Magazine article Montessori Life

Under the Brown Stair: The AMS Archives

Magazine article Montessori Life

Under the Brown Stair: The AMS Archives

Article excerpt

In August 2009, 1 had the opportunity to visit the AMS archives, located at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT. I am a member of the AMS Archives Committee, prompted to join by my love of history, paper ephemera, and mid-century modern design (my current school in Austin, TX, still uses a pink plastic pitcher and a metal chair that I used in 1964, as a 5-year-old, at the Gateway-Wethersfield School in West Hartford, CT!).

I am in love with the documents of the archives - the variety of media used from the early 1960s to the present is fasciriating. There are examples of onionskin paper (which can be felt as if it were Braille), mimeographs, 8-tracks and cassette tapes, and floppy disks (unlabeled, and with no machines existing to open them anymore, "they make good coasters," says Betsy Pittman, university archivist and curator at the Dodd Center).

Other documents in the archives speak to the etiquette and culture of the times. It is fascinating to read the brochures for early AMS conferences, listing women as "Mrs. Walter Loeffler" and "Miss Cleo H. Monson" while the men were simply, for example, "John Blessington." The Teachers Luncheon in 1969, at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel, hosted a fashion show called "Appearance and Professional Manner of the Montessori Teacher" (no small issue in 1969 - my mother remembers interns of this era arguing with her requirement that they wear underwear, given that they were sitting cross-legged in a short skirt for circle time). …

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