Letters to Coca-Cola: Mary Tompkins Correspondence, 1918-1937

Lehigh’s University Libraries Special Collections contains a collection of diverse information.  One recent example is the Mary Tompkins Correspondence, which reflects a variety of research topics including: social commentary, business, genealogy, and transportation. This collection features letters written to Mary Frances Reid Tompkins (1908-2004) in the years between the World Wars by three generations of family members (1918-1937).  The letters from the Great Depression era are especially poignant in the family’s repeated requests to Mary Tompkins for financial aid. These letters also provide a rich source of information about how a formerly aristocratic Southern family coped with the devastation of their wealth and societal standing resulting from the Civil War.  Apparently, Mary Tompkins was one of the few people in her family with a secure and steady job, which was at the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, Georgia.  Coca-Cola was one of the very few American businesses that thrived during the Great Depression.  In an era when most companies cut back on advertising, Coca-Cola ramped theirs up.  In the early 1920s, Prohibition shut down bars that served beer and liquor.  In response, Coca-Cola came up with the slogan “The Pause That Refreshes” as a popular marketing campaign which associated drinking Coke as a part of the American way of life, promoting its consumption as a popular way for people to be sociable.  To further promote its product, Coca-Cola maintained the 5 cent price per bottle for 50 years, from 1909 to 1959, and developed the innovative six-pack cardboard carrier, which promoted buying multiple 5 cent bottles.  (http://www.coca-colacompany.com/history)

Mary Tompkins letter sent to Atlanta, Georgia.
Letter sent to Mary Tompkins in Atlanta, Georgia.

Many of the letters also had their envelopes included, which offered clues to Mary’s consistent address at Coco-Cola in Atlanta rather than a frequently changing residence.  Mary was very popular, having many friends and interests.  The letters requesting aid were sure to reach her at her business address.

 

A large portion of the letters requested financial aid, some letters from her grandmother, Mary Frances Reid Reese of Carrollton, Georgia, outlined the family’s former wealth and prominent Southern roots. This included the family’s relation to the Sallie Fannie Reid Guards Confederacy army unit, Governor of Georgia John M. Slaton (1866-1955), and Atlanta architect J. Neel Reid, who owned the well-known Antebellum house Mimosa Hall.

Among the envelopes is an unusual one: a commemorative issue from the Canal Zone noting the First Air Mail Express Flight.

Cristobal, Canal Zone to United States, May 1, 1930, Col. Charles A. Lindbergh, Pilot.
Cristobal, Canal Zone to United States, May 1, 1930, Col. Charles A. Lindbergh, Pilot.

The envelope is postmarked May 1, 1930 7 A.M. Cristobal, C.Z.  F.A.M. 5, and was sent from Peter W. Reese, an electrician for the Panama Railroad, who was a relative inviting Mary to visit him in Panama.  The F.A.M.-5 was a U.S. Post Office (Foreign Air Mail) designated contract airmail route flown by Pan American Airways that inaugurated the route from Miami, Florida to Central America. When combined with F.A.M.-6, this route would become known as the :Lindbergh Circle,” with flights circumnavigating the Caribbean. (see The Cornell Daily Sun, v. XLIX, n. 92, 7 Feb. 1929)

Letter sent to Wilmington, DE
Letter sent to Mary Tompkins in Wilmington, DE

In July 1934, Mary moved from Coca-Cola’s Atlanta headquarters to the bottling plant office in Wilmington, Delaware.  In the move, Mary met Lowry S. Danser (1912-2007) who worked for E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co. as a chemical engineer.  Lowry S. Danser earned a degree in chemical engineering from Lehigh in 1933, where he was involved with the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity and the swim team.  Mary and Lowry would eventually marry in 1939. Lowry Danser went on to have a successful career with DuPont, holding a U.S. patent for copper removal from chloroprene.  He and Mary lived abroad during numerous assignments for the company, including three years in Japan where they began collecting oriental art.  Lowry and Mary, were generous benefactors of Lehigh, gifting artwork and pottery to the University’s Art Gallery.  They were members of the Asa Packer Society and the Tower Society.  In 2004, Mr. Danser established the Mary T. and Lowry S. Danser ’33 Gift Annuity.  On his death in 2007, the Danser estate gift to the University established the Mary T. and Lowry S. Danser Distinguished Faculty Chair in Chemistry. They are buried in the Carrollton (Georgia) City Cemetery, the city postmark featured on many of the envelopes.  In death Mary Frances Tompkins Danser returned to her Southern roots.

