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On April 16, 2010, the staff of Archives & Special Collections held our second Open House to showcase archival materials in University archives, natural history, children’s literature, railroad history, Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian studies, the alternative press, human rights, and other curatorial areas. Our reproduction services were highlighted as well as our extensive multimedia collections. The new search feature on our web site that allows keyword searching across all finding aids was demonstrated as well as how to access photographs, maps, and other digital collections. Sam Charters (in the blue shirt above ) delighted the audience by playing the Victrola he donated for the Samuel and Ann Charters Multimedia Room and discussing the music of the era. Marisol Ramos is shown with graduate student Sergio Mobilia, and Laura Smith speaks to two graduate students in Psychology about her collections.
The Dodd Research Center is involved with many causes, none of which is more powerful than the struggle for human rights. U.S. Senator Thomas J. Dodd, for whom we are named, devoted his life to public service, the rule of law, and the rights of the oppressed. It is while serving as a member of the Executive Trial Council in Nuremberg, Germany, Senator Dodd met Whitney Harris, a lawyer in the U.S. Navy. And because of that unique connection between two men, the Dodd Research Center had the occasion to bring Mr. Harris to the University of Connecticut.
In Senator Christopher J. Dodd’s book “Letters from Nuremberg: My Father’s Narrative of a Quest for Justice,” letters from Dodd to his wife, Grace reference Mr. Harris. From these writings, we learn that the two spent much time together during trips and at official dinners. Mr. Harris even shuttled an anniversary gift back to the states for Grace. Mr. Harris attended the program in which we launched the book with a series of readings, and read the following excerpt from a letter dated June 3, 1946: “Whitney Harris has been away all weekend. He is a nice chap but not much company. He sings all the time – and is generally too young for me.” His laughter after recounting the late Senator’s words, gave the audience a glimpse of the humor and good nature that was Mr. Harris’ hallmark.
We were honored to have Mr. Harris deliver a lecture in 2006 on the 60th anniversary of the judgment at Nuremberg, where he spoke to an auditorium overflowing of students, who learned so much more from his lecture than from any text book. He joined us again in 2007, when we awarded the Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights, an event that keeps alive the idea that the rule of law and pursuit of human rights is still a necessity.
As an archive, we know that it is through history that we can often learn about today, and we owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have gone before us and fought for what is right and true. According to Matt Sepic of St. Louis Public Radio, Mr. Harris’ experience in Nuremberg made him “a leading advocate for international law and the modern war crimes tribunals that are Nuremberg’s legacy.” We are saddened by the loss of such a true human rights activist, and extend our deepest sympathy to his family and friends.
Louise Gaffney Flannigan, born in 1867 and died in 1949, lived her whole life in New Haven, Connecticut. As the sister and wife of men who worked for the New Haven Railroad, she wrote flowery poems as odes to the courage and fortitude of railroad trainmen, and for good reason. Working for the railroad in the late 1800s was dangerous — this mode of transportation was still very new and laws regulating the railroads to ensure the safety of the workers were few. Many of the poems Louise wrote were memorials to the men who died on the job. Sadly, even her husband, Frank Flannigan, died in 1915 when he was hit by a train.
The Louise Gaffney Flannigan Papers, part of the Railroad History Archive here at the Dodd Research Center, is a very unique collection, quite unlike the typical railroad collection of timetables, track maps and photographs of locomotives and stations. Louise’s papers consist of her poems and writings, almost all about her admiration of her beloved trainmen and her despair when one falls while on duty. The poems tell us a lot about Louise herself, about her resilience and her humor. Despite her constant fear that another man will die while working for the railroad, she had a real respect for the trains, their power and their beauty.
Shown here is the first stanza of “A Brakeman’s Death,” undated but it must have been written before 1889. Louise writes “Whenever I pass near the railroad track, and see the trains pass by so fast, I love to wave to the jolly brakeman, seated on the cartops, as one by one they pass, Their eyes are ever on the alert, To see each bridge and dodge down low, They run quickly also to their brakes, Over cars covered with ice and snow.”
Hard work, indeed.
