Friday, May 22, 2015

Remembering Albert Post

By Casey Gamble

On Monday, May 25th, we will celebrate Memorial Day to honor the many fallen soldiers who have served our country. The Clarke Library has many war-related letters. This Memorial Day we decided to celebrate one collection in particular, the correspondence of Cary Albert Post.

Photo of the U.S.S. Halligan taken in March, 1945
He was a soldier in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and he signed his letters home simply Albert.  Assigned to the U.S.S. Halligan, a naval destroyer, he lost his life tragically on March 26, 1945 when the Japanese sank the Halligan off the coast of Okinawa. He was 29 years old at the time. He left behind his wife Leila, and two children Darrel and Sharron.  Before he died, Albert wrote home to his wife every day, but unfortunately most of the letters were lost in a house fire. His letters that have survived, were donated to the Clarke Library, where they could be properly preserved.

Cary Albert Post
Through these surviving letters, we are able to appreciate the kind of man that Albert was and how much he cared for his family. On April 21st, 1944 he wrote to Darrel:

"Now son I know you will take care of mother and Sharron lei for Daddy and here is a little something for you to buy mommy and sister something nice from you and Daddy. And here is something you can tell mother Daddy gets out the 23rd of May. That's the day I am scheduled to graduate. I love you Son,

Your dad Albert."

A letter, decorated with a beautiful sketch of Leila and Sharron, was sent home to his family March 1st, 1945, just 3 weeks before the sinking of his ship.

"Another day has passed and I'm that much closer to coming home to you someday. Boy! I just want them to fly by all of these dreary days and lonely nites. The faster they fly by the better I will enjoy them. I always try to keep my mind occupied and myself busy; but my every thought, my every dream is still of you my children and home. 'I Love You So!'"

Albert, Darrel, Leila and Sharon, 1944

The collection was donated to the Clarke Library by Sharron and Darrel, who were comforted to know that these memories of their father will be kept alive for a very long time.

In these preserved letters and pictures, we are able to experience the love this man felt for his family and the strength that love gave him while fighting for his country.

As a closing statement to any researchers who may use this collection, Sharron Post said this:

"I was given the opportunity to hear our father speak through the letters, and he became much more real to me. We hope you enjoy your research, and understand how much a family can mean, and how much it did mean to a G.I. far away from his loved ones during World War II." 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Commencement Speakers of Years Past

by Casey Gamble and Bryan Whitledge

Students celebrating
commencement, 1984
For anyone who has had the opportunity to enjoy sitting through lengthy commencement ceremonies, you understand how nice it is when a prolific orator can deliver a speech that imparts wisdom and inspiration and entertains at the same time.

CMU has had a host of great speakers over the years. Many of the speakers have been university presidents, politicians, and business leaders in Michigan. We took a look at some of the speakers of CMU Commencements-Past. Some highlights have included CMU alum and actor, screen-writer, and play-write Jeff Daniels (2000). Francis B. Molson, a beloved professor of English and Clarke Historical Library benefactor, spoke to graduates in 1994. And in 1997, CMU invited attorney F. Lee Bailey.

Bailey is known as being the criminal-defense lawyer for O.J. Simpson, Patty Hearst, Dr. Sam Sheppard, and the Boston Strangler. In the "Our Voice" section of the CM Life posted several days before Commencement, it was expressed that some people did not feel that Bailey was someone who should be delivering to them their final words of wisdom before they dispersed into the world. "Name recognition is an excellent quality to have in a commencement speaker, but quality of character is another" (CMLife, December 8, 1997, p. 4).

Commencement in Finch Fieldhouse, ca. 1950s
But one speaker that Central was certainly proud to invite to commencement spoke in December 1981. CMU alumnus and NBC reporter, Lem Tucker, returned to his school to deliver a speech that he planned on being better than your ordinary "hard work pays off" theme. As a man who had seen a lot in his career, he felt he needed to be more honest with the students, in the sense that they were heading into a competitive world, and "like heavy cream, the survivors will rise to the top" (CMLife, December 7, 1981, p. 1).