Earth Day at Lehigh, April 22, 1970

Earth Day as we know it owes its creation to former U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson. A fitting byproduct of the Environmental Movement in the 1970’s, Earth Day promotes environmental awareness and falls on April 22nd each year.

Nelson took advantage of a political atmosphere ripened by the Teach-in movement, Vietnam War protesting, and the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, which dumped an estimated 80,000 barrels of crude oil into the Pacific. Remarkably, the Day achieved overwhelming support, drawing crowds of thousands all over the country to demonstrate environmental protection and mindfulness. College and university students did not waiver in their support of environmentalism either, sending a wave across the nation.

This wave of support made its way to Lehigh University, with the first Earth Day on April 22nd, 1970 being documented in the Brown and White student newspaper archives. Lecturers and activists visited campus and took a rather drastic tone, the front page reading: “Ecology Ethics Needed for Survival on Earth.” The message was to change our mindset and change our ways of life to accommodate an advancing world.

Humans, unlike most other species on Earth, feel entitled to manipulate and damage the environment for our benefit. “Most animals are born with an inherited wisdom” to not ruin the environment, professor and ecological pioneer Francis Trembley explained. Something needed to change in order for the human race to survive.

The week also featured other significant speakers, but Earth Day was met with some opposition that may still be relevant today. Many argued it was just a day to scare or cast a pessimistic shadow on human development. Still others saw it as mostly symbolic, not achieving any real revolution.

A student writer at the time expressed his opinion of Earth Day in a piece titled, “Earth Day Approach Wrong.” To summarize, pollution is advantageous in a capitalistic society; it’s profitable because being green and environmentally aware doesn’t make money. There’s no incentive. And, all the while students are being informed to change their ways, to take better care of their environment, but the government and large corporations are those who really should be taking notes. The problems of environmental pollution are more ingrained in the way society operates, the way resources are allocated and the way technology is utilized.

As Lehigh celebrates Earth Day again in 2017, it continues a long standing tradition. An Earth Day fair is scheduled to take place on the University front lawn, and the month is filled with other various events, but the questions posed in 1970 remain. And, matters are growing more complex with budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and climate change denial.

That’s no Moon!: The Story of Endor and its Link to Modern Culture

The Endor magazine, published at Lehigh University from 1959 to 1966, has had a profound effect on campus culture into the modern day. It also links Lehigh to some of the biggest names in popular culture. From faculty members who changed their fields to parents of actors, the Endor saw its share of famous names. It started as a publication “to fulfill the need for a literary journal on the Lehigh campus.” The magazine, which focused on more serious art and literature, started a movement for the arts on Lehigh’s campus during a time when the arts were looked down upon by a large majority of engineers on campus.

With its inception in 1959, Endor: A magazine of the arts was created to give students an output for their creativity and avoid the downfalls of the “staff-written” literary magazines of previous years. It also sought to avoid becoming a humor magazine, distinguishing itself from previous Lehigh publications such as the Burr. By the second issue in 1960, it had already gained traction on campus due to its wide variety of writers and represented fields. One article in the Brown and White reported that “When a finance professor (Eli Schwartz) contributes a witty poem, when an authority on 17th century English literature (Ray Armstrong) contributes an excellent short story, and when a music professor (Jonathon Elkus) contributes a provocative essay on contemporary jazz, then, indeed, Endor fulfills a most important function of a university – the extracurricular exchange of creative thinking and artistry.” This began to bring back the mission of a well rounded “gentleman” engineer that Asa Packer had envisioned when he created Lehigh University.

