Author Archives: Daniel Harper

Pounding flowers

One of the best projects we did in Nature Camp last week was “Pounding Flowers,” a project from the book A Little Bit of Dirt: 55+ Science and Art Activities To Reconnect Children with Nature by Asia Citro (Woodinville, Wash.: Innovation Press, 2015), pp. 72-73. The idea is to collect several different flowers, arrange them on a piece of watercolor paper, cover them with paper towels, and pound the heck out of the flowers so that they release their juices which are then absorbed by the watercolor paper.

Our campers, who were ages 6-7, particularly enjoyed pounding the flowers with rubber mallets. So did we adults: the feel of the impact of the rubber mallet on a hard concrete floor was satisfying in itself, and the addition of the flowers sandwiched between towels and watercolor paper was even better.

(Photo courtesy of Ecojustice Camp; parents provided a media release for this child.)

But I was not entirely satisfied with this project myself. The paper towels did not work very well; they tended to shred under heavy pounding, and the flowers tended to shift under them. So tonight I tried something different. I collected some flowers; arranged them on a piece of watercolor paper on a smooth concrete surface; then instead of paper towels I laid another piece of watercolor paper over the arrangement, and pressed gently down.

This worked extremely well. It was even more satisfying to pound on, because the top piece of watercolor paper didn’t shred, and it didn’t shift much. When I was done, I got two pieces of pounding art, mirror images of one another. And, best of all, this process yielded more detail of the flowers: I got distinct outlines of the petals or pistils in some cases.

This was a very fun process art project to begin with, and by sandwiching the flowers between two pieces of watercolor paper it got even better.

How to fight therapeutic technological consumerist militarism

The current issue of Geez magazine (“Contemplative Cultural Resistance”) just arrived in my mailbox from Canada, and the issue opens with a quote from Walter Brueggeman’s 2005 essay “Counterscript.” Geez had to abridge the quote, but here’s the original:

———

“The dominant script of both selves and communities in our society, for both liberals and conservatives, is the script of therapeutic, technological, consumerist militarism that permeates every dimension of our common life.

“I use the term therapeutic to refer to the assumption that there is a product or a treatment or a process to counteract every ache and pain and discomfort and trouble, so that life may be lived without inconvenience.

“I use the term technological, following Jacques Ellul, to refer to the assumption that everything can be fixed and made right through human ingenuity; there is no issue so complex or so remote that it cannot be solved.

“I say consumerist, because we live in a culture that believes that the whole world and all its resources are available to us without regard to the neighbor, that assumes more is better and that ‘if you want it, you need it.” Thus there is now an advertisement that says: ‘It is not something you don’t need; it is just that you haven’t thought of it.’

“The militarism that pervades our society exists to protect and maintain the system and to deliver and guarantee all that is needed for therapeutic technological consumerism. This militarism occupies much of the church, much of the national budget and much of the research program of universities.

“It is difficult to imagine life in our society outside the reach of this script; it is everywhere reiterated and legitimated.”

———

Later in the essay, Brueggeman goes on to say that this script has “failed,” for “we are not safe, and we are not happy.” He points to the complicity of the Christian church in “enacting” this script, adding:

“It is the task of the church and its ministry to detach us from that powerful script.”

Unitarian Universalism got kicked out of the Christian church more than a century ago (a fact we’re now kind of proud of), but like many Christian churches we too are enacting the script of therapeutic technological consumerist militarism. We firmly believe that we can find ways to live our lives with no inconvenience. We firmly believe that we can find a fix for every problem.

The next two points may not be as obvious, and will require some explanation.

We may protest that we fight consumerism, but we live our lives as though resources are ours to exploit. We cut down on our oil use, but we firmly believe that the sun and wind are ours to exploit for energy. We say we are anti-racist, but the financial health of many of our congregations can be traced back to seed money accumulated through exploitation of people of color: land appropriated from Native American peoples, labor appropriated from persons of African descent, etc.

