In the Archives: My Senior May Experience

I went into my Senior May Project hoping to find the “secrets” of Cranbrook. On the second or third day, Mr. Adkisson asked Desai, another Senior May student, and me why we chose the Archives. I said because I wanted to learn more—and because I thought it would be easy. What I meant to say is that I thought it would be low stress. Even though I didn’t uncover any “secrets,” I learned a lot about the history of Cranbrook Schools and had a very enjoyable (and low stress) Senior May experience.

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Aya Miller, CKU ’19, at work in the Archives Reading Room. Photo Kevin Adkisson.

My project was primarily scanning copies of The Cranbrook Kingswood Crane-Clarion to create a database of The Crane and moving the archival files to different shelving units. Along the way, I helped out with other Archives related tasks that came up. These included transferring larger files to and from Thornlea Studio, preparing displays for small tour groups, and picking out photos that could be used on the Center for Collections and Research Facebook page.

One of the high points of my experience was a task we did on the first day. Laura MacNewman, my supervisor, Mr. Adkisson, Desai, and I went to Christ Church Cranbrook in search of a friar within the Women’s Window. The friar was an insignia from the designer and glassmaker who constructed the window. We took a very narrow staircase, hidden in the wall, up to the bottom of the window. The area was so small that Mr. Adkisson could barely walk over with his tripod to take the picture. While we were up there, they turned the lights out in the main sanctuary. The daylight filtered in through the stained-glass window and gave the church a faint pink tint. I was awe struck; it was simply stunning. I felt like I was in a picture from National Geographic. That view and many other small things I learned helped make my time in the Archives memorable.

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A view from the Women’s Window at Christ Church Cranbrook. Photo by Aya Miller, CKU ’19.

As for scanning, I learned a lot about stories that were covered in the past. In the March 2006 issue of the Crane-Clarion there was a two-page article called “The Problem of ‘Self-Segregation’ at Cranbrook.” The article covered how minorities often group together and how white students don’t notice that the majority of their friends, as well as the majority of the school, is white. It takes editors that find these issues important to bring them to the forefront. Although for many it may be an uncomfortable subject, it is a necessary one to discuss.

I also read interesting articles about the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue that used to stand in Gordon Hall of Science. In reading the articles, I was surprised that the students had many contrasting opinions. Some people quoted were against the statue’s removal because they saw Lee as an American hero in terms of his post-War accomplishments and his fight for states’ rights in the Civil War. In the end, the faculty choose to remove it because Lee’s role as a leading general in support of slavery during the Civil War was offensive to many students and families. The coverage opened my eyes to different opinions and reaffirmed my belief that there are always many sides and opinions to a situation.

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Opinion section of The Cranbrook Kingswood Crane-Clarion, February 2005. Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives.

To put it simply, Senior May was great. The Archives was a relaxing and enjoyable place to work for the last three weeks of my Senior Year. I’m proud that I was able to help and make a difference, even if it was a small one. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I’ll be staying on throughout the summer to continue working as a volunteer. I’d like to thank those who work at the Center for Collections and Research as well as my supervisor, Laura MacNewman, for welcoming and hosting me.

Aya Miller, Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School 2019

Editor’s Note: The Senior May Project is a school-sponsored activity that encourages Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School seniors to acquire work experience in a field they are considering as a college major, a potential profession, and/or as a personal interest.

Aya Miller is a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and has been a boarding student at Cranbrook since 2015. Aya will be enrolling at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo this fall. The Center thanks her for her tireless efforts scanning important documents about Cranbrook’s history, and her volunteering to continue with us this summer. We know she will be a success as she embarks on the next phase of her education!

 

“My On-Hangers”: Virginia Kingswood Booth Vogel’s Charms

At the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research, we care for not only the historic objects on the campus, called Cultural Properties, but also the three-dimensional objects that often come in with Archival Collections, known as Realia.

These three-dimensional objects need different storage than the papers in archival collections. Often, these items are only listed as “Realia” in the Archives Finding Aids without individual descriptions- you have to pull out the box to know what is inside. For this reason, we are now recording Realia individually in our Collections Management System.

Recently, I have begun working to rehouse, catalog, and photograph the Realia in the Archives to make it more accessible and searchable. The first collection I worked on was the Virginia Kingswood Booth Vogel Papers, which contained some fun objects.

