Whats Up with the Health Center?

My presentation on the changes and developments with the Health Center and the Wellness Center on campus is an interesting topic because there are many sides to the story of its progression. I have found a number of primary sources, in the Presidential minutes, from letters to the various Dickinson College Presidents, to inter-office memorandums about changes to be made. I thought it was especially interesting that the counseling services was so separated from the medical services. Not only was the medicine aspect separated, but they were also physically far apart from one another. Today, if a student needs counseling and medical services, they go to the same building just separate floors, and the doctors and nurses share patient information. Earlier, the student would have to walk across quads to get both services.

I realize that I have gaps in time in the story of the Health Center because I have come across information that I do not understand. For example, as I noted in my presentation the AEGC was some type of organization, that seemingly has no records of existence. It is strange that neither Jim nor Malinda knew what this acronym stood for. One problem I continue to run into as my research progresses is a lack of secondary sources. My very informal interviews with Alecia Sundsmo and Mary Polson are  both primary sources, among all my archival materials. The suggestion made in class to look at the differences and trends among other colleges and universities and the changes in their health centers may good a place to start this. As of now, this is my reflection on the presentation and my information with the Health Center.

Equipment in the 506th

Originally, I planned to do this project on the history of Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th PIR, 101st ABN Division because of my friendship with one of the veterans of that unit. As I started to research, I realized that with the time constraints of school and the physical limitations on getting to various archives around the country, this project would either come out lacking or it would skip resources crucial to understanding that unit. So I decided to take a step back and analyze the equipment these soldiers in a specific campaign. Since Normandy is the most famous of the Second World War, I chose to do that in particular with the limitation of the 506th PIR.

As I started this research project, I thought that for the most part, the paratroopers would be infantry upgraded to an elite fighting unit with some specialized jump gear and additional firepower. With AHEC right next door, this question has plenty of secondary sources and more than a lifetime’s supply of primary sources. While I have run into the problem of too much information, I believe I have limited my issues by maintaining my focus to a few questions in the veteran’s surveys and targeting the right research areas. However, as I have found out, the paratrooper is not an upgraded infantryman, rather he is a specialized commando, if you will. This revelation has required me to look up these custom modifications and gear, in order to understand why they modified their gear and wore it in the ways they did. As a whole, this change in thought has lead to a more complete picture with my photo survey and the comparison to the “issued” equipment that I am focusing on as part of my project.

Final Presentation Recap

In my original presentation, I knew I wanted to focus on the Beat Movement of the 40’s and 50’s and the artists who were involved. After reading The Typewriter is Holy, however, I realized that I hated every member of what I had previously thought of as the “Beat Generation.” In The Typewriter is Holy, Bill Morgans thesis was that Allen Ginsberg was the head of the Beat Generation. The more I thought about this thesis, the more I realized that I wanted to argue a similar idea with a different subject. From the beginning of my research I was drawn to Carolyn Cassady, the only consistent woman figure in the group. She also seemed to me to be the only morally upright person, which also attracted me. After finishing Cassady’s memoir, Off the Road, and with the help of our class session last week, I decided that I wanted to argue that Cassady acted as the “mother” for the entire group of the Beats surrounding her (including her husband, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg).

Thus my subject changed from the beat movement to Carolyn Cassady’s influence on the Beat Movement. I’m curious to see how Carolyn’s influence can change the accepted idea of the Beat Generation as a male-dominated movement. I am still going to use the letters between the Cassadys, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg as sources, but now my main source is going to be Carolyn’s book. I am fascinated by Carolyn’s independent spirit in a decade dominated by the image of the ideal housewife.

In a letter to Neal, Allen Ginsberg writes, “Jack is full of Carolyn’s praises and nominates her to replace Joan Burroughs as Ideal Mother Image, Madwoman, chick and ignu” (Cassady 184). While raising three children by herself, Carolyn also tried to teach the men of the Beat Generation responsibility and morals. I don’t think it matters whether or not she succeeded in her final goal; what is important is that she tried. While she did divorce Neal before his death, she stayed faithful to him until his death, and she loved him for many years after their divorce. This faithfulness and kindness kept the Beat Generation together for longer than the men were interested in it.

