Part Two: The Record
Two sets of heavy rolling shelves, one aisle, and about 450 years apart from Doctrinale Puerorum, an intrepid searcher would find 20 or so archival boxes of vertical files. We briefly discussed the role of these files in our last blog post, The Rare and the Record, and we could likely write a host of dissertations on the role—both past and present—of these files. To briefly recap, a vertical file consists of often non-traditional, loose-leaf research material compiled by librarians and archivists that were stored in vertical style cabinets. These files were typically stored in labelled folders, sorted alphabetically by subject matter.
In this case, the box of interest began with "Communist Party" and ran through "East Africa". In the middle, an innocuous folder labelled "Dodge Cafeteria" carried just a single document—a brief response from one Charles Collins, F.A.I.A, of the architecture firm Allen and Collens (1904-1931), to Miss Jane C. Berger, Secretary to the Dean (James Earl Russell).
The letter, dated April 5, 1932, spanning all of one sentence indicates that
"the windows in the cafeteria in Dodge Hall would say that those
windows were designed and executed by Wright Goodhue, who
died this last summer"
The letter goes on to post-script that Teachers College paid a sum total of $450 (approximately 10,000 2022 dollars) for the 32 stain glass medallions that decorate the windows, which was paid out by one Dr. McFarlane of the controllers' office.
Wright Goodhue, who passed away in 1931 at the age of 26, was a second-generation glazier of considerable emerging talent. The 36 medallions designed and installed in the Grace Dodge Cafeteria appears to have been his first commission when he was somewhere between the ages of 16 and 18, working as an assistant at a draughtsman's office.
Each of the 36 medallions—resting within the upper third portion of the hall's large windows (see accompanying image, courtesy of Public Relations file, photo by Stanley Seligson, year unknown)—represent a field or tradecraft that strike a balance between theoretical pursuits and certain pragmatic counterparts, as they relate to the balanced educational praxis and philosophy harkening back the the earliest days of Teachers College history.
If you walk through Grace Dodge Cafeteria today, you can see the medallions and still read—with a measured eye—the thematic representations: painting, woodcarving, medicine, surgery, poetry, pedagogy, law, farming, philosophy, engraving, mathematics, and so on.
Each image associated with the represented field provides the viewer with a unique opportunity to unveil a small bit of Goodhue's own perspective concerning the arts, sciences, and trades he glazed.
Looking closely at "Law" (image below, courtesy of Public Relations file, photo by Stanley Seligson, year unknown), we see a figure holding a codex against his chest with one hand, and in the other, the scales of justice. As we look closer, we observe that these are not the usual scales of justice .
Typically, a blindfolded Themis, draped in robes, holds a balanced scale in one hand and a sword in the other. In this case, the lawyer—eyes wide—holds the scale which is laden and weighted on one side with a sum of money, far outweighing what appears to be a woman—presumably Themis—denuded. The insinuations are deep, heady, and unpleasant, but nonetheless exceptional and thought-provoking.
Perhaps slightly less sardonic, the medallion of "philosophy " displays a man, eyes closed, holding a plant in one hand while the other is working on something at the top of his head. What is the order of causation in this case? Has he plucked the sprout which grew out of his head or is he placing a seed taken from the plant and placing it inside his head? Possibly both, perhaps neither. In any regard, it sponsors an aesthetic response to the age old question "Which came first...". In this case, Goodhue seems to be calling out two sides of the same philosophical coin: classic idealism verse materialism.
We can leave that more nuanced discussions in philosophy, art, and politics to our students and faculty here at Teachers College.
Goodhue continued to design work for such notable institutions such as Riverside Cathedral, Sacred Heart Church in New Jersey, and the Second Universalist Church in Boston, amongst others. Additionally, he had posthumous exhibitions at the Fogg Museum of Harvard and has a piece on permanent loan at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This single papered correspondence between the Secretary of the Office of the Dean, Ms Berger, and Mr. Charles Collens, represents the only record thus far discovered within our collection providing any information regarding the details, a single name, about the artist who created these gothic-revival medallions—Wright Goodhue.
The paper trail of the record, seemingly trivial in its administrative and bureaucratic capacity, can bear forth a good bit of weight in the researchers pursuit. The record has the ability to help us refine our topics, understandings and hypothesis', leading us to sites unknown, uncovering the hidden details that we encounter in the daily proceedings of everyday life.