Recently, thanks to a tip from the friend of a friend we purchased some antique stereoscope views of Middlebury College and the Town of Middlebury in an online auction. (Shout out to the friend of Prof. Kevin Moss!)
Stereoscope cards hold two identical photographs, mounted side by side and slightly offset. When they’re viewed through a stereoscope viewer, a three dimensional image emerges.
A state of the art and thrilling parlor entertainment throughout the late nineteenth century, these rare images don’t need to be viewed in stereo to be appreciated online today.
A while back we purchased an 1886 “Bird’s Eye View” of Middlebury from a local antique shop. The colorized reprints of this image from the 1990s are pretty common, but the original print is quite rare. Unfortunately the print was torn and stained, so we sent it off to conservator MJ Davis, who did a beautiful job of mending and washing it. Yes, that’s right, if you know what you’re doing, it’s possible to wash paper! Below see the “before and after”.
Reunion is the time for alums to reminisce about Middlebury College when they were students. These two promotional films, recently re-discovered in the Archives, were produced in 1961 and 1976. We hope they trigger fond Middlebury memories of sunny days in the grass, ringing chapel bells, and the clacking of typewriters. Welcome back alums!
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!
In celebration of Black History Month, we remember Barbara Jordan’s 1987 Commencement address at Middlebury. She received an Honorary Doctor of Laws and spoke about values in education and those which members of society should agree to live by: Truth, Tolerance, Respect, and Community.
Other photos of the commencement ceremony show Prof. David Rosenberg, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, handing out diplomas. He remembered about her speech, “She shared many historical and philosophical comments on principles and values to guide our commencing graduates. But the biggest applause and laughter came near the end when she quoted from Robert Fulghum’s essay, “All I ever really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten.” It was a good way to acknowledge the critical role parents play at an early and formative stage in the lives of our graduates long before they arrive at Middlebury.”
Born in Houston, Texas exactly 81 years ago, Jordan earned her law degree from Boston University in 1959 and was elected to the Texas Senate in 1966, becoming the first African-American state senator since 1883 and the first black woman to hold the seat. In 1972, she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, making her the first woman to represent Texas in the House, and (in the same year) as president pro tempore of the Texas senate, the first black woman in America to preside over a legislative body.
She solidified herself as a household name while serving on the House Judiciary Committee during President Richard Nixon’s impeachment scandal. Delivered the opening remarks to the committee and the nation, she supported the articles of impeachment against the president. In her speech she held up her faith in the Constitution and declared that if her fellow committee members failed to impeach President Nixon,“then perhaps the eighteenth–century Constitution should be abandoned to a twentieth–century paper shredder.”
She extended her rhetorical capabilities to Middlebury College in 1987, undeterred by the multiple sclerosis that would ultimately kill her, delivering the address from a wheelchair.
Source: “Jordan, Barbara Charline | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives.” Accessed February 21, 2017. http://history.house.gov/People/Detail/16031.
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.
Every day in the archives, we encounter pieces of history that remind us how our world has evolved over the years, and how some things remain the same through the cycle of seasons. For example, this Middlebury College News Bureau photograph from the summer of 1934 could just have easily been shot yesterday on sunny Lake Dunmore.
The idyllic scene is a timeless representation of Vermont summer, and as we bid farewell to another August – welcoming September’s cool mornings and return of students – we dive into autumn, fighting the urge to cling onto the beauty of summer, for we know it will be back again next year.
To mark Founders’ Day, the original Middlebury College Charter signed by the Governor of Vermont on November 1st, 1800 will be on view in Special Collections, 101 Davis Family Library, on Nov. 2nd. from 1p-5p.
Can’t make out the cursive? Read the transcript here.
After two failed petitions to the Vermont General Assembly in 1789 and 1799, Middlebury faced opposition from the institution that received the first university charter, the University of Vermont. Though UVM had been chartered in 1791, it’s doors had yet to open. Fearful of losing their state funding, UVM tried to block Middlebury’s establishment.
However, due to the state’s population increase (Vermont’s population grew from 84,000 to 154,000 between 1791 and 1800) and UVM’s slow start, there was a clear need for another institution to educate Vermonters at home. Middlebury, with its newly constructed Academy Building (a $4,150 project funded by public subscriptions) founded by Gamaliel Painter, proved the perfect place to serve the College and Vermonters at large. Thus, the town’s college was founded with the signing of the charter, just 39 years after the town of Middlebury itself was chartered.
Source: Stameshkin, David M. 1985. The Town’s College: Middlebury College, 1800-1915. Middlebury, VT: Middlebury College Press.
Five classes visited Special Collections last week, studying a wide range of materials. We shared hundreds of items, from classic Greek texts published in Venice in the 15th century, to an 18th century Torah, to 1930s government reports on eugenics policy in Vermont.
Drawn from our newly digitized historic 16mm films, a taste of what life in the Summer Language Schools was like in the middle of the 20th century. Enjoy!
German School Dancing Considered the forerunner of all the Middlebury Language Schools in 1915, the German School established its home in Bristol, Vermont and flourished under the direction of the dynamic Ernst Feise throughout the 1930s and 1940s. The seven-week program strove for students to “live and work in an atmosphere as distinctly German as if they were traveling in Germany.” Integral to that goal was learning to perform dances native to German culture, wearing native German dress. (We love the people watching from the bushes!)
French School Outings In this clip from the early 1940s, students and faculty of the French Summer Language School take a break from classes and enjoy the program’s long-running tradition of weekend trips off-campus. With a beautiful view from the top of Chipman Hill, they roast bacon-wrapped sausage and sing songs. In another outing, they can be seen picnicking on the shores of Lake Dunmore at the Waterhouse Pavilion.
Honorary Degree On August 8, 1946 French Ambassador to the United States Henri Bonnet was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Middlebury College president Samuel S. Stratton. André Morize, a close friend of Bonnet’s and the retiring director of Middlebury’s French Summer Language School was also honored at the ceremony. This clip shows the reception held outside of Mead Chapel following the event. Attendees include the poet Robert Frost.