Memories of Blake ’08, Part I

Tucked into the pages of his cumbersome and crumbling “mem book,” which now resides in the Rauner Special Collections Library, lies Francis Gilman Blake’s hand-drawn map of an expedition through the New Hampshire wilderness, annotated with the details of each day’s travel and a branch plucked from the slopes of Mt. Washington. While the practice of scrap-booking at Dartmouth has since been replaced by other hobbies and interests, the Rauner Library has preserved some of the books created by students from the early twentieth century.

Although simplistic in their detail, Blake’s illustrations of the mountains prove stunningly accurate in their physical relationship to each other. The mountains are carefully spaced and aligned, yet they are not drawn from a bird’s-eye view like a traditional map, but from a perspective on the horizon, evoking a deeply personal recollection of the landscape. In terms of geographic orientation however, Blake only offers his audience a single winding line through a series of mountains and towns. But to someone familiar with the mountains, trails, and roads of the region, Blake’s map tells an incredibly vivid and personal story of adventure. The map therefore serves not as a geographical tool, but as an experiential guide. In terms of absolute place and geography it is meaningless, but as a relative measure of place within a shared context, it tells a story more detailed and intimate than any cartographer could draft.

While miles and locations ordinarily serve as measures of distance and place, juxtaposed in this context they convey a measurement of relative time. Blake’s itinerary provides a list of the mountains and mileage that tells not only of where he went, but also of the fast pace and strenuous nature of the hike, allowing those familiar with these steep slopes an intimate perspective on the passing of the journey. Over one hundred years later, these chronological clues prove much more valuable than the dates that accompany them. Notions of absolute time have become lost over the decades, but Blake has preserved these episodes by grounding them in a relative context that survives today.

Blake’s book ends at over one hundred pages, weighs as much as a large dictionary, and holds various large objects between its pages including entire flowers, small books, and notably a 108 year-old pretzel. These characteristics suggest that Blake never intended this book to travel, or even to be opened on a regular basis. Without a title page, cohesive structure, or labels for many of the photographs, Blake’s intended audience likely comprises a small group of those quite familiar to him and his experiences.  This conclusion, drawn from the physical nature of the book, is supported by his uses of time and place within a shared context. Perhaps the chief member of Blake’s audience is his future self, the individual best equipped to unravel the relative contexts of his maps. Blake’s audience is limited only by a reader’s willingness and ability to engage these objects outside of their absolute geographical and chronological contexts, the depth of the connection determined by the extent of the shared experience.

Posted for Edward Harvey ’15

Misappropriation

In 1941, Budd Schulberg ’36 published his first novel: What Makes Sammy Run? As a child of the studios (his father had been head of Paramount), and a frustrated screenwriter, he unleashed a torrent of criticism on Hollywood in his novel about the rise of Sammy Glick. The novel became a bestseller in the United States and has often been pointed to as the great American novel about Hollywood.

Schulberg knew he was taking a risk when he published the novel. It was destined to offend many of the most powerful people in Hollywood. But he did not anticipate that the novel would become fodder for the Nazi propaganda machine. Sammy Glick, the novel’s offensive, back-stabbing anti-hero, was Jewish. The Nazis picked up the story and produced a translation edited to highlight the offenses of Jews in Hollywood and portray Sammy as the quintessential American Jew. Then they published it serially in the popular Berliner Illustriere Zeitung where Schulberg’s words were turned against the Jewish people.

Ironically, Budd and his brother Stuart were later employed by the U.S. military to splice together film footage to be used against Nazi war criminals in Nuremberg. Their work was made particularly effective by their juxtaposition of Nazi propaganda with scenes of atrocities. For Schulberg, the appropriation of Nazi propaganda must have been a particularly sweet form of personal revenge.

To see how Sammy looked in 1942 Berlin, ask for MS-978, Box 6, Folder 4. And, as a reminder, our current exhibition, Budd Schulberg and the Scripting of Social Change, runs through January 30, 2015 in the Class of 1965 Galleries. And, for more on Schulberg, see these postings from August 9, 2011 and 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/

Dartmouth and the Canal

The Panama Canal was officially opened 100 years ago on August 15, 1914, ten years after the United States assumed control of the project. Construction had been started by France in 1881 but ultimately faltered due to cost overruns and the high mortality rate experienced by the construction workers. Once the United States took over there was a need for highly skilled engineers. Several alumni from Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering were involved in the project.

