Saturday, September 29, 2018

THE WOODIN CUPS | Where the Trophies Are Now

Alice Tepper Marlin with the gold Woodin
 Singles Cup. Thanks to the ITHF for
 showing the cups and permission to 
post photo (by JT Marlin).

NEWPORT, R.I., September 29, 2018 —Yesterday, after lunch at Castle Hill in Newport, Alice and I visited the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF) with classmates.

The ITHF led us on a one-hour tour arranged for Portsmouth Abbey School alumni attending our 60th reunion.

The tour was ably led by ITHF docent Liz Morancy, who was a fount of information about tennis history. 

The ITHF wisely encourages photos (how else can people learn what a great place it is to visit?), but does not allow videos, or taking photos with flash.

The Solid-Gold Woodin Cups

By special advance arrangement, after the tour, Alice and I were taken backstage, upstairs to the Information Research Center that houses the museum’s library, archives, and staff offices. The Curator of Collections, Nicole Markham then kindly showed us the Woodin Gold Cups, which were brought from a secure place for the occasion.

These trophies were awarded in 1926-1949 by the Maidstone Club, East Hampton, N.Y., in an annual invitational tournament for women. Top-ranked women players were invited to come to East Hampton to compete on the Maidstone Club grass courts for the cups.

The smaller Woodin Doubles Cup is
one of two, each valued in 1926 at
$2,000 ($30,000 today). The larger
Singles Cup may be worth $100,000.
Since 2016, when I first wrote about the Woodin Cups (, I have been eager to locate and look at the cups. They were of unusually high value and were of great significance in signaling in the 1920s that women's tennis tournaments should be given the same level of respect as the men's. 

They were the only solid-gold cups offered as prizes in any tennis tournament, men's or women's. 

The pineapple-topped Wimbledon gold cups for men, for example, are not solid gold—they are sterling-silver cups with gilding. Women champions are awarded sterling-silver plates that have some gilding.

In the photo that leads off this post, Alice Tepper Marlin holds in her cloth-gloved hands the gorgeous gold cup with a portrait of William McChesney Martin (ITHF Hall of Fame Class of 1982) in the background.

It's appropriate to note Martin's portrait because when cup donor Will Woodin became Secretary of the Treasury in 1933 under FDR, he was also ex officio Chairman of the Federal Reserve System. This was Martin's position (by appointment, not ex officio; the law was changed during FDR's long administration) when I was an economist at the Fed in Washington in 1964-66.

Martin became Honorary Chairman of the ITHF. He was married to Cynthia, daughter of Dwight Davis, founder of the Davis Cup, the first major international tennis cup. Martin was, by the way, the longest-serving Fed Chairman ever (Alan Greenspan is in second place).

The Genesis and Genius of the Gold Cups

Under the challenge-cup terms of the Woodin Cup, it was loaned to the victors for a year. There would be three winners each year, one singles winner and (naturally) two doubles winners.

When Childe Hassam was visiting East Hampton,
he made sketches of Helen Wills preparing for
the Woodin Cup play at Maidstone. Source: ITHF.
When it was won three times (by the same two doubles players, in the case of the doubles cup), the cup became the property of the winner. 

The Maidstone Club, through the Woodin Cup, became a major facilitator of gender equality in tennis. The support of the club and its members, who provided lodging and other in-kind assistance to the female tennis players, helped women's tennis attract an audience and therefore enabled the organizational apparatus that made women's tennis a permanent fixture.

Woodin Cup winners who went on to become Grand Slam champions include Alice Marble, Helen Hull Jacobs, Molla Mallory and Helen Wills [later Moody]. All of them are also members of the ITHF. Marble was inducted in 1964; Jacobs in 1962; Mallory in 1958; and Wills in 1959. Jacobs and Wills were fierce opponents, whose games were called "the battle of the Helens".

Helen Wills Sketch, 1924.
Source: ITHF.
Famed artist Childe Hassam made many sketches of Helen Wills Moody. Three of them are in the ITHF. Two of them are shown here.

