Winners of the 2017 Manuscripts and Archives Diane Kaplan Memorial Senior Essay Prizes

Poster for 2017 senior essay contest

Poster for 2017 senior essay contest

Manuscripts and Archives is pleased to announce the winners of the two 2017 Manuscripts and Archives Diane Kaplan Memorial Senior Essay Prizes. The winners each will receive a certificate and a check for $500.00 at their residential college ceremonies on Commencement Day, Monday, May 22, 2017. Prize-winning essays are also published in EliScholar, the Yale University Library’s digital platform for scholarly publishing. Additional information about the prizes is available on our MSSA Prizes website.

Title page of Sarah Pajka's senior essay, "Doctors, Death, and Denial," 3 April 2017

Title page of Sarah Pajka’s senior essay, “Doctors, Death, and Denial,” 3 April 2017

The prize for an outstanding senior essay on a topic relating to Yale is presented to Sarah E. Pajka (Morse College) for her essay Doctors, Death, and Denial: The Origins of Hospice Care in 20th Century America. Her senior essay project was advised by Professor Naomi Rogers of the Program in the History of Science and Medicine. Sarah’s essay explores the emergence of the need for hospice care in the United States in the rise of institutionalized medicine and the conundrum presented by “the patient who could not be healed.” Sarah used the Florence and Henry Wald Papers (MS 1659) in Manuscripts and Archives, among other sources, to explore the pivotal role of Yale School of Nursing Dean Florence Wald in the development of Connecticut Hospice, which was the first modern hospice facility in America when it opened in 1980.

Title page of Sarah Kim's senior essay, "Of a Healthy Constitution," 3 April 2017

Title page of Sarah Kim’s senior essay, “Of a Healthy Constitution,” 3 April 2017

The prize for an outstanding senior essay based significantly on research done in Manuscripts and Archives is presented to Sarah D. Kim (Jonathan Edwards College) for her essay Of a Healthy Constitution: Socialized Medicine Between the Triumphs of Social Security and Medicare. Her senior essay adviser was Profession Jennifer Klein of the Department of History. Sarah used, among other sources, the Isidore Sydney Falk Papers (MS 1039) in Manuscripts and Archives to explore the debates in the United States over the controversial issue of national health insurance between the late 1930s and the early 1960s. She uses Falk’s activism on national health care as a lens through which to explore the impact of Cold War politics on the debate.

Congratulations to both Sarahs for their outstanding senior essay accomplishments! Thanks as well to the 15 other members of the Yale College Class of 2017 who submitted senior essays for consideration in this competition. The 2017 MSSA senior essay judging panel consisted of 11 Yale alumni and Yale University Library staff members.

Waging War(s): Formation of the AIDS Committee of Toronto

Doctors in New York and California have diagnosed among homosexual men 41 cases of a rare and often rapidly fatal form of cancer. Eight of the victims died less than 24 months after the diagnosis was made



By July 1981, 41 men received diagnoses of Kaposi sarcoma, a cancer that was endemic to parts of Africa and the Mediterranean region and rarely seen elsewhere. When it did occur in the United States, it was generally seen in men of Mediterranean, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern descent above the age of 50 and often took ten years for it to result in death if left untreated. However, the Kaposi sarcoma cases first seen in 1981 struck men in their 30s and they died within three years in many cases.

Further testing of the men showed that something had gone horribly wrong with their immune system. Their T-cells were nearly or outright non-existent. Other diseases were also showing up that most adults with a healthy immune system would never develop, such as thrush and Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. These men died of the latter as well. The only real link that was found was that the majority of the infected were homosexual men and had many sexual partners. A few men were also intravenous drug users. Hemophiliacs also suffered these problems on occasion. After years of confusion and research performed by scientists in countries such as the United States and France, this destruction of the immune system was named Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and its vector was determined to be a virus, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Scientists discovered that HIV was passed through contact with certain infected body fluids, such as blood and semen, while saliva and sweat carried so little viral load and would not transmit the virus. Eventually, antiretroviral treatments were developed to slow the loss of T-cells and decrease the patient’s viral load, allowing them to live longer lives.

At the very beginning of the epidemic, there was a lot of fear and confusion across the United States. Gay people were blamed for infecting others and press coverage was homophobic in tone. Those with AIDS and their advocates fought back against government inattention to the crisis. Homosexuals and drug users were perceived as immoral by many, responsible for their own suffering and unworthy of assistance. Much has been written on this time period, including the nonfiction works And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts and Close to the Knives by David Wojnarowicz (whose papers are part of New York University’s Downtown Collection) as well as the plays Angels in America by Tony Kushner and The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer.

An example of the atmosphere of discrimination against the gay men and lesbian communities. From the <title>Gay Community News</title>, June 26, 1982.

An example of the atmosphere of discrimination against the gay men and lesbian communities. From the Gay Community News, June 26, 1982. (Box 6, folder 2)


While many of the first reports of AIDS were coming out of the United States, Canada also began recording statistics of people falling ill with the syndrome. Bert Hansen, an American professor of the history of science and medicine then teaching at the University of Toronto, was among those concerned about the growing epidemic in 1982. His and others efforts to help AIDS patients through the founding of the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) is documented in the Bert Hansen Papers (MS 2042).

A newspaper article announcing the start of the AIDS Committee of Toronto.

A newspaper article announcing the start of the AIDS Committee of Toronto. (Box 2, folder 6)

ACT had its roots in an April 5, 1983 meeting held at the Church Street Community Center, run by Gays in Health Care and the Hassle Free Clinic in Toronto. On April 26, 1983, volunteers formed five different groups to begin work on several fronts: the Medical Liaison Committee, the Media Relations Committee, Fundraising and Special Events Committee, AIDSupport, and the Community Education Committee.

