Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Newly Cataloged: 1,661 Manuscript Collections and Photograph Albums

The Manuscripts Division at the Clements Library is proud to announce the completion of a National Historical Publications and Records Commission's (NHPRC) processing grant, which began in 2011. Former Curator of Manuscripts Barbara DeWolfe, current Curator Cheney J. Schopieray, grant-funded project archivist Megan Hixon, and a staff of volunteers, work-study students, and interns completed the two and half year grant to create online finding aids and catalog records for over 1,600 collections - a total of 646 linear feet. Part of this work included descriptions of 125 photograph albums.

The collections date from the 17th to the 20th century and represent many topics of historical research, such as business and trade, education, sports and leisure, slavery and anti-slavery movements, Native American history, politics, travel, westward expansion, religion, and military conflicts. Many of the finding aids highlight the history of minorities and groups that tend to be under-represented in the archive.

The project has reduced the manuscripts division backlog to 197 collections (of 2,546), most of which are Spanish-language materials, recipe books, later 20th century military materials, and recent acquisitions. The 125 photograph album finding aids (part of the library's Graphics Division) are one of the first two groups of the division's EAD records available to the public. The Graphics Division's finding aids became available online in mid-June 2014, thanks to the efforts of the University of Michigan's Digital Library Production Services (DLPS), and the NHPRC-funded descriptions now provide some of the first access points to this previously invisible, though rich, set of research materials.

The William L. Clements Library extends its most sincere thanks to the NHPRC for its generous contribution to this project.

For records associated with this grant, search our finding aids and catalog for the term "NHPRC."

Examples of NHPRC-funded finding aids include:
  • Lydia Harper collection, 1822-1830. Catharine and Condy Raguet, who lived in Brazil while Condy served as U.S. consul to Rio de Janeiro, sent 11 letters to their niece, Lydia Harper, describing their domestic slaves and stories about enslaved Brazilians, including the experiences of two children's capture in Africa. 
  • Hiram B. Crosby journal, Duane Norman Diedrich Collection, 1872. Crosby took a prospecting trip to the iron mines of Northern Michigan, in 1872. He described the area's Native American population and included several pen and ink drawings that feature his Native American guides. 
"The 'Menominee,' going up the Menominee river Oct. 7, 1872, 3 P.M. a beautiful October afternoon," Hiram B. Crosby journal, Duane Norman Diedrich Collection, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
  • James Gibbs collection, 1843. Six documents provide insight into a lawsuit between James Gibbs, a free African American, and Joseph E. Embertz over the possession of a "spotted sow." 
  • Vine Utley, Observations on Old People 80 Years of Age, 1809-1827, Duane Norman Diedrich Collection. Utley interviewed elderly residents of New London County, Connecticut, from 1809 to 1818, and reported on their ages, families, dietary habits, and physical and mental health. Entries include information about a man who had been held captive by Native Americans, a Native American woman, and a Black woman who had been born in Africa and enslaved at nine years old. 
August 16, 1811, entry regarding Celia. Vine Utley, Observations on Old People 80 Years of Age, Duane Norman Diedrich Collection, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
  • Leopold Mayer Family collection, 1864-1970. 0.25 linear feet of correspondence, a journal, a speech, documents, and genealogical research related to Leopold Mayer, his family, and Chicago's Jewish community in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 
  • Henry Brevoort Eddy letters, 1895. Eddy penned 14 illustrated letters, wherein he described his social life in Tuxedo Park, Mamaroneck, and New York City. Included in these illustrations are depictions of men, women, and children in bathing suits as well as several images of an African American doorman that make especial note of his clothing while off-duty. 
  • Southwest Territory and Mississippi Territory collection, 1794-1818. This collection is made up of 46 letters and documents related to the Southwest Territory and Mississippi Territory. The materials concern subjects such as governance and law, militia units, property ownership and finance, slavery, and Native American tribes. The collection includes post-statehood letters by Andrew Jackson and other prominent politicians and military figures. 
  • Women Photographers carte-de-visite album, Frederick P. Currier Collection, [1860s-1880s?]. This carte-de-visite album contains 21 studio portraits made by female photographers and husband-and-wife teams in the United States and England. 
Example portrait from the Women Photographers carte-de-visite album, Frederick P. Currier Collection, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

From the Stacks: Unannounced Visitor to the White House

Post by Cheney J. Schopieray, Curator of Manuscripts

Gone are the days of lawful, unannounced visits to the White House. The security of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW has increased steadily since World War II and, for the protection of the First Family, will likely continue to expand. The following Civil War soldier's story reminds us of the casual manner with which citizens could once visit the home of the President.

