Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Brandeis Course Catalog: A Hidden Gem

Anyone interested in the history of Brandeis University will be pleased to learn that all undergraduate and graduate course catalogs are now available in digital format via the Internet Archive. Known as the Brandeis University Bulletin, the university course catalog (undergraduate 1948-present; graduate 1953-present) is a surprisingly rich resource that offers far more than course descriptions. Particularly in the early years of the school’s founding, course catalogs served as promotional publications that sought to attract students and donors to the young university. Featured within their pages were photographs of campus structures (many now long gone), artists’ renderings of proposed buildings that never came to be, campus maps, and university master plans with full foldouts. Other photographs documented campus life and culture and helped to capture the prevailing zeitgeist. Students can be seen studying by the old wishing well, playing folk music in the Castle Commons, cheering at a football game, or dancing at a social. For those unaware that Brandeis once had a grape arbor and a terrarium (Brown Terrarium), that students once skated on Kane Reflecting Pool in Hamilton Quad (now Massell Quad), that General Education S was a required course for all students and featured guest speakers such as Robert Frost, Alfred Kinsey, and Margaret Mead, or that the original student center (Mailman) once stood where the new Shapiro Admissions Center currently resides, the course catalogs will confirm these and other noteworthy facts about the university’s past.

Click on the following links to view all Brandeis course catalogs (by academic year) on the Internet Archive’s website:
Undergraduate Catalogs
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Catalogs

description by Karen Adler Abramson, Associate Director for University Archives & Special Collections

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Camelot Comes to Brandeis

Fifty years ago, on January 2, 1960, John F. Kennedy announced his historic candidacy for the U.S. presidency. Later the same day, Senator Kennedy traveled from Washington, D.C. to Waltham, Massachusetts to appear on an innovative public television series hosted by Eleanor Roosevelt on the Brandeis campus. Produced by National Educational Television—forerunner of PBS—and filmed primarily at the Slosberg Music Center, “Prospects of Mankind” (1959-1962) provided a forum for prominent leaders and decision makers to discuss and debate important domestic and international affairs. Adopting a colloquium-style format, the monthly series included guests such as Ralph Bunche, John Kenneth Galbraith, Henry Kissinger, Edward R. Murrow, Bertrand Russell, and Adlai Stevenson. As a former delegate to the United Nations General Assembly who taught international relations at Brandeis in her last years, Eleanor Roosevelt was well suited to the role of program host.

Kennedy’s visit to Brandeis in January 1960 was not his first; two years before he had participated in a convocation celebrating the establishment of the university’s landmark Wien International Scholarship Program. During his appearance on “Prospects of Mankind,” Kennedy, a member of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, was joined by Erwin D. Canham, Editor of The Christian Science Monitor and President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Paul Rosenstein-Rodan, Professor of Economics at M.I.T.’s Center for International Studies. The discussion focused on international trade, NATO, and the prospects for a joint European-American aid program to underdeveloped areas of the world. Following the program, Kennedy and Mrs. Roosevelt held a press conference addressing the Senator’s newsworthy announcement earlier that day. When asked for her views on Kennedy’s entry into the presidential race, Mrs. Roosevelt declined to comment, indicating that she would not be “for or against any candidate until after the convention.” Eventually, Mrs. Roosevelt became an ardent supporter of Kennedy and joined his administration as chair of the newly-created Commission on the Status of Women. Kennedy returned to “Prospects of Mankind” two more times after assuming the U.S. presidency: first to discuss the new Peace Corps (1961), and finally to address the status of women (1962).

For information on how to access recordings of John F. Kennedy on "Prospects of Mankind," please contact or 781.736.4686. To view a list of all episodes available in the Archives & Special Collections Department, click on the following link:

description by Karen Adler Abramson, Associate Director for University Archives & Special Collections