Hartford Electric Light Company duck pin bowling team, 1950s

October 19 is the last day to view the Workers at Play exhibit, now showing in the Dodd Research Center Gallery anytime the building is open, Mondays through Fridays, 8:30a.m. to 4:30p.m.  We’ve had a great response to the exhibit and appreciate all of the nice comments everyone’s given.  Come see it before it’s outta here!

Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections

Thermos Company employees playing bingo, ca. 1950s

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Connecticut Archives Month, October 2012

The poster for Connecticut’s recognition of Archives Month highlights the fragility of our documentary and cultural heritage.  Repositories throughout the state, like Archives & Special Collections at UConn, actively acquire materials that document events, actions, individuals and organizations that are Connecticut and its residents to protect, preserve and make it accessible into the future.  During Archives Month, everyone is encouraged to visit a repository and learn more.  A list of activities being held in the Dodd Research Center, where Archives & Special Collections is located, can be found online.

–Betsy Pittman, University Archivist

Fenton riverCobblestonesCampus scene from east hill looking northwestChurch shedsOld cemetaryOld cemetary
Rear view of Agriculture Hall and dairy buildingRear of the dairy buildingCorn harvestingWaterscapeWaterscapeWaterscape
LandscapeLandscapeProfessor and Mrs. WhiteStream near Gurleyville RoadPoultry buildingsBeans
ApplesSpring Hill ledgeRoute 195 Spring HillPritchard's sawmillPastureApples

Landscape photographs of Mansfield Connecticut made by Harry L. Garrigus before 1912 are now available on Flickr.

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William B. Young was an avid fan, enthusiast and historian of the Connecticut Company, particularly its trolley cars, which controlled the street railroad system that provided public transportation in the state’s towns and cities from 1905 to 1948.  Mr. Young, born in 1942, spent much of his youth in Stamford and Roxbury, Connecticut, where he explored local trolley right-of-ways, collected railroad documents and memorabilia, took photographs, and rode the trains at every opportunity, not just in the state but across the country.  While earning a degree in history (focusing many of his term papers on transportation history) at Yale University he worked summers as a Conductor on the Chicago Transit Authority.  After he graduated in 1966 he was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy, serving as a Naval Aviator during the Vietnam War, and continued as a flight instructor after the war, when he left active duty in 1977.  After his service he became a database programmer and lived in North Carolina until his death in December 2010.

Mr. Young compiled an enormous and extraordinarily comprehensive collection of materials about the trolley system which includes publications, photographs, timetables, maps, postcards, manuals, and reports.  He corresponded with an extensive network of other knowledgeable railroad and trolley historians, where the minutiae of the cars and the broad history of the company were discussed and dissected with equal interest and regard.  His ultimate goal in amassing this information was the creation of a car roster database, which classified each car in the system by number, owner, purchase cost, weight, roof, type, builder, first year in service, accident history, motor type, compressor type, and controller.

In February 2011 Mr. Young’s sister, Mary Young, contacted the archives about donating the collection.  In the time between this initial contact and its ultimate donation in June 2012, Ms. Young and  her sister Lucy gathered the materials from Mr. Young’s home in North Carolina, separated those materials most appropriate for donation, boxed and organized the materials by format, created “finding guides” and other descriptions to ease discovery of the materials, and provided much of the written information about Mr. Young and the company that helped place it all in context. This comprehensive collection is now available for use by the general public, and its finding aid, which includes long descriptions of the life of Mr. Young and the Connecticut Company, is available at http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/findaids/wbyoung/MSS20120077.html.  An electronic version of the database will be made available by the Shore Line Trolley Museum, but an extensive printout of the database can be found with the collection here in Archives & Special Collections.

The Connecticut Company, which by 1907 was controlled by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, operated most of the trolleys and buses in Connecticut, with fourteen divisions and, at its peak in the 1910s, a roster of over 2200 cars and nearly 800 miles of track that either ran in or connected twelve major Connecticut cities.  Ridership started to drop in the 1920s and systems were abandoned by the 1930s.  The last trolley ran on September 25, 1948, in New Haven, as the post-war boom of personal ownership of the automobile became widespread.

Connecticut is lucky to have two trolley museums to preserve this important aspect of transportation, including the Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven (http://www.shorelinetrolley.com/) and the Connecticut Trolley Museum in East Windsor (http://www.ct-trolley.org/).

The archive is deeply grateful to the family of William B. Young for this valuable collection that will serve as a vital resource for this corner of the state’s transportation history.

