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A Grave for Gravity: How Tufts Pranksters “Helped” with Anti-Gravity Research
Posted on November 18, 2016 by Pamela Hopkins | Categories: features | | Add comment |

By Stefana Breitwieser

Here at Tufts DCA, we’ve recently installed our Fall 2016 Exhibit, Tufts Traditions: Then and Now. It showcases a number of student traditions over Tufts’ history, including many that are no longer practiced on campus today. We had a lot of traditions to choose from, and we decided to put a few bonus ones on the blog.

A Grave for Gravity: How Tufts Pranksters “Helped” with Anti-Gravity Research

If there was ever a time and place to commit minor vandalism in the name of science, Tufts University in the 1960s would be it. Inspired by an unusual campus monument, anonymous Tufts students attempted to send gravity to its grave, and the monument along with it.

The Gravity Stone was a gift to Tufts from Roger Babson, founder of the Gravity Research Foundation. He donated the monument in 1961, along with a monetary gift. By Spring of 1962, a tradition had already emerged around the Stone. Students dug a hole and pushed the Stone into it in order to see whether or not it succumbed to gravity. With no means to retrieve the 2000-pound Stone from the bottom of its grave, the students buried it. Tufts administrators initially decided it was best to “let sleeping monuments lie,” in part because they believed “that a similar occurrence would take place before the academic year was over,” but also because many students and faculty had been outspoken regarding the unscientific language of the Stone’s inscription. Tufts Building and Grounds workers eventually resurfaced the monument sometime in the early seventies, and it was continually moved by students and the administration until the Stone vanished in 1977.

Bill Houston, Duncan LaBay, and Steve Buckingham standing around the monument erected by the Gravity Research Foundation, 1973.

Historical materials collection. Loose prints, 1819-2009. Bill Houston, Duncan LaBay, and Steve Buckingham standing around the monument erected by the Gravity Research Foundation, 1973. UA136.002.DO.02881. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA. (accessed October 2, 2016).

The tradition is almost as eccentric as the circumstances it arose from. Babson’s interest in anti-gravity research began after his grandson tragically drowned, which Babson attributed to the forces of gravity. After predicting the 1929 stock market crash and investing accordingly, he had the means to fund his research interest and donated a significant amount of stocks to universities across the country. At Tufts, stock was to accrue until 1999, at which point the total value was to be donated toward anti-gravity research. This gift was accompanied by the Gravity Stone, which reads:

“This monument has been erected by the Gravity Research Foundation… It is to remind students of the blessings forthcoming when a semi-insulator is discovered in order to harness gravity as a free power and reduce air plane accidents.”

Campus newspapers reveal that it has been a curiosity since its arrival on campus, likely due to its tombstone-like appearance and odd inscription.


Tufts Daily, October 28, 2005.

Tufts Daily. Tufts Daily, 2005. Tufts Daily, October 28, 2005. UP029.026.050.00035. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA. (accessed October 3, 2016).

After its mysterious disappearance, the Gravity Stone was finally returned to the spot between Goddard Chapel and Eaton Hall sometime in the late 1980s, where it remains today. It seems that the grave-digging tradition has gone by the wayside, but a new quirky tradition has emerged in its place. Degree ceremonies for Tufts Institute of Cosmology now take place in front of the Stone, where faculty drop apples on the heads of graduates in order to emulate the moment Newton discovered the theory of gravity. Though students are no longer using it in their experiments, the Gravity Stone continues to inspire Tufts graduates to think about gravity in new ways.

Additional sources:

Facilities Management records, 1849-2004. Buildings and Grounds. Gravity Research Foundation, 1961-1962. Letter to Nils Y. Wessell from Leonard C. Mead dated September 18, 1962. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA.

The World According to Tufts: Class of 1991
Posted on May 19, 2016 by Pamela Hopkins | Categories: features | | |

By Katie Anderson

This summer, the Class of 1991 returns to the Tufts campus 25 years after their graduation. This exhibit, “The World According to Tufts,” aims to capture some of the elements that shaped student experiences.

Some obvious parallels emerged between this class and the other two profiled this year (Class of 1966, Class of 2006). War is an all too common theme. The Class of 1966 responded to the Vietnam War, while ’91 and ’06 both debated and protested conflicts in the Middle East. Women’s issues shared the limelight. “Take Back the Night” hit college campuses across the country, and a dialog around sexual harassment, consent, and safety coalesced. The Class of ’91 also navigated the AIDS crisis and LGB rights (transgender would not be added to the acronym until 1998). The Tufts LBG Resource Center would be established in 1992, shortly after the Class of ’91 departed.

In highlighting some Jumbo experiences, I didn’t want to exclusively focus on conflict and unrest. Luckily, the yearbook’s student staff compiled a fantastic yearbook in 1991, with page after page of quality photographs and thoughtful text. I looked upon the faces of these Jumbos twenty years my senior. So many smiles. So much silliness. I didn’t know any of these people, yet thumbing through one year of their lives felt deeply cathartic. Reunions are rooted in that catharsis, the tug of nostalgia and the unearthing of memories. Or perhaps just some sweet, satisfying revenge.

The Top Ten Favorite Tufts Traditions had some particular resonance. It seemed like an effective way to tailor the content to reflect the Tufts Class of ‘91, rather than the entire age group or the country at large. Whether you participate or not, you probably know your school traditions. By their very nature, they necessitate widespread recognition and easy transference from one class to the next. Furthermore, traditions are started and shaped by students, and that sense of ownership gives them more power than anything originating from the institution.

The Tufts Jumbo – Volume 66, 138.

