Friday, April 18, 2014

Writing in Books

This edition of the works of Virgil (Venice: Juntas, 1552) is pretty standard in format for the time. Extensive commentaries of multiple writers frame ten to fifteen lines of Virgil on each page. The book turns into an active conversation between Virgil, Servius, Donatus, Mancinellus, Ascensius and others. But our copy also features the voice of a very active reader.

A note at the beginning of the book attributes the marginal comments to Germain Vaillant, Abbe de Pimpont, who prepared his own commentary on Virgil for Christopher Plantin in 1575. His notes are in Greek and Latin and fill nearly every bit of marginal space in the book. At times, he inserted extra blank leaves to give himself more room to gloss the gloss.

Ask for Presses J969v to join in the conversation.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Audits Happen

It's the letter you dread getting. The one that informs you that you've been selected to participate in an audit of your tax return. Or better yet, the one that tells you that you owe more than you initially thought. And, oh, by the way, here's the additional penalty for that error.

The complexity of the tax code certainly got the better of Robert Frost in 1939 when he miscalculated his tax obligation on the earned income credit portion of his return. According to a May, 1940 letter from the Burlington office of the IRS, Frost was "kindly requested" to attach his check for the $72.06 he still owed and to also send in an itemized list of the expenses matching the $2882.75 he had deducted in Schedule A.

In the same folder are Frost's returns for the years 1927-1939 as well as some of his preliminary calculations for that same period. What appears to be a more comprehensive set from 1939, possibly in preparing his response to the audit letter is also included in the folder.

Ask for MS-1178, Box 20, folder 16 to see this batch of returns. Other returns are also included in Frost's papers.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dubious Lineage

On April 23rd, 1947, Thomas Louis Cook was born in Hanover, NH, to Bill Cook '49 and his wife Evelyn. Bill Cook was a decorated World War II airman who had received numerous commendations for his service to his country, including a Purple Heart for a gunshot wound inflicted during the US Marines' occupation of Peleliu Island in the fall of 1944. After the war, he and his wife came to Dartmouth, where he distinguished himself as a lacrosse player and she ran a small crafts store in downtown Hanover.

Thomas's birth was big news on campus, and not because a baby being born to a student was all that uncommon; after the war, numerous servicemen returned to college with their families. According to Cook himself, "babies have evidently been arriving so thick and fast that the College needs a full staff to keep up with them." Instead, all the excitement was because Thomas, whose Mohawk name was Ronwi Kanawaienton, was being popularly identified as "the first Indian born in Hanover." Despite the questionable veracity of this claim, numerous newspaper articles heralded the child's birth, the College Photographer arranged a photo shoot of the family, and President John Sloane Dickey signed a formal declaration welcoming Ronwi to campus.

Although the enthusiasm of the College seems genuine enough, its interactions with Ronwi and his parents reveal the struggle of the Dartmouth community to differentiate between its traditional appropriation of Native American culture and its treatment of actual Native Americans. A sense of unease pervades, mostly in small details like the College Photographer's subject heading ("Indians") for his files or the use of the title "Grand Sachem" in Ronwi's birth declaration. Sadly, we will never know how Bill Cook felt about the attention lavished upon his son by Dartmouth or about his time on campus: he died in a military flying accident in 1952 after being called back into service as a flight instructor.

To learn more about Bill Cook '49, and to read an essay he wrote for GOVT 54 about the threat of governmental paternalization of the Mohawk tribe, come to Rauner and ask for his alumni file.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Reframing History: Ernest Everett Just, Class of 1907

As part of the on-going student protests that we commented on in our last post, a group of students put up some homemade posters in the 1902 Room in Baker Library last night. These posters were designed to contrast with the predominately white and male deans of the College represented in the portraits in the room (to be fair there are three men of color on those walls also). The students labeled their exhibit "Reframing History."

We thought we would highlight another member of Dartmouth's family who did not appear in the student's posters.

Ernest Everett Just, Class of 1907, came to Dartmouth from Kimball Union Academy, a private boarding school with a long affiliation with the College.

Just received a small scholarship from Dartmouth, but had to work to pay his bills. In the early part of the 20th century Dartmouth was a rough place for students of lesser means, which were all students of color. The College did not have a meal plan and students were required to pay as they went for their food. In addition, dorm rooms were spartan. In fact, the catalog notes that rooms were "furnished with bedsteads, mattresses, chiffonieres (a set of drawers) and chairs if desired." The student handbook goes so far as to warn freshmen (under a section titled "Some Suggestions"): "If you are rooming in a dormitory don't let the former occupant of the room sell you the radiator or the roller curtains, they come with the room."

