Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Early Documents of the Formation of Brandeis University

Scroll of Signatures to Establish Middlesex University, 1937, 
Middlesex University Collection
          The Brandeis University archives hold many documents which illustrate the activities surrounding the founding of the institution in 1947.  Brandeis University opened on the grounds of the former Middlesex University, which built its Waltham campus in 1928.  Due to a lack of AMA accreditation for its Medical program and enrollment numbers during World War II, the school became fiscally untenable.  Middlesex University enrolled many Jewish students and was both racially and religiously diverse.  Many people at the time attributed the lack of AMA accreditation for its medical program to Anti-Semitism, because other AMA accredited university programs had admissions quotas to limit the number of enrolled Jewish students.

Albert Einstein Foundation Brochure, c.a. 1947, 
University History Collection
          In 1946, the Albert Einstein Foundation for Higher Learning, Inc. was established in order to raise funds for the founding of a “university without quotas…where no barriers exist because of race, sex, color, or creed.”  This university was to be, “a Jewish contribution to American education” and “a great school where democracy is enhanced through its practice.”  The foundation subsequently purchased the 100 acre Waltham campus, and the name of Middlesex University was changed to Brandeis University on March 13th, 1947, and the charter to grant degrees was transferred.

Questions and Answers About Brandeis Brochure c.a. 1948, 
Office of Admissions Collection
Brandeis University was set to welcome its first class in the Fall of 1948.  Brochures were sent out by the Albert Einstein Foundation such as “Questions and Answers about Brandeis University” and “This is Brandeis,” which outlined the objectives of the new institution.  According to the “Questions and Answers” brochure, the University, “is being established at a time when additional educational facilities are sorely needed, and proposes to help meet the growing problem of discrimination against minority groups in American universities.”

Class of 1952 Application Form Letter, 
Office of Admissions Collection

          The application letter sent out to prospective applicants for the Class of 1952 noted that the university is, “co-educational, non-sectarian, and will be ‘quota-free.’”  Furthermore, the application letter states that, “no applicant will ever be asked to identify his religion or color because to do so would violate a fundamental principle of Brandeis University.”

These materials, which are available in the University Archives, are a reminder of the context in which the university was founded.  Furthermore, these documents are testament to the University’s mission of diversity and inclusivity from its founding.

Written by Renee Walsh, graduate student at the Library and Information Science Program at Simmons College, July 27, 2015.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Brandeis National Women's Committee: The First Fifty Years

Brandeis University National Women’s Committee  (BUNWC) is Founded by Eight Visionary Women
By the time Brandeis opened its first library in a converted horse stable, an inspired group of eight women had already organized a small army of volunteers to raise funds for its operation. Membership in BUNWC, now one of the largest "friends-of-a-library" groups in the world, swelled overnight with women from coast to coast anxious to make this Jewish-sponsored nonsectarian university a success and its library first rate.

Faculty Create Study Groups
Brandeis faculty linked BUNWC members nationwide to Brandeis by
creating study group materials for use in chapters throughout the country. Thousands of members continue to meet in small groups in homes, public libraries, and community centers to study everything from Shakespeare to American Jewish humor, using almost 100 syllabi and discussion guides written by the faculty.

BUNWC’s Used Book Sales Benefit Libraries
“New Books for Old” is the hallmark project of the Boston and North Shore, Illinois chapters; their initial used book sales benefit the Brandeis libraries.  Many chapters have since launched annual book sales in their communities.

BUNWC’s Awards First Sachar Medallion
BUNWC established the Abram L. Sachar Silver Medallion Award to honor Brandeis's founding president and to recognize women who made outstanding contributions to public education and awareness. Awarded annually, recipients have included actress Helen Hayes, opera director Sarah Caldwell, historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin, scientist and antinuclear activist Helen Caldicott, Jehan (Mrs. Anwar) Sadat, Nobel Prize winner Rosalyn Yalow, journalists Nina Totenberg and Anna Quindlen, a cancer specialist Susan Love, M.D., and Holocaust survivor and human rights activist Gerda Weismann Klein.

Faculty Goes on the Road for BUNWC
Brandeis faculty members "hit the road" for the first time to lecture in BUNWC chapters, giving Brandeis greater visibility in communities all across the country and providing a vital link to the University for supporters thousands of miles from campus. More than 100 faculty members have participated in what is now called "University Outreach," attracting 5,000 people per year to stimulating lectures on culture, history, politics, world events, and the arts.

