Manuscripts and Archives, in Yale University’s Sterling Memorial Library, began a phased reopening on July 22, 2020 that will continue gradually through Fall term 2020. Please consult our Manuscripts and Archives: Resumption of Services Following COVID-19 Closure information guide for the most up-to-date information.
In these quarterly blog posts, I usually share an update about collections and additions to collections for which MSSA has recently acquired and completed processing. However, since the Sterling Memorial Library building has been closed since mid-March, our processing staff have shifted their attention to processing born-digital material at MSSA.
Born-digital material is material that was created in a computer environment. Born-digital material comes to MSSA in a variety of ways, including on floppy disks (and other fun old school formats!) or CDs; on flash drives; or as direct network transfers. At MSSA, we have a wide variety of different types of born-digital content, including personal computer files from individuals whose papers we hold; email correspondence and websites from organizations whose records we steward; and institutional electronic records created by Yale University offices.
Archival processing for all our materials, including those born-digital, entails preparing materials for use by making sense of and describing them. This allows researchers and other users to discover and access Yale’s rich collections. Processing born-digital materials is a developing area of practice for archives staff across the United States. To accomplish this work, MSSA is consulting the recently-created Yale University Born Digital Archival Description Guidelines. These guidelines allow us to describe our born-digital materials in a standardized and consistent manner to enable user access.
During the past few months, MSSA staff have begun and completed processing for born-digital materials from the Dorrit Hoffleit papers, the Brian Kiss photographs of stained glass in the Sterling Memorial Library Nave, the Arnold Rosin papers, the C. Vann Woodward papers, the Teacher Preparation and Placement Program, Yale College, records, and several other collections.
For more information about Yale’s work with born-digital material, see the Saving Digital Stuff blog.
The following post was authored by Genevieve Coyle, public services assistant in Manuscripts and Archives.
We often turn to the past for answers to problems we are facing in the present. While science does not move backwards, it can still be interesting, perhaps even useful to look back and remember the lessons we have learned before. With that in mind, the John Franklin Enders Papers (MS 1478) seem more relevant now than ever. Today, Enders is known to many as the “Father of Modern Vaccines” due to his integral role in developing both the polio and measles vaccines.
John Franklin Enders was a Yale graduate whose life work was in bacteriology and immunology, although it took time to find this ultimate vocation. He received an Bachelor of Arts in English from Yale in 1919, after spending several years away from his studies to be a flight instructor in the U. S. Naval Reserve Flying Corps during World War I. While pursuing a PhD in literature at Harvard University, Enders was introduced to Hans Zinsser, the head of the department of bacteriology and immunology at Harvard. Shortly thereafter, in 1927, he transitioned to studying bacteriology and immunology, and received his PhD from Harvard Medical School in 1930.
During Enders’ lengthy career, he was a very active author, publishing countless articles and papers for over 40 years. Specifically, his work on measles can be tracked through the numerous publications he contributed to during the 1940s and 1950s, before a vaccine was successfully developed in the early 1960s. These writings include Etiology of Measles published in 1940, Recent Advances in Knowledge of the Measles Virus published in 1958, and Vaccination Against Measles published in 1961. Of course, he wrote papers on dozens of other research subjects including mumps, polio, and influenza, all of which can be found in Series II of the Enders papers.
Enders’ lab notebooks provide a more granular depiction of his research on measles, as well as many other experiments. As shown in this image, the very first page in volume 1 of his measles laboratory notebooks, dated January 25, 1954, details an attempt to isolate measles using four types of tissues. In total, four measles notebooks span nearly two decades of Enders’ lab work on the virus, from 1954 to 1970.
The picture of Enders’ work is rounded out by the extensive correspondence held in the 88 boxes of Series I from MS 1478. There are more than four boxes of materials completely dedicated to the subject of measles, including correspondence with the Communicable Disease Center (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and correspondence about a measles vaccine study in New Haven, Connecticut.
On a more personal side, letters exchanged with friends and colleagues offer a slightly more intimate portrait of Enders. Although there are only a small handful of letters between him and his colleague and mentor, Hans Zinsser, the notes serve to humanize Enders. In this December 12, 1938, letter to Zinsser, Enders wrote “I have been flattened out myself with what you would probably call grippe…”. Enders seems to get no amusement from the irony that his work in infectious diseases does not stop him from suffering a case of the flu.
