Wednesday, June 19, 2019

New Manuscripts Finding Aids: February – May 2019

The Clements Library is pleased to announce that the following manuscript collections are now described online and may be requested for use in the reading room.

This collection contains handwritten minutes, many with revisions and excisions, for 49 meetings of the Prudential Committee of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions between 1848 and 1892. Written by multiple clerks, the minutes contain information on attendance, votes, resolutions, current and future missions, letters received, appointees, offers of service, reports from the field, salaries, grants, funding distribution, and other subjects.

Levi Aldrich scrapbook, 1841-1849 - Processed by Sara Quashnie
This "Scrapbook bound by L. A." contains handwritten final drafts of editorial pieces written by Dr. Levi Aldrich of Shrewsbury, Vermont, as well as several clippings and copies of poems by other authors. The writings occupy 57 of 59 numbered pages in a lengthier blank book. The majority are final drafts of written pieces for The Universalist Watchman (Montpelier, Vermont) and The Rutland Herald (Rutland, Vermont), and other publications. He contributed obituaries, essays on faith, articles on medicine, and editorials on society and technology.

William Case Clark Notebook, 1779-1788 - Processed by Sara Quashnie
This 30-page notebook by William Case Clark of South Kingston, Rhode Island, contains very brief notes on the 1776 British attack on Newport, Rhode Island, a copy of the numbers of soldiers of different ranks killed in the Battle of Bunker Hill, financial accounts for the purchase of foodstuffs in the 1780s, and a weather journal spanning January to May 1775. Clark also copied extracts from the poems "The Ballad of Chevy Chase" and "A New Song Called the Gaspee."

Creigmus v. Youngs Collection, 1893 - Processed by Cari Griffin
This collection consists of seven documents and handwritten notes related to a slander suit filed with the New York Supreme Court in Montgomery County, February 1893. The complaint, filed by Elisabeth B. "Lizzie" Creigmus's attorneys, alleges that defendant Michael Youngs publically accused Creigmus of canine castration and bestiality.

Edward B. Hartshorn Journal, 1858-1873 - Processed by Sara Quashnie
This volume contains the journal of Edward B. Hartshorn from January 1858 to September 1863, anonymous writings regarding a possible trip to locations in the Mediterranean and Europe (including Palestine, Syria, Greece, Constantinople, London, France, and Rome), financial accounts for 1872 to 1873, arithmetic exercises, and a short poem on death.

Nehemiah S. Hayden Journal and Account Book, 1858 - Processed by Sara Quashnie
This 93-page journal and account book chronicles a year in the life of Nehemiah S. Hayden, a sailor and shipbuilder from Essex, Connecticut, including voyages aboard the John H. Elliott to Antwerp, Belgium, and the clipper ship Frederick Gebhard to Savannah, Georgia. On 80 pages of journal entries, Hayden recounted the weather, shipboard tasks, and movement of other vessels, and offered brief glimpses of his personal life on and off ship. Five scattered pages of accounts entries detail Hayden's expenses for clothing, sundries, and services for 1858. Completing the volume is an anonymous 8-page work of prose (including the date January 15, 1858), telling the story of a young woman's heartbreak over the loss of her sailor love and his return to her after his rescue by an English ship. The front and back pastedowns bear sketches of a three-masted, square rigged ship (apparently the Frederick Gebhard ) and a two-masted, gaff rigged vessel.

Hart Hosley Exercise and Commonplace Book, 1835-1839 - Processed by Jayne Ptolemy
Between 1835 and 1839, Hart Hosley produced an exercise and commonplace book while attending the Canton Academy in Canton, New York, and while later living in Boston, Massachusetts. The bulk of the volume consists of a translation from French into English of François Fenelon's The Adventures of Telemachus, the Son of Ulysses. Selections of poetry, proverbs, songs, and mathematics problems comprise the rest of the volume. Pressed leaves appear throughout. The covers feature printed decorative paper (possibly wallpaper) of a woman playing a lute beside a dancing cherub.

Mary Greenhow Lee Collection, 1861-1907 - Processed by Sara Quashnie
This collection is made up of letters, notes, and ephemera of Mary Greenhow Lee of Winchester, Virginia, who was a staunch supporter of the Confederate States of America. Included are travel passes, a contraband search memorandum, and an anonymous captured letter providing intelligence on "that little widow" Lee and "her gang of old maids" and other secessionists on Market Street. Bessie Elizabeth Johnston Gresham (Mrs. Thomas Baxter Gresham) acquired most of the pieces in this collection directly from her friend Mary Lee.

Point Lookout Prison Camp Collection, 1863-1865 - Processed by Robert S. Cox and Mary Parsons
The Point Lookout Prison Camp collection includes official correspondence, prisoners' letters, sutlers' receipts, and other documents relating to Confederate prisoners of war held at the Point Lookout Military Prison, Maryland, largely between the summers of 1863 and 1864.

Demas Lindley Sears Papers, 1916-1983 - Processed by Cheney J. Schopieray
This collection is made up of 158 letters, 8 speeches and writings, 36 documents, 25 ephemeral items and currency, 5 pamphlets or booklets, 43 newspaper clippings, 26 lithographs, and 99 photographs by or related to Lieutenant Colonel Demas Lindley Sears. The bulk of the collection pertains to his service as a mid-level intelligence officer in the U.S. Army's 37th Infantry Division during World War II. A small portion of the collection reflects his service in the 8th Ohio Infantry Regiment during the Punitive Expedition of 1916 and in the First U.S. Cavalry during World War I.

James E. Taylor Letters, [ca. 1880-1897] - Processed by Sara Quashnie
This collection is comprised of three letters by James E. Taylor, an artist famous for his work in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, to Colonel George Meade, son of General George Meade. The letters respect the sale and trade of photographs of deceased Civil War officers. The letters are accompanied by a list of photographs owned by Taylor depicting officers who died in the Civil War.

William Anthony Notebook, 1851-1855 - Processed by Sara Quashnie
This 111-page pocket notebook documents the studies and travels of William Anthony, a student at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1851 to 1855. The bulk of the entries are medical notes regarding patients Anthony encountered during his time at Jefferson.

John Thomas Batt Papers, 1772-1808 - Processed by Corey Schmidt
This collection is made up of 49 letters and 11 documents and other items, consisting primarily of the incoming correspondence of barrister John Thomas Batt from English and Irish aristocrats, politicians, and state figures. The letters pertain to the end of the American Revolution, the Franco-American alliance, political turmoil in Ireland from the 1780s through the early 1800s, and matters relating to English politics.

Herman Beck Language Practice Book, 1852 - Processed by Theresa Dowker
Herman Beck created this book of German-English language practice exercises on ethics, business administration, letter writing, bookkeeping, and other subjects. The volume includes some teacher corrections as well as printed, colored illustrations and a map of Europe.

Samuel Blodget Collection, 1802-1803 - Processed by Cari Griffin
This collection is made up of four letters, a bill, and a receipt, providing information about merchant, economist, and amateur architect Samuel Blodget, Jr.'s proposal for a National University and a monument to George Washington, to be erected in Washington, D.C.

William Rawle Brooke Diary, 1863-1865 - Processed by Sara Quashnie
This diary chronicles William Rawle Brooke's service with the Third Pennsylvania Cavalry during the Civil War (he later changed his name to William Brooke Rawle). It begins with Brooke's initial Army commission in May 1863 and concludes in August 1865, shortly before his discharge. Brooke described daily army life, provided detailed accounts of battles, and other events of note.

Bing Crosby Collection, 1943-1971 - Processed by Meghan Brody
The Bing Crosby collection includes 21 letters and documents from Crosby's professional and personal life, three photographs or photograph reproductions, and one autograph musical quotation. Most letters and documents are in regards to Crosby's film projects during the 1940s and 1950s, especially White Christmas (1954).

Du Bois Medicinal Recipe Book, [ca. 1895] - Processed by Sara Quashnie
This notebook (241 pages) contains medicinal recipes as well as instructions for making other health, beauty, and household products. It contains several newspaper clippings and paper inserts, including one letter by Pierre Du Bois.

