On Wednesday, May 12, Curators from Archives & Special Collections of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center conducted a daylong workshop for teachers enrolled in the EASTCONN Teaching American History Grant.  Curators Valerie Love, Betsy Pittman and Laura Smith showed materials from the Alternative Press, Political, and Labor Collections, and the University Archives, concentrating on the topics of post-World War II Communism and the Vietnam War. 

In 2009 EASTCONN, a regional education service center in Hampton, Connecticut, received a three-year federal Teaching American History grant.  The coordinators gathered educational institutions such as the Dodd Research Center, the Connecticut State Library and Archives, the Connecticut Historical Society, Historic New England, and others to be partners in coordinating workshops and other learning experiences for eastern Connecticut teachers who enrolled in the program.  Each of the three years has a theme; this year’s theme is “Freedom, Security and Diversity,”  thus the emphasis on materials for Communism and the Vietnam War.

We brought out many provocative documents to the teachers, including a copy of a letter from Connecticut Senator Thomas J. Dodd, Senator Prescott Bush, and Representative Frank Kowalski to President John F. Kennedy in 1961 urging him to be resolved to fight Communism (http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/research/TAH/1994-0065_ms50.pdf) and a flyer advertising a peace protest during the Vietnam War (http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/research/TAH/1986-0008_ms3.pdf)

As a special bonus to the day, Maureen Croteau, head of UConn’s Department of Journalism, spoke to the teachers about freedom of the press and the First Amendment.  Maureen’s topics sparked a lot of discussion with the group.