Wednesday, December 24, 2014

From the Stacks: Christmas in the Library

Archives specialize in documenting change over time, but the holdings at the William L. Clements Library also reveal how some things remain stable through the years, including the excitement surrounding Christmas morning. On December 20th, 1840, Edward H. Fitzgerald found himself far from home as he served in the United States military. At sea and melancholy, Fitzgerald wrote a wistful journal entry imagining Christmas with his family. 
"I fancy myself at home, sleeping in the passage at the head of the stairs—I have gone to bed with the determination of getting up very early in the morning to catch every one 'Christmas gift' – So great is my anxiety that I think is it possible that I must lay awake till daylight—for go to sleep I cannot—then comes the desire to pass the intervening time in happy unconsciousness—I try every means—every position, first one side, then the other—now on my back—now with both hands under my cheek & now with them clasped over my head—I finally fall asleep with the sheet around my neck & my feet protruding half a yard below the covering."
Many children will experience this same restlessness on Christmas Eve, tossing and turning as they anticipate the morning's excitement.

Much of this fidgety eagerness stems from the expectation of a visit from Santa Claus. The Clements's Mary Jane Daggett family collection includes several delightful letters to Santa from the 1870s. Santa's "Little Friend" Gracie E. Daggett made a special request for toys for herself and her siblings, including a piece of India rubber, a prayer book, and a "little grocery store." The hope of seeing them delivered Christmas morning surely made it difficult for her to sleep.

Gracie E. Daggett ALS to Santa Claus, December 8, 1874, Mary Jane Daggett family collection.

Gracie's younger brother, John, also wrote a letter to Santa Claus, and, in the unbeguiling nature of the young, even admitted to being "one of the naughtiest boys in town." Perhaps the anxiety he felt on Christmas Eve sprung from the fear that his naughty behavior might result in a stocking full of coal.

John [Daggett] ALS to Santa Claus, undated, Mary Jane Daggett family collection.

As children know, Santa has a long way to travel, and at the Clements we have cartographic materials of the North Pole to help illustrate his secluded geographic abode. This 1680 Map of the North-Pole and the Parts Adjoining shows some of the Claus's neighbors, including whale hunters. Unsurprisingly, Santa's elusive reindeer are not represented among the cartouche's arctic wildlife. 

Moses Pitt, A Map of the North-Pole and the Parts Adjoining (Oxford: M. Pitt, 1680).

The Clements's Graphics Division shows us that distance is not the only obstacle to Santa's yearly journey. This 1897 chromolithograph, Held Up: The Robbing of Dear Old Santa Claus by the Big and Little Bears, playfully hints that human children are not the only ones to experience joy and delight over the season's presents.

E. Warde Blaisdell, Held Up: The Robbing of Dear Old Santa Claus by the Big and Little Bears (New York: Judge Publishing Company, 1897).

However you celebrate, all of us at the William L. Clements Library hope that you have a wonderful holiday, punctuated with all the happiness and excitement that the season brings year after year.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Giving Blueday

On the heels of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, the Clements Library invites you to join today's global day of giving, Giving Tuesday, and the University of Michigan's parallel university-wide campaign, Giving Blueday.

Donor support helps the Clements Library develop and conserve its stellar collection of early Americana primary source material while also making it increasingly accessible to the public. If you donate today, you can choose from several funds that will sustain the Clements Library's ongoing projects.

Contributing to our Acquisitions Fund helps ensure that the Library is able to make key purchases of early American items when they come on the market. Recently, the Clements Library purchased a sizeable archive of General Henry Burbeck's manuscripts. Burbeck served in the United States artillery from the Revolution through 1815, and his papers, including correspondence, plans of forts, muster rolls, and official paperwork, reflect the incredible work load he undertook.

If you donate today, your contribution to help defray the cost of the Burbeck papers will be matched up to $10,000 by the Frederick S. Upton Foundation.

This plan of Fort Lernoult, later renamed Fort Detroit, is located in the Burbeck papers and shows the fortification much as it would have appeared when the French Americans surrendered it to the British in 1812.

