Saturday, December 29, 2012

Today in History: Constitution Victorious Again

Post by Brian Dunnigan, Associate Director and Curator of Maps

For many years now, two oil paintings have looked down on the supervisor’s desk in the Clements Library reading room.  They depict two phases of a battle at sea between a pair of warships, one British the other American.  In one scene the fully functioning American vessel pounds the partially dismasted Britisher.  In the second, the US ship sails away while her defeated adversary slips beneath the waves as her magazine violently explodes.  They are a reminder that the Clements has always been strong in visual and documentary material relating to maritime and naval affairs prior to 1900.

Oil painting of the Constitution and Java, by Nicholas Pocock

The two paintings depict the victory of the US Frigate Constitution over the Royal Navy’s Java on December 29, 1812, two hundred years ago this month.  Only four months earlier Constitution had defeated HMS Guerriere in  the North Atlantic.  The action of December 29 was fought in milder waters off the coast of Brazil.  The American frigate had refitted following her August battle and, under a new commanding officer, William Bainbridge (1774-1833), went to cruise the South Atlantic.  On December 29 the much larger and more heavily armed Constitution encountered HMS Java.

Portrait of Captain William Bainbridge

Although Java was much less powerful than the American ship, British Captain Henry Lambert (d. 1813) gamely confronted  his adversary  and fought for two and one-half hours before the dismasted and crippled Java was forced to surrender.  Constitution continued to be a lucky ship, suffering only 34 casualties to Java’s 124.  Captain Lambert was among the wounded, and Java was so badly damaged that she had to be scuttled,

British artist Nicholas Pocock (1740-1821) depicted the action in four oil paintings, each showing a different stage of the battle.  His paintings were engraved and produced as a set of four prints.  The Clements holds two of the oils and a complete set of the prints.  Interestingly, the engraver seems to have made Java smaller in the prints than in the paintings, perhaps in an effort to minimize the British defeat.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Today in History: A Christmas Carol

Guest post by Sarah Fitzgerald, Book Division volunteer

Many of our Christmas traditions come from the Victorian Era, including the decoration of Christmas trees and Charles Dickens' story, A Christmas Carol. The Clements has several versions of A Christmas Carol, including an original 1843 printing illustrated by John Leech. John Leech's colored etchings are very expressive.

In the illustration of Mr. Fezziwig's ball, which serves as the frontispiece, Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig look well fed and good natured and the rest of the guests seem to be enjoying themselves heartily, particularly the couple kissing under a handful of mistletoe.The illustration of the ball makes a sharp contrast against the illustration showing the bleakness of Scrooge's parlor, with it's single candle struggling to dispel the gloom, where Jacob Marley's ghost has come to warn Scrooge to change his miserly ways. Scrooge looks almost as ghostly as his dead partner, as he tries to distance himself from the eerie, transparent sight of Marley in his chains forged from cash-boxes and keys with his head bandaged to keep his jaw on. The picture is done in color, which draws attention to how very little color or gaiety Scrooge has in his home. The same room is transformed into a bower of warmth and bounty when the giant Ghost of Christmas present arrives with climbing plants and rich foods, dressed in a fur trimmed robe, bare-chested and barefooted with a wreath for a crown, a bit like a mixture of Jesus and Santa Claus.

Leech also created black and white woodcuts such as Scrooge trying to snuff out the radiant light of the child-sized first spirit with its own hat.

In 1844 A Christmas Carol came to America, in the form of a paper pamphlet. It was priced at 6 cents.

In 1899 an edition illustrated in watercolor by George T. Tobin was published. Tobin illustrated Dickens' personification of the December London fog as "The Genius of the Weather" as a corporeal old man hunched against the cold. His version of Marley's staring face on Scrooge's doorknocker is painted in angular relief, as if lit by hellfire and the hair and the background also rise into the shape of flames.

Although many of Tobin's watercolors are spooky, Tiny Tim and Bob Crachit make a tender sight, with Tim perched on his father's shoulder, holding his crutch in hand with help from Bob and each of them is turning his head to look fondly at the other.

A version with illustrations by the notable illustrator, Arthur Rackham was published in 1915. In this version of A Christmas Carol, Stave 1 closes with a sketch of Scrooge's old, bony hands clutching at coins, but Stave 2 opens with the hopeful woodblock image of a sprig of holly, a symbol of Christ and Christmas.

Rackham's illustrated books were popular as Christmas gifts in the early 20th century. This book contains three color images, including Bob Crachit enjoying an icy slide on his way home from a difficult Christmas Eve at work.   

