Thursday, March 19, 2020

Clarke's Pop-Up Book Exhibit is Coming to You!

The current COVID-19 public health emergency has resulted in several extraordinary changes in our lives. Navigating the new public health precautions can be difficult. Many of us are saddened or distressed because we were looking forward to events and gatherings that have been cancelled or postponed. And some of us are left looking for ways to bring joy into our lives while practicing social distancing.

To help bring a moment or two of happiness and delight into our lives, the Clarke Historical Library will use our social media accounts to post short videos of books featured in our new exhibit, the Surprise and Wonder of Pop-Up Books. Every day, you can catch a glimpse of one of the items we have on display. This is a fun and engaging way to admire the ingenuity and artistry found in pop-up books from the comfort of wherever you are practicing social distancing.


Because the Clarke Historical Library is closed to the public until at least April 13, we will make lemonade out of that lemon and bring the pop-up books to the people. Be sure to follow the Clarke's Twitter and Facebook pages to see the magic unfold!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Public Health Emergencies and CMU

by Frank Boles

The current COVID-19 pandemic is not the first time the educational mission of CMU has been disrupted by disease. Some alumni will remember this headline printed fifty-two years ago in Central Michigan Life (then the name for CM Life) on December 14, 1968:


With over 1,000 cases of the flu reported in residence halls, where there were 6,000 beds available for students, President William Boyd cancelled all classes for three weeks between December 14, 1968 and January 5, 1969. In a world before the internet, students probably took some comfort in President Boyd’s statement that there was no plan to make up missed classes. The President implied, although did not quite say, that no makeup work would be required nor would students be accountable for any missed tests. Students were simply encouraged to leave campus the week before winter break began and stay home until January 6.

It may have been a public health emergency in the president’s eyes, but some students took it less seriously. A picture of smiling students packing a car to go home, published in the same issue, was captioned, “Students wasted no time in leaving for the early Christmas vacation tonight.” And students, thinking about their finances, asked if they left campus early would they be able to get a refund on the unused portion of their food contract. The answer was no.

Although many students in 1968 were ill, all recovered. Fifty years prior to the 1968 flu wave, a more severe global pandemic struck Central, with deadly consequences. In the last week of October 1918, the influenza outbreak devastating the world came to Mt. Pleasant. Because of the high mortality rate associated with the disease, all classes were cancelled as of Friday, November 1. Students were instructed to remain in their homes until Monday, November 18.

To deal with the large number of sick individuals -- by November 8, there were 110 cases of influenza at Central on a campus with about 1,200 students -- an emergency hospital was set up in the school’s gymnasium. Members of the local Red Cross provided bed linen, nightgowns, towels, washcloths, face masks, and other needed hospital items. Despite these efforts, two members of the campus community died. One of them was Professor Lucy A. Sloan, a popular English instructor and the person in whose memory Sloan Hall is named. The other was Clarence Neal of Coleman, who was at Central as part of the World War I Student Army Training Corps program.

emergency hospital in the Central gymnasium, 1918

As CMU copes with another pandemic, we hope the outcome will be less tragic than that experienced in 1918.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Clarke Library Events Cancelled

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Central Michigan University has cancelled all events where an audience of 50 or more people are anticipated. This cancellation is in effect until March 31 and may be extended, depending on circumstances.

As a result, the planned March 17 exhibit opening of “The Surprise and Wonder of Pop-Up Books” has been cancelled, as has the presentation that evening by Matthew Reinhart. Also cancelled is the March 25 presentation of Carl Doud on the subject of mosquitoes and malaria in Michigan.
I regret the need to take these actions. We plan to reschedule these presentations at a later date.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Let's Go Back: A Christmas Carol




The second installment of WCMU's "Let's Go Back" is now available. This time, we look at a first edition of Charles Dickens' classic yuletide book, A Christmas Carol.

Many are familiar with the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation from a grisly miser to big-hearted man after the visits of the ghost of Jacob Marley as well as spirits of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future. In "Let's Go Back," we go beyond the tale in the book and talk about its history and cultural significance. We discuss how the book was a huge success, even if Dickens didn't turn the profit he had hoped for. And we reflect on the legacy of the story that still permeates our culture today.

Don't be a Scrooge -- watch the most recent "Let's Go Back" on WCMU's website https://radio.wcmu.org/post/rare-copy-christmas-carol-resides-cmu and listen to it on WCMU radio at 6:45 pm. You surely won't be saying "humbug" after seeing it.







Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Let's Go Back: Aladdin Homes





By John Fierst

The first edition of “Let’s Go Back” aired December 4 on WCMU radio's Morning Edition and will air again this evening on All Things Considered between 6:44 and 6:50.

 “Let’s Go Back” is a new WCMU Public Media series that highlights collections held in the Clarke Historical Library.  It is being produced by Matthew Ozanich (television) and Michael Horace (radio), working with Bryan Whitledge and myself at the Clarke.  Bryan brought the idea for the program back with him from a Society of American Archivists conference in Austin. 

It is a great way to advertise the Clarke Historical Library.  And it has been a whole lot of fun working with Matt and Mike to put together the first edition, which features our Aladdin kit home collection. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any footage back in the ‘90s of our humble director, Frank Boles, renting a truck and driving the entire Aladdin collection to Chicago to be fumigated, a colorful side of the story left out.

Here is a link to the online version: https://radio.wcmu.org/post/lets-go-back-alladin-homes