You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2011.

The International Council on Archives has chosen today as World Day for Audiovisual Heritage.  The purpose is to draw attention to the historical development of audiovisual media: cinema, photography, television, video and sound recording.  Check out the poster outlining a timeline of audiovisual development in four languages.  Modern archives contain vast quantities of audiovisual materials that document cultural heritage.  Our knowledge of our national and local history is enriched by these records.  For example, how limited would our understanding of our participation in World War II be without the “Man on the Street Interviews After the Attack on Pearl Harbor“, or of our developing cities at the turn of the 20th century if not portrayed in photographs made by the Detroit Publishing Company, all preserved at the Library of Congress.  By preserving photographs, film and sound recordings, we can explore and better understand from where we have come.  Celebrate our audiovisual heritage by visiting The UConn Story to investigate the University of Connecticut’s history through a variety of formats, watch the earliest UConn football and basketball game films  and see college life as it once was in photographs in the Digital Mosaic.

Kristin Eshelman, Curator of Multimedia Collections


Radioactive Times

The members of California’s Abalone Alliance must have thought just that as they continually resisted the proliferation of U.S. nuclear power plants—the Diablo Canyon plant in San Luis Obispo County being one of them—in the 1970s and ’80s. The Diablo controversy began in 1963, with the Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s proposal to build a nuclear plant in California. Anti-nuclear activists later learned that the company had not conducted sufficient seismic tests for fear of gathering information that would ultimately delay construction. What’s more, the plant was to be built 2.5 miles away from an earthquake fault. PG&E made this discovery in 1962 but neglected to inform the surrounding community about this safety concern (“Diablo Canyon, a history of cover-ups and resistance”).

Organized forms of civil disobedience—leafleting, peaceful protests, etc.—occurred under the direction and encouragement of the Abalone Alliance, an umbrella organization of over 60 groups, including the Los Angeles-based Alliance for Survival. In addition to promoting the Alliance for Survival’s Radioactive Times, the Abalone Alliance also distributed its own newsletter, It’s About Times. Both of these newsletters closely covered the developments at Diablo, and both also strove to spread awareness about the harmful effects of nuclear power. In fact the Times, whose main slogan was to deliver “All the news they never print,” went so far as to criticize the Reagan administration for its financial support of nuclear fusion research while cutting the budgets for energy conservation and solar energy (“Nuke Time for Bonzo”).

The opposition of the Abalone-affiliated groups was formidable. In 1981, 10,000 local citizens instituted a two-week blockade of Diablo Canyon, resulting in 1901 arrests. That year, it was also revealed that “PG&E used wrong blueprints when installing key seismic supports” (“Diablo Canyon, a history of cover-ups and resistance”). Whistleblower John Horn lamented: “I wasn’t exactly popular around the office then because most people thought I was just kind of nitpicking, and that I was stirring up  trouble” (“Diablo Canyon, a history of cover-ups and resistance”).

Despite these protests, Diablo Canyon was granted an operating license by The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on November 2, 1984, and will maintain this license until at least November 2, 2024 (“Diablo Canyon Power Plant, Unit 1”). On its website, PG&E maintains that “Diablo Canyon Power Plant is a safe, clean, reliable and vital resource for all Californians” (“Welcome to Diablo Canyon”).

However, the work—the history—of these sometimes overlooked grassroots anti-nuclear groups is still preserved within the Alternative Press Collections at the Dodd Center today, waiting to be rediscovered by researchers and students alike.

Krisela Karaja, Student Intern


“AA Safe Energy Groups.” It’s About Times: Abalone Alliance Newsletter [San Francisco, CA] Mid-June—July, 1980: p. 11. Print. Alternative Press Collections. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of
Connecticut Libraries.

“Abalone Alliance Newsletter: It’s About Times.” It’s About Times: Abalone Alliance Newsletter [San Francisco, CA] Mid-June—July, 1980: p. 2. Print. Alternative Press Collections. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

“Diablo Canyon, a history of cover-ups and resistance: Do PG&E and the NRC Really Care About Safety?” [San Luis Obispo, CA] final edition, early 1984: p. 4. Print. Alternative Press Collections. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

“Diablo Canyon Power Plant, Unit 1.” U.S. NRC: United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. NRC, 24 June 2011. Web. 13 Oct. 2011.

“Nuke Time for Bonzo.” Radioactive Times [San Luis Obispo, CA] Summer 1981: p. 3. Print. Alternative Press Collections. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.

“Welcome to Diablo Canyon.” PG&E. Pacific Gas & Electric Company, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <>.