We may protest militarism. Many of us may be peaceniks, and some of us have been arrested protesting militarism. But in the end we depend on systems that protect therapeutic technological consumerism, and so we protest that upon which our livelihoods depend.

Brueggeman goes on to say: Continue reading

Compact camp cook box

I’ll be driving across the continent by myself during July, camping for about two and a half weeks of that time. The camp cook box we have is big because it’s designed for two or more people. I decided to make a more compact camp cook box for this trip.

I found an old wooden wine create we had in the basement, did extensive repairs, and sealed it with some leftover wood sealer. A standard plastic dishpan fit perfectly inside, and I attached two wood strips for the dishpan to slide on. I made a small cutting board, elevated on wood runners so there’s storage space under it.

The dishpan holds a 2-quart pan with a teapot nested inside, a 1-quart pan, a mug, a small wood box with a sponge and scrubbing pad, dish detergent, and matches in a waterproof case. Under the wood cutting board there’s a cloth tool roll with various kitchen utensils (measuring spoons, stirring spoons, vegetable peeler, can opener, etc.).

I didn’t buy anything except the dishpan; everything else was something we had lying around. I spent too much time hand planing the wood for the cutting board, then hand-rubbing it with chopping block oil. And I used no power tools, which also took more time. But who cares if it took too long? Who cares if the various parts and pieces don’t quite match? I had fun working on it. This kind of project is like process art: the final product is less important than the process of making it.

A day at Nature Camp: insects, process art, stories

The second day of Nature Camp started with opening circle, as always. Our kindergarteners and first graders sat in a circle, and we sang one of the songs we learned yesterday, “The Earth Is Our Mother,” and the children remembered it well enough that they told me when I sang one of the verses wrong. Abby read a short story about Wangari Maathai, one of our Nature Camp elders. Kris also showed us a slug that she had found that morning, and we spent some time watching it before we released it in a shady place.

Then Kris introduced the them for the day: insects. Kris read some excerpts from Simon & Schuster Children’s Guide to Insects and Spiders. We learned what an insect is, and we learned the three parts of an insect (head, thorax, and abdomen). Kris also read to us a little bit about butterflies and moths, or Lepidoptera.

Kris next told us that we were going to make some pitfall traps to catch some insects, by burying a plastic cup in the ground. We learned the ethics of pitfall traps: you have to empty them regularly (at least once a day) to be sure the insects don’t die, and they should not be placed in full sun (the hot sun can kill any insects that fall in them).

The children enjoyed finding shady places to put the traps, and then digging holes in the ground with trowels and placing the plastic cups in the holes. Each child got to put at least one insect trap in the ground. While we were doing this, we stopped at the plum tree and managed to find a few more ripe plums to eat, enough for every child who wanted one to have one.

The highlight of the morning for me was Abby’s “natural paintbrush” project. The children got sticks (the handle of the paintbrush) and then attached leaves or pine needles or some other natural object to the stick with masking tape or rubber bands.

We taped large sheets of paper on two tables, and provided red, yellow, and blue tempera paint. The children enjoyed mixing their own colors, then spreading the colors with the natural paintbrushes.

It was a great example of process art, since there was no “product”; instead the whole emphasis was on exploring the materials and colors.

After we painted for a while, it was time to walk over to Mitchell Park to play on the trees and eat some lunch. The children particularly enjoy climbing a tree that has a long branch that is almost horizontal the the ground, sloping gently upwards. It’s the perfect challenge for this age group. One or two of the children felt comfortable walking along the branch, but most of them moved along slowly, clasping it with legs and hands. Kris told them that they should only climb as far as they felt safe; at the same time she gently urged them to go a little beyond their comfort zones. One child was pleased to find that he could make it further along the branch than he thought he could.

While we were eating lunch, two California Gulls landed not far away and started fighting over some trash. We talked about how gulls like to eat trash, and I described the gull nesting colony near Charleston Slough. I also expressed my opinion that gulls are not particularly pleasant birds: they are loud, and messy, and kind of aggressive. While we were eating lunch, we also saw some butterflies flying by probably (Western Tiger Swallowtails), but it was breezy and the butterflies went by very quickly.