Hansen chaired ACT from 1983 to 1984. During his time, the five working group began projects that set the course for ACT. The Medical Liaison Committee contacted medical professionals for more information about patients with AIDS and to give them information as well. They also worked with the medical profession towards inclusive policies and support for people with AIDS. The Media Relations Committee spoke to reporters on behalf of ACT, held press conferences, and produced press releases. They also monitored the media for coverage of the epidemic, especially of the gay community; circulated articles that were positive and informative to others; and responded to press that was discriminating and bigoted in nature. Their intent was to make sure people were properly informed about AIDS rather than solely receiving news reports that were panicked, sensationalist, and exploitative of patients with AIDS and their loved ones.

The gay men community, especially AIDS activists, often faced insults, poor reporting, and exploitation, as described in the opinion section of the September 3, 1983 issue of Gay Community News.

The gay men community, especially AIDS activists, often faced insults, poor reporting, and exploitation, as described in the opinion section of the September 3, 1983 issue of Gay Community News. (Box 2, Folder 5)

The Fundraising and Special Events Committee held events to raise funds for research into the disease and for day to day office costs of the committee. Most of ACT’s fundraising for research was in conjunction with other organizations, but they did organize smaller events in the Toronto area for ACT. AIDSupport sought to set up counseling and advising for AIDS patients as well as helping with practical needs, such as providing meals, transporting those who were unable to do so themselves, and running social activities for people with HIV and AIDS. The Community Education Committee was responsible for producing pamphlets and holding talks and workshops about how AIDS affected the body and how it may be spread. (During Hansen’s time with ACT, it was still not known what the exact vector was for AIDS, or even certain what bodily fluids transmitted the syndrome.) They modeled their services after the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) located in the United States, after hearing about their work. To get a clearer sense of GMHC’s work, a committee member visited their offices to observe and make a report of their operations.

The report on the activities of the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) offices and operations.

The report on the activities of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) offices and operations. (Box 1, Folder 5)

A volunteer survey sheet distributed by ACT.

A volunteer survey sheet distributed by ACT. (Box 1, folder 11)










Bert Hansen stepped down from ACT in 1984 and returned to the United States in 1985. He continued to keep track of the media response to HIV/AIDS, which is also documented in the collection’s subject files. ACT continues to serve the Toronto community of those who are HIV positive, and providing community education on the disease itself and the stigma around those who have it.

Researchers wishing to work with the Bert Hansen Papers can view the finding aid here. Researchers can also visit our website for more information on visiting Manuscripts and Archives and using our collections.

Guest Post: A Salisbury Christmas in Berlin, 1838

This is a guest post by Robin Dougherty, librarian for Middle East Studies at the Near East Collection,Yale University Library.

The Legacy of E.E. Salisbury exhibit poster.

The Legacy of E.E. Salisbury exhibit poster.

The year 2016 marks the 175th anniversary of the appointment of Edward Elbridge Salisbury (1814-1901) as Professor of Arabic and Sanskrit Languages and Literatures at Yale. An exhibit devoted to exploring this groundbreaking appointment, its context, and its legacy (and based upon materials in Yale’s Manuscripts and Archives department, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and general library collections), is on display in the Memorabilia Room of Sterling Memorial Library through February 6, 2017. If you had the time, you too could trace Salisbury’s life and legacy through documents held in Yale collections and elsewhere. For the Christmas season, I’d like to highlight two paragraphs that can be found in items held in the collections of Manuscripts and Archives.

Salisbury (B.A. 1832), scion of the wealthy Salisbury family of Massachusetts, married his cousin Abigail Phillips (1814-1869) shortly after completing his theological education at Yale. The two then set out on the customary honeymoon/”Grand Tour” of Europe. As Salisbury later wrote in his brief autobiography, “We younglings … were amply provided for, and could follow freely our fancies and tastes.” On this Grand Tour, Salisbury not only visited the great universities of Europe, meeting the greatest living scholars of the time, but stayed on long enough in Paris and Berlin to acquire a foundational education in Oriental languages (principally Arabic and Sanskrit), aiming to establish himself as an academic (and, in 1841, successfully obtaining a Yale professorship to teach these two Oriental languages). He was among only a few dozen Americans up to that point to make the arduous journey across the Atlantic in pursuit of advanced study in Europe—a group dominated by graduates of Harvard and Yale. His journal entries and the letters that he and Abby wrote back home reveal their discoveries and their impressions as New England innocents abroad.

Although terribly homesick for her family, friends, and her Congregationalist church back in the United States, newlywed Abby gamely explored Europe with her husband Edward, studying European languages with him and giving birth to their daughter Mary (1837-1875) in Switzerland. In December 1838, not long after arriving in Berlin with Edward and little Mary, Abby described to her mother-in-law Abigail Breese Salisbury, with great excitement, a scene utterly unfamiliar to most New Englanders of the time:

Letter from Abigail Phillips Salisbury to her mother-in-law Abigail Breese Salisbury, 16 December 1838. E.E. Salisbury Papers (MS 429), Box 11, folder 45a. Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.

Letter from Abigail Phillips Salisbury to her mother-in-law Abigail Breese Salisbury, 16 December 1838. E.E. Salisbury Papers (MS 429), Box 11, folder 45a. Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.

This is a very gay time in Berlin, every one is making preparations for Christmas, a fair has already begun, to last until Christmas, the booths are filled with toys & fancy things, principally for children, & every one seems so busy & happy that it is a pleasure to see them, one enclosure is filled with pine trees to place the presents on, which is the custom in every German family you know, in the evening the booths are illuminated & must present I think a very pretty sight. [Salisbury Family Papers (MS 429), Series III, Box 11, Folder 45b, APS to ABS, 16 December 1838.]

