Photo Friday: Documenting Exhibitions Across Campus

As many of you know, Cranbrook Archives is located in the lower level of Cranbrook Art Museum (CAM). At various times throughout the year, museum registrars and preparators install and de-install the exhibitions presented in the galleries at CAM. Over the past few weeks this process of de-installing exhibitions in the lower galleries started, in preparation for new exhibitions to take over these spaces.

The first exhibition held at Kingswood School in what is now the weaving studio. Primarily designs for Kingswood School, but includes costume designs by Pipsan Saarinen Swanson. Photographer, George W. Hance, 1932

I am always in awe of the work that goes into changing these spaces to support new ideas and work – from the vision and physical work of the preparator and staff to the tracking, un-packing, and condition reporting that is completed by the registrars – it is impressive! In our collections at the Archives, we have correspondence, exhibition files, posters, publications, and photographs to document more than 85 years of exhibitions not only from CAM, but also from Cranbrook Kingswood Schools, the Institute of Science, and exhibitions that faculty and students have participated in across the country.

Gina Tecos, Archivist

Keep this Farwelliana?

botanical-gleanings

Farwell, O.A. (1926). Botanical Gleanings in Michigan. The American Midland Naturalist, 10 (1).

Late last year, a small uncatalogued archive of Oliver A. Farwell’s collections was transferred to the Archives from the Institute of Science. The collection includes many of Farwell’s published works, reference journals, a small sampling of correspondence related to his career as a botanist and druggist, a copy of Farwelliana: An Account Of The Life And Botanical Work Of Oliver Atkins Farwell, 1867-1944 by Rogers McVaugh, Stanley A. Cain, and Dale J. Hagenah, and a portrait of Farwell.

Farwell, a botanist (by hobby), drug inspector (by trade), and librarian (after my own heart) was born December 13, 1867, in Boston Massachusetts to Oliver A. Farwell and Charlotte (Brockway) Farwell. Spending his formative years in the Copper Harbor area of Michigan, Farwell developed a lifelong affinity and commitment to the study of Michigan’s flora as both a hobby and occupation. A career employee (1892-1933) of the Parke, Davis and Company (Detroit, MI), Farwell was responsible for the pharmacognosy of raw botanical products. He was also a long standing member of a multiplicity of scholarly clubs with branches pertaining to botanical interests, including the Michigan Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic. Farwell’s large personal collections of herbarium specimens are housed at the Cranbrook Institute of Science.

new-species

Farwell, O.A. (1917). New Species and Varieties from Michigan and Rare or Interesting Plans of Michigan. Michigan Academy of Science Report, 19.

After a long and prolific career (serially numbered and unnumbered collections potentially totaling 15,000), Farwell passed away in Lake Linden, Michigan in 1944.

Upon first inspection of the transferred material it was noted that a large portion of the contents were duplicative and non-original works. This discovery begged the question: is this content relevant and worthy of archival preservation? And if so, here? We determined the answer to be yes to both questions, as the collection represents the contributions and scholarly process of an individual whose botanical collections and samplings are part of the Cranbrook narrative. Although they represent an accumulation of thought and process in a period of pharmacological unearthing now well surpassed by modern scientific process and procedure, the collection of materials represents a long commitment at Cranbrook to exploration and discovery. We determined: it was a keeper.

The Cranbrook Archives looks forward to sharing this unique collection with our researchers in the coming months. Be sure to check back for more updates on newly acquired collections and material.

farwell

Oliver Atkins Farwell, Winter 1934.

-Belinda Krencicki, Associate Archivist

Author’s Note: The Oliver A. Farwell Papers are located at the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections. For more detail, see the finding aid here.

A Rugged Individualist: Luella Schroeder

One of the best things about being an archivist here is learning about the amazing people connected to Cranbrook’s history. Part II of our posts for Women’s History month focuses on Luella C. Schroeder (1918-2004). In 1946, Schroeder was hired as an Assistant Preparator at Cranbrook Institute of Science. A woman of many talents, she worked at a book binding studio in Delaware and as a draftsman during World War II for Chrysler before taking the position at CIS.

Schroeder’s college studies were divided between the natural sciences and art. She later studied photography – a skill she relied on heavily at CIS – as the photographer of the Institute’s collections and exhibitions. A member of the Photographic Guild of Detroit, she was one of 100 photographers to be awarded a prize in Popular Photography magazine’s 1957 photo contest.

CISB4970

Schroeder preparing an exhibition, 1956. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

In addition to her photography work, Schroeder created dioramas and models for exhibits and taught lapidary classes. Her love of nature was evident in her creations for the Institute – from plant life to insects to bee hives. In 1954, she built an elaborate hive illustrating the lifecycle and production cycle of bees. Her work was admired and praised by her colleagues and visitors alike.

