Friday, March 25, 2011

Staff Favorite: William T. Washington Letter

Today in History: Greek Independence Day

Cheney J. Schopieray, Assistant Curator of Manuscripts, has worked at the Clements Library since 2002. His list of favorite manuscripts grows longer on a daily basis, but in honor of the 190th anniversary celebration of the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence (1821-1829), today his favorite manuscript is a public letter written by William Townshend Washington, August 27, 1825. Cheney found (and continues to find) the complexity of William Washington's character, his at times egregious behavior, and his questionable motives to be intriguing and worthy of a biography, or perhaps an adventure novel.

The letter has relevance to American service in the Greek rebellion against Turkish Ottoman rule and it is an unusual piece of Washingtoniana. William T. Washington was a Virginian, who claimed distant familial ties to George Washington. He attended West Point and received a Lieutenant's commission in 1823.

Washington, like Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, was an American Philhellene who traveled to Greece in the 1820s to support the Revolution. However, unlike Howe, his services in Greece are remembered with mixed feelings. Contemporary accounts of Washington variously referred to him as strange, "brave but unprincipled," and possessed of "unbounded vanity." [1] Commodore John Rodgers, commander of the U.S. Mediterranean squadron during the Greek Revolution, had occasion to meet Washington under less than favorable circumstances. He described him as "inconsistent, unless he is insane."[2]

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Current Exhibit: The Acquisition of the Henry Strachey Papers

Image courtesy of Sotheby's.
The Acquisition of the Henry Strachey Papers

In October 2010 the Clements Library purchased the Henry Strachey Papers at Sotheby's, ending a paper chase that began in the 1920s. The acquisition complements a Strachey archive the Library bought in 1982 and reunites an impressive array of important primary sources for historians of the American Revolution. Strachey's letters and other manuscripts tell the British side of the story, offering scholars valuable new information on Anglo-American relations, English investments in North America, the events of the war, the Treaty of Paris, and late 18th- century social history.

Selections from both parts of the Strachey collection are now on display in the center cases of the Main Room. See the Clements Library website for more information about our current exhibits.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Clements Library Fellowships Announced

First Post-Doctoral Fellowships Awarded

Five post-doctoral fellows will be in residence at the Clements Library during 2011 thanks to awards made from our four new fellowships.  These are designed to fund extended research in the Library’s outstanding collections.  This is the first class of post-doctoral fellows in a continuing program to support advanced scholarship, and we look forward to the books that will result from their visits.  Many thanks to the foundations and individual donors who have made these fellowships possible.

Prof. William A. Hay of Mississippi State University is the recipient of the Howard H. Peckham Fellowship on Revolutionary America for his book topic, “King George’s Generals: How the British Army Lost America.”

Prof. Michael J. Bennett of High Point University has been selected for an Earhart Foundation Fellowship on Civil War America for his book topic, “The Soul in Battle: Restraint and Retaliation in the Civil War.”

Dr. John Casey of the University of Illinois at Chicago will receive an Upton Foundation Fellowship on Civil War America for his book topic, “The Vanishing Civil War Veteran in Late-Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture.”

Dr. Amy Lippert of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is the recipient of an Upton Foundation Fellowship on Civil War America for her book topic, “Consuming Identities: Visual Culture and Celebrity in Nineteenth-Century San Francisco.”

Prof. Gregory J.W. Urwin of Temple University has been awarded an Earhart Foundation Fellowship on American History for his book topic, “When Freedom Wore a Red Coat: A Social History of Cornwallis’ 1781 Virginia Campaign.”

2011 Jacob M. Price Visiting Research Fellowships

The Library did not offer the popular Price Fellowships in 2010, so it is a particular pleasure to report that we have made awards to ten promising young scholars for 2011.  All will visit to consult our collections in support of their research.

Prof. Christian A. Crouch, Bard College, for her book topic, “The Savage Nobles: New France and Martial Practice in the French Atlantic Empire, 1748-1768.”

