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 CabaƱa 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.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Dartmouth Dining Association staff and the "Dartmouth Experience"

“One would not expect that the woman who scans students’ I.D.s at Food Court and the man who sprinkles sand on the icy sidewalks would have a voice on Dartmouth campus” – Erin Loback ’99, News Editor, The Dartmouth

Dartmouth is a large and ever-changing entity. While the “Dartmouth Community'' is something that is often talked about around campus, there is not much consensus on who this “community” encompasses. During my term of residence at Rauner, I continue to wonder whether the staff of Dartmouth College are widely considered to be part of this community. Quotations like the one above lead me to believe that they are not.

For example, Local Union 560 has been present on Dartmouth’s campus since 1966 and is composed of the service workers at the college, such as those who work in Dining Services, FO&M, and other service departments. Those who make up these departments are often from areas outside of the Upper Valley and come from working class backgrounds, sometimes hailing from a familial line of Dartmouth staff. Over the course of 55 years the union that represents these workers has achieved fair pay and benefits for those who keep the campus running, but not without trial or tribulation. Despite these advancements, those who are in the union are some of the lowest paid staff at Dartmouth and yet they are often the first to receive the blows from an economic crisis.


Following the 2008 market crash, Dartmouth announced a $100 million budget cut and, as a result, would be laying off staff in the near future. The proposed layoffs fueled a debate on campus about what exactly was the “Dartmouth Experience”. President Kim emphasized “preserving the most important aspects of ‘The Dartmouth Experience’” whilst conducting cuts and layoffs. Students Stand with Staff, an unrecognized student organization that stood in solidarity with the service union, launched a poster campaign in response to both the layoffs and the capital campaign. The posters displayed a picture of a Dartmouth student with a staff member with the phrase “This is __ and they are a part of my Dartmouth experience.” While this campaign was met with mixed response, it called into question a lot of the issues that I have identified in my research this winter. Dartmouth, in its most recent iterations, does not seem to think that the people who labor to keep the college alive are integral to the Dartmouth experience.

Dartmouth Students for Staff "This is __" campaign poster

As a fellow, I have focused on those who work in Dining Services because, of all the service staff, they often have more time to build meaningful relationships with students. Dartmouth Dining has evolved greatly over the last two centuries and, through my research, I have noticed a shift toward commercialization and automation that coincides with similar trends in the American economy. Despite these changes, Dartmouth Dining employees still pride themselves on catering to students' needs and playing a role in their wellbeing. For example, in 1994, Union President Earl Sweet told The Dartmouth that the union decided against a sick-out because “we [the union] work for the students. We don’t want to do work stoppages or do anything to hurt the students.” It is clear through this interview and others that many Dartmouth staff members deeply care about the student population that they are serving and often form meaningful long lasting relationships. If Dartmouth service workers are not only providing the services outlined in their job descriptions, but also emotional support to students, why are they not seen as integral to the Dartmouth experience?

To examine the Dartmouth Students Stand with Staff records, ask for MS-1239.

Posted for Londyn Crenshaw '22, recipient of a Historical Accountability Student Research Fellowship for the 2021 Winter term. The Historical Accountability Student Research Program provides full funding for current Dartmouth students 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 program's website.


Friday, February 12, 2021

Et Tu, Dartmouth Women’s Clubs?

Cover of the Favorite Dartmouth Recipes cookbookThe epigraph from the Boston Dartmouth Women’s Club'sFavorite Dartmouth Recipes, published sometime in the 1960s, reads:

"Upon what meat doth this our Caesar
feed that he has grown so great"
–Shakespeare

Neatly bound in Dartmouth green with a rustic illustration of the lone pine on the cover, the cookbook appears to be a benign, domestic gesture of support on the part of Dartmouth wives and mothers to the college. Mary Carslile, wife of Samuel R. Carlisle class of 1930, is the author of the forward and begins with: "The members of the Boston Dartmouth Women's Club have long felt, modestly, among themselves, that much of the excellence that is Dartmouth is largely due to the fact that the wives and mothers of Dartmouth men are superb cooks." It seems that Carslile chose this quote to suggest women in domestic roles have a strong influence over creating powerful Dartmouth men. Carlisle even cites astronaut Alan Shepard as having a mother who was a club officer and therefore "helped to prepare him for his success.

