Thursday, June 28, 2012

Civil War Sesquicentennial: Wartime Photography

Guest post by Esti Brennan, Social Media Intern

[Mathew Brady, autographed 'Carte de Visite' portrait of General George B. 
McClellan, circa 1862. From the Clements Library collection.]

Photographs of the Civil War, though a poignant and engaging window into the past, were created with very different goals and standards than those upheld by today's wartime photographers. The rise of cheaply reproducible paper-based photo printing in the 1860s allowed commercial photographers to produce and sell not only portraits of soldiers and war heroes but images of the war itself. The latter were often grisly, depicting rows of bodies and demolished battle sites as somber reminders of the realities of war--not an unfamiliar genre--but there is substantial evidence that the photographers manipulated their tableaux for maximum effect, physically rearranging corpses and staging scenes with living soldiers to either idealize or enhance the tragedy of their subjects.

[Timothy H. O'Sullivan, "Confederate Dead Near Allsop's House, Spotsylvania," May 1864. 
Clements Library collection.]

By modern photojournalistic standards, this behavior is appalling--but at the time, when only commercial photography companies could afford to field photographers and their heavy equipment, and un-posed photography was a relatively new form, the attention to producing an affect rather than focusing on strict realism was a logical approach to the art. As Clayton Lewis, Curator of Graphic Materials at the Clements Library, wrote in issue no. 34 of the Clements Library Quarto
"It is important to consider that the nienteenth-century audience was not seeking impartial facts as much as spiritual, sentimental meanings and evidence of the moral cost and justification of the war. Photographers were seeking journalistic truths but not at the expense of what they saw as greater aesthetic and moral truths." (5)
Regardless of their attitudes, Civil War photographers sparked the beginning wartime photojournalism--never before had the public been able to view evidence of battlefield horrors so unfiltered by an artist's perspective--even a staged photograph is generally more objective than a painting or engraving. Much as subsequent wars have been revealed through advances in cinematic and television technology, the photographs brought back from the battlefields of the Civil War provided civilians with an unprecedented and heart-wrenching view into the conflict that was threatening to tear their country apart, as well as creating new forms of entertainment in the form of stereographic images and collectible portraits of war heroes such as the photo of General McClellan above.


Further reading in the Clements Library:

Civil War Portraits in our collections.

James D. Horan, Mathew Brady, Historian with a Camera (New York, 1955).

Mathew Brady and Alexander Gardner, Original Photographs Taken on the Battlefields During the Civil War of the United States... (Hartford, Connecticut, 1907).

Read Clayton Lewis' article in the Fall-Winter 2010 edition of The Quarto.



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In the News: Clements in the Michigan Muse


The latest edition of the Michigan Muse, published by the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, features a collection of beautiful cover art from the Clements collection of historical sheet music in its cover story. The story discusses the University of Michigan's role in helping to produce the revised, updated, and expanded version of The New Grove Dictionary of American Music.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

June 24th: Michigan Log Cabin Day

Guest post by Esti Brennan, Social Media Intern

[Unknown Artist, "Log Cabin With Horses and Tree Stumps." Clements Library Graphics Division, Prints--Original Drawings, P-1604.9]

Currently, Michigan is the only state to have an official holiday recognizing the log cabin, residence of choice for centuries of discerning settlers on various United States frontiers. Though many types of log cabins have existed in Europe and the Americas, the iconic image of a rough-hewn cabin in the woods persists in the popular imagination. This is undoubtedly in part due to the famous children's toy Lincoln Logs, introduced by John Lloyd Wright (son of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright), who saw the creative potential of the simple building style.

Several American presidents were born in log cabins--most famously Abraham Lincoln, whose name was attached to the aforementioned toy--and, though he was not one of them, Whig president William Henry Harrison ran his 1840 campaign on the image of a log cabin, signifying humble origins and a hardworking, patriotic spirit. The Clements Library collections hold a number of items commemorating this campaign. Notably, there are a number of versions of the Log Cabin Song Book, a collection of political and patriotic songs related to Harrison's campaign.

[Samuel D. Taylor, The Log Cabin Song-Book (New York, Log Cabin Office, 1840).]

Harrison's run for president is known for being one of the earliest active political campaigns in the nation's history. He traded heavily on the "log cabin and hard cider" image that had originally been meant as a slur on his age and attitudes, and successfully managed to style himself as a rugged man of the people, despite coming from a fairly affluent background.

["Log Cabin Rally!" (Broadside, 1840).]

