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Dr. Goodfriend's Diary

By Roger M. Klein

To Dr. Arthur Goodfriend, currently an Education School student, life is a series of images and impressions that fly by all too quickly, So at age 15 he decided to keep a diary--but not an ordinary one. A "graphic narrative" is what he calls it--a scrapbook, journal, memory book and sketchpad pasted one on top of another and rolled into a unique whole. He's been keeping them ever since that time nearly 50 years ago.

The diaries speak for themselves. They record the memorable experiences of Goodfriend's life in a multimedia pageant. In his Harvard diary, for instance, there are sketches of familiar scenes--Elsie's, Harvard Square, faculty teas. There are documents--his admission to Harvard, academic forms, Widener's entries for books he has written in his varied career, and more. There are mementoes and reminders of events--programs from The Game and the Head of the Charles and other activities, and newspaper clippings, postcards,--all swirled together with water colors and magic markers into a vivid collage.

Goodfriend opened his Harvard journal this fall, when he began a year at the Graduate School of Education where he has been studying people working for their Doctorates of Education. This year's diary thus contains notes and sketches from his interviews with doctoral candidates. Goodfriend seeks to learn why and how people obtain Ed. D.s, and perhaps thereby to explain his sense of "disillusionment and despair" about the educational process. "The assumption is that people who come out of a prestigious school like Harvard have some impact on the educational system," he says, but cautions that although his paper may help identify some of the problems of the educational system, "any optimism is totally futile, because the grip of the educational establishment is tremendous."

Goodfriend's experience with the educational system provides a foundation for his opinions. A professor of American Studies at the University of Hawaii, his last diary records a one-year sabbatical aboard the S.S. Universe a college-on-ship that floats around the world attempting to blend academic and real-world learning.

His 40 or so other diaries cover equally unusual locales. Stalin's Russia. Hitler's Germany. Chamberlain's Britain. Daladier's France. And on into South America, India, African and Hawaii. Goodfriend has seen a lot of the world. During World War II he edited Stars and Stripes, the Army's newspaper; after the war, his work with the U.S. Information Agency and the Foreign Service took him on a grand tour of the globe. More than thirty books--not to mention the diaries--record his observations on the diverse cultures and tumultuous political climates in which he has lived.

He shows no signs of slowing this breakneck pace. Fit and tanned, he looks ten or twenty years younger than his 72 years. Memories of his varied experiences are precious to him--hence the diaries. "The journals are neither literature nor works of art," he says, "but simply graphic narratives of good years in a good life, traces of one person's presence on earth that otherwise would be erased by time." The journals spur Goodfriend on to greater adventure. "To me, each new year becomes a batch of blank pages provoking and evoking experiences worthy of record. Dull lives make dull journals, and who would willingly author a ho-hum diary?"

Goodfriend has willed his Harvard journal to the University archives, who will display it sometime this year. He hopes it will serve Harvard as more than a visual history, however. He tells students, "I really think most college-age people blow their lives away--20 years from now, you'll remember little of what you do today. Keep a diary."

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