Fathering controversy For nearly two centuries, questions have swirled around whether Thomas Jefferson fathered any children with Sally Hemings, one of Jefferson's slaves. Now, new techniques in genetic research have answered the question. Jefferson fathered at least one child with Hemings, according to findings by Eugene A. Foster, a retired Tufts University professor of pathology, and a group of Oxford University geneticists who examined blood samples from Hemings's living descendants to establish paternity going back generations.
The finding, released through the journal Nature, has created a media firestorm. Standing at, or near, the center of media activity has been MHC history professor Joseph Ellis, a nationally recognized Jeffersonian scholar and author of the National Book Award-winning American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson. Though Ellis had advanced the position that Jefferson and Hemings were not likely to have been sexually involved, he has revised his position in light of new evidence and has co-authored an essay about the findings in Nature. (Read it at http://second.nature.com.) In addition, Ellis has authored an essay--"When a Saint Becomes a Sinner"--in this week's (11/9) U.S. News & World Report on the new evidence and what it means. (Read it at www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/981109/9elli.htm)
The story broke in a number of national papers November 1, including a front page story in the New York Times that quoted Ellis extensively. By Monday, he was doing interviews left and right, including extensive spots on CBS This Morning, MSNBC, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and Today. At the same time, a bevy of opinion pieces, three in the New York Times on Monday alone, have examined the implications of the new findings.
Glenn connection Some MHC connections are literally out of this world. Lyn Glenn '70, daughter of Senator John Glenn, attended Mount Holyoke for two years. Associated Press coverage before Glenn's second space flight notes that Lyn was initially opposed to the idea of her father returning to space as the oldest man in space. But nevertheless she supported his decision, was by his side during the final training, and was atop the launch control center as the space shuttle Discovery blasted off for its eight-day mission. Lyn Glenn is a counselor and refugee worker-turned-painter who lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. "I guess we had some sort of image, our own image, of what it would be like when he retired from the Senate, and it had not included the Discovery launch," she told the AP. Yet a Chicago Tribune article quoted Lyn as saying of her father, "He is so alive, so committed to what he is doing that it's almost an invitation to join him."
You saw it here first A short article on playwright Suzan-Lori Parks '85 and her new play In the Blood, accompanied by a full-page photograph of Parks, appears in the October 26 and November 2, 1998, issue of the New Yorker on page 174. If the play sounds familiar, it's because Parks was on campus the weekend of October 23 to celebrate "Theatre in the World," which included an all-day open rehearsal of In the Blood. During the weekend, Parks directed a cast that included former MHC theatre arts major and current Director of Diversity and Inclusion Rochelle Calhoun '83 and also participated in a "talkback," during which the audience, playwright, and cast discussed the play. New York's Public Theatre will produce In the Blood, an examination of the stereotypes of a welfare mother, her five children, and their urban landscape, during its 1999-2000 season.
Please listen closely Mount Holyoke is in the second week of a five-city program through which we are sponsoring air time on National Public Radio-affiliated radio stations to maintain and increase visibility for the College. MHC began sponsoring time the week of October 16 on WNYC in New York City, WBUR in Boston, WAMU in Washington, D.C., and KCRW in Los Angeles. Sponsorship runs for eight weeks in all but Boston, where sponsorship will go for four weeks. Then, starting in November, we'll begin a four-week run on KQED in San Francisco.
MHC's sponsorship line--designed to tie in both with our admission messages and the recent announcement of The Campaign for Mount Holyoke--is: "Mount Holyoke College in western Massachusetts, educating women to lead through excellence in the liberal arts."
Chemists in the news Recapping the news of Sheila Browne's 1998 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring was an article in Chemical & Engineering News' September 21 issue. The magazine's "News of the Week" column noted that Browne and five other chemists were honored at a White House ceremony, and included a photo of each awardee. The same publication, which dubs itself "the newsmagazine to the chemical world," also ran a photo of Browne along with Rachael Fiske '00, Helen Huarca '00, and Susan Inonog '99 a month later. The four MHC women are shown working in the lab. The color photo, found in the "University and College" section of the report, helps illustrate the weekly's annual fall cover article on the facts and figures of chemical research and development.
CEL's Web address The Web address for the new Center for Environmental Literacy was printed incorrectly in last week's issue. The correct URL is http://www.mtholyoke.edu/proj/cel/.