She concludes her letter to her mother-in-law with the fervent hope of establishing the “pretty” German-style observation of Christmas in her own New Haven home after returning from the Grand Tour. Theodore Woolsey, future president of Yale but at that time still just a professor of Greek, was Salisbury’s brother-in-law, having married Salisbury’s sister Martha—Abby’s 1838 letter paints a lovely picture of her own little family joining Madame Salisbury along with Woolsey’s budding family in a style of Christmas celebration that would be utterly innovative in New Haven:

If it please God, I trust the next year we may all form a happy family circle around a Christmas tree, for it is such a pretty custom, I think we shall adopt it.

In his journal entry for Dec. 18, 1838, Edward recorded his own impressions of his first experience of the celebration of Christmas, German-style:

“Journal of travels in Europe 1838 May 27-1839 Aug 6,” p. 147. E.E. Salisbury Papers (MS 429), Box 5, folder 251. Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.

“Journal of travels in Europe 1838 May 27-1839 Aug 6,” p. 147. E.E. Salisbury Papers (MS 429), Box 5, folder 251. Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.

I have just returned from an eveng visit to the “markt”…. All the streets in the quarter of the fair are alive day and night with people moving to and fro’ the great deposit of Christmas presents; grave looking gentlemen may be seen carrying off rocking-horses half concealed under their cloaks, and servants bearing home on their shoulders the “Christmas-tree,” which must be introduced by stealth, while the “Kinder” are asleep, dreaming of their patron Saint Nicholas…. There is not a family in Berlin, probably, however humble, which does not have its tree and its interchange of gifts.–The house of amusement, as I style it, exhibits dioramas, green-houses, a saloon for refreshments, (where are made tables for separate parties,) and a mock concert of automaton musicians,–a capital quiz! From one of these dervish objects to another, old & young, high and low stroll, and look and laugh, and look and stroll again. It would seem as if the whole city had given up its cares and were in quest of wherewithal to divert the mind. Almost every face looks brightened and intent,–miserable must he be who has not some share of the general blitheness. [Salisbury Family Papers (MS 429), Series I, Box 5, Folder 251: “Journal of travels in Europe 1838 May 27-1839 Aug 6,” p. 147-148. Salisbury here has translated the German word “Festhalle” as “house of amusement.” He uses “quiz” to mean a practical joke or hoax of some kind. His use of “dervish objects” is unclear, perhaps referring to the spinning and gyrating movement of the automaton figures.]

Illustration of Saint Nicholas by Howell, from Clement Clark Moore, Visit of Saint Nicholas (Fisher & Brother, circa 1850). Shirley +569. Courtesy of Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University .

Illustration of Saint Nicholas by Howell, from Clement Clark Moore, Visit of Saint Nicholas (Fisher & Brother, circa 1850). Shirley +569. Courtesy of Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University .

Edward was a connoisseur of the arts, and throughout his journals and letters freely offered his opinions on the musical offerings of the day. As part of his journal entry quoted above, he made this interesting suggestion

I like the festival which thus spreads a joy over half the year, or at least makes one bright spot when, otherwise, all would perhaps be gloom, or dimness; I could suggest, as an addition, however, that there might be some great musical festival on this occasion, to give utterance to the deeper feelings associated with the season in the performance of the “Messiah”. I think it is not preaching which one wants at such a time.

Handel’s “Messiah,” originally composed for use during Lent, had been popular in the U.S. and Europe since its composition. It was first performed on Christmas Day, in its entirety, in Boston, 1818, but did not achieve its current popularity as a piece for the Christmas season until the late 19th century–Salisbury’s taste was way ahead of its time!

George Roy Hill

The George Roy Hill Collection serves as both an examination of the creative as well as the physical labor that went into making feature films. Hill, who directed work such as The World According to Garp and Slaughterhouse-Five, was a student at Yale College (Class of 1943), and opted to give his collection to Yale University because both he and Paul Newman were affiliated with Yale. His best known film, however, is probably Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Katherine Ross

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which was the top grossing movie of 1969 and went on to win several Academy awards, received critical praise. It features the character who became the namesake for the Sundance Film Festival, which was started by Robert Redford.

Examining the material in this collection shows the tremendous physical, creative, and emotional labor that went into creating a feature film. The costume and set designs, along with the reproduction of some of the few photographs existing of the real Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, show the detail and the dedication of the designers.

A costume design for Tiffany, and a costume design for Butch Cassidy, designed by Edith Head

A costume design for Tiffany, and a costume design for Butch Cassidy, designed by Edith Head. Box 10, Folders 1-2

The creative process was tracked through the scene breakdowns and storyboards, where stunts and critical scenes were carefully planned, shot by shot. These breakdowns are hand drawn and look like animation storyboards. These shots also required a great deal of technical skill. Hill speaks in an interview about the methods they used to capture particularly important moments–such as the last scene of the film, which is a freeze-frame–and his thought process that spoke to the legend of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid returning in this final moment right before they died.

Storyboard for the film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Storyboard for the film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Box 24

The creative team worked hard on the style and flair of the film; this translated into an iconic film, with iconic moments that linger in cinema history.

Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy and Robert Redford as the Sundance Kid photograph

Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy and Robert Redford as the Sundance Kid photograph. Box 6 Folder 1

But looking into the collection shows that this movie and its legacy was not easily won. George Roy Hill, the director, seemed to be in constant conflict with William Goldman, the screenwriter. He treated Goldman’s concerns about changing the script lightly and regarded his notes as funny but inconsequential. Hill wrote to Goldman, in a letter dated May 7, 1969:

You will be happy to know that during the last going through the movie for corrections, I read your notes to the editors and your letter and at the moments, our notes are getting more laughs than the movie. We are doing nothing with them, but it provides us with general merriment in our travail.

