Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Archive trip day 7-8

On Saturdays, the archives are open 10am-2pm, so I had a lovely short day of research followed by lunch at Popeye's and shopping.

I managed to get through 2 boxes of yet more scholarship correspondence from the 1960's. I covered the period after the Fulbright-Hays Act was passed but before budget trouble really begins. One thing that really stood out was the 1962 election—Senator Fulbright was often away from his Washington office, as he was busy campaigning in Arkansas. His assistants signed responses to constituents' letters more frequently that summer/fall, whereas most of the time, Fulbright himself seems to have responded (or at least signed the letters). It was an interesting reminder of the electoral cycle that influences everything else that goes on in Washington. How much worse it must be for Representatives (every 2 years) and Presidents (every 4 years) than for Senators (only every 6 years)!

The Senator's stance on civil rights seemed to be the biggest issue of the campaign. Interestingly, though, there was a letter from a student from Sierra Leone which began, "Civil rights or no civil rights, we need you in the Senate." She expressed her appreciation for his views on foreign affairs. The student also requested a grant to continue her studies at University of Pennsylvania, so maybe she was just trying to compliment him and get a grant, but I found it really interesting that she was prepared to overlook his (presumably offensive to an African person) civil rights stance.

On Sunday, the archives are closed--I planned my trip so that I would travel on Sundays and have just one real 'day off' during the 2 weeks at the archives. I drove out to Eureka Springs, a Victorian spa tourist town about 45 miles away in the Ozarks. Unfortunately, as it was a Sunday and off-season, the town was pretty dead, so I drove around the historic sightseeing routes and headed back to Rogers for lunch at 5 Guys burgers & fries. Apparently we're getting one in Leeds--I can't wait! Whatever critics may say about globalization and cultural homogenization, I'm thrilled when I see certain brands that I miss come over...

Archive Trip Day 6

Day 6 was much the same, with more information enquiries and 'thank you' letters. There were a couple letters that caught my attention, though:

1) A request for a grant that (in my opinion) had a presumptuous, pompous tone to it, from an American wishing to study James Joyce in England. I checked this to make sure--Joyce's papers are held in the National Library of Ireland in Dublin, not England. There was a Fulbright Program with Ireland at the time, too, so it's not as though he couldn't have applied for one to Ireland. The scholar didn't mention the British Library, but maybe that's what he was going for...or maybe I'm giving him too much credit. At any rate, the scholar's pompous tone made the mistake really funny.

2) Italian Fulbrighters Umberto and Marisa Bar named their baby after the Senator. He received a little birth announcement card for "Pierluigi Fulbright Giovanni", and a letter from Umberto:

"As I had always said that if I won this rather difficult competition I would put your name to my son, we finally did, after asking a special permission to the Mayor of Torino, because we wanted a foreign name. When our Italian friends ask to us why we chose the name Fulbright, we tell them why, and when they ask what it means, we say that it is a very meaningful name, since it means 'full of light.'"

Archive Trip Day 5

Now that I'm recovered from jet-lag and caught up on other projects, I need to finish off my trip blog posts!

On day 5, I found what I think must be the first mention of a Fulbright alumni organization, in a letter to Senator Fulbright from a Mr. Joseph T. St. Lawrence, Chairman, Department of Health & Physical Education, Suffern High School, Suffern, New York. In his lengthy letter, dated 31 January, 1961, Mr. St. Lawrence lays out a 13-point plan, covering the purpose and scope of his proposed organisation. I love JWF’s brief response to the letter: “You have evidently given this idea much thought, and your suggestions have a great deal of merit.” No action appears to have been taken at the time, at least--most likely because the exchange community was more immediately concerned with getting the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act (Fulbright-Hays Act) passed that year, in order to strengthen the program and ensure its continuation.

The actual Fulbright Association wouldn't be established for another 15 years or so, and its foundation is usually attributed to Arthur Dudden, the Bryn Mawr history professor (and two-time Fulbright grantee) who served as the Association's first president.