Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Keith Widder Speaks About His Book, Beyond Pontiac's Shadow

On Thursday, October 23, Keith Widder, former curator of history for Mackinac State Historic Parks, will visit Central Michigan University to speak about his book, Beyond Pontiac's Shadow: Michilimackinac and the Anglo-Indian War of 1763.

On June 2, 1763, the Ojibwe captured Michigan’s Fort Michilimackinac from the British. Ojibwe warriors from villages on Mackinac Island and along the Cheboygan River had surprised the unsuspecting garrison while playing a game of baggatiway. On the heels of the capture, Odawa from nearby L’Arbre Croche arrived to rescue British prisoners, setting into motion a complicated series of negotiations among Ojibwe, Odawa, and Menominee and other Indians from Wisconsin. Because nearly all Native people in the Michilimackinac borderland had allied themselves with the British before the attack, they refused to join the Michilimackinac Ojibwe in their effort to oust the British from the upper country; the turmoil effectively halted the fur trade. Beyond Pontiac’s Shadow examines the circumstances leading up to the attack and the course of events in the aftermath that resulted in the regarrisoning of the fort and the restoration of the fur trade. At the heart of this discussion is an analysis of French-Canadian and Indian communities at the Straits of Mackinac and throughout the pays d’en haut.

This presentation, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7:00 pm in the Park Library Auditorium. A reception will follow in the Clarke Historical Library.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Antarctica Expedition Presentation



Join us Tuesday, October 14, for a presentation by Professor Andrew Mahon of the CMU Department of Biology. Professor Mahon and colleagues who joined him on his expeditions will speak about their research trips to Antarctica. You will learn what they did and why it was so important. Following this event will be a reception in the Baber Room where you can view the photographs taken by the team during their 2014 CMU expedition to the beautiful continent of Antarctica. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to hear from those who made this extraordinary journey!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mid-Michigan Digital Practitioners meeting at CMU

by Marian Matyn

Central Michigan University hosted the third Mid-Michigan Digital Practitioners (MMDP) regional meeting in the Park Library on September 18, 2014. Fifty people attended. We enjoyed meeting, networking, collaborating, and sharing digital project experiences and information. The attendees are mostly archivists and librarians behind the scenes who are responsible for the various technical and digital efforts involved in getting information in various formats into searchable digital repositories, developing project processes for converting reel-to-reel tapes or microfilmed newspapers for digital repositories, dealing with storage and access issues of digital information, or the conversion of data, or changing from one major storage/access system to another, and numerous other issues and concerns.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

CMU Homecoming Traditions... With a Spin

by Casey Gamble and Bryan Whitledge

We are all familiar with the excitement that Homecoming week brings to campus. Students have fun building up to Homecoming weekend by decorating their dorms. Student organizations put the finishing touches on their floats. Alumni and CMU fans begin gathering all the maroon and gold they can find to wear for game day. The people of Mount Pleasant enjoy the parade in the morning, the tailgating and football game in the afternoon, and dances and other social events later on. These tend to be the usual festivities planned for the Homecoming, except one year, 1971, when things were shaken up.

The Student Alumni Association decided to get rid of the parades, dances, dorm decorations, and even the Homecoming court. It was reported that students didn’t particularly care about the court and that there were simply not enough parade participants to make that tradition worthwhile. The Student Alumni Association wanted to try something new that all students and alumni could enjoy, so they organized a carnival, a bazaar, and a "style show" instead. The only traditional aspects they held onto were the pep rally, the snake dance, and the football game.

But this idea did not turn out to be such a hit. According to an editorial in CM Life following Homecoming weekend, returning alumni were unimpressed with “coming home” to a ferris wheel ride, and many people felt there was a lack of school spirit. They suggested that the next time big changes were to be made for an event such as Homecoming, those changes should be voted on by the student body to see just how many people care what weekend festivities might be enjoyed.

This would seem like a fair compromise, but in a rebuttal editorial post published two days later, the Co-chairmen of the Homecoming Steering Committee had many answers and explanations for the series of complaints. They felt that the Homecoming queen did not really represent CMU in its entirety, and that Miss CMU, who took the place of the queen and her court, would be a better fit. They also found that “at least 50 groups requested to build a booth for the bazaar,” which seemed to mean that there was more interest shown for the bazaar than previous parades. The Homecoming Steering Committee also noted that they did not intend for students to refrain from decorating their dorms, only that students should decorate lightly and donate to charity the rest of the money that they normally would have spent on decorations.

The experiment of the alternative Homecoming of 1971 was a one-time event that did not quite resonate with all the attendees. But the spirit of updating some of the traditions of Homecoming to better reflect the University has lived on. Since that time, the Homecoming Ambassadors have replaced the queen and her court, the dances are not as popular as they once were, and the medallion hunt, which was developed in 2003, has become a campus favorite. As long as Homecoming is a tradition at CMU, there will always be students and alumni reinventing the traditions to make them their own.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Janice Harrington Speaking Thursday


Professor Janice Harrington, storyteller, poet, and author of children’s books will speak this Thursday, September 25, at 7:00 p.m. in the Park Library Auditorium on the subject of children’s books and her own work.

