William L. Clements Library Newsletter
No. 6, Winter 2015


Library expansion.
The Library's renovation and expansion project is continuing on schedule. To the east, you will be able to see the below-ground expansion taking shape. We are looking forward to returning to 909 South University in late 2015. 

Our staff and collections are currently located at: 
1580 E. Ellsworth Road
Reading Room hours:  
Monday - Wednesday: 9:00 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.
Thursday: 10:00 a.m. - 7:45 p.m.
Friday: 9:00 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.

The facility offers plenty of free parking and is also accessible via Ann Arbor buses on routes 5 and 6. U-M students, faculty, and staff are welcome to visit us and access the collections at our offsite location. 

Due to the renovation, the Clements Library 2015 Events and Lecture series will be held at the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library, Gallery Room 100

Hatcher Library Gallery
Hatcher Gallery, photo courtesy of
MLibrary on Flickr.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
4:00 p.m.
Karen Marrero
Wayne State University Assistant Professor of Colonial North American History
"New Stories of Old Times: Restoring Detroit's Early History, One Image at a Time"

Brown Bag Lecture
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Noon - 1:00 p.m.
Stephen S. Clark Library, 2nd Floor, Hatcher
Dr. James E. Davis
Professor Emeritus of History & Geography, Illinois College
"Winds, Settlers, and Farmsteads in the 19th Century"

Founder's Day
Thursday, April 2, 2015
4:00 p.m.
Rebecca Scott
University of Michigan Charles Gibson Distinguished University Professor of History and Professor of Law
"Crossing the Gulf: Cuba, Louisiana, and the Diaspora of Saint-Domingue/Haiti"

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
4:00 p.m.
David Hancock
University of Michigan Professor of History
"The Body in the Library: Lord Lansdowne and his Nursery for Reform"

See the Clements Library Events page for details. 
Thanks to the staff of the Hatcher Graduate Library, we are now able to offer recordings of our lecture series. If you missed a chance to hear any of our distinguished speakers in person, please visit our website to find links to the videos online. We will update as new videos become available. 


During fall semester 2014, University of Michigan Professor Martha Jones's African American Women's History class embarked on a detailed examination of a pair of photograph albums from the Clements Library collection. The albums originally belonged to Arabella Chapman (1859-1927), an African American woman from Albany, New York. They were assembled from 1878 to 1900 using portraits taken from the 1860s to the turn of the century. The photos include Arabella, her family, friends, and admirers, and well-known public figures. The class discovered that these two albums have depth of meaning well beyond what is initially apparent.

Portrait photographs have been presented as a declaration of status and identity since their first widespread use in the 1840s to the Facebook era today. In the first decades, carefully composed studio photographs often showed people in their finest dress or work attire, holding symbolic objects like diplomas, books, or tools. As paper prints replaced the hard-cased Daguerreotype, photos began to be combined into albums, presenting narratives of the social fabric of families and communities. By the late 1880s, amateur photographers with inexpensive Kodak cameras encouraged a casual playfulness that greatly expanded the range of meaning. 


"The power of images to construct ideas about race and difference had its origins in early 16th century encounters between Europeans and Africans. With the advent of photography in the 19th century, African American activists reflected on the possibility for this new medium. Photographs might be used to perpetuate racist stereotypes, warned Frederick Douglass. However, photography might be a democratizing technology that would provide Black Americans with the opportunity to craft their own images. It is this latter possibility that Chapman's albums evidence," said Professor Jones. Her class discovered how African Americans creating and purchasing photographs could steer self-expression and personal identity towards images of empowerment rather than degrading caricatures. [Read More]




The Manuscripts Division at the Clements Library is proud to announce the completion of a National Historical Publications and Records Commission's (NHPRC) processing grant, which began in 2011. Former Curator of Manuscripts Barbara DeWolfe, current Curator Cheney J. Schopieray, grant-funded project archivist Megan Hixon, and a staff of volunteers, work-study students, and interns completed the two and half year grant to create online finding aids and catalog records for over 1,600 collections - a total of 646 linear feet. Part of this work included descriptions of 125 photograph albums.

