Friday, July 31, 2015

The Best Answer...

Screen shot of Jeopardy television showEarlier this week, the popular game show Jeopardy! hit home for us. One of the $1,000 "answers" was, "This Ivy League College's Rauner Special Collections Library is the home to the Robert Frost Collection." The question, naturally, was "What is Dartmouth College."  We love the concept, and hope that for someone, somewhere, we are the answer to that question. We have a vision of somebody far from Dartmouth being asked by a friend,"What is Dartmouth College?" and the first response is a reference to Rauner Library. You see, we overshadow all of the other achievements of the College!

Alas, it is not a likely answer: Dartmouth is multifaceted and it would be hard to come up with a phase that answers the question, but for now, we will take Jeopardy's.

We were a bit dismayed that none of the contestants got the right question. I guess they are not regular readers of our blog and missed these posts:

Strange Bedfellows
This Ought to be a Good Book
Robert Frost's Christmas Cards
Two Poets
Phishing for Poets
Audits Happen
Interval... Intervale
Getting to Yeats's House

And, you can use the Frost Collections by asking for MS-1178.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Experience the Life of a WWI Medical Officer

While exploring the Dartmouth College Archives, I stumbled upon a packing list for an officer going to Europe to fight in WWI in the papers of Harry Goodall 1898.. At Dartmouth, Goodall was a member of Kappa Kappa Kappa fraternity. He went to Harvard Medical School, and appears to have been very ambitious, as he opened his own private practice in 1904 and was a professor of Chemistry and Medicine at Harvard until 1917.

Goodall began as a contract surgeon with the Army in August of 1917 but was commissioned as a Major in the Medical Corps on October 20 of the same year. In 1918, Goodall was sent down to Camp Greene, in North Carolina, where in March the Spanish Flu had broken out. Following Camp Greene, Goodall was sent to Camp Wheeler, in Georgia, where he complained about the conditions of the hospital and food, saying in one document, “The place [was] not very clean. The mess [was] frightful [and] the food [was] often unfit for use.” Soon after, though, he was sent to France to work in Base Hospital 51 where, in his diary, he described the commanding officer as “a man totally unfit to command...He lacked medical knowledge...He never appeared in any capacity aside from that of a cheap politician...After the Armistice he was sent home for discharge for inefficiency.”

Goodall appears to have experienced culture shock in France, and complained that the “toilet facilities were anything but American” and described how the French contractors would empty the toilet cans with their bare hands, saying, “this was one thing that perhaps made me disgusted with the French although there were many things of similar nature that would make it impossible for an American to ever understand the French.” In October, Goodall moved to Base Hospital 87 and gained command of 2,000 beds. Here, there were many cases of the flu, but Goodall was proud that he was able to take precautions to avoid tremendous mortalities. The Army was sufficiently impressed with Goodall to send him back to Base Hospital 51 to control the situation there.

Though Goodall’s story itself is fascinating, and detailed wonderfully in his diary, the most interesting document I found among his papers was this packing list. On one page it details everything the Army deemed necessary for a soldier to take to France. At the bottom of the page, they claim that, “[t]his includes everything.” My favorite section of the list is “Articles suggested but not required,” which includes the seeming necessities of toothpaste, soap, bath towel, and toilet paper (apparently the army was less than concerned with personal hygiene). My favorite part of this list is that between the items of handkerchiefs and pocketknife is the entry “housewife.” Apparently for an officer going to France in 1918, a housewife was included on the packing list as a recommended item.

To explore Harry Goodall's papers, come to Rauner and ask for MS-397.

Posted for Addison Himmelberger '15, HIST 62 class.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Spare Room

Ever wonder what your dorm was like in the distant past? How much the rooms cost, which were the most desirable? Well you can easily find out by consulting the Dormitory Floor Plans, Descriptions and Room Rate put out by the College Bursar.

In 1931 Mass Row was touted for its vestibule enclosed stairways that shielded the rooms from the noise of people going up and down the stairs. It was also unique in that the rooms all had private toilets for every room. Even the color scheme of the rooms and corridors is described (rooms were finished in ivory and brown while the brick walls of the corridors were painted in brown and cream). Rooms were priced based on desirability and ranged from a high of $320 per occupant to a low of $165.

