keen to see the new film, currently titled ‘Suffragette’, currently shooting in London.  While filming has primarily been taking place in East London, the film is also set to shoot in the Houses of Parliament at Westminster.  The fact that this is the first commercial film to be given filming prvileges in Parliament says a great deal about the value of sharing this very significant period in history (I cannot even imagine the bad press for Westminster if they had said no to filming scenes for ‘Suffragette’).  The film stars Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep as suffragette leader, Emmeline Pankhurst (see photos of Streep in costume as Pankhurst here).

fasdf

NUWT members laying a wreath at the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst outside the Houses of Parliament c1932.  Doc Ref: UWT/G/2/39

While we don’t necessarily need a star studded film to appreciate the women’s suffrage movement, it is nice to see it being recognised. Also, in the often male dominated film industry, it is pretty great to see such a talented female cast under the direction of Sarah Gavron.

*Also, a huge thanks to our volunteer, Jeremy, for making documents – like the photograph seen above – more accessible.  As part of our HLF project, Jeremy, who has been with us since January, spends Monday afternoons on an NUWT digitisation project.  He scans and organises the NUWT archive collection’s photographs (such as the one above) so that they are preserved and accessible for archive readers, regardless of geographical proximity to the IOE.  Thanks again, Jeremy!*

Tagged: archive, Carey Mulligan, Emmeline Pankhurst, Meryl Streep, NUWT, parliament, suffragette, Westminster

A Gorgeous Something

The success of Jen Bervin and Marta Werner’s recently published The Gorgeous Nothings suggests that this might be a good opportunity to say something about another modest yet gorgeous nothing from our collection.

While researching a minor detail of Emily Dickinson’s biography during the summer of 2012, I came across a folder that caught my eye.

ED_Coll_Bx29-F1_folder_title

When I looked at the contents, I thought, well of course that’s Dickinson’s handwriting. Why doesn’t the folder say so?
Emily_Dickinson-Amherst_Academy-List_Bx29_F1 Emily_Dickinson_AA_List_Verso

As is often the case with Dickinson-related topics, that question led me happily down rabbit holes galore. At this point, a reader might reasonably wonder whether there is any research value to a list of names. I would submit — and hope to show — that there is.

The only published mention of this list that I’m aware of is in Mabel Loomis Todd’s 1931 edition of The Letters of Emily Dickinson. In a footnote on page 23 relating to a letter from Dickinson to her friend Abiah Root(¹), Todd mentions an Amherst Academy list “in writing of this same period” (spring, 1847). Since we have the printer’s copy for Todd’s 1931 edition, I checked it and found this page (²).

Bingham_ms_for_footnote_re_AA_list_Bx21_F6

Todd seems to have regarded the list as being in Dickinson’s hand, but for some reason, and despite the fact that anything in Dickinson’s hand is of interest, no one picked up on it later and archived the list with Dickinson’s other manuscripts. Instead, it ended up with some secondary documentation, as indicated by the folder title above. Perhaps Todd herself had treated it as a tool for working with Dickinson’s letters rather than as a manuscript, and thus it remained separate from the rest of Dickinson’s writings.

Amherst Academy

Amherst Academy

As it happened, Dickinson scholar Polly Longsworth visited the Archives shortly after I first looked at the list, and I managed to lure her down the rabbit holes as well. In particular, we asked ourselves, is it in fact Dickinson’s handwriting; what’s the date of the list; what was the purpose of the list; and if it’s an Amherst Academy list, why doesn’t it include the names of certain people who were also students at the school (or were believed to be), such as Dickinson’s friends Abiah Root and Harriet Merrill?

When we had exhausted all the trails we could follow and had several folders of documentation, we were still sort of in the dark (very typical results for Dickinson-related questions, I find), but we’d had a lot of fun investigating the topic.  The upshot?  We do think it’s Dickinson’s handwriting (a list composed for her own purposes, perhaps carried around and added to over a short time); we do think it’s a list of Amherst Academy students and teachers (we checked their names in the extant catalogues), but beyond saying “late 1840s” we don’t know for certain exactly when she wrote it. But what did we learn about the names on — and not on — the list?

I won’t (I promise) go into all the details here, but in brief (my “brief,” not necessarily yours), this modest little manuscript led to a few new points about people in Dickinson’s world.  We now know, for example, that the reason Dickinson’s girlhood friend Harriet Merrill eventually ceased to write entirely was that she was dead. Clearly not a regular letter writer anyway (ED complained about her silence several times), Harriet Merrill left Amherst for Hartford in 1845 to live with relatives (her mother, Cordelia Leonard Merrill, had died in 1836)³ and probably to attend school (perhaps the Hartford Female Seminary). From Hartford, she went to Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her married sister Caroline Granger in or by 1850 (she appears on the 1850 census with her sister’s family). In 1851 Harriet married a dentist named Samuel B. Noble (an event Dickinson would’ve noted in the Hampshire-Franklin Express of May 22), and on September 9, 1853, she died (in childbirth or from consumption, if one had to guess — I’ve not yet found an obituary). Her widower then married her slightly younger sister Frances (why – was there a child?), who also died hardly a year after Harriet.(4) There is no surviving evidence to show that Dickinson knew of Harriet’s death, but it seems very likely that she heard about it through the grapevine, especially since Harriet still had family members in town. This death would have been another on her long and ever-growing list of friends and acquaintances whose deaths hit the poet hard and deepened her interest in “the flood subject.” (5)

Polly Longsworth and I understood too that in his Years and Hours of Emily Dickinson, the usually spot-on Super Detective Jay Leyda conflates two Harriet Merrills, blending information about Dickinson’s friend with information about an unmarried aunt of the same name (rumored to have been murdered by a “strolling Juggler” according to Dickinson – one wonders if she misheard or played on “gigolo,” which is what he sounds like in newspaper accounts of the trial). Thus, in Leyda’s quote from an entry in George Shepard’s diary dated September 7, 1857, in which Shepard refers to “Miss Harriet Merrill” as “pale & thin but pleasant,” Shepard actually means her aunt, although no doubt Dickinson’s friend Harriet, being quite dead, was also pale & thin but probably no longer pleasant. Likewise, the 11-year old Harriet Merrill was probably not the local fair’s “chief cook & bottle washer” (“Miss Merrill”) mentioned in 1841 by Samuel Mack. Looking at the list, then, led to a few clarifications in the records.

