Friday, January 21, 2022

In Memoriam: Stanley Brown '67

Eleven miniature books being cradled in Stanley Brown's hands
We are mourning the loss of Stanley Brown, retired Curator of Rare Books, who passed away earlier this week after a long illness. Stan graduated from Dartmouth in 1967, and returned three years later under the tutelage of Edward Connery Lathem '51 to help direct the Library's Special Collections Department. During his long tenure, he built up our rare book and fine presses holdings and ushered in several major book collections including the Edward P. Sine '51 Illustrated Book collection. He also authored a guide to our rare books collections that we still use today.

This image of Stan's loving hands cradling a selection of miniature books donated by Madelyn Hickmott best exemplifies the nurturing attention Stan devoted to the collections. The rare books were literally in good hands with him.

Stan retired from Dartmouth Library in 2004, but he stayed connected to Special Collections and was an avid reader of this blog. We will miss his meticulous fact checking, and his enthusiastic responses when we published a particularly meaty post. But we will always remember Stan through the collections that he grew and cultivated with a loving and skillful touch.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Dartmouth's First Gun Club

Photograph of the 1910-1911 Dartmouth Gun ClubNext week, Special Collections will facilitate a Writing 3 class session that explores archival materials related to Dartmouth's historic relationship with the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. In preparation for the visit, we had the opportunity to explore letters and photographs documenting the founding of the Dartmouth Gun Club. Most of us are familiar with The Dartmouth Outing Club and may have even heard of its founder, Fred Harris, who was a member of the class of 1911. In addition to bringing alpine skiing to campus as a sport, Harris also introduced trap shooting. In a letter to the editors of the student newspaper, Harris stated that "Trap shooting has found favor among the students of this College. Its spectacular characteristics appeal to the undergraduate mind. There is a snap, a life, and vigor to it that can not help but make it flourish here in the future."

Handwritten rules for the Dartmouth Gun ClubAlongside a photograph of Harris and the inaugural shooting team, a Dartmouth Gun Club scrapbook from 1910-11 also contains a handwritten set of three rules to govern the use of firearms in the club: first, no rifle or shotgun shall be fired when anyone is in front of the firing line; second, that no gun shall be loaded until the shooter steps to the firing line; and third, that "no gun shall be pointed toward any human being. Whether the gun is loaded or not does not affect this rule in the least." These rules seem sensible enough to us, and we trust that some version of them is still in effect today at the Dartmouth Outing Club's shooting range, located near the Dartmouth Organic Farm.

To look through the earliest scrapbook of the Dartmouth Gun Club, come to Special Collections and ask to see Box 6245 from the Dartmouth Outing Club's records (DO-1).

Friday, January 7, 2022

A "Robbery" at the Hanover Post Office

Page of one of Whitcomb's letters home“We have had some great excitement in Hanover,” Frank Whitcomb, class of 1911, wrote to his sister during his first winter at Dartmouth, “which is a very rare thing I assure you.” Whitcomb goes on to relate that the Hanover postmaster had claimed just days ago that, while he was counting out money, a man broke the window beside him, pointed a gun through it, and forced him to hand over hundreds of dollars. The Boston Globe commented that the robber was “surprisingly daring” to have committed the robbery “in easy view of the back part of a drug store and a hardware store,” and that the terror of being robbed at gunpoint left the victim in a “fainting condition.” If this sounds too dramatic to be true—it was. The broken glass from the window was found on the outside of the building, suggesting it had been broken from the inside. Unable to explain this, the postmaster eventually confessed that he had recently taken some money himself and faked the robbery to cover up the shortage.

Page of one of Whitcomb's letters homeAside from the crime taking place in Hanover, there was a commotion happening on campus. Whitcomb told his sister that Dartmouth student vigilantes heard about the “robbery” and took matters into their own hands, taking their “revolvers and shot guns” and running “about on [campus] shouting, here he is and there he goes, following their shouts with shots and yells” until it sounded like “the fourth of July.” Of course, they were chasing nobody, because the robber didn’t exist. But when the D gave its update on the “robbery” situation a few days later, it didn’t even mention the students’ response. It’s possible that in 1908, guns were so normalized on Dartmouth’s campus that students running around shooting them wasn’t considered newsworthy. It’s also possible that Whitcomb exaggerated this part of the story. It would not have been the wildest embellishment in Hanover that winter.

To read Whitcomb’s letters, come to Rauner and ask for MS-1438. (Or, ask about our other collections of student letters!)