Alumnae book donations include two of the most important and beautiful works on natural history produced during the 18th century.
Some of the most valuable books in Bryn Mawr's Special Collections came from alumnae who served for many years as members of the Friends of the Library board, a group that was started in 1950 to help raise money to support the library's great research collections, exhibitions, and student internships.
Two women who served during the board's first decade, Louise Bulkley Dillingham '16 and Emily Read Fox Cheston '08, made donations that have given Bryn Mawr students access to important works on the early history of the European discovery, exploration, and colonization of Latin America, and two of the most important and beautiful books on natural history produced during the 18th century.
Louise Dillingham was the more serious book collector of the two. After doing graduate work in French and Spanish at Columbia and spending five years as secretary to the general manager of the South Puerto Rico Sugar Company, she returned to Bryn Mawr to earn her Ph.D. in French literature in 1926, with a dissertation on the work of Theophile Gautier.
She found a permanent home in 1931 when she was hired to teach at Westover School, a boarding school for young women in Middlebury, Connecticut. The following year she was named Headmistress, and led the school until her retirement in 1964. She died the following year.
Even though her academic work was in French literature, her passion as a book collector was in the early history of the European discovery, exploration, and colonization of Latin America. Working through some of the country's leading book dealers, including Philadelphia's A.S. W. Rosenbach, Dillingham built a rich library documenting the first interactions of Europeans and Americans, including many books existing in only a few copies and difficult to find in the United States.
Dillingham was especially interested in the Spanish conquest of Peru, and planned to devote her retirement years to research and writing on the topic. Her interest is reflected in the large number of late 16th and early 17th century books on the subject, including a 1535 Italian edition of the first published account of Pizzaro's triumph over the Incas, written by his secretary, Francisco de Xerez; Diego Fernández's 1571 history of the violent Spanish rule in Peru, a work that the Spanish Council of the Indies attempted to suppress; two books by the Jesuit José de Acosta, who wrote sympathetic accounts of Peruvian culture in the late 16th century; and several of the first studies of the Quichua language.
But the collection is also much broader than this, and includes critical works on the early history of Brazil, the West Indies, Mexico, and Chile, as well as Spanish and Portuguese accounts of travels to Africa and Asia. Dillingham began donating her books to the College in the early 1960s, and ultimately contributed over a thousand books to the library.
Emily Fox Cheston had a special interest in books on natural history, reflecting her life-long passion for gardening. Her first career after Bryn Mawr was as a social worker with the Philadelphia Society for Organizing Charity, but she began to be active in horticultural circles while still working. She was a prominent members of the Philadelphia Garden Club, helped to organize the Garden Clubs of America in 1913, worked for the John Bartram Association, and received a "Distinguished Achievement Medal" from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in 1977. During her student days she had also been an enthusiastic and talented actress. A review of her performance in La Princesse Lointaine gives some idea of her personality: "Miss Fox, as we have grown to expect, was impulsive, and brave, and beautiful."
Cheston's donations included two of the most important and beautiful books on natural history produced during the 18th century. Mark Catesby's The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, London: 1731-1743, was the first illustrated work on the flora and fauna of North America. With more than 200 hand-colored extra-large engravings, it was one of the great achievements of early 18th century British printing. Sir William Hamilton's Campi Phlegræi: Observations on the volcanos of the two Sicilies as they have been communicated to the Royal Society of London, Naples, 1776, was the first systematic scientific study of an erupting volcano, and with more than 50 hand-colored plates, also one of the most visually stunning books of the time.
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“Nice women don’t change the world,” said Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jody Williams at Bryn Mawr’s Convocation ceremony on May 15, urging graduates to speak up for their beliefs even when silence is the norm. “In 2010, women are more than half of the world, but in too many parts of it, we are still having to go out and ask for rights that are ours just by nature of being human. When women are recognized with equality and treated with justice, the world will be a better place for everyone, including men.
Williams received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work to ban landmines through the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which shared the Peace Prize with her that year.
Bryn Mawr conferred 320 bachelor’s degrees, 41 advanced degrees in arts and sciences, and 85 advanced degrees in social work and social research at commencement ceremonies on May 16.
The Gertrude Slaughter Fellowship was awarded to two seniors who graduated summa cum laude: Nicole Gervasio, who majored in English and growth and structure of cities, and Evan Schneider, who majored in physics and mathematics.
Catherine Elise Niemeyer, who took her degree summa cum laude in anthropology, was awarded the European Traveling Fellowship. The Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching was shared by Assistant Professor of Sociology Nathan Wright and the late Associate Professor Kevin Robinson of the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research.
The Mary Patterson McPherson Award for excellence and community service among all constituencies was award to William Rand Kenan, Jr., Professor of Political Science Marc Ross. (Staff McPherson awards went to Sally Allison, general merchandise buyer for the Bookstore, Vanessa Christman assistant director of Intercultural Affairs, Dawn Bruton, utility housekeeping. )
The Harvey Wexler Chair was awarded to Professor of Economics Janet Ceglowski. The Rosalyn R. Schwartz Teaching Award for contribution to innovative curricular development was awarded to Professor of Computer Science Deepak Kumar. The Class of 1897 Professorship in the Sciences was awarded to Professor of Psychology Leslie Rescorla.