If you feel any reluctance about fulfilling the above request I am sure that a recollection of what comes when I’m left to my own devices will spur you to the needed effort. [Box 1, Folder 5]

Goldman, in reply, wrote a letter dated May 12, 1969. He seemed particularly incensed at the notion that any changes to the script were made without his consent, and compared the request from actors for additional material to clarify intent to asking Shakespeare to allow the actor playing Ophelia to suggest Hamlet ad-lib that “maybe I should kill myself” in the middle of Hamlet’s famous ‘To be, or not to be’ soliloquy. He charged Hill with protecting his work, stating:

I have no idea what the fucking actors actually said since the script girl was a microcephalic and the director less than lax when it came to PROTECTING MY FUCKING DIALOG [Box 1, Folder 5]

In fact, these two argued about almost everything in the movie, including hiring Burt Bacharach to do the score – the point where Hill hired him without consent, in the middle of an argument with Goldman. None of this, however, detracted from good art. Goldman, for his part, won an Academy award for the script, and Bacharach won an Academy award for the song Raindrops Are Falling on My Head, written for this film. So in this regard, whether the conflict was as volatile as Goldman’s letters suggest or as mild as Hill’s, the dedication of the designers, the screenwriter, and the director resulted in a film whose legacy includes being on several lists of the best films and screenplays of the first hundred years of cinema.

Guest Post: Abolitionist Sentiments Meet Profit Motives

This guest post is by Connor Williams, a second-year graduate student in the Yale History Department, who has been working as a graduate assistant on a project in Manuscripts and Archives to identify more collection materials relating to slavery, abolition, and resistance in the 19th-century United States.

I had great hopes for the William and George, the Woolsey brothers.  At first glance, their resumes seemed impeccable: they were New York merchants who at times served as presidents of both the New York Chamber of Commerce and the New York Manumission Society. William also fathered Theodore Dwight Woolsey, Yale’s anti-slavery President during and after the Civil War, and through his service their surname graces Yale’s grand concert hall and war memorial, where the walls bear the names of the 114 Yale men who died for the Union.  (For full disclosure, 54 Yalies also died for the Confederacy, and their names are intertwined alphabetically with their Yankee classmates, providing a troubling reminder of how far the Lost Cause spread).  On more esoteric matters the Woolseys also appealed to my northeastern biases—they were early blockade runners when Jefferson forced his myopic Embargo Act upon the merchant classes, and savvy operators in international trade.  William even petitioned that Congress include black and foreign-born seamen in its 1795 act guarding against sailors’ impressments, acknowledging that though not U.S. citizens, they nonetheless sailed for American merchants and deserved “the protection of the American flag.”  Taken in sum, the Woolseys presented that which so often eludes a student of the New Republic and the 19th century: pro-union, anti-slavery federalists who were civic minded and strove to enhance the lives of many.  In short, some early Americans who we can celebrate without reserve, and in whose eponymous concert hall the Yale Glee Club can perform without regret.

Yet maxims exist for a reason: and that which seems too good to be true almost always is. Reading through the Woolsey’s business records, slight patterns start to emerge.  Though noble in purpose, the manumission society’s practices leave something to be desired for the modern researcher: one manumission was contingent on the slave’s faithful service as a deckhand aboard two dangerous voyages to the East Indies and back, while another master manumitted his slave only after the slave finished eleven years service as a hired hand (the master received the wages).  That man, twenty-seven years old at the time, would not receive his freedom until close to his fortieth birthday.  A similar document, for a five-year-old girl whose owner calls her a “wench,” withholds freedom for twenty years.

In matters of trade, some troubling anecdotes also appear: most notably, in the summer of 1796, William Woolsey seemed reluctant to investigate claims that New York merchants were bringing enslaved men and women to Cuba in order to take away the valuable sugar products being created there.  Despite being reminded that it was “a crime against humanity and the law of the United States” by a petitioner and receiving evidence of nine New York vessels plying the illicit trade, Woolsey only lukewarmly consented to form a committee to investigate future claims, and to act only if “any cases should be discovered sufficiently clear so as to warrant them to commence a suit.”

One of three plantation mortgages the Woolseys underwrote soon after the Louisiana Purchase. As with many documents issued in New Orleans, the text is entirely in French.

One of three plantation mortgages the Woolseys underwrote soon after the Louisiana Purchase. As with many documents issued in New Orleans, the text is entirely in French. Woolsey Family Papers (MS 562), Box 69, Folder 26.

Perhaps Woolsey’s reluctance to investigate New York’s commercial ties to slavery was prophetic: seven years later the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France, and the Woolseys were some of the first major investors in the plantation products—especially cotton and sugar—that New Orleans now offered the nation.  In 1805 George Woolsey even went so far as to employ New Orleans denizen George Phillips as his agent in the port to buy and ship slave-grown sugar and cotton up north: William signed on as a silent partner.  From the start Phillips’ letters to Wolsey indicate an ambition that borders on avarice: he repeatedly asks for more buying power, fewer restraints on his agency, and more money. This process culminated in Phillips’ entry into three mortgages with the Woolseys for  $75,000—at least $1,500,000 in today’s dollars, and almost certainly more in real value—to expand his New Orleans operation.  For one of the mortgages, Phillips offered 41 slaves as collateral to secure a $23,000 loan.

Not uncommon at the time, and increasingly common during the antebellum era, one $23,000 mortgage was secured by 41 slaves.

Not uncommon at the time, and increasingly common during the antebellum era, one $23,000 mortgage was secured by 41 slaves. Woolsey Family Papers (MS 562), Box 69, Folder 26.

Though dubious, this in itself is not especially damning.  Successful mortgages never see the security brought into question; instead, the debts are paid on time to the benefit of both parties.  The Woolseys, an apologist might say, faced the same dilemma that investors face today: diversifying their portfolio across varied interests, even those that may cause controversy.   In this sense, a mortgage secured with slaves was no different than an investment in shipping cotton.  Slavery existed somewhere in the process, but there was little that William and George, as merchants and creditors, could do about it.  Besides, their work with the manumission society, however faulty, demonstrated that their intentions were in the right place.

