Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Barnes Hall: Before (and Before) and After

Like any university, the landscape is always changing at Central. This past summer, Barnes Hall was razed. In just a few short weeks, the home of thousands of CMU students for over 60 years was replaced with a green space. The demolition of Barnes Hall presents an opportunity to compare the campus landscape past and present. Below are pictures of Powers Hall before Barnes Hall was built in 1952, Powers Hall with Barnes Hall just south of it, and the area today, without Barnes Hall.

Aerial photo, Warriner Hall (left) and
Keeler Union (later renamed Powers Hall), circa 1946

View toward southeast of Powers Hall with Barnes Hall south of it, circa 1950s

View toward southeast of Powers Hall without Barnes Hall, 2019

View toward northeast of Barnes Hall, 2019

View toward northeast of Powers Hall, without Barnes Hall, 2019

Monday, August 19, 2019

Do you remember that one time at Central...? The New CMU Historical Information Resource

by Bryan Whitledge and Clarrissa Klein

Imagine the scene:


A group of friends is back in Mt. Pleasant for Homecoming. They’re enjoying a pizza and reminiscing about the past, when a disagreement breaks out:

Chip 1: "Do you remember when school was cancelled for a whole week in the spring of '87 because of that flood?"


Chip 2: "No way, it was the fall of '86 – I remember because a couple weeks later Wendy Smith was voted Homecoming Queen."

Chip 1: "No, it was definitely spring '87."

Chip 3: "What are you both talking about, it was fall '86 and Julie Johnson was the Homecoming Queen that year – but she wasn’t called Homecoming Queen, she was the Gold Ambassador."

Chip 2: "Are you crazy? The Gold Ambassadors started in the late '90s."

Chip 1: "Listen, I bet you the flood was spring '87 – I’ll buy pizza if I’m wrong and you’ll buy if I’m right."

Chip 3: "Yeah, and I bet you the Gold Ambassadors replaced the Queen and King in the '80s – You’ll buy the drinks, too, when you find out I’m right."

Chip 2: "We'll see... but how are we gonna find out?!?!?!"



Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place our hypothetical Chips could go to quickly answer all of these questions? If a resource like that existed, then, within two minutes, the Chips could have settled the bets – the flood happened in September 1986, Julie Johnson was Homecoming Queen in 1986 and Wendy Smith was Homecoming Queen in 1985, and the Gold Ambassadors started in 1997.*

Well, there is such a place with all of that great historical information – the Clarke Historical Library has recently created a new webpage with links to a dozen lists of information you have been missing!

You say you want to know who was the Grand Marshall of the 1977 Homecoming Parade? We’ve got that – two clicks and you’ll find out it’s Dick Enberg!

Has remembering the name of the first woman to serve as CMU’s Provost been bothering you all week? We’ve got that – two more clicks and there it is, Janice Reynolds (who incidentally earned her PhD from Ohio State, which is also listed on this new page)!

Is whether or not you need to spring for pizza riding on the year that Central’s first sorority, Phi Kappa Sigma, started? We've got that, too. And you were right, it was 1902! Now, they owe you a pizza!

For years, the Clarke has fielded all sorts of questions about CMU history. And we have spent hours poring over old Centralight magazines, Bulletins, and CM Life newspapers tracking down nuggets of information. Instead of making you do the same work, we decided to share the bounty of our labors.

And those labors amount to lists of:
  • The number of CMU graduates, 
  • Links to CMU Athletics record books, 
  • Central’s name changes throughout history, 
  • The names of University Presidents, SGA Presidents, Provosts, and members of the Board of Trustees, 
  • The names of Greek organizations, 
  • Weather-related closures, and 
  • Homecoming Grand Marshals, Queens and Kings, and game scores.

So the next time you are trying to win a bet, or if there is a factoid buried deep in the recesses of your mind that needs a little prodding to come to the surface, the Clarke Historical Library is here for you.

*For those keeping score at home, it looks like Chip 1 is buying pizza and Chip 3 is buying drinks.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

New Pop-Up Books in the Clarke

by Frank Boles 

The Lucile Clarke Children’s Library, a part of the Clarke Historical Library, has a distinguished collection of children’s books. That collection was recently enriched by the addition of over 600 pop-up books from the library of Dr. Francis Molson. The books were collected by Dr. Molson and his late wife, Mary Lois. The volumes offer a dazzling insight into what is one of the most colorful and entertaining corners of the printing industry. A few illustrations from the books we acquired accompany this post.


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Cover (Left) and Page Pop-Up (Right).