The Tufts Jumbo – Volume 66, 138.

The most popular Tufts tradition perfectly illustrates this. No administrator dreamed up the West Hall Naked Quad Run (NQR). The chilly trot through campus took place every December as a way to relieve stress before finals. The NQR’s origins are admittedly a bit obscure. It had existed in a semi-organized form since at least 1981, and some Tufts alumni recall various groups streaking in the 1970s. In 1987, freshman year for the Class of ’91, West Hall became a co-ed dorm, and subsequently the NQR’s popularity grew immensely. Though the NQR eventually got the axe from the administration in 2011 amid safety concerns, it had been alive and well during the Class of ‘91’s tenure.

Another popular Tufts tradition, painting the cannon, is still thriving. The cannon, perched next to Goddard Chapel, arrived at Tufts in 1956 as a gift from the city of Medford and the Medford Historical Society.

A Jackson College student poses with the cannon, ca. 1960s.

A Jackson College student poses with the cannon, ca. 1960s.

The cannon was believed to be an original from the deck of the USS Constitution until 1987, when it was discovered to be a replica while it was being moved. Since 1977, the cannon has been painted to raise awareness for campus and global events, and sometimes as a personal billboard.

The Tufts Jumbo – Volume 66, 139.

The Tufts Jumbo – Volume 66, 139.

Another Tufts “tradition” further down the list employs some undisguised sarcasm to illuminate student grievances. At #15, the “10% tuition increase per year” was certainly unwelcome. Indeed, from 1987 to 1991, undergraduate tuition jumped 32 percent.

Reunion exhibits are not merely educational; we seek to evoke memories. It is challenging, and perhaps blasé, to attempt to capture an entire age group’s experiences, particularly one that began college before I was born. The Class of 1991 certainly did not arrive as freshmen with the same goals. Not everyone was politically engaged or participated in the same social events. Not everyone will remember the same activities, or as fondly. Our goal here was to recall a few key aspects of Jumbo life, and the viewer’s memories can take it from there, contextualizing these threads within their own personal experiences.


“The Naked Truth: NQR’s History Marred in Rumor and Conjecture.” The Tufts Daily, 8 January, 2008.

The Tufts Jumbo – Volume 66. Medford, MA: Tufts University, 1991.

Sauer, Anne et al. Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History. “The Cannon, 1956.” Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford ,MA. (accessed 28 March 2016).

Tufts LGBT Center. “Tufts Queer History Project Timeline: 1990’s.” (accessed 28 March 2016).

Tufts University Fact Book 1990-1991. Medford, MA: Tufts University, 1990.

Katie Anderson is a second year Master of Arts Candidate in History and Museum Studies at Tufts University.

The World According to Tufts: Facebook Arrives On Campus
Posted on May 17, 2016 by Pamela Hopkins | Categories: features | | |

By Sally Meyer

Located in the hallway leading to the Tower Café is a new exhibit related to this spring’s class reunions. The Class of 1966 is celebrating 50 years, the Class of 1991 celebrates 25 years, and the Class of 2006 celebrates ten years since graduation. Identifying events and objects related to the Class of 2006 to accurately portray their story was a formidable task. Most interestingly because I remember vividly the 2004 election, Hurricane Katrina, and other historic moments that affected the lives of the Class of 2006 in their four years of college. We decided to use and analyze these events to express what elements of student life have changed and those that are still familiar.

The exhibit is titled “The World According to Tufts,” which highlights how global events shaped Tufts students, and how Jumbos in turn participated in wider global movements. Events and movements like anti-war protests, divestment from South Africa, the AIDS crisis, and the feminist movement are paired alongside more subtle changes – notably, the arrival of to campus in 2004.

An article written in the Tufts Daily on April 27, 2004 reads “On top of TV, Playstation, AIM, e-mail, and Friendster, there is now a new online source of distraction available to Tufts students…”[1] Facebook was devised and developed by students at Harvard University, a few short miles from Tufts. Originally, users were required to have an email in order to participate. As Facebook expanded to other universities, it grew exponentially in popularity as a source of entertainment and personal connection.

Many were skeptical of Facebook, finding it “creepy” or “awkward” to connect with fellow students through the internet.[2] But only four years later the Tufts Daily published an article asking “Life without Facebook: Is it possible?”[3] Despite questions of privacy and the growing number of alternative social media platforms, Facebook has held on as an important part of college social life. Every club and campus organization has at least one, often multiple, Facebook groups or Twitter accounts. Developing and curating online profiles is second nature to today’s Jumbos.

Facebook has definitely developed in the twelve years since it came to Tufts and has changed student life and involvement, but many still view it in similar ways. Students in 2004 worried that it was a distraction and that many were too obsessed with their online profile. In 2006, student athletes at universities were asked to sign agreements to monitor their own online behavior, and some were instructed to delete their profiles all together.  Students still understand the importance of editing their words and actions on such a permanent platform and many block the site during finals to avoid procrastination.

Facebook and social media have also become an essential element to civic engagement, protest, and global involvement. Jumbos have been passionately involved in world events since the college was founded, and the development of social media platforms put information and events at students’ fingertips. Creating an “event” on Facebook is the first step in marketing protests, community meetings, and demonstrations. Students also use Facebook to question the administration and express their grievances. Just this past year, Tufts expanded its options for gender identity on a survey as a result of a student’s post.[4] Clearly, Facebook continues to encourage involvement in campus issues.

