Last Day

Hi everyone,

Today is my last day working as the CCEPS Fellow! Working with special collections has helped me learn so much about archiving that I will carry with me for the rest of my time at Claremont Graduate University and beyond. Sean and Ayat were a tremendous help, and I can’t thank them enough for their support. It has also been such a privilege to work on the Joseph Platt collection. Learning about this incredible man has taught me so much about Harvey Mudd College and the other Claremont Colleges, as well as the city of Claremont itself.

To wrap up, I will give you a brief review of this past week. I started by reorganizing the folders to ensure all the subseries’ were grouped. I also added to the scope and content notes for the collections subseries’ and added more files to ArchivesSpace. Next semester I will return to give a presentation on the collection and my time here as an archivist.

Thank you for reading!


Student Handbooks

Hi everyone,

Just a quick update this week! With only a couple more weeks to go for the semester, I am nearing the end of the collection. The next three boxes I have left consist of books that were owned by Joseph Platt. Aside from this, the folder content I processed were documents related to Harvey Mudd College, Organizations, and Biographical Materials. The items that stood out to me were the Harvey Mudd College student handbooks because of their unique cover designs. The handbooks were created as a way for students to navigate their semester, whether they were new or returning students. The 1971 edition called, “An Amateur Mudder’s Handbook” contains sections titled, “Rules of the Game” which outline the ethics and responsibilities of being an HMC student. “Gameboard” details the important locations the students need to know. Finally, the last section, “Playing the Game” gives advice to students on a variety of subjects.

More next week!


From Harvey Mudd to Outer Space

Hi everyone,

Recently, I discovered a binder containing information about Harvey Mudd College alumnus, George “Pinky” Nelson. Nelson, class of 1972, was a student in the Bates Aeronautics program at Harvey Mudd. In 1984, he embarked on the STS-41-C Challenger shuttle with James D. Van Hoften, Robert L. Crippen, Terry J. Hart, and Francis R. Scobee. Following this, he was a part of two more missions to space. He is notable for completing a satellite repair while in space.

I found invitations to the space launch in 1984 for Joseph and Jean. Inside the invitations were stickers, pamphlets, instructions for attending the launch, and a pin. Along with this, there were many newspaper clippings about the launch and mission, and also articles about Nelson giving a speech about his flight’s return to Earth after his 1988 flight. Many Harvey Mudd students and faculty attended the Edwards Air Force Base to support Nelson’s return. Nelson greeted them saying, “After every mission, it is comforting to return to California, home of the great Harvey Mudd College” (The Muddraker, 1988). It also appears the Nelsons and the Platt’s also kept in touch over the years, as I discovered family Christmas cards and other personal correspondence.

More next week!


Platt Oral History

Hi everyone,

I apologize for not having a blog post for last week. I was out sick. For this post, I can update you on what I’ve been working on the previous two weeks.

I have had a massive pile of miscellaneous folders at the edge of my desk that has haunted me for some time. I finally resolved to take this on, and I am happy to say that 1. It was not as stressful as I thought it would be 2. I am almost finished with this!

Since I have been primarily working on the Harvey Mudd Documents recently, seeing more biographical material from this part of Platt’s collection was fun. I found more of his songs, correspondence between colleagues and friends, invitations to banquets, and other writings by Platt.

I came across a Claremont Graduate School Oral History project from 1975, titled “Harvey Mudd College Oral History Project on the Atomic Age.” Joseph Platt was interviewed by Enid H. Douglas, Director of the Oral History Program at CGS, and John B. Rae, Professor of History at Harvey Mudd College. In the interview, Platt spoke about his experience working in the war labs during World War II, his involvement at the MIT Radiation Laboratory, and his thoughts on nuclear weapons at the time. He revealed, “I confess that I really didn’t want to get into the nuclear weapons business either… reasons that I now think were rather more aesthetic than moral reasons. But I was not too keen on having the first large-scale demonstration of nuclear energy turn out to be used for military purposes” (10). He went on to say, “nobody knew at the time whether it was possible to build a sustained chain reaction either for military or civilian purposes. You could only guess.” (11). He goes on to discuss his interactions with J. Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller. Throughout the interview, Platt expressed honest, and sometimes harsh, opinions about the Manhattan Project and the civilian devastation that followed for the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From a physicists point of view, it was a groundbreaking moment, yet from a civilian point of view, it brings a different sentiment. Yet, Platt was much more optimistic about the possibilities of using nuclear energy as a power source for the country.

More next week!


Organizations Galore

Hello everyone,

This week I managed to process 3 more boxes from the Platt collection. It looks like I have about 10 more boxes to go! The semester has flown by, and it still feels like I have only just started…

In the 3 boxes this week, I came across a variety of documents. Most of the folders contained even more information regarding Platt’s involvement in organizations, such as the National Energy Foundation Board, the Lincoln Foundation, Town Hall, the Cosmos Club, the Twilight Club, the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Sigma Xi (the Scientific Research Society), and the Thacher School of Ojai, California. The folders held documents of correspondence, meeting minutes, photographs, newsletters, posters and maps, and newspaper articles. Although I know very little about these organizations, it was interesting to be able to step into the life of Platt and experience these documents with an inside-perspective.

More next week!


Photographs of some of the articles and newsletters from the organizations

Harvey Mudd College Diary

This week I looked through 2 binders titled “The Harvey Mudd College Diary” and found out a bit more about Harvey Mudd College’s beginnings. As expected, establishing a new college is not a simple thing. George Wickes, one of the original founding members of the college, documented the highs and lows of the first three years of the college. Today I want to share some excerpts from the diary.

