Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Reminder: submit your work of creativity for a chance to win!!

We're looking forward to seeing your creative pieces!  Please remember to complete your submissions for the Emily Silverman ’81 Student Prize, a juried competition to recognize an outstanding work of student creativity.  Open to all current Mount Holyoke College students, the winning entry will be displayed in a LITS space and will also receive a $250 prize.

Deadline for submissions: Sunday April 27, 2014. For more information, visit: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/go/silverman81


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I Found it in Special Collections: A Mount Holyoke Alumna's Account of President Lincoln's Assasination

On April 15, 1865, Antoinette D. Bacon (Class of 1866) was returning to South Hadley in a public carriage when she learned a shocking piece of news: Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated. That same day, Antoinette began a letter to her brother Alonzo, explaining the confusion and grief the news had caused. “Pen can never express the feelings of the Northern people at this sad news,” she wrote, “What is to become of us!”

When Lincoln was assassinated, the Civil War had been going on for four years. The feelings of anger and shock that Antoinette conveys in her letter are underscored by a sense of weariness. “The war,” she worried, “is farther from its close than we have thought.” In reality, the war had effectively ended six days before, when General Lee surrendered at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia. A month after Antoinette wrote her letter, Confederate President Jefferson Davis officially surrendered, bringing the victory that she had hoped for. In the moment however, the outlook was bleak and Antoinette could not see past the terrible events that had occurred.

"The Saddest Day," a miniature edition of Antoinette's letter published by Skyefield Press

The day before, she had celebrated Good Friday at the home of her friend, Mrs. Hawks. The holiday had ushered in a general feeling of jubilation and hope that the war might soon come to an end. When reports of the assassination began to spread however, hope was replaced by confusion and despair. Antoinette’s letter provides a remarkable glimpse into how the news was received by the public. The reports she heard on April 15 were incomplete. In addition to Lincoln, many believed that an assassination attempt directed towards Secretary of State William H. Seward had been successful. When she completed her letter two days later this fear was alleviated, however her anger towards the perpetrators of the crime and the southern “rebs” who took such delight in the event remained. “Today,” she wrote, “has been I believe the very saddest day this nation ever saw.”


Antoinette realized the significance of the events that were happening around her. Despite the sadness and confusion brought on by the President’s death, she looked forward to a brighter future for the nation. As she wrote,

“Ways are often opened where we least expect it. These are wonderful days. God is leading us as a nation and as individuals & we must follow where he marks out our path. See what a great man our President became out of a mere rail splitter. He had not many advantages but his name now stands next to Washington’s on the pages of history—or will.”

Her prediction that Lincoln would be remembered among the great American presidents was correct. Countless authors have told his story and he has become an integral part of American history.

In a smaller way, Antoinette’s story has also been preserved for posterity. After graduating Mount Holyoke in 1866, Antoinette went on to teach among freed slaves for the American Missionary Association. She taught for one year in Washington, NC and another year in Port Royal, SC.

Another copy of "The Saddest Day" including a replica envelope addressed to Antoinette's brother, Alonzo

In 1991, Skyefield Press found Antoinette’s letter among a stack of old papers in an antique shop and transformed it into a miniature artist book. Two copies of the book, entitled The Saddest Day, can be found at the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections.

Friday, April 11, 2014

From Archives and Special Collections: Mount Holyoke's Annual Singing Competition!

Verse and song writing have long been popular exercises at Mount Holyoke. An Annual Competitive Sing was held in March or April for many years, encouraging classes and dormitories to compete against each other. In 1942, the program was revived by the Outing Club who hoped that singing would boost campus morale during wartime. This tradition appears to have lasted through the 1950s before being retired.
Program from March 6, 1928 at 7:30 pm in Chapin, Eleventh Annual Competitive Sing.
While we may not know many of the traditional songs that these students sang, their original compositions are vastly entertaining to this day. Many are sentimental reflections of their four years at Mount Holyoke, such as the winning song from Safford in 1942, “Chapel Bells”:


“When Chapel bells are ringing,
The chimes bring back to me
Fond memories we will cherish
Far beyond eternity.