The Class of 2006 experienced monumental changes in their time at Tufts. Elections came and went, global conflict sparked and resolved, and a website grew into a worldwide phenomenon. Throughout the parts of Facebook that have and haven’t changed, the question still remains, is life without Facebook possible? Tufts survived for 152 years before it, so we can only assume that the student body will continue on after it’s gone. As the saying goes, “nothing lasts forever,” unless of course, you post it online.

[1] Alex Dretler. “As if You Needed Another Way to Procrastinate,” in the Tufts Daily, April 27, 2004.

[2]  Tufts Daily Staff. “I’m Not On Facebook, Thank You!,” in the Tufts Daily, April 22, 2005.

[3] Saumya Vaishampayan. “Life without Facebook: Is it possible?” in the Tufts Daily, December 3, 2008.

[4] Liam Knox. “Tufts to expand options for gender identity on Common App supplement,” in the Tufts Daily, March 17, 2006.

Sally Meyer is a second year Master of Arts Candidate in History and Museum Studies at Tufts University. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in History and Art History from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA in May, 2015.

The Records of CHEJ: A Rich History of the Environmental Movement
Posted on December 22, 2015 by Daniel Bullman | Categories: features | | |

By Dan Bullman and Rose Oliveira

Lois Gibbs founded The Center for Health, Environment, and Justice (CHEJ) as the Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Wastes (CCHW) in 1981. Though it began as an information clearinghouse for environmental health issues, its scope has since expanded into other avenues of support and activism within the environmental movement. CHEJ’s organizational archives are held here at Tufts Digital Collections and Archives, and our staff has spent the better part of 2015 processing 339 cubic feet of newly acquired material to make it available to the public. This material includes community newsletters, administrative files from the staff and the board, community reports, special projects files, audiovisual materials, and photographs.

Lois Gibbs speaking at 1996 Earth Day rally in Albany, NY.

Lois Gibbs speaking at 1996 Earth Day rally in Albany, New York. MS001.

The collection documents CHEJ’s efforts to support over 15,000 groups across the country that fight for healthy communities.[1] CHEJ empowers grassroots community groups to address public health threats and create change in their communities by providing organizational and training assistance to activists, offering scientific and technical services, lobbying for action to prevent or correct injustices, and gathering and producing information resources. The collection captures these efforts in a variety of media and documents the battles of the environmental movement.

April 1992 Protest against toxic landfill in Eagle Mountain, California.

1992 Protest against toxic landfill in Eagle Mountain, California. MS001.

The Special Projects series specifically documents some of the national campaigns that weave together concerned communities and environmental groups on a particular issue. Special projects files capture the research collected, materials created, and the organizational efforts to support these actions. Many significant campaigns regarding school siting, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and incineration can be found in this series. One example of the many projects CHEJ was involved with is the “Stop Dioxin Exposure Campaign,” which was a significant, long-term media awareness campaign focused on dioxin, the common name for a group of persistent toxic chemicals.[2] The campaign began in 1995, after the EPA released its first reassessment report on dioxin, to raise public awareness about the dangers of this hazardous chemical. Key elements of the campaign were to stop all forms of incineration, expose and challenge the targeted placement of dioxin in communities of low income and people of color, and promote safe alternative jobs, products, and technologies.[3]

"Stop Dioxin Exposure Now" rally at State House in Georgia.

“Stop Dioxin Exposure Now” rally at Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta, circa 1995-2000. MS001.

Protest against WTI in East Liverpool, Ohio.

Protest against WTI in East Liverpool, Ohio, circa 1989-1999. Photo by Becky Amman. MS001.

Many of CHEJ’s special projects and other activist efforts are visually documented in the photographs series of the collection. This series provides a visual history of the rich fabric of environmental activism in the United States and abroad since the Love Canal disaster of the late 1970s. The photographs included in this post are only a small fraction of the prints, negatives, slides, contact sheets, and digital images that exist in the collection.

Visit at Own Risk - Dangerous Area - Love Canal

Love Canal resident with sign about dangers of toxic waste in town, circa 1978-1979. MS001.

Protest against Shell Norco in Louisiana

Protest against Shell Norco in Louisiana, circa 2000-2002. MS001.

Processing for this collection is complete, and an updated finding aid is now available. For more information on accessing this collection, please contact DCA at or 617-627-3737.


[1] “Mission,”, accessed November 15, 2015,

[2] CHEJ, Standing Our Ground, 1.

[3] Center for Health, Environment, and Justice records, 1945-2015. Special Project files, 1950-2015. FOIA request and Dioxin Campaign Highlights, circa 2002-2003. Highlights of the Stop Dioxin Exposure Campaign, October 2002. MS001.021.066a. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA.


Rubin “Hurricane” Carter papers
Posted on December 14, 2015 by apruit01 | Categories: features | | |

Rubin Carter in a boxing promo picture, circa 1950s-1960s. Rubin "Hurricane" Carter papers, MS226.006.013.00003.

Rubin Carter in a boxing promo picture, circa 1950s-1960s. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter papers, MS226.006.013.00003.

We are very pleased to announce that the Rubin “Hurricane” Carter papers are now available for research at Digital Collections and Archives.