Spectators were drawn to the sport as the skills of women tennis players grew. The original long-skirted women's tennis outfits, which hampered play and made women’s tennis a slower game, were reduced in length, allowing women greater freedom to run and return the ball. Many of the early outfits used in women's tennis are on display at the International Tennis Hall of Fame; one of them features a tennis costume that looks like a ballet tutu. Helen Wills often wore a knee-length sailor suit. Charlie Chaplin was once asked what the most beautiful thing was that he ever saw. He answered: “The movement of Helen Wills playing tennis.” 

First Ending: The Third-Time Winning of the Gold Cups 

The Woodin Cups had two endings and a new beginning.

The first ending was in 1949, when the cups were won outright. Louise Brough won both the Singles and the Doubles cups for the third time with the same doubles partner, Margaret Osborne duPont, although the record is confusing because of Osborne's marriage and name change between the first and second tournaments.

Helen Wills Sketch, 1926.
Source: ITHF.
Louise Brough Clapp donated her two golden Woodin trophies to the Museum in 1997. She died in 2014. 

After 1949, the golden Woodin Cups at the Maidstone Club were replaced by three silver ones by the eldest child of Will and Nan Woodin, Anne Woodin Miner. 

These silver invitational Woodin Cups were presented annually for six years, until 1955. Anne Miner's son Charles (usually called Charlie, like his father) and her daughter-in-law Maisie took over from their mother,  along with fellow Maidstone member and cousin Anne Gerli. 

Maisie Miner was born Mae Hoffman in Charlotte, North Carolina and grew up in the south until she married Charlie, whom she met while he was training at a U.S. Army Air Forces base in the south during World War II.

The Color Bar and the Second Ending of the Cups (The Althea Gibson Story)

The ending of the gold cups has a simple explanation. They were won outright.

The ending in 1955 of the silver cups that replaced the gold ones has a more complex, and historically more important, explanation.

Tennis was created in the United States as a club sport, and was therefore inherently off limits to African Americans. As suffragist women campaigned for the right to vote, African-American women became more aggressive in seeking their rights.

Although white women played tennis with their spouses at the clubs, and therefore had ready access to the tennis courts for competitive rounds, the same was not true for African-American women.

The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority may be considered the beginning of the effort to lower the color bar. It was founded in 1908 at Howard University as the first Negro Sorority. One of the founders was Lucy Diggs Slowe (1885-1937), and she happened to be a pretty good tennis player ( Although the AKA Sorority in its early years tried to avoid political activism, a significant portion of the leadership broke away in 1913 to form the Deltas, who joined the suffragist march led by Inez Milholland (

In 1917, Slowe won the first tennis tournament open to Negro women, the American Tennis Association's first tournament. She and the Association helped pave the way for Althea Gibson to come to tennis prominence a quarter-century later. 

Gibson was born in tiny Silver, in Clarendon County, South Carolina, near Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began. Gibson's family moved to New York City to improve their access to good jobs. Young Gibson became a star paddle-tennis and basketball player and adapted easily from these games to win at the Harlem River Tennis Courts. She started winning the American Tennis Association tournaments, won a sports scholarship to Florida A&M, and won the ATA women's singles championship every year from 1947 to 1956. (Source:

Long before Arthur Ashe came on the scene in men's tennis, Gibson became a leading player. She was the first African-American of either gender to win the women's singles trophy at both the U.S. National Championship, in 1950, and Wimbledon, in 1951. The only comparable U.S. predecessor in breaking through the color barrier in spectator sports was Jackie Robinson in baseball.

Given the fact that an uprooted southern lady was closely involved in decisions about the Woodin Cup in the 1950s, it should not be surprising that Gibson was not invited to play at Maidstone, which was not as unanimously ready to pioneer in reducing 
barriers to competition on the racial front as it was on the gender front.

However, many Maidstone members who were aware of Gibson's extraordinary tennis skills favored inviting her to play at Maidstone and some offered to provide her with a place to stay in their homes.

The intra-club controversy in the mid-1950s over inviting her might well have been decided in favor of Gibson, had there not been another, economic  consideration. The costs to the Maidstone Club of remaining in the fast-growing professional tennis circuit were rising. Once the Maidstone invitational tournament for women started to divide the club membership, the controversy was a catalyst for ending it.