The Molson collection of movable books leans towards toward post-world War II publications. It captures in exquisite limited editions the work of some of the era’s leading paper engineers, such as Robert Sabuda. It also represents comprehensive collections of volumes on subjects of special interest to Dr. Molson, such as the Wizard of Oz and Sleeping Beauty. Francis sought Wizard of Oz pop-up books to complement the Clarke’s existing Wizard of Oz printed volumes collection. As for Sleeping Beauty, when as a young person he saw the 1959 Disney movie, it “scared the bejeebers” out of him. As portrayed by the Disney animators, the evil fairy Maleficent was, well pretty darn scary! Some images just stay with you and lead you to want to learn more about them.

Asterix on the Warpath, Cover (Left) and Page Pop-Up (Right).

Although most pop-up books today are usually associated with children’s books, that perception is not completely true. There are many pop-up books which target an adult market. For example, the television series Game of Thrones has a pop-up book found in the Molson collection. This adult-oriented subset of the market has a much longer history than the one associated with children’s themes. The first movable books, the more formal name for pop-ups since the earliest versions did not “pop-up,” appeared in the 13th century.

The first movable books were created to determine the date of Easter. Easter, the great feast of Christendom, does not occur on the same Sunday each year. Easter Sunday is the first Sunday that follows the first full moon after the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere (with some fiddling around the edges we needn’t get into here). Church leaders printed tables for the clergy to use that told them what Sunday to celebrate Easter, but local clergy found the tables hard to read. In the 13th century, publishers discovered a simpler way to present the same information: use a revolving wheel in the center of a page of text. When a clergy member placed the wheel in the proper location, the rest was easy!


Bridscapes: A Pop-Up Celebration of Bird Songs in Stereo Sound
Cover (Left) and Page Pop-Up (Right).

Soon enough, “volvelles,” as the innovation was named, showed up in several other applications, such as astronomical tables, and eventually - as a trope of untold spy novels and occasionally as a tool of real spies - a way to decipher encoded messages. Flaps, which could be lifted to reveal what lay underneath, came next. They first appeared in anatomy textbooks. Using them, a student could lift a flap of paper representing the skin to see what lay underneath.

In the nineteenth century, publishers began to print movable books for children. The books first appeared in London, whereby 1860 several publishers marketed movable children’s books. In the late nineteenth century, German published came to dominate the field. German publishers were the undisputed masters of emerging forms of color reproduction. With the onset of World War I, pop-up books, now largely printed in Germany, all but disappeared in England and the United States.


Brava Sterega Nona! A Heartwarming Pop-Up Book
Cover (Left) and Page Pop-Up (Right).

The first movable books printed in the United States appeared in the 1880s. But they were always a publisher’s sideline. In the early years of the twentieth century, some manufacturers printed pop-up books as advertising.  For example, in 1909, Kellogg’s published Kellogg’s Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures, to help sell cereal. But movable books for children did not become serious business in the United States until the 1930s.

Desperate to try anything to increase book sales during the Great Depression, publishers turned to movable books. Classic fairy tales and books from the Walt Disney Studios led the way. Unlike their European predecessors, which often displayed the craftsmanship associated with a finely printed volume, these movable books were made with less expense, and were designed to sell to a mass market. By the 1950s, movable books were a recognized part of the American children’s book market.


Hokusai Pop-Ups, Cover (Left) and Page Pop-Up (Right).

If movable books were big sellers, they spent much of the 1960s and 1970s trying to gain literary respect. The term “paper engineer” was coined in the 1960s to describe the skills needed to make a pop-up book literally pop-up. “Serious” persons, however, continued to label movable books a novelty – dismissing them as “toy books” not worthy of their attention. That perception changed in 1980 when the British Library Association gave its most prestigious award for a children’s publication, the Kate Greenaway Medal, to Jan PieĊ„kowski’s Haunted House, which was engineered by Tor Lokvig.

The Jungle Book: A Pop-Up Adventure,
Cover (Left) and Page Pop-Up (Right).

“Let yourself in,” says the notice on the front door of Haunted House. Once inside, a reader opens other doors to find disgusting things, things that cause shivers as eyes blink or spiders creep, or things that make a reader jump as monsters burst from the page. Described as “the house of petrifying pop-ups” by the Greenaway Awards Committee, the book has sold over one million copies. Haunted House’s flourishing sales and award-winning status ensured the future of the pop-up book both as a way to make a dollar and as a serious literary genre.

The Chronicles of Narnia, Cover (Left) and Page Pop-Up (Right).

Books like Haunted House, however, have a distinct downside from a library’s administrator’s viewpoint. Student employees asked to check in the Molson books were quickly noticed to be working at less than their usual pace – way less. We had a problem – the books were so interesting the students kept opening them up to see what would happen. I suppose a proper library manager would have initiated a time-management study and using this empirical data imposed strict hourly processing quotas. But the problem was the full-time staff, and I, kept stopping to see the latest treasure the students had unearthed, encouraging their bad behavior.  