"Note to self," or, "The Rare Pleasure of Finding Jay Leyda in Error"

“Note to self,” or, “The Rare Pleasure of Finding Jay Leyda in Error” (Photocopy of “Years and Hours,” volume 1, page lxii)

Depending on one’s interests (or obsessions), much more work could be done using this list, such as tracking down biographical details about the people mentioned on it and even, perhaps, investigating whether there is undiscovered correspondence to or from any of them.

For me, this list illustrates how Emily Dickinson works: she provides context for another time and place. Instead of focusing in toward Dickinson, I like to look out from Dickinson. In other words, I use knowledge of Dickinson as a way to widen my sense of her world – her family, her friends, her neighborhood, her town, her state, her New England. She’s an industrious spider at the center of my web, spinning out her context wider and wider. The more I learn, the better I get at the game of Six Degrees of Emily Dickinson. It’s my preferred mode of time travel.

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

All this and footnotes too:

(1) Todd refers to a letter from Dickinson to Abiah Root dated “Sabbath Eve, 1847,” Johnson’s letter #15. Johnson notes that the original manuscript is missing — the text derives from a photostat in Mabel Loomis Todd’s possession. Todd had the original letter and returned it to Abiah Root Strong — or meant to. It may have been lost in the mail, or later separated from the group of letters given by her niece Claribel Smith to Harvard after Abiah’s death (we already know that Claribel gave away at least one piece of Abiah’s correspondence, a letter from Abby Wood to Abiah). In any case, Amherst still possesses the photostat (ED Photostats Box 2, Folder 19). Here are the images from the photostat, scanned and inverted. The hand here is a finished product, as opposed to the more jotted-looking list above.

ED-Photostat-19-Root-ltr-1847-Mar-15-clr-invrt
ED-Photostat-19-Root-ltr-1847-Mar-15-p2-invrtd
ED-Photostat-19-Root-ltr-1847-Mar-15-p3-invrt

(2) Todd has at least two errors here, namely Paulina Best — it should be Bent — and Harriet Merrill — it should be Merrick, for Harriet Hodge Merrick (ED misspells Merrick, as well as a few other names). Harriet Merrill’s name doesn’t appear in any Amherst Academy catalogues, although it’s still possible that she was in school during some of the terms for which there were no catalogues.  Harriet Merrick is in several catalogues. While I can see how it could be read as Merrill, an enlarged version of the list suggests that the name is Merrick: compare the “ck” in “Merrick” with that in “Hitchcock” below it.

ED-Amh-Acad-list-Merick-detail

(3) Dickinson wrote a deliciously snarky letter to brother Austin about Harriet’s father Calvin Merrill’s remarriage in 1851 to Fanny Dickinson-Thompson-Benjamin, saying “Mr. Merrill resides with the recent Mrs Merrill, alias Mrs. Benjamin, more alias, Mrs. Thompson — for the sake of the widowed lady for the third time a bride, I hope her buried Lords are buried very low, for if on some fine evening they should fancy to rise I fear their couple of angers might accompany them, and exercise themselves on grooms who erst were widowers, and widows who are brides.”  (AC ED 568, this transcription from Johnson’s letter 52)

(4)  In his Letters of Emily Dickinson, Thomas Johnson says that Harriet Merrill (the younger) “taught school first at Amherst Academy and later at Pittsfield.”  (Appendix 1, page 950).  Except for a reference to Harriet as a “School Marm” in Dickinson’s August 1845 letter to Abiah Root (when Harriet would be 16), I haven’t discovered where he got that information.  As mentioned in the text above, it’s possible that she was briefly a student at Amherst Academy (there is circumstantial evidence for the idea), but she seems too young to be a teacher there.  I’ve found no evidence yet for a stay in Pittsfield, but the years between 1845 and 1850 are not documented well enough to be sure about her doings.  She could also have gone quite early from Hartford to Grand Rapids to help her sister Caroline, who married Julius Granger in 1843 or 1844 and had her first child in 1844 or 1845.  Harriet’s 1851 marriage announcement  in the Hampshire-Franklin Express refers to her, then living in Grand Rapids, as “formerly of Hartford, Ct.” Harriet Noble is buried in the Fulton Street Cemetery in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

(5) For a sobering sense of how many people Dickinson knew who died of consumption alone (never mind other causes), see Al Habegger’s “Appendix 3″ in his My Wars Are Laid Away in Books.

 

A Gorgeous Something

The success of Jen Bervin and Marta Werner’s recently published The Gorgeous Nothings suggests that this might be a good opportunity to say something about another modest yet gorgeous nothing from our collection.

While researching a minor detail of Emily Dickinson’s biography during the summer of 2012, I came across a folder that caught my eye.

ED_Coll_Bx29-F1_folder_title

When I looked at the contents, I thought, well of course that’s Dickinson’s handwriting. Why doesn’t the folder say so?
Emily_Dickinson-Amherst_Academy-List_Bx29_F1 Emily_Dickinson_AA_List_Verso

As is often the case with Dickinson-related topics, that question led me happily down rabbit holes galore. At this point, a reader might reasonably wonder whether there is any research value to a list of names. I would submit — and hope to show — that there is.

The only published mention of this list that I’m aware of is in Mabel Loomis Todd’s 1931 edition of The Letters of Emily Dickinson. In a footnote on page 23 relating to a letter from Dickinson to her friend Abiah Root(¹), Todd mentions an Amherst Academy list “in writing of this same period” (spring, 1847). Since we have the printer’s copy for Todd’s 1931 edition, I checked it and found this page (²).

Bingham_ms_for_footnote_re_AA_list_Bx21_F6

Todd seems to have regarded the list as being in Dickinson’s hand, but for some reason, and despite the fact that anything in Dickinson’s hand is of interest, no one picked up on it later and archived the list with Dickinson’s other manuscripts. Instead, it ended up with some secondary documentation, as indicated by the folder title above. Perhaps Todd herself had treated it as a tool for working with Dickinson’s letters rather than as a manuscript, and thus it remained separate from the rest of Dickinson’s writings.

Amherst Academy

Amherst Academy

As it happened, Dickinson scholar Polly Longsworth visited the Archives shortly after I first looked at the list, and I managed to lure her down the rabbit holes as well. In particular, we asked ourselves, is it in fact Dickinson’s handwriting; what’s the date of the list; what was the purpose of the list; and if it’s an Amherst Academy list, why doesn’t it include the names of certain people who were also students at the school (or were believed to be), such as Dickinson’s friends Abiah Root and Harriet Merrill?

