Friday, February 15, 2019

Tough Love

Poster reading "The fact that yours is better than anyone else's is not a guarantee that it's any good. The Book Arts Press Valentine's Day Thought for 1998."
Poster reading "You never stop learning what you can give up. The Book Arts Press Valentine's Day Thought for 1991"The Book Arts Press is a small operation now run by the Rare Book School out of Charlottesville, Virginia. Originally founded by Terry Belanger at Columbia University, the BAP was the precursor to Rare Book School itself and provided a space in which to experiment with the history of printing and the book. Nowadays, The Book Arts Press only appears on publications that are generated by the school.

A longstanding tradition of the Press is to issue a keepsake poster on Valentine's Day that challenges its viewers with a sometimes hard-to-swallow adage. Here in Special Collections, for some reason, we have a number of these posters from the 1990s. Our personal favorite is, "The fact that yours is better than anyone else's is not a guarantee that it's any good." If you're not really one for Valentine's Day and prefer harsh truths to sweet nothings, then come to Special Collections and ask to see Presses B642fac (the posters are all housed together in the same portfolio).

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Shutting Down Shockley

Page from the 27 Oct 1969 issue of "The Science World", showing a photo of Shockely being confronted by applauding Black students on campus.
"Black students at Dartmouth acted with courage, restraint and astuteness to prevent Shockley from mouthing slanders against them and their race..." - Errol Hill, 1969

Being a Black student at Dartmouth is hard enough in 2019, but what was it like being a Black student here ~50 years ago? This is the question I sought to answer as a Historical Accountability Student Research Fellow. To examine the Black student experience at Dartmouth in the 1960s and 1970s, I relied largely on the Papers of Errol G. Hill - Dartmouth’s first tenured Black professor.

Errol Hill was born in Trinidad in 1921. He came to America in 1960 after receiving fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Theatre Guild of America to attend Yale University, where he earned his Bachelor's degree, his Masters of Fine Arts and his Doctorate of Fine Arts, all in 6 years. In 1968, he came to Dartmouth as an Associate Professor of Drama, was promoted to a full professor the following year and eventually was appointed the John D. Willard Professor of Drama and Oratory. Aside from his role teaching at Dartmouth, Hill played an active role in Black student life by serving as an advisor to the Afro-American Society, being involved in the introduction of the Black Studies program, and acting as the college’s first affirmative action officer.

Hill’s collection at Rauner is extensive, documenting his personal and professional life, and it really helped me garner a view of campus life during the time he taught here.

One of the major events chronicled in Hill's collection is Dr. William Shockley's visit to Dartmouth's campus in 1969. Dr. Shockley, a nobel prize winner and professor at Stanford University, was invited to Dartmouth as part of the fall term meeting of the National Academy of Science, which was being held at Dartmouth. Shockley had requested the opportunity to deliver his contributed paper on psychometrics, in which he suggested that there might be genetic differences in intelligence among races. Under the constitution of the Academy, any member is entitled to deliver a paper at a regular meeting on his own request, and thus Shockley was scheduled to give a controversial lecture, titled "The Offset Analysis of Racial Differences."

On October 15, 1969, as Shockley began his speech, twenty-five to thirty Black students stood up and applauded for him, along with the rest of the audience. However, seventeen of those Black students refused to sit down and did not stop applauding, preventing Shockley from giving his speech. All
carbon copy of Errol Hill's "The Shockley Incident: a considered viewpoint."
seventeen students were suspended for one term, without restrictions. In protest, every member of the Judicial Advisory Committee for Black Students (JAC), which included Errol Hill, resigned. The JAC had released a 29-page report after the incident concluding that no college penalty should be assessed and that charges against students should be dismissed, as Shockley’s speech was 'group libel' and therefore not protected under the constitution. The report is available in Rauner, as well as a statement about the incident written by Hill himself.

In that statement, titled "The Shockley Incident: a considered viewpoint," Hill asks important questions about to what end free speech should be restricted to protect minority students. Hill's viewpoint is unique and significant, and he establishes his status as an ally to the students by taking a definitive stance against Shockley, saying "there is apparently no law against the slander of the black race by a white scientist." As he would mention years later in his oral history conducted by the college, Hill was often seen as by the Black students on campus as a liaison between themselves and the administration: "I was the only person that they would allow to come in and talk with them about the problems they were having." This statement exemplifies why Black students felt comfortable speaking with Hill, who unlike the majority of the college, sided with them and understood that responsibility for the incident lay "with those who aided and abetted the expression of these slanders by giving Shockley permission to speak and providing him a platform to do so."

