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Franklin William Hooper to Prof. George S. Brown: August 18, 1899

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From the Department of “Do I Have To Do Everything Around Here?” comes Franklin William Hooper (1851-1914). Born on a farm near Walpole, NH, Hooper attended Antioch College in the 1870s where he swept floors and rang the College bell for extra cash, but finished school at Harvard in 1875. There he studied under famed scientist Louis Agassiz, doing a year of post-grad that included a scientific expedition to the Florida Keys with the Smithsonian Institution. After teaching sciences at Adelphi College for several years, in 1887 he joined the Board of Trustees for the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, becoming its director in 1889. Established in the 1840s, the Brooklyn Institute was the umbrella organization of four major local institutions: the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and Brooklyn Academy of Music, all of which are independent today.

In 1898 Hooper was elected to the Board of Trustees at Antioch College, and one of his many committee responsibilities, as evidenced by the following letter to Professor of Latin & Literature George S. Brown, was the Committee on Instruction, which had oversight on the College course catalog. Antiochiana’s not insubstantial file of Franklin Hooper correspondence is largely devoted to the subject of the catalog for the 1899-1900 academic year, a project ostensibly assigned to the faculty. Hooper appears to do most of the heavy lifting, however, and his letters give every indication that he should probably be doing the work all by himself.

Certainly he appears to be the only one involved with a clear notion of how a catalog should look, what paper should be used, what goes on the paper and where, and even how much it should cost. His comments in this regard are pointed and unambiguous. In a letter he wrote just a month earlier, Hooper admonishes the faculty on their draft to “recast pages 6 to 23, as much of the matter...has no proper place in the Catalogue of any Educational Institution.” He’s especially concerned about pp 7-10, which he says “do not constitute a course of study in any usual acceptance of the term” and “may be understood by persons who are familiar with the inside workings of Antioch College, but they do not indicate to the outsider what advantages there may be in pursuing courses of study at Antioch.”



Walpole. N.H. August 18th 1899


Prof. George S. Brown, M.A.
Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio,

My dear Mr. Brown: -

        I am in receipt of your very kind letter of August 16th this morning, and I thank you for the same.

        I am in receipt also this morning of a copy of the Catalogue of the College, and I am disappointed beyond measure. We have worked faithfully from the 1st of July to the present time to get out a creditable catalogue of the College. The copy which you sent to me is a most disgraceful pamphlet.

        The cover of the pamphlet is enough to condemn it at the outset. It is not nearly so good a cover as the one used on the College catalogue last year, and is not at all what I expected would be selected for a cover.

        I enclose to you under a separate cover two colors of paper which would be a vast improvement over the color that the printer has used.

        The paper that has been used in printing the interior of the catalogue is lighter and thinner than the paper used last year, and of a much poorer quality.

        The press work has been very poorly done, and is discreditable to any first-class printing office. The printer has crowded on to the pages more matter than there should be, thereby reducing the number of pages in the catalogue from the number in last year's catalogue. The bottom margins in the catalogue are of very various widths, and as a rule are too narrow.

        I certainly cannot as a Member of the Committee on catalogue approve any bill that may be presented for the printing of the same. The catalogue has not been printed according to the agreement, which was that the paper should be equal in quality, weight and manufacture to the paper used in the catalogue of 1897-8.

        We are in a very bad situation. The Catalogue should have been published by the 20th of July, and any decent printing house could have gotten it out in that time. It is now the 18th of August.

        We need copies of the Catalogue for circulation, but it is a question whether the present pamphlets will not do quite as much harm as good.

        I would recommend that the following course be taken:

        That the Contract for the printing of a new Catalogue be given to the Xenia firm which printed the Catalogue of 1897-8 and at the price which they estimated the cost of the catalogue early in July. The appropriation for printing the catalogue and Circular was $150. There is money enough left in the appropriation to pay for the printing of 2000 decent catalogues.

        In the second place, I would recommend that at once a couple hundred of the Catalogues already printed be stripped of their covers, and be taken to the Xenia firm and be bound in covers that are at least respectable in their appearance.

        In the third place, I would recommend that manila envelopes with the printing "Antioch College" in the comer, be purchased at once for use in the sending out of the Catalogue. The cost of the Manila envelopes is slight, they can be ordered from Cincinnati or Indianapolis, of a proper size and should be received within three days or four days at the outside from the time that they are ordered.

        It is desirable that the Catalogues should be mailed in such a manner that they will appear as an attractive package and the Catalogue appear in a smooth and attractive form. There will doubtless be a controversy over the bill with the Springfield printer. By rights, we do not owe them one penny, but on the ether hand, there is a question of damages on account of the delay in the printing of the catalogue.

        I sincerely trust that we may escape by the payment to them of absolutely nothing, or if anything, a very small sum.

        I am sending a copy of this letter to President Bell, to Miss Lewis and to the Rev. Arthur M. Judy. I am very much disappointed at the situation in which we are left in the matter of the Catalogue


        very truly yours,

        Franklin W. Hooper