Friday, September 21, 2018

CMU Alumni Awards

by Bryan Whitledge


What happens when thousands of outstanding students earn degrees from Central Michigan University? They become outstanding alumni. And a few of the thousands of former Chips putting their stamp on the world will be honored on September 21, 2018 at CMU’s annual Alumni Awards event. This year’s honorees include René and Stan Shingles, Isaiah Oliver (2007), Sarah Opperman (1981), Bob Schellhas (1988), and Mackenzie Flynn (2018).

Each year, the Alumni Awards banquet is among the biggest events the CMU Alumni Association produces. But how did this long-standing autumn tradition come about? As with many things at CMU, it goes back decades.

The first Central graduate to be honored as a member of the alumni was Clara Moyer, who, in 1963, turned 100 years old and was honored by the University as the “oldest alumnus.”

Clara Moyer and her dog with
a guest and a copy of CM Life

Four or so years later, CMU created a plan to honor 75 people during the 1967-68 school year. These alumni, as well as other individuals who made significant contributions to the University, would receive one of the 75th Anniversary Awards. Included in the list of recipients are notable alumni such as Dick Enberg - a sports announcer and journalist, Alice Miel - a longtime Columbia University professor and chair of their Department of Curriculum and Teaching, Lem Tucker - award winning journalist, Bob Griffin - a US Senator and member of the House of Representatives, and Mamie Baird - a teacher and social worker in Cotazar, Mexico for over 30 years after graduating with a BS from Central in 1935.

Even though the 75th Anniversary Awards were a success, honoring alums wasn’t quite a an annual tradition at that point. But the seed was planted. Just five years later, in October 1973, CMU presented Clarence Tuma with the first “Alumni Recognition Award” and Malcolm Kienzle with the first “Honorary Alumnus Award.” Four years after that, CM Life profiled one specific inductee into the “Golden ‘C’ Club,” as they called it, Ruth Mavis Williams (1927). While you may not know the name, you know the legacy she left Central 90 years ago – the lyrics to the alma mater!

Since 1973, every fall, CMU has handed out a variety of awards to alumni. Today’s awards include the Honorary Alumni Award, which was handed out first in 1973, as well as the Alumni Service Recognition Award, the Dick Enberg Alumni Commitment Award, the Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Future Alumni Leader Award.

Congrats to all of this year’s winners and congrats to the Alumni Association, for 45 years of recognizing outstanding Chips who have put their stamp on the world.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Unintended Consequences


By Frank Boles

Historical documentation is often an afterthought. People “in the moment” are usually not thinking about history or historical documentation – they are thinking about and recording things they need or learning about things they want to know. One of the primary examples of this phenomena is local newspapers. No one publishes or buys a local newspaper for historical reasons, but one of the Clarke Historical Library’s premier projects has been to preserve and distribute historical copies of Michigan’s local newspapers, which almost always serve as the most complete record of community history.

How fully local history is recorded in daily papers is the result of a wide variety of things; things no one would often connect to local history. The amount of local history found in newspapers is often an unintended consequence.

One example of this situation is the often proclaimed death of the newspaper as we have known it. I have read many a story proclaiming the end of printed newspapers. Others who read those same articles told me that if the trend continued the Clarke would soon be out of the “historical newspaper business.”
What we have seen, instead, is that many newspapers have remain financially successful, and that the vast majority of those financially successful papers have adopted a laser focus on local news. Although they can’t compete with CNN to report the latest events in Washington, they can make money covering local government, local schools, and local sports, things CNN never talks about.  

Although newspapers adopted a local-news focused business model as a way to survive financially, we at the Clarke quietly smiled at the unintended historical consequences of the change. Local papers with rich local coverage become a rich local historical resource. From our point of view, the often advertised “death” of the newspaper has resulted in a renaissance of local reporting in newspapers and a resurgence of material for local history. Times have been good for those of us in the historical newspaper business!

Workmen positioning newsprint
rolls in a warehouse.
But unintended benefits bestowed by one set of circumstances can be taken away by another. One ingredient of the plethora of local news appearing in today’s newspapers is cheap newsprint. Newsprint, however, has become a casualty in the growing trade war between the United States and Canada.

In the United States today there are only five paper mills which still make newsprint. The last newsprint manufacturer in Michigan, Manistique Paper, closed in 2011. American capacity to produce newsprint has atrophied because most American paper mills now produce other, more profitable paper products, particularly cardboard. Online purchasing has been very profitable not only for Amazon, but for the people making the cardboard and the boxes in which those purchases are shipped.