The Clements Library's holdings are as diverse as American history itself. Along with the military treasure trove in the Henry Burbeck papers, the Library recently contributed to the acquisition of the full set of John James Audubon's Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, featuring 150 hand-colored lithographic plates. Financially supporting this acquisition helps the Clements Library secure this phenomenal collection, helping to make us a premiere research institution frequented by scholars from across the globe.

The generous Board of Governors of the Clements Library Associates will match all donations toward the Viviparous Quadrupeds up to $10,000, doubling the value of your gift.

This wolverine is one of the 150 stunning hand-colored lithographs from the Viviparous Quadrupeds, recently acquired in coordination with the University Library.

To more generally support the Library's acquisitions, you can become a member of the Clements Library Associates. Contributing to this fund enables the Clements to acquire items like this first edition of the "Star Spangled Banner" sheet music, currently on exhibit at the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library.

This 1814 edition of the sheet music to the "Star Spangled Banner" was the first time the words and music appeared together. It is recognized as the first edition due to the typographical error of "pariotic" instead of "patriotic."
Along with acquiring early Americana, the Clements Library preserves these items and makes them available to scholars, students, and the public. By contributing to our Programs and Outreach, you will support these fundamental aspects of the Clements' mission.

Public outreach continues to be an important objective for the Clements Library. By donating to our Randolph G. Adams Lectureship program, you will help the Library host engaging lectures and discussions with leading figures in early Americana. Exhibits and events are complemented by the Clements Library's new digitization initiative. We are working on an online exhibit of Civil War prison camps and continue to digitize items from our Book Division, some of which are now available through HathiTrust. Financial support for our Technology Fund will help further these digitization efforts, making Clements materials available for use online. Conservation is an ongoing and pressing concern for any archive of historical materials. At the Clements Library's conservation lab, projects range from repairing paper and bindings, making specialized cases and wraps, removing acidic backings, and much more. Donating towards conservation can help ensure these manuscripts, graphics, maps, and books get the care they need to make them available for research.

Left: This Continental Army record book contains military returns from 1778-1783, including those of brigades George Washington commanded at Valley Forge in 1778. This item is in need of conservation and digitization to preserve it for future use. Right: The Clements Library's book scanner has been put to good use, recently digitizing the Clements' rare, color-illustrated books.
This Giving Tuesday, as we celebrate all that we have to be thankful for and share that joy by giving to others, we invite you to consider the William L. Clements Library as a possible place to support.

To learn more about the Clements Library, please visit our website and our online Giving Blueday site:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Today in History: Thanksgiving

Post by Jayne Ptolemy, Manuscripts Curatorial Assistant

The William L. Clements Library sends warm Thanksgiving greetings and offers a glimpse at holidays past via our Manuscripts Division. In November 1857, William H. Ireland, Jr., sent an illustrated, lyrical letter to his friend to ensure that he would "not have a dull Thanksgiving." In the spirit of the day, Ireland included a pen-and-ink drawing of a turkey. 

William H. Ireland, Jr., ALS to M. A. W. Man[ ], 1857 November 25, Duane Norman Diedrich collection.
Also featuring a holiday turkey, our Charles Snyder papers highlight a specifically Civil War take on the Thanksgiving holiday. Dining with a Union officer's family for Thanksgiving dinner, Snyder commented on their fare. "We discussed to the best of our ability, a very good turkey, nicely cooked, which Mr. M. named 'Jeff Davis.' "
Charles E. [Snyder] ALS to Hannah [Wright], 1863 November 28, Charles Snyder papers, Schoff Civil War collection.
Even if you opt for different culinary fare this holiday, we hope this offering of turkey from the William L. Clements Library's Manuscript Division helps spread some Thanksgiving cheer.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Giving Blue Day - December 2, 2014

Giving Blueday is the University of Michigan's first-ever university-wide day of giving. Around the world, December 2 is known as Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving.

This is YOUR chance to make a gift to the Clements Library to support acquisition, conservation and outreach. Help spread the word about the Clements Library and tell the world about our great collections and resources.

Join us on December 2 to be part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Today in History: Veterans Day

Post by Jayne Ptolemy, Manuscripts Division Curatorial Assistant

Veterans Day serves as a poignant reminder of the great sacrifices the men and women of the military have made for their country. In the United States, Veterans Day evolved out of the annual celebration of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I on November 11, 1918. To highlight the profound significance of this day, we look to a letter penned by American Lieutenant Joseph C. Holbrook who was stationed in France when peace was declared.