Laura Smith, Curator of Business, Railroad and Labor Collections

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in 1938, the first major hurricane to hit New England since 1869 made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane.  The full force of the hurricane reached Long Island in the afternoon, the eye making landfall in Suffolk County (LI) shortly after 3:00 pm. By 4:00, the eye had crossed the Sound and made a second landfall just east of New Haven, Connecticut.   Current analyses have labeled the hurricane at Category 3 intensity at both landfalls and place the maximum sustained winds in the 120–125 m.p.h. range. After crossing Long Island Sound, the hurricane sped inland. By 5:00 pm, the eye had crossed Connecticut and moved into western Massachusetts, reaching Vermont by 6:00 pm.

 

Betsy Pittman, University Archivist

 

Congress Week observance September 16 – 22, 2012

Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center would like to remind its readers of the significant roles in our lives played by Congress and the Constitution.  Congress week is sponsored by the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress (ACSC), which was founded in 2003 as an independent alliance of organizations and institutions which promote the study of the U.S. Congress.  The theme of this year’s national celebration is “Congress: Chosen by the People.” Article 1, Section 2 and the 17th Amendment of the Constitution give citizens the right to elect their members of Congress. With the presidential and congressional elections just around the corner in November, it is important to remember our civic responsibility to choose our representatives in government.  Documentation of Congress and how it works can be found in the papers of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation housed in the Dodd Center.  A complete list of the political collections open for consultation is available on the A&SC website.

Constitution Day recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens.  This year also marks the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787. Connecticut had two representatives sign the Constitution, William Samuel Johnson and Robert Sherman. Sherman also signed the Articles of Confederation and the Declaration of Independence, making him one of only two people to sign all three documents. Both Sherman and Johnson were influential in creating a system of representation in Congress where the rights of smaller states like Connecticut would be protected. In the end, the Great Compromise created two branches of legislature: the House of Representatives where states are represented proportionally, and the Senate where every state is guaranteed two senators regardless of size.

Today, UConn is observing Constitution Day by hosting a “watch party” from 1:30-2:30 p.m., in Konover Auditorium (Dodd Center). The program is an hour-long presentation showcasing the national scene and dilemmas that faced Americans on September 22, 1862. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has arranged for a special live stream performance and discussion focused on the ramifications of emancipation. Several renowned Civil War scholars from around the country (University of Richmond, Columbia University, and Duke University, among others) will participate in the presentation. Perspectives from Frederick Douglass, enslaved people from the South, Northern free blacks, the White House, and others will be highlighted.

For community members who wish to view the panel from their classrooms/offices, please use the following link to connect: emancipation.neh.gov/live/.

–Krista Miller,  Intern

In our continuing efforts to make our collections available online we present to you a set of Railroad Commissioner Reports of the State of Connecticut, now available through the HathiTrust at http://archive.org/search.php?query=%22uconn%20libraries%22%20%20railroad%20%22annual%20report%22.  This is done courtesy of our cooperative relationship with the Boston Libraries Consortium and the Digital Programs and Preservation and Conservation staff here at the UConn Libraries.

The railroad commissioner reports are very rich documents, published yearly between the 1850s until 1911, and provide details about bridges, structures and track laid for each railroad in the state as well as the expenditures and income.  Many of the issues have details about train accidents and lists of the members of their board of directors, important information for any railroad researcher.

Many of these reports were donated by a long-time donor of railroad materials, Mr. Leroy Beaujon of Roseville, California.  Mr. Beaujon has a soft spot in his heart for the Central New England Railway, which ran in western Connecticut and eastern New York State until it was taken over by the New Haven Railroad in the early 1900s.  He grew up on Canaan, Connecticut, so his interest in the railroads of that area was formed early in his youth and has remained throughout his life.  We are pleased that we can make Mr. Beaujon’s gift of the railroad reports available not only to the researchers who visit us here at Archives & Special Collections but to anyone, anytime and anywhere.

Check out the reports online, and enjoy!

Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections

Evan Rothera, a PhD Candidate from the History Department at The Pennsylvania State University is one of our 2012 Strochlitz Travel Grant awardees. He visited us in early August to research the Latin American Newspaper Collection. Below is his essay that document his experience using the collection, preliminary findings and future directions for his research.

