james oliver freedman - American Antiquarian Society

james oliver freedman - American Antiquarian Society

32 2 American Antiquarian Society had drawn together, and the book, written with Rodney P. Carlisle, expanded on the theme and became a lasting docu...

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32 2

American Antiquarian Society

had drawn together, and the book, written with Rodney P. Carlisle, expanded on the theme and became a lasting document that is of interest to all in the maritime community. There can be no doubt that with the death of Welles Henderson, AAS has lost a respected member who cherished his thirtyyear membership in the Society and who has made, through his collecting, museum work, and writing, a lasting contribution to the preservation of our maritime heritage. J. Revell Carr

JAMES OLIVER FREEDMAN James Oliver Ereedman was born on September 21, 1935, to mismatched and unhappy Jewish parents in Manchester, New Hampshire, as he wrote in his 2007 autobiography. Finding the Words. The son of a shy and diffident public school teacher and a mother who focused all her frustrated ambitions on her son's academic prowess, his childhood and adolescence focused on academic performance and avoiding his mother's angry outbursts. His only sibling, a sister two years younger than he, commented in later life 'they ought never to have gotten married. . . . It must have been a mistake from the start' (10). Ereedman knew he was expected to earn a scholarship to Harvard, which he succeeded in doing, managing to meet his personal expenses from savings from his wages as an office boy at the Manchester Union Leader. When he left for Harvard College in the fall of 1953 he took with him extraordinary diligence in study habits, a fine mind and an imagination as yet untouched by encouragement for creative thought, and a strong sense of his Jewishness forged from life in a small Jewish enclave within the ethnic mix of an old textile manufacturing town. Haivard College introduced him to modernism in literature and art, to great teachers, and to many wider horizons. But he was



unable to enjoy the rich cultural diet of Cambridge because of his deep sense of an obligation to fulfill his mother's dream of a son who was brilliantly successful in a very public way. 'The sources of my success and the limitations of my happiness during my entire life,' he wrote in his memoir, 'have been rooted in this fact'(155). Although he dreamed of pursuing a doctorate in English hterature, Freedman gave in to the family mandate and entered Harvard Law School. The results were disastrous. He did well academically but hated the courses, fell into a deep depression, and withdrew at the end of his first year to return to a job at the Manchester Union Leader. Sixteen months working there in the company of serious, if conservative, journahsts moderated the depression and gave Freedman the ego strength to tackle legal studies again, this time at Yale. The experience of too early an effort at professional education stayed with Freedman and shaped his commitment to ensuring the strength of liberal studies in undergraduate education throughout the remainder of his distinguished academic career. He loved Yale Law School, attracted by its policy focus and the breadth of context established for legal principles. 'The more deeply I studied the law, the more it emerged as an elegant construction of intellectual beauty, an instructive product of centuries of history, a challenging format for balancing and adjusting political and social interests,' he wrote. And he found Jewish student colleagues, most notably his classmate Alan M. Dershowitz. After graduation Freedman clerked for the then United States Court of Appeals Judge Thurgood Marshall, followed by a year as an associate at the New York firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison. On his first day of work for Justice Marshall, a friend gave Freedman the phone number of Bathsheba Ann Finkelstein, a Master's student at Columbia Teachers College. He called; and, little more than a year later, the couple was married, just before he received an appointment as an assistant professor to the law faculty ofthe University of Pennsylvania.


American Antiquarian Society

He was indeed now launched on the path of achievement of which his mother had dreamed. Five years later he was named dean ofthe University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he was an outspoken advocate of breadth of learning in history and literature as an important aspect of legal education. Four years later, by now nationally recognized for his commitment to linking liberal learning with professional education, he was appointed president ofthe University of Iowa. In many ways, because ofthe important presence of the Iowa Writers Workshop, this institution and its surrounding community gave him the opportunity to express his love of literature in new and very satisfying ways. The town was well supplied with serious bookstores, at which he could indulge his passion for book collecting, great writers were frequent visitors, and the presence of young creative talent among the center's students was a constant source of pleasure. His disciplined work habits, personal charm, modesty and formidable levels of energy made him a popular president who was successful as a fundraiser for many aspects ofthe University, including its research activities. These achievements brought an invitation in 1987 to return to New Hampshire as president of Dartmouth College. From Dartmouth's trustees he understood his mission to be to lead Dartmouth toward a real recognition of its decision to become coeducational, a mission that brought him immediately into conflict with Dartmouth's fraternities and its conservative alumni. The culture of beery fraternity life, and an inwardly turned campus, with its libraries clearly less important than its fraternities, marginalized women faculty and students had affected recruitment of talented women. Freedman addressed the issue of the prevailing campus culture head on in his inaugural address. 'We must strengthen our attraction for those singular students whose greatest pleasures may come not from the camaraderie of classmates but from the lonely acts of writing poetry, or mastering the cello, or solving mathematical riddles, or translating Catullus.' By 1994 Dartmouth was admitting more women than men in order to balance the student demography, and by the time Freeman



