The Neilson Connection

This week we held a work-in-progress screening at Smith College's Neilson Library.  Good feedback, many old friends, some new.  Thanks to all.  Did you know that William Neilson, the President of Smith College from 1917 to 1939, was Keller's tutor at Radcliffe and a friend of many years after that. Thank you to Laura Rauscher, Smith Office of Disability Services, and Mary Irwin Friends of Smith College Libraries.


 Four Freedoms Book

Four Freedoms is a novel by John Crowley, one of Becoming Helen Keller's script writers. On Saturday afternoon, January 28, he will be reading selections at the Springfield Armory Museum.  Four Freedoms tells the story if a young disabled man who goes to work in a World War II defense plant, along with the many women, African Americans, people with disabilities, and Native Americans who'd been denied jobs in peacetime.  The plant is making huge bombers, but with its diverse workforce, its modern nursery and its amenities, it's a workers' paradise – one that comes to an end with peacetime. Tom Brokaw said, ..."it is so rich, and so evocative, and so authentic." 

Another work-in-progress screening. This time in Boston at Northern Light Productions. Thanks to all the film makers who came. We appreciated the hands on perspectives, the insightful how to address a problem approach and loved how much you enjoyed the work. Yes, we want to get Hour Two up and rolling, but the finishing funds budget goal is the next TO DO task.

What to do with old media? Straight Ahead Pictures gave the University of Massachusetts, Special Collections and University Archives Social Movement Collection, five cartons of DAT and Video Tape! Interviews from Beyond Affliction: The Disability History Project's four hour series, materials from FIT: Episodes In The History of the Body, and many archival disability related films and promotions sent to us over the years. What will they think of this in 75 years?

Visited the Radcliffe exhibit "Calm. Smoke rises vertically." One of the features of this work by Wendy Jacobs, include some of WPA architectural models designed for tactile teaching about architecture for the blind. Kim Carlson, Hansel Bauman, and Wendy Jacobs all spoke about how we all  acquire or sense of place in space. The exhibit is free, open to the public, and includes vibrating walls and a live-streaming weather report as well!

At the Pioneer Valley Ephemera Society show a few weeks ago, we picked up a 1902 Springfield Home for Friendless Women and Children pamphlet and a friend asked if "Friendless" was a common term. In mid 19th c. New England, it was a vernacular adjective describing women who were single, poor, sometimes widowed, sometimes immigrants to the US, sometimes internal migrants traveling to find work, sometimes in dire straits related to alcohol or other vice related circumstances. Sometimes they were with children, sometimes they were fleeing domestic violence, often they were looking for employment. In Boston, an organization that helped homeless women recently let out of jail was called the Home for Repentant Women.

Screening Becoming Helen Keller's Hour One Rough Cut at the American Foundation for the Blind in New York City to discuss how best to do Outreach when the work is completed. An mixed crowd- staff, advocates, writers and artists.