Lt. Joseph C. Holbrook ALS to Effie Granade, November 16, 1918, in the Duane N. Diedrich Collection
"I shall never forget the night of the 11th of November," he wrote, having entered a large French city to witness the celebrations. "Joy, cheers, songs, music by a Negro U.S. band, also a white U.S. band played everything from 'The Star Spangled Banner,' 'Marseillaise' to 'Livery Stable Blues.' For the first time in 4 long years the city was brilliantly lighted!! Since I've been in France every city has been like a vast, silent, dark, motionless spot hid away in the gloom. Not a bit of light for fear that the Boshe planes would drop bombs of death. But on the memorable night of Nov. 11th every city removed its shroud of gloom and the women and little children who for many months had listened for the call of the siren as a signal to go to their cellars or dugouts, came out into the streets—into the streets full of cheering, brilliantly lighted, thronged with a multitude full of joy of triumph!!" Holbrook vividly illustrates the shift brought about by the successful conclusion of the war. From darkness to light, he saw the French people emerge to celebrate peace and the soldiers who helped bring it about.

Holbrook goes on to note the comingled joy and sorrow of veterans' families. "Little children (Petites enfants) ran yelling, 'La Guerre est fini; Mon père sera à sa maison bientôt!' ('The war is finished; my father will be at his home soon!' [ ) ] Old women were radiant with smiles! Some dressed in deep mourning smiled the smile of sacrifice; happy that, even though full of sorrow, their husband, brother, father or Sweetheart had died for their country and that their cause had triumphed. But beneath it all was that countenance of one who is ever conscious of the 'vacant place.' " Winning peace comes with a price, and Holbrook acknowledged the pain that continued for many.

Serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in France, Holbrook showed a sincere pride in the service he and others provided for their country, service that was also recognized by the French. "The French and Americans [sic] soldiers danced together in the lighted streets. The city was absolutely covered with the Allied flags. And second to the French 'Old Glory' was most numerous and conspic[u]ous... To be in a foreign land, war-torn, bleeding but triumphant, and to see 'The Stars and Bars' waving in majesty and triumph from every door is Heaven on earth and makes a fellow happy that… he is an American and willing to be a Champion of right."

This image of French celebrations of peace, featuring both French and American flags, can be found in the Graphics Division's collection of Signal Corps photographs.
To all of those Champions of right-- who have served, who are serving, and who are considering serving-- we at the Clements Library send our gratitude this Veterans Day.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Recent Acquisition: Fantastical Militias

Post by Clayton Lewis, Curator of Graphic Materials

David Claypoole Johnston. Col. Pluck. [Boston?] : Pendleton, lithographer/publisher, circa 1825.

A pair of recently acquired prints point to a little known episode in American military history and pose questions about where satire ends and factual evidence begins. Satiric criticism is strongest when there is an element of truth behind the ridicule, but when the subject is already itself a parody, is the artist acting in collusion with the parody or simply reporting the facts?

The engraving Col. Pluck, by prolific parodist David Claypoole Johnston (1798-1865), shows a bawdy, disorganized, misbehaving, undisciplined American militia unit and its foppish leader. This image may in fact be a fairly accurate representation of a specific Pennsylvania unit and its commander’s carefully contrived appearance. The antics of Colonel Jonathan Pluck and the "Bloody 84th" Pennsylvania Militia from Philadelphia, as described in newspapers from Boston to Richmond in the 1820s, are close to matching the scene depicted.

During the period between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, state militia units, prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, played a key role in national defense and greatly outnumbered the standing army. Militias were also a source of tension and resentment between classes as privately sponsored volunteer units rubbed against state compulsory militias along class lines. The necessary purchase of uniforms and weapons, coupled with time away from paying jobs, made required participation doubly expensive for the working poor. Resentment simmered under militia leadership self-selected from the leisure class, rising to the boiling point when that leadership was incompetent and/or corrupt. A crisis rose during the 1820s and 1830s as the general public lost faith in the ability of the militia structure to protect the populace. When efforts at reform from within failed, a creative and outrageous protest emerged from enlistees.