While some poorer students complained of going all day without eating and using their overcoat for a blanket, we don't know if this was typical, or if Just suffered in the same way, but we do know that he lived in the least expensive dormitory on campus. Hallgarten, nicknamed Hellgate by the students who lived there, was on the edge of campus in an undesirable location close to the heating plant.

As we can see from Just's grade card, he had a rough start at Dartmouth. He managed pretty well his first year, pulling a respectable (and then common) gentleman's C. Then he experienced the classic Sophomore slump - I'm sure many of us have been there - failing a class in the first term and again in the second term.

We know from the rules that Just must have taken makeup exams the summer after his sophomore year and passed them, because he returns the following term. And it would seem with renewed determination, achieving an impressive A average.

It is worth noting that the load and subject matter he was required to cover looks pretty daunting from today's perspective. Freshman in the scientific school were required to have some knowledge of Latin, Greek, French and German by the end of their second year.

By Just's junior year he had found his chosen field. Biology dominated his time. In 1905-06 he took 18 hours of Biology In his senior year, he took Vertebrate Embryology, Systemic Morphology of Plants, Research Work and a Zoological Seminar.

It is likely that Just's interest in Biology came from a course he took in his Sophomore year with William Patten. Patten was an early proponent of the theory of evolution and taught this in his course "Principals of Biology." Patten later took Just on as a sort of research assistant and cited Just's research in his work The Evolution of the Vertebrates and Their Kin.

While Patten was clearly the person who mentored Just into the field there is evidence that another member of the faculty, John Gerould, also played a role in his development as a scientist.

John Gerould
Just's relationship with Gerould is particularly interesting because Gerould was a Eugenicist. Eugenics is often referred to as a pseudoscience. Practitioners of what is referred to as negative Eugenics advocated for selective breeding or sterilization to improve the human gene pool. This included limiting or ending reproduction of those seen as burdensome to society or degenerate; the poor, those of so called inferior races, the mentally ill and homosexuals. The most infamous application of negative Eugenics, and one we are all familiar with, occurred in Nazi Germany. But there were projects here in the United States as well, including the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment aimed at black men, and the University of Vermont Eugenics project in the 1920s aimed at Abenaki Indians and French Canadians.

Though Gerould was not a major player in Eugenics, he was a friend of Charles Davenport, a leader in the Eugenics movement and Davenport funded some of Gerould's research. Kenneth Manning, Just's biographer, states that Gerould was always confused over Just's race. Manning reports that Gerould "preferred to see Just as white" crediting him with a white father or grandfather.

Just's relationship with Gerould does not suggest that Just was involved, or even interested in, the Eugenics movement, but it is ironic that a young black man could enter an elite, predominately white, Northern college and end up being mentored by a Eugenicist.

This was not the only irony of Just's Dartmouth. Despite the presence of an unprecedented number of black students on campus at that time (during President Tucker's tenure, 1893-1909, there were 17 black students admitted to Dartmouth), and despite the fact that one of them was a football star, white students did not see a problem with holding Minstrel show fundraisers or devising hazing rituals for freshman featuring white students in blackface.

Despite these conflicting social dynamics, Just managed to navigate what could only have been a strange land for a young man from South Carolina. In 1907, having maintained two terms with an A average, Just graduated Magna Cum Laude in Biology with minors in both Greek and History. In addition, he was twice named a Choate Scholar, an award reserved for those with a grade point average of 92 or better. He also won the Grimes Medal, an honor awarded for general improvement by a student in his senior year.

Just went on from Dartmouth to teach at Howard University and from there to the University of Chicago for graduate work. On completion of his Ph. D., he returned to Howard to teach zoology and physiology, a position he held until his untimely death at the age of 57.

While many of Dartmouth's early black graduates went on to distinguished careers (government officials, lawyers, teachers, doctors, photographers and professors), Just's academic achievements, and later National recognition for his scientific work, make him particularly noteworthy. Following in the footsteps of a long line of other organizations and institutions, Dartmouth itself recognized this in 1981 when it established the Ernest Everett Just '07 Professorship in the Natural Sciences.

