Tuesday, July 31, 2012

From the Stacks: Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi

Guest post by Esti Brennan, Social Media Intern.

Though it may occasionally be a confusion between 'Samuel L. Clemens' and 'William L. Clements' that brings people to our collections looking for Mark Twain, they won't be disappointed. Among other things, our Book Division currently houses two variant issues of the first edition of Twain's 1883 memoir Life on the Mississippi. The first issue includes a rare image (seen above) that was removed from later copies of the book, apparently at the request of his wife, Olivia Clemens (Kruse 119). The image accompanies a paragraph in which Twain writes that he would like to be cremated--but his family objects. Apparently the objection extended to the illustration of this scenario as well as the preference itself.

Life on the Mississippi chronicles Twain's time as a steamboat pilot in the days before the Civil War, an era during which he became intimately familiar with the river that is central to so many of his books. It was also this experience that provided Clemens with his immortal alias, 'mark twain' being the call sounded when the river depth reached two fathoms. The second part of the memoir, which takes places years after the first section, is an account of a single steamboat journey from St. Louis to New Orleans, in which Twain describes the changing face of the region as viewed from the river.


Horst Hermann Kruse, Mark Twain and "Life on the Mississippi"

Further Reading in the Clements Library:

First edition of Life on the Mississippi, including the aforementioned image and a typescript of a "Suppressed Chapter of 'Life on the Mississippi' by Mark Twain."

An alternate version of the first edition.

Mark Twain's West, a set of the author's memoirs edited and arranged by Walter Blair.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Latest Quarto: On Education

The Spring-Summer 2012 Quarto is now available. The Quarto is a semi-annual magazine published by the William L. Clements Library and sent to members of the Clements Library Associates. This issue of The Quarto focuses on the Clements Library collections related to education.
  1. "Reading, Writing, and 'Rithmetic," by J. Kevin Graffagnino, Director of the Library.
  2. "Maps and Education," by Mary Sponberg Pedley, Assistant Curator of Maps. Emma Willard and teaching the study of history through maps. 
  3. "American Schoolbooks," by Emiko Hastings, Curator of Books. An overview of the Book Division's textbook collection. 
  4. "Sons of Harmony," by Terese M. Austin, Library Assistant. Music education and tunebooks. 
  5. "Learning from the Past," by Naomi Herman-Aplet & Erin Platte, Curatorial Assistants, Manuscripts Division. Manuscript collections relating to early education. 
  6. "Developments," by Ann Rock, Director of Development. Matching funds to conserve the Bernard Romans map. 
  7. Announcements. 2012 post-doctoral fellowships, 2012 Price fellows, and more. 
  8. Calendar of Events.
Read past issues of The Quarto online. Members of the Clements Library Associates will receive the current copy in the mail. If you would like more information about membership, please contact Ann Rock at annrock@umich.edu or 734-358-9770.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Volunteer Interview: Phil Zaret

Welcome to our new series of interviews with the wonderful Clements Library volunteers, in which we'll get to know the people who put their time and energy into processing collections, acting as docents, and assisting our curators on special projects.

Phil Zaret has been a volunteer at the Clements Library for ten years, and for nearly all of that time has worked on one project—a vast culinary database drawn from the library's manuscript collections. He'd come to the Clements to work with Jan Longone, donor and Culinary Curator to the library's culinary collections, and was quickly drafted into the database project, for which he has spent the better part of the last decade poring over countless documents in order to create a unique resource for scholars.

The project, often called The Food and Society Database,  is housed on two laptops at the Clements library, and remains one of its best-kept secrets, though Phil hopes to someday make the databases more widely accessible and in the meantime urges researchers to spread the word. The searchable, meticulously structured database can save years of research, Phil says. Every document that he examines is painstakingly annotated and described in the database, food-related words entered in capital letters to make them instantly recognizable. The material isn't limited to culinary topics, though. As perhaps only the second person after its creator to fully read through a manuscript item, Phil makes a point to include all of the information in the database. Many of the documents he works with are letters, in which he says comments on food tend to be at the end, included almost as afterthoughts—but the rest of the information contained in each letter is more than worth sharing.

