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Antioch College's library is alive! ALIIIIIVE!!!

Today the New York Times ran an interesting story on the very much open Olive Kettering Library of the pretty well closed Antioch College Yellow Springs campus. The library continues to maintain its archives — called Antiochiana — and research collections, including materials on several individuals that also appear in BioRC (Antioch doesn’t actually subscribe to us, but we’re okay with that — contact us for a free trial if you’re listening, OKL staffers! All three of you!). Some tidbits, as always…

Cecil Taylor, who was in residency at Antioch in the early 1970s:

Pianist Cecil Taylor was one of the pioneers of avant-garde jazz, often called free jazz. Ranked with jazz innovators Louie Armstrong, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane, Taylor, along with Ornette Coleman, pioneered the 1960s free jazz movement with unorthodox play. Pounding out notes with fingers, fists, palms, elbows, and forearms, Cecil Taylor does not tickle the ivories so much as attack them. He forged a new concept of jazz with his improvisational compositions that disseminated conventional meter and melody. A paradigm of the misunderstood artist, Taylor was more influential than popular in his early years. Known for masterful leadership of his ensembles, Taylor demonstrated stupendous physical stamina on stage, often playing for more than two hours without a break. In 1979 he played a series of gigs with Sun Ra, an equally original American jazz artist, whose recording “Arkestra” helped define a new subgenre, otherworldly sounds, that paved the way for electronic-music pioneers. That same year Taylor performed with drummer Max Roach; the events were recorded as Cecil Taylor & Max Roach: Historic Concerts. The two performed together on occasion for the next twenty years.

Horace Mann, education reformer:

For 12 years he campaigned to bring educational issues before the people. He toured the state speaking on the relationship between public education and public morality, developing the theme of education as “the balance wheel of the social machinery.” He believed that social and economic distinctions, unless reduced by a common educational experience, would create communities of interest that would eventually harden into warring factions. In publicizing his cause, Mann found arguments attractive to all segments of the community, but he sometimes irritated powerful interests. Because he admired the Prussian system of education, his loyalty to democratic institutions was questioned. Because he believed the schools should be nonsectarian, he was attacked as antireligious. His advocacy of state supervision antagonized local politicians. His criticism of corporal punishment angered the influential Boston schoolmasters.

The NYT article refers to Horace Mann as Antioch’s founder, but we’re pretty sure he was only (only!) the college’s first president. He reigned from 1852 until his death in 1859.

Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone creator:

Serling was the second of two sons of Samuel Lawrence Serling, a secretary, grocer, and butcher, and his wife, Esther (Cooper) Serling, a homemaker. The family moved to Binghamton, New York, in 1926. After graduating from Binghamton Central High School in 1943, Serling enlisted in the army and joined the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne Division. Wounded twice during action in the Philippine Islands, his wartime experiences caused nightmares and flashbacks for the rest of his life. The experiences also provided inspiration for some of his stories and informed his later antiwar stance. After the war, Serling enrolled at Antioch College in Ohio. While a student, he converted from Judaism to Unitarianism to marry Carolyn Kramer on 31 July 1948; the couple eventually had two daughters. Even before completing his degree he had become a writer for radio (beginning in 1946) and television (beginning in 1948). After graduating with a B.A. in 1950, he wrote scripts for both a radio and a television station in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Arthur Morgan, Antioch president, 1920-1936:

Arthur E. Morgan directed seventy-five water control projects, constructing two thousand miles of drainage canals and reclaiming more than two million acres of land. He was the first chairperson of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a government-sponsored administrative agency charged with developing the area’s river network to improve transportation and flood control as well as generate electricity. His post-secondary training was informal, but he became a college president and instituted the innovative “Antioch Plan” of cooperative education. As a philosopher, he was intrigued with the literature on utopian societies and implemented some of his ideas through his business practices.

Stephen Jay Gould, evolutionary biologist:

Disappointed with the treatment of evolution in his biology textbooks when he was still in high school, Gould also started to read Darwin. After graduation, Gould attended the University of Colorado for the summer and then entered Antioch College, where he received his B.A. in 1963. Inspired by the collection of an Antioch professor, Gould began an investigation of fossil land snails in Bermuda when he enrolled for his doctoral studies at Columbia University. In 1966 he returned to Antioch to teach geology. Awarded his Ph.D. in paleontology from Columbia in 1967, Gould left Antioch to become assistant professor of geology at Harvard University.

It’s a shame that Antioch College ceased operations in Yellow Springs, but it’s good to see that the library is still alive and well.

“Cecil Taylor.” Contemporary Black Biography. Vol. 70. Gale, 2009.
“Cecil Taylor.” Contemporary Musicians, Volume 9. Gale Research, 1993.
“Horace Mann.” Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed. 17 Vols. Gale Research, 1998.
“Serling, Rodman Edward (“Rod”).” The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives Thematic Series: The 1960s. Ed. William L. O’Neill and Kenneth T. Jackson. 2 vols. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003.
“Rod Serling.” Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, 5th ed. Gale Group, 2001.
“Arthur E. Morgan.” Notable Scientists: From 1900 to the Present. Online. Gale Group, 2008.
“Stephen Jay Gould.” Notable Scientists: From 1900 to the Present. Online. Detroit: Gale Group, 2008.

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Posted on: March 10, 2009, 3:06 pm Category: Factoids Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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