So much has changed for Black students at Dartmouth but, at times like this, I realize that there is still so much more to be done. It is almost impossible to read about the Shockley event and not draw parallels with David Horowitz's talk on campus earlier this year. Dartmouth is still inviting bigoted speakers to campus that threaten the safety of minority students who are still having to protest and stand up for themselves. As we celebrate Dartmouth's 250th anniversary, I urge us all to reflect on those years, what Dartmouth did wrong during them, and what Dartmouth can do better. And to continue to act with the courage of the Black students who protested Shockley’s appearance in order to make campus a better and more inclusive place.

The Papers of Errol G. Hill (ML-77) are available in Rauner Library, as is his oral history (DOH-12). One can also learn more about the Shockley incident by viewing the Shockley Incident records (DA-23).

Posted for Anneliese Thomas '19, recipient of a Historical Accountability Student Research Fellowship for the 2019 Winter term. The Historical Accountability Student Research Fellowships provide full funding for a current Dartmouth student to conduct research with primary sources during an off-term on a topic related to issues of inclusivity and diversity in the college's past. For more information, visit the fellowship's website.

Friday, February 8, 2019

An Uncanny X-Carnival

Color cover of Bizarre Adventures No. 27
Winter Carnival has once again arrived on campus, and with it come the usual events and sights that have become long-standing traditions here at Dartmouth over the years. This year's theme, "ICE AGE: 250 Years of Winter," is represented on the green by a large snow sculpture of what looks like, perhaps, a mammoth. It's hard to tell because of the rain that we've had here in Hanover this week. Over the decades, similar sculptures have captured the imaginations of carnival-goers and even a national audience. We've blogged before many times about Winter Carnival, and how it was so in the national zeitgeist in the early 20th century that at one point Hollywood made a movie about it.

First page of the story about Iceman and Winter Carnival, with Bobby Drake admiring a snow sculpture of Angel, an X-ManHowever, today, we want to move from big screen to small print and talk about a time when an X-Man attended Winter Carnival, way back in 1981. Bobby Drake, known more familiarly as the superhero Iceman, was one of the original five X-Men created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in 1963. The perpetual youngster of the group, Iceman often was overshadowed by the other members of the team like Cyclops, Angel, or Jean Grey (aka Marvel Girl or Phoenix). However, the young mutant comes into his own as a visiting sophomore at Dartmouth during Winter Carnival. Originally published in 1981, it was one of three X-Men-related stories in issue number 27 of Marvel's Bizarre Adventures magazine.

page from the Winter Carnival X-Man story, showing Iceman foiling the robbers' attempts to steal computer components from Dartmouth
In the story, Iceman stops thieves from stealing components of Dartmouth's state-of-the-art computer system, and then goes on to be the guest of honor at Winter Carnival, where he is finally and truly "in his element." Although Bizarre Adventures wasn't technically a comic book, the story was re-printed in 2016 in the back of a variant edition of Uncanny X-Men no. 600, which was donated to special collections by Dartmouth Library's Digital Humanities Librarian, Laura Braunstein.

To see both versions, come to special collections and ask for Rare PN6728.X2 U536 2016. Or, if you're in the area for Winter Carnival this year, check out our exhibit in the foyer called "Out in the Cold," installed in collaboration with the larger festivities occurring all over campus for the next few days.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Manchurian Commendation

Image of the imperial seals of the seventh Emperor of the Qing Dynasty along with text in Chinese and Manchu from the center of the scroll
China is a country made up of more than fifty-five minority groups, with the Han people group comprising over 90% of the population. The Manchu people are the fourth largest minority in China and lend their name to the northeastern region known as Manchuria. While here in the United States, that word most likely brings to mind the title of a movie ("The Manchurian Candidate") and the relatively recent Cold War, The Manchu people have lived in northeast Asia for more than a thousand years. They were re-branded as "Manchus" in 1635 by an emperor of the Qing Dynasy, Hong Taiji; their language, also now known as Manchu and distinct from Mandarin Chinese, is still in existence today.

Here in Special Collections, we are fortunate to have a surviving example of that language in the
An excerpt of Manchu writing from the imperial scroll
form of an imperial decree issued in 1846 by the Daoguang Emperor, seventh emperor of the Qing Dynasty. Written on a silk scroll measuring seven feet long by thirteenth inches wide, the decree is written in both Manchu and Chinese characters and carries the official red chops, or stamped seals, of the Imperial Palace. The text is a posthumous honor awarded to the parents of Wang Fuh Tsai, who was the military governor of a territory in "Chinese Turkestan," or in what is now known as the Xinjiang province in northwest China. Given that the edict is written in both Manchu and Chinese, and it is addressed to Wang Fuh Tsai's parents, it's safe to assume that he was ethnically Manchu.