Janice Harrington’s first children’s book, Going North, was published in 2004. The book won several awards and drew upon her memories of rural Lamar County, Alabama. The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County, published in 2007, was one of Time magazine’s top ten children’s books of the year. Her 2008 book, Roberto Walks Home, continues the stories of Ezra Jack Keats, a now deceased white writer who was among the first to publish stories using African American and other children of color as central characters.

Currently a member of the faculty at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, she was for seventeen years the head of children’s services at the Champaign Public Library. She has performed as a professional storyteller in a variety of settings, including the National Storytelling Festival in Washington, DC.

The presentation is free and open to the public. A reception will follow to talk in the Clarke Historical Library.

Professor Harrington’s presentation is made possible by the David M. and Eunice Sutherland Burgess Endowment.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New Exhibit Opening Thursday


The Clarke holds thousands of photographs in dozens of formats. Generally, these images are used to study a subject: a discussion of early lumbering in Michigan can be bolstered with a daguerreotype of a lumber baron, researchers studying Michigan Civil War soldiers will come across tintype portraits of servicemen, and the history of Central State Normal School (CMU's previous name) in the 1920s is brought to life with historic silver-gelatin prints.

In the Clarke's new exhibit, Photography: Process, People, and Preservation, photographs are displayed and explained for their own sake, not the content or subject of the images. To guide visitors through the history of pre-digital photography, the exhibit explains the processes involved in producing photographs, from the toxic and labor intensive early days to the time when a roll of color film could be dropped off at a lab and picked up a few days later. The chemistry, the equipment required, and the challenges of producing a variety of photographs are explored.

In addition to the processes, the exhibit examines how photography played a role in the careers of various people, including an itinerant daguerreotypist, a commercial portrait photographer, and a team of university photographers. The exhibit also points out how photographs can be damaged and how they naturally deteriorate over time. Realizing the degradation of these images is essentially losing a piece of history can be discouraging, so the exhibit details the measures that museums, archives, libraries, and even individuals can take to preserve their images for generations to come.

An exhibit on photography would not be complete without the tools used to produce photographs. Fortunately, the CMU Department of Art and Design is a wonderful resource for consulting on this subject, particularly Professor Al Wildey. He has loaned several of his historic cameras, some pieces of old photographing equipment, and many rare images that illustrate the processes explained in the exhibit.

Beyond consulting and loaning materials, Professor Wildey is also opening our exhibit with a presentation on Thursday, September 18 at 7:00 pm. He will discuss the history of photography before the digital age. The event takes place in the Park Library Auditorium followed by a reception in the Clarke to give attendees the chance to look at examples of the historical processes mentioned in the presentation.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Central Marching Band

by Casey Gamble

In September 1923, the students of the Central Normal College were hustling around in a frenzied attempt to register for classes (Central State Life, 9/25/1923, p. 2). The only peace to be had on campus was coming from the marching band. It was the band’s duty to lighten the atmosphere and remind students that their first days in Mount Pleasant were the start of an exciting chapter of their lives. This past week, with freshmen moving into residence halls, students buying their books, and friends meeting up after three months of summer vacation, the CMU marching band can still be heard playing in the background during an otherwise chaotic time.

CMU’s first football game isn’t far away, coming up this Thursday, August 25th, but the football players aren’t the only ones practicing every day. During band week, which happens right before the start of classes, the Marching Chips are on the practice field all day, every day, whether in the blazing heat or the pouring rain. Throughout campus, the Marching Chips work on the songs and routines that will be on display for thousands of fans throughout the fall.

The cadence of the drums can be felt across the Warriner Mall, the trumpets blare the high notes that will be the highlight of their performances, and the members of the woodwinds work in numbers to create big volume that will support the whole band. All of these musicians put in hours of work to learn about eight songs for football halftime shows in addition to the dozens of pregame tunes, stand times, and of course, the CMU Fight Song.
 
But the work doesn’t stop after band week. It should be remembered that the members of the Marching Chips are first and foremost CMU students. Once classes start, many of the music majors will be taking 10+ classes and they combine that with marching band practice a few hours in the afternoon, except for game days when some sections will be practicing by 7:00 am. Graduate students and senior section leaders will help the mostly freshman marchers keep each foot together and each note in sync until the formations are performed to perfection.