Whether a commencement speaker ignites controversy or is universally loved by the grads, we hope that with each commencement ceremony, the graduates leave feeling like they have gained something that will help them turn the page to the next chapter of their lives.

This weekend, the CMU commencement speakers include  
  • Joseph S. Francisco, dean of the college of arts and sciences at University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    Melanie Bergeron chairperson at Two Men and a Truck
  • Thomas Morgan, documentary filmmaker who uses his documentaries to increase people's understanding of important social issues such as homelessness, youth incarceration, and abuse and neglect.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Update on Archival Processing

[editor's note: This Saturday, May 2, is the last Saturday that we will have business hours until September. Feel free to stop by the Clarke from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm]

by Marian Matyn

The end of the term is here. This term, I had two interns, one paid student, and two volunteers processing collections for various hours during the week. I trained and supervised them all. Only one had prior processing experience, having volunteered for me previously. Three of the students also took or were taking my Archives Administration class while processing for me. Here is a list of the collections that they processed and created finding aids or inventory for:

  • Ongoing addition to Lee Barnett [research] Collection: 9 boxes, 6 Ov. Folders (approx. 5 cubic feet) The total collection is now 30 cubic feet (in 51 boxes, 15 Ov. folders)
  • Ralph Young Courser family genealogy collection, 1870, 2012, 3 boxes, 6 Ov. folders (approx. 2 cubic feet)
  • Lincoln Township (Isabella County, Mich.) records, 1890-1984, 4 boxes, 41 Ov. v. (Approx. 5 cubic feet)
  • Coldwater Township (Isabella County, Mich.), records, 1868-1971, 4 boxes, 80 Ov. v. (Approx. 15 cubic feet)
  • CMU Appleblossom Club.CMU Appleblossom Club addition, 1931-2001, , 1 box, 2 Ov. V., 2 Ov. Folders (Approx. 1 cubic feet)
  • Deerfield Township (Isabella County, Mich.) records, 1880-1971, 4 boxes, 59 Ov. v. (Approx. 8 cubic feet)
  • Carol I. Paquette Sing-out Walled Lake Scrapbook, 1967-1969 collection (1 folder)
  • CMU slides, 1979 (1 slide box). This box was left in the CMU Baseball office. One of the students there was taking my class and brought it to me because nobody there knew what to do with it. Thanks Logan!
  • J. E. Howard correspondence, 1885-1895, 4 boxes (2 cubic feet). His Michigan railroads business records collection, 1846-1920 which totals 93 cubic feet (in 32 boxes, 276 Ov. v, 11 Ov. folders, 1 rolled item), is separately cataloged.
  • And they processed all the loose paper records for Morley Bros. family and business records/papers (ongoing) 14 boxes, 1 folder, 2 Ov. folders (6 cubic feet). This is a large, complicated collection which has been processed by several groups of advanced students over several years. Currently, 13 boxes, 5 Ov. Folders have already been processed. At least 229 Morley Ov. volumes remain to be inventoried and organized.
Morley papers processed in spring 2015,
almost ready to be shelved
Their work this term is a notable achievement. Thanks to all my wonderful students for a good term -- Mark Prindiville, Alyssa Halula, Samantha Sullivan, Liz Edwards, and Gwyn Richard. Their work freed me up to process other collections, and catalog and encode finding aids for everything any of us processed. Mark and Samantha are graduating in May. We wish them the best!

For more information about these collections see their catalog records and finding aids via Centra or the Clarke's finding aid page. Finding aids can also be found via a Google search.