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

From the Stacks: "Britain to America" Satiric Puzzle

A rebus is a puzzle in which pictures are used to represent words or parts of words, sometimes used as a form of political satire. One such example from the Book Division of the Clements Library is Britain to America, published by Matthew Darly in 1778. It is a mock letter written from a mother to her daughter, in which Britain asks America to put aside her recent French alliance: "So be a good girl, discharge your soldiers and ships of war and do not rebel against your mother. Rely upon me and do not consort to what that French rascal shall tell you." Darly also published a reply, America to Her Mistaken Mother (London, 1778).
Britain to America (London, 1778). [Click image to enlarge]
The book Rebellion and Reconciliation: Satirical Prints on the Revolution at Williamsburg provides a transcription of the symbols (read "toe" as "to" and "eye" as "i"):
"(Britannia) (toe) Amer(eye)ca.
My (deer) Daughter (eye) (can)(knot) (bee)hold w(eye)thout (grate) pa(eye)n (ewer) (head)strong (back)-(ward)ness (toe) ret(urn) (toe) (ewer) Duty in (knot) op(posy)ing (awl) the good (eye) long (eye)ntended for (ewer) (sole) Hap(pie)ness & (bee)ing told t(hat) (eye) have g(eye)v'n (ewer) (hand) (toe) a (base) & (double-faced) (Frenchman) (Eye) have sent (yew) 5 over/wise (men) the (grate)est of (awl) my (child)ren (toe) put (yew) (toe) r(eye)ghts & (hope) (yew) w(eye)[ll] l(eye)s(ten) (toe) them & m(eye)nd w(hat) they say (toe) (yew) they have (eye)nstr(yew)et(eye)ons [instructions] (toe) g(eye)ve (yew) t(hose) th(eye)ngs (yew) (form)erly required. so (bee a good (girl) d(eye)scharge (ewer) (soldiers) & (ships) of war & (doe) (knot) re(bell) aga(eye)nst (ewer) (moth)er rely upon me & (doe)(knot) (console)t [consort] to w(hat) t(hat) french R(ass)c(awl) sh(awl) tell (yew) IC he w(ants) (toe) b(ring) on an enm(eye)ty (toe) (awl) (union) (bee)tween (yew) & (eye) (but) l(eye)s(ten) (knot) (toe) h(eye)m (awl) the (world) takes (knot)(eye)ce [notice) of h(eye)[s] (doubleface). I'll send h(eye)m such MessaGG [messages] from my (grate) (gun)s as s[h](awl) make h(eye)s (heart) repent & know t(hat) (one) good or (eye)ll t(urn) mer(eye)ts a (knot)her. NB let (knot) (eighty) [hate] take (two) much hold of (ewer) (heart).
(Eye) am (ewer) fr(eye)end & (moth)er."
Approximate translation in plain text:
"Britannia to America:
My dear daughter, I cannot behold without great pain your headstrong backwardness to return to your duty in not opposing all the good I long intended for your sole happiness. And being told that I have given your hand to a base and double-faced Frenchman, I have sent you five over-wise men, the greatest of all my children, to put you to rights and hope you will listen to them and mind what they say to you. They have instructions to give you those things you formerly required. So be a good girl, discharge your soldiers and ships of war and do not rebel against your mother. Rely upon me and do not consort to what that French rascal shall tell you. I see he wants to bring on an enmity to all union between you and I but listen not to him. All the world takes notice of his double-face. I'll send him such messages from my great guns as shall make his heart repent and know that one good or ill turn merits another.
N.B. Let not hate take too much hold of your heart.
I am your friend and mother." 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Recent Acquisition: Rare Detroit Plan of 1836-37

The Clements Library has just acquired a very rare and possibly unique plan of Detroit from the last years of the Michigan Territory.  All that is known about Part of the City of Detroit, Michigan is that it was lithographed and published in New York at 22 Nassau Street by George Endicott (1802-48).  Endicott is known to have had a shop at that address in 1837 and perhaps a few years before.  Details in the plan suggest that it was likely produced ca. 1836-37.

The Endicott plan shows newly platted and numbered lots in the northern part of the city from the state capitol and Grand River Street to St. Joseph Street ten blocks above.  The city was platted only as far north as Columbia and Montcalm streets in John Farmer’s 1835 plan of the city.  Nathaniel Currier’s plan of Detroit of May 1837 shows additional blocks north of St. Joseph Street, though no lots had been laid out or numbered in that area.  Endicott’s plan appears to date between Farmer’s and Currier’s.

Endicott’s plan illustrates the contrast between the famous Woodward plan of 1806, seen from the Grand Circus south, and the grid plan of the city adopted after 1816, when the Woodward plan was effectively abandoned.  Woodward’s design would be preserved only between Grand Circus and the river.

No other copies of Endicott’s plan have so far been located, and it was not recorded in Brian Dunnigan’s Frontier Metropolis (2001).

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

From the Stacks: Love, Sex, and Women's Rights

Guest post by Sarah Fitzgerald, Book Division volunteer

Ezra Heywood was a feminist and abolitionist who edited an individualist anarchist magazine, The Word.  He was convicted of violating the 1873 Comstock Act in 1878 for mailing 'obscene material,' which consisted of literature attacking traditional notions of marriage, and went in and out of prison until his death in 1893. Heywood's 1877 essay, Cupid's yokes: or, The binding forces of conjugal life. An essay to consider some moral and physiological phases of love and marriage, wherein is asserted the natural right and necessity of sexual self-government mentions the passing of the Act forbidding the mailing of 'lewd' publications. He knew the risk he was taking in writing about his sexual beliefs.

In the essay, Heywood sets out his beliefs that sexual intercourse is moral whenever the couple feels affection for one another and immoral whenever they do not, regardless of whether the participants are married or monogamous, or not. In his words "The kingdom of heaven supplants all human governments; in it the institution of marriage, which assigns the possession of one woman to one man, does not exist." He also felt that any couple who felt affection for each other ought to have children together, regardless of who they were married to. Heywood also advocated sexual education, including how to prevent conception by the rhythm method. It was courageous of Heywood to take a stand for sexual freedom in a time when it was against the law, but not all his statements about women are as modern. One reason he gave for his defense of sex outside of marriages was his belief that insanity in unmarried women (hysteria) was due to the lack of sexual intimacy.