The urban environment of the 18th and 19th centuries had often witnessed collective celebrations, political demonstrations, rallies, and social protests in public spaces. Inaugural parades, hangings in effigy, mock funerals, and public humiliations were all part of the street culture of America's larger cities. Philadelphia saw public parades in support of the Declaration of Independence, a two-headed Benedict Arnold paraded and hanged in effigy, a solemn mock-funeral for President Washington, and many other examples of street theater.

In this context, the enlistees of the 84th Pennsylvania Regiment from the dockyards and shops of the Northern Liberties district of Philadelphia were likely very conscious of the public spectacle that would result with the election of a colorful hostler from the stables in a tavern district, Jonathan Pluck, to the position of colonel of the regiment in May of 1825. Pluck, described in Niles Weekly Register as a "poor, ignorant, stupid fellow," was elected not because he was seen as particularly well qualified for the position; he was seen as conspicuously unqualified. The rank and file elected Pluck as a pointed rejection of the officers placed by the circumstance of class and title. Reportedly, the state Governor refused to ratify the election, forcing a revote. The second ballot had Pluck winning again, with even more votes. The 84th would get the officer they wanted and deserved.

The results were reported in the Philadelphia Gazette the following day under the headline "Grand Farce." When the 84th was on parade, crowds gathered. Pluck rode at the head of a deliberately ragtag, irregular, anti-orderly militia unit that wore mismatched uniforms and carried brooms and cornstalks in place of weapons. The story was picked up by papers up and down the country. The Democratic Press reported that "No one talks of anything else."

"The events of this eventful day, which will ever be memorable in the annals of Pennsylvania chivalry, are the cause of the lots of merriment contained in the aforesaid Philadelphia papers" stated the New York Commercial Advertiser. Pluck led his 84th militia through Philadelphia to the Bush Hill mustering ground. The Advertiser reported "It was with great difficulty a person of ordinary activity and strength, could obtain a sight of the great object of such universal solicitude." His appearance was described as hunchbacked, bowlegged in the extreme, with baggy burlap pants cinched by an enormous belt and buckle, bulging eyes and a huge head topped with a massive tri-cornered hat, all mounted on a sagging white nag of a horse. "Napoleon was low in stature, Pluck is lower still." The Washington Reporter was preoccupied by his boot-spurs, stating that they were "the most singular part of his accouterments . . . made of iron and weighed better than one pound and three quarters… on which was suspended a small bell. The rowel of the spur was three inches and three quarter in diameter, and the whole length of the shank from the heel was better than five inches . . . an enormous length, and would have had a fine effect but that they occasionally, unintentionally gored his charger's flank… [which was] rather lean to be sure."

Colonel Pluck and the 84th had made their point and amplified the ongoing debate on the subject of the readiness of the militia. Although ridiculed for a presumed mental incapacity, Pluck seems to have understood the meaning of his role and when compared with other officers stated "well, at least I ain't afraid to fight, and that's more than most of them can say!" Pluck was both lauded and deplored in editorials and letters to the press as he toured with the 84th from New England to Virginia. Other state's militias followed in self-mockery, going to further extremes of ridiculous dress and behavior. The prank had become a movement.

It all seems a ludicrous joke today but many of Pluck's contemporaries saw his ascension as a serious threat. It wasn't just the competence of military officers that was being called into question by Pluck's presence; he also represented an infectious critique of the social order, in step with Andrew Jackson’s aggressive populist politics. Pluck did not help his own cause by charging admission for an audience. "He exhibited himself at a shilling a sight, to the infinite dishonor of the venerable 84th, which he commands." The Philadelphia Gazette exclaimed "Our people say that the militia system is all a farce… dimagogues have been using commissions in the military as stepping stones to offices of profit and honour, and that a cure must be found for the evil."

