Quakers, Haverford, and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Quakers, Haverford, and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

One of my favorite parts about writing stories for the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s website PhilaPlace.org is learning about the history of places I pass almost every time I am in Philly. In my last post I talked about the Wanamaker family that owned the Macy’s building, but recently I wrote about a site that hits a little closer to home. This past week I wrote a story about the Arch Street Friends Meeting House (which you can read here: www.philaplace.org/story/1629/). On Monday I was able to do my research for this story at Haverford, where I spent most of the day in special collections reading. It was really cool to be able to explore the library more than I do when I am writing papers for my classes. I also knew very little about Haverford’s Quaker history before writing this story. Every thing I knew came from brief discussions with the Quakers on campus and the Quaker style meetings held throughout the year. If you had told me there were different groups within the Society of Friends I’m not sure I would have believed you. The Society of Friends was nicknamed the Quakers because of the way they supposedly quake during prayer meetings. Since I had already been to the Quaker Meeting House at Haverford I knew to expect a simple plain room with benches facing the center, but I had no clue that Quakers did not believe in hierarchies. Thus there are no tiers and the members all face the center. This way there is no group that is in a position of power. At the same...
Sandy Tripods

Sandy Tripods

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill may have drifted to the far corners of our collective memory, but its impacts are still being felt along the affected region of the Gulf Coast. From Pensacola to New Orleans, there continue to be environmental, economic, and sociopolitical consequences that have often escaped the attention of those not directly involved in the aftermath of the spill. www.youtube.com/watch?v=hn4exS_TeGw Through the Interdisciplinary Documentary Media Fellowship, the four of us, Hilary Brashear, Dan Fries, Gebby Keny, Sarah Moses, have had the opportunity to travel down to the Gulf Coast. Following Prof. Helen White and her two chemistry students, Alana Thurston and Chloe Wang, we traveled from Pensacola, FL to Gulfport, MS to New Orleans, LA as they collected samples of oil that continue to wash up along the shore. Rain or shine (mostly shine…hot shine) Helen, Alana, and Chloe marched forward on their search as we chased them with our cameras. Their discerning eyes were quite impressive, finding the tiniest of oil samples among the decoy debris (much to our chagrin, whenever we tried to help we just picked up wood chips). Running after Helen in the blazing heat consists of only part of our documentation this summer. Together, we are developing a short film about the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon spill that explores questions of restoration and voice, while examining our own role as outsiders to the region and the issues at hand. We return to the Gulf in July, focusing our efforts primarily on New Orleans. To be continued… ...
Summer Research in Berlin

Summer Research in Berlin

Ian Gavigan ’14 spent six weeks of his summer research fellowship working in archives and libraries in Berlin, Germany. He didn’t spend all his time there buried in old newspapers. Here, Ian enjoys a late afternoon in Berlin’s neighbor to the southwest, Potsdam. Notice his pockets full of basil. Last Wednesday, I got back from six weeks in Berlin. Before that, I spent days sitting in an archive I happily stumbled upon, juggling dozens of WorldCat entries, boxes of micro-film, piles of history books, and folders of newspaper clippings. Out of this mess I’m supposed to write a thesis. We’ll see about that. For now I’m enjoying picking through the haphazard collection that’s building around my ever-evolving topic: turn-of-the-century (19-20th) mass media (newspapers), the “academy’s” scientific production of knowledge about humans and culture, and popularly-circulating ways of understanding and “thinking” racial difference. Although this project started before I arrived at Haverford, it began taking recognizable shape last fall in Professor Travis Zadeh’s  Religion major area seminar called “Religion and Translation.” Early in the course we read the book “Languages of Paradise” by Maurice Olender. It is a history of the connections between 18th and 19th century philologists–people who studied and compared the history of languages and grammar, especially “Oriental” languages like Sanskrit and Persian–and Indo-European or Aryan racism. Through “Indo-European” linguistics, these academics elaborated detailed and complex “histories” of the Aryan race. Comparing languages like German, Latin, Sanskrit, Persian, and Greek and identifying shared structures and vocabularies among them, philologists theorized a shared “Ursprache” or original language and imagined a pre-modern Golden Age of racial purity. Modern German, and...