Through his hard work in the field, Enders received many honors, most notably the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1954. In addition to the research detailed above, Enders also studied cancer, AIDS, and countless other diseases during his illustrious career. The John Franklin Enders papers are housed at Manuscripts and Archives, and they are a scientific treasure trove waiting to be explored.
Through the Help Us Make History project, the University Archives has documented the stories of Yale undergraduates during the 2020 Spring Semester. The first prompt “Share a picture of your study space” was a great success. See some examples of how Yale undergraduate students finished out their semester. If you would like to participate, there is still time to visit the site and send us a pic of your study space from the past semester. Otherwise, stay tuned for more prompts coming soon!
“Desk in my brother’s room at home. Around me were childhood stuffed animals, a turtle tank and a full-size bed. Important to me is the sunlight filtering in. Lighting has had a drastic influence on my mood, motivation and study habits. The same is what occurs in my brain, the logical connections, the development of claims, the cranking out of problems. But nothing outside my mind has continued the same. I miss the intellectual generosity that the Yale space fosters and that my peers bring into my life.”
“I lived in Baker Hall, my work-space was the desk next to my bed. I had a nice view of the trees from my window. In had everything I needed in my small work-space: a small pot to warm water for tea, my computer for attending my online classes, a lamp, a calendar, and pictures to remind me of my family and home (Mexico). I played the ukulele to relax, each post-it was a new ukulele song. I had three boards on the walls to write down my ideas, a section of my one of my boards can be seen in the reflection on the mirror.”
“My family and I moved from CT to NJ during our spring break. Due to the quarantine, we weren’t able to buy a lot of the furniture we were planning to and I built myself a makeshift desk out of boxes and totes. The desk is in my room and was definitely a huge improvement from sitting on my bed for hours on end.”
The following information on recently acquired and processed collections was assembled by Alison Clemens, Head of Processing.
Manuscripts and Archives has recently acquired and completed processing for several collections and additions to existing collections. We look forward to making these materials available for research when our reading room reopens:
The Kingman Brewster Personal Papers (totaling 123.33 linear feet) primarily document the personal and professional life of Brewster as a Harvard faculty member (1950-1960) and Ambassador to Great Britain (1977-1981). The papers also include informative (but limited) material from 1940 to 1950. The most substantive material in the collection is that created by Brewster himself. Correspondence, unpublished writings, speeches, and interviews, provide extensive documentation of his interests and expertise, including in the areas of the role of government; maintaining a viable center in the political opinion spectrum; American anti-trust laws; American companies doing business abroad; the role of a liberal arts higher education; Anglo-American relations; and the United States in world affairs. The documentation on Brewster as ambassador reflects the public side of his work. Internal Embassy discussions on issues or policies, planning for incident responses, and interactions with the US State Department, are not documented in the papers.
Records, including correspondence and speeches, documenting Brewster’s tenures as Provost and President can be found in the Yale University Archives: Kingman Brewster, Jr., President of Yale University, Records (RU 11); and Provost’s Office, Yale University, Records (RU 92).
See our recent blog post on the Brewster papers for more information: Kingman Brewster Personal Papers Are Now Available for Research
The records (totaling 7.76 linear feet and spanning 1984-2019) consist of performance and event ephemera, scrapbooks, photographs and musical recordings from Proof of the Pudding, the second women’s a cappella group at Yale University.
Additions to existing collections
These accessions include an 1805 autograph letter, signed, from Jeremiah Day to Benjamin Silliman, who was traveling in Europe (Accession 2016-M-0056) and a photograph, dated 1864, of Benjamin Silliman’s library (Accession 2020-M-0004).
Accession 2019-M-0013 of the Society of Clinical Surgery Records (MS 1267)
This accession (totaling 6.26 linear feet) contains administrative files of the Society of Clinical Surgery, material concerning the Society’s annual meetings, membership and admissions files concerning individual members of the Society, photographs of its members, and unidentified computer files.
Accession 2019-M-0021 of the Arthur L. Liman Papers (MS 1762)
This accession comprises a courtroom sketch of Arthur L. Liman in an unidentified court case, sketched by Dale Dyer, February 1989.
Accession 2016-M-0024 of the Humphreys-Marvin-Olmstead Collection (MS 857)
This accession includes an autograph letter, signed, from Elihu Marvin (Yale 1773) to his future wife, Elizabeth “Betsey” Rogers, while he was serving with the Continental Army at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 1778 March 18.