This migration of American paper mills away from newsprint production resulted in unmet demand that was answered by increased Canadian production and sales of newsprint in the U.S. Today about 60 percent of U.S. newsprint needs are met by Canadian paper mills. Given our state’s geographic nearness to Canada and easy access to Canadian markets over three international bridges, Michigan newspapers have usually turned to Canadian sources of newsprint. New tariffs on imported Canadian newsprint have significant financial implications for Michigan newspapers.

By way of example, Stafford Printing and Publishing, located in Greenville, which publishes a number of local newspapers, including the Grand Haven Tribune, the Lansing Pulse, the Ann Arbor Observer, two Spanish language newspapers (one distributed in Detroit and the other in Grand Rapids) and a newspaper for the Amish community, has seen newsprint prices soar. Stafford’s newsprint costs have increased about 30 percent; by about $2,400 for each truckload of paper they purchase. They purchase about ten loads a month. The papers they print, to which these costs are passed along, are cutting page count and taking any other steps they can think of to reduce the amount of paper they use.

A cartoon about the Tariff of 1842.

The unintended consequence of tariffs imposed on Canadian newsprint is less local news now, and less information for future local historians.  Unintended consequences are everywhere – even in things so seemingly different as a trade war between the U.S. and Canada and documenting Michigan local history.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Douglass Houghton's Impact on Michigan History

By Sam Tibebe



Douglass Houghton painting from A History of Michigan in Paintings by Robert A. Thomas. Courtesy of the Clarke Historical Library.

Growing up with a history professor as your father you learn to love and hate history, although it remained highly valuable, even today. Consequently, I ran far away from history only to study the history of the Earth, through geology. Webster’s Dictionary defines geology as “a science that deals with the history of the earth and its life especially as recorded in rocks.” The history of mankind pales in comparison to the history of the earth, which is over billions of years old. Earth’s history is recorded in rock records whereas mankind records history in written words. Although rock records do not reveal everything about their past, they are absolute and precise with the information they do provide. For example, one of the first things a geologist will look for in an outcrop is the rock's texture, ranging from grain size to types of minerals seen by hand. These textures are the written history of rocks, allowing geologists to make interpretations and assumptions about the environment’s deposition. While working as a student assistant at Clarke, I was asked to look up content about Douglass Houghton for a social media post. I jumped at the opportunity to combine geology and history together.

Douglass Houghton's Field Notebooks, c. 1838. Handwritten notes on Mackinaw and the Upper Peninsula. Courtesy of the Clarke Historical Library.

I have had the fortune of taking several field trips during my academic career at Central Michigan University, as the first time I heard of Douglass Houghton was during a trip up Quincy Mine in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Douglass Houghton was the definition of a renaissance man who was geologist, physician, mayor, philanthropist, Professor, and even was a U.S. Indian Agent (U.S. government official authorized to interact with Native Americans).

1st Edition Survey Map of Marquette Township by Douglass Houghton, c. 1838.
Courtesy of the Clarke Historical Library.


From the Detroit Historical Society site, in The Encyclopedia of Detroit, Houghton was born in September 21, 1809 in Troy, New York to a Lawyer/ Magistrate father who demand academic excellence from his sons and daughters. He then attended and graduated from Rensselaer School of Science, premier school at the time and still open in Troy, New York, with a degree of geology in 1830 and medicine in 1831. It was safe to say that Houghton was a child genius which made him a great mentee for The Rensselaer co-founder Amos Eaton, a renowned geologist himself. When a the territorial governor of Michigan asked Eaton to give a lecture, he deferred to his protégée Houghton, who quickly became the talk of the town. This led Houghton to form the Detroit Young Men’s Society.

Houghton became the first Michigan State Geologist when Michigan became a state in 1837. In this  role, he began the Township Survey Maps Project, which set the modern day county boundaries. It was during this time it made the greatest contribution to Michigan and the U.S. as a whole, with the exploitation and discovery of mineral deposits contributing to an economic and immigration surge. According to Mining History Association, this lead to the largest copper mining operation in the U.S. history, and led to the creation of many mining companies like Quincy, Tamarack, and Calumet and Hecla. Quincy Mine is now a popular tourist attraction and one of the few that actually take tourists underground.

Houghton was supported by many, which resulted in him being elected as Mayor while he was on one of his expeditions. Houghton was also a professor at the University of Michigan, and might have been governor of the state in the 1845. Unfortunately, Douglass Houghton died at the young age of 36 years old in 1845. Houghton’s dedication to this work lead him to misjudge a storm and to sail off in Lake Superior leading to this death. In homage to his legacy, there is a county and city, as well as statues, schools, and even a hall at the University of Michigan named after him. Mining in the Upper Peninsula has decreased, but as new and more efficient technology is being developed we are seeing a new surge in the area with the formation of new mines like Eagle Mine.