The Endor acts as a reminder of many famous names in Lehigh University history. Mentioned in the above quote, Jonathon Elkus was a music professor at Lehigh who became well known as a concert band composer and director. He eventually won the Edwin Franko Goldman Memorial Citation for his work. Elkus is also remembered for his work as the Director of the Marching 97. Another famous member of Lehigh’s past who is immortalized in the Endor is Professor James R. Frakes, assistant professor of English. In 1961, when the Endor was having a staffing problem, he stepped up as the faculty adviser for the magazine. James Frakes is probably better known to many as the father of actor Jonathan Frakes, who most famously portrayed Commander William T. Riker in Star Trek: The Next Generation. It is interesting that he would publish in a magazine named Endor, which is now known as a moon in the Star Wars universe instead of the ancient village in Galilee for which the magazine is named.

The Endor was able to increase the presence of the arts on campus despite its end in 1966. Poetry readings were increasing in attendance and prose reading was becoming more common. Professor Frakes was known for reading “poetry that conveys a ‘beat attitude of revolt and protest'” and believed beat or ‘beatnik’ poetry would be representative of the ’60s and 70’s. This brings us to the modern Lehigh setting, where open mic nights, concerts, and performances of all kinds can be found on campus and in Bethlehem. It is regrettable that the publication of such magazines will never have the appeal it once had due to the rise of the Internet. However, we now live in a world where all ideas and pieces of art can be shared despite there being fewer formal outlets, which may mean that our campus is looking forward to a cultural golden age.

All publications of the Endor are now available alongside Lehigh’s other student publications on the Internet Archive. Endor will also soon be available on the Lehigh Preserve.

 

Origyns and the History of Women at Lehigh

The history of women at Lehigh is one full of stories of struggles and victories, tragedies and comedies, and exclusion and inclusion. This history (which can be found at this link: http://www.lehigh.edu/~in40yrs/history/) tracks the efforts of women on campus to advance the goal of equality between the male and female genders. In 2001, 31 years after the decision to allow women as undergraduates, the Origyns magazine was released. The publication gave a voice to the women on campus to expose the issues impacting them, from rape to racial discrimination to sexuality. It was published yearly from its inception in 2001 to 2012.

T he first issue had a dedication “for those who have endured physical mental or emotional abuse.” This set the publications tone to be one for helping those women who have faced hardship and discrimination and give them a chance to tell their stories. Eleven years of stories, essays, poetry, and art are kept within the volumes which are now kept within the Lehigh Special Collections. It is hoped that the publications can continue to be of use to those in Women’s and Sexuality Studies along with those who wish to learn about the evolution of feminism on Lehigh’s campus.

 

Digital issues of the Origyns are archived in and accessible through the Lehigh Preserve: http://preserve.lehigh.edu/origyns/

Recent Transfer from the History Department

Special Collections has recently processed a new transfer from the History Department. The material in this collection is now open to researchers. More detailed information about this collection and its contents can be found in the ArchivesSpace finding aid. Special Collections also houses and has made public the personal papers of Professor Lawrence Henry Gipson.

The Department of History and Government was created in 1924 under the Presidency of Dr. Charles Russ Richards. There is no single document within the collection that explicitly describes the need for a Department of History and Government. Following Lehigh University’s creation by Asa Packer, it became primarily a scientific and engineering college. Nevertheless, the humanities and social sciences consistently grew in size. To accommodate this increased interest in the humanities, the History and Government department was formally established.

In 1924, President Richards brought Professor Lawrence Henry Gipson to Lehigh University to head the newly-created department. Gipson had previously been the head of the History Department at Wabash College in Indiana. Under Professor Gipson’s able leadership the department steadily grew in strength and prestige. In his time, Gipson became one of the world’s great historians. He became a renowned professor after arriving to Lehigh, where his name became intertwined with that of the University. As his prestige as a historian increased, so did Lehigh’s good name. Several other professors in the History and Government Department also helped Dr. Gipson establish and raise the young academic department.

