Friday, October 17, 2014

Homecoming: Edmund B. Dearborn

We recently acquired a small collection of letters addressed to Edmund B. Dearborn. Dearborn was a New England schoolteacher, who, although he prepared for college at Hampton Academy in New Hampshire, never matriculated at an institution. At Hampton Academy, Dearborn was a member of the Olive Branch Society. Incorporated in 1832, the society was founded to promote and improve writing and public speaking skills. However, when a fire at the Academy destroyed their collection of about six hundred valuable books, the society ceased to exist.

The letters in the collection are primarily from Dearborn's former schoolmates. Most had also been members of the Olive Branch Society and many of them went into teaching as well. The letters detail the routine, responsibilities and personal narratives of small town schoolteachers.

Several of them attended Dartmouth College and it is through these letters that we get a first-hand account of student life at Dartmouth in the first half of the 19th century. In a letter from September 1829, Joseph Dow '33 describes his life at Dartmouth, commenting that the "situation [here] is indeed very fine," and that the "situation of Dart. Coll. has been grossly misrepresented." He also implies that he expected Dearborn to join him at Dartmouth the following year and that in preparation for that he would "endeavor to give [him] some ideas of the place by the following uncouth figure." Dow follows this statement with a small drawing in which he describes the buildings in "their situation relative to each other." He also describes the Tontine building, which was destroyed in a fire in 1887, as a
huge building of brick, four stories high and part of a day's journey in length. The lower part contains the Jackson Post Office-lawyer offices- tin plate worker's shop-saddlers etc. The upper part contains rooms for students - principally quacks
Another former member of the Olive Branch Society, John Calvin Webster '32 describes a more
notorious incident when he writes that even though he had no particular news:
last week a negro woman died and was buried and on the night ensuing some of the medical students attempted to dig up the body. There were watchers expecting the attempt would be made, who let them dig down within a few inches of the coffin when they seized them.
Other correspondents in this collection include Amos Tuck, Jesse Eaton Pillsbury, S. P. Dole and David P. Page. To look at these letters please ask for MS-1290.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fantasy Football

Last fall, a new high-definition video scoreboard was erected on Memorial Field. Unbeknownst to most Big Green fans today, this marked the 90th anniversary of a different type of scoreboard: the Grid-Graph from November 1923. In fact, this scoreboard never saw the field at all—it was set up in a handball court at the gym, to recreate away games at home for those who couldn’t make the trip.

The Grid-Graph board measured 15 feet by 12 feet and featured a glass replica of a football field. The team names, score, and number of downs were listed across the top, and player names along the sides. Below that were the various plays, like punt, interception, or touchdown. Operating the board was a multi-person production. One man made transcripts of the Morse code coverage coming in by telegraph, and then another relayed these as instructions to those controlling the lights. A switchboard operator lit up a bulb next to the play being made and the players involved. Meanwhile, a final man moved a free-standing bulb behind the glass to represent the ball’s position on the field. Of course, he only knew the yard markings and not the ball’s exact spot, so some artistic flourishes were allowed to create drama and suspense.

The board cost a thousand dollars at the time, but seems to have been well worth it. Wooden stands in front of the Grid-Graph filled up half an hour early, and each audience member paid admission. During the game, someone led cheers (though there was no team to hear them) and vendors walked among the crowd selling hot dogs and soda. The audience could even get rowdy. In the October 1980 Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, one Grid-Graph operator recalled a game in 1931, when Dartmouth made a miraculous 23-point comeback to tie with Yale. The fans went wild. As in, ravenous.

“That crowd came out of those swaying stands and across the floor bent on getting some souvenirs of the game from the board. We had to rush out in front and fend them off or the whole thing would have caved in on us all. They tore out the players’ names and got a few lights, but we saved the board.”

Although the board survived that trial, it would not survive dwindling attendance and funds over the following decade. In 1941, the Grid-Graph was quietly put to rest.

To see pictures of the old Grid-Graph and a cardboard replica, ask for Rauner Photo Files: Football—Grid-Graph Board. Or, see them online here from the Digital Library Program.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Taj Torah

We just acquired a truly amazing manuscript that has us all a twitter (though we don't Tweet, just blog!). The manuscript is a copy of the Taj Torah produced in Yemen c. 1400-1450. This is one of only three known Hebrew manuscripts with illustrated carpet pages. The Torah is prefaced with a copy of the Tajim, a Yemenite grammar and guide to reading the Torah, so the manuscript is both a sacred text and a pedagogical device for its reading.