After lunch, Kris had a book that showed us how to draw slugs and butterflies. The children each drew some slugs and butterflies in their nature journals. One child drew a slug very carefully, trying to make it the same color as the one we had seen earlier in the morning. Another child drew a large number of slugs, and then dots all over them which he said was salt that was killing them. We talked a bit about why salt might kill slugs.

At last it was time to go back for closing circle. We sang “The Earth Is Our Mother” again, which the children knew really well by now, as well as “The Adaptation Song” which has a verse about how California Gulls adapt to their environment. To close the day, Kris read part of an Arnold Lobel book about a grasshopper.

All in all, a very satisfying day at Nature Camp. We worked on fine motor skills, gross motor skills, and knowledge about the natural world. Most importantly, we just spent time in nature, looking, touching, playing, being.

Note: We have media releases for all children depicted above. Nature Camp is sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto.

The Useless Tree

Another story in a series for liberal religious kids, this one from the Taoist tradition.

A certain carpenter named Zhih was traveling to the Province of Ch’i. On reaching Shady Circle, he saw a sacred tree in the Temple of the Earth God. It was so large that its shade could cover a herd of several thousand cattle. It was a hundred yards thick at the trunk, and its trunk went up eighty feet in the air before the first branch came out.

The carpenter’s apprentice looked longingly at the tree. What a huge tree! What an enormous amount of timber could be cut out of it! Why, there would be enough timber in that one tree to make a dozen good-sized boats, or three entire houses.

Crowds stood around the tree, gazing at it in awe, but the carpenter didn’t even bother to turn his head, and kept walking. The apprentice, however, stopped to take a good look, and then had to run to catch up with his master.

“Master, ever since I have handled an adze in your service,” said the apprentice, “I have never seen such a splendid piece of timber. How was it that you did not care to stop and look at it?”

“That tree?” said the Master, “It’s not worth talking about. It’s good for nothing. If you cut down that tree and made the wood it into a boat, it would sink. If you took the wood to build a house, the house would break apart and rot. See how crooked its branches are! and see how loose and twisted is its grain! This is wood that has no use at all. Not only that, if you try to taste one of its leaves, it is so bitter that it would have taken the skin off your lips, and the odor of its fruit is enough to make you sick for an hour. It is completely useless, and because it is so useless, the tree has attained a huge size and become very old.”

The carpenter told his apprentice to dismiss the tree from his thoughts, and they continued on their way. They arrived home late at night, and both of them went straight to bed.

———

While the carpenter was asleep, the spirit of the tree came and spoke to him.

“What did you mean when you spoke to your apprentice about me?” said the spirit of the tree. “Of course I am not like the fine-grained wood that you carpenters like best. You carpenters especially like the wood from fruit trees and nut trees — cherry, pear-wood, and walnut.

“But think what happens! As soon as the fruits or nuts of these trees have ripened, you humans treat the trees badly, stripping them of their fruits or nuts. You break their branches, twist and break their twigs. And then you humans cut down the trees in their prime so you can turn them into boards and make them into furniture.

“Those trees destroy themselves by bearing fruits and nuts, and producing beautiful wood,” said the spirit of the tree. “I, on the other hand, do not care if I am beautiful. I only care about being useless.

“Years ago, before I learned how to be useless, I was in constant danger of being cut down. Think! If I had been useful, your great-grandfather, who was also a carpenter, would have cut me down. But because I learned how to be useless, I have grown to a great size and attained a great age.

“Do not criticize me, and I shan’t criticize you,” the spirit of the tree said. “After all, a good-for-nothing fellow like yourself, who will die much sooner than I will — do you have any right to talk about a good-for-nothing tree?”

———

The next morning, the carpenter told his dream to his apprentice.

The apprentice asked, “But if the goal of the tree is to be useless, how did it become sacred tree living in the Temple to the Earth God?”