Kate G. Geary Autograph Album, 1877-1884 - Processed by Jayne Ptolemy
The Kate G. Geary Autograph Album contains signatures, poems, proverbs, and other contributions of Geary's male and female acquaintances in Michigan from 1877 to 1884.

Richard B. and Agnes Irwin Family Correspondence, [1796]-1894 - Processed by Sara Quashnie
This collection is comprised of 76 letters written and received by members of the Irwin family (direct descendants of Benjamin Franklin). The majority of the collection consists of letters written by educator Agnes Irwin, Richard Biddle Irwin, who served as George McClellan's aide-de-camp, and their mother Sophia Bache Irwin during the first half of the Civil War.

Manuscript Recipe Book Collection, 1793-1959 - Processed by Sara Quashnie
This collection comprises thirty American manuscript recipe books dated from 1793 to 1959 with the bulk dating from the nineteenth century. Two of the books contain portions in German, while the rest are in English. Most regions of the United States are present, with the Northeast and Southern States best represented. Desserts represent the bulk of the recipes, cakes being the most popular. Some recipes include attributes to friends, family, or cookbooks, and some contain notes on quality of the dish. Directions for making medicinal remedies and practical household needs (such as cleaning product recipes or advice on fabric care) may also be included. Many volumes contain handwritten or printed inserts.

New York and Canada Line Account Book, 1869-1921 - Processed by Cari Griffin
The first section of this volume contains 73 pages of accounting records for the New York and Canada Line, which shipped cargo on the Northeast Atlantic seaboard and along the St. Lawrence Seaway. The entries date from 1869 to 1873. A second section of the volume contains accounting and inventory records for an unidentified slate company, between 1889 and 1910. The final page contains a single entry by an unknown party for a lumber purchase in 1921.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Bethlehem Steel Corporation Field Trip Collection, [1969] - Processed by Meghan Brody
This collection consists of two letters from Jacqueline Onassis to Douglas Mansell, thanking him for the 4th grade field trip he led at the Bethlehem Steel Corporation's shipyard in Hoboken, New Jersey. In one letter, she enclosed 19 handwritten reflections by the students about the shipyard visit. The field trip was for Onassis's son, John F. Kennedy, Jr., and his class at the Collegiate School for Boys in New York. Five photographs depicting the class and their chaperones at the shipyard, featuring Onassis and her son, accompany the correspondence.

Petit Family Land Documents, 1840-1902 - Processed by Cari Griffin
This collection consists of 87 legal documents pertinent to land transactions conducted by Edward Petit (1812-1875) and his family in the Port Huron area of St. Clair County, Michigan, 1840-1902.

Leslie W. Quirk and Walker H. Mills Correspondence, 1926-1931 - Processed by Cheney J. Schopieray
This collection contains eight typed letters by author Leslie W. Quirk to his friend, fellow World War I veteran Walker H. Mills, and retained copies of Mills's nine responses to Quirk. Mills and Quirk served together in the American Field Service on the Western Front, Réserve Mallet, Motor Transport Company 839. Quirk struck up the correspondence in 1926 as he began writing a juvenile novel about the war, which he eventually published as Jimmy Goes to War (1931). They discussed the potential contents of the book, what parts of the story it would leave out or keep in, and descriptive details (such as insignia colors, the text of French signs, and other minutia). An inscribed copy of Jimmy Goes to War to Walker Mills accompanies the letters. The volume contains manuscript notations that appear to be an effort to identify the real names of fictionalized characters in the story.

Reading (Mass.) Documents, 1666-1731 - Processed by Cari Griffin
This collection consists of 17 manuscript documents respecting local affairs in Reading, Massachusetts, between 1666 and 1731. The documents address property, indigent persons, town meetings (calls to meet and issues addressed), and financial matters.

Charles S. Thomas and Jerome M. Snook Collection, 1868-1872 - Processed by Cheney J. Schopieray
This collection is made up of 14 letters by (or on behalf of) Charles Spalding Thomas to his friend Jerome M. Snook, while Thomas lived in Prairieville and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Denver, Colorado. In 1868 and 1869, Thomas sent requests to Snook, who worked as a clerk at the Beebe & Scott clothing store in Kalamazoo, asking him to clean his coat and secure him a pair of ladies' skates. Thomas wrote his letters of 1870 and early 1871 from Ann Arbor, where he studied law at the University of Michigan. Following his graduation in 1871, he corresponded from his home state of Georgia. Thomas sent his final letters from Denver, Colorado, where he settled to practice law. The correspondence pertains to acquaintances, the weather, women, lecturers, advice about Snook's upcoming attendance at the University of Michigan, and the 1872 presidential election.

William W. Winters Biography, [1853?] - Processed by Cari Griffin
This manuscript is a 141-page biography of William W. Winters (1826-1895), a one-time medical student from Ohio, cabinetmaker, daguerreotypist, and Methodist Minister, among other professions. The biography and subsequent pasted-in documents draw heavily from Winters's own diary entries and trace the events of his life from 1826 to 1853, including his divorce from his wife, who he accused of adultery.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Contemporary Issues Discussion Debut: "New Motherhood"

Earlier this year, I was spitballing some ideas with my colleague Louie Miller in the Reference Division office, and we chatted about how interesting it would be to bring together a historical item from our collection with the modern-day perspectives of people currently working on related topics. With the help of our supportive Development team, we were able to bring this idea to fruition, and we hosted our first Contemporary Issues Discussion event on May 9, 2019, in collaboration with the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies. The spirit of this type of event is twofold. First, we want to provide an opportunity to consider how an issue that is relevant to us in our modern lives played out in the past and to reflect on how our personal experiences relate to that history. The second goal is more community-minded, as we celebrate the ways we're connected through these stories and welcome the chance to learn more about those who join us in conversation.

Our discussion on May 9th focused on the topic of new motherhood, using a letter from our Bradford Family Papers to center the conversation. Maria Bradford had married a schoolteacher, Claudius, in 1830, and the following year the young couple moved westwards from Massachusetts to Cincinnati. She got pregnant shortly after their move and the letter we considered was written by Maria to her mother back home, relating the story of her recent labor, childbirth, and postpartum recovery. Maria described who was in the room while she labored, how she burst into laughter upon first hearing her child cry, and how the doctor admonished her that doing so "would disturb her whole system." She told of conflicting advice coming from her female nurse and male doctor, hinted at common breastfeeding woes and her relief that she escaped them, and signaled towards a network of female friends and a nurse who were present to support her. Her husband resumed teaching two days after the birth of the child, and Maria admitted that her "nerves were weak," that she cried during the long nights and longed for her mother's advice. "My time is so entirely occupied," she lamented, "that it seems as if I had no time to do anything." This letter is striking in how it gives us a glimpse into childbirth and healthcare norms as well as the emotional, interior life of a new mother in the 1830s.

A detail of Maria Bradford's letter. Download and read the letter.

On its own, the letter is fascinating. But the conversation it spurred was even more so. We were fortunate enough to have three invited guests open our discussion -- Dr. Lisa Harris, an ObGyn at the University of Michigan; Jodi Long, a practicing doula and herbalist; and Barbara Robertson, a certified lactation consultant and owner and director of the Breastfeeding Center of Ann Arbor. They offered insights into the medical experience of labor, the power of one's birth story, breastfeeding challenges, and the complicated and powerful relationships with mothers-- all themes that we confront in Maria's letter that also resonate with their daily work. We had a full room, including many new mothers who were just starting their own journeys in parenthood. Much of our time was spent hearing about the group's personal stories and how they compare to Maria's account written some 188 years earlier. We mused on all that has changed, all the medical advances and social shifts that make our moment so different from Maria's. But we also reveled in all that still felt so present and familiar-- who else cried and felt overwhelmed when facing those early sleepless nights with a newborn, who else longed for their mother's advice.

Here at the Clements we are invigorated and inspired to continue this type of discussion, to explore what we can learn about our collections as well as our community when we put them in more immediate conversation. What do we gain when we see a historical document as an entry-point to engage, celebrate, and interrogate the stories of the past as well as the present? I don't have a clear answer yet, but it feels important, pressing, and empowering. We hope you'll join us as we hold more of these Contemporary Issues Discussions, learn more about American history and how it relates to our own personal ones, and try to figure this out, together.

