Friday, October 18, 2019

Clements Library Chronicles is Moving

We are pleased to announce that the Clements Library Chronicles blog is moving to a new home as part of our library website redesign. This is the last post at For future posts, please see the new address

If you have subscribed to this blog by RSS or email, you will need to visit the new address to update your subscription. 

Contact us with any questions at Thank you all for reading!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Announcing the 2020 William L. Clements Library Research Fellowships

Scholars from across the globe visit the William L. Clements Library to work on books, articles, dissertations, creative projects, and more. In 2019 we welcomed 23 fellows. Fellows are encouraged to present a brown bag talk or write a guest blog post related to their research.

After visiting the Clements Library one of our fellows had this to say about the experience:
"The Clements Library not only has an amazing variety of rich collections but also an incredibly helpful, professional staff. During the approximately two and a half months I spent as a Fellow at the William. L. Clements Library I was able to make significant progress on my book manuscript. I made extensive use of the library's rich collections of manuscripts, rare books, maps, and graphic materials. Over the course of ten weeks I was able to review approximately forty individual and manuscript collections, fifty-five rare books, peruse the entire map collection related to the western portion of what would become the United States, and explore a great variety of graphic materials, ranging from family photo albums to railroad and auto tourist brochures."
As we continue to refine our program, we are excited to implement some new changes this year. First, we are providing the details of fellowships available for informational purposes, but applicants are no longer asked to apply for a specific fellowship. The fellowship review committee will consider the parameters of the project and make awards as appropriate.  In addition, we have reduced the distance requirement to 100 miles from Ann Arbor unless otherwise noted. And finally, recognizing the rising cost of travel, stipend amounts for some of our most popular fellowships have been increased.

Perhaps the most exciting change comes as a suggestion of our digital projects librarian, who has spearheaded a new digital fellowship. This non-residential fellowship supports researchers working remotely on any topic that can be supported by digitized library materials. Applications should identify items or small collections to be digitized in full, up to 900 pages or 0.5 linear feet total. Items must be stable enough for standard handling and able to be added to one of our digital collections. Please contact us with any questions about the selection criteria for eligible materials.

Visit our website for more information and instructions on how to apply as well as to view a list of previous fellows and their projects. If appropriate, please consider posting fliers advertising these fellowships to interested researchers. For questions, please email

William L. Clements Library Fellowships for 2020:

Jacob M. Price Visiting Research Fellowships were established to honor Professor Jack Price after his retirement as a distinguished member of the history faculty at the University of Michigan. Since 1995 over 200 early-career historians have received Price Fellowships with many going on to splendid careers of their own such as 1997 Price Fellow Dr. Elizabeth Fenn who recently won the Pulitzer Prize. Graduate students and junior faculty may apply with projects on any topic of American history that is supported by the collections. Grants are for $1,500 and require a minimum visit of one week.

Fellowships for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in American History support research at the Clements Library by affiliates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities who are undertaking a research project that examines topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion or who demonstrate a commitment to diversity in the field of American History. The award will be based largely on the significance of the Clements’ collection to the applicant’s research. Grants are for $1,500 and require a minimum visit of one week.

Brian Leigh Dunnigan Fellowships in the History of Cartography are funded through donations honoring Brian Leigh Dunnigan’s 23 years of service at the Clements Library as Map Curator and Associate Director. During his tenure, Brian oversaw the fellowship program and mentored many fellows during their stay in Ann Arbor. The fellowship supports research utilizing the Clements Library’s cartographic collections. Grants are for $1,000 and require a minimum visit of one week.

Richard and Mary Jo Marsh Fellowships have been provided by Clements Library Associate Board of Directors member Dick Marsh and his wife Mary Jo to fund any project supported by the Clements collections. Grants are for $1,000 and require a minimum visit of one week.

Mary G. Stange Fellowships, funded by the Mary G. Stange Charitable Trust, offer $1,000 to support research on any topic of American history supported by the collections for a minimum visit of one week. Unique projects are encouraged.

