Saturday, February 28, 2015

I Found It In The Archives: Winter Fun!

Though today we have no designated space for skating, a covered ice rink was a permanent building on campus for many years. One of the first buildings built after the school fire in 1896, the Rockefeller skating rink was originally located where Porter Hall now stands. The rink was moved down closer to the lakefront around 1897. Before 1899, the space was also used as a gymnasium, and occasionally for commencement receptions.

Photograph captioned "Mount Holyoke students play rink polo in 1896 on the covered skating rink given by John D. Rockefeller."

The rink's opening was celebrated by a carnival in February of 1896. Each corner of the rink was decorated with class colors. A local band provided music for the carnival. The students cheered for their classes and dorms, and sang a skating song written for the carnival by Margaret S. Geddes of the class of 1897. In a personal letter from 1896 regarding the carnival, a student wrote: "It is really intoxicating (or must be, for I did not skate) to go skimming around to music, especially if you have a man to hold you up. We had a goodly number of Amherst youth to share our pleasure and they must have found Holyoke a decidedly gay place."

Buildings pictured from left to right: Brigham, Safford, Porter, Rockefeller skating rink, with Lower Lake in foreground.

Feel free to share your student skating stories in the comments!

Samantha Snodgrass, Class of 2018, is a volunteer student assistant in Archives and Special Collections. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Check out the AP Multimedia Archive for powerful images or audio for your presentations!

Mount Holyoke subscribes to a rich media resource for research use - its the Associated Press Multimedia Archive.  The AP Mulitmedia Archive contains current news photos as well as historic images from their library.   The archive's SoundBank also offers hours of recorded audio.

Looking to download a photo to illustrate a presentation or paper on a current or historical topic? Their photo library includes 4.6 million photographs dating back to 1826 and as current as a few moments ago. You can even download audio recordings from more than 4,500 hours of audio files of primary source news clips and excerpts from speeches dating from the 1920’s.

 To find the AP Multimedia Archive, just go to the LITS homepage and click on the “E-Resources A – Z” link to get to our alphabetical list of research databases.  



Dr. Martin Luther King, third from right, marchers across the Alabama River on the first of a five day, 50 mile march to the state capitol at Montgomery, Ala., on March 21, 1965. Source: AP  

 This Tuesday, July 29, 2014 photo shows a combination of six portraits of Syrian children at Zaatari refugee camp, near the Syrian border, in Mafraq, Jordan.  Source: AP

Between the Pages: Hidden Histories from the Skinner Museum's Rare Book Collection

The Skinner Museum is home to several hundred books on a variety of topics including everything from 19th century geography textbooks to collections of fashion magazines. While these books are fascinating in their own right, what truly makes them unique are the inscriptions, letters, and tokens that can be found hidden between their pages. The following are some examples of the unique, and often mysterious, items that these books contain.

For almost two hundred years, a small flower has remained pressed between the pages of The Psalms of David. This book, which was published in 1813, once belonged to a woman named Pamela Smith.

The Psalms of David, 1813.

In a copy of Night Thoughts by Edward Young, published in 1824, two ribbon bookmarks still mark a reader's place. It is possible that this reader was Ann Marks, whose name appears on several pages. 

Night Thoughts by Edward Young, 1824.

In The American Universal Geography published by Jedidiah Morse in 1796, the remnant of a letter is attached to the back of a map of New Jersey, perhaps to act as a support for the delicate print.

The American Universal Geography by Jedidiah Morse, 1796.

The majority of the letter, which is dated June 6, 1804, was cut away and is presumably lost. However, a few lines remain from the very end of the letter that give us some clue as to who wrote it. The surviving piece of the letter reads: "as I remain your Brother & friend, Rufus Clapp."

In a copy of The Course of Time, written by Robert Pollock and published in 1828, a former reader made coin rubbings on the front inside cover. The rubbings are taken from a one-cent coin that would have been in circulation during the 19th century.

The Course of Time by Robert Pollock, 1828.

In some cases, books were used to record the lives of the people who owned them. In a copy of Lessons in Elocution by William Scott, a man named E.W. Thwing wrote a short note about his cousin, Lucy Scollay who had once owned the book. 

 The note reads:
"Springfield. Oct. 30, 1877. This book was once the property of my late cousin Lucy Scollay, eldest daughter of my aunt Esther who married a Scollay. They lived in Newton, had two daughters, Lucy and Sarah. Lucy passed over the silent river many years ago. Sarah still survives in Newton Mass., her husband's name I have forgotten. E.W. Thwing."
Lucy Scollay was born on October 30, 1808 to John Scollay and Esther Thwing. It is possible that her cousin, Ebenezer Withington Thwing, was the one who wrote this note.

Lessons in Elocution by William Scott, 1820.

 Among the recipes, stories, and fashion plates of Frank Leslie's Fashion Book, is an inscription that seems strangely out of place: "My darling Jean. Died Oct 2nd 1889 at 4 P.M. Wednesday. 20 [illegible] Place." Why, on an obscure page of a fashion magazine, would someone record such a personal piece of information? Was it the only piece of paper at hand or was there some other reason they chose to record this information here?


