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 www.clements.umich.edu and our online Giving Blueday site:  https://leadersandbest.umich.edu/find/#/lib/clements.