Rubin Carter (1937-2014) was a professional boxer with a powerful punching style that earned him the nickname “Hurricane” during his bouts in the 1960s. Despite intermittent trouble with the law, he had built a promising career that was cut short in 1966, when he and his friend John Artis were arrested and charged with committing three murders at the Lafayette Bar in Paterson, New Jersey. Although there were inconsistences in testimony and conflicting evidence, Carter and Artis were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Carter’s subsequent twenty-year struggle to overturn his wrongful conviction finally ended in 1985. H. Lee Sarokin of the United States District Court in Newark overturned Carter’s conviction, writing that the convictions “were predicated upon an appeal to racism rather than reason, and concealment rather than disclosure.”[1]

After his release from prison, Carter moved to Toronto, Canada, and served as the Executive Director of the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted from 1993-2004. He also worked with the Innocence Project to exonerate the wrongfully convicted, and founded Innocence International in 2004. Carter donated his personal papers, documenting his career as a legal rights advocate, to Tufts University Digital Collections and Archives in 2014. They have recently been processed and made available for research. (For more detail, please see the finding aid available in the Tufts Digital Library.)

From L to R: Lesra Martin, John Artis, Rubin Carter, Denzel Washington, and Cheryl Martin, circa 1999.

From L to R: Lesra Martin, John Artis, Rubin Carter, Denzel Washington, and Cheryl Martin, circa 1999. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter papers, MS226.006.013.00031.

Carter’s story is probably best known in popular culture from the 1975 Bob Dylan song “Hurricane” and the 1999 film The Hurricane, starring Denzel Washington. But his papers reveal the man in much greater depth than a song or a movie allow. The Carter papers include many of his notes and writings from his time in prison in the 1970s and 1980s, and show a man seeking wisdom in a seemingly meaningless and futile situation. Later, in his book Eye of the Hurricane: My Path from Darkness to Freedom (2011), Carter wrote “For me, and I know this must seem ironic, prison was the one environment that allowed me to recapture the pure joy of being alive moment to moment. My survival depended on it. Otherwise, I would have perished of despair.” [2]

The papers also bear witness to Carter’s mission to bring this hope to other wrongfully convicted prisoners. His correspondence, court case documents, and subject files all show him working on behalf of these prisoners, many of whom were later exonerated. His generosity is evident – in letters to old friends who needed a loan and to a student he never met but whose education he helped to fund. While much of the collection deals with very serious and occasionally heartbreaking subject matter, it also records Carter’s triumphs and joys.

Phoenix, Rubin Carter's cat, at his home at 155 Delaware Ave in Toronto, Canada. MS226.006.013.00007

Phoenix, Rubin Carter’s cat, at his home at 155 Delaware Ave in Toronto, Canada. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter papers, MS226.006.013.00007.

As a boxer, Carter was known for his ferocity and his preferred emblem was a panther, which he admired for its speed; later, living in Toronto, he had a beloved housecat named Phoenix. [3] Carter wrote that Phoenix was “a downtown city cat, a big tabby. The uptown cats kept their distance, but they soon warmed up when they learned that Phoenix was as beautiful on the inside as he was on the outside.” [4] When Carter’s house burned down in an electrical fire in 2004 while he was on vacation in Jamaica, Phoenix escaped to the basement. The fire left its mark on Carter’s papers, however, as smoke damage. An attempt at remediation left the papers smelling strongly of deodorizing crystals. Carter’s original file folders were too damaged to keep and were replaced with archival folders, although the original titles (where they existed) were transferred to the new folders so that Carter’s intellectual organization of the materials remains intact.

One of Carter's speeches, showing smoke damage from the fire.

One of Carter’s speeches, showing smoke damage from the fire. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter papers, MS226.009.001.0012.00023.

Certain folders, especially in the subject files, therefore have occasionally surprising contents. The folder “FBI files – incomplete” includes one of my favorite letters, Carter’s reply to a correspondent asking for his favorite recipe. Among folders about Carter’s resignation from the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted is the folder “Wheels,” which contains torn-out pages from a magazine featuring some very nice (you guessed it) wheels. It is items like these that provide a more personal context from within which to view Carter’s life and work. The collection includes business and financial records, clippings and programs, correspondence, notes, writings, and speeches, subject files, court cases, photographs, and numerous awards and honors. It will be a valuable resource for those studying racism in the United States, social justice movements, and legal and prison reform. The collection also offers great insight into Carter himself, whose career bore out his philosophy: “What happens to us in life is less important than what we do with what happens to us.” [5]

For more information about this collection, please see the finding aid. For more information on accessing this collection, please contact DCA at or 617-627-3737.


[1] State v. Rafferty. 621 F. Supp. 533 (1985) at 534; quoted in Paul B. Wice, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter and the American Justice System (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2000),183.

[2] Rubin Carter and Ken Klonsky, Eye of the Hurricane: My Path from Darkness to Freedom (Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 2011), 3.

[3] James S. Hirsch, Hurricane: The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000), 77-78.

[4] Carter, 8.

[5] Ibid, 11.

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter papers. MS226. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA.


Rubin “Hurricane” Carter Papers Open for Research at Digital Collections and Archives
Posted on December 1, 2015 by Daniel Santamaria | Categories: features | | |


We are very pleased to announce that the Rubin “Hurricane” Carter papers are now available for research at Digital Collections and Archives. An official University press release is below and we’ll be posting more about the collection soon. In the meantime, please contact us with any questions.

Rubin Carter Papers Open for Research at Tufts University

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. – (November 30, 2015) — The personal papers of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a professional boxer and legal rights advocate who spent nearly 20 years in prison for murder convictions that were later overturned, are now part of the collections of the Digital Collections and Archives at Tufts University. The papers are open and available for research to students, faculty and other researchers.

Carter, a middleweight boxer, spent 19 years in prison for a triple murder in Paterson, N.J., before a federal judge ruled in 1985 that he and John Artis, who was with Carter on the night of the shootings, did not receive fair trials and ordered them released. In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge H. Lee Sarokin cited “grave constitutional violations.” He wrote that Carter’s prosecution was “predicated upon an appeal to racism rather than reason, and concealment rather than disclosure.” Before his release, Carter’s case attracted international attention, and Carter was the subject of Bob Dylan’s song “Hurricane.”

