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

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.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Tale of Two Michigan Cities on the Fourth

By Casey Gamble and John Fierst
A Tale of Two Michigan Cities

The library is closing up for Friday, July 4th so that everyone can get out and enjoy Independence Day however they see fit, whether they are going to watch some fireworks, have bonfires with friends, or enjoy lots and lots of home-grilled food.

But how were folks celebrating in Michigan 228 years ago? It was the year of 1876, the Centennial Anniversary of American Independence. It just so happens that the Clarke has the Centennial Celebration programs for Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

Grand Rapids was busy and thriving, just having built the Grand Memorial Arch at Campau Place specifically for this momentous occasion. The arch was designed by Col. Joseph Penney and erected by Mr. C. H. Gifford.

It was said to be “without doubt one of the finest ever erected on the continent and unrivaled by any other city on this centennial day.” But would Kalamazoo agree?

They too appeared to have outstanding decorations, and an outstanding parade which featured the Terrace Chariot:

“The Terrace Chariot, bearing Miss Frances Little as ‘The Goddess of Liberty,’ around whom were gracefully grouped thirty-seven young ladies, representing the States, was the finest thing of the kind ever seen in Kalamazoo, and elicited admiration and applause at all points on the line of march.” It truly must have been an incredible site to see, and an event not to be missed. We aren’t sure how it would stand up against the Centennial arch, however.

If we could, we would share with you the magic of the entire Kalamazoo Independence Day oration, but it lasts about 70 pages, so if you are interested—should we say so inspired--we might suggest you make a visit to the Clarke Library.

As for evening entertainment in Kalamazoo, they had a long list of events to thrill the celebrants. Fireworks of great variety filled the night sky:

1. Rockets, Stars, Serpents, and Gold Rain

7. Flight of brilliant Colored Rockets

8. Tree of Light

29. Pyramid Caprice

33. Kalamazoo’s farewell piece: “Good Night”

“By midnight the town’s people, fatigued by labor and excitement, sought repose in their several homes, and the town, so full of noise and bustle and enthusiasm during the day, sank at last to rest.” And in Grand Rapids “Good order and good feeling universally prevailed from morning till night.” Amid “general rejoicing and satisfaction” the celebration closed. “The grand arch was kept lighted up for several hours by red lights burned by Messrs. Mills & Lacey in front of their drug store on Canal Street”

We invite you to come to the Clarke Historical Library and to take a closer look—by way of these two slender volumes—at how the centennial of the Fourth of July was celebrated in two Michigan cities.