Friday, December 24, 2010

Twas the Night Before Christmas

In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore penned the lines of the classic Christmas poem, "An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas," which begins with the immortal lines:
"Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, 
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse."
Publication History

The poem was first published anonymously in The Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823. Many of the features that we now associate with Santa Claus, including his appearance, the night of his visit, and his eight reindeer, originate with the lines of this well-loved poem. It was frequently republished in succeeding years, although it was not until 1837 that The New-York Book of Poetry first published the poem with Moore identified as the author.

The New-York Book of Poetry (1837), edited by Charles Fenno Hoffman. Moore's Christmas poem appears on p. 217.
Reindeer Names

The 1837 edition, edited by Charles Fenno Hoffman, is also notable for changing the spelling of two of the reindeer names from "Dunder and Blixem" to "Donder and Blixen." When Clement Moore issued his own book of poems in 1844, he further altered "Blixen" to "Blitzen," the spelling which is usually seen today.

The First Independent Publication

The Clements Library is fortunate to possess one of the few known copies of the first independent publication of the poem: A Visit from St. Nicholas, by Clement C. Moore, with original cuts designed and engraved by Boyd (New York, Henry M. Onderdonck, 1848). Two other copies are described in the 1964 "The Night Before Christmas": An Exhibition Catalogue, one of which is now in the New York University Fales Library and Special Collections.

Theodore C. Boyd did the woodcuts that illustrate the volume, and his model for St. Nicholas is reported to have been a local Dutch handyman. Although somewhat different from our modern concept of Santa Claus, the illustrations are clearly a recognizable precursor.

The poem closes with: "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night." The first known appearance of "Merry Christmas" in the poem was in an 1862 edition published by James G. Gregory.

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night"
Other Editions

The Clements book collection includes several other 19th century printings of the poem, which vary greatly in size and style. One version printed in the 1860s, only four inches tall, is an accordion-style book:
Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night, by Clement C. Moore (1860s).
Another late 19th century version is lavishly illustrated with chromolithographs:
Visit of St. Nicholas, by Clement C. Moore (late 19th century).
The multiple editions of this poem provide evidence of its enduring popularity in American culture. Even today, it continues to be reprinted, adapted and parodied in many forms, from literature to music to film. Spoof versions have included James Thurber's "A Visit from St. Nicholas in the Ernest Hemingway Manner," which originally appeared in The New Yorker, December 24, 1927.

Further reading:
  1. "The Night Before Christmas": An Exhibition Catalogue. Compiled by George H.M. Lawrence; foreword by Anne Lyon Haight. Pittsburgh: The Pittsburgh Bibliophiles, 1964.
  2., a large collection of scans of historical editions of the poem.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

From the Stacks: Jefferson's Library

"I cannot live without books." ~ Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson's Libraries is a project based at Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia, to compile information about Jefferson's libraries and his books. Jefferson read extensively and collected many books over his lifetime. In 1815, he sold a collection of books to Congress to replace the library burned by the British during the War of 1812.

Books once owned by Jefferson are now held in many different institutions across the country. This project reunites them in the virtual world. Researchers can search Thomas Jefferson's Library, part of the Libraries of Early America project in Librarything. This catalog contains entries for "the books Thomas Jefferson owned, desired to own, read, recommended or presented to others throughout his lifetime." It currently includes over 5,000 entries, drawn from sources such as Jefferson's book lists, auction catalogs, and correspondence.

Included are 29 titles from Jefferson's library now owned by the William L. Clements Library. These may be found in LibraryThing with notes added by the Jefferson Libraries project about each book's provenance and history. Below, links to the catalog entries in the Clements Library catalog:

Vertot, abbé de. The history of the revolutions that happened in the government of the Roman Republic (London, 1721). Clements Library has vol. 1 only.

Jefferson, Thomas, A manual of parliamentary practice (Washington, D.C., 1801)

Sampson, William, Memoirs of William Sampson (New York, 1807)

Dufief, N.G., Dictionnaire nouveau et universel (Philadelphia, 1810)

Tracts Physic (bound volume of pamphlets):
  1. Pope, Joseph, [Manuscript letter and nine manuscript essays on scientific subjects] [181-?]
  2. Cuvier, Georges, Analyse des travaux de la classe des sciences mathématiques et physiques de l'Institut Imperial, pendant l'année 1812 (Paris, 1813)
  3. Clinton, DeWitt, An introductory discourse, delivered before the Literary and Philosophical Society of New-York (New York, 1815)
  4. Journal de physique, de chimie et d'histoire naturelle, v.LXIX, October, 1809
  5. Journal de physique, de chimie et d'histoire naturelle, v.LXIX, November, 1809
  6. Bowditch, Nathaniel, On the eclipse of the sun of Sept. 17, 1811 [Boston, 1811?]
  7. Bowditch, Nathaniel, Elements of the orbit of the comet of 1811 [Boston, 1812?]
  8. Bowditch, Nathaniel, Estimate of the height of the White Hills in New Hampshire [Boston, 1812?]
  9. Bowditch, Nathaniel, On the variation of the magnetical needle [Boston, 1812?]
  10. Bowditch, Nathaniel, On the motion of a pendulum suspended from two points [Boston, 1812?]
  11. Hosack, David, Observations on the laws governing the communication of contagious diseases (New York, 1815)
Natural History (bound volume of pamphlets):
  1. Peyroux de la Coudrenière, Mémoire sur les sept espèces d'hommes, et sur les causes des altérations de ces espèces (Paris, 1814)
  2. Hosack, David, Syllabus of the course of lectures on botany, delivered in Columbia college (New York, 1814)
  3. Cels, Francois, Catalogue des arbres, arbustes, et autres plantes de serre chaude, d'orangerie et de pleine terre (Paris, 1817)
  4. Rafinesque, C.S., Circular address on botany and zoology (Philadelphia, 1816)
  5. Clinton, DeWitt, Remarks on the fishes of the western waters of the state of New-York [18--]
  6. Linnaean Society of New England, Boston, Report of a committee of the Linnæn society of New England, relative to a large marine animal, supposed to be a serpent ( Boston, 1817)
  7. Humboldt, Alexander von, Ideas sobre el límite inferior de la nieve perpétua, y sobre la geografía de las plantas [Havana, 1804]
  8. Bigelow, Joseph, Some account of the White mountains of New Hampshire [Boston, 1816]
  9. Clinton, DeWitt, A memoir on the antiquities of the western parts of the state of New-York (Albany, 1818)
  10. McCulloh, J.H., Researches on America: Being some attempt to settle some points relative to the aborigines of America (Baltimore, 1817)
  11. Cooper, Thomas, Introductory lecture on mineralogy [1817]
  12. Meason, Gilbert Laing, De la plantation du melèze (Pinus larix) [Paris, 1821?]
  13. Maclure, William, Observations on the geology of the United States of America (Philadelphia, 1817)
  14. Fischer von Waldheim, Gotthelf, Essai sur la turquoise et sur la calaite par Gotthelf Fischer (Moscow, 1816)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Staff Favorite: Helen Ledyard Drawing Book

Helen Ledyard Drawing Book, 1881-1891.