Heywood's feminist convictions have their roots in the ideas of Mary Wollstonecraft, who blazed a path for many feminists in her 1792 book A vindication of the rights of woman:with strictures on moral and political subjects. Wollstonecraft was also suspicious of the unequal treatment of the sexes within marriage.  She chose not to marry her lover, Gilbert Imlay, and later she married William Godwin, an anarchist and adherent of the free love philosophy. She had a daughter with Godwin who grew up to be Mary Shelley, another proponent of free love.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Today in History: Thanksgiving

Guest post by Sarah Fitzgerald, Book Division volunteer

Thanksgiving celebrations have often been marked by hymns of thanks in appreciation of the joys of life and plentiful food. Songs of thanksgiving pre-date the first national recognition by President Lincoln of the day we now call Thanksgiving Day. The Thanksgiving: a Collection of Music for the Choir, the Home Circle, and the Singing School from 1857 provides songs of thanks with the hope that "many a heart may be led to praise God with greater ardor through its instrumentality". The lyrics in many of the songs have a serious and reverent tone to them that makes it clear that more than musical lessons are intended to be learned from the book.

Thanksgiving began as a religious holiday to thank God for the bounty of food from fall harvests, but it is also a patriotic holiday which is bound tightly to American identity. In 1792, An Anthem Designed for Thanksgiving Day. But proper for any publick occasion. was published according to an act of Congress. This publication shows how our government's relationship with religion has changed, since it it is difficult to imagine this Christian song would be published under an act by a modern Congress.

Some Thanksgiving songs are meant as a reminder that in difficult times there is still much to be thankful for.
A poignant song called Mamma Says There's No Thanksgiving published 1901tells the story of a child whose father has left for war and a soldier who has been lost to his family, until they meet and discover they are father and daughter and rejoice in thanks at being reunited. The image from the sheet music also pulls at the heartstrings, as the little girl looks mournfully at a display of holiday foods in a shop window, wishing she could partake of the celebratory treats.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Today in History: Heroine of Fort Niagara

Post by Brian Dunnigan, Associate Director and Curator of Maps

The name “Molly Pitcher” and her actions helping to “man” a cannon at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778 might strike a chord of recognition among those familiar with the American Revolution.  Much less known is a heroine of the War of 1812, who also helped serve a gun two hundred years ago on November 22.  Betsy Doyle, wife of a US artilleryman at Fort Niagara, New York, stood by the soldiers stationed on a gun platform during a ferocious exchange of cannon fire with British-held Fort George across the Niagara River.

This satirical print, published by William Charles in 1812 or 1813, pokes fun at military life. The large number of women and children depicted in this cartoon only slightly exaggerates the situation in the US Army of the War of 1812.
Betsy, whose name is often incorrectly given as “Fanny,” was the wife of artilleryman Andrew Doyle.  As such, she was one of many married women who accompanied their husbands into the field with both the British and American armies.  Doyle was not present to witness his wife’s heroism; he had fought in the Battle of Queenston Heights on October 13, where he was taken prisoner.  Betsy was left to fend for herself at Fort Niagara.  She, like most army women, helped support her family by laundering soldiers’ clothing.

When the cannon began to roar on November 22, 1812, Betsy abandoned her washtub and offered her services to a gun crew from her husband’s regiment.  During the ensuing barrage, she carried red-hot cannon balls from the furnace to the gun where they were fired at Fort George, 1,300 yards away.  Fort Niagara’s commandant took note and reported that Betsy “showed a fortitude equal to the Maid of Orleans.”
The participation of women in America’s wars is recorded in many scattered sources—order books, letters, journals, and official records for all of America’s early wars, and these sources are well represented at the Clements Library.

Friday, November 16, 2012

In the News: "Gift to Clements Library Renews American History Landmark"

This article by Ann Rock, Director of Development at the Clements Library, appeared today in the University Record: "Gift to Clements Library renews American history landmark." On Thursday, the Board of Regents approved a major renovations project for Clements Library. This renovation project will improve the historic building's infrastructure and expand collections space. Construction will begin in early 2014 and will be completed in about 18 months. During that time, staff and collections will be offsite, with arrangements made to continue providing access for researchers.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Today in History: Armistice Day

Guest post by Meg Hixon, Project Archivist

The First World War has long been eclipsed in American public memory, but it was, at the time, the "Great War" that affected families across the country and across the world. In honor of Veterans' Day, the successor to Armistice Day, I would like to highlight some of the lesser-known collections in the Clements Library's Manuscripts Division. The library holds a robust collection of World War I material, including diaries and soldiers' letters about the doughboys' experiences in training camps around the United States and along the Western Front.

Stephen Brown, a member of the 103rd Engineer Regiment, collected photographs, ephemera, and his letters home in 4 large diaries, which recount his experiences in the United States and France throughout the war.
Though the United States did not formally enter the war until 1917, members of the American Expeditionary Forces played a pivotal role in the Allied victory, participating in such battles as the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. In their diaries and letters home, soldiers described a range of reactions to news of the armistice, which ended active combat at 11:11 A.M. on November 11, 1918. On the previous day, November 10, 1918, Stewart Frederick Laurent, a native of Pennsylvania who had been drafted into Company 11 of the 1st Air Service Mechanics Regiment, had shared his pride in the Americans' role in bringing peace:
The French and English and Belgians did wonderful fighting but it seems that after the U.S.A. troops arrived over here that they got new courage and spirit for they are surely walking over the Germans…The world's history is certainly being made. The German envoys have until 11 o'clock tomorrow to decide about signing the armistice. I hope [they] have sense enough to sign. You will know and so will I know the outcome of these negotiations before this letter reaches you.
On November 12, he joyfully exclaimed, "Just think! Peace is at hand!"