Snowflakes: A Pop-Up Book, Cover (Left) and Page Pop-Up (Right).

The only solution to everyone’s fascination with the Molson books was to embrace it and make lemonade from lemons. The students’ favorite books from the Molson collection illustrate this blog. I hope you enjoy them as much as they do. I also hope you will join us during the spring semester 2020 when we will share our collective enthusiasm for movable books through an exhibit in the Clarke Historical Library.

You’re going to love it. Trust our student employees on this one.



Immigration in Another Era


By Frank Boles

Today’s heated political discussion over immigration, with its often strident rhetoric about immigrants, was not always a part of America’s political discourse. Before the Civil War and continuing during Reconstruction, the state of Michigan not only welcomed immigrants, it paid people to recruit settlers to migrate from Europe to the United States. A product of this work, Der Staat Michigan, published in 1859, was recently obtained by the Clarke Historical Library staff from a book dealer in Austria.

Der Staat Michigan, 1859, front & back Cover

Germans had been early settlers in the state. German immigrants founded a colony near Ann Arbor in the 1830s. In 1845, a second large group of German immigrants began to settle in along the Cass River, in an area that would become Frankenmuth. Between 1845 and the beginning of the Civil War, Germans immigrants came to Michigan in increasing numbers. Part of this immigration resulted from forces that pushed people out of their homeland. In the late 1840s and early 1850s, significant crop failures plagued many German farmers. The failure of the liberal revolt of 1848 also meant a large number of politically active Germans had good reason to fear retaliation from the government officials they had tried to unseat, and thus, they found it expedient to place a great deal of distance between themselves and those who remained in political power.

But “push” was not the only reason Germans came to Michigan. The state government of Michigan also actively “pulled” German immigrants. In the 1840s, many of the state’s political leaders had come to have high regard for Germans. These immigrants had demonstrated devout religious belief and economic energy, both of which struck resonant chords with the political leadership of the day. In addition, German immigrants were often either educated already or very much interested in establishing educational institutions for their children.

Der Staat Michigan, 1859. Map of Michigan with information on Ingham, Eaton,
Ionia, Montcalm, and Kent Counties. 

To obtain more of what Michigan’s legislators saw as an ideal foreign settler, they passed a law in 1845 to fund a “foreign emigration agent” in New York City to “encourage immigration into the state and travel on our public railroads.” Governor John Barry appointed John Almy to the position. Almy quickly wrote a six-page pamphlet in German extolling the state’s virtues. State government paid for five thousand copies of the pamphlet and it distributed not only in New York City but also to emigration societies and U.S. government consul offices overseas.

In 1850, Michigan’s governor, John S. Barry, let a bill continuing this outreach to German immigrants die on his desk. Barry was reported to believe that the state was now so well known to potential immigrants that further publicly-funded efforts to attract them to Michigan were unnecessary. Others disagreed with that assessment. In 1859, the legislature established the position of Commissioner of Emigration. Two well- known members of Detroit’s German community were appointed to the post – one working out of Detroit while the other was in New York City.

One of the two men, Rudolph Diepenbeck, was the former editor of a German-language newspaper. In 1859, he wrote in German and had published Der Staat Michigan, a 48-page pamphlet, which he used as a tool to recruit more Germans to come to Michigan.

By 1860, there were 38,787 German immigrants in Michigan, about five percent of the state’s total population of 749,113.

Michigan’s political leaders’ interest in German immigrants only increased after the Civil War. In 1869, the legislature sent the Michigan Commissioner of Emigration to Germany, where he set up an office in Hamburg. There the commissioner regularly published an eight-page “magazine” extolling the state to anyone willing to read it. Although the office in Hamburg was closed in 1874, the office of Commissioner on Emigration continued until 1885. The person who held that office continued to print publications in German, and later Dutch.

While the exact number of German immigrants will never be known, C. Warren Vander Hill’s Settling of the Great Lakes Frontier: Immigrant to Michigan, 1837-1924, offers a best guess that in 1920, of the state’s 3,723,000 residents, 670,000, or around eighteen percent of the population, were either German immigrants or their descendants.

Der Staat Michigan is an important historical publication that documents this long effort by the state to recruit foreign immigrants. The copy in the Clarke is particularly important in that only three other copies of this publication are known to exist. Two are found in German libraries while the third is preserved in Boston. It’s impossible to say when a copy of the pamphlet was last seen in Michigan, but we are very pleased to bring a research copy of Der Staat Michigan back to the state from which it came.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

STEM, the Clarke, and a Bit of Cultural History

by Frank Boles 


Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education has been a buzz phrase in education for at least a quarter century. Anchored in a concern that America’s edge in technological innovation was in danger of being lost because of a lack of technologically competent individuals, STEM seeks to reinvigorate teaching and learning about these four interrelated disciplinary fields at all levels of American education.