Frank Leslie's Fashion Book, 1857.

Although we may never know for certain who many of these people were, these small tokens and inscriptions can give us some clue regarding how these books were used and the significance they held for the people who owned them.

Emily Wells is the Special Collections student assistant and a senior history major at Mount Holyoke.

Friday, February 20, 2015

I Found Them in Special Collections: Three Mount Holyoke Women and Their Pursuit of Education

The seminary textbook collection in the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections provides numerous insights into the lives of students who attended Mount Holyoke. These books are records of intellectual connections forged among students during the College’s early years. Because students followed a set curriculum, almost every woman attending Mount Holyoke at the time would have read the same books. Through their common education, students would connect with their peers, forming friendships that would continue throughout their lives.

At times, the personal stories of these students slip from the pages of their textbooks. This was the case when I happened across an unassuming copy of Virgil’s works last semester. Upon opening the front cover I discovered a small photograph of a woman in dark Victorian dress captioned “Mattie M. W. McIntyre, Holyoke Home Dec. 8. 1852” pasted inside. After some digging in the archives I discovered a box filled with letters and souvenirs from her time at Mount Holyoke. One of the most intriguing objects was an autograph book, filled with notes and signatures from her friends and family. Many signatures were from women she had met at Mount Holyoke. Remarkably, two of the women, Helen E. Carpenter and Anna E. Benton, had also donated their own textbooks to our collection.

The autograph book, textbooks, and diploma that belonged to Martha McIntyre

By following the stories of Martha, Helen, and Anna we can see how their education at Mount Holyoke allowed them to pursue their future with confidence. Although their paths took them to different parts of the country their experience at Mount Holyoke connected them in unexpected ways.

Martha (Mattie) McIntyre, a native of Massachusetts, graduated Mount Holyoke in 1854. While here she received a “brilliant education” and made many friends among her fellow students. From her husband’s letters we know that she particularly admired her principal, Mary Chapin.

Martha McIntyre

A year after graduation she moved to Marion, Ohio to teach. While there, she met her husband, Peter Oliver Sharpless; they were married in 1857, just two years after her arrival. They remained in Ohio for the rest of their lives, living in a quaint, ivy-covered house. After her death in 1898, Martha was remembered as “a brilliant, educated, intellectual woman, socially affable, and personally very popular with all in her circle of acquaintances.”

The home of Martha and Peter Oliver Sharpless

Helen Carpenter arrived at Mount Holyoke in 1852 after working as a teacher in Brookfield, Massachusetts. After completing her education at Mount Holyoke in 1855 she continued to teach in Woodstock, Connecticut for a number of years. In February 1871 she sailed to Maui, Hawaii to teach at East Maui Seminary, a school that had been modeled after Mount Holyoke. She followed Sarah Gilson Bowman (x-Class of 1850) as principal. During the twenty years she remained there, 412 girls came under her care. She eventually moved back to Woodstock, Connecticut where she remained for the rest of her life.

East Maui Female Seminary, Photograph taken by Anna C. Edwards in 1898

Like Helen, Anna Benton taught school for several years before beginning her own education. She arrived at Mount Holyoke in 1850 and was immediately swept into a busy schedule of classes and chores. In a letter to her aunt she confessed, “I never lived in such a hurry in my life. It is hurry to bed when the bell rings for fear of being tardy. Hurry and sleep all you can. Hurry and get up before you can see. And hurry all day.” Her favorite subjects were Latin and Mathematics although her studies covered a wide range of subjects.

Anna Benton King

In a 1924 interview she reminisced that, “even in those early days we had courses in economics and in political questions, although none of us thought then of women having the vote.” Anna met her husband Horace while he was visiting his niece, Sarah Roselle King at Mount Holyoke. According to a family member, it “was a case of love at first sight on the part of both.”* They were married in 1853 and moved to the King family home in Enfield, Connecticut. She remained in Enfield until her death in 1924.

Textbooks, letters, and a notebook that belonged to Anna Benton during her time at Mount Holyoke

In the preface to her autograph book, Martha predicted that, “Long after the writers shall have gone from sight may the work of the hand and the lettered thought remain. But not with the duration of perishable pages shall that of their influence be measured.” Although our knowledge of these women comes from the “perishable pages” they left behind, their true legacy lies in the friendships and connections they made throughout their life. At Mount Holyoke, these women were joined by friendship and a desire to expand their intellectual horizons. After they graduated, each sought to use her knowledge and passion for learning to educate others. In doing so, they forged an intellectual legacy passing their knowledge on to their students. Although their true influence cannot be transmitted onto paper, I am glad they thought to leave a paper trail so that, almost 165 years later, we can continue to learn from their stories.

*King, Cameron Haight, The King family of Suffield, Connecticut, it’s English ancestry and American descendants (San Francisco, 1908), accessed October 3, 2013, Google Books, page 358.