Jayne Ptolemy
Assistant Curator of Manuscripts

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Last Colonial Governors in Revolutionary America

Over the course of 1774 and 1775, letters from distressed governors flooded General Thomas Gage’s headquarters in Boston. Colonial officials all across British North America were watching imperial government collapse around them and scrambling to maintain their power. They wrote to Gage – Commander in Chief of the British Army in North America and Governor of Massachusetts – looking for a solution. They wanted the money, men, ammunition, and information that only Gage could quickly provide.

In one exemplary call for aid, the governor of South Carolina insisted that the South was just as rebellious as New England. Governor William Campbell claimed that South Carolinians were equal to New Englanders in “the violence of their measures, & contempt of all Legal Authority.” Campbell felt impotent, writing how “absolutely [we are] under the command of [extralegal] Councils & Committees.”[1]  General Gage responded to Campbell’s letter with sympathy but not the hoped-for solution: “[I] am sorry to hear South Carolina is in such Confusion,” he wrote, “but Congresses and Committees seem to have the Rule of every Province.”[2]  In other words, you’re on your own.

General Thomas Gage (1721-1787)

I came to the William L. Clements Library – with the help of a Jacob M. Price Research Fellowship – to research the committees that so troubled these two men. To my delight, I found that the Clements Library has almost as many letters written by committeemen as they have letters written by colonial governors complaining about committees. The latter are surprisingly emotional and engaging. The Thomas Gage Papers at the Clements Library contains hundreds of letters from this period; after having read through most of them, I can tell you that the 1770s look very different when seen through the eyes of the last colonial governors.

The southern governors particularly resented having to fend for themselves against committees. Feeling abandoned by Gage, they turned to each other to shore up royal power in their region.[3]  This largely consisted of creating a communication network tying them to each other and to the military headquarters in Boston. The southern governors wanted to have timely and reliable information in the increasingly tense environment following the Battles of Lexington and Concord. They needed reports on battles and political skirmishes from Gage in order to combat damaging reports from rebel sources.[4]  They also needed an easy way to call for reinforcements if circumstances escalated and fighting broke out within their colonies. In light of this, the governors of Georgia and the Carolinas attempted to use a warship to ferry mail between the southern capitals and Boston.[5]

"A View of the Town of Boston with Several Ships of War in the Harbour," (1774).
Engraving by Paul Revere.
The southern governors chose the sea route because committeemen were notorious snoops. Committees in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and South Carolina regularly stopped and inspected mail sent between colonial officials. The governors were understandably terrified of their letters being intercepted and used against them by the committees. In addition to finding alternate ways to send their mail, a couple of governors suggested using cyphers to keep their correspondence secret.[6]  The Thomas Gage Papers show that governors started worrying about the security of mail routes as early as 1774 – well before war began!

Paranoia among colonial officials reached a high point in the summer and fall of 1775. Governors throughout the colonies spoke of a rebel plot to imprison and possibly execute all of the governors; this would apparently leave space for committees to rule the colonies without competition.[7]  Indeed, five governors were so afraid for their lives that they absconded to British warships waiting in their harbors.[8]  While it seems unlikely that rebel committees concocted an intercolonial plan to simultaneously seize the governors, committeemen were certainly not sad to see their governors go. By 1776, committeemen had made it impossible for governors to rule without Gage's soldiers and weapons; for the rest of the American Revolution, colonial governors could only maintain authority in areas where they had a strong military presence.

Treesh at work in the Avenir Foundation Reading Room, October 2018.

As I worked my way through Gage’s correspondence at the Clements Library, it was hard to not be overwhelmed by a sense of impending doom. Between 1765 and 1776, Gage corresponded with governors in every British North American colony as well as the Superintendents of Indian Affairs for both the North and the South. The Gage Papers give researchers a rare wide-lens view of colonial governance in its last years. Taken as a whole, these letters show the emotional and political turmoil of the imperial crisis spreading throughout the continent. 

Collections like the Thomas Gage Papers force us to recognize the messiness and contingency of the 1760s and 1770s, a period that we often think of as a linear, steady progression toward American unity and revolution. With such a geographically-broad collection we can see that dynamic political change happened at varying rates throughout the colonies, but almost always in fits and starts. Little about the movement toward revolution was “linear” or “steady”. Governors fought back against the committees and congresses, and were at times able to stem the rising tide of rebellion, though not stop it altogether. The story of American politics from 1765 to 1776 is about the decline of governmental authority as much as it is about the growth of rebel legitimacy. The Thomas Gage Papers are an especially good source for observing both sides of the story; I know that my dissertation is richer for having studied them.

Catherine Treesh
Doctoral Candidate, Department of History, Yale University
Clements Library 2018 Price Fellow

* * *

[1] A reference to the rebellious "committees of correspondence" and the colony-wide conventions that they generated - the first efforts to organize and carry out Patriot self-governance.  William Campbell to Thomas Gage, 1 July 1775, American Series, Vol. 131, Thomas Gage Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan.

[2] Thomas Gage to William Campbell, 9 August 1775, American Series, Vol. 133, Thomas Gage Papers.

[3] The southern governors weren’t entirely wrong when they obliquely accused Gage of ignoring them. Gage was getting instructions from the Earl of Dartmouth to keep an eye on the South but to focus his attention and resources on New England, where the threat was deemed greatest. See Earl of Dartmouth to Thomas Gage, 15 April 1775, English Series, Vol. 28, Thomas Gage Papers.

[4] William Campbell to Thomas Gage, 1 July 1775, American Series Vol. 131, Thomas Gage Papers; Josiah Martin to Thomas Gage, 6 July 1775, American Series, Vol. 131, Thomas Gage Papers; Earl of Dunmore to Thomas Gage, 17 June 1775, American Series, Vol. 130, Thomas Gage Papers.

[5] William Campbell to Thomas Gage, 1 July 1775, American Series, Vol. 131, Thomas Gage Papers.

[6] Guy Carlton to Thomas Gage, 4 February 1775, American Series, Vol. 125, Thomas Gage Papers; Cadwallader Colden to Thomas Gage, 6 May 1775, American Series, Vol. 128, Thomas Gage Papers.

[7] William Franklin to Thomas Gage, 20 June 1775, American Series, Vol. 130, Thomas Gage Papers; Josiah Martin to Thomas Gage, 26 May 1775, American Series, Vol. 129, Thomas Gage Papers.

[8] The royal governors of New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

National Winston Churchill Day

Thanks to the contributions of Dr. Duane Norman Diedrich (1935-2018), the Clements Library holds selected original documents from Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), the great Prime Minister who led Britain during World War II (see the Churchill Collection Finding Aid). A Professor of Speech, Dr. Diedrich collected and utilized historical manuscripts in his teaching. He used documents such as original speech drafts, podium notes, and printed versions of speeches to illustrate concepts and engage students. Churchill, one of the most powerful orators of the 20th century, was a fitting subject for his acquisitions.

Excerpt of podium notes and a photograph of Winston Churchill on February 26, 1946 at University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida. Winston Churchill Collection, 1889-1965. Dr. Duane Norman Diedrich Collection. (Photograph: AP Wirephoto, 1946.)
It may seem strange to have Churchill documents in a library devoted to Americana.  However, on reflection, Sir Winston Churchill is also part of our country’s heritage.  Winston was half American by birth since his mother was the beautiful Jennie Jerome from Brooklyn, New York.  He was also made an honorary U.S. citizen on April 9, 1963.  Today is the 56th anniversary of that event.

Congress passed an “Act to Proclaim Sir Winston Churchill Honorary Citizen of the United States of America” (88th Congress, H.R. 4374).  A ceremony was held at the White House on April 9, 1963.  Churchill was too old and infirm to attend so he was represented by his son Randolph and grandson Winston. President John F. Kennedy addressed 250 guests at the ceremony and said:  “In the dark days and darker nights when Britain stood alone - and most men save Englishmen despaired of England’s life - he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.  The incandescent quality of his words illuminated the courage of his countrymen.”  Randolph read from a letter sent by his father:  “In this century of storm and tragedy I contemplate with high satisfaction the constant factor of the interwoven and upward progress of our peoples.  Our comradeship and brotherhood in war were unexampled.  We stood together, and because of that fact the free world now stands.”