*NEW* Donald F. Melhorn, Jr. Fellowships are available through the generosity of Donald F. Melhorn, Jr. to help young scholars gain their first experience working in a major research library. Open to senior-class undergraduate and first or second year graduate students in any Ohio, Michigan or Indiana college or university. $1,000 awards support research involving at least one week at the Clements, on any topic in American history supported by its collections.

Post-Doctoral Fellowships:

Earhart Fellowships on American History were originally funded through a grant from the Earhart Foundation and now through an estate gift by Vera Wolfe. The Earhart fellowship provides $6,000 for scholarly research on any aspect of American history prior to 1901. Successful applicants are expected to spend a minimum of six weeks at the Clements. This is a post-doctoral fellowship that requires a completed Ph.D. or equivalent qualifications at the time of application.

Howard H. Peckham Fellowships on Revolutionary America were created by longtime Clements Library Associates Board of Governors member, Bill Earle, for three reasons: 1) To honor the second director of the Clements Library, Howard Peckham  2) To memorialize his parents, George and Ruth Earle, who knew and supported Howard Peckham, and  3) To fund research projects on  America from the Revolutionary War to the War of 1812 (1764-1815). Bill encourages other donors to contribute to the Peckham Fund to help provide even more fellowships.

This is a post-doctoral fellowship requiring a completed Ph.D. or equivalent qualifications at the time of application. The long-term Peckham fellowship requires a residence of two months or more with an award of $10,000 and a short-term fellowship which requires a residence of one week or more and provides an award of $1,000.

Reese Fellowships in the Print Culture of the Americas, funded by the William Reese Company, encourage research in the history of the book and other print formats, bibliography, and other aspects of print culture in America, including publishing and marketing, from the sixteenth century to 1900. The Reese Fellowship provides $5,000 to support one month of in-residence study in the Clements Library collections. This is a post-doctoral fellowship requiring a completed Ph.D. or equivalent qualifications at the time of application.

Norton Strange Townshend Fellowships, established by the Avenir Foundation, offer $10,000 in support of scholarly research on diversity, equity and inclusion in American history during the nineteenth century. Successful applicants are expected to spend a minimum of two months at the Clements. This is a post-doctoral fellowship that requires a completed Ph.D. or equivalent qualifications at the time of application.

*NEW* Digital Fellowships:

Digital Fellowships offer a non-residential opportunity to support research by graduate students, faculty, or independent researchers working remotely on any topic that can be supported by digitized library materials. We can consider proposals for items that meet all of the following criteria:

  • Stable enough for standard handling on one of our scanners
  • Being digitized in full (no single pages from books or selected items from manuscript collections)
  • Under 900 pages or 0.5 linear feet total
  • Out of copyright
  • Can be added to one of our digital collections and made freely available after digitization
  • Cannot be added to another institution’s holdings

Applications should identify items or small collections to be digitized in full, up to 900 pages or 0.5 linear feet total. See digitization criteria for details. Questions about eligible materials are encouraged prior to application submission. Grants provide digital files of the materials and $1,000 to support research using them.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Imperial Spanish Symbolism: The Pillars of Hercules

This essay examines three examples of the same Spanish cultural symbolism found in some of the oldest collection items at the Clements Library. 

The Clements Library is fortunate to possess at least three fine examples of illustrations exploiting the Spanish imperial theme of the Pillars of Hercules. The most ornate of these appears in a publication by the Spanish explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, dedicated to King Carlos V. Cabeza de Vaca’s prose is spare and utilitarian, as befits his purpose—a straightforward, unembellished account of a journey that began in 1527 with a shipwreck off the coast of what is now Alabama, and became a circuitous, Herculean trek overland from there to Southern California in search of what might be called "The Spanish Mecca": gold. Indeed, so spare is Cabeza de Vaca’s narration, that, nowadays, to begin to grasp the hardships and dangers he experienced, the reader must supply substantial interpolations, in light of what is now known about the harsh and unforgiving types of environment and terrain through which he suffered and persisted for a total of some nine years, until 1536.

