Monday, December 21, 2015

From the Stacks: Santa Claus

The Clements staff are busy packing offices and preparing collections for our move back to campus, an all-encompassing task that makes the days pass far too quickly. We take this opportunity to step back from bubble wrap and boxes to reflect on the magic of the holidays.

The spirit of generosity that characterizes so much of this season is not only reflected in the exchange of gifts and the gathering of loved ones but also in the special efforts to heighten children's excitement and wonder. Charming letters to Santa can be found in several of our manuscript collections, but it's less common to see how Santa responded. This undated draft of a poem written by "Santa Claus" reveals some of the thought that went into these exchanges.

Undated draft poem by "Santa Claus" in our Lars Gustaf Sellstedt family collection.

"Dear children I've come with a pack full of toys / Some presents to leave for all good girls and boys / But I am growing so old, and your chimney's so small / I fear that I never should get down at all," Santa worries. His hand-wringing continues as he frets about the changing world he encounters on his yearly trip. "So many fast trolleys horses are running you meet / A quiet old saint dares not drive in the street… Then as to the chimneys they build now-a-days, / They are not made for Santa Claus by a great ways." Despite his "grumbl[ings]," Santa finishes by admitting that no matter his grievances he would not "be obliged from my darlings to part," and he promises "my sleigh with its presents shall stop at your door / And whether I come with books, candy, or toys / I've heart full of love for my girls and my boys."

This poem, if left for children to read on Christmas morning, would make Santa Claus feel all the more tangible, as his worries about contemporary road traffic and chimneys connected him to their daily experiences. Another example of how Americans grounded Santa in the historical moment can be found in Louise Clack's 1867 General Lee and Santa Claus. This volume features a story about three Southern girls arguing about Santa, with one angrily proclaiming "he wasn't a rebel. I know he wasn't, for he never came to the Southern children for four Christmas Eves." Intended to be read by children recovering from the anxieties and traumas of the Civil War, the book acknowledges the hardships experienced in recent years.

Robert E. Lee waves to Santa in this illustration from General Lee and Santa Claus. Mrs. Louise Clack's Christmas Gift to Her Little Southern Friends (New York: Blelock & Co., 1867).

The children write to General Robert E. Lee, a trusted and beloved Confederate figure, to determine whether Santa "was our friend." The return "letter" from Lee proclaims Santa "one of the best friends that the little Southern girls have," and explains that he met Santa during the first Christmas Eve of the Civil War, crest-fallen at not being able to travel South to deliver toys on account of the war. He encouraged Santa to instead "take every one of the toys you have back as far as Baltimore, sell them, and with the money you get buy medicines, bandages, ointments and delicacies for our sick and wounded men." Thus, Santa joins the rank of war heroes and the girls' worries about paltry Christmases are addressed. Tying Santa to the historical realities of post-bellum children's lives made him and his magic more believable.

The developing technology of late nineteenth-century photography could also be harnessed to heighten excitement about Christmas. Take, for example, these two stereographs from our Graphics Division.

F. G. Weller, "Christmas Scenes—No. 282" and an untitled stereograph labeled in manuscript on verso, "Santa Claus- No. 172."
These images featuring Santa, one as he prepares to descend the chimney and the second as he enters the home with his pack of toys, could be used with a stereo viewer to see them in three-dimensions. Whether through poetry, literature, or photography, Santa's plausibility—and the excitement about his visit—surely grew when these media interacted with children's already vivid imaginations. As these items from the Clements's collections show, the collective interest in building the season's wonder has found imaginative outlets through the years, harkening to children's lived realities to make the magic feel all the more special.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Giving Blueday at the Clements Library

Today the University of Michigan is hosting Giving Blueday, a university-wide campaign to participate in the growing tradition of Giving Tuesday, a global day of generosity to mark the opening of the holiday season. All of us at the Clements Library would like to invite you to join in this initiative. Your support enables us to build and preserve our world-class collection of early Americana.

For Giving Blueday you can choose from a number of different funds that advance our mission to collect and preserve the primary source materials used by students, scholars, and the general public alike. Consider giving to our Acquisitions Fund if you would like to support the Clements's efforts to purchase materials for our collections. The manuscript and rare book markets can be competitive and expensive, but our curators' keen eyes for "new" materials have made our collections some of the best in the world. While we continue to pursue large collections and the rarest of materials, more modest purchases add nuance and context to our holdings as well. If you wonder what your donation could purchase, consider this item recently acquired for $150.

A tongue-in-cheek elegiac poem for Chippie, the "only and beloved duck of J. N. Clark," this charming manuscript gives a unique glimpse into a nineteenth-century family's relationship with pets, death, and satire. All donations made today, no matter their size, can quickly add up and help us purchase such singular items. Another way to offer more general support for acquisitions, while also getting some added perks, is to join the Clements Library Associates. Contributing to this fund not only helps the Clements Library purchase extraordinary items, like this exquisite 1793 hand-colored manuscript map Plan de Carthagene en Murcie, but you also receive membership benefits such as invitations to special events, and our semi-annual publication, The Quarto.

Detail from Baerend, Plan de Carthagene, ([Paris?],1793), purchased with funds from the Clements Library Associates.

Many of our supporters and researchers enjoy the public programming offered by the Clements Library. Donating to our Lectureship Program helps host speakers on early America. Another way to help us reach wide audiences is through our Technology Fund. As an example of how digitized collections can be used, explore the webpage for the Arabella Chapman Project. The Clements Library has two unique photograph albums compiled by Arabella Chapman, an African American woman who lived in Albany, New York, and North Adams, Massachusetts. In collaboration with Dr. Martha S. Jones and her University of Michigan classes, the Clements has made these albums available online for student and public use.