These accessions (totaling 92.33 linear feet in all) document programs and projects of David Hawkins, director of the climate policy, climate, and clean energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, from 1950 to 2007 (Accessions 2019-M-0027 and 2019-M-0038); papers of David Schoenbrod and Ross Sandler, lawyers and members of NRDC (Accession 2019-M-0030); and projects and program files on legal enforcement (Accessions 2019-M-0029 and 2019-M-0035). Topics addressed include climate policy, clean energy, acid rain, the ozone layer, mercury, sulfur the Clean Air Act, transportation, and mass transit. Specific legal cases documented include the Natural Resources Defense Council v. Arco Alaska, in which Arco was sued to cease the pollution of Prudhoe Bay and the Kuparuk River, and Natural Resources Defense Council v. Upjohn Company, pertaining to clean water and the Upjohn Company polluting the Quinnipiac River in Connecticut with runoff. Some materials are restricted or require permission from the NRDC for access. Restriction information is noted in the finding aid.
Accession 2019-M-0051 of the Charles Gould Morris Family Papers (MS 622)
This accession comprises letters between Luzon (Luke) B. Morris and his wife Eugenia Morris, 1855-1856. It includes six letters from Luzon to Eugenia and four letters from Eugenia to Luke. Letters pertain to Luzon’s activities in Seymour, Connecticut, as well as the personal and religious matters. The bulk of the letters are accompanied by transcripts, and the accession also includes accompanying research material apparently created by the bookseller.
Accession 2019-M-0055 of the Bingham Family Papers (MS 81)
This accession contains a photocopy, in two volumes, of an annotated typescript, 1982, of Woodbridge Bingham’s Hiram Bingham: A Personal History.
Accession 2019-M-0061 of the Beecher Family Papers (MS 71)
This accession includes an autograph letter, signed, from Henry Ward Beecher to United States president Ulysses S. Grant, 1871 March 2. The letter introduces Grant to Frank D. Moulton, a Brooklyn, New York merchant.
Accession 2019-M-0062 of the Ogden Rogers Reid Papers (MS 755)
This accession (totaling 0.25 linear feet) contains biographical, speech, and interview materials documenting the life and work of Ogden Rogers Reid. Biographical material includes Reid’s 2019 obituary from the Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam Journal News and an undated biographical outline for Reid. Interviews include 2003 and 2015 interviews of Reid by William O’Shaughnessy. Speeches include a 2003 speech by Reid at the Broadcasters Foundation Dinner at the American Yacht Club in Rye, New York, and a 1971 statement Reid made before the United States Congress concerning the first amendment, CBS, and Harley O. Staggers.
Accession 2020-M-0013 of the Edward Mandell House Papers (MS 466)
This accession contains a typed recommendation letter, signed, by Edward Mandell House for Charles H. Marlow, June 9, 1920.
Accession 2020-M-0015 of the Dean Gooderham Acheson Papers (MS 1087)
This accession contains an October 29, 1969 letter from Dean Acheson to the architect Edward H. Bennett, Jr. In the letter, Acheson thanks Bennett for sharing a review by Sidney Ham of Acheson’s book, presumably Present at the Creation: My Years in the State Department. Acheson writes that he hopes “[his] words about Mr. Truman should lead you to revise favorably your views about him — an [sic] not only in comparison with his successors in office but with some of his more illustrious predecessors.”
Accession 2020-M-0020 of the Woolsey Family Papers (MS 562)
This accession contains a photograph of Theodore Dwight Woolsey, Theodore Salisbury Woolsey, and Theodore Salisbury Woolsey, Jr., circa 1882. The photograph is mounted on board, which attributes it to F. A. Bowen, a New Haven, Connecticut photographer operating from 480 Chapel Street.
The Kingman Brewster Personal Papers (Finding aid) are now open to research. Brewster (1919-1988) was a noted American educator, who became especially well-known when he served as president of Yale University from 1964 to 1977.
Brewster was born in Longmeadow, Massachusetts on June 17, 1919, the son of Kingman Brewster Sr. and Florence Foster. His parents divorced in 1923 and he and his sister settled with their mother in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His mother married Edward Ballantine, a Harvard University music professor. Brewster attended the Belmont Hill School, where he participated in debate and drama. Before entering Yale University as an undergraduate student, Brewster traveled to Europe with his family. He attended Yale College from 1937 to 1941, where he was chairman of the Yale Daily News and was involved in the America First campaign, protesting America’s involvement in World War II.