Barbara DeWolfe, Curator of Manuscripts, has worked at the Clements Library since 1999. One of her favorite items from the Manuscripts Division is the drawing book of Helen Ledyard, a young woman who lived in New York in the late nineteenth century. This volume is filled with watercolor, pencil, and ink drawings, depicting many scenes of everyday life. Viewed through one girl's eyes, these ordinary activities take on an air of liveliness and fun. The lively images and witty captions are a wonderful source for understanding the experience of a young woman growing up at the end of the nineteenth century.
"'Hoe Mow and Co' go to church in their good clothes."

Excerpts from the finding aid for this manuscript collection:

"Helen Lincklaen Seymour Ledyard, daughter of George Strawbridge Ledyard, was born on May 2, 1869 in Cazenovia, Madison County, New York. She came from a large family; Helen had five siblings and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.  Her main residence was a large house in Cazenovia called "The Meadows" which was built in 1826.  Helen spent also a good deal of time in Philadelphia where her Strawbridge relations lived.  Helen was married on November 7, 1901 at St Peter's Church in Cazenovia.  She died in 1945."

"The drawing book contains 85 pieces, most of which are done in bright watercolors. Others are of ink, pencil and colored pencil. The art in this book depicts Helen, her family, friends and surroundings from 1888-1891. There are paintings of Helen and others making ice cream, picnicking, riding horses, camping, hiking, swimming and playing games like backgammon, tiddly winks and tilting. Other pieces capture social events like dinner parties, teas and "the Barclays' Ball," which is a beautiful depiction of a large group of people in fancy dress entering a hall for a ball."

"We are very late for the Barclay's Ball."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Today in History: Thanksgiving

Guest post by JJ Jacobson, Curator of American Culinary History

If Americans have any one person to thank for the Thanksgiving holiday, it is Sarah Josepha Buell Hale. Hale waged a decades-long campaign for the establishment of a national Thanksgiving Day on the last Thursday of November.

She was born Sarah Josepha Buell on October 24th, 1788 in Newport, New Hampshire.
She was educated at home, with tutoring in Latin, philosophy, English, and classical literature by her brother while he was a student at Dartmouth. She remained a strong proponent of education for women throughout her life. When she was widowed in 1822, she turned to literature as a means to support herself and her children.  She established her reputation in 1827 with the novel Northwood, in which we already see a Thanksgiving theme emerging: a Thanksgiving holiday forms the background for part of the action, and the Thanksgiving meal is given a chapter of its own.

From 1837 to 1877 Hale was the editor of Godey's Lady's Book, a wildly successful magazine for women which achieved a circulation of 150,000 by 1865. Hale used her monthly editorial to advocate for the causes to which she was committed. While she was especially enthusiastic about education for women, she also agitated for women's employment,  a monument on Bunker Hill, making Mount Vernon a national shrine, the elevation of housekeeping to a profession, and of course Thanksgiving. 

Hale's campaign to have Thanksgiving declared a national holiday began in the 1840s. She wrote an editorial about it every year from 1846 on, and corresponded with state and territorial governors, members of congress, and presidents to promote the last Thursday of November as the official day. A typical editorial, from October 1858, said:
"The last Thursday in November falls, this year, on the twenty-fifth. May we not hope that our nation will unite, on this day, in keeping the festival? The Governors of the States and Territories might, by uniting on this day, make the year memorable in our annals to the end of time. Will not the editors of newspapers lead the way in this union of hearts, at our national festival? Then the last Thursday in November would soon come to be considered the American's Thanksgiving Day, and wherever our countrymen dwelt the day would be a festival."
The custom gathered force, due in part to Hale's promotion of it, with many states and territories declaring a holiday on the appointed day. Hale's efforts finally met with success in 1863, when Lincoln, in a proclamation of October 3rd, proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national holiday. Subsequent presidents followed suit, and in 1941, a Congressional Joint Resolution officially set the fourth Thursday of November as a national holiday for Thanksgiving.

Hale contributed largely to periodicals besides her own and published more than forty volumes of poetry, fiction, plays, biography, household management, and cookery.  The Clements has a number of her works, including the 1873 revised edition of her Mrs. Hale's new cook book : a complete cookery book for all classes with rules and illustrations for household management and full directions for carving, arranging the table for parties, etc. : together with preparations of food for invalids and for children

The book contains recipes the modern cook would recognize for the central dishes of the Thanksgiving meal: roast turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. It is also a platform for a certain amount of editorializing.

Hale had high aspirations for women as a moral force in the world. She felt women should not directly involve themselves in politics, and therefore opposed suffrage.  Rather she advocated women working in their domestic sphere (and in suitable occupations such as teaching) to influence those under their care. The preface to Mrs Hale's new cook book claims the influence of women in the home as significant work in an important sphere of action:
"Cookery, as an Art, ranks in the highest department of useful knowledge, connected, as it is, with the welfare of every human being.
When understood in all its bearings and conducted on scientific principles, it promotes health and happiness, moral and social improvement, and adds the charm of contentment to every-day life."
This is a familiar theme for the proponents of Domestic Science, a term Hale coined: women were to make the world a better place by creating an environment that would foster virtue, whereupon virtuous action would diffuse from the home into society. 

Hale, like many of the writers and teachers who espoused this idea, was not herself averse to acting on a wider stage, with her editorials, letter writing, and other campaigns for the causes she undertook. If she had been, our Thanksgiving holiday might look very different.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Afternoon with the Curators at the Clements Library, December 7, 2010

Afternoon with the Curators at the Clements Library
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Please join the staff of the Clements Library as they highlight the current exhibit, Sugar in the Atlantic World: Trade and Taste, 1657-1940. (Exhibit runs until February 18, 2010, Monday-Friday, 1:00-4:45 p.m.)

Free and open to the public. For more information, call the Clements Library at 734-764-2347.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Current Exhibit: Artistry and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Sheet Music

Selections from the William L. Clements Library

A new exhibit from the William L. Clements Library showcases examples from the library’s collection of sheet music, which is currently being cataloged thanks to a grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas foundation.