“Hush!” said the master carpenter. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. And I should never have criticized the tree. The tree is a different kind of being than you and I, and we must judge it by different standards. That’s why it took refuge in the Temple — to escape the abuse of people who didn’t appreciate it.

“A spiritual person should follow the tree’s example, and learn how to be useless.”

 

Source: from Chuang-tzu 1.16, based on translations by Lin Yutang, Burton Watson, and James Legge.

A Wizard

In this interview from Oct. 21, 2015, Bay Area rapper Paris explains to AllHipHop.com why Donald Trump is so effective:

“In this era where everything is political, where politics is actually entertainment, we’ve got these news channels, and they’re custom-designed for the engagement of entertainment as though [politics] is celebrity-based. Look at Trump. Trump is all over the place because he’s entertaining. I watch Trump, and I’m thoroughly entertained by that shit, even though it’s racist vitriol that comes out of his mouth. It’s still something that’s engaging, and that’s why he’s winning. With these people who are rigid and trying to now out-do Trump with what they say, with the ridiculous shit they say, but people see through it and they recognize authenticity. And Trump is authentically an asshole. So you recognize that, hey, it is what he is.”

A year and a half later, this remains one of the best analyses of why Donald Trump is so effective. Whether you hate him or love him, you have to admit that he provides riveting celebrity-based polit-tainment. Trump is an entertainer extraordinaire. If it weren’t for Donald Trump, for example, we wouldn’t have had today’s riveting spectacle of James Comey testifying before the Senate.

I’m watching liberals, and to a lesser extent leftists, trying to attack Trump’s policies on political grounds. But Trump is an entertainer, not a politician. That’s a good thing, because his political skills are obviously quite low. But as an entertainer, he’s almost as good as Ronald Reagan.

That being the case, what I’d like to see is some cultural criticism of Donald Trump the entertainer. For example, take a look at Trump’s carefully constructed visual persona. Look at how his clothing (his costume, to use theatre terminology) projects a certain image: his clothing is carefully designed to hide his obesity, to broaden his shoulders, etc.; thus his costume aims to emphasize stereotypically “manly” physical characteristics in order to project a mood of male dominance and power. Or look at his hair and makeup, carefully designed to make him look younger; i.e., he doesn’t want to project an image of aged wisdom, he wants to project an image of middle-aged brashness and impetuosity. This carefully constructed visual persona supports a carefully constructed image as “authentically an asshole” — an illusion of a strong leader.

I can’t help thinking about the Wizard in L. Frank Baum’s book The Wizard of Oz. When Dorothy and her friends first see the Wizard, he appears in a different guise to each of them — a Great Head, a Lovely Lady, a Terrible Beast, or a Ball of Fire — and they are all intimidated by him.

But the second time they go to see the Wizard, Toto, the little dog, knocks over a screen in the corner of the throne room, revealing “a little, old man, with a bald head and a wrinkled face.” When they confront him, he admits, “Exactly so… I am a humbug.”

The analogy with Donald Trump should be clear. He is adept at appearing to each of us in the guise we find most enthralling; e.g., like Paris, I see Trump in his guise as an “authentic asshole” spewing racist vitriol. But cultural criticism is the seemingly powerless little dog who can knock over the screen and reveal him for what he truly is — a fat old man wearing a corset, with wrinkles and not much hair. So it is we can see that, insofar as any entertainer is a humbug, Donald Trump, too, is a humbug.

But entertainers are adept in selling illusions that work. The Wizard of Oz, humbug though he was, gave brains to the Scarecrow — a mixture of bran and pins (to show he is sharp) — a heart to the Tin Woodman — a silk heart stuffed with sawdust — and courage to the Cowardly Lion — liquid from a square green bottle that had to be drunk up to be effective, for “courage is always inside one.” And each of these illusions — the brains, the heart, the courage — each illusion proved to be completely effective.

