Constantine Raises (R) and Dr. John Tymitz (L) one of the original members of the Institute for Shipboard Education, photograph by Paul Liebhardt c1984

Constantine Raises (R) and Dr. John Tymitz (L), one of the original members of the Institute for Shipboard Education, photograph by Paul Liebhardt c1984

Or: A reflection on the sadistic humour of the goddess Clio.

(continued from Part 2 and Part 1 of Chasing Constantine Raises)

The official records of the 1926-27 Floating University have disappeared. The Raises collection overview notes that Raises himself presented this material to the University of the Seven Seas (a successor enterprise launched in 1960) after which it “may have been permanently lost”. I contacted Semester at Sea (the organisation that now runs the university cruises) and they have confirmed that this early material does not exist. 

So I’ve followed up the other threads of the story. I’ve been to the Riesenberg archives in San Francisco and found nothing more than drafts of salty books on naval adventure, none of which bears evidence of a Greek translator. Of the books Riesenberg published in the 1920s that I  managed to find, none features Raises in the acknowledgments. But all archives are partial records and this one especially so. I have failed to find Andrew J. McIntosh’s papers, and similarly had no success in my search for the records of the diplomat George Horton. I am in the process of trying to chase down the copies of the New York World (on microfilm at the New York Public Library) to see if the editor Herbert Swope wrote the articles Liebhardt suggests he did, though again it would not be remarkable if he had – so many newspapers carried accounts of Lough’s plans. But perhaps, just perhaps, such an article might mention the Newport dinner?

When did Raises began to tell this version of his life? Maybe, in late 1920s New York, after Horton’s book on Smyrna had received such huge attention, Americans made the assumption for him? Possibly it was only after Lough’s death in 1952, when the other members of the original cruise had all gone, that the Newport story emerged. By then Raises was in his early 50s and trying to relaunch the student cruise while also running his own travel agency. He organised a very successful reunion in 1952 of the alumni of the 1926 voyage and a similar event in 1954 for the 1928 successor voyage, and in 1958 he had connected with a small businessman and Rotarian called Bill Hughes who wanted to launch a university that would sail around the world studying international problems. It was the early years of the Cold-War. After the horrors of the Holocaust, the Nuremberg trials had introduced the world to the concepts of genocide and crimes against humanity; Senator Fulbright had just launched his international scholarship exchange program, and the United States was seizing a new and more interventionist global role. An origin myth that invoked one man’s survival of an earlier catastrophe and linked it to an American innovation in international education may have fitted the times? 

But this is all speculation. Much of the story Raises told Liebhardt is plausible. Possibly the dinner on the Newport did happen.

Why should the reader believe the version I present, over Raises’ testimony? My account grows out of the kind of expert knowledge about the world that is certified by universities and the conventions of historical scholarship,with its socially sanctioned apparatus of source analysis. Raises’ version was embedded in his own personal experience of travel and migration in the American century.

Which of us gets to know?

Advertisements

Sarah Cox COL_V2003_0003a 800x600

Why would the Courts be interested in the failed love lives of working class people? And what does a convict’s daughter, a barrister and a former Australian Prime Minister have to do with it?

Quietly buried away in Western Sydney’s state archives are lists of lingerie, wedding dresses, and love letters and lockets of hair stapled and bound to writs from over 200 years ago.

In the 19th century a broken engagement could damn a woman for life. But scorned women had an unexpected way to get square.

History Lab Episode 2 came out last week. In it we sift through the historical remains to discover litigious lovers, colonial love triangles and the emergence of medicalised heartbreak on a quest to understand the history of love.

listen here >>

Read the rest of this entry »

lindy940x528

What happens to evidence after a criminal trial?

In Episode 1 of History Lab, we go looking for answers and find ourselves in the shadow of one of the worst miscarriages of justice in Australian history.

After a trial, three appeals, four coronial inquests, a life sentence and a Royal Commission, it was finally proven that Azaria Chamberlain was not murdered by her mother but was taken by a dingo, as her parents had said all along.

Now, almost 40 years after Azaria’s death, her tiny clothes, the family’s belongings, and thousands of letters written to Lindy Chamberlain have lost their status as evidence and assumed a new life. We take a journey through the archives and speak to Lindy herself in order to explore what’s left behind in the wake of the case that divided the nation.

listen here >>

Read the rest of this entry »