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Special Collections’ Gems

Congratulations on the cover story “Unbound Treasure” [winter 2003] on Special Collections. It was nice to be reminded of both the gems in the collection and the history of the collection. I thought it was also good to include how it has furthered scholarship, as in the case of professor Hollis Clayson’s recent book on the Siege and Commune of Paris. As a former graduate student in art history, I feel very proud of my connection to Northwestern.

Anne Helmreich (G94)
Fort Worth

Thank you for the great article about Special Collections. Call it personal bias, but it’s probably my favorite article since the story a few years ago that featured Patrick Quinn and the University Archives [“Keeper of the Past,” fall 1999]. The librarians and archivists at Northwestern are the best in their respective professions.

Brian Myers (SCS99)

I thought you might like to know that the feminist button “it was a man’s world” (page 17) was authored by a Northwestern graduate, namely me.

I was active in the Seattle chapter of the National Organization for Women from 1970 to 1975. As a professional writer, I was pressed into creating posters and buttons for sale, and they became the chapter’s primary source of support. They were advertised in the classified ads in MS magazine.

My best-known creation was a black-and-white poster of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir with the caption “But Can She Type?” We couldn’t afford the $75 that UPI wanted to charge for her photo, so I wrote to Meir, and she sent us one. I still have a few of the posters in my basement, if you don’t have one in your collection.
I can also send you a poster that says “Love Means Cleaning Up Your Own Mess.” We tried three different graphic interpretations of the latter idea, but it never sold well — that was a radical idea, and one that literally hit too close to home. The Golda poster, however, was safely distant and sold like crazy. We sold something like 60,000 copies of it, and it continued to sell as long as Meir lived.

Linda Blair Miller (J66)
Potomac, Md.

What a wonderful cover story. The cover with one extremely beautiful book, a pocket Koran, was arresting. Giving the whole cover to one book was an excellent way to make the point that this one is special.

I especially liked seeing the section where Russell Maylone was discussing one of his own uses of Special Collections materials — to provide experience and context for seeing Virginia Woolf as author and publisher.

Andrew Campbell’s photography made his subjects important and immediately interesting. The design of his images within the article made this one of the livelier articles about library materials I’ve ever seen.

Thank you so much for showing off some of Special Collections’ treasures.

Elizabeth Zurawski (WCAS72)
Book conservator
Newberry Library

Be Good, Smile Pretty

I imagine that Tracy Droz Tragos [“Film Vérité, summer 2003] received thousands of e-mails from people like me. I wanted to thank her for producing the documentary Be Good, Smile Pretty about her father, Don Droz, who was killed in Vietnam.

I just saw her film for the second time. I cried and cried as I watched it.

Her film is quite remarkable. She has honored her dad with the film. Good for her. After watching the documentary, I feel like I know Don Droz. I thank her for sharing her grief and sadness with the rest of us.

About 20 years ago, I married a young widow who had two small girls. My wife’s husband had been murdered. I have tried to honor my daughters’ first father.

John Schert
Gainesville, Fla.

The School of Communication’s 125th

I would suggest that your feature “Celebrating 125 Years” [winter 2003] is surprisingly inaccurate. The School of Communication is not, in fact, celebrating its 125th anniversary. The School of Speech might have celebrated that anniversary, but the School of Speech no longer exists. The notion that “communication” is the same thing as “speech” is vacuous. If you doubt me, conduct an experiment: ask your board, your faculty and your alumni a simple question. As an intellectual and academic venture, what exactly is “communication?”

If the board, the faculty and alumni have a coherent consensus answer to that question, I would love to hear it. If not, then the school’s faculty and the board might admit at least to themselves how disingenuous they must be.

John Hollwitz (GC75, 80)
New York City

Praise for Hurston

I was delighted to read “Remembering Zora” [fall 2003] by Alvelyn J. Sanders (C90). It seems that alumna Valerie Boyd (J85) has written an important work about Zora Neale Hurston, and I truly intend to read it.

I had an experience similar to Boyd’s with the late professor Leon Forrest. I had taken, as my last class in the fall of 1983, his African American literature course. He was a brilliant scholar who informed us that one of the most important things about Hurston’s writings was that she legitimized the Southern rural dialect of African Americans in literature. Prior to Hurston, writers did not think the dialect of the people was worthy to be put in literature.

George L. Lee (SCS84)

The University’s Future

After listing his accomplishments in eight years [“Building on Success,” fall 2003], President Henry S. Bienen asks, ‘“So, what next?”’

I have an idea. Start a world-renowned, highly academic dental school and call it Northwestern University Dental School. Sound familiar?

Bienen said, “As Northwestern alumni, you received one of the best educations available in the country.” In the case of the former NU dental school, read world. Unfortunately, Northwestern is precluded from continuing to provide such to future generations in this significant part of health care.

Stephen M. Marsh (D65)
Colorado Springs

Graduate Fellows Had Predecessors

The fall 2003 cover story [“The Graduate School: Advancing Knowledge by Degree”] mentions the Presidential Graduate Fellows Program.

This program had at least one predecessor. In 1971–72, I was part of a group of some 10 so-called Northwestern University Scholars, with representatives from each area of knowledge and scholarship. I do not remember who were the driving forces behind it, except that I was recruited for it by chemistry professor Ralph Pearson (G43).

We met once a month and generally discussed a book that would concern the bridge/hiatus between the different areas of scholarship. It was always in a reasonable-to-good Chicago restaurant. Apart from a few permanent faculty members, we also could bring guest faculty. One of my thesis advisers, chemistry professor J. A. Ibers, was one of them.

David Cahen (G70, 73)
Rehovot, Israel

Inspiration to Law Students

Thanks for running “Rule of Law” in the fall 2003 issue. I have been aware of Doug Cassel’s work since his days at the organization Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, but it was good to see the career of this brave and tireless humanitarian summarized. I’m pleased that he’s found a home at Northwestern where he can serve as a teacher and an inspiration to future lawyers to become active in human rights and international law.

Helen L. Carlock (C59)

Tribute to Fate Echols

I am the niece of the late Fate Leonard Echols, who was one of six Northwestern players drafted by the NFL in the 1960s. Thanks from our entire family for running the obituary tribute to him in Alumni News [spring 2003]. How wonderful it makes us feel to know that, while he is no longer here, he has not been forgotten by the University that he remembered so fondly.

Sherri Derobertis

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