What the Dormitory Floor Plans fail to impart is the spartan nature of the rooms. Rooms came with a bed frame--you brought your own mattress--a set of roller curtains and a dresser. Everything else had to be supplied by the students. In fact, the rooms were so barren that the Dartmouth Handbook (for freshman) provided this piece of advice to new arrivals: "If you are rooming in a dormitory, don't let the former occupants of the room sell you the radiator or the roller curtains. They come with the room."

So if you're housed in one of the older dorms, come by and check out the Dormitory Floor Plans, Rauner Reference LD 1439.8 .D3. You might be amused to see what your room once cost and how it stacked up against other dorm rooms at the time.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Where the Wild Things Really Are

In response to Martin Luther King's assassination on April 4, 1968, riots broke out in Northwest Washington, DC's predominately black neighborhood around 14th and U streets. 2,500 law-enforcement officers were able to establish order in the early morning of Friday, April 5. By then 150 stores had been looted and 200 people had been arrested. On Friday, April 5, the riots spread to other parts of the city. They were still going strong on Saturday, April 6, despite the deployment of more than 13,600 federal troops and National Guardsman. The security forces were under strict orders from Mayor Washington not to shoot rioters. When the riots finally died down on Sunday twelve people had died and more than 1,000 had been injured.

In response to the riots and to help the children who attended the inner city schools in the riot areas cope with what was happening around them, Norman W. Nickens, the assistant superintendent, gave the following instruction to his teachers:
"Remember, classes simply cannot go on as usual. Unusual events have occurred and your children are preoccupied with these. In times of crisis, children learn rapidly. Therefore, make use of the events of the April 5 weekend to help them learn. Do not fail them by lecturing when they need to talk."
John Mathews, a reporter on education for The Evening Star in Washington, DC, who quoted the above passage in a 1968 article he wrote with Ernest Holsendolph for the New York Times Magazine had access to some of the material that had been created by the children. According to Mathews, "the discussions, compositions and pictures showed that fear and a feeling that the adult world was spinning out of control were prevalent emotions."

We recently received several drawings created by these kids who were then between the ages of 8 and 14. The feeling of devastation is prevalent in all of them, so is the fear. However, Mathews also noticed a certain "excitement and elation" related to the fact that "before the troops arrived in force, masses of black people controlled the streets and for once, it was truly safe to be black."

To view the collection, which contains 23 drawings, as well as a variety of posters, student newspapers and ephemera of that time ask for MS-1335.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Alpha Delta Phi Meeting Minutes

Dartmouth College fraternities have played a large role in college fraternity history and inspired the movie whose poster almost every Dartmouth student has in his or her dorm room: Animal House. It is no surprise that Dartmouth fraternities are still very much alive today, but walking into a basement on “Frat Row” tells only a limited story.

At Rauner library, one can look into the fraternity life at Dartmouth as far back to the 1840s when the first ones opened on campus. Almost all of the fraternities have extensive records housed there with photographs of the fraternities’ drama troops, the Delta Kappa Epsilon initiation books with mysteriously burned edges, and what I found to be most interesting, the meeting minutes.

One fraternity that should definitely be checked out is the Alpha Delta Phi—today known as Alpha Delta or AD—meeting minutes. A fraternity that just recently got derecognized, it gives people the chance to see the mischief the fraternity got into, how the brothers’ values changed with time, and how some traditions stayed the same. For instance, in the early twentieth century, the brothers discussed the house parties they would hold for Winter Carnival. Then when the U.S. entered World War I, they rapidly turned their attention to Europe even discussing if polygamy will be necessary in Germany after the war. But all the while, they continued freshman recruiting rituals or what they called “chinning.”

As a freshman girl, I may have no idea what goes on in the meetings Wednesday nights at fraternities, but now I can know what the brothers did, what they cared about, and what they thought about. It gives us an inside look not just into the minds of the people who lived through large events like World War I and World War II, but into what college boys thought at the time. In my opinion, it does not seem too different than how they think today. Don’t believe me? Have a look at the records then knock on a fraternity house door, a house that may have stood there since 1919.