Althea Gibson was not daunted by her rejection by the Maidstone Club. She proved herself a star within the next two years. She won:

  • the women’s singles and doubles French Nationals in 1956,
  • the Australian Nationals in women's doubles in 1957,
  • the single women’s at Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals in 1957-1958,
  • the women’s doubles at Wimbledon in 1956-1958,
  • mixed doubles at the U.S. Nationals in 1957, and
  • the title of top-ranked woman player in the world in 1957. 
International Tennis Hall of Fame Inductee (1973) Althea Gibson. She
broke through the color bar, 1951-57. Source: ITHF.
By the end of the 1958 season, Gibson had won 58 combined singles and doubles titles. She had compiled an impressive 53-9 record at the majors (16-1 at Wimbledon; 27-7 at the U.S.; 6-0 at the French; 4-1 at the Australian) and had been a member of the 1957-1958 Wightman Cup teams, helping the team win a championship in 1957.

Robert Ryland, who was playing tennis at the same time as Gibson and became coach to Venus and Serena Williams, said that Gibson would probably have beaten the Williams sisters. Certainly, he said, Martina Navratilova "couldn't touch her.” He considers Gibson one of the greatest tennis players that ever lived.
Women's Tennis Costumes on Display at the ITHF.
One in front looks like a ballet dancer's tutu.

In 1958, however, Gibson abruptly retired from tennis. She couldn’t afford to keep playing tennis under the rules of the day. There wasn’t much money to be made in professional women’s tennis.

The record suggests that women's professional tennis was a stepchild to men’s tennis. The running of the tournaments and governance of the sport was dominated by men, resulting in a lack of attention to equal treatment of men and women.

Gibson's solution to her financial needs was to turn to professional golf. In 1964, at age 37, she became the first African-American woman to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour.

Our docent  Liz, in front of a case
of ancient cans of tennis balls.
Gibson's earnings rose when she switched to golf. She won many matches and earned thousands of dollars.

However, the money was still not enough to pay her bills. She struggled to make ends meet towards the end of her life when she was widowed. Her friends periodically took up collections for her.

The New Silver Cups

Following the death of Will Woodin's granddaughter Anne Gerli in 2016, the Maidstone Club reinstituted cups for women's tennis, after a hiatus of six decades.

Three new silver cups were donated by Gerli's three daughters for intramural women's tennis at Maidstone (

Thanks to the ITHF for arranging an exciting visit, especially to the docent, Liz Morancy, and Curator, Nicole Markham, who showed us the Woodin gold cups and provided helpful comments on the history of the gender and color barriers in tennis.

The content of this post is part of a draft of a forthcoming biography of William H. Woodin and his family as well as other possible publications. The text and personal photos for the book are copyright © 2013-2018 by John Tepper Marlin. Please respect the rights of the author to the output of the thinking, time, and expense he has devoted to collecting this material about the Woodin Cup. Please forward only the link to this post. Do not cut-and-paste blocks of material in a way that deletes the source of the document. Please contact him if you wish permission to distribute this further other than via a link – john [at]

Friday, September 28, 2018

PORTSMOUTH ABBEY '58 | Day 1, Lunch at Castle Hill Inn

Entrance to the Castle Hill Inn, showing sculpture
and distant boat. Looking out to the Atlantic
Ocean, left. Photo by JT Marlin.
NEWPORT, R.I., September 29, 2018–The Portsmouth Abbey School Class of 1958 (or Portsmouth Priory, as we were known then) has started celebrating its 60th Reunion.

Our classmates this year include one who came from as far away as Peru, just for the event. (Three sets of Peruvian parents got together and decided to send their sons to Portsmouth 65 years ago.)

Within the United States, the classmates have come from Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania.

Yesterday, several of us had lunch together at the Lawn at Castle Hill, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of Narragansett Bay.

