Colorado College Special Collections has a Megillah, a Book of Esther, a sheepskin scroll handwritten in Hebrew, traditionally read aloud at Purim celebrations. (Purim falls on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar; this year, 2022, that’s March 16.)
Haman, the villain of the story, has ten sons. Megillahs traditionally show the names of the sons in larger script. In English, the text is:
And Parshandatha, and Dalphon, and Aspatha, and Poratha, and Adalia, and Aridatha, and Parmashta, and Arisai, and Aridai, and Vajezatha, the ten sons of Haman.
Even if you don’t read Hebrew, you can see that one word (“and”) repeats. (Hebrew goes right-to-left.) In many families and congregations, the reader must get through this section all in one breath, or start the book over from the beginning.
Provenance: according to a handwritten note with our copy, it was purchased in Italy by Dr. Louis Barth of Grand Rapids, Michigan, probably around 1900, and acquired by Colorado College probably after 1932 (the year Dr. Barth died) and before 1940. Although the scroll looks and feels medieval, it probably dates to the 19th century.
In December of 2021, Special Collections received a charming and unusual donation from Edward P. Bentley of Greenville, Michigan: a painting by Edith Bramhall, beloved Political Science professor at Colorado College from 1920 to 1946.
The painting, “Chickens,” was likely painted between 1946 and 1960; it has Bramhall’s address during that time, 116 East San Rafael, on the reverse side. It may have been a view from her home, with Pikes Peak in the background. That part of campus looks very different now, so we can’t be sure.
Robert Loevy’s Colorado College Reader (2012) contains two chapters on Bramhall, the first woman to make a career of teaching at CC. (Women served on the CC faculty before 1920, but none for longer than a few years). Bramhall is considered the founder of ” modern” Political Science at the college, and the department’s top prize for majors is named for her.
An undated document in the Archives (CC Information File Faculty – Bio – Bramhall, Edith) contains this anonymous anecdote: “She showed me some of her oil paintings of the region. Among them was a very good painting of Pikes Peak and the surrounding mountains, apparently done early in spring and early in the morning. It had a nice feeling of freshness about it. Pointing to it, Miss Bramhall recalled that she arose one morning and looked out at the mountains and decided that they would not look like that for long and that if she wanted to capture the right spring feeling she had better get to it at once. ‘So I just skipped classes,’ she said, ‘and I took my paints and things and went off to the hills to paint.'”
We thank Edward P. Bentley very much for this gift, including the specially-made frame. The painting is now part of the IDEA / Campus Collection and hangs in room 218, Tutt Library.
(This piece originally appeared in the Spring 2004 issue of the Tutt Library Chronicle newsletter.)
As Colorado College Archivist, I am supposed to know something about the history of CC. In the past couple of years several students have asked for the details on the architects who designed Mathias Hall – architects who, according to everybody, were known for designing prison buildings. I’ve also heard from more than one student that Mathias was designed to prevent riots – that the purpose of its maze-like hallways was to stop students from gathering together in political protest.
Both rumors are patently false. The Texas architecture firm which designed Mathias Hall (and Olin Hall, in 1961) – Caudill Rowlett Scott – was never responsible for any prison building. It does, however, have a historical reputation for originating design principles that led to some really ugly school structures.
Mathias, at 123 East Uintah, was built in 1966 for a total cost of $1,700,000. It was named for Henry Edwin Mathias, a CC Geology professor and administrator. In its early years, this huge residence hall for over 300 young men was known as “Superdorm” – or, sometimes, “Superwomb,” since many of the residents had been living off campus but were required to come back to mother CC.
In 1969, by student vote, the building went co-ed – the first dorm on campus to do so. At first, the floors were sexually segregated, but by 1977 even this rule was thrown out – and in 1988, all caution was thrown to the wind – or rather, a new kind of caution came into play – and condom dispensers were installed in the hall’s bathrooms.
And now back to the building’s architects. William Wayne Caudill of CRS was a Texas architect and teacher who made educational buildings his specialty. In the 1940s he coordinated a project to optimize natural airflow and daylight in schools, and by the 1960s his firm had an international reputation for good school design. CRS branched out to hospital design, but schools remained their specialty.
An early memo from Vice President W.R. Brossman, who was in charge of the project to design the new dorm, states that the rooms should be “attractive and non-institutional.” Another report gives insight into some of the money-saving possibilities available to the architects: “The Committee is opposed to ‘gang showers’ and would like to investigate further ideas on attractive single units.” This same report also suggests “a sundeck or sunning area must be provided or else the residents will climb to the roof.”
If Brossman, or anyone on the committee, was worried about riot prevention, this was never stated in any written documentation that has survived in the Archives – and it seems unlikely that it was a major concern, since CC students were not known to riot, even in the 1960s.
In a recent article in Harvard Design Magazine (“Environmental Stoicism and Place Machismo,” Winter/Spring 2002), author and Urbanism professor Michael Benedikt credits CRS for both improving and screwing up school buildings all over the United States. According Benedikt, it was Caudill’s 1954 book Toward Better School Design that “began the school design revolution.” The book recommended natural lighting and “visual openness to the outdoors” – i.e., lots of windows. (Side note: CRS also designed CC’s Olin Hall, also known as the “Fishbowl” for its many windows.)