Railroad station in Litchfield, Connecticut, ca. 1900

On Wednesday, October 26, at 7:00p.m. I will be giving a talk at the Oliver Wolcott Library in Litchfield, Connecticut, about that town’s railroad history.  The story starts with the Shepaug Valley Railroad, which opened for business on January 1, 1872, and traveled from Hawleyville to Litchfield in this mountainous region of western Connecticut.  After financial difficulties in the 1870s and 1880s forced the railroad to restructure, the line emerged in 1887 as the Shepaug, Litchfield and Northern Railroad, only to come under the control of the massive New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, better known as the New Haven Railroad, in 1892.  From that time to its final demise in 1948 it was known as the Shepaug Branch of the New Haven Railroad.

As the Shepaug, Litchfield and Northern Railroad it was nicknamed the “slow, late and noisy.”   The route contained almost 200 curves, one tunnel, and several stiff grades.  It was known as the “second most crooked railroad in the U.S.” (the most crooked was the Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods Railway in Marin County, California), measuring 32 miles of track but was actually 17 miles as the crow flies.  Train speed could never exceed 20 miles per hour.

If you are interested in attending the talk at the Oliver Wolcott Library you can register at

You can find more photographs from Litchfield’s railroad past on Flickr, at

Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections

Portion of a flyer advocating for the release of seven members of the Communist Party of Connecticut jailed for subversive activities in 1954.

In 1954 seven members of the Communist Party of Connecticut were arrested on charges of violating the Smith Act.  The Smith Act, also known as the Alien Registration Act, was enacted in 1940 to set criminal penalties for anyone prosecuted for advocating the overthrow of the United States government.  In the 1940s and 1950s, a time of the fear of Communism in the country, the Smith Act was used against political organizations and persons who disagreed with the government, even those who did so in non-violent ways. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Questions to ask when considering these documents:

1) Is it right to jail someone just for his or her beliefs?  Would it be right to put someone in jail if the government thought his or her beliefs would cause harm to America?  Does the Smith Act violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution?

2) What is the purpose of this flyer?  Does this flyer show that the Communist Party of Connecticut was trying to overthrow the government of the United States?

3) How do people think and behave when they are afraid?  How does this flyer give evidence to the fears of the American people in the 1950s?

This primary source conforms to the Connecticut Social Studies Curriculum Framework for High School students, particularly Strand 1.9 — the rights and responsibilities of citizens, grade level expectation 47 — Analyze the tension between the need for national security and the protection of individual rights.

Larger images of the pages of this flyer are available here: page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4.

This flyer is from the papers of Jack Goldring, a member of the Communist Party of Connecticut and one of the seven arrested for subversive activities in May 1954.  Goldring was eventually released on a technicality.  By 1957 convictions under the Smith Act were deemed unconstitutional but the statute has never been repealed.

More information about the Smith Act can be found at this site from the University of Illinois:; and the Encyclopedia Brittanica Online:

Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections

Cover of the book Postage Due: Forever Stamps, by C. David Thomas.

The New England History Teachers Association ( were to have their Fall meeting here at the Dodd Research Center this Friday, October 14, but we just got word that it has been canceled.  Even so, I put together a list of resources that about the theme for the conference —  “The Vietnam War: Scholarly Views and Classroom Applications” that may interest any History or Social Studies teacher who is doing a unit on the Vietnam War.  Here are just a few of the many recently published sources about the Vietnam War available at the Dodd Research Center:

Foley, Michael S. Confronting the War Machine: Draft Resistance during the Vietnam War.  Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

Carroll, Andrew, ed.  War letters : Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars.  New York : Scribner, 2001.

Caputo, Philip.  Ten Thousand Days of Thunder.  New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2005.  Written by a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for children, this book gives a full account of the war, from the reasons for intervention to the battles and those missing in action, to the war’s music and the protests at home.

Harrison-Hall, Jessica.  Vietnam Behind the Lines : Images from the War, 1965-1975.  London : British Museum Press, 2002.

O’Roark Dowell, Frances.  Shooting the Moon.  New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008.  A book for young readers, the story of this book is “When her brother is sent to fight in Vietnam, twelve-year-old Jamie begins to reconsider the army world that she has grown up in.”

Thomas, C. David.  Postage Due: Forever Stamps.  A series of unofficial postage stamps inspired by people and events from the Vietnam War era, self-published by the author in 2009.

Wachsberger, Ken, ed.  Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press.  East Lansing : Michigan State University Press, 2011.

These publications complement our extensive set of journals and books about the Vietnam War in the Alternative Press Collection. 

Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections

In conjunction with the Society of American Archivists and the Council of State Archivists, Governor Malloy has proclaimed October 2011 as Connecticut Archives Month.   Exhibits, lectures and presentations abound.  See what’s going on at the Dodd Research Center here.

Official Statement on Archives Month, Governor Dannel P. Malloy, October 2011

Visit an Archives near you this month!