BUNWC Funds Student Salaries for Library Work
BUNWC combined financial support for the libraries and for students working there through its new Library Work Scholar program. Approximately 150 students work in the libraries each year as part of their financial aid packages. Library Work Scholar has become one of BUNWC’s most popular programs, raising as much as $250,000 per year.

BUNWC Grant Launches Automation of Libraries
A $250,000 grant from BUNWC helped fund the automation of the card catalogue in the libraries. This marked the start of a multi-million dollar technology program, much of it funded through the BUNWC’s Library Technology Fund.  BUNWC donations eventually upgraded the libraries' wiring infrastructure and computer network to create 900 state-of-the-art access points to the Internet for students, faculty and library staff.

BUNWC  Brings Library Holdings to 1 Million Volumes

A major fund raising campaign BUNWC brought to one million the number of books in the libraries' collections, making the Brandeis libraries the fastest growing of almost any other private university library in the country. BUNWC presented the millionth book to the libraries, a rare first edition set of The Law of God by Isaac Leeser, the first English Bible published for the American Jewish community, along with more than $500,000 raised to establish an endowment for the American Judaica collection.

Written and posted by the Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections staff.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Harold Shapero Papers now available for research

                Harold Shapero (1920-2013) was an American Neo-Classical composer and professor of music at Brandeis University for over 30 years. The student of many esteemed composers, including Walter Piston, Paul Hindemith, and Nadia Boulanger, Shapero’s greatest musical output occurred in the 1940s with second increase during the 1990s-2000s[1]. Many of his papers were recently donated to the Robert D. Farber University Archives.  The Harold Shapero Collection contains 15 boxes of sketches, scores, and correspondence that provide a unique look into the creative life of the composer.

                In a time where American composers were increasingly drawn to the 12-tone technique of the Second Viennese School, Shapero modeled his works after the great Classicists by using tonal harmonies and traditional forms while reaching into more complex harmonic and rhythmic gestures than those of the past[2]. He was influenced by the vibrant style of Igor Stravinsky, and was a part of the American ‘Stravinsky School,’ a title coined by Aaron Copland. Although he was occasionally criticized for his reliance on classical models, Shapero’s works were moderately well received (modernist American musicians were not interested in Neo-Classical techniques[3]) and have remained a part of the repertory. This position was secured by a renewed interest in Shapero’s music sparked by Andre Previn’s 1988 revival of the 1947 Symphony for Classical Orchestra. The surge in popularity also generated a new wave of compositions from Shapero, who had written drastically fewer works while teaching at Brandeis[4].

                The Harold Shapero Collection contains sketches and scores of Symphony for Classical Orchestra as well as Shapero’s other major works, including Serenade in D for Strings, Partita in C, and Three Sonatas for Piano. In addition to these well-known published pieces, the collection includes many unpublished compositions, several of which were written as gifts to friends and family members. Among the many names included in the titles are Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Arthur Berger. The contents of the collection span Shapero’s lifetime, including materials from early piano lessons, classwork from his studies at Harvard University, as well as works and sketches from the end of his life.

                Particularly interesting are the many letters and sketchbooks found within the collection. The correspondence between Shapero and his teachers and colleagues along with annotated scores and sketches provide a glimpse into his creative process. Several works are included in many forms, from early sketches, rough drafts sent to friends for editing, published editions, and the occasional recording. This collection provides an opportunity to watch Shapero’s works develop and to understand the compositional process from his perspective.

Written by Hannah Spencer, graduate student in the Department of Music at Brandeis University, December 16, 2014.

[1] Howard Pollack. "Shapero, Harold." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed December 16, 2014, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/25586.
[2] Anthony Tommasini, “Harold Shapero, American Neo-Classical Composer, Dies at 93,” New York Times (New York, NY), May 27, 2013.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Howard Pollack. "Shapero, Harold." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed December 16, 2014.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Robert Manners Papers

          Brandeis University Archives holds the faculty papers of Robert Manners, Brandeis Professor of Anthropology from 1952 to 1979, and is happy to announce that the collection has now been processed and is available to researchers.

Robert Manners was born in 1914 in New York City and studied at Columbia University, earning a PhD in Anthropology in 1949 after a stint as an Army captain during the war. During his PhD studies, Manners conducted fieldwork in Puerto Rico with several other graduate students under the direction of his advisor and “intellectual mentor,” Julian Steward, focusing on tobacco farming in the rural community of Barranquitas. Manners, along with a large number of fellow graduate students and established anthropologists, undertook extensive studies in the Puerto Rican population from 1947-1949; this research culminated in The People of Puerto Rico (Steward et al., 1956).

