Remembering Jane Martin

Photograph of Jane Martin and workers at Nyema Smith's sugar cane production in Liberia (April 15, 1976); Catalog Card written by Jane Martin (c. 2000) from The Jane Martin Papers, Bryn Mawr College Archives

Photograph of Jane Martin and workers at Nyema Smith’s sugar cane production in Liberia (April 15, 1976); Catalog Card written by Jane Martin (c. 2000) from The Jane Martin Papers, Bryn Mawr College Archives

Special Collections remembers Dr. Jane Martin (Class of 1953, MA 1958), the generous donor of a significant collection of African Art and related papers from her professional work in Liberia, who died on April 14. After graduating from Bryn Mawr with two degrees, Martin went on to earn her PhD in African History from Boston University in 1968. Her research focused on the Glebo of Eastern Liberia, and many of her interests there are reflected in the archives she donated to the College, including material on specific individuals in the Kru tribe, African women and their roles in education and society, and governmental and non-profit organizations in Africa.

Martin lived and worked in West Africa for several years, teaching African History at the University of Calabar in Nigeria and the University of Liberia in the 1970s. Her papers demonstrate her careful thinking about how to teach history and what to teach, as well as research interviews she conducted during this time. From 1984 to 1989, she was Executive Director of the United States Educational and Cultural Foundation in Liberia, administering the Fulbright Program and other cultural exchange programs. She was a strong advocate for binationalism between the US and Liberia for all of her life, continuing this work at the African-American Institute in New York, when civil war forced Martin to leave Liberia in 1989.

Throughout her travels in Africa, Martin collected a wide variety of art and cultural objects, some 150 of which she donated to the Art & Artifacts Collection at Bryn Mawr. These include helmet masks danced by women of Liberia’s Sande society, Ashanti gold weights, baby carriers, toys made by the artist Saarenald T. S. Yaawaisan from recycled flip-flop sandals, and a Baule Chief’s chair. She documented her collecting with various field notes, photographs, and correspondences, all of which serve to enrich the gift of objects immeasurably.

Works from Martin’s Collection have been featured in exhibitions organized by students since their arrival at the College in 2016, including On Selecting: Profiles of Alumnae Donors to the African Art & Artifacts Collection (Spring 2017) and Mirrors & Masks: Reflections and Constructions of the Self (Spring 2017). These materials are regularly used in courses across a variety of fields at the College.

To learn more, visit:

The Jane Martin Papers Finding Aid in College Archives

The Jane Martin Collection in Art & Artifacts

Madame Curie’s Forgotten Visit to Bryn Mawr

By Rebecca Kelly-Bowditch, Friends of the Library Intern, Summer, 2019.

Recently, a researcher at Northwestern University contacted Special Collections requesting all of our information regarding Marie Curie’s visit to Philadelphia and Bryn Mawr in the spring of 1921. This was something of a surprise, as no one here knew that the famous scientist had visited the college. Online, records abound of Curie’s time in Philadelphia; as do records of a speech M. Carey Thomas gave in New York to welcome her to America. Looking through our Archives, I was also able to find a substantial amount of correspondence from Thomas planning for Curie’s visit. However, if Curie had come to Bryn Mawr, why didn’t anyone know about it? I began reading Thomas’ letters to try to find out the story behind this visit.

Thomas had grand plans for Marie Curie’s visit, and was heavily involved in planning her time in Philadelphia. The two-time Nobel-winning French scientist exemplified to Thomas the ideal of the college woman: Curie’s education and determination enabled her to discover radium and earn international respect for her contributions to the understanding of radioactivity, despite her gender. To Thomas, Curie’s visit was the chance to both inspire American college women and to bolster her ongoing battle for women’s rights. Marie Curie, however, was not one to flaunt her fame. In fact, she had a deep distaste for the limelight and avoided public engagements whenever possible. She was of the opinion that science was for the betterment of society, not the betterment of an individual. She and her late husband, Pierre, had begun their work in a run-down shed in 1897; their aversion to fame and her refusal to patent the radium production process meant that by 1921, Curie’s lab was still inadequate and her supply of radium was dwindling. An American magazine editor and socialite, Mrs. William Brown Meloney, had learned of Curie’s struggles and contrived to raise the funds needed to continue her work; a single gram of radium cost over $100,000.  Unfortunately for the reclusive scientist, Meloney’s plans centered on a very public appeal to the women of America. Using her magazine, The Delineator, as a platform, she stressed the significant impact which American women as a group could have on the future of science by each contributing small amounts of money to Curie’s research. To facilitate the fundraising, Meloney formed the Marie Curie Radium Fund, led by two Committees: one of well-known scientists (all men) and one of wealthy, philanthropic women.