To drink or not to drink?  This is a question most Americans rarely address, regarding the safety of their drinking water.  Indeed, water contamination often appears irrelevant to us—a far-off issue confined to developing countries. However, as Jonathan King argues in his book Troubled Water: The Poisoning of America’s Drinking Water, instances of environmental contamination are far from isolated.

Written in 1985 by the Center for Investigative Reporting, one of the nation’s oldest nonprofit agencies covering crucial yet often neglected issues, Troubled Water raises awareness about contaminated groundwater. Burying toxic wastes is particularly harmful to groundwater –and, by association, drinking water—because chemicals “don’t readily disperse, settle out, or degrade” (King xi) at this level. Land disposal is a cheap, common, and sometimes significantly harmful waste management technique, as there is no way to fully ensure that the toxins will be kept from leaking into groundwater. In fact, “a leak of a single gallon of gasoline per day is enough to render the groundwater supply for a town of 50,000 people unfit to drink” (King xi).

Such contamination has had dire results in the past: the 1978 Love Canal scandal being one example. Despite warnings from Hooker Chemicals Co., schools and residential areas were built on and near a buried chemical waste site in Niagara Falls, NY. Wastes and toxins such as dioxin eventually spread as the water table rose—leaking into basements, sewers, and eventually area creeks. This contamination was also associated with an unprecedented number of health concerns among residents including miscarriages, birth defects, and the development of rare diseases.

Federal initiatives such as the 1980 Superfund program were established in the wake of these environmental scandals in order to hold polluters accountable after the fact. However, King suggests that the best way to seek environmental justice is for citizens to be proactive, so that environmental injustice never becomes an issue. He argues that “contamination has to be prevented before it happens” (173). He quotes Lois Gibbs, a prominent environmentalist and local leader in the call for action at Love Canal: “ ‘I’m really very optimistic. I see people moving, and I see things [i.e. citizen involvement] happening’ ” (180). If not, then, as Joel Hirschhorm—a 1980s Capitol Hill expert on toxic waste management—put it: “We will end up paying that [environmental] debt either with our money [in having to treat polluted areas] or our health” (qtd. in King xiv-xv).

Krisela Karaja, Student Intern


“About CIR.” Center for Investigative Reporting. Center for Investigative Reporting, n.d. Web.  26 Sept. 2011.  Center for Investigative Reporting

DePalma, Anthony. “Love Canal Declared Clean, Ending Toxic Horror.” New York Times 18    Mar. 2004. Web Archives. 26 Sept. 2011.

King, Jonathan. Troubled Water: The Poisoning of America’s Drinking Water—how government   and industry allowed it to happen, and what you can do to ensure a safe supply in the home.  Emmaus Pennsylvania, Rodale Press: 1985. Print. Alternative Press Collections.  Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of  Connecticut Libraries. Call number: APC Bk 389.

 “Love Canal New York. EPA ID# NYD000606947.” EPA. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 25 Jan. 2010. Web. 26 Sept. 2011.  <>.

It’s no surprise to hear that you can find primary sources in the archive — the Dodd Research Center is full of them! Primary sources of historical materials are what we are about, our reason for being, what makes us “special.”  It’s one reason we started this blog even — to promote the primary sources that we hold in our archival collections.  We’re always working to reach educators, on campus and in the state’s 5-12 classrooms, to let them know what we have to offer, not only in terms of primary sources, but also what we can offer for classroom instruction by the curators to middle school and high school classes as well as curriculum guides, online exhibits, digital resources, and help for National History Day projects. 

We’re beginning a new set of blog postings geared toward teachers and students in Connecticut’s 5-12 classrooms, of course to promote our collections but also to let you know of the many other services and resources we provide, as well as other sources, online and in the archives, to go to for materials that can supplement lessons and instruction.  Stay tuned!

Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections

Grace Blakeman, circa 1899

 Grace Blakeman graduated from the Storrs Agricultural  College, now the University of Connecticut, in 1896.  After college, Miss Blakeman married fellow classmate Sherman W. Eddy in 1899.  Active in the Congregational Church, a  correspondent for the Hartford Courant, and a farm census taker, Grace died on March 26, 1919, of influenza.  The portrait of Grace Blakeman (above) was painted by her cousin Fannie C. Burr of Monroe, Connecticut, and is presumed to have been painted in honor of Ms. Blakeman’s engagement to Mr. Eddy.  The portrait was recently donated to the University Archives in recognition of Ms. Blakeman’s status as one of the first women to graduate from UConn.

Although UConn alums are always welcome to visit the University Archives, it is always a special treat  when some of them (or their memorabilia) come to “stay” in the Archives and share their story with others interested in the history of the institution.

–Betsy Pittman, University Archivist


Dodd Center’s Tweets