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Virginia Kingswood Booth on her European trip in 1920. Courtesy of Virginia Kingswood Booth Vogel Papers, Cranbrook Archives.

Virginia Kingswood Booth Vogel was born in 1908, the only daughter of Ralph Harman Booth and Myrtle Mary Batterman Booth. Ralph Harman Booth was a co-founder of Booth Newspapers and a brother of George Gough Booth, founder of Cranbrook.

“My On-Hangers” were what Virginia Kingswood Booth (Vogel) called the charms she collected on her European trip with her parents in 1920 at age 12. Virginia purchased the charms at the various stops on the trip. She found charms that represented the places they visited or an event that happened, like the cold she had (bedpan charm) or the baby born to a family friend (baby rattle). Some other examples are the globe, which represented the trip itself, and the 1910 Passion Play Medallion that was purchased when the family visited the town of Oberammergau, famous for (as readers of the blog know) its Passion Play. She would continue to collect charms on later trips, though none are as documented as those from the 1920 trip.

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Globe charm representing, to Virginia Kingswood Booth, the start of her European journey.

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1910 Passion Play Medallion.

These charms were originally stored in a box, wrapped in tissue, and tied together on strings. This made viewing individual charms difficult and, being tied together, caused unnecessary abrasion and wear. I removed each charm from the string and placed it in its own compartment in an acid-free tray. So that the charms would not get jumbled when moving the box, each one was sewn to a piece of foam.

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Some of the “On-Hangers” in their new, archival housing.

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Edelweiss charm in its new housing. The number indicates that the object is in Archives (ARC), in the Virginia Kingswood Booth Vogel papers (1999.1), in the 1920 collection of charms (.1), and that this is the 61st charm (.61).

Look for more fascinating discoveries in the coming weeks, as more Archival Realia is cataloged and rehoused.

-Leslie S. Mio, Associate Registrar

Photo Friday: Grotell & Himelhoch’s

In November of 1942, Maija Grotell displayed her wares among the latest fashions in the windows of Himelhoch’s department store in downtown Detroit. Grotell, Head of the Academy’s Department of Ceramics from 1938 to 1966, placed her vases, pots, and plates in a stage-set ceramics studio, replete with a painted kiln, bottles of glazes, and a potter’s wheel (made of what appears to be Papier-mâché).Grotell Himelhochs 1The clothes related directly to the vessels, with the sign reading: “Ceramics: Wonderful Muted Colors To Wear Under Winter Coats Inspired by Maija Grotell’s Ceramic Masterpieces.” Himelhoch’s sold the clothing, while the Grotell works were sold through the Detroit Artist’s Market.

The images are attributed to photographer Joseph Munroe, November 2, 1942.

– Kevin Adkisson, 2016-2019 Collections Fellow, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

NB: Himelhoch’s opened in 1907 and was on Detroit’s Washington Boulevard from 1923 to 1977. The lovely building is a National Historic Landmark and survives today as apartments.

A Final Reflection (2002-2018)

The “bananas went a-missing” and Kingswood School’s Chiquita Banana Scholarship. The thief who stole the (attributed to) Rembrant Peale portrait of George Washington and the mysterious return of Perseus on the porch of the Thornlea Studio Archives. Gates and andirons and architectural details like the lead conductors at Cranbrook House designed by New York metalsmith Oscar Bach. Cranbrook’s mid-century modern Edison House, the House of the Poet (never realized thank goodness!), Chanticleer Cottage (which used to be the chicken house), Walnut Cottage, Tower Cottage, and Brookside Cottage (also known as the Honeymoon Cottage or Stonybrook) which evolved from the original pump house.

Unidentified man on bridge (no, it is NOT George Booth) with the pump house in the background, ca 1915

And the people! The Italians who literally moved mountains of dirt and rocks, graded the roads, and built the stone walls and beautiful rock gardens that lined the campus.

Landscape architect Edward Eichstaedt, who designed the original planting plan around Jonah Pools and later worked on landscape design for Eero Saarinen’s General Motors Technical Center. The women who left their mark at Christ Church Cranbrook – Kathryn McEwen, Hildreth Meière, and silversmith Elizabeth Copeland. Cranbrook School’s art teacher John Cunningham and his mosaics (which can still be seen today) Kingswood School’s French teacher, Marthe Le Loupp, and Brookside’s dietician Flora Leslie.