The collections date from the 17th to the 20th century and represent many topics of historical research, such as business and trade, education, sports and leisure, slavery and anti-slavery movements, Native American history, politics, travel, westward expansion, religion, and military conflicts. Many of the finding aids highlight the history of minorities and groups that tend to be under-represented in the archive.


The project has reduced the manuscripts division backlog to 197 collections (of 2,546), most of which are Spanish-language materials, recipe books, later 20th century military materials, and recent acquisitions. The 125 photograph album finding aids (part of the library's Graphics Division) are one of the first two groups of the division's EAD records available to the public. The Graphics Division's finding aids became available online in mid-June 2014, thanks to the efforts of the University of Michigan's Digital Library Production Services (DLPS), and the NHPRC-funded descriptions now provide some of the first access points to this previously invisible, though rich, set of research materials. [Read More] 



A special relationship has always existed between Canada and the United States.  The latter, with its vastly larger population and economy, has often been perceived by Canadians as a threat-to the culture, the economy, even the very sovereignty of our neighbor to the north.  On the other hand, the two countries are highly important trading partners, military allies, and mutual recreation spots.  The battlefields of the last military combat between the two nations-200 years ago-are now national historic sites and parks enjoyed by tourists from both countries.

Montréal in 1760 shown on the "Murray Map."

And yet the threat to preserving a distinct identity and culture remains a concern to many Canadians.  This has sometimes been expressed by calls for greater "Canadian content" in national media such as television, radio, and cinema.  Well, the Clements Library, though usually billed as a library of Americana is well ahead of the curve on this one.  Those individuals who have built the Library's collection have always interpreted "Americana" in a hemispheric sense, and "Canadiana" is especially well represented in the Library's holdings.  Historians of Canada and its place in North America and the Atlantic world up to 1900 will find much to support their research.


As one might expect, Mr. Clements's interest in rare books about the exploration and settlement of European colonies in North America did not overlook New France.  The Library is fortunate to hold virtually all of the early published accounts of Canada, beginning with the works of Samuel de Champlain (1574-1635) and continuing through seventeenth- and eighteenth-century writers such as L'Escarbot, Hennepin, Lahontan, Charlevoix, and other printed sources such as the Jesuit Relations.  Happily, the Clements copies of these seminal works retain their associated maps and views, most still bound in the original volumes and some carefully removed for storage in the Map Division.  This wealth of descriptive literature continues after the British conquest of 1760 with the Library's strong emphasis on collecting travel literature.  From Peter Kalm and George Heriot to Anna Jameson and Paul Kane, the literary tourists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries commented on scenery, flora, fauna, culture, architecture, and commerce in Lower Canada (Québec), Upper Canada (Ontario), and the Atlantic Maritimes.

Sometime around 1807 an artist, possibly George Heriot (1766-1844), produced this view of the mouth of the Niagara Gorge. Queenston, Upper Canada (Ontario) is seen at right.

Documentation of the period of the Seven Years' War (French & Indian War) is a particular strength of the Clements collection.  Much of the fighting took place in Canada, primarily in the Maritimes (1755-58) and the St. Lawrence River Valley (1759-60), and the conflict introduced many European officers to North America and the Caribbean.  They described and illustrated the places, people, and events they encountered. A few-John Knox and Thomas Mante for the British side and Pierre Pouchot for the French-published their personal accounts of the fighting supported by reports from others of the events they did not witness themselves.


The Clements has long been best known for its extensive collections of manuscripts, many of which are partially or entirely composed of Canadian content.  The responsibilities of senior British military officers like Thomas Gage and politicians such as the Earl of Shelburne extended to Canada.  The papers of lesser officials such as Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe of Upper Canada focus more narrowly on smaller areas.  Canadian participation in the War of 1812 is amply documented in the Library's naval collections and many scattered groups of papers such as the War of 1812 Collection.


It goes without saying that the Clements excels in its cartographic coverage of Canada, beginning with Samuel de Champlain's great maps of 1613 and 1632, which demonstrate the early growth of knowledge of the northern part of America.  Readers may consult virtually every published map of Canada from the seventeenth through the mid-nineteenth century.  The jewel in the crown of our maps of Canada is the 65-sheet, manuscript "Murray Map" of 1760-63.  Named for Governor James Murray, who ordered its creation by British military engineers, the map exhibits the French colony strung along the length of the St. Lawrence River from Les Cédres above Montréal to just below Québec.  The cartographic detail about each parish is supplemented by demographic information written in the margin of each map.