After the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Brewster enlisted. He served as a Naval aviator and flew anti-submarine patrols in South America for three years.
After the war ended, he attended Harvard Law School, where he served on the Harvard Law Review. He graduated magna cum laude in 1948. Following graduation, he went to Paris and served as assistant general counsel to Milton Katz, the United States Special Representative in Europe for the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA). The ECA was responsible for administering the Marshall Plan, and his work with Katz in Paris marked the start of a long-term professional relationship and personal friendship. Thereafter he accepted a position in the economics department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1950, Brewster was appointed assistant professor at Harvard Law School. He was promoted to full professor in 1953. While at Harvard, he became a noted expert on antitrust matters and international commerce and relations. His well-received publications included Antitrust and American Business Abroad, published in 1958, and The Law of International Transactions and Relations: Cases and Materials, co-authored with Milton Katz and published in 1960.
In 1960, Brewster returned to Yale University as provost under Yale president, A. Whitney Griswold, who had taught at Yale when Brewster was a student and was a friend of Brewster’s parents.
After Griswold died from cancer in 1963, Brewster became acting Yale University president and was named president in October. He was inaugurated in April 1964.
Brewster led the university through significant and controversial changes to the faculty, student body, and curricula. For a summary of the work of his presidential administration and the records that document it, see the Kingman Brewster, Jr., president of Yale University, records.
In May 1977, Brewster left Yale to become Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s in the United Kingdom.
Swearing in of Kingman Brewster, Jr. as Ambassador to the Court Of St. James’s in May 1977. Brewster was sworn in by Cyrus Vance, and the recording includes comments by Vance, Brewster, and Hanna Holborn Gray
He served as ambassador until 1981 and was well-liked by the British with whom he regularly interacted. He travelled throughout the country to meet people and noted that his job was to try “to advise my Government on British attitudes and concerns in the fullest way possible.”
BBC Platform One interview with Kingman Brewster, Jr., recorded in January 1981, shortly before final confirmation of the release of the American hostages from the United States Embassy in Tehran, Iran
After the ambassadorship ended in 1981, Brewster returned to New Haven, and worked for the New York-based law firm of Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam, and Roberts. He also served as chairman of the English-Speaking Union of the United States, a group that sponsors cultural and educational opportunities for students and educators. He was active in other organizations, serving in positions with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Reuters, Common Cause, and the American Council of Learned Societies. In 1984, he returned to London as resident partner for his law firm.
In 1985, he was elected Master of University College at Oxford, an unusual position for an American to hold.
He died at the age of 69 on November 8, 1988.
The Kingman Brewster Personal Papers include informative (but limited) material from 1940 to 1950, but primarily document the personal and professional life of Brewster as a Harvard faculty member (1950-1960) and Ambassador to Great Britain (1977-1981). The most substantive material in the collection is that created by Brewster himself. Letters, unpublished writings, speeches, and interviews, provide extensive documentation of his interests and expertise, including in the areas of the role of government; maintaining a viable center in the political opinion spectrum; American anti-trust laws; American companies doing business abroad; the role of a liberal arts higher education; Anglo-American relations; and the United States in world affairs. The documentation on Brewster as ambassador reflects the public side of his work, rather than behind-the-scenes policy making. The materials displayed herein provide examples of the substantive documentation in the collection.
The work undertaken to arrange and describe the Kingman Brewster personal papers was supported by Henry Chauncey, 1957 B.A., and funded by many generous individuals, including a lead gift from William Lilley, 1965 Ph.D.
The following information on recently acquired and processed collections was assembled by Alison Clemens, assistant head of arrangement and description.
Manuscripts and Archives has recently acquired and made available the following collections and additions to existing collections:
The Lee Goebel Papers, totaling 3 linear feet, include correspondence and other materials documenting Lee Goebel’s studies as a student at the Yale School of Music. The bulk of the collection comprises letters from Goebel to her mother while Goebel attended the Yale School of Music from 1941 to 1946. Her letters describe her social life and studies, which included English, dictation, voice, and the history of music. The collection also includes twenty-eight photographs of Goebel and her associates, concert programs, and biographical material about Goebel compiled by Joel Helander.