The publication and circulation of sheet music expanded quickly throughout the 1800s. Music publishers were quick to embrace new printing technologies as they developed, and sheet music became a relatively fast and inexpensive means of circulating news, information, and ideas, as well as feeding the public's growing hunger for access to popular music to perform at home. The examples on display are drawn from the first half of the century.

Popular song has always served as a vehicle for broadcasting social and political trends. Vocal groups such as the Hutchinsons became popular performers closely associated not only with their distinctive vocal style but with their progressive politics as well, and the issuance of sheet music with their name and image brought their music and beliefs into the homes of thousands of people.

The music publishing industry was quick to respond to current events: elections, battles, and the advent of new technologies such as the installation of the Atlantic telegraph cables were all documented, musically and visually, in sheet music.

Sheet music publishing also became a vehicle for visual arts; publishers became aware that they could earn more money from visually attractive items. On display are some artfully hand-colored examples, as well as some stunning examples of early color lithography.

Now on display in the center cases of the Main Room at the Clements Library. Regular exhibit hours: Monday through Friday, 1:00 pm to 4:45 pm.

Other current exhibits in the Main Room: Sugar in the Atlantic World: Trade and Taste.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lecture by J. Kevin Graffagnino: "A Hard Founding Father to Love: Ira Allen of Vermont," November 11, 2010

"A Hard Founding Father to Love: Ira Allen of Vermont"
J. Kevin Graffagnino, Director of the Clements Library

4:00 PM, Thursday, November 11, 2010
Main Room, Clements Library
909 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI

Every American frontier has attracted ambitious individuals with grand dreams of empire, complicated get-rich schemes, and remarkably flexible ethics, and Ira Allen is the Green Mountain archetype of the breed. Please join Clements Library Director Kevin Graffagnino as he delves into Ira Allen’s checkered career.

Free and open to the public. For more information, call the Clements Library at 734-764-2347. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Recent Acquisition: Strachey Papers Purchased at Copley Auction

William L. Clements Library Purchases Significant Collection of Revolutionary War Papers: 
Sometimes good things really do come to those who wait--and who never give up

Image from New York Times article about the Strachey papers.

On October 15, the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan purchased the Sir Henry Strachey Collection, an important British figure who was a leader in Revolutionary War peace negotiations and diplomacy. The collection was purchased at the Sotheby's auction of the James S. Copley Library. As a research library, the Clements is pleased that these important papers will be available to the public for research and examination. Our archives are open to the public and we welcome those who are interested in researching the Strachey papers and the insights they shed on this defining time in our nation’s history.

The William L. Clements Library houses original resources for the study of American history and culture from the fifteenth to the early twentieth century. Its mission is to collect and preserve primary source materials, to make them available for research, and to create an environment that supports and encourages scholarly investigation of our nation's past.

The Strachey Papers are a significant acquisition for the Clements Library. It is rare today to see a large collection of American Revolution manuscripts come on the market, and adding the Strachey material to the voluminous primary sources already at the Clements makes the Library even more attractive as a destination for all researchers working on Revolutionary War topics.

In purchasing the Strachey papers on October 15, we have closed the book on an acquisitions hunt that began more than 70 years ago. Randolph G. Adams, first director of the Clements Library, saw the Strachey collection in England in the late 1920s , but he was unable to persuade Henry Strachey's descendants to part with them. The Clements bought half of the papers at auction in 1982, but the other half went to the Copley Foundation six years later. Now the two halves are reunited, making a rich array of unpublished material on Anglo-American relations and events of the American Revolution, English investments in North America, and the social history of the late 18th-century available for the first time to researchers.

The purchase of the Strachey papers at Sotheby's auction was a remarkable collaborative effort. The Clements Library is grateful to many individuals who donated funds to the initiative, including the anonymous donor who created the successful Copley Challenge, the University of Michigan administration for its strong support and the Board of Governors of the Clements Library Associates for their individual and collective assistance. Since its founding in 1923 the Library's collections have grown in large part through the generosity of our friends and supporters, and the Strachey acquisition is further proof that Americana collectors and scholars alike see the Clements as the kind of institution Augustine Birrell had in mind when he wrote, 'A great library easily begets affection, which may deepen into love.'"

The Strachey papers document his work in attempting to negotiate peace between the colonies and England in 1775-1776 and during the negotiations that led to the 1783 Treaty of Paris and the end of the Revolutionary War. The newly-purchased Strachey material complements our holdings. We are particularly strong on Anglo–American history from 1763-1783. Strachey’s papers give a perspective from the British side, at the highest level of strategy and negotiation.

With the addition of the Strachey collection from the Copley auction, we are bringing together important papers that will provide a treasure trove for scholars and researchers.

To learn more about the Henry Strachey papers, read the Sotheby's auction catalogue of the collection

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Current Exhibit: "Sugar in the Atlantic World: Trade and Taste," October 18, 2010–February 18, 2011

Sugar in the Altantic World: Trade and Taste
October 18, 2010 - February 18, 2011
Main Room, Clements Library
909 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI
Monday through Friday, 1:00-4:45 pm

Curated by JJ Jacobson

A new exhibit at the Clements Library showcases a selection of its materials for studying sugar's social, economic, political and culinary history. "Sugar in the Atlantic World: Trade and Taste" opened to the public on October 18, 2010 and will be on display through February 18, 2011.

Sugar was originally known to Europe as a rare and costly spice, but the growth of sugarcane production, first in the Mediterranean and then in the Atlantic regions, made it ever more available. Between the middle of the 1600s and the middle of the 1800s, sugar was transformed from a luxury to a widely consumed commodity in Great Britain and the United States. By the late 1800s, it was a thoroughly common article of diet, even a necessity, for most consumers.

This exhibit examines sugar two ways: as a commodity and as a consumable. The first part, using materials from the library's book, graphics, map, and manuscript collections, tells the story of the colonial sugar trade in the British West Indies: production, business, and politics. The second part uses cookbooks, confectioners' equipment catalogs, and advertising ephemera to tell the culinary and gastronomic story of how sugar (as ingredient and foodstuff) was consumed as its availability grew, thereby driving the sugar trade.

Open to the public in the Main Room of the Clements Library Monday through Friday 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 please call 734-764-2347.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lecture by Jan Longone: "The Old Girl Network": Charity Cookbooks and the Empowerment of Women, October 19, 2010

The University of Michigan
Institute for Research on Women and Gender
presents a lecture by Janice Longone:

"The Old Girl Network": Charity Cookbooks and the Empowerment of Women
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
3:00 PM-4:30 PM
2239 Lane Hall

Published by women in nonprofit groups across the country, "charity cookbooks" have been produced since the 1860s, benefiting churches, schools, sororities, the homeless, and others in need. Janice Longone is the curator of American Culinary History at the University of Michigan Clements Library. In this talk, she'll explore the roles that charity cookbooks played (and continue to play) in women's empowerment.