Visit the Arabella Chapman Project, where you can digitally page through these unique albums, just one example of how the Clements Library's resources benefit from technological support.

Other digitization efforts currently underway are being made by our Joyce Bonk Assistant, Noa Kasman. She is currently working on establishing an online image bank for Clements materials and will be scanning books relating to African American history to be uploaded to HathiTrust. Whether you wish to sponsor a fellowship, as the Bonk family generously did, or give towards our general Technology Fund, your donation can further our efforts to get more content available digitally. For distant researchers having our materials online would make all the difference. Your donation can make this possible.

Our conservation initiatives go hand-in-hand with our digitization efforts, as both seek to preserve our collections for future use while making them as widely accessible as possible. Donating to our Conservation Fund could help us create custom housings to protect the most fragile items in our collections. Whether it be a simple wrap or an elaborate tray case, placing fragile bound manuscripts in protective coverings can help prevent shelf wear, light damage, and other environmental impacts. Our Charity Hospital (New Orleans, La.) Lunatic Asylum Admission Book contains admittance records from 1841-1848 for patients suffering from mental health troubles and contagious diseases. Relevant to the history of science, gender, race studies, and other subjects, this admission book contains a wealth of information. However, in order to ensure that it remains in usable condition, it needs some help.

The volume's binding is very fragile, its original cloth cover is fraying, and some pages have separated from the spine. Your donation to our Conservation Fund could go towards protecting incredible resources like this, ensuring that all of its information remains available for study by researchers and students.

If you find it difficult to choose just one area to support the Clements Library, you can always opt to donate to our General Fund, which will grant us the freedom to use your generous contribution to support the multifaceted operations that keep our Library a world-class institution.

As we celebrate the generosity and open-heartedness that characterizes Giving Tuesday, we hope that you will consider the Clements Library as a worthy recipient for your contribution.

Please support the Clements Library today. If you would like to discuss giving opportunities further, please contact Angela Oonk at or phone 734-647-0864.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving from the Clements Library

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and here at the Clements Library we're thankful for all of our supporters.

From a recent acquisition, The Club Room Gazette, a manuscript magazine produced by members of the Everett Literary Association in 1861. This beautifully illustrated volume is in need of conservation, one of several ways your Giving Blueday donation could be put to good use.

December 1st is Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving that celebrates generosity as we enter the holiday season. We hope you will consider participating in the University of Michigan's part in it, Giving Blueday.

This is the second annual Giving Blueday, and we invite you to take advantage of this chance to make a gift to the Clements Library. Your donation makes a difference to us and can sponsor our acquisitions, conservation, and outreach.

Please join us on December 1st in this new tradition of generosity!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

From the Stacks: Skeletons

With Halloween right around the corner, here at the Clements Library our thoughts have turned to all things spooky that send shivers up your spine. While perhaps not as sinister as ghouls and goblins, the bare human skeleton has a disconcerting effect all its own that lends it symbolic weight.

Our Book Division has a sampling of tracts that use the human skull as a tool to emphasize the dire impact of immoral behavior. A sermon preached at the funeral of Joshua Spooner, a man who was "barbarously murdered at his own gate… by three ruffians, who were hired for the purpose by his wife," was published in 1778. If Pastor Nathan Fiske's admonishments against this "blackest catalogue of sins" were not enough to deter wayward minds, the publisher included a woodcut of a skull and cross bones to underline the dire consequences awaiting sinners.

Detail from Nathan Fiske, A sermon preached at Brookfield, March 6, 1778: on the day of the interment of Mr. Joshua Spooner (Danvers: E. Russell, 1778), p. 3.

The image must have resonated with the audience, or at the least with Ezekiel Russell, the publisher, for six years later he included it again in the evocatively named American Bloody Register. The narratives of the "lives, last words, and dying confessions" of notorious high way robbers and pirates are accompanied by the same forbidding skull and cross bones, now amidst the message "See and fear and do no more so wickedly."

Detail from The American Bloody Register: containing a true and complete history of the lives, last words, and dying confessions of three of the most noted criminals that have ever made their exit from a stage in America (Boston: E. Russell, [1784]).

The skeleton's implication of moral danger and death served as a not-so-subtle reminder of the final consequences that awaited criminals and sinners. Heightening this connection, some publishers directly evoked the style of gravestones. The popular death's head imagery that appeared on many colonial grave markers as an icon for mortality resonated strongly into the eighteenth century. The Ungodly Condemned, published in 1771 on the occasion of a murderer's execution, certainly conjures up thoughts of death as well as the body (and soul's) final resting place.

For those interested in pre-1800 gravestones from Northeastern America, the Farber Gravestone Collection is available online.

Of course, not all skeletons serve moralizing ends; some function in a more scientific context. Our 1795 New Medical Dictionary features some stunning illustrations of human anatomy, including this jauntily posed skeleton.

Medical practitioners, for good reason, can be drawn to the skeletal figure as a symbol for their work with the human body. The Clements Library's Harvey L. Sherwood Memorial Collection includes London apothecary William P. Marshall's manuscript notes, which he entitled "Medical Manipulation." His hand-drawn title page includes a crest topped by a human skull. The skeleton's obvious symbolic link to human mortality makes it an especially appealing addition to this volume of medical information aiming to stem its tide.