As their business dealings worsened, the Woolseys began to consider the possibility of actually acquiring the slaves as a security, and made plans to sell them.

As their business dealings worsened, the Woolseys began to consider the possibility of actually acquiring the slaves as a security, and made plans to sell them. Woolsey Family Papers (MS 562), Box 69, Folder 27.

Yet the events that transpired removed any of these ambiguities.  By 1807, Phillips proved to be overwhelmed in his new venture, and rumors came back to George that the debtor was unable to meet his upcoming financial obligations.  Woolsey wasted no time in dispatching another agent to the New Orleans, with instructions to press the Woolseys’ claim with all haste to recover whatever funds might remain.   He expressed his desire for the agent to avoid collecting the slaves as payment, but tellingly instructed his new agent to “dispose of them in the most summary way possible” in case nothing else could be collected.  By 1808, Woolsey was actively pursuing their collection, before Phillips “[sent] them away to Baton Rouge” or another difficult to reach part of the territory.  The Woolsey brothers, whatever their intentions at the outset might have been, had become slave owners and slave-sellers.

Ultimately, money trumped morals. Fearing that the slaves would be moved inland to Baton Rouge, Woolsey ordered his agent to collect them at once.

Ultimately, money trumped morals. Fearing that the slaves would be moved inland to Baton Rouge, Woolsey ordered his agent to collect them at once. Woolsey Family Papers (MS 562), Box 69, Folder 28.

Ultimately, this is meant neither to sensationalize the Woolsey family story, nor to insinuate that the accomplishments of the Woolsey family—and their works at Yale—are necessarily invalidated by this moment in two of their lives.  A trove of much needed scholarship over the last decades has outlined the prominent roles northerners and northern institutions played in the trading and financing of enslaved people and the plantation goods they produced.  A dozen years ago Craig Wilder’s Ebony and Ivy focused the issue on venerable academic institutions, and Yale continues to grapple with its past relationship with slavery and slaveholders to this day, as highlighted by the debate over the name of Calhoun College during the 2015-2016 academic year.  Moral judgments on matters like this depend on more factors than could possibly be listed in this blog post.

Yet the facts of the case present us with a compelling historical case study that reminds us that American slavery was not confined to the plantation, and that though the heartless cruelties of the lash and the auction need to be remembered by all, they are far from the only instances in which slavery interacted with our society during the New Republic and antebellum years.  The story of this pair of manumission-minded brothers from New York, who inadvertently acquired absolute control over the lives of 41 humans and sold them for cash rather than granting their freedom is a telling reminder that rather than a “peculiar institution” within American society, chattel slavery was a foundation upon which that entire society was built.  The question is not whether the Woolseys could have absorbed the $23,000 loss that would have come with emancipating or manumitting their suddenly acquired slaves; for whatever it matters, their record books, which often reached six digits, suggest that it would have been a manageable loss.  The right question should be how a society could exist in the Land of the Free that saw human beings enumerated, valued, and mortgaged as property, and how their otherwise liberal-minded new owners could wish for them to be quickly “disposed of” as though they were a sub-par shipment of any other commodity to be sold at whatever price could be salvaged.   For while there are many rubrics for what constitutes a slave society, it’s difficult to think of one where this story, preserved in Yale’s Woolsey Family Papers, would not fit.

Note on quotations in this post that are not accompanied by an image of the quoted document: Quotations in this post relating to manumission and illicit trade with Cuba are taken from letters in the Woolsey Family Papers (MS 562), Manuscripts and Archives, Box 67, Folders 2-3. The discussion of the growing precariousness of George Phillips’ financial dealings in New Orleans are drawn from correspondence that can be found in the Woolsey Family Papers (MS 562), Box 68, Folders 11-12.


The Henry A. Kissinger Papers

KIssingerCollage2Manuscripts and Archives is pleased to announce the availability of the papers of Henry A. Kissinger, former Secretary of State (1973-1977) and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (1969-1975). The papers document Dr. Kissinger’s pre-government, government, and post-government careers and are comprised of correspondence, memoranda, writings, speeches, photographs, films, videos, sound recordings, and other material. The papers have been digitized and the collection overview page provides information on collection content, research strengths, access to the digital collection, and ownership and copyright. Please consult:

Pioneers in Family Planning: Margaret Sanger, Rose Pastor Stokes, and Emma Goldman

The women’s rights movement was one of the most significant of the Progressive Era.  In addition to the right to vote, women advocated for equal rights to access to higher education, the professions, and other occupations; for marital and property rights; and for freedom of information on family planning.  While the media focuses on the centennials of World War I-related events, it is important to note other historic milestones.  In 1914, “Birth Control,” was a new term coined by the movement’s leader, Margaret Sanger.  And in 1916, a new wave of women’s activism led to the opening of the first public birth control clinic in America.  Important groups of papers of Margaret Sanger’s colleagues, socialist (later Communist) Rose Pastor Stokes and anarchist Emma Goldman (in the Harry Weinberger Papers) are in Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.

Rose Pastor Stokes (1879-1933), political activist and author, at her desk in her New York City apartment.

Rose Pastor Stokes (1879-1933), political activist and author, at her desk in her New York City apartment. Rose Pastor Stokes Papers (MS 573), Box 10, Folder 20.