I applied for a Rose and Sigmund Strochlitz Travel Grant from the Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center so that I could conduct research on Domingo F. Sarmiento and Argentine uses of Abraham Lincoln’s image. My primary research question concerned the reception in Argentina and Latin America of Sarmiento’s biography of Abraham Lincoln, Vida de Lincoln. While serving as Argentine Minister to the United States, Sarmiento published Vida in 1866, which made it one of the earliest post-assassination Lincoln biographies and the first published in Spanish. My previous research indicated that the biography received a great deal of positive press in the United States, but was generally ignored in Latin America. This was ironic, because Sarmiento intended the biography to serve as a model and guide for Argentines and Argentina, as well as a vindication of his actions as Governor of the Province of San Juan. In order conduct further research on Sarmiento and Vida, I came to the Dodd Center to use their extensive collection of Latin American newspapers. This collection includes important Argentine newspapers such as The Weekly Standard and La Prensa, which are invaluable to the study of the Argentine Republic, but also a variety of smaller papers. Therefore, I was able to comb through a variety of papers, large and small, most published in Buenos Aires, but some in the provinces, to see what, if anything, Argentines said about Vida. What I found did not really surprise me. I did not discover any comments on or analysis of Vida. Still, in the absence of positive evidence, negative evidence can often paint as compelling and nuanced a story.

On the other hand, while the negative evidence from the Argentine papers was useful, I did not come to the Dodd Center just to sample from Argentine papers. All collections have both strengths and weaknesses and two of the greatest strengths of this collection are its volume and its breadth.  The Southern Cone is well represented, so I found useful Uruguayan and Chilean newspapers (and if I was able to read Portuguese, the Brazilian papers would also have been helpful). Furthermore, I examined Bolivian, Peruvian, and Colombian newspapers. Reading through these papers I saw many articles about Sarmiento, which I transcribed or photographed for future use, but nothing about Vida.  My search, it seems, turned up reams of negative evidence, which, while useful in analyzing the reception of Vida, cannot compose the bulk of a dissertation.

Simply searching for information about Vida would have been a bit analogous to looking through a haystack for a proverbial needle, so I came armed with additional questions. In my research proposal I noted that the research I would be conducting would allow me to begin to probe larger questions. How, for instance, did people in Argentina and the United States seek to construct usable figures (in Argentina, a usable Lincoln; in the United States, a usable Sarmiento). What drew Sarmiento to Lincoln and how did Sarmiento adapt and alter Lincoln’s image for an Argentine context? What about the idea of comparative constitutionalism? By this I do not mean simply the links between the constitutions of the United States and Argentina, but constitutional practices during times of war, such as the suspension of habeas corpus, the suppression of opposition newspapers, and the declaration of “state of siege.” That is to say, I had additional questions to think about over the course of my stay in Connecticut.

As I began my research, I found that the material I was reading suggested additional questions. Given that we live in a digitized world, the enterprise of research has altered quite considerably in the past decades. Of course we are fortunate in the sense that so many primary source materials are online, and therefore easily accessible, but I have found that, convenience aside, there are drawbacks to researching online. For one, no database is infallible. Second, people often use the word search function and grab articles without looking at rest of the items in the newspaper and therefore lose vital context. Finally, looking at a document on a computer screen is simply not the same as looking at it in person. Researching in archives and getting your fingers dirty in the primary sources (I mean this literally – newspapers can be messy) – is an experience that all historians should have and the reason why, for all that I think online research is convenient, I will never give up going to archives.

As I read through these newspapers I found that new questions were pushing their way into the forefront of my brain. The period I am studying was the period of the War of the Triple Alliance, where Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil took on Paraguay and the dictator Francisco Solano Lopez. This was a particularly brutal conflict and cost a great deal of lives, material, and treasure. As I read through articles describing the war, I saw many focused on the participation of women. Perhaps some of these articles were meant only to mock Eliza Lynch, the mistress of Lopez, for they said that she rallied the women of the country to fight in the army and die alongside men. On the other hand, other articles suggested that women were being employed in combat. It made me think of the Civil War in the United States and the fact that historians have, of late, become much more attentive to the multiple roles women played in the conflict. Women, as a variety of historians have demonstrated, could motivate soldiers to desert or help strengthen Confederate nationalism; women were involved in benevolent activity; women persuaded men to vote Republican or Democrat; and women were often chided for lukewarm patriotism and inhibiting the war effort. Of the work on women, however, the least attention has been devoted to women in combat. We know that only a handful of women fought on either side during the Civil War, but why was so much more attention given to South American women who fought than North American women? Was it simply because the Paraguayan War was a more desperate conflict or were there deeper reasons?