The linkage between the human skeleton and death makes it an apt satirical tool, as well. In this ca. 1813 print by William Elmes, the devil stands astride a sea monster that unleashes a barrage of unholy matter on a British seaman. Lambasting the American's recent adoption of explosives and torpedoes during the British blockade of New York in the War of 1812, this print uses a skeleton to represent death. Its pugilistic stance further emphasizes how sailors had to face mortal danger, an unnerving prospect in reality even if humorously portrayed here.

William Elmes, The Yankey Torpedo (London: [Thomas Tegg], [ca. 1813]).
A detail of the print's bad-tempered skeleton.

The symbolic weight of the skeleton makes it an appealing figure, even in the more relaxed moments taken up with doodling. In a wastebook in our Constantin Family Papers, a rather pleased looking skeleton appears holding death's sickle and a bottle of some unhealthy concoction.

While foreboding in its nature, this skeleton still seems terribly cheerful, and as well he should be as we approach Halloween, the season that celebrates his ilk!

Monday, October 5, 2015

From the Stacks: Preserving a Dried Strawberry

We recently received a Twitter query related to the strangest items in archival collections. Meg Hixon, who did extraordinary work at the Clements Library as a Project Archivist, recalled that we have a dried strawberry in our James Caswell Knox Papers. This small berry was enclosed in a letter written by Catharine Knox on June 18, 1865, to her husband who was serving in Virginia with the 147th Indiana Infantry during the Civil War. While carefully wrapped in a scrap of newspaper, she made no direct mention of the fruit in her letter, so her intentions remain obscure.

The strawberry appears here in its original newspaper wrapper.

Its enclosure in the letter and its careful preservation over the centuries signal its importance. Did it represent the comfort of familiar summer-time fruits growing at home to a soldier experiencing the horrors of war?

We preserve all materials enclosed in our manuscripts, whether they be newspaper clippings, hair, dried flowers and plant life, teeth, dirt, pounce, or any other item. These objects can provide any number of insights about the writer, their environment, or the processes they used in the creation of the manuscript. Researchers who make use of our collections can help parse out their meanings, and in the meantime we are charged with the task of preserving these special items. We handle these conservation challenges on a case-by-case basis, trying to determine what provides the best care for these fragile enclosures. For this particular strawberry, our conservator created a custom housing made from cotton, acid-free paper, with a special pocket to prevent the brittle berry from becoming damaged by movement, which was then placed in a separate envelope. The strawberry's newspaper wrapper received a similar treatment. Using cotton paper, rather than Mylar, lets this fibrous berry to breathe and helps prevent the appearance of mold.

The strawberry's new housing protects the fragile fruit and helps prevent mold issues.

The collections at the William L. Clements Library contain rich information about the past, and these enclosures, sometimes whimsical but often revealing, add unique details to that body of evidence. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Recent Acquisition: Rare Early Work by Native American Author

Post by Emiko Hastings, Curator of Books

The Book Division is pleased to announce a significant new acquisition, Diego de Valadés' Rhetorica Christiana (1579).  This purchase, courtesy of Liber Antiquus, Early Books & Manuscripts, fills an important gap in our holdings of early printed Americana. It is "almost certainly the first book written by a native of Mexico to be printed in Europe." The book itself is in excellent condition, bound in contemporary limp vellum and with all illustrations intact.

Mexica city with Aztec temple at center.

Valadés, the son of a native Tlaxcalan woman and a Conquistador, was educated by the Franciscans and later admitted to the Order. A native speaker of Nahuatl, he also learned other indigenous languages such as Otomí and Tarascan and used his language skills to proselytize among Native Americans for twenty years. In 1571, he was invited to Europe, and in 1575 named procurator general of the Franciscan Order at Rome. He wrote this work in order to teach missionary preachers the rhetorical skills necessary to compose and deliver sermons specifically to an Amerindian audience. It includes biographical information about Valadés, descriptions of Amerindian culture, a brief history of Mesoamerica, and an account of Franciscan missionary activities in the New World.

Depiction of the Franciscan method of evangelization in the New World. Within a stylized "memory palace," the Franciscans are shown preaching to, educating, and ministering to the Amerindians. 

The book contains twenty-seven remarkable engravings, designed by Valadés himself, which illustrate and expand upon his rhetorical teaching method. They include depictions of the Franciscans preaching to and educating the Native Americans, two mnemonic alphabets to aid in memorization, an Aztec calendar wheel superimposed with the Julian calendar, and a striking bird's-eye view of a Mexica city.

Franciscan preaching to an Amerindian audience with the aid of illustrated screens.

Valadés' theory of memory emphasized the use of images to communicate across cultural barriers. Visual images could be used as mnemonic keys to aid memorization and recall of various ideas. Preachers could employ large, illustrated screens as backdrops to their sermons, as shown above. Valadés encouraged the use of oratorical skills to provide more lively, compelling sermons, and recommended that preachers use descriptions of New World culture and environment to help connect the Native American audience to new concepts. For example, his first mnemonic alphabet shows correspondences between letterforms and the shapes of common objects, while the second alphabet shows the connections between letters and sounds. Many of the objects and symbols he employed refer to indigenous objects and concepts.

Mnemonic alphabet using New World imagery.

This acquisition is a significant addition to our rare book collection, and one that will provide multiple research opportunities for the campus community. Its text and images may be useful for the study of Native American history, Franciscan missionary activities in the Americas, the development of rhetorical and visual teaching methods, and much more. We hope that faculty and students will be able to make use of this material in any related courses or research projects. 