Eichstaedt’s 1934 Planting Plan for the Lower basins

Notable national celebrities connected to Cranbrook: Leonard Bernstein, Dave Brubeck, Amelia Earhart, Henry Ford, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Anne Morrow Lindbergh to name just a few. But perhaps most interesting to me was learning the stories of those not so well known: Ebba Wicks Brown – the first registered female architect in the state of Oregon who came to Cranbrook to study architecture with Eliel Saarinen. Colonel Edwin S. George, a Detroit businessman and philanthropist who was affiliated with Cranbrook in a variety of ways – most notably for his contributions to the Institute of Science. Myrtle Hall – the first African American model at the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Cleo Dorman – another model who was infamous for collecting paintings of her done by famous artists. And so many, many more names still swirling around in my brain.

Curatorial scholars at work

Perhaps my greatest joy here has been to help researchers find the answer to their questions, and to guide them towards collections that they might not have thought of – which has often led to a change in the course of their research. I am very proud of the fact that Cranbrook Archives has an international reputation for exemplary service and for being so organized and easy to use. I will miss working with the many students, faculty, staff, researchers, and scholars as you have taught me as much, if not more, than I have taught you. Thank you for that.

And, thank you to the Cranbrook Kingswood Senior May students and the many archival graduate students who have worked on projects over the years, and a special thanks to the most amazing volunteers! We couldn’t have accomplished all that we have without you.

Graduate student (left) and dedicated volunteers at Thornlea Studio Archives

I will close my final Cranbrook blog post by doing what I have tried to do my entire 16 year career here – promote Cranbrook Archives. In the archival profession, one constant issue many of us face is how to demonstrate to our institutions and constituents the importance of an archives – why archives matter. I could wax on, but instead I leave you with this article in the hopes that all who read it will have a new appreciation for the work that archivists do every day to preserve institutional memory. History matters. Archives matter. I am proud that I played a small role in preserving Cranbrook’s rich history.

And on that note, I bid adieu.

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist (2002-2018)

First Female Graduates

We recently had a query in the Archives about who the first woman was to receive an MFA at the Academy of Art. Actually, there were two – both in Ceramics. Edna Vogel’s bio can be found in a previous blog post. The other woman was Florence Kee Chang, a Chinese-American from Hawaii. Born in 1915 in Wahiawa on Oahu Island, Chang attended the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California after high school, where she received her B.A. in Art Education in 1942. She immediately applied to Cranbrook, where she studied ceramics with Maija Grotell, weaving with Marianne Strengell, and took a course in Metals with Harry Bertoia.

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Chang’s bowl and vase acquired by Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1943 as part of the Acquisitions Honors. On the right is Chang’s mark.

In May 1943, Chang was part of the first class of MFA graduates at the newly accredited Academy of Art. She and Vogel were the only two women to receive degrees that inaugural year. In addition, the Academy purchased two of her pieces of pottery, for which she received an “Acquisitions Honor.”

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Although she was from Hawaii, Chang adapted well to winter in Michigan! Courtesy Margueritte Kimball Papers.

Very little is known about Chang after she graduated. In 1955, she traveled to Japan, where she worked for two years as an arts and crafts director for the U.S. Army as part of what became known as The Army Crafts Program. Chang returned to Hawaii where she passed away in 2001.

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Chang’s 1942 Christmas card reflects the Academy Art’s sculpture and architecture.

If you have any further information about Florence Kee Chang, please contact us!

– Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

By the Numbers: Cranbrook Center 2016

As this year comes to a close, the Center for Collections and Research has done some number crunching on 2016. Below, you’ll find information on visitors and events supported by the Center throughout the year. While we’re proud of our overall growth as a division of the Cranbrook Educational Community, we like to keep in mind that each number counted represents an individual person who’s had the opportunity to explore Cranbrook’s architecture or collections in depth and hopefully engage in meaningful ways with our history and legacy.

It’s been a fantastic year for the Center, and we’re excited about what’s on the drawing board for 2017. We hope to see you at future events (make sure you’re on our email list by contacting us) and hope you and yours have a very Happy New Year!