  
Biographic Sketch of Douglass Houghton - Michigan's First State Geologist, 1837-1845 by Wallin, Helen McCarthy. Courtesy of the Clarke Historical Library.

The Clarke Historical Library collection on Douglass Houghton is quite impressive not just in terms of geology, but also Michigan’s history. The first edition, personally written by Houghton, surveys maps of townships including Lapeer, Livingston, Marquette, Saginaw, Houghton, Oakland, Shiawassee, Tuscola, and Wayne. Other first edition paper, letters, field note, account ledgers, and even biographical sketches all written by Houghton but also material about him and his life from memoir to bibliography like Michigan’s Columbus: The life of Douglass Houghton by Steve Lehto. All of these and more can be found at the Clarke Historical Library, come check it out Here.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Maureen Dunphy Speaks at the Library


By Frank Boles

On a hot, muggy summer’s evening in mid-Michigan it isn’t hard to dream about escaping to an island somewhere on the Great Lakes. One can imagine escaping the summer doldrums, sitting along the beach, enjoying the breeze, watching the sun set, and reflecting on just how good life is.

Maureen Dunphy, author of Great Lakes Island Escapes: Ferries and Bridges to Adventure,(Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2016) spoke at the library on July 17. The book began one day while she and her husband were on Mackinac Island enjoying a do-it-yourself happy hour and began thinking about other Great Lakes islands they could visit. She decided that she wanted to live the dream, and she went looking for a book that talked about Great Lakes island vacations that began somewhere other than the Star Line dock. She discovered that no one had written such a volume. How many islands could there be, she reasoned. Maybe thirty or forty at most? And how much fun could someone have going to them and writing about the islands and the experiences of visiting them?


It turned out in writing the book Dunphy visited 136 islands that can be reached either by publicly accessible bridges or by travelling on regularly scheduled ferries. The book describes them all; although for purposes of the presentation Ms. Dunphy talked about five delightful destinations; one in each of the five Great Lakes.

One of the trips she described was going to Lake Superior’s Island Royale. The national park that protects the archipelago of about 450 islands, of which Isle Royale is the largest island. It is one of the most challenging places on the lakes to reach by public conveyance. Ms. Dunphy went by a ferry that leaves from Minnesota: a 6.5 hour cruise that completely circles the island. (for those sentimentally inclined for a storied three hour cruise, leave from Copper Harbor, Michigan – but three hours is not enough time to circumnavigate Isle Royale). She admitted some trepidation about such a long boat ride but the time passed magically as she watched the extraordinary views and scenery the cruise offered. She did remark, however, that the day was sunny and the lake calm. A 7.5 hour cruise on a roiling Lake Superior might not, she conceded, be as magical.

The natural beauty of the island struck her, but so too did the ability of people to reach and enjoy this remote spot. Reading from her book, ”Isle Royale is where you go to return the wilderness to your soul.” But wilderness doesn’t necessarily mean roughing it with backpacks, tents, and freeze dried food for supper. Dunphy stayed in a lodge maintained by the National Park Service with a “wonderful” restaurant and a conveniently located bar and grille.

Similarly, not everyone who visits the island plans a marathon adventure. A family of five, one of whom regularly used a wheelchair, had made the trip and took advantage of the handicap trail next to the lodge. A married couple, respectively 94 and 92 years of age, were also guests in the lodge. When asked why they had come, they responded, “well, you know, we just decided if not now, then when?”

Each of the islands Ms. Dunphy described had its own charms and challenges. All of those in her book reminded us of the joys of getting away, and of living on “island time.” As she remarked in closing, island time begins at the ferry dock. The published schedule is more a suggestion then a completely reliable form of documentation. Fog, engine trouble, or a “fender-bender” between the ferry and a yacht docked nearby that require the Coast Guard to write up a report for the insurance company (it really happened), can all cause you to learn quickly how time, and life, work on an island.

It was a pleasant talk, one which those who heard it likely will recall the next hot, muggy summer night they experience. As they wait for a Canadian cold front to sweep across the state, they may pull out a copy of Great Lakes Island Escapes and begin to plan their own escape to an island on the lakes.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

NEH Awards Library $285,000


By Frank Boles

In an announcement made August 8, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded $285,000 to the Clarke Historical Library to continue its work as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program. The Library will use the funds to scan approximately 90,000 newspaper pages that tell the story of “the Arsenal of Democracy,” Detroit and southeastern Michigan during World War II. Several newspaper titles, published between approximately 1941 and 1945, will document the contributions of the metro-Detroit area to the World War II effort as well as the dramatic social transformations that occurred during this period.