Images and catalogue description courtesy of Paul Dowling, Liber Antiquus, Early Books & Manuscripts.

Further Reading:

  • Linda Báez Rubí, Mnemosine Novohispánica: Retórica e Imágenes en el Siglo XVI (México: Univ. Nacional Autónoma de México, 2005). 
  • Francisco de la Maza, "Fray Diego Valadés, escritor y grabador franciscano del siglo XVI," Anales del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, 13 (1945): p. 15-44. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Palm Trees, Sugar, Slavery, and More

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

The Clements Library is known to historians and scholars of other disciplines as a primary source repository of “Americana” dating between 1492 and 1900. For all too many members of the history and the University of Michigan communities, however, that word suggests collections documenting mainland, English-speaking North America, particularly the territory that became the United States. Admittedly, that is the part of the Americas most heavily represented in the Clements Library’s books, manuscripts, maps, and graphics. However, Canada, both French and British, is nearly as well documented and, as noted in our last electronic newsletter, it remains a priority area for collecting.

South and Central America, with their primarily Native/Hispanic colonial cultures, are best represented in the Library by printed works from the age of European exploration and their colonial history. The collection is not as strong in books and manuscript materials from later periods in South and Central America, but we do have numerous maps and a respectable sampling of graphic items. We also hold concentrations of titles published during times of crisis—the South American wars for independence and the Mexican-American War for example.

Rene Phelipeau's Plan de la plaine of Cap Francois en L'Isle de St. Domingue (Paris, 1786) provides details of property lines, names of planters, and locations of slave quarters on the fertile northern plain of Haiti.

In this issue we introduce the Library’s third best-documented region of the Americas—the Caribbean. The West Indian sugar islands of the Greater and Lesser Antilles have a long and turbulent history. They were the arrival point of Christopher Columbus in the autumn of 1492. He was followed by other explorers and settlers, who exploited and soon destroyed much of the indigenous population. Needful of labor, the islands became the cradle of the practice of African slavery in the Americas. Politically, they were a cockpit of naval and military conflict from the colonial era through the Napoleonic Wars.

Documentation of the West Indies is to be found across the Library’s divisions, and the subject is an area of active acquisition by both gift and purchase. Much of our holdings relate to sugar production, trade, military and naval activities, and slavery. A fine example is Nicolas Ponce’s Recueil de Vues des lieux principaux de la colonie françoise de Saint-Domingue,which provides a visual overview of France’s richest American colony. The book includes maps and highly detailed plans and views of the towns and countryside. Foreground figures in the views provide animation and details of daily life as they undertake activities ranging from surveying to dancing. Published in Paris in 1791, Ponce’s book of images depicts the colony as it was on the eve of the great slave uprisings of 1791 that would devastate the colony and turn the French planters’ way of life upside down. The turmoil would also lead to independence for Haiti, of course. Other published histories recount Haiti’s struggles and preserve accounts of observers, participants, and refugees (many of whom made their way to Philadelphia). Manuscript collections, such as the papers of Anne-Louis de Tousard, provide further useful documentation on this particular event in Caribbean history.

A French cartographer named Warin drew this manuscript map illustrating the progress of a French landing force that wrested the island of Grenada from the British in July 1779.

Evidence of slavery may be found in almost every part of our West Indies holdings. The manuscript letters of the Tousard Papers contain correspondence describing the treatment of slaves on Haiti, while the Tailyour Family correspondence records the activities of a Scottish merchant family, whose business ventures in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries included large holdings of land and slaves on Jamaica. All in all, a cursory search of Clements Library manuscript finding aids turns up 99 collections with substantial West Indian content.

The Library’s Graphics Division is also strong in images of the Caribbean, both photographic and pre-photographic, Most revolve around the production of sugar or the frequent outbreaks of warfare between European colonial powers that inevitably involved their American possessions. Fighting was particularly widespread during the Seven Years' War, the American Revolution, and the wars that followed the French Revolution. The Graphics Division holds visual material as diverse as a series of colorful prints from the 1830s showing the steps of sugar production on the island of Antigua to a group of five watercolor views of St. Lucia drawn by British Lieutenant Charles Forrest in 1780 and '81.

British engineer Henry Mercier carefully drew a plan of the British bombardment of Havana in 1762.

A particularly significant event late in the Seven Years’ War was the British siege and capture of Havana in 1762. British engravers produced celebratory portfolios of views of the campaign, notably Elias Durnford’s Six Views of the City, Harbour, and Country of Havana (London, 1764, later reproduced as part of the Scenographia Americana of 1768) and Philip Orsbridge’s Britannia’s Triumph (London, 1764).

The Clements collection is also rich in atlases—Dutch, German, French, and British—that contain printed maps depicting the Caribbean islands. The last three years has also seen a successful effort to expand our holdings of separate maps of the West Indian islands, both printed and manuscript. Recent additions include Daniel Paterson’s 1780 map of Grenada that reveals much detail on crops and mills as well as a French manuscript map showing how their forces captured the island from the British in 1779. Other new maps include a French manuscript of the chief harbor of St. Lucia at the time of its reoccupation by French forces in 1784; a 1753 manuscript plan (including slave quarters) of the Fleuriau plantation on Haiti; a 1793 plan of Cartagena, Colombia by a French engineer; and published plans of St. Domingue and Puerto Rico. 

This finely detailed plan shows the plantation of Aime-Benjamin Fleuriau as it was in 1753. The important production buildings and residence appear at center. At the bottom are two parallel rows of penciled rectangles -- quarters for Fleuriau's slaves.

