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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Meyer Later: A Soldier’s Story in World War I France

Meyer Later, letter to brother Abe, April 30, 1919
Meyer Later, letter to Abe, p. 2


World War I, called the “war to end all wars,” lasted from 1914-1918, and the United States entered the conflict in 1917.  One American soldier was Meyer Later (1895-1984), from Hartford, Connecticut, who was drafted into the U.S. Army in the fall of 1918 and continued his service until spring 1919. I processed Later’s World War I collection of memorabilia and correspondence documenting his service in France. The collection tells a story about a Connecticut man who had no choice but to answer the call of duty and endure the tumultuous events of World War I. For a person like myself who has an interest in memorabilia from both world wars, I admired every item in the collection because materials from this era are not only scarce, but precious and nearly a century old. Later’s correspondence provided me with insight not only to his whereabouts during the war, but his persona. The emotion filling his letters provided insight into his personality, which can be described as comical and charming. Most of his letters were written to his brother, Abe, and detailed his endeavors in areas of eastern France, including Dijon, Paris, and Buzancy. Elements of levity surface in his writings when it came to the ladies he met. For example, Later referred to a French woman as an “Ooh, la, la.” In one of his letters, Later sarcastically accused his brother Abe of having an “Ooh la la” sit on his lap while attempting to write a letter to him because the handwriting was poor.

Meyer Later, Self-Portrait, 1919

Processing the collection has been a fun, learning experience during which I had the opportunity to create a processing plan for these awe-inspiring materials. The collection served as good archival training for me; that is, I had to figure out a reasonable approach to arranging and describing the materials. For the most part, I transferred the correspondence and photographs into protective sleeves and created sink mats for the three-dimensional objects, a dog tag and silk-embroidered handkerchiefs. After the physical processing of the collection, I recorded the collection’s arrangement, description, and contents in Archivist’s Toolkit. All of the information will soon become available in an online finding aid. The correspondence and photographs serve as good visual aids for a researcher following Later’s experiences in eastern France between the fall of 1918 and the spring of 1919.
Meyer Later, 1919

    I personally enjoyed looking at each individual item in the collection because each piece of material represents a significant part of Later’s experiences in wartime France. Lastly, I had the opportunity to speak with his daughter, Stephanie Later, who donated the collection in 2008. She was a great help to me in learning more about her father’s personality and what he did after the war. Later was discharged in the spring of 1919 and worked for the Morris Packing Company, a meat-packing company and family business in Hartford. He died in 1984.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Flowers from a World of Science Fiction and into the Space Age

“It has often struck me as strange that whereas the furniture of the modern house grows smaller and smaller, the plants in the modern garden grow larger and larger. . . Our rooms have shrunk as our prosperity has swollen. But though our gardens have suffered a similar diminution, the horticulturists seem blandly unaware of the fact. From America comes news of six-foot gladioli, chrysanthemums with heads like footballs, pansies as big as your fist. The advertisement columns in the American gardening magazines have a Hollywood ring; everything is super-colossal and ultra-gigantic . . . At the last Chelsea show there were delphiniums taller than guardsmen. They had been forced and cosseted and interbred until they no longer looked like delphiniums at all. They were rather frightening, staring out at the crowds with blank blue eyes as big as saucers—flowers from a world of science fiction.” 

-Beverly Nichols, Garden Open Today (1963)

Burpee's Annual, 1942

Burpee's Annual, 1951
 Seed companies and scientists in the 1920s through the 1950s became interested in the ways that mutation could accelerate the plant breeding process. Mutation was not new, but technological developments in chemistry and radiation aided scientists in their quest to develop bigger, brighter, and longer-lasting flowers and plants.  W. Atlee Burpee & Company, under the leadership of David Burpee, who took over management of the firm after his father’s death in 1915, developed a repertoire of mutated flowers. In a 1940 interview with David Burpee, Popular Science declared “Test-tube Magic Creates Amazing New Flower!” The author of the article complimented the speed of the process, and the modern methods used by researchers to create plants “never seen on earth before.”
Magazines and companies relied on the language of science fiction to sell these new flowers; the science itself was as much of a selling point as the aesthetics of the improved species. The X-Ray Twins (seen above in the 1942 Burpee’s Annual) were created by treating calendula seeds with x-rays to induce mutations. Colchicine, a substance derived from autumn crocuses, was used to manipulate the chromosomes of plants. This treatment yielded Tetra snapdragons with twice the number of chromosomes as a regular snapdragon, resulting in larger blooms and stalks (seen above in the 1951 Burpee’s Annual).  
“Space Age Mums” advertisement in Flower Grower, 1961
Science fiction’s popularity grew immensely during the Cold War, perhaps at least partially in response to the specter of nuclear fallout. Though postwar families lived in the greatest period of abundance America had ever experienced, there was an underlying current of anxiety about life in the atomic age. As historian Elaine Tyler May has posited, the home was a site of security from the destabilizing power of nuclear war. Technology was domesticated through the purchase and use of new appliances, building materials, and modern miracles—even flowers.  
Inspired by the launch of Sputnik I in 1957, a variety of new flowers were introduced—or reintroduced—with names appropriate for the Space Age.  Marigolds and petunias were recast as blazing comets or flying saucers in outer space. You could plant a row of Space-Age Petunias—Satellite and Polaris—next to New Space-Age Mums—Asteroid, Starfall, Apogee, and Astronaut. Rocket snapdragons could share a bed with the Flying Saucer morning glory and the Astronautix dahlia. “Space Age” became a consumer catchphrase—one that managed to embrace something as earthbound as a garden.
-Kate Fox
Archives of American Gardens
Smithsonian Gardens

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Honeymooners: Benjamin March and Charles Lang Freer

Liuhe Pagoda, Hangzhou, China, Summer 1925Photographs taken from a window of Liuhe Pagoda, Hangzhou China, from the photo album “Summer 1925,” in the Benjamin March papers.