Gipson
Professor Lawrence Henry Gipson

Dr. George Harmon was perhaps the second leading professor in establishing the History Department next to Dr. Gipson. Another key contributor to the early growth of the History Department was Mr. Sydney Brown. Years later, while recommending Mr. Brown to be named the Head of the History Department at Louisiana State University, Dr. Harmon called him the most brilliant man he had ever known. There were other men who contributed to the growth of the Department but these were the early key players. Articles by both Gipson and Harmon can be found together in the March 1937 issue of the Lehigh Review, a magazine published by students between 1927 and 1940.

Harmon
Dr. George Harmon

These professors also faced challenges while trying to grow the History Department. Dr. Harmon produced annual reports for each year, detailing the happenings, successes, and struggles of the Department. As far as happenings are concerned, the professors had quite eventful schedules. All of the professors worked on books, articles, and review that were typically published. Additionally, the professors vacationed and made scholarly trips to other countries when they weren’t teaching. The Department was rather successful. Many of its students went on to graduate school and law school at institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Penn. Dr. Harmon also vividly detailed the struggles of the Department. In building the History Department, there were struggles with who would teach which classes, limited office space, Department Budget, and how to recruit the best students. Despite these struggles, the actions of these professors played a pivotal role in starting the History Department and its subsequent success.

W. Ross Yates

Willard Ross Yates has an illustrious academic history in the field of political science. Before becoming a professor at Lehigh University, he earned his B.A. and M.A. at the University of Oregon and Ph.D. at Yale University. He was a Fulbright Scholar from 1951 to 1952 and served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946. After obtaining his Ph.D in 1956, he taught at Kenyon College and the University of Vermont before coming to Lehigh.

At Lehigh, he was a professor of political science which would earn him the Hillman Award, the highest honor for a member of the faculty and staff. By the end of his career in 1986 he had held the titles of Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Government Emeritus. He not only excelled in the field of political science but was an expert on the history of Lehigh and Bethlehem. He is most well known for his works “History of the Lehigh Valley Region”, Bethlehem of Pennsylvania, the Golden Years, andLehigh University: A History of Education in Engineering, Business, and the Human Condition of which Lehigh Library Special Collections has the original manuscript and notes for. His works are considered the leading resource for Bethlehem and Lehigh history. He displayed the true signs of a Renaissance man with all the activities he participated in, from the Bach Choir, to completing 130 marathons, and winning prizes for gardening and poetry.

More detail on his life can be found on his obituary linked here:

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/mcall/obituary-print.aspx?n=willard-yates&pid=183929737

Lehigh’s Paisley Magazine, 1966-1970

As you may already know, Lehigh University’s student newspaper, The Brown and White, is one of the most long-running student publications in the country. This is truly an accomplishment, as most student publications ultimately evaporate away as quickly as they come.

Other than The Brown and White, Lehigh has been no exception to this phenomenon. Among the valiant, innovative, and short lived are publications such as The Lehigh Burr (1881-1934), The Lehigh Bachelor (1940-43), The Lehigh Goblet (1946-48), and Paisley (1966-70). All of these publications have been digitized and are now available in their entirety for viewing or download through the Internet Archive

cover
Pictured: Cover page for the first volume of Paisley

The first installment of Paisley establishes its mission. First, to provide a medium for student expression. Second, to promote a collective class conscience, making students cognizant of “their present and future potential in an impersonal world”. And third, to entertain. (Volume 1. Pg. 4)

Paisley is filled with student editorials, poems, and short stories, amassing an intellectual bank of creativity, comedy, and literary art. Upon its debut, it seemed Paisley could offer only positives to our campus community, so how could a publication with so much going for it crumble to its demise in only 4 short years? The answer, Paisley was no anomaly in student publication. Many have come and gone with the same good intentions, and this example shows just how hard it really is to ignite an idea and even more so to keep that flame burning.

As we’ve learned from The Brown and White, survival requires consistency, more specifically consistent contributors and readers. Engineering themed journals, student magazines, artistic pamphlets you name it, Lehigh has seen them all. Though in the end, no one is left to fill the void created by those students graduating. Simple as that. Then years, perhaps decades later, the same thing will happen again.

