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New Exhibits in Tisch Library – Student Protest Poster Collection
Posted on May 24, 2018 by Pamela Hopkins | Categories: features | | Add comment |

Digital Collections and Archives is pleased to announce a new exhibit in the lobby of Tisch Library here on the Medford Campus, drawn from our newly accessioned student protest posters collection.

Recent Archival Find

In April 2018, Digital Collections and Archives (DCA) was contacted by two residents of Metcalf Hall, Tufts students Vikram Krishnamachari (E19 Mechanical Engineering) and Chloe Amouyal (A20 International Relations). They had recently discovered that a long-sealed room in Metcalf contained what they called a “cool find” – protest posters, assorted residential life papers, and clothing from the early 1970s. They asked our staff to come and check out their find as soon as possible, as Metcalf is scheduled for renovation this summer and they wanted to be sure that this material was preserved.

Our archivists are pleased to report that Vikram and Chloe’s find is indeed cool and provides valuable evidence of student life at Tufts. These posters (only a small selection currently on display here) document Tufts students’ rich history of protest during the late 1960s to early 1970s, specifically around the war in Vietnam.

The posters are available for viewing in the DCA Reading Room, though processing of the collection will not be complete until Summer 2018. We will also be working on scanning all of the posters and making them available in the Tufts Digital Library (https://dl.tufts.edu).

 

Student Protest Poster referencing Kent State

Student Protest at Tufts (1967-1972)

Tufts has a long history of student activism, but one of the most acute periods of activism ran from 1967 to 1972. Opposition to the Vietnam War was the greatest catalyst for student protest, but students also protested U.S. involvement in South Africa during apartheid, for increased representation of and support for African-Americans on campus, and for greater student involvement in the Tufts administration. Opposition to the Vietnam War also prompted student protests against military recruitment and against the presence of the ROTC on campus.

In the fall of 1969, students organized a one-day boycott of classes in opposition to the Vietnam War, and staged a work stoppage, organized by the Afro-American Society, to protest discriminatory hiring practices by Volpe Construction, the contractors building Lewis Hall. During the 1970-1971 academic year there were a number of demonstrations by students and student groups. At the Fletcher School, the office of Dean Edmund Gullion was firebombed in March 1971 in an apparent act of opposition to his open support for the war and the School’s close ties to the military, which had both been a frequent source of criticism from Tufts activists. Student protest began to decline after the 1971-1972 academic year, as U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War drew to a close.

 

New Online Exhibit: Tufts Black Freedom Trail, a walking tour
Posted on February 26, 2018 by Sari Mauro | Categories: exhibits, features | |  Tagged:  |

We are excited and pleased to announce the availability of a new online exhibit from DCA and the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy!

Screenshot of the Tufts Black Freedom Trail walking tour online exhibit

Screenshot of the Tufts Black Freedom Trail walking tour online exhibit

This exhibit, built on the work of the late Professor Gerald R. Gill, documents and connects many of the places and moments in African American history at Tufts. The Tufts Black Freedom trail includes sites specific to the Tufts Medford/Somerville campus. For more information on the African American Freedom Trail Project at Tufts, which includes sites beyond the Tufts campus, please contact the Center for Race and the Study of Democracy.

The Tufts Black Freedom Trail was conceived of by the Professor Gerald Gill (1948-2007), a faculty member in the History department at Tufts University who taught African American history and worked to document Black history at the University. Material related to Professor Gill’s research can be found in the Gerald R. Gill Papers, held by Tufts Digital Collections and Archives. This exhibit is one of several based on Professor Gill’s work, including Another Light on the Hill: Black Students at Tufts.

The tour can be walked in any order, or visited virtually through the exhibit. As currently laid out, the sites start at the Stearns Estate Marker on College Avenue and move through campus towards Somerville and Powder House Square. We invite you to explore the Medford/Somerville campus, on foot or virtually, from your computer or from your phone, through this online exhibit enhanced with historic images from DCA’s archival collections!

Students: Donate your records to the Archives!
Posted on April 20, 2017 by Daniel Santamaria | Categories: features | | |

 

As the campus office charged with collecting and preserving Tufts history, Tufts Digital Collections and Archives is seeking to partner with student groups to document their activities. We accept records in about as many formats as you can imagine, including digital materials. We are especially interested in documenting the campus reaction to the 2016 election and its aftermath.

By placing your group’s records with us, you’ll ensure that your time at Tufts will be preserved for future generations of the Tufts community—including future generations of your group’s members.

Even if your organization existed for only a semester or around a single cause or event, documenting your organization with the University Archives means that its contributions to campus life will live on.

For more information please see our brochure on donating student organization records.

Archives staff will have a table at the Community Fair during Jumbo Days (April 20th and April 21st) and are always available to answer your questions at archives@tufts.edu or 617-627-3737.

 

Another Light on the Hill: Black students at Tufts – a new online exhibit
Posted on April 18, 2017 by Sari Mauro | Categories: exhibits, features | | |

“Although individual black alumni of Tufts have been duly recognized for their on-campus accomplishments, the overall experiences of black students, past and present, have largely remained unrecorded. This exhibit seeks to highlight the experiences of black students at Tufts over the course of the twentieth century.”