         A Manners class at Brandeis, 1972

Manners kept impeccable records from this study, providing weekly reports for the period of April 1948 to September 1948, including local newspaper clippings, signs, and other documentation. With a great deal of documentation from his early studies, the collection provides a fascinating glimpse into his early career. Working mainly on the family structures of the various social classes of the small communities, Manners shows a special affinity for 
comparing the traditional observation of fieldwork with carefully analyzed government reports. The aims of the project were to examine and explain the political, economic, social, and familial structures of the “agrarian stratified society” in which they were working. The researchers tested a large number of theories, giving a sense of the broad scale and depth of the program. Seeking a generalized explanation of the rigid, insular society of Puerto Rico, the team, led by Steward, spread a wide net, looking beyond economics—Manners’s focus—into the very fabric of Puerto Rican society. The fieldwork crossed over two years, and included discussions on such topics as agriculture, household structures, Puerto Rican sex life, and the economy and politics of Puerto Rico; the collection also includes photographs supporting research into many of these subjects.
As evidenced in this collection and his later fieldwork, Manners maintained a long interest in the field of insular studies, providing the research for his dissertation. Perhaps it is not surprising then that he was involved, at least by association, with a movement to support an independent Puerto Rico following the shootings in Congress in March of 1954 by Puerto Rican Nationalists. A letter from A. J. Muste, noted early-twentieth-century pacifist, implored Manners to become involved with the Puerto Rican Independence movement. The relationship between Manners and Reverend Muste is unclear, and the letter was not addressed specifically to Manners. Regardless of the intention of the letter, Manners’s active participant in this controversial subject is unlikely, as he seems to have shown little interest in the subject beyond a personal inquiry.
            To read this letter and other documents from this Puerto Rican Project, as well as Manners’s course materials, lecture notes, correspondence, drafts, field notes, and relevant photographs, please access the finding aid here. To view this collection and others like it, contact ascdepartment@brandeis.edu or call 781-736-4686 to make an appointment.

description by Ben Schmidt, Archives & Special Collections Student Assistant and undergraduate student in History.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Lawrence Wien Collection now available

Lawrence Wien (1905-1988) played a variety of important roles in the Brandeis community, serving as a member of the Board of Trustees and benefactor to the university from its founding until his retirement in 1984. Wien, a lawyer and real-estate investor, donated generously to Brandeis, most notably founding the Wien International Scholarship Program (WISP), funding the creation of the Faculty Center, and supporting the placement of the Louis D. Brandeis statue on campus.
     The Brandeis University Archives holds the personal papers of Lawrence Wien, including correspondence between Wien and people from around the world, along with early data and responses to WISP, dating from 1958-1988. This collection contains letters to Wien from gracious WISP scholars, press clippings related to Brandeis, and programs from a variety of events that he attended and hosted while affiliated with Brandeis. Of special note is the large number of photographs in the collection, depicting Brandeis throughout its history in the eyes of a trustee. The impact of Lawrence Wien can be clearly felt throughout the collection, as personal letters from WISP scholars constantly reiterate affection and appreciation.
WISP has brought scholars to Brandeis from around the world since 1958. Receiving significant financial support from Brandeis for tuition, housing, and a round-trip plane ticket, WISP students are encouraged to apply their skills in their home countries to grow international discourse and ideas. In the hope of broadening international dialogue and cooperation, Wien sought to make Brandeis a center for international coexistence studies. His support for the university was far more than financial. Letters to Wien from WISP scholars throughout his life show the gratitude that students, administrators, and others shared for him. Following his appointment as the fourth chairman of the Board of Trustees in 1967, Wien sought to radically expand his international scholar program, giving an additional $2.5 million. Leading by the example of his significant philanthropy, Wien single-handedly established the single largest and most expansive privately funded international scholar program in the country. 
    Many of Wien’s donations to Brandeis took the form of endowments. In explaining his largess, much of which was contributed during his lifetime, Wien explained that he received great pleasure in giving donations; in a 1967 interview with the Boston Globe, Wien said, “You either die with a lot of money or you give it away in some way that gives you pleasure.” For Wien (affectionately known as Larry by his friends and acquaintances alike), pleasure took the form of providing financial gifts to his alma mater, Columbia University, acting as a patron of the arts in New York, working with the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, and serving as a trustee at Brandeis University.

From left: Lawrence Wien, Abram Sachar, John F. Kennedy, Wakako Kimoto Hironaka  (from the first class of Wien Scholars) Senator Leverett Saltonstall, George Kennan, Abraham Feinberg.

