Gerald R. Gill was a beloved faculty member in the History Department of Tufts University from 1980 to 2007. In those twenty-seven years he had a profound and lasting impact on the lives of his students and the Tufts community as a whole. This past fall Digital Collections and Archives accessioned nearly 150 boxes of material documenting Professor Gill’s life and work. The collection of papers, photographs, and digital files documents Gill’s teaching, research, and the lives and work of black faculty, staff, and students at Tufts.
Gerald R. Gill
Professor Gill was well known for his mentorship of his students, and for developing relationships that often extended beyond the students’ years at Tufts. He won numerous awards for teaching at Tufts and was twice named Massachusetts Professor of the year. Professor Gill was heavily involved with community service, working with students and student groups at Tufts and serving as a frequent commentator on events and topics involving Boston’s African American community on radio, television, and at community events. Professor Gill’s papers include hundreds of letters and photographs from students who thanked him for his mentorship or just provided updates about their lives. Gill also collected material on Tufts students, alumni, and faculty of color. The flyers, photographs, and documents in the collection demonstrate the powerful connections formed between Gill and the Tufts community.
Students on the Tufts Campus. Photograph from the Gerald R. Gill Papers.
Professor Gill’s scholarship focused on African American protest movements. His dissertation, Dissent, Discontent and Disinterest: Afro-American Opposition to the United States’ Wars of the Twentieth Century, evolved into published articles and a book project. At the time of his death, he was working on a history of African American protest in Boston, Struggling Yet in Freedom’ s Birthplace: Black Protest Activities in Boston, 1930-1972. Professor Gill’s work researching the African American community at Tufts resulted in “Another Light on the Hill” published in Tufts Magazine’s sesquicentennial issue, the first major history of African American undergraduates at Tufts. As President Bacow wrote in a message to the Tufts community after Professor Gill’s death, “helped us understand Tufts and its history in ways that many had not appreciated before.”
Beyond the Barricades Forum Materials, 1990
Professor Gill passed away suddenly in August 2007. In September 2016 his daughter, Ayanna Gill, donated nearly 150 boxes of records documenting his life and work to Tufts Digital Collection and Archives (DCA). Archives staff are currently working to process and describe the collection but an initial finding aid is available and the papers are open by appointment in the DCA reading room.
Beginning March 31st selections from the Gill Papers will be on exhibit in the Tisch Library lobby and a celebration of the Gerald Gill and Gill Papers will take place as part of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy’s symposium “The Past Present and Future of Black and Native Boston,” also on March 31st in Breed Memorial Hall. Digital Collections and Archives is also planning a long-term project to create an online exhibit based on Gerald Gill’s Another Light on the Hill, the first iteration of which will be available the week of March 27th. For more information on Gill Papers, please consult the finding aid or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on December 6, 2016 by Pamela Hopkins | Categories: features | |
By Steven Gentry
Digital Collections and Archives (DCA) unveiled our newest exhibit this fall: “Tufts Traditions: Then and Now.” Found in the two glass cases near the Tower Café, “Tufts Traditions: Then and Now” highlights some of the many traditions practiced by Tufts students over the years—from the “Baby Parties” of Jackson College to the Illumination Ceremony that today’s Tufts seniors experience the night before they graduate.
Tufts traditions are numerous and we found it impossible to highlight more than a fraction of the historical and modern traditions practiced by Tufts students. This blog post will expand on “Tufts Traditions: Then and Now” by discussing a Tufts architectural feature that, while no longer physically present on the Tufts Medford campus, continues to impact contemporary Tufts students: the Mystic Reservoir or, “The Rez.”[i]
Folsom, A.H. View of “the Rez,” ca. 1910. UA136.002.DO.02868. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA. http://hdl.handle.net/10427/402 (accessed September 30, 2016).
