A Plea for Yiddish Literature from "A.R."
On December 5, 1967, a Bennington student with the initials A.R. wrote a “galley” asking the President of the College and the Literature Faculty to consider offering a course in Jewish Studies or Yiddish Literature.
The galley system once allowed single senders to distribute notes to the entire campus population through the mail room. Students, faculty, and staff could all write notes, known as “galleys,” that were mimeographed and placed in every mailbox on campus. Interestingly, the galleys were only signed with initials.
The galley in the digital archive proposing a course in Yiddish Literature or Jewish Studies intrigued me. Who was A.R.? What was her life at Bennington like? What was her relationship to Jewish studies? Why does A.R. cagily say that she "may or may not be" a Jewish student, or rather, a "Jewess"? Had any other Jewish students on campus had their consciousness raised by Israel's victory in the Six Day War?
I went to the office of Oceana Wilson, the Dean of the Library, in my search for A.R.'s identity We tried to look for clues as to what year the student might have been when the galley was written in 1967. No luck on that front.
We looked at the class directory from 1967, the year the note was written, and the year the student may have graduated. In the class '67 alone, there were two students with the initials A.R. Adding the other three classes multiplied the possibilities. We decided there was no way to know who'd written the galley without undertaking a more time consuming search--looking at the current records in the alumni office, sending emails and making phone calls.
In other words, the identity of A.R. remains a mystery ... At least for now.
If I could still write a galley now and a Bennington student of the future went looking for me, they might have an easier time: I am the only student with the initials C.R. in my class, and one of two C.R.’s studying at Bennington right now.