Rubin Carter in a boxing promo picture, circa 1950s-1960s. Rubin "Hurricane" Carter papers, MS226.006.013.00003.

Rubin Carter in a boxing promo picture, circa 1950s-1960s. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter papers, MS226.006.013.00003.

The Rubin “Hurricane” Carter papers consist of 19 boxes of correspondence; notes, writings and speeches; extensive subject files; and records of court cases documenting Carter’s life and work. The collection also includes photographs of Carter and others, numerous awards and honors and artifacts. Subject files include memos, agendas, minutes, correspondence and reports from the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted.

The collection documents Carter’s involvement with non-profit legal organizations seeking to exonerate those wrongly convicted, and his career as a motivational speaker and author, as well as his personal life. Subjects include social justice, legal reform, philosophy and boxing.

The bulk of the material dates from the mid-1990s through the 2000s, although there are notes, writings and correspondence dating back to Carter’s imprisonment in the 1970s and 1980s. More detailed description of the material is available in the finding aid for the collection, which is available in the Tufts Digital Library.

Dan Santamaria, director of Digital Collections and Archives at Tufts, said, “We are very excited to make the Rubin Carter papers available for use at Tufts. In addition to telling the fascinating story of Rubin Carter’s life, we see the papers as a tool for exploring issues surrounding incarceration and imprisonment in the United States. We will collaborate with Tufts colleagues at the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy and the Institute for Global Leadership to help students, faculty, and others concerned with these issues find connections and inspiration in this and other archival collections.”

Rubin Carter was born on May 6, 1937, in Clifton, N.J. to Lloyd and Bertha Carter. At age 14, he was convicted of robbery and assault and sent to the Jamesburg Home for Boys in New Jersey, from which he escaped at age 17 to join the Army. There he took up boxing, and was discharged in 1956. A year later he was convicted of robbery and assault and spent four years in Trenton State Prison. He became a professional boxer on his release in 1961, narrowly losing the World Boxing Association middleweight championship in 1964. Carter and his friend John Artis were arrested in 1966 and charged with committing three murders at the Lafayette Bar in Paterson, N.J. Despite inconsistencies in testimony and conflicting evidence, Carter and Artis were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.

While in prison, Carter published The Sixteenth Round: From Number 1 Contender to #45472 (1974). Musician Bob Dylan read the book and visited Carter in prison in 1975, leading to the composition of his song “Hurricane,” which raised public awareness of Carter and his case. The two identifying witnesses recanted their testimony, and in March 1976 the New Jersey Supreme Court overturned the convictions of both Artis and Carter.

At a second trial in December 1976, prosecutors argued that Carter and Artis were motivated by racial revenge, and they were again convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Carter and lead attorney Myron Beldock continued to appeal his conviction with the assistance of members of a Canadian commune. On November 7, 1985, Judge Sarokin of the United States District Court in Newark overturned the second conviction and ruled that the prosecutors had withheld evidence and violated the defendants’ constitutional rights. Carter was released the next day after a bail hearing.

In 1988, Carter moved to Toronto, Canada. In addition to a career as a popular motivational speaker, he was the executive director of the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted from 1993 to 2004. He worked with the Innocence Project to exonerate the wrongfully convicted and founded Innocence International in 2004. His autobiography, Eye of the Hurricane: My Path from Darkness to Freedom, written with Ken Klonsky, was published in 2011. Carter has received numerous awards and honors, including honorary doctorates from Griffith University and York University and an honorary championship belt from the World Boxing Council. In 1999, “The Hurricane,” a movie based on Carter’s experiences was released starring Denzel Washington in the title role.

In 2011 Carter was invited by the Tufts Institute for Global Leadership and the Africana Center to speak at Tufts on his life, as chronicled in his book. His talk, entitled “Going the Distance,” was arranged by Thom Kidrin, his friend of 38 years and the executor and trustee of his estate.

Carter donated his papers to Tufts Digital Collections and Archives as a research resource for proactive engagement by students and researchers under the Center for Race and Democracy, and the Institute for Global Leadership. John Artis has worked, and will continue to work closely with Kidrin and with Tufts Digital Collections and Archives throughout the processing of these papers and associated projects.

Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoy a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university’s schools is widely encouraged.


Digital Collections and Archives (DCA) maintains the Tufts University Archives and related archival collections that support the teaching and research mission of Tufts University by ensuring the enduring preservation and accessibility of the university’s permanently valuable records and collections. DCA collaborates with members of the Tufts community and others to develop tools to discover and access collections to support teaching, research, and administrative needs in addition to providing reference and instruction services.


The Center for the Study of Race and Democracy (CSRD) is devoted to conceptualizing the intersection between race and democracy at the local, national, and international levels. On this score, it focuses on the pivotal contributions of ordinary activists, iconic anti-racist political activists, intellectuals, elected officials, and cultural workers. Based on the belief that history informs contemporary struggles for democracy and public policy, the Center seeks to participate in a public conversation about the very meaning of racial, social, and political justice. 


The Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University is an incubator of innovative ways to educate learners at all levels to understand and engage with difficult global issues. The IGL develops new generations of effective and ethical leaders who are able and driven to comprehend complexity, reflect cultural and political nuance and engage as responsible global citizens in anticipating and confronting the world’s most pressing problems.