This peninsula of Castle Hill went through several metamorphoses:
Castle Hill faces Jamestown's two main
  • It began as a watch house in 1740 when England declared war on Spain.
  • In 1810 a Spanish brig was wrecked near Castle Hill after a storm.
  • The present house was built in 1874 for the scientist Alexander Agassiz. 
  • Three years later he outfitted the house with an advanced laboratory. This lab was in due course replaced by the lab at Wood's Hole.
  • Agassiz made his fortune turning around a nonperforming copper mine in Michigan, and used $1.5 million of it to fund a Museum at Harvard.
  • Looking across from Castle Hill
    to Jamestown. Photo by JT Marlin.
  • In the hurricane of 1938, Castle Hill became an island. The daughter-in-law of Agassiz panicked about the experience and sold the property.
Thornton Wilder was a frequent guest, who said of the bedroom where he stayed:
"From that magical room I could see at night the beacons of six lighthouses and hear the booming and chiming of as many sea buoys." (Theophilus North, Harper & Row).
Getting a head start on the Portsmouth Reunion, four members of the Class of 1958 and two spouses assembled for lunch at the Castle Hill Inn.

The youngest-looking of the group, Carlos Cleary, is the son of a classmate who could not attend, George Cleary. He is in Venezuela and was unable to leave.

Lunch at the Castle Hill Inn. L to R: Alice Tepper Marlin, John Tepper Marlin,
John Hayes III, Denis Ambrose, Jeanne Geddes, Carlos Cleary.

Later in the afternoon, the group went to for a tour of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

FILM | Hamptons International Film Festival, 5-8 October, 2018

East Hampton, September 23, 2018–Alice and I have signed up to see the following movies at the  Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF), 5-8 October. 

We are posting comments after we see the movies. So far, after seeing seven movies, we like Watergate, The Public, and And Breathe Normally, with 4/5 for each.  We think Ghost Fleet and Wild Nights with Emily are  worthy (3/5), but the biggest winners we think are Capernaum, followed by Above and Beyond: NASA's Journey to Tomorrow (both 5/5).