When we had exhausted all the trails we could follow and had several folders of documentation, we were still sort of in the dark (very typical results for Dickinson-related questions, I find), but we’d had a lot of fun investigating the topic.  The upshot?  We do think it’s Dickinson’s handwriting (a list composed for her own purposes, perhaps carried around and added to over a short time); we do think it’s a list of Amherst Academy students and teachers (we checked their names in the extant catalogues), but beyond saying “late 1840s” we don’t know for certain exactly when she wrote it. But what did we learn about the names on — and not on — the list?

I won’t (I promise) go into all the details here, but in brief (my “brief,” not necessarily yours), this modest little manuscript led to a few new points about people in Dickinson’s world.  We now know, for example, that the reason Dickinson’s girlhood friend Harriet Merrill eventually ceased to write entirely was that she was dead. Clearly not a regular letter writer anyway (ED complained about her silence several times), Harriet Merrill left Amherst for Hartford in 1845 to live with relatives (her mother, Cordelia Leonard Merrill, had died in 1836)³ and probably to attend school (perhaps the Hartford Female Seminary). From Hartford, she went to Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her married sister Caroline Granger in or by 1850 (she appears on the 1850 census with her sister’s family). In 1851 Harriet married a dentist named Samuel B. Noble (an event Dickinson would’ve noted in the Hampshire-Franklin Express of May 22), and on September 9, 1853, she died (in childbirth or from consumption, if one had to guess — I’ve not yet found an obituary). Her widower then married her slightly younger sister Frances (why – was there a child?), who also died hardly a year after Harriet.(4) There is no surviving evidence to show that Dickinson knew of Harriet’s death, but it seems very likely that she heard about it through the grapevine, especially since Harriet still had family members in town. This death would have been another on her long and ever-growing list of friends and acquaintances whose deaths hit the poet hard and deepened her interest in “the flood subject.” (5)

Polly Longsworth and I understood too that in his Years and Hours of Emily Dickinson, the usually spot-on Super Detective Jay Leyda conflates two Harriet Merrills, blending information about Dickinson’s friend with information about an unmarried aunt of the same name (rumored to have been murdered by a “strolling Juggler” according to Dickinson – one wonders if she misheard or played on “gigolo,” which is what he sounds like in newspaper accounts of the trial). Thus, in Leyda’s quote from an entry in George Shepard’s diary dated September 7, 1857, in which Shepard refers to “Miss Harriet Merrill” as “pale & thin but pleasant,” Shepard actually means her aunt, although no doubt Dickinson’s friend Harriet, being quite dead, was also pale & thin but probably no longer pleasant. Likewise, the 11-year old Harriet Merrill was probably not the local fair’s “chief cook & bottle washer” (“Miss Merrill”) mentioned in 1841 by Samuel Mack. Looking at the list, then, led to a few clarifications in the records.

"Note to self," or, "The Rare Pleasure of Finding Jay Leyda in Error"

“Note to self,” or, “The Rare Pleasure of Finding Jay Leyda in Error” (Photocopy of “Years and Hours,” volume 1, page lxii)

Depending on one’s interests (or obsessions), much more work could be done using this list, such as tracking down biographical details about the people mentioned on it and even, perhaps, investigating whether there is undiscovered correspondence to or from any of them.

For me, this list illustrates how Emily Dickinson works: she provides context for another time and place. Instead of focusing in toward Dickinson, I like to look out from Dickinson. In other words, I use knowledge of Dickinson as a way to widen my sense of her world – her family, her friends, her neighborhood, her town, her state, her New England. She’s an industrious spider at the center of my web, spinning out her context wider and wider. The more I learn, the better I get at the game of Six Degrees of Emily Dickinson. It’s my preferred mode of time travel.

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

All this and footnotes too:

(1) Todd refers to a letter from Dickinson to Abiah Root dated “Sabbath Eve, 1847,” Johnson’s letter #15. Johnson notes that the original manuscript is missing — the text derives from a photostat in Mabel Loomis Todd’s possession. Todd had the original letter and returned it to Abiah Root Strong — or meant to. It may have been lost in the mail, or later separated from the group of letters given by her niece Claribel Smith to Harvard after Abiah’s death (we already know that Claribel gave away at least one piece of Abiah’s correspondence, a letter from Abby Wood to Abiah). In any case, Amherst still possesses the photostat (ED Photostats Box 2, Folder 19). Here are the images from the photostat, scanned and inverted. The hand here is a finished product, as opposed to the more jotted-looking list above.

ED-Photostat-19-Root-ltr-1847-Mar-15-clr-invrt
ED-Photostat-19-Root-ltr-1847-Mar-15-p2-invrtd
ED-Photostat-19-Root-ltr-1847-Mar-15-p3-invrt

(2) Todd has at least two errors here, namely Paulina Best — it should be Bent — and Harriet Merrill — it should be Merrick, for Harriet Hodge Merrick (ED misspells Merrick, as well as a few other names). Harriet Merrill’s name doesn’t appear in any Amherst Academy catalogues, although it’s still possible that she was in school during some of the terms for which there were no catalogues.  Harriet Merrick is in several catalogues. While I can see how it could be read as Merrill, an enlarged version of the list suggests that the name is Merrick: compare the “ck” in “Merrick” with that in “Hitchcock” below it.

ED-Amh-Acad-list-Merick-detail

(3) Dickinson wrote a deliciously snarky letter to brother Austin about Harriet’s father Calvin Merrill’s remarriage in 1851 to Fanny Dickinson-Thompson-Benjamin, saying “Mr. Merrill resides with the recent Mrs Merrill, alias Mrs. Benjamin, more alias, Mrs. Thompson — for the sake of the widowed lady for the third time a bride, I hope her buried Lords are buried very low, for if on some fine evening they should fancy to rise I fear their couple of angers might accompany them, and exercise themselves on grooms who erst were widowers, and widows who are brides.”  (AC ED 568, this transcription from Johnson’s letter 52)

(4)  In his Letters of Emily Dickinson, Thomas Johnson says that Harriet Merrill (the younger) “taught school first at Amherst Academy and later at Pittsfield.”  (Appendix 1, page 950).  Except for a reference to Harriet as a “School Marm” in Dickinson’s August 1845 letter to Abiah Root (when Harriet would be 16), I haven’t discovered where he got that information.  As mentioned in the text above, it’s possible that she was briefly a student at Amherst Academy (there is circumstantial evidence for the idea), but she seems too young to be a teacher there.  I’ve found no evidence yet for a stay in Pittsfield, but the years between 1845 and 1850 are not documented well enough to be sure about her doings.  She could also have gone quite early from Hartford to Grand Rapids to help her sister Caroline, who married Julius Granger in 1843 or 1844 and had her first child in 1844 or 1845.  Harriet’s 1851 marriage announcement  in the Hampshire-Franklin Express refers to her, then living in Grand Rapids, as “formerly of Hartford, Ct.” Harriet Noble is buried in the Fulton Street Cemetery in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

(5) For a sobering sense of how many people Dickinson knew who died of consumption alone (never mind other causes), see Al Habegger’s “Appendix 3″ in his My Wars Are Laid Away in Books.