During the war Detroit became the showplace of America’s wartime production and productivity. The nation’s automobile industry converted its output from civilian cars and trucks to the weapons of war. In addition to conversion, new facilities were built, such as the Willow Run Bomber plant, then the largest factory in the world under a single roof.  Approximately ten percent of the nation’s wartime output rolled of Detroit area assembly lines.

Detroit factories not only made the weapons that won the war, they also taught manufacturing productivity lessons of great significance. Bomber production is instructive. At the beginning of the war bombers were hand-crafted. If everything went well, about one bomber a day could be built. But everything did not always go well, and even when it did, the hand-crafting that was commonplace in West Coast aircraft production made it difficult to easily interchange parts from one plane to another. By the summer of 1944, Ford’s Willow Run bomber plant was rolling out one bomber an hour, using parts that were fully interchangeable and thus simplifying field maintenance. Similarly, at the beginning of the war, 40mm anti-aircraft guns, known as Borfors guns, took 450 employee-hours to build. By the end of the war, Chrysler Corporation employees had reduced the time needed to assemble the gun to 10 hours.  

Detroit was also a scene of tremendous social change. 700,000 individuals labored in a Detroit, about one-half of whom migrated to the city during the war years. Because so many men were drafted into the Armed Forces, women entered the work force in unprecedented number and in new positions. The social consequences of these many changes were profound.

Racial conflict was the most obvious outcome. By the early 1940s, racially motivated street fights were common. On June 20, 1943, racially-motivated fighting in a municipal park grew into a massive race riot. The violence was not curbed until 6,000 federal troops arrived. Nine Whites and twenty five African Americans were killed in the Riot of 1943. 700 other people were reportedly injured, in what had become one of America’s largest race riots.

The project will document Detroit during World War II through approximately 90,000 pages published by several newspapers, each giving a distinct view of Detroit’s wartime contributions and the challenges. One of the city’s major dailies, the Detroit Times, supplies the overall narrative. Its coverage is supplemented and expanded upon by Detroit’s African-American weekly, the semimonthly union newspaper of the United Automobile Workers, and an industry friendly trade weekly. In addition newspapers from three suburban communities document the war’s effect in unusual settings. One community was located in the heavily industrialized “Downriver” area. Another community that will be documented is the rural area outside Ypsilanti that became the home of the Willow Run bomber plant. The third community, Mt. Clemens, was an area nearby Detroit that was largely rural during World War II, but housed large military training facilities.

This grant builds on experience gained by the Library staff over the last six years through work funded by NEH to digitize Michigan newspapers that have been inputted into the Library of Congress, Chronicling America website https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ . Other newspapers digitized by the Clarke Library can be found at our own website, https://digmichnews.cmich.edu/ .






Monday, August 6, 2018

Heather Shumaker Speaks at the Library


By Frank Boles

On July 10, Heather Shumaker, author of Saving Arcadia: A Story of Conservation and Community in the Great Lakes (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2017), spoke on how one of Lake Michigan’s treasured perched sand dunes became open to the public, and how she came to write a book using the techniques of a fictional novel writer to tell the story.

Arcadia Dunes, located on Lake Michigan south of Frankfort, is one of the many beautiful sand dunes that sit perched along Lake Michigan’s eastern shoreline. In 1969 representatives of a previously unknown real estate company began to knock on the doors of people who lived on or near the dunes, making very generous offers for their property. Eventually Viking Land Company assembled an approximately 4,100 acre tract, and in 1971 Consumers Power revealed that it had purchased the dune to construct a pumped storage power plant similar to one it was constructing near Ludington. A pumped power storage plant used excess electrical capacity available during non-peak demand hours to pump water “uphill” into a large storage reservoir.  At times of peak electrical demand, the water was released and power was created by hydro-electric generators, creating needed additional power.
Map of the Arcadia Dunes. 
Although the Arcadia hydro plant was never constructed Consumers retained the property it had purchased, and continued for the next two decades to add new land to its holdings, eventually amassing around 6,000 acres. In the late 1980s Consumers went on another land-buying spree, this time with the hopes of developing a large resort. That plan too failed, in part because of stout local resistance. One of the more interesting ploys used to stop the resort was the realization that any high end hotel or golf course would need a liquor license to be profitable. The township that encompassed the dunes was authorized to issue only one liquor license. The license was applied for an awarded to a local, family owned resort, which actually didn’t want it very much but very much did not want Consumer’s to get it. (although serving wine at wedding receptions they catered developed into an unanticipated, but profitable, sideline).