Born in 1879, Stokes vividly described her early life in her autobiography, I Belong to the Working Class.  The drafts in her papers were edited and published in 1992.  A poor Jewish immigrant from Russian Poland, at the age of eleven Stokes went to work in a Cleveland cigar factory and struggled to educate herself at the public library at night.  In 1903 she moved to New York City and became a feature writer for the Jewish Daily News.  On an assignment she interviewed the “millionaire socialist” James Graham Phelps Stokes, whose brother, Rev. Anson Phelps Stokes was the Secretary of Yale University.  When they were married in 1905, the tabloids dubbed her “the Cinderella of the sweatshops.”   Working with her husband in the socialist movement, Stokes moved progressively to the left and eventually became the highest-ranking woman in the American Communist Party.  Highly talented, she was a charismatic political speaker, writer, dramatist, poet, artist, and singer.  Her fearless dedication to reform causes is reflected in her correspondence and subject files.

Workers at Gleichmans Cigar Factory in Cleveland. Rose H. Pastor is in back row, third from left.

Workers at Gleichmans Cigar Factory in Cleveland. Rose H. Pastor is in back row, third from left. Rose Pastor Stokes Papers (MS 573), Box 10, Folder 20.

In January 1916 Stokes supported Sanger, who was facing federal charges for distributing “obscene” literature on birth control, by organizing a dinner to raise funds for her defense at the historic Brevoort Hotel on lower Fifth Avenue.  Margaret Sanger described it in her autobiography as follows:

As we were about to go in to dinner, Rose Pastor Stokes, the Chairman, took me aside and said, “Something very disturbing has happened. We’ve just been talking to Dr. Jacoby. He has a speech ready in which he intends to blast you to the skies for interfering in what should be a strictly medical matter. Remember he’s greatly admired and he’s speaking here tonight for the doctors. We meant to have you come at the end of the program but now we’re going to put you first so that you can spike his guns.”  My trepidation was increased. Nevertheless, I plunged into my carefully prepared maiden speech in behalf of birth control.

In October 1916 Sanger opened the Brownsville Clinic in Brooklyn where her pamphlet What Every Girl Should Know was distributed.  She was arrested and served 30 days in jail, but nonetheless in December the New York Birth Control League was established.  In 1921 Sanger united the growing number of state leagues into the American Birth Control League, renamed “Planned Parenthood” in 1942.

Emma Goldman, an early mentor of Margaret Sanger and the author of Why and How the Poor Should Not Have Many Children, was arrested in 1916 for her birth control lectures and public instruction.  On December 22, 1916 she wrote to her attorney, Harry Weinberger on her “Mother Earth Publishing Association; Mother Earth – Monthly Magazine of Anarchist Thought” letterhead stationery:  “Please write a letter to the Judge… Tell him about Dr. Robinson’s book and the Margaret Sanger pamphlets that are being sold everywhere and go through the mail…. Then tell him about the birth control campaign, of the people in different professions sponsoring. …Write to the judge that none of us who are engaged in the birth control campaign stoop to sneaking in a leaflet in a book.”

Blog post author: Judith A. Schiff

Nuclear Formation: The Foundation of the International Festival of Arts and Ideas.

Residents of New Haven, Connecticut are most likely aware of the International Festival of Arts and Ideas. The International Festival of Arts and Ideas was founded in 1995 and incorporated in 1996, bringing lectures, art shows, and performances to the people of New Haven. Types of performances include theater, solo performance work, music, puppet work, slam poetry and photography exhibitions. Ideas related programs are equally as varied and has included such programs as comparing and contrasting literature in the United States and China, analysis of music about wars and soldiers, using the arts to help high-risk youths, and the state of the ecosystem of Long Island Sound. The city of New Haven is heavily utilized for the festival, with venues including Yale University, the Shubert Theater, the New Haven Green, shopping centers, and even street corners. There is also family programming, tours of different neighborhoods and institutions in the city, and master classes on a variety of topics.

By now, New Haven residents have gotten used to seeing festival flags on light posts, signs on the street pointing to venues and parking, and the massive soundstage that takes over the Green. However, a lot of folks may wonder how the Festival became such an event in the city. The answer is documented in Manuscripts and Archives recent acquisition of their records from 1988 to 2013 (International Festival of Arts and Ideas Records, MS 2021). Among fundraising records, staff files, board meeting materials, festival programs and ticket sales, and video recordings of several festival events, I found a group of files marked “Nucleus Committee.” Dating mainly back to 1995, it contains correspondence, reports, and presentations about bringing the festival to life.

The festival was started by a group of three community leaders: Anne Calabresi, Jean Handley and Roslyn “Roz” Meyer. Anne Calabresi is a social anthropologist and writer, with many philanthropic interests. She has ties with the Yale community as the wife of Second Circuit Appeals Court judge Guido Calabresi, who also serves as Sterling Professor Emeritus of Law and Professorial Lecturer here at the Yale law school and used to serve as their dean. Jean Handley, who sadly passed away in 2010, worked in public relations and corporate relations with companies such as the Southern New England Telephone Company (SNET) and AT&T. She also served on the Executive Board of the Long Wharf Theater. Dr. Roslyn Meyer is a psychologist who received her doctorate at Yale and decided to stay in New Haven, and worked with her husband to donate and help with many philanthropic causes in the area. She also tutored children in the community.

The three women had experience working in their communities.  Calabresi and Meyer had also already collaborated on bringing another group to life, Leadership, Education and Athletic Partnership (L.E.A.P.), which provides counselors to children in need in the New Haven area. Handley became involved in that organization as well. However, what interested the women just as much was bringing an arts festival to the New Haven area. They also were not content to leave it as simply an arts festival. They were also interested in bringing in academics and authorities on different topics to discuss ideas of historical, cultural, literary, political and scientific natures.

The women had a feeling that the New Haven area could and would sustain a festival of large size, especially after seeing the success of the Special Olympics World Games in town in 1995. According to the Festival’s website, Jean Handley started work before the Games, commissioning market research to figure out potential for a festival and even researched the time of the year where the weather would be best for such an undertaking. The data from this research was encouraging. In 1995, the women began reaching out to various contacts to help get this festival off the ground.