Michael Antisdale and Mark Melanson, a gay couple, sued the town of West Hartford in 1998 because the town pool only gave discounted “family” rates to heterosexual couples. Five other cohabitating, non-married couples later joined them in the suit. The suit continued until 2002, and the council revised the definition of “family” in West Hartford’s recreational facilities policy to include couples of any sexual identity who lived together. The collection, totaling 1 linear foot, contains legal filings, correspondence, news clippings, and council meeting materials related to the couple’s appeal to the West Hartford town council and subsequent civil suit.
The Drury A. McMillen Papers, totaling .75 linear feet, consist of photographs, albums, reports, and a magazine from McMillen’s career as an explorer and pilot in Brazil. The papers document his exploration of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso and include photographs of the Xingu tribe, as well as photographs of the Brazilian state of Amazonas and the city of Manaus. There are also reports written by McMillen to the Brazilian government regarding defense strategy for the Brazilian Air Force.
The Early Yale Documents Collection consists of 12.67 linear feet of correspondence, minutes, financial records, charters and official acts, inventories, and other papers documenting the founding and early history of Yale College from its early eighteenth century origins as the Collegiate School until the mid-eighteenth century, as well as some miscellaneous Yale-related material from the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The collection spans the dates 1701-1889, with the bulk of the material dating from between 1701 and 1751. The collection was formerly stewarded by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and was transferred to Manuscripts and Archives in 2018.
16mm motion picture film “Colossal Keepsake,” which documents the creation and gifting to Yale University of the “Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks” sculpture by Claes Oldenburg. The film was shot in 1969 by Peter Hentschel and William Richardson, graduate students at the Yale School of Architecture.
The collection contains a scrapbook of ephemera collected from athletic events and other activities by Herbert E. Pickett, Jr., Yale College, Class of 1913.
1974 joint report of the Yale China Group’s visit to China.
Additions to existing collections
Accession 2018-M-0032 of the Bert Hansen Papers (MS 2042)
This accession, totaling 2.75 linear feet, contains Bert Hansen’s subject files on various topics related to his research on the LGBT community. The bulk of the materials date from 1970 to 1996. They include magazines, news clippings, annotated research papers, conference schedules, and informational pamphlets. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organizations represented include the Lesbian Herstory Archives, the Committee on Lesbian and Gay History of the American Historical Association (CLGH-AHA), the National Gay Task Force (NGTF), and Senior Action in a Gay Environment (SAGE). Many of the subject files also contain materials related to various medical and academic organizations, including The Journal of Psychology, as well as the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). Others focus on the intersection between both communities; examples of these organizations include the Gay Academic Union and the Center for Homosexual Education, Evaluation, and Research (CHEER).
Accession 2018-M-0036 of the William Sloane Coffin, Jr. Papers (MS 1665)
This accession, totaling 2.33 linear feet, primarily contains notebooks and notes by William Sloane Coffin on religion, philosophy, and current events, 1940s-circa 2006, apparently used for his sermons and other writings. It also contains two address books kept by Coffin, undated; a card with a quotation by him, 2006; and notes on religious schedules and events, undated.
Accession 2018-M-0059 of the Eli Whitney Papers (MS 554)
This accession contains a promissory note to buy a parcel of land in New Haven, 1806 February 20.
Accession 2019-M-0018 of the Jules David Prown Papers (MS 1749)
The accession, totaling 2.92 linear feet, consists of correspondence and subject files pertaining to Jules David Prown, his work, his colleagues, former students, and teachings at Yale University. The accession also contains graduate and doctoral student correspondence and grades. The bulk of the accession is open for research. Student records are restricted until 2093 as established by Yale Corporation regulations.
Accession 2019-M-0041 of the Sylvanus Dyer Locke Papers (MS 327)
This accession, totaling 3 linear feet, comprises correspondence and financial records of Sylvanus Dyer Locke related to his patents and use of machinery, 1855-1896.
Accession 2019-M-0057 of the Charles Hill Papers (MS 2070)
The accession, totaling 1.08 linear feet, consists of the personal papers of Charles Hill. Materials include Hill’s correspondence with academic colleagues and with former United States secretary of state Henry Kissinger. The accession also consists of Yale University course materials and writings, including book reviews and commentary articles on United States foreign policy. The bulk of the materials are open for research; correspondence with Henry Kissinger is closed until 25 years after the date of Kissinger’s death.
