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.