Contact List

The organizers, having experience in community work, had a fair idea of who they needed to speak to.


The reason why they decided to form it in the first place was from both a community building standpoint and an economic standpoint. The women in their various professional and philanthropic positions and roles in the community had seen the variety of people in New Haven and the variety of problems as well. They felt the arts could be a strong unifier for all. Additionally, they were interested in the impact the ideas part of their festival could have on the wider community. Economically, the founders had studied the impact of arts festivals like the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland and the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. Both festivals had transformed their host cities from sleepy towns to tourist attractions with increases in business, employment, and income all around. The women felt this could help New Haven, which often has large amounts of residents struggling financially.  There was also simply the fact that they could allow artists and thinkers the chance to present and perform to a wide audience made up of many different people who come from many walks of life.

Logo design

One of the prospective logo designs for the festival

The three leaders formed what they called the Nucleus Committee. These committee members started considering budgeting, fundraising, types of programming, structure of staffing, and even naming and logos. By August of 1995, the committee had 19 members. They had made the decision that the festival would last five days the first year (1996) and would continue to grow larger as they continued to fundraise and establish stable financing. Many of the larger institutions and venues of New Haven were approached about programming, including Yale University and the Shubert Theater. They also hired a Festival Director, Norman Frisch, who kept resigning repeatedly because he did not think they could mount a festival in a year and a half with the lack of funding and staffing.  However, when he finally settled into a consultant role, the committee moved forward despite his fears and mounted their festival with performers such as the Shanghai Quartet, Le Cirque Baroque, and Bread and Puppets Theater. It turned out to be a success.

In 2015, the Festival celebrated its 20th year in New Haven and lasted from June 12 to June 27. It’s safe to say that the people behind the organization have not flagged in their drive, passion, or intensity.

Festival programs

Programs from the 1997 and 2006 festivals.

Researchers who wish to use the collection may view the finding aid here. To learn more about researching at Manuscripts and Archives in general, visit our website here.

LGBTQ Round-up at Manuscripts and Archives

One of Manuscripts and Archives major collecting areas is material from the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) community. I was very much reminded of this in early September when we received several new collections or additions to existing collections, which explored many different aspects of these communities.  Gwyneth Crowley, the Librarian for LGBT Studies, made all of these additions possible by purchasing them from Queer Antiquarian Books.

Highlights include:

  • The Good Vibrations Collection (MS 2025), which covers the feminist, sex-positive sex toy shop based in San Francisco, California. Founded in 1977 by sex educator Joani Blank, it was opened as a response to requests for a “clean, well-lit place” to shop for sex toys and books. They also have a mail order catalog, a production company for making erotic videos, and educational workshops on all sorts of sexual activities. While men are welcome in their shops, it developed its marketing and products to primarily appeal to women. They are also extremely LGBTQ friendly, with workshops and products aimed at people regardless of their gender or their partner’s gender. While I may disappoint you by reporting that this collection does not include any products sold in the shops, it does contain printed ephemera from it, including fliers that advertise their workshops, a catalog from the 1980s (with hand-drawn pictures of their products), and a booklet with stories of people’s first time using toys purchased from Good Vibrations.

    Good Vibrations mail order catalog

    An early Good Vibrations mail order catalog

  • An addition to the Transgender Collection (MS 1848). While generally made up of printed ephemera from Northern California events and services, approximately half of the fliers are from drag queen events and the other half are from events and services for transgender and non-binary people. Represented in the drag queen events ephemera are theatrical parodies (personal favorite: one involving a parody of the film The Silence of the Lambs renamed The Silence of the Trans and starring drag queens Peaches Christ and Sharon Needles as Trannibal Lecter and Buffalo Jill) and charity events led by drag groups such as the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Represented in the transgender and non-binary ephemera are fliers for health services (including transitioning care and mental health care), marches and protests, and artistic events such as film screenings and gallery showings. It’s interesting to see the difference in tone.


  • An addition to the Physique Collection (MS 1850). Champion Studios operated in the 1950s and 1960s, creating artwork of athletic, nearly nude men and selling them to the interested—in many cases the interested were men sexually attracted to men. Since gay pornography was illegal and therefore straightforward, commercially produced work was unavailable, magazines and artwork were developed around “fitness” and “physique” themes with the models in minimal clothing as they could not pose nude. Manuscripts and Archives received order forms with sample images for prospective customers. The artwork is definitely eye-catching, but also of interest is how they worked to keep the theme going as almost every photo set includes the “story” of how the subjects came to be photographed, or drawn, or sculpted.


  • The Gaylesta Brochures Collection (MS 2024), which takes us back to San Francisco, California’s LGBTQ communities. Gaylesta is an organization that refers LGBTQ identified people to mental health professionals that give culturally competent care. The brochures included in this new collection cover issues and experiences that can impact mental health such as HIV/AIDS, gender identity, biphobia and bisexual erasure, body image and eating disorders, coming out, queer parenting, domestic violence, stress and anxiety, and trauma. There are also brochures covering kink-aware therapy for those who are interested in BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism) and/or fetish practices, and polyamory-aware therapy for those interested in or involved in ethical non-monogamous relationship structures.

    Gaylesta brochures

    A sampling of Gaylesta brochures

  • An addition of ephemera and newsletters to the AIDS Collection (MS 1834) from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s California branch. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is based in Los Angeles, California and works in 36 countries, providing healthcare to those sick with HIV and AIDS, advocacy for the sick, and research studies and clinical trials. Much of the ephemera is made up of educational brochures on different aspects of HIV/AIDS care. There are also fliers for their medical centers, their pharmacies and their California thrift store, Out of the Closet, that uses its proceeds to fund the foundation. Among other preservation challenges with this collection: finding a box that could house its safer sex kits with condoms.