Mrs. Meloney was as extroverted as Marie Curie was introverted. Despite their opposite personalities, the two became close friends and Meloney convinced Curie to travel to America to support the fundraising being done in her name.  Curie would spend seven weeks in May and June traveling the country and receiving honors, culminating in the presentation of a gram of radium by President Harding. The Radium Fund Committee was responsible for planning Curie’s itinerary, and one of the major events was to be a grand assembly at Carnegie Hall, where Curie would “be welcomed by the university women of the United States.” M. Carey Thomas and other notable women were to give speeches. Meloney accompanied the scientist throughout the trip, along with Curie’s daughters, Irene (23) and Eve (16). Irene was by now working as her mother’s lab assistant; she would later go on to win her own Nobel Prize.

While the Radium Fund was based in New York, local branches were formed in other cities. M. Carey Thomas was chosen to organize the Philadelphia Committee, serving both as Treasurer and Chairman. Thomas embraced her role with enthusiasm and recruited influential Philadelphians as Committee members, including two women doctors. In the months leading up to Curie’s visit, much of Thomas’ time was spent soliciting donations and corresponding about fundraising efforts. In addition to requesting donations from wealthy Philadelphians, Thomas asked all Bryn Mawr students to donate $1. Despite initial concerns about the Philadelphia Committee’s ability to reach their goal of $5000, they ended up contributing a total of $7489.74.

In addition to fundraising, Thomas took charge of planning Curie’s itinerary for Philadelphia. Frequently corresponding with Meloney and with other members of the Philadelphia Committee, she arranged for Curie, her daughters, and Meloney to stay with her at the Deanery for May 23rd and 24th. She planned a full schedule for the scientist, with many opportunities for Curie to appreciate Bryn Mawr. On the 23rd, the group would arrive and have lunch in Philadelphia before touring the Women’s Medical College of Philadelphia where Curie was to be awarded an honorary degree, followed by another honorary degree conferral at the University of Pennsylvania, dinner at Bryn Mawr, and finally a ceremony at the College of Physicians. Curie would spend the night at the Deanery, then visit several radium laboratories the next morning. Thomas planned a large garden party to be held in the Deanery garden that afternoon, and that night the American Philosophical Society would also honor Madame Curie.

Unfortunately for Thomas, plans quickly began to fall through once Curie arrived in America.  On May 12th, Thomas wrote to Meloney to confirm cancellation of the radium laboratory trips, noting her disappointment that luncheon at Bryn Mawr had also been cancelled. The garden party was still scheduled as planned, but Thomas hoped to secure more of the scientist’s time. She entreated Meloney to convince Curie to substitute a “brief lecture, or half a brief lecture, in French” for Bryn Mawr students, and asked her to explain to Curie that the only reason why the college was not conferring upon her an honorary degree was because the founders had not granted that power. A couple days later, Thomas wrote to her Vice-Chairman, Dr. John G. Clark, to explain the reason behind the cancellations: Curie had decided to secretly visit the Welsbach plant in New Jersey, which produced mesothorium (an isotope of radium).

May 19th brought more bad news. Thomas wrote Dr. Martha Tracy of the Women’s Medical College to inform her of changes to the itinerary. Curie’s heart had failed, and “she had on Tuesday night two very serious heart attacks.” As a result, all functions were to be cancelled or minimized as much as possible. Curie would arrive at ceremonies just in time to receive the honorary degrees or awards, then leave immediately. Her daughters would attend the full ceremonies and other events in her stead. Curie managed to attend some of the award ceremonies and did indeed visit the Welsbach plant, where she was presented with 50 milligrams of mesothorium, but she arrived late to Philadelphia and her daughters stood in for her on many occasions. Thomas was forced to concede most of her grand plans for Curie’s visit, but the much-anticipated garden party still took place. According to the Bryn Mawr College News of June 1st, 1921 there were 700 guests in attendance, but Curie was too ill to receive or speak and was forced to leave the party early. Her daughter and lab assistant Irene stepped in on the same day to present a lecture to Bryn Mawr students about her mother’s work and discoveries.