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Bee Hive exhibition, 1954. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

After working at CIS for 12 years, Schroeder left her position in 1958 to pursue her hobby of silver jewelry making. She fell in love with Vermont, and moved there to devote herself to her craft. In a 1961, Times-Argus article she was quoted, “I wish I could tell you why I love Vermont, maybe it’s because it is the last stand of the rugged individualists – the one place where people still really make their lives for themselves.”

Schroeder’s hobby became her life-work. She credited the Institute in making her jewelry more creative (due to her ability to cut gems which she learned while at CIS). Her work was on display at several museums nationally and abroad, and was exhibited at the 1964 World’s Fair. In 1965 she created a pin she titled, “Forged Sunburst.” America House re-named the pin “Solar Flair” in an advertisement in New Yorker magazine and Schroeder was deluged with orders.

schroederpin

Burlington Free Press, 13 May 1965. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Several pieces of Schroeder’s work were selected by the American House retail store in New York, which is sponsored by the American Craftsman Council. Her jewelry was also marketed by the Detroit Artist’s Market and the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts. In 1985, the Vermont Handcrafters bestowed a Lifetime Membership to Schroeder for her dedication to Vermont Crafts. Clearly her work and dedication made an impression on many – including the Cranbrook community.

Gina Tecos, Archivist

 

Opulence and Splendor

In the spring of 1927, Cranbrook founders George Gough and Ellen Scripps Booth traveled to Egypt. In addition to visiting Cairo and having their photograph taken after an hour long camelback ride, the Booths visited the tomb of the Egyptian Pharaoh, Tutankhamun (King Tut).

Letter from Cairo, Mar 1927.

Letter from Cairo, Mar 1927.

In a letter to his son Henry, Booth describes in detail the opulent beauty of the tomb: “When in Luxor we went to the Valley of the Kings and saw the tomb – that is we saw one room where the King lay. He is there still in one of the gold coffins – the mummy had over it a gold mask covering head and shoulders and many jeweled ribbons of gold covering the joints of the mummy cloth. Thimbles on each finger and toe… this lay inside a gorgeous solid gold coffin inlaid with stones. This was all in the finest carved sarcophagus and that inside a splendid wooden shrine – and this inside of a beautifully decorated room.”

Replica created by Egyptian artisans and purchased by George Booth in 1927. The original chair is in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Photograph courtesy of Cranbrook Institute of Science.

Replica created by Egyptian artisans and purchased by George Booth in 1927. The original chair is in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Photograph courtesy of Cranbrook Institute of Science.

The Booths also visited the Egyptian Museum while in Cairo. Booth writes that although there is still a great deal in the actual tomb, he is in awe of the exhibition’s craftsmanship and value. He was particularly interested in a chair that at the time was believed to be the State Chair of Queen Taia, wife of King Amenhotep III (grandfather of Tutankhamun). Booth writes to Henry, “I would cheerfully give $10,000 for the throne –  which is an ordinary sized chair, but beautifully wrought.”

Exhibition poster, 1973.

Exhibition poster, 1973.

As the original chair was not for sale, Booth commissioned a replica to be made for the Art Museum collection. The chair, of carved wood with relief decorations covered in gold leaf, was later determined to be the chair of Sitamun, an Egyptian princess (and thought by many scholars to be the mother of King Tutankhamun). The chair was lent to the Institute of Science for a 1973 exhibition titled, “Ancient Egypt and the Tomb of Tutankhamen”. In 1984 the chair was transferred from the Art Museum to the Institute of Science, where it still resides today.

Gina Tecos, Archivist

The Name Game

From the beginning of Cranbrook’s history in 1904, place names at Cranbrook have evolved and changed. Once the Booths turned the original mill pond into a lake, they named it first Glassenbury Lake (after Glassenbury, England), then it was known as Cranbrook Lake for a very short time, and ultimately Kingswood Lake. The man-made Jonah Lake (or Lake Jonah as it is also known) was originally called Lake Manitou. Brookside School was originally called Bloomfield Hills School and Cranbrook School was Cranbrook School for Boys. Although Brookside School retains its name, since 1985 when the boys and girls schools merged, they are jointly known as Cranbrook Kingswood Schools.

Building names have also changed, often due to an alteration in use or sometimes because they were dedicated to an influential or long-time faculty member.  The Garden House became the Cranbrook Pavilion and is now St. Dunstan’s Playhouse. The Cranbrook School academic building became Hoey Hall after former Headmaster Harry Hoey and what was originally called the “Arcade” is now known as the Peristyle at the Cranbrook Art Museum. Lyon House was first called Stonelea (after its owner Ralph Stone, a long-time friend of George Booth), then Belwood, then the Kyes House before being acquired by Cranbrook.

