Friday, December 13, 2019

Native Non-Graduates

Headshot of Francis Frazier 1920
Today, December 13th, is what we call Charter Day here at Dartmouth College, and this year it represents a fairly important milestone for this small educational institution way up in the woods of northern New Hampshire. On this very day two hundred and fifty years ago, Governor Wentworth signed Dartmouth College into being while Eleazar Wheelock, the college's founder, watched his dream become a reality. A day-long viewing of the original charter will take place today in the Rooke Reading Room at Rauner Special Collections Library in Webster Hall, and the president of the college will be here to say a few words about the importance of the charter and what it represents for Dartmouth College as we move forward into the 21st century.

In addition to being a day of celebration, the 250th anniversary of Charter Day also affords us the opportunity to reflect upon the identity of the college and the people who have made this institution what it is today. It's also an opportunity to tell the stories of alumni and people connected with the college who haven't always been represented by the traditional narrative of the college's history. In the first two hundred years of its existence, despite being founded ostensibly to educate Native Americans, Dartmouth College only succeeded in awarding nineteen Native students with their diplomas. However, many more Native American students spent time here at Dartmouth, having an impact on its culture and beyond, even if they were only here briefly. One such alumnus was the Reverend Francis Philip Frazier, a non-graduating member of the class of 1920.

Frazier was born on the Santee Sioux reservation in northern Nebraska in 1892 and eventually
Frazier in doctoral robes at Dartmouth's 1964 commencementmatriculated at Dartmouth College in the fall of 1916. After less than a year in Hanover, Frazier enlisted in the United States Army, where he spent more than a year stationed in France and Germany. When he returned, he matriculated at Oberlin College, receiving his degree in 1922, and then attended Chicago Theological Seminary. Frazier went on to spend his life as a Christian missionary to Native American communities, including the Kickapoo, the Osage, and his own people. At Dartmouth commencement exercises in 1964, Frazier was awarded an honorary doctorate by the college.

Frazier is just one example of many Native American alumni who were here only briefly but deserve to be recognized for their contribution to the college, both while a member of the campus community and once they left Hanover to return to the outside world. To learn more about Francis Frazier, come to Special Collections and ask for his alumni file. To learn more about other Native American non-graduates, ask for help at the reference desk.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Thomas Mann and the Ten Commandments

First page of Mann's typescript contribution to the book "His birth was disorderly. Therefore he passionately loved order, the immutable, the bidden and the forbidden."  So begins the novella The Tables of the Law by Thomas Mann which was published in 1944.  In the novella, Mann retells the biblical story of Moses from the Book of Exodus. Mann had been commissioned to write the novella by Armin L. Robinson, an Austrian music publisher, as part of Robinson’s attempt to make an anti-Nazi movie about the Ten Commandments. Robinson had also invited several other international authors to contribute including Rebecca West, Franz Werfel, John Erskine, Bruno Frank, Jules Romains, Andre Maurois, Sigrid Undset, Hendrik Willem Van Loon and Louis Broomfield.

The film was never made but Robinson published the literary contributions in a book entitled The Ten Commandments: Ten Short Novels of Hitler’s War Against the Moral Code.
The table of contents for the book In his introduction to the book, Hermann Rauschning, a reformed Nazi Party member, equates Hitler's attacks against humanity with an attack against the Ten Commandments themselves:
The horrible destruction which now shakes the world makes clear to each of us today that the demonic forces of disruption are more than mere expression of the National Socialist's and Imperialist's thirst for power….  It concerns all of us, Christians, Jews and freethinking humanists alike. It deals with the deliberately planned battle against the dignified, immortal foundation of human society: the message from Mount Sinai. Let us name it clearly and simply: Hitler's Battle against the Ten Commandments.
Robinson's foreword to the bookMann's contribution was the only commissioned work he had ever done; he finished it in only eight weeks, receiving $1000 for it. The Ten Commandments was published in 1943. According to literary critic Michael Wood, Mann thought that his novella was superior to the other stories in the book and considered the book a great failure.

Robinson's hope for the book was that it would “open the eyes of those who still do not recognize what Nazism really is.”

We have recently come across the original manuscripts for the book with the contributions by Mann, and Bruno Frank in German and in English and the contribution of Andre Maurois in French and English. You can find these typescripts in Special Collections by asking for MS-216.