Emily Wells is the Special Collections student assistant and a senior history major. Read the Mount Holyoke news story about her internship at Historic Deerfield last summer!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mary Woolley and Jeannette Marks: Life, Love and Letters Exhibit

Mary Woolley and Jeannette Marks were educators and partners who lived and worked at Mount Holyoke College during the early 1900s. Mount Holyoke Archives and Special Collections students have created a physical and online exhibit about their lives and relationship. The letters and photographs in the exhibition will introduce you to their life together, from their first meeting as Wellesley College professor and student to their retirement in upstate New York. Their love and commitment to each other spanned decades and resulted in hundreds of letters exchanged, a forced resignation from the presidency of Mount Holyoke College, and generations of students, staff, and faculty who were influenced by their passions for higher education. Both women have an incredibly important place in the history of the college and world history -- Mary Woolley was the only woman delegate to the World Disarmament Conference in Geneva in 1932! This exhibit exists to showcase their lives: their successes, ever present love for each other, and how they grew as individuals.

Mary Woolley and Jeannette Marks with a dog, circa 1930s

The exhibit is in two formats: physical in the Mount Holyoke Library in the MEWS and in the Archives and Special Collections, on the first floor and basement of Dwight Hall, and online here. The online exhibit has fully transcribed letters, images of the two together, and more information about the time period and historical context.

There will be an exhibit opening February 6th from 4-5pm in the Archives, with a student-led tour and snacks. Come and learn about these two amazing women!


Megan Haaga, Class of 2015, is a student assistant in Archives and Special Collections.

New Books for the New Year



Stretched between the reading room and the AskLITS Board sits the New Books shelf. This shelf, which is on the left-hand-side of the corridor is perhaps one of the most exciting shelves in the library, for it houses LITS's latest spoils. LITS orders NEW BOOKS all the time for the library, ensuring that the library's collection is up-to-date for people of all interests. (A picture of the New Books shelf is below.)


A fun activity (also, a fine method of procrastination) with this shelf is to browse through it without knowing what you're looking for. There's a sign above the shelf which points out which call numbers correspond to which topic. You might be surprised at how many interesting books you will find, even from outside your own field!

To put this this treasure-hunting theory to test I, a LITS student-worker and Humanities and Arts major, looked for three exciting booksbut the catch was that I had to pick two from areas I don't know very much about. A brief session of bibliothetical bonding (feel free to define that word here: http://www.urbandictionary.com/) with the shelf got me these three wonderful finds:


lost in language & sound : or how I found my way to the arts by Ntzoke Shange

This book of essays was my first pick from the New Books shelf. Of course, it was an easy pick for me since Shange, in this book, writes about her journey through poetry, music and dance, all things that I love. Wild in its form, oscillating between traditional prose and fragments of poetry, this book seems to be a whirlwind sounds, images, and emotion. In a piece on her mother Shange writes,

The Lindy Hop was not the only vernacular activity my mother mastered. There were collard greens and smothered pork chops. There were nights when sleep came dragging its heels and my mother had a rhythmic pat that was so soft yet steady that sleep gave up staying away from me. Let my mother calm my soul so that when my dreams came, I dreamt in color.

Sarah Martin ('15) checking out "lost in language & sound"


Savage Preservation: The Ethnographic Origins of Modern Media Technology by Brian Hochman

Found in the Social Science part of the New Books shelf, this book was truly a revelation to me. It tracks how modern media technology developed concurrently with Western anthropologists' need to document the world's "primitive races."  In the early-twentieth century anthropologists, concerned that these races were disappearing, tried to document them, and as a result the technology used had to advance to meet the anthropologists' needs. By delving into photographic archives this book accounts not only for historical developments, but also for concerns of race, empire, and representation that lie at the center of this period in Western anthropology. (FYI: I just borrowed this book for myself. Sorry, folks!)



cheMagic: Chemistry Classics and Magical Tricks by Khee et al.

If there's something that really isn't "my thing" it's science. But to stay true to the rules of my book-hunt, of finding books on topics I didn't know much about, I scouted the science section of the New Books shelf, too. cheMagic ended up being the perfect science book for me, because it is about performing science. There are pictures and step-by-step instructions for how perform some pretty nifty chemistry-magic-tricks for an audience. The theatre-kid in me was thrilled to find this book which also has pointers to prevent clumsy people like me setting the room on fire. My favorite trick from cheMagic is called "Marshmallow,"  in which you blow up and deflate a marshmallow using principles of vacuum. I've never liked the taste of marshmallows,  or s'mores,  so I'm glad to finally have things to do around a campfireblowing up marshmallows, oh yes.


My adventures through the New Books shelf were exciting and rewarding, and I have an interesting reading list to begin my year. The next time you're in the library check this shelf out for yourself. You can borrow any new book as soon as you find it, just as you would books from the stacks. I promise there's something on this shelf for you, too!