Laurent served behind the front lines, but other American soldiers witnessed firsthand the guns' instant silence. Ambulance driver Bert C. Whitney vividly counted down the war's final moments in his diary entry of November 11, 1918, "a day of days and one that we will always remember." With several minutes to go, he reported, "Our whole front is thundering away as if there was a big drive…they are firing like mad." A few minutes later, "a terrific volley from all the cannon ended the firing. Every thing is as quiet as can be except for the tolling of bells can it be. I can't hardly believe that peace can be so near." Though the end of the war caused widespread elation throughout France, Captain Edward Van Winkle of the 24th Engineer Regiment observed a more muted sense of victory. "The Armistice caused no little work," he told his wife in a letter dated November 11-12, 1918. "I am almost ready to admit that the French people don't know how to celebrate, for everything has been serious, calm and…indifferent all day. But that's another story."

James Leonard Sturgeon, a pilot cadet in the Canadian Royal Flying Corps, received a proclamation from King George V commending the Royal Air Force for its work during the war.
Along with these and other collections pertaining to soldiers in France, the Clements' collections include descriptions of life at training camps around the United States and, in the case of pilot cadet James Leonard Sturgeon, in Canada. Alfred Schaller spent most of the war at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, with Troop F of the 14th Cavalry Regiment. Though he did not go to Europe, he, too, was elated by the end of hostilities. His letter of November 12, 1918, provides a detailed look at the unusual celebrations in San Antonio, Texas (the spelling, capitalization, and punctuation, except ellipses, are all present in the original):
Did you know that the war is over?…Yesterday morning I woke up at four o;clock and I heard a lot of yelling and whistles blowing so I knew that it must be that GERMANY had accepted the U. S. terms,: At 5 O,CLOCK there was an extra out to that effect; Then the fun started; At CAMP TRAVIS the drafted ones started to raise (TEXAS) or rather H___...Of course I went to town after supper; And some night; Talk about noise; And powder; and paint; every body was buying face powder and throwing it in every body's face and red and black shoe polish dobbing it over every bodys face and they all took it good natured; and those that did not was given another dose; I never saw such a sight: HORNS "BELLS" WHISTLES "POWDER" PAINT "CONFETTI" And every thing imagineable.
For some soldiers, the end of the war meant an eerie, disconcerting quiet on the front lines. For some, the armistice led to a few extra months in France or Germany with the Army of Occupation. For some, such as Brewster Littlefield of the 101st Engineer Regiment, who was killed by a piece of shrapnel on November 3, 1918, the end came too late. November 11, 1918, marked a pivotal moment in the shape of the modern world, one that lives on in the words of those who witnessed it firsthand, and one that we continue to honor and remember 94 years later.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

In the News: "Exhibit Celebrates Key Stage in Emancipation Struggle"

Kevin Brown's article, "Exhibit celebrates key stage in emancipation struggle," is in this week's issue of the University Record. Co-curators Martha S. Jones and Clayton Lewis developed this exhibit, which commemorates the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Newspapers, broadsides, photographs, and letters document the effects of the proclamation and its impact on visual culture. This exhibit is a collaboration between the Law School's Program in Race, Law & History, the William L. Clements Library, and the U-M Library. It is on display in the Hatcher Library's Room 100 Gallery and Audubon Room until February 18, 2013.

Related videos on YouTube:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Recent Acquisition: Vermont Historical Gazetteer

Guest post by Sarah Fitzgerald, Book Division volunteer

The library has recently acquired the Vermont Historical Gazetteer, compiled by Abby Maria Hemenway. This five-volume set is a remarkable accomplishment for a 19th century woman. Hemenway's goal was to create a record of Vermont's unwritten past. Those interested in Vermont history will find rich details on all counties except her own, Windsor County, because unfortunately she died before she could complete it.

Portrait of Abby Maria Hemenway, Vermont Historical Society.
Abby Hemenway was born in Ludow, Vermont in 1828 and taught school in Vermont and Michigan for many years. Beginning in 1859, she worked for more than 30 years to recruit authors to write about early Vermont history, edit their work, and publish it in the Gazetteer. She persevered in her effort despite objections from the Addison County Historical Society, which complained that it was an improper role for a woman. 

Hemenway funded the Gazetteer by getting women to sell subscriptions, but few people were willing to pay 25 cents per issue, so she struggled to publish issues each quarter. She moved to Chicago, but continued to face problems in meeting her publishing costs. She died in 1890, and her sister Carrie Page published Volume Five after her death. The editing of Volume Six was taken over by Hemenway's friend William Portus Baxter, but he died in 1911 and the notes burned in a house fire the same year, leaving the last piece of Hemenway's ambitious endeavor incomplete.

The pages of the index volume are warped and water-stained. That is because the State of Vermont printed them up and stored the unsold copies in a Montpelier basement when the catastrophic 1927 flood put eight feet of water on Montpelier's State Street. It is rare to find an index for the set that doesn't exhibit signs of having been submerged.

