Monday, June 22, 2009

Groton Redux

Theodore Roosevelt and Family in 1903In exploring the history of The Groton School in a recent post, I discovered that there were two well-documented punishments that the 6th form boys (the seniors) would administer to younger boys when they were considered to have broken the Groton code. These punishments were not officially sanctioned by Rector Peabody, but certainly allowed to go on without interference from him or the faculty.

One of these was called "boot boxing", where the offender was forced into his boot locker (a short locker for outdoor boots), and made to stay there, doubled up, for what might be hours.

The second was called "pumping". The miscreant was bent back over the edge of a trough in the laboratory, face up, and water was poured in his face from an open spigot to simulate drowning. There was a 10-second limit to the torture, but it could be conducted more than once on any given occasion.

Little Teddy Roosevelt, Jr., a few weeks before his father was inaugurated as Vice-President, was pumped for being “fresh and swell-headed.” Half-drowned but still spouting defiance after two immersions, he escaped being put under for a third time: the boys admired his pluck. Malcolm Peabody, the rector’s own son, was pumped because the older boys didn’t like his “tone.”[1]

These punishments were certainly still occurring in 1905, and for some years after that. No wonder waterboarding seems like a fine technique to men from the "old families". It was part of their prep school experience. . . .

Illustration Credits and References

The photo of the Roosevelt family was taken in 1903; young Teddy (several years after his "pumping") is standing just behind his father. Credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-USZ62-113665.

[1]Kintrea, Frank. "'Old Peabo' and the School." American Heritage Magazine. 31.6 (1980).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Groton School and the Foreign Policy of FDR and Truman

Franklin Roosevelt on Horseback, Rhinebeck, New York 1905Early in 1905, Franklin Roosevelt took time away from his law studies at Columbia to pose for this photograph in Rhinebeck, New York. He and Eleanor were married on March 17 (Uncle Ted came up from DC to give the bride away) and after the school year was over the young couple spent the summer honeymooning in Europe. At the same time, many of the teenage boys who would later become instrumental in the formation and execution of American foreign policy during World War Two and its aftermath were studying at The Groton School, 40 miles west of Boston.

FDR was the old man of the group--23 by the date of his wedding. He'd graduated from Harvard in 1904, and Groton in 1900.

Francis Biddle (a senior at Groton in the spring of 1905, and a freshman at Harvard that fall) would go on to become FDR's wartime Attorney General (1941-1945) and was later appointed by Truman to serve as a judge at the Nuremberg Trials.

Dean Acheson arrived at Groton in the fall of 1905 as a twelve-year-old; he would go on to serve as Secretary of State under Truman from 1949-1953. He played a central role in the creation of many important institutions, including Lend Lease, the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, NATO, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, and the early organizations that later became the European Union and the World Trade Organization. (HIs Groton claim to fame was finishing last in his class; Groton Rector and Headmaster Endicott Peabody repeatedly criticized Acheson's school performance. Purportedly, Peabody told Acheson's mother that he could not make a "Groton boy" out of her son, and Mrs. Acheson replied, "Dr. Peabody, I didn't send Dean here to have you make a 'Groton boy' out of him. I sent him here to be educated. . . . I will leave him here as long as I think you can succeed, though you give me considerable doubt.")

Sumner Welles was a year ahead of Acheson at Groton, where Eleanor Roosevelt's brother Hall was his roommate. He would take a break from his studies in March of '05 to travel to NYC and carry Eleanor's train at her wedding; Endicott Peabody was the minister at that happy occasion. Welles would become a foreign policy advisor to FDR and serve as under secretary of state from 1937-1943.

Averell Harriman was a year ahead of Welles. He would serve as a special envoy to Europe under FDR, and as Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1943-1946. He would continue to serve future presidents (JFK and LBJ) including a stint as the chief US negotiator at the Paris peace talks on Vietnam. (Harriman is famous at Groton for having, at the age of 13, communicated to his father, rail magnate E.H. Harriman, that Endicott Peabody "would be an awful bully if he weren't such a terrible Christian.")

It's hard not to think that something was in the air in the hills of Massachusetts in those first years of the new century that called all of those young men to public service. "If some Groton boys do not enter political life and do something for our land," said Rector Peabody, "it won't be because they have not been urged." And urge he did. Franklin Roosevelt said of Peabody, "As long as I live his influence will mean more to me than that of any other people next to my father and mother." Peabody would remain Headmaster at Groton until 1940, and live to see Roosevelt win all four presidential elections.

