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Posts Tagged ‘#StoriesFromTheStacks’

contributed by Samantha Hurst, Kent State University graduate student in the Master of Library and Information Science program.

This spring semester, I was fortunate to be able to intern for CCHP. I had the opportunity to work on a variety of digital projects that I was able to contribute to from home. One of these was creating metadata for pieces in the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection. I got to work on the cards in the category “Interesting Messages, Handwriting” which feature cards with handwritten messages on the back that the original collector, Dr. Campbell, found unique. While pouring over these cards and trying to decipher every scrawled cursive letter, I found myself getting lost in their messages, in the wording and other ways in which people chose to express themselves within the confines of a 3×5-inch piece of paper, as well as the imagined meanings in between the lines, the words left unsaid. A few in particular stood out to me:

One card from 1958 carries a message written in a spiral instead of from left to right. The words look like a vortex swirling in on itself, with the text reading “Phil, this is how things have been going the past two days.” The author seems to be alluding to the feeling of being in New York City, which she describes as being nothing like the tranquil scene of Central Park depicted on the front of the card. 

A postcard view of Fifth Ave. hotels from Central Park in New York City. The buildings in the background are reflected in a stream in the foreground. There is also a stone bridge over the water and people walking through the park. The logo of the Center for the History of Psychology appears in the bottom right corner.
Front of a 1958 postcard of New York City from the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection (Interesting Messages, Handwriting binder, IntMsgHwrtg_002)
Back of a postcard with a handwritten message in blue ink written in a spiral that reads: "Phil, This is the way things have been going the past two days. New York is definitely an unbelievable place - characters like you've never seen. The tranquil scene on the other side is very disillusioning - It Ain't that way!!! Saw Man of La Mancha tonight, GREAT! Take care, Sue." Postcard is stamped as sent from New York on April 16, 1958 and featured a 5 cent US stamp with George Washington's image. Logo of the Center for the History of Psychology appears in the bottom right corner.
Back of 1958 postcard of New York City from the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection. Personal address removed (Interesting Messages, Handwriting binder, IntMsgHwrtg_002)

One card written in 1978 feels like it was taken from the middle of an argument, with the writer, Sue saying: “It isn’t I don’t have the time. I just don’t think that I have the mental ability to make decisions.” She goes on to talk about her husband falling and hurting his back in the bath tub the day before, but somehow I feel like her husband’s back is the least of Sue’s problems.

A postcard view of a framed painting depicting Roman ruins. The Colosseum is visible in the background of the image and pillars from the Roman Forum are in the foreground. A group of six people in robes appear to be lounging at the base of the pillars. Logo of the Center for the History of Psychology appears in the bottom left corner.
Front of a 1978 postcard of a painting titled “Roman Ruins” by Pannini from the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection (Interesting Messages, Handwriting binder, IntMsgHwrtg_006)
 Back of a postcard with typed message that reads: "9-11-78 Dear Mary: it isn't I don't have the time. I just don't think that I have the mental ability to make decisions. Al sprained his back getting out of the bath tub yesterday. Spent most or the day with a heating pad on his back. He doesn't seem much better today. Love, Sue." The card is labelled as "Roman Ruins by Pannini (1691-1764) One of the Views at Grand Trianon, Colorado Springs, Colorado Photograph by Orin Sealy, The Denver Post." It is stamped as having been posted from Colorado in September 1978 and featured a 10 cent US stamp with an image of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in DC. Logo of the Center for the History of Psychology appears in the bottom right.
Back of a 1978 postcard of a painting titled “Roman Ruins” by Pannini from the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection. Personal address removed (Interesting Messages, Handwriting binder, IntMsgHwrtg_006)

Another card, written in 1917, during the height of World War One, is written by a young man to his uncle, telling him that he’s joined the Navy, saying “[I] like it fine. I eat on the ground and do my own washing. It is a new experience.” A synopsis of Navy life during that period that I have to imagine is leaving out some less savory details.

Front of a postcard featuring a sepia toned photograph of a large group of young men in Naval uniforms hanging off the back of a train and waving with their white hats. Caption in the bottom left corner reads "We're off." Logo of the Center for the History of Psychology appears in the top right corner.
Front of a 1917 postcard featuring a group of men heading to war from the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection. Personal address removed (Interesting Messages, Handwriting binder, IntMsgHwrtg_033)
Back of a postcard with handwritten text that reads: "address Great Lakes T.S. Camp Paul Jones Co 14, Reg 3, Bat. Dear Uncle, Have joined U.S. Navy. Like it fine. I eat on the ground and do my own washing. It is a new experience . There is no question but what will lick the Germans. Densel." The postcard is stamped as having been sent from Illinois on September 14, 1917 and featured a green 1 cent US stamp. The logo of the Center for the History of Psychology appears in the bottom right corner.
Back of a 1917 postcard featuring a group of men heading to war from the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection (Interesting Messages, Handwriting binder, IntMsgHwrtg_033)

One of my favorite postcards might be the one that I found the most confounding. A card in which the message on the back simply reads “nothing at all to say” signed “PAT.” A message carrying virtually no meaning to anyone other than perhaps Clarence Korn, who received the card in January of 1915.