I also began to think about the problem of the frontier. I contend that we need a good monograph surveying policies against indigenous people throughout the Americas. How were actions against Native Americans caught up in the rhetoric of nationalism and empire? Why did different countries adopt different methods for removing or exterminating their indigenous populations? How did the ideas of civilization and barbarism determine policy throughout the Americas? Finally, returning to Sarmiento, I read a lot of anti-Sarmiento articles that excoriated Sarmiento as a traitor to Argentina because he opposed Argentina and sided with Chile in a border dispute. Sarmiento did this, in part, because Argentina was, at that point, under the control of the dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas. Newspapers asked how could Sarmiento profess to be a patriot when he opposed his country and was therefore disloyal. This was the very same question that the Copperheads, the anti-war Democrats, faced in the United States. In Senator Stephen Arnold Douglas’s famous formulation, there was no room for dissent, because, in such a conflict as the Civil War, there could only be patriots and traitors. But anti-war Democrats insisted that they were the true patriots, loyal to the spirit of 1776 and to the nation, and opposed to a tyrant and a despot, Lincoln. Without reviving the pointless debate over whether Lincoln was or was not a dictator (he was not) a serious interrogation of the fears of the Democrats that Lincoln was a despot could prove enlightening, particularly when compared with the case of Sarmiento. Furthermore, such a comparison could help historians make progress in understanding the role and function of the opposition (loyal or otherwise).

From my report it should be evident that my project is both comparative, and therefore explores the United States and Argentina, as well as transnational. A good comparative project sheds light on both of the areas or countries that it examines and does not reduce one country to a pale reflection of the other. I am also interested in exploring linkages between the United States and Argentina, namely the flow of people, goods, and ideas. Hence, the discussion of how Vida was received in Argentina and the United States and its impact. But there are other elements, besides the diffusion of Vida, to be explored as well. For instance, migration of people from the United States to Argentina (as President, Sarmiento brought in educators and scientists from the United States) and from Argentina to the United States (Argentines who fought in the Civil War, for instance). Although still in the early stages, I believe that the information I found sheds light on both the United States and Argentina and holds intriguing possibilities for further study.

In closing, I would heartily recommend the Latin American Newspaper Collection at the Archives & Special Collections at the Dodd Center. It is an underutilized, but vitally important resource. In two weeks, I barely scratched the surface. It is a collection that holds a great many hidden gems and should appeal to a wide array of historians.

Evan Rothera, PhD Candidate, History Department at The Pennsylvania State University and 2012 Strochlitz Travel Grant awardee. To contact him, email Evan at ecr5102 (at) psu.edu

 

As the 2012 Presidential election gears up for the fall, American voters  are being inundated with statistics, information, perspectives and opinions on the candidates vying for office. Quite frequently, the reports are augmented by statistics generated from public opinion polls.  Archives & Special Collections has been collecting the papers of American pollsters since 1995 with the donation of the Elmo Roper Papers.  Those interested in the work involved in creating political polls and science behind them have a wide range of collections in which to conduct research.  The public polling collections, which include the papers of Archibald  Crossley, Samuel Lubell, Paul Perry, James Vicary and Daniel Yankelovich, now include the work of Warren Mitofsky.

 

Draft of report on Kentucky Gubernatorial election, 1967

 

Warren Mitofsky, who conducted and invented the first exit poll in the 1967 Kentucky Gubernatorial Election. Warren Mitofsky, was born on September 17, 1934, in the Bronx, NY. He attended and graduated from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC, and did graduate work at the University of North Carolina. Mitofsky began his career working for the U.S. Census Bureau. While there, he designed many surveys on demographics including those for the poverty program and presidential commissions. During this time, he also developed,  with his colleague Joseph Waksberg, an efficient random digit dialing sampling method that would be widely implemented and an industry standard for many years. Mitofsky left the Census Bureau for CBS News in 1967 to become the executive director of the election and survey unit, a post he held until 1990. Inspired by George Fine’s surveys of moviegoers after they left the theater, At the same time he developed the analysis and projection systems used to call elections. Exit polls were first used in national elections in 1972 and remain in use to the present day.

Mitofsky’s career and work to refine the outcome of elections is well documented in his papers, and with the publication of the finding aid (http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/findaids/mitofsky/MSS20080071.html), the collection is now open for research.

 

–Betsy Pittman, University Archivist

“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.

"Crafting a Public Identity" Workshop 9/28/2012 Dodd Research Center, Storrs, CT

“Crafting a Public Identity” Workshop 9/28/2012 Dodd Research Center, Storrs, CT

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 jean.nelson@lib.uconn.edu.

–Terri J. Goldich, Curator, Northeast Children’s Literature Collection

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