La relacion y comentarios del gouernador Aluar Nuñez Cabeca de Vaca, de lo acaescido en las dos jornadas que hizo a las Indias. Con priuilegio. (1555) (First published 1542)

Today we notice first the double-facing Hapsburg eagle, displayed because Carlos V was indeed related to the Hapsburgs. But then we notice the eagle’s talons, each set clutching one of a pair of the "Pillars of Hercules," whose capitals are not traditionally Grecian, but royal crowns. Geographically, the Pillars of Hercules include the Rock of Gibraltar and its Moroccan counterpart across the strait. The Latin motto, "Non Plus Ultra," or, "Nothing Beyond," had, since classical times been used to indicate that there were no lands lying west of the strait. But with Spain’s discovery and colonization of the New World, epitomized by Cabeza de Vaca’s hazardous journey, the royal motto became, and still is, "Plus Ultra," showing how the range of Spanish sovereignty had far superseded that of classical Greece and Rome.

Libro primo de la conqvista del Perv & prouincia del Cuzco de le Indie Occidentali(1535)

In keeping with this self-conception of Spain, from 1535 we find the Italian Libro primo de la conquista del Peru & provincial del Cuzco de la Indie Occidentalia, with another double-facing Hapsburg eagle, pillars, and motto. This title page illustration includes elaborate, jumbled, heraldic quarterings, indicating some of the royal houses with which the Spanish crown was connected: lion of Leon, castle of Castile, striped shield of Aragon, fleur de lis of France. The inscription in the circle below the pillars reads: “Exivit sonus forum in omnem terram,” which comes from the Vulgate Bible, Psalm 18 (or 19 in modern translation). According to U-M’s Professor of Spanish Ryan Szpiech, this means, “Their voice goes out through all the earth.”

Le theatre dv monde ou Novvel atlas contenant les chartes et descriptions de tous les païs de la terre mis en lumiere. (1635)

Another engaging iteration of the Pillars of Hercules theme appears in the map division's 1635 atlas Le theatre dv monde ou Novvel atlas contenant les chartes et descriptions de tous les païs de la terre mis en lumiere by Guillaume et Iean Blaeu. Here, embellishing the map is an image of a lion skin stretched between two elegant fluted columns with Corinthian capitals. It’s an allusion to one of Hercules’ twelve labors, the slaying of the Nemean lion. These labors were imposed on Hercules by Zeus’ wife Hera, because Hercules was the illegitimate progeny of her husband by a mortal woman, and the living evidence of Zeus’ infidelity. In the Spain of recent centuries, however, it has tended to be another of the twelve labors, the slaying of the Cretan bull, that, because of its evocative suggestion of the bullfight, has garnered the most interest—from commentators seeking to cast the bullfight in the context of ancient Mediterranean culture. In the present image of the pillars there appear no eagle and no heraldic shield, yet the reference to royal Spanish sovereignty remains obvious.

Today, the idea of the Pillars of Hercules, with the implied extension of empire, is memorialized monumentally in several southern Spanish cities, most notably in Seville’s huge public park, the stone-paved Alameda de Hercules, and Ronda’s central Plaza del Socorro anchored by a statue of Hercules himself. During the centuries before and after Christ, the man-god was widely worshiped around the Mediterranean, and today the remains of a grand Grecian temple to him can be visited, and even walked through, at the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Agrigento in southern Sicily.

Together, these three illustrations shed light on several important themes: the image which Spanish royalty has of itself; the role of Andalucía as the historic point of departure for the intrepid Spanish galleons that, during the Renaissance transformed the Atlantic Ocean from a barrier into a thoroughfare; and the persistence into the present of ancient Mediterranean cultural themes.

Derek Brereton, PhD
Clements Library Volunteer

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Underground Railroad Documentation and Other Valuable Resources: More Digitized Manuscripts Collections from the William L. Clements Library

The Clements Library is pleased to announce that an additional five manuscript collections are digitized and freely accessible online. The digital versions are complete and presented in a manner that reflects the collections' physical/intellectual arrangements. This selection includes one example from the Library's Civil War collections and an unpublished English-Odawa dictionary (in the Fort Wayne Indian Agency Collection). We would like to express our appreciation for the University of Michigan's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) initiative, which partly funded the digitization of the African American History Collection, Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society Papers, and Lydia Maria Child Papers.

