2016 FDR Global Fellows Announced

We are absolutely delighted to name this year’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt Global Fellows:

jessJessica Min ’18 of Quincy House and Melbourne, Australia will be traveling to Paris to undertake an internship with the United Nations Environment Program, examining sustainable consumption and production patterns in China and India. Drawing upon her interest in politics in the Asia-Pacific, she will be working on developing regional EU-Asia policy to promote international trade. She will also help set up a conference for trade negotiations between EU countries and China in August, in which she will assist in welcoming a Chinese delegation in Europe.

A sophomore concentrating in economics, Jessica is a news writer for the Harvard Crimson on gender and sexuality issues on campus, the food/in-kind director of the largest undergraduate-run shelter, Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, and a unit test grader for Professor Greg Mankiw’s “Ec 10: Introduction to Economics” course. She also serves on the student advisory board of Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, providing advice on increasing student interest in China. As someone who hopes to pursue a career in international development, Jess is passionate about examining the nexus of poverty, climate change and migration to develop practical solutions to improve living standards in the Asia-Pacific. Given the historical agreement between US and China to jointly reduce carbon emissions, Jess is both inspired and interested in finding collaborative approaches to minimize global warming’s impact on livelihoods.

In addition to being an FDR Global Fellow, Jess has been named the 2016 Lillian Goldman Scholar.

 

headshot2Farhan Javed ’18 of Currier House and Tulsa, Oklahoma, will be traveling to Dilijan, Armenia this summer to intern at the Central Bank of Armenia to investigate methods of accelerating economic privatization as Armenia moves away from its Soviet centralized-planning past to a free market. During his 9-week program, Farhan will utilize statistical methods to research and propose methods of liberalization that will be aimed at reforming the nation’s current economic system to create an environment conducive to prosperity for the masses that continue to live in stagnation.

A sophomore concentrating in Economics, Farhan is passionate about macroeconomics, specifically its application to foster growth in developing countries. Immigrating to the United States at a young age and growing up as a Pakistani-American, Farhan has felt that he has feet planted in different parts of the world. This background has spurred his curiosity of understanding why there is such global disparity in wealth. Furthermore, Farhan is fascinated by history and culture. He believes that working in an environment such as Armenia, a place that may seem obscure to many, will deepen his understanding of pluralism. Farhan is currently active in the Harvard Pakistan Student Association, writes global affair analysis pieces for the Harvard International Review, works as a Business Associate in the Harvard Crimson, and serves on the board of the Veritas Financial Group. He plans to work in either consulting or finance after graduation and later transition to policy and international affairs.

ID_Photo__1Juliet Kim ’18 of Quincy House and the Bronx, New York, will be traveling to Trento, Italy this summer to participate in the Harvard Summer School program in Mind, Brain, and Behavior. During this eight-week program, she will take two courses on different methods used to study the minds and brains of humans and of other animals, and how the discovery of common structures, mechanisms, and/or behavior between the two can provide a window into the evolutionary pathway that has made us who we are today.

A sophomore concentrating in Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology, with a potential secondary in Mind, Brain, and Behavior, Juliet is very much interested in learning about the development of human consciousness, and in learning about how this is similar to/ differs from the consciousness of other species. Outside of classes, Juliet is a co-director of the Harvard College Alzheimer’s Buddies, a co-Vice President of Harvard Team HBV (Hepatitis B Virus), a Peer Advising Fellow, and a tutor with the Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment after school program. As a pre-medical student from a city with one of the nation’s highest rates of income inequality, she is passionate about supporting the underprivileged, and hopes to work in public health in addition to becoming a doctor.

The Foundation in particular wishes to thank the three anonymous donors who made this year’s award possible. Without them, we would not have been able to send any of these wonderful candidates, as our scholarship fund is empty.  If you, or someone you know, wishes to to aid this laudable program, please contact michael.weishan@fdrfoundation.org  For general information about the Global Fellowships click HERE. Award Criteria are to be found HERE.

The Lampoon As Social History

Not to give our neighbors in the castle too much credit, but there is some interesting history to be learned from period pages of the Harvard Lampoon, especially when it comes to determining the mores of FDR’s Harvard. Take the image below, for example,  one that is particularly relevant for today as it mirrors a problem soon to be faced by the new Smith Center that the University is building in Holyoke Center. The Harvard Union was the first attempt to establish a place where alumni and students could co-mingle, and it was a hugely expensive flop, for the very reason depicted below: it, like all of Cambridge, was dry. The only liquor available was at private clubs, which is one of the main reasons that final clubs were (and are) popular today: they served booze.

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 11.39.54 AM

Click on this and any of the other images to enlarge.

The next image took me a while to figure out. The key is that the proctor from the floor below is the same character entering the door of the piano-playing student in the first panel. He’s playing, piano dolce, “Babbie Waltzes.” (Hear the tune HERE on a wax-cylinder recording.)  Also note the time. Apparently 10PM was the cut-off for loud noise in individual suites, so to take revenge on the proctor for reprimanding him him the night before, the next day “Sporter” arranges for a little concert with his friends. The music starts with “Honey, Don’t Get Me Wrong” a forgotten ragtime tune of the day, and ends with “Up the Street,” a march still played by the University Band. What caught my eye was the gas lamp on the proctor’s desk. These lamps were attached by rubber “extension tubes” to either a wall or ceiling gas outlet. Frankly, it’s amazing that the whole place didn’t burn down — or explode — many times over. While electricity was available in certain deluxe suites like FDR’s, electrical outlets wouldn’t be invented for several more years.