In 1991 the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy was incorporated with a staff of one to place in trust the natural beauty of the region.. In the late 1990s the Conservancy, now with a staff of five that included Ms. Shumaker, developed the audacious idea of preserving the property. The only problems standing in their way were that they had no money to make the purchase and Consumer’s wasn’t interested in selling the land. Eventually Consumers consented to discuss selling the land, but the company did nothing more than talk, and for long periods of time chose to not even do that.

But this became a story of friends, connections, and hard work. One example makes this point. Consumer’s at the beginning of the 21st century found itself involved in a financial scandal. It was suffering from terrible public relations, and a very immediate need for cash. Consumers wanted a rate increase, and its senior officers went to newly elected Governor Jennifer Granholm to seek her support for it.

Friends of the Conservancy knew, Granholm, new Consumers was coming hat in hand to ask her help in getting a rate increase. They explained the situation to Granholm, suggesting she might be able to persuade Consumers to seriously consider transferring ownership of the dunes to the Conservancy.  At the meeting between the governor and the senior management of the company held March 12, 2003  Granholm listened to their tale of woe, and shocked the Consumer’s representatives by suggesting if they needed cash so badly why didn’t they just sell the Arcadia Dunes to the Conservancy? Rumor was, she noted, they could get $18 million for the land. Arcadia Dunes were not something management had expected would come up in their conversation with the governor, but making her happy was clearly on the agenda. Suddenly Consumers placed the Dunes on the market, and proved a very motivated seller Finding the money wasn’t easy, but the Mott Foundation had the money to purchase much of the land at once, and then agreed to sell it to the Conservancy over time and at a steep discount, effectively both financing the much of the purchase and making a large contribution toward the project. Eventually the Conservancy owned the Dunes. There was still fundraising to do to cover those portions of the Dune land Mott did not subsidize, but with the Mott money available, the wind was at the Conservancy’s back.
Arcadia Dunes from a distance.
If Shumaker’s story is compelling, her choice of writing it in the style of a novel was equally interesting. Her point was simply; she wanted to convey to readers the drama and energy that occurred in ways that traditionally written non-fiction did not do. And she had an unusual mentor who helped her in her work. Shumaker, who lives in Traverse City, resided close to another writer, Doug Stanton, a New York Times best-selling author of non-fiction.  Stanton liked her, liked her writing, liked the project, and became the coach any other author would envy having. Using techniques drawn from fiction, and allowing herself license to place herself in rooms and share conversations and details actually unheard and unobserved, gives the book a directness otherwise unobtainable. And a good deal of talent at writing also came into play.

As one person told Shumaker, “you’re the only person who can pen a chapter about grant writing and make it sound interesting.” Shumaker and her colleagues had to write a lot of grants, as well as engage in other forms of fundraising, to find the difference between what the Mott Foundation generously donated to the Conservancy by discounting the price of the property, and the money the Foundation really did expect to get back over time.

Personally, I’ve written a few grants. I’ve taught workshops on the subject. Nobody has ever talked about my description of grant writing as being interesting. Informative, yes. But those workshops were always long afternoons, even for me. Anyone who can keep an audience awake describing grant writing has a gift.  After listening to her presentation about saving Arcadia, I have to admit being really excited about that grant writing chapter.  But then, that’s me. Most people will just find the story itself a page turner, even if they kind of skim the part about grants.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Library Acquires Important Artwork depicting Native Americans

By Frank Boles

The Clarke Library recently acquired a copy of George Catlin’s lithograph, “O-Jib-be-Ways,” a late addition to his American Indian Portfolio. The acquisition was made possible by the Alice C. Webb Memorial Endowment.


Catlin’s American Indian Portfolio, published in London in 1844, is rightly hailed as a milestone in the visual documentation of Native Americans. The Portfolio contains the results of Catlin’s years of living with and traveling among the Great Plains Indians. From 1832 to 1837, he traveled west and spent the summer months sketching tribal people. Then, during the winter, he completed his pictures in oils. The more than 500 paintings he created were unique, both in their breadth and also in the sympathetic understanding that his images constantly demonstrate. A selection of images from this body of work were published in the North American Indian Portfolio in an effort to reach as wider audience.