The Clements Library would like to recognize the many people involved in the manuscripts digitization process and metadata creation. They include, but are not limited to Kelly Powers, Chris Powell and U-M's Digital Content and Collections (DCC), and DEI-funded interns Allie Scholten and Amelia Fuller.

Title page of the digitized version of the Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society Papers.

Digitized Manuscripts Collections:

African American History Collection, 1729-1966 (bulk 1781-1865), comprised of 252 individual letters, documents, and other manuscript items relating to slavery, abolition movements, and various aspects of African American life, largely dating between 1781 and 1865. Digital collection located at: NOTE: This collection contains only individual items that are not a part of larger bodies of papers. Please also search the Clements Library's finding aids and catalog records for an abundance of additional papers, books, maps, and visual materials pertinent to African American history. 

Lydia Maria Child Papers, 1831-1894, consisting of ninety mostly personal and at times provocative letters. The bulk is letters from Lydia Maria Child to her wealthy Boston abolitionist and philanthropic friends, the Lorings, between 1839 and 1859. They concentrate on the period of Child's distress with the institutional politics of antislavery, her editorship of the National Anti-Slavery Standard, her growing attachment to New York Bohemia, and the publication of "Letters from New York." The correspondence documents her day to day finances, friends, and family. Digital collection located at:

Fort Wayne Indian Agency Collection, 1801-1815, consisting of a letterbook kept by Indian agents John Johnston and Benjamin Franklin Stickney; an English-Odawa dictionary, likely written by Stickney; and a memorandum book kept by Johnston during his time at Fort Wayne, Indiana Territory. Digital collection located at: 

Henry James Family Correspondence, 1855-1865 (bulk 1859-1865), made up primarily of incoming correspondence to husband and wife Gilbert and Adeline James of Cherry Creek, New York. Their most prolific correspondent was Gilbert's brother Henry James, who sent 18 letters, most written while serving in Company C of the 7th Michigan Cavalry during the Civil War. Henry James wrote to his family about life at Maple Grove, near Saginaw, Michigan; camp life during training at Camp Kellogg, Grand Rapids; experiences fighting at Gettysburg and elsewhere in Pennsylvania; and his posting at Camp Stoneman, Washington, D.C. Digital collection located at: 

Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society Papers, 1848-1868, consisting of materials collected by the society, including correspondence to and from various members about slavery, fugitive slaves and Underground Railroad activity, the conditions of freemen, and other progressive issues; printed annual reports; and other items. Among the significant correspondents in this collection are Frederick Douglass, Julia A. Wilbur, and Julia Griffiths Crofts. Digital collection located at:

Cheney J. Schopieray
Curator of Manuscripts

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

William L. Clements and "The Death of General Wolfe"

The Death of General Wolfe was reinstalled for permanent public display at the William L. Clements Library last month. Over 240 years old and 8 1/2 feet in width, the epic Benjamin West painting once again graces its longtime home after nearly seven years offsite. In this essay, Graphics Curator Clayton Lewis describes how William Clements acquired the painting in 1928.

All collectors know the feeling of being haunted by the one that got away. “Buyer’s remorse” from an expensive impulse purchase can hurt, but the pain of having hesitated and then lost is much worse. This was likely how William L. Clements felt after the Sotheby’s auction of February 10, 1921, where he bid $4,000, a huge sum for the day, on a full-size version by Benjamin West of his masterpiece The Death of General Wolfe—but to no avail.
Benjamin West, The Death of General Wolfe (1776)
At the time, Clements was steeped in the design of his proposed Library of Americana, which he planned to build on the campus of his alma mater, the University of Michigan. What better statement of purpose and identity could his collection of early American history have than The Death of General Wolfe hanging high on the oak-paneled wall of the Great Hall he envisioned? Clements must have struggled to put the West painting out of his mind as he buried himself in the complications of constructing the library that would bear his name, the first collection of its kind of rare Americana at an American public university.