Accession 2020-M-0014 of the David Benjamin Mixner Papers (MS 1862)
David Benjamin Mixner is an activist, consultant, and author. This accession, totaling .83 linear feet, includes printed email messages between March and September 2019. Also includes an undated thank-you card and two copies of a program for a 2018 production of David Mixner’s “Who Fell in the Outhouse?,” a fundraiser for the Ali Forney Center. The papers are closed until January 1, 2031, unless researchers receive permission in writing to access them from the donor, the person holding power of attorney for the donor, or the executor of the estate of the donor. Researchers wishing to request access should email email@example.com requesting specific box numbers in order to initiate the permission process, which may take several weeks.
Accession 2020-A-0028 of To Be A Man motion picture film, Yale University (RU 845)
The accession, totaling 2.25 linear feet, includes production files and reviews for the film and transcripts, 1963-1980 and undated.
After many years of faithful service our beloved Manuscripts and Archives Digital Images Database (MADID) will retire in January 2020. MADID’s happy retirement is made possible by the migration of the MADID images to FindIt, Yale University Library’s central digital collections search engine.
Staff and researchers, especially frequent MADID users, are encouraged to explore FindIt, where they will find digitized Manuscripts and Archives content along with content from other Yale Library repositories. You can browse using the facets, including Repository, Digital Collection, and Call Number (see “Limit your search”) or enter the old MADID number in the search box. All images from MADID are now in FindIt. Not finding what you need? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to assist you.
The following information on recently acquired and processed collections was assembled by Alison Clemens, assistant head of arrangement and description.
Manuscripts and Archives has recently acquired and made available the following collections and additions to existing collections:
James Gustave Speth (1942-) is a lawyer, activist, author, and advocate for the environment. His papers, totaling 40.25 linear feet, consists of his professional papers from 1977 to 2013, with the bulk falling between 1977 and 2000, and cover much of his career in environmental law. This material also documents his career in global development, particularly in facilitating the development of third world countries and creating international policies both on the behalf of the environment and the elimination of poverty.
Christopher Murray was a graduate student in the Department of Theatre History, and Kathleen Murray was an employee of Yale University Press, circa 1965-1970. They moved to New Haven from Cobh, Ireland in 1965 and returned to Ireland in 1970. The diary documents their life in New Haven with observations on events and changes at Yale University during the late 1960s, including topics such as acting companies and theaters, American writers, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War. The collection also includes an epilogue written by the Murrays in 2016, personal correspondence with family and a former professor after their time in New Haven, and newspaper clippings documenting events at Yale University.
Additions to existing collections
Accession 2019-M-0015 of the Harold C. Conklin Papers (MS 1956)
This accession, totaling 2.83 linear feet, comprises Harold Conklin’s files from Yale University while he was a professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Linguistics, and a curator for the Peabody Natural History Museum. The files document Conklin’s administrative activities, events related to Southeast Asia studies, museum collections, and Conklin’s correspondence with professional colleagues. The accession also includes student gradebooks and notes from courses Conklin taught at Columbia University and Yale University. The bulk of the materials is open for research, but Yale University student, personnel, and administrative records are restricted as established by Yale Corporation regulations.
Accession 2019-A-0029 of the Department of Athletics, Yale University, Records Documenting Baseball (RU 61)
This accession includes two books containing scores for Yale baseball games, 1921-1926, scores for Phillips Andover baseball games, 1919-1920, and scores for east coast semi-professional and professional teams, 1919-1926.
Accession 2019-M-0053 of the David Benjamin Mixner Papers (MS 1862)
David Benjamin Mixner is an activist, consultant, and author. This accession, totaling 1 linear foot, includes printed email messages between August 2018 and February 2019. Also includes correspondence and material documenting the initial transfer of the Mixner papers to Yale University in 2005, event memorabilia, a to do list, and computer files. The papers are closed until January 1, 2031, unless researchers receive permission in writing to access them from the donor, the person holding power of attorney for the donor, or the executor of the estate of the donor. Researchers wishing to request access should email email@example.com requesting specific box numbers in order to initiate the permission process, which may take several weeks.
Accession 2019-M-0039 of the Coalition to Stop Trident Records (MS 1696)
News clippings, newsletters, brochures from peace organizations, and protest posters, 1983-2004 and totaling 2.75 linear feet, from the Coalition to Stop Trident, a group established to resist the construction of the Trident submarines in Connecticut.