A broadside advertisement for a Michigan Whig rally reading,
"This even'g. The Whigs of Detroit are requested to meet at the Log Cabin THIS EVENING at half past seven o'clock. The freemen of Indiana, Kentucky and North Carolina are calling upon the Whigs of Michigan to follow their glorious example. To do so, fellow citizens, we must be active. The meeting to-night is not only to congratulate each other at the victories achieved in the past, but to prepare for an equally glorious victory in the future. Turn out, then Freemen of Detroit! Let EVERY MAN be at his post. Detroit, Friday August 28, 1840. By Order of the Committee."
Though Harrison's presidency lasted only a little over a month--he died of pneumonia most likely contracted during his extremely lengthy inaugural address--the image of the log cabin continued to gain popularity as a symbol of the American frontier and pioneer spirit, both as a cultural icon and a political symbol.

Happy Log Cabin Day!

Further reading in the Clements Library:

A.B. Norton, The Great Revolution of 1840: Reminiscences of the Log Cabin and Hard Cider Campaign (Mount Vernon, O. : A.B. Norton & Co., 1888).

John C. Montgomery. Montgomery's Tippecanoe almanac for the year 1841: containing a short history of the life and services of General William Henry Harrison... (Philadelphia, 1840).

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

From the Stacks: Wartime Cookery

Guest post by Esti Brennan, Social Media Intern

[General Mills, War Work: A Daybook for the Home (Minneapolis, 1942).]

Rationing is a common practice in wartime, meant to ensure that the country's military is kept well-supplied without unduly depriving those civilians who can't afford high-demand items back home. In some cases, rationing covers materials with obvious military uses, such as rubber tires and shoe soles, parachute silk, fuel, and automobile parts. In others, the focus is on food products, with the majority of certain staples being dedicated to the troops and war offices. This made formerly common foods and ingredients such as meat, flour, sugar, coffee, and milk difficult to obtain, and produced a new way of cooking that influenced the rise in processed and pre-prepared foods over the next few decades as well as unexpectedly introducing mainstream America to vegetarian and vegan food preparation.

The history of rationing during World War II is still fairly familiar to us these days, but rationing was also employed during the US's involvement in World War I. A 1918 publication in the Clements collection entitled Conservation Recipes (full text also available via Google Books) is a collection of recipes and suggestions published by the Mobilized Women's Organization of Berkeley, California. Along with a large number of recipes, the book gives advice on planning healthful meals--including school lunches--and using substitute ingredients for those items that were scarce, particularly wheat flour, sugar, and meat. "Food will win the War," the book quotes (page 3), reinforcing the link between conservation and patriotic feeling. Curiously, the book's emphasis on wheat-alternatives and natural fruit sugars make its recipes rather familiar to contemporary readers who follow a gluten-free diet or prefer to avoid processed foods.

[Marjorie Deen & Eleanor Lynch, editors, The Modern Hostess Cook Book (New York 1942).]

These parallels continue in the ration-conscious cookbooks of World War II, printed in an era where patriotic conservation was accompanied by patriotic production, of which the "victory garden" is one of the most famous features. Not only were cooks charged with reinventing the way they use food; they were encouraged to produce as much of their own as possible. The emphasis on healthy eating is also perpetuated, with government agencies urging citizens to make the most of their limited resources in order to maintain strong minds and strong bodies. "U.S. Needs US Strong," proclaims a 1942 edition of  The Modern Hostess Cookbook in an advertisement by the Office of Defense Health and Welfare Services. The cookbook, a special "Patriotic Edition," also instructs that "these days... our sugar savings should be put into a 'reserve bank'--to be drawn on for home canning and preserving" (2), and gives recipes that substitute molasses, honey, fruits, corn syrup, and semi-sweet chocolate for sugar in deserts.

[Helen Robertson, Sarah MacLeod, and Frances Preston, What Do We Eat Now? (Philadelphia 1942).]

The book What Do We Eat Now? A Guide to War-time Housekeeping addresses the challenge faced by  housewives struggling to keep a budget intact while providing the family with a healthy diet and doing her part for the war effort. With a constant emphasis on savings and thrift, and an encouragement to live up to the resourcefulness of her pioneer ancestors and her grandmother (who was, by age, likely a housewife during the First World War), the book provides resources, strategies, and recipes meant to maintain a pleasurable life while doing all possible to conserve resources.

This emphasis on sustaining a positive attitude in the face of shortages can be seen in all of these books, from the extolling of alternative sweeteners for treats to the idea that a happy, healthy homeland makes for more successful troops abroad. As the 1942 General Mills publication War Work: A Daybook for the Home (pictured above) exhorts, "... every homemaker can make a contribution to victory. You will contribute to victory if you have the same goal in your home as the people in the armed forces, in factories and on farms: to win the war" (2).

