Friday, April 24, 2015

A Work in Progress

A black and white photograph of Dartmouth Hall.You can search for Dartmouth College photographs wherever you are and download them to your device of choice. On the Rauner Library home page you can search Photo Records, the work of the college photographers, though only those from this century are digital and ready to be downloaded. You can also search through the Photo Files. These photographs are arranged topically and date from the beginning of photography.

Searching the images is typically by topic or keyword. For example, search for "Dartmouth Hall" in Photo Files and up come 1665 images. Try using the four digit number in the first catalog entry from that initial search: "0663."  That limits the results to just the photographs in folder "Dartmouth Hall Opening." Here's an image of the crowd from that day.

A black and white photograph of a crowd, captioned "2/17/1908 Opening of Dartmouth Hall."

Both Photo Records and Photo Files are works in progress. The Photo Records images are added to on a regular basis as we receive new images from the college photographer. The Photo Files images are also regularly being added to as we scan the more than 100,000 images represented in the collection. As of this post, approximately 34,000 images representing topics through "Lacrosse, Womens" are available.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Samuel Bradley Wiggin

A black and white photograph of a man with a mustache and glasses."The South, for the next century, is doomed. I see no hope for it. The Devil has a mortgage on it and means to foreclose," proclaimed Samuel B. Wiggin in 1873, in a letter to his mother. Wiggin, a student at Dartmouth College, took a leave of absence from Dartmouth in November 1873, and traveled from Boston to Lexington, Mississippi to teach school. In a series of letters to his mother, Wiggin describes his journey, which took him to New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC.,  and Cincinnati. At nineteen, Wiggin is excited about the prospect of teaching and chooses not to teach in the "white school in the village" but rather in a "colored one" outside of town. After his arrival in Lexington, Wiggin first resides at the "Carpetbag Headquarters" above Jordan's Store, the unofficial meeting place of the Northerners in Lexington. He is heartily welcomed by the other "carpetbaggers" and in his first letter from Lexington to his mother he writes that he had a "pleasant" trip and that he will miss the cities of the North despite the fact that they are "dirty and smoky. "This [the North] is the country for a young man and not the South. Here a man must go up and down with the fluctuation of the cotton." He had also observed "the intense feeling of hatred with which the southern whites" regarded the carpetbaggers. "Within the past few days I have seen southern women walk twenty feet out into the street to avoid passing under the Stars and Stripes."

Mississippi had been the second state to secede from the Union and the last to return. It was also one of the states where 55 percent of the population was black. Wiggin was most likely recruited by the Freedman's Bureau (Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands), which had been created in 1865 to assist the freedmen and the defeated white population. The Bureau supplied clothing, food and fuel, built schools and tried to protect the civil rights of the freed slaves. Wiggin's letters are very descriptive. They are at times benevolent towards the black population, but at other times overtly racist:
A negro is and never can be the equal of the white. My scholars have not one third that power of the mind of white children a the same age. Nor do they have that desire to learn… They are like their parents thick-sculled, dull of comprehension and slow to learn.
In his letters, Wiggin expresses the ambivalence toward freed blacks typical of many Northerners of the time. He did not believe in slavery, but he had little faith in their ability to thrive in the United States: "I'm inclined to think that God made him to live in Africa, where no white man can live." His collection of letters offers disturbing and fascinating insights into Reconstruction era views on race.

Two pages of handwriting.
Wiggin leaves Lexington in March 1874. By that time he had had enough of the South and yearned to be back home in Boston. He returned to Dartmouth and graduated with the class of 1875. After graduation, he studied law and practiced in New York City and, later, in San Francisco. In 1881, he married the author Kate Douglas. Wiggin died suddenly of a cerebral apoplexy in 1889, at the age of 35.

To read all the letters in this small collection ask for Ms-236.