Before mass media, communication, and transit, the first wave of the women's movement was already active via the most ordinary of objects: the lowly cookbook. In this talk, Ms. Longone explores the politics just under every woman's nose (and, often, behind many men's backs!).

This lecture features cookbooks on many themes with an emphasis on female empowerment. Many of the compilers worked hard to published these books (with scant funding) in hopes of raising more women to the level they had already attained. The books demonstrate how women worked together to help themselves, other women, and the outside world.

University of Michigan
Lane Hall
204 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1290
(734) 764-9537

For more information about the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive, see the Clements Library website:

"The Old Girl Network": Charity Cookbooks and the Empowerment of Women was an exhibit curated by Janice Longone at the Clements Library in 2008. A selection from that exhibit is available online, as well as a webcast of the lecture given for the opening of the exhibit.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Today in History: Columbus Day

When Columbus returned from his 1492 voyage to the New World, he reported his discoveries in a letter to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Editions of this letter were printed in major cities across Europe, spreading the news of his travels. This book is significant as the first printed account of the New World.

The copy owned by the Clements Library, one of its greatest treasures, is the Rome edition of 1493. It was translated into Latin by Gabriel Sanchez and printed by Stephen Plannck. The Columbus letter is considered "the cornerstone of every great library of Americana," an essential starting point for the collector of early American history. Mr. Clements, the founder of the library, purchased this book in 1913 for $1,650. He wrote, "I am very glad to get this letter, for while it is not the rarest possibly of the two Rome editions, it will, I believe, maintain its value." (Margaret Maxwell, Shaping a Library: William L. Clements as Collector)

In addition to the original printed letter in the Rare Book Room, the Clements Library has an excellent collection of  facsimiles, translations and scholarly works concerning the Columbus letter. Search for "Columbus letter" in the Mirlyn Catalog to browse our holdings on this topic.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

International Spelling Reform Day

The Spelling Society was founded in 1908 as the Simplified Spelling Society. Its aims are to "[raise] awareness of the problems caused by the irregularity of English spelling and to promote remedies to improve literacy, including spelling reform." In 1980, the Spelling Society declared September 30 to be International Spelling Reform Day. Its motto was "Thirty days hath September - Spelling Reform to remember!"

This was far from the first effort to simplify English spelling. Since at least the 16th century, there have been numerous proposals for spelling reform of the English language. These met with varied success; while some proposed changes entered into general use, others were largely ignored.

Supporters of reform have pointed out the many inconsistencies and irregularities of English spelling. Mismatches between spelling and pronunciation of words make English a difficult language to learn. Arguments against reform include the difficulties of instituting great changes to a language that is used worldwide, the variety of regional accents which make standardized pronunciation impossible, and resistance to losing the etymological roots of words from other languages.

In 1768, Benjamin Franklin wrote a pamphlet titled, "A Scheme for a New Alphabet and a Reformed Mode of Spelling," in which he proposed a phonetic system for spelling English. Noah Webster, author of the famous Webster's Dictionary, responded to Franklin's proposal in 1789 with his book, Dissertations on the English language : with notes historical and critical : to which is added, by way of appendix, an essay on a reformed mode of spelling with Dr. Franklin's arguments on that subject. In the appendex, Webster discussed the necessity of reforming spelling, while also addressing potential objections. Of Franklin's proposal, Webster wrote, "This sage philosopher has suffered nothing useful to escape his notice. He very early discovered the difficulties that attend the learning of our language; and with his usual ingenuity, invented a plan to obviate them."

The Book Division of the Clements Library contains several other works on American spelling reform, including books written in phonetic alphabets:

David Lyon, The analitical American spelling book : containing appropriate spelling and reding lessenz, including the rudiments ov the Inglish languij; and uther useful matter, progressivly arranjed (Oxford, N.Y., 1834).

Andrew Comstock, The phonetic minstrel: consisting of original songs, in Comstock's perfect alphabet, as well as in the old alphabet; set to popular air (Philadelphia, 1847).

Ezekiel Rich, Thrten lcturs, on a nw, slf-suportng systm of jnrl & librl education, fr both sxs, espsly femals. To which is add, an esa, aplyng this systm to the education of a stat r nation ... Also, som stps fr litrry rform (Rochester, 1848).

American Phonetic Society, The fonetic olmanac and rejistur of the spelling and writing reform, together with a list of the American phonetic society, for the year of our Lord 1853 (Cincinnati, 1852).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

International Talk Like a Pirate Day: The Pirate Atlas

Last year for International Talk Like a Pirate Day, the Clements Library Chronicles highlighted a variety of materials related to pirates, including books, manuscripts, and a broadside poem. This year, we offer just one exceptional item: the Pirate Atlas.

The Clements Library purchased the Hack Atlas in 1979, funded by the generosity of the Clements Library Associates. The atlas was recently featured in a display in the Main Room of the Library, celebrating the Clements Library Associates' contributions to the Library.

The original September 1979 Quarto announcement:
"As you may have already noticed from widespread newspaper and television coverage, the library has committed itself to purchasing one of the most important historical volumes ever acquired. William Hack's late seventeenth-century manuscript "South Seas Atlas," copied from a Spanish derrotero captured by the English pirate Bartholomew Sharp, documents a crucial chapter in American history recorded in no other source. . . . An effort is now underway to raise $50,000 to complete payment for the new treasure, and assistance on the part of all friends of the library will be most welcome in the coming months. The atlas, which is as beautiful as it is historically important, will be on display at the October 16 meeting of the Associates."
The Quarto for March 1980 contained a special supplement entirely devoted to the Hack Atlas, the history of its creation and an evaluation of its importance by Dr. George Kish of the Geography Department. Professor Kish served as part-time Curator of Maps under the first Clements Library Director Randolph Adams in the mid-1940s.

The entry in One Hundred and One Treasures from the Collections of the William L. Clements Library provides the historical background:
"In 1680, a motley crew of pirates crossed the Isthmus of Panama, looting Spanish settlements along the way. They captured several vessels on the Pacific side, one of which was named the Trinity and which they made the flagship of the expedition. Since the voyage of Sir Francis Drake a century before and a few brief visits by Dutch ships earlier in the seventeenth century, no non-Spaniard had sailed in American Pacific coastal waters, and the Spanish settlements were entirely unprepared to defend themselves.

