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Category Archives: Collection Close-ups
“Krznaric trawls the timeless to surface the timely and excavate practical ideas about the art of living, about how we, today, can live better, richer, more fulfilling lives — ideas across love, work, family, time, money, death, creativity, and more.”
In a chapter devoted to love, Krznaric challenges the modern definition of romantic love and suggests the ancient Greeks offer the best answer to the ongoing question, “What is love?”
Awhile back I wrote a Valentine’s Day post about love letters because archival collections contain them and they are one way – and a good way – see the world through others. Rather than wait two more months to devote another Valentine’s Day post to love letters, this book review inspired me to do some trawling of my own in ArchiveGrid for collections which give testimony to the human condition regarding romantic love, regardless of how it was defined at the time they were written.
Here are 10 I picked out for their novelty and possible interest to researchers:
1. At Filson Historical Society is a collection of two letters a man wrote in 1893 and 1894 to a woman asking her to marry him, even though she repeatedly refused his offers. But, according to the finding aid, he asks her not to discuss his proposal with others.
2. Unlike the last collection, letters at Duke University by a young man in the 1890s working to earn enough money to marry a woman he’s courting aren’t of unrequited love. According to the finding aid, “…his declarations of love were often accompanied by discussions of other women and instructions on how Rosa should comport herself and what activities she should undertake.”
3. Summer love is what a three-page letter at Maine Historical Society from 1900 is about.
4. Included in a collection at Eastern Washington State Historical Society are letters a school superintendent wrote to his fiancee and “They are love letters in the truest sense of the word,” according to the finding aid, because they exemplify men’s attitudes toward women in the 19th century.
5. Different suitors in the 1890s wrote personal love letters to a schoolteacher whose papers are at East Carolina University.
6. A story of a 19th-century woman’s failed romance is in a collection at the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library. Although her papers also include letters from different suitors, the finding aid notes pieces of letters that were probably by her ex. An envelope they’re in is marked to be burned.
7. Love in New York wasn’t easy in the summer of 1804 either for a young man who complained in a letter now at the New York State Library, about bad luck in love and too much male companionship.
8. Journals at Smith College by a 19th and 20th century woman who opposed social norms “…document her early experimentation with anarchism, vegetarianism, companionate marriage and daily life during two World Wars,” according to the finding aid. It goes on to say she and her future husband ran a vegetarian cooperative before they married in 1908.
9. Two widows found love again and got engaged around 1854. Their collection is at University of Pennsylvania and includes documents of their love, engagement, and marriage. Although the future groom’s father tried the Aaron Burr case in 1807, and the bride’s father was a plantation owner, the couple overcame early mishaps. According to the finding aid, a shipment of slippers she sent to her future husband got lost, and there was a misunderstanding of their wedding date.
10. Last but not least, nothing symbolizes modern romantic love more than putting a ring on it – and making sure it fits. A woman mentions in her 1924 letter to her fiancee that the engagement ring be bought for her is too big. That letter is also at Filson Historical Society.
It’s predicted that two events today in the United States – Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah – won’t coincide again for at least another 75,000 years, according to how Jewish and Gregorian calendars align. What this article in Wired predicts for the planet on the next Thanksgivukkah is poignant:
“If humans don’t survive the changes that Earth will go through in the coming millennia, most of the things we built will also be gone. Over thousands of years, cities will crumble, rivers will overflow and break their dams, and satellites will fall from their orbits…Rock monuments, like Mount Rushmore, would not yet have completely eroded away. One day, there will basically be nothing left to testify that humans were ever here at all.”
Hopefully whatever happens then won’t lead to what the time traveler in The Time Machine encounters much later in the year 802,701 A.D., when maybe a few other Thanksgivukkah’s and many more partial overlaps of the two holidays in the human memory will have occurred.
Did anyone on Thursday, November 29 in 1888 – the last time Thanksgiving day followed the start of Hanukkah the evening before – predict that today’s occurrence could be the last for civilization as we know it? After all, it has taken 10,000 years for current society to evolve. Who knows how it will evolve between now and the next Thanksgivukkah.
