Friday, October 18, 2019

Room for a Few Girls: Co-Education in the Dartmouth Outing Club

Page from Jeff Stimson's Summer 1971 Lodge Manager report
In 1971, the issue of coeducation that was sweeping the college at large came to the Dartmouth Outing Club. Each campus organization was to inform the College of how coeducation would affect their operations and, as the largest and oldest outing club in the country, the DOC's operations were many. In my research on inclusion and diversity in the Dartmouth Outing Club, I've gathered that while organizational structure has been relatively incorporative, the traditional outdoorsmen culture of the DOC pervaded the club and hindered its ability to integrate women.

Even when the club did make strides in the years immediately preceding co-education, as in the all-female transfer student outdoor orientation trips that occurred summer of 1971, the cultural reality of the DOC undermined efforts. For the transfer student trips, there were only male leaders. The women were also reported to have been given lots of special attention at the lodge by the male crew. In his report as Lodge Manager for summer 1971, Jeff Stimson recommends future lodge managers "invite some girls up for the crew to enjoy the night before [the] trip begins" in order to keep spirits high. Undue attention to women, the lack of female leaders, and the clear sexual connotations that women had for the highest authority in the lodge shows that even when women were given the opportunity to get outside, it was not in the same manner as their male classmates. The DOC was at that time one of the more conservative organizations on campus, and its members were reluctant to change.

Change did come as women matriculated to the college as Dartmouth students in the fall of 1972.
Black and white photograph of DOC Officers that includes Elise Erler
Swiftly, the DOC began integrating. When elections were held for the 1974-75 academic year, Elise Erler '76 was selected as DOC vice president and became the first woman to serve on directorate. She is pictured on top of the rest of the all-male directorate in a human pyramid, clearly in the fold of the social dynamics of DOC leadership. However, despite the progress that women in leadership positions undoubtedly shows, a look at the meeting minutes for the hiking sub-club Cabin and Trail divulges a chauvinistic culture. John Blair Wood '73 included in the minutes from September 22, 1971 a rhyming poem referring to female genitalia. The poem, addressed to a 'Janet', is shown reproduced here on Dartmouth stationary and reads "I might be a ship/in your clit/moored. and under full steam/I'd fill you with cream." The poem was incorporated into the official club minutes, indicating it was read out loud during a CnT meeting. Offensive and brazen, the poem demonstrates a club willing to tolerate––and even laud––sexism. Wood, the author, would move on from being CnT secretary to Chair to eventually president of the DOC. Even when the club made large steps forward, the culture had a while to go in terms of respecting and appreciating women.

In the time after co-education, the DOC sought ways to include women into the fold of activities. Efforts manifested in first year trips, as Directors sought to explicitly recruit women leaders. In 1982, "An Introduction to the Dartmouth Outing Club" featured many women, even female members of the woodsman’s team, thereby undermining original claims in co-education reports that women would serve a merely decorative function in the outdoors. Later on in the 90s, the group "Women in the Wilderness" was formed to increase access to the outdoors in a female dominated space.

While we still have much work to do to ensure women are on equal footing with men outside (and inside for that matter), I am grateful to the women and administrators who came before me and made great efforts so that I might feel comfortable getting outside with the DOC. Their emotional endurance has made it possible for me to go hiking each weekend and feel like a full member of the social and cultural folds of the DOC.

A page from Joseph Schwartzman's letterIn his thoughts on how co-education would affect the DOC, Joseph Schwartzman '70 wrote: "The Dartmouth out of doors is a big enough place, and I am sure we can easily find room for a few girls." While the DOC did find room for the girls, it is more often true that Dartmouth women made spaces for themselves in the outing club.

And I am so glad that they did.

To see Jeff Stimson's Summer 1971 Lodge Report, ask for the Dartmouth Outing Club records (DO-1), Box 6182, Folder 18. To see the photo with Elise Erler '76, ask for the Outing Club Officers photo file. To read the Schwartzman letter, ask for the Dartmouth Outing Club records (DO-1), Box 6170, Folder 8.

Posted for Mia Nelson ’22, recipient of a Historical Accountability Student Research Fellowship for the 2019 Fall 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.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Confederate Chemicograph Backs

Confederacy $5 bill back printed in red inkOn the eve of the American Civil War's commencement, the newly formed Confederacy rushed to generate their own currency. The first bills were circulated in April 1861, just days before Fort Sumter was bombarded in South Carolina's Charleston Bay. In many ways Confederate dollars were ahead of their time. Instead of being backed by hard assets like gold or silver, the currency were essentially bills of credit, and promised to repay their owner the actual dollar value once the war had concluded and the Confederacy was victorious in its repulsion of the Union troops. After Gettysburg, confidence waned and inflation skyrocketed.

Another challenge besides inflation for the Confederate Treasury was a dearth of highly skilled engravers and printers in the South, as well as limited access to bank plates. As a result, many of the
bills had images that had been lifted from the original plates or notes that were available to the printers. In all, there were seven series of banknotes issued by the Confederacy between 1861 and 1864, the last one authorized by an act passed in February of 1864. For this last round of printing, the Confederates commissioned plates from an English engraver, S. Straker and Sons; the plates were called "Chemicograph backs" in reference to Straker's patented electrotyping process.
$50 Confederate bill back, printed in blue ink
Most of these plates never made it to the South, mostly likely lost at sea because of Union blockades. However, a small number survived. One set of surviving plates made their way into the hands of Philip Hartley Chase 1907, who donated them to the Smithsonian. Before doing so, he had a limited number of sets of prints struck from those plates. Chase then arranged to sell those prints in collectible packets, with the proceeds going to Dartmouth College. He eventually gave the Library a small set of the printed backs, along with other printed materials explaining their provenance.
$100 Confederate bill back, printed in green ink
To look through the various denomination for yourself, come to Special Collections and ask to see the "Chemicograph Backs and Confederate Treasury Notes" collection (MS-493).