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.