One of Neal’s lovers wrote to Carolyn after Neal’s death, summing up Carolyn’s personality perfectly: “Please try to find some happiness for yourself- you’ve lived for him so long, and you’ll get and deserve such pleasure if you’d love someone else. I love you Carolyn. And I wish you all the tolerance, patience and devotion you’ve shown, and love” (Cassady 426).

Athletics and Education in Dickinson College

Originally, I was planning on exploring a general history of athletics at Dickinson College, not limited to a sport or time period, however, this seemed absurd. I decided to focus my research down to the formative period between 1919 and 1941, essentially the interwar period. I chose this time frame to limit the scope of my paper, as well as because athletics was changing and developing during these two decades at Dickinson, and throughout the United States.

The NCAA was established in 1905, and was still functioned as a voluntary organization through the 1920s. This was one example of how organizations began to institute rules and regulations regarding  athletics on a national level. Dickinson’s faculty and administrators created the Athletic Association, which existed before 1934, and then reorganized it into the Athletic Board of Control, which began managing the budget, hiring of coaches, creation of schedules and such duties.

Throughout the period I am studying, there are many correspondences, speeches, articles in the Dickinsonian and a couple history books that discuss the issues of subsidization of athletes and athletic programs, and how that may corrupt the pure spirit of amateur sport. In addition, the records in the archives show how concerned the administrators are with their image as an academic institution and continually emphasize the primary role of education over athletics in College life. However, they do recognize the importance of athletics as part of a student’s education. In addition, the fact that athletics helps attract students to enroll in Dickinson, and helps encourage alumni donations or involvement in the school, the College admin. and faculty are careful to not promote athletics too much.

My digging in the archives has resulted in these interesting findings and I intend to explore the Athletic Board of Control’s meeting minutes now that I have recently found. It took research and time to narrow down my topic, but it has resulted in a more focused and valuable project because of it.

Below is a photo from “Eye on the Game” website through the archives. It is the Penn Relays team from 1900.



Wild Geese, Winged Daggers, and Leopards in the Jungle

In perfect keeping with my academic ventures, the initial plan for my paper was quite interesting to me, very very ambitious, and on the whole more than a little high-minded and obscenely impractical. While the study of mercenary soldiering’s evolution from the Congo to the modern age would be interesting and very much in line with my academic pursuits, it would also be nigh well impossible to cut down to a mere 14 or so pages.

So I decided to chop things down a bit and to focus merely on the Congo, and to try to gauge the effectiveness of the three main mercenary units that served for the duration of the Simba Rebellion. This actually made matters much easier for me, as the number of primary source documents about the Congo is considerably higher than those of, say, Biafra or Angola.

Granted, that’s as much of a curse as it is blessing. Due to the lack of secondary source documents, I have to use a lot of “source triangulation” to confirm the veracity of statements—fact-checking documents against one another. Considering the obvious self-interest of memoirs, this could have proven problematic were it not for the accounts of two players who had little to no emotional investment in the mercenary leaders. Frederic Vandewalle and Jerry Puren’s memoirs act as a sort of a baseline to judge the others off of, something that has proven quite useful.

Another benefit to the tightened focus is being able to devote greater pagespace to elements of the topic that interest me rather than rushing through them so as to ensure I cover everything possible. Overall, I feel that this new paper will be considerably more successful than the other one potentially could have been.

Trout Gallery

Throughout these past few weeks I have inquired more knowledge about the Trout Gallery that I had ever intended to do.  Most of my research has been with the help of Professor Earenfight, the current director of the Trout Gallery.  He has helped me enormously by giving me material that is relevant to my research.

When I initially started my research on the Trout Gallery I had countless questions that I wanted to explore and find the answers to.  A lot of my questions were basic questions that could be answered by reading information on the Gallery itself through the website.  I never thought to explore the questions as to why specific things happened and why the Trout Gallery for example, never established a set of guidelines when selecting donations until now.  As I met with Professor Earenfight, he was able to answer a lot of the basic questions for me, so now I need to focus more on the questions as to why these things occurred.