Sir Winston S. Churchill, Honorary Citizen of the United States of America. Worcester, Massachusetts: Achille St. Onge (1963).  A Miniature Book from the private Churchill Collection of Richard C. Marsh.
The origin of Winston’s honorary citizenship goes back to the 1950s with Kay Halle, a Cleveland department store heiress and Washington socialite.  She was a friend of both the Churchills and Kennedys.  She had first met Randolph Churchill in 1932 when, as a 21 year old, he was on a U.S. speaking tour.  After knowing Kay for only a few weeks, Randolph impetuously asked Kay to marry him.  She wisely refused this marriage proposal from Winston’s wayward and alcoholic son.

Kay Halle first brought up the idea of honorary citizenship for Winston with President Eisenhower.  However, Winston decided that the timing was not right because of the Suez Crisis, which strained U.S./British relations and resulted in the end of Anthony Eden’s premiership.  However, after John Kennedy was elected President in 1960, the timing was much better.  JFK enthusiastically supported Kay’s idea since Winston was JFK’s hero and he sought to emulate Winston’s oratorical skills.

As a young Harvard undergraduate, JFK had prepared a thesis entitled “Appeasement at Munich” which was highly critical of the Chamberlain appeasers and which focused on Winston’s 1936 speech regarding the “locust years”-- Britain’s period of indifference and appeasement while Nazi Germany built up its war machine.  Ever the promoter of the political careers of his sons, Joe Kennedy hired Arthur Krock, a New York Times columnist, to rewrite the thesis and find a publisher.  Krock suggested a new title “Why England Slept,” which was an unabashed reference to Winston’s book of his 1930s speeches which had been issued in the U.S. under the title “While England Slept.”  At age 23, “Why England Slept” established JFK’s writing credentials and subtly distanced himself from his father’s isolationist and defeatist views held when he was Ambassador to Great Britain during 1938-40.

JFK never had the opportunity to meet Winston during the years of his father’s ambassadorship.  He met Winston face to face on only one occasion in 1958 when JFK was a young U.S. senator with presidential ambitions.  Winston was vacationing on Aristotle Onassis’ yacht along the French Riviera.  JFK and his wife Jackie were invited to dinner on the yacht with other guests including Gianni Agnelli, the Italian auto magnate, and William Douglas Home, a British aristocrat and friend of JFK.  JFK was excited about the opportunity to meet his hero but the evening was a disappointment.  The years were taking their toll on Winston; he tired easily and was often distracted.  He paid very little attention to JFK and there were no memorable conversations which JFK had hoped for.  After the dinner, at which JFK had worn a white dinner jacket, Jackie attempted to make light of the situation and ease her husband’s disappointment by remarking “Maybe he thought you were the waiter, Jack.”  I am sure that those words did not console JFK.
Richard C. Marsh
Clements Associates Board of Governors

Monday, April 1, 2019

Reading a Manuscript, Which Reposes a Thousand Miles Away: Digitized Manuscripts Collections from the William L. Clements Library

The William L. Clements Library is pleased to announce that five of its manuscripts collections are digitized and accessible online.  These collections mark the beginning of the Library's efforts to provide free and open digital access to its collections of handwritten early Americana.  The digital versions are complete and presented in a manner that reflects their physical/intellectual arrangement. 
Screenshot of a July 4, 1782, muster roll from the Clements Library's German Auxiliaries Muster Rolls collection.
At the Clements Library, our mission is to collect and preserve primary source materials, to make them available for research, and to create an environment that supports and encourages scholarly investigation of our nation's past.  We acquire, preserve, and provide access to original historical materials and we believe very strongly in the educational and emotional value of interacting directly with them.  Notwithstanding, the digital versions of our holdings provide an especially important service to scholars and other researchers who are unable to travel to Ann Arbor or who may not have the time to complete their research in our Avenir Foundation Reading Room.

The Clements Library's manuscripts holdings are extensive and our priority lists for digitization projects are varied.  We selected these first five collections based on a variety of criteria, with a particular eye toward testing the format and display of the digital versions.  The selections therefore include examples of single and multi-series collections, oversize manuscripts, and a mixture of bound and loose-leaf items.  We also took into consideration patron use, size (the initial collections are all small), and digitization funding.  The digitization of the Samson Adams Papers, for example, is thanks to funding from the University of Michigan's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative.

The five selected collections will serve as proofs of concept for future grant proposals for larger, time- and labor-intensive projects, such as the digitization of our American Revolutionary War collections, women's diaries, Civil War collections, or others.

Digitized Manuscripts Collections:

German Auxiliaries Muster Rolls, 1776-1786 (bulk 1781-1783), comprised of 70 muster rolls and 15 additional letters and documents of the German regiments employed by the British to fight in the American Revolutionary War.  Digital collection located at:

Jonathan Chase Papers, 1775-1797, made up of letters and documents relating to the services of Colonel Jonathan Chase, of the 13th and 15th New Hampshire Militia regiments, during the Revolutionary War.  Digital collection located at:

Samson Adams Papers, 1767-1794, comprising the estate and business documents of Adams, a free man of African descent living and working in Trenton, New Jersey, in the late 18th century.  Adams worked as a carpenter and laborer, and produced and traded in a variety of items, including soap, milk, corn, and construction materials.  Digital collection located at:

Samuel Latham Mitchill Papers, 1801-1829 (bulk 1801-1813), made up of over 500 letters from the U.S. Congressman to Catharine Mitchill, his wife.  These important letters touch on a wide variety of topics, including domestic politics and foreign affairs; relations with European powers; the Barbary Wars and other naval matters; the Aaron Burr conspiracy; Washington, D. C., society; Mitchill's scientific endeavors and sample collection; and his family life and travel plans.  Digital collection located at:

Elizabeth Camp Journals, 1819-1825, documenting her time spent with the Mahicans at Stockbridge, Massachusetts, as a schoolteacher and unofficial Congregationalist missionary.  Digital collection located at:
This image of Clements Library Director Randolph Adams making use of a microfilm projector in 1938 poignantly illustrates the value of distributable facsimiles of primary source materials.  The Michigan Alumnus 54, no. 13 (January 29, 1938): 234. 

These online manuscripts collections are a new addition to the Clements Library's digitization program, which also includes the addition of printed materials to HathiTrust and of individual images to the Clements Library's Image Bank.  The Clements Library would like to express its appreciation to the many people involved in the manuscripts digitization process and metadata creation.  They include, but are not limited to, Chris Powell and the University's Digital Library Platform & Services (DLPS), DEI-funded interns Allie Scholten and Amelia Fuller, Joyce Bonk Assistant Corey Schmidt, Garrett Morton, and others.

Cheney J. Schopieray
Curator of Manuscripts

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Impressions of France Behind the Lines

The Clements Library exhibition "Over There" with the American Expeditionary Forces in France During the Great War is open through April 26, 2019, on Fridays from 10am to 4pm. The following material is excerpted from a pamphlet produced to accompany the exhibit.

Many of the American soldiers arriving overseas to serve in the First World War had never left their home state before joining the service. As a result, soldiers' letters and diaries often depict France as an exotic place. Much of the correspondence from members of the AEF to their loved ones back home reads like tourists' descriptions of travels, focusing on details such as food, clothing, historic sites, local children, and the French love for red wine. These impressions are illustrated by the following excerpts from letters in the Clements Library archives:

Harold Kamp, January 14, 1918. Le Havre, France. [1]
"We quit the British Rest Camp to do special detail work, before entraining for the training camp. At Havre we were loaded on freight cars of the miniature variety. A placard on the side door read—40 Hommes, or 8 chavaux; translated, 40 men or 8 horses. As the train pulled out of the station singing songs, a British Tommy, looking on in wonderment, shouted, 'A jolly old war, isn't it?'"

David C. Cottrell, February 12, 1918. Somewhere in France. [2]
"Last night, as I was going to my room one of the boys here called me. There were three frenchmen by a pile of flour and there was not strength enough among them to lift two houndred pounds of flour, so four of us put it in the shelter for them. While we were doing this, there being about two tons of it, two little boys scraping up flour that had spilled on the ground commenced to fight over it and one of them kicked the other in the stumick. Believe me it sounded hollow."