Sixteen-year-old Hugh P. Roden became a drummer in the 7th New Jersey Infantry Regiment in September of 1861. Within a month, Roden held a temporary position at Camp Casey in Arlington, Virginia. Despite marching orders forbidding him to leave camp, Roden traveled to Washington on the morning of October 12, 1861, in order to buy a new pair of shoes. While there, he entered the White House in hopes of requesting a transfer to the 2nd New Jersey Infantry Regiment, to serve beside his older brother George Roden.[1]

Roden entered the White House and, finding himself alone, rested a bit before ascending the stairs to the second floor. As he walked along the center hall carrying his old shoes under his arm, he heard voices coming from President Lincoln's office. Upon entering, he joined several men who were hoping to find paid employment. The small group was a contrast to the throngs of persons that often crowded the reception area waiting for an audience with the President. In the narrative he produced the following day, Roden wittily remarked on the self-serving motives of the "office seekers." The young drummer left the White House after speaking with the President and shaking his hand. He returned to the 7th New Jersey (adopting a stray cat along the way) and received a round of applause from his fellow soldiers for the tale of his "Adventure."

[Hugh Roden] AL to his mother, father, and sister; October 13, 1861. Camp Casey, [Arlington, Virginia]. Pages 2-3. Hugh and George Roden Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

"I was in the presidents house yeasterday I was all alone I had heard that they received visitors so I walked in to the reception room every thing is style there after I had reasted myself I went up stairs, I had my new shoes on my feet and the old ones under my arm but I wanted to see the President of this Glorious Republic so I marched along the large Hall till I was arested By the sound of voices wich proceeded from a Small room. I imediatly Continued my march in the Direction of said room when I arived who should I see But the Object of my search seated around a small table with other Men of less distinction. Some were Ofice seekers who were trying hard to talk sweet to the president. one man wanted an ofice as major in the reagular army and he Delivered a fine speach about Sheading his last drop of Blood for his --- Country (Pocket) he said it was not for gain that he wanted the office but it was for to serve his country and he thought the country would be benefited By his Services. Mr President replied that there was not a Place open at present, But if his visitor was so willing to sacrifice for his country he could find Plenty of opportunity in the Volunteers. Th[e] Visitor sighed and walked away I shook hands with the President and took my leive of all the Hon members Promising to call again I poot my shoes under my arms and comenced my march to the Camp wile on the way I picked up a cat just like the Cat I had home, & carried it in triumph to the Camp where I was received with Shouts of Aplause and so ended my Adventure the cat sits at my feet while I am writing, little thinking that she Bears such a prominent part in my naritive"

Stereoscopic photograph of the "State Bed-Room in the President's Mansion, Washington, D.C." (J.F. Jarvis, ca. 1870-1899). Hugh Roden walked by Mary Todd Lincoln's bedroom as he followed the sound of voices to the President's office.

1. Basler, Roy Prentice Basler, ed. Collected Works: The Abraham Lincoln Association. Vol. 4. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953. Pages 552-553. The date given in the Collected Works is October 11, 1861, source the Daily Times of Troy, New York, in August 1881. Lincoln gave his approval for the transfer "if it will not injuriously affect the service." The transfer does not appear to have taken place as Hugh Roden mustered out of the 7th New Jersey Infantry in the fall of 1864.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Today in History: The First Day of Fall

Post by Jayne Ptolemy, Manuscripts Division Curatorial Assistant

In Ann Arbor, the weather has started to have a chilly bite, and at the Clements Library we look to our collections to help celebrate the first day of fall.