Built on the Hill in 1864 by the city of Charleston, this reservoir provided water to Charleston, Somerville, Chelsea, and Tufts College itself.[ii] Although Tufts College would not buy the Rez until shortly before its destruction, the Rez featured prominently in many Tufts traditions.[iii] These traditions included:
- Lighting bonfires, especially to celebrate Tufts’ athletic achievement over its rivals. As noted by Professor Edwin Rollins, “when Tufts won the annual football game from Bowdoin [in 1897] by a score of 20 to 8…[a] billboard was transferred to the hilltop where it made a marvelous blaze.”[iv] The Tufts Weekly reported that students lit a bonfire on the Rez after the Tufts baseball team defeated Harvard in April, 1898.[v]
- Standing on the Rez, especially, the “top of the stairs [of the Rez] near the West Hall pump house,” and proposing a date to another person.[vi] Students did not choose the Rez solely for the view: tradition held that “dates made on the Rez could never be broken.”[vii]
- Musical performances, such as “glee club recitals…[Spring performances] by the Tufts band and orchestra …[and] the annual college sings [that] were held on the banks of the Rez.”[viii] During these college sings “the entire college community would gather there and enjoy the cool breezes across the water, while listening to the various groups competing for the all-college championship.”[ix]
- The banning of first year Tufts students from approaching the Rez. According to Tufts legend, this ban began after a brawl between a Tufts senior and first year resulted in the former being tossed into the Rez.[x]
- Swimming and skating on the Rez, with the former seen as a rite of passage for Tufts students.[xi] However, such activities had their costs: two students were fined $10 in 1942 for illegally being on/in the Rez.[xii]
- Walking around the Rez and enjoying the scenery on quiet Sunday afternoons.[xiii] These ambles served as a way for students to chat with friends, faculty…or even potential love interests.[xiv]
Blanchard Printing Co. Map of Tufts College. 1930-1940. UA021.002.028.00003. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA. http://hdl.handle.net/10427/57096 (accessed September 30, 2016).
Not all traditions on the Rez were pleasant or mild. Since 1895, the Rez had the dubious honor as the setting for various drowning incidents.[xv] In 1949, June Livingstone reported on one of the more famous “cases” where a Tufts student—“Lonesome Laura”—drowned herself in the Rez after her husband broke her heart (both Livingstone, as well as the author of the original 1922 Tufts Weekly article, doubted Laura’s existence).[xvi] Additionally, numerous local papers noted that three children drowned in the Rez during the first half of the twentieth century, with William Blanker (of the Boston Globe) noting the Rez’s draining and emptying in 1944 because “three small children had drowned in it within recent years).[xvii] Perhaps inspired by the Rez’s history one Tufts alum recalled that fellow students would sneak to the Rez and lay out clothes of an unknown “victim”—an action that would prompt local police to search the Rez.[xviii]
Although a major landmark for Tufts students, Tufts College completely dismantled the Rez by 1948.[xix] It seems the rarely-utilized reservoir had become a “gaping, trash-littered and dangerous hole [that] should be filled in.”[xx] Although gone, the Rez is not forgotten—today’s Tufts students can live in the Residential Quad or enjoy a cup of coffee from “the Rez.”[xxi] For older alumni, however, a major part of Tufts vanished with the Rez’s deconstruction.[xxii] Consider this (truncated) article, published in an issue of The Tufts Weekly:
“In these long days of Indian Summer, when the warm sun bathes the campus in its amber rays, my thoughts drift back to the days of yesteryear. And the Rez. One could stand on the far side of the old Rez and see the noble outline of West Hall across its limpid waters. But you students of today only see a big expanse of dirt where the speckled trout lept [sic]…You students of today see the broad expanse of dirt where the blue of sky was reflected in the water…In the autumn warmth you students only see the broad expense [sic] of dirt…”[xxiii]
Rollins, Edwin B. View of campus from The Rez. MS054.003.DO.00980. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA. http://hdl.handle.net/10427/1941 (accessed September 30, 2016).
[i] Sources differ on the official name of this reservoir: it’s been alternatively called “The Mystic Water Works Reservoir” (e.g. Russell Miller, in his Light on the Hill) or the “Mystic Reservoir” (e.g. in William Blanker’s “Medford’s Mystic Reservoir, Historic Landmark, is Gone,” published in the October 14, 1948 issue of the Boston Globe).
[ii] Russell Miller, Light on the Hill: A History of Tufts College 1852-1952 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1966), 65; Facilities Management records, 1849-2004, Reservoir 1875-1967, UA021.001.015.00001, Tufts University, Digital Collections and Archives, Medford, MA; see also Traditions at Tufts, Traditions at Tufts 1959, UP153.001.001.00001, Tufts University, Digital Collections and Archives, Medford, MA.
[iii] Reservoir, 1865-1944, Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History, http://dl.tufts.edu/catalog/tei/tufts:UA069.005.DO.00001/chapter/R00003; Facilities Management records, Buildings and Grounds, Letter to Arthur Pierce dated 1923-12-05, UA021.001.015.00001, Tufts University, Digital Collections and Archives, Medford, MA.
