Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Old School Basketball Footwear

Basketball shoes have come a long way since Chuck Taylors were first produced by Converse in 1917. With the Academy's long history, students here were playing basketball before these ubiquitous sneakers were invented!   For most Governor Dummer Basketball teams, footwear showed little advancement for several generations of players.  Below is a collection of basketball sneaker photographs.  See if you can guess the era of each!










Wow.....that's a lot of sneakers!  Have you decided on your guesses?  Don't peak until you have.

1. 1935
2. 1964
3. 1978
4. 1925
5. 1944
6. 1956
7. 1995
8. 1993
9. 2006

Friday, October 11, 2013

Byfield Minutemen

And the shot heard ’round the world
Was the start of the Revolution
The Minutemen were ready, on the move
                                    -School House Rock


       From very early in our education, most Americans have heard about the minutemen, fighting for our independence at Lexington and Concord.  Did any of you know that Byfield had its own corps of minutemen?  Massachusetts was a hotbed of patriot activity and Byfield was no exception.  The archives contains a small notebook dated January 31, 1775 and labeled, “A List of Soldiers in the Training Band belonging to Byfield Company.”  The handwritten list includes the names of approximately eighty men.  One of the interesting details about this list is the time of its formation, almost three months prior to the first battles at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775 and more than a year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence!  For a small town, it was a trendsetter in its day.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Tribute to our Longest Tenured Teacher

Dick Leavitt, 1965 Milestone 

Prior to this year, the Governor’s Academy has never had an employee remain for 50 years.  That is about to change.  When young Dick Leavitt arrived on campus in the fall of 1964, he planned to teach here for only a year, and then move on to do graduate work at Harvard.  Despite these intentions, Leavitt is now the longest tenured faculty member in the over 250 year history of the academy.  In honor of that very special milestone, the Academy Archives will be dedicating a series of displays and blogs to looking at these past 50 years, and how both Mr. Leavitt and the school have changed over time.   Today’s first entry focuses on Leavitt’s first school year, 1964-1965.
The year 1964 was filled with memorable events for the US as a whole.  The Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act into law, the Gulf of Tonkin resolution was passed by Congress, paving the way for significant military involvement in Vietnam, and Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  Some of the new popular TV shows that year included Bewitched, Gilligan’s Island, Jeopardy, and The Addams Family.
Governor Dummer Academy was in the middle of a building boom.  The Mosely Chapel, which had been under construction throughout the previous year, had its dedication ceremony in the spring of 1964 and was now open for business for its first complete school year.  The final touches were put on the Thompson Arts Center that fall and construction of the new Eames Dormitory began.  The addition of these new buildings was only the beginning of many changes that were to come during the next decade.
1964 Pony Football Team (Mr. Leavitt on far right)
In the middle of this growth was a new young faculty member.  Coming from Amherst College with a degree in physics, Mr. Leavitt was assigned not only mathematics sections, but also the position of assistant coach to the “Pony Football” (what would be called third’s football today) team.  In fact, pony football went on to have its only undefeated season in memory during that year!  Perhaps riding on that initial athletic success, Mr. Leavitt sought to expand the athletic program by offering to coach a new rugby team in the spring of his first year, which apparently attracted about thirty boys! Likely his success was what led the academy to ask him to continue on past his initial one year commitment.  We are happy to see he far exceeded this initial short range plan and has taught more Governor Dummer alumni that any other teacher! 
As we seek to honor Mr. Leavitt during this important year, I would love to hear your stories about him. I invite anyone who has materials or stories that they would like to share to please contact me at the archives so that your memories of Dick Leavitt might be incorporated into my work.  Thanks in advance for your help.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The 19th Century Dummer Women

For this blog, I am pleased to announce a guest blogger.  Jenika Smith, Class of 2009, chose to create a blog for her Alma mater based on her research in the Governor's Academy Archives and elsewhere, as a final project in her college history class.  I hope you all enjoy reading her work!

