Regular readers of Pick of the Week (which has been on vacation for a while) will remember a post from October 2012 written by Abbey Francis about a Wesleyan sweater that belonged to Calvin Kuhl ’27. Mr. Kuhl was quite active while he was a student, and Abbey found him pictured wearing the sweater in connection with his athletic activities. While searching through photographs of the Glee Club in the 1920s, I came across the above photograph taken in 1927. Here he is again wearing his “W” sweater, this time as leader of the two-time national intercollegiate champion Glee Club. The attached caption tells the story.
Oct. 16, 2013 by Leith Johnson
As you may be aware by now, the CFA is celebrating its 40th anniversary this academic year. We worked with Pamela Tatge, Andy Chatfield, and John Elmore to provide a wide range of images from the SC&A collections that will be used to mark the occasion. Forty will be displayed in an online exhibition, Celebrating 40 Years: Center for the Arts Images from Special Collections & Archives on the CFA’s flickr page. The CFA also has created a special blog: Celebrating 40 Years: Center for the Arts Stories, featuring 40 alumni stories and memories about the CFA.
The image above was taken on September 15, 1973, during the Open House at the Center for the Arts between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., in the New Gallery (now the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery). In this photo is an electronic music performance by Professor of Music Alvin Lucier. He performed “Queen of the South” (1972) and “VIFARB/HYPERB” (1973) that afternoon.
Sep. 18, 2013 by Leith Johnson
The following was written by archives intern Owen Thompson:
As part of my ongoing internship in SC&A, I recently digitized and made available in WesScholar an unusual book for Wesleyan’s Adopt a Book program. The volume, Pictures of Middletown and Wesleyan, was adopted by library staff and friends in honor of former Assistant University Archivist Valerie Gillispie when she left Wesleyan to become the University Archivist at Duke.
In order to digitize the book it was carefully opened on a copy stand with two lights and a digital camera suspended above it. The lighting and angle was adjusted as necessary to get the best image for each page. The images were then downloaded and Adobe PhotoShop was used to crop and resize them. Finally the images were combined into a pdf file using Adobe Acrobat. I spent some time gathering information about the book, including some research on the names and poems inside it. When the pdf was uploaded to WesScholar, this metadata was used to create a detailed description for the book. The origins of this book are currently unknown. Olin Library accessioned it in 1951, but we have yet to discover a record of when it was actually acquired and from whom. The latest date given in the book is for a poem that has a date attached of October 22, 1904.
The book is something of a turn of the century scrapbook. The cover has no title, but rather a postcard of Middletown glued to it. The book is approximately 34 pages, and roughly three-fourths of them have a postcard of Middletown or Wesleyan buildings and landmarks glued to them while most of the others are blank. About half of the facing pages have a hand-written poem or quote. Poems by John Gardiner Calkins Brainard (“On Connecticut River”) and Wesleyan museum curator Samuel Ward Loper (“Fair Forest City”) are extensively quoted, as well as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Additionally, the author includes entries that appear to be from Wesleyan students, with class years spanning 1882-1902. This suggests that the author may have been a professor or administrator.
The unknown creator clearly took great care in assembling and expanding this book. Many of the quotes and poems have some relation to the image on the postcard on the page it faces. The first page says “South Main St.” on it, which may have been a placeholder for a further addition. Between each page, one or two additional pages have been cut out, apparently to make spacing for the postcards so the book would not bulge. Some of the postcards have additional details written on them, as well as numbers that may have been intended as a preliminary order.
How did people really feel about nuclear weapons back in 1945, just after the first bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Here’s one way to find out: The Atomic Age Opens (New York: Pocket Books, Inc., 1945) gives a view into the public mindset in 1945, and some of the questions that were being asked: “What is it? How did they do it? What does it mean?” as well as “Can man ever again survive war? … can we prevent war?”
Who knew that you could find actual plant specimens in Special Collections & Archives? It’s true, we own several books of pressed plants, including this book of pressed sea vegetation from Bermuda.
Bermuda 1890 was handmade out of blue-green paper, with hand-painted oceanfront scenes on the front and back covers. Inside, 45 different specimens of sea weeds were pressed onto cardstock, and then sewn onto the pages of the book. Unfortunately, we don’t know who collected all these sea plants and made the book, but it’s obvious that they put a lot of time and care into the project. If there are any sea plant experts out there, come take a look! Perhaps you will even be able to help us identify some of the plants…
Aug. 30, 2013 by Leith Johnson
Woodrow Wilson, president of the United States from 1913 to 1921, taught history and political economy at Wesleyan from 1888 to 1890. This photograph shows the 1889-1890 Wesleyan faculty. Prof. Wilson is sitting in the front row, third from left, holding a top hat. Before Wesleyan, he taught at Bryn Mawr, where he felt “overworked, underpaid, and much less than enthusiastic about the higher education of women,” according to David B. Potts, author of Wesleyan University 1831–1910: Collegiate Enterprise in New England. Prof. Wilson left Wesleyan in 1890 to join the faculty of Princeton University.
Here’s one of our newly-cataloged artists’ books:
Siegfried Sasson is best known as a poet of World War I, along with Robert Graves and Wilfred Owens. He wrote this short poem called “Everyone Sings” in celebration of the end of the war, but just before he learned that his friend, Wilfred Owens, had died.
Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on–on–and out of sight.
Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away … O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.
In 2009, the artist Terry Schupbach-Gordon carved six woodcuts to accompany the poem, and created an artist’s book with the poem and his woodcut prints. Here are a few images from inside…
Aug. 30, 2013 by Rebecca McCallum
Account of a voyage to the western coast of Africa, performed by His Majesty’s sloop Favourite, in the 1805, being a journal of the events which happened to that vessel… By F. B. Spilsbury (London: R. Phillips, 1807). Several of the engravings in the book show that the seafaring life was full of danger, and not always from the sea itself! There has been a long-standing practice of initiation rites for new sailors when they cross the equator for the first time. This ceremony, called “Crossing the Line” was common in navies from all over the world, and ranged from fun-loving celebrations with costumes and role-playing, to much more dangerous abuses of the new sailors bordering on hazing, and sometimes even leading to death. For more on the history of “Crossing the Line,” take a look at the Wikipedia article on the ceremony. In this engraving, the seasoned sailors forcibly shave the uninitiated newbie, and he doesn’t look all that pleased with the treatment he’s getting!
We’re not exactly sure what’s going on in this unidentified photo from about the mid-1970s. We think it possibly could be a riff on a Last Supper motif, which wouldn’t be the only time Wesleyan students have done this. I’m a bit concerned about the gentleman with the bat.
Maybe it relates to this painting, The Last Supper by Juan de Juanes: