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Carey MacDonald is an undergraduate Anthropology major and writing intern. In her new series Through the Lens of an Anthropologist, Carey analyzes artifacts found in the collections of Archives and Special Collections.
Sociocultural traditions pervade the human experience and provide a reliable mechanism for social cohesion. It is commonly thought, though, that traditions are strictly old manifestations of an earlier cultural context, when, in actuality, they evolve and create a distinct reality for each successive generation.
Yet traditions only evolve and persist for as long as their adherents maintain, reproduce, and reinforce them in their culture. Such is the case of the college freshman beanie, a colored cap that freshmen were required to wear as a form of initiation into the greater university social setting. According to the University Archivist Betsy Pittman, the tradition of wearing this cap was ubiquitous among American universities during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For younger generations though, this tradition no longer exists in the form that it once did, although there certainly exist other freshman initiation rites, particularly within the scope of Greek life, honor societies, and sports teams. An example of the UConn freshman beanie tradition comes from the University Memorabilia Collection.
The crown of this beanie resembles a circus tent: it is patterned by six alternating blocks of navy blue and white (university colors) and is held together in the center by a white fabric-covered fastener. An insignia of ‘5 C 7’ is embroidered on the front of the cap above the narrow, white brim. ‘5’ and ‘7’ are placed on either side of ‘C’ in a thin, navy blue felt font and represent that freshman class’s graduating year – in this case, the class of 1957. ‘C’ is sewn in a larger, thicker, navy blue felt font and most likely represents Connecticut. Also important is the name Eugene H. Starger, which is handwritten in what appears to be thin permanent marker or black pen on the inside rim of the hat. It seems that Eugene got a lot of use out of his beanie since it is stained; it is apparent that he wore this beanie more than once, as it was a necessary part of his attire for at least some time.
We see the first evidence for the freshman beanie tradition in a student handbook from the academic year of 1921-22 called The Handbook of Connecticut Agricultural College. In the handbook’s “Message of ’24 to ’25” – as it was written by the class of 1924 to the incoming class of 1925 – we see abrupt, intimidating, student-to-student language used to enforce the university’s traditions:
As your infantile brain could not possibly assimilate the significance of a proper beginning, tradition places the burden of guiding you through this, your first year at C.A.C. on the broad, capable shoulders of the Class of 1924…Transgress sacred College Tradition and never…will the haunting memory cease to picture that terrible night when you so unexpectedly disturbed the Waters of Swan Lake.
This message is clearly intended to ensure that no freshman would ever “transgress sacred College Tradition,” capital letters and all, because if they did, they’d be punished and thrown into the lake. The handbook continues by giving freshmen explicit instructions for using the beanie. They were to wear this distinct cap and conform to the rules. Sophomores were to distribute the caps and enforce the rules.
Thirty-two years later, the student-written Husky Handbook of 1953-54 – the same year that Eugene H. Starger was a freshman – requires freshmen to wear their purchased beanie until the ‘season’ is over. The season ended if the freshmen won the Frosh-Sophomore Rope Pull contest across Mirror Lake during the first month of school, but if the sophomores won, then the freshmen would have to wear their beanies until Thanksgiving break.
Most importantly, the handbook explains the overall significance of wearing the beanie: the upperclassmen wanted to know who the freshmen were so that they could meet and help them more easily. Interestingly, this section ends by saying, “Wear your Beanie with pride, because we are proud to number you as ‘one of us.’” Betsy Pittman expands on this notion by describing that the ‘controlled ritual’ of wearing the freshman beanie signaled to others one’s commitment to the university, its culture, and its people. She also remarks that since the upperclassmen had to wear a beanie during their first year too, the student body in general had this experience to which they could all relate. This would, in effect, foster a beneficial sense of community, and ultimately, as Pittman says, the “beanie is a physical manifestation of that community.”
Carey MacDonald, writing intern
In her new series Through the Lens of an Anthropologist, undergraduate Anthropology major and writing intern Carey MacDonald will analyze artifacts found in the collections of Archives and Special Collections. ‘By asking a set of questions, I intend to reveal and highlight many intricate patterns of human behavior, such as social actions and customs, and the ways in which those patterns of behavior are represented in certain artifacts.” — Carey MacDonald
Clothing, as a fundamental, human form of expression, is symbolic of our cultural, social, and physical environments, as well as of our experiences and beliefs. T-shirts, jerseys, hats, pins – these things are worn as distinct symbols of an individual. But what about a pair of socks?
Abbott “Abbie” Hoffman, the Massachusetts-born activist and co-founder of the Youth International Party, or the Yippies, of the 1960s and ‘70s, is best known for his unabashed and public criticism of American government policies and politicians. He used calculated political theater to engage young people in the political and social issues of the time and to organize them in the effort to reform the government and the nation. Hoffman’s revolutionary ideology manifested itself in his own self-expression; he publicized his ideas by way of media coverage of his demonstrations, as well as through the very clothes he wore on his body.
In the collection of the Hoffman Family Papers we see that Jack Hoffman, Abbie’s younger brother, maintained regular correspondence with Abbie throughout his years of activism. Jack later gained many of Abbie’s possessions, such as the aforementioned t-shirts, political pins, and, naturally, a dirty, well-worn pair of red, white, and blue socks that resemble the American flag. The socks’ knitting is worn away in the toes, heels, and calves, indicating their habitual use. Since he frequently wore them and kept them long enough for them to eventually reach his brother, these red, white, and blue socks must have meant something to Abbie. And they certainly mean something to us today about his life and his activism.
At the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Abbie and eight other leaders and their Yippie followers held a demonstration against the war in Vietnam and pushed for social and political reform in Washington. In an amateur video taken of Abbie discussing the forthcoming demonstration in Chicago, he articulates his plan to take social action at the Convention for the exact purpose that there would be extensive media coverage of the goings-on. He expected that every hour or so during the televised Convention the cameras would cut from the politicians’ speeches to the Yippies’ demonstration, and the viewers would immediately be interested in what they were doing. In preparation for the demonstration, the mayor appeared on television constantly and stationed police forces and Secret Service agents in the city. In interviews with journalists prior to the event, Abbie likened the whole scene to an exciting football game, like the Rose Bowl. By implementing dramatic, theatrical tactics to capture the public’s attention, Abbie and his Yippie friends could deliver their message in the spotlight.
However, to the Mayor and politicians, the demonstration at the DNC was viewed as a violation of the Anti-Riot Act that had been established in April 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Similarly, the American flag t-shirt that Abbie wore during the ensuing trial of the demonstration leaders, who were known as the Chicago Seven, was perceived by the judge as a desecration of the flag, a national symbol that is meant to be revered. By practicing these forms of political theater, Abbie Hoffman managed to create “an advertisement for revolution,” as he calls it in his 1968 book, Revolution for the Hell of It. As for his red, white, and blue socks, it is very possible that he wore them to be viewed as a defilement of the flag. Or, after he was acquitted of conspiracy in 1973, he may have worn them during the years that he was on the run after jumping bail for his arrest for cocaine possession.
Yet it is also conceivable that he wore them to promote his image of a new, reformed America. He could have been expressing his patriotism and hope to his fellow Yippies and Americans, and since he personally knew he was wearing them, they could have symbolized, for himself, his idealism and belief in social change.
Carey MacDonald, writing intern
In the years that I have been a curator here in Archives & Special Collections I have been fortunate to work with a wide array of researchers, from academic scholars, graduate and undergraduate students, and genealogists to railroad fans, lawyers and preservationists, but I admit to you all right here and right now that I get the most satisfaction when I work with middle school and high school students, those who are at the early point of discovering the wonder and power of primary sources. And one of the ways we get to work with young students is to help them find the resources they need for National History Day projects.
Never heard of National History Day? Here is the description of the contest from the website at http://www.nhd.org/:
“Each year, more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide participate in the NHD contest. Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries. These products are entered into competitions in the spring at local, state and national levels where they are evaluated by professional historians and educators. The program culminates in the Kenneth E. Behring National Contest each June held at the University of Maryland at College Park.”
The theme for the 2013 contest is “Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events,” and connecticuthistory.org, a project of Connecticut Humanities, is helping provide primary sources to NHD students by creating a new series of essays called “Turning Points.”
We here in Archives & Special Collections are collaborating with connecticuthistory.org by choosing materials from our collections and providing these sources and essays for students to use for their NHD projects. Two of the essays are currently online (with more to come), which include:
Connecticut Lawyer Prosecutes Nazi War Criminals at Nuremberg, which describes the work of Thomas J. Dodd, who served on the Executive Trial Council at the Nuremberg Trials following World War II, and the tragedy of Kristallnacht, a turning point that unleashed the persecution of European Jews by the Nazi regime.
Reporting News of Pearl Harbor, which tells of how Andre Schenker, a professor of history at the University of Connecticut and a commentator for Hartford radio station WTIC in the 1940s, reported this shattering world event — a turning point in history if there ever was one — to his Connecticut listeners.
There are more “Turning Points” to come, so stay tuned. Also, if you haven’t tooled around connecticuthistory.org then spend a few minutes with this extraordinary resource, reading the essays and looking at the unique photographs and documents. There is a lot to learn there about the history of Connecticut!
Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections
“Crafting a public identity: a workshop for creative artists, writers and performers on navigating the arts business maze” will be presented at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center on September 28, 2012, from 1-3:30pm in Konover Auditorium. Susan Raab, CEO of Raab Associates, will moderate a panel consisting of Charles Coe, Program Officer at the Massachusetts Cultural Council; Sharon Butler, Professor at Eastern Connecticut State University; Jeff Raab, 2012 graduate of NYU’s Steinhardt Musical Theatre Program; Roxie Munro, author/illustrator of over 35 children’s books; and Laura Rossi Totten, a book publishing and public relations expert.
The panel will discuss the strategies, techniques and tools used to build an effective marketing presence. The workshop is sponsored by the Aetna Chair of Writing, English Department at the University of Connecticut, The Straightors Fund, and the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection at the UConn Libraries. Attendance is limited, so reserve now with email@example.com.
–Terri J. Goldich, Curator, Northeast Children’s Literature Collection
Come visit the exhibit Workers at Play: Baseball Teams, Basketball Competitions and Company Picnics, this weekend, on Sunday, July 29, between 2 and 4, and meet the exhibits curators Kyle Lynes and Laura Smith! We’ve had a great response to the exhibit and we’re looking forward to more opportunities to show it off.
Parking on campus is easy on the weekend and all attendees should be able to park near the Dodd Research Center, on Whitney Road or close by. We’ll have some lovely refreshments, plus the opportunity to see the other exhibits that the UConn Libraries has put up, available in Homer Babbidge Library. For more information about the summer exhibits please visit at http://www.lib.uconn.edu/about/exhibits/.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about the reception or about the exhibit. We’re going to start the traveling schedule soon so let me know if you want your archives, library or school to host it.
Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections
This week is Preservation Week and the Library of Congress, and other libraries across the country, are hosting free webcasts and offering tips and tutorials.
In 2005 the first comprehensive national survey of the condition and preservation needs of the nation’s collections reported that archives, libraries, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions in the U.S. hold more than 4.8 billion items.
A treasure trove of uncounted additional items is held by individuals, families, and communities. These collections include letters, diaries, manuscripts, film, audio recordings, photographs, prints and drawings, and objects such as maps, textiles, paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts.
The volume of digital collections are growing fast. These items are fragile, and their formats quickly become obsolescent, if not obsolete.
Thursday, April 26, 2 pm Eastern, Webinar: “Preserving Personal Digital Photographs” From the Association of Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) Visit the ALCTS website for more information. See their list of other free webinars at the same link, includes Book repair basics, Disaster response, and Mold prevention.
Thursday, April 26, at 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Webinar: “Preserving Your Personal Digital Photographs” From the Library of Congress. The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program will present information about learning to care for digital photos. Hosted by the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services. Free; registration required .
– Melissa Watterworth Batt, Curator of Literary, Natural History and Rare Books Collections
Michael Rumaker was born in South Philadelphia in 1932. The fourth of nine children, he grew up in National Park, New Jersey, a small town on the Delaware River, and later attended the school of journalism at Rider College in Trenton on a half-scholarship. After hearing artist Ben Shahn speak enthusiastically of Black Mountain College during a lecture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, he applied to the college and was granted a work scholarship. In September 1952 he transferred to Black Mountain–washing dishes seven days a week, managing dishwashing crews–and studied in the writing classes of Charles Olson and Robert Creeley.
His breakthrough was “The Truck,” written for Olson’s writing class in October 1954: “after two years of confused false starts and superficial scratchings, I wrote my first real short story, although, in what was to become usual for me, I didn’t know it till after the fact.” He had “reached back,” by his own account, into his adolescence in the mid-1940s and a street gang he knew in the northern section of Camden, New Jersey, “to get it.” Olson’s response was enthusiastic, and he suggested that Rumaker send the story to Robert Creeley for the Black Mountain Review.
Since 1955, Rumaker has published works of fiction, poetry and non-fiction in literary periodicals, novels including A Day and a Night at the Baths (1979), My First Satyrnalia (1981), and To Kill a Cardinal (1992), a collection of short stories, and the memoirs Robert Duncan in San Francisco (1996) and Black Mountain Days (2003).
According to George Butterick, who began collecting Michael Rumaker’s literary papers at the University of Connecticut in 1975, where they reside today, “Rumaker has proceeded from writing about disengaged youth in a generation willing to declare its difference, to being a celebrant of total life and human joy. Actively participating in his own destiny, he has left a glowing trail of work to document the struggle toward identity. He represents, in his later writings, one extension of the Beat revolution: the embracing of sexual diversity. Governing all his work is an indefatigable spirit that gives the creative life reward.”
Join Archives and Special Collections and special guest — novelist, poet, short-story writer, and Black Mountain College alumnus Michael Rumaker — as we celebrate the much-anticipated opening of the Michael Rumaker Papers. The event will feature an interview with and readings by Michael Rumaker, an exhibition of the author’s manuscripts, letters and photographs, ribbon-cutting ceremony, and reception with students and special guests. All are welcome. This event is free and open to the public
April 10, 2012
4:00 to 6:00pm
McDonald Reading Room
Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut
– Melissa Watterworth Batt, Curator of Literary Collections
Four months ago, the University of Connecticut “rose from 49th to 16th place” amongst greenest colleges in the Sierra Club’s Coolest Schools rankings (Kirk). This was encouraging news, especially to Office of Environmental Policy (OEP) director Rich Miller, who asserted that: “UConn’s score shows that our sustainability efforts cover a wide range of activities and engage many people” (qtd. in Kirk). Indeed, Miller’s Husky pride seems justified given the ever-expanding campus consciousness about environmental responsibility, largely due to the countless OEP initiatives since its founding in 2002.
The conservation efforts are apparent all over campus: a recycling station is located on each dormitory floor, recycling bins are placed throughout campus, sneaker recycling drives are held annually, and UConn even participates in the ever-popular Recyclemania competition. However, the progress that UConn has made in its efforts over the years begs the question—did past UConn students ever get the recycling itch?
Naturally, the answer to this question lies in the Dodd Center. According to the Undergraduate Student Government and President’s Office records, students in the Environmental Concern Committee helped implement an experimental glass recycling program during the fall 1972 semester. This program was launched in the Towers dorms and, after having recognized its initial success, was later expanded to other campus dorms. The glass-recycling program served as a model for students hoping to implement paper and aluminum-recycling programs as well.
Unfortunately by January 1974, the Inter-Area Residence Council Recycling Committee recognized that certain dorms in the glass recycling program were having problems with “not enough voluntary action and student cooperation” (IARC Minutes). The program continued in fall 1974, though with great difficulty as enthusiasm fell.
Fortunately, such spurts of recycling-related activism—which may be considered the early predecessors to the current array of UConn OEP / EcoHusky projects—will not be forgotten, as they are well-documented here at the Dodd Center.
Krisela Karaja, Student Intern
Glass Recycling Folder, Box 1 (1972-1973), University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government Records. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
The Inter-Area Residents’ Council Minutes, Jan. 17, 1974, Summer Recycling Workshop Folder, Box 9 (1974), University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government Records. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
Kirk, Michael. “UConn Rises to 16th Among ‘Greenest Colleges.’ ” UConn Today. University of Connecticut Office of University Communications 25 Aug. 2011. Web. 18 Nov. 2011. <http://today.uconn.edu/blog/2011/08/uconn-rises-to-16th-among-greenest-colleges/>.
Recycling Committee Folder, Box 161 (1972), University of Connecticut President’s Office Records [Homer D. Babbidge, 1962-1972]. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
Summer Recycling Workshop Folder, Box 9 (1974), University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government Records. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
The Clean Air controversy was exacerbated by environmental taxes on “indirect sources”—such as mall parking lots—in which large numbers of pollution-causing automobiles could potentially congregate. Again, while many environmentalists favored this notion, private industry owners and especially urban renewal project developers such as those in charge of the Stamford Downtown urban redevelopment project, felt that the Clean Air Act delivered a direct and unnecessary blow to their interests in this regard (CAA Folder, Box 23).
Similarly, the more that was learned about the detrimental effects of aerosol fluorocarbons at this time, the more agitation there was for regulation of these greenhouse gases, as well, given their potential to destroy the earth’s ozone layer. In addition to many other undesirable complications, it was revealed in 1974 that fluorocarbons caused “a chemical reaction that led to a breakdown of the ozone belt […] and dramatic changes in world weather patterns” (“Clean Air Act Amendments, 1976”).
The amendments to the Clean Air Act were not passed until 1977. These amendments included among others the extension of auto emission standards for two years, the extension of air quality standards for U.S. cities for five-to-ten years, and a three-year extension for air polluting industries to comply with standards before facing significant fines (“Clean Air Act Amendments, 1977”). However, debates over altering the act continued in the ’80s, and legislation was finally later passed in 1990. This legislation imposed greater federal standards on limiting smog, auto exhaust, toxic air pollution, etc. The 1990 amendments also included a measure that would foster more research on global warming, so that scientists and politicians alike could understand the pollution-induced worldwide environmental changes attributed to this phenomenon (“Clean Air, 1989 – 1990”).
Thus, although it wasn’t defined as such in the ’70s, global warming was the ultimate culprit behind the debate in Congress—the debate that unfortunately remains heated in recent times. In fact, the “Clear Skies” program presented by the Bush administration in 2002 was perhaps most controversial as it proposed to alter the CAA using a more market-driven approach supported by the power industry. However, this initiative was eventually rejected by environmentalists for its failure to regulate carbon dioxide emissions in addition to sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury (“Clean Air, 2003-2004”). This debate actually resurfaced only a year ago, when the proposed 2010 Clean Air Act Amendments were rejected. Interestingly enough, although this bill did address issues regarding the ozone layer, it still failed to touch upon the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions. Needless to say, the proposed bill did not become a law.
Krisela Karaja, Student Intern
Clean Air Act Folder, Box 23 (1975), Stewart B. McKinney Papers. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
“Clean Air, 1989-1990 Legislative Chronology.” In Congress and the Nation, 1989-1992, vol. 8, 473. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 1993. <http://library.cqpress.com/catn/catn89-0000013636>.
“Clean Air, 2003-2004 Legislative Chronology.” In Congress and the Nation, 2001-2004, vol. 11, 437. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2006. <http://library.cqpress.com/catn/catn01-426-18057-965103>.
“Clean Air Act Amendments, 1976 Legislative Chronology.” In Congress and the Nation, 1973-1976, vol. 4, 303. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 1977. <http://library.cqpress.com/catn/catn73-0009171007>.
“Clean Air Amendments, 1977 Legislative Chronology.” In Congress and the Nation, 1977-1980, vol. 5, 535. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 1981. <http://library.cqpress.com/catn/catn77-0010172918>.
Environment—Air Folder, Box 16 (1974), Stewart B. McKinney Papers. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
Environment—Air Folder, Box 28 (1976), Stewart B. McKinney Papers. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
Stewart McKinney to D.W. Sweeney, May 24, 1974, Environment—Air Folder, Box 16, Stewart B. McKinney Papers. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
Stewart McKinney to Joel M. Berns, July 1, 1975, Clean Air Act Folder, Box 23, Stewart B. McKinney Papers. Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries.
United States. Cong. Senate. Clean Air Act Amendments of 2010. 111th Cong. S. 2995. GovTrack.us. Civic Impulse, LLC. Web. 11 Nov. 2011. <http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s111-2995>.
The Wenham Museum in Wenham, Massachusetts is borrowing artifacts, sketches, and illustrations from the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection for their upcoming exhibit Picture This: 90 Years of Storybook Art (February 3- May 6, 2012). Classic toy stories will come to life through more than 50 original illustrations, vintage toys, and antique books in a colorful display that is engaging for all ages. In the gallery visitors will be able to make their own picture book to take away after their visit, dress in costume to become part of the story, and use story cubes to create their own picture stories all while enjoying the illustrations and reading classics of children’s literature.
The NCLC is lending two artifacts from Nellie, a cat on her own, written and illustrated by Natalie Babbitt and published in 1989 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Ms. Babbitt was born in 1932 in Dayton, OH, the daughter of Ralph Zane and Genevieve (Converse) Moore. She received her B.A. from Smith College in 1954. That same year she married Samuel Fisher Babbitt, who also collaborated with her on her first book, The 49th Magician.
The Babbitt Papers hold the manuscripts, preliminary sketches, finished artwork and models for this and many other Babbitt titles, including her most famous work, the multiple award-winning Tuck Everlasting. Seven paintings and two sketches by Ms. Babbitt will accompany Nellie and her hat to Wenham. To keep Nellie company, eight collages by Ed Young will be featured in the Wenham show as well. These collages are the finished works of art for his Pinocchio, published in 1996 by Philomel. Mr. Young, a children’s book author/illustrator and winner of many awards was born in Tientsin, China and raised in Shanghai and Hong Kong, where he was interested in drawing and storytelling from an early age. He moved to the U.S. in 1951 to study architecture but quickly changed his focus to art. Mr. Young has illustrated over eighty books, many of which he also wrote.
The mission of the Wenham Museum is to protect, preserve, and interpret the history and culture of Boston’s North Shore, domestic life, and the artifacts of childhood. The Museum was established in 1922, making 2012 its 90th anniversary. It began as an historic house museum, but the first donor, Elizabeth Richards Horton – who also happened to be the last child to grow up in the house – donated nearly 1000 dolls to the museum that had been her childhood home, thus establishing the Wenham Museum as one of the premier museums of dolls, toys, and the artifacts of childhood from the 17th century to the present. Since then the museum has maintained a tradition of celebrating childhood and domestic life through its exhibitions of artifacts that have been a part of childhood for the past 400 years, including children’s books, toys and dolls of all kinds, electric trains, and textiles and objects of domestic life.