As Freshmen you’ll discover Traditions firm and true,
And memories you will cherish
Your whole life through.


Sophomore year, you pledge yourself in song
To Holyoke with devotion ever strong.
With pride and comradeship you see,
The Juniors bound in love and unity.


But though as seniors we must part
The Chapel bells will ever ring
Within our heart.”


However, many of these songs seem to have been a chance to deliver some sarcasm and thinly veiled complaints against the school. Wilder’s entry from c.1950 laments the dreary life of a college student:


“Not much time to tell you of four years here,
I guess I’ll have to settle for a day,
There’re so many things that I remember,
So many things that I would like to say.


Chorus: Alarm clocks and breakfast, late for class,
Avoiding the Prof’s dirty looks,
What were you doing the night before?
Surely not hitting the books…


Chippy arrives, the off to the Inn,
You can meet everyone there,
One cigarette, the gang departs,
Back to the libe in despair…


In our youth we’d dream of this college,
Oh! To matriculate.
Now we’re here, amassing our knowledge,
But will we graduate?


So back to the study, dinner and bridge,
A letter or two just to say,
This is all part of our college life,
A typical Holyoke day…”


The mention of the Inn in line 9 refers to the College Inn, a popular hangout in the Village Commons that was destroyed by fire in 1985. Also note the slang word “libe” (for library) in line 12. This term was very common for many years and appears in numerous students records from the mid-20th century.


Other humorous songs poke fun at social life on the Mount Holyoke campus, and illustrate the importance of marriage for many students after graduation. This song was entered by Bridgman dormitory.


“All week we study hard
At Lab, the Libe and cards;
We’re broadening our lives
To make us better wives.
We slouch along in jeans,
Gain strength on lettuce greens;
We’re waiting for the weekend
When life and love begin.
Then off to meet the men--
Holyoke’s coed again
Our jeans are left behind
We’re glamorous, you’ll find,
‘Cause our weekend is here at last
And then it goes so fast!
And Monday rolls around
So it’s back to thoughts profound.”


A very charming submission from Cowles dormitory, written in 1957 by Trish McCarty ‘57 and Judy Roy ‘57 with music by Miss McCarty, is called “The Madrigal of Emily D.” One thing to point out that despite the principal concept of this song, Mountain Day had already been a tradition for nearly 10 years by the time Emily Dickinson arrived at Mount Holyoke for the 1847-1848 school year.


“O years ago when Holyoke was new,
Fresh-air walks, exercise, was the thing for girls to do.
Chorus: Sing we now, la la la, fa la la la la la la,
Oh absent-minded Emily, oh, oh,
Oh absent-minded Emily!


Oh, while out walking on an autumn day
Wandring (sic) through the wood, Emily found she’d lost her way.
Chorus.


At school the students feared she’d come to harm
So they ran to the chapel to ring the alarm.
Chorus


Oh, groups set out to search both east and west,
Over mountains and meadows they hunted on their quest!
Chorus


Soon they found her sitting by a tree,
So they sat down beside her to keep her company!


This has now become tradition; it’s the subject of our lay,
Now we do it every year and we call it Mountain Day!
Chorus"


One last song to bring a smile to your face-- this one was submitted by North Mandelle in 1957 by Judith Perry ‘58 and Laird Trowbridge ‘58 and won first prize! Remember that at this time in campus history, students were required to sign out with the registrar when leaving campus for an event.

“While I was the the Registrar’s one day,
I saw a freshman standing cross the way
Taking to Miss Hutchinson in tones so sweet and pure,
And this is what I heard the freshman say:


Hello there, Miss Hutchinson.
How are you, my dear Miss Hutchinson?
Please don’t clutch, Miss Hutchinson,
When I tell you what I’m going to do.


I’m a popular girl, Miss Hutchinson,
And I’m having a whirl, Miss Hutchinson,
So please don’t be stern
‘Cause I’ll always return
Miss Hutchinson, to you.
BUT!


