Friday, April 9, 2021

All Snow and No Skiing

photo of Malcolm McLane in military uniformHave you all ever heard of Malcolm McLane? He was a New Hampshire boy, a member of Dartmouth's class of 1946, and a skiing enthusiast. He was also an aviator during World War II who was shot down over Europe and spent months in a German POW camp until he and others were liberated by the Russian Army in 1945. Today, for National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day, we honor his memory and those of many other Dartmouth alums who served their country faithfully and endured bleak conditions as captives in a strange land.

Born in 1924 in Manchester, New Hampshire, McLane attended high school at St. Paul's School in Concord before coming to Hanover for his college education. While at Dartmouth, he was captain of the Dartmouth College Ski Team and continued his dedication to the sport for the rest of his life; in 1960, he served as an international alpine ski official at the Olympic Games in Squaw Valley, California, and was eventually inducted into the Ski Hall of Fame in Ishpeming, Michigan.

Despite this lifelong pursuit of skiing, McLane's access to the pastime was disrupted in the fall of 1942, when he was sworn into the United States Air Force as an aviation cadet. After flying 73 combat missions in P-47 fighter planes over France and Germany, his plane was shot down on December 23rd, 1944, near Trier, Germany, during the Battle of the Bulge. He was freed on the evening of April 30th after over four months of confinement in Stalag Luft I, a German prisoner-of-war camp near Barth, Germany.

McLane sent several postcards to his mother in Manchester during his imprisonment, most of them only a sentence or two in length. In those messages, he chose not to describe the harsh conditions of the camp
(probably to alleviate his mother's worry) and instead sighed over the fact that, despite the preponderance of snow in January, he wasn't able to go skiing in it. This observation was likely equal parts truth and a desire to protect those he loved.

Even if you haven't ever heard of Malcolm McLane before, you've probably heard of his daughter, who is an ardent advocate for the rights of US war veterans, both nationally and in her home state: Ann McLane Kuster, a member of Dartmouth's class of 1978, currently serves as the U.S. Representative for New Hampshire's 2nd congressional district (and has since 2013).

To explore Malcolm McLane's papers at Dartmouth College, come to Rauner and ask for MS-1051.

Friday, April 2, 2021

The Clingy Duckling?

Title page for A Christmas GreetingToday is Hans Christian Andersen's birthday! The famous Danish author-poet-playwright was born in Odense, Denmark, in 1805 and is probably best remembered in the US for his fairy tales, such as "The Little Mermaid" or "The Ugly Duckling." When he published his first children's stories in the late 1830s, critics took issue with Andersen's tone because they felt that he wasn't preachy enough. Children's lit was meant for instruction and edification, not for wild flights of fancy.

Despite Danish scholarly criticism, Andersen's stories were very successful across the Channel. The first English translation of his fairy tales was published in 1846 and, in the summer of 1847, Andersen made his first trip to England. He slayed socially; the Countess of Blessington, Marguerite Gardiner, helped him make connections with the intellectual and cultural elite of England. Among the who's who was an author who had name recognition beyond the British Isles: Charles Dickens.

Unbeknownst to Dickens at the time, Andersen was what in today's parlance might be called a Dickens "fanboi." The two men took a stroll together on Blessington's veranda and chatted briefly about their mutual respect for each other's work, and that was that. For Dickens, it was another random encounter; for Andersen, it was a mountaintop experience with his literary hero. Several months later, he published a new gathering of stories, titled A Christmas Greeting. The book contains a letter of dedication to Charles Dickens, in which Andersen mentions their meeting and says that the English author has "taken root forever in [his] heart."

That one moment in the summer of 1847 started nearly a decade's worth of correspondence between the two men, with a reluctant Dickens struggling to keep Andersen at arm's length. Their "relationship" culminated in a visit by Andersen to Dickens's home in 1857, where he extended a short stay into a five-week encampment. He fawned over Dickens while acting entitled and imperious at every social gathering he attended with his host. By the end of Andersen's visit, Dickens and his entire family had concluded that they had experienced a lifetime's worth of Andersen. After the Danish author finally left, Dickens began tapering off his correspondence and relationship with Andersen until he had squeezed him out of his life.

To see a copy of A Christmas Greeting, ask for 1926 Collection A51c.


Friday, March 26, 2021

Birthday Brevity

Robert Frost sitting at his house in Ripton petting Gillie the dog.Today is Robert Frost's birthday and the arguably most well-known of Dartmouth College's alumni (to the 20th century, at least) would have been 147 years old. Although Frost was only here briefly as a member of the class of 1896, his legacy at Dartmouth lives on in many ways, including the largest collection in the world of papers related to the poet and numerous busts and statues around campus. Given that it is his birthday today, and that next month is National Poetry Month, it seemed only right to celebrate his work.

