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College preserves the legacy of ‘Granny D’

Memorabilia donated to Keene State

- Associated Press - Sunday, September 25, 2011

CONCORD, N.H. — The straw hat, shoes and neon vest Doris "Granny D" Haddock wore during her cross-country walk more than a decade ago are becoming teaching tools for a new generation of political activists.

Haddock was 89 when she began her 14-month, 3,200-mile trek to promote campaign finance reform in 1999, and she was 94 when she ran for U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Judd Gregg. After her death last year at age 100, her family donated her journals, letters, photographs and memorabilia to the New Hampshire Social Justice Collection at the Keene State College library, which made the collection available to students, faculty and the public Saturday.

The collection, which spans the last 50 years of Haddock's life, is divided into 11 categories, including drafts of speeches, scrapbooks, and poems and protest songs either sang by Haddock and her followers or written in tribute to her and her cause. There are newspaper and magazine clippings, along with audio and video material from her trip.

"It is a wonderful study of how somebody, in a lot of ways an ordinary person, decided, 'I'm going to do something,' and then went about doing something," said archivist and assistant professor Rodney Obien. "It gives a good background on how to organize a grass-roots effort."

Haddock, a retired shoe company secretary, became interested in campaign finance reform after the defeat of the first attempt of Sens. John McCain and Russ Feingold to remove unregulated "soft" money from campaigns in 1995. Inspiration for her walk came from the Tuesday Morning Academy, a group of women in her hometown of Dublin, N.H., who met every Tuesday at 8 a.m. to do ballet exercises and discuss world affairs.

Wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat and carrying a bright yellow flag, she covered about 10 miles a day through deserts, over mountains and on snowy roads where she strapped on skis. In a book about her famous walk, Haddock said she sometimes felt foolish, but when she thought about people who doubted her, her anger gave her a boost to continue.

The library collection includes letters written by everyone from Vice President Joseph R. Biden to folk music icon Pete Seeger, who in a March 2005 letter suggested a "game" he and Haddock could play together: "Think of all the screwy things GWB has done," he said, referring to former President George W. Bush. "The game could go on several hours."

Mr. Obien said he was struck by how many average citizens felt compelled to write to Haddock.

"That the fact that someone so little could touch so many people and have such a huge reach is amazing," he said.

Haddock's family chose Keene State in part because it is close to Dublin, and because it promised to integrate the collection into its political science, women's studies and other curriculum, he said.

"Social justice is one of the big things we teach here, and that really appealed to the family," Mr. Obien said.

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