Thursday, October 31, 2013

Today in History: Halloween

“This is holy eve,” Richard Coulter wrote in his journal on October 31st, 1847. He was serving in the American Army that Halloween due to the Mexican War, and he noted the differences between how the day was observed in Mexico and back home in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. “There have been some religious ceremonies in churches today; no other celebrations of holy eve; no demolishing of cabbage as in our country.” While we at the Clements Library will not be participating in any destruction of cabbages, a tradition harkening back to Ireland and Scotland, we can note the day by highlighting some items in our collections instead, including the transcript of Coulter’s journal found in our Manuscripts Division.

We also have a nice selection of items relating to the growing interest in spirits during the 1860s. The traumatic losses suffered during the Civil War heightened the emotional resonance of connecting to the realm of the dead. With the rise of new technologies, photographers proclaimed themselves able to capture images of ghosts that accompanied their customers into the studio. We have a smattering of such spirit photographs in our Cartes de Visite collection.

Mrs. H.F. Stuart. “Woman at table with male spirit.” Carte de visite photograph, ca. 1865.

Along with the full-hearted belief in ghosts, however, also came a pretty healthy skepticism. The wonderful holdings in our Book Division help us see both sides of this nineteenth-century cultural debate. Spectropia; or, Surprising Spectral Illusions showing Ghosts Everywhere, and of any Colour tried to explain that “no so-called ghost has ever appeared, without its being referable either to mental or physiological deception.” To illustrate this, the book provided eerie pictures, which, if stared at long enough, would leave ghostly images in your vision when you looked away.

Spectropia; or, Surprising Spectral Illusion showing Ghosts Everywhere, and of any Colour. With Sixteen Illustrations, (New York: James G. Gregory, 1864)

The William L. Clements Library’s collections also yield up gems more in line with Halloween’s lighter side. We have some friendly skeletons in our Graphics Division’s photo album collections.

Image from Eastern Shore Photo Album, ca. 1900

And while not as exciting as the “demolishing of cabbage[s],” we do have a jack-o-lantern or two… with or without Theodore Roosevelt’s likeness.

Image from West Michigan Family Album, David V. Tinder Collection of Michigan PhotographyJames M. Reilly. “Halloween Card from Grandpa T.R.” Ink drawing with watercolor, ca. 1909, Prints-- American Satire.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Lecture by Michael Nassaney, "Michigan Before Statehood as Revealed through the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project," October 29, 2013


"Michigan Before Statehood as Revealed through the Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Project"
Michael S. Nassaney, Professor of Anthropology at Western Michigan University

Tuesday, October 29, 2013, 4:00 p.m.
Hatcher Graduate Library, Gallery Room 100

Nassaney will discuss his archaeological findings at the excavation site of Fort St. Joseph and the information it’s providing on daily life at a mission, garrison, and trading post complex at one of the oldest European settlements in the western Great Lakes Region.

Please note: due to the renovation, the Clements Library 2013 Events and Lecture series will be held at the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library, Gallery Room 100. Directions here: http://www.lib.umich.edu/location/gallery/unit/125.

Hatcher Gallery, photo courtesy of MLibrary on Flickr.
Free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Clements Library at (734) 764-2347 or visit our website: www.clements.umich.edu

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Recent Acquisition: 19th Century Children's School Books

The Book Division recently received a gift from James E. Laramy of twelve late 19th century children's books. The collection previously belonged to his grandmother's family of Grand Rapids, Michigan. These books, which include readers, arithmetic books, geographies, and other children's books, are an excellent addition to our collection of 18th and 19th century American juvenile literature.

Stories for Mary, Tom, Dick and Harry. Philadelphia, 1892. This book of children's stories has a chromolithographed cover illustration.  
Several of the books include insertions such as handwritten notes, schoolwork, and small advertising ephemera. These items give a glimpse into the lives of the children who owned the books. The Harper's School Geography for 1882, which belonged to Henry DeBlond, contains twenty-three manuscript maps he made, possibly for a school assignment.

Map of Michigan, signed by Henry DeBlond (1872-1886). Inserted in Harper's School Geography (New York, 1882). 
Many of the books contain the inscriptions of previous owners, including Jane (Luten) DeBlonde and her children, Henry DeBlonde, Ada M. DeBlonde, Henrietta (DeBlonde) Laramy, and Genevieve DeBlonde. In some cases, the owners have recorded the date and location where they purchased the book. Several books also have a rhyme to ward off book thieves:

"Steal not this book, for fear of life, For the owner carries a two cent knife." 
Variations on this rhyme include: "Steal not this book, for fear of life, for the owner carries a two cent knife," "Steal not this book, for fear of shame, for here you see the owner's name," and "Steal not this book, for fear of shame, for fear the Lord will know your name."

All of the books from the Laramy gift are now cataloged in Mirlyn and available for research. Maps found in books, including the manuscript maps by Henry DeBlond, will be catalogued separately for the Map Division.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Lecture by Keith R. Widder, "Beyond Pontiac's Shadow: Michilimackinac and the Anglo-Indian War of 1763," October 8, 2013


"Beyond Pontiac's Shadow: Michilimackinac and the Anglo-Indian War of 1763"
Keith R. Widder, author and former Curator of History for Mackinac State Historic Parks

Tuesday, October 8, 2013, 4:00 p.m.
Hatcher Graduate Library, Gallery Room 100

Widder will explore how early alliances among the British and Indians in the Michilimackinac borderland prevented the Ojibwe attack at Michilimackinac on June 1763 from igniting more violence against the British. Widder’s recently published book of the same name will be on sale.

Please note: due to the renovation, the Clements Library 2013 Events and Lecture series will be held at the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library, Gallery Room 100. Directions here: http://www.lib.umich.edu/location/gallery/unit/125.

Hatcher Gallery, photo courtesy of MLibrary on Flickr.
Free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Clements Library at (734) 764-2347 or visit our website: www.clements.umich.edu