However, we also learned today that April is not only National Poetry Month; it is also National Canine Fitness Month. With that in mind, we quickly settled upon a proper subject for today's blog: Robert Frost and his dog Gillie. Frost welcomed Gillie into his life in the spring of 1940, only a few years after the death of his wife Elinor. The poet had just turned 66 years of age but had already outlived three of his children. A fourth child, and his last living son, Carol died only months after Gillie had arrived. We can only imagine the grief that Frost must have experienced and the comfort that his dog must have been to him during those difficult times.

Many years after Gillie had passed, Frost published a poem titled "One More Brevity" in a book of poetry titled In The Clearing (1962). In that poem, he mentions a brief encounter with a strange dog who stays only a night in his home before leaving the house the following morning, never to return. Reflecting on the experience, Frost says, "I was to taste in little the grief / That comes of dogs' lives being so brief." We can't help but think that Gillie was on his mind and heart while penning those lines that would appear in the poet's last poetry publication before his death in early 1963.

To see our photograph of Robert Frost with Gillie, ask for MS-1178, Box 28, Folder 19.

Friday, March 19, 2021

A Better Chance at Dartmouth and beyond

In 1963, 23 headmasters of prestigious preparatory schools met with the intention of expanding their student bodies to underrepresented and disadvantaged students, which eventually led to the creation of the Independent Schools Talent Search Program (ISTSP). That same year, faculty and staff at Dartmouth proposed that the College begin a summer academic program targeting deprived teenagers.

In a joint effort between the ISTSP and Dartmouth, the ABC (A Better Chance) Program was formed with the goal of giving students from underprivileged backgrounds the skills needed succeed in competitive preparatory schools, and eventually attend college and pursue leadership roles in society. Dartmouth took the lead in providing students with an intensive summer program to help bridge the gap between their prior educational institutions and their future boarding schools, while the preparatory schools were expected to prepare admitted students from the program for college.

In the summer of 1964, 55 boys came to Dartmouth as ABC students, and the number of talented and qualified students steadily grew, as well as the number of colleges and universities. By 1969, over 1,400 students had been placed in private preparatory schools through the program. However, the growing numbers of qualified students quickly outpaced the space and resources of the participating private schools, making clear that the program needed to expand. The public school ABC Program was formed to meet the increased need, and involved housing 10 to 14 ABC students in a predominantly white community with a strong public school system that could still give students skills to excel in college.

The public school leg of the program kicked off at Hanover High School, and was modeled after the boarding school experience. Students lived with a high school teacher, their family, and two Dartmouth undergraduates. The program was an immense success. By 1970, 15 communities had developed their own ABC residences, serving 196 public school ABC students. Interestingly, the Hanover High School program was also the first to admit female students, showing the opportunity for the program to successfully implement co-education.

Posted from an online exhibit curated by Anneliese Thomas '19, recipient of a Historical Accountability Student Research Fellowship during the 2019 Winter term. The Historical Accountability Student Research Program provides funding for Dartmouth students to conduct research with primary sources on a topic related to issues of inclusivity and diversity in the college's past. For more information, visit the program's website.

Friday, March 12, 2021

The Love of Irish

As a part of celebrating Irish-American Heritage Month during March, we're taking this opportunity to highlight one of Dartmouth's most beloved sons of Éire. Sidney Joseph "Irish" Flanigan (seen here on the right next to classmate Lou Lewinsohn) was a member of the class of 1923, a social butterfly, and an inveterate jokester. While a student, he was a member of Phi Delta Theta, Green Key, Casque and Gauntlet, the debating team, the Dartmouth Players, and served as manager of the hockey team. His senior year on campus, he was chosen as the unofficial mayor of Hanover by the student body in a mock election, likely in part because of his campaign's pro-alcohol stance that good-naturedly thumbed its nose at Prohibition.

After graduation, Irish was nearly as active in Dartmouth matters as he had been during his undergraduate days. He served as his Class President, Assistant Class Agent, and Newsletter Editor for almost fifty years. He was also the President of the Alumni Council and the Dartmouth Alumnni Association of Westchester County and even did a stint as Secretary for the New York City Association. In 1953, he co-founded Aquinas House and later took a leave of absence from his career in insurance to fund-raise nationally for a building for the Catholic student center. Nearly a decade later, he was inducted into the Sovereign and Papal Order of the Knights of Malta, one of the highest awards that the Catholic Church can bestow upon its laity. He also received the Dartmouth Alumni Award around that time, the citation for which read, "Dartmouth is written on the heart of Irish Flanigan, just as he is close to the hearts of thousands of Dartmouth men."