The hunt for documentation continues, sometimes with surprising results. While in England in July, our manuscripts curator purchased a pair of letters dated 1762 and signed by “Alexander White Lieut. of York troops.” At a glance the letters seemed to be a plea by a British officer for assignment to America—promising additions to our Seven Years' War collection. But, as so often is the case, there proved to be much more of a story to these two brief letters.

One of the documents is dated (10th Octor, 1762); the other is undated but clearly part of the same exchange of correspondence. The dated letter was written from “ye Cap”—then known to the French as “Le Cap” (today Cap Hatien). From context, it is clear that Lieutenant White was an officer of the New York provincial battalion assigned to the British expedition against Spanish Havana. But why was he in St. Domingue (Haiti), a French possession? The answer, after limited research, seems to be that White’s transport, along with several others, had been captured at sea by the French frigate Opale. Soon after, the warship was wrecked on the north coast of Haiti and the prisoners apparently taken to Le Cap. White, in his letter, was actually pleading with a French official to be allowed to give his parole and return to his home in New York, where he could be with his wife and three small children rather than be transported to a prison in France. We have not yet discovered the result of White’s request.

The Clements Library collection holds much of interest for scholars studying the Caribbean. We encourage you and your students to make use of these resources following the reopening of the renovated Library building in January 2016.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Graduate Student Workers and New Finding Aids

Post by Cheney Schopieray, Curator of Manuscripts

Graduate students are a vital part of the William L. Clements Library. As work-study employees, interns, grant-funded workers, and volunteers, graduate students help the Library with many different sorts of jobs and projects. They create inventories and indices, conduct research, arrange and describe collections, copy materials for patrons, perform office tasks, and work on special projects. Students benefit from mentorship by the Library's curatorial staff and the opportunity to gain hands-on, practical experience in a premier library of early Americana.

One type of project often assigned to graduate students is the creation of finding aids, documents that provide researchers with information about collections of archival materials. As part of the process, students are able to expand and apply their knowledge of descriptive standards for archival materials. They either gain an introduction to or additional experience with the creation and revision of XML-formatted documents and the creation/revision of machine-readable cataloging (MARC) records.

The following examples highlight finding aids for new or previously uncataloged collections, created by graduate students at the William L. Clements Library.

Finding Aid: Green-Mitchell Family Papers, bulk 1780-1812, 1831-1862. This collection complements the Library's fine collection of school papers of Rhode Island College (now Brown University) students Timothy and William Green (finding aid: Timothy and William Green Papers, David P. Harris Collection, 1784-1798).

In the winter semester of 2015, UM School of Information student Hannah Brookhart arranged, described, and completed a finding aid and supplementary index for the Green-Mitchell Family Papers (acquired 2013). This collection of over 1,500 letters and documents reflects the activities of the Green and Mitchell families of Massachusetts and New York. Of particular importance are approximately 400 letters to New York lawyer Timothy Green between 1780 and 1812, respecting the mercantile and land speculation activities of his brothers and business partners in South Carolina, New York, Massachusetts, Jamaica, and the Western United States.

Figure 1: Ephraim Kirby ALS to Timothy Green; December 25, 1795. Kirby requests information on the current cost of approximately 20-30,000 acres of the land ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Greenville.

Finding Aid: Henry Burbeck Papers, 1775-1866.

Online Exhibit: The Henry Burbeck Papers.

The Clements Library received a generous grant from the Gladys K. Delmas Foundation to hire a project archivist for the processing of the Library's Henry Burbeck Papers (acquired 2014). Brigadier General Henry Burbeck was a career artillery officer in the United States Army (1775-1784, 1786-1815), serving as Chief of Artillery from 1802 to 1815. The Library hired UM School of Information student Louis "Louie" Miller to arrange, describe, and create a finding aid and supplementary indices for the collection. Louie also worked with the Curator of Manuscripts to create a mini online exhibit to further advertise the acquisition of the collection: The Henry Burbeck Papers.


Finding Aid: HMS Levant and HMS Arethusa Log Book, 1775-1777.

As a summer intern, Wayne State University School of Library and Information Science student Nicole Sobota wrote finding aids for three of the library's "small collections" - important groups of manuscripts not belonging to larger bodies of papers. Nicole described a recently donated volume, containing the logs of two British ships operating in the English Channel and the Mediterranean during the American Revolution: the frigates HMS Levant and HMS Arethusa.

Figure 2: Title page of the HMS Levant and HMS Arethusa Log Book.

Finding Aid: Joseph Hooker Collection, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, 1862-1865.

The Civil War collections of the Clements Library continue to expand. However, many of the important donations of James S. Schoff in the 1970s - particularly "artificial collections" of miscellaneous individual letters and documents - require new and more detailed descriptions. Nicole Sobota wrote an item-level description of the 22 letters of the Joseph Hooker Collection, touching on Hooker's involvement in the Peninsula Campaign and the Western Theater, his leave from the army in Watertown, New York (September 1864), and his administrative duties in Cincinnati, Ohio (1864-1865).
Figure 3: Joseph Hooker ALS to B. N. Stevens; September 1, 1864, pp. 6-7.

Finding Aid: Perkinsville (Vt.) School District Documents, 1818-1851.