From our Schoff Civil War collection, we hear from Henry H. Seys, a Civil War surgeon and medical inspector, who wrote to his wife Harriet in late October 1862 about the spectacular autumn facing Union troops at Camp Elkwater in West Virginia.
"[O]n the whole thus far it's very bearable during these superb fall months—which seem like a dream of beauty—All day long I have feasted on the romance of our possition [sic]—The cloudless dome of blue—the hills gathered closely around us—Clothed in their 'Sere & yellow leaf' the dark sombre green of hemlock & fir, in splendid contrast, with the russet & gold, crimson yellow & green—the white tents—the me[a]dows still green despite the frost—the clear, cold, water rippling in music by hurrying on to the 'Ohio,' the solemn stillness only broken by bugle calls—the notes of the drum—and now & then the sharp report of a musket, all combined form a picture full to the very fullness itself of poetry."
[Henry H.] Seys ALS to [Harriet Seys], 1862 October 27, Henry H. Seys papers, Schoff Civil War collection, William L. Clements Library.

While Henry Seys wrote about the poetic experience of the changing seasons, our Book Division holds examples of published poetry about autumn. For instance, we have a number of later editions of John Thomson's (1700-1748) collected nature poetry published as The Seasons. We hear of nature's colorful, if also mournful, beauty, when he writes:
"But see the fading many colour'd Woods,
Shade deepening over Shade, the Country round
Imbrown; a crouded Umbrage, dusk, and dun,
Of every Hue, from wan declining Green
To sooty Dark. These now the lonesome Muse,
 Low whispering, lead into their leaf-strown Walks,
And give the Season in its latest View." 
To help us visualize the turn to fall, we look to our Graphics Division and its T.C. Moore Sketchbook.

Showing the leaves' first surge of golden color, Moore's sketchbook reminds us of the quiet beauty of the early days of autumn. While summer always passes too quickly, the rich collections at the William L. Clements Library help illustrate why cooler weather is welcome, too.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Today in History: David B. Douglass Papers Addition and the Battle of Lundy's Lane

Post by Jayne Ptolemy, Manuscripts Division Curatorial Assistant 

In the late evening hours of July 25, 1814, one of the bloodiest battles of the War of 1812 commenced, continuing until after midnight. Unplanned and fought in the dark of night, the Battle of Lundy's Lane claimed over 250 fatalities and 1,700 casualties across both British and American troops. While American forces had recently defeated the British at the Battle of Chippawa and were continuing their advance into Canada, the Battle of Lundy's Lane halted their forward progress. The Americans instead retreated to Fort Erie. Despite the heavy losses, neither side could claim a decisive victory.[1]

Battle of Niagara, in The Port Folio, Third Series, vol. 6, no. 3 (September 1815), p. 220.

Here at the Clements Library, we have multiple manuscripts collections that shed light on the Battle of Lundy's Lane. Our War of 1812 Collection, the William Williams Family Collection, and our David B. Douglass Papers, for example, contain materials that touch upon this military encounter. Recently, the Library received a generous donation of over 430 Douglass family letters, nearly doubling the size of its existing David B. Douglass collection. This incredible array of personal correspondence includes letters written during Douglass's march to the Niagara battlefield and immediately following the bloody engagement at Lundy's Lane.

David Bates Douglass served in the 1814 Niagara Campaign during the War of 1812 as a second lieutenant of engineers, having recently joined the army after his graduation from Yale. Following the war, Douglass accompanied various surveying parties, including the Lewis Cass expedition in 1820, and led a successful teaching career at the United States Military Academy at West Point. The Clements Library's original Douglass collection includes a bound volume of his lecture notes, wherein he recalls the July 25th battle, and a copy of his journal documenting his march to the front. The recent addition of Douglass's personal letters provides an exceptional counterpart to these materials relating to Douglass and the War of 1812.