With a background in Classical Studies, Phil understands the needs of researchers, and has brought that knowledge to bear on the culinary database. The traditional structure of archives, he says, isn't ideal for this kind of project, because a traditional finding aid can only provide a shallow overview of the material, while his database is designed to give detailed, item-level descriptions of everything included within. It works best, he says, for researchers who have a thorough knowledge of their subject, and can anticipate the search terms for what they need—for the experienced scholar, the database makes finding the needle in the haystack a breeze.

Interface for the Culinary Database (click for a larger view).

Among the incredible items that can be found in the collections Phil is documenting are the images below, each depicting an occasion involving ice cream. The first is from the gorgeously illustrated journal of Helen Ledyard, more of which can be seen in a past blog postThe second comes from the collection of Henry Brevoort Eddy, an illustrated letter in which he asserts that "ice cream doesn't taste the same when you gobble it standing."

Helen Ledyard, "Polly and I Make Ice Cream for Sunday Evening Tea," June 16, 1889.

Henry Brevoort Eddy, undated letter.

Come visit the Clements and dig into our database--Phil will be happy to show you how it works, and you're guaranteed to find something amazing.

Further Reading:

The Janice Bluestein Longone culinary collection.

A profile of Jan Longone, Culinary Curator, in the news.

An article on the database in the Clements Library Quarto by JJ Jacobson, Curator for American Culinary History.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

In the News: 'An Imaginary Arctic' Exhibit at Hatcher Library

As well as featuring the Clements' own exhibit, Murder Most Foul, the University Record has highlighted another excellent presentation that draws from our materials.

Recent Community High School Grad Melanie Langa worked for four years on an independent study project in cartography, inspired by her former teacher Mary Pedley, then adjunct assistant curator of maps at the Clements Library. The culmination of Langa's project is 'An Imaginary Arctic: Speculative Cartography in the Search for the Northwest Passage,' a fascinating exhibit exploring the long search for an expedient Atlantic trade route between Europe and Asia, brings in materials from our collection as well as from the university's graduate library, and is on display at the new Stephen S. Clark Library for Maps, inside of the Hatcher Library, through the end of July.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Today in History: Fort Mackinac Captured by British

Post by Brian L. Dunnigan, Associate Director and Curator of Maps

Early in the morning of July 17, 1812, the residents of Mackinac Island awoke to pounding on their doors. A group of fellow citizens, led by local militia captain Michael Dousman, told everyone that war had been declared and, unbeknownst to the 61-man US garrison in Fort Mackinac, 600 British soldiers, Canadian voyageurs, and Indian warriors had landed on the island. The British had detained Dousman the day before and, after he promised not to warn the fort, their commander allowed him to gather the villagers in the town distillery, where they could be protected by a guard of British soldiers.  The citizens followed his advice, and the town below Fort Mackinac was soon deserted.

Michilimackinac on Lake Huron was dedicated to the British commander-in-chief in Canada, Sir George Prevost.
The British had indeed landed. While the American soldiers in Fort Mackinac were unaware that their country had declared war against Great Britain on June 18, the British commandant of Fort St. Joseph, Captain Charles Roberts, had received the news. He immediately gathered his 45 redcoats, all the voyageurs he could find (300 or so), and 300 Native Americans who had come to trade. They rowed the roughly 50 miles from St, Joseph to Mackinac, where they landed around 3:00 a.m. on July 17.  The next few hours were spent dragging a six-pounder cannon for two miles to rising ground behind the fort. Roberts then called on the Americans to surrender in the name of His Britannic Majesty.

Lieutenant Porter Hanks and his men were taken completely by surprise. They manned their guns but the situation was grim. The British cannon could fire into Fort Mackinac, the garrison was outnumbered 10 to 1, and the fort’s water supply was outside the walls. Captain Roberts further hinted that he might not be able to control his Indian allies once fighting began.  Hanks had no choice but to surrender.  The British would hold the place for the next three years.