While the Clements Library is recognized for its exceptional and magnificent collections of prominent individuals' papers, it continually acquires important groups of materials related to the lives of lesser-known and unknown persons and institutions. In 2013, the Library acquired 46 receipts, committee meeting reports, meeting requests, and tax documents related to the operation of the 1st school district in the village of Perkinsville, Vermont. These manuscripts provide a detailed view of issues associated with running a district school in a mill town in the early 19th century. They reveal information about teachers' wages and local townspersons' coverage of the costs of firewood, boarding for educators, furniture construction, necessary supplies, maintenance, and other expenditures. The collection joins the Library's many holdings related to education in the early decades of the United States.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Carte de Visite Phenomenon

Post by Clayton Lewis, Curator of Graphics

A preoccupation with self-image swept across society when a new technology enabled a flood of inexpensive portrait photographs. The enthusiastic gathering of photographs of friends and public figures and the sharing of them in albums became a social norm. This widespread fixation on portraits was commented upon in the print media and blamed for the rise of a superficial, vain populace that lacked appreciation for substantive culture.

A selection of Cartes de Visite from the David V. Tinder Collection of Michigan Photography.
This could be just another day in the age of the selfie, but it happened in the 1860s with the introduction of the carte de visite photograph. With origins in France and the social tradition of calling card etiquette, the carte de visite was essentially a small card mounted portrait photo. It was cheap, easily available, portable, and could be mass-produced. Following the heavy, jewel-cased Daguerreotype, the carte de visite seemed sleek and modern. It is estimated that the number of cartes de visite produced in the United States was between 300 and 400 million per year during the 1860s, easily ten times the nation’s total population.

Its influence during its heyday was acknowledged by no less a figure than Abraham Lincoln. His statement that “Brady and the Cooper Institute made me President” was a reference to the Mathew Brady photo of Lincoln disseminated in massive quantities in carte de visite format prior to the election of 1860.

If the importance of the carte de visite is partly due to its industrial sized production and massive circulation, then it follows that any serious study of this format needs a critical mass as its foundation. At the Clements, that mass has undergone a significant expansion this summer with the addition of approximately 12,000 cartes de visite donated to the David V. Tinder Collection of Michigan Photography. This donation comes from Clements Library Associate David B. Walters, in honor of his parents, Harold L. Walters, University of Michigan class of 1947, Engineering, and Marilyn S. Walters, University of Michigan class of 1950, LSA.

The collector, Dave Tinder, has a great interest in the photographers themselves, and an eye for outstanding and unusual examples. A view of the broad social spectrum that visited 19th century photo studios emerges from the collection. Included are figures from the Michigan state legislature, universities, and colleges, to the scruff and scrum from northern lumber camps and barrooms. The elderly and the newly born, athletes and the infirm are here as well as African Americans, Native Americans, visitors from faraway lands, and those from just around the corner. A strong sense of middle-class mimicking of upper-class behavior is present, people proud of their occupations, examples of high and low fashion, and mysterious and surprising clues to relationships. The Tinder carte de visite collection gives us a sense of what is typical and what is exceptional within 19th century visual culture.

The processing and cataloging of these will take time but we expect that the collection will be at least partially open for research when the Library reopens on campus in 2016.

Related story in Michigan Today: Great Lakes, Even Greater Photography

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mapping the American Revolution

Guest post by Allison K. Lange, assistant professor of history at the Wentworth Institute of Technology. She helped curate the Leventhal Map Center’s “We Are One” exhibition.

Cantonment of the Forces in North America 1766. 1766. Manuscript, pen and ink and watercolor, 20.5 x 24.5 inches.

The nearly decade-long French and Indian War ended with a British victory and the acquisition of new land in North America. The aftermath of the war, however, actually paved the way for the uprisings that led to the American Revolution. A 1766 map in the Clements Library’s collection gives us insight into the reasons behind the colonists’ rebellion.

Drawn by hand after the end of the war, the Cantonment of the Forces in North America 1766 depicts the placement of British military garrisons. Each red rectangle represents a group of soldiers—a regiment, company, or half company depending on the rectangle’s size—stationed to defend the colonies, about 7,500 soldiers in total. This map reveals that most soldiers were on the borders of New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, and southeast Canada. Troops manned these areas to protect them from Native American tribes and other foreign powers. They also aimed to establish British authority among populations who had previously identified as French or Spanish.

The author of the map created it so that the government and military knew the placement of their troops. They monitored the movement of soldiers to ensure British control of the original colonies and newly won land. The map simplifies geographical features so that this information stands out. Unlike engraved and printed maps for mass circulation, this manuscript map was unique and intended for smaller audiences of elite government administrators.

The high costs of these garrisons and their soldiers were a significant reason for the American rebellion. The French and Indian War and the continued defense of the colonies required additional funding from the colonists. The government levied taxes to pay for the troops featured on this map. The 1765 Quartering Act required local governments to house and provide soldiers with provisions. Although the placement of the garrisons in the borderlands meant that the act affected few inhabitants, colonists resented the additional expenses. The Quartering Act along with the other infamous taxes of the 1760s—the Sugar Act, Stamp Act, and Townshend Act—led to rebellions throughout the colonies to challenge the British government.

The Cantonment map also features the Proclamation Line along the Appalachian Mountains. Although Britain gained new western land from the French after the war, the Proclamation of 1763 declared that colonists could not settle west of this line. Western lands were set aside for Native Americans. The mapmaker calls attention to this area by labeling it “LAND RESERVED FOR THE INDIANS.” The Proclamation Line infuriated colonists. Many ignored it, settled west of the boundary, and demanded British protection anyway.

