above: Carolyn in her incoming class photo from 1933; Crossett Library today; the original announcement about Crossett Library from the November 1959 alumni mag
Carolyn Crossett Rowland, mother of photography at Bennington and part of the namesake of our library, passed away yesterday.
Affectionately known in our community as Crossie, she attended Bennington in the 1930s as one of the first incoming classes. In the 1950s, she donated the money for Bennignton to build Crossett Library and it opened in 1959. She named it after her father, and a drawing of him with a plaque still hangs in the library now.
Carolyn was one of the first photo students at Bennington College. She set up the first darkroom the school ever had. She also had many amusing and fascinating anecdotes from her connection to the photo world outside of Bennington. Oceana Wilson, our current director of the library, tells me this: “She knew Ansel Adams and even had some of his prints. She also went to Stieglitz’s photo studio when she was on Field Work Term in NYC and boldly asked him to look at her work. After answering the door in a cape, he critiqued her work for an hour and a half.”
Through perseverance, Carolyn was able to create an interest for photography on campus and give the option of studying it to others. As a photography student, I feel like I owe many parts of my life here to her. When I walk down the photo and darkroom hallways in our art building, I pass a sign on the front of the darkroom doors that says “The Carolyn Crossett Rowland Black and White Darkroom.” She is definitely on our minds.
Taking action, getting things done for herself, and pioneering uncharted grounds in her education: a true Bennington girl! She will be greatly missed.
-India K, ‘12
with much help from Oceana Wilson, Joe Tucker, and Kathy Williams of the amazing Crossett Library