lefr, Dartmoutb bad more tenured women professors tban any otber Ivy League institution. Tbese innovations earned bim tbe wratb of tbe conservative Dartmouth Review, a student publication funded by alumni. Tbe strident rbetoric of tbe Review, wbicb willingly savaged any faculty or student member expressing liberal opinions, and in particular tbe president, wbo was presented in tbe Review in a caricature representing bim as Hitler, was meant to intimidate. Freedman refused to be intimidated and stated publicly tbat tbe Review was responsible for poisoning tbe intellectual life of tbe campus. Tbat most alumni admired Freedman's defense of intellectual freedom is indicated by tbe success of a $425 million capital campaign tbat eventually reacbed a $568 million total. Academics elsewbere admired bim as a model of intellectual courage, as indicated by bis election to tbe presidency of tbe American Academy of Arts and Sciences in bis retirement. Few knew tbat during tbese years of turmoil Freedman was waging a courageous, but eventually losing battle witb nonHodgkins lympboma. Afrer bis retirement from Dartmoutb in 1998, be became an important spokesman for measured responses to ultra-conservative and racist tendencies in tbe academic world. In 2003, troubled by a movement to ensbrine anti-Israel sentiment in university investment policies, Freedman personally mobilized 310 university and college presidents to sign a statement pledging to ensure tbat campuses were 'intimidation free.' Tbe most important commitment of bis years afrer leaving tbe Dartmoutb presidency was tbe composition of bis memoir, wbicb was publisbed in 2007, sbortly afrer bis deatb. In bis review of tbe book Princeton scbolar Stanley N. Katz wrote, 'Tbis is a moving and fascinating account of a brigbt and ambitious young Jew trying self-consciously to break out of small-town New England to acbieve greatness. Tbe story is beroic, but it is not witbout patbos. Tbis is really a book about books—bow beautiful tbey are, and bow tbe examined life cannot be lived witbout tbem, since tbey bave been tbe mirror in wbicb Freedman learned to see bimself.'


American Antiquarian Society

He was elected to the American Antiquarian Society on April 18, 1990, and served from 1991 to 1994 as a member of the Council. He died March 31, 2006, leaving his wife, son Jared, daughter Deborah, and four grandchildren. Jill Ker Conway

MINNA FLYNN JOHNSON Alinna Johnson was actively engaged in the programs of the American Antiquarian Society as a member of the Pursuing Committee of the Worcester Association of Mutual Aid in Detecting Thieves, when she was elected to membership at the semiannual meeting held at the Boston Public Library on April 21, 1982. In later years, her generous support of the AAS Annual Fund was recognized with membership in the Isaiah Thomas Society. In a 1986 letter to librarian Marcus McCorison, she wrote about looking forward to the following year's 175th anniversary celebration and closed saying, 'You may be assured that I will always do the best I can for the Society, which is close to my heart.' She was a model citizen of Worcester, serving as a volunteer to many civic and cultural organizations: the Edward Street Day Care Center, Worcester Art Museum, and both St. Vincent's and Memorial hospitals. Prior to World War II, she served as president of the Manchester, New Hampshire, branch of Bundles for Britain, and, during the war she was an active member of the Red Cross Air Force Club for aviators at Grenier Field. She loved American literature, particularly the works of Henry James and Fdith Wharton. In addition, she was a devoted Boston Red Sox fan. Minna Flynn was born in Manchester, New Hampshire, on May 7, 1915. She was a graduate of the Walnut Hill School and a member of the class of 1936 at Smith College, completing her degree at Garland College in Boston (now Simmons College). She was married to the late Dr. Robert A. Johnson. She is survived by three