The manuscript has many possible uses in the classroom at a time when medieval and early modern Jewish texts are growing in interest and importance in academia. The specific aspects of it that most excite us are the carpet pages that can be compared and contrasted with Western illuminations and elucidate children's education in the middle ages, and the potential for discussion of the manuscript as an object (i.e., its construction, material components). Among the nice carpet pages are  a drawing of the labyrinth of Jericho and a "Magical Square" of letters in a pattern.

Two years ago we worked with a class on medieval Christian, Islamic and Jewish traditions. We were able to lay out excellent medieval representations of the Koran and the Vulgate Bible but we lacked a comparative example of the Torah or similar Jewish text. That gap is now filled. We are able to lay, side by side, representative texts from all three monotheistic faiths, and all from roughly the same time period.

We are just starting to catalog the manuscript. You can ask for it by name at our reference desk and we will update this post when it is cataloged.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

When Size Matters

In 1804 John Wheelock, the son of the founder of Dartmouth College, Eleazar Wheelock, and the second President of the College, got into a snit over control of the local Congregational Church. While the details of this disagreement are important, they are far too complex to cover here. Suffice to say that after ten years of wrangling, Wheelock attempted to enlist the Trustees of the College in this fight. The Trustees, suspecting that they were being asked to act beyond their authority, declined. The resulting battle between Wheelock and the Trustees ended with John Wheelock, a Whig, asking William Plumber, the Federalist Governor of New Hampshire, to remove the College from the control of the Trustees and make it a State institution. The Trustees, and most of the faculty, refused to recognize the State’s authority and took the issue to court. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, where Daniel Webster famously argued for the College and won, setting an important and enduring legal precedent.

In the mean time, two institutions of higher education existed side-by-side on the Hanover Plain. On one side was Dartmouth College and on the other was the state run Dartmouth University. Here are the catalogs for the two institutions and the difference between them needs no further comment.

Ask for Mss 817509 and Mss 817509.1 to see the two catalogs. For more information on the Dartmouth College case, see: Will to Resist; the Dartmouth College Case, by Richard Morin (DC History KF 4258 .D3 M65 c.2).

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pocket Relief

Oh, what a cool little find. While looking for a good map of the White Mountains for our current exhibit, "Corresponding Friendships: Robert Frost's Letters," we stumbled on The Pocket Relief Map--Franconia Notch Region (R. D. Woodard, 1930). It is made of pressed plastic, and is just three and a half inches by five inches. The box has a line drawing of the Old Man of the Mountain.

What's it for?  It is hard to imagine carrying it in your pocket for reference. You couldn't really pull it out on a  hike and say, "Ah, now I know where I am!" Our guess is that it was just a souvenir for tourists vacationing in the area and it was never carried in anyone's pocket.

To see it, ask for White Mountains G3741.C18 1930 W6.  The Frost exhibit is on display from now until November 1st in the Class of 1965 Galleries in Rauner.  We found an even better map for that!

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Hebrew Grammar

When John Smith was persuaded by his tutor Samuel Moody to enter Dartmouth College in 1771, he had already spent many years in the study of ancient languages. According to his wife Susan, he "had then read through Homer twice, and all the minor Greek poets he could find." He entered Dartmouth as a junior and by the following year had "mastered the Hebrew and Chaldee languages as to lay the foundation of his Hebrew and Chaldee Grammars." After he graduated from Dartmouth in 1773, he became preceptor at Moor's Charity School for a year before being hired by Dartmouth as a tutor for its students. During that time he worked on a revision of the Hebrew Grammar he had completed in 1772, for the purpose of facilitating "the study of the scriptures of the Old Testament in the original." He emphasized the fact that his Grammar would be particularly useful for those students of the language who did not have instructors.

Letters of the Alphabet
However, the road to its publication was a long one. At one point in the process Eleazar Wheelock wrote to the trustees in London suggesting that Smith's Grammar "should be published as a specimen of the progress some of his scholars were making in this new institution." But, according to Mrs. Smith, "Mr. Smith declined or [had] otherwise given up."

