Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Ann Arbor Art Fair, July 21-24, 2016

The annual Ann Arbor Art Fair returns this week, and the city's downtown will be transformed as over 1,000 artists set up booths alongside food vendors, performers, and artist demonstrators. The Fair runs from Thursday, July 21st to Sunday, July 24th, and the Clements Library finds itself right at the heart of it all with artists literally at our doorstep.

Hopefully the Ann Arbor Art Fair won't be quite as chaotic as the scene depicted in our hand-colored 1734 copy of William Hogarth's print, [Southwark Fair].
On Thursday, our grand Avenir Foundation Reading Room is only open to registered researchers working with our collections. We will have a tent on the south lawn with information about the library. 

On Friday, July 22nd, our doors are open to all Art Fair revelers who want to come explore our exhibits from 10 am – 4 pm (while simultaneously enjoying an air-conditioned reprieve from the forecasted sweltering heat). We are also offering tours of our newly renovated library on Friday at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm. Space is limited, so please email us at clementsgroupvisit@umich.edu with your preferred time in order to reserve a spot on a tour.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

From the Stacks: Mosquitoes

Balmy summer weather has finally arrived in Ann Arbor, and the staff at the Clements Library are enjoying the season's warmth and sunshine. The joys of sipping lemonade in the shade and lounging in hammocks are tempered by the less popular harbingers of summer-- mosquitoes. Mosquito-borne illnesses continue to plague the modern world, with West Nile, Zika virus, malaria, and dengue fever still making news headlines. While the resources at our disposal to try to mitigate and prevent the spread of disease far outweigh those available in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the annoyance we feel when confronted with a mosquito's whine and bite seems remarkably unchanged from that expressed by our forebears.

Our Edward L. Buttrick Diary records Buttrick's experiences as an itinerant schoolteacher in rural Kentucky in 1843. Buttrick remarked after a particularly restless hot September night, "The musquitoes nearly ate me alive. It was an excessively warm night & I could only cover my face in the bed clothes & be resigned to my fate… I could bear the biting but the singing was what troubled me. They sing you a song & then present their bills which you must receive in spite of all protestations."

The familiarity of the mosquitoes' "song" is referenced in this sheet music from 1899.

Howard Whitney, The Mosquitoes' Parade: A Jersey Review (New York: M. Witmark and Sons, 1899). Versions of the song can be heard on YouTube.

The Mosquitoes' Parade draws on the shared understanding of the insect's high-pitched and incessant drone to add humor and depth to the score.  Laughing at the misfortune of dealing with the evasive and persistent mosquito also tends to be coupled with a good dose of hyperbole to express the sheer frustration caused by them. Take, for example, this illustrated envelope from our Pen and Ink Collection.


While the swarms of mosquitoes featured in this piece labelled "Pleasures of Minnesota Life" may be larger and more ferocious than those in real life, the exaggeration evokes the size of the artist's despair in trying to outrun and outwit the pests in "Mosquito Swamp, Min."

Another type of "mosquito swamp" appears in an illustrated survey map from our Samuel Williams Papers. Samuel Williams served as the chief clerk in the Northwest Territory surveyor general's office, and this map may have been a light-hearted joint effort with his brother, William. Near the center of the survey, the "Musquito Breeding Swamp" would surely be a place to avoid.


This sampling from our collections hints at the long-standing irritation with these summertime pests. As Edward Fenno, of our Fenno-Hoffman Family Papers, lamented while suffering through a New Orleans summer in 1823, mosquitoes "are an obstacle to all improvement of the mind… one must be made of most impenetrable stuff to withstand their attacks." Alternatively, we can sing the praises of the 21st century while using copious amounts of insect repellent.

Friday, July 1, 2016

New Additions to Exhibit on Clements Library Collecting

Tobias Lear, A Minute Account of the Last Sickness and Death of George Washington, Mount Vernon, Virginia: December 14, 1799. Tobias Lear Papers.

Just inside the great bronze doors of the Clements Library, visitors will find an exhibit about the collecting history of the institution. "Clements Library: A Century of Collecting, 1903-2016" uses original examples of Americana from the collection to show how Clements and the four directors who have guided the place since 1923 built up the Library's holdings. The pieces on exhibit are rotated every three months to minimize their exposure to light.