Pluck returned to Philadelphia in 1826 to face court martial and demotion but his removal did nothing to deter the 84th, who determined to top themselves. In 1833 Colonel Peter Albright led the 84th in dress that was frequently described as "fantastical," with mismatched uniforms of calico, women's frocks, and huge hats with enormous plumes. The now familiar broomsticks and cornstalks were shouldered along with colossal oversized muskets, broadswords of six to twelve foot length, and large fish. They marched to the music of a penny whistle, each member endeavoring to outdo the next in preposterousness. The Pennsylvania Gazette reported that "To all intents and purposes… the folly and absurdity of our ordinary militia parades was most fully obtained."

Like Pluck before him, Albright was court-martialed for "unsoldier-like conduct." His arrest inflamed the regiment which continued to parade as before, but also as knights clad in armor, cavaliers in bearskin, and as Native Americans." Albright's surprising acquittal triggered exuberant celebrations where Albright appeared dressed as a Revolutionary War officer with powdered wig, powdered face, and his nose conspicuously browned with shoe polish.

The period of the 1820s and 1830s also witnessed the rising sophistication of American graphic satire. In its infancy during the colonial and revolutionary period, graphic satire expanded in the United States along with a general expansion of printing and publishing. Two of the most prolific American satiric artists, David Claypool Johnston and Edward Williams Clay (1799-1857), produced popular prints commenting upon the militia crisis. Regardless of their opinions on the subject, as satirists, they clearly shared an appreciation for these farcical militias and their use of absurdity to emasculate those in power.

Edward Williams Clay. The Nations Bulwark. A Well Disciplined Militia. Etching. Philadelphia : R.H. Hobson, 1829. Image credit: The Library of Congress.

Originally from Philadelphia and later New York City, Edward Clay remains an enigmatic figure. He created highly provocative racial, social, and political satire until late in his life. His 1829 engraving The Nation's Bulwark, a Well-Disciplined Militia (LC) shows a lineup of bored, undisciplined soldiers smoking pipes, chatting, barely awake, confronted by a plump officer with a bottle bulging from his pocket. The slogans on the tent banners in the background, "Hurrah for Old Hickory" and "Jackson Forever" indicate the unit's loyalty to Jacksonian principles of democracy.

D.C. Johnston, a talented artist and actor from Philadelphia, then Boston, engraved Col. Pluck showing the Colonel marching in full dress uniform, brandishing his sword, wearing a hat with dangling baubles at each end. The chaos seen behind Pluck includes a soldier riding a cow, others marching with ludicrous banners of men sawing logs and a cow being milked, and of course, cornstalks and sticks as weapons.

Both artists played to an audience of urban consumers of satire, familiar with the tropes of ridiculousness, but here presented with views not at all far from reality -- satire ready-made.

David Claypoole Johnston. Much Ado About Nothing, Or, A Militia Court-Martial!! Boston : Kimball, lithographer/publisher, circa 1833.

Another recently acquired engraving by Johnston, Much Ado About Nothing, Or, A Militia Court-Martial!! shows an unsightly officer standing before an inquisition made up of caricatured officers in exaggerated uniforms, poring over a massive list of witnesses. One panelist comments "I fear the worst and hope he is prepared to hear the awful–the overwhelming sentence 'deserving of the censure of this honorable court.'" Another observes that [the proceedings have] hardly commenced, we've been sitting only six weeks." Both prints Col Pluck, and Much Ado About Nothing . . . are undated but likely coincide with the trial of Colonel Peter Albright in 1833.

The veracity of the newspaper accounts could be questioned but the breadth of evidence suggests that events unfolded much as they were described. These "fantastical" militias can be traced in the Library's newspapers and magazines, satiric prints, and other sources. There is certainly a lot more to the story of the American militia of the era. Further investigation is bound to be very rewarding.

Davis, Susan G. "The Career of Colonel Pluck: Folk Drama and Popular Protest in Early Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia." The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. Vol. CIX (1985).

The careers of Colonels Pluck and Albright appear in numerous newspapers including:
The New York Commercial Advertiser, May, 1825
The Philadelphia Gazette, May 3, 1825
The Saturday Evening Post May 7, 1825; May 21, 1825
The Democratic Press, May 26, 1825
The Essex Register, May 26, 1825
The Reporter, June 13, 1825
The Geneva Palladium, August 23, 1826
The Pennsylvania Gazette, May 21, 1833

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.