British officials commissioned maps like this one to visualize their efforts to control the colonies. The Cantonment map is one of five similar maps drawn between October 11, 1765 and the summer of 1767 for the Quartermaster General. Together they show the movement of garrisons in North America. The Clements Library has one, and the Library of Congress and British Library house the remaining maps. The earliest two maps, including the copy owned by the Clements Library, are unsigned, but Ensign Daniel Paterson signed the latter maps. The similarities in the styles suggest that he likely drew the Clements Library’s version as well. Paterson used existing maps (possibly Thomas Kitchin’s 1763 map), rather than a new survey of his own to document the garrisons. He drew the maps in London and may have used correspondence from General Thomas Gage to document the location of the troops.

Paterson and the officials who used his map could not have envisioned the Revolutionary War a decade later, but, for modern viewers, this map features important details that highlight some of the major causes of the American Revolution. Colonists believed the government levied taxes without their consent and restricted their freedoms. Though he did not realize it at the time, Paterson documented the seeds of discontent on his map.

The Clements Library’s Cantonment map is currently on display at the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center’s exhibition at the Boston Public Library. The exhibition, We Are One: Mapping America’s Road from Revolution to Independence, uses maps to explore the events that led thirteen colonies to forge a new nation. We Are One demonstrates that maps, from the Cantonment map to early European maps of the new nation, were central to the revolutionary process. The exhibition features maps as well as prints, paintings, and objects from the Leventhal Map Center’s own collection and those of twenty partners, including the British Library and Library of Congress. Visit to explore geo-referenced maps from the exhibition.

The exhibition will be on display at the Boston Public Library through November 29, 2015. We Are One then travels to Colonial Williamsburg from February 2016 through January 2017 and to the New-York Historical Society from November 2017 through March 2018.

The Leventhal Map Center also hosts the NEH-funded American Revolution Portal database. Researchers can access maps from the British Library, Library of Congress, and other institutions in one search. Users can download images for research and classroom use. Access these resources and learn more about We Are One at

For more on this map, see Brian Leigh Dunnigan, "Mapping an Army in North America," in An Americana Sampler: Essays on Selections from the William L. Clements Library (Ann Arbor: William L. Clements Library, 2011).

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

From the Stacks: Student Maps

Post by Jayne Ptolemy, Manuscripts Curatorial Assistant

As a new semester begins at the University of Michigan, here at the Clements Library we're highlighting some student maps to celebrate the academic year. The educational benefit of studying geography and copying maps has made them classroom staples, and the pride students feel upon successfully completing a map spans the centuries, too. In 1815, Sarah Butler wrote to her sister about her schoolwork, including "two large Charts… one of America and the other of Europe and my dear preceptress thinks that they are wrote well enough to be framed and I feel much pleased to think that she thinks that it is done so well."[1]  Evidence of children's investment in geographical studies can be found in surprising places, like this ca. 1825 book, The Elements of Geography Made Easy. Earl Evans inscribed the book twice, and while not an unusual practice, after one he included a revealing addendum: "Eirl Evens is a Bright Boy." Mastering the arts of geography, much like the children shown in the book's illustrations, may have helped Earl to feel particularly bright… even if he did happen to misspell his name.

From The Elements of Geography Made Easy: Embellished with neat coloured copperplate engravings. Designed to render a general knowledge of the elements of geography and maps, so plain and easy, as to come witin [sic] the capacity of our most juvenile readers (Philadelphia: Morgan & Yeager, ca. 1825).

The student creations in the Map Division are made with care, but sometimes they contain mistakes. Take this ca. 1853 hand-drawn map of Michigan and Wisconsin made by H. L. Hobart.

H. L. Hobart, "Map of Michigan & Wiscosin," ca. 1853. This map was recently adopted by our generous supporter David Kennedy. To learn more about our adopt-a-piece-of-history program, click here.

We can all empathize with the feeling of frustration Hobart may have felt when he realized he left the "n" out of Wisconsin as he finished his map. Regardless, his work was treasured and preserved through the years, and the error only adds to our emotional connection with the piece. The shared experience of making mistakes and learning from them helps us understand the students that produced these maps.

Sometimes the misspellings on maps are not the students' fault. For example, this recently acquired map from the 1820s features the state of "Tennasee."

While we may assume this is a student's phonetic spelling of the state name, it actually appears in this form in widely printed maps that teachers may have had their pupils copying. This spelling can be seen in the map of the United States in the 1801 edition of Carey's American Pocket Atlas, while the written description of the state uses the typical "Tennessee."

Detail from The United States of America, in Mathew Carey, Carey's American Pocket Atlas (Philadelphia: H. Sweiter, 1801).

Apparent typos are not the only way we see the students' direct influence in the maps they made. Sometimes we gain a glimpse of how students dealt with distraction or boredom. Laid into our copy of Harper's School Geography are a series of hand-drawn state maps made by Henry De Blond in 1884. A whimsical doodle is sketched on the back of his map of Michigan.

This map of Michigan, and its accompanying doodle, can be found in the [Henry De Blond state maps], which are laid into the 1882 edition of Harper's School Geography, donated by James E. Laramy.

Other drawings can be found in our School Atlas to Accompany Woodbridge's Rudiments of Geography. Illustrations of men and women appear throughout the volume on blank pages. This particular one, drawn on the back of a map of the United States during Christmas 1838, gives us a glimpse into how this book was used.

Whether or not the children were actively studying geography on Christmas night, they certainly had the book out and were using it for their own purposes. These drawings speak to the tendency of young minds to wander while performing school work.

Of course, not all geographic exercises come in the form of copying maps or studying books. The Clements also has examples of educational games. This 1885 game has a map of the United States printed on a wooden board that can roll up. It includes small pegs for American state "capitals and business centres" with details about the places printed on them to be placed in their correct locations. Intended for "use in schools and in the home circle," the Norris' Cyclopaedic Map incorporated play into geographic study.

