On Wed., April 19th at 4:30pm in Dana Auditorium, Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives will host the first Addison County screening of the documentary film “The State of Marriage.” The film draws on archival footage and more recent interviews to tell the gripping story of the remarkable men and women who pioneered the national marriage equality movement through their groundbreaking efforts in Vermont. The work of Susan Murray and Beth Robinson, then attorneys in Middlebury, is featured as they work through the legal system and create a grassroots movement, all the while facing stiff opposition to the idea of gays and lesbians marrying legally.
There will be a question and answer segment following the film with the filmmakers Jeff Kaufman and Marcia Ross of Floating World Pictures, and key participants in the Vermont Supreme Court case, Baker v. State, including attorney Susan Murray and plaintiffs Lois Farnham and Holly Putterbaugh. The event is cosponsored by Chellis House – Women’s Resource Center, the Film & Media Culture and Political Science Departments, and Middlebury College Queers & Allies. In 2015, Middlebury’s Special Collections & Archives became the official repository for the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force’s archives. This nonprofit task force, formed in 1996, was instrumental in passing both Vermont’s landmark civil unions law in 2000 and subsequent same-sex marriage law, which took effect in 2009.
The Huffington Post wrote that “The State of Marriage” is, “Gripping. Audiences will cheer” and the Hollywood Reporter described it as, “Indispensable. A suspenseful nail-biter right up to the feel good ending.” Free and open to the public. Popcorn will be served!
To mark World AIDS Day we’re sharing this film clip from the 1976 promotional film Middlebury College, a Chance to Grow which profiled Political Science major and student activist Mario Cooper. After graduating in 1977, Cooper went on to earn a law degree and became a key figure in HIV/AIDS advocacy after becoming HIV positive and witnessing the disproportionate effects of the disease in the African American community.
Though it may have once seemed like an unassuming profile of a passionate student, the clip can now be appreciated as an early view into the work of a determined activist who would later become a prominent figure in civil rights and AIDS advocacy movements. The footage and narration also poignantly show Cooper enjoying college life and friendships in a time before the AIDS epidemic changed his life and that of those around him.
Who would guess that an artist born and bred on a Vermont farm would create some of the most iconic postcards of New York City? Rachael Robinson Elmer’s ground-breaking “Art-Lovers New York” postcard series is currently on exhibit at the Middlebury College Davis Family Library, on the upper level, through April 17th, 2015. The exhibition, on loan from Rokeby Museum and sponsored by Middlebury College Special Collections and Archives, presents all twelve cards, as well as biographical information, historical context, and the three postcards of London that originally inspired Rachael.
Rachael Robinson Elmer changed the aesthetic of American postcards. She pioneered the fine art city view card when her Impressionist paintings of popular scenes in her beloved New York City were produced as postcards by P. F. Volland in 1914. Her “Art Lover’s New York” cards were immediately copied by dozens of artists in New York and elsewhere.
Rachael Robinson Elmer was born at Rokeby to artist parents Rowland Evans and Anna Stevens Robinson in 1878. Her art education began before she had even started school and continued with a young people’s summer art program in New York City and later, at the Art Students League. She moved to New York as a young woman and commenced a successful career as a graphic artist. Rachael married businessman Robert Elmer in 1911 and died prematurely in February 1919 in the Spanish flu epidemic.
The Middlebury College Special Collections and Archives holds the extensive historical correspondence collection of the Robinson Family on long-term loan from Rokeby Museum. The books of Rachael’s father, Rowland E. Robinson, are part of the Abernethy Collection of American Literature and the Flander’s Ballad Collection. See our previous blog post, Reading Rowland Out Loud, for more on that.
Recently Paul Sommers, Paige-Wright Professor of Economics, stopped by the archives with an unusual item: he had purchased a “melody card” online, a paper phonograph record first manufactured in the 1930s, most notably on cereal boxes or as inserts in magazines.
Baseball Hall of Fame “record” post card.
His postcard reads: Play this record on the PHONOGRAPH, 78rpm speed manual. Prof. Sommers doesn’t have a record player that plays 78s, so he got in touch with the Giamatti Research Center of the Baseball Hall of Fame to see what was recorded on the card. That’s when the story gets interesting. They couldn’t tell him because they don’t hold a copy of the card in their vast collection of baseball memorabilia.
So, Prof. Sommers turned to Special Collections. Armed with a 78 rpm turntable and some audio software, we were able to play his postcard (click on the audio strip below to hear for yourself) :
Every now and then somebody throws us a curveball and we’re thrilled when we hit it out of the park. (Aren’t you glad we resisted the temptation to pepper this post with baseball lingo until the very end?) Play ball!
Middlebury College Library and Information Services does many things to preserve our collections. For instance, we regularly backup up computer file servers, bind heavily used paperback books in the circulating collections, perform conservation treatments on rare books in Special Collections, and digitize photos and films in the College Archives. Plus we spend a lot of time doing one of the most important things– getting and keeping things organized!
And we love this short video, Why do Old Books Smell? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUaInTfrDnA It reminds us that one of the most important things we can do is provide a good climate for our collections to slow the rate of organic decay.
President Harry Truman once said “The only thing new in the world is the history you do not know.” Because the site around Twilight Hall and the Middlebury Municipal Building has recently been a topic of community conversation, we thought people might be interested in these photos from the Middlebury College Archives. For more information on the history of the site and adjacent buildings, see pages 11 and 12 of A Walking History of Middlebury.
Click on the photos to enlarge them and see more detail.
View of Middlebury from Old Chapel in 1867. Notice the building site of the Academy (now Twilight Hall) that replaced the previous wooden structure.
Academy Building in 1893, seen from the east end of the park between College St. and Main St.
Graded School in 1900 seen from College St. just east of Weybridge St.
The Graded School in 1900 seen from the corner of Main St. and Cross St.