Recently a UConn doctoral student in history, Mike Limberg, reached out to the Dolan Collection for archival materials related to his dissertation. He is working on a section of his dissertation that focuses on the evolution of American medical education at the American University of Beirut during the 1920s and 1930s. His major advisor is Frank Costigliola, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, whose expertise is in twentieth-century U.S. foreign relations.
Limberg’s dissertation focuses on the efforts of a network of U.S. missionaries, philanthropists, and diplomats to encourage economic and social development in Turkey, Lebanon, and Palestine during the 1920s and 1930s. Americans working on these projects both cooperated and fought with nationalist politicians, religious reformers, and colonial officials, and these interactions reshaped their ideas of what modernity or progress could be.
In the course of his archival research Limberg stumbled across the connection between Carolyn Ladd Widmer and the American University of Beirut, which prompted him to seek out the Dolan Collection. Prior to inaugurating the UConn School of Nursing, Widmer had directed the School of Nursing at the American University of Beirut, introducing a five-year baccalaureate program there in 1936.
Limberg has found references to Widmer in materials from the Rockefeller Foundation. Some of those references came from Mary Beard’s diaries when she was an officer in the International Health Division and connected to many public health nursing programs in the United States.
Others were in the Rockefeller Foundation’s general records in its country files for Lebanon, RG 1.1, Series 833.
Mike Limberg has consulted with Dolan Collection Curator Dr. Thomas Lawrence Long, who has also sought out Dean Widmer’s two sons, Mike and Eric, for background information. Although UConn’s Archives and Special Collections have little documentary material from Dean Widmer’s career prior to arriving in Connecticut, Dr. Long hopes to identify some sources in the Josephine Dolan papers.