I am happy to take interns and volunteers at any time, except the last few weeks of a term. If you have any questions about working in the archives or would like a tour, or want to know more about these collections, or other collections, please contact me, Marian, at

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Clarke Remembers Senator and Justice Robert P. Griffin

by Frank Boles

Congressman Griffin with home
demonstration representatives on the
Capitol steps, April, 1961
The Clarke Historical Library lost a good friend on April 16, when Robert Griffin died. Several news outlets have published lengthy biographies of the former United States Senator and Michigan Supreme Court Justice, but none mention that the Clarke has a special connection to the Senator. Bob Griffin, a CMU alumnus (1947), entrusted the Clarke with his papers. Today, we continue to preserve thousands of documents and photographs, and a great deal of audio/visual material that document the legislative and judicial legacies of Bob Griffin -- all of which is open to the public without restriction.

The Senator also served on the Clarke Historical Library’s Board of Governors. Bob was a source of much wisdom, good advice, and at least one very memorable story. At a Clarke Board meeting, I had the obligation to report that the Library had been threatened by lawsuit over information found on our website. A fairly detailed legal discussion ensued. The discussion reviewed advice from CMU’s Counsel which was, in short, that such a suit would be groundless. Throughout the conversation, the Senator remained silent, and when he was asked for his thoughts he simply said, “It would be best if the minutes reflected that I recused myself from this discussion.” This ended the official discussion.

Senator Griffin with students and chaperones
from Brooks Elementary School, Milford, Mich.
during their ca. 1976 visit to Washington, D.C.
Unsurprisingly, and unofficially, one of the first subjects to be visited over lunch was why “it would be best if the minutes reflected that [Justice Griffin] recused [him]self.” Griffin was still a sitting judge, and as it turned out, the likely reason the Library had been threatened with a lawsuit was that we had summarized inconvenient historical information that did not support a legal argument found in a suit the Justice was about to hear. Over a sandwich, Bob smiled and said, “but I did find your conversation useful.” I can only conclude that it was so, since the Clarke was never sued, and insofar as I know, that lawsuit quietly disappeared from his court docket.

The Senator’s funeral is today, and we extend our sympathy to his widow, Marjorie, and his entire family.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Soldiers' Views of the End of the Civil War

by Casey Gamble and Bryan Whitledge. Thanks to Victoria Fisher and Lindsay Gabriel for their research assistance.

W. Doherty Letter
This year, April 9 marks the 150th anniversary of General Lee's surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. This event brought an end to the Civil War. We dug into our Civil War Collection and found several diary entries and letters home from soldiers mentioning the surrender and the fact that the end of the war was in sight. Here, we are featuring a selection of these intriguing documents.

Hance Morgan was a Union soldier from New York who began his service in 1862. During his years in service, he was with many different NY regiments. In the days prior to the surrender, Morgan notes that his regiment was moving toward the site of the surrender and that they crossed the Appomattox River.

On April 9, Morgan remarked, "9 A.M. hear Cannonading a few miles ahead stop to rest. 12 N[oon] move on again haul into Park about 2 oclock, see a flag of truce wagon pass, said to convey Genl Lee. 4 P.M. Genl Lee Surrenders to Grant. Unconditionally. very great Enthusiasm amoung [sic] the Union Troops. Every Genl is cheered as he passes. Salutes are being fired by [Artillery]. our Battery with the rest."

T. Carter Diary
In another document, George Slaven, a member of the 18th Regiment of Pennsylvania Cavalry remarked "I was in camp the day was quite rainy. [T]hare [sic] was a salute fired this morning for the surrender of Gen Lee."

In a third document, Theodore Carter of the 26th Michigan Infantry didn't have much to mention on April 9. The next day, his diary reads, "[N]ews of the surrender of Gen. Lee and his whole army of northern Virginia salute of two hundred guns from the forts around." Seeing that the War was coming to an end, Carter writes on April 11 about the practical matter of disposing with his military store credits before he can no longer purchase goods: "Bought pair of socks envelopes and comforter and paid out the last cent am feeling a great deal better today."