To see a beautiful example of calligraphic Manchu, and to examine the official seal of Imperial China during the 1800s, come to Rauner and ask for Codex 835654.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Frozen Beauty

Icebergs in a channel with a pink sky backdrop
It has been a bit nippy in the lower 48 this week with the arrival of the polar vortex. We were spared the worst of it, but still, temperatures have been well below zero the last couple of nights and yesterday was pretty brutal if you were facing into the wind. Luckily for us, we have the Stefansson Collection on Polar Exploration at hand, so whenever we feel too oppressed by the long winters in Hanover, we can find plenty of books that describe much worse. We can also find books that remind us of the pure beauty of winter, when the stars are crystals in the night and the sun sparkles off of the snow. Today, we will opt for the beauty.

A sailing ship with ice hanging from the mast in ice filled waters
To see more, ask for W. H. Browne's Ten Coloured Views Taken During the Arctic Expedition of Her Majesty's Ships "Enterprise" and "Investigator" (London: Ackermann, 1850) at Stef G610 .B88.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Flaming Red Communism at Dartmouth

One-page memo from President Hopkins to Treasurer Edgerton
One of the great joys of working in special collections is the serendipitous discovery of some small detail that further expands our knowledge about a subject or aspect of Dartmouth's history. We've blogged before about how Rauner Library was part of the Shared Academic Experience as part of New Student Orientation back in September of 2018. Incoming freshmen visited the Orozco murals in the basement of Baker Library with Professor Mary Coffey and then came over to Rauner Library to see archival films, Orozco's original sketches from the Hood Museum, and examples of how the murals were received by Dartmouth students and alumni. For the same event, we happened upon a letter written by President Ernest Hopkins to Dartmouth's Treasurer, Halsey Edgerton. In the memo, Hopkins provides a hint of some interesting and somewhat humorous details related to the Mexican muralist who had been commissioned to paint the frescoes at Dartmouth amid a fair bit of controversy.

The first item of interest is that Orozco was one of two "sensations in mural painters" that were in the zeitgeist; the other painter that Hopkins alludes to is Diego Rivera. The college, with the encouragement of the Chair of the Art Department, Artemus Packard, had originally considered bringing both artists to campus, but the funding didn't pan out. Instead, Packard chose Orozco because his work was more in the traditional style than Rivera's. It's also interesting to note that money from the Rockefeller (yes, those Rockefellers) tutorial fund was used to pay Orozco because he was brought to campus as an instructor and not merely a muralist. One might catch a whiff of hypocrisy in Orozco's willingness to receive Standard Oil money in exchange for his services, given that Hopkins describes him as a "flaming red communist." However, even if Orozco was aware of where the money was coming from, he clearly didn't have a problem with vocally rejecting exploitative capitalism even as he benefited from him. As Hopkins notes, Orozco once told a wealthy patroness that he hoped she would be assassinated, even while he was in the midst of painting a fresco for her in her own home.

The institution of Dartmouth College, thankfully, was exempt from Orozco's fury because he considered it to be "eleemosynary," or a site of charitable giving. However, he still felt (at least according to Hopkins) that the faculty should be "annihilated." With that in mind, Hopkins closes the letter by warning Treasurer Edgerton not to oppose Orozco at any point. He playfully says that he'd "hate to lose a good treasurer" and that Edgerton represents "all that he [Orozco] abhors."

To take a look at the correspondence related to the painting of the Orozco murals, come to Rauner and ask for the Collection relating to the work of Jose Clemente Orozco (DL-34, Box 6122, Folder 23).

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Impression of a Birthday

Wood cut of two faces among flowers from Kew Gardens"From the oval shaped flower-bed there rose perhaps a hundred stalks spreading into heart shaped or tongue shaped leaves half way up and unfurling at the tip red or blue or yellow petals marked with spots of colour raised upon the surface; and from the red blue or yellow gloom of the throat emerged a straight bar, rough with gold dust and slightly clubbed at the end."

We offer you these flowers as described and hand set in type one hundred years ago by Virginia Woolf, today, on her birthday.

First page of text from Kew Gardens
Want more? Ask for Kew Gardens, printed by Virginia and Leonard Woolf in 1919, Val 827W884 S5.