Clarence E. Burt, July 2, 1918. Somewhere in France. [3]
"All the land we saw was under cultivation, and it seemed to be hay making time. The workers were all women, old men or children. One seldom sees an abled bodied man anywhere
between the age of 20 and 60."

Aged French Laborer. United States Signal Corps Photograph Collection.
Thomas Knowles, October 25, 1917. Somewhere in France. [4]
"Our quarters now are in a little old French town, just behind the lines. We, the engineers, are in billets, that is divided up among the houses and barns of the village. Everything is quaint and old-fashioned, and a never-ending source of interest and wonder to me. The old red-tiled houses and narrow streets, and the peasants in the curious and picturesque dresses. The people will do almost anything for us. The[y] like the Americans. We have lots of fun trying to understand their lingo. I brought three French-English dictionaries along with me, and am trying hard to learn."

Fred C. Wagner, July 1, 1918. Somewhere in France. [5]
"Many many customs differ from those in the States but we are all trying to adjust ourselves to circumstances and at the same time pick up a little French. In fact I get right out among the French for I find that is the best way to learn the language a 'wee' bit. At present I know two of the nicest kiddies across the river—a little lad of thirteen—but small for his age, and a demoiselle of eleven years. I had them out to a 'movie' show one night and they enjoyed themselves immensely. There I carry them little dainties such as candy, gum, chocolate bars etc., such as can not be obtained by the French people in France. Another comerade and I almost consider them our proteges. There are any numbers of little French children here who have been adopted by different companies who pay so much a month for their care. It is a very common sight to see some little fellow about seven or eight years dressed in a wee U.S. army outfit—complete even to leggings."

Stephen D. Brown, June 2, 1918, Somewhere in France. [6]
"Visited a drill field some distance out of camp for gas drill. Country very flat with rows of poplar trees and windmills all about. Cap Jones started cussing some French kids who were trying to sell 'Oranchees' while we were moving, and these gained the good-will of the company by imitating him and making insulting gestures."

Laurence Benedict, September 9, 1918. Somewhere in France. [7]
"I'm making great progress in French and by this time am pretty familiar with the currency here...For a while I'd sell a hundred franc note anytime for a good, old American dime. And for a few days the boys had quite a time 'shooting' Craps with the strange money but they can't be fooled now and they're shouting 'five francs' with the same lust as they formerly did 'One buck' only they usually refer to the French bills as 'rags.' Even if this is a poor part of France it seems they should have some good looking women but so far I haven't glimpsed any and my eyes are pretty good when it comes to that. Another thing we'll appreciate when we get back to God's country. I just stopped here to join in the general rush to the canteen where a load of chocolate arrived. No one is allowed more than two bars but I managed to get four by going back twice."
Doughboys Enjoying Ice Cream. Dorothy T. Arnold Collection.

Benjamin Furman, February 24, 1918. Somewhere in France. [8]
"This morning was a red letter day—we all got a bath—that is, all except Mademoiselle the dog and she needed it more than any of us. She is the new member of our family. She is evidently lost and has taken a great liking to me and follows me all over. I told Helen all about her in one of my letters to her. I hate to repeat. Yesterday she insisted on following the ambulances when I started out so I had to stop and put her in and cart her all the way to Co E and back."

Benjamin Furman, August 18, 1918. Evacuation Hospital #2, Baccarat, France.
"The nurses live in the same building I do. They have a sign over the entrance to their quarters, 'No Man's Land. Keep Out.'"

Harold Kamp, February 22, 1918. Base Hospital #6, Bordeaux, France.
"The American soldier's trench talk is varied. He calls himself, a doughboy. A soldier who shares his shelter is his 'bunkie,' the company barber is a 'butcher'; the commanding officer is a 'K.O.' a junior officer is a 'goat'; the doctor is 'saw-bones'; a new second-lieutenant is a 'shave-tail,' field artillerymen are 'wagon-soldiers,' and our soldiers never 'bellyache' or complain when the 'slum,' that is, the meat or soup, or the 'sowbelly' as the bacon is called are bad. It's all in the game—the game of 'Kan the Kaiser.'"

Laurence Benedict, October 22, 1918. Saint Maixent, France.
"This is the worst war I was ever in. Here I am still loafing, and I'm getting darned good at it by this time. I really think I'll be getting out soon now tho' I don't know where I'll go, sure that it will be frontward, and can't say that I care much where they do send me. It's tough to be so versatile that they don't know where to put you. I'll know more in the next war. You know what the next war will be don't you? We, of the air service, are going to fight Mexico and make it take Texas back."

Louis Miller
Curatorial Assistant
"Over There" Exhibit Curator

* * *

[1] Harold Kamp (1895-1942) was born in Fresno, California. He served as a private in the 146th Field Artillery. After returning home, he became an executive at his father’s department store, Radin & Kamp, before spending the last few years of his life cultivating a vineyard in the Selma area. The Clements holds Kamp's wartime diary, the Harold Kamp Journal, 1917-1919, Duane Norman Diedrich Collection.

[2] David C. Cottrell (1884-1918) was born in California. He first enlisted in the army in 1906, serving until his honorable discharge in 1910. When war broke out, he enlisted once again, first joining the 18th Engineer Regiment before his transfer to the 146th Field Artillery Regiment. He died in France at an army hospital from the effects of gas on April 19, 1918. His body was brought back to San Joaquin County, California, for burial in 1920. The Clements Library holds some of his extensive correspondence with his girlfriend, Ethel M. Jury, in the Cottrell-Jury Correspondence, 1917-1918.

[3] Clarence E. Burt (1886-1965) was born in Massachusetts. He graduated from the Boston University School of Medicine in 1908 and operated a private practice in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He served as a first lieutenant in the Medical Reserve Corps from 1913-1917 before joining the regular army on December 28, 1917. In France, he was a surgeon with the 183rd Infantry Brigade. After returning home, he spent time in Walter Reed Hospital recovering from injuries received in the line of duty. His fellow veterans elected him as Massachusetts state commander of the Disabled American Veterans of the World War in 1923. His name adorns the DAV chapter in New Bedford. The above quotation comes from his correspondence with his aunt and uncle, Addie and Charles H. Mosher, in the Clarence E. Burt Papers, 1918.

[4]Thomas Knowles (b. 1896) of Massachusetts served abroad in the 101st Engineer Regiment. He was wounded in combat in May of 1918. After spending two months recuperating in the hospital, he received an assignment to a non-combat role with press section G-2-D, returning home in 1919. During his service, Knowles wrote extensively to an acquaintance, Ruth Blaisdell of Waltham, Massachusetts. Thomas Knowles Collection, 1917-1919, Duane Norman Diedrich Collection.

[5] Fred Calvin Wagner (ca. 1898-1918) was born in Rolla, North Dakota. He completed two years at the University of North Dakota before transferring to Macalester College. Shortly after the entry of the United States into the war, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. He was sent overseas as part of the 150th Company, 1st Machine Gun Replacement Battalion but was later transferred to the Marine 6th Regiment. On July 19, 1918, in the Chateau Thierry drive, he was killed while trying to carry wounded to a nearby first aid station. His body was never recovered. His name is among the missing at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial. The local American Legion post in Rolla is named in his honor. Wagner wrote the above letter to his Aunt Nealie Van Pelt. This letter is in the Clements's World War One Letters and Documents Collection, Duane Norman Diedrich Collection.

[6] Stephen D. Brown (1892-1980) was born in Washington, D.C., but moved with his family as a child to Lansdowne, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Pennsylvania National Guard in July of 1917. Although denied entrance into the officer corps because of poor eyesight, he became a member of the 103rd Engineer Regiment. He served in France from May 1918 until July 1919. He returned to Lansdowne after the war and worked as a chemical engineer. Brown's correspondence and diary entries while in the army come from the Stephen D. Brown Diaries, 1917-1919.

[7]Laurence M. Benedict (1897-1970) was born in Delaware, Ohio. He served as a second lieutenant in the Air Service during the war. Upon his return, he graduated from Ohio Wesleyan College and had a decades-long career as a United Press correspondent while living in San Francisco, California. He mainly wrote to his mother while in the service, but he also wrote to his father and grandmother. Laurence Benedict's letters, along with those of his brother, Harley, who also served in the war, are in the Harley and Laurence Benedict Correspondence, 1917-1919.