It turns out, media coverage of the past event was sparse. This blogger points to nods toward the event in newspapers, and so does this website, Ghosts of D.C. Finding leads in ArchiveGrid to primary sources using keywords related to Hanukkah and Thanksgiving didn’t reveal anything either, but that’s not to say there weren’t other interesting items worthy of research. For example, a collection at Jewish Theological Seminary includes a thanksgiving hymn written in Hebrew, and so does another collection in a similar vein at New York Public Library. It’s likely the “thanksgiving” these musical pieces mean is gratitude and not the holiday. Today, however, they can signify both.
Happy birthday Robert Goulet. The mustachioed singer would have been 80 years old today.
Why am I writing about Robert Goulet? After college, my husband Keith was, for a brief time, the concertmaster in the Robert Goulet Orchestra.
Goulet is well known for his role as Lancelot in Broadway musical Camelot. If you were interested in finding documentation on the musical, you might consult the papers of the composer, Frederick Lowe, at the Library of Congress. Or the papers of director Moss Hart at the Wisconsin Historical Society. You might also be interested in seeing photographs of performers and stage productions in the Joseph Abeles collection at the Harry Ransome Center (the collection includes stills of Goulet and Camelot).
Quite apart from his musical fame, Robert Goulet’s mustache is memorialized by the Goulet Award, bestowed annually by the American Mustache Institute. It is fitting that Robert Goulet’s birthday is at the end of Movember, a time when some men grow mustaches to raise awareness of men’s health issues.
Today is the birthday of legendary tennis player Billie Jean King, well known for her numerous Grand Slam wins and for her 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” win against chauvinist provocateur Bobby Riggs.
Long an advocate for equal footing for women in sports, King’s match against Riggs came on the heals of the passage of Title IX, a 1972 law that requires gender equity for boys and girls in educational programs that receive (US) federal funding. Although Title IX is most frequently associated with athletic programs (and most of the debate about the impact of Title IX centers around athletics), the law actually covers 9 additional areas: Access to Higher Education, Career Education, Education for Pregnant and Parenting Students, Employment, Learning Environment, Math and Science, Sexual Harassment, Standardized Testing and Technology.
For all intents and purposes, I grew up at the dawn of the post Title IX athletic era; even when I was a relatively non-sporty kid, I was surrounded by girls who participated in sports as fully as their brothers. In college, I was a coxswain on the UC Berkeley women’s crew team (Go Bears!) and trained at Hearst Gymnasium for Women. Even at that time, in the mid 1980s, the men’s athletic teams had better facilities over at Harmon Gym (now Haas Pavilion); over time men’s and women’s athletics at UC Berkeley and elsewhere have been brought more into line with one another. In recent years, I’ve been part of a running club — mixing with women ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s, and comparing notes about our varied experiences with support for sports (or lack thereof) reveals to me how much of an impact the athletics portions of Title IX has had on the real lives of girls and women in the US.
In ArchiveGrid, you can see the traces of Title IX implementation. A search for Title IX records reveals a rich trove of self study and implementation done at campuses all over the US, records from the US Department of Education, and documentation of the lives of key individuals such as the papers of Christine Grant, University of Iowa Sports administrator, professor, and gender equity activist.
Happy 70th birthday, Billy Jean, and thanks for the inspiration!
Fifty years ago today, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and his wife, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, arrived in Texas. After a full day of travel and appearances, he spent his final night in room 850 at the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth.
A search in ArchiveGrid for “Hotel Texas” brings up a collection at the Fort Worth Library about the JFK Tribute, a recently-completed memorial near the hotel – it’s now the Hilton Fort Worth – where Kennedy gave what would be one of his last speeches: an unplanned address to an eager crowd waiting outside the hotel Friday morning, Nov. 22, 1963.