Finding time to do my research has been one of the challenges I gave come across.  Although there are not a ton of documents I need to spend hours reading through, I do have four other classes and homework that has been piling up since it is the end of the semester.  I try to find as much time as possible researching and writing my research paper but at times it is difficult.

Another challenge that I have come across is the insufficient amount of documents.  Because the Trout Gallery is currently in the process of establishing a mission statement and general guidelines, I do not have a lot of historical documents.  With that being said, I have to rely a lot on information Professor Earenfight is presenting me through meetings and interviews which may or may not be biased because I do not have another point of view.  I was thinking that interviewing the previous directors of the Trout Gallery may be helpful in finding answers to my ‘why’ questions.

Darton and Kivelson

Since I had misread the assignment for a couple weeks ago, I’d thought I’d re-publish my old thoughts. “Darnton does a wonderful job of getting into the mindset of these apprentices and attempting to create reasoning for their actions. By building and explaining the mindset of the worker in eighteenth-century France, Darnton is able to relate their actions to actions that the reader currently partakes in such as Marti Gras and the craziness that currently occurs. By adding an explanation as to the cruelty towards animals, Darnton is not able to justify the actions rather, he is able to explain their reasoning. One thing I did not feel Darnton did well was his use of organization within the chapter. As a reader, I did not see where he was going and it felt like he jumped around a little bit, albeit with transitions. With his choice of the introduction, it felt as if the chapter was going to be on cats and their “role” in eighteenth-century France.”

As for Kivelson, she does a good job with setting up her research methodology and thesis in a way the reader can understand what she is adding to the subject, so that those who wish to add on her to her work, know what was already tapped into. The comparison to other cultures is nice because it adds context to her work, which we as historians should always try and do. This helps connect our material to the reader so that they come away with a better understanding of the subject we are trying to convey. Finally, her use of quotes and literary style make this quite a readable piece. Unlike some historians, Kievelson does an excellent job of writing to “entertain” and inform the reader.

Cat Massacre and Witchcraft

Both the “The Great Cat Massacre” and “Through the Prism of Witchcraft” deal with the issue of witchcraft during the seventeenth and eighteenth century and the underlying causes, problems, and social issues within the societies where accusations were common. These articles both work to disprove the commonly held beliefs that witchcraft accusations were primarily made against women and that the massacre of cats in France was solely due to a revolt against the social hierarchy.

The article “Through the Prism of Witchcraft” by Valerie Kivelson describes the variety of reasons behind the rise in witchcraft accusations, as well as working to prove approaches towards witchcraft were not uniform throughout all the affected countries. Kivelson frames the variety of experiences in witchcraft through 17th century Muscovy, which at the time had been experiencing a gradual enserfment of it’s population due to the Ulozehnie of 1649 and a rise in the power of both the State and Church. Kivelson acknowledges while socially marginalized people were accused and executed for witchcraft, social marginalization alone can not be considered to be the sole reason. At this time the Orthodox Church was increasing it’s power and was also striving to eliminate paganism as its competition, while the state introduced laws banning any sort of witchcraft with a punishment of a fine, corporal punishment, or execution. Both of these organizations were looking to consolidate and increase their power over the population, and would attempt to legitimize their judicial systems through the prosecution of witchcraft. Finally accusations made against possible “witches” were not solely motivated by social marginalization, but also by local conflicts and personal grudges.

