Public Appeal on Behalf of Historian Andrea HamiltonHistorians/History
The appeal is being circulated by Laura Kalman, professor of history at the University of California at Santa Barbara. In a cover letter accompanying the appeal she explains that she became involved after reading about the case in the media."I had never heard of Andrea Hamilton or, I should add, The Bryn Mawr School," she writes. But"I was appalled by the story. I wrote Andrea Hamilton and her adviser, Bill McClay, to ask how I could help. Since the school is currently reviewing the situation and may be disposed to reverse its decision, we all thought a letter from American historians urging it to do so might prove useful." She adds:"We have a chance to make a real difference in the life of a young scholar and take a stand on an issue vital to our profession."
May 12, 2002
David M. Funk, Esq.
President, The Bryn Mawr School Board of Trustees
Funk & Bolton, PA
100 Light Street, Suite 1000
Baltimore, MD 21202-1036
Dear Mr. Funk:
As historians of the United States, we write you about Andrea Hamilton. Some of us teach, or have taught, in history departments, others in law schools. All of us have spent at least part of our careers working with manuscript sources and encouraging graduate students to do the same.
Dr. Hamilton did what graduate students in American history are taught to do: She spent days poring over her sources and months organizing, interpreting and contextualizing her findings. Dr. Hamilton seems to us to have followed every customary professional protocol and to have entered into her research with the full support of the school.
We are distressed, then, that an institution, particularly a distinguished educational one, has apparently chosen to suppress publication of her book, and has provided no explanation for its abrupt and drastic change in position. On the basis of the accounts in The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Baltimore Sun, it would seem that Bryn Mawr School's behavior to date has had the lamentable effect of blocking--or, at the very least, unconscionably delaying--the entrance of a fully qualified young scholar into our profession.
On the basis of these same published reports, it also appears to us that Dr. Hamilton reasonably assumed that Bryn Mawr School officials consented to the book's publication in late 1998. From our perspective, Dr. Hamilton has been unfairly prevented from publishing research derived from sources that she was encouraged to use.
As a matter of fact, however, the dissertation is already available for public review. University Microfilms (UMI) has published Dr. Hamilton's dissertation, without, so far as we are aware, eliciting any objection from Bryn Mawr School. Thus Dr. Hamilton's research is now available publicly and for purchase (www.umi.com), and is a potential source for quotation or citation by almost anyone. It seems ironic and unfair to us that only Dr. Hamilton, the dissertation's author, would prove the exception.
Reasonable people may differ about Dr. Hamilton's interpretations and conclusions, as we do about all subjects of historical scholarship. This is our trade, and this is what we do. Part of our mission is to bring new sources to light and debate historians' findings in the marketplace of scholarly ideas. When the subjects of scholarly inquiry engage in the apparently arbitrary suppression of responsible scholarly work, it fatally undermines our pursuit of that mission. This case thus possesses larger significance for all of us who are engaged in the enterprise of historical scholarship.
As an educational institution, and one with a rich and proud history, you have an obligation to your students--past, present and future--to support scholarship and intellectual inquiry. Should you disagree with Dr. Hamilton's interpretations or conclusions, you have the right to refute them or to invite other historians to examine your archives. As historians of, and readers of the histories of, the country's leading educational institutions, we know that all have complicated histories, which are open to a multiplicity of interpretations. This is not to be feared or avoided. By leaving the matter as it now stands, you risk making this unfortunate episode the legacy of Bryn Mawr School: a footnote in the history of the suppression of academic freedom and historical debate.
We earnestly hope that you will reconsider your earlier decision and allow The Bryn Mawr School to be remembered for its tradition of free and open inquiry in the pursuit of knowledge. In the interest of scholarship and fairness, we urge you to authorize publication of Dr. Hamilton's work without further delay.
Jennifer K. Ruark,"The History That May Never Be Read," Chronicle of Higher Education (April 26, 2002).
Mike Bowler,"Bryn Mawr Closed Book on Career," Baltimore Sun (April 2, 2002). > By JENNIFER K. RUARK
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Lance Gay - 5/13/2002
BC-Bryn Mawr Book,0378
Historians petition Baltimore girls school to allow publication of book on school's history
BALTIMORE (AP) _ More than 140 historians are asking a private girls school to allow publication of a book it blocked after the author concluded the school "often perpetuated" society's limited expectations for girls.
The historians were expected to deliver a petition Monday to the Bryn Mawr School in north Baltimore, which blocked publication of Andrea Hamilton's manuscript.
"We earnestly hope that you will reconsider your earlier decision and allow the Bryn Mawr School to be remembered for its tradition of free and open inquiry in the pursuit of knowledge," the historians wrote in the petition.
The school's trustees are planning to take another look at the publication issue, the board's president said.
Hamilton wrote a social history of Bryn Mawr School as her doctoral dissertation at Tulane University and sold the manuscript to the Johns Hopkins University Press.
The publisher canceled Hamilton's contract after Bryn Mawr officials rejected the book. Hamilton had signed a contract giving Bryn Mawr's archivist veto power in order to gain access to school records.
Some school officials were said to have objected to the way it depicted the school's role in the history of girls education. Hamilton wrote that although Bryn Mawr was a pioneer in challenging assumptions about womanhood, it had more recently "often perpetuated society's expectations for girls."
The school was founded in the 1880s as a feeder school to Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia, a women's college known for its high academic standards.
Emory University historian Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, a sister of former headmistress Rebecca MacMillan Fox, reviewed the manuscript and called it "historically muddled and misleading."
David M. Funk, chairman of the board of trustees, said school officials are "taking a fresh look at everything involved with this case, and we'll either reaffirm (the decision to block publication) or we won't. We'll be reviewing Dr. Hamilton's manuscript, and we'll be reviewing the agreement she signed."
On the Net:
Bryn Mawr School: http://www.brynmawr.pvt.k12.md.us/