And what does all of this hard work bring? It brings cheer to the students of CMU when they need an upbeat song to get them through their studies. It brings life to football game halftimes. It brings traditions that have been handed down through generations of Marching Chips. And it brings the experience of discipline and perseverance to the musicians who are a part of the Central Marching Band.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Not everything needs to be retained forever!: An appraisal lesson

by Marian Matyn

This is a deed between Orrin Harmon and his wife, Camilla, to Adam Yarck for 25 acres of land in Ravenna Township, Portage County, Ohio, 1835. The property sold for $81.25. It is signed by Orrin, Camilla, and two witnesses. On the back is a note that Camilla agreed to the sale of the property, separately from her husband, before Judge Elias Harmon, a process required to protect her rights. Another note states that the deed was recorded July 25, 1835 in Portage County, Book V, on pages 324-325, by the Recorder, a Mr. Skinner. The deed is now in six pieces, broken along the fold lines, with a few acid stains.

This manuscript is outside of our collecting scope. This deed is from 1835, after Ohio gained statehood, so it should go to Ohio. However, none of the Ohio archives want it, because it is a personal deed and they already have the information recorded in official volumes.

I will probably add this to my Archives Administration class examples to discuss deeds, early paper, wear and tear on documents, collecting policies, and appraisal.

What is archival appraisal? A process of deciding the value of a primary source (manuscript or archival collection) using various archival appraisal theories to determine whether or not to retain it. Some of the appraisal points I consider are:

What is its evidential value? Is it information necessary to document the organization and function of an institution or department?

What is its informational value? What does the information tell us about people, places, things, events?

What is the intrinsic value? For example, a letter with blood or tear stains on it has intrinsic value that is more powerful than a transcription of the letter.

There are some of the other points to consider as well.
Does it fit our collecting policy?
Does another institution already collect material on this subject or generated by this creator?
Are there special requirements for access, storage, duplication, or conservation?
Are there political reasons to retain it?
Do we have the resources to acquire, process, catalog, house, and provide access to it?

If you have questions contact Marian the Archivist at marian.matyn@cmich.edu

Friday, July 18, 2014

Pop-Up Books

by Casey Gamble

All children cherish their first experience with a toy book. With each turn of the page, there are pictures that jump out, wheels that spin, and new doors to open. There are pictures that dazzle or spook, pictures that sparkle and inspire, and pictures that tell us old or new stories in a standout fashion.

Movable books began long ago with turn-up books, also known as Harlequinades, which were created around 1765. These involved the simple mechanism of flipping sections of a page over to change the picture and move the story forward. The Clarke Historical Library has an example that tells the story of Aladdin or the Wonderful Lamp from 1880. You can view the tale of Aladdin on his adventures, each flip of a page turning the picture into something new, as pictured here:

Harlequinade #1
Harlequinade #2

Also from 1880, we have The Aquarium, which features a pop-out page showing little children observing in wonder the brightly colored fish swimming about in a tank.


Movable books have come a long way since the nineteenth century. Many of them retell famous tales, like The Chronicles of Narnia, with scenes that make you feel like you’ve just passed through the wardrobe or went sailing with King Caspian.

"Passing through the Wardrobe"

"Sailing with the King"

The Clarke also has pop-up books that are more educational. This one, appropriately titled Shakespeare's Globe Theater, gives children the opportunity to re-enact the works of Shakespeare in a detailed replica of the Globe Theater. This book includes excerpts from several Shakespearean plays and paper characters to put on the stage.


Or, if you're at all interested in the man who invented the moveable type and the printing press, you may want to take a look at the pop-up story of Gutenberg’s Gift.


After seeing just a few samples from the Clarke's collection of pop-up books, you may feel inspired to create your own 3D masterpiece. The Clarke has several pop-up books that will teach you how and the possibilities will become endless with the worlds you can create and the places you can go.

The Elements of Pop-Up

If you've enjoyed seeing these pictures of the movable books, you may want to pay a visit to the Clarke to explore all of the different ways many artists and engineers have brought animation to the page. These items are more impressive in person and so is the entire collection found in the Clarke. We've been making more room for new additions lately, so you may want to browse the catalog to see if we've got a pop-up version of your favorite story!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Robert Knapp Speaking July 22

Robert Knapp, author of Mystery Man : Gangsters, Oil, and Murder in Michigan, will discuss his new book as part of the summer Clarke Speaker Series.

Mystery Man is the story of Isaiah Leebove, Jack Livingston, and a cast of innocents and not-so-innocents. Oil barons from Okla­homa like Nathan Livingston and Henry Sinclair, New York gangsters like Arnold Rothstein and "Legs" Diamond, Detroit's Purple Gang, even Charles Lindbergh's baby all figure in the unfolding drama that ultimately played out in the days of Michigan's oil boom. A personal grudge led to Leebove's murder – or was it the perfect gangland slaying?

Join University of California Professor Emeritus Robert Knapp, a Mt. Pleasant, Michigan native and CMU alum (1968), to learn more about this intriguing story. The program begins at 7:00 pm in the Park Library Auditorium with a reception to follow in the Clarke.