On a similar theme of witchcraft “The Great Cat Massacre” by Robert Darnton works to place cat-killing in it’s cultural and historical context through examining the 18th century autobiography of a printer journeyman named Nicolas Contat. In his autobiography Contat describes the killing of cats as a revolt against his master and mistress but also as a larger form of revolt against the bourgeoisie class. The journeymen kill the mistress’ cat, “la grise”, symbolically assaulting her and implicating her as a witch. Darnton details the connection of cats with their owner’s power, and the subsequent loss in power or health if the cat was maimed or killed. Cats were also believed to be a manifestation of the devil, and through maiming or killing the cat, both the Devil and the witch who took care of the cat were hurt. The massacre of the cats was also intended to challenge the authority of the master and the bourgeoisie class as a whole. At this time in France the journeyman’s occupation was undermined by both cheaper labor and the consolidation of small shops into larger organizations. Therefore Darnton concludes that while this revolt may have been partially in response to personal issues with the master and mistress, as well as the social hierarchy, it was also due to increasing economic pressures and the declining specialization of their trade.  Finally Darnton places cat massacres within a larger context in that they were not French events, and had occurred throughout the European continent in places such as Germany where cat massacres were known as Katzenmusik.

Cat massacres and witch trials: reading between the lines

After reading Darton’s “Workers Revolt: The Great Cat Massacre of the Rue Saint-Severin”and Kilvelson’s “Through the Prism of Witchcraft: Gender and Social Change in Seventeenth-Century Muscovy,” I was struck by the common thread between the two: that the phenomena they examine are not taken at face value, but are rather viewed as expressions of social angst.

For the journeymen of the Parisian print shop discussed by Darnton, this angst was directed at their master and his wife. The deterioration of the apprenticeship model mean that their job security and chance at upward mobility were being undermined, both by the shrinking number of higher positions and the influx of cheap laborers, or alloues. Cats, it seems, were merely the easy and culturally appropriate targets of their anger.Thus ritual and revolt were fused in the cat massacre. It’s an event infused with symbolism as well as one that, Darnton hints, might have foreshadowed the French Revolution in some ways.

Similarly,  the witchcraft trials in Russia that occurred about a century before also reveal a sort of social unrest. Kivelson shows how both the allegations and the forced confessions of the accusers and the accused reveal their respective motivations. Of the relatively few women accused of witchcraft, it seems that more than one attempted sorcery in order to influence masters or in-laws. The accusers’ reasons are even more indicative: men cried witchcraft when they found their masculinity and authority threatened, whereas women did so to (temporarily) gain more attention and power.

Both pieces clearly show that we shouldn’t regard odd and seemingly irrational events of the past as just weird things that past cultures did. Indeed, through careful investigation and thoughtfulness, historians are able to decipher the symbolism of these events and therefore uncover the logic of past peoples.

Witch Hunt and the Great Cat Massacre

The first article, Throough the Prism of Witchcraft: Gender and Social Change in Seventeenth Centry Muscovy takes the witch hunts and compares them to the witch hunts that happen in the Western world and throughout Europe. Valerie A. Kivelson writes about gender in the witch hunts, and how in Russian society, only thirty two percent of the accused were women. In Western Europe and America, this statistic increased to be eightly percent. A thought is made that ‘are women more likely to be accused because they have marginal positions in society?’. Along with this goes the story of creation, that women are much more easily tempted by the devil becase of their desire for lust. Another idea that is brought up is of the healers throughout the towns. It seemed that an overwhelming number of those accused were some type of spiritutal healer or related to one; as though whoever was doing the accusing, was specifically targeting the healers in the community. 

The Cat Massacre article is related to the first article because of the idea of witch hunting. Torturing cats by ripping off their fur, burning them in bags by the dozen, or chasing a flaming cat down the street seems really intese. It was a common tradition of amusement to torture animals, specifically cats. One example given discusses how one cat was shaved to the skin and then dressed to look like a priest. The cat was then hung in public. In society today, there is a legend that goes along with seeing a black cat — black cats are viewed as unlucky– with superstion all around them. It is stated in the article that ” First and foremosttt, cats suggested witchcraft. To cross one at night in virtually any corner of France was to risk running into the devil or one of his agents or a witch aborad on an evil errand” (92). This idea was accompanied with the idea of Carnival, where the youth were allowed to test boundries and be wild. Many acted out by torturing cats, as described above. The idea of witch craft throughout the world, was spreading quickly. Many thought the only way to get rid of witchcraft was through the extermination of anyone thought to be a wizard or a witch.