Tag Archives: Special Collections

Graduation Traditions: Pipe Smoking

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Two graduates eagerly take part in Middlebury’s bygone pipe smoking tradition

Just as coming across full page ads for Chesterfield cigarettes used to be part and parcel of reading the latest edition of The Campus, pipe smoking was once a traditional part of Middlebury’s graduation festivities. Dating back to at least the 1920s during the “Class Day” activities that preceded commencement, graduates would gather outside to take puffs on long white pipes (sometimes lit by proud parents) before heading off to the alumni barbecue.

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Pipe-smoking graduates in 1942

This compilation of 16mm film footage from the College Archives captures the pipe smoking tradition from the late 1920s to mid-40s. Although even those graduates who coughed through the smoke appear to have had a swell time, the annual tradition eventually ended in what we can only assume was the interest of public health.

 

 

Mead Chapel Centenary: Then & Now Pt. II

In celebration of the 100 year anniversary of the completion of Mead Chapel and Hepburn Hall, Special Collections presents a series of posts featuring interactive before-and-after imagery of these Middlebury icons.

Below is an interactive slider with images of Mead from the archives (tap or drag the bar to the right and left to slide between images). The before image was taken in 1942 while the after image shows the chapel and the surrounding (or should we say obscuring) landscape as it looks today.

 

A new 48-rank chamber organ was installed in Mead Chapel in 1970 after the condition of the original had deteriorated beyond repair. Music director Emory Fanning recalled that at the start of one performance on the dilapidated instrument, 12-inch blue flames had shot out of the motor before it was turned off, a prayer for the dead was recited, and it was turned back on for the remainder of the performance — which continued without a hitch.

The interactive slider below shows the dramatic presence that the new organ holds in Mead, having covered up the window above the altar. The before image is a 1919 postcard showing the interior of the chapel while the after image shows how it looks today. Other changes include balcony seating and updated lighting fixtures.

 

Sources
The Organ in the Chapel.” Middlebury College News Letter, July 1, 1969.
A12 PF Mead 1942 02,  Special Collections & Archives, Middlebury College
A12 PF Mead 1919 01,  Special Collections & Archives, Middlebury College

Mead Chapel Centenary: Then & Now Pt. II

In celebration of the 100 year anniversary of the completion of Mead Chapel and Hepburn Hall, Special Collections presents a series of posts featuring interactive before-and-after imagery of these Middlebury icons.

Below is an interactive slider with images of Mead from the archives (tap or drag the bar to the right and left to slide between images). The before image was taken in 1942 while the after image shows the chapel and the surrounding (or should we say obscuring) landscape as it looks today.

 

A new 48-rank chamber organ was installed in Mead Chapel in 1970 after the condition of the original had deteriorated beyond repair. Music director Emory Fanning recalled that at the start of one performance on the dilapidated instrument, 12-inch blue flames had shot out of the motor before it was turned off, a prayer for the dead was recited, and it was turned back on for the remainder of the performance — which continued without a hitch.

The interactive slider below shows the dramatic presence that the new organ holds in Mead, having covered up the window above the altar. The before image is a 1919 postcard showing the interior of the chapel while the after image shows how it looks today. Other changes include balcony seating and updated lighting fixtures.

 

Sources
The Organ in the Chapel.” Middlebury College News Letter, July 1, 1969.
A12 PF Mead 1942 02,  Special Collections & Archives, Middlebury College
A12 PF Mead 1919 01,  Special Collections & Archives, Middlebury College

New Special Collections exhibits just in time for summer!

Currently populating the glass cases of Davis Family Library are Margaret Armstrong book covers and historic postcards. Don’t miss the chance to see them before heading out for the summer!

As part of American Studies professor Ellery Foutch’s AMST 101 course, American Holidays, students researched holiday postcards from our collection, exploring how symbols and themes reflect the cultural mores of turn-of-the-century American life.

The postcards they studied and their comments are on display in the library atrium.