William Doherty, a Canadian fighting in the Michigan 5th Cavalry wrote a lengthy letter home on April 10, 1864, from near Winchester, Virginia. He writes to his family, "You are perhaps aware that this state [Virginia] is one of the head states of the rebellion but I believe the confederacy is gone under. General R. E. Lee surrendered his whole army yesterday to Grant. Salutes of 200 guns are being fired all over the union and I think peace will soon be proclaimed."

D. Follmer Diary
Finally, an April 9 diary entry from J. D. Follmer of the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry is among the most comprehensive of these examples. Follmer remarked on the abrupt end to fighting on April 9. He mentions, with great detail, how his unit was chasing enemy forces and about to return attack before news of the surrender came:

"The whole Brigade under Col. Young was formed for a charge, a portion began to advance when an officer rode between the lines with a white flat saying Lee had surrendered, ordering at the same time to cease firing. During the day our boys who had been captured returned and among them came Genl Gregg. Every one seems very happy. Bands are playing their gayest pieces and all are rejoicing that this war is over.

"Every fellow is writing home or to his best girl and if our mail bag holds all the letters sent, it will be a big one. Went down to Disputant Station to see Genl's Lee & Grant. Saw Grant, but Lee had gone away ere I got there."

These young men's experiences, preserved in their diaries, are among the thousands that have survived over 150 years. It is their words that help to shape our view of the end of one of the bloodiest chapters in American history.

Monday, April 6, 2015

International Children's Book "Read In" Event

Tuesday, April 7, the Clarke will be hosting a "Read In" event in conjunction with our current exhibit featuring international children's literature. What better way is there to showcase the beautiful books in our exhibit than having these books read aloud in the language they were written in? Fortunately, on the CMU campus, we have students and faculty from every corner of the globe.

Over twenty readers reading in fifteen languages will participate in the event, which starts at 10:00 am and continues until 4:30 pm in the Meijer Gallery of the Clarke exhibit space. Books in Arabic, German, Hindi, Chinese, French, Javanese, Spanish, Yoruba, and many more will be read by native speakers of these languages. Check out this link for full details of the event. This event is free and open to the public and light refreshments will be available.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Paul F. H. Morley and an important landscape architect

by Marian Matyn

This term, all my student volunteers have processed many of the boxes of records we have on the Morley family and business of Saginaw, Mich. In one box, my student Gwyn Richard, found correspondence, a blueprint, and some copies of sketches, all dated from March to November 1915, between Paul F. H. Morley and landscape designer Aubrey Tealdi of Ann Arbor.

The undated blueprint, entitled "Morley garden, Saginaw," includes a wide variety of flowers in four L-shaped flower beds, with notes about seeding and flowers. It is signed by Aubrey Tealdi, Ann Arbor. This was for Paul's home at 1330 S. Jefferson Ave., Saginaw, a home which no longer exists.

Blueprint of Morley garden, Saginaw

Tealdi's signature on the blueprint
In their correspondence, Morley asked about when to start the beds, expressed his unhappiness with certain plants and happiness with others, and requested Tealdi's rates and when they could meet. Tealdi responded in detail about plants, which were suited for what and why, the care of plants, and that his rate, normally $50/hour plus other costs, was reduced to a flat fee of $75 for Morley's two spring visits. Ideas discussed between the men included the possibility of a children’s garden, an arbor, a seat ringing an apple tree, plans for gardens at Paul's lodge on the north branch of the AuSable River, the removal of a tree, Paul’s dislike of sunflowers, and his desire to keep up with his neighbors' landscaping projects. Both men also wrote briefly of their worries about the War (World War I). Morley noted the Italians were losing. This must have been a particularly painful fact for the Italian, Tealdi, who responded that he had male relatives fighting and female relatives active in the Red Cross.

Tealdi's letter noting Morley's home at 1330 S. Jefferson Ave.