Perfect Verbs
In 1777, John Smith was appointed Professor of Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Oriental languages at Dartmouth College. He was the first academic hired by Wheelock who, until then, had been doing all of the teaching with the help of the tutors. For his services, Smith was promised one hundred pounds annually, "half in money and the other half … in such necessary articles for a family as wheat, Indian corn, rye, beef, pork, mutton … ." In return Smith had to continue as tutor as well.

Smith stayed connected to the College for the rest of his life. In addition to teaching he served as the pastor for the Church of Christ at Dartmouth College and introduced the practice of giving commencement sermons to the Senior Class on the Sunday before Commencement Day. He also became a trustee in 1788.

Chaldaic Grammar
Smith's Hebrew Grammar Without Points was finally published by John West in 1803. It was only the second Hebrew Grammar book published in the Unites States and the first using no points.

If you would like to take a look at the original manuscript and its revision ask for MS-1266. To see a printed edition ask for Alumni S652h.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A War to End All Wars: Whining the War

As a young man at Dartmouth and in the military, Harold Pinkham, Class of 1915, was a confused and unhappy outsider. At Dartmouth, he was not athletic enough to make a sports team nor popular enough to make a fraternity and recalled being targeted during the customary freshman hazing of the period. After one year at Dartmouth, he transferred to Bowdoin, but stayed there only one year before leaving to live as a self-described hobo in the American West.

On April 17, 1917, in his father’s shop in Milton, New Hampshire, Pinkham read the headline announcing America’s Declaration of War. He had always supported Wilson’s neutrality as “a beacon of light in the darkest age of mankind” and saw no justification to assume that France and Britain were right, or that Germany was wrong.[1] Pinkham realized that, as a healthy, unemployed, single man of 22, he would be drafted.[2] He could not register as a conscientious objector, because he did not belong to a recognized religious sect that prohibited fighting in wars. He chose to evade the draft and went west when the draft was announced. During his sojourn in the American West, Pinkham held a variety of jobs, including laying railroad track in Idaho and working in a lumberyard in Everett, Washington.

In June 1917 Pinkham had a sudden change of heart. On his birthday, June 16, 1917, Pinkham signed up for the Washington State National Guard and was given the rank of corporal because of his college education. In his edited war journal, Pinkham claims to have been unaware that he was not joining the U.S. Army. In April 1918, the distinction between the National Guard and U.S. Army was erased, but it seems implausible that a year before this merger Pinkham would not have known which division of the military he was joining.[3] Pinkham attributes his change of mind to financial need and renewed faith in Woodrow Wilson’s idealism.[4]

Pinkham was chronically dissatisfied with his duties during the war. After attempting to evade the draft, he complained that his six months in Seattle were too tame. When he was finally sent to France in December 1917, he was indignant and insulted that his section’s job was to lay track in Is Sur Tille in the Cote d’Or, the same occupation he had pursued in Idaho. Pinkham considered himself “practically a prisoner” and compared his condition as a soldier to the position of German P.O.W.s. After falling ill from “weak kidneys and a violent back ache,” he was reassigned to sorting boxes for the quartermaster while the rest of his section dug trenches and set up machine guns to protect against air raids.[5] Pinkham argued that other units should be doing the digging, and that his unit should be dispatched to the front.

Pinkham’s dissatisfaction continued throughout the war. In May 1918, Pinkham’s unit left Is Sur Tille and he wrote eagerly that he hoped to be done with “drill and senseless games.”[6] Instead of going to the front, however, he was transferred to Pont Levoy to train newly arrived infantry sections, who “a month earlier were in civilian clothes . . . many of them ignorant to how to load a rifle and destined for slaughter, just as surely as the lambs in the Chicago stock yard.”[7] He was then summoned to St. Dizier, Marne, a city close enough to hear the gunshots from the fighting in the Argonne Forest, but instead of fighting, he cared for casualties. Pinkham was extremely disappointed by what he perceived as his disgraceful war record: “it seemed that all my life had been a failure, in college, business, art, and love. And now, within earshot of the guns, I was to fail at war.”[8] Pinkham had hoped that his service would be a source of personal redemption.