Although Thomas and Curie did not end up interacting as much as the former had hoped, they did correspond occasionally after the trip. Thomas sent Curie some newspaper cuttings which she thought she would be interested in, and there is a record of Thomas receiving a card and picture from Curie addressed to the students of Bryn Mawr. Thomas and Meloney continued to write as well, and in 1929 Meloney wrote telling Thomas of a recent discussion with Curie in which the scientist had spoken of her fond memories of meeting Thomas.

Bauhaus at Bryn Mawr: Museum Studies Praxis Intern Organizes Fall Exhibition

by Rachel Grand (BMC ’21)

Rachel Grand (BMC '21) stands next to an Egyptian Byzantine textile on view in the exhibition ReconTEXTILEize (Spring 2019).

Student curator Rachel Grand ’21 at opening of ReconTEXTILEize, the 360 course cluster’s exhibition that helped prepare her to organize her own exhibition this fall.

I began my internship with Special Collections as part of the Museum Studies Praxis course, where students find placements in local museums for a practical learning experience. I was placed with a History of Art PhD candidate, Nina Blomfield, who is curating an exhibition in the fall on Lockwood de Forest’s decorative arts program for the College. My initial assignment was to help with her research, but it grew into an opportunity to curate my own smaller exhibition in conjunction with hers on Marcel Breuer, another artist commissioned to design furniture for the College. Compared to my past internships, I felt extremely fortunate for this opportunity with Special Collections because of the real responsibilities that were entrusted to me. In this internship, I felt that the research that I produced for Nina was valued and impactful, and the exhibition that I was able to curate myself, has taught me an invaluable amount about curatorial work.  Because of the research opportunities afforded to me in Special Collections, I learned more about the history of Bryn Mawr College than I ever expected to know about my temporary home. 

Lockwood de Forest was a designer and architect who first came to Bryn Mawr College in the 1890s. His boss, and friend, was none other than M. Carey Thomas, for whom he designed and decorated a significant portion of her residence and other parts of campus. De Forest is not a well-known name nowadays among students and facultycompared to M. Carey Thomas, so it was surprising to learn that his architectural touch is all over the College, from the campus center and health center, to the ceiling of the Great Hall! When I walk around on campus now, knowing the history of the buildings enforces a sense of home. While reading correspondence between de Forest and Thomas, I got a sense of Thomas’ strong will, in regard to both interior decoration as well as the future of the college, which provided me with an educated perspective, amidst the controversy surrounding the renaming of Old Library. 

The second artist that I studied, Marcel Breuer, was commissioned for a specific project on campus. When Rhoads was built in 1937, he was approached by the college to design a set of furniture for the new dorm rooms. Marcel Breuer was a famous designer and architect who was trained at the Bauhaus, a radically modern art school in Weimar Germany.  

In order to learn more about Breuer’s furniture, I looked through the college’s archives. As I searched, I could not help but notice how the College used to place an emphasis on Bryn Mawr being “male friendly. The yearbook from 1939 boasted that women who lived in Rhoads were more likely to be engaged (to men) than any other dorm. Photographs of students in Rhoads dining hall in the 1960s depicted at least one man in each group of smiling students.  

I am told that the student body here has changed in recent years and learning more about the college’s history has only confirmed that. Today, Bryn Mawr students would not tolerate M. Carey Thomas, her elaborate expenditures, nor yearbooks boasting their marriageability. It was very impactful to be able to situate myself, as a student, in the timeline of Bryn Mawr’s past through this research at Special Collections.  

Rachel’s exhibition, Bauhaus at Bryn Mawr: Marcel Breuer’s Furniture for Rhoads, opens October 24 in the Coombe Suite Display Case on the second floor of Canaday Library.

 

On Gardens Speak by Tania El Khoury

Student Intern Tanjuma Haque

Tanjuma Haque (BMC 2021)

REFLECTION by Tanjuma Haque (BMC 2021)

Even though I had already seen the set-up of Gardens Speak before and knew what was going to happen, the moment I stepped in through the doors, everything felt completely alien. The lights were dim on the two pews where the ten of us went and sat as the guide handed us one card each person.

As I entered the space where the garden with the graves was made, honestly, I was scared for a moment or two. Since we all had to take off our shoes before we entered the space, the soil was cold under my bare feet as I searched for the person’s grave whose headstone’s picture was on my card.