Illustration Credits and References

The photo at the top of this post is from the FDR Presidential Library and Museum.

The story about Endicott Peabody and Mrs. Acheson is reported in a number of sources; I have used the version in James Chace's 1998 book, Acheson: The Secretary of State Who Created the American World.

The communication from Averell Harriman to his father is quoted in Rudy Abramson's 1992 book Spanning the Century: The Life of W. Averell Harriman 1891-1986.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Working Women, Part 2

Three women in an automobile, Chicago, 1905The employment of Boston women in 1905 was the subject of a recent post, with an emphasis on the broad range of work available to them. There were, however, a number of job categories which included NO women employees, and I've aggregated them below.

Government Mandate

There were obviously no women soldiers, sailors, or marines!

Building Trades

These jobs formed the largest block of professions not available to women in 1905. They included contractors, carpenters, plasterers, paperhangers, roofers, electricians, plumbers, copper workers, and masons. There were six brave women who listed their profession as painter/glazier/varnisher, and 26 women in miscellaneous woodworking jobs (though these could have been artisans rather than builders).

Work Involving Horses

Women on horseback at the Onwentsia Horse Show, Lake Forest, Illinois, 1905Women rode or drove horses in 1905, but apparently work involving horses was not considered appropriate. There were no women grooms, stable workers, livery stable keepers, or harness and saddle makers/repairers.

Seafaring Work

oman flyfishing, Chicago, 1905While women went to sea in this era with their husbands (Cynthia's mother was often at sea with Cynthia's captain-father), and went fishing privately (or canoeing with their boyfriends), they did not work in sea-related jobs. So there were no women fishermen (or oystermen!), boatmen, steamship employees, or vessel builders/repairers. Certainly, the seafaring jobs were subject to the same cultural restraints as military work--with resistance from the men themselves as well as from their wives.

Alcohol-Related Work

Women were apparently too pure and sensitive to work in alchohol-related professions. So there were no women brewers/maltsters or bartenders. (A number of women, however, were restaurant and saloon-keepers--apparently that was OK as long as you didn't get behind the bar!)

Other Work Considered Too Dangerous, Dirty, or Physical for Women

Women at the train station in Chicago 1905In this category I've included heavy duty manufacturing (carriage and wagon factory workers and steam boiler makers), transportation/telecommunications work (railway engineers, street railway employees, telegraph/telephone linemen, wheelwrights), and metal and machine workers (blacksmiths, gunsmiths, locksmiths, bellhangers, machinists, and mechanics). There were no women "porters and helpers (in stores, etc.)", since presumably this involved heavy lifting. There were also no women butchers or coopers (barrel makers).

Cultural Barriers

There were no women working as engineers and surveyors or as model and pattern makers (though there were a handful of women architects, designers, and draughtsmen). This work may have seemed more suited to the male "logical" mind, and certainly there would have been a barrier to the engineering work done as part of the building trades. It's probably also true that relatively few women were prepared mathematically for professions like these (a problem that unfortunately still persists in some forms today).

There were no women piano tuners. This seems surprising because of the large number of women working as musicians and music teachers.

A Modern Footnote

Some of the employment areas discussed above are still the most difficult for women to enter. Only 10-12% of engineers in the US are women. Only 3.5% of telephone linemen in Canada are women (couldn't find a US statistic, but I assume it's comparable). In the building trades, only 3% of jobs are held by women.

Illustration Credits and References

Census data from Census of the the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1905. Volume 2: Occupations and Defective Social and Physical Conditions.

The photographs were all taken in greater Chicago in 1905, and are from the Chicago Daily News Negative Collection. They are part of a wonderful collection of Chicago Daily News photographs that are accessible on the Library of Congress American Memory website. I'm assuming there are comparable Boston area photos--if you're aware of any, please let me know!

FIrst photo: Mrs. F. W. Hedgeland driving a car down a neighborhood street in Chicago with two women in the backseat. Credit: SDN-003345, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society.

Second photo: Women on horses at the Onwentsia Horse Show in Lake Forest, Illinois. Credit: DN-0002809, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society.