Though women have long since moved beyond the household as their main form of economic participation, many of the ideas employed in these wartime manuals can be looked to as inspiration for not only healthy, tasty meals but for an attitude of optimism and survival in complicated times, whether during war or peace--certainly a lesson that can be applied today.

Further reading in the Clements Library:

Ruth Berlozheimer and Edna L. Gaul, The American Woman's Meals Without Meat Cook Book: starting eggs, high-lighting cheese, fish is a favorite, salads for summer, fresh & dried vegetables... (Chicago, 1943).

Alice Bradley,  Desserts: including layer cakes and pies; with an introduction on desserts in war time (Cleveland, 1942).

Josephine Gibson, Wartime Canning and Cooking Book: Dedicated to the American Homemaker Whose Time is So Generously Devoted to the War Effort: Learn How to Make Cooking and Canning Easy: Substitutions, Balanced Menus, Meatless Meals, Ingenious Menus, Preserving and Canning. (New York, 1943).

Sheila Kaye-Smith, Kitchen Fugue (New York, 1945).

Monday, June 18, 2012

Bicentennial of the War of 1812

Guest post by Esti Brennan, Social Media Intern

["Constitution and Java, December 29th, 1812." Oil on canvas by Nicholas Pocock.]

Two hundred years ago today, the United States declared war on the United Kingdom, initiating a conflict sometimes known as "the second American Revolution." Though there were many causes of the war, one of the main points of conflict between the two countries was the impressment of thousands of American sailors into the British Navy, which was already fighting a long war against Napoleon. The War of 1812 was fought primarily around the northern, southern, and eastern borders of the United States, both on land and sea. The war  included a number of spectacularly successful maritime victories for the relatively new U.S. Navy,  including the destruction of several British ships by the technologically advanced and expertly-commanded frigates that had been added to the fleet in the late eighteenth century.

Depictions of these battles, such as the painting above, were widely reproduced and circulated by printers as companion pieces to written accounts. Though most of the images were produced in Britain, they were popular in both the United Kingdom and the United States, with the former embracing them as memorials of a national tragedy and the latter as evidence of national strength and cause for celebration.

["Brilliant Naval Victory," drawn and engraved by Samuel Seymour and published by J. Pierie & F. Kearney, Philadelphia, 1812.]

Pocock's painting, donated to the library by Eli Lilly in 1966, and many prints from the same era, such as the one above, are among the treasures of the Clements Library collections. They provide not only a breathtaking glimpse into the past, but a record of the public fascination with wartime events--and a record of the beginnings of an image-based news culture. The citizens of both countries were no longer satisfied with second-hand accounts of the war, but demanded a window into the action, which Pocock and other artists like him were eager to provide. Additionally, the sharing of media between the two countries was characteristic of the era of peace and economic cooperation that followed the war.

Check back over the next few months for more Clements Library treasures commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812. In the meantime, read about our precious first edition copy of the most famous and enduring piece of art inspired by the war, "The Star Spangled Banner," or explore the collections via our catalog.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

From the Stacks: U.S. Political Satire and Cartooning

Guest post by Molly Malcolm, Clements Library volunteer

Many of the holdings in the graphics division here at Clements are a form of political satire, which seems especially relevant and interesting during this election year. Presidential races have a strong history as opportunities for media outlets to employ satire to create divisions in public opinions. These divisions occur over differing viewpoints and belief systems and are often created in an effort to ensure a specific party’s political victory. Satirical cartoons can both exemplify and exacerbate already existing political tensions, as print media is used to judge electoral histories and political ideologies in an ironic way. Throughout history we have understood political information about candidates using visual aids that help define and solidify our feelings toward their policies and personal lives. The derisiveness of political parties and the negativity focused on presidential candidates is, unfortunately, a longstanding tradition of American political media.

In 1980 the Detroit Free Press printed a cartoon that exemplified this long, ironic past in a humorous and unapologetic way. This print speaks to the heart of our political frustrations with the turbulence and insincerity of the Presidential electoral process.

