Walter George Whitman

Courtesy of  Science Education 
(Volume 37, Issue 1 - February 1953)

On May 4, 1874, Walter George Whitman was born in Norway, Maine to George Washington Whitman and Eliza Jane Davis Whitman. Following his graduation from Norway High School, he attended Tufts College, where in 1898; he received an A.B. degree (artium baccalaureus) and began teaching at Goddard Seminary in Barre, Vermont and later at high schools in Gloucester and Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1906, he received a M.A. degree at Columbia University, while teaching at New York City’s Ethical Culture School. On August 20, 1912, he married Grace Bates. Together, the couple had three children, George B. Whitman, who became the eccentric owner of the bookstore, Shakespeare and Company in Paris, France, Mary C. Whitman and H. Carlton Whitman. Whitman continued to teach at a number of universities and secondary schools. His longest tenure was at State Normal School, Salem Massachusetts, where he taught Practical Science and served as Head of the Science Department. 

While teaching, he also established and served on boards of numerous science-based organizations, becoming the founder of General Science Quarterly in 1916. In 1925, Whitman took a yearlong sabbatical from Salem Normal School and along with his family, moved to China, where he taught physics at Nanking University. While living in China, Whitman chose to live among the Chinese instead of the homes provided for Americans. While there, Whitman took a number of photographs and lantern slides, chronicling the everyday life of the Chinese people. While in Asia, Whitman traveled to multiple countries including Japan, India and Egypt, also making stops in Europe. Keeping records and taking souvenirs of his trips. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, Whitman authored and co-authored a number of science textbooks that included lesson plans and exams. These textbooks were widely used across the country and abroad, they remained relevant for many decades.

Walter George Whitman died in his Orlando, Florida home at age 78 on November 2, 1952, following a heart attack. He is largely recognized as a pioneer and leading force in general science and science education in the first half of the 20th century. 

View Salem State University Archives' collection of postcards belonging to
Walter George Whitman 

*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections.

Sonia Schreiber Weitz

Images courtesy of Salem State University Archives & Special Collections

Sonia Schreiber Weitz was born on August 27, 1928 in Kraków, Poland. Sonia, her older sister, Blanca and their parents, Adela Finder Schreiber and Janek (Jacob/Jakub) Schreiber lived in the Jewish section of Kraków, where Janek owned a small leather goods shop.

In 1941, the Schreiber family was relocated to the Kraków ghetto by German forces and Adela was taken to Belzec death camp, where she was killed. In 1943, Sonia and Blanca were removed from the ghetto and sent to Plaszów slave labor camp. Their father and Blanca’s husband, Norbert Borell were sent to Mauthausen concentration camp, where their father was killed. 

In December 1944, Blanca and Sonia were moved to Auschwitz, where they were forced on a death march to Bergen-Belsen and later taken by cattle car to Venus-Berg. The sisters were again moved, this time to Mauthausen, where they were liberated in May 1945. Sonia and Blanca survived five concentration camps and out of an extended family of eighty-four, they were the only survivors of the Holocaust.

Following liberation, Sonia and Blanca were reunited with Norbert. The three lived in Displaced Persons camps until 1948, when they immigrated to America, settling in Peabody, Massachusetts with the assistance of Norbert’s uncle, Harry White. Sonia became a United States citizen a year later. On September 7, 1950, Sonia married Dr. Mark Weitz,. The couple had three children, Don and twins, Sandy and Andi. 

After raising her children, Sonia focused on writing and activism. In 1981, she co-founded the Holocaust Center Boston North with Harriet Tarnor Wack and later created the Holocaust Legacy Partner, which recorded and preserved the testimony of Holocaust survivors. In 1986 in an attempt to mend Boston’s Catholic-Jewish relations, she accompanied Cardinal Bernard Law on a trip to Auschwitz and her childhood home in Krakow.

Sonia’s aptitude for writing stemmed from her time in concentration and Displaced Persons camps, where she mentally penned many of the poems that appear in I Promised I Would Tell, (available free onlinewhich was published in 1993.  Following the release of her book, she began offering lectures at area schools and touring the country, sharing her story. I Promise I Would Tell,  was later adapted into a play, which was performed at high schools and colleges across Massachusetts. In 2002, Sonia was appointed by President George W. Bush to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Over the next seven years, Sonia received many awards, including recognition by Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick.

Sonia Weitz died of cancer on June 23, 2010. She was 81.

*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections.

Jet on MLK - 60 Years Later

Images courtesy of Salem State University Archives & Special Collections

Jet magazine began in 1951 as a “Weekly Negro News Magazine” and covered everything from beauty advice to the start of the Civil Rights movement. Sixty years ago, April 1956, Jet magazine chronicled a young pastor from Montgomery, Alabama by the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At the time, Dr. King had recently been chosen to be the leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Montgomery Improvement Association, following Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus.

Jet magazine dubbed Dr. King as “Alabama’s modern Moses” and shared an in-depth look at his childhood as a quiet boy from Georgia whose family was rooted in the church and had a history of social action. These experiences would shape Dr. King’s style of protesting into peaceful, non-violent activism.
Jet magazine wrote: “To Montgomery, Alabama’s 50,000 Negroes, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is no ordinary Baptist minister. In fact, he never wanted to be a minister at all. But as the pacifist leader of the city’s thousands of footsore Negroes, who have traded their crushed spirits for new dignity and tired feet, Rev. King has become a symbol of divinely-inspired hope, a kind of modern Moses who has brought new self-respect to southern Negroes.”

Dr. King and his supporters spent a little over a year boycotting Montgomery’s bus system. Although their protests were peaceful, they were met with violent attacks and harassment. After many setbacks, the activists were granted victory when the Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation was illegal, on November 13, 1956.

*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections.
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