Catlin was concerned about the question of who his audience was, because his income came largely from ticket sales generated by exhibiting his work. He spent from 1837 to 1852 touring the United States, England, France, and Holland with his collection of paintings and examples of Indian crafts, allowing the curious to view his exhibit for a fee. His exhibit was sometimes augmented by members of Indian tribes who were also part of the show.

Although all of the images found in the original Portfolio are of Native people who lived west of the Mississippi River, for individuals interested in Native American who lived east of the Mississippi River, there is an important coda to this work. In the early 1870s, the British publisher Chatto & Windus bought the copyright to the Portfolio, as well as the original printing plates, and in approximately 1875 issued a reprint edition. To make the reprint more saleable, it included six new images, for which printing plates had been created at the time the first edition appeared but which had never been used. These six images included the one acquired by the Clarke Historical Library, “O-Jib-be-Ways.”

How this image came into existence is a story unto itself. The Ojibwas in Catlin’s image were not painted in America, but rather in England. Victorian England’s fashionable elite developed a taste for viewing “exotic” peoples – paying admission to see non-Europeans, dressed in “native” clothing. In 1843, an enterprising showman found a group of Ojibwas from the western end of the Great Lakes willing to leave their homeland and sent them to England.

Catlin was also in London, where the profit from showing his paintings had begun to decline seriously. Learning of the Ojibwas, he decided to “improve” his show by renting the nine Native Americans from their original manager for one hundred pounds sterling a month. Subsequently they appeared twice a day in Catlin’s rented gallery space. London newspapers reported that “the audience stood amazed and delighted with the wildness and newness of the scene that was passing before them.”

The combination of the paintings and living Ojibwa people made the exhibit a great success. The group was invited to appear before Queen Victoria, to both perform for her Majesty and dine with the Queen. The Queen later thanked her guests by sending them twenty pounds sterling and a length of a plaid in the royal tartan, presumably to be made into blankets.

Catlin was quite sensitive to the charge that he was exploiting the troupe merely to make money. He pointed out that they were a people “with reasoning facilities and shrewdness like our own,” who had a written contract. He added, “I have undertaken to stand by them as their friend and advocate – not as wild beasts, but as men, laboring in an honest vocation amid a world of strangers … for the means of feeding their wives and little children.”

The portrait Catlin painted of the traveling group includes includes symbols corresponding to individuals Totem or signature. Catlin's descriptions and translations, printed on the work, are as follows. "1.) An-que-wee-zaints, the boy chief. 2.) Pat-au-ah-quat-a-wee-be, the driving cloud, war Chief. 3.) Wee-nish-ka-wee-be, the flying Gull. 4.) Sah-man, tobacco. 5.) Gish-e-gosh-gee, the moon light night. 6.) Not-een-a-akm, strong wind, interpreter. 7.) Wos-see-ab-e-neuh-qua, woman. 8.) Nib-nab-e-qua, child. 9.) Ne-bet-neuh-qua, woman."

Catlin’s more than 500 original paintings were eventually acquired by the Smithsonian Institution, but were destroyed in a fire that swept the Institution’s building in 1865. What remains of his work are the prints from the Portfolio.

CMU Class Trees


By Frank Boles

Recently, toward the end of the commencement ceremony I was attending, my ears picked up when Provost Michael Gealt reminded the graduates that a maple tree, then in a container located in front of the building, would be planted on campus in their honor. As the provost spoke about the tree, I was thinking, “and you do know that we have mapped all of the existing class trees on the Clarke Historical Library’s website – right?” As if on cue, the provost shared with the graduates that if they would like to see where the other class trees are planted, they should visit the Clarke’s website.



Sometimes things do work out!

A project several years in the making, the ”Trees Planted in Honor of Graduating Classes” page of the Clarke website, traces the history of a tradition begun in 1994, when a Blue Spruce was planted in honor of the graduating class. A google map uses a gold pin to locate each tree and show a picture of it.  In addition, information is included about the tree species as well as a link to supply more information about that species of tree.

The map also includes information about a few trees that have been removed. And to the Class of 1997, really at the time a Mountain Ash seemed like such a good idea! Nobody had ever heard of an Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis). Native to Asia, the insect was first detected in Canton, Michigan in 2002. Since then, this invasive species has made Michigan the epicenter of the borer infestation, devastating the state’s Ash tree population.

To view the map with a chronological listing of the trees, visit this link.

To each graduating class, we’ll think of you whenever summer heats envelopes the campus. Thanks for the shade!

Congratulations to Autumn Pinkley and Lilah Haines, Clarke Student Employees!