For more information about the Louise Gaffney Flannigan Papers, see the finding at http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/findaids/flannigan/MSS20070066.html
Please join the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center for a special presentation and discussion with Taylor Krauss, Founder of Voices of Rwanda, for a discussion of his work to document stories of the survivors of the Rwandan genocide.
Voices of Rwanda:
A Conversation and Film Screening with Taylor Krauss
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
4:00 PM, Konover Auditorium
Sixteen years ago, in April 1994, genocide broke out in Rwanda. Over the course of 100 days, an estimated 800,000 people were brutally killed by their neighbors. Today, survivors, bystanders, rescuers, and perpetrators are all searching for ways to live with one another and with their difficult past.
Taylor Krauss, founding director of Voices of Rwanda, will be presenting clips from his filmed testimony from survivors of the Rwandan genocide. Krauss founded Voices of Rwanda in 2006 to record and preserve testimonies of Rwandans to ensure that their stories inform the world about genocide and help prevent future human rights atrocities. Voices of Rwanda currently has a large film archive of testimony and is working with organizations and schools in Rwanda and the United States to make the testimonies available for education and research, as well as community healing.
To find out more information on Voices of Rwanda please visit:
Download the poster for the event (PDF, 1 MB)
Listen to a podcast with Taylor Krauss from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Voices on Genocide Prevention Podcast from December 17, 2009.
If you liked the “Ramnapping” post from February, you’ll be happy to know that you can now watch more live action UConn football and basketball games from the 1930s and 1940s. Games can be accessed from the Archives & Special Collections, Digital Collections site. See more matches against Rhode Island, Massachusetts State and New Hampshire. View the list of films.
Don’t forget our open house is today from 4-6. We just heard that Sam and Ann Charters will be our guests and will be spinning 78’s on the Victrola. I know you don’t want to miss that!
John P. McDonald Reading Room
Please join us for an Open House at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. The event will include interactive displays, presentations and one-on-one conversations to facilitate the discovery of the rich resources in the Archives that will help with your classes and your own personal research.
Wednesday, April 14
Dodd Research Center
You are welcome to come and go as your schedule allows, but if you have a particular interest in the presentations, the schedule is as follows:
4:30-Exploring the collections with our new search feature
4:45-New tools for using our digital resources
5:00-The distinctive sounds of the Victrola
Refreshments will be provided.
Following the offer of land and funds from the Storrs brothers, the General Assembly officially established the state agricultural school in Storrs, Connecticut on April 6, 1881. The following fall, the buildings were prepared and 12 boys enrolled for classes. The inaugural class included: Frederick B. Brown (Gilead), Frank D. Case (Barkhamste), Charles H. Elkins (Brooklyn, NY), Charles S. Foster (Bristol), John M. Gelston (East Haddam), Samuel B. Harvey (Mansfield), Henry R. Hoisington (Coventry), Burke Hough (Weatogue), Arthur S. Hubbard (Glastonbury), Andrew K. Thompson (West Cornwall) and F. M. Winton (Bristol). The formal public opening of the school was October 7, 1881.
Found among the literary broadside collection in Archives and Special Collections are works that represent unique, unusual and innovative collaborations between poets and artists. Poetry broadsides produced between the 1950s and early 1970s offer some of the most diverse examples of poem and picture combinations. Visual artists, printmakers, typesetters, and graphic artists emerging from American schools and cities experimented with forms and techniques influenced by their association with other artists, writers, and performers.
Black Mountain College in the 1950s is often described by those that attended and taught there as a laboratory for artistic collaboration. The print shop at the small college in the foothills of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains was a space where experimentation and collaboration were encouraged, producing small-run editions of poetry and poetry broadsides alongside the works of print-makers and visual artists. Joel Oppenheimer partnered with the painter Robert Rauschenberg, both students at the time, and the poet and emerging small-press publisher Jonathan Williams, to create ‘The Dancer’.
Join us in celebration of the exhibition ‘Poem and Picture’ at the Benton Museum at the University of Connecticut featuring ‘The Dancer’ (“The Dancer”, 1951, poem by Joel Oppenheimer, drawing by Robert Rauschenberg, printed at Black Mountain College by Oppenheimer and Jonathan Williams, Jargon 2), and National Poetry Month.