Accession 2018-A-0083 of the May Day Rally and Yale collection (RU 86)
This accession, totaling .25 linear feet, includes a typescript of “Nature and history of the Black Panther Party,” additional copies of “Strike Newspaper,” and a copy of “The Yale Graduate Professional.”
The following post was authored by Camila Tessler, archivist in Manuscripts and Archives. All references to archival collection material are to items from the William Henry Anderson Correspondence Regarding the Crocodile Club (MS 2018).
On January 9, 1858, William Henry Anderson (Class of 1859) wrote to his father that the Crocodile Club, a Yale undergraduate group, was flourishing. In fact, he wrote, “I think I can safely say that [the Crocodile Club] is … the most popular club of all.” (MS 2018, Box 1, folder 5). A little more than a month later, on February 21, Anderson again wrote to his father, admitting that the faculty were recommending that the club disband. In a month’s time, how did Yale College’s “most popular club” fall so low as to be forced to disband by the faculty?
The Crocodile Club was a popular eating club, which provided a way for students to socialize and dine together. These eating clubs still exist at other Ivy League institutions, such as Princeton, but at Yale the only modern equivalents are the senior societies. The Crocodile Club was apparently successful, racking up bills of “nearly a thousand dollars” (Box 1, folder 4), which is the rough equivalent of $30,000 in today’s money. The club appears to have been comprised of many students who could afford to both eat out and board with the other “crocodiles.”
On the night of Feburary 9, 1858, following several nights of tension between New Haven firefighters stationed near the campus and groups of students, members of the Crocodile Club encountered a group of New Haven firemen while on their way back from dining. As an altercation between the two groups spiraled out of control, the leader among the group of firemen, a man named William Miles, was shot by one of the Yale students. (Lyman Hotchkiss Bagg, Four Years at Yale, New Haven: C.C. Chatfield & Co., 1871, pages 510-511).
William Anderson was present and wrote to his father about the incident, his arrest, and the subsequent trial. He stated in a letter dated February 19, ten days after the incident, that “suspicion of course fell upon the club and perhaps justly and we were all implicated and are as much guilty as another in the eye of the law” (Box 1, folder 6). In the same letter, Anderson went on to relate to his father that “counsel advised me not to answer anything that would show I was there … and he advised all the rest to the same”. Their refusal to testify landed the boys in jail, but only nominally. Anderson claimed that he spent most of his jail time studying and did not suffer any inconvenience, though it is not altogether clear whether this is a fact, or something added to reassure a potentially concerned parent. Anderson’s letters are rife with reassurances to his parents that everything at Yale is fine, so playing down his jail time wouldn’t be completely out of character or context.
As the trial moved forward it quickly became apparent that justice favored gown over town. Even though Anderson clearly knew who shot Miles, he asserted that “I have the consciousness of knowing that I did not injure a person that night, not so much as a scratch. That consciousness, you know, will be worth worlds to me for if I knew that I had killed the man, even in self defense as what was done by whoever did it, I could hardly bear the thought” (Box 1, folder 8). Anderson continually refused to testify, as did the rest of the rest of the Crocodile Club group. Their silence bought them their legal innocence, as no one was sentenced to jail time. Anderson believed that it was “a very fair verdict” (Box 1, folder 9), since there were no legal consequences.
That lack of legal punishment did not, however, free the Crocodile Club members from consequences at Yale. In a letter to his father dated March 24, almost a full month after the end of the trial, Anderson revealed that “[the faculty] talked it over till noon and there decided to separate from the college three members of the club, Carrington, Smith, and Lorichell. This separation is about equivalent to a dismissal” (Box 1, folder 11). This dismissal was accompanied by a reference to any other college of their choice, so the dismissal, while a bold action on the part of the faculty, was one with a golden parachute.
Events where town and gown were diametrically opposed were common in the 1850s, and they are equally common today. The details of this case were so odd though, and the first-hand testimony in letters home from one of the participants so palpable, that the incident is worth exploring. Looking over historical cases such as the rise and fall of the Crocodile Club can help us to contextualize and have a clearer understanding of the relationship between Yale and New Haven over time. In this case Yale students were absolved Yale of a terrible crime through silence, and did serious damage to the town-gown relationship. We struggle with similar incidents today and can use the rise and fall of the Crocodile Club as one lens for examining accountability and justice in the ongoing, evolving relationship between the communities of Yale and New Haven.