New additions to the exhibit will go on display July 1, 2016. These include a letter describing the dying hours of President Washington; a note from Rachel Revere to her husband, Paul; a watercolor view of a War of 1812 POW camp; and a view of the infant town of York (Toronto) in 1803.

The exhibit is open to the public each Friday 
from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

From the Stacks: Flag Day

By Emiko Hastings, Curator of Books

In honor of Flag Day, we share a variety of U.S. flag-related imagery from across the Clements Library collections. Flag Day, established by President Woodrow Wilson, in 1916, commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14th, 1777.

Addie Guthrie Weaver, The Story of Our Flag, Colonial and National: With Historical Sketch of the Quakeress, Betsy Ross (Chicago, 1898). 

The Book Division includes a variety of printed materials about the history of the flag and its uses. One such example is The Story of Our Flag, Colonial and National: With Historical Sketch of the Quakeress, Betsy Ross, by Addie Guthrie Weaver (Chicago, 1898). In the foreword to this second edition, the author writes, "It is gratifying to note the cordial welcome extended the first edition of this work, it having been exhausted in a few months' time. The many kind letters received from appreciative readers have been an incentive to publish this second edition, to which has been added some new features making the historical data more complete."

John Wallis, The United States of America laid down from the Best Authorities, Agreeable to the Peace of 1783 (London, 1783).  

John Wallis' map of the United States includes a cartouche in the lower right corner, depicting George Washington as military leader and Benjamin Franklin as diplomat beneath a rendering of the U.S. flag. Printed in 1783, it is one of the earliest impressions of the new United States flag, with thirteen stars and stripes.

"Freedom to the Slave." All Slaves Were Made Freemen (Philadelphia, ca. 1863). 
From the print collections of the Graphics Division, we find a great number of patriotic images, including a recruiting handbill from the Civil War with the John Brown Song lyrics ​and a recruiting pitch ​on the verso. This item was published by the Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Regiments in Philadelphia, 1863 or 1864.

Hayward, Nathan. S. East View of Fort St. Tammany: N. Hayward to Major H. Burbeck. ca. 1792. From the Henry Burbeck Papers
The Henry Burbeck Papers, 1735-1866, include a noteworthy view of Fort St. Tammany, on St. Mary's River on the Georgia-Florida line, given to Burbeck by Surgeon's Mate Nathan Hayward. Burbeck personally oversaw the construction of Fort St. Tammany in 1790, and this item contains a detailed depiction of the garrison, complete with an American flag. It is now housed in the Map Division with other manuscript maps from the Burbeck Papers.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

New Online Exhibit: "So Once Were We": Death in Early America

"So Once Were We": Death in Early America

Mortality is a useful lens through which we may view many aspects of early American society. "So Once Were We": Death in Early America explores American practices and traditions for coping with death, from the early years of European exploration and discovery to the early 20th century and the burgeoning modern funeral industry.

"So Once Were We" is a partial line from a once-common verse, which has many variations. One, from a Civil War-era tombstone in St. Clair County, Alabama, is "Remember us, as you pass by / as you are now, so once were we." Other examples may be found in the section on Monuments and Stonework.  The title embodies several themes in the exhibit: the transatlantic movement of ideas and traditions, the universal experience of death, and personal and collective remembrance.

The exhibit is arranged topically and includes in part:
  • Examples of rare early European books with content pertinent to Native American funeral and burial practices (16th-17th century)
  • Early books respecting French missionaries in America (17th century)
  • Books and manuscripts related to mortality, disease, and medicine (18th-19th centuries)
  • Memorial imagery:  Printed items, photographs, and artwork (19th century)
  • Post-mortem photographs:  Memorial photographs taken mostly for private mourning purposes (19th-early 20th centuries)
  • Books, photographs, manuscripts, and instruments respecting embalming, undertaking, and transportation (19th-early 20th centuries)
  • Manuscripts, pamphlets, and photographs regarding American funerals (18th-19th centuries)
  • Examples of 19th century funeral cards, images of floral arrangements, mourning stationery, and other memorial products
  • Books, manuscripts, and photographs pertaining to 19th century mourning fashion (especially women's fashions)
  • Materials related to monuments, tombstones, epitaphs, and cemeteries (mostly 19th century)
  • First-person accounts of the deaths of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, with additional materials related to their funerals and public commemoration.
The online exhibit "So Once Were We": Death in Early America is an expanded version of a physical exhibit, which was on display at the William L. Clements Library from October 17, 2011, to February 27, 2012.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Today in History: The Stamp Act Repeal, March 18, 1766

