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The Henry Swan Papers

Letter to Henry Swan from his father pdf (184,031 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter to Henry Swan from his father
Number of Image Pages:
3 (184,031 Bytes)
1933-05-06 (May 6, 1933)
[Swan, Henry Sr.]
Swan, Henry
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Exhibit Category:
Biographical Information
Box Number: 15
Folder Number: 3
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
Series: Personal and Biographical, 1936-1995
Folder: [Scrapbook, 1930-1933]
Denver, Colorado.
May 6, 1933.
Dear Henry:
Your airmail letter arrived yesterday, and also your telegram.
Your mother and I are very much distressed that your knee still seems to be causing you trouble. I believe it may be well for you to carry on as usual, and when you get home, we will endeavor to have the doctors determine whether or not any of the tendons were damaged. When I tore the ligaments in my knee, it was six months before I could walk on it and, as you know, it has bothered me off and on since then.
If you wish to spend some time in Chicago on your way home visiting the Fair, it might be time well spent if you were to utilize the time in getting the benefits from the exhibits instead of patronizing too literally the "Midway" or whatever it is they call the section set apart for the "Coney Island."
As to your courses, I have always felt -- and I think your mother is in accord -- that English is one of the most desirable subjects to take. In fact, the more English you can get, the better off you will be. Ability to express yourself clearly, cogently and precisely, either in writing or in speech, cannot be too strongly emphasized. As to art, it seems to me that this cultural subject may be deferred as something to work upon all through life in your reading, supplemented by visits to good exhibits here and abroad and discussions with those most capable of passing on the facilities of an appreciation of art. Philosophy is exceedingly valuable and desirable. The same might be said of psychology.
At the same time, it seems to me that a knowledge of history and economics is almost essential. Probably one of the most important factors effecting your life will be your ability to observe and understand human relations, To do this properly in the mass as differentiated from the individual, certain fundamentals are necessary, What has happened in human relations in the past may serve as some guide to an understanding of human relations in the future, It is only through a study of the history of the human race that the background may be obtained.
These human relations embrace certain activities which have been more or less constant in character in their effects throughout the period of history, and insofar as these cover the business relationships, the basis of the study of these is economics. And I am not thinking of your adoption of this course in terms of vocational work subsequently, such as banking, bond business or the mercantile trades. I am thinking of it primarily in terms of your being fitted for an understanding of what is going on around you near and far, and your capacity for understanding -- whether you are a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor, a writer, a business man, or whatnot.
It would be my impression that you should get all the English that you can. In addition to this, philosophy, history, economics and psychology would be desirable. In a world of constantly changing social relationships we would be derelict in our duty to you if we did not suggest that you get as much history and economics as you can work into your English and philosophy majors. This would give you a proper understanding of changing events and fit you better to adapt yourself to such changes in their occurrence.
Should you have any decided determination as to what you want to do when you have left college, this might have some bearing on the subject, but at the moment it would not have a very great bearing with me, I think I told you before you went to Williams -- or certainly not later than the first Christmas holiday after you went there -- that I did not expect you to use your college course at Williams as vocational training; that I wanted you to browse around, taking advantage of the courses that you liked and that would best fit you to adopt a philosophy of life that not only would give you happiness, but make you broader -- bigger mentally -- and serve as the base from which to build your ideas. I still feel the same way and, if you have acquired or do acquire a predilection for some definite vocation when you have finished college, some post-graduate work along the lines desired will accomplish that result.
I have no doubt you read a book that was in your room at holiday season, which was sent me when I was sick last December. If memory serves me correctly, it is entitled, "The Mark of an Educated Man." A great deal of emphasis was placed in the book on one's social relations with others, taken largely from a study of psychology. It seems to me that you have done exceedingly well in your social relations. Excellence in this field of human endeavor may come from some teaching or prompting from others, but primarily comes from observance and self-discipline, if one is to accomplish the maximum in this regard. I am tremendously pleased and gratified with your progress in this connection, and a letter from your Uncle Jimmy as to your friends in Princeton has given me a great deal of pride in your accomplishment. Of course, I am always pleased with your school work and your extra curricular activities. You are, however, approaching the time when you will be keen and eager to know definitely what you will want to do as your vocation two years hence. As this crystallizes in your mind, a program may be developed which will enable you to fit yourself for doing it. In the meantime, give some thought to the foregoing ideas, and if they meet with your approval, we will be very well satisfied.
Very affectionately,
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