Friday, December 4, 2009

Early Cross-Cultural Exchange Programs

The recently published Fall 2009 issue of The Archon includes a message from Headmaster John M. Doggett on the importance of preparing The Governor’s Academy students to thrive on the global level. In this message, Headmaster Doggett notes,

“We seek to prepare our students to act and lead on a global stage. Just as our students need to be technologically proficient to compete in the global marketplace, they must also be culturally and linguistically literate to be responsible world citizens. Our intention is to incorporate our uniquely American experience into a broader international context. We plan to do this not just from traditional book learning, but from capitalizing on new technologies, developing opportunities for travel and cross-cultural exchanges, language study and embedding global questions and globally focused activities in the curriculum.”

The academy currently participates in student exchanges with schools in Kenya, Honduras, China, Germany and Great Britain, and administrators hope to add exchanges with the Navajo Nation in Arizona and the African National Academy in South African in the 2010. Interestingly, the academy has fostered notable cross-cultural initiatives throughout its long history.

Representing an era of increasing technological sophistication, the 1920s expanded the opportunities for widespread travel and communication. It was in the 1920s that Charles A. Lindberg completed his pioneering flight across the Atlantic Ocean. This decade also saw mass production of the Ford Model T car, the spread of public radio stations, and the creation of movies with sound. Amidst this backdrop of technological advance, Dummer Academy students were able to travel abroad to live and study in Denmark. The attached article from the May 1927 issue of The Archon refers to an international cultural awareness program that was sponsored by Denmark’s Commissioner of Education and permitted boys from 50 leading U.S. boarding schools to travel to Denmark to live with “high class Danish families and absorb the traits of their life and customs.” The academy sent two students—William Page, a junior from Lynnfield, and James Tate, a freshman from New York—to experience cultural immersion in Denmark. The cost of this months-long program was $225.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Student Illustrations From the Earliest Milestone Yearbooks

The earliest edition of The Milestone housed in The Governor’s Academy Archives was printed for the graduating class of 1923. Many of the earliest Milestones, including the 1923 issue, featured illustrations of various aspects of student life drawn by members of the student body.

In the early to mid-1920s, the student body was divided into a Senior Class, an “Upper Middle Class,” a “Lower Middle Class,” and “Juniors,” the latter of which appeared to comprise the newest students to the academy. Each of these classes composed a “history” for the annual Milestone yearbook—in essence a bragging rights installment that extolled the merits of each class—some to funny and charming effect. A healthy dose of sarcasm saturates some of the entries. In the 1924 Milestone, for instance, the Juniors’ entry claims:

“After one hundred and sixty years of trial Dummer has at last obtained the perfect class, according to each Freshman. The class entered school this fall and for the first few weeks was completely lost in the whirlpools of inexperience. Now we have recovered from the K.O.’s of the midyears and are approaching our Sophomore year when we hope to look down on all brats with sneering contempt.”

An entry in the 1924 Milestone from the Upper Middle Class notes that the yearbook’s senior editors “drafted into their service one member of our [1925] class, Roberto Andreani, who is busy helping furnish the Year Book with cartoons. Roberto Alvin Ormsby Andreani (photograph below) of Florence, Italy, was a 1925 graduate of Dummer Academy. He was at one time the Art Editor for The Milestone. Under his photograph in the yearbook, it says that “Andy came to us quite a mystery…Eventually we discovered that Andy could draw, and from that moment on he has not had a minute’s peace. Andy is an aeroplane fiend. His sole ambition is to build the wonder plane of the age, and it was no small shock to him to find from an authentic source that most of the aeroplanes he had so painstakingly drawn would be unlikely to fly. Most of us think that if Andy becomes an engineer, a good artist will be lost to the world.”

Andreani’s illustrations were often quite realistic, as you can see from the sketchings of 1923-1924 team captains Travis Ingham (Track), Everit "Terry" Terhune (Football), and John "Doc" Hinds (Baseball), and a photograph of the subjects, below.

The illustrations are a vibrant addition to the Milestones. For your enjoyment, additional Andreani sketches can be seen below.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Legendary Jazz Clarinetist Edmund Hall Plays Governor Dummer Academy

The following information can be found in Spring 1965 issue of The Archon:

"On Saturday evening, January 23 [1965], Mr. Joe Robertson (father of Joe, Jr. ’64) and his group of jazz musicians presented a Dixieland concert in the Thompson Auditorium. Enthusiastically received as always, the combo is composed of Boston area businessmen whose hobby is the playing of jazz. This year the group was augmented by Edmund Hall, an internationally renowned jazz clarinetist."