Coeducation in the 19th Century: The Women of Dummer Academy

Dummer Academy Class of 1901

       The Governor’s Academy has a history resembling the majority of boarding schools in the Independent School League. The school, much like her counterparts, possesses a rigorous academic schedule, a thoughtful and gifted faculty and a buzzing community full of spirit and respect. However, what stands out about the Academy is that it is the oldest continuously run boarding school in the United States , so its archives contain a plethora of books, letters, photographs and objects that remain untouched by the common student. It is only when these artifacts are sought after and revealed that a researcher, especially a current student, faculty member or alumnus, can see into the Academy’s past as if she or he were there. Examining just a letter or a photograph one can see that the school’s moral and community values at its founding are what fundamentally shaped the distinguished academy that it is today. While both captivating stories and controversial issues alike have arisen in the Academy’s long history, there is one, or might I say two events in particular that are telling in understanding a much broader history of the United States. Those events, though brief in time, were the first experiments in which The Governor’s Academy opened its doors to female students during the 19th century. It was an unlikely tale for the Academy, whose prestigious reputation resided with those male graduates who went on to attend Ivy League universities. So how could coeducation at the Academy be possible during an era of extreme controversy over women’s education? Moreover, why were females seeking higher education and how did they land at Dummer Academy? This piece will not only discuss the decision to allow female students at the Academy but it will also analyze the basis why coeducation was considered taboo at schools like Dummer.

Ebenezer Greenleaf Parsons
        In the early spring of 1872, Reverend Ebenezer Greenleaf Parsons became the headmaster of Dummer Academy. Referred to as Principal Parsons, he brought with him an esteemed character, a highly regarded intellect and a progressive stance on the social norms of the era. In fact he was headmaster of Pinkerton Academy before that, which became coeducational in 1853. Parsons’ predecessors left the Academy financially unstable, leaving him and the Board of Trustees with no other option than to find new ways of increasing enrollment. From the success of neighboring boarding schools such as Phillips Andover, Lawrence and Milton Academy grew heavy competition and Dummer seemed to be on a losing streak. Throughout the 19th century Dummer experienced shortages down to one student and few times had to go on hiatus. The prolonged sequence of financial issues the school had faced guided Parsons and the trustees to seek no other solution but to allow female students to enroll in the school. Although Parsons was considered to have a more progressive outlook on female education, the Academy only resorted to coeducation due to financial concerns. While one cannot predict what might have happened if Dummer had not been in financial straits, the opening day of school letter confirms the lack of interest the board members had in female education at the Academy. The second page of the letter states, “The Academy will here after be open to females and the price of their tuition shall be seven dollars per term unless abatement.” The rest of the letter continues list the rules and expectations for the school year; however, the females are only mentioned once. Being the first time females ever to matriculate at the Academy, one would think the board members would pay more attention to that important detail.

       As simple as the decision was, Dummer had a reputation to uphold. By 1872 many communities in the United States accepted the idea that female education was reasonable but under the condition that women use their education to teach their children and become better spouses. Women at that time were seen as the upholders of the moral world. A child’s future decisions and knowledge depended on his or her mother’s education and moral upbringing. Sarah Josepha Hale, author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” was a strong advocate for female education in the 19th century. Before coeducation occurred at the Academy, Hale was already the chief editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, a literary magazine that encouraged women everywhere to seek schooling in one form or another. “In this age of innovation, perhaps no experiment will have an influence more important on the character and happiness of our society, than the granting to females the advantages of a systematic and thorough education.” Women who wrote about female enlightenment often reasoned that female education was for the betterment of society as a whole and therefore should not only be considered but should also be taken very seriously. Much of the controversy stemmed from books such as Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, published following the American Revolution, which discussed the unnatural socialization of the female sex and argued for equal rights for women. Though the arguments promoting female education were validated, as demonstrated by the amount of public schools and female academies that sprang up in the late 19th century, elite all male schools such as Dummer were not ready to take on coeducation, as it proved that females had an equal role not only in education but in politics and law.

       So while many girls were in fact attending school in the late 1800s, it was the elite families who sent their children to private schools or away to boarding schools. Were women conforming to their overarching duty as a mother and housewife, or were they reading authors like Wollstonecraft and Hale and going to school to seek the enlightenment those authors preached? While it was true many young girls were sent to school so that they could be better “fit” to raise a family, it turned out that their education also helped them land jobs. The United States experienced a time of immense industrialization and modernization and large families sent their children into the city to seek new opportunities and work. However, those were not typically the families whose children attended prestigious schools like Dummer at that time. Dummer Academy, among the top private academies in the country, and still is to this day, could not afford a poor reputation. Allowing coeducation could have deterred wealthy, conservative families from sending their boys to Dummer. A school whose pride focused on its highly esteemed male graduates, some who went on to attend Harvard and Yale to become prominent figures in the Boston area was reluctant in those days to allow coed integration in the classroom. It was not surprising, however, that coeducation would begin at Dummer under Parsons’ watch. After working at Pinkerton Academy in New Hampshire, Parsons experienced the effectiveness of coeducation. For a school to be as progressive as to have any portion of the student body made up of females in the mid 19th century , it had to have a headmaster who believed in the cause.