Further Reading:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lecture by Martin West, "Benjamin West and the French and Indian War," November 15, 2012

Lecture by Martin West
"Benjamin West and the French and Indian War"

Thursday, November 15, 2012, 4:00 p.m.
Great Hall, Clements Library

Martin West was executive director of Fort Ligonier in Pennsylvania, 1981-2011, where he curated the international exhibition, The World Ablaze: An Introduction to the Seven Years' War, and developed a permanent art gallery of sixteen original works by artists Reynolds, Ramsey, Copley, West, Peale, Pine, Penney, Van Loo and Knapton. His article, "Benjamin West in Bath," will appear in the British journal, Bath History, in 2013. Martin West is a collateral descendant of Benjamin West.

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

William L. Clements Library 
909 S. University Ave. 
Ann Arbor, MI

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Emancipation Proclamation Video

In this YouTube video, Clements Library curator Clayton Lewis and Professor Martha Jones of the U-M Law School discuss their current exhibit, "Proclaiming Emancipation." This exhibit is now on display at the Hatcher Graduate Library in Room 100. See our current exhibits page for more information.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Today in History: War of 1812 Victories at Sea

Post by Brian Dunnigan, Associate Director and Curator of Maps

Many Americans remember the War of 1812 as a naval conflict in which, as Canadian historian C.P. Stacey put it, "the pride of the Mistress of the Seas was humbled by what an imprudent Englishman had called 'a few fir-built frigates manned by a handful of bastards and outlaws.'" There were few enough. The United States entered the War of 1812 with a navy of only 14 frigates and sloops-of-war with which to oppose the 1,000 warships of the Royal Navy. Almost immediately, however, the U.S. vessels began to score stunning victories in ship-to-ship frigate actions, most famously USS Constitution over HMS Guerrière on August 19, 1812. Songs and poems published in newspapers or as broadsides spread the welcome news of victories at a time when the land war seemed to be producing only defeats. Prints of these naval actions depicted the good news while further glorifying victorious captains and crews.

United States defeats Macedonian. Hand-colored engraving. Graphics Division.
October 25 is the bicentennial of the fight between USS United States and HMS Macedonian, one of the most celebrated of the naval victories of 1812. Captain Stephen Decatur’s United States (44 guns) encountered Captain James Carden’s Macedonian (38 guns) some 500 mile west of the Canary Islands. Decatur triumphed and was doubly fortunate in that the captured Macedonian was successfully brought into port at New London, Connecticut, where she was commissioned into the U.S. Navy.

Broadside song celebrating Decatur and his crew. Book Division, Broadsides.
The Graphics Division of the Clements Library has particularly strong holdings of action-packed, hand-colored prints depicting naval encounters of the War of 1812—including both U.S. victories and defeats. This fine collection exists thanks to the foresight of Howard Peckham, the Library’s second director, who acquired the core of our holdings in the 1960s and '70s.  These often stunning visual items add much to the usefulness of the Clements’s books, portrait prints, and manuscripts documenting the War of 1812 at sea.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Brownbag Lecture by Matt Dziennik: "With a Liberal Hand: Intra-continental Refugees and Foundations of Revolutionary Sovereignty, 1774-1786," November 8, 2012

The William L. Clements Library
Brown Bag Lecture Series

Matthew Dziennik
Earhart Fellow

"With a Liberal Hand: Intra-continental Refugees and Foundations of Revolutionary Sovereignty, 1774-1786"

Noon - 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Great Hall, Clements Library

Matthew Dziennik will discuss his work on the treatment of refugee populations by state and national governments during the Revolutionary War.  Challenging the idea that the Loyalists constituted the only significant refugee population of this period, he suggests that the treatment of refugees offers a critical insight into how the United Sates secured its place as a sovereign nation.

Please bring lunch. Beverages will be served.  
Please register by contacting

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Staff Favorite: Domestic Fiction

JJ Jacobson has been Curator of American Culinary History at the Clements since 2009. She has many favorites from the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive, including cookbooks, domestic manuals, etiquette manuals, and menus. Her current favorite is Ten Dollars Enough by Catherine Owen, published in 1887. Catherine Owen was the pen name of Helen Alice Matthews Nitsch, who dispensed household advice through cookbooks, magazine articles, and serialized novels in the late 19th century. We don’t know much about Nitsch, but her biographer, Beverly Seaton, deduces from her writings that she was from a middle-class background, and may have been a student at one of the American Cooking Schools that flourished from the 1860s onward.

Owen’s fiction straddles a number of genres, including women’s fiction, cookbooks, etiquette manuals, and books of advice on housekeeping, childrearing, and the management of servants. Her stories are set in the domestic sphere for which women were supposed (by 19th-century domestic authorities such as Catharine Esther Beecher and Sarah Josepha Hale) to be uniquely responsible. Accordingly, the novels are dominated by narratives of women proving themselves capable by mastering some form of household work. In Ten Dollars Enough, the heroine, Molly Bishop, masters running her own household, including cooking, budgeting, and training a servant. In Owen’s later novels, Molly Bishop's Family (1888) and Gentle Breadwinners: The Story of One of Them (1888), the heroines’ journeys include forays into acceptable business ventures, ones within the range of what a late-19th-century woman could do and remain respectable, such as running a boarding house or cooking professionally. Even in these, however, scenes of marketing, cooking, and serving and eating meals predominate.