    From the beginning, the Wien International Scholarship Program has served as a unique opportunity for many of the scholars who have participated in its mission. With the goal of furthering international understanding and cooperation, WISP has very few requirements for applicants’ nationalities and areas of study, in the hope that this would expand the applicant pool and encourage a great dialogue and discussion on campus. The community of scholars that WISP forms draws connections across the world. Frequent letters to Lawrence Wien from his acquaintances include mentions of WISP scholars in their home countries and the immense credit they bring to their communities and the program that educated them. When one Wien alumnus learned of the death of Wien’s first wife, Mae, he sent his regrets, describing her as a mother to all WISP scholars, just as Wien himself was a father to them (he was affectionately referred to as Dad Wien by his legal partners, WISP scholars, and Brandeis’s first president, Abram Sachar). Adding to the outpouring of support and affection for Wien on his eightieth birthday, one former scholar sent a cartoon he had drawn for Wien, depicting a computer translating all of his birthday cards, and a person thinking, “I bet very few people receive such multilingual birthday greetings”; the caption reads: “News: a special computer used for translating b-day greetings sent to Mr. L. Wien….” Nearly all of the letters to him found in this collection, largely personal correspondence, share jokes and kind words with Wien. With correspondents such as Ronald Reagan, Brandeis presidents, and many others, it is easy to discern that Wien was a well-respected individual whose impact on his community was immense. In a letter sent by the Office of International Programs at Brandeis to Wien following the thirtieth anniversary of WISP in 1988 (his last public appearance, during which he gave an emotional speech discussing his life and philanthropy, and announced his terminal cancer), the author spoke of a WISP alumnus who came into his office to tell him about a dream. In this dream, the former student “had dreamed that we [WISP scholars] had all prayed together after our dinner that you would be healed; and he felt that if all of us, from so many different cultures and religions, prayed to our several gods together, it could not fail to help you.” Such love and affection for Larry Wien is shown in letters to him throughout his life, as he acted selflessly and kindly, always looking beyond himself to a global community that showed a constant appreciation for his generosity. Sadly, Lawrence Wien passed away a little over a month after the thirtieth anniversary of the program that bears his name.
     Wien’s immense impact on Brandeis since its founding helped the university to grow financially and academically and to take a leading role in the world of international education. As a close friend of Brandeis’s first president and as a generous and thoughtful leader, Lawrence Wien was able to influence the growth of Brandeis as a strong vibrant institution from its earliest, idealized beginnings.

For a list of contents in the Wien collection, which includes letters to Lawrence Wien, information on WISP, photographs, and information on the early years of Brandeis University, please access the finding aid at http://findingaids.brandeis.edu/repositories/2/resources/157 To view this collection and others like it, contact ascdepartment@brandeis.edu or call 781-736-4686 to make an appointment.

Blog post written by Ben Schmidt, Brandeis University student in History.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Festival of the Creative Arts

This is a moment of inquiry for the whole world: a moment when civilization looks at itself appraisingly, seeking a key to the future. In this spirit we shall examine the creative arts during our four-day Festival—examine them by performance, by asking questions, by the answers we receive. We cannot pretend to wisdom; but through performance we can provoke thought and free discussion; through discussing we can learn; and through learning we can rediscover our culture and ourselves. – Leonard Bernstein

The Festival of the Arts made its first mark on the Brandeis University campus in June 1952, in conjunction with the university’s first graduation. With over 3,000 attendees, the newly built Ullman Amphitheater was filled to capacity as musicians, artists, dancers, and actors presented their debut performances. President Sachar opened the ceremonies with an address to the university, describing the events that would take place as a reflection of the quality of university achievements. According to Sachar, the Festival of the Arts was meant to be “stimulating and provocative as well as aesthetic and exciting.” The four-day event not only excited those involved with the university, but became well-known nationwide.

Led by Leonard Bernstein, a prominent composer and professor of music, the festival included works in jazz, poetry, opera, theater, and film. The festival kicked off on June 12, 1952, with an opening event entitled “An inquiry into the present status of the creative arts.” This conversation concerning the nature of the arts was moderated by Leonard Bernstein himself. Bernstein, for whom the festival was later named, also directed the world premiere of his opera Trouble in Tahiti on the first night of the festival. This domestic tragi-comedy was performed in seven scenes, depicting a couple living in suburbia trying to overcome the challenges of unhappiness. The show was later performed on air for N.B.C. Television Opera Theatre.