And even Cranbrook Educational Community is not our first name. In 1927, the Booths established The Cranbrook Foundation as the legal and financial entity that oversaw the then six institutions: Brookside School, Christ Church Cranbrook, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Cranbrook Institute of Science, Cranbrook School, and Kingswood School.

So, what is really in a name? How do we name our campus buildings and landmarks going forward and what legacy will we be imparting with them?

That said, I wish you all a Happy New Year! Or should I say Bonne année? Feliz Año Nuevo? Or maybe Xin nian kuai le?

(And thank you Stefanie Dlugosz-Acton for getting me thinking about names at Cranbrook!)

From the Virginia Kingswood Booth Vogel Papers.

From the Virginia Kingswood Booth Vogel Papers.

Leslie S. Edwards, Head Archivist

Photo Friday: Posters Tell a Story

The Cranbrook Archives exhibition, Designs of the Times: 100 Years of Posters at Cranbrook, opens this weekend. The exhibition documents events and performances that have enhanced and enriched the Cranbrook community for more than a century. The image below is just one of many that will be on display through March 20th, 2016.

yeoman

Performing Arts poster, 1955

This poster, signed “M.W.” was  designed by Michael Justin Wentworth (Cranbrook School ’56). In addition to designing posters, Wentworth was the art editor for both the Brook and the Crane, and designed the sets for the Ergasterion productions and the scenery for the bi-annual Operettas. He received his MA and MFA from University of Michigan, and his PhD from Harvard where he wrote his dissertation on the artist James Tissot, a lifelong interest.

The posters in the exhibition represent all areas of campus – we hope you come check it out!

Gina Tecos, 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

Edison House: A Modern Icon

Approaching the Cranbrook Institute of Science (CIS), one easily overlooks the low-set modern structure built into the eastern hillside. Shaded by trees and obscured by a brick courtyard wall, Edison House assumes a low profile much like its Modernist predecessors.

The 1960’s was a decade where modern conveniences flourished. Electric appliances began appearing in households across the country which made the lives of working families easier and more efficient. Backed by CIS’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, James Beresford, Director Robert T. Hatt and Detroit Edison’s Edwin O. George began plans for an innovative, all-electric residence that would suit their needs equally. Cranbrook would house scientists as part of the Distinguished Scholar Program, while Detroit Edison would have a showcase for their newest and greatest electrical equipment. The architect, William P. Smith Jr., was commissioned by Detroit Edison, and construction began in 1965. National and local firms contributed products, services, time, and funding to complete the house. Once construction was completed Detroit Edison turned Edison House over to CIS in a dedication ceremony held on June 1, 1966.

Thomas Edison's son, Charles Edison, visits Edison House Courtesy Detroit News, June 1966

Thomas Edison’s son, Charles Edison, visits Edison House
Courtesy Detroit News, June 1966

The finished product was a functionally efficient piece of art and an “outstanding demonstration of the application of science to everyday living.” Not only did it have the best and most innovative appliances, it was aesthetically advanced as well. The architectural style melds aspects of late Modernism and Art & Crafts. The broad eaves and natural material selection are reminiscent of the American Craftsman style home, while the clean-lines and mechanical innovations evolved from the Modernist International Style.

Also referred to as “Cranbrook’s New Idea Home,” a 1965 Detroit Free Press article described it as “organic contemporary in design.” Expansive windows run floor to ceiling which opened up the back face of the house to the surrounding natural landscape. Constructed of laminated redwood, extruded brick, and masonry, the home blends with its neighbors – the trees, grass and rocks. Broad overhanging eaves provide a feeling of shelter and enclosure. The natural backdrop contrasted with the interior’s modernist chrome and leather furnishings, and in true modernist style, linen drapes graced the windows in order to soften the hard surfaces. In addition to traditional living space, the open floor plan also accommodated conference rooms for faculty needs.

Dr. Robert Hatt in Edison House  living room, August 1966. Harvey Croze, photographer  Courtesy Cranbrook Archives

Dr. Robert Hatt in Edison House living room, August 1966. Harvey Croze, photographer. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives.

Every aspect of the 3,500 square foot house was intended to promote electronic living. Snow melting heating coils were laid under the pavement and built into the eaves and gutter system which trace the perimeter of the copper roof. Snow sensors were installed to automatically switch on the melting equipment. Electronically heated windows, state of the art at the time, line the lower-level family room. An invisible metallic coating spans the interior glass surface and is warmed by an electric current in order to remit just enough heat to reduce the cold.