According to the finding aid, there are three boxes of articles, correspondence, photographs, DVDs, architectural drawings, and other printed materials documenting the creation and dedication of the tribute. Materials have been part of an exhibit at the Fort Worth Library commemorating the 50th anniversary of his death.
Another exhibit at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth displays artwork that was put in the presidential couple’s hotel room for them. According to the exhibit description, the Amon Carter board president at the time, Ruth Carter Stevenson, and some Fort Worth art collectors created the installation for the president and first lady to celebrate their overnight visit. That the night before a tragedy was spent in the midst of hospitality meaningful to the Kennedys is significant, even today.
Today marks the 150th anniversary of when Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address as part of a military cemetery dedication in 1863 in Gettysburg, Penn. The two-minute speech is still famous for its elegance and impact, and still held up as an example for writers and speakers today to follow. A Ken Burns documentary film about the event will air next spring and in the meantime he’s asking people in America to learn it.
An angle to the Gettysburg Address story involved Everett Edwards, a well-known politician and orator who ran as the vice presidential nominee in the Constitutional Union Party ticket against Lincoln in the 1860 election. Edwards over time grew to admire Lincoln, and his Gettysburg Address helped. Lincoln and Edwards were both invited to speak at the dedication ceremony for the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg. Edwards went first and spoke for two hours. Lincoln’s speech followed and it was the crowd favorite. The next day, Edwards wrote Lincoln a letter praising his speech’s brevity.
History may have been different if Lincoln would have taken to heart an earlier letter by three detractors from Georgia, asking Lincoln prior to his inauguration to refuse to act as the 16th president and to ask the electoral college to vote for John Bell and Everett Edwards of the Constitutional Union Party. According to the finding aid, the letter reflects “…the bitter sentiments of many Georgians on the eve of Lincoln’s inauguration and the establishment of the Confederacy.”
This letter came two years before events at Gettysburg would have Lincoln and Edwards before an audience, serendipitously partaking in one of the most memorable events in United States history.
In Twitter, when ArchiveGrid gets mentioned, we often get to learn about what people use it for, especially when they include a link to something they found. One recent Tweet caught my attention. It read, “The spread of the #woodcraft movement and its culture is attested to by this search on OCLC’s ArchiveGrid service.” The author included a link to 60 matches in ArchiveGrid for the term “woodcraft.”
A quick online search taught me about woodcraft fraternal organizations in Europe and North America, but I also learned something new about a well-known building in Portland, Ore. A group of women from a female auxiliary of Woodmen of the World started the Neighbors of Woodcraft, and in 1905 moved their headquarters to Portland. Their former lodge and insurance building, built in 1928, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
How did I find this out? In the ArchiveGrid search results I mentioned earlier, a record for an Oregon Historical Society photograph collection of dance orchestras says it includes an image of the Jimmie Whetmore Orchestra at Neighbors of Woodcraft and Uptown Ballroom. The building is now called the Tiffany Center and those vintage ballrooms are still used, especially for parties and wedding receptions because several major businesses and places of worship are nearby. Light rail riders would be familiar with the structure because tracks run on each side.
Although this record is listed in ArchiveGrid after collections for more established woodcraft organizations such as the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry and Women of Woodcraft, which would be valuable for woodcraft researchers, someone researching local history would benefit from the ability our summary view offers for more fine-tuned searching.
During recent ArchiveGrid team meetings, Bruce, Merrilee and I discussed Veterans Day post ideas for this blog. We considered personal angles and what our own family histories could offer. I drew a blank. No one in my immediate family had served in battle. Two distant relatives on my father’s side fought in combat in the Philippines in World War II but never spoke of it and are now deceased.
Then I remembered a name on my paternal grandmother’s side of the family tree: William Nicholas Updegraff, a U.S. Navy admiral I sometimes brag about because, well, he was an admiral and I’m, well, related. Distantly. He is my second cousin twice removed.
So I searched Google, Wikipedia, ArchiveGrid, and called my father for information.