Robert Fletcher went to visit the canal in May 1913, during the latter part of construction. While there he saw a number of Dartmouth and Thayer alumni. Among them was Herbert Hinman (Dartmouth 1907, Thayer n1908) – in charge of the Balboa terminal work and earlier superintendent of work on the Pedro Miquel locks. Fletcher also mentions Otis Hovey (Dartmouth 1885) who designed and constructed the canal’s emergency dams, and Fred Stanton (Dartmouth 1902, Thayer 1903).

Pictured here are several lithographs from Joseph Pennell’s Pictures of the Panama Canal (Philadelphia, London: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1912) that depict places mentioned in Fletcher’s diary or in letters from alums to Fletcher.

Culebra Cut

The Culebra Cut is mentioned in a letter from Stanton to Fletcher from July 25, 1913. “It was a great pleasure to have you here when the Canal work was in its most interesting stage. The Culebra Cut will be flooded about October tenth, so you weren’t here any too soon.”

The Gatun locks appear in one of Fletcher’s diary entries. “Langley met me and went over the Gatun Locks end to end and into some operating chambers in the middle wall. In the lower approach excavation 42 ft. below sea level.” A postcard in Clarence Langley’s (Dartmouth 1907, Thayer n1908) alumni file bears the inscription: “At Fort Lorenzo. Occupation – Transitman I.C.C. Address – Gatun, C.Z. Dear Prof. F. I answered your letter promptly…I do not intend to return to Hanover this Sept.” I.C.C. stands for Isthmian Canal Commission, C.Z. for Canal Zone, and Prof. F. is Robert Fletcher.

Gatun Locks

More letters indicate the scope of the project and the cost. Fred Stanton wrote to Fletcher on September 10, 1907: “The work which I will be engaged in consists of removing some eight millions cubic yards of rock and about five millions of sand. I expect to find the work very interesting and instructive….” Another alum, Clarence Pearson (Dartmouth 1907, Thayer 1908), worked at the Gatun Locks and left the Canal Zone in 1910 due to poor health. He died in 1911 and is mentioned by Hinman in a letter to Fletcher, ca. 1911: ” We are still fighting it out on the same old lines down here but we lost poor Pearson. I think his death was a direct result from this work.”

Ask for Robert Fletcher’s diary from 1913 (DA-4, Box 2234, folder 2) and the alumni files for the Thayer School (DA-4, filed by class year). The Pennell illustrations can be seen by asking for Illus P382pe.

A Day to Remember

On June 6, 1944, Clinton Gardner, Class of 1944, found himself digging a foxhole on Omaha Beach as part of the D-Day invasion of German occupied Europe. The landing area was already strewn with bodies and the Germans were raking the incoming allied forces with artillery and machine gun fire. Gardner, a Lieutenant in the artillery, was not about to move any further inland until the infantry made a hole in the German defenses, and that did not seem to be about to happen.

An incoming round suddenly exploded in front of him. His head snapped back and then a curtain of blood blinded him. In his memoir, D-Day and Beyond, Gardner recounts how he stood up and staggered toward two of his fellow officers wiping blood from his eyes. The two officers stared at him in horror. Then he reached up and felt his helmet. There was a gaping hole, large enough that he could get two hands into it. Gingerly he felt around and found that he could feel a soft, mushy surface that he assumed must be his brain. Sick and disoriented though he was, he managed to get his first aid kit out and pour sulfa powder into the hole and then stuff it full of gauze.

Unable to walk or speak properly, Gardner watched as his unit packed up and began to move inland, following the infantry who had suddenly begun to advance. The other officers told him that they would send medics back for him. He was soon alone on the beach with a handful of wounded and dying soldiers, all of whom would have been killed by German mortar fire had not a group of British troops happened along. The British moved the wounded Americans up the beach to a sheltered area among some rocks.