Fortunately for Clements and for the University of Michigan, Benjamin West painted five full-size versions of his most popular painting. Across the Atlantic, in Germany, the third version was starting on a course destined to end in Ann Arbor. The Prince Regent of Waldeck, Landgreve of Hesse, had commissioned this painting from West after seeing the original on display in London in 1775. Its themes of national unity, imperial power, and martyrdom must have resonated with the Prince, who had just agreed to send troops to help Britain fight the rebelling colonists in North America, the scene of the painting.

The Prince’s version of The Death of General Wolfe became the centerpiece of the collection at Castle Waldeck in Arolsen, which was filled with grandiose portraits and minor masterpieces. The epic sweep and emotion of West’s painting set it apart from the rest of the rather staid Waldeck collection. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840), professor of medicine and natural history at Göttingen University, described the painting in a 1777 letter to his father, shortly after its arrival:
The Castle is very modern, built circa 1720, where lives the Prince of the region  and his mother. In a great hall, hung painted portraits of great heroes, statesmen and scholars. What charmed me more than anything was the famous painting by B. West, The Death of the General Wolfe (it cost 600 pounds sterling). The bravery and calm in the dying Wolfe's face, while at the same time learning about the victory from his men, the numbness and grief in the faces of the surrounding officers, the pensiveness of the brave surgeon who, abandoned by his art, kneels next to him, the astonishment of an American native who is in front of him, all that can be seen from every eye and felt from every heart, but certainly can’t be described by a quill.

The color palette is muted, but one is sure that the hand of the master has moved one, not like the French pictures where one is deceived by the paint box. I stood daily and long in front of it, each time with new enjoyment. The Count has the famous original painting by H. Tischbein, Herman after the Victory over Varus, which clashes terribly with West. Full of forced theatrical arrangements, so little nature, such unimportant faces, such a garish color palette. Luckily, it hangs in another room, one should see it first before West’s so it doesn’t lose so much in comparison.

The painting remained at the castle for 150 years until it was shipped to the New York gallery of Berlin dealer Paul Bottenweiser in 1927. Acting as agent for Waldeck, Bottenweiser Galleries offered it privately to the Smithsonian Institution, but the national collection was strapped for cash and declined to purchase it.
The Smithsonian Institution declines to purchase The Death of General Wolfe in this letter of March 4, 1927.

Another Chance

The William L. Clements of 1928 was greatly changed from the man who failed at the auction in 1921. After the dedication of his library in 1923, Clements had written, “I have returned home to a house empty of nearly all books, so it is needless to tell you how totally lost I am.” There were indications that his marriage was not a happy one and with his son James having died of influenza in France in 1918, he showed signs of loneliness and resentment that would surface periodically for the rest of his life. But in the late 1920s, Clements was rebounding and filling his empty bookcases with manuscript collections of major players from the American Revolution—the collections that would jumpstart reconsideration of that event by twentieth- and twenty-first-century historians.

On April 1, 1928, the New York Times reproduced the Waldeck painting in its Sunday supplement with an announcement that it was on display and available for purchase at Paul Bottenwieser Galleries. Clements was in New York on business, staying at the Hotel Belmont on 42nd Street. He wrote to his library Director, Randolph G. Adams, saying he intended to see the painting immediately: “I am interested in seeing the Benj. West picture of the ‘Death of Wolfe’ now on exhibition here and reproduced in today’s (Sunday) Times. It is probably very expensive…. It would be a wonderful hanging for the large room but I must stop my extravagance.”

Clements was deeply moved, however, by the stunning painting and its wonderful condition. Bottenweiser Galleries told Clements that the picture was “never retouched in any way, only washed in clear rainwater and varnished.” The provenance was rock-solid and fascinating in and of itself, especially to a collector of American Revolutionary materials. The significance of this particular painting’s having come from the collection of a provider of Hessian soldiers that fought General Washington was certainly not lost on Clements.

