Monday, February 19, 2018

Clarke Opens New Exhibit: A Thank You Note


By Frank Boles

Every exhibit opening is accompanied by a list of organizations and people to whom we are indebted. Last Thursday we opened “(dis)ABLED BEAUTY: the evolution of beauty, disability and ability,” and I would like to thank the staff of the libraries for their work in creating this exhibit as well as our CMU institutional partners, including:

 The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

 The Fashion Merchandising Design program within the Dept. of Human Environmental Studies

  CMU History Department 

My thanks also extend to our external institutional partner, the Fashion School at Kent State University, where many components of this show were first conceived and exhibited through a partnership between Dr. Stacey Lim of CMU and Dr. Tameka Ellington of Kent State.

The exhibit crosses disciplinary lines in interesting and informative ways. It addresses the subject of disability and ability both from a scientific and clinical viewpoint, as well from the more subjective world of fashion. In addition the show, as we have constructed it here at CMU, includes substantial additional components reflecting oral history interviews done with individuals with disabilities who are members of our campus community and also, as part of CMU’s celebration of its 125th anniversary, a discussion of both how Central’s academic program has addressed disability as well as how the campus itself has changed to accommodate individuals with disability.

I would particularly like to acknowledge the contributions of the Libraries Exhibit Coordinator, Janet Danek. Although what was created for the exhibit at Kent State was beautiful, their exhibit space is not our exhibit space, and the Kent State show had to be redesigned and sometimes reimagined to work within our galleries, while at the same time honoring the integrity of the original exhibition. In addition Janet had to incorporate substantial additions to the original show, which reflected the contributions of Central faculty and staff who had not participated in the Kent State exhibit but who helped center the exhibit you will see tonight in ways that more fully represent CMU.
 


Much of what you will see in the exhibit reflects Janet’s creative ability and hard work, designing the CMU iteration of (dis)ABLED BEAUTY to high standards and working within a very tight timeline. Despite all the rest of us involved, we collectively could not have created the exhibit without Janet’s many contributions. It just wouldn’t have happened.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Three Stories & Ten Poems


By Frank Boles

Over the past decade the Clarke Library’s collection of material relating to Ernest Hemingway life in Michigan has grown in both size and importance. This week, through the generosity of several friends, we will add a new item, a first edition printing of Hemingway’s first publication, Three Stories & Ten Poems.

Published in 1923 in a run of only 300 copies the slender volume is in many ways a “capstone” printed item in the library’s efforts to document Hemingway’s life in and reflections about Michigan. The title of the book’s first short story, “Up in Michigan” pretty much says everything one needs to know about what at the time Ernest Hemingway thought was important and about what he felt he could write.



The Hemingway collection now includes a wide variety of printed and manuscript material documenting the life of Ernest Hemingway. As I have mentioned many times before, the Hemingway family purchased property on Walloon Lake and built a summer cottage there. Ernest, who was born in 1899, spent every summer at the cottage from 1900 through 1920, with the exception of 1918. In 1921 he also visited, when he married Hadley Richardson in nearby Hortons Bay and the two honeymooned in the cottage.

Much of Hemingway’s adult life was shaped by his experiences in and around Walloon Lake, much more so than the family home in Oak Park, Illinois. Hemingway’s opinion about Oak Park, where he spent the other nine months of the year, has often been summarized through a Hemingwayesque sounding, although possibly apocryphal quotation, that it was a place of “wide lawns and narrow minds.”

Whatever his actual opinion about Oak Park, something Hemingway never shared in print, he did draw from and write extensively about his summers in Michigan. The Nick Adams stories tell the tale of a young man, learning about himself and the world. The stories are not biography, exactly. As Hemingway himself would write, “All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened.” Hemingway was after something more than a well-footnoted history.

The Clarke’s role, however, has been to find and preserve documentation that can serve as that well-footnoted history. Through original letters, scrapbooks of cottage life compiled by Grace Hall Hemingway for her children, published recollections, what “really happened” is told in the Clarke Library. Hemingway himself, in his many published works about Michigan, told his readers what he thought made his Michigan fiction “truer than if they had really happened.”

Friday, December 15, 2017

Some CMU Holiday Traditions


By Frank Boles


In its 125 year history Central Michigan University has celebrated the end of year holidays and the winter months that followed in a variety of ways. No one celebration has spanned the entire history of the University but many were long lived, and important themes remained unchanged.

Perhaps the earliest, and the most long-lived tradition, was a semi-formal dance held in December. The first documented dance was held in 1926. Proceeds from the dance were given to charity, a tradition that continued specifically with the dance for many years, and would be reflected in many other traditions that would develop over the years.

The first dances were campus-wide events. In the 1950s fraternities and sororities began to sponsor the event, and in the 1960s and 1970s various residence halls held dances. In the 1980s the tradition disappeared, with the last residence hall dances held in Barnard and Beddow Halls, as well as a few events sponsored by different fraternities.