Tealdi's apple tree seat sketch, Sept. 19, 1915

Tealdi was a significant landscape architect and professor who had an impressive career at and impact upon the University of Michigan (UM). The UM was the first institution in the Midwest with a department of landscape design, which was established in 1909 as a professional five year course. Tealdi was one of the first three instructors in the program. He graduated from the Royal Technical Institute Livorno in 1900. He became a Junior Professor at the UM in 1913 and Associate Professor of Landscape Design in 1915. In 1916, Tealdi was named as the Director of the Arboretum and supervised a great deal of planting of various species there. He held various positions until he retired in 1934 with the impressive double title of Head of the Department of Landscape Design and Director of the Nichols Arboretum. Tealdi is credited thusly “The department developed notably under Tealdi and owes much to his ideas and his personality. The excellent character and quality of the Arboretum are also distinctly the result of his work and interest.” Tealdi retired to his native Italy. (The University of Michigan, an Encyclopedic Survey, edited by Wilfred B. Shaw, Part VII, the College of Architecture and Design, pp. 1313-1315, internet available online via this link).

Paul F. H. Morley was the son of Edward W. and Helen Morley. Edward and his brother, George W. Morley came from Ohio to Saginaw where they established a hardware store prior to 1882. It became second only to Sears. By 1909, it also became the second largest manufacturer of portable houses in the U.S. The Morley business saved the city of Saginaw from bankruptcy in 1933 by meeting its payroll. The company had various and numerous related business interests. It still exists today as a business travel, planning, and events company. For more information see

Paul (1884-1931) was born in Saginaw, where he attended local schools as well as a finishing school in the east. During World War I, Paul served as a captain in the Red Cross and headed a Base Hospital in Beaune, France. He was involved with many Saginaw businesses. In 1907, he married Helen Wells with whom he had five children. Paul died suddenly while at his lodge on the Au Sable River. He was survived by his children and four siblings. Many of the Morleys are buried in Ohio.
The Clarke has two Morley manuscript collections. The first is a mixed collection of both business and personal records, Papers, 1833-2009. The collection continues to be processed in sections over time by various students. The catalog record and finding aids for the processed part of the Morley collection may be viewed by clicking on the link to Papers, 1833-2009.

The Clarke also has a scanned copy of the Log of the lodge, 1909-1920, a combination scrapbook/guest book from Paul’s fishing lodge on the north branch of the Au Sable River

A number of Morley catalogs have also been separately cataloged.

For further information contact Archivist Marian Matyn at

Monday, March 23, 2015

Clements Library Director Speaking Tuesday, March 24

On Tuesday, March 24, the Clarke Historical Library will welcome J. Kevin Graffagnino, Director of the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan. Founded in 1923 on the campus of the University of Michigan, the Clements Library collects primary source materials in all formats relating to early American history. Its collections of rare books, pamphlets, maps, prints, photographs, and manuscripts shed light on North American history from Columbus through the 19th century, offering researchers a wealth of unique resources. On almost any aspect of the early American experience – military history, politics and government, religion, gender and ethnicity, culinary history, the creative arts, travel and exploration – the holdings at the Clements Library are among the best in the world. Notable strengths of the Library include the early exploration and settlement of North America, the American Revolution, and the American Civil War.​ ​

Director Graffagnino will speak about the treasures and the history of one of the foremost special collections libraries in the United States. His presentation will begin at 7:00 pm in the Park Library Auditorium. A reception will follow in the Clarke.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dr. Pol Materials in the Clarke

by Christa Clare

We recently added two interesting items to the collection of the Clarke Library: a book titled Never Turn your Back on an Angus Cow: My Life as a County Vet and the DVD, The Best of the Incredible Dr. Pol Collection, episodes from the popular National Geographic television show.

Dr. Pol, who has been a veterinarian for almost forty years, is a bit of a local legend around Weidman, Michigan in Isabella County. He and his wife Diane own and operate a successful rural veterinary clinic just west of Mt. Pleasant. As you would expect, Dr. Pol treats cows, pigs, goats, and horses, but his practice is not limited to large farm animals. He and his capable staff also treat average dogs and cats and everything else, including white mice and hamsters. There doesn’t seem to be a typical day in the office, and animal emergencies always make it interesting.