However, the point here is not that student publications serve no purpose if they don’t last, but that it takes a certain group of students to bring these ideas to life in the first place. Regardless of how long a publications last, they all become a part of our shared history. What they create contributes to the readers of the time but also to future beholders.

puzzle
Pictured: puzzle from volume 1. See if you can solve it!

poemStudent publications also provide insight into the character of the student body at the time of their publication. If the editors of Paisley believed they were writing to invigorate an “impersonal world,” what does that make us now? You guessed it, no different. In fact, we are probably more detached than ever. Sending a snapchat or posting a tweet will undoubtedly be the mode of expression among today’s students; certainly not a deeply thought provoking piece of poetry. Indeed times have changed, however, human nature has not. We continue to ask the same questions as those before us. What is the purpose? Why are we here? What is love? Happiness? And considering college is supposed to be the place where students decide their future and who they want to become, I figure Lehigh is probably swimming with inquiries such as these.

Whether the pen is put to paper this year or not, student publications to come will continue to be a manifestation of beliefs, values as a student body, and a contribution to purposeful existence. The catch is that they won’t write themselves. For there to be things to read, there must be those who write. All it takes is one student with an idea and the diligence to make it happen.

“History at Lehigh in 1884”: Notes from Lectures by Dr. Henry Coppee Taken by Henry Bowman Douglas, 1884

Coppee Notes Title Page

Dr. Henry Coppée is considered one of the most substantial figures in Lehigh University’s development into a world-class institution. Selected by Asa Packer, Coppée served as the first president of Lehigh University from 1866-1875. Coppée Hall at Lehigh University was named after Henry Coppée, and now houses the Department of Journalism and Communications. During his time as a professor at Lehigh, Dr. Coppée taught subjects such as English literature and history. Although an engineer himself, as President of Lehigh, Coppée believed that all students should have a well-rounded, liberal-arts education. Lecture notes taken in 1884 by an engineering student in Dr. Coppée’s class , Henry Bowman Douglass, reveal subject material surrounding the Roman Empire’s influence on the development of Europe. Much of Lehigh University’s current history curriculum focuses on the Roman Empire, offering courses such as “Ancient Roman Religion” and “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.”

Coppee Notes Languages

Lehigh Engineers Take the Stage: University’s Historical Connections to the Theater

At a school that’s former mascot was coined “The Lehigh Engineer,” it can appear as though arts take a back seat to the strong tradition of engineering at Lehigh University. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, Lehigh has strong ties to the arts, particularly in theater and music. I had the privilege of delving into these ties through cataloging one of Special Collections’ newest collections devoted entirely to the theater arts. This collection was provided by Jeffrey Milet, an associate professor in the Lehigh University Theatre Department. A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, Milet was taught and mentored by George C. Izenour, who shared with him an interest in theatrical design, stage lighting, and technical theater and acoustics. Izenour, in addition to teaching theater at Yale and having a four year contract as an adjunct professor at Lehigh, holds several patents and has published books in the realm of theater. Our collection contains a wide breadth of materials and artifacts and, besides the sheer amount of legal and financial documents that go into obtaining a patent, includes copies of Izenour’s books, his original writings and sketches, and literature about and images of theaters abroad.

Theater Design Book
A 1983 copy of Izenour’s Theater Design, which focused entirely on implementing acoustics, lighting, seating, and other aspects to create the best possible experience for members of the audience.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of this collection is placing those works written by Izenour alongside his other original works: drawings and blueprints, photographs, sketches, and etchings of theaters, auditoriums, and large group spaces from around the globe as depicted in the works of painters, magazines, and newspapers. We are able to see how Izenour pulled together many different influences from a variety of sources, analyzed them in his writings, and essentially made theater designs and acoustics as we know them today. Italian columns, classical British ceilings, and stylistic components from Asian and French theaters are just a few of the foreign influences drawn together to define an ideal theater.

Prints of a Japanese theater (left) and the London Royal Circus Theater (right), elements which inspired Izenour’s designs.