Front of a postcard featuring a blue and white cartoon of a young boy sitting on the floor and writing a post card. Beside him is a stool, a cat, an ink well, and a candle. Text printed on the card reads: "To owe von's frendt a ledder Doesn't seem Xactly rite, So dis dainty liddle post card I'm sending you tonight." The logo of the Center for the History of Psychology appears in the bottom right corner.
Front of a 1915 cartoon postcard from the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection (Interesting Messages, Handwriting binder, IntMsgHwrtg_057)
Back of a postcard with handwritten text written sideways on the card that reads "Nothing at all to say PAT." The postcard is stamped as having been mailed on January 16, 1916 and features a green 1 cent US stamp. The logo of the Center for the History of Psychology appears in the bottom right corner.
Back of a 1915 cartoon postcard from the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection Personal address removed (Interesting Messages, Handwriting binder, IntMsgHwrtg_057)

Written on a simple black and white card, the front image depicting a cartoon of a child writing a post card and a short poem expressing the feeling of wanting to send a postcard to a friend when a letter isn’t necessary. Virtually everything about this postcard feels completely superfluous in a way that genuinely took me aback when I first saw it. Pat seems to have just sent Clarence a postcard about writing a postcard with no other message beyond “here is a postcard.” Was there some secret meaning to this act? Was there a private joke between the two of them? Was this card in response to something Clarence said or did to Pat? It reminded me of the act of sending a friend a random picture with no explanation, or even the now seemingly ancient Facebook “poke” function, designed to get your friend’s attention for no specific reason. All just random acts that say “I may not have anything to say, but I still want you to know I’m here.”

These postcards are so fascinating to me because they are essentially just pieces of paper, designed for advertising more than anything else, but they have the power to contain such heavy sentiment in such a small space. Although the full contexts of all of these messages have been lost to history, the feelings that they evoke are extremely familiar. We often think of people from the past as being very different from us, but if nothing else, the David P. Campbell Postcard Collection can teach us that in some ways, people never seem to change. The way we talk to friends and family can often be humorous or contentious. We often leave out the more painful details in order to spare someone’s feelings, or keep loved ones from worrying. We often don’t have anything particularly important to say, but want to keep in touch with people anyway, just for the sake of it.

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Contributed by Lizette Royer Barton.

Every day researchers gather materials from the archives to tell all kinds of different stories. The stories don’t all make it into academic publications and in fact many are not destined for publication anyways – some research is just for funsies!

As the reference archivist here at the Cummings Center I get to hear these stories and some are so great I share them with the rest of the staff. This got us thinking that maybe all of you would like to hear some of these great stories, so we’re starting a new series to highlight the Stories from the Stacks.

Stories from the Stacks Vol. I: Searching for Molly. 

Michael F. Vogel, M.S.Ed. – CAGS is a self-employed financial trader and former mentee of psychologist Molly Harrower.

CCHP: What led you to us?

MFV: Trying to locate Molly Harrower’s  home/office in New York city.

CCHP: What were you looking for and why?

MFV: Molly’s street address on New York’s upper east side. I like to visit the sites where great psychology happened.

CCHP: What did you find?

MFV: I found it and discovered that Woody Allen is currently living there!

[Reference Archivist note: I located a piece of Molly Harrower’s letterhead, scanned it, and sent it to Michael as proof of her address.]

harrowerlh_m842_misc1

Molly Harrower papers, box M842, folder “Misc. 1”

CCHP: Were there any fun, interesting, or unexpected surprises?

MFV: Yes!  Woody Allen could have known Molly and possibly was her patient!

CCHP: Any let downs?

MFV: None.

CCHP: What’s next?

MFV: A return to Orgonon –  Wilhelm Reich’s  home/office/observatory in Rangeley Maine.  I have been there many times.

CCHP: Any other thoughts?

MFV: Pilgrimages to the locations where the master practitioners of psychology  practiced keeps them alive within oneself.  I was once the Director of Psychology Services in the Pediatric rehabilitation hospital where Dr. Jonas Salk developed the Polio Vaccine.  Three (3) Months into this position I learned from the Hospital Administrator that my office was Dr. Salk’s Office !!!  I met him several times when he would return.  He lives within me (as does his original vaccine).   This is probably why I enjoy my pilgrimages.

[Reference Archivist note: CCHP houses the  Lee Salk papers – brother to Jonas Salk!]

mollys-house

Michael paying tribute to his mentor Molly Harrower and keeping her alive in his heart at 118 East 70th St.

 

 

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