The humming noise clarified into words as I dug the soil near the headstone with my hands. I put my head next to the pillow with their name, in front of the headstone, and lied and listened quietly. I heard Mustafa’s narrative of how everything was before and after he died, spoken by a man in the first person.

I had taken a Middle Eastern Politics class last semester and I had seen movies from the Middle East that showcased the different uprisings and killings and I knew about the conflicts, but those were nothing compared to when I heard, what seemed to me, Mustafa’s voice, speaking about how he died with many others when a missile struck a peaceful rally and that his girlfriend came and saw him in pieces and that he wanted to say that he loves her, but he no longer could.

I am not a very emotional person and I did not cry then, but when I was writing the letter to Mustafa, I thought that he probably could see me write the letter or something. Later, I went to Tell Me What I Can Do and that is when I almost cried when I saw so many letters full of hope and prayers and support for all the martyrs.

Gardens Speak, possibly the best live artwork I have seen, was a phenomenal experience. From my perspective, it is an extraordinary piece of art, it has the ability to bring people from different parts of the world, with different beliefs, religions, and races, together because nothing motivates love more than the sense of unfair loss. When we, the audience, write letters to the martyr, we all get bound by the same affection.

 

On Assisting with Gardens Speak & Camp Pause during ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury

Photo of Intern Author, Rachel Adler

Rachel Adler (BMC 2021)

REFLECTION by Rachel Adler (Class of 2021), Sept 24, 2018

This past week of training and working on Camp Pause and Gardens Speak has been both exciting and slightly overwhelming in the best way. I started off training for Gardens Speak, but had not realized how jarring it would be to see a piece- especially one I’ve been so thrilled to experience in real life- behind the scenes. Seeing how many people and elements go into the piece makes it more authentic and meaningful in a unique way. I have yet to experience Gardens Speak as an actual showing, but I am eager to see how it differentiates from merely training around it- the different lighting, smells, and feelings that I know I will experience because I was told just how it all happens.

The Camp Pause Training was significantly shorter and more tech-based, but it was also nice because it was the training where I got to see Tania El-Khoury again. It’s interesting to hear how objects in the piece, such as the colorful little chairs, are put there with a specific purpose, for more than just for sitting. The chairs and their coordinating cords were specifically made those colors, and invoke feelings of childhood. The type of chairs are children’s chairs in Palestine and Lebanon. All of which I wouldn’t have known and didn’t know until Tania explained it in training, which I thought was a lovely bonus. Art is always purposeful in what it does, says, and expresses. I felt similarly with the Gardens Speak training and learning that the dirt is sprayed with an earthy essential oil, and flowers are thrown onto the audience while they rest on the graves. These little aspects of the overall piece shape it and make it special.

I have worked both the Camp Pause and Gardens Speak pieces at this point and feel a sort of peculiar feeling watching audiences going into an exhibit and walking out. I feel that particularly with the Gardens Speak piece, there is an intimate, unspoken element of trust required from the artist and the audience. Trust that the audience will respect the piece, trust that they will not make it about themselves, and I feel that this trust is not necessarily always kept up on the audience’s part. Hearing audience members leave the Camp Pause piece, saying things like, “That made me so sad,” and “What a depressing video,” feels selfish and lacks the maturity to realize that as a viewer, you only experience something that is someone else’s entire life for 10 minutes, something which you don’t have to live with once you leave the exhibit space. I suppose that is the side effect of interactive pieces, because self-centered people will turn an interactive piece and make into how they feel about their own lives, their own political climates, when that’s not what these pieces are about. But the beauty of the pieces are their interactivity and the ability to turn an issue that feels remote- like the Syrian war or the Israel-Palestine conflict- and make it feel next door to a viewer, and personal. Humans empathize with other people when they feel like individuals rather than masses, and that’s why pieces like Camp Pause and Gardens are so important.

Finding Henry Joel Cadbury (1883-1974)

While I was rummaging through boxes of negatives produced long ago by Bryn Mawr’s Slide Library/Visual Resources photographers, I made a surprising discovery. Amidst hundreds of copystand images of architectural plans, sculptures, and paintings (all in 4 x 5 inch glassine protective envelopes), there was a lone interloper.