Friday I’ve a luncheon date at Harvard.
Saturday I’m drinking Scotch at Yale.
Sunday I’ve a study date
At the libe at dear old Colgate
Miss Hutchinson! You’re looking pale!


While I’m here I’ll sign out for next week-end.
My Princeton date is coxswain on the crew.
To that list of college men
Add my date at U. of Penn.
Miss Hutchinson, don’t stop ‘cause I’m not through!


Sunday there’s a lecture at Columbia
By a young professor that I know
He’s a Fulbright; he’s a brain
He can put me on the train
Miss Hutchinson, I have to go!


So, goodbye now, Miss Hutchinson
Don’t worry, dear Miss Hutchinson,
And please don’t be stern
‘Cause I’ll always return
Miss Hutchinson, I said Miss Hutchinson--
I’m in a much-in-son
obliged to you--

If anyone with musical inclinations has read and enjoyed these songs, the Archives and Special Collections would be very interested in hearing modern interpretations of these Mount Holyoke classics! As always, any curious parties are welcome to explore our collections during our open hours, by appointment or walk-in.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

CRAFTERNOON in the Archives today at 4pm!

Archives & Special Collections invites you to join us for some historically inspired crafting! Each month we'll have an art project inspired by something in ASC, including photos, scrapbooks, and our rare book collection. Censored Poetry is our theme for April where you'll create a poem by selecting words from an existing piece of writing in the rare book collection and using them to create a new work. There will be glitter! Join us today, April 10, from 4 to 5pm in the Archives in Dwight Hall.

Crafty supplies!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Save Your Digital Memories! Workshop 4/9 at Noon in the Archives

You would like to keep digital photos and other files so that you—and your family and friends—can look at them in the future. But how do you do this? Join a group of LITS staff members for this MHC HR Brown Bag event on Wednesday, April 9, to learn how! They'll provide an overview of basic, practical tips for preserving personal digital collections, including a scanning demoThis event takes place in Archives and Special Collections from noon to 1pm. Don't take chances with your digital memories; come learn how to care for them! 

Selection of obsolete media by wlef70 on Flickr

 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Today in the Archives and Special Collections: Fairy Tales, Treats, and Button Making!

Join us today at 4:30 in the Archives and Special Collections to celebrate the opening of Once Upon a Time, a new exhibit featuring fairy tales from the Mount Holyoke College Special Collections. There will be treats and button making!

For centuries, fairy tales have enchanted readers with stories of adventure, courage, and romance. These tales have also stirred the imaginations of artists whose fanciful illustrations have brought countless magical worlds to life. Once Upon a Time will showcase a selection of illustrated fairy tales, focusing on five classic stories: Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, The Arabian Nights, The Snow Queen, and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. These books, which date from the 19th century to today, provide an enchanting glimpse into the history of these beloved tales.

               Illustrations from Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty by Edmund Dulac, 1910

The exhibit, which is located in the Archives and Special Collections, MEWS, and on the sixth floor of the library, will be on view until May 9.

Glascock Poetry Competition April 11-12

April is National Poetry Month and time, once again, for the 91st annual Kathryn Irene Glascock '22 Intercollegiate Poetry Contest.  Poetry collections by this year's judges, Mark Doty, Charles Simic, and Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, are now on display in the Stimson Room on Williston Library level 6:

Display of books by 2014 Glascock judges

Come meet the judges in person during A Conversation with the Judges in the Stimson Room on Friday, April 11 at 3 pm. The competition itself begins later that evening at 8 pm in Gamble Auditorium.  This year's poet-contestants are:
  • Anthea Hubanks FP '14, Mount Holyoke College
  • Ryan Kim '14, Middlebury College
  • Rebecca Liu '14, Columbia University
  • Milo Muise '14, Hampshire College
  • Robert Allen Parry '15, University of Southern Maine 
  • Elizabeth Rowland '14, Vassar College
Come cheer them on!  The announcement of the winner and Judges' Reading will take place on Saturday, April 12 at 10:30 am in the Stimson Room.