September 20, 1957

“This morning we all had a sense that Harvey Mudd College had at last come into being… In the afternoon the College trustees made it official with a tour of inspection. Although the dust had not yet settled, they seemed as pleased with it as we are.”

September 26, 1957

“This date should go down in history as marking the formal opening of Harvey Mudd College… President Platt then turned to the future of Harvey Mudd College, inviting all present to look back from the vantage point of the year 2000 and consider what we might behold. Thus he brought it home to us that the responsibility is ours: ‘The future of Harvey Mudd College is what we make of it.'”

October 4, 1957

“We ran head-on into the solid realities of building a new college this afternoon at faculty meeting when we began to consider plans for a science building and to peer into the future generally. How many students shall we admit, how many dorms shall we build, how many classrooms and labs will we need?

October 8, 1957

“General alarm as Bill Davenport reported at faculty meeting that some of our students are discouraged about their studies, a few to the point of being panic-stricken, one even ready to bolt. Probably they suffer only from a routine case of freshman blues, but without upperclassmen to diagnose their ailment, they are understandably demoralized.”

May 20, 1958

“Already we’re beginning to celebrate anniversaries. It seems hard to believe, but a year ago we first gathered as a faculty to plan what we were going to do. Claremont was strange to us then, the college illusory, without students or buildings, the whole week rather unreal as we met briefly and exchanged ideas, only to disperse again our several ways.”

Though these are only a few pieces from a few diary entries, it shows that so much time, effort, and patience goes into something of this scale.

More next week!


Jean Platt Appreciation

Hi everyone!

Since today is International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, I wanted to highlight and honor Jean Platt. Jean Ferguson Platt was born in 1922 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. She attended Miami University in Ohio and graduated with a degree in mathematics in 1943, and afterward worked for the Polaroid Company as a technician. A few years later, in 1946, she married Joseph Platt and together they had two daughters.

In 1956, when Joseph Platt agreed to become the President of Harvey Mudd, the Platt family all moved to Claremont, California, to start a new life. As I have been looking through files these past few weeks, I found that Jean became active in many organizations, such as the Red Cross, Girl Scouts of America, the United Church of Christ, Campus Women, and the ARCS Foundation. She was also skilled in silver crafting and would gift a silver piece for Harvey Mudd College students when they married.

Jean established herself as an incredible wife, mother, and community member. She and Joseph were an intelligent and motivated team, and together, they created a meaningful impact on both Harvey Mudd College, and the city of Claremont.

I won’t be here next week for Spring Break, but I look forward to picking up where I left off again next time!


Starting the Harvey Mudd College Series

After wrapping up the majority of Joseph Platt’s biographic boxes, I have taken this week to adjust to the files relating to Harvey Mudd College. Trying to figure out the best way to take on this portion of the collection has been challenging, yet exciting. Platt became Harvey Mudd College’s first president in 1957, and remained as president until 1976. He then went on to become the president of the Claremont University Consortium, and returned to Harvey Mudd College in 1981.

Mixed in with these documents, I also found some of the organizations he was a part of such as the National Energy Foundation Board, the Southwest Museum, Cosmos Club, the World Affairs Council, and the National Research Council. The folders contained an abundance of correspondence, annual reports, meeting minutes, and articles. Once again, Platt shows us how busy he was. Finally, I also discovered that Platt had earned his pilot’s license in 1945. Although this is from much earlier in his life, I was surprised to find his license and certificates.

More next week!


Draft, Publish, Repeat

This week I processed more of Platt’s writings, travel files, and some of his documents from the Claremont School of Theology’s Ancient Biblical Manuscript Collection (ABMC). The ABMC files included board meeting notes and minutes, photographs of biblical manuscripts, and newspaper clippings of global events related to Theology.

Last week, I had mentioned Platt’s “Mesonic Atoms” and thought it would be good to share an example of his drafts and final product. These examples are not all from the same chapter, yet they still show Platt’s writing process. As a graduate student, I found his writing methods encouraging. As the semester progresses and due dates approach, drafting is part of my daily routine. In academia, we are all in the same boat of drafting until we are ready to share our work.

Chapter 1 Draft
Chapter 2 Draft
Example of a published chapter

I am currently wrapping up the biography portion of Joseph Platt’s collection, and am ready to dive into the Harvey Mudd College Collection next week!


Platt Updates

Wrapping up another week! It is so satisfying to organize the folders and watch everything come together. This week, I worked on Platt’s travel files and writings from when he taught at the University of Rochester. Platt traveled all over the world during his time as the president of Harvey Mudd College. From San Francisco to Paris, New York to Taiwan- Joseph Platt was on-the-go quite a bit. I was able to go through plane tickets, travel brochures, photographs of his visits, letters to colleagues all over the world, and more.

Later in the week, I went through the folders from the University of Rochester. I discovered a few chapters of his piece “Mesonic Atoms.” As someone who studies the Humanities, I know absolutely nothing of Physics. Yet, I was impressed by the depth and detail he and his co-authors went into for this project. There are multiple drafts and correspondence with editors to make this project work.

Progress this week!
More to go…

I’m hoping to wrap up the biography portion of Joseph Platt’s Collection soon, and then I will begin to work through the Harvey Mudd series.

More next week!