Third photo: Full-length portrait of Mrs. E. B. Bartholomew, Michigan, fly fisher, demonstrating casting in a park, in Chicago. Credit: SDN-003372, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society.

Fourth photo: Club women standing in a train station in Chicago. Credit: DN-0002306, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Boston Museum of Fine Arts - John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent - An Artist in His StudioIn May, 1905, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston acquired John Singer Sargent's painting, An Artist in His Studio. The work had been painted the year before in a hotel room in the Italian Alps occupied by Sargent's friend Ambrogio Raffele. Raffele was working on a bucolic landscape in this makeshift "studio". Due to the cramped quarters, Raffele has propped his work-in-progress on the bed and desk, in lieu of an easel. And imagine that Sargent is also in this same small space with his paints and easel--capturing Raffele at work.

This painting was the first non-portrait of Sargent's to be purchased by an American museum. The MFA paid $1,039.53 for it! It would be the first of many, many landscapes and other non-portraits of Sargent's purchased by the Museum. If you're in Boston, you can view it in the Susan Morse Hilles Gallery of American Impressionism.

Illustration Credits and References

The image of the painting, as well as the information on the MFA's purchase, courtesy of the John Singer Sargent Gallery website and the MFA website.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Working Women, Part 1

Stenographers Room at Leland & Faulconer, Detroit, ca. 1905Women were employed in large numbers in Boston in 1905. Mas-sachusetts state census data from that year indicates that 41% of adult women were working, and in many categories of employment--some surprising, some not.

Chicago Nurse, 1905Nearly 40% of working women worked in "Domestic and Personal Service" (and that of course does not count all the women who were "not gainfully employed" as housewives!) It's important to note that this category includes not only household servants, but also nurses, midwives, waiters, launderers, office cleaners, and boarding house keepers--all common women's work of the era.

Another 28% worked in "Manufacturing and Mechanical Pursuits". Women formed the vast majority of sewing machine operators--making everything from men's shirts to ladies' dresses. They were also in the majority in the manufacture of clothing items (buttons, collars, cuffs, hosiery, lace, silk, and ladies' hats) and various household products (brooms and brushes, carpets, paper, paper boxes, books, candy, and canned meats and fruits.)

NCR workers, Dayton, Ohio, 1902
25% were employed in the "Trade and Transportation" category. This included women working throughout Boston's offices. Women constituted 89% of stenographers and typewriters, 71% of telephone and telegraph operators, 60% of bookkeepers and accountants, 20% of messengers and errand/office boys (!), 18% of clerks and copyists, and even 4% of "officials of banks and companies".

NCR Typewriting Department, Dayton, Ohio, 1902
And 7% were employed in "Professional Service" jobs, which included such disparate professions as actress, clergy, doctor, journalist, lawyer, "literary or scientific person", musician, and teacher. Nearly 20% of Boston's doctors were women in 1905, as well as 80% of the city's teachers and professors.

Only a handful of women worked in the two remaining categories. 98 Boston women were engaged in "Agricultural Pursuits", mostly as farm laborers, and 310 women worked as apprentices, primarily in textiles.

Illustration Credits and References

Census data from Census of the the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1905. Volume 2: Occupations and Defective Social and Physical Conditions.

The photograph at the top of this post was taken in the stenographers' room at Leland & Faulconer Manufacturing in Detroit, a company that produced automobile engines and merged with Cadillac in 1905 (shortly after this picture was taken). Credit: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The photograph of the nurse is a Chicago Daily News photograph from 1905. Credit: DN-0002636, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago Historical Society.

The two office photographs were taken at National Cash Register in Dayton, Ohio by American landscape photographer WIlliam Henry Jackson in 1902. The first is a scene in the Indicator Department and the second from the Typewriting Department.  Note the design of the workspaces, which featured lots of natural lighting and task lighting. Credit: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

NOTE:  NCR was founded in 1884, manufacturing the first mechanical cash registers. In 1906, they would introduce the first electric model. NCR still makes cash registers--among other things--only now they take the form of electronic point of sale systems, ATM machines, and check scanners!

Monday, June 1, 2009

"The Game": Harvard vs. Yale

Harvard Yale Football Game 1905One of the many Boston-area sports highlights that have survived from 1905 to the present day is the annual football game between Harvard and Yale. That year, "The Game" took place at the Harvard Stadium which was a spanking new facility--designed by the well-known architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White, and just completed in 1903. (Today, a venerable ivy-covered horseshoe, it is the nation's oldest stadium, and a National Historic Landmark.) The photo above was taken on November 25, 1905, when 43,000 spectators jammed the stands. (Click on the photo to enlarge.)