After 23 hours wounded on the beach, a group of medics finally arrived and moved Gardner and the others to a field hospital in Vierville. There Gardner made the happy discovery that what he had felt through the gash in his helmet was not his brain, but badly lacerated scalp tissue. Though his skull was scarred, it was not broken. Getting the helmet off was another matter: it took three doctors and a fair amount of pulling and twisting as the edges had curled in and were imbedded in his scalp. Eventually Gardner was sent back to England to recover, but that was not the end of the war for him. Later he would find himself being bombed by friendly fire during Battle of the Bulge and still later he would serve as the American Commandant at Buchenwald following its liberation.

Gardner’s helmet remains, to this day, the most damaged helmet whose wearer survived his wounds.

To see Clint Gardner’s helmet or to read his letter home ask for MS-1109. A guide to the collection is available. To read his book, D-Day and Beyond, ask for Alumni G1728.

Reframing History: "Did not the man span centuries of human progress!"

From the plantations of the south to the public school system of the nation’s capital, Winfield Scott Montgomery’s journey represents African Americans’ fight for equality throughout the history of the United States.

Born a slave in 1853, Montgomery overcame his circumstances when he discovered a Vermont regiment of the Union Army stationed not far from his home in New Orleans. The presence of the northern soldiers gave him hope, and a ten-year-old Montgomery fled from the world of the whip to one of rifles. He traveled with the troops to Virginia, Vermont and Shenandoah. When Colonel Henry F. Dutton was wounded at the battle of Winchester and sent home to Vermont he brought Montgomery along with him and incorporated the young follower into his New England family.

After completing his elementary education, Montgomery attended the prestigious college preparatory school Leland and Gray Seminary in Townshend, Vermont. Then in 1873 he enrolled at the Big Green. Montgomery had to suspend his studies for a year due to financial difficulties, though he soon returned and graduated in 1878. While at Dartmouth he was a member of various student organizations including Phi Beta Kappa. As if his resume wasn’t impressive enough at this point, Montgomery went on to study medicine at Howard University, receiving his degree in 1890.

Despite his medical degree, Montgomery pursued a career in education. He taught in Vermont, Washington, D.C. and at Alcorn University in Mississippi. Additionally, he held numerous administrative positions within the Washington D.C. public school system. He rose from Principal to Supervising Principal and eventually became Assistant Superintendent in Charge of Colored Schools before retiring in 1924 after 42 years of service.

Montgomery fought to provide educational opportunities to black students that equaled those enjoyed by white students. The Board of Education opened Washington High School for Colored Youth, or the M Street High School, in the 1870’s. Throughout his career in D.C. Montgomery worked to ensure black students were prepared for secondary education by standardizing the instruction teachers offered students at the elementary level. He also elevated the curriculum at M Street to transform the school into an accredited institution. Not stopping there, Montgomery promoted the development of night schools, vacation schools, and fresh air schools, as well as catered classes to fit the needs of handicapped or special-needs students.

It is not surprising that Dartmouth granted Montgomery an honorary degree of Master of Arts in 1906 when his son, Wilder P. Montgomery, graduated from his alma mater. A pioneer in black education and equal rights in general, Montgomery endeavored to open opportunities for future generations through education. Winfield Scott Montgomery passed away on November 1928. He was 75. His obituary states: “did not the man span centuries of human progress!”

Ask for Montgomery’s Alumni File, class of 1878.

Posted for Haley Shaw ’15.

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).

Deliriously Yours

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Here is the date you do NOT want. This is Ann (Washington: U.S. War Department, 1943) was authored by Capt. Munro Leaf and illustrated by Capt. Theodor Seuss Geisel, both serving in the armed forces. Leaf was already gaining fame for his classic children’s book Ferdinand, the story of a sweet and peaceful, flower loving bull forced into the bullfighting ring. Geisel, you know. By that time he had published Mulberry Street, but was probably still better known for his Flit insect repellent advertisements.