Friday 5 October

11:30 am Watergate, Guild Hall (both of us attended). Program (East Hampton Star), p. 28. One-time special presentation, 4 hours and 20 minutes including a 15-min. intermission. 2018. Director/Screenwriter Charles Ferguson. Interviewees: Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward, John McCain, Dan Rather, Elizabeth Holtzman, et al.
✭✭✭✭ (4/5, two votes) This was a four-hour (plus intermission), worthwhile movie. It is great to have the full record of this harrowing period of American history. I stayed awake through it all, but then I lived through it and knew the characters. As the movie graduates from a film festival's dedicated movie-goers to the broader movie-going public, it may be a challenge for those who know the names of only a a few of the charcaters. It might be cut in half, either by making it into a television mini-series or just chopping half of it and adding some more devices for keeping track of the plot and the characters. There are a hundred characters and we see some of them twice, from contemporaneous clips and then later, commenting on what happened more than 40 years ago. This is like a genealogy that takes us through several generations of intrigues and spans four presidential terms, two of them interrupted – JFK, JFK-LBJ, Nixon I and Nixon II-Ford. It explains well the connections between the Vietnam War moratorium, Watergate break-in, the Pentagon Papers, and other revelations that at first did not appear to relate to one another. It also explains well how Nixon got reelected, even after the Watergate break-in was public knowledge. In comparison with today's presidential crisis, in Nixon's day there was more consensus in Washington about how a President should behave. This movie would have a bigger audience if it was dramatized not just in pieces but the whole way through. Analogies are inescapable to contemporary investigations of White House actions. Charles Ferguson, the Director/Screenwriter, deserves credit for sticking to the actual words from the infamous tapes in his dramatizations. However, it might be hard to use this formula to turn the movie into a fully dramatized production.
5:15 pm The Public, United Artists Cinema, East Hampton, Theater 1 (John). Program, p. 22. East Coast Premiere. 2018. A library prepares to close on a wintry evening and homeless patrons refuse to leave. The police arrive in riot gear along with newspaper reporters. A standoff between haves and have-nots. A microcosm of Now. Director and Screenwriter is Emilio Estevez. Produced by him and three others. Cast includes him, Alec Baldwin, and four other actors. 119 minutes.
✭✭✭✭(4/5 one vote) The Public attempts the impossible, to portray in one Ohio library examples of what is wrong with America, the homelessness, hopelessness, and heedlessness, while offering a neat solution to wrap up the show. The confrontation between police and homeless is broken, not to spoil the ending, by the equivalent of a flower in the gun of the National Guard at Kent State. Good theater, some fine characters. Alec Baldwin makes a contribution to the evolution of the plot largely by being an influential, involved observer who is slow to act. There are a few threads that don't go anywhere but the overall effect is powerful.
6:00 pm Ghost Fleet, UA4 (Alice). Program, p. 44. 2018 documentary on slavery in the Thai fishing industry, featuring sailors who are children indentured for several years at sea. Some escape and are hunted. Human rights activists have sought to rescue them. Directed by Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron. 90 minutes.
✭✭✭ (3/5 one vote) Ghost Fleet shows how slavery and indentured servitude persist. Young people who are kidnapped or sold into slavery work on small Asian fishing boats that bring their catch to mother boats that provide them food in return. Some desperate indentured sailors jump off and live in the jungles, but mostly they have no choice. The challenges facing NGOs seeking to rescue them are acute. The people enslaved under horrendous work conditions and beaten mercilessly, often killed, were mostly in their 20s when ensnared. The focus is on heroic rescuers, who win a Nobel Peace Prize. Heartbreaking. Moves slowly, painfully. A fine portrayal of dreadful abuses of human rights; but in its documentary format the movie has trouble keeping the viewer's interest for 90 minutes. Another case where interest in the stories of the individuals in the movie is hard to sustain without more character development.
Saturday 6 October
1:30 pm The Hate U Give, Guild Hall (both of us got tickets and both of us decided not to use them). Program, p. 21. 2018 movie. 16-year-old black teenage girl is torn between middle-class school life and her working-class neighborhood. An encounter with the police forces her to make choices. Directed by George Tillman, Jr. Screenplay by Audrey Wells, based on novel by Angie Thomas. Four producers, six actors. 129 minutes.
(0 votes, Skipped by both of us.) We read some early reviews, which were neither damning nor excited. There are several movies attempting to do what this movie does, and the reviews clearly report that other ones do it better. We decided to save some of our waking hours...
4:30 pm Capernaum, UA2 (Alice). Program, p. 20. US Premiere, Arabic movie, 2018. In Beirut, 12-year-old Zain is abandoned and becomes sole caretaker of an abandoned toddler. In the movie he sues his parents for neglect. Sure to be talked about. Directed by Nadine Labaki, written by her and four other screenwriters. Five non-professional actors. 120 mins.
✭✭✭✭✭(5+/5, one vote). This is the best movie by far of the first four we have seen. It is the story of a young man in a desperately poor Arabic family. His pre-teen sister is being traded by his parents for some chickens so that they can survive on the eggs that the chickens will produce. The son works for money to migrate to Sweden. He is given charge of an infant. The story is billed as entirely true, with real people instead of actors. It reveals the desperations of all sides. Early on, we form critical views of many of the people in the movie. As we learn more, we realize how few choices they have. Evil is just another word for what you have to do to get by. Alice was blown away by this story. It gets every star, and then some. This movie deserves to be a runaway critical and box-office hit. (It is not giving away much of the story to say that the young man at the center of the story has succeeded in emigrating to Sweden.)