During its first 25 years in the game, Yale had lost only 10 times. Harvard had smarted under this dominance, especially after losing to Yale 12-0 in the 1904 game. So in 1905, Harvard hired WIlliam R. Reid to coach the team, and to establish a plan and a process for improving Harvard football so that Harvard could have a good shot at beating Yale--not just in 1905 but every year thereafter.

Bill Reid had played for the Harvard team during his freshman and sophomore years, and had led Harvard to victory over Yale in 1898, scoring two touchdowns. And the last time Harvard had beaten Yale had been when Reid coached the team (uncompensated) during the 1901 season while he was studying for a master of arts degree at the college.

Not surprisingly, Harvard saw Reid as the key to consistent victories over Yale, and hired the California prep school teacher in the spring of 1905 for what the New York Times called a "princely salary"--he was paid more than any other professor and in fact his salary approached that of Harvard President Charles W. Eliot.

Reid set about on a mission, which included a couple of innovations he introduced to the game of football--the development of the hand-off and the idea of a playbook. Reid wrote in his 1905 diary that "next year and hereafter it would be a good scheme . . . after the offense is planned . . . to start off the season with such a book".

Program for 1905 Harvard Yale GameUnfortunately, the Harvard team lost to Yale in 1905 by a score of 6-0, its fourth shut-out loss in a row. Controversy erupted during the game when Harvard player Francis Burr was smashed in the face by Yale tackler Jack Quill.

1905 was a tough year in U.S. football--by the end of the season three college players had been killed due to the violence of the game (mass formations and gang tackling were commonplace), and scores more seriously injured. During October, US President Theodore Roosevelt (Harvard '80) had called together the coaches of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton to help figure out a way to decrease the body count. "Brutality and foul play should receive the same summary punishment given to a man who cheats at cards," opined Roosevelt.

And the Harvard Overseers agreed--threatening to abolish football at the school. Reid was named to head up a committee at Harvard which drafted 19 rules to improve the safety of the game. In December, a New York meeting of 68 football-playing colleges was convened, and the group determined to form a new rules committee. Early in January, 1906, the new rules committee was merged with the old rules committee, and Reid became secretary of the new group. In putting forth the Harvard-developed rules, Reid announced: "Either these 19 rules go through or there will be no more football at Harvard; and if Harvard throws out the game, many other colleges will follow Harvard's lead." Harvard had the clout to make that threat, the rules were adopted, and the Harvard Overseers agreed to let football continue.

Among the new rules drafted by Reid and adopted by the new committee were those changing the first-down yardage from 5 to 10 yards, creating a neutral zone at the line of scrimmage, and permitting the forward pass.  In addition, the participants voted to get together annually to consider football issues. Thus emerged the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the body which still governs collegiate sports today. (It was originally constituted as the International Athletic Association of the U.S., and would be renamed the NCAA in 1910.)

Reid retired from college coaching at the end of the 1906 season (with a 30-3-1 record, but two 6-0 losses to Yale). But he is credited as the man who saved Harvard football and helped invent the modern game, and in 1970 he was ushered into the Football Hall of Fame for his achievements. Bill Reid died at the age of 97 in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Illustration Credits and References

Photograph of the 1905 Harvard Yale game courtesy of The Library of Congress.

Photograph of the game program from 1905 courtesy of the Antique Athlete website.

Grinold, Jack. "Review of Big-Time Football at Harvard, 1905: The Diary of Coach Bill Reid by Ronald A. Smith", The New England Quarterly, Vol. 67, No. 4, (Dec., 1994), pp. 679-682.

Powers, John. "Landmark Celebration After 100 Years: Harvard Stadium Still Standing the Test of Time." Boston Globe. Boston, Mass.: Nov 14, 2003. pg. E.1

Smith, Ronald A., "Harvard and Columbia and a Reconsideration of the 1905-06 Football Crisis", Journal of Sport History, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Winter, 1981).

"Princely Salary to Coach: Harvard Will Give 'Bill' Reid $3,500 a Year for Football", New York Times, February 24, 1905.