For that is how entertainers work: they make illusions become real to us. And the good cultural critic never underestimates the power of illusion.

My rant for the day: Patriarchy dies hard

Let me climb onto my soap box….

All these troubles in the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA): yet another senior denominational positions is filled by a white man; the first Latino president of the UUA gets defensive about this fact and then resigns; people of color in the denomination call for a national teach-in about white supremacy; the president of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (UUMA), who is a white man, holds forth online at great length, and somewhat incoherently, on hiring practices in the UUA; 130 members of the UUMA sign a petition calling on ministers to refrain from bringing lawsuits against other ministers in the middle of UUMA grievance procedures (a petition that was responding to a legal action by a UUMA member against other UUMA members to prevent ministers from talking about a colleague who allegedly committed sexual misconduct); a Unitarian Universalist minister pleads guilty to child pornography charges.

In the course of all these troubles, many Unitarian Universalists are openly addressing the problem of racism and white supremacy. This is a good thing.

And in the course of all these troubles, far fewer Unitarian Universalists seem to be talking about sexism and patriarchy. Maybe because all the candidates for UUA president are women. In a couple of weeks, we are sure to elect a woman as the next UUA president and therefore we have conquered patriarchy. Right?

Patriarchy within the UUA has not died. Nor is it in its death throes, nor is it even in the process of dying. All these years I’ve been going to political rallies and hearing people assert that all oppressions are linked. So guess what: patriarchy and white supremacy are linked. We cannot talk about one without talking about the other.

As a minister of religious education — that is to say, as someone who is doing “women’s work,” because taking care of children is not “real ministry,” it’s just “women’s ministry” — I can tell you that patriarchy is alive and well in the UUA. Sunday school enrollment has been dropping since 2005, even though demographically there are more and more children out there. Why? Sunday school enrollment has been dropping because in the UUA as a whole, and in most individual congregations, when money gets tight we pull resources away from children and youth ministry so that we adequately pay the patriarchal positions — the president of the UUA, the senior denominational positions, the parish minister.

We do this both because of patriarchy, and also because of white supremacy. In much of the U.S., non-white children are now the majority. If we adequately fund children’s ministries, we might bring more kids into our congregations. If we do that, not only are we saying that “women’s work” is important, we are also opening the doors to a lot of non-white people. Both these things are equally threatening. Patriarchy and white supremacy die hard.

I know, you’re sick of hearing me rant. OK, I’m off my soap box now. And I promise to reduce my ranting in the future, because the last thing we need is another rant from yet another white man.

“Buddha’s Hymn of Victory”

For this American sacred song, I’ve paired a classic eighteenth century psalm tune with an ancient Pali text translated by Charles Lanman, the great American scholar of Sanskrit. This is what Buddhas was supposed to have said when he at last acheived enlightenment, and was no longer bound to the endless cycle of rebirth. As a sort of extra bonus, the third verse is a translation by Paul Carus, a German immigrant to the United States, and a pioneering figure in the study of comparative religion (though today his scholarship seems quite dated).

Buddha’s Hymn of Victory (PDF) 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 in., for use as an order of service insert.

The music is “Windham” by Daniel Read, one of the greatest of eighteenth century hymn tunes. This composition is usually paired with a text by Isaac Watts that begins “Broad is the road that leads to death…,” and tells how mortals can get to heaven. Even though the Christian path to heaven and the Buddhist path to nirvana are very different, the mood of the music seems to match both texts equally well.

Obscure Unitarians: Annie Upton Lawrence Corbert

A schoolteacher and supporter of women’s suffrage, Ann Upton Lawrence was born on Nantucket Is., Mass., on Oct., 1840, to Frederic W. Lawrence and Susan Hussey. Since her birth is recorded in the Quaker manner as “10th month” (rather than “October”), perhaps her family were Quakers; a Quaker upbringing could help explain her lifelong support of equal rights for women.

