Monthly Archives: November 2011

A.A. Milne

Alan Alexander Milne was born in Kilburn, London, England in 1882 and grew up at Henley House School, a small independent school in London run by his father. One of his teachers was H.G. Wells who taught there in 1889-90. Milne later attended Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, studying mathematics. While at Cambridge Milne edited and wrote for a student magazine, Granta, where he came to the attention of editors at Punch, a humor and satirical magazine. He would later work at Punch as an assistant editor. In 1913 Milne married Dorothy “Daphne” de Selincourt and together they had one child, Christopher Robin Milne, on whom was based the Christopher Robin character of his later Winnie the Pooh books. Milne retired to his farm after a stroke and brain surgery in 1952 left him an invalid. He died in 1956.

Materials on A.A. Milne and monographs of his works are located in the William S. Akin Rare Book Collection in the Wheaton College Special Collections.

“I kissed it more than once….”

Louis DaguerreToday, November 18th, is the anniversary of the birth of Louis Daguerre. Born in 1787, Daguerre desired to capture the life and people around him in permanent form. He began to do this with dioramas, which he invented, in the 1820s. By 1826 he had learned how to do this using an early form of photography. Partnering with Joseph Niepce, Daguerre was able to hone the skills he learned in order to greatly speed up the photographic process. Because of this daguerratype photographs became quite desirable and all the rage. This is exhibited several ways within the holdings of the Archives & Special Collections.

David Maas wrote in Marching to the Drumbeat of Abolitionism how Civil War soldiers treasured the images they received from loved ones. He said, “Photography was a novelty and soldiers loved to carry tintypes or daguerreotypes in their Bibles. Wheatonite Webster Moses wrote, ‘I still have your picture, which is next to my Bible. Should you have any photographs taken please send me one.’ Luther Hiatt’s letters were full of incessant pleas for his fiancee to have her photograph taken and send it to him. ‘Tira I should have got a picture of myself yesterday taken in Murfreesboro, but I did not have time. If ever I do go to a place where I can get one taken I will do it. I am still looking very anxiously for yours, if you don’t hurry and send it I shall forget how you look.’ When the photograph finally came he was overjoyed: ‘I received your photograph….I was very much pleased to receive it and I kissed it more than once just as I should do if I were to be with you. ‘”

The Jonathan Blanchard letters show several instances of a similar desire to possess these fixed images that Daguerre helped bring to the average person. In 1855 Jonathan Blanchard wrote to his daughter, Mary, who was away at school, asking for a daguerreotype of her. Also, Mary Blanchard’s mother, Catherine Avery Bent wrote to her in 1860 that she was having daguerreotypes taken of her parents’ portraits. Very quickly individuals saw the usefulness of recording information, in this case painted portraits, using the photographic medium.

Jonathan Edwards letters arrive at Wheaton

In recent days a collection of letters related to Jonathan Edwards, noted preacher, theologian and prominent figure of the Great Awakening, have been placed on deposit at the Wheaton College Special Collections. These sixteen original letters written by or to Jonathan Edwards were written from 1752 to 1756 and were previously held by the Rhode Island Historical Society. Noted Edwards biographer George Marsden cited one such letter from Elisha Williams to Jonathan Edwards written August 19, 1752 in his book Jonathan Edwards: A Life. The following letter highlights Edwards’ work as a missionary among Native Americans, namely the Mohawk people of upstate New York.

The Jonathan Edwards collection is available to researchers and students in the Manuscripts Reading Room of the Billy Graham Center (map). An exhibit featuring the letters is being planned for Fall 2012.

Dr. Elsie Storrs Dow

The stocky lady in the long black dress, striding confidently on short legs from class to class, was Dr. Elsie Dow, authority on Shakespeare and Browning. Born in Sycamore, Illinois in 1859, she graduated from Wheaton College in 1881. After employment in high schools and academies, she returned to Wheaton in 1889 as Professor of English Language and Literature. In addition to teaching Classics, History, Mathematics and English, she also served as registrar. Dow studied at Harvard, and in 1922, because of her outstanding achievements in literature, Lawrence College conferred upon her the Doctor of Letters degree. Popular on campus, she was in demand off campus, as well, as reader and speaker.

At the 1937 Homecoming chapel Dr. Buswell presided over the unveling of a portrait of Dow done by Frederick Mizen of Chicago. Herman Fischer accepted the painting for the college. After Elsie Dow spoke, Mignon Bollman McKenzie sang a special number composed for the occasion by Marion Downey and Corinne Smith. The piece was a musical setting of Miss Dow’s poem, “Whatsoever Things are Lovely.” The service was concluded with a benediction by Darien Straw.

For the 1941 inauguration of V. Raymond Edman she wrote:

My word of greeting to our new president is a very sincere welcome from the old to the new. I have been on this campus long enough to have been under the administration of each of our four presidents, and Wheaton has been to me in turn — President Jonathan Blanchard, President Charles Blanchard, President J. Oliver Buswell, Jr. — as it is to me in days to come, President Edman…I see the picture clearly, it is the heroic type. Wheaton will not be Wheaton if it ever loses that type as its head.

Upon her retirement in 1942 Darien Straw wrote:

When Miss Dow began teaching here she was an experienced teacher. Teachers were invited for reasons. I do not know that they ever applied for the job. Schedules were thirty hours a week. Salaries were low and pro-rated, so that the College was kept out of debt by paying all bills, and what was left was apportioned among the teachers with the understanding that accounts were closed at the end of each year. I doubt whether she ever had a written contract for salary yet. She taught all around the curriculum; if a department was short, she could substitute. It is rare for a woman to take a man’s chair and hold it for more than half a century. She did it. Always poised, always sedate, a thousand abstract Christian virtues embodied in the concrete; a walking literary library, with no slang version; among her pupils admired, among her students loved, wherever known and respected; Doctor Dow is thus held in high esteem by the trustees and carries with her ever their benediction and felicitation.