To compliment this exhibit, college archivist Danielle Rougeau curated and designed an exhibit featuring postcards and scrapbooks from the archives. The postcards capture Middlebury College’s landscape and characters as well as the role of postcard correspondence through history.

Postcard from Marjorie Phelps, class of 1917, to her mother. As she mentions, she and her roommate are pictured on the reverse.
Postcard from Marjorie Phelps, class of 1917, to her mother. As she mentions, she and her roommate are pictured on the reverse.

Rounding out our summer exhibits is a tribute to Margaret Armstrong, curated by Joseph Watson and designed by Danielle Rougeau. Margaret Armstrong (1867-1944), one of the most accomplished book cover designers of the early twentieth century, produced cover art and illustrations for over 270 books.

Come to Special Collections to see a selection of her cover designs and learn more about her life!

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Can you tell which cover Margaret Armstrong didn’t design? Come to Special Collections for a closer look and the answer!

 

Mead Chapel Centenary: Then & Now

In celebration of the 100 year anniversary of the completion of Mead Chapel and Hepburn Hall, Special Collections presents a series of posts featuring interactive before-and-after imagery of these Middlebury icons.

Built with the help of a $60,000 donation from former governor Dr. John Mead to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his graduation from Middlebury in 1864, Mead Chapel was dedicated on June 18th, 1916 and marked “the completion of two years’ work and its entrance into the history of Middlebury as a meeting place for religious worship by faculty and students.”

Below is an interactive slider with images of Mead from the archives (tap or click on the bar to slide between images). The before image comes from the scrapbook of Arthur Thomas Vaughn, Class of 1917, and shows scaffolding around the spire. The after image is a 1916 postcard marking the completion of the chapel.

 

Sources:

Stameshkin, David M. 1985. The Town’s College: Middlebury College, 1800-1915. Middlebury, VT: Middlebury College Press.

Dedication of Mead Memorial Chapel.” The Middlebury Campus, June 21, 1916.

S6 Scrapbooks Box 92, Special Collections & Archives, Middlebury College.

A12 PF Mead 1916 02,  Special Collections & Archives, Middlebury College.

 

“Shall we their fond pageant see?” A Midsummer Night’s Dream May 5-8!

While our February Folio fever has passed, the Shakespeare celebration continues with the theater department’s upcoming production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Come watch the latest show in the long legacy of Shakespeare at Middlebury with performances at 7:30pm Thursday-Saturday, May 5-7 and 2pm Sunday, May 8th in Wright Theater!

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And be sure to catch Special Collections’ archival exhibit featuring historic costume and set designs of past Middlebury Shakespeare productions! On display for a limited time in the atrium of Davis Family Library.

Middlebury's 1971 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream
Middlebury’s 1971 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
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Original watercolor costume design by legendary Middlebury costume and set designer Capp Potter for the 1978 production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Solar eclipse of the Archives, 1808

With a Middlebury College Observatory Open House Night scheduled for this Friday, May 29th from 9:00PM-10:30PM, we’re looking to the stars and sharing more astronomical history from the archives.

 

On June 16, 1808 a total eclipse of the sun cast a shadow across much of the northeastern United States, including the town of Mansfield, Connecticut. Known as “Tecumseh’s Eclipse” for the role it played in the Shawnee chief’s efforts to form a tribal confederacy, this astronomical event would have been visible to sixteen-year-old Mansfield native Samuel Mosely. Mosely went on to study at Middlebury College where in 1817, he made an annotated drawing of the eclipse with detailed notes on its timing and geometry:

Illustration of the June 16, 1806 total solar eclipse by Samuel Mosely, Class of 1818. Dated May 28, 1817.
Illustration of the June 16, 1806 total solar eclipse by Samuel Mosely, Class of 1818. Dated May 28, 1817.

After graduating in 1818, Mosely, like many early Middlebury graduates, became a missionary. He died in 1834 while working among the Choctaw Indians in Mississippi.