The first Festival of the Arts also included the premiere of Marc Blitzstein’s translated adaptation of The Threepenny Opera, which later opened off Broadway in March 1954. The opera was praised for both its accuracy in transforming the original German opera and its fantastic composition. Other performances included Symphonie Pour Un Homme Seul by Pierre Schaeffer, with the choreography of Merce Cunningham, and Les Noces, a choral ballet by Igor Stravinsky. Jazz concerts presented various trends in bop and Dixieland jazz, including a performance by Miles Davis. Poets Karl Shapiro, Ludwig Lewisohn, Peter Viereck, and William Carlos Williams also engaged audiences by reading their personal pieces. Throughout the festival, stimulating moderated discussions took place to explore all areas of the art displayed.

The first Festival of the Arts at Brandeis was not only praised at the university, but also had critics and journalists commenting across the country. According to the New York Times Magazine, the best part of the festival was that “the arts were represented as they must always bein their living state.” The article ended by stating, “There was, in sum, a sense of the ferment of ideas, and that is what Brandeis University hopes its annual festival of the creative arts will come to express to the world.” In another article, John W. M. Riley writes,
Such an event as this Brandeis festival of the Creative Arts, presented in the fourth year of the university’s existence, strikingly shows the vitality, awareness and creative energy which pervade the atmosphere at Brandeis.

In 2012, the Festival of the Creative Arts celebrated its 60th anniversary with performances by esteemed faculty members and students, exhibits at the Rose Art Museum, gallery openings, and community activities. More information about the Festival of the Arts can be found in the Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections at Brandeis University, including original speeches, reviews, pamphlets, and photographs.

Many thanks to Brandeis University student Debra Friedman for writing this summary.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Milton Hindus Meets the Monstrous Giant Céline

Milton Hindus was born in 1916 in New York, New York and studied at City College (CUNY), Columbia University and the University of Chicago. Hindus taught at Hunter College (CUNY), the New School for Social Research and the University of Chicago before joining the Brandeis faculty in 1948. One of the original 13 faculty members, he remained an active part of the Brandeis community until his death in 1998. Hindus studied literatures in a range of languages, including (but not limited to) English, Yiddish and French. In 1959 he received the Walt Whitman Prize for a collection he edited entitled Walt Whitman: 100 Years Later. In addition to works on Marcel Proust, Charles Reznikoff and F. Scott Fitzgerald, he published a volume of his own poetry entitled The Broken Music Box (Menard Press, 1980). The Milton Hindus papers at the Brandeis University Archives contain a wide range of materials written by and relating to Hindus, ranging from an unpublished memoir to volumes of correspondence with literary greats including William Carlos Williams, E.E. Cummings and Upton Sinclair.

Of particular interest is Hindus’ complex relationship with the French modernist novelist Louis Ferdinand Céline. Hindus worked to popularize French literature in the United States, and became fascinated by Céline (born Louis Ferdinand Destouches), writing a preface to his classic novel Death on the Installment Plan when it was first published in the United States. Céline was a controversial literary talent whose style was marked by short, declarative sentences, near-constant use of slang and profanity, and ubiquitous exclamation points. The world described and satirized in his novels was full of filth, cruelty and folly, a fact that likely had something to do with Celine’s service in the First World War during which he was severely wounded. Just before the Second World War, Céline penned the first of three virulently anti-Semitic pamphlets, the last of which was published in 1941 during the German occupation of France. He also served as a physician to members of the leadership of the collaborationist Vichy regime, and was labeled a collaborator by the de Gaulle’s French government. Céline responded to this allegation by fleeing into exile in Denmark.

Hindus, who was proud of his Jewish heritage, had difficulty believing that his literary idol was an anti-Semite. He met with Céline in Denmark in 1948, and their harrowing series of meetings became the basis for Hindus’ 1950 book The Crippled Giant. Hindus’ papers include a large volume of materials relating to the writing and critical reception of The Crippled Giant, including a great deal of unpublished correspondence with and about Céline. The collection includes a petition supported by Hindus that argued for Céline’s innocence of the charge of collaboration, as well as Hindus’ correspondence with both French foreign office and U.S. State Department officials in defense of Céline. It also includes handwritten notes from the early stages of the writing of The Crippled Giant that show Hindus’ thought process in great detail. To see the finding aid for the Milton Hindus Collection, click the following link: Milton Hindus Papers

Photos of Milton Hindus are from the collections of the Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections, Brandeis University.

Description by Drew Flanagan, Ph.D student in history