Guest post by Kayla Carucci, Book Division student assistant and graduate student at the University of Michigan School of Information.

With the move from Ellsworth back to campus finally complete, the Clements staff and volunteers grow more excited by the day for the reopening of the reading room. Relocating the collections served as a reminder of how vast and varied the Clements Library holdings are.

A five shilling stamp from the Thomas Gage Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan.

In March 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, a controversial taxation measure which forced colonists to purchase a British stamp for every paper product they obtained, including but not limited to newspapers, licenses, wills, deeds and playing cards. The tax ranged from three pence to two pounds for each individual sheet of parchment, vellum, or paper depending on the intended use; for example, a certificate or diploma from an institution carried a two pound tax, the modern-day equivalent of $352.79 USD. However, such documents were not commonplace; a pack of playing cards, found in many households, carried a one shilling tax. In today’s society, it would be the same as paying $8.60 USD, in addition to the price of the deck.

A popular satirical print celebrates the repeal of the Stamp Act. The repeal, or, The funeral procession of Miss Americ-Stamp (1766).

The Clements Library owns three different versions of this print; the original was so well received that many printmakers copied it. The repeal, or, The funeral of Miss Ame-Stamp. London: Carington Bowles, 1766.

American colonial protests began shortly after its passage, escalating into riots in the fall of 1765. Colonists boycotted British goods and attacked the homes of tax collectors and supporters of the Act.

The law became effective in November 1765 and Benjamin Franklin, then residing in London, received sharp criticism in part for his delayed rebuke of the measure. In mid-February 1766, Franklin appeared before the British House of Commons to speak in support of a repeal. A mere four months after its enactment, the Stamp Act was repealed on March 18, 1766. Yet, on the same day, the Declaratory Act passed, setting firmly in place Parliament's legal authority and supremacy over the colonies.

Revere, P. (1766). A view of the obelisk erected under the Liberty-Tree in Boston on the rejoicings for the repeal of the ---- Stamp-Act. [Boston: s.n.].

Nevertheless, an obelisk made of wood was erected on the Boston Common as a celebration; candles illuminated it from within. Each side of the obelisk portrayed the colonists’ struggles with the Stamp Act. The obelisk itself became a satirical work of art, and Paul Revere made this famous schematic engraving to preserve it. The bottom of the page reads, "To every Lover of Liberty, this Plate is humbly dedicated, by her true born Sons, in Boston New England."

Except from a letter to Joseph Galloway, from Benjamin Franklin in November 1766. Benjamin Franklin Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan.

Several months after repeal, an exposé essay appeared in a supplement of the Pennsylvania Journal, which attempted to prove that Benjamin Franklin was an author of the Stamp Act, based in part on the knowledge that he had recommended merchant John Hughes, a friend, for the position of stamp distributor in Philadelphia. In an eloquent letter to Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly member/speaker Joseph Galloway, Franklin responded to the accusation.

1766 November 8 . Benjamin Franklin ALS to Joseph Galloway; London, [England]. Benjamin Franklin Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan.

