Tag Archives: libspotlight

The Ski-Minded College: Winter Carnival 1950

This clip from a recently rediscovered College promotional film produced in 1950 shows how students at “one of the most ski-minded of American colleges” took advantage of all that a Vermont winter has to offer. The dulcet narration guides us through a tour of the Snow Bowl and introduces us to the Winter Carnival, “the highlight of the year, [in which] fine competitive skiing is combined with the tops in social events.” The clip also captures student broadcasters just a few months after the founding of WMCRS, the college radio station that has gone by the call letters WRMC since 1952.

Be sure to join Special Collections on February 26 during the Winter Carnival in Crossroads Cafe as we present a special screening of newly-discovered films from the college archives (follow us on Facebook or check the Carnival schedule for an exact time). Spanning the 1920s to 1950s, this assortment of sound and silent footage captures the full range of Middlebury’s historic wintertime fun— from synchronized skiing to cigarette pack snow sculptures!

 

Sources

College Stations Changes Name.” The Middlebury Campus, October 9, 1952.

Lemcke, Ted, “WRMC Elects New Board; Plans to Enlarge ScheduleThe Middlebury Campus, May 16, 1957.

 

Students are “Southbound for Christmas” ca. 1930, captured on film

This recently rediscovered clip from the 1930s in the College’s 16mm film archives shows the once-bustling Middlebury train station with students eagerly boarding a southbound train home for the holiday break. The footage also captures views of notable town architecture including the conical spire that once capped the Battell Block before it’s removal after a 1950 hurricane and  the residence of George Harvey years before it became the Fire and Ice restaurant in 1974.

As fall semester comes to a close, be sure to affix a Middlebury pennant onto your luggage, don your fur coat, and board the southbound train home for holidays!

Sources

Langrock, Joann. Middebury Stores and Busineses. Middlebury: Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History, 2002.

New book art in Special Collections

Last week we shared our newest oldest acquisition, a cuneiform-inscribed baked clay tablet from around 2,000 BCE, and today we feature our newest new acquisition, two works by Brian Dettmer.

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Brooklyn-based book artist Brian Dettmer transforms books into art pieces, carving into them to uncover new meaning in the pages and to redefine the book’s role as an cultural object and knowledge repository.

Pictured above, and on display in the Special Collections Reading Room are The Smaller Big Fun Book, 2012 and Manual of Engineering Drawing, 2010. Come take a look!

Disclaimer: While we appreciate these works of book art, we do not endorse such work with any Library materials. 

Exam Hours at the Libraries

The Davis Family Library will offer extended hours starting Sunday, December 6th. We will open at 9 am that day and be open 24 hours through Friday, December 11th, when we will close at the regular 11 pm. Saturday, December 12th will be regular hours, 9 am – 11 pm. 24/7 will resume on Sunday starting at 9 am and the library will close at 10 pm on Sunday, December 20th. A Middlebury College ID will be required to enter the library after 11 pm during this period.

Armstrong Library will maintain regular hours, with extended hours on Friday and Saturday, December 18th and 19th.

Full hours can be found at go/hours.

A “first-rate beer” voucher, 2,000 years overdue

In special collections, visitors often ask us, “What’s your most expensive item?” Or sometimes: “What’s the oldest thing you have?”

In late November, we acquired our newest, oldest thing: a baked clay tablet that originated in ancient Mesopotamia (current-day Iraq), from roughly 2,000 BCE. This small tablet (measuring just about 1 inch x 1 inch and pictured here) is incised with cuneiform script, considered to be one of the earliest forms of writing.


With the help of Middlebury alum Seth Richardson, Class of 1990, a historian of the ancient Near East at the University of Chicago, we’re learning more about our new acquisition. Likely in British and American hands since the early 20th century, our tablet is essentially a beer coupon. That’s right. Based only on preliminary examination, Dr. Richardson translated the first line: “3 liters of first-rate beer.”

And as it turns out, the Western tradition of beer brewing began in Mesopotamia between 3500 – 3100 BCE. How do we know? Largely from cuneiform tablets like ours, which contain detailed records around beer production, the delivery of raw materials (barley, yeast, bread, flour), and the trading of beer products. Like apple cider production in colonial New England, ancient Mesopotamians lacked clean water, but had an abundance of grains and the know-how needed to ferment them. And they had the earliest known written alphabet to boot.

Funds for the purchase of this item were gifted by Jeri Bapasola, French School, 1978.

References

Beer in the Ancient World.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Accessed December 3, 2015.

Damerow, Peter. “Sumerian Beer: The Origins of Brewing Technology in Ancient Mesopotamia.” Cuneiform Digital Library Journal, no. 2 (2012).

Turkey on Film: Delicious Dinners in the 16mm Archives

Thanksgiving Day meals are not complete without a perfectly cooked turkey. In these two clips from 16mm reels the Middlebury College Archives, we see both students and the administration sharing in the enjoyment of Thanksgiving’s most iconic fowl.

First, we join the College’s 10th President, Paul Dwight Moody, as he carves a turkey in the late 1930s or early 1940s. This event may have been part of any number of alumni turkey dinners that Moody attended over his presidential tenure.

Next, we find a student in a 1950 promotional film for the College savoring a chef-prepared turkey meal. The clip goes on to highlight the focused work ethic and “enduring zest” for scientific experimentation exemplified by mid-century Middlebury’s  “ambitious youth”.

Happy Thanksgiving!