Ever the shrewd businessman, Clements risked making an offer of $7,500—much less than the asking price of $12,500, but considerably more than his failed bid of $4,000 at the Sotheby’s auction. While his offer may seem modest in the extreme compared to today’s overinflated art market, Clements had purchased one of the most famous rare books in his collection, the Rome 1493 edition of Christopher Columbus’s Epistola, for $1,650 a few years earlier and the construction budget for his luxurious library of cut sandstone, carved oak, and polished brass was $175,000. Julius Roedelsheimer wrote to his client in Waldeck for a response to the offer while Clements headed back to his Bay City home to wait.

On April 7, 1928, Paul Bottenwieser Galleries sent Clements a wire to report that there was no news from Waldeck. Six days later, they congratulated him—the price was agreeable and the owner would include with the painting a letter from 1776 that accompanied the original purchase receipt from Benjamin West. Clement asked his trusted advisor, New York City book dealer Lathrop C. Harper, to deliver the check for payment and oversee the crating and shipping of the painting by railway express. The Death of General Wolfe arrived in Ann Arbor by the end of April 1928. Randolph Adams had the frame repaired and re-gilded and ordered a special light fixture to illuminate the painting more effectively. On June 8, 1928, he wrote to Clements to let him know the painting was on the wall in time for University commencement visitors, including Lathrop Harper, who would receive an honorary degree. There is no record of how many visitors came to see Clements’s new purchase, but the Library set up velvet ropes in the Great Room to control crowds.

The telegram announcing the acceptance of William Clements's offer for The Death of General Wolfe.
The cover letter dated September 3, 1776 from C. H. Hinuber to the Prince Regent of Waldeck's secretary that accompanied the original 1776 purchase receipt from Benjamin West. Though promised to William Clements upon his purchase of the painting, it was never delivered. Photostat courtesy of Preussisches Staatsarchiv, Marburg, Germany.

Home at the Clements

Still hanging high on the oak-paneled north wall of the Great Hall, The Death of General Wolfe is breathtaking. Not only does the painting add to the unique aura of the institution, it contextualizes the scope of the collections. It is a highly visible signal that the Americana collection one is entering has an orientation different from the Massachusetts Bay-Jamestown view of early American history offered by many East Coast institutions. The Clements Library collection has a broader perspective that focuses on the swing of power from Native American to French to English, from the Atlantic to the Old Northwest, reflecting both the interests of an early twentieth-century Michigan industrialist and the range of historical scholarship at a great midwestern university.

In spite of the impression that it seems to have made, Clements showed concern that his purchase was not having the effect that he had hoped for. Adams reassured him that
with regard to the degree of appreciation shown the West picture—I would say there is nothing in the library which has excited greater interest among the casual visitors. Among the academic sort of callers, the presence of the West picture has had a rather unexpected and distinctly gratifying effect. More than one has remarked, ‘Now I see why Mr. Clements has given this library.’ This, I take it, means that previously the Library had meant to some of them only a collection of tools—whereas now its more spiritual and less intellectual aspects begin to dawn upon them. 

Since Benjamin West’s theory of “epic representation” in historical depictions gives license to the fictionalizing of historic events in artistic depictions, what does it mean for the Clements Library, an institution that stakes its reputation on authentic primary source documentation, to display a powerful fictional rendition of what historian Fred Anderson has called the “most important event in eighteenth century North America?” It very much depends on whether one is seeking documentation of the facts of the event itself or facts of the event’s larger meaning and influence. As evidence of conventional military history, West has given us a very misleading image. But as evidence of the power of visual culture to shape perceptions of history, the conscription of art to the cause of patriotism, the emergence of an independent American identity, the rise of American influence on European culture, and of European participation in the American Revolution, The Death of General Wolfe is an articulate and convincing “document.”

As for the significance of the event itself, University of Michigan Professor Emeritus of History John Shy has said, “Viewers of this painting have always seemed to sense that this dramatic tableau of mourners grouped around a dying young general signifies a major turning point in modern history. The British victory at Québec came close to deciding the future of North America. With the elimination of the French threat, the American colonists soon grew obstreperous and, before long, were confronting the British government. The line between Wolfe’s victory and Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence is not simple or straight, but surely there is a close connection.”