It was small, folded and faded, an Alumnae Association letter envelope, with what looked like airplane flight times scribbled on its exterior. Within the envelope was a solitary Kodak Safety film negative(6 x 6 cm , a 120 Medium format negative) pale in the office light. By squinting, I could make out trees forming a background for an open space in which a primly dressed middle-aged gentleman sat on a stone wall.  But what were those figures beside him? I blinked and then gasped as I realized I was staring at the old Deanery garden’s well-head with bronze putti figures in situ. For years, I had been interested in the history of the Deanery, one of the college’s oldest buildings (now, no longer extant), its contents, and its garden. And here, before me, was an image of someone enjoying the peace and quiet of that green space so beloved by Bryn Mawr College’s second president, M. Carey Thomas.

As a background note — During one of her European travels, Miss Thomas commissioned the Chiarazzi Foundry in Naples to produce 12 decorative bronze “cupids” for her newly established garden planned by John Olmsted and Lockwood de Forest, following the Deanery’s recent architectural expansion.  The Chiarazzi’s specialized in replicating ancient Greek and Roman art works. These bronze putti , some holding birds, others with dolphins, replicated figures from Herculaneum’s Villa dei Papiri. From perhaps 1910 until the mid 1960’s, these four (24 inch high) figures decorated the garden’s  well-head  not too far from eight other smaller (18 inch high) fountain figures surrounding the garden’s pool.

The Deanery, formerly the residence of Dean, then President, M. Carey Thomas, was later used by the Bryn Mawr College Alumnae Association from 1933 until 1968 when the structure, deemed unsafe, was demolished to make way for the construction of Canaday Library. The Deanery garden area which remains, was renamed the Blanca Noel Taft Memorial Garden in 1974.

But back to the image in my hand.  I wondered who was that solitary man sitting in the garden? And why was the photograph taken? The first question was easily answered since the envelope’s front had the penciled notation “Dr. Cadbury.”   The English Quaker Cadbury’s were the ones who made  chocolate, I remembered, while the American branch was a well known Quaker family in the Philadelphia area. Dr. Cadbury ‘s grandfather, Joel Cadbury, had  immigrated from England to Philadelphia back in 1815.

PA_Cadbury_Henry_005_f

Henry Joel Cadbury (1883-1974), a graduate of Haverford College (1903) and Harvard (Ph.D. 1913 or 1914), taught the classics and Biblical studies at Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Harvard’s Divinity School for many years before becoming a member of Bryn Mawr College’s Board of Directors in 1948 and its Chairman in March 1956. Perhaps this photograph was taken that year to commemorate that event.

Dr. Cadbury, a modest man, slight in build, was passionately committed to teaching and scholarship along with Quaker pacifism and service.  In addition to his academic duties, he was a well-travelled lecturer and author of over 29 books & pamphlets, with more than 100 periodical contributions.  His final 3 books were published all in the same year, 1972, when he was 88 years old. He was one of the founders, in 1917, of the new emergency Quaker organization, the American Friends Service Committee, and in 1947 Dr. Cadbury went to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace prize on behalf of Quakers worldwide.

I find it amazing that the photographer, whoever it was, caught Henry Cadbury in a quietly composed moment, now frozen in time. The man looks bemused. Perhaps there is a twinkle in his eye, as he enjoys the juxtaposition of staid College trustee, Quaker historian, and Biblical scholar with cavorting naked cupids.  I later found that there is a small photograph printed from this negative in the Bryn Mawr College Archives, but it is not dated. There is writing on the photograph’s back that indicates that it was to be cropped – but in what publication was it printed?  Perhaps we will never know.

As for the Transamerican Airline flight times scribbled on the envelope – they do not help date the image. That airline operated only after Henry J. Cadbury’s death, in 1974.

Most of the biographical material above was culled from Margaret Hope Bacon’s 1987 biography of Dr. Cadbury, “Let this Life Speak.”  But if you want to hear Henry Joel Cadbury speak for himself and in his own voice, his digitized lectures on Quaker thought, on Haverford and Bryn Mawr College are available through :

http://triceratops.brynmawr.edu/dspace/search  then search for “Cadbury”

This includes his last lecture, words spoken at the rededication of the 12th Street Meetinghouse, September 29, 1974, only 8 days before his death on October 7th.

http://triceratops.brynmawr.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/10066/4562/Track02.mp3?sequence=3

He was truly a gentleman and a scholar.

This image was scanned from the negative for College Archives photograph PA_Cadbury_Henry_005.

