To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Deep Springs College, we are pleased to announce the publication of a commemorative book set:
DSC100: Deep Springs College, est. 1917
A boxed set – an evocation – a family scrapbook – DSC100 is a collection of voices from Deep Springs.
It is a prompt to further storytelling, a chapbook of principles and purposes, a meta-history, an oral account, a stroll through the archives, a museum of artifacts, a catalogue of ambitions, a memory of disputes, a reminder of failures, and a visual anthology spanning 100 years.
Comprising six volumes with 250 individual entries and 200 photos from 130 contributors, DSC100 is both a celebration and a foundation for the next 100 years, as unique as the college it’s dedicated to.
Scroll down to learn more, and check out this brief video to see all the components of this expansive collection. To place a credit card order by phone, contact David Welle at 510-967-6432.
“I came to Deep Springs because I wanted to be opened and changed by it. I didn’t know what those changes would consist of – and most of my hunches turned out to be wrong.”
–Cory Myers DS’10, 2016
“For one month we had to write an essay every day, and that about did me in, but it was a wonderful experience. What I carried away from Deep Springs has continued to mature in me all my life.”
–Charles Dimmler DS’30, Newsletter #60
DSC100 was launched in July, 2017 at the 100th anniversary reunion in Deep Springs Valley, and it fills a gap in the chronicle of the college’s ongoing educational experiment. DSC100 collects the texture and detail of what is inevitably referred to as the Deep Springs experience, and as such it serves as a sort of companion piece to Jack Newell’s Electric Edge of Academe, our definitive institutional history.
Whereas Dr. Newell’s book unfolds as a chronological account of the school’s founding and development, DSC100 takes an opposite tack. It forgoes the unitary narrative structure and single authorial voice of academic history in favor of the collective and accumulative strategy of community self-representation. DSC100 is a self-history of the people who have lived here, with words and images drawn principally from the rich resources of the Deep Springs Archive. In many ways, it is a “family album” compiled with input from scores of contributors.
Excerpted archival materials include:
- Student Body Minutes from multiple decades (including hand-written notes from the first SB meeting on November 25, 1917, at which students and L.L. Nunn constituted themselves the Student Body of Deep Springs)
- Correspondence between the SB and alumni, trustees, and others beyond the Valley (including civil rights leader Rustin Bayard), as well as the facsimile of a moving handwritten letter from Nunn in his final days
- Alumni Newsletters from 1960s to the present
- Oral histories that stretch institutional memory back to the founding
- Labor passovers
- Brochures and annual reports
- Previous self-studies and Trustee committee reports
- The Cow Camp Logbook
- The “Horse Book” hiking guide
- Student class papers (coyotes, geology, philosophy, social behaviors, grazing, and SB history)
DSC100 gathers the conversations, the work, the scenery, the tall tales, the animals, the accomplishments, the arguments, the friendships, the intellectual epiphanies, the isolation, the votes, the minutiae of daily life, and the sadness upon leaving the Valley—those elements that embed Deep Springs so deeply in memory and yet often make the experience difficult to convey to those who have not passed a season here.
“It’s an odd thing in our class of ten that only three of us survived the three years. The others, for one reason or another – either academic failure or they just couldn’t stand the life – they drifted off. So, three out of ten, that’s not a very good record.” Ed Cronk DS’36, director 1976-1980, oral history 2004
As an informal and anecdotal history, DSC100 above all tells stories, such as:
- The day Nunn laid out the Main Circle
- How the Druid got its name
- The election of the first LC
- Bob Sproull’s job of converting the Main Building boiler from wood-burning to oil-burning as a third-year student
- How Bill vanden Heuvel landed in the hospital his first week as a student
- The morning the Holloway family met the community at breakfast
- The great Wyman Flood of 1969
- The first time Geoff Pope tried to sort cattle with student help
- Student Body resistance to, and dismantling of, institutional discrimination
- Experiments with consensus government
- How professors David and Sharon Schuman almost left the same day they arrived
- Labor fiascos (many)
- How to find Eureka Valley Girls School
- The origins of “Elsie” on the dairy barn door
“Deep Springs was my childhood home. It’s the place where the merging of human society and the natural world have happened most easily for me, and where I discovered how to articulate my passionate concern for both.” –Abigail Breiseth, 2016, daughter of Chris Breiseth, president 1980-1983.
