Friday, October 12, 2012

The Execution of Private Henry

"Notwithstanding promises given by Pvt CB Henry yesterday he has since as acknowledged to me tampered with seal thongs if not other food... Pvt Henry will be shot today... This order is imperative & absolutely necessary for any chance of life."  So read the orders given by A.W. Greely on June 6, 1884, to Sergeants Brainard, Long and Fredericks.

The 1881-1884 Lady Franklin Bay Expedition led by Greely started out well enough according to George Rice, though matters deteriorated the following year when an expected supply ship failed to reach the party. A second provisioning attempt in 1883 also failed when the Proteus was crushed by ice, again preventing any additional supplies from reaching Greely and his men.

Without the expected supplies at their main base of Fort Conger, Greely decided to head south and retrieve the secondary caches that were supposed to have been left by the relief expeditions that had been unable to rendezvous with his party. Unfortunately, the cache at Cape Sabine only contained forty days worth of provisions and by the time Greely reached it in October of 1883, the weather conditions prevented the party from continuing on to Greenland or returning to Fort Conger.

Needless to say, rationing was put in place and all members of the party were expected to share in the hardship. According to Greely's note from June 5, 1884, Private Henry had made a practice of stealing food and while this had been "so far condoned and pardoned," enough was enough.  Greely wrote that "if this man be detected... eating food of any kind not issued him... you will at once shoot him and report the matter to me." Private Henry failed to refrain from further stealing and was executed the next day. The remaining seven of the original twenty-one members of the expedition were rescued sixteen days later.

Ask for A.W. Greely's papers, Stef Mss-64. The two notes regarding Private Henry are in Box 2, folder 18.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

You Laugh

We recently acquired a small collection of Dartmouth's more recent history related to the introduction of coeducation in 1972. Elizabeth Epstein Kadin entered Dartmouth College in 1973, during a time when the College had not yet come to terms with this monumental change, and a sexist and hostile environment pervaded the campus. In response, as part of a class project for a philosophy seminar entitled "Feminism and Revolution," Epstein and seven other women wrote and produced a play called You Laugh, in 1975. The play was a "35 minute series of skits designed to focus on feelings and perceptions of Dartmouth women." Even though the women disagreed as much as they agreed during the writing process, according to Melanie Graves '78, every woman could identify with some of the crude jokes, insults and sexual stereotypes they were confronted with on a daily basis.

The play was first performed at Hopkins Center in front of a sympathetic crowd of only women. However, the next two performances at Rollins Chapel were opened up to the entire Dartmouth community and attracted a mixed crowd, stimulating lengthy discussions among those who attended.

Though it would take many more years, for women to be truly accepted at Dartmouth, the play exceeded the expectations for those who were involved and supported it. It remains a testament to all the women who fought and ultimately succeeded to break into this once all male bastion.

To view the script of You Laugh as well as newspaper accounts and correspondence related to the play and coeducation, including letters of support from trustees as well as letters from a disgruntled alum ask for MS-1228, The papers of Elizabeth Kadin.