Her life can be traced through the U.S. Census. In 1850, she was living on Nantucket Is. with her father and mother, and younger siblings Amelia and Everett; her father was working as an accountant. By 1860, she was living with her father in San Francisco, and working as a school teacher; her father was working as a clerk, and they shared a house with William H. Lawrence, a mariner, and his wife and child.

Annie married Edward W. Corbert before 1866. In 1870, she and Edward were living in San Francisco, where Edward worked as “Assessor, Int. Rev.”; they had two children, Louise (b. c. 1866, Calif.), and Sadie (b. c. 1869, Calif.). In 1880, she and Edward were living in Martinez with Louise, Sadie, and Anita Lawrence (b. June, 1874, Calif.). By 1900, Annie was widowed and living with Anita in Palo Alto; Anita was working as a teacher. And in 1910, Annie was still living with Anita, as well as with her son-in-law, John Byxbee; John was the Palo Alto city engineer for whom Byxbee Park is named.

Annie supported women’s suffrage. She was president of the Santa Clara County Equal Suffrage Assoc. in 1900, and said in her presidential address of that year, “We are simply waiting and watching, and working to strengthen our forces and our cause, so that at the golden moment we may be ready to spring into place.” She continued working for equal suffrage through the successful campaign in 1911 which gained California women the right to vote: “Mrs. John F. Byxbee, Mrs. George Rosebrook and Mrs. Annie L. Corbert entertained at a suffrage tea Thursday afternoon at the Byxbee home in Alma Street.”

Her civic activities were not limited to equal suffrage. She also found time to support the schools and the public library, and she belonged to the Palo Alto Woman’s Club, the Civic League, the Peace Society, and the Historical Society.

She was active in the early days of the Unitarian Church of Palo Alto, and was one of the early members of the Women’s Alliance. She helped run the Unitarian “Post Office Mission” in Palo Alto. She sang in the church choir, and her “clear true alto” voice was “always a power in quartette singing, even to the time of her last illness.” She divided her time between San Francisco and Palo Alto, and was also an officer for the San Francisco branch of the Women’s Alliance.

Her obituary in the Pacific Unitarian gave three samples of her religious philosophy, things she said not long before she died:

“As a church we should ask ourselves, continually, What is the church for—are we doing something worthy, or are we marking time.”

“I have found that we must not judge people. Minds are different, and we must not condemn as unworthy that which does not suit our own ideas.”

“The human soul is a lonely thing. It must stand by itself at the last.”

Notes: 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910 U.S. Census; Vital Records of Nantucket, Massachusetts, to 1850, vol. II—Births (G-Z), Boston: New England Historical Genealogical Society, 1926, p. 235; Gayle Gullett, Becoming Citizens: The Emergence and Development of the California Women’s Movement, 1880-1911, Univ. of Illinois Press, p. 109; San Francisco Call, Aug. 20, 1911; Pacific Unitarian, Aug., 1916, p. 262; Pacific Unitarian, March, 1915, p. 137.
N.B.: In the printed record, her married name is often spelled “Corbett,” but when she signed her name she wrote “Corbert”; furthermore, she signed her first name “Annie,” not “Ann.”

Obscure Unitarians: Effie June Scott and Edward Curtis Franklin

Effie June Scott Franklin — A professor of French and German, she was born Aug. 5, 1871, in on a farm in Carlyle Township, Kansas. Her father, Dr. John W. Scott, came to Kansas in 1857, and was active in the free state fight, serving in the first state legislature; Dr. Scott served in the Civil War as surgeon of the Tenth Kansas, and after that war was president of the company that laid out the town of Iola, Kansas.

Effie’s family family moved to the town of Iola, Kansas, in 1874. She graduated from high school in Iola, Kansas, in 1887. She had two older brothers: Angelo C., the eldest; and Charles F. Scott, ten years older than Effie, who represented Kansas for several years as a Republican in the U.S. Congress.