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 11.47.18 AM copyWhat’s interesting about the next panel is not the joke —it’s a play on grub (food) and grub (caterpillar) — but rather something that is almost forgotten today. Those lines above the Square aren’t meant to indicate clouds, they are telegraph, telephone and electrical lines. In 1900, competing companies ran their own wire to each client, so a single large building might have hundreds of wires running to it from all directions. This tangle persisted until the 1930s, when individual concerns were absorbed into larger entities and regulation of utilities became the norm.

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 11.51.43 AM copyHere’s a photographic view, looking the other way, that better reveals this crazy-maze of wires. That’s John the Orangeman on the cart, btw, heading for a Harvard rally. (If you don’t know about John, by all means click the previous link as he is critical to the FDR Suite story.)

parade

The panel below explains the grub joke: it shows the interior of Memorial Hall, where most of the undergraduates ate. Notice the gawking guests in the balcony, which was open to the public and used as a viewing gallery by the locals — a perfect spot  for a chaperoned young lady to get an overview of prospective suitors to invite to her next “at home” day.

memhallThis last is one of my favorites, not just because of the great drawing style of S. A. Weldon, a classmate of FDR’s, but rather as it shows just how luxurious life in the Gold Coast actually was. No smelly gas lamps here. There is an electric desk lamp (which had to be plugged into the overhead fixture each time it was turned on, which meant gas or kerosene was still the norm) as well an assortment of comfortable furniture, walls and shelves chock-a-block with personal mementos, even velvet portieres on the door. And of course our boy under the desk has just come up from a dip in Claverly’s “tank,” the first of what would be a succession of ever larger private swimming baths on the Gold Coast. Considering how little we knew about this period in Harvard’s history when we started, it’s always reassuring when pictures like this come along that show many of the very same objects in the FDR Suite today — a gratifying indication that our representation of Gilded Age life at Harvard is reasonably on track.

Claverly Pool copy

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2015 Franklin Delano Roosevelt Global Fellows Announced

Adams House and the FDR Foundation are delighted to announce the 2015 FDR Global Fellows:

Photo Teresa OszkinisTeresa Oszkinis ’16 of Leverett House and West Islip, New York, will be traveling to Rwanda to participate in the Engineering World Health Summer Institute, a unique program that will allow her to combine her passions for biomedical engineering and global health. According to a 2013 article in the Atlantic Monthly, “Across Sub-Saharan Africa, ‘medical device graveyards’ litter the empty closets and spare corners of hospitals. The World Health Organization estimates that ‘a large proportion (up to 70 percent) of equipment lies idle’ — without anyone to maintain or repair it. Teresa’s summer program directly addresses this urgent need. As part of the Summer Institute, Teresa will live with a local Rwandan family while receiving language training as well as gaining hands-on experience working in hospitals and clinics with scarce resources. Afterwards, she will be assigned to a local hospital or clinic to put her training to use in repairing the medical equipment needed to support critical health care in Rwanda.

A junior concentrating in biomedical engineering with a secondary in global health and health policy, Teresa serves as president of Students Taking on Poverty, is a board member for the Foundation for the International Medical Relief of Children, volunteers at a local homeless shelter and manages to find time to row for the Varsity Crew — all the while maintaining a near perfect GPA. As a Pre-Med student with a strong interest in global health and social medicine, Teresa is passionate about promoting health as a human right and addressing the root causes of the health disparities that plague our modern world.

Teresa’s program was chosen by the Fellowship Advisory Board for a 7K award as it perfectly corresponds to FDR’s firm belief that “that the only way to have a friend is to be one,” and completes our preference for proposals that not only provide an educational experience for the participant, but also produce some “quantifiable public good.” Additionally, Teresa will be named the 2015 Lillian Goldman scholar in recognition of her work towards the advancement of women’s causes globally.

10608667_457119597760087_678465885947990184_oKelvin Muriuki ’17 of Leverett House and Nyeri, Kenya, will be traveling to Paris this summer to investigate how the principles of biological evolution can help understand and solve the problems that plague modern-day cities. During his 8-week intensive Harvard Summer School Program, Kelvin will explore evolutionary parallels between major urban centers and human beings with an eye to designing specific projects that not only improve the quality of life in urban centers but also engage urban residents in comprehensively understanding and actively solving the issues that affect their cities.

A sophomore concentrating in Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology, Kelvin is passionate about genetics, specifically its application in the understanding and treatment of non-communicable diseases like cancer which exert a heavy death toll in his native Kenya, and often go ignored. He is also fascinated by cities, their development, the complex web of social relations they foster, and the lifestyle changes they command. Having spent a significant part of his life in Nairobi, Kelvin particularly identifies with the problems and health consequences that urbanization necessarily produces. Kelvin has served both as a college counselor and a teacher for high school students in Kenya, and plans to pursue an MD-PhD after graduation with an eye to a career in the bio-tech industry.

