Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Staff Favorite: Tapa Cloth from Captain Cook's Voyages

Alexander Shaw, A catalogue of the different specimens of cloth collected in the three voyages of Captain Cook, to the southern hemisphere (London, 1787).

Clements Library conservator Julie Fremuth has worked at the Library for 21 years. One of her favorite items from the collection is this book of Polynesian tapa cloth samples, gathered during the voyages of the 18th century English explorer Captain James Cook. As an artist, Julie finds inspiration in the vivid colors, patterns, and textures of the cloth, still beautifully preserved in this volume after more than two hundred years.

The Library acquired the book in 1958. As reported in the June 1958 issue of The Quarto (no. 41), "This volume we had always lacked, until we found an extraordinary example which we felt we must obtain to complete our collection on Cook ... This is the largest of the sample books known and probably unique."

The book is described in greater detail in One Hundred and One Treasures from the Collections of the William L. Clements Library, including the history of this particular copy:
"When Captain Cook's Discovery returned from the third voyage of 1780 -- Cook having been killed two years earlier by natives at Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii, and buried in a sea coffin -- the ship carried with it plants, specimens, and artifacts of great fascination. Among them were many rolls of tapa cloth which the Polynesian women made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree. Alexander Shaw, a London merchant, was able to obtain specimens of the textured cloth with its striking patterns and designs and put together A Catalogue of the Different Speciments of Cloth Collected in the Three Voyages of Captain Cook, to the Southern Hemisphere; with a Particular Account of the Manner of Manufacturing the Same in the Various Islands of the South Seas. He printed his list as a pamphlet in 1787, bound it with a selection of 45 to 60 swatches of the cloth, two or four to a page, and distributed copies to friends. The book is a great rarity, and the Clements Library copy is uniquely special.

Thomas Pennant (1726-1798) was one of the most admired naturalists of the eighteenth century, and when he saw a copy of the book, he called on Shaw and obtained every existing sample, both from Shaw and apparently other sources, cut them to full page size, and bound them with Shaw's essay. To supplement the printed identification, he sought out and interviewed several of Cook's sailors, writing on blank interleaves where, when, and by whom each sample was acquired, and how the different types of cloth were used by the natives. The result was a fat book containing 92 samples and a unique body of ethnological information." (101 Treasures, p. 99-100)
The Clements Library collections include a number of other books and maps related to Captain Cook's explorations, including the first printed account of Cook's first voyage, A journal of a voyage round the world, in His Majesty's ship Endeavour (published anonymously in 1771), and the official published accounts of all three voyages:
  1. John Hawkesworth, An account of the voyages undertaken by the order of His present Majesty for making discoveries in the Southern hemisphere (London, 1773). 3 vols.
  2. James Cook, A voyage towards the South pole, and round the world (London, 1777) 2 vols.
  3. James Cook, A voyage to the Pacific ocean (London, 1784). 3 vols. and atlas.

Monday, April 19, 2010

From the Stacks: Japanese Books and Manuscripts at the Clements Library

Regular contributor Emiko Hastings, Assistant Curator of Books, will be on vacation in Japan for the next two weeks.

While American history (broadly defined) is the main focus of the Clements Library collections, researchers may be surprised to discover materials representing other cultures here as well. Such items might come to the Library as part of larger collections or because of connections to American history that may not be readily apparent. One example of this is the small but significant collection of Japanese materials in the Library. Spanning more than one hundred years of history, these items include a variety of manuscripts, maps, books, and images documenting Japanese culture and historical encounters between Japan and the United States. Some of these items record the experiences of Americans traveling abroad in Japan or Japanese coming to America. Others provide insight into 19th century Japanese knowledge of the United States, both before and after the official opening of trade relations between the two nations in 1853-54.

Japanese Manuscript Collection, 1832-1861.  This collection of 4 Japanese manuscripts from the 19th century provides insight into important cultural encounters between Japan and the West. The manuscripts include an illustrated book of costumes of the world, an account of the famous John Manjiro's travels to America, instructions for receiving the first American envoy to Japan, and a diary kept by a member of the first Japanese embassy to the United States.

Thomas C. Dudley Papers, 1852-1856.  The Thomas C. Dudley papers are comprised of 83 letters written by Dudley to his young sister, Fanny, during the Caribbean cruises of the U.S.S. Powhatan in 1852 and Matthew Calbraith Perry's expedition to Japan, 1853-1854, and a 219 page memoir of his experiences during the United States Navel Expedition to Japan, written in 1855.

Kan Nakamura Journal, 1942-1943. The Kan Nakamura journal is a translation of a journal kept by a young Japanese officer during the Second World War while serving with one of the regiments stationed on Guadalcanal.