A photograph of an older Flanigan sitting in a chair looking bemusedOne of the reasons for Flanigan's stature among his fellow alumni was his self-sacrificial philosophy of life. He once said to his classmates, "Regardless of one's station, it is given to all to be generous. But the word self must be shoved far into the background so that the heart will have room to enjoy the real happiness and pleasure that comes only in doing for others -- without thought of praise, favor, or reward." Irish Flanigan passed away in his sleep on September 22nd, 1973. In a move that his classmate Charles Zimmerman characterized as "typical" for Flanigan, he had spent a good part of that very day "extending kindness and good cheer" towards two friends who were laid up in the hospital.

Zimmerman went on to pay tribute to Flanigan in his obituary in the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine's Class Notes, saying "1923 and Dartmouth have lost an irreplaceable son, one who brought good cheer, good faith, good spirit, and goodness to everything and to every one he touched. All of us are better because of him."

To learn more about Sidney Joseph "Irish" Flanigan's amazing life, come to Rauner and ask for his alumni file.

Friday, March 5, 2021

A Creative Voice for Women

Photograph of Hazel MacKayeThis month is Women's History Month and we are celebrating on our Instagram account, @raunerlibrary, by posting images of amazing women who have made Dartmouth College what it is today. We also want to take a moment here to celebrate one of the phenomenal females from our collections who don't necessarily have a Dartmouth affiliation. Hazel MacKaye was the daughter of Steele MacKaye and a member of a family whose creative and cultural output ran impressively down through four generations. We have the family's papers here at Rauner, including numerous boxes dedicated solely to Hazel.

Although we've posted about Hazel before within the context of the women's suffrage movement, which is arguably how she is best known by the general public, she was a successful theater professional in her own right outside of her activity as a suffragist. As an actor, she toured with Winthrop Ames's Castle Square theater company and appeared in several plays written by her brother, Percy MacKaye.

a page from one of MacKaye's notebooks
Hazel's primary vehicle for artistic expression was the pageant play, which she employed to support the suffrage movement. She also wrote pageants for the YWCA (and served as their Director of Pageantry and Drama), had a pageant published by the Department of the Interior, and taught drama at Brookwood Labor College for several years.

Sadly, like so many creative visionaries, Hazel struggled with severe depression for most of her life. Eventually, at the age of 48, she had a major depressive episode and entered a care facility in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. She would spend the rest of her life there and later at a similar facility in Greens Farms, Connecticut, before passing away in 1944 at the age of 63.

To explore Hazel's legacy, including her numerous notebooks containing observations and information about pageantry and theater, come to Rauner and ask to see relevant boxes from the MacKaye Family Papers (ML-5).

Friday, February 26, 2021

The Crime of Loving Liberty

Senior photo of Luis Torroella '55A few weeks ago, we facilitated an event at the invitation of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding. The Rauner session was one of many events and activities planned by the Center for its 'Round the Girdled Earth program that will run through August of this year. For the months of January and February, the program made a virtual stop in Latin America and the Caribbean, and so we shared some of our materials from the archives and rare book collections that were relevant to that region.

Among the items we shared was the alumni file of Luis Torroella, a member of the class of 1955 and a Cuban national. After graduation, Torroella joined the Cuban underground in an attempt to overthrow the corrupt Batista regime in his homeland. Reports vary as to whether he was an employee of Batista's regime while fighting against it, but it is generally acknowledged that after the revolution he became the Assistant Minister of Finance in the new government. However, his love for Cuba ultimately proved to be his undoing. When Castro and the revolutionary government embraced Communism, Torroella openly opposed the change and eventually resumed underground resistance.

Luis Torroella was arrested by the Cuban government on June 7th, 1961, on charges of working for the Batista regime, fleeing the island in 1960 to promote uprisings, and being the leader of a group of twelve men who were planning to assassinate Fidel Castro. After being moved from La Cabaña prison in Havana to Puerto Boniato prison, Torroella was shot to death by representatives of the Cuban government on October 31st, 1962.

After the news of Torroella's execution reached the US, the Washington Daily News published an uprecedented editorial titled "A Friend Dies." In their brief but moving address to their readership, the newspaper editors asserted that "Luis' crime was that he loved liberty, and all of us who enjoy freedom can never repay and must never forget our debt to those who, like him, die for it." Eleven years later, his daughter, Cynthia Torroella, followed her father's footsteps into Hanover as a member of the class of 1977.

To learn more about Luis Torroella '51, ask to see his alumni file.