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When sophomore Arch Doty moved into room 23 of Clark Hall in September, 1939, he brought with him a radio transmitter he had built at home the previous summer. Using a turntable, 78 rpm records, a microphone, the transmitter, and an antenna wire hanging out of Arch’s window, student-run radio at Wesleyan hit the airwaves.

It was a modest start. The entire audience that tuned into the evening AM-band broadcasts was limited to Clark residents—the weak signal reached no farther than several hundred feet beyond the antenna. But the broadcasts proved to be very popular, and within weeks, students in other residences wanted to be able to tune in.

Seventy-five years later, WESU-FM reaches a potential audience of over one million listeners, and can be heard beyond Springfield, Massachusetts; Long Island, New York; Waterbury; and Norwich.

“WESU: Celebrating 75 Years of Community Radio” takes an anecdotal look at one of the oldest college radio stations in the United States using photographs, documents, photographs, clippings, and artifacts. Throughout WESU’s history, there have been two constants: first, without interruption, Wesleyan students have continuously operated the station; and second, broadcasts have been focused on new, under-represented, or non-commercial programming aimed at students and the larger community.

Most of the items in the exhibition are from the collections of Special Collections & Archives, Olin Library. University Archivist Leith Johnson is curator of the show, with research assistance provided by Ian McCarthy. Special thanks to WESU General Manager Ben Michael for advice and loans of items from WESU’s collection.

The show is on view in the exhibition area near Special Collections & Archives, 1st floor Olin Library, Wesleyan University.

 

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In the 1920s, Wesleyan students could use this helpful card to communicate quickly and easily with family and friends using 140 characters or less.

 

women&wesleyan

If you were a female high school senior in 1969, you might have encountered this flyer. In 1970, Wesleyan once again admitted women as freshmen (Wesleyan was a coeducational institution from 1872 to 1912), and 2014 marks the 40th anniversary of their graduation. You can read much more about the return to coeducation in Suzy Taraba’s Historical Row column, “Women Return to Wes.”

DKE_postcard_front_smWe recently received this postcard as a donation from Steve Humphrey ’63 by way of Philip Rockwell ’65 MALS ’73. It’s a postcard showing the old Delta Kappa Epsilon house, which was torn down in 1928 to make way for the present DKE house that was constructed on the same site. What makes this really interesting is the message on the back:

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It was mailed Oct. 31, 1910. Why the one lonely word, “Goodbye”? Who was the sender? And what was the relationship of the sender to Miss J. A. Kinney?

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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.

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This post features photographs from Wesleyan’s 1958 junior prom. Here’s wishing you all the best during this holiday season and a Happy New Year!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Atomic Age Opens - cover

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?”

The Atomic Age Opens - contents

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.

Cover of Bermuda 1890Bermuda 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…

Bermuda 1890 page openingBermuda 1890 specimen 1

 

Bermuda 1890 specimen 2

Bermuda back cover

 

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