Written by Nancy J. Halli 4/2015

BMC Visual Resources, Image Cataloger

Reconnecting with the Bryn Mawr Deanery

The Bryn Mawr College Deanery has been the focus of my research this summer as a graduate intern in Special Collections. The Deanery was demolished in 1968 for the construction of Canaday Library–more recent generations of students have never heard of it, let alone seen it. However, a small piece of the Deanery does remain on campus–its garden, The Blanca Noel Taft Memorial Garden (’39). Despite the fact that it is no longer standing, the Deanery was a beautiful example of late-nineteenth-century American design and an important landmark in the history of Bryn Mawr College.

arieal view of deanery

Aerial View of the Deanery, ca. 1960’s (PAB_Deanery_008)

 

The Deanery was the campus residence of the first Dean and second President of the College, Martha Carey Thomas. From 1885 to 1922, the Deanery became a focal point on campus for students, faculty, and visitors, who attended events, teas, and meetings within its walls. When Thomas retired, she gave the building to the College and it was used as the Alumnae House until its demolition in 1968. Over the 83 years that the Deanery stood on campus it came to be a symbol of Bryn Mawr College itself.

In addition to its important role in the history of Bryn Mawr, the Deanery was an unusual example of late-nineteenth-century American décor. Thomas and her partner, Mary E. Garrett, greatly expanded the Deanery and lavishly decorated it with eclectic pieces of American, European, and Asian design. Several famous contemporary American artisans were involved in the project, including artists Lockwood de Forest and Louis Comfort Tiffany, and landscape designer John Charles Olmsted. Thomas and Garrett also traveled extensively and brought back objects they had purchased to the Deanery.

tiffany light

Stenciling and Light Fixture on Ceiling of M. Carey’s Study (the Blue Room) by Lockwood de Forest and Louis Comfort Tiffany

fu-dog

Japanese Fu-Dog Figurine, late 19th century, bronze with traces of gold leaf
Purchased by M. Carey Thomas for the Deanery (W.314)

 

Part of my work in Special Collections this summer has been to make more information about the importance and beauty of the Deanery accessible to a wider audience through two large projects: the completion of a Wikipedia article on the Deanery; and the creation of wall text and labels for objects from the Deanery now displayed in Wyndham.

 

If you have kept up with the Special Collections Blog, you know that Bryn Mawr College has been increasing its presence on Wikipedia, so my completion of the article begun by Rachel Starry and Joelle Collins about the Deanery was part of this larger project. Writing a Wikipedia article was a new experience for me. I have never written anything for such a broad audience so it was exciting to think that the interesting and important information I learned could be shared on such a large scale. {Wikipedia Article on the Deanery}

 

After the Deanery was demolished in 1968, Wyndham became the new alumnae house and the new home for a large number of pieces from the Deanery. Special Collections was interested in creating labels for many of these pieces, as well as several other objects of interest in Wyndham. It is my hope that students, alumnae, and visitors will have a greater appreciation for the amazing pieces that surround us every day on Bryn Mawr’s campus. It is a truly unusual atmosphere for any American college, whether large or small, single-sex or coed, private or public, to have such quality and quantity of wonderful pieces on display around campus.

temple vase

Chinese Cloisonné Vase, 19th century, metal and enamel
From the Deanery. Now on Display in Wyndham. (W.719)

taborouet

Octagonal Tabouret (Side Table), 19th century, possibly fabricated by Ahmedebad Furniture Workshop (India), wood with inlaid bone/ivory
From the Deanery. Now on Display in Wyndham. (Deanery.405)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the Deanery is long gone, the history surrounding it and the art that filled it remain. It is my hope that through endeavors such as the Wikipedia page, labels in Wyndham, and perhaps even a future exhibition on the Deanery, new generations of Bryn Mawr students will hold it as dear as their predecessors.

 

Emily Moore

Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology

 

WIKIPEDIA: FILLING OUT THE HISTORICAL RECORD

Hilda Worthington Smith

Hilda Worthington Smith

We are excited to announce that we will be hosting our first public Wikipedia edit-a-thon for WikiWomen’s History Month on Tuesday, March 25th, at Bryn Mawr College. Rather than having a narrowly defined theme like the Art + Feminism edit-a-thon that took place last month, this event will be geared towards the user who is interested in learning the basics of editing on any topic and using the holdings of Bryn Mawr’s Special Collections to do so. Our iteration on the 25th will be one of several such events organized between the Seven Sisters Colleges:

How to host an edit-a-thon: always provide snacks!