To see the meeting minutes for Alpha Delta, ask at Rauner for the Alpha Delta Phi, Dartmouth College Records (DO-3).

Posted for Allison Gelman '18, HIST 62 class.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Spirit of Memorial Field

For almost a century, Dartmouth students have packed the stands of Memorial Field every Saturday in the fall to witness the Big Green play on the gridiron. Many students are unaware that they are cheering in the World War I memorial on campus.

The idea to construct a new football field to honor the fallen Dartmouth soldiers emerged immediately at the conclusion of the war. The field was part of a larger improvement of tennis courts, the hockey rink, the baseball field and secondary football fields, but Memorial Field was the focus of the campaign. Men advocated for an improvement to the athletic facilities for two reasons.

The first was practical—Dartmouth's Alumni Oval, the current football field, was outdated and inadequate for the size of the school. Second, men argued that football and war embodied the same spirit of Dartmouth men and the youthful vitality the fallen men had. War and football were both mediums for Dartmouth men to gain discipline, rigor and strong values. An article in The Dartmouthafter the announcement of the project claimed, "Not every Dartmouth man who died in France or Flanders was an athlete, to be sure, but the spirit in which they fought is exemplified nowhere in American life better than in contests on the gridiron" (The Dartmouth>, 12/15/1919). The Dartmouth spirit was highly valued in the eyes of alumni and students of the College at the time, and they looked to the football field to see tangible evidence of that spirit in action.

The football field was also where the fiber of American youth manifested through youthful actions. President Hopkins believed that, "[i]t is generally conceded that the outdoor life of the American people, and the interest of the American youth in sports, were large factors in developing the fiber of the armies which went abroad. There would seem to be a definite appropriateness in emphasizing this phase of American life in any project which should be advanced as a memorial for the Dartmouth men whose lives were lost in the Great War." (The Dartmouth, 01/17/1921). The way that Dartmouth men fought in the First World War and the way they played games on the gridiron were the same. They both required a combination of the Dartmouth spirit and the rigor and youthful strength gained on the football field and in the trenches. Only a football field would properly memorialize and perpetuate these values by both honoring the men that died and passing on the gift of youth to future generations.

Memorial Field’s forgotten origins were a key connection between football and war at Dartmouth during the early twentieth century, a link that Dartmouth men aimed to memorialize and preserve for generations to come.

To see photos of the field and memorial, ask at Rauner for the Athletic Field and War Memorials photo files. Some of the images are also available online and can be found via keyword search in the Dartmouth College Photographic Files database.

Posted for Leigh Steinberg, HIST 62 class

Friday, July 3, 2015

"Listen to the Voice of Reason"

"Happy should I be, were it possible to induce this deluded people to listen to the voice of reason; to abandon a set of me making them stilts to their own private ambition; to return to their former confidence in the King and his Parliament, and like the Romans when they threw off the yoke of the Decemvirs: -- 'Inde libertatis captare aurum, unde servitutem timendo Republicam in eum statum perduxere.'"

That's the last paragraph of Jonathan Lind's introduction to An Answer to the Declaration of the American Congress (London: Printed for T. Cadell in the Strand; J. Walter, Charing Cross; and T. Sewell, near the Royal Exchange, 1776). In this volume, Lind attacks the various assertions and statements contained in the Declaration of Independence one article at a time.

The tone of the rebuttals tends to be on the sarcastic side, if not outright inflammatory. Take Lind's opening sally in his answer to Article 4 - the one about calling legislative bodies together in unusual, uncomfortable and distant places.
There is something so truly ridiculous in this Article that it is hardly possible to answer it with any becoming gravity. At first blush it looks as if inserted by an enemy, as if intended to throw an air of ridiculousness on the declaration in general.
The whole Answer is 132 pages long. In terms of spin control and swaying the populace it certainly wasn't as effective as the much shorter Declaration of Independence. Lind's final plea to make "whatever efforts may be necessary, to bring this ungrateful and rebellious people back to the allegiance they so daringly renounced" doesn't quite have the same linguistic polish as the last line of the Declaration: "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

To read all of Lind's Answer, ask for McGregor 104.