Detail from Norris' Cyclopaedic Map of the United States of America, (excepting Alaska) together with adjacent portions of the Dominion of Canada and of the United States of Mexico (New York: W. R. Norris, 1885).

Hopefully looking at these examples of young people's engagement with maps has put you in the back-to-school spirit. And students, if you make mistakes or get distracted, remember you are certainly not alone… but also beware that the evidence can be long lasting!

1.Sarah B[utler] Davis ALS to Eliza Eldredge, 1815 November 11, Sarah B. Davis Letters, Duane Norman Diedrich Collection.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Clements Library Summer Reading: Part II

Last week we ran the first half of our Clements Library summer reading list, pairing staff's recently read and recommended books with items from the Clements's collections. We continue now with other good reads and interesting connections to the Library's rich historical sources.

Terese Austin, Curatorial Assistant and Reading Room Supervisor, recently read Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (New York: Crown Publishers, 2010). Skloot's book recounts the story of how in 1951 doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital removed and cultured cells from Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman who was suffering from cervical cancer, without her or her family's permission. The cells were hugely influential for medical research and treatment, but the history of their use highlights serious questions about medical ethics. The Clements Library's Alexis St. Martin Collection speaks to medicine's long history of negotiating, and sometimes abusing, patient rights. In 1822 Alexis St. Martin, a French-Canadian employed by the American Fur Company at Mackinac, was shot in the stomach, leaving him with an open wound that exposed his digestive system for the rest of his life. St. Martin's doctor, William Beaumont, offered medical care but also undertook a long series of experiments that revolutionized medical understanding of gastric processes. St. Martin eventually signed a contract with Beaumont, but the case highlights the thin line between medical consent and coercion.

In 1879, Alexis St. Martin was in conversation with Chicago medical facilities about taking up residency there for observation. He eventually refused due to failing health.
Jayne Ptolemy, Curatorial Assistant and Reading Room Supervisor, has also been reading about the medical field in Atul Gawande's Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2014). This moving exploration of how modern medicine has affected the experience of aging and dying resonates across the centuries. The very human encounter with health and mortality can also be glimpsed in the Clements's collection, Vine Utley, Observations on Old People 80 Years of Age, from the Duane Norman Diedrich Collection. Utley's interviews with elderly residents of New London County, Connecticut, in the early nineteenth century provide remarkable details of an aging population's health, family, and habits.

Utley's Observations are written in a hand-made notebook with an 1806 newspaper cover.
From the aged to the young, the Clements Library's collections give insight into all stages of life. Oksana Linda, Rare Book Cataloger, enjoyed The Children's Book (London: Chatto & Windus, 2009) by her favorite British author, A. S. Byatt. The novel describes the various adventures and complicated familial relations between a group of adults and children in the period from 1895 through the First World War. With a focus on children's lives, and with one of the protagonists being a children's book author, there is a clear connection to the Clements's rich collection of juvenile books. Take, for example, Shirley Dare Power's, Art of Good Manners, or, Children's Etiquette. Dare advises children on proper behavior. "Girls like strong words," she proclaims, "just as they like pickles, and cinnamon, and citron, and all sorts of unwholesome things—tastes that you will drop as soon as you begin to half know anything."

The cover of S. D. Power's Art of Good Manners (Akron: Werner Co., 1899) is nearly as colorful as the advice she gives within it.
While Oksana's pick centered in Europe, Janet Bloom, our Research Services Specialist, spent some time thinking about the sunny shores of Hawaii. She just finished Laura Fish Judd's Honolulu: Sketches of Life in the Hawaiian Islands from 1828-1868 (Chicago: Lakeside Press, R. R. Donnelley, 1966). Laura Fish Judd, one of the earliest missionaries to the Hawaiian islands, served with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and this narrative of her experiences was first published in 1880. Complementing Judd's vivid descriptions of Hawaii, are the Clements's Horace Mann, Jr. Papers. Mann travelled to Hawaii in 1864 where he performed botanical research, which is documented in our collection. The Clements also has a series of Mann's photographs and maps that gives a broader sense of Hawaii during both Laura Fish Judd and Horace Mann, Jr.'s stays on the islands.

This manuscript map of Hawaii, produced by Mann in 1864, shows the Mauna Loa lava flows from various years.
The Clements staff's reading choices span centuries and cover a wide range of topics. Clayton Lewis, Graphics Curator, finished a novel that does the same within one volume. He showed his mettle and read the innovative, if sprawling, Thomas Pynchon novel, Against the Day (New York: Penguin Press, 2006). Beginning aboard a hydrogen skyship on its way to the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, the tale spins its way across time and space, touching upon such topics as Colorado mining, labor unrest, gilded age New York, Nicholas Tesla, among others. The Clements does not seem to have any materials related to time travel, a problem that Clayton suggests, "In the future, we'll have to do something about correcting in the past." However, we do have a nice collection of materials related to the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in our Handy Family Papers, including a scrapbook of admission tickets compiled by Moses P. Handy, Chief of the Department of Publicity and Promotion for the momentous affair.

A sampling of some of the World's Columbian Exposition admission tickets to be found in the Handy Family Papers.
While the Clements has no evidence of time machines, the Library's incredible collections may just be the next best thing. When you read our books, study our graphics and maps, and explore our manuscripts, you get a vivid sense of the past that transports your imagination, if not your body, back in time.