For those interested in working with these collections, you can find links to their finding aids in the descriptions above.

For information on using our collections, visit our website here.

Saving the Day for All: Queer Superhero Comics

Superheroes have long been a staple of comic books. While the first comic books were reprints of humor and adventure comic strips from newspapers, by 1938 the tone became even more fanciful. That’s when Detective Comics (who would later become DC Comics) published Action #1, featuring a costumed hero with amazing strength. This, of course, was Superman. Other writers and artists turned to superhero stories, creating such characters as Batman, Captain Marvel, and the Green Hornet. Superhero comics still continue to endure in their popularity today, as the top selling comic book of 2014 was issue number one of the rebooted Amazing Spider-Man, whose characters originated in 1963.

These superhero comics have little in common with the first lesbian and gay comics that were created in the 1970s. The first documented lesbian and gay comic in the United States was published in 1972 by San Francisco, California artist Trina Robbins. Called “Sandy Comes Out,” it told the story of a young woman discovering her sexuality when she moved to San Francisco. Other lesbian and gay artists and writers continued to follow this trend of independently publishing comics with lesbian and gay characters, some as lighthearted as “Sandy Comes Out,” others more erotic in nature. Gay-themed comics broke out of the underground in 1980 with the publication of Gay Comix, published and edited by Denis Kitchen and Howard Cruse, respectively.

The Gay Comics Collection (MS 1851) in Manuscripts and Archives contains over a hundred lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender-themed titles. A small number of the titles were received in 2005 and date from 1976 to 1996; these very much echo the description of the above gay and lesbian comics. This year (2015), additional comics for this collection were purchased from Prism Comics by Gwyneth Crowley, the Librarian for LGBT Studies. While some of these comics date back as far as 1985 (Kitchen’s Gay Comix and Donna Barr’s The Desert Peach for instance), the majority of them date from 2000 to 2014. The shift in tone and topic area in the recently acquired comics is striking. For one thing, it is more accurate to refer to them as queer comics. Several of these comics feature transgender characters and gender shifting themes as well as characters that are not attracted to only one gender. Another thing to notice is the higher amount of comics that are not self-published—one title is none other than Kevin Keller from Archie Comics, whose 2012 publication debuted one of the first mainstream comics centered on a gay protagonist (Kevin Keller the character first appeared in Veronica #202 in 2010). A more subtle shift that is apparent is the significant number (more than 25 percent) of science fiction and fantasy comics. Some involve aliens (Bakersfield, Earth), others involve zombies (Avant-Garde, Junkyard Angels) and a few focus on robots and transfer of minds between inorganic bodies (Anatta, Disconnect, Love Machines, O Human Star). However, the most common sci-fi/fantasy feature of these titles is superheroes.

Cover of Issue #1 of Pride High

Issue #1 of Pride High

What I found interesting while working with these comics is how they approach the concept of a superhero. Pride High for instance utilizes a similar plot line to the X-Men comics, in which teenagers with superhero powers attend a special school. However, there is a twist: a group of these teens are LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) identified and face bullying and harassment from other students. Similarly, Friend of Dorothy features a gay boy who must save the world of Oz. While it is also a straightforward superhero comic, part of the transformation of the protagonist is being barred from seeing his boyfriend by the protagonist’s parents, being signed up for a conversion therapy camp, and his attempt at suicide.

Also present are comics that actively parody the genre and the tropes present in classic superhero comics. These superheroes have the powers and costumes like their traditional counterparts, but how they behave and how they use said powers are not exactly the same as Batman saving Gotham, or even Scott-John, the protagonist of Friend of Dorothy, saving Oz.

Cover of Glamazonia, the Uncanny Super-Tranny

Glamazonia, the Uncanny Super-Tranny

One such hero is Glamazonia, the main character of the Glamazonia, the Uncanny Super-Tranny, which has faced controversy and censorship at times as some members of the trans* community find it offensive. Glamazonia has such powers as super vision, super hearing, and flight. She in theory tries to save the day, such as when a scientist is threatened by visitors from the future, but she also has no problem attempting to murder President John F. Kennedy when he cheats on her with multiple women and a rival drag queen. Issue number 3 of Reignbow and Dee-va features a gay man superhero, his lady sidekick, and his boyfriend battling a vampire queen who is attempting to make the men straight. Of course, the fighting includes their blows being powered by pop culture references from action movies and songs, a time out in a rainbow colored bouncy castle, and defeating werewolves with a very special face powder.

More serious themes are present in The Power Within. Written with the “It Gets Better” project in mind, it follows an eighth grade boy named Shannon. Shannon is constantly bullied by his peers for being gay. It doesn’t help that his father and the school principal blame Shannon for his mistreatment by believing he calls too much attention to himself. To help tolerate this, Shannon imagines himself becoming a superhero when bullied and being able to fight off his attackers. Perhaps that’s why so many of these comics use superheroes—they save the day and make a difference and it doesn’t matter how different they are. If anything, they are celebrated for their differences. It’s a way it can get better.

Cover of The Power Within

The Power Within

The Gay Comics Collection, including the new addition, is open to researchers. You can look at the finding aid here. If you would like more information on using collections in Manuscripts and Archives, you can visit our website here.


Benton, Mike. Superhero Comics of the Golden Age. Dallas: Taylor Publishing, 1992.

Goulart, Ron. Ron Goulart’s Great History of Comic Books. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1986.

Virtue, Graeme. “Marvel and DC Comics Dominate Sales Helped Along by Big-Screen Boost.” The Guardian, January 14, 2015. spiderman-guardians-of-the-galazy

Wells, Charlie. “‘No Straight Lines’—Gay Comics History.” SFGate, August 20, 2012.