A vital part of the Clements Library’s mission is to provide not just access to information, but the meaningful immersion in historical materials that comes closest to replicating time travel. Its mission is thus as much about inspiration as it is about information. The Death of General Wolfe, “a stupendous piece of drama,” according to Professor Simon Schama of Columbia University,  and “a spectacle presented to raise and warm the mind” according to Benjamin West himself, has often ignited that spark of brilliance in scholars working at the Clements, whether specifically on the painting or on other eighteenth-century subjects.

Since 1928 the Clements Library has collected examples of the theme of the death of General Wolfe in popular culture, such as this circa 1810 Wolverton, England-painted iron tea tray.

Since 1928 Benjamin West’s The Death of General Wolfe has left the Clements only for conservation and repair at the Detroit Institute of Arts in the 1980s, to serve as the gateway piece of the 1993 exhibition Picturing History: American Painting 1770–1930 in New York and Washington DC, and now to anchor the University of Michigan Museum of Art’s Benjamin West: General Wolfe and the Art of Empire. It remains in magnificent condition, and many more have now, like Johann Blumenbach, “stood daily and long in front of it, each time with new enjoyment.”

Clayton A. Lewis
Curator of Graphic Materials

(Reproduced with permission, Carole McNamara with an essay by Clayton A. Lewis, "Benjamin West: General Wolfe and the Art of Empire." UMMA Books, University of Michigan Museum of Art, 2012.)

Friday, August 23, 2019

Latest Quarto: Our Favorites

The Summer-Fall 2019 Quarto is now available. The Quarto is a semi-annual magazine published by the William L. Clements Library and sent to the Clements Library Associates. Terese Austin, Head of Reader Services, has taken the helm as editor with support from outgoing editor Brian Dunnigan. Dunnigan, who retired from the Clements Library this summer, has been named curator emeritus of maps by the Regents of the University of Michigan.

This issue of The Quarto is titled "Our Favorites." Clements curators, catalogers, and other staff were tasked to write about a favorite item, collection, or particular aspect of collecting that stirs their interest and affection.
  1. "A Commonwealth of Beavers," by Mary Pedley, Assistant Curator of Maps. Explores the symbolism of the beaver, used as a cartographic design element, in thinking about early American communities and frontier boundaries. 
  2. "Historical Anomaly: An Elizabethan Ruffian in the American Archive," by Louis Miller, Curatorial Assistant. Places into context a surprising piece of 16th-century correspondence with connections to settlement in New Florida and famous English diarist Samuel Pepys.
  3. "A Russian on the American Front," by Oksana Linda, Rare Book Cataloger. Illuminates the life and military career of Russian immigrant and Civil War hero General John B. Turchin.
  4. "Yeoman Farmers and Princes of Land Jobbers," by J. Kevin Graffagnino, Randolph G. Adams Director of the Clements Library. Explains the significance of a colorful 1780 map in the boundary feud between New York and a group of independent-minded colonials who would eventually form the state of Vermont. 
  5. "Fairy Flowers from Childhood's Garden," by Jayne Ptolemy, Assistant Curator of Manuscripts. Notes the delicate footprints left by children in the historical record, both through the written observations of attentive parents, and the words of the children themselves.
  6. "'Hur Book': Artifacts of Ownership," by Emiko Hastings, Curator of Books. Reveals the quiet but certain presence of women as readers and book owners demonstrated by evidence left in volumes in the Clements collection.
  7. "Sweet Tooth," by Brian Leigh Dunnigan, Associate Director & Curator of Maps. Explains the elements of a remarkably detailed map of a sugar plantation in Haiti, including depictions of slave quarters, processing equipment, and various plantation outbuildings.
  8. "'Temperance, Exercise, & Cheerfulness': The Letter Book of John Hughes," by Cheney J. Schopieray, Curator of Manuscripts. Focuses on the ill effects of mental illness and alcohol abuse experienced by John Hughes and his family in a rare first-hand account of an early nineteenth-century life in turmoil.
  9. "Go and Live Among Them," by Jakob Dopp, Graphics Cataloger. Follows artist and explorer George Catlin as he creates his vibrant and evocative depictions of Native American life on the Great Plains in the mid-1800s.
  10. "Developments," by Angela Oonk, Director of Development.
  11. 2019 Fellowships Awarded. Welcomes the twenty-three Clements Library fellows who will visit and research the collections this year.
  12. Celebrating Brian Dunnigan. Honors the life and career of Brian Leigh Dunnigan, Clements Library map curator and valued colleague, with details of his June 11, 2019 farewell event.
  13. Announcements. Clements Library receives $10M gift, Directorship and Rare Book Room Named; Exhibitions, "Things I Like Most About the Clements Library: Brian Leigh Dunnigan Retrospective," May 3 - October 25, 2019; What's in Your Attic?, September 15, 2019.
This issue of The Quarto can now be accessed and read online. Our donors, the Clements Library Associates, receive a high-quality print of the publication by mail. You can support the Clements by making a gift online or by contacting Anne Bennington-Helber at or 734-764-5864.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The Clements Library Travels to Philadelphia & Delaware in September!