The Clarke Historical Library would like to congratulate two of our student employees. Autumn Pinkley and Lilah Haines have been awarded scholarships from the University Libraries’ Scholarship Committee. The two awardees submitted essays as part of the scholarship process.

The University Libraries has two scholarship opportunities for library student employees. The Library Student Employee Scholarship was established in 2010 and the Helen Holz Rooney Endowed Award began in 2013. Both scholarships were established to support academic expenses of exemplary CMU Libraries’ student employees. The Clarke Staff is very proud of Autumn and Lilah for receiving these well-deserved awards. We think they are definitely exemplary!

If you would like to know more about how you can help with gift giving to Central Michigan University, please visit the following website click here.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Congratulations to Marian Matyn


By Frank Boles
 
Governor Rick Snyder has appointed the Clarke Historical Library’s archivist, Associate Professor Marian Matyn, along with one other person, to the State Historical Records Advisory Board.
 
“I thank these individuals for working to preserve Michigan’s great history for future generations,” Snyder said.
 
Housed within the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the seven-member board serves as a central advisory body for historical records planning and for National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) funded projects in the state. The board acts as a coordinating body to facilitate cooperation and communication among historical records repositories and information agencies within the state, and as a state-level review body for grant proposals that meet National Historical Publications and Records Commission grant program guidelines.
 
Among its initiatives is the Board’s "Save Michigan History" campaign. The campaign offers financial assistance to groups within local communities to preserve and make available to the public historical records.  In 2017 awards were made to:
 
        City of Dexter
        Saugatuck-Douglas History Center
        Lathrup Village Historical Society
 
NHPRC is a component part of the National Archives. The National Archives is responsible for maintaining the historical records of the federal government. Through the NHPRC program it also reaches out to assist state and local agencies to preserve historical records relevant to their areas of interest.
 
The Library’s Board of Governors and staff congratulates Marian on this important appointment and distinct honor.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Abraham Lincoln and His Generals

 By Frank Boles

Through the generosity of former CMU Trustee John Kulhavi, the Clarke Historical Library has been given nine framed collages featuring the autographs of Abraham Lincoln, as well as many of the generals who led the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War.


Among the most interesting is the panel including the signature of Abraham Lincoln, and which tells the story of Edward G. Beckwith.

Born in 1818, Beckwith graduated from West Point in 1842 and was a career Army officer.

He was promoted First Lieutenant June 18, 1846, and took an active part in the Mexican–American War. However, Beckwith is most often remembered as the man responsible for the Pacific Railroad Survey, which he commanded from 1853 to 1857. The First Transcontinental Railroad followed his recommended route.

During the Civil War Beckwith served in the Commissary Department. The Office of the Commissary was responsible for purchasing and issuing food for the Army. During the Civil War, the Office was also responsible for feeding escaped slaves, prisoners of war, political prisoners, and for caring and compensating Union families in areas invaded by the Confederacy.

Included in the panel are the documents signed by both Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton promoting Beckwith to major, as well as a second document issued shortly after the war’s end, making him a brevet brigadier-general. Brevet promotions gave a commissioned officer a higher ranking title as a reward for gallantry or meritorious conduct but without conferring the authority or pay of an officer who held the title by regular promotion.

As John E. Smith wrote in, Our County and It's People: A Descriptive and Biographical Record of Madison County, New York, published in 1890, “After the close of the war he [Beckwith] was brought to Washington to settle the claims held against the Commissary Department throughout the country. His record of fidelity and ability in the accomplishment of this arduous task is too well known to need comment.”

In addition to the signatures of Lincoln and Stanton promoting Beckwith, there are several other important signatures, including U.S. Grant, Brinton McClellan, William Tecumseh Sherman, Joseph Hooker, Henry Slocum, and John Adams Dix. Each man had a career worth remembering, and many clashed with each other over how best to pursue the war.

In 1861 no one would have expected that at the end of the war Ulysses S. Grant would be the nation’s most acclaimed general. Grant began his military career as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at in 1839. He was forced to retire from the service in 1854, accused of chronic drunkenness. In April 1861, Grant was working as a clerk in his father's leather goods store.

When the war began he was denied an assignment in the regular Army, but soon was in command of an Illinois Volunteer Infantry regiment. Promoted because he had both an ability to win and the willingness to candidly acknowledge when he failed, Grant saw his principle objective as destroying the Confederate armies. Grant doggedly engaged the Confederates, inflicting unsustainable casualties on their army. At war’s end, Grant’s forces captured the Confederate capital of Richmond and forced the surrender of General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia.