"The People's Choice," The Detroit Free Press (January 13, 1980)
Historically, the media has used satirical cartoons to both establish and judge our societal values. One of the Clements’ most frequently requested items is a cartoon of President Andrew Jackson from 1835. The cartoon depicts his position on Native American governmental policies and sarcastically portrays him as a kind ‘father-figure’ to disenfranchised Native Americans. This cartoon, commenting on President Jackson’s passage of the Native American Removal Act five years earlier, attempted to infuse humor into our sometimes brutal political processes. The fact that newspapers printed cartoons like this one ensured that everyday Americans examined  national political issues, which helped to hold governmental leaders accountable for their actions by the very people who elected them. This print here at the Clements Library may be the only printed copy that remains in existence today.

[Andrew Jackson as the Great Father] (ca. 1835)
In addition to commenting on presidential policies, political satire can also portray voters’ daily lives, highlighting the disillusionment they may feel toward their elected officials. This is depicted in the following disheartened, untrusting cartoon from 1851. At times, citizens have felt cheated and lied to by their Presidents, as if individual voters were pawns in a grand political scheme where the ends justified the dishonest means.

"The Election Game: Turning the Cards" (1851). 
Our national history is one of great expectations: incredibly tense election cycles where we expect our newly elected President to ratify every broken aspect of our culture. Satire is often employed as a way to vent our frustrations and voice dissent from our electorates. Throughout these cycles of expectation and frustration, cartoons are used to both educate the public and criticize the legislative choices of our governmental bodies in the hope of effecting political change.

In our current election year, we see numerous images every day designed to solidify political boundaries and ensure our votes on one side of the aisle or the other. Right vs. Left, Red vs. Blue. Such polarization is partly achieved through political commentary in modern media sources, which was the same aim of the satirical cartoons of our past. The historical pattern of ironic printed materials that commented on political agendas is quite powerful when applied to contemporary society. After viewing some of the rich historical material we have here at Clements and examining the impact that it has had on our electoral past, the power of visual aids in the media can be understood differently, especially in the context of the upcoming November election.

 Further Examples:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Current Exhibit: "Murder Most Foul: Homicide in Early America," June 11 - October 5, 2012


"Murder Most Foul: Homicide in Early America"

June 11 - October 5, 2012

Curated by J. Kevin Graffagnino
Clements Library Director

This exhibit looks at murder in America from the seventeenth century to 1900 using the rich resources on crime and punishment held by the Clements. Murder and the source materials about it touch on many aspects of early American social, political, geographic, ethnic, gender, and legal history, and the Clements collections are distinctive windows on this fascinating aspect of our national heritage.

Open to the public in the Main Room of the Clements Library, Monday through Thursday from 1:00 pm to 4:45 pm. The Clements Library is located on the campus of the University of Michigan at 909 South University Avenue, Ann Arbor. For further information, visit our website or call 734-764-2347.

Friday, June 8, 2012

From the Stacks: Baseball in the 19th Century

Guest post by Esti Brennan, Social Media Intern

Though there's evidence of the sport dating back to Europe in the late 18th century, the first game of baseball as we know it today was played on June 19, 1846 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Over the years the game has become an iconic part of American culture as well as an internationally-recognized sport, and its evolution and rise are well-documented in the Clements Library collections.

Chadwick, Henry, Spalding's base ball guide and official league book (New York, 1898-99).

The first American edition of The Boy's Own Book, published in 1829, notes that cricket was still the most prominent ball-based sport around, but describes a game called "rounders" that sounds remarkably like baseball as it is played today. Though The Boy's Own Book unfortunately failed to expand or update its descriptions over its many years of publication, other texts were not so neglectful. The Book of Sports by Robin Carver was published in Boston in 1834 and cites The Boy's Own Book as a significant influence. The description is quite similar, but names it "base ball" and "goal ball," emphasizing the American version of the game.

By the late 1860s, Haney's base ball player's reference books were available, detailing the latest updates and additions to the rules of the sport, which underwent frequent and dramatic alterations until the end of the 19th century. These changes were often in response to new-and-improved methods of cheating--common practice even in professional baseball at the time--such as covering the ball with dirt and spit to make it fly in erratically. Harry Clay Palmer, in a reminiscence about the early days of organized baseball, wrote,
"There never was any certainty, by the way, as to the make-up of the teams, for the average captain never knew how many of his men would show up in trim for ball-playing when the time for play arrived. Why? Well, fines did not go in those days; discipline, when attempted, was a farce, and the players knew it." (Stories of the base-ball field (1890), page 11. Via HathiTrust Digital Library.)
In Palmer's opinion, it was the rising codification and respectability of baseball that drew it into the national gaze, a process that happened fairly rapidly during the late 1800s. Over a few short decades, leagues were formalized, rules were solidified, baseball games became a respectable form of entertainment, and the 1886 edition of gentlemanly The Sporting Man's Companion featured baseball prominently among the pastimes on which it gives statistics and facts (not to mention depicting a truly stunning array of moustaches).