Abe, Yoshitô.  Chikyû bankoku zenzu. [1840?] Wood block print. World map based on a French map of 1835; annotated. In Japanese; includes Chinese translations of place names.

[Guide to leading stores in the foreign market, Yokohama]. Pictorial map of part of Yokohama printed as part of an eight-page pamphlet. Text presumably provides information relative to the stores and contains references to Commodore Perry. Includes list of geisha houses authorized to entertain foreigners.

[Street plan map of Yokohama, 1869].  Street plan with nearly all information given in Japanese characters. Locations are numbered and a few places are identified in English. A note with the map states: This map was especially prepared to serve as a guide to foreign establishments in the newly opened port. The American consul appears as no. 97 on the map.


"Landing of Commodore Perry, officers, & men of the Squadron in 1854," after painting
by Heine. Color lithograph by Saxony, N.Y.

[Views of Tokyo, Yokohama, and Uraga area at Commodore Perry’s second visit.]  Names and crests of Japanese lords; procession of American Navy personnel; view of Tokyo Bay with American ships; detail of American steamships. Color woodcut.


Kaigai ibun [Strange information from abroad. New information from America. The experiences of Hatsutarô and twelve other Japanese castaways and what they saw and heard when rescued by a Spanish boat and taken to California and Mexico from 1841 to 1843. Edited by Seifuen Juô. New edition.] [Tôkyô, 1854]  5 vols.

Kaigai shimbun besshû [Collection of materials from foreign newspapers, governmental edition. Translation of the New York Times, nos. 103-303, relating to the Civil War.] [Tôkyô, Rôsôkaku, 1862] With copy 2 of v. 1 is a picture of Joseph Heco, Japanese castaway who became an early US consul to the Japanese and who may have edited this work. There is also, laid in, a letter relating to Heco from Eleanor Temple (copy).

Uryû, Masakazu. Seiyô shinsho. [A new book on the western world, including an outline of geography and the history and customs of American and European countries.] [Tôkyô, Hôshû-dô, 1872] Contents include: Voyages across the Pacific; Hawaiian Islands; San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and the White House; Hongkong; Paris, Marseille, Europe, Biographies of Columbus, Washington and Napoleon; locomotives; telegraphs; steam engines; policemen, museums; libraries; exhibitions; hospitals; Congress; Civil war; Franco-Prussian war; France and Britain at war. 10 vols.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Adopt a Piece of History: Recent Acquisitions and Conservation

"Tradition fades but the written record remains ever fresh."

Our Adopt a Piece of History asks people to fund purchases and conservation at the Clements Library. There are many books, manuscripts, maps, and visual materials that we should add to the collection, and some of our holdings require expert repair because of fragility and age. Please consider a gift to the Clements Library to purchase an item or to conserve an item so that you can adopt a piece of history. Your contribution will strengthen our collections and make them available to researchers and students for generations to come.

American Encounters

Our current exhibit highlights the Clements Library's holdings related to Native American history, including books, maps, manuscripts, prints, and photographs that document more than four centuries of history. These primary sources illustrate cultural encounters over the course of American history and feature some of the library's greatest materials. Exhibits such as this one and scholarly research based on our collections are possible only with the gifts from loyal supporters.

In need of conservation are: 
Exhibit Case 4:
A   William Penn's Treaty with the Indians; broadside engraving (1857): $150

Exhibit Case 8:
B   Charles McCormick document (1785): $200

Exhibit Case 11:
C   The Cherokee Phoenix & Indians' Advocate newspaper: $50/issue
D   Map Showing the Lands Assigned to Emigrant Indians West of Arkansas & Missouri (1836): $200

Exhibit Case 14:
E   Dictionary of the Otchipwe Language, Explained in English (1853): $250

Other Adoptable Items
(currently located in the Adopt a Piece of History display case in the Main Room)

Represented below are items for which we need help to either purchase or conserve.

1. Laws of the Choctaw Nation : made and enacted by the General Council from 1886 to 1890 inclusive (Atoka, I.T. : Indian Citizen Print, 1891). $500

2. The Constitution and Laws of the Cherokee Nation, passed at Tah-Le-Quah, Cherokee Nation, 1839 (Washington : Printed by Gales and Seaton, 1840). $2,250

3. Integrated school group. Daguerreotype, circa 1850s. $850

4. Bridge across the west branch of the Raritan river. Ink drawing by David Claypoole Johnston, circa 1840s. $1,500

5. Civil War ephemera. Pull-tap envelope, by David Claypoole Johnston. $500

Uncle Tom's Cabin performance advertising ephemera (E. Wharton & Co.):

