Tags

,

Maggie + wood stove (October 2004)
photograph by Anna

One of the most enjoyable parts of writing my Master’s thesis was pulling together the acknowledgments. Since it’s unlikely everyone who appears therein will read the thesis in full [PDF], I’m reproducing the acknowledgments here. 

It should go without saying this is far from everything I have to be thankful for this year, but it’s a damn good starting place. 

May your holiday weekend be peaceful and content, wherever and with whomever you may be.

As a reader, I often turn first to the acknowledgments when evaluating a book.  It is here that one gets a true sense of the solitary author working in a densely-woven web of social and intellectual relationships, one that often fades into the background with an author’s solitary byline.  For while it is accurate to say that I crafted this thesis myself, and that the analysis herein is my own, the thinking and writing I have done over the past three years would not have been possible without the myriad conversations, generous support, timely encouragement, articles and books shared by my friends, family, and colleagues. As my partner, Hanna, points out, “alone” is not the same as “lonely,” and although I have written this work alone, many, many people deserve the credit for making sure that I seldom felt lonely or worked in intellectual isolation.

O.E. class of  ’75

Without my oral historical narrators, of course, I would have no primary source material to analyze and thus no story to tell.  My gratitude belongs first and foremost, then, to Sam and Pat Alvord, Randy Balmer, Doug and Marj Frank, Mark Evans, Anne Foley, Alison and Phil Kling, Rebecca McCurdy, Sogn Mill-Scout, Paul Norton, Jim Titus, and Randy Wright for sharing their memories of the Oregon Extension and the contents of their personal archives.  Particular thanks are due to the folks at Lincoln for hosting me during my research trip in March, 2010, when we recorded the majority of our oral history interviews. Thank you also to Doug Frank and Sam Alvord giving me access to administrative records and personal papers from the early years of the program; to alumni Phil Kling, for sharing notes, papers, and other ephemera from his student days; and to Alison Kling and Jim Titus for generously sharing their photographs from the early years.

My thesis advisers, Laura Prieto and Sarah Leonard, have been invaluable and professional support throughout the research and writing process. It was my [admissions] interview with Laura back in July 2006 that convinced me I would be able to complete the research I had in mind under the auspices of Simmons’ History Department. She has been unfailingly supportive throughout my tenure at Simmons, giving my research notes and early drafts careful and insightful readings.  Any remaining weaknesses in my thinking and writing are, needless to say, my own responsibility. Sarah, meanwhile, deserves particular thanks for allowing me to hijack her seminar in Modern European History in order to write a paper on American psychologist Carl Rogers, one of the influential educational philosophers whose work inspired the Oregon Extension’s founders.  Her passion for intellectual history and the dedication with which she approaches her vocation are almost enough to make me reconsider the teaching profession.

Boston skyline across the Fenway Gardens
(December 2007)

I would like to remember the late Allen Smith who developed and taught a course in oral history at Simmons Graduate School of Information and Library Science, and whom I was privileged to study under during his final semester of teaching. His work at Simmons College paved my way with the Institutional Review Board, whose familiarity with oral history research saved me the anxiety and frustration many oral historians face when applying to do human subject research. I also wish to thank Gail Matthews DeNatale, oral historian and former faculty member at Simmons, whose experience and advice helped to shape my thesis proposal in its early stages.

Reaching backward in time to my undergraduate years at Hope College, I wish to recognize my colleagues on the Aradia Research Project, as well as the Aradians themselves, who served as my hands-on introduction to feminist-minded oral history and ethnographic research and who encouraged my enduring interest in the experience of those who live in intentional community.

The outstanding faculty of my alma mater, Hope College, were in many ways responsible for taking the enthusiastic autodidact I was at age seventeen and encouraging me to direct and hone that passion into something I could honestly consider a craft and a vocation. Poet and creative writing teacher Jackie Bartley first opened the door to creative nonfiction to me, suggesting that dedicated research and analytical writing could use the power of the particular to connect us to the universal.  It was Jackie who first suggested I consider attending the Oregon Extension. Thanks is also due to Lynn Japinga for introducing me to oral history methods during a summer spent transcribing her oral history interviews with Reformed Church clergy, as well her determination to offer classes in feminist theology in an often-hostile academic environment. Without her introduction to religious history, I might not have paid such close attention to the nuances of
religious thought and practice at Lincoln. My undergraduate adviser, historian Jeanne Petit, taught my first history class (20th Century American Women’s History) and was the first to suggest I consider graduate school. She has since become a colleague and a friend. I must also extend my gratitude to Natalie Dykstra for her friendship and enthusiasm, for her love of Boston, and for teaching a course on autobiography that was – hands down – one of the most electrifying intellectual experiences of my college career. Her training in the interpretation of personal narratives has stood me in good stead throughout the research and writing of this thesis.

Former colleague Jeremy Dibbell
(December 2007)

I must recognize my colleagues at the Massachusetts Historical Society, particularly past and present members of the Library Reader Services department, who have been unblinking in their support of my research – including covering for me while I spent two weeks out West doing fieldwork. It is impossible to say how grateful I have been these past four years to work at an institution that recognizes my labor as an historian as well as a reference librarian.

I would like to thank colleague Aiden Graham for offering to loan me recording equipment, and for timely technical advice including helping me figure out how to wiretap my phone for long-distance interviews. Thanks, also, to Linnea Johnson and the GSLIS Tech Lab for the loan of a netbook that would otherwise have cost me hundreds of dollars this poor graduate student didn’t have.  The Simmons College Student Research Fund, likewise, awarded me a travel grant that helped alleviate the financial burden of my fieldwork in Oregon. Valerie Beaudrault’s assistance in the Office of Sponsored Programs ensured that my application for funds was complete and submitted in a timely fashion.

My father and mapmaker extraordinaire, Mark Cook, is responsible for the beautiful customcreated maps that grace the pages of this thesis: without him, my visual representations of the Oregon Extension as a geographic place would have been awkward and, in all likelihood, inaccurate. My mother, too, has my undying gratitude for first introducing me to the work of John Holt, Ivan Illich, A.S. Neill, and other activists in the free school movement of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as to the history of intentional communities and their intersection with child-rearing and educational practice. Moral and intellectual support and good-humored camaraderie came in full measure from two founding members of the Secret Feminist Cabal, Ashley Minerva LeClerc and Laura Cutter, and from fellow oral historian, kick-ass librarian Diana Wakimoto. Y’all rock.

A slightly different form of support came from Geraldine, the feline member of our household, who took a keen interest in my work and sat on my notes, on the keyboard, and occasionally on my hands in order to ensure that work never took precedence over chin-scratching and the dispensing of kitty treats.

Finally, a few words for Hanna, who stoically endures my mania for American countercultures, Christian subcultures, and the history of utopian thought. Thanks for flying solo for two weeks while I was off collecting interviews in Southern Oregon, for taping useful PBS documentaries, for forwarding promising book reviews, for teasing me about garish 1970s cover art. Thanks for the proof-reading, the cheer-leading, the bottomless supplies of tea, wine, and baked goods. Thank you for letting me cry on your shoulder and for pointing out (quite rightly) that if I didn’t finish this project I would always wonder.

Thanks for helping me keep it all in perspective.

I moved to Boston in 2007 to write this thesis, not fall in love. I found you here, sweetheart, so in the end I did both.

Advertisements