After graduating from high school, Effie taught in the Kansas City, Kansas, schools, and then taught high school in Leavenworth, Kansas. She then began studies at the University of Kansas, receiving her A.B. in 1891. Subsequently she pursued graduate study at Cornell and at the University of Berlin. She was assistant professor of French and German at the University of Kansas for two years until her marriage in 1897; William Carruth was at that time professor of German.

She married Edward Curtis Franklin on July 22, 1897, at Central Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colorado. She and Edward had three children: Anna Comstock (b. Sept., 1898), Charles Scott (b. c. 1902), and John Curtis (b. c. 1905).

Politically, she was a progressive who supported “woman suffrage.”

She was active in the Unitarian church in Lawrence, Kansas, and was a delegate from the Lawrence church to the National Conference of Unitarians in 1911 (the family lived in Washington, D.C., 1911-1913 while Edward worked for the government Hygenic Laboratory).. Prof. William Carruth was also a member of the Lawrence, Kansas, church before he moved to Palo Alto.

Effie moved to Palo Alto in 1903 when her husband accepted a position as professor at Stanford. She was an early member of the Unitarian Church of Palo Alto, and was active in the Women’s Alliance.

When Maria Protsman Scott, Effie’s mother, died in 1907, she was staying with her daughter in Palo Alto; however, it doesn’t appear that Maria was living with the Franklins.

In 1914, a classmate from the University of Kansas visited the Franklins, as well as former Kansans Jennie and Helen Sutliff, and William and Katharine Carruth. She wrote: “At Stanford I spent several days with the Sutliffs and Franklins and had a pleasant visit with Dr. and Mrs. Carruth. … Dr. Franklin was soon to leave for New Zealand where he was going at the request of the British government, in company with fourteen other American scientists of note. Dr. and Mrs. Franklin have a very handsome big daughter Anna, a high school girl, and two younger boys, Charles and Jack.”

Effie was an accomplished pianist, and she was elected an honorary member of the Stanford Music Club in 1916.

She died at her home in Palo Alto on March 31, 1931.

Notes: 1900, 1910 U.S. Census; Graduate Magazine of the University of Kansas, 1931, p. 14; William E. Connolley, History of Kansas Newspapers, Topeka: Kansas State Printing Plant, 1916, p. 47; William E. Connelley, A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, vol. 3, Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1919, p. 1360; Iola Register, May 30, 1902; Jan Onofrio, Kansas Biographical Dictionary, St. Clair Shores, Miss.: Somerset Pub., 2000, p. 142; The Arrow of Pi Beta Phi, Ann Arbor, Mich.: Michigan Chapter of Beta, October, 1893, p. 118; Iola Register, July 30, 1897, p. 8; John William Leonard, Woman’s Who’s Who of America, 1914-1915, New York: American Commonwealth Co., 1914, p. 305; Christian Register, Oct. 19, 1911, p. 1095; Graduate Magazine of the University of Kansas, March, 1907, p. 224; Graduate Magazine of the University of Kansas, Dec., 1914, p. 91; Stanford Daily, Jan. 25, 1916, p. 2.

 

Edward Curtis Franklin — A renowned chemist who grew up in Kansas while it was still part of the frontier, he was born in Geary City, Kansas, on March 1, 1862. He was raised in Doniphan, Kansas, where his father owned a saw mill and grist mill. At the time he was young, that part of Kansas still had the flavor of the frontier, to which some ascribed his later “noticeable impatience with convention.” As a boy, he enjoyed the outdoors, including hunting, fishing, swimming in the Missouri River, and collecting fossils; this love of the outdoors was to remain with him his whole life, and he was an active mountain climber who belonged to the Sierra Club, and summited a number of 14,000 foot peaks. He and his brother William, later a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, made their own batteries, a two-mile long telegraph line, and their own telephone in 1877, only a year after A. G. Bell patented his tel-phone.