STEM advocates usually had little to say about the liberal arts, and those involved in teaching the liberal arts usually had little to say about STEM, except to more than occasionally lament why they couldn’t get some of the money being given to evolving STEM programs. Without entering into what has at times devolved into a bitter debate, in one important way STEM fundamentally depends on the arts – pedagogy.

For all the emphasis on involving students in STEM programs, there can be no question that unless the STEM disciplines are taught in a way that interest students and successfully educate them, the entire enterprise is for naught.

To accomplish this, the highest likelihood of success is to be achieved by thinking about how these subjects have been taught in the past, and how that body of historical information, a catalog of what worked, and what didn’t work, can inform and improve teaching in the present and future.

The opportunity to better understand this learning process is made possible by an extraordinary gift of over 250 mathematics textbooks by Dr. Robert G. Clason to the Clarke Historical Library’s textbook collection. Dr. Clason taught mathematics at CMU for over 30 years. In addition to teaching his own course, he became interested in how the subject was taught in the past, and began to assemble a collection of arithmetic textbooks printed from the eighteenth through the twentieth century.

First Lessons in Numbers in their Natural Order,
by John H. French, 1874.
A sampling of Dr. Clason’s collection gives a flavor of what is to be found. Many of the books are, of course, designed to introduce young children to the subject. John H. French’s First lessons in Numbers In their Natural Order, published in 1874 by Harper & Brothers, is typical of a genre of textbooks for children that poured out of publishing houses in the 19th century. Often published as a series, virtually all of them claimed, like French’s First Lessons, to be “unlike other works for the same grade of learners,” a claim begging to be examined today both in terms of its authenticity and, if true, in terms of which teaching method worked best.


Standard Service Arithmetics: Grade Five,
by Scott, Foresman, and Company, 1927.



Grade school books became a highly profitable, and often quite standardized product. Scott, Foresman, and Company’s 1927 Standard Service Arithmetics: Grade 5 seems a nice example of the development of grade school books in the first few decades of the twentieth century. The volume was part of the company’s “standard mathematical service,” edited by George Myers.

Other books in the collection show how teachers were taught to teach the subject. The growth of “normal schools” in the late nineteenth century, institutions of learning designed to educate teachers (of which Central Michigan was originally one), spawned a new market for more advanced books. The Normal Mental Arithmetic by Edward Brooks, published in 1869, was an early example of book designed to sell to this market, while An Arithmetic for High Schools and Normal Schools, published in 1902, moved into an already established market.
The Normal Mental Arithmetic,
by Edward Brooks, 1869. 

Books were also written to meet the needs of special communities. How to Become Quick at Figures; Comprising the Shortest, Quickest, and Best Methods of Business Calculations, tells the potential buyer everything one needs to know about the contents of the book.

Although the principal use of the collection is to discover how arithmetic has been taught over time, sometimes the books offer social insights that go well beyond that subject.

For example, Charles Davies Primary Arithmetic, published originally in 1855 and republished in 1883, included a bit of mathematical history. Lesson IV
noted that “the ten figures of Arithmetic were first used in Arabia.” The next sentence is both stereotypical and a historical, “The Arabs are a wandering people, live in tents, [and] have fine horses and camels.” Nevertheless, a child might wonder how these wandering people in their tents came upon the concept of Arabic numbers?

An Arithmetic for High Schools and Normal
Schools,
by Benj. Sanborn & Co., 1902.
That question was silently reinforced by Lesson V, printed on the adjoining page. It shows a “Roman father teaching his son to count” using Roman numerals. Seated in his chair with many scrolls at his side, the Roman father is the proverbial picture of an education rooted in a European cultural tradition harkening back millennia. Despite the weight of the imagery, the seven letters he is teaching to his son as a means of counting is not what Davies will be teaching, and Arabia, not Rome is, as lesson 4 notes, “the country from which we got our ten figures.”

Primary Arithmetic,
by Charles Davies, 1855. 
In an age when “scientific racism” was widely taught and believed, to inform children that something as fundamental as the way Europeans counted was rooted in a non-European culture was a subversive act. It could lead to more questions about what other ideas Europeans had learned from people who “live in tents [and] have fine horses and camels.” In a world where Europeans had declared themselves the biological and intellectual summit of natural evolution, such questions were not ones asked lightly.

Dr. Clason’s gift opens up both social questions and questions that apply directly to the success of today’s STEM programs. We are extraordinarily thankful to him for this gift.