Archives

›› Responded to 803 unique requests from national and international users, including 439 email and 42 phone inquiries, 181 researchers in the Reading Room, and 141 group visitors
›› Responded to 578 unique requests from Cranbrook faculty and staff

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Friends of the Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives tour Cranbrook Archives, Sept. 2016

Tours

›› Offered 103 public Saarinen House Tours (in collaboration with Cranbrook Art Museum) to 584 visitors (April through October 2016) and provided 27 private tours for 124 visitors
›› Gave 48 public tours (20 sold out) to 387 visitors (April through October 2016) and provided 12 private tours for 132 visitors to the Frank Lloyd Wright Smith House (in collaboration with the Towbes Foundation)
›› Crafted custom campus tours for 392 visitors (April through October 2016)
›› Welcomed national and international conference attendees with groups sponsored by LaFargeHolcim Company, Switzerland; A4LE; the Congress for New Urbanism; and DoCoMoMo-US Day Away Tours
›› Led two sold-out Pewabic Pottery focused tours to Detroit (May and June
2016)
›› Led an Albert Kahn-themed tour to the University of Michigan (October 2016)
›› Engaged 195 guests Pewabic Pottery Walking Tours of the Cranbrook Campus

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Pewabic Pottery Walking Tour preparing to enter Saarinen House, Aug. 2016

Exhibitions

›› Presented Designs of the Times: 100 Years of Posters at Cranbrook (December 2015 through March 2016)
›› Organized Simple Forms, Stunning Glazes: The Gerald W. McNeely Collection of Pewabic Pottery in collaboration with Cranbrook Art Museum (December 2015 through August 2016)
›› Engaged 192 people at the opening and 18,827 people during the run of the Pewabic exhibition

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Simple Forms, Stunning Glazes in the lower level of the Cranbrook Art Museum, Dec.-Aug. 2016

Lectures & Events

›› Two historians and two artists, including Roberto Lugo from Vermont, spoke about the legacy of Pewabic Pottery to 65 people (February 2016)
›› Kendall Brown spoke about Japanese style gardens in America to 186 people (April 2016)
›› Crafted an “Edible Landscape” dinner for 63 guests with Gold Cash Gold that celebrated the centennial of the first performance in Cranbrook’s Greek Theatre (June 2016)
›› Premiered PBS’ newest American Master’s film Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future to 219 guests in deSalle Auditorium
›› 11 experts presented the Preserving Michigan Modern lecture series, in collaboration with the State Historic Preservation Office, to a total of 375 people (October and November 2016)
›› Celebrated the North American launch of the book Millesgården: The Home and Art of Carl Milles with a violin and piano concert of works by Beethoven, attracting 60 guests on a very snowy Sunday (December 2016)

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The red carpet and searchlights for the film premiere of Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future, Sept. 2016

-Jody Helme-Day, Administrative Assistant and Kevin Adkisson, Center Collections Fellow

Photo Friday: Field Trip!

Today the staff from the Center for Collections and Research hopped into a fancy van and headed off to Lansing to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Archives of Michigan. We really enjoyed our visit with State Archivist, Mark Harvey, and his staff. Here are few photos from our day away.

A view of just one of the storage areas at the Archives of Michigan.

A view of just one of the storage areas at the Archives of Michigan. Photographs courtesy of Leslie Edwards.

State Archivist, Mark Harvey, talks with our staff about processes at the Archives of Michigan.

State Archivist, Mark Harvey, talks with our staff about processes at the Archives of Michigan.

The Archives of Michigan is responsible for preserving the records of Michigan government and other public institutions. One example is the prison record of the notorious "Gypsy Bob."

The Archives of Michigan is responsible for preserving the records of Michigan government and other public institutions. One example is the prison record of the notorious “Gypsy Bob.”

Captivating "log marks" from early logging days in Michigan.

Captivating “log marks” from early logging days in Michigan.

Gina Tecos, Archivist

 

 

 

Phenomenologically Speaking

Ok, so I have to admit, I had no idea what the term “phenomenological” meant until yesterday when the Archives was host to a group of architecture students from Lawrence Technological Institute. Phenomenology was defined by the German philosopher Edmund Husserl as the philosophical study of the structures of experience and consciousness. So how does this fit in with architecture? Well, the idea that we experience architecture with all of our senses does seem perfectly logical and of course Cranbrook is a perfect example of that.

