Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In the Best Interest of the College

25 years ago, on November 13th, 1989, the Board of Trustees announced the College’s intention to completely divest the endowment from companies operating in South Africa. This decision was the culmination of almost 20 years of protests and discussion between students, administrators, and community members regarding the propriety of the College’s involvement with companies that were complicit in apartheid.

The 1970s and 1980s saw divestment movements arise at many colleges and other institutions in the midst of the public outcry over South Africa’s apartheid system. The College’s first action regarding the divestment question occurred in 1972, when the Trustees voted to form the Advisory Committee for Investor Responsibility, tasked with overseeing the ethical use of Dartmouth’s endowment. In 1977, Rev. Leon Sullivan issued a set of six principles of business ethics for companies operating in South Africa in order to maintain their American backers. Dartmouth and many of its peer institutions pressured the companies in which they had investments to sign on to the principles. However, by the mid-1980s the principles were considered too moderate and many organizations began to consider complete divestment.

The debate over apartheid and divestment at Dartmouth included several highly controversial protests and demonstrations. For example, in 1986, 13 students occupied Baker Tower and only came down after they were promised a meeting with the Board of Trustees to discuss the possibility of divestment. The most well-known protest by far, however, concerned several shanties built on the Green in late 1985 to protest the human rights violations of apartheid and the College’s refusal to divest. Students began living in the shanties and refused to leave despite the cold weather and the administration’s disapproval, but during the night of January 21st, 1986, a group of writers from The Dartmouth Review secretly gathered on the Green and destroyed the shanties with sledgehammers. The next day, nearly 200 outraged students occupied Parkhurst and the President’s Office to protest the attack, while more students rallied outside. President McLaughlin responded by suspending the students who had destroyed the shanties and canceling classes for one day to hold a teach-in exploring racism and prejudice at Dartmouth. While the protests quieted somewhat in the following years, groups such as the Dartmouth Community for Divestment, the Afro-American Society, and the Upper Valley Committee for a Free South Africa continued to pressure the Board of Trustees to divest until 1989, when they finally agreed to do so after a group of protesters stormed a meeting of the Trustees and called for an impromptu vote. The College continued to refrain from investments in South Africa until 1994, when it chose to end the policy following the overthrow of apartheid.

To learn more about Dartmouth’s divestment movement, check out the display case in Rauner's reading room, just to the right of the doors. Sources for the exhibit are the Records of the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility (DA-328), the Papers of George Bourozikas (DO-55), and archives files on student protests.

Posted for Hillary Purcell '15.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Ciphering Books

Pike's Mathematical text
If you attended a school, college or evening mathematics class during the18th century, you would most likely have used a ciphering book rather than a textbook for your studies. A ciphering book was a manuscript notebook that contained mathematical definitions, rules, examples, problems and exercises. It would have included basic arithmetic, as well as more complex subjects including algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. In addition, a ciphering book often emphasized mercantile subjects such as barter, the calculation of interest and surveying. Copied by students, usually from a teacher's own ciphering book, the notebooks became the student's personal "textbook," to be used in class and also as a reference book later in life.

Ciphering books were always written in ink, often with calligraphy headings and illustrations. However, the quality of the script varied significantly.
Woodward's "System of Plain Trigonometry"
It appears that Bezaleel Woodward, who would become a professor of mathematics and philosophy, as well as Eleazar Wheelock's son in law, took little care with the script in his notebook "A System of Plain Trigonometry," while he was a student at Dartmouth College. In contrast Samuel A. Kimball, who copied John Hubbard's "A System of Spheric Trigonometry," was more careful in the execution of his penmanship.
Hubbard's "System of Spheric Trigonometry"
Another fine example of an 18th century ciphering book is James Pike's untitled volume. Pike was an educator from Somersworth, New Hampshire, who began teaching himself in 1798. The text is divided into chapters with increasing complexity and even has page numbers that are reflected in a contents page. Pike went on to publish two textbooks in his lifetime, The Columbian Orthographer in 1806 and The Little Reader in 1814.