Without such influences, Izenour would never have been able to earn his patents in the realm of stage lighting. Nor would these inventions be implemented in so many spaces today. A copy of Theater Lighting Archives included in the collection lists numerous applications of Izenour’s inventions from famous television studios, museums and hotels to secondary schools and universities in the United States and abroad. Lehigh University is itself  home to theaters designed by George Izenour. Baker Hall in Zollener Arts Center, upon its opening in 1997, was complimented in several platforms for its fined tuned acoustics. In an article published in The Brown and White publicizing the opening of the center, Cameron Pelton, a former professor of voice at Lehigh, describes the acoustics as “amazing,” considering it a “grateful hall, because when you perform, the music comes back to you.”

Zoellner Brown and White
Brown and White article from January 24, 1997 celebrating the opening of the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University. Pays special tribute to the design of the main performance hall.

While Milet and Izenour’s work does relate more to the technical and engineering aspects of the theater, perhaps this is for the best. Their work creates a seamless, comfortable, ideal theater experience, focusing on the viewers and allowing them to immerse themselves in the true art that is seeing a live performance. They are the ones truly devoted to the audience.

If you would like to view more of this collection, please contact Special Collections.

Banned Books Week: Uncle Remus

Today we continue our celebration of the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, a week dedicated to bringing forward challenged books, by looking at some of these books in our collection. This journey takes us to the post-reconstruction United States in the South, in the arms of the beloved Uncle Remus as he passes on traditional African folklore. The comical stories of the mischievous Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear, and Brer Fox entertained the children on Uncle Remus’s lap and readers alike.

Remus Cover

The character of Uncle Remus was brought to life by author Joel Chandler Harris. Harris was born in Eatonton, Georgia on his family’s slave plantation, and heard these dialect tales as a child from slaves. He later crafted these tales into a narrative and made them available to a large white audience. Other writers of his generation recorded these stories, but Harris’ creative use of African-American vernacular and ability to further universalize the conflicts between the weak and the powerful made his collection the only one that really caught on with readers.

Uncle Remus Title

Harris’ original collection of stories, Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings (1880) has gained popularity across the globe, having been translated into over 40 languages, and it has never gone out of print. Special Collections holds an 1881 edition of this book, which is representative of the beginning of the folklore movement.

To get his works from the original storytellers to readers around the world, Harris was said to have found inspiration in a novel nearly equal in controversy: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. At Special Collections, we have several editions of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in a variety of languages, with the 1852 first edition being shown here. Both novels deal with the spread of opinions of race, slavery, and discrimination through storytelling to young children. Even as a piece of anti-slavery groundwork for the Civil War, Harris felt Stowe’s novel remained sympathetic to the institution she wished to condemn by painting a too-generous picture of the slave master. Through the Uncle Remus stories, Harris attempted to set aside the southern defeat that had divided America, and instead create a romantic and endearing story to reconnect the two sides. This charges the main controversy, both at the time of publishing and still today.

Uncle Tom's Cabin Title

Many readers and scholars have noted the theme of race and presence of racial stereotypes would still be offensive to modern readers, earning the stories what seems to be a permanent seat on the banned books list. Further adding to the controversy of Uncle Remus, Disney produced a movie in 1946, Song of the South, as a visual interpretation of Harris’s work. The movie never was made available for public purchase because of the same racial themes, despite it’s famous song “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah” and legacy as Disney’s first film to feature “flesh-and-blood-players” (Song of the South’s 1946 Campaign Book). What scholars have called “the negro situation” has resulted in Disney Park’s Splash Mountain log flume as perhaps one of the only tangible memories of Song of the South.

Despite the challenged legacy of the stories, historical merit remains strong. President of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, Tyrone Brooks, believes:

“There should be an appreciation of all that history because it tells you where we were, and how far we’ve come. But it also tells you have far we have to go.”

Looking back on this piece of reconstruction history and analyzing sources like Harris’s works, although controversial, allows us to accomplish the very thing Brooks is describing. Controversy can breed change even in contemporary times.