Courtesy, Winterthur Museum, Print:  AUTUMN by B. Plen, 1790-1810, Philadelphia, PA, Ink, Watercolor, Laid paper, Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont, 1957-0590-003
Mr. Clements began his Americana collection focused on exploration and he enjoyed the camaraderie and knowledge of other collectors and libraries around the country.  Clements Library staff continue to forge such alliances and to offer opportunities for continued learning.  Curator of Graphics Clayton Lewis is a member of the American Historical Print Collectors Society (AHPCS) and is currently serving as the Regional Activities Chair.

Out of this collaboration, we developed  “A Day at Winterthur - Friday, September 27, 2019.”  Participants will be hosted by Clements Library Associates Board of Governors member Catharine Dann Roeber who is the Brock W. Jobe Associate Professor of Decorative Arts and Material Culture and AHPCS member Stephanie Delamaire who is the Associate Curator of Fine Arts.  They have helped us plan an exclusive program at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library in Delaware featuring a behind-the-scenes look at Winterthur's renowned collections with curators and expert staff, print-focused museum tours, and customized experiences in the conservation labs, library, and gardens. After a group lunch, guests can browse in the gift shops or choose to explore the gardens and galleries exhibitions including a special print display and Costuming THE CROWN, featuring 40 iconic costumes from the beloved Netflix show.  Tickets are $65 and you can register online here.

Guests are responsible for booking their own travel to Winterthur and overnight lodging.  A block of rooms at a rate of $199 per night is available at Hotel Du Pont until Aug. 29. Book online or by calling 800-441-9019 and refer to CLEMENTS group. The Hotel Du Pont can provide transportation to and from the train station with advance notice. Long-time Associates might be interested to know that former director John Dann worked at the Hotel Du Pont as a young man.  He has some delightful stories about his time there including meeting Vincent Price who was selling art!  Apparently Price worked as an art consultant for Sears-Roebuck from 1962 to 1971 offering the "Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art", selling about 50,000 fine art prints to the general public.

Additional opportunities to gather

  • We will be flying in to Philadelphia on Wednesday, September 25 and at 5:30pm Clements Director Kevin Graffagnino will present “The Pioneer Americanists: Early Collectors, Dealers, and Bibliographers” at the The Library Company of Philadelphia, 1314 Locust Street.  If you are in Philadelphia on Wednesday and want to join a group for a meal, you can indicate your interest in lunch at the City Tavern, 138 South 2nd St at Walnut St, or dinner after Kevin’s talk at a location to be determined.
  • On Thursday, September 26 Clements Library Associate Board of Governors member Clarence Wolf invites guests to visit the rare bookstore George S. MacManus Company, at 12 Water Street in nearby Bryn Mawr, PA.  Come to learn more about rare book collecting or add to your own collection.
  • Our friends at the U-M Club of Philadelphia invite all to stay on Saturday, September 28 to join them for a football watch party at Fox & Hound, 1501 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, to cheer on the Michigan Wolverines as we take on Rutgers in football. 

We look forward to meeting many old and new friends at Winterthur and enjoying the early autumn season on the east coast. Please feel free to spread the invitation to anyone who may like to join us!