The novel’s full title, Ten Dollars Enough: Keeping House Well on Ten Dollars a Week; How It Has Been Done; How It May Be Done Again, lets us know that little will be left to the imagination. It was originally published in serial form in Good Housekeeping in 1885 and 1886, and readers treated it as they would an advice column, writing in with questions and commendations for the author’s system. In the February 1886  issue, a reader wrote in: “I am also very much pleased with ‘Ten Dollars Enough.’ Having read in the last number that Catherine Owen would kindly aid us, I have availed myself of the opportunity to ask if she will write a list for a kitchen outfit, including all necessaries for culinary use.”

And, indeed, the bulk of the action comprises step-by-step depictions of cooking, planning for meals, budgeting, etc. Molly’s progression in skill and understanding, with its attendant uncertainties, mistakes, and triumphs, provides just enough tension in the narrative to keep the reader following the story. Can she prove herself as a housewife? Will Harry, her fastidious and rather spoiled husband (shunned by his family for marrying beneath him), accept her cooking? Can she keep him well fed on their budget? Will Marta, their “green girl” of a servant, respond to her training?

The social context in which all this domestic effort takes place--the couple’s relationship, their families, their new home and neighborhood--allows Owen to comment glancingly on many other subjects. For instance, Molly’s conversations with other women about Marta show us the state of “the servant problem” in late-19th-century America from various angles, along with attitudes about immigrants. Class comes into play from one side in Molly’s dealings with Marta, and from the other in her relationship with Harry’s snobbish family. (Ultimately, her housekeeping so impresses his parents that they are reconciled to the marriage, and consequently exert themselves to elevate the young couple’s status in various ways.) Women’s position in society, and the idea of “The New Woman,” are glanced at in the person of a neighbor, Mrs. Framley,  who admonishes Molly for spoiling Harry, asserting “I am no woman's rights woman; I don't want to vote; but I do not believe in catering to a husband's taste any more than he caters to mine.” This leads Molly to a meditation on gender roles, in which she articulates her reasons for “catering to” Harry. Other contemporary ideas Owen briefly notices include the housekeeper’s duty to charity within her community, and the relative advantages of urban and suburban living.

We have other titles in this genre, including Owen’s Gentle Breadwinners, and the anonymous Six Hundred Dollars a Year. A Wife’s Effort at Low Living, Under High Prices, as well as serialized stories in domestic magazines such as Good Housekeeping and American Cookery. Searches in the catalog on the subjects “Home economics -- Fiction”, “Cooking -- Fiction”, and “Housekeeping -- Fiction” will bring them up. Such books open a window into American ideals about the act of cooking, the phenomenon of cuisine, and the place of food in public and private life.

Further Reading:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Current Exhibits: The Geometry of War and Proclaiming Emancipation

Main Room of the Clements Library:
The Geometry of War: Fortification Plans from 18th Century America
October 15, 2012 - February 15, 2013

The 18th century was a time of intensive military activity in Europe and in the Americas. Much of this centered on fortified towns or positions. The period from the 1680s to the French Revolution has been called the “classic century of military engineering,” a time when earlier forms of artillery fortifications were perfected and frequently tested in battle.

Designing, constructing, and recording fortifications was the job of the military engineer. He followed well-tested principles of design, based on geometry, to construct fortified places. These were recorded in detailed plans, many of surprising beauty and complexity. The Clements Library is rich in examples, manuscript and printed, and offers a sample illustrating the science of fortification in 18th-century America.

At the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library:
Proclaiming Emancipation: Slavery and Freedom in the Era of the Civil War
October 15, 2012 - February 18, 2013 

Timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Proclamation, “Proclaiming Emancipation” examines the historical memory of this provocative event. This exhibit, conference, and classroom forum is produced by the University of Michigan’s William L. Clements Library and Law School Program in Race, Law & History, in cooperation with the University of Michigan Library. The exhibit is co-curated by Professor Jones and Clayton Lewis, Curator of Graphics Material, Clements Library. The objective is to encourage critical analysis of this complex moment in the history of slavery and emancipation in the Americas.

The Audubon Room exhibit will emphasize the material culture of abolition and how the story of emancipation has been recorded through different material genres. Included will be an array of manuscript documents, original photographs, sketches, printed broadsides, books, illustrated magazines, and memorial statuary.

A related symposium will take place on Friday, October 26 in the Room 100 Gallery and at the Law School. Conference schedule.

Proclaiming Emancipation has been made possible through the generous support of Faith (AB ‘69) and Stephen (AB ‘66, JD ‘69) Brown, and at the University of Michigan: College of Literature, Science and the Arts, Office of the Vice President for Research, Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, Rackham Graduate School, Institute for the Humanities, Law in Slavery and Freedom Project, and the Understanding Race Theme Semester.

For a complete list of current exhibits from the Clements Library, visit our website.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Today in History: Battle of Queenston Heights Bicentennial

Post by Brian Dunnigan, Associate Director and Curator of Maps

October 13 marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Queenston Heights. This significant action of the War of 1812, fought some six miles downstream from Niagara Falls, was precipitated by an invasion of Upper Canada (Ontario) U.S. regulars and New York militia under the overall command of Major General Stephen Van Rensselaer. Queenston was the first major land battle of the War of 1812 and the second invasion to be turned back by the British regulars, militia, and Native American warriors defending Canada.