Lieutenant Douglass described his impressions of the British forces seen from Queenston Heights preceding the Battle of Lundy's Lane in his lecture notes, Reminiscences of the Campaign of 1814, first delivered in 1840. "[Y]onder in plain sight are the colors of the Enemy waving proudly over the ramparts of Fort Niagara and Fort George, and a straggling ray now and then reflected tells of bayonets fixed there too... This, then, was no mere parade, -- no stage play for effect; it was a simple and sublime reality—it was war."[2]  Written decades after the war with a public audience in mind, Douglass's lecture has a theatrical ring to it. In our recent addition to the collection, we have several more candid letters penned by Douglass while he was at Queenston in mid-July 1814. In one, he apologizes for the state of his handwriting, explaining, "I am sitting on the ground and writing on the soft top of a leather Trunk, and added to this, my right thumb is just beginning to recover from a most painful sprain which I got for it at Canandaigua." On July 16, 1814, Douglass wrote to his future wife, Ann Eliza Ellicott. In it he writes of his recent purchase of a locket in Albany, where he knotted together locks of their hair, "It hangs round my neck by the cord you made—a charm to shield me from danger and spur me to noble deeds." With the addition of these incredible personal letters, our David Bates Douglass collection now reveals these compelling, intimate details. We see a lovelorn man suffering from the everyday trials of camp life that complements our understanding of him as a renowned engineer and military figure.

Loring Austin ALS to Jonathan Austin, Queenston Heights, July 23, 1814. William L. Clements Library. Seen here is a first-hand depiction of the view from Queenston Heights. For more on the Clements Library's War of 1812 holdings, including the full text of this letter, see our online War of 1812 exhibit.

Two letters in the new addition directly precede and follow the Battle of Lundy's Lane. One written by David Bates Douglass' mother is dated July 19, 1814. She wrote a scathing letter to her son, lamenting his lack of correspondence. "I beg and bese[e]ch you never let a new moon ap[p]ear without writing if tis but a few lines to your parents," she writes, underscoring a family's fear and anxiety for a son serving actively during wartime. The first letter written after the battle is from Douglass to his beloved Ann Ellicott, written on July 29, 1814, assuring her of his safety. He described the Battle of Lundy's Lane and his role in it, also including small details that can escape narratives of military events. The battle was long-fought and upon its conclusion Douglass took a brief rest, "(if rest it could be called to lay coiled up on spades & shovels in an implement Wagon)," before rising again to prepare his company to move. As he worked, he defied other officers' expectations of what could be accomplished. In writing to his future wife, he allowed himself these small moments of triumph, aware that she would be "gratified to hear them, but to any one else it would be egregious vanity." In these private letters, then, we gain a personal perspective on Douglass and the Battle of Lundy's Lane. In official accounts, both in the Clements Library's collections and beyond, we see Douglass as a competent, respected officer. Through this new addition, we see him also as very human—enamored, tired, proud.

David B. Douglass ALS to Ann Elicott, Camp at Fort Erie, July 29, 1814. David B. Douglass Papers, William L. Clements Library.

Military history is enriched by these details—a mother chastising her son on the eve of a battle; a man walking into combat with a locket at his breast to give him courage; a prominent historical figure sleeping amidst shovels. These personal glimpses give breadth and texture to the story, and we are grateful for the recent donation that will enliven and deepen our research.

The addition to the David B. Douglass Papers contain letters and content pertaining to his multifaceted career as a War of 1812 officer, an educator at West Point, a surveyor and civil engineer, and a president of Kenyon College. Equally important are additional letters of his wife Ann Ellicott Douglass; his siblings Julia Douglass and Marcus Douglass; his daughters Sarah, Ellen, Mary, and Emily; and sons Andrew, Charles, Malcolm, and Henry. We anticipate processing the collection and making it available for research later this year.