 

Why Are These Men Twisting a Fish?

Before the Fulton Fish Market moved to the Bronx in 2005, nearly 2,000 men spent their early mornings down on South Street between Fulton and Beekman at one of the oldest and busiest open air markets in the country.

The oral histories recorded for this 1962 radio spot are replete with the “things ain’t what they used to be” rhetorical flourishes of the market old timers.  But their stories also reflect what must have been an incredibly lively scene, a melting pot of haggling, fish twisting, and commerce that seems all but lost in today’s New York City.

Established in 1822, the market grew so large that by 1924, New York City fishmongers were selling 25 percent of the total seafood in the United States. But by the 1960s, Lower Manhattan began to give way to other concerns, namely the increasing real estate value of the area for both commercial and and residential use.

Improved online search: faster and with new features

We’ve updated our online search and we think you’ll like the changes in both function and design. Here are some of the main ones.

It’s much faster. The search engine is completely new and the difference in search times is noticeable.

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Results from a Simple Search can be filtered to those with digital objects only. Just hit the link.simple-search-results-digi-objects

 

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Results from a Simple Search can be narrowed using the facets in the sidebar. It provides a glance at properties of all your results. Each facet is a link to just those results.facets-dog-2

 

For power users: date searching has changed significantly. Searching by date and by date range are both different. See About Searching for details.

We’ve updated About Searching to explain the changes. We welcome feedback on everything.

What a New Cold War Could Sound Like

With the collapse of the Soviet Union 25 years ago, the Cold War was declared over. Now, the pundits, policy analysts and TV talking heads say Russia’s annexation of Crimea might be the start of a second Cold War. If that’s the case, we could be in for the kind of fiery rhetoric that characterized the first one, complete with pounding fists and flying insults.

At least it made for good radio. Indeed, the genre is rich in speeches, songs, dramas and official warnings about the atomic-crazed, godless, mind-controlling, and otherwise communistic threats to the American way of life posed by the “evil empire.” And, on the other side, Western leaders who were no better than “Capitalist running dogs that prey on the hearts and minds of the people.”

With the Putin-Obama game of chicken growing ever more tense, we dug into our archives in search of the most memorable aural moments from the first round. Pour yourself a Cold War Cocktail and have a listen.

 

Iron Curtain Speech: On receiving an honorary degree from Westminister College in Fulton, Missouri,on  March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill delivered his famous speech marking the beginning of the Cold War, citing Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe and the outbreak of Communist insurrections all over the world. Here is an excerpt:

“Subversive Activities“: In this radio drama from the “This Is Our Duty” series sponsored by the American Legion and designed to develop “100% Americanism,” an idealistic young man is politically seduced by a Communist front group organizer. The program was introduced with the theme that “in America today, subversive elements thrive and prosper as never before.”

Attack Warning: This 1950s attack warning was produced for the radio by the Federal Government and civil defense authorities.

Excerpt from President Eisenhower’s address to the American Legion, August 25, 1952: 

Excerpt from Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater’s speech before the Young Americans for Freedom rally, Madison Square Garden, March 7, 1962:

The So-Called Shoe-Banging Speech: At a United Nations General Assembly speech on October 12, 1962, the Soviet premiere banged the podium with his fist and, allegedly, his shoe: 

For more cold war civil defense programming heard over WNYC see the series Plan For Survival.


A 1953 cold war senario. Flickr User James Vaughan

Creating The Best Commencement Speech Ever

Commencement Season is fast approaching and I am honored to have been selected to deliver the address at North Carolina State University in May.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember who my commencement speaker was or what he or she had to say!

During my years at MIT and Duke, Commencement was always a special day for me.  It put into perspective all of the work during the previous year to ensure that students and faculty had the information resources and support they needed in their coursework and research—a morning to celebrate the launch of another class of educated men and women.

So, I am taking this assignment seriously.  I will certainly be taking FDR’s advice to heart—“Be sincere, be brief, be seated.”

But I need your help.  What advice would you give this graduating class?  What special message would you deliver to undergraduates?  Graduate students? Parents and other family members? Faculty and staff of the university?  Send me your ideas!

 

FDR delivers fireside chat

Franklin D. Roosevelt having a fireside chat in Washington, DC, 04/28/1935. National Archives Identifier 196760[ Read all ]

The Place of Radio in Musical Education

From the April, 1941 WQXR Program Guide:

Mr. Hutcheson is President of the Juilliard School of Music in New York. In addition to being a great pianist and teacher, he is the author of numerous books on music, including the recently published “A Musical Guide to Richard Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung.”

There are many different individual approaches and responses to radio. As head of the Juilliard School of Music I am naturally especially interested in the effect of broadcasts of serious music on students and teachers of music.

At the Juilliard School we have regular listening hours for the students, and often the room, seating about two hundred people, will be two-thirds full. The students bring their scores of symphonies, concertos, or operas, and follow them with intense absorption during the broadcasts. This opportunity to accompany the actual hearing of a score by visual study of it is a real service, for in a darkened opera house or concert hall it is impossible to use a score. 

Of course, many of our students and teachers besides those attending the regular listening hours take advantage of the radio performances in the same way. Any teacher owning a good radio set is importuned by friends and pupils with requests for permission to come and listen to special programs.

I may be pardoned for believing that what happens in the Juilliard School of Music is typical of what ought to happen in every school of music and in every college and university in this country. Fortunately, I have an imposing mass of evidence that this is actually the case, and recently, to my pleasure, I have had repeated occasion to recommend the installation of listening classes for such programs as those offered by WQXR.

There is another way in which radio makes possible the study of music under very desirable conditions. This is the broadcasting of recordings of great symphonies, concertos, etc., played by leading orchestras and artists. Music students are seldom rich, and few can afford to own a library of records. A student who has been assigned a concerto for study often has an ardent desire to hear a performance of it from an authoritative artist. He may have to wait years for such a chance, especially if he does not live in a great music center. And even if he lives in New York City, the price of a ticket may provide a difficult problem. In such broadcasts as these, Station WQXR has been a leader of insight and courage, and fully deserves the praise which is accorded to it daily by musicians of all types.

