Friday, May 29, 2015

Sandra Standish to Attend Editing Institute

By Casey Gamble 

During the Spring Semester of 2015, Sandra Standish, Access Services Supervisor of the Park Library, completed an independent study under the direction of John Fierst at the Clarke Historical Library.

Sandra with a photo of Angie Bingham
In her research, Sandra focused on the letters of Angie Bingham Gilbert, the daughter of the missonary Abel Bingham.  The Bingham Family Papers are one of the Clarke Library's major collections. Angie Bingham's life spanned the development of two Michigan cities, Sault Ste. Marie and Grand Rapids. In Sandra's research, she found that Angie Bingham's experience "provided a gendered lens through which to view missionary movements, frontier development, and the changing roles of increasingly mobile, educated and independent women from the Jacksonian era to the Gilded Age."

Sandra is completing her M.A. in History from CMU. Her research on Angie Bingham will be taking her to Lincoln Nebraska in June 2015, where she was elected to attend the Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents. This is an annual five-day workshop for individuals new to historical documentary editing, where attendees will learn about the core tasks of documentary editing—collection and cataloging, selection and digitization, transcription and encoding, annotation and contextualization, proofreading and verification, organization and layout, and copyediting and indexing. Admission to this event is competitive, limited to only 18 people, one of whom is Sandra. 

Letters of Angie Bingham

The graduation speaker for this event will be Beth Luey, author of numerous books, such as Handbook For Academic Authors; Revising Your Dissertation; Expanding the American Mind; and Editing Documents and Texts. Luey will also join the resident faculty of the Editing Institute on the last day for a session on the funding of documentary editions and the future of documentary editing. The resident faculty will include Cathy Moran Hajo, Ondine Le Blanc, and Jennifer Stertzer, and Bob Karachuk.

Congratulations to Sandra!  We wish her the best and look forward to hearing about her progress.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Remembering Albert Post

By Casey Gamble

On Monday, May 25th, we will celebrate Memorial Day to honor the many fallen soldiers who have served our country. The Clarke Library has many war-related letters. This Memorial Day we decided to celebrate one collection in particular, the correspondence of Cary Albert Post.

Photo of the U.S.S. Halligan taken in March, 1945
He was a soldier in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and he signed his letters home simply Albert.  Assigned to the U.S.S. Halligan, a naval destroyer, he lost his life tragically on March 26, 1945 when the Japanese sank the Halligan off the coast of Okinawa. He was 29 years old at the time. He left behind his wife Leila, and two children Darrel and Sharron.  Before he died, Albert wrote home to his wife every day, but unfortunately most of the letters were lost in a house fire. His letters that have survived, were donated to the Clarke Library, where they could be properly preserved.

Cary Albert Post
Through these surviving letters, we are able to appreciate the kind of man that Albert was and how much he cared for his family. On April 21st, 1944 he wrote to Darrel:

"Now son I know you will take care of mother and Sharron lei for Daddy and here is a little something for you to buy mommy and sister something nice from you and Daddy. And here is something you can tell mother Daddy gets out the 23rd of May. That's the day I am scheduled to graduate. I love you Son,

Your dad Albert."

A letter, decorated with a beautiful sketch of Leila and Sharron, was sent home to his family March 1st, 1945, just 3 weeks before the sinking of his ship.

"Another day has passed and I'm that much closer to coming home to you someday. Boy! I just want them to fly by all of these dreary days and lonely nites. The faster they fly by the better I will enjoy them. I always try to keep my mind occupied and myself busy; but my every thought, my every dream is still of you my children and home. 'I Love You So!'"

Albert, Darrel, Leila and Sharon, 1944

The collection was donated to the Clarke Library by Sharron and Darrel, who were comforted to know that these memories of their father will be kept alive for a very long time.

In these preserved letters and pictures, we are able to experience the love this man felt for his family and the strength that love gave him while fighting for his country.

As a closing statement to any researchers who may use this collection, Sharron Post said this:

"I was given the opportunity to hear our father speak through the letters, and he became much more real to me. We hope you enjoy your research, and understand how much a family can mean, and how much it did mean to a G.I. far away from his loved ones during World War II." 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Commencement Speakers of Years Past

by Casey Gamble and Bryan Whitledge

Students celebrating
commencement, 1984
For anyone who has had the opportunity to enjoy sitting through lengthy commencement ceremonies, you understand how nice it is when a prolific orator can deliver a speech that imparts wisdom and inspiration and entertains at the same time.

CMU has had a host of great speakers over the years. Many of the speakers have been university presidents, politicians, and business leaders in Michigan. We took a look at some of the speakers of CMU Commencements-Past. Some highlights have included CMU alum and actor, screen-writer, and play-write Jeff Daniels (2000). Francis B. Molson, a beloved professor of English and Clarke Historical Library benefactor, spoke to graduates in 1994. And in 1997, CMU invited attorney F. Lee Bailey.

Bailey is known as being the criminal-defense lawyer for O.J. Simpson, Patty Hearst, Dr. Sam Sheppard, and the Boston Strangler. In the "Our Voice" section of the CM Life posted several days before Commencement, it was expressed that some people did not feel that Bailey was someone who should be delivering to them their final words of wisdom before they dispersed into the world. "Name recognition is an excellent quality to have in a commencement speaker, but quality of character is another" (CMLife, December 8, 1997, p. 4).

Commencement in Finch Fieldhouse, ca. 1950s
But one speaker that Central was certainly proud to invite to commencement spoke in December 1981. CMU alumnus and NBC reporter, Lem Tucker, returned to his school to deliver a speech that he planned on being better than your ordinary "hard work pays off" theme. As a man who had seen a lot in his career, he felt he needed to be more honest with the students, in the sense that they were heading into a competitive world, and "like heavy cream, the survivors will rise to the top" (CMLife, December 7, 1981, p. 1).

Whether a commencement speaker ignites controversy or is universally loved by the grads, we hope that with each commencement ceremony, the graduates leave feeling like they have gained something that will help them turn the page to the next chapter of their lives.

This weekend, the CMU commencement speakers include  
  • Joseph S. Francisco, dean of the college of arts and sciences at University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    Melanie Bergeron chairperson at Two Men and a Truck
  • Thomas Morgan, documentary filmmaker who uses his documentaries to increase people's understanding of important social issues such as homelessness, youth incarceration, and abuse and neglect.