After 34 years of ceremonial teas and dinners, the Lowell House guest book accepted its last entry this fall and retired to the University archives. While Lowell plans to christen a new volume later this year, the original book's frayed edges and tattered pages contain a timeless record of visits by the famous and imminently famous.
Lowell Master William H. Bossert '59 says the House can invite a large number of distinguished visitors because of a $4000 grant it receives from the Ford Foundation each year to promote "educational faculty student interaction."
The book's roster of guests shows that Lowell has made ample use of its funds. The list includes Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, gourmet cook Julia Child, columnist Ellen Goodman, journalist Oriana Fallacci, songwriter and comedian Tom Lehrer '47, the late Humberto Cardinal Medeiros, anthropologist Margaret Mead, and actors Burt Reynbolds and Robert Redford.
"We invited Redford as a noted environmentalist," explains Co-Master Mary Lee Norman Bossert, "and he delivered a very informative and interesting address on the subject."
The dinner reception where Redford signed the guest book "was one of the most crowded we ever had," she adds.
Other houses like Eliot and Dunster have similar books, boasting the signatures of poet Allen Ginsberg, author Norman Mailer, '43, poet T.S. Eliot '10, and others.
But in Adams House, this year's construction may have brought an untimely end to their guest book. "The book is missing due to a mix-up in renovation plans, just as many of our paintings and furniture are," says Assistant to the Masters Patricia Herrington.
Lowell's retired guest book will presumably remain safe in the basement vaults of Pusey Library. Assistant Curator Clark Eliot said he did not know of the book's impending arrival, but added, "it's welcome to have a place here like all the rest of them."