Edmund Hall, acclaimed clarinetist, was born in Louisiana in 1901. As a young man, Hall played in bands with legendary musicians such as cornetist Buddy Petit, trumpeter Charles Melvin “Cootie” Williams, and Jazz pianist Theodore “Teddy” Wilson in venues such as New Orleans’ Economy Hall, and New York City’s Savoy Ballroom and Carnegie Hall. In the latter part of his musical career, Edmund Hall joined Louis Armstrong’s band, The All Stars, which toured worldwide in the 1950s and appeared on nationally broadcast television shows such as the Ed Sullivan Show. The photographs below shall Hall and other muscians at a 1965 concert at The Governor's Academy.

At the time of Hall’s participation in the Governor Dummer Academy concert in early 1965, Hall and his wife were residents of Cambridge, MA, from which he traveled to play at events such as the Newport Jazz Festival. It appears he played multiple concerts at Governor Dummer, including a 1967 session with George Poor’s band and Bobby Hackett. The concert was recorded and is available on CD as “Edmund Hall’s Last Concert.” Hall died shortly after this event, in February 1967. He was 65.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Universal Pastime

This week, I have been busy with the inventory of antique books housed in The Governor’s Academy Archives. There are approximately 300 books, with the oldest dating to the 17th century. Many of the books—their handcrafted bindings and leather covers worn but resilient—can be traced to their use during the earliest years of the academy, when Headmaster Samuel Moody educated hundreds of boys during his 27-year tenure (1763-1790). So many of these boys went on to lead notable lives in government, military, business, and the ministry. It is possible to identify several of the antique books as belongings of specific students; inscribed with the handwritten “Dummer’s School,” the oldest of the books also list their owner’s name and date of ownership. Some of the books were handed down from student to student, traceable through chronological order.

While the signatures begin to personalize these items, a few books reveal a bit more. In R. Brookes’ The General Gazetteer: Or, Compendius Geographical Dictionary, a 1762 publication that was shared by William Williams of Salem and Samuel Moody of Newbury (students of the academy ca. 1783-1785), one can see, tucked on the inside front cover and initial page, an example of 18th century student doodling.

In the photographs below, doodles from the inside cover of The General Gazetteer can be seen, including an outline of two male figures, one much more detailed than the other, and labeled with “John Stoddard”. The page is ripped just next to this text, but it is likely that it read “Wanton” to reflect the name of another Dummer School student, John Wanton Stoddard of Newport, RI. Stoddard attended the academy during Headmaster Samuel Moody’s tenure. Is the Stoddard’s drawing of himself…or perhaps this is a caricature from a friend (Williams? Moody?).

Apparently, the contents of The General Gazetteer—descriptions of “all the empires, kingdoms, states, republics, provinces, cities, chief towns, forts, fortresses, castles, citadels, seas, harbours, bays, rivers, lakes, mountains, capes, and promontories in the known world; together with the government, policy, customs, manners, and religion of the inhabitants—was not enough to keep Dummer boys singularly focused!

Friday, October 9, 2009

18th Century Receipt of Funds Used to Construct the Little Red School House

The Governor's Academy Archives houses several 18th century documents that detail the logistics behind the establishment of a grammar school, as laid out in the Last Will and Testament of William Dummer. The following image shows a handwritten receipt from 1762, signed by Moses Parsons, minister of Byfield Parish at the time and head of a special committee charged with establishing "Dumr Charity School" and securing a qualified headmaster, and by Joseph Gerrish, also committee member. The receipt shows the rent charged for the year prior to the school's formation--5 pounds 6 shillings plus "light pence"--that was used to construct the Little Red School House. Below the image is a transcription for ease of reading.

Byfield Dec. 31, 1762

Rec’d. Of Capt. Joseph Hale & Mr. Daniel Palmer the sum of Five Pounds Six Shillings & Light Pence for the hire or the great House & Farm, lately belonging to the Hon’ble William Dummer Esq-deceas’d not included in the Leases given of said Farm, the said sum being due for the Rent of said House & Land since the Tenth Day of October 1761 to the Tenth Day of October last past, which sum is rec’d by us in order to pay or Satisfy for, a Grammar School House, erected & built on said Farm, agreeable to the Direction of the last Will & Testament of the (s’d) deceased.

Moses Parsons
Joseph Gerrish

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cars on Campus

During the past year, I have gathered many examples of cars found on the Governor's Academy campus. Here are a few of my favorites from various years.