The garage boasted automatic radio-operated door openers. In the master bedroom dressing room a sun lamp was mounted in the ceiling with a timer for automatic shut-off. A built-in toaster was installed adjacent to the breakfast table for easy access. The kitchen also held the control panel for the intercom system that reached every room in the house as well as the front door and terrace. Speakers on the terrace doubled as microphones so the residents could “pick up sounds of birds and other wildlife.”

After a summer as a demonstration house open to the public, Edison House was occupied by notable botanist and geneticist Karl Sax, the first Distinguished Scholar. Farrington Daniels, Denis L. Fox, and V. Elliott Smith followed. The last Edison House resident was mineralogist and CIS Director, Daniel E. Appleman, who was instrumental in the Earth Exhibit housed in the Institute’s 1996 addition designed by Steven Holl.

Over the past twenty years, Edison House has been used for a variety of purposes including office space for Events Planning and a staging area for IT infrastructure technicians. And although the once innovative electrical equipment is outdated and certainly not modern by contemporary standards, Edison House remains an icon of Michigan Modernist architecture. Edison House will celebrate its 60th anniversary in June 2016.

Originally authored by Stephanie White (2011); updated in July 2015

Cranbrook’s Tenuous Connection to “Crime of the Century”

Birdwatcher. It sounds so benign, doesn’t it? And difficult to reconcile with the infamous names of Leopold and Loeb, perpetrators of the “Crime of the Century” in 1924.

While refiling some material in the Cranbrook Institute of Science (CIS) Director’s Papers recently, I came across a folder labeled “Leopold, Nathan F., correspondence, 1924-1974.” Imagine my surprise—the name leapt out at me! Leopold was half of an infamous pair of murderers in the early 1920s. The correspondence file deals with Leopold’s experience as an amateur ornithologist. While a student at the University of Chicago he authored a monograph called “The Kirtland’s Warbler in its Summer Home,” published in the now defunct The Auk (Jan. 1924). The Kirtland’s warbler is considered a rare bird because in the summer, the only place in the world that it nests is a few counties in northern Michigan (upper and lower peninsulas), in Wisconsin and in Ontario.

Jan. 1924 issue of The Auk. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives

Jan. 1924 issue of The Auk. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives

Leopold’s explorations in ornithology were cut short when he followed his friend Richard Loeb’s challenge to commit a murder, to “see how it felt.” The two boys, from wealthy Chicago families, thought they could commit the perfect crime. On Loeb’s initiative they kidnapped the 14-year old son of a Chicago millionaire, murdered him and dumped the body. The pair were quickly apprehended and prosecuted, and faced the death penalty. Their rich parents were able to hire Clarence Darrow who won them life in prison.

Nathan Leopold was released in 1958, moving to Puerto Rico where he worked in medical research until his death in 1971. He contacted CIS director Dr. Robert Hatt in 1964 to see if the Institute was interested in receiving his diorama of a family of Kirtland’s warbler. “The birds were collected by me with a 16 gauge, double-barreled shotgun … in the late morning of June 20, 1923 … timed [for] the arrival in Oscoda of the only daily train south as would allow for preparing the birds for shipment to Chicago,” he explained in a letter to Hatt. Leopold chose Cranbrook, over the Smithsonian or the New York Museum of Natural History because “ … I believe that this typical Michigan bird should remain in Michigan …” He also donated correspondence with another birder, Douglas S. Middleton, started when he was in prison, and with a friend, Kate Friedman.

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Postcard sent to Leopold friend upon finding Kirkland's warbler. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives

Postcard Leopold sent to friend upon finding Kirtland’s warbler. Courtesy Cranbrook Archives

In a book called Life Plus 99 Years, Leopold explained that he was already in prison by the time the taxidermist completed the exhibit of the warbler. However, the warden allowed the Leopold family chauffeur to drive the exhibit to the prison for Leopold to view.

The diorama was part of a CIS exhibit called One Does Not Live Alone, under a section called “Conflict,” in June 19, 1967.

– Cheri Y. Gay, Archivist

Photo Friday: In the Shadow of Man

Photo courtesy National Geographic Society, photographer Hugo van Lawick.

Photo courtesy National Geographic Society, photographer Hugo van Lawick.

Fascinating and talented people visit the Cranbrook campus each year, including artists, educators, politicians, and scientists. Every so often, I come across something in the Archives which makes me think I wish I had been here then! This is one of those times – an illustrated lecture sponsored by Cranbrook Institute of Science, “In the Shadow of Man,” by Dr. Jane Goodall. Due to an anticipated large crowd, the April 1978 event was held off-campus in Birmingham Seaholm High School’s auditorium.

Gina Tecos, Archivist

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