Kelvin’s proposal was chosen for a 5K award because the Fellowship Advisory Board strongly feels that all too often today’s students are locked into pre-professional programs that limit their knowledge base to prescribed courses and methods of thinking. This unique program of evolutionary science and urban planning immediately urges students to think outside the box, and dovetails with our belief that the widest possible skill set — embracing both the humanities and sciences — will be required to solve the problems of the 21st century.

 

Here, There and Back Again: A Tale of A Sign

A couple months ago, I received a call from a very courteous gentlemen in Santa Fe, inquiring whether or not I might want to buy an old, wooden sign. But not just any sign: An old “Adams House sign,” the caller said. “It dates to about the time of the Civil War, and originally came from Boston.” Oh, my ears perked up immediately, as I had once seen a faded old letter in the House archives a few years back…now if I could just remember the specifics…  But perhaps I should tell you the story from the beginning.

You see, before there was Adams House, there was the Adams House, one of Boston’s earliest luxury hotels. Opened in 1846 on the Washington-Street site of the historic Lamb Tavern, The Adams House Hotel possessed a stern Federal stone facade — and, critical to our story —  a large wooden sign above the main entrance. Later expanded with an annex in the 1850s (which still stands on Washington Street) the original structure was replaced with a much larger Victorian edifice in 1883 (now demolished).

The original 1846 Adams House Hotel on Washington Street, Boston.  (Courtesy: Boston Atheneum)

The original 1846 Adams House Hotel on Washington Street, Boston. Click to enlarge. The sign pictured above may be the very one we acquired.  (Courtesy: Boston Atheneum)

In 1889, King’s Hand-Book of Boston noted that the Adams House was “one of the finest and best-equipped hotels in the city, of which its dining-rooms and café are … conspicuous features.”

The Victorian iteration. The Adams Hotel is the large whitish building to the left; the 1850s annex is immediately to the right

The Victorian iteration. The Adams Hotel is the large whitish building to the left; the 1850s annex is immediately to the right

By the early 1900s, however, the Adams House clientele began to change, with short-term guests ceding way to local politicians and businessmen looking to secure cheap extended lodging near the Statehouse. Calvin Coolidge, notorious for his frugality, took a room at the Adams House for $1 per day in 1906 as a new member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. In an unusual display of extravagance a day after being elected governor in 1919, he expanded his digs at the Adams House to a two-room suite with bath on the third floor for $3.50 per diem. Coolidge was at the Adams House when he received the telephone call informing him of his nomination as Warren G. Harding’s vice presidential running mate in 1920.

The Adams House Hotel fell victim to declining revenues during Prohibition (deprived of the income from all those hard-drinking politicians and newsmen) and was closed in 1927. The main building was demolished in 1931. In 1930, Harvard, anxious to name one of its new Houses after the Adams family, acquired the name and goodwill from the bankrupt establishment as a legal precaution. That signed contract was the document I had remembered from the archives all those years ago, addressed to Professor James Baxter, who would shortly become the first Master of the new Adams House:

cover letter

contract-1So of course I was interested in the sign!

Pictures and descriptions flew back and forth as price negotiations got underway.

The sign as seen in Santa Fe.

The sign as seen in Santa Fe. Somewhere along the way, it was cut in two.

Based on typography and construction, the sign almost certainly dates from the 1846 iteration of the Adams House Hotel. (Whether it’s the sign you can see in the 1848 lithograph above we don’t know, but it looks almost identical, and the size and scale are an excellent match. The only real difference is that the sign in the illustration has raised capitals, but that might be artistic license. Regardless, this particular lettering style fell from fashion after the Civil War, so the sign most likely predates the 1882 Victorian incarnation.) The 18″ letters are gilt with paint, hand-carved into a single pine plank 2” thick, 2′ wide, and 16’ long, which weighs close to 80 pounds! The entire black background was then hand-chiseled to produce a rippled effect (click the picture below to enlarge). This was not an inexpensive sign, then or now. Though the exact provenance can’t be proven, a reasonable guess would be that the original hotel sign was retained as a showpiece when the first structure was demolished in 1882, and then later dispersed with the goods of the hotel during bankruptcy in the 30s. By the 1950s, the sign was documented in the hands of a Boston antiques dealer, who sold it to the mother of my caller, who also owned an antique shop — in fact, she named the business Adams House Antiques, where the sign remained over her Santa Fe door until she decided to retire this past year.

Long story short: a mutual price was agreed, the item shipped, and then I took a month or so to gently restore the sign, mending it back into its original single piece frame. Given its age, the sign’s condition is remarkable, no doubt due in part to the many decades spent in the humidity-free desert Southwest.

Here’s how it looks hanging in the Gold Room entrance to the dining hall:

signinsitu

The restored sign hanging in the Gold Room. Click to enlarge the image in order to see the fine chiseled detail.

So, a small piece of the first Adams House returns to its legal successor, the second Adams House, after one hundred-seventy years. A neat bit of cyclical history, don’t you think?

 


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