For more than a year, squabbling among themselves much of the time, the pirates explored and raided settlements and shipping up and down the coast from Acapulco to Chile, finally sailing around Cape Horn and back to the Caribbean where they divided their spoils. Twenty-two of the pirates associated with the voyage then took passage to England on two different ships, arriving in March 1682, where they created a diplomatic crisis between England and Spain. At the urging of the Spanish ambassador, several were tried for piracy and murder, but all were acquitted. They brought back sufficient treasure to pay handsomely for the voyage, but the real prize of the expedition was a set of sea charts captured on July 29, 1681."
The buccaneer Bartholomew Sharp described the capture of this book:
"In this ship . . . we took also a great book full of seacharts and maps, containing a very accurate and exact description of all the ports, soundings, creeks, rivers, capes and coasts belonging to the South Sea, and all the navigations usually performed by Spaniards in that ocean. . . . The printing thereof is severely prohibited, lest other nations should get into those seas and make use thereof." (Quoted in the Quarto, March 1980)
Sharp added in another account, "they were going to throw it overboard, but by good luck I saved it--the Spaniards cryed out when I got the book, farewell South Seas now."

After returning to England, Sharp turned the maps over to William Hack, a leading English mapmaker. Hack produced a series of fourteen copies, of which the Clements Library copy is the most extensive. Sharp and Hack presented the first copy to Charles II.

The Atlas includes 184 manuscript maps and extensive notes on provisions, landmarks, and sailing hazards. There is even a mention of sunken Spanish treasure. In the waters off Panama, it is noted that "on this shoal was lost the Almirant of the King of Spain, in the year 1631, in which was vast treasure."

In evaluating the Hack Atlas, Professor Kish concluded,
"Hack's atlas is a landmark in the maritime history of England. It provided, for the first time, a detailed and reliable source of information on Spanish possessions in western South America. The age of buccaneers was already drawing to a close when Charles II was presented with this priceless guide to seas until then unknown. It served not only navigators, but also compilers and publishers of detailed sea charts of the eighteenth century."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Current Exhibit: Banned Books Week

Dangerous Ideas
Controversial Works from the William L. Clements Library
In honor of Banned Books Week, September 25-October 2, 2010

In honor of Banned Books Week, this exhibit from the William L. Clements Library presents twelve titles from the collection that have been the subject of controversy at different moments in history.

These books span over three centuries, from Reginald Scot's The Discoverie of Witchcraft in 1584  to Elinor Glyn's Three Weeks in 1907. They provide examples of actual or attempted censorship by governments, social organizations, and private citizens. The topics of controversy, from witchcraft to abolitionism to adultery, show how societies' values have changed over time as subjects that are taboo in one generation become commonplace in the next.

Now on display in the center cases of the Main Room at the Clements Library. Regular exhibit hours: Monday through Friday, 1:00 pm to 4:45 pm.

To learn more about this display, view the full online exhibit created for last year's Banned Books Week.

Other current exhibits in the Main Room: "Fine Tuning a Great Collection: The How and Why of Recent Acquisitions" and Adopt-A-Piece-of-History.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lecture by Wes Cowan: "Collecting Americana," September 30, 2010

4:00 p.m., September 30, 2010
Main Room, Clements Library
909 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI

Wes Cowan is a familiar face on History Detectives and Antiques Roadshow. He holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Michigan and owns Cowan's Auctions, an auction house that specializes in historical Americana.

Wes will give a talk on collecting Americana, based on his vast knowledge of items from our national past, including furniture, folk art, political ephemera, Native American artifacts and rare old prints.

(Please note: Wes will not be offering appraisals, only his lively commentary on collecting American history.)

Open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

To learn more about Wes, see the article about him in the Fall 2009 LSA Magazine.

Friday, August 6, 2010

New Clements Library Fellowships Announced

Details and application instructions and forms for all Clements Library fellowships are now available on our website. For further information contact: or call 734-764-2347.

Announcement excerpted from the Quarto, no. 33 (Spring-Summer 2010):
It is a pleasure to announce the establishment of four new research fellowships intended to attract top-level scholars to the Clements Library. These complement the Jacob M. Price Visiting Research Fellowships that have been offered annually by the Library since 1995. The new fellowships have been made possible by the generous support of the Earhart Foundation, the Frederick S. Upton Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. William G. Earle, and the UM Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.

It is particularly appropriate to announce these fellowships in this issue of the Quarto since two of them support advanced research on the Civil War. The Earhart Foundation Fellowships on Civil War America and The Upton Foundation Fellowships on Civil War America each offer $4,000 per month stipends for one to five months' residence at the Clements for scholarly research on American history between 1830 and 1877. Preference will be given to projects on Civil War topics.

The Howard H. Peckham Fellowship on Revolutionary America supports research on American history between 1764 and 1783. It provides one grant of $10,000 for a project involving a residence of two months or more at the Library. The Earhart Foundation Fellowship on American History offers one $10,000 stipend for scholarly research on any aspect of American history prior to 1900. This fellowship comes with the expectation of a residence of two months or more at the Clements.

Monday, July 26, 2010

In the News: "Businessmen with a Passion for Books"

Michael F. Carmichael of Corp! recently interviewed Clements Library Director J. Kevin Graffagnino. His article based on the interview, "Businessmen with a Passion for Books," appears as a cover story in the online version of Corp! Magazine.

Check out the article to learn more about the Clements Library, its founder William Lawrence Clements, and some of the great treasures in the Library's collections.

To find out about the Clements Library's current fundraising program and how you can help, read this previous post on the challenge grant for the upcoming Copley auctions.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Help Us to Meet the Copley Challenge!

We have already raised more than half the match for the Copley Challenge. One of the nation's greatest private collections of Americana is being auctioned over the next year and we have an anonymous benefactor who has offered $150,000 as a one-to-one challenge match to purchase rare items for our library. We have raised half the funds in a short time and need only $75,000 to fully match this gift. When completed, we will have $300,000 available for the October 2010 auction.

Please consider making a gift before September 15 to help acquire these rare primary documents. Give online by selecting "Acquisition" on the Clements Library Online Giving page, or mail your gift using this form [download PDF]. If you would like more information, please contact Ann Rock at or 734-358-9770.

Read the previous post about the Copley Challenge.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Clements Library open for Art Fair, July 21-22

For the first two days of the Ann Arbor Art Fair, the Clements Library will have a tent in front of the building at 909 S. University to provide information about the Library. We're also extending our exhibit hours: the Main Room will be open for visitors to view the exhibits from 10 am to 5pm on Wednesday and Thursday. Please come by and see us!