Three distinguished faculty members who have retired graduated to professor emeritus status: Rick Hamilton, of Greek, Latin and classical studies; Bruce Saunders, of Geology; and President Emeritus Nancy Vickers, of French and Italian.
Organizers of “Heritage and Hope: Women’s Education in a Global Context,” the international conference celebrating the empowering legacy of women’s education and charting a course for its future, have announced new details about the event, including session topics and speakers.
A signature part of Bryn Mawr College’s 125th anniversary, the conference takes place from September 23 to 25, 2010, and will feature keynote addresses by New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof, co-author (with his wife Sheryl WuDunn) of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, and Melanne Verveer, United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.
The conference gets underway on Thursday afternoon with opening remarks by Bryn Mawr President Jane McAuliffe and an opening presentation by Smith College History Professor Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz. Horowitz is the author of Alma Mater, a comprehensive history of the development of women’s colleges in the United States.
The day’s first panel discussion is “Leveling the Academic Playing Field: Strategies for Change that Work.” Among the panelists is Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor of Biology Nancy Hopkins, who chaired a committee that issued a landmark report on gender inequality at MIT. The second panel of the day will look at “Contemporary Issues in Access and Equity.”
Thursday’s programming ends with facilitated discussion groups followed by cocktails and dinner at Thomas Great Hall.
On Friday morning conference participants will take part in a panel discussion on “The ‘Girl Power’ of Single-Sex Education,” which brings together leaders of many of the top secondary schools for girls. Later in the morning the presidents of Wellesley College, Japan’s Tsuda College, and Spelman College will join Princess Loulwa Al-Faisal, vice chancellor of Saudi Arabia’s Effat University, to discuss “Enhancing Global Networks.” The day’s panels conclude with “Extending Our Reach and Closing the Gender Gap,” in which the presidents of Smith College and St. Catharine University join their counterparts from women’s universities in Bangladesh and South Korea.
Afterwards, participants will travel to Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute for a reception, dinner, and remarks from Verveer.
The conference closes on Saturday after a morning panel discussion among NGO leaders titled “Partnering for Global Justice”; reports from facilitated discussion groups that have met during the conference; and Kristof’s keynote address.
For a detailed list of all the conference events and panelists, go to www.brynmawr.edu/ 125th/conference/program.html
Alumnae, students, staff, and others interested in attending the conference can register online at the conference website, www.brynmawr.edu/ 125th/conference.html.
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Political science major Simone Biow ’10 was one of 40 college seniors nationwide awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, which funds a year of international, independent study.
Biow will use the funding to visit Bangladesh, Mozambique, Vietnam, Ecuador, and Nicaragua in search of grassroots entrepreneurs who respond to extreme weather in inventive ways. Her itinerary follows the likely seasonal paths of weather-induced crises such as flooding, drought, and hurricanes.
Russian major and computer science minor Chantal Taylor ’12 received a Boren Scholarship for International Study. Just 138 undergraduates were selected from more than 900 applicants for the $20,000 awards.
Taylor will use the award to fund a year’s study at the International University in Moscow and will live with a Russian family for the year. Much of her course of study will be focused on Russian language and literature, but she hopes to be able to take at least one course in computer science while she is abroad. “I’m very interested in seeing how computers are integrated into Russian society and culture,” she says.
Jessica Marie Rizzo ’11, a double major in theater and English, is one of just 20 students nationwide to have been selected for the $34,000 Beinecke scholarship, which funds graduate study in the arts, humanities or social sciences.
Rizzo hopes to be a playwright; degree programs that interest her include those that focus on dramaturgy, dramatic criticism, and playwriting. This spring, Rizzo’s play Blessed Among Women was one of six projects selected for the Bi-Co Student Theater Festival. Apocalipsis Rosario ’11 received a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant for her project to lead 15 high school girls from one of Boston’s toughest neighborhoods, Lower Roxbury, in a 10-week program of discussion groups and writing workshops. The group will produce a book of their writings about the sources and effects of violence and abuse.
Samantha Wood ’11 and Sarah Christian ’11, are the winner and an honorable mention, respectively, in the competition for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, awarded annually to undergraduates “who have outstanding potential and intend to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering.” Wood, a computer science major, plans to pursue a graduate degree in comptuer science. Christian, a geology major, plans to pursue graduate study in planetary science.
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Elizabeth Atkins ‘46; Elliott Shore, Ph.D. ’84, Constance A. Jones Director of Libraries, professor of history, and chief information officer; and Nan Harris ’51 at an Alumnae Association appreciation dinner for the Cambridge, Massachusetts, bookstore volunteers who have raised more than $1.5 million for alumnae regional scholarships over the years. The event was a stop on the 125th anniversary celebration tour around the country with Elliott Shore, Karen Tidmarsh ’71, and Stephanie Wujcik ’08 from Shore’s class on the history of women’s education.
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Grand May Day had a Western theme, complete with a mechanical bull. President Jane McAuliffe walks to the hoop race with two of her granddaughters and faculty children. Photo by Paola Nogueras ’84.
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