6. Rial & Draper's Ideal Uncle Tom's Cabin. $65

7. Rial & Draper's Uncle Tom's Cabin. $75

8. Anthony & Ellis' Famous Ideal Uncle Tom's Cabin. $150

9. Emma Francis Voris, The New Columbian White House Cookery (Philadelphia, 1893). $100

10. Regulations for the Medical Department of the C.S. Army (Richmond, 1863). $3,500

11. A.W. Wilde's daybook, 1849-1863. $1,800

12. Francis Francis, Jr., Saddle and Mocassin. $350

13. George Catlin, Nord-Amerikas Indianer (Stockhold, 1848). Swedish translation of: Letters and notes on the manners, customs, and condition of the North American Indians. $1,250

14. Map of North America. Printed on cotton between 1836 and 1845. It features an enlarged area for Texas, extending from the Rio Grande to the Canadian border and westward to the Rocky Mountains. Only known copy. Purchase price $4000 Estimated conservation cost $600

15. George Catlin, Die Indianer Nord Amerikas (Brussels, 1851). German translation of: Letters and notes on the manners, customs, and condition of the North American Indians. $1,500

16. Helen Campbell, Women Wage-earners : Their past, their present, and their future (Boston, 1893). $225

In addition to personal gifts, we welcome gifts in honor of a person or a special occasion, in someone’s memory, or to celebrate a special event.  Each book will receive a bookplate to honor the donor.  All contributions will be recorded in our electronic catalog with the name of the donor. Your support for our recent acquisitions will help to offset the cost of these additions to our library while those in need of conservation have been in our collections for many years.

For more information, please contact:

Ann Rock
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan
909 S. University
Ann Arbor, MI  48109=1190
(734) 358-9770

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Founder's Day Celebration: Happy Birthday, Mr. Clements!

On April 1, the Clements Library celebrates the birth of our founder, William L. Clements (1861-1934). This tradition was first recorded in the Clements Library Annual Report for 1937-1938: 
"Our new period started with the ceremony which in years to come we hope may become one of the Library's traditions. On April 1, 1938, the anniversary of Mr. Clements' birth, there was a formal meeting at the Library of members of Mr. Clements' family, some of his own intimate friends, and representatives of the University book men and the administration."
Over the years, the Library has observed Founder's Day in a variety of ways. Past celebrations have included a Founder's Day Tea attended by friends of the Library, guest speakers on topics related to Mr. Clements' interests, and even a dance performance. In 1953, Richard S. Wormser spoke on the subject of "Literary Hoaxes" and revealed a humorous episode in Clements Library history:

In 1943, Dr. Randolph Adams, first director of the Clements Library, was the target of an elaborate prank by his assistant Howard H. Peckham. Peckham, then at work on his biography of the Ottawa chief Pontiac, knew that Adams' knowledge of the Ottawa language was limited to one word: Pontiac's Indian name Obwandiyag.

Peckham recalled, "Around the Clements Library we had bits of blank eighteenth-century paper, and I owned a printing press that was a couple steps above a toy. I don't know how I happened to think of trying to print a bookplate for Chief Pontiac in the Ottawa language." He called a specialist in the Ottawa language to find out the translation of "his book" or "ex libris," and found a phrase that could be translated as "from his bookcase." Peckham then printed up a few bookplates on the authentic paper and gave one to an autograph dealer who was visiting Adams, explaining the hoax. The dealer handed the bookplate to Adams, who examined it and recognized the name of Pontiac.

Peckham, standing nearby, cheerfully suggested, "It must be something a Detroit trader had printed for him. Why don't you call Greenman. He knows Ottawa and Chippewa." When Adams called and received the translation, he exclaimed, "My God! It's his bookplate!" At this, Peckham and the autograph dealer could no longer contain their laughter, and Peckham confessed to the hoax.

The entire story is recounted in Charles Hamilton's Great Forgers and Famous Fakes (1980). The bookplate itself, which can be found in the Clements Library Forgery Collection, was featured in a Library of Congress exhibit in 1950 on "Forgeries, Facsimiles, and Questioned Documents." For more information, see one of the original bookplates by Howard Peckham, the replica printed for Founder's Day in 1953, and a guide to the Facsimiles and Forgeries exhibit by the Clements Library.

Caption from Library of Congress exhibit:

PONTIAC. Forgery. Ogima Obwandiyag omasinaigani-tessabang [Chief Pontiac from his Book case]. 1 page, oblong 16mo.
*** Pontiac owned a book; ergo, he had a bookplate. Exhibited by Colton Storm, Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

After the 1970s, the tradition of Founder's Day was discontinued for a number of years, before the Library decided to reinstitute it in 2009.

The 2010 Founder's Day celebration will feature Nicholas Basbanes, author of A Gentle Madness, with a talk entitled "Further Adventures Among the Gently Mad." Today in the Main Room of the Clements Library, 4:00 pm.

Pamphlet copies of the 2009 Founder's Day address by Professor Martha S. Jones, "Confessions of an Archives Rat," will be available.