While you're here, you can drop your name in the basket for our raffle. The prizes are a copy of 101 Treasures from the Collections of the William L. Clements Library or the Clements Library Map Portfolio, a collection of 5 reproductions of maps from Europe and the Americans, 1486-1606. All winners will also receive a free one-year membership in the Clements Library Associates.

You may also be interested in browsing our list of publications for sale. Orders may be placed online by contacting

Thursday, July 15, 2010

From the Stacks: Gone Fishin'

"The whole purpose of summer fishing, the Old Man said, is not to worry about catching fish, but just to get out of the house and set and think a little."    --Robert C. Ruark, The Old Man and the Boy

Fishing, a popular American pastime, is well-represented in the collections of the Clements Library. Once exclusively a subsistence activity, fishing became a leisure sport for the upper and middle classes in 19th century America. In the post-Civil War era, publishers began to produce popular magazines focused on field sports, including Forest and Stream (1873) and The American Angler (1881), the first magazine devoted entirely to fishing.

Browsing through the Clements Library collections provides a glimpse into a variety of materials documenting different aspects of fishing in American history. The first item of note is from the Rare Book Room:

First American book on angling

John J. Brown, a New York fishing tackle dealer, wrote this book in 1845. The book cover has a fisherman tooled in gilt. The frontispiece illustration is "Trout fishing in Sullivan County, N.Y."

Fishing tackle catalog

To prepare for a fishing excursion, you need to buy the proper equipment. This fishing tackle catalog from 1870 offers "Fine quality goods at lower prices than any other house in America."

The fish hooks for sale include styles such as the Yankee Doodle, Snap and Catch "Em," Eagle Claw, and the Pearl Weak Fish Squid.

Guide to fishing spots near Philadelphia

"There are thousands of persons, who, having only an occasional holiday, would gladly indulge in a day's out with rod and reel accompaniment, if they but knew where to go, when to go and how to go where there would be a reasonable probability of finding fish. . . . it was with a view to meeting that want, this little volume was written, with the hope that the information it contains would benefit somebody."  A.M. Spangler's helpful little volume for the Philadelphia fisherman includes discussions of the different species of fish to be found in the area, how to fish for them, and a map at the back with fishing spots marked.

An artistic endeavor

Joshua Benjamin, an American sailor, kept a journal of his various sea voyages with different ships. He drew several fish on a blank page following his entries for the Brigandine Dolphin (Boston to Portugal, 1714).

"That eccentric angler Randolph G. Adams"

The Clements Library itself has a distinguished connection to the topic through the 1934 publication of a small pamphlet by the first director of the library, "that eccentric angler Randolph G. Adams." It is an excerpt from Cotton Mather's Magnalia Book vi, p. 9, which purports to answer the question, "What makes the fish bite?" The first 20 copies of the pamphlet were printed in London by James Tregaskis and Son on authentic Dutch paper from c. 1700. Concerning the first copy, Mr. Adams wrote, "Note the genuine wormhole on [A3]. Nationality, date, and christian name of worm is unknown."

Further reading: Colleen J. Sheehy, "American Angling: The Rise of Urbanism and the Romance of the Rod and Reel," in Hard at Play: Leisure in America, 1840-1940 (Amherst, 1992)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Latest Quarto: Researching the Civil War

The latest issue of the Quarto is now available. The Quarto is a semi-annual newsletter published by the William L. Clements Library and sent to members of the Clements Library Associates. If you would like more information about membership, please contact Ann Rock at or 734-358-9770. To become an Associate, download the membership application and mail it to: Library Associates, William L. Clements Library, 909 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190.

In addition to news and announcements about the Clements Library, this issue features several essays about the Civil War collections of the Library, including manuscripts, sheet music, culinary history, and maps. The next issue of the Quarto will focus on the Civil War as well.

Contents of the Spring-Summer 2010 issue of the Quarto:
  1. "The Civil War," by J. Kevin Graffagnino, Director. An introduction to the Clements Library holdings on this subject.
  2. "The War in Their Own Words," by Cheney Schopieray, Assistant Curator of Manuscripts. Manuscript collections of the Civil War, including soldiers' letters and diaries.
  3. "The Songs of the Civil War," by Clayton Lewis, Curator of Graphic Materials. Popular music of the war.
  4. "The Food and Society Database," by JJ Jacobson, Curator for American Culinary History. A description of the forthcoming database for finding culinary references in the collection, and how it can be used to research aspects of the Civil War.
  5. "Maps from the Front," by Brian Dunnigan, Curator of Maps and Head of Research & Publications. Printed and manuscript maps of the Civil War.
  6. "Developments," by Ann Rock, Director of Development.The James S. Copley auction and challenge grant.
  7. Announcements.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Current Exhibit: "Fine-Tuning a Great Collection: The How and Why of Recent Acquisitions," June 14 - October 8, 2010

A new exhibit at the Clements Library showcases some of the best of its recent acquisitions and uses these rare books, manuscripts, maps, and graphic materials to explain the Library’s policies for adding to its outstanding holdings. "Fine Tuning a Great Collection: The How and Why of Recent Acquisitions" opened to the public on June 14 and will be on display through October 8.

The Clements Library opened its doors in 1923 as the first rare books and special collections library at an American public university. The building and its books were a gift to the University of Michigan by William L. Clements, an alumnus and industrialist from Bay City. The collection was soon broadened to include other primary historical source materials, such as manuscripts, maps, and graphics. Today the Clements Library is one of the great repositories of primary source material on the history of the Americas and welcomes scholars from the university and around the world.

The Library's holdings have grown steadily since 1923, both in quantity and quality. Materials are acquired by gift and by purchase, and the Library collects actively. The exhibit features a wide variety of items that have been added since 2004, including a circa 1740 plan of the French fortress town of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia, a portrait print of Haitian leader Toussaint Louverture, a letter written by women's suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony, correspondence from soldiers of the Civil War and War of 1812, selections from the culinary history archive, and a rare, 1856 illustrated atlas of America.

"Fine Tuning a Great Collection" is open to the public in the Main Room of the Clements Library Monday through Thursday from 1:00 pm to 4:45 pm. After September 7 the exhibit will be open Monday though Friday.

The Clements Library is located on the campus of the University of Michigan at 909 South University Avenue, Ann Arbor. For further information please call 734-764-2347.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

$150,000 Challenge Grant Announced

Help us to purchase important documents of the early history of the United States
by doubling the value of your donation.

A generous anonymous donor presented a remarkable opportunity that will benefit the Clements Library in many ways for years to come. One of the nation's greatest private collections of Americana is being auctioned off over the next year and we have an anonymous benefactor who has offered $150,000 as a one-to-one challenge match to purchase rare items for our library.