According to a M.A. Clements and Nerida F. Ellerton, mathematics professors at Illinois State University, the use of ciphering books declined after 1840, due to the fact that they were no longer important in evaluating the quality of a student's learning or that of an instructor's teaching. In addition, they argue that state education leaders switched their focus from the individual student to that of a graded class.

To see these ciphering books ask for: MS-1271 (Pike) and Codex 802415.1 (Woodward). Kimball's cipher book is currently being re-cataloged.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Dartmouth Vietnam Project

Fifty years ago, Robert B. Field Jr., a newly minted Dartmouth ’64, was nearing the end of Officer Candidate School at Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island. He was two months away from a training assignment in Brunswick, Georgia, and shortly after that, he would ship out of Norfolk, Virginia aboard the USS Long Beach. The Long Beach would travel widely with Field aboard — to Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Puerto Rico, back to Virginia, through the Panama Canal, up the West Coast to its namesake city in California, a stop at Pearl Harbor, another at Subic Bay in the Philippines — but by the close of 1965, it would be en route to the Gulf of Tonkin, Vietnam.

As Field’s military service was unfolding, two Dartmouth ’68s were just beginning their studies. John C. Everett Jr. and John G. Spritzler both arrived on campus in the fall of 1964, and over the next four years, their paths would take markedly different turns. By 1969, Everett would be bound for Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, aboard the USS Gallup. Spritzler would be a committed anti-war activist and a central figure in a protest that defined an era in Dartmouth history: the seizure and occupation of Parkhurst Hall on May 6, and the ensuing standoff with police that lasted well into the night.

Decades after the last American troops withdrew from Vietnam, all three men sat down with a member of the Class of 2016 to share their memories of the war. Their conversations were audio recorded, and along with three others, now comprise the first products of the Dartmouth Vietnam Project. The DVP, a collaborative effort involving Dartmouth students, faculty, and staff, seeks to preserve and share the stories of alumni and other members of the wider Dartmouth community who experienced the Vietnam War years firsthand. Students specially trained in the art of oral history conduct the interviews, and the resulting audio and text transcripts become part of a growing oral history collection at Rauner.

As of Veterans Day 2014, the first six interviews — Field, Everett, and Spritzler among them — are available on a dedicated DVP website (http://www.dartmouth.edu/~dvp). In the coming months and years, more and more interviews from veterans, activists, and those with memories of the impact of the war on Dartmouth and American society in general will join the original six. If you or somebody you know has a story to share, visit http://www.dartmouth.edu/~dvp/participate.html.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Mao Zedong's Calligraphic Art

Although everyone knows that Mao Zedong was the founder of the People's Republic of China, few people in the Western world are aware that he was also a great poet and calligrapher. Throughout his life, Mao used brush and ink to draft the majority of his letters, party documents and to compose his famous poems. His calligraphy, characterized by its uniqueness, versatility and broadness of mind, has been established as "Mao style" (毛体) and is highly regarded by the Chinese people and especially by professional artists in China.

Over many decades of his life, Mao studied a variety of classical calligraphy styles, and constantly explored, experimented and perfected his technique, establishing his distinctive cursive style.

Rauner Library recently purchased a rare edition of The Twenty-Four Histories with Mao Zedong’s annotation毛泽东评点二十四史. During the last twenty years of his life, Mao read the 850 volumes of Twenty-Four Histories several times and made extensive commentaries with his stylish calligraphy in the margins. On October 23rd, the Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures Department at Dartmouth hosted a public event on Mao’s calligraphy and manuscript art. The guest speaker, Professor Chen Chuanxi, a chair professor at Renmin University of China and a well-known art critic and art historian, shared his insights on the subject. In Professor Chan's opinion, Mao was the greatest cursive style calligrapher during the last three hundred years. Chan also said that Mao's commentaries on the Twenty-Four Histories reflected his in-depth understanding of Chinese history and exemplified his long term strategy of making the past serve the present.