A watercolor view of Queenston and the heights (right), believed to have been painted about 1807 by George Heriot (1766-1844). Lewiston, N.Y. is across the river at left. Graphics Division.
The village of Queenston stood at the foot of the Niagara Escarpment (locally called Queenston Heights) across the Niagara River from Lewiston, N.Y. A natural landing place occurred at both places. Sailing vessels and boats from Lake Ontario were unloaded at Queenston, and their cargoes were carted over a portage road to Lake Erie thus bypassing the obstacle of Niagara Falls. Queenston was also a heavily used border crossing between New York state and Upper Canada.

Early in the morning of October 13 the first wave of U.S. troops began to cross the river from Lewiston intent on taking the British position in the village of Queenston. This effort was unsuccessful, but some of the Americans were able to scale the heights and capture a British battery. A counterattack led personally by General Isaac Brock, British commander and lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, resulted only in Brock’ s death. The Americans on the heights were isolated, however, and confusion, a shortage of boats, and the unwillingness of some militia units to cross the river to reinforce them effectively doomed those who had captured a foothold above Queenston.

Queenston and Lewiston as shown in a detail from John H. Eddy, Map of the Straights of Niagara . . . (New York, 1813). Map Division, maps 4-N-29.
The British, now led by General Roger Sheaffe and reinforced by regular troops and Indian allies, counterattacked again and drove the Americans back to the edge of the river, where they found no boats to carry them to Lewiston. Colonel Winfield Scott, their commander, was forced to surrender. Nine hundred U.S. soldiers were taken prisoner and another 60 had been killed. British losses amounted to 105 killed and wounded. The invasion had been repulsed, but the loss of General Brock, victor of Detroit, was a blow to British morale.

The fighting at Queenston, as with most events of the War of 1812, is well documented in print, manuscripts, and imagery in the Clements collection.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

In the News: "Benjamin West's Paintings Celebrate an Empire" and "UMMA Exhibit Examines When the British Ruled America"

Two articles this week in the University Record highlight Clements Library materials currently on display at the U-M Museum of Art. In "Benjamin West's Paintings Celebrate an Empire," Carole McNamara of the Museum of Art writes about the exhibit which features the Clements Library's iconic "Death of General Wolfe" painting. Kevin Brown's article "UMMA Exhibit Examines when the British Ruled America" describes the exhibit curated by Brian Dunnigan and Clayton Lewis of the Clements Library. On display are books, maps, and manuscripts from the Clements Library collections, including several larger items never before displayed to the public.

These exhibits will be on display at the U-M Museum of Art through January 13, 2013. For more information about Clements Library exhibits and upcoming events, see our website

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Upcoming Lecture: Kate Silbert, "The Archivist Behind the Curtain: Tips for Researchers Approaching the Archive," October 18, 2012

The Archivist Behind the Curtain
Tips for Researchers Approaching the Archive

Presented by Kate Silbert
University of Michigan Graduate Student
in History & Women's Studies

Thursday, October 18, 2012
4:00 p.m.

Ever felt lost in archival papers? Been stumped by a finding aid? Felt like you and archivists just don't speak the same language?

Kate Silbert will discuss practical tips on developing research strategies and decoding finding aid lingo. Based on lessons one historian learned behind the scenes at the Clements Library, the talk will feature hints from archivists on accessing material as well as a discussion of what goes into preparing a collection. The staff at the Clements is eager for conversation with students about improving researchers' experiences.

Funded by the Rackham Spring/Summer Research Grant.

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

William L. Clements Library 
909 S. University Ave. 
Ann Arbor, MI

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Online Exhibit: The War of 1812: A Bicentennial Exhibition

The Clements Library is pleased to offer a new online exhibit, The War of 1812: A Bicentennial Exhibition, curated by Brian Leigh Dunnigan, Associate Director and Curator of Maps. This exhibit was originally on display from February 27 to June 1, 2012, in the Great Room of the Clements Library.

The War of 1812 has sometimes been called a forgotten conflict, one that resolved none of the issues that brought it about. This second confrontation between the United States and Great Britain did, in fact, have a considerable influence on the future development of the country as well as its relations with Canada, Native Americans, and Europe. The bicentennial of the war of 1812 begins this year. To mark the events of 1812-1814, the Clements Library presents an exhibition drawing on the rich array of primary sources about this conflict found in its collections.

A list of all the Clements Library's online exhibits may be found on our website.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

In the News: "UMMA's Spectacular 'General Wolfe' Exhibit the Don't-Miss Art Event This Year"

John Carlos Cantu of writes in a recent art review that the Clements Library's "Death of General Wolfe" painting by Benjamin West is "the single most significant public artwork in Washtenaw County, and among the most significant artworks in our state." This work of art, which usually hangs in the Great Room of the Clements Library, is now the centerpiece of an exhibit at the University of Michigan Museum of Art: "Benjamin West: General Wolfe and the Art of Empire."

For more information about current exhibits, see the Clements Library exhibits page. The Benjamin West exhibit will be open until January 13, 2012 at UMMA, along with "Discovering Eighteenth-Century British America: The William L. Clements Library Collection."