Archival photos dating back to 1917 show the first class and many subsequent generations of students and community members, the changing nature of the labor program, old and new buildings (and how students inhabit them), views of the Upper and Lower Ranch, and the scenery beyond the edge of the campus. Some of the images are twenty-first-century marvels: a night-camera capture of a mountain lion near Deep Springs Lake and a view of the Valley from the literal heavens, thanks to Google Earth technology.
By design, DSC100 is “incomplete” because any definitive record of the Deep Springs experience over 100 years would sprawl impossibly—a Borgesian archive. Instead, DSC100 aims to evoke. It is a “family scrapbook.” In all, 250 individual entries and 200 photographs from 130 contributors combine to form a coherent and compelling narrative that maps the contours of the Deep Springs experience.
Interspersed among these narrative shards and material fragments, each compelling on its own, is a set of new lengthier essays commissioned especially for this occasion from alumni and community members. Contributors include:
- David Arndt on “Why Student Government”
- Abigail Breiseth on growing up in the valley
- Chris Jennings on Deep Springs as a place apart from the world
- Philip Kennicott on the socio-geography of Deep Springs
- David Neidorf on “Learning the Art of Judgment”
- Jack and Linda Newell on the character of the community
- Pete Rock on the voice of the desert
- Sharon Schuman on teaching at Deep Springs
- Paul Starrs on the difference between “Labor and Work”
- Zac Unger on imperfect democracy
- And a new oral history with Geoff and Iris Pope, “View from the Lower Ranch”
Inasmuch as DSC100 forgoes a single authorial voice, it also breaks apart conventional book structure. A traditional book implies a hierarchy of value among the material between its covers—something comes first and something else last. A book’s physical structure likewise imposes a single narrative path that begins at the beginning.
DSC100 instead comprises six separately bound thematic “folios” of roughly fifty pages each: Academics, Labor, Self-Government, Voice of the Desert, Community, and Dialectic. The last treats the community’s ongoing effort to understand its Nunnian purpose, and recalls the arguments that have arisen out of disagreements about deeply held principles. It also reminds us of times when the College has fallen short of its ideals, and it tracks the “productive misalignment” that results from Deep Springs’s self-imposed isolation from the mainstream of American culture.
“I do not deny the importance of the world’s problems Mr. Laise has cited. The world’s survival may be at stake. But some of our leaders must try to save it, and others – through dedication to the arts and to the lives of those immediately around them – must try to make it worth saving.” –Eric Reid DS’77, Newsletter #31, “A Blacksmith’s Rebuttal” 1980
The six folios of DSC100 come packaged in a clamshell box along with a chronological timeline marking events from every year, and a newly compiled topographic map that, unlike current USGS maps, places Deep Springs Valley where it properly belongs—square in the middle of the sheet.
The timeline includes color-coded references to specific entries in the folios, so that individual stories can be understood within the context of other events of the time—stories told in other folios. Ultimately, DSC100 doesn’t attempt to “explain” Deep Springs. It evokes the ways each of us experiences the place. The folio structure invites the reader to explore the underlying currents of Deep Springs intuitively and intimately, whether dipping in for a glimpse or following an idea across the breadth of an entire folio.
The truth is you can’t capture a century in a single document. But you can distill the essential elements from those 100 years into a single package. DSC100 evokes the character of what students, staff, faculty, and families have experienced while living and working at Deep Springs. It reveals how much has changed over the course of ten decades in the Valley. And how little.
“A few moments ago, I was browsing through a collection of photos from the first years of Deep Springs. It led me to reflect that, though the clothes and hairstyles be different, Deep Springers then and Deep Springers now are actually receiving nourishment from the same taproot.” –Gerry Saucier DS’73, SB Trustee, Newsletter #19, 1974
DSC100 was edited and art directed by James Gibbs, David Welle, and Kevin West, with additional editorial input and archival research from Brad Edmondson. Art direction and design were by DBOX. The book was produced with generous support from Sally Carlson, Tom Hudnut, and the estate of Ron Alexander, with additional funding provided by Curt Karplus.
DSC100: Deep Springs College, est. 1917 can only be purchased directly from Deep Springs. This is a limited edition once-in-a-hundred-years publication. Each hand-numbered copy is $90 plus $10 for shipping and handling.
To place a phone order, contact David Welle at 510-967-6432, or for further inquiries at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also place an order by snail mail. Send your check (made out to Deep Springs College) care of: Main Office, Deep Springs College, HC72 Box45001, Dyer, NV 89010. Please include a note that your check is for purchase of DSC100.