In honor of Electronic Records Day
Posted on October 10, 2015 by Margaret Peachy | Categories: features | |  Tagged:  , , |

In the last few years, it has become the norm for archival repositories to accept hybrid collections – that is, collections that have both paper and digital records. The digital records may come in on legacy media such as floppy disks or zip disks, in the form of a network transfer from administrative offices that have to transfer records to the archives on a regular basis, or as an entire computer, where the computer and its contents can sometimes be of equal value (see what Emory University did with Salman Rushdie’s computers).

Here at Tufts DCA, I am in the process of updating and creating policies and procedures around stabilizing legacy media, preserving the digital records, and providing access to them through finding aid description. A few months into being the new Digital Archivist, I have already set up our FRED (Forensic Recovery of Evidence Device) and established workflows for using FTK Imager and Library of Congress’ Bagger tool, all of which allow archivists to recover data from physical media without changing anything about the files (like the last modified date), and package it for long-term storage.

DCA's FRED and monitor

DCA’s FRED, ready to capture some forensic disk images.


In the near future, DCA will be exploring ways to provide access to born-digital archives to as wide an audience as possible. In the meantime, researchers interested in Tufts history can explore the many resources available in the Tufts Digital Library, including over 25,000 photographs, or contact us directly at


McIlroy Fluid Network Analyzer analog computer, 1958

Jumbos in Protest: Student Activism at Tufts, 1965-2015
Posted on September 3, 2015 by Daniel Bullman | Categories: exhibits | | |

A new Digital Collections and Archives exhibit, “Jumbos in Protest: Student Activism at Tufts, 1965-2015,” is now on display on the second floor of the Tisch Library, near the entrance of the Tower Café. This exhibit of materials from DCA’s collections highlights a variety of student movements that took place on campus in the past five decades. Over the last fifty years, Tufts students have organized to protest apartheid in South Africa, American involvement in foreign wars such as Vietnam and Iraq, and for an end to discrimination against women and LGBT individuals, among numerous other causes.

Protest and social justice activism has been an integral part of Tufts history from the school’s foundation in 1852. The Universalists who founded and supported the College were steeped in a tradition of abolitionist activism.[1] Remnants of Tufts College’s involvement in the anti-slavery movement are still visible on campus today. If you take a walk past the Cousens Gymnasium, you may notice a stone with a placard dedicated to George Luther Stearns, an ardent abolitionist and supporter of Tufts. Stearns was famous for being one of the “Secret Six” who financed John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry.[2]

Strike Center on Medford campus, circa 1970

Strike Center on Medford campus, circa 1970

The standing display case features materials that cover the entire fifty-year span of the exhibit. Items range from photographs of the Vietnam War protests to rally flyers of anti-racist organizations. Some highlights of the exhibit are news articles about protests against the Gulf and Iraq wars in 1991 and 2003, a flyer from the Tufts Gay Community (TGC), and a list of demands from African American students in 1968.

The flat display case features items related to the anti-apartheid protests of the 1970s and ‘80s, as well as climate change activism of the recent past. The sit-in that took place at Ballou Hall this past spring happened almost thirty years to the day of a similar occupation by anti-apartheid protesters in 1985. Both events received extensive coverage in the Tufts Daily; articles from each sit-in are on display in this exhibit.


Students protesting Apartheid, April 29, 1978

Students protesting Apartheid, April 29, 1978

The exhibit was curated, designed, and installed by Dan Bullman, Archives and Research Assistant. It will be on display until January 2015. If you want to learn more about the history of student activism at Tufts, feel free to contact the DCA at You can also drop by our office on Level G of the Tisch Library from Monday-Friday 9 am-3:30 pm.

[1] Russell Miller, Light on the Hill, Volume I: A History of Tufts College 1852-1952 (Beacon Press: Boston, MA), 7-8.

[2] See: Otto Scott, The Secret Six: John Brown and the Abolitionist Movement (NYT Books: New York, NY) and Charles E. Heller, Portrait of an Abolitionist: A Biography of George Luther Stearns (Greenwood Press: Westport, CT).

The Order of the Coffee Pot Welcomes You!
Posted on September 2, 2015 by Rose Oliveira | Categories: events, exhibits, features | | |

For the original see Activities and organizations records, UA024.001.006.00008

For the original see Activities and organizations records, UA024.001.006.00008

The DCA cordially invites you to join the Order of the Coffee Pot! On September 5th as part of Tisch Library’s Freshman Open House, the Digital Collections and Archives (DCA) welcomes new students, their families, and all interested parties to explore Tufts traditions with coffee and iced tea, postcards and buttons, and an opportunity to win a Dunkin’ Donuts Gift card!

The Order of the Coffee Pot was one of the early secret societies at Tufts. As Russell Miller noted, secret societies at this time were equivalent to fraternities[1] and were not really secret. The Order of the Coffee Pot was exclusively created for upperclassmen in their last two years at Tufts[2] and was formed in 1858 as an offshoot of the Theta Delta Chi Fraternity.[3] Augustus E. Scott, a founding member of the order, recalled the genesis of the group in a 1906 celebration of the Kappa Charge.[3] He explains that after “students who were inclined to more studious things had gone to bed”[4] late night suppers would occur. Food for these late night meals was procured from locked pantries using shovels to extract cakes and pies, while eggs were had from hens located behind their dormitory. Coffee accompanied these treats, providing the basis for late night meetings, and the Order of the Coffee Pot was born. Members of the Order of Coffee Pot were given a silver badge engraved with a coffee pot and the Latin phrase “Quum nobis placeat, cujus referet” – which translates to “Since it pleases us, whose business is it?”[5] This badge was worn at all public occasions where coffee was served.[6] The order lasted for ten years, 1858-1868, eventually dwindling away.