The two buildings the students focused on were the Cranbrook School Dining Hall and the Natatorium. If you have ever walked into either of those spaces, you can absolutely understand the phenomenological experience – the dining hall with its’ high vaulted ceilings, the Orrefors glass pendant light fixtures, and the 12 foot leaded glass windows that line the walls and throw patterns of light across the room – all of these contribute to both our visual and non-visual senses as we experience the space.

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Head Archivist, Leslie Edwards, discusses drawings with LTU students.

The Natatorium illustrates this concept even more dynamically. The complex use of materials – glazed exterior and interior brick, concrete block interior walls, the gray stone pool deck, the hand-glazed tiles in the locker rooms, and the use of mahogany for the walls, railing, and vertical louver panels – all contribute to the total sensation of the space. Add to that the windows that look out to the woods and the ceiling oculi that open up to the sky and you definitely experience phenomenology.

So thanks LTU students for teaching me something new when you came to the Archives to look at the architectural drawings. Days like this are another one of the perks of being a Cranbrook archivist.

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

Lions and Tigers and Mastodons, oh MI!

Don’t worry (or sorry!) if you thought this post was going to be about sports teams in the Detroit area. Today’s post is purely about scientific discovery and serendipity right here in Southeast Michigan! Last month local news services reported that the remains of a wooly mammoth had been discovered in Lima Township (Washtenaw County). This prompted me to do some research about these super-cool prehistoric elephant ancestors. According to the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology, mammoths and mastodons disappeared from this area about 11,700 years ago. Since that time, the remains of about 300 mastodons and 30 mammoths have been found in Michigan.

In 1934, a WPA project was underway when workers discovered bones while using a steam shovel in Bloomfield Hills. The remains, believed to be dinosaur bones by the workers, were brought to Cranbrook Institute of Science for identification. The bones were determined to be those of a mastodon – now known as “The Bloomfield Hills Mastodon.”

Excavation site of the Bloomfield Hills Mastodon, 1934. Cranbrook Archives.

Excavation site of the Bloomfield Hills mastodon, 1934. Cranbrook Archives.

Only the skull with a few vertebrae and ribs were recovered during the excavation of a small pond, which was deepened to form an artificial lake. The bones were uncovered in a residential district about a quarter of a mile east of Woodward Avenue near Charing Cross Road.

Jaw bone from Bloomfield Hills mastodon, 1934. Cranbrook Archives.

Jaw bone from Bloomfield Hills mastodon, 1934. Cranbrook Archives.

In 1972 a large bone was discovered by a Cranbrook grounds crewman during the process of cleaning up a dump. Warren Wittry, anthropologist and then-CIS director, identified the bone as the central portion of the right scapula of an adult Ice Age mastodon. A”dig” crew was gathered to search for additional bones, but alas only a few additional fragments were found.

Late in 1977, the Institute received an early Christmas present when a partial skull and section of tusk from a young mastodon were discovered by two high school students near Seymour Lake Road in Brandon Township in northern Oakland County. The Institute was very excited about the donation of the bones, which were in an excellent state of preservation. There have been several more mastodon discoveries in Michigan since the 1970s. Personally, I find these stories more interesting to follow than the local sports scene.

Gina Tecos, Archivist

Photo Friday: Autumn Traditions

With foliage nearing its peak color, there are many reminders of fall here on campus. The image below is yet another tribute to the season—the Kingswood School Autumn Festival. The first Athletic Association Carnival was held in December, 1932, and was the precursor to the Autumn Festival. By 1934 the annual event had been renamed by Headmistress Margaret Augur.

Themes varied, for example, the 1936 festival was fashioned after “modern” America and included an Apache dance and a skyscraper dance by the juniors with the sidewalks of New York as the background set. The 1939 theme was the Old South and ended with a rousing version of “Dixie” as the grand finale. The November 1939 Clarion reports, “Cranbrook as usual was well represented. After their hectic day of soccer, football, tea-dance, etc., we managed to wear them out, so that it was finally decided that bed at eleven was necessary for all. Thus ended the autumn festival.”

Autumn Festival, Oct 1944.

Autumn Festival, Oct 1944.

The 1944 theme (as shown above) simulated South America. Entertainment included costumed students singing “Down Argentina Way” and “Besame Mucho.” In addition to rumba and samba dancing, the night ended with a lively conga to “Cui Cui .” Wouldn’t it be fun if we could revive this tradition?

Gina Tecos, Archivist

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