[8] Benjamin Applegate Furman (1883-1967) was born in Newark, New Jersey. He graduated from Princeton University in 1906 and then earned a medical degree from Columbia University in 1910. He had a private practice in Newark while also working for the Presbyterian Hospital. After joining the Army in 1917, he served in France as a surgeon for the 407th Telegraph Battalion and at Evacuation Hospital No. 2. After the war, he returned to Newark where he continued his medical work until his retirement a few years before his death. Furman's quotations are from letters to his parents, John A. and Emma C. Furman, held in the Benjamin A. Furman Collection, 1917-1919, Duane Norman Diedrich Collection.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

New Finding Aids: December 2018 to January 2019

The Clements Library is pleased to announce that the following collections are now described online and may be requested for use in the reading room.

James Buchanan Letters, 1866-1869 - Processed by Cari Griffin
This collection contains 10 letters written by James Buchanan, an attorney in Tidioute, Pennsylvania. Composed over a three-year period and all addressed to Philadelphia attorney John Samuel, Buchanan commented on politics and literature, as well as concerns related to his profession.

Columbian Exposition Diary, [1893] - Processed by Jayne Ptolemy
This volume (12 pages) contains detailed descriptions of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. The author commented on exhibits, provided personal reactions to them, and reflected generally on the fair. Brief discussions of crowds, childcare, and women's involvement are also included.

Daniel Conover Mathematics Exercise Book, 1828 - Processed by Jayne Ptolemy
Daniel Conover composed this mathematics exercise book containing definitions, problems, solved examples, rules, cases, and remarks. Subjects covered include practical geometry, mensuration of superficies, conic sections, mensuration of solids, and cylindrical rings.

Jasper F. Cropsey Collection, 1845-1846, 1859 - Processed by Cari Griffin
This collection consists of four letters addressed to Hudson River School artist Jasper F. Cropsey from art collector L. Warrington Gillet and O. A. Gill [likely Owen A. Gill] of Baltimore, dated January 24, 1845, to February 4, 1846. The letters are accompanied by one annotated envelope, postmarked May 6, 1859.

William Griffiths & Company Ledger Book, 1805-1810 - Processed by Sara Quashnie
This ledger contains two sections of recordkeeping by the mercantile firms Griffiths & Bruce and William Griffiths & Company. The first, totaling 38 pages, contains the accounts of Vice Admiral of the White James Richard Dacres, commander-in-chief of the Jamaica Station, with merchants Griffiths & Bruce and William Griffiths & Co. The transactions include payments and expenses for goods, labor, ships, and slaves from January 1805 to June 1810. The second section (11 pages) contains two lists of prize and neutral vessels captured and brought to the Jamaica Station in 1807 and 1808.

Isam Leonard Arithmetic Book, 1808 - Processed by Jayne Ptolemy
The Isam Leonard Arithmetic Book includes mathematical rules, questions, practical examples, and solved exercises covering subtraction, multiplication, division, addition, reduction, fractions, decimals, the single rule of three direct, inverse and compound proportions, and simple interest. The volume includes calligraphic lettering and designs. One undated, unsigned pencil drawing of the "Old Mill at Iffley" is tipped into the volume.

Charles F. Penley Captured Letters, 1864, 1915 - Processed by Sara Quashnie
This collection comprises five letters apparently sent and received by Captain Edward Willoughby Anderson in correspondence with Miss Maria Davis in 1864. The letters concern life in Richmond and a Confederate soldier's perspective of the Civil War. Also present are two photographs taken in and after 1915 of Charles Freeland Penley, a Union soldier who captured the Anderson/Davis correspondence during the Civil War.

James W. Piatt Scrapbook, 1892-1896 - Processed by Jayne Ptolemy
James W. Piatt compiled this one-volume scrapbook of newspaper clippings, letters, admission tickets, and ephemera documenting cases he tried as an attorney, his interest in the Freemasons and local politics, and other judicial, legal, and miscellaneous local affairs in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania. Prominent among the newspaper clippings is extensive coverage of the 1892 trial and execution of Charles Wall for the murder of his wife, Julia Wall; and the 1893 trial and execution of Isaac Rosenweig and Harris Blank for the murder of Jacob (Jakey) Marks, all three Jewish peddlers.

Oliver Pollock Collection, 1783-1784 - Processed by Cari Griffin
This collection is comprised of six letters by or to Oliver Pollock. Five provide insight into Pollock's role as commercial agent for the United States at Havana, Cuba, between 1783 and 1784. Pollock wrote the final letter while incarcerated in Havana, expressing hopes that the newly appointed governor would soon release him.

James H. Starry Family Correspondence, 1840-1850 - Processed by Ella Horwedel
This collection is made up of 35 letters and 1 envelope, primarily consisting of the correspondence of James H. Starry, his wife Nancy, friends, and relatives. The letters span from 1840 to 1850 and discuss a variety of topics, predominantly family issues and local happenings, with content on gender relations and roles, courtship, alcohol use and temperance, African Americans, slavery, and other subjects.

American Home Missionary Society Collection, 1835-1851 - Processed by Erin Berger and Jayne Ptolemy
This collection contains nine letters written between 1835 and 1851 to American Home Missionary Society Secretary John A. Murray and Associate Secretary Milton Badger. The primary topics are missionaries' efforts in western and central New York, their quarterly and annual reports, appointment approvals, and the requesting of funds for pastors' salaries.

Emma Catherine Brown Diaries, 1889-1896 - Processed by Sara Quashnie
This collection is made up of two diaries (223 pages total) by Emma Catherine Brown, a young Pennsylvania Quaker woman, from 1889 to 1892 and 1895 to 1896. She documented weather and daily life in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and Cecil County, Maryland. She described Quaker services, social gatherings, and visits of family and friends. Of particular note are references to temperance meetings and women's suffrage groups.

Gmelin vs. DesBarres Collection, 1772-1773 - Processed by Cari Griffin
This collection contains three documents related to a boundary dispute on the Nappan River, a tributary of the Maccan River-in the County of Cumberland, Nova Scotia, Canada. The lawsuit involved Captain George Adam Gmelin and Lieutenant Joseph Frederick Wallett DesBarres of the 60th Regiment of Foot.

Henry James Family Correspondence, 1855-1865 - Processed by Cheney J. Schopieray
This collection is made up primarily of incoming correspondence to husband and wife Gilbert and Adeline James of Cherry Creek, New York. Their most prolific correspondent was Gilbert's brother Henry James, who sent 18 letters, most written while serving in Company C of the 7th Michigan Cavalry during the Civil War. Henry James wrote to his family about life at Maple Grove, near Saginaw, Michigan; camp life during training at Camp Kellogg, Grand Rapids; experiences fighting at Gettysburg and elsewhere in Pennsylvania; and his posting at Camp Stoneman, Washington, D.C.

Albert H. Kingman Diaries, 1856-1859 - Processed by Sara Quashnie
These two bound volumes chronicle the sailing voyages and agricultural exploits of Albert Henry Kingman of Keene, New Hampshire. Sailing from Boston to New Orleans and back in 1856, Kingman described shipboard life and provided observations of antebellum New Orleans. Following his return to New Hampshire, the diaries follow his life as a farmer.

Sophia Miller Diary, 1875-1876 - Processed by Sara Quashnie
This 242-page diary documents the daily life of Sophia "Sofa" Miller, of Albion, Michigan, from 1875 to 1876. A devout Baptist, Miller recorded her attendance at various church services and meetings, her personal religious thoughts, and copies of hymns. She also chronicled the weather, household chores, and social activities.

Frederic A. Peck Account Book and Theoretic & Practical instructions on the Manufacture of Cogniac Brandy, Holland Gin, Jamaica Rum, & Pure Spirit, 1846-1848 - Processed by Cheney J. Schopieray
This volume contains 15 pages of illustrated instructions for manufacturing brandy, gin, rum, and pure alcohol, kept by Manchester, Michigan, farmer Frederic A. Peck. Thirty-three pages of miscellaneous accounting for goods and labor follow the distilling instructions. Many of accounts pertain to corn husking, harvesting, haying, threshing, shearing (sheep), and other farm-related work. One account with John S. Barker includes a phrenological bust, a subscription for a phrenological journal, a flute, and a flute book.