  1. "Battle of Lundy's Lane," Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition, accessed 15 July 2014. For a detailed account of the events leading up to and during the Niagara Campaign and the Battle of Lundy's Lane, see Donald E. Graves, The Battle of Lundy's Lane on the Niagara in 1814 (Baltimore: Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1993). 
  2. The notes for this lecture were subsequently published in the Historical Magazine 3.1 (July, 1873), 1-12.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Latest Quarto: Forgeries, Facsimiles, Follies, & Phonies

Forged Remington watercolor in Boots and Saddles (1885). 
The Spring-Summer 2014 Quarto is now available. The Quarto is a semi-annual magazine published by the William L. Clements Library and sent to members of the Clements Library Associates. This issue of The Quarto focuses on the Clements Library collections related to forgeries and facsimiles.
  1. "Forgeries, Facsimiles, Follies, & Phonies," by J. Kevin Graffagnino, Director of the Library.
  2. "Ferreting Out the Fakes," by Emiko Hastings, Curator of Books & Digital Projects Librarian. Confederate wallpaper newspapers, a forged Remington watercolor, Columbus' secret log book, and Chief Pontiac's bookplate. 
  3. "Curator, Researcher, and Buyer Beware," by Cheney J. Schopieray, Curator of Manuscripts. Forged manuscripts and historical evidence. 
  4. "Declaration Wars," by Clayton Lewis, Curator of Graphic Materials. Facsimiles of the Declaration of Independence. 
  5. "Questionable Cartography," by Brian Leigh Dunnigan, Associate Director & Curator of Maps. Fakes and misconceptions in the map collection. 
  6. "Preserving a Roman Road Map," by Mary Sponberg Pedley, Assistant Curator of Maps. An Ortelius facsimile. 
  7. "Developments," by Ann Rock, Director of Development. Acquisition of the Henry Burbeck papers. 
  8. Announcements
  9. Calendar of Events
Read past issues of The Quarto online. Members of the Clements Library Associates will receive the current copy in the mail. If you would like more information about membership, please contact Ann Rock at or 734-358-9770.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

New Graphics Division Resources Available

The Clements Library is pleased to announce new resources now available to researchers, both related to the David V. Tinder Collection of Michigan Photography.

The acquisition of this collection was made possible by David B. Walters, who wished to honor Harold L. Walters, University of Michigan class of 1947, Engineering, and Marilyn S. Walters, University of Michigan class of 1950, LSA. Subsequent donations to the collection have also been made by David Tinder himself, his friends, and family members.

Online Finding Aids

The Clements Library Graphics Division has started a project to convert its finding aids to Encoded Archival Description (EAD). To use the new finding aids, visit the Graphics Division Finding Aids site.

The new finding aids describe portions of the David V. Tinder Collection of Michigan Photography, a landmark collection that contains examples of virtually every photograph format in use in the Great Lakes States during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, cartes de visite, cabinet photographs, tintypes, stereographs, real-photo postcards, and mounted and un-mounted paper prints. When fully available, the David V. Tinder Collection of Michigan Photography at the Clements Library will contain approximately 100,000 images. The collection is only partially open for research at this time.

Directory of Early Michigan Photographers

By David V. Tinder, edited by Clayton A. Lewis (Clements Library, 2013).
2850 pages. Available as a free download (pdf).

The Directory of Early Michigan Photographers, compiled over several decades, identifies virtually every known commercial and significant amateur photographer that worked in the state of Michigan from the first known appearances in the 1840s into the early twentieth century. The author, David V. Tinder, is recognized as the top authority on early Michigan photography. With over 8,000 records, the Directory stands as an unsurpassed resource for historians, collectors, curators, archivists, genealogists, and anyone interested in the early history of photography in the United States.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Toledo Museum of Art Exhibit: In Fine Feather, April 25-July 6, 2014

This week, an exhibit called In Fine Feather: Birds, Art & Science opens at the Toledo Museum of Art. The exhibit, coinciding with the Biggest Week in American Birding, highlights the intersection of natural science and art in the pursuit of describing and identifying birds, from a medieval treatise on falconry to John James Audubon’s Birds of America to the modern field guide. The exhibition features works by noted bird artists and illustrators including Audubon, Alexander Wilson, John Gould and Roger Tory Peterson.

The Clements Library holds several publications by Alexander Wilson (1766-1813), a Scottish-American poet and naturalist. Our holdings include an 1828 set of American Ornithology (3 vols.), accompanied by hand-colored plates illustrating American birds. Four of these plates are currently on loan to the Toledo Museum of Art for this exhibit.