       Reluctance faded as enrollment in both female and male students increased after 1872. There went from being six female students to eleven in 1873, and there may have been more than that since the students were not normally listed again if they attended more than one year. Little is known about what happened to the female students after they left the Academy. It is unidentified in the archives materials whether the female students went on to attend female universities or maintain a profession, but most of them did get married. Generally what is known about young women and girls in the 19th century is this: girls who attended secondary school generally went until they were of childbearing age or their parents felt they had enough schooling. Some families may have sent their daughters to the local university or an Ivy League equivalent for women. The families might not have had the finances to send their daughter to Dummer for more than a year, or were spending it on their sons who were attending other leading schools like Phillips Andover or their other daughters who were also attending Dummer. Though the female students may have only attended for one to three years, the period in which coeducation existed at Dummer lasted for ten. Transportation and medical services were improving towards the end of the century, however, ten years is an extensive period of time to be conducting an experiment, which many of the trustees did not necessarily promote. The increase in enrollment allowed for the continuation of coeducation since it still provided revenue for the school. While we do not have letters or proof that any trustee harshly disapproved, we can find evidence in the years after Parsons resigned in 1882.

       The school continually sought efforts to raise revenue. Insignificant enrollment during Parsons leadership may have meant that coeducation was simply ineffective both in raising revenue and attracting new students but it may also say something about his management of the school. In search of new leadership, the school found John W. Perkins who had a remarkable reputation as master of Salem High School. Perkins was a high achiever. He ran the farm, managed multiple assistants, took care of the school grounds and was even a teacher at Dummer. Perkins was an extraordinary headmaster, yet he did not believe in coeducation. He wanted Dummer to return to the “first principles” which assumed the traditional male and female roles. In this case, Dummer was to be an all-boys school and provide the classical curriculum. During Perkins’ term as headmaster he raised tuition to that of Andover’s, he fixed up the gymnasium, and he added a few major buildings to expand the campus. These advancements would allow Dummer to compete with the other boarding schools in the area. Looking at his record he may have been successful in raising revenue, but it all fell apart after about six years because of his disingenuous character, resulting in him leaving the Academy. He did not have the humble qualities that Dummer Academy desired in a headmaster.
Perley Leonard Horne

       So began another tumultuous period for the Academy. Although the Board of Trustees was able to run the school, the Academy needed stability in leadership in order to bring the community of scholars together in spirit. The second wave of coeducation was embraced in 1896 for the same reason it had been twenty years before that, but this time it was under headmaster Perley Leonard Horne. Although he had set high standards for the college preparatory institution, the school still had not prospered as hoped. One difference between the first and second period of coeducation was The Dummer News. This addition to social and academic life at the Academy allows readers to view the school from students’ perceptions. Analyzing their work in the context of 19th century women’s history, one can understand how female students felt about their time at Dummer. A female student, whose identity remains undisclosed, wrote the following piece in the “theme” section of the school newspaper:

“While working on a scrapbook today, I saw a piece about the progress in the education of women. It told of an incident in a town in Connecticut only two generations ago. The school committee passed this resolution, that it is the sense of this meeting, that it would be a misuse of the public funds to teach girls the back part of the arithmetic. I know from my own experience that it is impossible to teach it to some girls nowadays.”

       Themes in The Dummer News appeared in every issue. They were meant to be short so that many themes could be published, in order to touch upon a variety of topics. The theme above shows the insecurity some young girls may have felt about their own academic capabilities during that era. It also shows the more general view of female education and its importance. While some people, like the school committee in Connecticut, felt it would be a misuse of funds to teach young girls math, female students at Dummer were excelling in other subjects nearly two decades before, demonstrating the outstanding capabilities of the female gender during a time when their intelligence was questioned. The excerpt below was taken from an article in The Boston Globe commemorating 113 years of the Academy’s existence:

“…various prizes were awarded as follows. For elocution, to Miss Abbie J. Hale and William Durgin, the Kent medal, for faithfulness, Miss Alice Nelson; for scholarship, Miss Sarah Wheelwright; and for composition, to Miss Carrie G. Knight; and one was also given by the instructor to Miss Eunice Hale. Miss Eunice G. Knight and Miss Emma A. Hale graduated, being the first female graduates of the school.”