How to host an edit-a-thon: always provide snacks!

  •  Barnard, Mount Holyoke, and Smith kick it off on Tuesday, March 4th (that’s today!). Join them in New York, South Hadley, or Northampton.
  • Radcliffe follows on March 12th in Cambridge.
  • Bryn Mawr wraps it up on the 25th: Our event page is a work-in-progress, but check it out now if you’re interesting in seeing a list of some of the articles that we will be working on improving.

Use hashtags #7sisterswiki and #WikiWomen to discuss the events and support those who are participating!

– See more at: http://greenfield.blogs.brynmawr.edu/2014/03/04/womens-history-month-2014-shaping-our-own-historical-narratives-and-an-edit-a-thon/#sthash.zb0QlkVx.dpuf

Our Hearts Were Young and Gay – Emily Kimbrough and Cornelia Otis Skinner

OurHeartsWereYoungandGaySM

Program for Philadelphia premiere of Our Hearts Were Young and Gay

For the past several months, I have been privileged enough to work with the Bryn Mawr oral histories as part of my work for The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education. The oral histories are comprised of hundreds of old cassette tapes, containing interviews, speeches, and lectures with Bryn Mawr alumnae, professors, staff, and other members of the college community. Although they are not available to the public at the moment, my job includes listening to the tapes and digitizing them. The long-term goal is that they will one day be a part of a public digital archive. In the meantime, I want to share some of the fun, surprising, and enlightening facts I have learned about Bryn Mawr through my work.

Today, I listened to a speech by Emily Kimbrough, Class of 1921, which she delivered at the Senior Dinner for the Class of 1973. Her speech was riotously funny, and after I finished listening, I decided to look up her alumna file. It turns out that Emily Kimbrough was a very accomplished writer, known for her humorous memoirs and short stories. As if that weren’t fun enough, her breakthrough novel, entitled Our Hearts Were Young and Gay, was co-written with Cornelia Otis Skinner, Class of 1922, a famous writer and actress. The book, published in 1942, is an account of their wild and hilarious trip to Europe when they were fresh out of Bryn Mawr. The book was made into a movie of the same name in 1944, a play dramatized by Jean Kerr, and a short-lived TV show as well. Throughout this process, the book and movie stayed close to their Bryn Mawr roots, with Paramount holding a special Philadelphia premiere of the movie for the Bryn Mawr College Special Scholarship Fund. Special Collections has the program for this premiere, which provides a great glimpse of Bryn Mawr in the 1940’s, as well as the strong associations between Our Hearts Were Young and Gay and the college.

Having discovered this treasure trove of forgotten Bryn Mawr hilarity, I immediately chased down the book and movie for myself. The movie appears to be available in full on Youtube. The book was in Canaday, and I can’t wait to start reading it. Even glancing through it, I can see that it is full of the kinds of Bryn Mawr stories that every Mawrter should adopt into their personal collection of college trivia. I hope that this post can revive the popularity of the book and movie at Bryn Mawr, and perhaps Our Hearts Were Young and Gay will become the new craze to sweep the campus. Such works are invaluable to every Mawrter, since they provide fun glimpses into the lives of our predecessors outside of the classroom. While I get to hear such stories frequently through the oral histories, other students can pick up Our Hearts Were Young and Gay and learn a bit more of the Mawrters of days past, and the mischief they got up to over 90 years ago.

Zoe Fox, 2014

Bryn Mawr Special Collections on Wikipedia…

 

edit-a-thon_EandP1-300x224

Staff members participating in the edit-a-thon, January 10th 2013

On Friday, January 10th 2014, Special Collections staff at Bryn Mawr College held an in-house Wikipedia edit-a-thon.  Our goal for this event was to prepare for future edit-a-thons that will be open to other members of the Bryn Mawr Community and to increase the visibility of Special Collections holdings on Wikipedia.  Evan McGonagill has written about this in the Blog of The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education at Bryn Mawr College which can be found at: http://greenfield.blogs.brynmawr.edu/2014/01/15/writing-the-collective-record-on-delving-into-wikipedia/

To view a few of the types of some of the outcomes of this event see the links below:

New records created:                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryn_Mawr_Painter

Links to online finding aids added to records:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Burr_Thompson

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_Shoe_Meritt