We need to raise $150,000 to fully take advantage of this gift, and we have already received more than $40,000.

These remarkable documents are part of holdings of James S. Copley, a newspaper publisher and a collector of considerable stature who amassed a first-class collection of Americana during the 1960s and 1970s. After Mr. Copley's death in 1973 his family established the James S. Copley Library to hold his marvelous collection. Beginning in April 2010 and continuing through April 2011, Sotheby's will auction the Copley treasures, which have an estimated value of $10-15 million. Read an article about the James S. Copley auctions in the New York Times.

The Sotheby's description states that these materials offer "an incredible survey in original manuscripts of American history and worldwide literary, artistic and scientific achievement. The core of the collection is its remarkable range of handwritten letters, documents, and other manuscripts which trace this history of America from the earliest incursion of Jesuit missionaries into California through the archive of letters sent by General Eisenhower to his wife from the battlefields of Europe."

Many of the Copley items have great appeal for the Clements. The historic documents relating to the American Revolution and the Civil War that are now at the Clements have formed the basis for important scholarship by such distinguished authors such as Carl Van Doren, Fred Anderson, David McCullough, James T. Flexner, Gerda Lerner and Richard B. Morris. The Copley collection is rich in primary sources on both conflicts, and the Sotheby's sales will also feature extraordinary documentation of the birth and expansion of the United States.

At the first Copley auction on April 14, the Library purchased six outstanding manuscript items—letters of Governor George Clinton, General Thomas Gage, General Nathanael Greene, General Israel Putnam, Governor Thomas Hutchinson, and President John Tyler. We were delighted to add these pieces and their insights into the Revolution, colonial American politics and slavery in antebellum American to our collections. These items were purchased with our own funds and if we meet the challenge we will have $300,000 available for the upcoming Copley auctions.

Many more treasures remain in the Copley sales, and by bringing them to the Clements we can ensure that they remain accessible for students of our national heritage.

Each donor will be recognized on a plaque that will be displayed in the Great Room. Once purchased, we will host an exhibit of acquisitions with a reception for donors.

There are many ways you can donate. Give online by selecting "Acquisition" on the Clements Library Online Giving page, or mail your gift using this form [download PDF]. If you would like more information, please contact Ann Rock at or 734-358-9770.

Thank you for considering a gift that will help to make these unique letters and documents available to students and researchers for generations. All who contribute will be able to take pride in knowing that their gift helped to purchase some of the most notable additions to our collection.

UPDATE: As of July 22, 2010, we have raised $75,000! Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Highlights from the Culinary Archive on Display in the Audubon Room

From the University of Michigan Record Update for Wednesday, June 9, 2010: Jan Longone and Provost Theresa Sullivan at a reception to honor the Longones' donation of their culinary collection to the William L. Clements Library. Materials donated by Daniel and Janice Longone form the core of the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive, a collection of primary sources devoted to the subject of food history in America.

At the reception sponsored by the Provost at the Hatcher Graduate Library on June 8, guests had an opportunity to view four books from the culinary collection. These books are on public display in the Audubon Room of the Hatcher Library until June 28, 2010.

Excerpts from exhibit brochure (view full brochure [pdf]):

Tractatus de Vinea, Vindemia, et Vino
Venetiis, 1629, Prospero Rendella
The most significant 17th century book on wine

This rare and beautiful work covers all there was to know about wine from the classic period until its own day, as an English translation of the title page suggests: “In which things that pertain to the care and culture of vineyards, to the work of the grape harvest, and the instructions of the vintner, as well as many questions and laws are considered and lucidly explained. And not only the many types of wine but also about the trade in wine and the attention required for its skilled use are put forth. It will be especially useful and necessary for all the judges as for those occupied in the forum and also for those who attend to agriculture. With an index of chapters and a notation of worthy matters which are contained in the work with license and privilege of the Higher-Ups.” The author, a jurisprudent, discusses viticulture, how to care for vines, diseases, vinification, harvests, cellar work, commerce and legal matters. There are interesting details on various wines (Falernian, Lacrima, and numerous wines of the Naples region), religious rites in connection with wine, blessing of the harvest, sacred feasts, divine origin of the grape, wine for the mass, bacchanals, etc. There are discussions of casks and tools of the press and the harvest, and of jokes during the harvest. There are sections on an interpretation of the first codex about military rationing of food (how much wine was rationed to soldiers and how frequently) as well as the code of Constantine on military rationing of food.

Antiquitates Culinariae; or Curious Tracts Relating to the Culinary Affairs of the Old English
London, 1791, Rev. Richard Warner (1763-1857)
First and sole edition of one of the most beautiful works on early English recipes

Richard Warner was a prominent English antiquarian and divine. This book was one of the first works to examine the history of early English cookery, at the forefront of a scholarly movement that developed over the last three decades of the 18th century. The book contains Warner’s detailed introductory notes; “The Forme of Cury,” copied from an ancient vellum roll thought to have been compiled about 1390 by the master cooks of King Richard II; “Ancient Cookery, A.D. 1381,” another collection of recipes from the same vellum roll; “Ancient Cookery,” a collection of recipes from a 15th century manuscript but which almost certainly dates from a much earlier period; “Ancient Receipts to Preserve Fruits,” from the mid-17th century; an account of the enthronization feast of George Neville as Archbishop of York in the reign of King Edward IV; and of the enthronization feast of William Warham as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1501. The double-page colored plate titled “A Peacock Feast” which is present in this volume, was removed from most copies, owing to a dispute with the original publisher.

A Domestic Cook Book
Paw Paw, Michigan, 1866, Mrs. Malinda Russell
Only Copy Known of First African-American Cookbook

Malinda Russell was born in Tennessee a free woman of color. On her way to Liberia at age 19, she was robbed in Virginia by a member of her party. She immediately began to work as a cook, companion and laundress. She married, had a son and was widowed after four years; using her maiden name for the rest of her life. After her husband died, she returned to Tennessee and kept a boarding house on Chuckey Mountain for 3 years, then a pastry shop for 6 years, and “by hard labor and economy, saved a considerable sum of money for the support of myself and my son.” Then, in 1864, for the second time in her life, her money was stolen, by a guerrilla party who threatened her life if she revealed who they were. “Under those circumstances, we were obliged to leave home, following a flag of truce out of the Southern borders.” Hearing that Michigan was the Garden of the West, she moved there. Forced to leave the South because of her Union principles, she wrote this book “hoping to receive enough…to enable me to return home.” It is quite astonishing this fragile and unique copy of A Domestic Cook Book has survived. For years, my husband Dan and I tried to discover more about her, spending our 48th wedding anniversary in the South, trying to uncover further details. Several times we felt we had come close, but in the end, we could not be certain we had located her. Not yet! Who was this indomitable woman, who never gave up? Her story is an African-American story; it is an American story. She has overcome.