Related posts:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Current Exhibits at UMMA: "Benjamin West" and "Discovering Eighteenth-Century British America," September 22, 2012 - January 13, 2013

At the University of Michigan Museum of Art:

Benjamin West: General Wolfe and the Art of Empire
September 22, 2012 - January 13, 2013

How is it that an American painter came to define the British Empire? Benjamin West's iconic painting The Death of General Wolfe (1776) depicts the death of James Wolfe, the British commander at the 1759 Battle of Quebec, one of Great Britain's most famous military victories, during what in this country is known as the French and Indian War. In conflating a momentous contemporary event with the genre of large-scale history painting, West flouted the conventions of academic painting and the work became one of the most celebrated paintings in Britain. The artist went on to produce six versions of the painting, one of which belongs to the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan. Through approximately 40 works, from Michigan, Canadian, and British collections, this ambitious and thematically focused exhibition will include the Clements canvas as well as other depictions of James Wolfe and his death on the battlefield. A fully illustrated catalogue published by the Museum as part of its UMMA Books series accompanies the exhibition.

Generous support for this exhibition is provided by the Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation, the University of Michigan Health System, the University of Michigan Office of the Provost and Office of the Vice President for Research, the Richard and Rosann Noel Endowment Fund, and THE MOSAIC FOUNDATION (of R. & P. Heydon).

Discovering Eighteenth-Century British America: The William L. Clements Library Collection
September 22, 2012 - January 13, 2013

This significant exhibition provides glimpses of British America in the 1700s and is designed to complement the Museum's concurrent exhibition "Benjamin West: General Wolfe and the Art of Empire," which features the Clements collection's major painting The Death of General Wolfe. William L. Clements assembled an outstanding array of primary sources on North America dating between 1492 and 1800, with a heavy emphasis on early European exploration and discovery and the eighteenth-century wars for control of the continent. The exhibition features a mix of rare items from Mr. Clements’s original donation and pieces the Library has acquired since 1923 to complement and enhance its strength in eighteenth-century American history.

Generous support for this exhibition is provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Manuscripts Division Reaches 1,000 Finding Aids

The Clements Library Manuscripts Division reached a milestone in its efforts to create finding aids for the division's uncataloged collections.  Over 1,000 finding aids are now available on the Library's EAD web site, thanks to generous grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

The NEH grant (2009-2012) supported project archivists Philip Heslip, Shannon Wait, and Patrick Galligan for the processing of 416 manuscript collections.  The recently completed grant was part of the "We the People" project and it allowed the Library to create detailed finding aids for many of the Library's most significant collections.  Among the NEH-funded finding aids are:

The NHPRC grant (2011-2013) currently funds project archivist Megan Hixon, who is writing and encoding over 1,600 finding aids, according to minimal processing techniques.  This broad selection of collections will serve researchers with an interest in gender studies, race and ethnicity, education, law, politics, social reform, military history, public policy, religion, health and medicine, travel, business and commerce, naval and maritime history, theater and the arts, handwriting and grammar, and other topics.  Among the recently available NHPRC-funded finding aids are:

Patrons may view the Clements Library's finding aids associated with the National Endowment for the Humanities or National Historical Publications and Records Commission by searching the Clements Library Manuscripts Division EAD website for "NEH" or "NHPRC" respectively.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lecture by Steve Hamilton, Author of Die a Stranger, October 2, 2012

Lecture by Steve Hamilton, author of Die a Stranger

Tuesday, October 2, 2012, 4:00 p.m.
Great Hall, Clements Library

Steve Hamilton is a 1983 graduate of the University of Michigan, winner of the Hopwood Award and is delighted to be returning to campus to cover the current state of crime fiction, the process of turning a novel into a movie, and to talk about his recently released book, Die a Stranger.

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

William L. Clements Library
909 S. University Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In the News: Review of 'Murder Most Foul'

John Carlos Cantu of reviews our current exhibit in his recent article, "University of Michigan's Clements Library displays bygone representations of 'Murder Most Foul." The exhibit, curated by Clements Library Director J. Kevin Graffagnino, displays a variety of books, pamphlets, broadsides, newspapers and more on the topic of homicide in early America.

For more information about current exhibits, see the Clements Library exhibits page. The Murder Most Foul exhibit will be open until October 1 in the Main Room of the Clements Library.

Related posts:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

War of 1812 Documentary has Clements Connections

Detroit Public Broadcasting will be the first PBS affiliate to air a just-completed documentary about the War of 1812 in Michigan. The one-half-hour film, produced by Christopher Cook, is titled “Michigan at War: The Struggle for the Old Northwest, 1812-1815” and is a legacy project of the Michigan Commission for the Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. Funding was provided by the Michigan Humanities Council, DTE Energy, the Monroe County War of 1812 Bicentennial Committee, and a number of private donors. The Clements Library is also listed among the sponsors.

The Library is further connected to the project by the use of many contemporary graphics from our collection and by the participation of Associate Director Brian Leigh Dunnigan, who co-authored the script with Mr. Cook and appears in the film as an on-screen commentator.

Detroit PBS will air the film on September 10 at 9:00 pm. Other regional PBS stations are expected to show it in the near future, and DVDs should be available later this fall. The one-half hour running time is expected to make the film attractive for classroom use as well.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Kerrytown BookFest, Sunday, September 9, 2012

The 10th annual Kerrytown BookFest will be held at the Kerrytown Farmers' Market this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event celebrates all aspects of books and reading, including authors, booksellers, libraries, publishers, and more. Programs will include panel discussions, workshops, demonstrations, author signings, and children's story time. 

Barbara DeWolfe and Emi Hastings will be staffing the Clements Library table at Booth 30 (see map). Stop by and see us if you're in the area!

Kerrytown BookFest 2011. Clements Library table in the background on the left, next to Chad Pastotnik, Deep Wood Press. (Image courtesy Book Club of Detroit).