       Although subjects such as math and science were not included in the newspaper article, only one male was even mentioned in the awards list. If the female students were not as important as the male students, then perhaps the females would not have been listed at all. To attest for their acceptance at Dummer Academy by both faculty and students alike, a male student expresses his delight on the front page of The Dummer News:

“Those who are in this community for the first time carried away with them a splendid impression of the young ladies’ ability in a social way and of the young ladies personally while the old boys had their former impressions confirmed. May the ball be kept rolling now that it is started and the Dummer boys will show their appreciations.”

1901 Student Body

    Female students were warmly welcomed at the Academy, as demonstrated in newspaper articles in and outside the school. Another example that proves that fact was the creation of the Dummer Allies. Carrie Knight Ambrose, who was one of the first female graduates at the Academy, and Carrie Dummer founded the female group as a way to show their undoubted support and loyalty to the school. Their admiration provides further insight of the community at Dummer throughout the 19th century. Although female education during Parsons’ and Horne’s headmastership was considered only necessary for financial stability and was not a result of a new found progressive stance, the girls there stood as equals in the hearts and minds of the other students and faculty.

       Boarding schools are unique in that community is of the utmost importance. That is one thing that has never changed about The Governor’s Academy. So while female students were accepted as a part of the greater community at the Academy during a time of extreme controversy over women’s rights, how was it that coeducation eventually failed? For one thing, the amount of public schools steadily increased towards the mid to late century as a way to provide greater access to free education. Perhaps the female students at Dummer were not fighting for continued coeducation because they were able to get their education in nearby towns such as Newburyport, Salem or Rowley. With the improvement of the railroad system in the greater Boston area, people were able to travel further in a quicker amount of time. Some may have chosen to study elsewhere or find jobs in the cities. Coeducation did work at some schools, however. Pinkerton, for one, was coeducational before many schools, and it was the school that Principal Parsons and Principal Horne had worked at previous to Dummer. The founders implemented coeducation soon after it first opened in 1814. It was one of the first private schools to become coeducational in the 19th century. Franklin & Marshall College began as a secondary school when it opened and perhaps was the first private school to allow coeducation. About one third of the student population in 1787 was female, which included the first Jewish female student to attend school in the United States. The Westtown School, also located in Pennsylvania was founded as a coeducational institution in 1799. Quakers founded Westtown, and because their faith deems men and women as equal, coeducation was never a controversial issue for them. However, complete integration of male and female students did not occur until the mid 1800s. Similarly, Franklin & Marshall was founded by Lutherans, who had a more progressive view of the female role in society. Other boarding schools had female academies but they were not integrated with the males until the 20th century because most private schools in New England had enough funds to purchase land and buildings to separate males and females. The main reason why coeducation may have failed at Dummer was not necessarily because its founders were of a different faith, although that may have contributed to it being all boys at the beginning, but Dummer Academy had become an elite private school that had to compete with other leading institutions. The male role flourished at schools like Dummer. There was a brotherhood at the Academy and schools like it. The Sons of Dummer and the Dummer Fraternity are perfect examples of the attitude men at those schools had about themselves and how they compared to women. For example, after 1904, when coeducation at Dummer was officially abolished until 1971, The Archon was founded in order to inform alumni and students about exciting events and news about the school. In the 1906 Archon, one of the first editions to be published at Dummer, the alumni section of the magazine only lists males, including the Sons of Dummer. Though there may have been mention of females who attended in later years, the absence of female alumni suggests that life at Dummer did in fact go back to “first principles” as it had done under Principal Perkins in 1882. The male dominant role had been challenged at Dummer because girls were seeking higher education themselves. Going back to basics and emphasizing the brotherhood that formed at the Academy was a way for male students to establish their superiority. If women infiltrated places of higher learning, where politicians, lawyers and bankers were being educated, then it would disrupt the power order.

