Wednesday, September 21, 2016

February 18 & 25, 1941: Einstein is Back!

Letter from Opa to Mrs. Hanstein of AFSC


Thomas Doeppner         McPherson College
                        McPherson, Kansas
                        February 18, 1941

Mrs. Kathleen Hambly Hanstein
American Friends Service Committee
20 S. 12th St.

Dear Mrs. Hanstein,

Some days ago I went to Manhattan, Kansas, to look for possibilities of attending Kansas State College next year. My main purpose was to find out as to the financial situation. There are no scholarships available for me, furthermore I have to pay non-resident fees. However, there seem to be rather good chances for obtaining work during school time. I applied for jobs in the modern language department, in the library, and as tutor in German, French, and Mathematics.

A thing which helped me a lot in seeing people in Manhattan, was a copy of the recommendation Professor Albert Einstein wrote me. I sent that recommendation to Miss Salmon when I was still in Amsterdam. I would appreciate it very much if you would forward me this letter as well as other recommendations which are in my Philadelphia file.

Do you think there is anything else I might be able to do in this matter? I thank you very much or your troubles and your interest in me.

Sincerely yours,
Thomas Doeppner.

Letter from Elizabeth Walton of AFSC to Opa


              February 25, 1941

Mr. Thomas Doeppner
McPherson College,
McPherson, Kansas.

Dear Mr. Doeppner:

Mrs. Hanstein has asked me to answer your letter of February 18th. We are very glad to return to you here- with the recommendations we had on file and can well understand that these will be helpful in securing introductions.

We shall be anxious to hear about the development regarding your contacts in Manhattan, Kansas, and whether you succeed in securing a definite opening. We shall also be glad to keep your record in our active file for any openings that may come to our attention. We wonder whether you are also registered with the International Student Service, 8 West 40th Street, New York City, which also learns of scholarship openings. We hope you will keep us informed of your plans.

Sincerely yours,

Elizabeth Walton.

This letter and response between Opa and the AFSC shows us the beginning of Opa's interest in transferring to Kansas State. Opa has exhausted the math and engineering classes at McPherson College and needs to find a school with the appropriate classes to get the degree he desires for a career in engineering. Opa's search for financial opportunities come up a little dry. There are no scholarships available and he has to pay what seems like the equivalent of "out-of-state" tuition that colleges have now. Yeah, I'd say he's pretty out of state. I'm not sure what his non-resident fees are, but Opa remains optimistic with job applications into every area that he can possibly imagine serving. I did notice that his jobs are all academic, perhaps he's tired of the farm labor jobs? Ha. 

I love that the Einstein letter is the gift that keeps on giving. He used it to gain an audience at Kansas State, a big University that likely wasn't in the market for a German student. Opa asks for his original letter back along with the rest of the letters of recommendation that are in his case file. I hadn't thought about the fact that he had sent all of those on to Philadelphia from Amsterdam, and was trusting them to hold them and copy them to the appropriate colleges. Now he was able to do some of the ground work himself, and he needed his original letters. So this is how the Einstein letter came back to Opa's hands. He was a smart guy to have a copy and a smart guy to keep the original.

Elizabeth Walton responds on behalf of the AFSC and encourages Opa in his endeavors. She returns the letters (I assume enclosed with the reply). She doesn't answer Opa's question about whether or not there are any other funds or scholarships available, and it seems to me the response is very: "good for you- keep us informed, but the ball is in your court with this one." Opa has been empowered to search his own adventure. She does recommend that he connect with the International Student Services (ISS) if he hasn't already, but I got the impression that was more to see if there were schools with available spots for him. I'm sure both the AFSC and the ISS were always on the outlook for available spots with scholarships for all their active case files.

I can't help but wonder what is happening with the visa process. No one seems to be worried about it- but the last news from the INS was that Opa was in danger of being deported. Then there was silence. Hopefully that means they've let it go or have bigger things to deal with now.

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