Unlike many modern vets, Doc Pol doesn’t rely on the latest expensive machinery to tell him how an animal is feeling; he relies on old-fashioned medicine, which usually means getting a little messy and putting his hands in uncomfortable places. Dr. Pol has many amusing stories of what it’s like getting up close and personal with his wide assortment of patients. He has a no-nonsense approach to treating the animals and does what is best for his patients.

Because the show is filmed in the Central Michigan area, it is interesting to see the men and women of the community who put their trust in Doc Pol. A sick pet can be heartbreaking to its owner, but a sick cow or horse can be a financial threat to the local farmer. The DVD and book are both interesting and entertaining.

Dr. Jan Pol recently turned 70 and is still going strong despite the physically exhausting work of a country vet. We wish him and his staff the best of luck, and thank them for caring so much about their patients.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Michelle Ann Abate Presents on "Lil Tomboy"

[editor's note: The Clarke Historical Library will be closed this Saturday, March 7 and next Saturday, March 14 due to Central Michigan University's spring break. We will be open Monday, March 9 to Friday, March 13 from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Saturday hours will resume] 

by Frank Boles

On March 3, Michelle Ann Abate spoke in the Park Library Auditorium regarding gender roles in the comic books of the 1950s. She took for her subject the comic, “Lil Tomboy” which was published between October 1956 and December 1959. Lil Tomboy was the story of an elementary school age girl who hated dolls, loved football, flouted authority, indulged in behavior that was easily classified as “delinquent,” violated the Comic Code Authority, a voluntary set of rules created by the industry in 1954, and got away with all of it. Put simply, Professor Abate wanted to ask, "How did she pull it off?"

This question is particularly interesting because of the stereotypes we generally believe about the 1950s. It was an era when society favored stay-at-homes moms similar to June Cleaver, the always well-dressed baker of chocolate chip cookies, and mother of two sons in television’s hit show Leave it to Beaver. But much like Theodore “the Beaver” on the television series, Lil Tomboy was always getting into something. The Beaver’s antics may have been the stuff of a great television sit-com, but girls weren't supposed to be “getting into something.” Indeed, in the first issue of Lil Tomboy, a friendly neighbor is explaining to Lil Tomboy’s father how lucky he is to have a girl, since they are so much easier to raise then a boy.

Lil Tomboy, however, is a handful. When she is sent to the doctor for “treatment” (a fairly standard 1950s fictional fix for socially deviant behavior) she upsets the office routine so much the doctor declares her “hopeless.” She decides she wants to play football with the boys, who tell her to go play with her dolls. She responds by throwing dolls all the boys with pinpoint accuracy and flattening one of her critics with a stunning tackle. She’s a delinquent, sneaking into the circus and the movie theater, and bringing home the monkey she steals from the zoo (locking the zoo keeper in the monkey’s cage, for good measure). And she mocks the policeman who gave her mother an unfair traffic ticket. “Go blow your whistle,” Lil Tomboy tells the cop.

Lil Tomboy not only gets away with all of this, but despite her behavior, she remains firmly centered in a loving family. The doctor may declare her hopeless, and the cop and the zookeeper likely weren't fond of her, but her parents accept that diagnosis and her subsequent behavior, always declaring that they love her “just the way she is.”

Through the story of Lil Tomboy, Professor Abate cast an interesting light on the 1950s. Lurking not very far underneath the fa├žade of traditional gender roles was the makings of what would become the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Lil Tomboy was ready to move into a “man’s world,” just as so many of the girls who read the comic would a few years later. Lil Tomboy’s parents loving support signaled to the girls who read the comic that the change would come about and that it would be society that changed to accept women in a broader context.

Professor Abate’s presentation was made possible in part by funds made available through the John and Audrey Cumming Endowment, which supports presentations regarding children’s literature and Michigan history.