Foreword to the Favorite Dartmouth Recipes cookbook, written by Mary CarlisleThe Boston women produced and sold this cookbook to bolster the club’s scholarship fund, which may have been an important, albeit indirect, way for them to help shape the future of Dartmouth’s community. However, Carlisle makes it clear that these current club women are not traditional “good girls.” She writes that the original club name, The Dartmouth Matron’s Club, was “soon seemed too staid for the gay doings of the club” and that to raise money the women use all kinds of methods, “most of them legal.” She refers to the club as “Dartmouth Alumnae group,” and puts the word “alumnae” in bold as if to emphasize that these women graduated from the college themselves. Yet, Carlisle tempers her bold statements by writing that the club’s name change and the fundraising strategies were all to promote the scholarship fund, the club’s ostensible purpose, rather than reflect anything about the women in the club.

Carlisle’s diction continues to reveal the tension these women felt between realizing their ambitions and divulging their true personalities and maintaining a veil of passive, proper domesticity:

"We expect that every mother of a Dartmouth boy will own one, that every Dartmouth man will present one with the engagement ring to the girl of his choice; that it will have a place next to the Bible and the Constitution in every Dartmouth home; that it will be placed in every library and every creative kitchen in the United States."

A cookbook is inherently a domestic object, and motherhood and marriage fall into the domestic, feminine sphere. However the Bible and the Constitution are arguably the two most important texts in American history. In comparing the cookbook to those texts, Carlisle elevates the book’s status beyond the domestic sphere and suggests something about the book and it’s creators set out important moral and social values. Perhaps the women thought that this domestic veil was the best way for them to subtly assert their own power in their husbands’ and sons’ lives.

But Carlisle may have encoded a more radical message in her forward. She notably attributes her epigraph to Shakespeare generally rather than reveal that the line is spoken by the shrewd traitor Cassius in the play Julius Caesar. Cassius conspires to kill Caesar to prevent him from becoming a tyrant. Perhaps this epigraph is Carslile’s subtle message that the women of the Boston Dartmouth Women’s Club are not complacent in their seemingly ancillary role that they must play to achieve influence over the College and, by extension, their husbands and sons.

Whether or not Mary Carslile was channeling Cassius in 1966, it is true that the women’s clubs affiliated with Dartmouth didn’t just produce cookbooks. In fact, there was a time when women used these fundraising clubs as a way to escape their domestic duties. Equally important as what went on in the clubs is why there was a need for them in the first place. Dartmouth women have long fought to be included on campus and still struggle to find spaces where they are entirely free to be ambitious. From long before co-education, women-only organizations like the Boston Dartmouth Women's Club served as important early venues for the more elite Dartmouth women to convene and indirectly influence the college.

To see the cookbook, ask for DC History TX715 .D37.

Posted for Cecelia King '23, recipient of a Historical Accountability Student Research Fellowship for the 2021 Winter term. The Historical Accountability Student Research Program provides full funding for current Dartmouth students 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 program's website.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Seeking Truth as a Rule

Photograph of Fela Sowande at a pianoWhile preparing for a class this last week on the History of Africa from 1800 to the present day, we explored a small collection that immediately drew us in. The collection consists of the papers of Fela Sowande MBE, a Nigerian musician and composer, who was born in Nigeria in 1905. After receiving an initial education in Lagos, Nigeria, he traveled to London in 1934 to study European classical and popular music.

Over the next several decades, Sowande would accumulate an impressive resume of musical performance and accomplishment: In 1936, Sowande was solo pianist in a performance of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." He also played as duo-pianist with Fats Waller, and was theatre organist for the BBC, as well as organist and Choirmaster at Kingsway Hall, London. Later, he studied organ privately under Edmund Rubbra, George Oldroyd, and George Cunningham and became a fellow of the Royal College of Organists in 1943.

Sowande also won several prizes, obtained a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of London, and became a fellow of Trinity College of Music. During World War II, he worked as musical advisor for the Colonial Film Unit of the Ministry of Information, providing background music for educational films. From 1945-1952, Sowande was an organist and choirmaster at the West London Mission of the Methodist Church. Sowande's orchestral works include "Six Sketches for Full Orchestra," "A Folk Symphony," and "African Suite for string orchestra"; these all display clear characteristics of African rhythms and harmonies.

