20 Oct Giving Back To Woodstock Like Few Can
Presenting Cate Whitcomb’ 66, Margo Warner Curl ’67 and Anne Lind (ex staff 1968-71 and 1975-80). These alumni add new meaning to the word giving. They give time – a commodity that nobody seems to have enough of any more and definitely none to spare. So what makes these three women travel the breadth of oceans to volunteer at our Woodstock alumni department year after year? What inspires their unfailing commitment to archiving or undertaking whatever project needs to be done? It’s unlikely you’ll even notice they are here; once they arrive they get right into their work. Even if you never know what it is they do exactly you should know they’re giving us an immeasurable gift by preserving our history and heritage. Deeds well epitomized by Nelson Henderson’s quote, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”
“The Woodstock School Archives were created to gather and preserve materials relevant to the history of Woodstock School and its immediate political, social, and physical environment. They are housed in a secure room above the Quad, funded by the class of 1942,
The materials in the Archives document the history of the School, the religious and international communities out of which it developed, and its unique geographical setting. This material is invaluable to outreach functions of the School, and is of value to social and environmental historians in areas such as colonial and post-colonial women’s lives; Protestant missionary activity, particularly in the building of institutions; and descriptions of environmental systems over time.
A printed finding aid is available in the Archives to guide users to material sorted and accessioned to date under the following categories: Administration, Alumni, Development, Hillside/Community, History, Maps, Parents, Photographs, Publications, and Students.
The original collection of records, photographs and memorabilia were sorted and arranged by Margo Warner Curl (’67) in 1997. Between 1997 and 2013 several volunteers worked with the materials, including Melanie Smith who broadened the original organization scheme. In 2013 and 2014 Margo coordinated a team who together brought more order and access to the collection: alumni from ’66 and ‘67, Lauranne Barnard Cebulak, Max Marble, Sue Scott Swanson, and Cate Whitcomb; trained archivist Lori Osborne. Max, Cate, and Margo will most certainly return to continue the work as there is still much work to be done.” – Cate Whitcomb ’66
What brings you back every year?
The Archives and Margo being here brings me back. The Archives were set up during my time here as Director of Development. My parents class, 1942, gave a donation to the school to make the Archives possible. When I arrived in January of 1997 there were no files or shelving, just a giant pile of papers that had been heaped in the middle of the room! My dad, Bill Whitcomb, was the first one of the alumni to come and begin the process of putting things together. – Cate Whitcomb ’66
The ferns, the rocks, the views and listening to the Whistling Thrush early in the morning. -Margo Warner Curl ’67
My husband Dan and I love being in Mussoorie and at Woodstock. Being able to contribute makes the trip feel more worthwhile. -Anne Lind (ex staff)
Since when have you been returning to Woodstock?
I came back for the first time after graduating in 1966 in 1968. Then there was a gap of 23 years and I returned for a visit with my dad and his siblings, all of whom graduated from Woodstock, in 1991. In 1997 I returned to work as Development Director for 3 years, 1997-2000. Margo came first to work on the archives after her retirement in 2012. When she said she was here I decided I would come with her whenever she returned. So this is our 3rd time, 2013, 2014 and 2015. -Cate Whitcomb ’66
Graduated in 1967; returned to visit parents in 1969 and 1974; returned to travel in 1993; returned while son James Curl was a SAGE student in 1997. 1997 – was here for 6 weeks with my husband Tom Strickler (’40) to start organizing the historical materials in the archives. Have returned in Oct. 2012, Oct. 2013, March 2014, and Oct. 2015 to continue work in archives (the latter 3 times with Cate Whitcomb). -Margo Warner Curl ’67
I was here for a week in 2007, helping out in the Alumni Office. From spring 2009 through fall 2012 we spent two months here each spring and fall. I did a wide variety of projects for the Development and Alumni Office. I missed being here in 2013 but came back in the fall of 2014 and fall 2015. So this is my tenth long-term visit. -Anne Lind (ex staff)
What project’s have you completed and what ‘s on the cards?
Margo has set up a categorization of the archives including categories such as alumni, administration, publications, history etc. and established topics within each category. We have been sorting through what were my office files, the files of several other administrators, principals and development directors to preserve items that will be of historical interest to researchers and writers in the years to come. -Cate Whitcomb ’66
Have developed an organization scheme for the school’s historical materials and have a printed finding aid for materials that have been processed. Have instituted a log book for people using or entering the archives to help control access to the materials. This visit Cate Whitcomb (’66)and I have finally finished going through all of the files that had accumulated by 2012 – many from administrative offices in the 1980s and 1990s.