Let me pass now from the student to the professional aspect of radio as it affects our school. Many of our advanced students and graduates, particularly in our Graduate School, earn their living as radio artists, several having achieved a nationwide reputation. Radio is, therefore, obviously an important and constantly widening outlet for every kind of musical talent. Broadcasting orchestras, sustaining programs for singers and instrumentalists, chamber music, solo appearances with orchestra, incidental music for drama, program-making, accompanying, composing, arranging, conducting, all this work calls not only for trained musicians but also for musicians trained in specialized radio technique. Hence, schools throughout the country in increasing numbers are offering courses and installing departments in script-writing, program-making, announcing, engineering and other aspects of broadcasting.

At the Juilliard School of Music we have so far concentrated on two particular angles of radio, the actual technique and the engineering problems, though we realize that there are others which may be profitably studied. The interest in these courses is keen, particularly among the singers, and the advantage to the student who has a radio appearance to fulfill or an audition to undergo of being able to rehearse in a well-equipped studio is obvious.

It is probable that radio has interfered to some extent with attendance at certain musical events.  Naturally it is easier and cheaper to “tune in” from one’s armchair at home than to make the effort and incur the expense of going to Carnegie Hall for a Sunday afternoon concert of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. But radio has made more than ample amends for this in the carrying of serious music to every hamlet and farmhouse in the country. Radio is the greatest disseminator of music we have and, therefore, must be regarded as a social institution of wide and powerful influence. It is within its power  to guide and uplift public taste and become far more than a mere expression of popular preference in entertainment. Its broadcast purpose is served when it takes its place as the enlightened leader, the molder of the best in social thought and culture. I share the conviction of many musicians and music lovers that WQXR is serving this purpose and taking this place, and in so doing, it establishes the strongest ties with schools of music which have similar aims. We, too, must train leaders of culture, capable of maintaining a national morale which will withstand the strains and shocks of cynical thought and will endure in a brighter and more humane future.

The Institute of Musical Art (the three-story building at the near corner) and the Juilliard Graduate School (far corner) at Claremont Ave., circa 1950. (Photo by Alton Taube and courtesy of The Juilliard School

Smaller photo above: Juilliard students Christopher von Beayer and Bette Wishengrade at 130 Claremont Avenue and courtesy of The Julliard School.

History Reporters Workshop: the interwar peace movement

With the 2014 First World War Centenary, heritage organisations around the world are delivering exhibitions, programmes and lectures, recognising the 100 years since the outbreak of war.  As the IOE’s archives are predominantly twentieth century, many collections reflect the impact of war on education, children and teachers in the UK and Europe.

The National Union of Women Teachers (NUWT) collection spans 1904 to the early 1960s, with documents reflecting both World Wars, pre & post war England, and the interwar period. It’s within that interwar period that the NUWT collection holds a wealth of material relating to the peace movements which emerged in the wake of the First World War.

Back in January, we delivered workshops on this interwar peace movement to Year 6 classes in Islington. The pupils previously learned about the World Wars, life in Britain in the 1930s, and had recently discussed bias in the news and other sources.  Their teachers were also keen for students to hone their skills of historiography and accurate research. So, we combined archives and the peace movement, with the skills and responsibilities of both historians and reporters, for a few Friday afternoon workshops.

Here is a sampling of what we got up to…

UWT/D/18/38

A pamphlet, created by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), addresses the potential dangers of Air Raid Precautions.  c1930.  Document Reference: UWT/D/18/38

When students first saw the cover of the above Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) pamphlet for Educators and Mothers, a few pupils commented on how funny the children looked with their gas masks on.  Students then read the following passage from the booklet…

… in every factory, office and school were people are together, they must be trained to expect war…What are we doing to the minds of a whole generation of children if we surround them with these ever-present… proofs of our expectation of war?

Students were amazing at distinguishing different biases… they acknowledged that WILPF wasn’t a 100% impartial source (citing how irresponsible it would be to not be at all prepared for a future war… as one student commented, ‘peace is great – but we can’t just always hope it’ll all be okay!’), while still being critical of government air raid precautions (‘Is a gas mask REALLY gonna save you if your home is bombed?!‘ questioned one student).

reeeead

A student takes a read through WILPF’s pamphlet.

After investigating the document, some had a new perspective on the cover image.  One pupil commented, ‘those kids don’t even look like kids…’

We then looked at the peace movement through a specific event – a disarmament demonstration at Royal Albert Hall on 11 July 1931. Students explored the organisations involved in the peace movement, including the NUWT, The League of Nations and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF); debated the reliability of sources and potential biases; and did primary source investigations with leaflets, postcards, memos, letters and petitions.

Document Reference UWT/D/20/85

WILPF Leaflet, Document Reference UWT/D/20/85

ffff

Year 6 students work in groups to complete a Primary Source Investigation, analysing a document from the archives.  Here, students investigate a letter addressed to the NUWT, from the League of Nations, asking for their support in educating the public in the peace cause.

Finally, the Year 6s put on their reporter hats and were asked to imagine it’s July, 1931… as junior reporters for The Guardian, their Editor-in-Chief handed them an assignment: write an article to inform readers about an upcoming disarmament demonstration taking place on July 11th.  In groups, they got to work investigating their documents for the who, what, where, when, why and how, and then shared their findings with the class.

When I asked students what they know about the World Wars, hands immediately shot in the air.  The Year 6s had thorough prior knowledge: they knew the causes, trench warfare, munitions production, Winston Churchill, Hitler, the Holocaust. Their responses also reinforced how history curriculum (and history in general) favours the grand narratives of the past: the major events, battles and historical figures. While these histories certainly have their place, there’s something to be said for investigating multiple perspectives – and experiences – when it comes to the past.  Throughout the History Reporters workshops, students were still indirectly learning about the world wars and political and social climate of the time, but were doing so through a perspective of a group of individuals – in this case, predominantly women – whose stories and experiences are perhaps less often shared.