The book-end to Grant’s autograph is that of Major General Brinton McClellan, who became commander–in-chief of the Union Army in November 1861. The “Young Napoleon” was very popular with the men who served under him, but as a commander proved consistently timid and was sometimes outmaneuvered by his Confederate opponent. After several defeats Lincoln relieved him of command of both the Union Army and the Army of the Potomac. Although temporarily reappointed commander of the Army of the Potomac, in November 1862 McClellan was relieved of all command responsibilities and sent to Trenton, New Jersey to await orders. Those orders were never issued. In 1864 McClellan ran against Lincoln for president as a Democrat, running on an anti-war platform calling for a negotiated peace with the Confederacy.

William Tecumseh Sherman was another West Point educated soldier. He was less serious than many of his peers in the Academy. Fellow cadet William Rosecrans would later remember Sherman as "one of the brightest and most popular fellows, who was always prepared for a lark of any kind." Those in charge of the Academy found his larks less amusing than did his classmates. Sherman himself noted that “My average demerits, per annum, were about one hundred and fifty,”

Sherman resigned from the military in 1853 to pursue a business career. When war broke out he was summoned to Washington, and recommissioned a colonel. Although successful, the strain of command caused him to suffer a nervous breakdown. He himself would write that in the waning months of 1861 the concerns of command “broke me down” and he contemplated suicide. A newspaper described him as “crazy.” By December 1861, however, he was again in active service, although in rear-echelon positions.

On March 1, 1862 Sherman reported to U.S. Grant, under whom he had long hoped to serve. The Battle of Shiloh changed his career. As Sherman wrote to Grant, "Before the battle of Shiloh, I was cast down by a mere newspaper assertion of 'crazy', but that single battle gave me new life, and I'm now in high feather." Shiloh also led to one of the war’s most quoted exchanges. The first day of the battle had gone very badly for Grant and the Union army, with only Sherman’s fighting retreat saving the Union from a complete defeat. At day’s end, finding Grant smoking a cigar under a tree, Sherman said simply: "Well, Grant, we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?" After a puff of his cigar, Grant replied calmly: "Yes. Lick 'em tomorrow, though."

And they did.

With Grant’s confidence and friendship, Sherman went on to become one of the most successful of Union generals. When Grant assumed overall command of Union troops, Sherman took Grant’s old command of the Western theatre. In a prophetic letter to Grant he wrote, "if you can whip Lee and I can march to the Atlantic I think ol' Uncle Abe will give us twenty days leave to see the young folks."

Both men did exactly that, and won the war.

Joseph Hooker, like Grant and Sherman graduated from West Point but resigned his commission in 1853 to pursue private interests. Considered a highly competent officer, when the war broke out he was quickly commissioned as a brigadier general. Hooker’s career during the war had both significant successes and major failures. He would be chosen by Lincoln to command the Army of the Potomac but lose that command after being defeated in May 1863 at the Battle of Chancellorsville, losing to a Confederate force half the size of the one that he commanded. He was re-assigned to serve under Sherman, with whom he was constantly at odds. Eventually, when Sherman passed him over for promotion, Hooker asked to be relieved of duty. In September 1864 he was given a rear echelon assignment.

The West Point-educated Henry Slocum was severely wounded in the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas). He recovered in time to lead Union troops in 1862’s Peninsula Campaign and earn a promotion to major general that July. During the Battle of Gettysburg, where he was temporarily the senior Union officer present, Slocum was criticized for his hesitation to order troops into action on the first day of fighting. More recent scholarship, however, suggests such criticism was misplaced.

Regardless of the justness of the criticism, after Gettysburg Slocum was reassigned to the war’s western theater, under the command of Joseph Hooker. Slocum deeply distrusted Hooker’s judgment and resigned his commission rather than serve under him. To keep Slocum in the Army, Abraham Lincoln personally arranged a peculiar command structure that, although Slocum would be in the general area commanded by Hooker, Slocum and his troops would act independently rather than serve under Hooker’s orders. Slocum later served successfully under General William T. Sherman, in the Atlanta campaign and his famous “March to the Sea”.

J.A. Dix was Secretary of the Treasury who order revenue agents in New Orleans: "If any one attempts to haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot." Although considered too old for a field command, Dix was appointed a major-general of volunteers at the outbreak of the war. In this capacity, he was notable for ordering the arrest of several pro-Southern Maryland legislators, thus preventing the legislature from meeting and the state from seceding.

The signatures recall many stories of those who served during the Civil War. They will be on display in the library’s reading room through the summer.