In this holiday-themed film clip, and part of the ongoing effort to preserve our large collection of historic 16mm films, members of the Women’s Forum of Middlebury College gather behind Forest Hall to load up holiday gifts and head to the Meeting House in Ripton. Upon their arrival (after what must have been a cold and harrowing ride in the back of a wood-slatted truck), surprisingly underdressed local children run (and slide, trudge, and sled) to meet them. The Middlebury women, joined by a costumed Santa, distribute holiday gifts.
Established in 1937, the Women’s Forum was originally organized to further interest in economic, political, and social issues of the day. In 1944 the group merged with the Student Action Assembly and focused on social and service work. This clip likely dates from the early to mid 1940’s.
Happy holidays from all of us at Special Collections & Archives.
In our ongoing effort to digitize historical, fragile films we discovered this unlabeled and undated clip depicting a flood in East Middlebury:
Though we were confident that we got the location right because of the recognizable buildings still standing in East Middlebury, we weren’t sure about the date. Based in part on the vintage of the cars, we assumed the flood of 1927. To test our theory, we shared the film on the Growing up in Addison County Facebook group and its 2,000+ members. As a result, we revised our initial date. Based on what evidence, you might ask? First, about 52 seconds into the clip, a Green Mountain National Forest tool box appears. The Forest wasn’t established until 1932. And second, the trees in the film clip are full of leaves. The ’27 flood was in November (fewer leaves!) while the ’38 flood was in September. Eureka! The Facebook thread (as of December 1) is below:
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!
During a recent visit to the archives by Professor Ellie Gebarowski-Shafer’s Religion 130 class, The Christian Tradition, students plowed through 214 years of Middlebury College missionary history with College Archivist Danielle Rougeau. Amid the pages of 19th century cursive was this diary entry by Mary Martin, wife of a missionary to China and grandmother of Mabel Martin (later Mary Buttolph), Class of 1911. (Mary Martin is pictured below, circa 1865.)
After the death of her husband and a young son in China, Mary returned to Vermont by way of San Francisco. After 69 days at sea, she writes her last diary entry on May 21, 1865:
We were greatly shocked with the news we heard on our arrival this morning of the assassination of president Lincoln but very glad to learn that the war is over and that slavery is abolished.
Postscript: Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865. News traveled slowly in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Her mention of this news falls smack in the middle of the page below. To learn more about Middlebury missionaries, Mary Martin, or to cut your teeth on some 19th century cursive, visit Special Collections.
Well, to be specific, medieval paper was actually parchment, made from animal hides rather than trees, and literally all of our knowledge of the Middle Ages was preserved on skins made from calves, sheep, or goats. To better understand the chemistry, art, and labor of parchment, Middlebury College’s Special Collections & Archives, together with Professor Eliza Garrison’s Medieval Manuscripts seminar, hosted Jesse Meyer from Pergamena. Watch us scud a goatskin (remove stubborn hair from the skin) and wield a lunarium (a crescent-shaped blade) to remove the fat and flesh. Follow this link to read a longer article about our adventure in medieval life.
Our own Professor of Psychology at Middlebury College Barbara Hofer writes about the modern day iConnected Parent, constantly in touch with their College-bound kids through cell phones and Skype…well, the archives recently turned up a connected parent, but from 82 years ago.
Here’s a letter from October 18, 1932. The mother of Charles Edward Stevenson, Jr., Class of 1936, writes to the Director of Admissions (scroll down for the full transcription):
I am writing you to find out if Charlie Stevenson is alright and if he is I want to know why he does not write his mother it will be to [sic] weeks Friday since I had any word from him I sent him his laundry and a little pocket money post office money order I am trailing that now to see if he cashed it. I know that boys are dilatory about writing sometimes but I never knew Charley Stevenson to do that before that is why I am worried about him if I do not get a letter from you I am going up there to find out what is going on.
Please answer right away
Very truly yours
Mrs C.E. Stevenson
One day later, Mrs. Stevenson received a typescript reply (again, transcribed below to help with the faded ink):
Dear Mrs. Stevenson,
Your letter of October 18th is at hand and I have seen your son this morning and sent you the following telegram: “Your son is well and says has written you today”. I trust that you received the wire promptly so that you have not had to worry longer as to your son’s welfare. He seemed to be in perfect health when I saw him this morning but said that he had been very busy for the last few days. As you know, the fraternity rushing has been going on for the last two weeks and the boys have little spare time, as a rule, during that period. I presume that your son had not realized how long a time has elapsed since he wrote you, but you will doubtless receive his letter right away, if it has not already reached you.
In the same year that Captain Cook sailed to Hawaii and Great Britain declared war on France, Helen Weldon started her recipe book in Bath, England on January 29, 1778. In addition to keeping mites off your cheese, she includes recipes for Mock Turtle (Calves head) soup, Onion Soop [sic] and raspberry vinegar “for those who want a pleasant cooler” in the summer. Remedies like Teeth Water, Poison for Rats & Mice, and Diuretic Balls for Horses are included too. Her handwritten notebook was acquired by Special Collections this summer. Learn more in our online catalog or by visiting Special Collections.
Explore our newest online archive: Middlebury Language Schools. This collection includes archives from Middlebury’s Summer Language Schools, which began in 1915. When completed, the collection will include all the annual bulletins from 1915 through 2007, a history of the Language Schools up to 1975, annual reports, photographs, and scrapbooks.
Good Things to Eat: Recipes and Communities from 1827 to the Present
Guest curated by Emily Bogin ’16, FoodWorks Fellow
This new exhibit focuses on the ways in which food has, and continues to facilitate community, both at Middlebury and beyond. Items on display are drawn from Middlebury College Special Collections & Archives, the Stewart-Swift Research Center at the Sheldon Museum, and Middlebury College Dining Services.
Join Emily Bogin for an exhibition talk Friday August 1, 2014, in the Library atrium. The talk will begin shortly after 11:00am.