The Library's holdings are also rich in plans of the major towns or cities of colonial French and British Canada-Louisbourg, Halifax, Québec, Montréal-and for later years Toronto and other inland centers.  Louisbourg is particularly well represented in manuscript maps-fourteen of them.  Other visual material includes prints and views, from images of the ruined city of Québec in 1759 by Richard Short to a watercolor of Queenston, Upper Canada, attributed to George Heriot.

Studying Canada before 1900?  The Clements Library invites you to explore the collection.  There is much to be discovered.


David Claypoole Johnston. Col. Pluck. [Boston?] : Pendleton, lithographer/publisher, circa 1825.

A pair of recently acquired prints point to a little

known episode in American military history and pose questions about where satire ends and factual evidence begins. Satiric criticism is strongest when there is an element of truth behind the ridicule, but when the subject is already itself a parody, is the artist acting in collusion with the parody or simply reporting the facts? 

The engraving Col. Pluck, by prolific parodist David Claypoole Johnston (1798-1865), shows a bawdy, disorganized, misbehaving, undisciplined American militia unit and its foppish leader. This image may in fact be a fairly accurate representation of a specific Pennsylvania unit and its commander's carefully contrived appearance. The antics of Colonel Jonathan Pluck and the "Bloody 84th" Pennsylvania Militia from Philadelphia, as described in newspapers from Boston to Richmond in the 1820s, are close to matching the scene depicted.

During the period between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, state militia units, prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, played a key role in national defense and greatly outnumbered the standing army. Militias were also a source of tension and resentment between classes as privately sponsored volunteer units rubbed against state compulsory militias along class lines. The necessary purchase of uniforms and weapons, coupled with time away from paying jobs, made required participation doubly expensive for the working poor. Resentment simmered under militia leadership self-selected from the leisure class, rising to the boiling point when that leadership was incompetent and/or corrupt. A crisis rose during the 1820s and 1830s as the general public lost faith in the ability of the militia structure to protect the populace. When efforts at reform from within failed, a creative and outrageous protest emerged from enlistees. [Read More]



While the Clements Library has never collected American literature broadly, we do have a representative sampling of fictional works with a historical connection, such as Uncle Tom's Cabin, or works of dubious authenticity, such as fictitious narratives of Indian captivity. For Susanna Rowson's Charlotte Temple, a popular early American novel, we have almost 50 different American editions from 1794 to 1865. The novel was first printed in London in 1791. 

In 1970, the Library was pleased to finally acquire the first American edition, published in Philadelphia in 1794. In the September 1970 issue of The Quarto, the Library announced, "We have waited a long time, but now we have the first American edition of Charlotte Temple ... It is not a great novel, but since Mrs. Rowson is considered an American writer, it is one of our earliest and follows the epistolary form originated in England. More important, it was for decades a best seller in this country. Eventually it was overtaken in popularity by Uncle Tom's Cabin, but 160 editions were published before 1905!" 

The various editions of Charlotte Temple include everything from well-crafted leather-bound editions to more affordable paper-covered boards to a flimsy little pamphlet titled "The Cheap Edition of Charlotte Temple." These books are a great teaching example to show the importance of studying the physical aspects of the book. From the different editions, one can examine how they were designed and marketed to various audiences over time. A number of the copies contain traces of previous owners, such as bookplates or handwritten annotations. To fully understand the way readers read and interacted with the text in the 19th century, it helps to see these slender volumes and appreciate all their characteristics. 


The Clements Library is open to all serious researchers, including undergraduate students, who wish to consult our collections. No appointment is necessary, but the staff always appreciates advance notification of an intended visit. New readers must complete a registration process and present two pieces of appropriate personal identification, including at least one with a photograph. Curators are available for consultation and are happy to assist readers with initiating their research.


The Clements Library welcomes and encourages class visits for undergraduate and graduate courses that relate to the Library's collections. During our renovation, classes may be arranged in the Hatcher Graduate Library or other location with advance notice. To request a visit, please contact us at clementsclassrequest@umich.edu or call 734-764-2347 a minimum of three weeks prior to the date you wish to request.
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