       Though female integration at the Academy in the 19th century proved women had the same academic and social abilities as their male counterparts, it seemed that Dummer was destined to be an elite male force in the private school arena. It was not until the late 20th century that the school, and society as a whole, would come to accept females as equal in stature due to the changing times. Governor Dummer Academy had been experiencing another period of financial instability at the beginning of the 1970’s due to an economic recession that heightened inflation and decreased enrollment. Social movements were also common during that era, especially the second-wave feminist movement. Both the economic hardship of the school and the women’s rights movement may very well have contributed to the permanent decision to implement coeducation at the Academy. The social structure of society was changing, just as it had done a century before that, leaving behind a legacy that continues at the Academy to this day. While the school may have been excessively male elitist two centuries ago, today it lives up to its modern day reputation as a school built on community values and equality in all respects.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Dummer Farmerettes

      While many of us realize that the WWI years brought both patriotism and protest to the nation, the details of these actions are often lost to history.  Such is the case with the World War I "farmerettes."  These young women displayed their patriotism through farm work, raising the much needed crops during a time when many men were off fighting in Europe.  The farmerettes were chosen for their physical strength as well as their strength of character.  Just like their male counterparts in the US Army, these young women viewed their work as an act of patriotism during wartime. 
      Even less well known than the existence of these female war workers was the fact that a group of them worked right on the Dummer Academy campus.  Dummer Academy teamed up with Radcliffe College to organize students to raise food that could be used by both schools.  The Radcliffe women arrived in the summer to prepare the land, plant the crops, and care for the plants as they grew.  When the women left in late summer, the Dummer men arrived to harvest the crops and divide the results between the schools. 
      I recently stumbled upon a newspaper article about these efforts during the tenure of Headmaster Charles Ingham.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Loyalty Oath

       Did you know that fear of radicalism caused Massachusetts, along with several other states, to pass loyalty oath requirements for teachers in the 1930’s?  While searching for materials related to former Headmaster Ted Eames, I came across a small card signed by William B. Jacob, swearing his support for the US Constitution and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Additional research led to the discovery that Massachusetts passed a law in 1935 requiring all teachers, both at public and private institutions, to sign such a card before being allowed to teach.  Judging from the subsequent letter sent in December of 1935, the state intended on enforcing this newly passed requirement. The law was not without controversy; several professors at Tufts University and Harvard University refused to sign oaths of allegiance.  While support for the oath waned the following year, when elections led to many oath supporters not being returned to the MA legislature, the law remained in effect until struck down by the MA Supreme Court in 1967.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Charles Ingham's Introduction to Dummer Academy

     The newest archival display in the Pescosolido Library features former headmaster Charles Ingham.  For many who study the history of the academy, the big three in terms of headmasters includes Moody, Ingham, and Eames.  These three headmasters have a combined tenure of 79 years, or almost 32% of the school's history.  It is not only longevity, however, that accounts for Charles Ingham being included on this list.  Rather, it was his ability to take a school on the brink of closure and bring the academy back to a level of academic excellence that allowed it to continue to the present day.  Ingham includes several great anecdotes from his early days here in his address to the academy at the dedication of Ingham Dormitory.  I hope you enjoy reading them as I have.

       The grass was long and unkempt upon the campus. The boys were gone—not to return. The masters were gone even including the man who was still under salary to interest boys in the school.... In fact, the only link between the past and future was a household manager who having lost a limb through carelessness while in service here, thought she had a life job regardless of performances.

      Most doors were locked and the untagged keys thrown into a bucket for my use and contemplation.
I had been assured that the school was “solvent.” Those who told me believed it to be so but it shortly appeared that we owed some ten thousand dollars in open accounts, and no money in the treasury. And worse was to follow. The College Board’s Examination had been entrusted to the school to be administered well and carefully by the faculty. The boys made it a community project and through their united efforts sent probably the best set of answers ever submitted by the school, the result being that the men who entered college with “Grade A” papers were dropped at midyear....
      We opened with 13 boarding students and scarlet fever. When it was really cold the tank in the attic of Mansion House suddenly dumped its tons of water, converting the kitchen into a skating rink. Then came a lull in troubles so one Sunday morning I tempted the Red gods by remarking as I started for church, “Well, I think everything has happened that can happen.” I returned an hour later to be informed that a girl who had come from Canada two weeks before to work in the kitchen, had just produced an infant which she planned to toss into the Parker River as soon as the dishes were done!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Academy's role in early American education

I came across a wonderful article in an old issue of the Archon.  The article, written by Jonathan Busch, then a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, describes early American education.  This article talks about how the founding of the Dummer School fits into the larger picture of colonial secondary education.  I found it fascinating and hope that you will as well.  Enjoy!