Fox, R.K, The Sporting Man's Companion (New York, 1886).

Along with the tracing the evolution of the game and its rules and codes, the Clements collection holds many photos and illustrations of 19th century baseball, from photos of Detroit Tigers players to an 1860 political cartoon featuring Abraham Lincoln (click image for a larger view).

Maurer, Louis, "The national game" (New York, 1860).

In the present day, baseball ranks on every list of American icons, and the Clements Library collection provides an engaging insight into the colorful past of the country's favorite sport.

Further reading in the Clements Library collection:
  • An 1882 booklet published by the sporting goods manufacturer Spalding provides a guide to scoring according to the latest set of rules.
  • Several editions of Spalding's official base ball guide, edited by Henry Chadwick, "the father of baseball."
  • A board game version of baseball from the 1880s.
  • An article on the Clements Library's 2011 exhibit on Sports in America.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

From the Stacks: Victorian Courtship and the Language of the Fan

Guest post by Esti Brennan, Social Media Intern

“The Language of the Fan” is one of the most pervasive myths of Victorian society. In a culture perceived to be straight-laced and highly codified, the idea of a secret language that permitted youthful rebellion (of a particularly romantic nature) has proven too delightful to give up. To signal “I love you” (drawing the fan across the cheek) or “I hate you” (drawing the closed fan through the hand) or arrange a clandestine meeting (showing a certain number of the fan’s spokes to designate the time of the rendezvous) via a gesture may not be as efficient as text messaging, but certainly appeals to our modern desire to keep in touch.
Lambouillet Rossi, The Dime-Lover's Casket (1870).
The few books from the Victorian era that mention or claim to trace the language of the fan are woefully lacking in citations, but a number of popular guides from the era provide cheerful, if undocumented, depictions of the codes. Two of these can be found in the Clements Library collection, including Dr. Lambouillet Rossi’s 1870 contribution to a series of “Popular Hand-Books” printed by Beadle and Company, one of the primary publishers of the era’s popular dime novels (of which the Clements Library also has dozens).

The Dime Lover’s Casket: A Treatise on and Guide to Friendship, Love, Courtship, and Marriage. Embracing, also, a Complete Floral Dictionary; the Language of the Handkerchief; the Language of the Fan; the Language of the Cane; the Language of the Finger Ring; etc. (seen above) gives descriptions of the various social codes by which one could signal a potential lover, as well as a rather charming discourse on the pleasures and pitfalls of platonic friendship between the sexes. In addition to the flower dictionary and a list of ways to broadcast one’s relationship status via rings, Rossi lists the signals of the various object-based codes, but admits that he cannot verify the extent to which any of them are actually recognized in society, and suggests that those who would employ them adapt each to their own needs. He also cites issues of practicality, pointing out that “it is almost impossible to use the handkerchief at all and avoid every motion here indicated” (74) but acknowledges the sheer charm of the codes: “The fan is a pretty toy, and in a pretty woman’s hand is capable of much pretty manipulation.” (76)

The Standard Beau-Catcher (1890).
The Clements Library also has in its collection a tiny, wonderful, nearly context-less pamphlet entitled The Standard Beau Catcher: Containing Flirtations of the Fan, Eye, Glove, Parasol, Cigar, Knife and Fork, Handkerchief, Window Telegraphy, and Language of Flowers. Published around 1890, The Standard Beau Catcher lists the various signals attributed to each accessory or habit, and makes it clear that there is no object too mundane to convey a declaration of love.

Unfortunately, the fan language--and other, similar codes like the language of the handkerchief and the language of the parasol--were largely the result of advertising campaigns meant to popularize and sell accessories. There is little evidence that the fan language was ever in widespread use, though the concept was satirized by several writers in the 18th and 19th centuries. Besides being rather impractical, fan codes were a bit dangerous; an unconscious fidget or desire to actually fan herself could embroil a lady in a totally unintentional feud--or marriage. Not to mention the consequences if the matron acting as chaperone to a courting couple had, a few years earlier, employed the fan language to win her own husband!

Further reading:
- One version of the list of fan gestures: The Language of the Fan.
- The book that introduced the idea of the fan language to 20th century readers: Rhead, G. Woolliscroft. History of the Fan. London: K. Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1910.
- Addison's famous satirical piece on fans and flirtation: Addison, J. “The Exercise of the Fan.” The Spectator. Vol. 2, n. 102. 27 June 1711.