Friday, November 8, 2019

Doing What Has to Be Done

Letter from Hopkins to Dartmouth alumni serving in the US military
This coming Monday, November the 11th, is when the United States of America celebrates Veterans Day. This federal holiday shares the date with holidays celebrated by other countries such as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day. Whereas those holidays traditionally mark the anniversary of the end of World War I, Veterans Day celebrates the service of all US military veterans. Dartmouth has historically seen significant participation in wars that have involved the United States, especially the world wars. In World War I, a total of 2,672 Dartmouth alumni were in uniform as well as another 700 in the Student Army Training Corps on campus. The number of Dartmouth participants in World War II was even greater; a guesstimate by the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine in August of 1942 affirmed that more than 6,300 alumni would have enlisted within the year.

Here at Rauner we have an amazing collection that bears testimony to and honors the memory of military veterans who served during that war. This collection of World War II narratives contains letters, postcards, V-mail, newsletters, transcripts and newspapers clippings of personal narratives of Dartmouth men involved in World War II. The narratives, mostly in the form of letters, document the lives and activities of Dartmouth affiliated men and women in civilian life, military training and in active military duty in all theaters. Many of the narratives are short, but some provide details about life during the war. The letters were sent to various members of the Dartmouth community and collected into a group following the war, most likely by Maude French and Harold G Rugg. The primary recipients are Alan Ackerman Beetle, Class of 1936; J. (James) Moreau Brown, Class of 1939; Maude French, Art Librarian; Harold Goddard Rugg, Assistant Librarian; Herbert Faulkner West, Professor of Comparative Literature and William Maynard, Professor of Romance Languages. Also included are an assortment of pamphlets, guides and ration books.

In a letter that Ernest M. Hopkins addressed to "Dartmouth Men in the Armed Services," dated December 20, 1944, the President of Dartmouth College at the time emphasizes the "mingled feelings of pride in you, anxiety about you, and affection for you that we here have for you there." For each one of the alumni in service at the time, Hopkins goes on to say that he realizes "what it means that among the thousands of you who serve, some live daily amidst deadly hazards, other in suffering of mind or body or in dire discomfort, and still others in demoralizing boredom. This knowledge makes us living comfortably at home very humble concerning the little that we can do but vicariously very proud because of the spirit in which you are doing what has to be done." Today, we feel the same measure of humility and gratitude for all who have and continue to put themselves in harm's way while serving their country.

To see the World War II Narratives collection, come to Rauner and ask for MS-460. To see Hopkins's letter to the alumni servicemen, ask for the World War II vertical files.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

"Camouflaging" Mrs. Hapgood

Photograph of Elizabeth Hapgood, ca. 1916On September 27, 1918, the Dartmouth Board of Trustees officially appointed Elizabeth Hapgood instructor in Russian, making her the first woman to be appointed to the faculty. It was not a noble effort on the part of the College to diversify its faculty or a movement for gender equality. Instead it was a decision made out of desperation, fraught with worry and angst.

You see, Dartmouth wanted to start teaching Russian. World War I and the Russian Revolution demonstrated a need for government officials and business people with an understanding of the culture and ability to speak the language. Dartmouth was ready to help create these future internationalists, but they hit a problem. They couldn't find any men capable of teaching Russian.

By happenstance, there was a highly qualified, 24-year-old Russian speaker with teaching experience in Hanover at the time who was available. The only difficulty for Dartmouth was that she was a woman--and that kind of freaked them out. Louis Dow, who headed the Department of Romance Languages, and President Ernest Hopkins sent a flurry of memos back and forth lamenting that there was not a man to teach Russian, and debating the future consequences of putting a woman on the faculty. At one point, Dow exclaimed, "I wish there was some way of 'camouflaging' Mrs. Hapgood." They finally relented and made the hire, but not after some disturbing soul searching.

Close up of "'Camouflaging' Mrs. Hapgood" in Louis Dow's hand
To learn more about the hiring of Elizabeth Hapgood and the stories of other women who broke through Dartmouth's faculty gender barrier, come to the Woman on the Faculty: A Dartmouth Centennial conference this Friday, November 8th, at Occom Commons!

After that, you can learn more by asking for the Elizabeth Hapgood Affliates File, and the correspondence between Dow and Hopkins in DP-11, Box 6743, Folder 20.