The single photocopied sheet of "Standard Rules for the Student."Later in life, Sowande moved to the United States, where he taught in the Department of Pan-American Studies at Kent State University. One of my favorite documents from the collection is his "Standard Rules for the Student," which he presumably distributed at the start of his college courses. He first drew it up at Howard College in 1969 and then eventually "restructured" it during a visit to Dartmouth College in the summer of 1975. One of his rules seems especially relevant to our current climate: "Seek TRUTH and pursue it, to the extent of remaking your own mind no matter the cost, should it become necessary." To explore the Fela Sowande Papers, ask to see MS-78.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Fake News from 1775

Single image of the broadsideSo, we have an account of the Battle of Bunker Hill that you don't hear told too often here in the United States. This broadside, printed in Boston on June 26th, 1775, casts aspersions on the "Rebels" that dared to raise a battery on the heights of the Charlestown Peninsula. Luckily for the citizens of Boston, the brave and valorous King's Troops rushed forward to defend the town. According to this version of events, clearly written and distributed by a loyalist, the British forces easily overran the barricades and sent the rebels packing after inflicting significant casualties on their forces. As this report, hot off the presses, concludes,"This Action has shown the Bravery of the King's Troops, who under every Disadvantage, gained a complete Victory over Three Times their Number, strongly posted, and covered by Breastworks, But they fought for their King, their Laws and Constitution."

However, this report doesn't really line up with the known historical facts of the conflict. For example, there were two attempted assaults on the hill before the colonists retreated only because they had run out of ammunition. Although the British technically won, the implications of the altercation were sobering. A rag-tag group of local militia had withstood several assaults by British infantry and had inflicted more casualties on the King's troops than would be experienced at any other point in the Revolutionary War; over a thousand soldiers were wounded or killed. In contrast, the colonists suffered less than five hundred casualties, although the losses of General Joseph Warren and Major Andrew McClary were admittedly a tough blow.

To see this very rare Boston-printed and unashamedly British broadside, ask for Broadside 775940.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Watching January Unfold


Photograph of the four volumes in the wooden slipcase
We've blogged before about one of our artists' books that was printed by the Janus Press. In fact, the artist and the founder of the press are the same person, Claire Van Vliet. Although she found the Janus Press in 1955 in San Diego, in 1966, Van Vliet moved the press to the tiny town of Newark, Vermont, where it still resides and continues to produce stunning collaborations by gifted book artists, writers, papermakers, and printmakers. Since she relocated to Newark, Van Vliet has won a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship, often colloquially called a "genius grant" because it is awarded to creative individuals of significant ability without any strings attached.

Van Vliet's artistic prowess and creative intellect is evident in the many innovations in book design that the Press has generated over the last sixty-five years. We've found another little work of beauty by Van Vliet that we want to share with you today called Four Months / Four Seasons. Printed in 2010, the multi-volume work is the first of a series on the seasons by various artists. The four small books, titled January, April, October, and May, are contained with a simple but masterfully made wooden slipcase.The accompanying brochure states that "each of these four books is printed from seven carved linoleum blocks onto multiple sheets of paper. The sheets subsequently are attached to each other and folded to created seven accordion openings that together form a panorama".

The image below is from the January volume and, although it's hard to convey the true experience of unfolding this wintry panorama in person, we hope that you'll enjoy them all the same. If you'd like to see all four panoramas in person, come to Rauner when we're open and ask to see Presses J268fifo.

Image of the January volume partially unfolded


Friday, January 15, 2021

Many Times Removed

Frontispiece of the Fourth Folio with an engraving of Shakespeare and the "To the Reader" poem by Ben JonsonAs just about everyone here at Dartmouth knows, we have a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio, published in 1623 by friends and fellow troupe members of the playwright and poet. It's probably our most requested item, just after our first edition of the Book of Mormon. And, as we've blogged about before, we also have two Second Folios (1632), three Third Folios (1662), and two Fourth Folios (1685). Some of these folios are what we sometimes call "Frankenstein Folios," in that they've been pieced together from the remnants of multiple partially-destroyed originals. Others have had specific pages removed or severely damaged, to the extent that pen and ink facsimiles have been pasted in to fill the gap. They're all technically still originals, sorta, but maybe not in the eyes of bibliographic purists. In addition to those "complete" Folios, we also have a decent number of fragments from all four Folios, including a complete Timon of Athens from the First Folio and King Lear from the Second Folio. There's even a cleverly bound book titled The English Historical Plays of William Shakespeare, which is really just the "Histories" chunk of the Fourth Folio.

Title page of Timon of Athens from the First FolioTitle Page of King Lear from the Second Folio

To get a list of all of the Folios in all their various conditions so that you can come in and look at them, follow this link to a search query in the library catalog. There's a 20th-century spoiler in that list, but otherwise (I think!) the rest of the Folios are there.