Sunday 7 October
10 am Above and Beyond: NASA's Journey to Tomorrow, UA2 (both). Program, p. 35. On the eve of its 60th Anniversary, Academy Award®-nominated director Rory Kennedy charts the history of The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with a look at its myriad contributions to space exploration and its continued work investigating the effects of climate change throughout the world. Touching on both the many epoch-defining moments created throughout NASA’s history and the intensely personal commitment required by the men and women who made them possible, Kennedy has crafted a consistently inspiring tribute to an organization that reminds us of the infinite reach of the human spirit.
✭✭✭✭✭(5/5, two votes). Another winner. The photography is stunning and the fact that some of the footage is moving makes it superior to the various Hubble picture books that are out there. It is not just beautiful but it contains several important messages without being unduly propagandistic:
  • NASA studies the air, land, and water. Its explorations in space have enabled it to improve its measurements to an extraordinary degree of precision and readability.
  • Its observations of planets that have died allows NASA to understand the life cycle of planets using measures such as carbon dioxide.
  • Through its understanding of the stars and planets, it is able to predict the future of the planet earth based on some key indicators such as the death of coral.
  • NASA has used the importance of water for life of any kind to look for hospitable planets, and finds planet earth is special in the Universe as a hospitable place for living creatures.
  • NASA's scientists are deeply concerned about the pace of climate change since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and the rapid increase in carbon dioxide during this period in parts per million (from 275 to 400).
The overall message is that NASA has a lot to say about climate change. While threatened cuts in the budget for NASA have not occurred, expenditures within the agency may be being politicized and the movie is a red flag about what NASA's contribution to the climate-change can be and should be. Rory Kennedy took questions from the audience after the movie. An important cinematic event, which will be broadcast on the Discovery Channel this Saturday, October 13.
4:45 pm Wild Nights with Emily, UA1 (both). Program, p. 49. Literary icon Emily Dickinson (Molly Shannon) breaks free from her public persona as a famously prudish spinster and claims her status as a vibrant lesbian hero. Balancing raucous humor with tender romance, Shannon establishes Dickinson as a spirited artist who drew inspiration from her passionate, lifelong affair with her secret lover, Susan Dickinson (Susan Ziegler). In the delightfully irreverent Wild Nights with Emily, writer/director Madeleine Olnek refreshingly upends the false narratives that have historically dominated the poet’s life and work, and examines the way we as a society choose to write and remember our powerful women. Starring: Molly Shannon, Amy Seimetz, Susan Ziegler, Brett Gelman, Jackie Monahan. Director and Writer: Madeleine Olnek. Length: 84 minutes.
✭✭✭ (3/5 average, two votes, 2/5 from Alice and 4/5 from John). The writer-director, Madeleine Olnek, spoke appealingly at the beginning and end of the movie about the break in the image of Emily Dickinson that her movie represents. But we must assess the movie on its own merits, not what the director said about it. Alice found its opening scene jarring, where Emily and her sister-in-law Susan Dickinson fall into each others' arms behind a sofa; she found a continuing disconnect between Emily Dickinson's sensitive poetry and the movie's slapstick comedy. John doesn't mind the slapstick but thought the evil character of Mabel Loomis Todd was annoyingly overplayed. (The most wholesome character in the movie was the young Emily.) Todd was genuinely committed to promotion of Emily Dickinson's poetry, even if she methodically sought to reduce the importance to the poet of her brother's wife Susan Dickinson by erasing Susan's name from the pencilled poems. The movie gives only back-handed credit to Todd for establishing Emily Dickinson posthumously as a poet of the first rank. The Dickinson Museum presents a more balanced view of Todd. Personally, I think that Mabel Loomis Todd and her Atlantic Monthly friend did make Emily Dickinson more acceptable for the audience of their time. And Madeleine Olnek did the best that she could to spice up Dickinson's life. She would have so much easier a time with Elizabeth Bishop and Edna St Vincent Millay, whose poetry was at least as popular and whose well-known sexual appetites were more consistent with slapstick humor. 
6:30 pm And Breathe Normally, UA3 (both). Program, p. 29. The disparate paths of a struggling Icelandic single mother and an asylum-seeking Guinea-Bissauan woman interweave in Ísold Uggadóttir’s award-winning first feature. Though they are initially divided by political and cultural discord, the two women gradually form an unlikely bond outside of the pre-ordained paths expected from their socio-political realities. Akin to the social-realist work of Ken Loach and the Dardennes Brothers, And Breathe Normally is a sharply observed and unsentimental exploration of the migration crisis, and confirms Uggadóttir’s status as a rising star of Icelandic cinema.
✭✭✭✭ (4/5, two votes) Another uplifting story, about someone regretting that her job as a newbie border officer on probation led her to mess up the life of a women passing through Iceland (not clear to either of us why she was in Iceland; possibly because of a cheap airline ticket). Both of the two mothers in the movie are desperate to get by. Their handling of the young boy and his cat is a study in itself. The border patrol officer pulls off a favor that offsets the misdeed that derails the African woman's life, without any apparent cost to her job. Appealing characters, believable interactions. Well acted. The problem for both of us viewers is that the plot depends on too many coincidences, and as they piled up, our credibility was not just suspended but was attached to a bungee cord. This movie should nonetheless get a following in art theaters and we are likely to see more work from the director.
Monday 8 October
1:30 pm Of Fathers and Sons, UA3 (John). Program, p. 29.
✭✭✭✭ (4/5, one vote) Another worthy movie.