Max Marble’67, on his annual or bi-annual trips to Landour, has been working on converting analog audio and video formats to digital. – Margo Warner Curl ’67
I have done a lot of proofreading and editing. One year I proofed every page on the new (large!) website. In 2011 I planned and executed a major celebration on campus of the 100th anniversary of the founding of WOSA. In 2014 and 2015 I have been compiling information for the 3rd volume of the Woodstock School History Book, 1983-2013. I have gone through Whispering Pines, Quadrangles, some Archives, and am currently soliciting information from former administrators, staff and students. Most of the projects I have undertaken were outside the range of daily responsibilities in the office, so I guess you could say they were extras. -Anne Lind (ex staff)
What do you think is the significance of your efforts?
The history of the school will be preserved and future generations will know about the school origins and the various issues and events that were part of the school through the years. This is a preservation project to hand on to the generations to come. There will be writers and researchers who will use the archives for their own specific projects, such as a history of missions in Mussoorie, biographies of principals or students, tracing of the history of issues such as women in the mission field and so on. -Cate Whitcomb ’66
With the organization of materials and the printed finding aids, users should be able to locate the material they are seeking. There will always be work to do. What we have done so far has been just a preliminary sorting and identification of materials. – Margo Warner Curl ’67
The third volume of the history book is an important addition to the library of information about the school. -Anne Lind (ex staff)
What do you think about Woodstock now?
We don’t get a very in depth view of Woodstock now when we are working here except when we are curious. On the surface the school looks progressive and well cared for. The students seem very energetic and involved. I know from Board reports and visits with Eleanor Nicholson, who is a personal friend as I recruited her to come here originally to help us with the MSA reaccreditation in 1997-98, that the school is on sound financial footing. -Cate Whitcomb ’66
In many ways it is a much better school than when I attended in the 1950s and 1960s. I’m not sure I would be admitted now! There always have been and will continue to be challenges and issues in a multi-cultural and multi-religious community – Margo Warner Curl ’67
I think it is a place where young people can be exposed to a wide range of people and activities that they might never meet in their home places. In a small way, I believe that this is contributing to a better future for the world. -Anne Lind (ex staff)
What are you best memories at Woodstock?
Memories of Woodstock are always fraught … best is not a word that I associate with my memories here. Being in boarding at the age of 6 and looking at the ceiling as I woke up resolving to not cry that day is one vivid memory. What I have is the realization that has grown over the years that the things that happened to me here, what I was taught, what I witnessed, what I had a part in, made me who I am today so in many ways coming back is a return to the womb. A painful thing. Best things were the friends I made who are still friends. Also the intellectual tools I was given, reading, writing, researching. The ability to continue in school until I had a PhD. This is more personal that anything you can share!– Cate Whitcomb ’66
My life-long friends who are my family; great teachers; being outdoors and wandering around on the khud; learning the names of the plants…– Margo Warner Curl ’67
My husband and I came here as very young teachers (23), so in a sense we grew up here. That was in the late 1960s and until 1980. We loved being a part of such an interesting and close-knit community that is still a part of our lives. We had a great music department that we enjoyed working with. -Anne Lind (ex staff)
Did you find anything interesting or discover some fun facts while digging through archives or reasearching?
We have found some key documents, like the request to the Board to change from standards to grades, the original memo setting up the SAGE program, 20-30 year sets of minutes of the Administrative Cabinet, the school heads of department etc.
There is a lovely letter to me from Nayantara Shagal about my mother who was her friend when they were children in Allahabad.
The book with all the records of when each of us was admitted is a priceless document – it is a large ledger. -Cate Whitcomb ’66
To me what is fun are memos about toilet paper use, water & electricity problems… Fascinating is the small amount of material we have on the earliest history of the school – minutes of the Protestant Society of Landour in 1852 establishing the school, letters and reminiscences from early students, photos from the 1880s through the 1920s and 30s.
Also interesting to think of the factors that have influenced the ‘shape’ of Woodstock – the American women teachers from the 1880s who had attended Mount Holyoke College under Mary Lyon, who was one of the first women in the US to believe that women could learn real academic subjects, not just deportment and embroidery; the influence of the American liberal arts tradition through A.E. Parker and Emmet Alter; the influence of Indian political events and the Indian families involved in the Independence movement that also had Woodstock connections; the transition from a missionary school to an international school. – Margo Warner Curl ’67
Too much to share – you’ll have to wait until the book comes out!!!-Anne Lind (ex staff)
(Photo:Seated l-r: Anne, Margo and Cate)