The World’s Fair: Being a Pictorial History of the Columbian Exposition…, published in 1893, provides a comprehensive description of the Fair and its host city, Chicago. Members of the Wesleyan community may be particularly interested in this chapter:
In the “Chemistry Dept. 1832-1968″ vertical file, you’ll find this document. The caption reads:
The chemistry lecture room in old Judd Hall.
Prof. M.L. “Mose” Crosley was lecturing on the
last day of classes prior to the final exam.
The device at the right moved a huge roll of
wrapping paper by means of the chain. A wax
crayon could be used. Lots less work than the sliding
dusty blackboards up front! (Last page in my note book)
February 1976. Carl Spear ’19
May. 2, 2013 by Leith Johnson
An inquirer asked about Laban Clark’s journal from 1807. Clark kept a number of journals. Here you see the first page of journal “No. 17,” which starts on Christmas Day. You can find a full description of the Laban Clark Papers here.
From 1801 to 1851, Laban Clark was engaged in the work of the ministry, New York and New York East Conferences, Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1803 he served as a missionary in Lower Canada. Clark introduced the resolution to organize the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church in New York City in 1819. Clark took an active part in advocating Willbur Fisk’s educational report in the General Conference in 1828. Both were in sympathy with the movement to establish a Methodist college.
It was while Clark was presiding elder of the New Haven District in 1829 that he became interested in acquiring the buildings and grounds of the American Literary, Military and Science Academy (ALS&M) in Middletown, Connecticut. At the Troy Conference in May 1829 Clark made the proposal to buy the ALS&M Academy property. After other locations were studied as well, and the endowment funds raised, the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut granted a charter to the Wesleyan University on May 21, 1831. Laban Clark served as the president of the Board of Trustees from 1831 to 1868. In 1852, Clark was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Divinity degree from the University. He died in 1868.
Long-time members of the Wesleyan community will remember Willie Kerr. He joined the university in 1959 as an assistant professor in the History Department and later served as assistant provost, provost, and secretary of the university. He retired in 1993 and died in 1999. At Professor Kerr’s February 26, 1999, memorial service, former President Colin G. Campbell remarked:
Willie Kerr has left us all with a lot of wonderful memories: of loyal friendship and wise counsel; of legendary eloquence and irreverent wit; of festive evenings at Lutece and the wee hours at O’Rourke’s; of foreign travels and quiet holidays; of exuberant bashes at Psi U and proper soirees at 101 High Street; of stirring lectures; of nostalgic reunion talks; of impeccable meeting minutes recording sometimes less than impeccable meetings; of royals, any royals, past or present; their politics, their progeny, and their peccadillos. Representing so many facets of his rich life, we are here today because of our admiration and respect for his intellect and his humanity, and with feelings of affection that will be with us for the rest of our days.
Shown above is Willie standing next to his classic Packard in 1974.
Apr. 30, 2013 by Rebecca McCallum
What do you think of when you see the name “Booth” on the cover of a 19th-century U.S. play? Does the name “John Wilkes Booth” come to mind, perhaps? I’ve been cataloging just such an item, a promptbook of the 1859 play The Octaroon.
It turns out that John Wilkes Booth never married, so he had no “Mrs. Booth” by his side. But he did have two brothers: Edwin Booth, and Junius Brutus Booth, Jr., both of whom were married. The investigation begins…
Edwin Booth was one of the most famous and most highly respected Shakespearean actors in the 19th century U.S. theater world. If his younger brother had not assassinated Abraham Lincoln, Edwin would have far outshined him in the history books. Edwin was married twice — first to Mary Devlin until 1863, when she died, and later to Mary F. McVicker, from 1869-1881.
Junius Brutus Booth, Jr., was also an actor, as well as a respected theater manager. He married Agnes Booth (neé Marion Agnes Land Rookes), who was perhaps an even more talented actress than her husband. Now we have three candidates: Mary Devlin Booth, Mary McVicker Booth, and Agnes Booth.
This particular promptbook was published for a specific production of The Octoroon, produced in Boston in December of 1861, showing at both the Boston Museum and at the Howard Atheneum. Shown below are the cast lists for each location, on p. 2 of the promptbook. None of our three names are listed there, but could the wives of either Edwin Booth or Junius Brutus Booth, Jr., be connected to that production in some other way?
Mary Devlin Booth and her husband Edwin were living in England in late 1861, and Mary gave birth to their first child around that time. So she is probably out of the running.
Mary McVicker Booth was an actress, but lived in Chicago until she married Edwin in 1869. She also probably had no connection to the 1861 Boston production.
Agnes Booth did not marry Junius Brutus Booth, Jr., until 1867 — well after the 1861 production. But Junius and she both lived and worked in Boston later. Junius was the manager of the Boston Theatre starting in 1864. And on the cover and on page 3 of the promptbook is written “Boston Theatre, Return to Promptor.”
Could it be that this promptbook made its way from the Boston Museum or the Howard Athaneum over to the Boston Theatre for a later production? And could it be that Agnes Booth owned this copy? There is no proof yet for this hypothesis; further research is needed. But if anyone finds out that Agnes Booth acted in a later production of The Octoroon in Boston, please let us know!
Apr. 29, 2013 by Leith Johnson
Suzy Taraba recently showed Prof. Kate Birney’s Introduction to Ancient Greek (GRK101) class the 1569 polyglot Bible, “the second of the great Polyglots, known as the Antwerp, or Plantin’s polyglot, otherwise the Royal polyglot,” according to Darlow & Moule. The class was studying Exodus 21:22-25 in Greek (see below). A polyglot Bible contains multiple translations of the text; this one has Hebrew, Greek, Syriac and Aramaic with translations and commentary in Latin. The Plantin polyglot is a massive set, complete in eight large volumes. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, there were several major polyglot Bible projects, beginning with the Complutensian polyglot of 1514-17. (Thanks to Suzy for co-writing this post.)
Apr. 26, 2013 by Leith Johnson
Vice President Richard M. Nixon, accompanied by his wife Patricia Nixon, is shown here visiting campus on Oct. 18, 1956, during a reelection campaign swing through Connecticut on behalf of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and himself. The Argus reported that Nixon spoke to about 400 students who crowded around him on High St. Suzy Taraba included this photograph, taken by Frazer M. Lyle ’58, in her recent presentation on alumni gifts of archival materials to the University Relations major gifts team. This photograph is particularly remarkable because it’s a color print, something that is rare among our photographs from this time period.
Apr. 25, 2013 by Leith Johnson
Here’s a teaser about my next “Historical Row” column in Wesleyan, the alumni magazine: it’s about the night in 1906 that North College went up in flames. You’ll have to read the article after it’s been published to find out more…
As I was refiling some photographs, I came across this stereograph taken of Memorial Chapel in 1893. I’m afraid I don’t know what the event is. These cards are also called a steropticans, stereograms, or stereo views. When you look at them through a stereograph viewer (shown below), the two images merge into one 3-D image that is quite startling in its reality. You can read more about stereographs here.
Stereograph viewer photo credit: http://www.nps.gov/anti/historyculture/photography2.htm