Thursday, November 27, 2014

Today in History: Thanksgiving

Post by Jayne Ptolemy, Manuscripts Curatorial Assistant

The William L. Clements Library sends warm Thanksgiving greetings and offers a glimpse at holidays past via our Manuscripts Division. In November 1857, William H. Ireland, Jr., sent an illustrated, lyrical letter to his friend to ensure that he would "not have a dull Thanksgiving." In the spirit of the day, Ireland included a pen-and-ink drawing of a turkey. 

William H. Ireland, Jr., ALS to M. A. W. Man[ ], 1857 November 25, Duane Norman Diedrich collection.
Also featuring a holiday turkey, our Charles Snyder papers highlight a specifically Civil War take on the Thanksgiving holiday. Dining with a Union officer's family for Thanksgiving dinner, Snyder commented on their fare. "We discussed to the best of our ability, a very good turkey, nicely cooked, which Mr. M. named 'Jeff Davis.' "
Charles E. [Snyder] ALS to Hannah [Wright], 1863 November 28, Charles Snyder papers, Schoff Civil War collection.
Even if you opt for different culinary fare this holiday, we hope this offering of turkey from the William L. Clements Library's Manuscript Division helps spread some Thanksgiving cheer.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Giving Blue Day - December 2, 2014

Giving Blueday is the University of Michigan's first-ever university-wide day of giving. Around the world, December 2 is known as Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving.

This is YOUR chance to make a gift to the Clements Library to support acquisition, conservation and outreach. Help spread the word about the Clements Library and tell the world about our great collections and resources.

Join us on December 2 to be part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Today in History: Veterans Day

Post by Jayne Ptolemy, Manuscripts Division Curatorial Assistant

Veterans Day serves as a poignant reminder of the great sacrifices the men and women of the military have made for their country. In the United States, Veterans Day evolved out of the annual celebration of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I on November 11, 1918. To highlight the profound significance of this day, we look to a letter penned by American Lieutenant Joseph C. Holbrook who was stationed in France when peace was declared.

Lt. Joseph C. Holbrook ALS to Effie Granade, November 16, 1918, in the Duane N. Diedrich Collection
"I shall never forget the night of the 11th of November," he wrote, having entered a large French city to witness the celebrations. "Joy, cheers, songs, music by a Negro U.S. band, also a white U.S. band played everything from 'The Star Spangled Banner,' 'Marseillaise' to 'Livery Stable Blues.' For the first time in 4 long years the city was brilliantly lighted!! Since I've been in France every city has been like a vast, silent, dark, motionless spot hid away in the gloom. Not a bit of light for fear that the Boshe planes would drop bombs of death. But on the memorable night of Nov. 11th every city removed its shroud of gloom and the women and little children who for many months had listened for the call of the siren as a signal to go to their cellars or dugouts, came out into the streets—into the streets full of cheering, brilliantly lighted, thronged with a multitude full of joy of triumph!!" Holbrook vividly illustrates the shift brought about by the successful conclusion of the war. From darkness to light, he saw the French people emerge to celebrate peace and the soldiers who helped bring it about.

Holbrook goes on to note the comingled joy and sorrow of veterans' families. "Little children (Petites enfants) ran yelling, 'La Guerre est fini; Mon père sera à sa maison bientôt!' ('The war is finished; my father will be at his home soon!' [ ) ] Old women were radiant with smiles! Some dressed in deep mourning smiled the smile of sacrifice; happy that, even though full of sorrow, their husband, brother, father or Sweetheart had died for their country and that their cause had triumphed. But beneath it all was that countenance of one who is ever conscious of the 'vacant place.' " Winning peace comes with a price, and Holbrook acknowledged the pain that continued for many.

Serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in France, Holbrook showed a sincere pride in the service he and others provided for their country, service that was also recognized by the French. "The French and Americans [sic] soldiers danced together in the lighted streets. The city was absolutely covered with the Allied flags. And second to the French 'Old Glory' was most numerous and conspic[u]ous... To be in a foreign land, war-torn, bleeding but triumphant, and to see 'The Stars and Bars' waving in majesty and triumph from every door is Heaven on earth and makes a fellow happy that… he is an American and willing to be a Champion of right."

This image of French celebrations of peace, featuring both French and American flags, can be found in the Graphics Division's collection of Signal Corps photographs.
To all of those Champions of right-- who have served, who are serving, and who are considering serving-- we at the Clements Library send our gratitude this Veterans Day.