After he graduated from high school, he worked for a pharmacy in Severance, Kansas, from 1880-1884, then at age 22 entered the University of Kansas. He received his S.B. from the University of Kansas in 1888, studied at the University of Berlin 1890-1891, and received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1894. He was a professor of chemistry at the University of Kansas from 1891 to 1903, and worked for a gold mining company in Costa Rica for a time in 1897. He was professor of chemistry at Stanford from 1903 to his retirement in 1929. As a chemist, he was best known for his work on ammonia and other nitrogen compounds. He was considered an excellent teacher who delivered exceptionally clear lectures.

He married Effie Scott on July 22, 1897, in Denver, Colorado, and they had three children: Anna Comstock (b. Sept., 1898), Charles Scott (b. c. 1902), and John Curtis (b. c. 1905).

He was an early member of the Unitarian Church of Palo Alto. He hosted the monthly social gathering of the Unitarian Church, entertaining “the company with some experiments with liquid air.” Theologically, Unitarianism was a good fit for Franklin: “Even as a youth…Franklin was inclined to be a ‘free thinker’ and agnostic.”

After his wife Effie died in 1931, he lived with his daughter, Anna Franklin Barnett, in Palo Alto. In the last three years of his life, he took long auto-mobile tours of the U.S. and Canada, and died just two months after returning from the last such trip. He died Feb. 13, 1937.

Notes: Alexander Findlay, Journal of the Chemical Society, 1938, p. 583; Howard Elsey, Biographical Memoirs, Nat. Academy of Sciences, 1991, pp. 67-75; Stanford Daily, Feb. 15, 1937, p. 1; Jan Onofrio, Kansas Biographical Dictionary, St. Clair Shores, Miss.: Somerset Pub., 2000, pp. 139 ff.; obituary, Stanford Daily, Feb. 15, 1937; John William Leonard, ed., Men of America: A Biographical Dictionary, New York: L. R. Hamersly & Co., 1908; Pacific Unitarian, April, 1909, p. 186. Photo of Edward from a U.S. Government Web site, ihm.nlm.nih.gov/images/B06647, accessed May 23, 2017.

 

Anna Comstock Franklin Barnett — A physician and graduate of the Unitarian Church of Palo Alto Sunday school, she was born Sept. 12, 1898, in Lawrence, Kansas, daughter of Effie Scott (q.v.) and Edward Curtis Franklin (q.v.).

Her family moved to Palo Alto in 1903. In 1905, Anna was “one of the first pupils of the Sunday-school” of the Unitarian Church of Palo Alto.

She received her A.B. from Stanford University in 1920, and her M.D. from Stanford in 1924. On July 12, 1924, she married Dr. George de Forest Barnett; he was a physician and professor of medicine at Stanford. They had two children, Margaret A. and Edward F. After the death of her mother in 1931, Anna’s father came to live with her.

Anna joined the faculty of Stanford School of Medicine. Her husband, who had also taught at Stanford School of Medicine, died in 1955. Anna continued to live on campus after her own retirement.

On Oct. 1, 1968, the Stanford Daily reported: “The badly decomposed body of Dr. Anna Barnett, a retired Medical School professor, was discovered in the hills behind Stanford Friday morning. The body was found near Stanford’s antenna farm at 7 a.m. by Eleanore Norris, a resident of Palo Alto, who was strolling in the area near Stanford’s antenna farm. Dr. Barnett, despondent over eye trouble and a scheduled eye operation, disappeared September 13. She left a note indicating she was contemplating suicide. A morphine overdose was determined as the cause of death.” The date of death on the death certificate was Sept. 27, 1968.

Notes: 1900 U.S. Census; Christian Register, Dec. 17, 1925, p. 1236; Stanford University Alumni Directory, 1921, 1931; Stanford Daily, April 30, 1924, p. 1; Stanford Daily, Oct. 1, 1968, p. 4; Carl T. Cox, “Anna Com-stock Franklin,” The Orville, Sutherland, Cox Web site: Ancestors, descendants, and Family Information, oscox.org/cgi-bin/igmget.cgi/n=jucox? I17378, accessed May 25, 2017. (N.B.: Anna’s biography was added an hour or so after Effie’s and Edward’s biographies were posted.)