This detail of the 1817 Eveleth map focuses on Fort Mackinac, the town, and harbor. The British placed their cannon on the first or second rise in the ground behind the fort.
The British capture of Fort Mackinac was the first significant land action of the War of 1812. The bicentennial of that event is upon us, and, not surprisingly the Clements has a number of items that relate to the incident. One is a celebratory print titled Michilimackinac on Lake Huron. Based on a drawing by Richard Dillon, Jr. and published in MontrĂ©al in 1813, the print shows the place as it was in July 1812. A second piece is a remarkably detailed topographical map of Mackinac Island by William S. Eveleth. Although drawn in 1817, the place had not changed over the past five years, and the landmarks of 1812—fort, British position, town, and roads—are shown very clearly. The War of 1812 is a great strength of the Library, and it is appropriate that its first major land action is well represented.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Today in History: Hull's Proclamation

On July 12, 1812, Brigadier General William Hull initiated the first military campaign of the War of 1812, calling for--and attempting--an invasion of Canada. Unfortunately for Hull, it was an utter disaster--his assumption that Canadians would side with American forces against the British proved terribly wrong, and his rather arrogant proclamation to Canadians that they would "be emancipated from Tyranny and oppression and restored to the dignified status of freemen" failed to impress. Shortly after marching his troops across the border, he retreated back across the border, surrendering at Detroit on July 16th.

Further reading in our collections:

Maria Campbell Hull, Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull; Prepared from his Manuscripts, by his Daughter, Mrs. Maria Campbell: Together With the History of the Campaign of 1812, and Surrender of the Post of Detroit, By His Grandson, James Freeman Clarke (New York, 1848).

William Hull. Memoirs of the Campaign of the North Western Army of the United States, A.D. 1812 (Boston, 1824).

E. Cruikshank. General Hull's Invasion of Canada in 1812 (Ottawa, 1907).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

In the News: Murder Most Foul in the University Record

The University Record interviewed our director, Kevin Graffagnino, about The Clements Library's current exhibit and the endless variety of and fascination with murder in America. Read the article above or watch Kevin introduce the exhibit below.

Murder Most Foul: Homicide in Early America is open through October 2nd in our main room. Current hours are 1 pm - 4:45 pm Monday through Thursday.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Brownbag Lecture by Karen Marrero, "Independent Nations and Neutral Powers: Stories of Emerging Identities in the Early 19th-Century Midwest," July 12, 2012

Clements Brown Bag Lecture Series
is Proud to Introduce

Karen Marrero
2012 Earhart Fellow in American History

"Independent Nations and Neutral Powers: 
Stories of Emerging Identities in the Early 19th-Century Midwest"

Noon - 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Great Hall, Clements Library

Karen will discuss her current project, which examines the construction of national identities at the U.S./Canadian border in the Midwest in the period following the War of 1812 until the mid-nineteenth century. Karen will also discuss how her work in the collections of the Clements is shaping her project.

Please bring lunch. Beverages will be served.
Please register by contacting annrock@umich.edu.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

From the Stacks: Manuscript Copy of the Declaration of Independence

Guest post by Esti Brennan, Social Media Intern

[First page of the manuscript draft. George Sackville Germain Papers, Clements Library.]

In celebration of Independence Day, the Clements Library presents this manuscript copy of the Declaration of Independence, from the papers of George Sackville Germain. Surprisingly, this document is not part of our American manuscript collections, as Germain was a British Lord and served as a colonial secretary for his country. According to a 1959 exhibit bulletin, the manuscript was most likely copied from the original shortly after July 4th, 1776 for the purpose of transmitting its content across the Atlantic to Lord Sackville. Though the Declaration was quickly picked up and reprinted by the British media, Germain's position warranted an earlier, private copy of the document.

[Detail of the signature portion of the manuscript, with a demure copy of John Hancock's famous autograph.]

The bulk of the collection consists of Germain's military correspondence, as well as notes and reports on various events, with a particular focus on his oversight of British forces during the American Revolution. Included in his papers are secret documents detailing the activities of various American revolutionary leaders during the time of the war, as well as non-covert correspondence with many of the American commanders-in-chief who are represented elsewhere in the Clements collections.

We hope our readers in the States have a delightful holiday tomorrow, and that those of you elsewhere enjoy, as always, our bits of history. Happy Independence Day!

Further reading:

Finding aid for the George Sackville Germain papers, 1683-1785.

A 1948 issue of The Quarto that lists the manuscript in the "Catalogue of an Exhibition in Honor of the National Society of Autograph Collectors."