In 1951, there was an attempt to revive the Order of the Coffee Pot as a student organization that intended to be truly secret and was formed “to foster good fellowship on the Hill.”[7] As reported in the Tufts Weekly, the new Order of the Coffee Pot was to be a self-perpetuating group manned by two members from the sophomore, junior, and senior classes. Based on a similar group in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the Order of the Coffee Pot was charged with publicizing school events in fun and entertaining ways. These secret members would be revealed at the end of their senior year in the Weekly and new members would be chosen from the freshmen class in secret.[8] Despite the good intentions, no exposé of the members was published in the Weekly; it appears that the Order did not get off the ground.

However, we at the DCA thought it was a perfect institution to revive. So on September 5th, in honor of good fellowship and Tufts traditions, we are having our own celebration. Although no treats will have been gathered with a shovel, nor hens robbed of their eggs, we will offer refreshments and a peek into other interesting traditions that occurred at Tufts. We will have a mini-exhibit in the Reading Room touching on some early traditions at Tufts like the Jackson College baby parties, the Horribles parade, the periodic dunking of freshmen at the Reservoir, and beanies and bows, just to name a few. Those who come to the exhibit can enjoy our specially created buttons and postcards and enter to win a gift card to Dunkin’ Donuts, a New England tradition.

We look forward to meeting you and inducting you into the Order of the Coffee Pot!

[1] Russell Miller, Light on the Hill: A history of Tufts College 1852-1952 (Boston: Beacon Press Books, 1966), 384.
[2] Miller, 384.
[3] Nathan Marvin, “Kappa Charge: Its Founding & History,” Kappa Charge of Theta Delta Chi, Last Accessed September 2, 2015, .
[3] Theta Delta Chi. “Kappa SemiCentennial ” The Shield: Official Publication of the Theta Delta Chi Fraternity, 22:1 (March 1906), 266. Google Book.
[4] Theta Delta Chi, 266.
[5] Theta Delta Chi, 266.
[6] Alaric Bertrans Start, ed. History of Tufts College, 1854-1896 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: University Press, 1897), 35.
[7] Bob Cox, “Coffee Pot Society Formed to Perk Up School Spirit.” Tufts Weekly LVI, 2 (October 4, 1951): 3.
[8]Cox, 3.

40 Years Later: Remembering Vietnam War at Tufts
Posted on April 30, 2015 by Daniel Bullman | Categories: features | | 1 comment |

Today marks four decades since the end of the Vietnam War, a conflict in which left approximately 3.1 million Vietnamese and over 58,000 American soldiers dead.[1] The war made an impact on our entire nation and the Tufts community was no exception to this. This article will provide an overview of the war and focus on how the Tufts community responded to the conflict.

Students marching in protest of Vietnam War, October 1969

Students marching in protest of Vietnam War, October 1969

The roots of the Vietnam War lie in French colonial rule in Southeast Asia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. During World War II, as France fell to the Nazis, French colonies in Southeast Asia were occupied by Japanese troops. Local Vietnamese forces, led by Ho Chi Minh, developed a resistance movement to the Japanese occupation. At the end of the war in August 1945, Vietnam declared its independence, but France intended to retain the country as its own colony. As it became apparent the French were not leaving, the Vietnamese independence movement grew into a guerrilla struggle against French power. The Viet Minh, Ho Chi Minh’s guerrilla army, handed the French a series of stunning defeats, culminating in the route of French forces at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. This led to the effective withdrawal of the French and the division of the country into North Vietnam, with a Communist government in Hanoi, and South Vietnam, under the dictatorial rule of Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon.[2]

American involvement in Vietnam dates back to the early 1950s, when U.S. military advisors aided the French colonial authorities. The American troop presence in Vietnam escalated greatly during the John F. Kennedy administration, ballooning from several hundred advisers under Eisenhower to 16,000 troops by the time of Kennedy’s assassination.[3] In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson further escalated troop deployments in Vietnam after the Gulf of Tonkin attacks on American forces, which declassified documents later revealed may never have actually occurred.[4] At this point, the Vietnam conflict escalated into full-scale war, as American forces conducted systematic bombings in North Vietnam; by 1968 there were over 500,000 U.S. troops on the ground in Vietnam.[5]

In April 1965, Henry Cabot Lodge, then U.S. Senator and former Ambassador to Vietnam, delivered a hawkish speech at Tufts, declaring that a Communist victory in Vietnam would have grave consequences. Like JFK, he opposed withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam and called for continued military support of the government in South Vietnam.[6]

Opposition to the war by the Tufts community also began as early as 1965. An article in the Tufts Weekly of February 19, 1965 describes students’ participation in an antiwar rally on the Boston Common that drew 250 people.[7] At this point opposition to the war was still relatively small, both at Tufts and throughout the country. In 1965, there was still a general sense among the American people that military action in Vietnam was necessary, but public opposition to the war would grow into a mass movement as the 1960s progressed.[8]

Anti-war poster on Wessell Library wall

Anti-war poster on Wessell Library wall

A chapter of the radical student organization, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was formed in the fall of 1964. It would become one of the largest organized opponents of the war on the Tufts campus, in addition to other groups such as Young Socialist Alliance and the Committee to End the War in Vietnam. In March 1967, SDS brought Henry Aptheker to campus to speak as part of a national “Spring Mobilization to End the War.”[9] In the fall of the same year, students protested against the CIA and Dow Chemical Company, both of which had come to campus to recruit students. In the following year, the Student Council voted to ban military recruiting on campus, but Tufts President Burton Hallowell would not concede to this demand.[10]