Favorite Recipes
Charlottesville, 1912, The Ladies of Virginia
A rare American survivor - To honor Provost Sullivan

This fragile book, one of only three copies known, represents the thousands of charity or fundraising cookbooks issued by ladies’ organizations from the mid 19th century. Essentially begun as a legacy of the Civil War, the trickle of these early books published in the 1860s and ‘70s quickly became a flood that continues into our own time, as thousands of charity cookbooks have been produced in the United States to benefit every conceivable cause. These had been an under-utilized and are now becoming an increasingly-used resource for the study of American history. The popularity and rapid spread of the charity cookbook phenomenon is considered a prime example of female bonding and collective civic virtue. At a time when women were without full political rights and representation, they found these books one very effective way to participate in the public life of the nation. This particular charity was chosen to honor current U-M Provost Teresa Sullivan - from The Ladies of Virginia to the New Lady, soon to be President of the University of Virginia. Much can be learned from examining this small book. There are advertisements for the University, explaining that tuition in Academic Departments is FREE to Virginians. There is an ad for a School for Girls, run by a woman, which offers a College Preparatory program ($300). There is a list of Prominent Boarding Houses. And, a recipe for Reception Patties (for 100 guests) which uses 21 sweetbreads and six bottles French mushrooms. Perhaps in the future President Sullivan will serve this historic dish.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Staff Favorite: 1743 Book on Longitude by Woman Scientist

Rare Book Cataloger Oksana Linda, who came to the Library in 1998, is particularly fond of this little-known book on longitude by Jane Squire. Bound in calf leather, this volume is beautifully embellished with a centerpiece onlay of black leather, tooled with figures relating to formulae printed in the text. Such elaborate decoration is unusual for such an obscure work, self-published by a female scientist in the 18th century.

Even more intriguing than the binding is the story behind the book itself. In 1714, The British government formed the Commissioners for the Discovery of the Longitude at Sea to encourage innovators to develop an accurate method for measuring longitude.They offered prizes from £10,000 to 20,000 for a working method or device, as well as smaller awards for those making significant contributions or working towards a promising solution. The measurement of longitude, essential to cartography and ocean navigation, was a scientific problem that occupied many of the greatest minds of the day.While early navigators could measure latitude with reasonable accuracy, there was no reliable method for determining longitude on long sea-voyages. Errors in navigation could result in several weeks' delay, starvation, or shipwreck. France, Spain, and Holland also offered prizes for longitude solutions.

Jane Squire (1671-1743) was the only woman to try for the prize. In 1731 she published an 11-page pamphlet, "A proposal to determine our longitude" and submitted it to the commissioners of the British longitude prize. Despite her persistence, her proposal did not gain acceptance. Her 1742 book, A proposal for discovering our longitude, further elaborated on her theory and struggles to promote it. With parallel texts in English and French, the book included her original pamphlet, copies of letters written and received regarding her proposal, and a complex explanation of the unique system she developed for measurements. The Clements Library holds a copy of the second edition of this work, printed in English in 1743 and titled A proposal to determine our longitude.

Jane Squire's scientific approach was unusual, to say the least. Rejecting the traditional approaches, she proposed a new system of dividing the globe into a million "cloves," each with its own "zenithal" star to calculate astral and local time. She developed her own terminology and measurements, and used a prime meridian based on the city of Bethlehem. Indeed, it is not surprising that her ideas were dismissed by the commissioners and contemporary scientists. An analysis printed in The Observatory in 1915 concluded, "The central idea of the proposal is rooted in a remarkable confusion of thought."

Despite serious flaws in her proposal for determining longitude, Squire valiantly asserted her right to compete along with the other scientists of her day. Against the objection that "Mathematicks are not the proper Study of Women," Squire asserted that "to count, to measure, &c. which are now generally suppos'd to be included in [Mathematics]; are so naturally, the Properties of every reasonable Creature, that it is impossible to renounce them."

Squire continued, "Hence, Sir, it has ever appeared to me ; that to study the Law of God Day and Night, is my proper Business ; Philosophy, my Amusement ; and Mathematicks, my Play-things. . . . I do not remember any Play-thing, that does not appear to me a mathematical model ; nor any mathematical Instrument, that does not appear to me a Play-thing :  I see not, therefore, why I should confine myself to Needles, Cards, and Dice." Regarding her right to seek the prize, she declared that it appeared to her "as fair a Prize, as any Plate given to be run for at Newmarket or elsewhere ; the Pursuit more entertaining, the Victory more glorious, and the Attempt free to all."

Jane Squire must have been a remarkable woman, and yet little is known of her beyond her published works. A brief biographical entry in The feminist companion to literature in English summarized her proposal and notes that "the scholar Thomas Rawlins admired her." Rawlins' letter to George Ballard in 1743 indicated a deep respect for her character and work:
"Mrs. Jane Squire author of ye Treatise very lately published for determining ye Longitude. She was a Lady excellently well versed in Astronomy, Philosophy, & most pts of polite Literature. She had a most moral Life. She dyed April 4th. 1743 wth. a just Resignation to ye Will of God (a Roman Catholick) & in a firm Hope of Salvation. It is a great Loss to Navigators yt she has not lived to finish her Catalogue of Stars, describing their Longitude, Latitude & Place in both Hemispheres, in a manner entirely new, & more certain than any ever done before." [Letter reprinted in the edited edition of Ballard's Memoirs of several ladies of Great Britain, 1985]

Monday, May 17, 2010

In the News: Longones to be Honored for Culinary Archive

The University of Michigan Record Update features an article by Frank Provenzano, "Donors of American Culinary History Collection to be Honored."  Janice and Daniel Longone, donors of the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive at the William L. Clements Library, will be honored on June 8 in a ceremony at the Hatcher Graduate Library.

Select items from the culinary collection will be on display in the Audubon Room at the Hatcher Graduate Library, June 1-28, include the first cookbook authored by an African-American woman.

Monday, May 3, 2010

32nd Annual Ann Arbor Antiquarian Book Fair, Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thirty Second Annual
Ann Arbor Antiquarian Book Fair
Sunday, May 16, 11:00-5:00

Admission: $5.00

Location: Michigan Union
Ballroom, 2nd Floor
530 S. State St.

List of booksellers planning to attend the fair.

For more information call:
West Side Book Shop (734) 995-1891

Sponsored by the Ann Arbor Antiquarian Booksellers Association
A benefit for the William L. Clements Library