Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Recently Catalogued: The Life, Experiences, and Incidents of Rev. Gardner Dean

The Life, Experiences and Incidents of Rev. Gardner Dean, Written by Himself, Together with Genealogies of the Gardner, Dean and Hinds Families, by Ebenezer W. Peirce. New Bedford, Mass. : Paul Howland, Jr., 1883.
According to the preface, "Everybody wants to read this book, for it is full of facts stranger than fiction." By his own account, the Rev. Dean lived an exciting life. His book claims that he was "a school-teacher, a preacher, a Son of Temperance, a 'come-outer,' a Baptist, a Freemason, an Odd Fellow, a Congregationalist, a Christian, a lecturer, a revivalist, full of faith, full of hope, full of zeal, full of dignity, full of humor, full of drollery."

Rev. Dean (1816-1882) was a Baptist minister who preached in various states from Maine to Illinois. During the Civil War, he served for three months in a Pennsylvania regiment. The History of Bristol County, Massachusetts (1883) described him as "A man of culture, Gardner Dean, an evangelist, well known in almost every State from New England to Illinois, somewhat eccentric, but had many admirers."

In 1853, he claimed to have been abducted in New Bedford, Massachusetts. His sudden departure prompted search parties, police investigations, and the offer of $300 for information. He reappeared two weeks later in Albany, New York, with little explanation for his disappearance. The New Bedford Standard expressed frustration about the time and expense of searching for him, concluding, "The most charitable construction we can put on such conduct is that the reverend gentleman went off in a fit of insanity!"

Rev. Dean eventually gave a full account of his supposed abduction in a letter to the mayor of New Bedford, writing that he had been abducted by three men, robbed, and taken to New York. His captors threatened to kill him and made him swear to change his name and occupation, and write letters to his friends pretending that he had run away. The public remained skeptical of his account. An editorial in the New York Weekly Herald read, "In fact, the whole story is so incoherent that we do not profess to reconcile its circumstances or to account for its incongruities." Dean's friends in New Bedford assembled a committee to investigate the case and clear his name. They published resolutions expressing confidence in Rev. Dean's integrity and character, accompanied by letters of support from the Freemasons and Odd Fellows of Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Today in History: Valentine's Day Letters

This year for Valentine's Day, we have selected three items from the Manuscripts Division to show the variety of ways people have observed this holiday over the years. From children exchanging cards at school to poems proposing marriage, this holiday celebrates love and friendship in all its forms.

Sidney Platt to Maria Perit, 1800. From the Huntington scrapbook.
The first is a love letter from 1800, included in the Huntington scrapbook. This lighthearted letter hints at a happy and loving relationship between the letter-writer and recipient. Sidney Platt writes to his "other half" that, since he is incapable of writing poetry, she must "do [her] part in making the rhymes," while he does his by "sending a Valentine Present of a pair of Garters." The full letter reads:
New Haven St. Valentine's
Miss Maria Perit
How fare you
If you will take the trouble to revert to an Almanack, you will perceive that this is St. Valentine's day: I have accordingly taken the liberty to send you my Valentine, which I hope will meet your warmest approbation. As fate has so ordained that I cannot boast of a Muse, I must beg your indulgence in omitting the verses or rhymes common on this occasion: But as you are considered my other half by the Adorable Julia a person of much consequence and Cotton-Boxility, I know no reason (since this is the case) why you should not do your part in making the rhymes, while I do mine in sending a Valentine Present of a pair of Garters.
With sentiments of the most
Profound esteem for your
person & self, I remain your
Friend & Humble Servt.
Sidney Platt
Valentine for Anna Galloway, ca. 1850. From the Women's History Collection.
The next item is a valentine addressed to Anna Galloway, circa 1850, from the Women's History Collection. The paper lace valentine is decorated with a cupid and scroll and contains a handwritten love poem regarding marriage, signed by "St. Valentine."
To Anna,
There is witchery - aye, witchery -
In those lovely eyes, I trow;
And strong the spell, I feel, too well:
Why did I linger? who can tell? -
Ah! why am lingering now?
There is but one answer
Found in earth, or heaven above -
I cannot flee - I'm bound to thee,
By such a potent witchery,
I only know I love.My hearth is bright, but lonely -
It sues for a gentle wife -
I offer thee - thee only -
My heart, my love, my life.How happy he who worthy is
To share your smiles through life;
Thrice happy he whose fortune 'tis
To win you for his wife. 
St. Valentine
The last item, from the MacDonald family papers, is a letter from a young girl named Catharine to her Aunt Mamie, dated February 16, 1936. In the letter, she describes how valentines were delivered at her school, including a diagram of the decorated box to put them in and a sketch of a valentine person made of hearts:

Catharine to Aunt Mamie, February 16, 1936. From the MacDonald family papers. 
"Following that came St. Valentine's Day. At twelve o'clock (I mean 11:45) on Friday we were to have the fun of delivering and receiving valentines. One person was chosen to call out the names on the valentines and two people were to deliver them. We had a pretty box like this to put them in: [diagram]. The valentine people looked like this: [sketch]. When somebody came to school, he put his valentines in the box, through the slit."
Related posts:
Today in History: Valentine's Day Cards

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Support the Clements Library in 2012

An Update from the Clements Library Development Office

The Clements envisions an even brighter future than its luminous past by establishing endowed curatorships, prestigious research fellowships, a full schedule of speakers and exhibits, and most importantly, by continuously adding unique materials to our collection. In the past year, the Clements has been able to raise funds for a variety of projects that will advance scholarship and learning for years to come.

Maybe you’ve been to the Clements to use our collections for research or scholarly advancement, volunteer your time and energy, or view one of our exhibits. With your continued support, the Clements programs will continue to benefit a wide audience of scholars, students and visitors.  Your gift to the Clements Library Annual Fund makes sure that the Clements can offer the best in programs, preserve its treasures, and make the collections fully accessible, both online and in the Library.

Or you can show your support by becoming a member of the Clements Library Associates. As benefits of membership, Associates enjoy the privilege of attending the Library's programs, lectures, exhibits, and seminars, and receive Library publications free of charge or with substantial discounts. The Quarto, a magazine published each Spring and Fall, keeps members informed about the acquisitions which have been made through their generous giving, and offers informative articles drawn from the Library's rich collections.  Membership dues to the Associates are used by the organization to acquire collections for the Library. Since its founding in 1947, the Clements Library Associates has purchased an estimated $5,000,000 worth of historical material that today has a monetary value many times that amount and is of incalculable worth to historians.

All of this is possible only with your financial support. The true value of the Clements Library is found in the excitement of visitors whose interest in history is encouraged by seeing "the original book" or manuscript which literally changed the course of history. It is the undergraduate whose experience at the University of Michigan was made memorable by being able to use "the actual letters" of Anthony Wayne or Frederick Douglass. It is to be found in the numerous articles and books of historians and writers around the world who have expanded our knowledge of the past as a direct result of the Clements Library's collections.

If you would like to make a gift to the Clements or join the William L. Clements Library Associates, please contact:
Ann Rock
Director of Development
William L. Clements Library
909 S. University
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

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