To see it ask for Mao's Twenty-Four Histories DS735.A2 E65 1996.

Posted for Nien Lin Xie

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

On the Waterfront: A Mission, Not a Movie Assignment

For Budd Schulberg, On the Waterfront was not a conventional movie assignment. It was a mission to make the voices of protesting longshoremen heard by bringing their struggles against organized crime on New York and New Jersey’s docks to the silver screen.

After reading a series of Pulitzer Prize winning articles by investigative journalist Malcolm Johnson, Schulberg found himself drawn to the longshoremen’s fight against corruption on the docks. Schulberg met with Johnson who cited Father John Corridan, a crusading labor priest from the St. Francis Xavier Labor School, as a prime source for his exposé of the brutal exploitation and cold-blooded murders of workers.

When Schulberg met Father Corridan, the priest was in the midst of guiding a group of rebel longshoremen in a protest movement to build a harbor-wide reform labor union and challenge the mob-infiltrated International Longshoremen’s Association. While Schulberg was conducting research about life on the waterfront, Father Corridan encouraged him to use his prestige as a nationally renowned novelist to bring the plight of the longshoremen to the attention of the wider American public. Despite Johnson’s original breakthrough series, the city’s main media outlets, from the New York Times to the lurid tabloids, completely ignored the rampant crimes on the docks.

It thus became Schulberg’s mission to make the voices of the protesting longshoremen heard by bringing their struggles to the silver screen. Working closely with producer Elia Kazan, Schulberg finished writing the screenplay for On the Waterfront in 1954. The film scored at the box office, won eight Academy Awards, and has been hailed as one of the top ten films of all time. More important for Schulberg than all the accolades and awards, however, was that the film achieved Father Corridan’s simple hope: to make the American people aware of the dire need for advancing labor reforms on the waterfront.

Schulberg’s interest in labor issues did not begin while writing the screenplay for On the Waterfront. As editor-in-chief of The Dartmouth in 1935, Schulberg reported on a series of marble quarry workers’ strikes. Schulberg’s accounts of these strikes foreshadow the investigative reporting he would carry out about waterfront crime over a decade later in New York.

To learn more about On the Waterfront and Schulberg’s involvement in labor reform, come and see the exhibit currently on display at Rauner. The exhibit, “Budd Schulberg and the Scripting of Social Change,” will be on display from November 6th through January 30th. A symposium celebrating Schulberg’s centennial will also be held at Dartmouth November 6th and 7th which is free and open to the public. The symposium schedule can be found at: http://sites.dartmouth.edu/film-media-studies/2014/10/22/budd-schulberg-36-a-centennial-celebration/

Friday, October 31, 2014

More Cowbells

Book of Hours Codex MS 001598
Thomas Rowlandson, Illus R796ce
Shooting for that authentic look for your grim reaper costume this Halloween?

Try these images from our collections on for size. You'll need to drop the cloak... and your skin as well.
Book of Christian Prayers, Rare BV245.D35 1581

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Brahe and Blaeu

We have talked before about our luxurious hand-colored copy of the eleven-volume Blaeu Atlas, Geographia (Amsterdam, 1662), but never delved into a curious digression in the first volume. As you move along through maps of northern Europe in a fairly predictable pattern, you suddenly find yourself zeroing in on unexpected details on the island of Hvæna. There, the atlas takes the reader on a tour of Tycho Brahe's observatory with fourteen full-page or double-page engraved illustrations.

Why this obsession?  It is likely that Joan Blaeu was giving a nod to his father Willem Blaeu who started the family mapmaking business. Willem had been a student under Brahe at Hvæna, and it was during his time with Brahe that he developed his skills constructing globes.  It is also a gesture to Joan Blaeu's own qualifications. The attention given to Brahe's measurement instruments suggests a certain level of technical expertise, thus elevating the already grand atlas through association.

To enjoy a walk through Brahe's observatory at Hvæna, ask for volume 1 of Rare G1015.B48 1662.