– Gerald Gill, Another Light on the Hill

Since the Gerald Gill Papers arrived here at Digital Collections and Archives last fall, we’ve been working to process and describe the collection. As we wrote earlier, we’ve also participated in the Center for Study of Race and Democracy symposium “The African American Freedom Trail Symposium at Tufts: The Past, Present, and Future of Black Boston” and developed a physical exhibit which can now be viewed in Tisch Library.  We’ve also been working to develop a new online exhibit based on Professor Gill’s work entitled Another Light on the Hill.
screen capture of Another Light on the Hill exhibit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Professor Gill’s Another Light on the Hill was a long term project that developed over many years. First exhibited in 1988, the Another Light on the Hill exhibit sought to tell the often-overlooked story of black alumni. The physical exhibit was staged three separate times before 2002 when Professor Gill wrote a version of the Another Light on the Hill manuscript for publication in Tufts Magazine. A portion of the Another Light on the Hill exhibit is on permanent display at the Africana Center at Tufts University.

Most of the resources from the original exhibits were drawn from archival collections held by Digital Collections and Archives (DCA) at Tufts University. In 2007 DCA began a collaboration with Professor Gill to recreate the physical exhibit as a permanent digital exhibit. This work ceased when Professor Gill passed away suddenly in July 2007.

The project undertaken in this online exhibit is significant, both in topic and in extent and will be debuted in multiple iterations. This first iteration contains text written by Professor Gill and applicable images to accompany the text. We have purposefully and specifically maintained the voice and stylistic choices of Professor Gill’s manuscript.

Ultimately, DCA intends for this exhibit to stand as an introductory resource for all who are interested in the history of black faculty, staff, and students at Tufts University, with a descriptive timeline of events as well as associated biographical and topical pages. As such, updates will be made to exhibit items, text, structure, and content on a rolling basis.

Tufts students, alumni, and faculty interested in participating in expanding this exhibit are encouraged to contact Tufts Digital Collections and Archives.

Another Light on the Hill is one of the first of DCA’s digital exhibits to premiere in Tufts’ new exhibit format on exhibits.tufts.edu. This new software makes it easier to build and maintain exhibits and creates a more uniform and user-friendly browser experience. Most importantly, in the spirit of Another Light on the Hill, we hope to use this technology to help bring other overlooked stories to light.

 

Celebrating the Gerald R. Gill Papers
Posted on April 10, 2017 by Pamela Hopkins | Categories: features | | |

Our staff at Digital Collections and Archives was very pleased to participate in the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy’s symposium “The Past Present and Future of Black and Native Boston,” which took place March 31st in Breed Memorial Hall. DCA staff provided support for students constructing an archival exhibit on display in Breed Hall that included images from the Tufts University Archives, as well as documents and photographs from the Gerald R. Gill Papers. The symposium included a celebration of the Gill Papers, with remarks from President Tony Monaco, Dr. Bernard Harleston, Professors Kendra Field, Kerri Greenidge, Pearl Robinson, and Jeanne Penvenne, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Jim Glaser, and DCA Director Dan Santamaria. Several speakers on the panel also offered moving remarks about Gerald Gill and the African American Freedom Trail project, and about their work on community-based public history programs around Boston. Seth Markle, Professor of History and International Studies at Trinity College, spoke movingly about his time as a student of Professor Gill, and quoted from Professor Gill’s book Meanness Mania, which was especially resonant in 2017.

In conjunction with the event Tufts DCA developed a new exhibit, “Selections from the Gerald R. Gill Papers,” in the Dranetz Tower Corridor, Tisch Library, which will be on display throughout the Spring semester. Curated by our Archives and Research Assistants, Stefana Breitwieser, Steven Gentry, and Sony Prosper, and our Archives Assistant, Fatima Niazy, this exhibit focuses on four broad areas of Professor Gerald R. Gill’s life as documented in his collection – Biography, Teaching, Scholarship, and Community.

Professor Gill’s papers reveal a deeply intersectional life focused on teaching and dedication to his students. The collection includes many photographs of current and former students, some documenting a vibrant slice of student life on the hill, others featuring Professor Gill in full academic regalia, beaming beside his students on their graduation day, as well as correspondence testifying to deep and lasting relationships as former students become fellow professionals, colleagues, and friends.

Highlights of the exhibit include Professor Gill’s teaching awards (he was selected as Professor of the Year in Massachusetts twice!); excerpts from three chapters of his unfinished book on African American protest in Boston titled Struggling Yet in Freedom’ s Birthplace: Black Protest Activities in Boston, 1930-1972; selections from his collection of political buttons; his groundbreaking article on black students at Tufts, “Another Light on the Hill,” which inspired him to create an exhibit of the same name; and fliers and invitations to events such as the planting of a tree in honor of African American alumni at Tufts.

Professor Gill also collected material created by Tufts students, alumni, and faculty of color. The flyers, photographs, and documents on display demonstrate the powerful connections formed between Gill and the Tufts community.

We hope you’ll come by to visit the exhibit and that you’ll leave with a deeper understanding of Professor Gill’s lasting – and ongoing – contributions to the Tufts community and how his work helped community members “understand Tufts and its history in ways that many had not appreciated before,” as a statement from President Lawrence Bacow put it after Professor Gill passed away.

For more information on the Gerald R. Gill papers, please see the finding aid in the Tufts Digital Library, or contact us at archives@tufts.edu.

 

The Gerald R. Gill Papers at Digital Collections and Archives
Posted on March 26, 2017 by Daniel Santamaria | Categories: events, exhibits, features, news | | |

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

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.

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

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 archives@tufts.edu.

The Rez
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).

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 Charlestown, this reservoir provided water to Charlestown, 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).

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).

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.

[ix] Ibid.

[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.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] Ibid.

[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.

[xxi] Ibid.

[xxii] Ibid.

[xxiii] Tufts Weekly, November. 9, 1950 (page 3), UP056.001.044.00008, Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA.

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

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. 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, 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. 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.


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.  http://hdl.handle.net/10427/1930

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.

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.

Sources:

“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.

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 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.”[1] 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.[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.

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