Friday in the Reading Room

As part of outreach and education here in the Archives, today we hosted graduate students who are taking a course called, “Modern Michigan” at the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan. The course covers the work of various architects between 1900-1960 and throughout the semester the class visits landmark sites in the area, including the GM Tech Center, the Packard Plant, Herman Miller, and Cranbrook (among others). We pulled a variety of architectural drawings and sketches from our collection for the students to view and ask questions. As a relatively new member of the Archives staff, I find these visits very rewarding. The students and instructors bring new perspectives and additional information that adds a new dimension to my knowledge of our collections.

University of Michigan graduate students from the School of Architecture and Urban Planning look at drawings in the reading room.

University of Michigan graduate students from the School of Architecture and Urban Planning look at drawings in the reading room.

Gina Tecos, Archivist

Alphabet Soup

This morning I was looking for an image from our collection to relate to the Cranbrook Art Museum’s newest exhibition “Read Image, See Text” to post on our Facebook page. I would hazard a guess to say that most, if not all, archivists love books almost as much as historic documents.  Though archives usually do not seek to collect books, and certainly are not lending libraries, books can often comprise part of a collection. So my search for a single image led me to think about the range of books we have in our collection.

The first was written by William O. Stevens, nearly 25 years before he became the first headmaster of Cranbrook School.  After receiving his doctorate at Yale, Stevens taught English at the U.S. Naval Academy for 21 years. The book, which satirized early 20th century Annapolis using twenty-six limericks and illustrations, became an instant success. Find out why it also became controversial.

William O. Stevens, An Annapolis Alphabet: Pictures and Limericks (Baltimore: The Lord Baltimore Press, 1906).

William O. Stevens, An Annapolis Alphabet: Pictures and Limericks (Baltimore: The Lord Baltimore Press, 1906).

The first edition poetry book below illustrates beautiful text and the tooled binding of the times. It is inscribed: “Ellen W. Scripps, a Christmas present from her Father [James E. Scripps], Detroit 1879.” The editor of the compilation, Henry T. Coates joined the publishing firm of Davis & Porter in 1966; Davis retired the following year and the company became Porter & Coates which became famous for creating Home and Garden magazine and publishing the Horatio Alger Junior titles.

Henry T. Coates (ed.), The Children’s Book of Poetry: carefully selected from the works of the best and most popular writers for children. (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1879).

Henry T. Coates (ed.), The Children’s Book of Poetry: carefully selected from the works of the best and most popular writers for children. (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1879).

Gustaf Strengell, the father of Cranbrook’s textile designer Marianne Strengell, composed and designed this handwritten analysis of the Swedish poet’s writings as part of his graduate thesis. Franz Michael Franzén’s (1772-1847) work expressed the romantic conception of nature as both idyllic and divine, and was influential in the development of Finnish poetry.

Gustaf Strengell., Franzén. (Helsinki, unpublished, 1898)

Gustaf Strengell, Franzén. (Helsinki, unpublished, 1898)

For a really great blog post about related collections, see: Graphic Arts Collection, Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University.

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

Photo Friday: Reporting the News in Style

Archivists never know what we might run across during the course of our daily work, which is, of course, part of the allure of the job! Today it was a photo of W Stoddard White (1913-1972) from the Lee A White Papers. (No typo – neither man used a period after his initial!)  Lee White (Stoddard’s father) was a personal friend and confidante of George Booth’s from the Detroit News. White followed Booth to Cranbrook once Cranbrook School was opened and was on the Board of Directors, later becoming head of the public relations department for the community. Clearly Stoddard followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a news reporter after his graduation from UM in 1935. (Interestingly, while at UM, he was in Sigma Chi along with Edgar Guest Jr.)

Stoddard White, Detroit News Employee, Oct 1935. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives, Lee A White Papers.

Stoddard White, Detroit News Employee, Oct 1935. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives, Lee A White Papers.

This photo caught my attention because of the content – what a great image of young Stoddard, as a Detroit News reporter, seated at his typewriter in what was likely the Detroit News Lockheed Vega airplane. Just one more reason I love my job!

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils

It’s that magical time of year again, daylight is a little bit shorter and parents begin to try and return their kids to a bedtime schedule –it’s back to school time. For some, this is a glorious time of year – a new beginning, the changing leaves as Fall ushers in. September always reminds me of a line from the movie, “You’ve Got Mail.” Joe Fox says to Kathleen Kelly in a chat room, “Don’t you love New York in the Fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”

Here at The Archives we often receive email and calls from alumni. I recently received an inquiry from a Kingswood alum who shared some amazing stories with me and also piqued my interest in student organizations here at Cranbrook.

From the first days at Cranbrook and Kingswood schools, clubs and organizations were an integral part of student life. In addition to student newspapers, literary publications, and government—students participated in riding clubs, glee club, bridge club, and the stamp club. In 1938, the Areopagus club saw its membership swell. According to The Brook, students could be found “arguing over some minor question that momentarily assumed importance.”

Cranbrook School Radio Club, 1935. Photographer, Richard G. Askew.

Cranbrook School Radio Club, 1935. Photographer, Richard G. Askew.

Several of the earliest clubs and organizations still exist at Cranbrook schools today, including the Radio Club and Ergasterion—an organization representing theatre productions. Other clubs continue to unite alumni, such as “The Trifling Monographs of Birmingham, Michigan,” which had its first meeting in September 1971. The five founding members were Susan Rice (a 5th grade teacher at Brookside School); Lucy Chase Williams, then a Kingswood junior; John Gerard, then a Cranbrook junior; and Michael A. Cooper and Dion Kerr, Cranbrook sophomores.

The club was a scion of the Baker Street Irregulars (BSI)—an organization of Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts founded in New York in 1932. The BSI is considered the preeminent Sherlockian group in the U.S. and has published the Baker Street Journal since 1946. A local member of the BSI was a mentor to The Trifling Monographs (TTM) and regularly quizzed the members. The group took several field trips and in 1972 traveled to Canada to see the Windsor Light Opera production of the musical, “Baker Street.” In 1973, when Williams matriculated to Yale, the TTM became a corresponding scion, and remains so to this day.

KS student Lucy Chase Williams, head of the TTM, reads an issue of the Clarion in the Kingswood School Common Room, 1973. Photograph courtesy of Lucy Chase Williams.

KS student Lucy Chase Williams, head of the TTM, reads an issue of The Clarion in the Kingswood School Common Room, 1973. Photograph courtesy of Lucy Chase Williams.

As students head back to school after the Labor Day weekend, they will have much to look forward to above and beyond their studies. Today the upper school boasts nearly 40 clubs and organizations, including Anime, Beekeeping, Wilderness Expedition, Chamber Music, and Random Acts of Kindness.

Gina Tecos, Archivist

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