As dances began to fade in popularity other events came to the fore. One of the most long-lived was the winter carnival. Held in February, the carnival featured a variety of games, floats, dances and other events. Snow sculptures were an integral part of the festival, as were “sort of” outdoor sports, such as broom hockey. The carnival was first held in 1939 and eventually ended in the early 1980s. 

One part of the carnival, however, survives to this day.  In 1979 the event featured a “polar plunge”, a fundraiser for Special Olympics where particularly brave (or foolish, depending on your point of view) individuals jumped into the ponds in front of Rose Arena. The polar plunge is still with us, including the idea of recruiting sponsors whose contributions will go to charity, assuming the person who they sponsor really does the deed!

A bit less exhilarating, but far more practical, was the Christmas Coffee sponsored by the Association for Women Students during the 1950s and 1960s, where everyone was invited to come an enjoy a bit of holiday cheer (at least as much cheer as can be derived from a cup of coffee).

A more satisfying feast was the Madrigal dinner. A madrigal is a music composition of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. The annual holiday tradition took songs from this era and combined them with a “feast.” First held in 1977, the event featured costumed entertainment, as well as a themed meal. The event was last held in 1994, when ticket sales failed to generate sufficient revenue to fund the event.

Beginning in 1902 and continuing into the 1960’s CMU was home to a Training School, a facility where future teachers could hone their skills on real students. As did almost every elementary school of the era, the students put on a holiday entertainment for their parents. First graders dressed up as elves delighted their parents, pretty much regardless of what actually happened on stage.

Members of the campus community first began to collect items for the community charity Christmas Outreach in the 1980. The Wesley Foundation and St. Mary’s Church took leading roles in gathering clothing items on campus to be subsequently distributed throughout the community. The University’s involvement in the program grew over the years. In 2005 Finch Fieldhouse became the center for distributing the many items to members of the community. Finch continues to serve in this role each holiday season.

Fun, fellowship, and giving are all part of the CMU’s holiday traditions.

Happy holidays to all from the staff of the Clarke Historical Library.

Spring 2018 Speakers


By Frank Boles




This coming spring the Clarke Historical Library speaker series will sponsor several speakers related to the spring exhibit, as well a discussion of one of Michigan’s most influential United States senators and two days with Harry Potter.

The spring exhibit, (dis)ABLED BEAUTY: the evolution of beauty, disability and ability, which is hosted by the Clarke Library, will open on February 8th with a presentation by Heidi McKenzie.  Founder of Alter Ur Ego, McKenzie asks a simple question, “Have you ever tried to put on a pair of pants sitting down without moving your legs? Try it! It's not easy, but it's how I live every day.” In 2007 McKenzie was in a traumatic car accident that left her without the ability to feel from the chest down. After her accident she founded Alter Ur Ego, to design fashionable clothing for herself and her “wheelie” friends. This presentation is made possible by Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.
Following Ms. McKenzie, on February 19 KT Maviglia will speak. Ms. Maviglia was diagnosed with Sensorineural Hearing Loss in the fourth grade. She has two hearing aids. She is also an accomplished young woman who was chosen Miss Michigan in 2014. She will share her story and speak about her journey with hearing loss.
On February 20 & 21 the library will discuss one of the best-selling books of our times in two days of events discussing “The International Appeal of Harry Potter.” The program includes a panel of CMU professors February 21 discussing why the Potter series resonates with people across generations and cultures as well a marathon reading of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on February 20 with CMU students, faculty, and staff reading the book in over a dozen languages. This presentation is made possible by John and Audrey Cumming Endowment.
March 15 Jane Hash, who is Michigan-based spokesperson and model for Classy Little Fashions will speak. The mission of the Classy Little Fashions Foundation is to support individuals with physical disabilities who have non-standard body types by developing and supporting venues that make age appropriate, fashionable clothing accessible.
The library’s speaker’s series will close on March 19 with Hank Meijer discussing his recently published book: Arthur Vandenberg: The Man in the Middle of the American Century. Longtime NPR correspondent Cokie Roberts writes of Meijer’s work, “every member of Congress should read this book.”  United States Senator Arthur Vandenberg was a pre-World War II Isolationist who, faced with the realities of a changing world, changed his views and played a critical role in shaping America’s post World War II foreign policy. His story is that of a politician who held deep beliefs, but beliefs he would be forced to examine and change as a result of changing circumstances.
All of these presentations will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Park Library Auditorium, with a reception following each. The sole exception will be the Harry Potter marathon book reading, which will be held February 20 in the Library’s Baber Room. All of the events are free and open to the public. We hope you will join us.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Story Behind the CMU Seal


For most of the CMU community, the university seal and the Latin motto, “Sapientia, Virtus, Amicitia,” seem like they have been around forever. But that’s not the case. This year, amidst the celebrations of the University’s 125th anniversary, CMU reporters caught up with Pete Ketzler, the designer of the seal, to talk about the beginnings of the idea in the early 1950s and timelessness of the seal today. Read the story and watch the video on the CMU News site.