A big thank you to teachers, Anna and Bea, and the Year 6s, for having us into your classrooms (on Friday afternoons, nonetheless)!

~~~~~~~~~~~

Teachers: below you will find an interdisclipinary lesson plan based on the History Reporters workshop.  The resource pack includes National Curriculum core standards; lesson details; archive documents and worksheets.
History Reporters Lesson Plan Key Stage 2-3

Students take a hands-on approach to source-based historical research as they investigate the interwar peace movement.  Topics include bias; how to decide whether a source is reliable or not; and recognising the similarities between the responsibilities of a historian and news reporter.  Students take on the role of journalists as they investigate archives as research for a newspaper article.

Tagged: archives, bias, interwar, league of nations, lesson plan, NUWT, peace movement, women’s international league, world war

Recovering ‘The First War Poet’: new Ivor Gurney documentary

Exeter’s Professor Tim Kendall is presenting a new documentary airing on BBC4 this week focusing on the life and work of WWI poet and composer Ivor Gurney. Professor Kendall and Philip Lancaster have been working with the Gurney archive to bring his writing– both poetic and musical — to greater public attention.
The documentary sheds vital new light on a forgotten figure who considered himself to be the ‘first war poet’, overlooked in the history of war writing before now.

Gloucestershire born Gurney studied at the Royal College of Music, fought at the front and suffered mental health problems across his life — leading to his incarceration in an asylum for 15 years, where he continued to write and compose. Having survived a bullet wound to the shoulder, gas and shell shock, Gurney was committed to the Dartford asylum in 1922, and died of tuberculosis in 1937 at the age of 47, leaving a substantial body of unpublished and unperformed work.

For full details, see the BBC webpages.

Oddments from the Objects Collection

Our objects collection houses many of the things you might expect: reunion badges, fraternity pins, endless college mugs and tshirts… but it also contains a wide variety of surprises.
Here are a few for your enjoyment:
(click on the images for more information)

Turkish girl's shoes
Turkish girl's shoes
Turkish girl's shoes
Turkish girl's shoes
Turkish girl's shoes
Turkish girl's shoes
Bracelets from Turkish girl's costume

These tiny shoes and bracelets are part of a complete Turkish young girl’s outfit belonging to Laura Bliss, daughter of Edwin Bliss (Class of 1837) who was a missionary to Turkey from 1843 until 1852. Laura was born in 1846 and was six years old when her family left Turkey. She received this costume as a gift sometime before then. What you can’t tell from the images is how very small the shoes are – they range in length from 6 to 7.5 inches – they would likely fit a preschooler.

Druggist case and medicine vials
Druggist case and medicine vials
Druggist case and medicine vials
Druggist case and medicine vials

This pocket size wallet used to belong to one Dr. W. E. Brown, Druggist, of Gilbertville, Mass. The tiny vials inside contain all manner of antiquated pharmaceuticals – opium, bismuth, morphine, ipecac, ergot and digitalis among others.

1908 Class pipe
Pipe of Arthur Foster, Class of 1903
Pipe of Arthur Foster, Class of 1903
Clay pipe
"Pipe of peace for Class of 1851"
"E. Douglass"
Corn cob pipe
Corn cob pipe

You may be aware of Amherst’s class cane tradition (and we have a generous selection of canes in the object collection), but have you heard about class pipes? We have a quite a few pipes with Amherst class years proudly emblazoned on them and a variety of others too, including the intriguing “Pipe of peace for the class of 1851″.

Glasses with blue lenses
Sunglasses with case
Glasses with case
Glasses
Opera glasses and case belonging to Clyde Fitch, Class of 1886

Also, eyeglasses and sunglasses, all wildly uncomfortable and fragile looking, and Clyde Fitch’s opera glasses (he was class of 1886 and a famous playwright).

drafting tool
Drafting tool
Compass
drafting tool
Bottle of dried india ink
Drafting tool
Drafting tool
Miniature steam engine
Set of weights
Set of weights
Postal scale previously used in the President's office
Postal scale previously used in the President's office
Alimentiveness, phrenology bust
Phrenology bust
Drawing tool
Drawing tool, under side
Drawing tool

A wide variety of scientific and quasi-scientific tools, including the ever-popular phrenology bust, Professor Ebenezer Snell’s drafting tools, Professor B. K. Emerson’s set of weights and a miniature steam engine given to President Marx.

Football player doll, ca. 1920s
OK society hair bracelet
Initials inscribed on OK society hair bracelet
Amherst College Fire Brigade helmet shields
Amherst College Fire Brigade helmet shields

Let’s not forget the football player doll, OK Society hair bracelet  and Amherst College Fire Brigade helmet shields!

And last, but not at all least, a some fantastic Earl and Countess headgear from the Amherst Family:

Earl Amherst coronet
Dutchess Amherst coronet
Dutchess Amherst coronet
Hat of Earl Amherst

Oddments from the Objects Collection

Our objects collection houses many of the things you might expect: reunion badges, fraternity pins, endless college mugs and tshirts… but it also contains a wide variety of surprises.
Here are a few for your enjoyment:
(click on the images for more information)

Turkish girl's shoes
Turkish girl's shoes
Turkish girl's shoes
Turkish girl's shoes
Turkish girl's shoes
Turkish girl's shoes
Bracelets from Turkish girl's costume

These tiny shoes and bracelets are part of a complete Turkish young girl’s outfit belonging to Laura Bliss, daughter of Edwin Bliss (Class of 1837) who was a missionary to Turkey from 1843 until 1852. Laura was born in 1846 and was six years old when her family left Turkey. She received this costume as a gift sometime before then. What you can’t tell from the images is how very small the shoes are – they range in length from 6 to 7.5 inches – they would likely fit a preschooler.

Druggist case and medicine vials
Druggist case and medicine vials
Druggist case and medicine vials
Druggist case and medicine vials

This pocket size wallet used to belong to one Dr. W. E. Brown, Druggist, of Gilbertville, Mass. The tiny vials inside contain all manner of antiquated pharmaceuticals – opium, bismuth, morphine, ipecac, ergot and digitalis among others.

1908 Class pipe
Pipe of Arthur Foster, Class of 1903
Pipe of Arthur Foster, Class of 1903
Clay pipe
"Pipe of peace for Class of 1851"
"E. Douglass"
Corn cob pipe
Corn cob pipe

You may be aware of Amherst’s class cane tradition (and we have a generous selection of canes in the object collection), but have you heard about class pipes? We have a quite a few pipes with Amherst class years proudly emblazoned on them and a variety of others too, including the intriguing “Pipe of peace for the class of 1851″.

Glasses with blue lenses
Sunglasses with case
Glasses with case
Glasses
Opera glasses and case belonging to Clyde Fitch, Class of 1886

Also, eyeglasses and sunglasses, all wildly uncomfortable and fragile looking, and Clyde Fitch’s opera glasses (he was class of 1886 and a famous playwright).

drafting tool
Drafting tool
Compass
drafting tool
Bottle of dried india ink
Drafting tool
Drafting tool
Miniature steam engine
Set of weights
Set of weights
Postal scale previously used in the President's office
Postal scale previously used in the President's office
Alimentiveness, phrenology bust
Phrenology bust
Drawing tool
Drawing tool, under side
Drawing tool