Huw Thomas David, University of Oxford, for his dissertation, “Trade, Politics, and the Unfinished Business of American Independence, 1783-1795.”

David T. Flaherty, University of Virginia, for his dissertation, “British Visions of Empire and the Aggressive Imperial Project for the North American Frontier, 1713-1783.”

M. Scott Heerman, University of Maryland, College Park, for his dissertation, “’The Nations of This Continent’: Slavery and Making the American Republic in the Mississippi Valley, 1750-1840.”

Trenton Cole Jones, Johns Hopkins University, for his dissertation, “Deprived of Their Liberty: Prisoners of War and American Military Culture, 1775-1783.”

Andrew F. Lang, Rice University, for his dissertation, “Liberators, Occupiers, and Protectors: The Culture of Soldiering Behind the Lines During the American Civil War.”

Christopher F. Minty, University of Stirling, for his dissertation, “Popular Loyalism and Counter-Revolution in the British Atlantic World, c. 1776-1800.”

Jennifer K. Snyder, University of Florida, for her dissertation, “Black Flight: Tracing the Loyalist Slave Diaspora Throughout the Revolutionary Atlantic World.”

Matthew P. Spooner, Columbia University, for his dissertation, “Origins of the Old South: The reconstruction of Southern Slavery, 1778-1808,”

Aaron Sullivan, Temple University, for his dissertation, “In the Jaws of the Lion: The British Occupation of Philadelphia and the Disaffected Center of Revolution.”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Founder's Day Lecture by Dr. Peter Wood, March 31, 2011

Dr. Peter H. Wood
Emeritus Professor of History, Duke University

Founder’s Day Lecture
“Near Andersonville”:  Winslow Homer’s Civil War

Thursday, March 31, 2011
4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Main Room, Clements Library
909 S. University Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190

American painter Winslow Homer rose to national attention during the Civil War, but one of his most important early paintings, “Near Andersonville,” remained unknown for a century. In this illustrated lecture, historian Peter Wood reveals the long-hidden story of this remarkable Civil War painting. Wood examines the interplay of symbolic elements and links the painting to Abraham Lincoln’s presidential campaign of 1864. Wood’s provocative study offers a fresh vantage point on Homer’s early career, the struggle to end slavery, and the dramatic closing years of the Civil War.

Free and open to the public. For more information, contact the Library at (734) 764-2347 or visit our website:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lecture by Emiko Hastings: "Mighty Women Book Hunters: Women Bibliophiles and Librarians," March 17, 2011

"Mighty Women Book Hunters": Women Bibliophiles and Librarians
4:00 pm, Thursday, March 17, 2011
Main Room, Clements Library
909 S. University Ave.

Emi Hastings, Book Curator for the Clements Library, will provide a brief history of women in the rare book field as collectors, librarians, and dealers. What were the barriers to women's participation, and why did so many writers refer to women as "the enemies of books"? This talk will explore the literature of book collecting and some of the notable women bibliophiles through the ages.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Current Exhibit: "Opening Guns: The First Year of Civil War," February 28, 2011 - June 3, 2010

Opening Guns:  The First Year of Civil War
February 28 - June 3, 2011
Main Room, Clements Library
909 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI

Curated by Barbara DeWolfe

This exhibit presents the year 1861 through the written word of the soldiers and civilians who experienced the war between the Union and Confederate states, whether as soldier, commanding officer, Sanitary Commission worker, politician, or family member at home.  Entitled "Opening Guns," it could as well be called "Opening Pens," reflecting the huge outpouring of letters and personal accounts written during the entire four years of the war.  These are especially valuable to historians because they were not censored as they were in later wars fought by United States troops.  These letters, found in numerous repositories in the United States, provide a remarkable record of just about every aspect of the war.  This exhibit for the year 1861 was put together with materials from all five divisions of the William L. Clements Library.

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.