In 1944 100 friends honored Dow on her 85th birthday, visiting her home at 527 Kenilworth. Two outstanding features of the decorated dining room were the large centerpieces of red roses and two two-tier cakes; the latter were brought from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Miss Julia Blanchard assisted with refreshments during the afternoon. Friends and alumni, ranging throughout her 50-year teaching career, offered congratulations. Miss Dow received cards, flowers and gifts from those who could not attend. Special verse messages by Darien Straw and Judge Frank Herrick were read.

She died on October 29, 1944.

Orrin Tiffany

Orrin E. Tiffany was born March 27, 1868 to DeWitt and Lidia Parker Tiffany and grew up in Havana, Minnesota. After the death of his first wife of twenty-five years, Grace English, Dr. Tiffany married Kathrine Bellanger MacDonald in 1925. Dr. Tiffany came to Wheaton College in 1929 as Chairman of the Department of History and Social Sciences, and was Professor of American and Recent World History until his retirement in 1945. Among his students and faculty colleagues he was well known for his interest in world affairs; former graduates of the department frequently wrote to him for his views on international developments. Tiffany earned his A.B., A.M., and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Michigan, and was among the first recipients for the Phi Beta Kappa honor shortly after it was offered. In 1945, Seattle Pacific College conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. Before coming to Wheaton College, Dr. Tiffany held professorships and administrative posts at Greenville, Western Maryland, Seattle Pacific, and Whitworth College. In 1945 he attended the United Nations Conference on international organization in San Francisco. His most important contribution to scholarly writing was The Relations of the United States to the Canadian Rebellion of 1837-1838, published by the Buffalo Historical Society, and considered by recent historians as still “the most detailed study” and “the most satisfactory treatment of the subject.” Tiffany died February 2, 1950.

The Tiffany Memorial Lectures were established nearly fifty years ago in 1952 at Wheaton College in honor of the late Dr. Orrin Edward Tiffany. The aim of the Tiffany Memorial Lecture on Foreign Affairs is to foster interest in and understanding of international affairs on the college campus. Past speakers include Kenneth Landon, Robert McNamara, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Mark Hatfield, John Lewis Gaddis, Robert Pastor, Anthony Lake, Robert Seiple, and James Turner Johnson.

The Orrin Tiffany Papers are available to researchers at Wheaton College. The collection contains general biographical information on Dr. Tiffany, including information regarding his activity at Greenville College, Seattle Pacific College, Whitworth College, and Wheaton College. There are materials related to his book, Canadian Rebellion, and a series devoted to the Tiffany Memorial Lectures at Wheaton College. The materials relating to the Tiffany Lectures comprise the bulk of the collection.

The Longest Strike in History

Tom HigdonIn recent years much has been happening in the world of unions, collective rights and strikes. April 1st marks the anniversary of what has been called the longest strike in history. What makes the story of this strike amazing, along with its length, was who the strikers were. On April 1, 1914 the dismissal of the teachers of the local school in Burston, Norfolk, England took effect. Kitty and Tom Higdon were relieved of their duties. In response to this 66 of the school’s 72 children went on strike and marched about the village demanding the return of their teachers. Officially, the strike never ended.

In 1902 Parliament passed the Education Bill that stated that working-class children were entitled to an education. In places like Burston that education prepared students for little more than work in the factories, fields or domestic service. Christian educators like Tom and Kitty Higdon believed that that all children should have a better education than what many districts offered. They saw that education was an opportunity for a better life. In 1902 the Higdons began teaching near Aylsham, thirty-some miles from Burston. It was here, in this highly agricultural area, that they organized an agricultural workers union and help local workers make their way onto the local education committee. These committees were often dominated by farm owners who sought to be sure that students were educated sufficiently to work on local farms but not much more. With such limited education workers and their children often lived in squalid conditions and they often took children out of school whenever seasonal cheap labor was needed, thus hampering their education further.

By 1911 the Higdon’s work created a rift in the local community and they were dismissed. It was at this time that they moved south to Burston. In Burston the Higdons arrived and took up the posts of School Mistress and Assistant Master. Tom also served as a Methodist lay preacher. In this part of rural Norfolk the squires and farmers ruled and held sway over the workers, who were expected to work for very low wages–often barely enough to live on with both pay and living conditions at an appalling level. Housing was atrocious and people died because of conditions. The local rector’s salary was 15 times that of the average local worker.

Like Aylsham, the Higdon’s encouraged the workers to take matters into their own hands, especially through changing the Parish Council. It was the Parish Council that set the rates of pay for field workers. In 1914 the local workers were able to assume full control of the council after a full slate of local hands were elected. In response to their agitation the Higdons were removed as teachers by the local school council, a council still under the control of the farm owners. It was their removal that sparked the school strike. Kitty and Tom Higdon teaching on the green (from the Burston Rebellion)The school children marched to express their frustrations. The Higdons continued to teach the children on the local village green. To quell the defiance the school board took parents to court and fined them for failing maintain the enrollment of their children in school. When this didn’t succeed workers were evicted from their homes. The rector evicted workers from the land they rented to grow vegetables. Even the local Methodist minister was censured for aiding the students and their families. Eventually the students and teachers moved into local workshops and a “free” school was built and opened in 1917. It remained a “school of freedom” until 1939 when Tom Higdon’s death in 1939 when Kitty could no longer keep the school open.

The story of the strike is told in the 1985 film The Burston Rebellion directed by Norman Stone, whose papers are housed in the Special Collections.