A wide variety of scientific and quasi-scientific tools, including the ever-popular phrenology bust, Professor Ebenezer Snell’s drafting tools, Professor B. K. Emerson’s set of weights and a miniature steam engine given to President Marx.

Football player doll, ca. 1920s
OK society hair bracelet
Initials inscribed on OK society hair bracelet
Amherst College Fire Brigade helmet shields
Amherst College Fire Brigade helmet shields

Let’s not forget the football player doll, OK Society hair bracelet  and Amherst College Fire Brigade helmet shields!

And last, but not at all least, a some fantastic Earl and Countess headgear from the Amherst Family:

Earl Amherst coronet
Dutchess Amherst coronet
Dutchess Amherst coronet
Hat of Earl Amherst

What We Heard and Learned during Sunshine Week

The members and staff of the Public Interest Declassification Board attended and participated in many events last week to commemorate Sunshine Week. We thank the public and representatives from civil society and open government advocacy groups, Government agencies, the Congress and all attendees who participated in Sunshine Week activities. The Board wishes to thank the Washington College of Law’s Collaboration on Government Secrecy for hosting its Seventh Annual Freedom of Information Day Celebration at the American University. Board Member Ken Wainstein participated in a panel addressing current national security classification developments, as did John Fitzpatrick, the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office and Executive Secretary of the Board. In case you missed it, you can view the forum here. The large number of participants at this event and at other events reinforces our belief that citizens are interested in actively engaging with Government. Sunshine Week highlights citizen interest in participating in policy discussions and in holding Government accountable for its decisions. We will continue to advocate for national security classification and declassification reform and advocate for policies to improve Government transparency. We heard of the need for appropriate and effective oversight of our Government’s activities, particularly those involving the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the monitoring of intelligence activities by the Congress. At the American University, panelists discussed the implications of FOIA-related legislation, as well as observations and recommendations regarding the policies surrounding the Government’s use of surveillance activity. Ken Wainstein and John Fitzpatrick discussed the challenges of over-classification, recent Government efforts to reduce the scope of classification, and noted the difficulty in changing a long-standing culture of secrecy ingrained in system users.

Robert S. Litt, General Counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, provided a lunchtime address that largely reinforced many of the recommendations we seek in our Transforming the Security Classification System report. Mr. Litt affirmed the Director of National Intelligence’s (DNI) commitment to improving the transparency of the Intelligence Community. He acknowledged the need for the all intelligence agencies to reassess their view on secrecy and strike a better balance between transparency and secrecy so the American people have a clearer understanding of how the work of these agencies keep us safe. He noted the need for sufficient transparency for informed debate and a discussion on the limits of intelligence policies and practices. Most importantly though, Mr. Litt discussed the causes and prevalence of over-classification, noting that in his view, FOIA case officers should ask not only if they can classify and redact information, but whether or not they should when conducting reviews. Although a risk adverse culture persists, Mr. Litt iterated the leadership commitment of the DNI and of senior leaders at intelligence agencies to change this culture to one more open and transparent.

The issue of cultural change discussed during Sunshine Week reinforces the importance of the work of the President’s Security Classification Reform Committee (SCRC). We are pleased that the President adopted our primary recommendation and established this committee. We are also pleased that the President included several of our recommendations as specific action items in his Second National Action Plan for Open Government. As the SCRC begins its work, we will continue to advocate for our recommendations and believe, if adopted, they will improve our nation’s security and improve Government transparency. We look forward to seeing the results of the SCRC and having the Government act on our recommendations.

At the conclusion of Sunshine Week, we reaffirm our commitment to more an open and transparent government. We invite you to continue the discussion about open government and freedom of information by commenting on our recommendations on our blog.

The World According to Grierson

As part of 2014’s Glasgow Film Festival, Documenting Grierson, a film by Laurence Henson, was screened, allowing the audience an all too brief encounter with the ‘father of documentary’ John Grierson. Henson’s film highlights the importance and influence of Grierson’s philosophies and ideologies regarding cinema, social welfare and education during the interwar years in Britain.

John Grierson

John Grierson (ref. Grierson Archive, P 151)

In an excerpt from Henson’s film, Grierson talks passionately about the purpose of documentary as being, “A chance to say something, a chance to teach something, a chance to reveal something, a chance, possibly to inspire, certainly always an opportunity for influence of one kind or another.” Grierson wrote a lengthy manifesto outlining the principles of documentary, discussing the ethical issues and function of filmmaking (ref. Grierson Archive, G2.15.2). Today the artistic and pedagogical significance of documentary filmmaking continues, with The Grierson Trust awarding accolades each year to the most inspiring films. Academically, documentary techniques are rigorously theorised, crucially analysing the distinction between the ‘real’ or non-fiction aspect and the fictitious or ‘wish-fulfillment’ style, as pioneering documentary theorist Bill Nichols suggests.

Opening paragraph from one of Grierson's influential lectures (ref. Grierson Archive G2.16.3)

Opening paragraph from one of Grierson’s influential lectures (ref. Grierson Archive, G2.16.3)

Early on in his career John Grierson decided that producing films would be more advantageous to the cause, especially when negotiating for government funding. He employed like-minded people to execute technical duties such as, camera work and editing. The core production crew consisted of, Harry Watt, Edgar Anstey, Basil Wright and Stuart Legg, a mix of aspiring young filmmakers. Grierson’s tenacity and ability to get things done changed the way we viewed the world and through the Empire Marketing Board film unit, headed by chief commissioner Stephen Tallents, society was presented with information, education and choice – a testament to the power of cinema (ref. Grierson Archive, G4.31.3).

The Documentary Boys (ref. Grierson Archive GAA 13.3)

The Documentary Boys (ref. Grierson Archive, GAA 13.3)

Grierson encouraged others with his documentary making views through lectures and publications, sometimes subversively, but always expressing an over-arching importance. He is quoted in The Daily Herald (1935) saying, “I wish the B.B.C., instead of sterilizing its speeches in the cabins of Broadcasting House, would take its microphones out to the people” (ref. Grierson Archive, G3.14.1). A method that Arthur Elton and Edgar Anstey incorporated in their film Housing Problems (1935) – an idea attributed to John’s sister Ruby Grierson, also a filmmaker.