BIRTH OF EDP | 1884 (September 23)

September 23, 2018–This day in 1884, the basic element of modern information technology was born, electronic data processing (EDP). 

Herman Hollerith patented his mechanical tabulating machine, the first EDP system. 

He created the machine to handle data-processing needs at the U.S. Census Bureau, where he began his career.

Hollerith printed the cards and sold them at a high markup. He also built the processing machines, which he leased to customers. A fine business model. 

The equipment was described as an "Electrical Counting Machine".

It took nearly 80 years for data processing to move beyond punched cards, and a century to make them obsolete. 

The Hollerith cards became the 128-column IBM punched cards, which were the early basis for data storage, retrieval, and transfer. Hollerith invented the first automatic card-feed mechanism and the first keypunch machine.

The 1890 Tabulator was hard-wired for processing Census data. His 1906 Tabulator simplified rewiring for different jobs. His 1920s improvements supported prewiring and fast job changing.

I can testify that Hollerith's punched cards were used as computer input and output for almost a century. When I started my career as an economist at the Federal Reserve Board in 1964, we used cumbersome mechanical calculators that took up one-quarter of the desk space. When I left the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 1969, we were using the cumbersome IBM 360 machines, still using punched cards as one form of input.

A short video on the Hollerith card system is here:

In 1911 four corporations, including Hollerith's firm, were merged into a fifth company, the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR). Under the presidency of Thomas J. Watson, in 1924, CTR was renamed International Business Machines Corporation (IBM).  By 1933, Hollerith had died and the subsidiary companies were incorporated into IBM.

Here's a biography of Hollerith, who earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University School of Mines in 1990, when he was 30, and by then had already created a business based on his punched-card system:

Thursday, September 20, 2018

MUSIC | The Arts Center at Duck Creek, 2018

L to R: John Marcus, violin; Milos Repocky, 
piano; Ani Kalayjian, cello. August 2018. All
photos and video by JT Marlin.
September 20, 2018–The Arts Center at Duck Creek has joined Ashawagh Hall as a fine new place in Springs for music and art.

I have visited twice to hear chamber music in August and jazz earlier in September.

The Arts Center at Duck Creek is on a seven-acre property off Three Mile Harbor Road, on Squaw Road in Springs, in the Town of East Hampton.
Once a farm, now a community center.

The Duck Creek Farm was formerly owned by the former John Little, who lived there in 1948-1989. An abstract expressionist, he painted in his barn and invited artists to stay with him and do likewise. 

In 2005, East Hampton Town purchased the property with Community Preservation Fund money. A group called the John Little Society in 2013 began thinking about how to use the property to encourage the arts.

When I visited, the most visible member of the Society was Ira Barocas, who was solicitously ensuring that people had a place to sit, although those who attend the events are encouraged to bring their own chairs or blankets.

Jazz in September 2018.
Other members of the committee are Zach Cohen, chair of the town’s Nature Preserve Committee, architect Pamela Bicket, and Springs resident Loring Bolger, chair of the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee.

Bolger's niece, artist Sydney Albertini, in 2017 selected Duck Creek Farm as an exhibition space, part of a Parrish Art Museum road show. 

The Committee plans to partner with Peconic Historic Preservation, a tax-exempt not-for-profit corporation, to solicit tax-favored funds and they are forming an advisory committee to organize events such as small music and theater performances, and exhibitions of sculpture or art installations. 
Chamber music, August 2018.

The town plans to give Little’s barn a new roof and floor, and will fix its windows. The John Little Society will make other smaller repairs. Someone will also have to renovate Little's house, built in 1795. 

For more information on the Society and the Farm, visit or send an email to