In a letter to Dartmouth’s Harold Rugg from 1943, Geisel writes that “as an old Flit salesman, I find that I am of occasional use in doing semi-educational propaganda against the mosquito.” He did the illustrations “between sessions on the rifle range and sessions in the Army motion picture studios” in Hollywood. Told as a mock venereal disease cautionary tale, the story portrays the exploits of the malaria spreading Ann, a loose mosquito who “really gets around.”

We have a collection of Geisel’s original art (or “alleged art” as he says in the letter to Rugg). You can see the book and the letter by asking for Alumni G277thi. The original art is in MS-1100, Box 9.

Fishing with Hemingway?

Ellis O. Briggs ’21 was an American statesman who rose to the highest diplomatic rank possible, that of Career Ambassador. He acted as ambassador to seven countries under the tenure of three US presidents. He began his career in 1925 as vice consul at Lima, Peru, and concluded it as ambassador to Greece in 1962, where his car’s license plate reportedly read “EOB 1921.” Briggs literally traveled the globe in service to his country, representing the United States in the Dominican Republic, Czechoslovakia, Uruguay, and South Korea, among others. He was known as an efficient and capable administrator who had little patience for “diplomatic bungling and red tape,” as one acquaintance put it.

Still, Briggs wasn’t just all work and no leisure. He was an avid outdoorsman and former president of the Dartmouth Outing Club who enjoyed hunting excursions in Maine with his honorary classmate, Corey Ford, a pastime that Briggs called “a lunatic diversion not for the uninitiated.” However, woodcock were not the only game that Briggs pursued. In 1955, he was appointed ambassador to Peru and soon after met up with Ernest Hemingway, who was staying at the renowned Cabo Blanco Fishing Club during the filming of the motion picture adaptation of The Old Man and the Sea. Hemingway’s postcard, complete with a photo on the front of Papa himself alongside a marlin, supplied Briggs with instructions for how to join him out on the water.

It’s unknown whether Briggs actually went on a fishing expedition during the visit or if he was simply visiting the movie set. Regardless, the close relationship between him and Hemingway is clear. In a presentation copy of The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway writes of his “old affection” for Briggs (and his wife Lucy), suggesting that the two may have met much earlier, perhaps in Cuba when Briggs was counselor of the embassy there in the 1930s.
To see our inscribed copy of The Old Man and the Sea, and the enclosed photos of Briggs, Hemingway, and marlin, come in and ask for Rare 3515 .E37 O52 1952 copy 4.
To learn more about the life of Ellis O. Briggs, Class of 1921, ask for his alumni file.

Proper Motivation

On May 15th, 1872, Charles Edwin Hall, Class of 1870, petitioned President Asa Dodge Smith for mercy. At the end of the winter term in 1870, Hall had been expelled after standing before the faculty to answer for his participation in what he calls “the mock programme affair.” Hall had apparently written a scurrilous essay about a fellow Dartmouth student that had then been published and distributed widely among the student body without Hall’s knowledge. In his letter to President Smith, Hall acknowledges that he was at fault for writing the essay but states that he was unable to defend himself fully before the faculty. He now writes to clear up his involvement in the matter, with the hopes of finally receiving his degree.

As he describes the limits of his participation in the affair, Hall repeatedly underscores the fact that he is suffering from “mental discomfort” as a result of his lack of Dartmouth credentials and that the punishment has been “very hard” to him. He asserts that he would do almost anything to be a graduate of the class of 1870. Finally, after much handwringing, Hall divulges his true motivation for seeking a presidential pardon: he is engaged to a woman whose father belongs to the class of 1843 and won’t let him marry her until he has been enrolled as an “honorable graduate” of Dartmouth College.

Faced with such a powerful plea, President Smith relented and Charles E. Hall was granted his diploma from Dartmouth College within the month. He went on to marry Nellie A. Barnard, daughter of Rev. Pliny F. Barnard, ’43, three years later and moved to Greenville, NH, where he worked as a physician and pharmacist. Hall took to heart the hard lesson he had initially received at the hands of Dartmouth: he became a public servant, acting as the superintendent of schools for more than a decade before joining the New Hampshire state senate, where he served as chairman of the Committee on Education.

To learn more about Charles Edwin Hall, class of 1899, ask to see his alumni file at Rauner Library.