At the same time, however, Caudill’s core design principal were efficiency and fast construction, and over time, according to Benedikt, these principals “devolved” into those that drive the soulless school building designs – environments “barely better than a minimum security prison” – still popular today. Benedikt goes on to say that “primary and secondary education may rightly be compulsory, but this should not mean that the sites of education should be like penitentiaries.” I’m sure he would agree that college dorms have the same prerequisites.
In October of 2021, CC Special Collections acquired a first edition of John Okada’s No-No Boy. The 1957 novel, a staple of Asian American literature, tells the story of Ichiro Yamada, a man who answers “no” to the two so-called “loyalty” questions in a 1943 questionnaire for Japanese Americans: “Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty wherever ordered?” and “Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, to any other foreign government, power or organization?”
We’re especially excited to have the book here at CC because it connects with our collections on Camp Amache and also because it’s the first edition of a title with a complex and fraught publishing history — see “Dispute Arises Over ‘No-No Boy’” in the New York Times.
Harvard astronomer Edward Pickering had ties with CC’s Nob Hill Observatory!
This is the only known photograph of the Nob Hill Observatory, taken about 1905. We believe it was located around 2112 East Uintah, currently “Lunar Park.” (Both “Nob Hill” and “Knob Hill” spellings were in use; CC seems to have used “Nob.”)
Pickering visited Colorado Springs in 1887, accompanied by his wife Lizzie, his brother William, and Anna Palmer Draper. They were here to consider Pikes Peak as a site for an observatory. (See Dava Sobel’s 2016 book The Glass Universe for details.) Frank Loud, CC professor of physics, soon got involved. Here are two newspaper articles about that visit:
In 1903, CC began planning for its own observatory, and in 1904, Loud, Pickering, and three others (Herbert Howe, Edward Giddings, and Otis Johnson) formed The Western Association for Stellar Photography. It’s likely Pickering participated from afar, as his signature does not appear on the early documents. We can see from the By-Laws and Minutes that the instruments at Nob Hill belonged to the Harvard College Observatory.
I wish we knew more about the conversations Loud had with Pickering. I wonder if they talked about having CC women catalog the stars. (Pickering hired many women for this purpose at Harvard, among them Annie Jump Cannon and Henrietta Swan Leavitt.)
The pencil is there to show scale. The text of the scroll reads:
Toot all a bored 1997 coal more and more coal hemanaigs [?] trunk line heavy poof down-n-out short list slate pleez run on time oil books books ABC lift cracker barrels Xercise off hours without spectacles bug footloose accordion to Sante Fe NM lake of [eye]’s? well worn out past hurts rent a car only five more or maybe seven american eagle oops Rocky Mountains either way just decide cross country advertisers end
Reverse: Mary Chenoweth June 1997 for Trudie Gregory all aboard
In honor of the Black Lives Matter movement, Special Collections digitized several Black newspapers in Colorado Springs, including The Colorado Springs Eagle (1912, ed. Julia Embry), The Voice of Colorado (1936-1937, ed. Tandy Stroud), and Colorado Springs Crusader (1982, ed. Dorothy Middleton). We also digitized two CC student publications, Black Literary Magazine 1978-1981, and Fight the Power 1991-1994. Searchable PDF files, and more, are linked from this page. Below are some excerpts.
You may be wondering what CC Special Collections is doing while it’s closed for in-person research. The answer is: a lot! But different things than usual.
We are helping researchers remotely, mostly by email. We are using the focused attention that comes with uninterrupted time to process manuscript collections such as the Van Briggle Pottery and Tile Company Records, which started out like this:
and are now fully cataloged, with a finding aid available upon request. We can’t usually use our reading room tables for this kind of thing, so there are some benefits to being closed! We are also doing little projects that we always meant to do but somehow never quite had time for, like home-making a foam holder for our cuneiforms:
We’ve also been digitizing up a storm. More about that in the next post!
In Spike Lee’s 2018 film BlacKkKlansman, based on Ron Stallworth’s memoir Black Klansman (Flatiron Books, 2018), the Colorado College Black Student Union invites Stokely Carmichael (also known as Kwame Ture) to speak on campus in the early 1970s.
Did that really happen?
YES! But not exactly in the way the film suggests.
In real life, Carmichael / Ture visited Colorado Springs in 1977 and spoke at Bell’s Nightingale Club. According to the memoir, Stallworth attended that event, but it was not connected to CC in any official or documented way.
Two years later, the Black Student Union at CC sponsored a visit. Carmichael / Ture spoke on campus in the lounge of Bemis Hall on April 12, 1979. One local newspaper (the Colorado Springs Sun) described his subject as “The Plight of African People in America and What Must Be Done”; the CC student newspaper (the Catalyst) gave the title as “College Students and the American Socio-Economic Order.”
Seven years after that, the Black Student Union invited Carmichael / Ture to campus again. He spoke at on April 22, 1986 in Packard Hall.