[iv] Edwin B. Rollins papers, Notebooks, Through the years at Tufts 1940-1955, MS054.001.002.00004, Tufts University, Digital Collections and Archives, Medford, MA. See also: “A Decisive Victory: Bowdoin Defeated by a Score of 20 – 8,” Tufts Weekly, vol. 3 (1897): 1, see also 2 (“The Celebration”), UP056.001.001.00073, Tufts University, Digital Collections and Archives, Medford, MA.
[v] Edwin B. Rollins papers, Notebooks, Through the years at Tufts 1940-1955, MS054.001.002.00004, Tufts University, Digital Collections and Archives, Medford, MA. See also Tufts Weekly, “Harvard Yields to Tufts,” vol. 3 (1898): 1, see also page 2 (“The Celebration”), UP056.001.001.00090, Tufts University, Digital Collections and Archives, Medford, MA.
[vi] Facilities Management records, Buildings and Grounds, J.L. Wagman Essay on the Rez, UA021.001.015.00001 Tufts University, Digital Collections and Archives, Medford, MA.
[vii] Reservoir, 1865-1944, Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History, http://dl.tufts.edu/catalog/tei/tufts:UA069.005.DO.00001/chapter/R00003; Facilities Management records, Buildings and Grounds, Reservoir 1875-1967, UA021.001.015.00001.
[viii] Facilities Management records, Buildings and Grounds, “Medford’s Mystic Reservoir, Historic Landmark, is Gone,” UA021.001.015.00001, Tufts University, Digital Collections and Archives, Medford, MA. For additional information, see other items in this folder: Facilities Management records, Buildings and Grounds, Reservoir 1875-1967, UA021.001.015.00001.
[x] Reservoir, 1865-1944, Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History, http://dl.tufts.edu/catalog/tei/tufts:UA069.005.DO.00001/chapter/R00003; Facilities Management records, Buildings and Grounds, “Medford’s Mystic Reservoir, Historic Landmark, is Gone,” UA021.001.015.00001.
[xi] Facilities Management records, Buildings and Grounds, “Medford’s Mystic Reservoir, Historic Landmark, is Gone,” UA021.001.015.00001.
[xiv] Ibid.; Reservoir, 1865-1944, Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History, http://dl.tufts.edu/catalog/tei/tufts:UA069.005.DO.00001/chapter/R00003; see also Facilities Management records, Buildings and Grounds, Reservoir 1875-1967, UA021.001.015.00001; see also Traditions at Tufts, Traditions at Tufts 1959, UP153.001.001.00001.
[xv] Facilities Management records, Buildings and Grounds, J.L. Wagman Essay on the Rez, UA021.001.015.00001 Tufts University, Digital Collections and Archives, Medford, MA.
[xvi] Livingstone, June, “Reservoir Mystery Was Never Solved.” Tufts Weekly, vol. 54 (1949): 3, 7, UP056.001.043.00002, Digital Collections and Archives, Medford, MA; “Was There—Wasn’t There? Or Who Dropped the Note?: Sherlocks Encounter Problem in Green Depths of Rez,” Tufts Weekly, vol. 21 (1922): 1, UP056.001.014.00004, Tufts Digital Library, Digital Collections and Archives, Medford, MA.
[xvii] Reservoir, 1865-1944, Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History, http://dl.tufts.edu/catalog/tei/tufts:UA069.005.DO.00001/chapter/R00003; Facilities Management records, Buildings and Grounds (including William Blanker’s “Medford’s Mystic Reservoir, Historic Landmark, is Gone,”), UA021.001.015.00001, Tufts University, Digital Collections and Archives, Medford, MA.
[xviii] Facilities Management records, Buildings and Grounds, J.L. Wagman Essay on the Rez, UA021.001.015.00001, Tufts University, Digital Collections and Archives, Medford, MA; see also Traditions at Tufts, Traditions at Tufts 1959, UP153.001.001.00001.
[xix] Sources often note how Tufts bought the Rez for $1.00 in 1944 (e.g. “The First 150 Years,” Tufts Magazine, Spring 2002, 41).