Grierson dealt his contemporaries with equal amounts of contempt and praise. In an article in Cinema Quarterly (1932), he pitted other disciplines against the prestige of documentary – “newsreel is just a speedy snip-snap of some utterly unimportant ceremony”, continuing to say, “[they] avoid…the consideration of any solid material” (ref. Grierson Archive, G2.15.2). However acerbic Grierson’s humor might have sounded, the importance of documentary and for those involved was paramount.

Still from Housing Problems (1935). (Ref. Grierson Photo 41)

Still from Housing Problems (1935) (ref. Grierson P 41)

The British Documentary Movement went into decline after the Second World War and as a consequence of those who had experienced ‘real’ war, the documentary style became more about technique than content. As the political restructuring of Britain began, Grierson’s production unit splintered and with the introduction of television to the mass audience in 1953, produced a new style of documentary. Grierson et al welcomed this shift and went on to produce a variety of documentaries for the new medium.

(Susannah Ramsay, M. Litt. in Film Studies)

Being Bold!

Ocean Survey Vessel Bold

From Photographs Taken Aboard the Ocean Survey Vessel (OSV) Bold, National Archives Identifier 5998403

Over the past eighteen months, the staff and I at the National Archives have been working diligently to develop our next Strategic Plan. Many meetings, long conversations, Town Halls, thoughtful emails, and loads of feedback from staff and stakeholders have gone into the refinement of the strategy that will be the roadmap for our Agency through 2018. Along the way, I have encouraged staff to stretch their vision and to be bold.

Our Plan has four goals:

Make Access Happen: Increasingly this means digital, online access.

Connect with Customers: Wherever they are, however they want it.

Maximize NARA’s Value to the Nation: Through the use and reuse of our digital content.

Build Our Future through Our People: The most important goal of all.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be blogging on each of the goals to let you in on some of the ideas behind each of them. In the meantime, take a look at our new Strategic Plan.… [ Read all ]

The Classics on Broadway

From the October, 1944 WQXR Program Guide:

The success which has attended the presentation on Broadway of new forms of music of great composers such as Bizet, Johann Strauss and Grieg has aroused a certain amount of resentment among music purists. As one of them remarked about Carmen Jones: “The orchestration of Bizet’s music was expert and adequate, but I still prefer my Bizet straight, if you don’t mind.”

This led us to go to the sources and ask first hand from one of the successful adapters of the music of great composers what he had in mind and how he handled the score which he transformed. Mr. Robert Russell Bennett prepared the score for Carmen Jones. He is famous both as a composer and as an orchestrator. While much of his work has been with so-called “popular music,” he is equally distinguished in classical music.

When we reported to him that he had been charged with changing the score of Bizet’s Carmen he replied emphatically the entire score of Carmen Jones is played from the original photostat copy of Bizet’s own orchestration. “Although I was not in any sense of the word, a transcriber of Bizet’s music in the score of Carmen Jones,” he said, “the charge that I had tampered with it sent me back to re-examine my treatment of the wonderful music. Bar by bar, I had tried to find where I had inadvertently might have altered Bizet’s colors of his orchestral intentions. After and honest search, I am unable to accuse myself of any infidelity to his brilliant and highly dramatic instrumentation. 

“The only changes I made, and which I am led to suppose were the basis of the purists’ criticism, had but one purpose: to enhance the musical effect in relation to the libretto, the scenery, the lights, the number of people on the stage, and to all the other elements which create the total effect of opera.

“The recitative passages were eliminated. But that isn’t as great a liberty as may be supposed. Carmen was originally written with spoken dialogue scenes between the arias that were sung. The work was not converted to a ‘grand opera’ till after Bizet’s death. The music set to dialogue is not his music, but that of Ernest Guiraud. Next, the Gypsy Dance of Scene Three was turned into a drum dance, which enabled us to feature Cosy Cole’s magnificent drumming on the stage. In this intense, using all the devices at my command , I tried faithfully to retain every effect of Bizet’s original sound, amplifying and high-pointing all such passages as would have been simply submerged by the excitement of drums and dancers on the stage without some further instrumental strength in the orchestra. In the original, at the end of the last act, the trumpets, trombones and percussion players are sent on the stage to make a brass band in the bull fight arena. The difference in staging Carmen Jones made it possible to leave the full brass choir in the pit, thereby improving the orchestral unity and sonority immensely.”

We asked Mr. Bennett how old the practice was of altering and transcribing music by great composers.

“The custom is so old that it would be hard to trace its origin,” he replied. “Johann Sebastian Bach himself was a prolific transcriber of his own and others works. He cut, changed and altered at will, and often made the original sources quite unrecognizable. Add to this the fact that when he lived, the art of music was largely improvisatory, and you knock out the purists’ last prop. Yet, today, even the most reverential subscriber of Bach’s music automatically courts adverse critical opinion. The Don’t-Touch-Bach boys even object to some of Stokowski’s orchestral arrangements of Bach’s fugues and chorales. Incidentally, the score of the opera Boris Godunoff, by Mussorgsky, was substantially changed and rewritten by his friend Rimsky-Korsakoff, and more recently by Shostakovich.

“I need hardly remind you that, in other fields, Mr. William Shakespeare was accused of having done little more than rewrite plays which some of his contemporaries or predecessors had attempted to produce.”

“is it true,” we asked Mr. Bennett, “that Carmen Jones has been performed more often than Bizet’s original opera of Carmen?”

“Certainly that is true here in New York,” he replied. “One can argue all night as to whether this is good or bad. But theater is theater, and music is music, and twain at least attempt to meet , sometimes rather curiously dressed in the effort to create an intelligible art-form in which drama and music are both understandable.

“As a matter of fact, that is one of the services which a serious transcriber renders. He is able to make a masterpiece more valuable by setting it beautifully for another medium than the one for which it was written. When this is well done, it is an important function in popularizing good music. I don’t mean to suggest that it is necessary to renovate or modernize the presentation of all classical music, but I do maintain that good adaptations successfully carried out so as to have a wide popular appeal have an important part in the development of musical appreciation in this country.”

                                                                                    Handbill for the December, 1943 Broadway production of “CARMEN JONES” at the Broadway Theatre where it ran for 502 performances. (WQXR Archive Collections)