Here are five new things I learned about Bill:
- He graduated in 1919 from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. That he went to the Naval Academy meant so much to my grandmother, she openly wished my father would have done the same.
- Captain Updegraff was the commanding officer of the Naval Air Station at Dutch Harbor (Territory of Alaska) when Japanese forces attacked it in June 1942.
- He received a Navy Cross for “extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession” during the Dutch Harbor attack. According to the Military Times Hall of Valor, “Captain Updegraff’s coolness under fire, his calm and courageous bearing were a source of encouragement and inspiration to all who served with him.” Not only do I want to learn more about Bill, I want to be like him too.
- His mother, Anna, christened the U.S.S. Kalinin Bay during World War II at the Kaiser Shipbuilding Company in Vancouver, Wash. My father watched.
- He retired as a Rear Admiral in San Francisco. When my grandmother visited him, he showed her around and took her to the “best places.” Her stories inspired my aunt to move to San Francisco after she finished high school.
Research in ArchiveGrid led me to collections of photographs which may have Bill pictured. Wikipedia took me to a link with a digitized report Bill wrote of the Dutch Harbor attack. I have been to my share of Veterans Day parades and events, but this year’s holiday prompted a delve into my own family history. Hopefully I will learn more about Admiral Bill’s admirable leadership qualities this holiday in one of my favorite learning environment: at the family dinner table.
Sales at VooDoo Doughnut in Portland and Eugene of this colorful, lemon cream-filled doughnut called the “Easy Peasey Lemon Kesey” help the University of Oregon’s Knight Library raise money to buy the Ken Kesey collection. Right now the collection is at UO and worth at least $2 million.
Kesey grew up and graduated from UO, and the film based on one of his most well-known works, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” was shot in Oregon. UO wants to permanently house Kesey’s archive of letters, manuscripts, and artwork and his family has given the school first shot at purchasing it. UO has responded with a fundraising effort to avoid losing the collection.
(Editor’s note: University of Oregon purchased the Ken Kesey collection earlier this month – prior to this post – allowing the Knight Library to keep the author’s archive at his alma mater. The partnership between UO and Voodoo Doughnut was an example of how an everyday experience connected to the important work archivists do to acquire, preserve, and enable access to institutional and regional cultural heritage. We look forward to highlighting more partnerships between archives and the communities they serve.)
Lately we have been using GoogleAnalytics more in-depth to learn how people get to ArchiveGrid and this week we found out how much Wikipedia helps.
On August 14, more referrals than usual came from a Wikipedia page about The Wreckage, a historic log house in Ocean Park, Wash. These referrals were going to a record in ArchiveGrid for the Guy S. Allison collection held at Western Washington University. August 14 happens to be the last day the Wikipedia article was modified and because of that, it was featured in the website’s highly-visited Did You Know section, where new and edited pages get mentioned.
That explains the traffic spike that day. But what is The Wreckage and why is WWU’s Guy S. Allison collection relevant? Guy Selwin Allison, it turns out, moved from Missouri, his home state, to Bellingham and graduated from WWU in 1907 when it was called Washington State Normal School. A box of his scrapbooks are now held in the school’s special collections in the Wilson Library.
According to the collection description, the Guy S. Allison collection “contains poems, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, correspondence, and miscellaneous facsimiles of contemporary documents.” Topics emphasized Abraham Lincoln so it would be interesting for scholars to read what Allison, who became a syndicated newspaper columnist, had to say.
Here is some more information about Allison, taken from both the collection description and the Wikipedia page it helped enrich. After a short teaching career, Allison bought coastal property in Ocean Park, Wash., which is on a peninsula near the Columbia River mouth. River traffic was heavy because the Columbia was the only water passage between Portland and the Pacific Ocean. Rough waters at the mouth caused ships to lose cargo or wreck. In 1911 and 1912, Allison salvaged enough logs and cement blocks which washed ashore from two different vessels to build a cabin. “The Wreckage” is now on the National Register of Historic Places.