The spring of 1970 was perhaps the pinnacle of antiwar activity on the Tufts campus. Antiwar events, such as a Dave Dellinger speaking engagement in March and an activist planning meeting in April, consistently drew hundreds of students. After Nixon’s April 30 announcement that the United States would be undertaking military action in Cambodia, protests erupted on campuses around the country. National Guard troops were even deployed on a number of campuses in an attempt to curb the protests. In Ohio, National Guard troops killed four people at Kent State University on May 4th, triggering a nationwide student strike that included approximately four million students, including many at Tufts. (On May 15, police killed two protesters at Jackson State, a historically Black college in Mississippi). Tufts students set up a strike center on the main campus and held rallies to protest the war and violence against protesters. The protests led to the effective cancellation of final exams, even though the University did not officially close.[11]

Marjorie Keller speaks at first strike meeting after death of students at Kent State University, 1970

Marjorie Keller speaks at first strike meeting after death of students at Kent State University, 1970

In addition to protests against military recruiting and the shootings at Kent State and Jackson State, the Fletcher School also became a target for antiwar activists’ ire. The most extreme example of this was firebombing of Dean Edward Gullion’s office in March 1971. Gullion felt as though he had been personally targeted by radicals because of his political views about Vietnam; though antiwar activists were suspected, the motivation behind the attack is unclear to this day because the perpetrators were never caught. Tufts SDS condemned the action as “absolutely indefensible” in a statement they released following the bombing.[12]

By and large, Tufts student protests against the war were peaceful. The main tactics were rallies, demonstrations, and teach-ins. In addition to events at Tufts, students participated in antiwar events off-campus as well. The Observer publicized a Boston Winter Soldier event, where returning veterans talked about their experiences in the war, in October 1971.[13] The following month, Tufts students participated in an antiwar rally organized by the Student Mobilization Committee (SMC) in Somerville.[14] Antiwar activities on-campus continued and intensified in the spring of 1972, culminating in student strikes in April and May of 1972.[15]

Public pressure on the Nixon administration and resistance within the U.S. military to the war pushed the country towards a peace deal.[16] The United States brokered the Paris Peace Accords of 1973, which stipulated peace terms and a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. military forces in Vietnam. Fighting still raged after the signing of the accords and it wasn’t until the end of 1973 that most American forces finally left Vietnam. The U.S. continued to supply military aid to the regime in South Vietnam, but this too was eventually scaled back. In March 1975, the North Vietnamese Army launched a final push that would lead to the surrender of the South Vietnamese government.[17] Surprisingly, the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, which ended the war between North and South Vietnam, passed without mention in pages of the Observer.

By the end of the war, over 58,000 American soldiers had died in Vietnam, including six Tufts alumni.[18] On November 13, 1984 a plaque was dedicated to these soldiers at the top of the Memorial Steps, inscribed with the quote: “In Remembrance of Those Members of the Tufts Community Who Served During the War in Southeast Asia.”[19]

To learn more about the Vietnam War at Tufts, you can visit us to view our historical collections at Digital Collections and Archives (DCA). We are located on Level G of the Tisch Library and our Reading Room hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00AM-3:30PM, except university holidays. You are welcome to make an appointment or ask any questions by sending an email to


[1] Philip Shenon, “20 Years After Victory, Vietnamese Communists Ponder How to Celebrate,” New York Times, April 23, 1995, accessed April 17, 2015, and Samantha Power, “War and Never Having to Say You’re Sorry,” New York Times, December 14, 2003, accessed April 24, 2015,

[2] The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, “Ngo Dinh Diem,” in Encyclopædia Britannica, accessed April 17, 2015

[3] “Vietnam,” John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, accessed April 17, 2015,

[4] Elisabeth Bumiller, “Records Show Doubts on ’64 Vietnam Crisis,” New York Times, July 14, 2010, accessed April 17, 2015,

[5] “Vietnam,” John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, accessed April 17, 2015,

[6] “Lodge: ‘Defend Viet Nam’” in Tufts Weekly, April 9, 1965, 1 and 8.

[7] Tufts Weekly, February 19, 1965, page 1.

[8] William L. Lunch and Peter W. Sperlich, “American Public Opinion and the War in Vietnam,” in The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Mar., 1979), 21-44.

[9] Russell Miller, Light on the Hill, Volume II: A History of Tufts University Since 1952 (MassMarket Books: Cambridge, MA), 270-272.

[10] Anne Sauer, et al., “Vietnam War, 1966-1973,” in Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History (Digital Collections and Archives: Medford, MA), accessed April 17, 2014,

[11] Ibid, see also: “The Report of the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest,” President’s Commission on Campus Unrest, Washington, DC, accessed April 24, 2015,

[12] Observer, March 22, 1971, pages 1 and 5.

[13] Observer, October 1, 1971, page 6.

[14] Observer, November 5, 1971, page 1.

[15] Observer, April 21, 1972, page 1 and Observer, May 4, 1972, page 1.

[16] Sir! No Sir! directed by David Zeiger (2005; Los Angeles, CA: Displaced Films), DVD.

[17] “US withdrawal” and “Fall of Saigon” in “Vietnam War: History,” BBC News, accessed April 24, 2015,

[18] UA029. Student body collection. DCA.

[19] “Memorial Dedicated to Tufts Vietnam Veterans,” Tufts Journal, Vol. 6, No. 7, page 1.