Vernon O. Ricker Letters, 1861-1863 - Processed by Sarah Quashnie
This collection of eight letters chronicles a relationship and subsequent "breach of promise" case in New York during the mid-nineteenth century. Vernon O. Ricker wrote all but one of the letters, with the majority of them addressed to Miss Kate Dennis of Hillside, New York. The correspondence also includes one letter from Vernon O. Ricker to his friend Walter Shafer and another by John Gaul, Jr., of the law firm Gaul and Esselstyn to Hon. John F. Collin.

Stiles Family Papers, 1852-1932 - Processed by Cheney J. Schopieray
The Stiles family papers are made up of 3,480 letters, one diary, several financial documents, a photograph, a poem, and printed items related to sisters Ellen E. and Alice M. Stiles of Southbury, Connecticut, in the later 19th and early 20th century. The correspondence is primarily the incoming and outgoing correspondence of the Stiles sisters, their family, and friends. The largest groups of letters are communications with Sarah J. Whiting ("Jennie") of New Haven; educator Mary J. Robinson ("Robie") of Minnesota, California, and elsewhere; and teacher Rose M. Kinney of Oberlin, Ohio, the Tillotson Institute in Austin, Texas, and other locations.

David V. Tinder Collection of Michigan Photography, Cased Images - Processed by Jakob Dopp
The David V. Tinder Collection of Michigan Photography, Cased Images Collection consists of 132 cased photographs (primarily daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes), the majority of which were produced by 25 photographers mainly based in Michigan between 1845 and 1950.

Minne Voorhees Letterbook, 1776-1812 - Processed by Sara Quashnie
This letterbook includes approximately 62 letters sent and received by Minne Voorhees, a commissary with the Continental Army medical department during the American Revolution. It includes eyewitness accounts from Valley Forge, West Point, White Plains, and Rhode Island, especially regarding military hospitals. It contains frequent reflections on women, courtship, and marriage.

Ann Meech Williams Collection, 1809-1865 - Processed by Cari Griffin
This collection contains 55 letters and legal documents related to attempts by Ann Meech Williams (ca. 1776-1857) to secure a widow's pension for the service of Timothy Meech (ca. 1741-1825), lieutenant in 10th Company, 2nd Regiment, Massachusetts Militia (Hampshire Company), during the American Revolution.

William Yardley Mathematics and Surveying Exercise Book, 1812 - Processed by Jayne Ptolemy
The William Yardley Mathematics and Surveying Exercise Book contains solved geometric, trigonometric, and surveying exercises, including practical problems and illustrated examples that feature drawings of buildings, animals, and landscape elements.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Latest Quarto: From the Front

The Winter-Spring 2019 Quarto is now available.  The Quarto is a semi-annual magazine published by the William L. Clements Library and sent to the Clements Library Associates.  Brian L. Dunnigan shares with readers that this will be his final issue working as longtime editor of The Quarto, as his retirement approaches later this year.  Editorial duties will be assumed by Terese Austin, Head of Reader Services at the Clements.

This issue of The Quarto focuses on correspondence between American soldiers at war and the home front, represented in the collections of the Clements Library.
  1. “From the Front,” by Brian Leigh Dunnigan, Associate Director & Curator of Maps.
  2. “The Only Consolation Left Me,” by Sara Quashnie, Library Assistant. Examines the letterbook of Captain Minne Vorhees, a record of his correspondence while serving in the Continental Army.
  3. “I Have Drew a Sketch,” by Brian Leigh Dunnigan, Associate Director & Curator of Maps. Highlights the significance of two hand-drawn maps of locations on Lake Erie sketched by John Widney, 1812-1813.
  4. “The Artillery of Love,” by Jayne Ptolemy, Assistant Curator of Manuscripts. Shares touching expressions of romantic love preserved in soldiers’ letters spanning the 18th century to the 20th century. 
  5. “No More Prisoners,” by Jakob Dopp, Curatorial Assistant. Discusses compelling primary evidence of the hostile and deadly combatant-civilian relationship during the Philippine-American War.
  6. “Over the Top, 1918,” by Louie Miller, Curatorial Assistant. Presents excerpts from the powerful “death reports” detailing the deaths of soldiers from the 91st Division in the First World War.
  7. “Bearing Witness,” by Clayton Lewis, Curator of Graphic Materials. Considers the perspectives captured in artworks created by soldiers, which offer a vivid and personal look at wartime experience.
  8. “Developments,” by Angela Oonk, Director of Development.
  9. Announcements. Staff News and Memorials to CLA Board Members Duane Norman Diedrich (1935-2018) and Helen C. Hall (1942-2018). 
  10. Calendar of Events
This issue of The Quarto can now be accessed and read online.  Our donors, the Clements Library Associates, receive a high-quality print of the publication by mail. You can support the Clements by making a gift online at!/lib/clements or by contacting Anne Bennington-Helber at or 734-764-5864.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Recent Acquisition: A U.S. Government Official's Description of a Mixed-Race Lead Actress on the Baltimore Stage, 1796

Research projects can begin in a variety of different ways.  On one end of the spectrum, a query about some aspect of the past may prompt the scholar to seek out and identify relevant primary sources that help answer their question.  On the opposite end, a scholar may discover source materials that lead them on an entirely new path of research, with new queries that they had not thought to ask before.  That is, sometimes the questions draw researchers to primary sources and sometimes the primary sources lead researchers to the questions.

The staff of the William L. Clements Library has the opportunity to watch historians grapple with (and often enjoy) these investigative processes.  Moreover, on a daily basis, staff members frequently discover tantalizing, yet unstudied primary source texts and images, with the potential for deeper investigation.  Recently, for example, the Library acquired a never before studied 18th century letter, in which the author described attending a theatrical performance in Baltimore.  This production starred a mixed-race female lead actress.  The following is a preliminary study of the letter, which will, we hope, inspire further research.
* * *
On May 25, 1796,[1] a newly formed acting troupe calling themselves "The Comedians of the French Theatre" prepared for their evening performances in a dilapidated wooden theater on Grandby Street, about a block and a half from the Baltimore harbor.  Less than nine months earlier, Baltimore's New Theatre opened on Holliday Street, but the Comedians offered their fare at the less prestigious Old Theatre.  Their evening performances included a production of "Ruse-contre-Ruse" (by Antoine-Jean Damaniant).[2]  In the comedy, a French General arranges for his niece Julia to marry a wealthy merchant, while at the same time a Marquis, who has not yet introduced himself to her, seeks her hand in marriage.  The General and the Marquis come to an agreement, whereby if the Marquis can retrieve Julia from the General's home and if he can convince her to marry him by midnight, the General will give approval for their wedding.  The arrangement includes the stipulation that the Marquis will not be allowed into the General's home and the General will work with his servants to keep the two apart.  Subplots and shenanigans ensue.
This detail from French geographer A. P. Folie's 1792 map of Baltimore shows the location of the "Play House" in which the Comedians of the French Theatre performed.  It is marked with a "V" at the corner of Grandby and Prince Streets, in view of the nearby windmill.  Map catalog record:  Plan of the Town of Baltimore and It's Environs : Dedicated to the Citizens of Baltimore.

Robert David Ritchey's 1971 dissertation "A History of the Baltimore Stage in the Eighteenth Century" provides a four-paragraph description of the Comedians of the French Theatre.  He notes that between March and July 1796 they performed 38 "plays, operas, pantomimes, and ballets," and that "little information exists concerning their productions."[3]  Some, or all, of the actors and actresses of the troupe were French refugees who had fled the violence of the Haitian Revolution.  Ritchey identified several individual performers who appeared in other theater companies before and after the 1796 season in Baltimore, suggesting that the Comedians of the French Theatre existed as a troupe for only the 1796 season.