Ask for Just's Alumni File (Class of 1907), John Gerould's papers (MS-1040) and William Patten's papers (MS-512).

Friday, April 4, 2014

We Demand!

In light of recent events, we thought it would be fitting to look back at another era when Parkhurst was the target of student ire.

On April 22, 1969, the Dartmouth chapter of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) issued a set of demands calling on the Trustees to abolish ROTC, provide financial aid to students enrolled in ROTC and terminate military recruiting on campus. The demands were issued as a protest against the war in Vietnam and American exploitation, which SDS members felt the College was complicit in supporting through recruitment and ROTC participation. SDS further stated that they would occupy Parkhurst Hall if their demands were not met by Monday, April 28th.

The administration maintained that they could not terminate the ROTC contract that quickly and that the College did not have the funds to pick up the financial aid for the ROTC members. A student referendum on the issue found that 8.6% of the students wished to retain ROTC on campus, 29.8% agreed with the faculty position (which was essentially termination of ROTC no later than June of 1973), 35% supported the elimination of ROTC as soon as student currently under contract graduated and 24.6% were in favor of immediate termination.

As threatened, on April 29th SDS proceeded to peacefully occupy Parkhurst for a day (the second such incident at that point). Meanwhile, the College quietly drew up a court injunction to be put into place should the occupiers return. Dissatisfied with the Administration’s response, SDS set another deadline for their demands to be met. When this deadline also passed without a satisfactory outcome, they entered Parkhurst Hall on May 12 and ejected the staff and administrators from the building. While most of the administrators left of their own accord, there was a brief scuffle between students and one of the deans.

While the protestors spoke via bullhorn to a large crowd of supporters gathered outside, the Administration issued its injunction. As night fell State Police in riot gear moved in and arrested the protesters. The protestors, not all Dartmouth students, were jailed for 30 days and the students among them were suspended from school.

President Dickey’s hardline, by-the-rules approach was in stark contrast to President Kemeny’s response to a similar crisis only a year later:

To view files detailing the incident ask for: President’s Office records, DP-12, box 7199, folder ROTC Controversy—Chronology. Photos can be found in the photo file "Parkhurst Hall Seizure, 1969."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

19th Century Fan Fiction

Well, not exactly, "fan" fiction, but of the same ilk. After the success of Charles Dickens' Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club in 1837, George Reynolds took the characters on a new picaresque journey in Pickwick Abroad: or, the Tour in France published in monthly parts from 1837-38.  Our first single-volume edition from 1839 acknowledges its debt to Mr. Dickens (or "Boz"), but also cites a review from The Age boasting that "'Pickwick Abroad' is so well done by G. W. M. Reynolds, that we must warn Boz to look to his laurels." Reynolds was surely throwing down the gauntlet, but by using Dickens' own creations.

How could this happen? At that time, an author did not have any real rights over the characters he or she created. The original work could get copyright, but the story and the characters were up for grabs. This led to works like Pickwick Abroad as well as other adaptations of popular novels. The law was not changed until Frances Hodgson Burnett fought for full control of her characters later in the century. Pickwick Abroad was a tremendous success that earned Reynolds 800 pounds.

To see the original, ask for Val 826 D55 U6. Pickwick Abroad is Sine C76pic.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Three Mile Island

On March 28, 1979, one of the two nuclear reactors at the Three Mile Island facility in Pennsylvania suffered a partial meltdown. Radioactive material was released into the atmosphere in the form of hazardous gas and iodine. Due to the severity of the accident and the initial confusion following it, a presidential commission was established to investigate the cause and report on the actions of the various entities involved.

Dartmouth President John Kemeny was chosen to lead the commission, which eventually established that the plant had suffered a loss of coolant. A faulty valve and a failure of the operators to correctly diagnose the problem in the initial stages of the accident also contributed to the severity of the event.

John Kemeny's papers contain many items related to his work on the commission, including several drafts of his acceptance. One starts:
Mr. President:

This is an awesome responsibility! I have tried to think of every reason why I should not accept. But when the President of the United States asks... the only possible answers is "yes".
The Thayer School of Engineering and the Dickey Center are sponsoring a symposium on nuclear energy with a focus on the 35th anniversary of the Three Mile Island event this Friday, March 28. The event is free and open to the public.

John Kenemy's papers are available by asking for MS-988. A guide to the collection is available.