The letter states: “Dear friend, I received your kind Letter of Sept. the 22d. and from another Friend a Copy of that lying Essay in which I am represented as the Author of the Stamp Act, and you as concern’d in it. The Answer you mention is not yet come to hand. Your Consolation, my Friend, and mine, under these Abuses, must be, that we do not deserve them. But what can console the Writers and Promoters of such infamously false Accusations, if they should ever come themselves to a Sense of that Malice of their Hearts, and that Stupidity of their Heads, which by these Papers they have manifested and exposed to all the World. Dunces often write Satyrs on themselves, when they think all the while that they are mocking their Neighbours. Let us, as we ever have done, uniformly endeavour the Service of our Country, according to the best of our Judgment and Abilities, and Time will do us Justice. Dirt thrown on a Mud-Wall may stick and incorporate; but it will not long adhere to polish’d Marble. I can now only add that I am, with Sincerest Esteem and Affection, Yours, B Franklin”

Monday, December 21, 2015

From the Stacks: Santa Claus

The Clements staff are busy packing offices and preparing collections for our move back to campus, an all-encompassing task that makes the days pass far too quickly. We take this opportunity to step back from bubble wrap and boxes to reflect on the magic of the holidays.

The spirit of generosity that characterizes so much of this season is not only reflected in the exchange of gifts and the gathering of loved ones but also in the special efforts to heighten children's excitement and wonder. Charming letters to Santa can be found in several of our manuscript collections, but it's less common to see how Santa responded. This undated draft of a poem written by "Santa Claus" reveals some of the thought that went into these exchanges.

Undated draft poem by "Santa Claus" in our Lars Gustaf Sellstedt family collection.

"Dear children I've come with a pack full of toys / Some presents to leave for all good girls and boys / But I am growing so old, and your chimney's so small / I fear that I never should get down at all," Santa worries. His hand-wringing continues as he frets about the changing world he encounters on his yearly trip. "So many fast trolleys horses are running you meet / A quiet old saint dares not drive in the street… Then as to the chimneys they build now-a-days, / They are not made for Santa Claus by a great ways." Despite his "grumbl[ings]," Santa finishes by admitting that no matter his grievances he would not "be obliged from my darlings to part," and he promises "my sleigh with its presents shall stop at your door / And whether I come with books, candy, or toys / I've heart full of love for my girls and my boys."

This poem, if left for children to read on Christmas morning, would make Santa Claus feel all the more tangible, as his worries about contemporary road traffic and chimneys connected him to their daily experiences. Another example of how Americans grounded Santa in the historical moment can be found in Louise Clack's 1867 General Lee and Santa Claus. This volume features a story about three Southern girls arguing about Santa, with one angrily proclaiming "he wasn't a rebel. I know he wasn't, for he never came to the Southern children for four Christmas Eves." Intended to be read by children recovering from the anxieties and traumas of the Civil War, the book acknowledges the hardships experienced in recent years.

Robert E. Lee waves to Santa in this illustration from General Lee and Santa Claus. Mrs. Louise Clack's Christmas Gift to Her Little Southern Friends (New York: Blelock & Co., 1867).

The children write to General Robert E. Lee, a trusted and beloved Confederate figure, to determine whether Santa "was our friend." The return "letter" from Lee proclaims Santa "one of the best friends that the little Southern girls have," and explains that he met Santa during the first Christmas Eve of the Civil War, crest-fallen at not being able to travel South to deliver toys on account of the war. He encouraged Santa to instead "take every one of the toys you have back as far as Baltimore, sell them, and with the money you get buy medicines, bandages, ointments and delicacies for our sick and wounded men." Thus, Santa joins the rank of war heroes and the girls' worries about paltry Christmases are addressed. Tying Santa to the historical realities of post-bellum children's lives made him and his magic more believable.

The developing technology of late nineteenth-century photography could also be harnessed to heighten excitement about Christmas. Take, for example, these two stereographs from our Graphics Division.

F. G. Weller, "Christmas Scenes—No. 282" and an untitled stereograph labeled in manuscript on verso, "Santa Claus- No. 172."
These images featuring Santa, one as he prepares to descend the chimney and the second as he enters the home with his pack of toys, could be used with a stereo viewer to see them in three-dimensions. Whether through poetry, literature, or photography, Santa's plausibility—and the excitement about his visit—surely grew when these media interacted with children's already vivid imaginations. As these items from the Clements's collections show, the collective interest in building the season's wonder has found imaginative outlets through the years, harkening to children's lived realities to make the magic feel all the more special.