Enter the Clements Library's newly acquired letter.  The letter arrived with the Civil War papers of Gen. McClellan's aide-de-camp Richard B. Irwin and his sister Agnes Irwin, future first dean of Radcliffe College.  Contained in the papers is correspondence from the Irwins' relatives and colleagues, including a compelling May 1796 letter from future U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander J. Dallas (1759-1817).  In it, Dallas described the construction of Washington, D.C., and his experience seeing a small acting troupe (the Comedians of the French Theatre) in a "vile barn-like hovel" in Baltimore.  He sat in box seats with friends Robert, Miss McKean, and Miss Hopkinson.  Dallas believed that the personal struggles of the refugee actors showed through in their performances, and that despite being "novices," their plight and poverty "stimulated them, and conciliated the audience."  He found the play "execrable," although Robert disagreed.  The audience appeared to enjoy it.
Page one of Alexander J. Dallas's letter to an unidentified recipient, [likely May 29, 1796], in which he describes attending the Comedians of the French Theatre's performance of Antoine-Jean Damaniant's "Ruse Contre Ruse," or "The Midnight Hour."  The letter was discovered in the Richard B. and Agnes Irwin Papers.

Despite his scathing review, Dallas found himself impressed by and attracted to the mixed-race actress who played Julia, the lead role.  Of her, he wrote, "I did not think that nature had ever designed so elegant a set of features to be clad on such a dusky skin.  Her eye was wonderfully brilliant, and we all agreed, that we had never seen so intelligent an expression of countenance, a corrector form, nor a more seductive manner."  Though clearly sexualizing the performer, he concluded:  "In these opinions the young Ladies of our party concurred."  The presence of a mixed-race woman in lead role on a U.S. stage in 1796--a woman who did not pass as white, in a role not crafted as a racial caricature or stereotype--was a profound circumstance.  Dallas, who worked in Philadelphia for the Supreme Court, was well aware of this when he quipped that the even the idea of such a lead performance would have met with outcry in his city.  He wrote:  "What would the delicacy of our Philadelphians urge, against the introduction of a Mulattoe on our Stage!"

Questions immediately arise.  What was the name and background of this actress?  What was her relationship to the white performers in the company?  Can we identify when and under what circumstances she arrived in the United States?  Can we find corroborating evidence to help us answer questions like these?  Where does this yet to be identified woman fit in the history of African-descended actors in the United States?  The Clements Library looks forward to seeing scholars and other researchers discover more about her and fit her story into the historical record.

Cheney J. Schopieray
Curator of Manuscripts 

[1] Robert David Ritchey, "A History of the Baltimore Stage in the Eighteenth Century," PhD diss. (Louisiana State University, 1971): 220.

[2] The full title of the play is Guerre Ouverte; ou, Ruse Contre Ruse.  The Baltimore play, however, was advertised by the title "The Midnight Hour," presumably because the troupe performed the English translation/adaption by Mrs. Inchbald.

[3] Ritchey, 59.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Women's Voices from the Starry Family Correspondence

As one of the Clements Library's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) interns, I was tasked with conserving and providing descriptions of manuscript collections that feature historically underrepresented perspectives and subject matter.  The collections selected for the DEI projects were high priorities because of their need for conservation and for descriptive cataloging.  As a result of the manuscripts' damaged states, many were unreadable and inaccessible to researchers, students, and faculty.
The letters in the Starry Family Collection were heavily stained and torn, brittle, and too fragile to safely handle. Fragments of the letters were stuck to red wax seals. I lifted these bits of text and re-positioned them where they originally belonged, then lined each side of the manuscript with Japanese paper and wheat paste. 
One of the three collections I worked on was the correspondence of James H. Starry and his family. The James H. Starry Family Correspondence is a collection of 36 items, 35 of which are letters, containing personal accounts and discussions about local happenings, marriages, and religion between James H. Starry and his various friends and relatives.  In many of the letters, James wrote from Charlestown, Virginia (now West Virginia) where he lived with his parents, and in others he wrote from Clarksville, Ohio, where he lived with his wife.  James worked as a farmer; his brother, John, worked as a physician; and his brother, Joseph, was a sheriff, jailer, and landowner.  Among the less common topics discussed in the letters are women petitioning for divorce, men and women discussing the activities of slaves, and temperance and drinking.  Particularly notable are candid writings about and between women.

For me, it was incredibly fascinating to hear the women's voices through their own writing, for it provided an at times unfiltered glimpse at some of their ideas, perspectives, and experiences during specifics moments in time. The narratives of women vary from discussions of marriage and motherhood to remarks on abuse and violence, making this collection particularly valuable for the study of women and gender relations.
This image shows damage and loss. In this case, I made a puzzle piece paper fill, made from paper of like weight, grain direction, and tone to insert in the void and stabilize and support the weakened area. I then lined each side of the letter with Japanese paper and wheat paste.

The Starry family correspondence has four prominent female writers:  Caroline, James's cousin in Shepherdstown, Virginia; Sally, James's sister in Charlestown, Virginia; Nancy, James's wife in Clarksville, Ohio; and Anna Kelly, James's mother-in-law in Clarksville, Ohio.  Each woman had a distinct writing style and relationship to James.  Caroline was the most confident and forward in her writing. She was comical, witty, intelligent, and biting, utilizing phrases such as "choke me black" and referring to her cousin's fatness as "that kind of sweet potatoe."

Sally corresponded regularly with her brother James and frequently acted as a mediator between him and their mother.  She often relayed information and attempted to bribe him (literally, with money) into writing more frequently.  Despite her apparent youth, she appeared to have a relatively elevated command of the English language.

Nancy, James's wife, had a lower level of literacy and her letters contain many phonetic spelling variations.  Consequently, Nancy's letters are especially valuable for the way they reflect her spoken language and dialect.  The relationship of Nancy and James varied from concerned and loving to manipulative and abusive.  During the 1840s, James spent much of his time living with his parents and siblings in Virginia while his wife and children lived in Clarksville, Ohio.  James was seven or eight years older than Nancy and often treated her in a condescending and child-like fashion.  He frequently criticized her parenting, despite being an absent father himself, and often told her how much she should love him.  Reading their letters over 170 years later, I had a difficult time reconciling their brief moments of love and flirtation with James's manipulation and neglect. On rare occasions, Nancy would directly express her frustrations with James's unfulfilled promises to return home.  On April 24, 1848, for example, after Nancy expressed her continued frustration and disappointment with James, she wrote "I doant want you to disappoin me again or when you doe com home I will pound you."

Perhaps the most interesting exchange between James and a female writer occurred when his mother-in-law Anna Kelly (or, Kelley) sent him an update on January 30, 1848.  The letter begins very typically, as Anna informed him of recent local news, and apologized for her grammatical mistakes.  Before she concluded her letter, she included a troubling story in which an older local man took a young girl to a tavern to room for the night, seemingly against her will.  Anna wrote:
 "old solsbery has bin cuting up he has took up with a girl that he raised but tha have got the old chap and are going to try him for his good be havier he took the girl and started of with hur and went to butlervill and stoped at the tavern and caled for a room that had low beads in and told the lanlord that he had a young womin with him and that she was very timed and would like to have hur in the same room with him the lanlords gerls lighted hur to bed then she told the girls that she wanted the key to lock the room her self then old sol went up to bed the lanlords gerls looked in at the key hole and saw hem in bed with hur tha went down and told their father that tha was in bed to gether the old man went up and told them to leav his house tha got up and went to the mouth of the fork it was a bout ten oclock.” 
Anna Kelly's letter to her son-in-law James H. Starry, January 30, 1848, in which she relates news about "old solsbery" and a young woman at a tavern in Butlerville, Ohio.
While it is empowering to see the tavern keeper's young daughters advocating for the poor girl trapped in the room with this older man, it is disheartening to think of what may have happened to her before or after they left the Tavern.  Furthermore, it is unfortunate that we do not have any more information or historical records that would be able to provide even a cursory look at the life of this woman.

The Starry family correspondence suggests the resilience and strength of young mothers, witty cousins, and loyal sisters, and also the manner in which women stuck together in order to help one another.  These women's letters highlight their everyday and unglamorous struggles in the rural America of the 1850s during a time when they relied primarily on each other for encouragement, support, and appreciation.  The conservation work and finding aid description resulting from my DEI internship will allow faculty, students, and other scholars to discover, access, and utilize the Starry correspondence for their research.

- Ella Horwedel
Student Intern