In the beginning of November 1918, he sensed an approaching Allied victory and complained to a Marine Sergeant that he would never have the opportunity for combat experience. According to Pinkham’s journal, the sergeant suggested that he join his section by impersonating an AWOL private and advance on Verdun with them. Pinkham took his suggestion and marched with them out of the camp, but the unit took the wrong route. They turned around and returned to Froidos, and Pinkham took advantage of the change to steal back to his quarters. Despite his persistent demands to be placed at the front, Pinkham lost his nerve and decided not to advance with the Marines. This did not prevent him from complaining that he was kept in France as part of the Army of Occupation when others went home. When Secretary of War Newton Baker visited the troops, Pinkham joined the others in crying, “We want to go home!”[9] Pinkham maintained no clear ideology, but was instead guided by persistent melancholy.

Like many soldiers, Pinkham tried to alleviate his depression through escapism. He drank with his fellow soldiers regularly and sometimes to excess. When he vomited in his quarters, he blamed the monotony of the noncombatant life and excused his behavior as the natural result of war.[10] During his time in the military Pinkham frequently pursued sexual relationships with women. In Seattle he saw the daughter of one of his older friends and visited Seattle’s red light district. In France he had an affair with a young French widow and later hired a prostitute while on leave. Pinkham derived little comfort from these distractions and could not live up to his own shifting expectations about his military career.

Pinkham considered himself in a personal crisis during his war years, and used literature to develop his beliefs. When he read Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, he saw his own religious struggle in the philosophical agnostic protagonist, Levin. Later when reading Maurice Hewlitt’s Open Country, he identified with the wandering poet protagonist. For a while he read novels by H.G. Wells and tried to adopt a fatalistic attitude. Finally his reading of the New Testament converted him to Christianity. He handled the strains of war both stereotypically through sex and alcohol but also more individually through his philosophical and literary interests. Throughout his war years, Pinkham futilely searched for a philosophy that seemed meaningful to him and an antidote to his persistent malaise. After the war, Pinkham felt strangely uncomfortable in America after so long an absence. He continued his wandering life, but then settled down as the postmaster in his hometown of Milton, New Hampshire.

Harold Pinkham ‘15
Milton, New Hampshire
Corporal, 161st Infantry, Formerly the Washington National Guard

This Series: During World War I, 3,407 Dartmouth men were uprooted from campus, graduate school, or their early careers to serve in a modern war unlike any previous American military engagement.[11] Four of them, Harold Pinkham ’15, George Dock ’16, Edward Kirkland ’16, and Wainwright Merrill ’19, left records of their war experience in the Rauner Special Collections Library. All four matched the demographics of the College at the time and were united by their experiences at progressive prewar Dartmouth, but despite their somewhat similar backgrounds, their personalities were quite different. Their stories speak to the diverse beliefs, experiences, and sources of comfort of Dartmouth men involved in World War I.

Ask for MS-62.

1Harold Pinkham, “War Years,” Dartmouth College. The Papers of Harold Batchelder Pinkham at Dartmouth College. 1978, 2.
2Keene, 8.
3Keene, 15.
4Harold Pinkham, “War Years,” Dartmouth College. The Papers of Harold Batchelder Pinkham at Dartmouth College. 1978, 7.
5Harold Pinkham, “War Years,” Dartmouth College. The Papers of Harold Batchelder Pinkham at Dartmouth College. 1978, 32.
6Harold Pinkham, “War Years,” Dartmouth College. The Papers of Harold Batchelder Pinkham at Dartmouth College. 1978, 71.
7Harold Pinkham, “War Years,” Dartmouth College. The Papers of Harold Batchelder Pinkham at Dartmouth College. 1978, 94.
8Harold Pinkham, “War Years,” Dartmouth College. The Papers of Harold Batchelder Pinkham at Dartmouth College. 1978, 105.
9Harold Pinkham, “War Years,” Dartmouth College. The Papers of Harold Batchelder Pinkham at Dartmouth College. 1978, 142.
10Harold Pinkham, “War Years,” Dartmouth College. The Papers of Harold Batchelder Pinkham at Dartmouth College. 1978, 50.
11Charles Wood, The Hill Winds Know Their Name: A Guide to Dartmouth’s War Memorials. Hanover N.H.: Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs, 2001, 6.