[xx] Reservoir, 1865-1944, Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History, http://dl.tufts.edu/catalog/tei/tufts:UA069.005.DO.00001/chapter/R00003; Facilities Management records, Buildings and Grounds, “Medford’s Mystic Reservoir, Historic Landmark, is Gone,” UA021.001.015.00001.
[xxiii] Tufts Weekly, November. 9, 1950 (page 3), UP056.001.044.00008, Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA.
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.
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. http://hdl.handle.net/10427/2238 (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. Tufts Daily, 2005. Tufts Daily, October 28, 2005. UP029.026.050.00035. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA. http://hdl.handle.net/10427/44659 (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.
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.
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 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. http://hdl.handle.net/10427/1930
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.
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. http://hdl.handle.net/10427/14829 (accessed 28 March 2016).
Tufts LGBT Center. “Tufts Queer History Project Timeline: 1990’s.” http://ase.tufts.edu/lgbt/about/TQHP/1990s.asp (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.
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 www.thefacebook.com 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…www.thefacebook.com.” Facebook was devised and developed by students at Harvard University, a few short miles from Tufts. Originally, users were required to have an @harvard.edu 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. But only four years later the Tufts Daily published an article asking “Life without Facebook: Is it possible?” 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. 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.
 Alex Dretler. “As if You Needed Another Way to Procrastinate,” in the Tufts Daily, April 27, 2004.
 Tufts Daily Staff. “I’m Not On Facebook, Thank You!,” in the Tufts Daily, April 22, 2005.
 Saumya Vaishampayan. “Life without Facebook: Is it possible?” in the Tufts Daily, December 3, 2008.
 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.
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, New York. MS001.019.001.002.00051.00001
The collection documents CHEJ’s efforts to support over 15,000 groups across the country that fight for healthy communities. 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.
1992 Protest against toxic landfill in Eagle Mountain, California. MS001.019.001.001.00052.00001
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. 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.
“Stop Dioxin Exposure Now” rally at Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta, circa 1995-2000. MS001.019.001.002.00026.00001
Protest against WTI in East Liverpool, Ohio, circa 1989-1999. Photo by Becky Amman. MS001.019.001.002.00002.00002
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.
Love Canal resident with sign about dangers of toxic waste in town, circa 1978-1979. MS001.019.001.002.00055.00001
Protest against Shell Norco in Louisiana, circa 2000-2002. MS001.019.001.002.00054.00001
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 email@example.com or 617-627-3737.
 “Mission,”CHEJ.org, accessed November 15, 2015, http://chej.org/about/mission/.
 CHEJ, Standing Our Ground, 1.
 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 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.”
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. 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.” 
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. 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.  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.”  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. 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.” 
For more information about this collection, please see the finding aid. For more information on accessing this collection, please contact DCA at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-627-3737.
 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.
 Rubin Carter and Ken Klonsky, Eye of the Hurricane: My Path from Darkness to Freedom (Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 2011), 3.
 James S. Hirsch, Hurricane: The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000), 77-78.
 Carter, 8.
 Ibid, 11.
Rubin “Hurricane” Carter papers. MS226. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA.
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.
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 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, 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 email@example.com.
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 and were not really secret. The Order of the Coffee Pot was exclusively created for upperclassmen in their last two years at Tufts and was formed in 1858 as an offshoot of the Theta Delta Chi Fraternity. Augustus E. Scott, a founding member of the order, recalled the genesis of the group in a 1906 celebration of the Kappa Charge. He explains that after “students who were inclined to more studious things had gone to bed” 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?” This badge was worn at all public occasions where coffee was served. 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.” 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. 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!
 Russell Miller, Light on the Hill: A history of Tufts College 1852-1952 (Boston: Beacon Press Books, 1966), 384.
 Miller, 384.
 Nathan Marvin, “Kappa Charge: Its Founding & History,” Kappa Charge of Theta Delta Chi, Last Accessed September 2, 2015, https://www.kappacharge.org/public2.asp#found .
 Theta Delta Chi. “Kappa SemiCentennial ” The Shield: Official Publication of the Theta Delta Chi Fraternity, 22:1 (March 1906), 266. Google Book.
 Theta Delta Chi, 266.
 Theta Delta Chi, 266.
 Alaric Bertrans Start, ed. History of Tufts College, 1854-1896 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: University Press, 1897), 35.
 Bob Cox, “Coffee Pot Society Formed to Perk Up School Spirit.” Tufts Weekly LVI, 2 (October 4, 1951): 3.