Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ernest Hartwell

Nowadays Ernest Hartwell is not the most familiar name, but Harwell Hall certainly is, at least on the Brockport campus. This flagship building was named after Ernest Hartwell in the 1960s, in commemoration of his service to the college.

A native of Albion  Michigan, an area settled in the years after the Civil War by emigrants from our area of western New York, Hartwell became a teacher, and then a school district superintendent. He was quite prominent in public school administrative circles in the early 1900s, heading the superintendent's section of the National Education Association, and serving for a number of years as head of the Buffalo New York schools.Then in 1936 he left Buffalo, and came to be "principal," or president, of the Brockport Normal School, our predecessor. He only was at Brockport for eight years, retiring in 1944, but he presided over a remarkable transformation.

The old Normal school building complex, that stood about where Hartwell Hall is today, had been poorly maintained for some years due to lack of funds. The Great Depression was having a negative impact on schools, reducing the number of students. A state panel even recommended closing one or two of the state Normal schools, and Brockport was named as a possible candidate!

Under Hartwell's energetic leadership a committee was organized which successfully lobbied against closing the school, and to in fact revitalize it by tearing down the old building and putting up a new structure. He was also a leader in the successful campaign in New York to see the Normal schools, which had a three year program and gave a license to teach, but no bachelor's degree, upgraded to Teachers Colleges, which had a four year program and did give the bachelor's degree.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A rare archives in question

The archives of the Hulton family of Lancashire are a tremendous historical treasure, a trove of materials ranging from 1199 to 1947, covering much of England's history. Lord Fellowes, a descendant of the family, found much of his inspiration for the popular series Downton Abbey in the primary sources of this aristocratic archive. The last direct head of the family has died however, and the archives are up for sale, hopefully to end up in the Lancashire county collections.