Photograph 1: A driver identified as Dummer Academy staffer in the 1939 Milestone yearbook

Photograph 2: Cars parked for campus Event, 1951

Photograph 3: Driving school vehicle, 1978

Photograph 4: Volkswagon Rabbit hatchback, 1978

Photograph 5: Peter Bragdon with antique automobile, 1993

In addition to the many relevant photographs housed in the Archives, converted 16 mm films are available that show automobiles, buses, and maintenance vehicles from the 1930s on. If any car buffs can identify the vehicles, please let me know!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pep Squads at Governor Dummer Academy

Pep squads were an integral part of Governor Dummer academy (GDA) football seasons during the twentieth century. Photographs of organized GDA cheering squads appeared as early as 1940 in The Milestone yearbook, but a proliferation of pep squad images—both photographs and film—can be seen in the academy’s archival materials from the 1950s and 1960s. During the 1950s, a number of pep squad rallies, some with bonfires where opposing team dummies were burned in effigy, were captured in a series of emotionally charged photographs (show below).

Owing to GDA’s all-male status during this time, pep squads comprised boys selected from the student body. A cartoon that appeared in the October 27, 1951 Archon pokes fun at the boys-only nature of GDA’s cheerleaders, with boys lamenting their comparative inferiority to girls in attracting their counterparts’ attention.

Male pep squads were a mainstay of fall events through the 1960s (photo immediately following this paragraph), but the admission of female students to the GDA campus in 1971 changed the dynamic of the cheering squad from male to female, as shown in the last photograph, from 1973.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Governor Dummer Academy Homing Pigeons

The March 14, 1959 issue of The Archon includes the following photograph of academy employee Paul Griffin and student Mark Johnson '62, the academy's "Keeper of the Bird." Griffin holds Suzie, a homing pigeon trained at the academy. An except with the photo says, "Mr. Paul Griffin instructs Mark Johnson, newly appointed Keeper of the Bird, in proper handling of homing pigeons. Suzie is being trained to bring back the scores of out-of-town baseball games. Coach [Buster] Navins will personally band and release her at the end of the ninth inning. Keeper Johnson will time her arrival and decode the message for transmittal to the metropolitan journals."

If readers have information on the homing pigeon program at the academy, let us know!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Electric Trolleys of the Early 1900s

The first electric railway to service Governor Dummer Academy and its environs opened for business in 1900. The Georgetown, Rowley, and Ipswich electric railway, which switched by the Milestone, offered transportation for the campus community. Cars left the academy every half hour for Ipswich, Georgetown, and Newburyport. According to Governor Dummer History, 1763-1963, written by former academy headmaster John W. Ragle, "One popular feature of the innovation was that it brought to the Academy dances young ladies from as far as Rowley and Haverhill." A photograph of the electric railway switch near the Milestone can be seen below.

The route between Newburyport and Governor Dummer Academy crossed a trestle over Little River, paralleled the Newburyport Turnpike (to/from Boston), and diverged to Middle Street, where the track continued to the junction at the academy. From there, travelers could take the line to Georgetown (via Elm Street) or to Ipswich (via a continuation on Middle Road back to the turnpike road).

By the time the following advertisement for the Byfield Express was published in 1943, rail service had expanded considerably. The advertisement describes the scenery to be taken in while traveling from Newburyport to points south and west via Byfield, the "Cradle of Liberty and the Seat of Learning!" Notice the arrival and departure times at the conclusion of the advertisement: it took only 2.5 hours to get from Market Square in Newburyport to Haverhill, Massachusetts, a distance of approximately 15 miles.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Famous American Mason (and Dummer Academy Alumnus): Rufus King

Recently, The Governor’s Academy and one of its famous graduates, Rufus King, were featured in the Winter 2008 issue of Trowel, magazine of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts. Accompanying the magazine article is an excerpt describing the academy and some of its notable graduates:

“Situated on a bucolic setting in Newbury’s Byfield parish is a red two-room schoolhouse built to house a free grammar school, the first boarding school in America, as envisioned and endowed by William Dummer who served as the Provincial Governor of Massachusetts from 1722 to 1728. Opening with 28 students in 1763 on the 300-acre farm of the former governor, the school was named 'Governor Dummer Academy' until 2005, when its name was changed to 'The Governor’s Academy.' Four years after the school opened, Rufus King journeyed from Scarborough, District of Maine, to attend the school. Signing the school’s 'document of incorporation' were Governor John Hancock and Senate President Samuel Adams, and some of the school’s early records were maintained by future president John Quincy Adams while he clerked for Theophilus Parsons, later Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, who was also a GDA graduate. The original school seal was designed by American patriot and Massachusetts Grand Master Paul Revere. The school continues as an institution of academic excellence, helping students pursue their personal greatness, just like Freemasonry.”

The Winter 2008 issue of Trowel was kindly donated to The Governor’s Academy Archives by Bruce Rogers, long-time employee of the academy’s Building and Grounds department, so our thanks go out to Bruce!