Benjamin March (1899-1934) was a respected scholar and curator of Chinese art.  The papers document his scholarship and travels through numerous journals, diaries and photographs.  In July of 1925, March married Miss Dorothy Rowe in Nanjing and together they traveled to the city of Hangzhou, which March photographed extensively. From romantic silhouettes of his wife to academic depictions of culturally significant paintings, March managed to capture every aspect of his honeymoon.

Recently, Professor Shen Hong of Zhejiang University in Hangzhou was so taken by these 80 year old photographs of his city that he organized an exhibition of March’s photographs.  The show opened in November, 2009 at the Tang Yun Gallery on the banks of West Lake in Hangzhou.  Splendidly received, the show’s popularity forced the gallery to extend hours and deal with lines down the street. Our own Hangzhou native Weina Tray carried out the complicated negotiations with the gallery, no doubt assuring the show’s success.  

The diary entries from Hangzhou really are touching, written by a young man very much in love, and clearly moved by the beauty of one of China’s most beloved scenic spots. Here is March’s diary entry that accompanies the attached photographs:
Wed. 29 July  
In the early afternoon, immediately after lunch, we took rickshas and rode out of the city through narrow streets, and along a white and green canal, to the Six Harmony Pagoda.  I had been wanting to visit it again, and to try a couple pictures I had not been able to make succeed the last time.  Today we went again, and again we climbed to the top.  In the clear sunlight of early afternoon we could see out over the country, to the far blue hills and the distant waters of the bay into which the pirates used to come to terrorize the city.  A brisk wind drove the laden junks up the green Ch’ien T’ang river.  We loafed and enjoyed the scene, then bumped back over through paved streets to town and home.
When we had returned and refreshed ourselves we took our supper down to our boat and went out on the lake to enjoy the moon, rapidly nearing its time of fullness for the month.  We drifted and paddled about the lake and the islands.  After supper we sat, wrote a little verse, and then Dorothy sang for a long while and I lay on my back watching the white moon.  A good day, a very good day – and no rain.

Charles Freer’s visit to West Lake in 1911 was decidedly less romantic than March’s, but not without excitement.   In a letter to his friend Frank Hecker the following week, Freer admirably summarizes the adventure:
February 23, 1911: 
My last little trip to the interior – one of five days, to the old capital city Hangchow – also provided experiences that had been lacking during earlier trips – Fire and Robbery!
Capt. Dallam and wife of the U.S.A. in one house-boat and Baron von Wurmb a collector, and myself in another house-boat towed by a steam tug left Shanghai and went by river and canal to old Hangchow to study the ancient art and the famous lake – West Lake! the place where so many early Chinese painters worked in landscape – the spot Sesshu painted in my screen.  All went well until our last night at Hang chow, when before dinner, the Dallam’s boat on which they both were, caught fire from an overturned oilstove and was badly damaged.
canal, bridge, Hangzhou, China, Charles Lang FreerOur boat was lashed alongside of theirs – with the Baron and myself absent, but escaped injury.
After our return we begged the Dallams our friends, to exchanged boats for the night in order that Mrs. Dallam might be more comfortable, but they would not hear of it and eventually retired with only paper doors in place of the wood ones which had burned – the hull being steel.
During the night, pirates entered their boat, still lashed to ours, and carried off their money, silver and clothes – leaving only enough of the latter to dress Mrs. Dallam – the Captain being equipped from my trunk after the robbery had been discovered.  Our selves and the crews of over twenty men and two photographers on board, slept peacefully through the raid and no one of us knew of the unexpected visit until the Dallams were ready to arise and dress.
The pirates with my usual luck, left our boat and chattels untouched!
A sacred stone dog taken by the Baron and the Dallams from an ancient temple, and kept on board the Dallam house-boat, probably heralded the pirates in revenge for the insult shown him – at least the natives told us so.  How near to the truth this claim may approach I know not.  But I am satisfied that the God of Luck protected me and mine.  I refused to aid in disgracing the temple dog.
Charles Lang Freer, canal boat, Hangzhou, ChinaIn typical Freer style, the letter depicts a salaciously sensational evening. Many of Freer’s letters included accounts of near-death experiences such as this one, and yet the Archive is hard-pressed to find any similar documentation in his private diaries. But when one’s friends are half-way around the globe, only connected to you by a piece of paper, perhaps stretching the truth without being caught is easier than doing the same in this modern technological age.
In the photograph you can see a group of Western gentlemen in the lower right, a detail attached.  We are fairly certain that the fellow in center with a cap is Freer himself.

--David Hogge and Beatrice Kelly, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives

Friday, May 20, 2011

New Negro Opinion Newspaper

Anacostia Community Museum Archives holdings include a small collection of historical newspapers amongst them is the New Negro Opinion.  This Washington, D.C., weekly publication sought to educate the community about injustices in employment and fight for the rights of African American citizens.  Its founding was sparked by an incident at a neighborhood store. 

On August 28, 1933 the manager of the Hamburger Grill on U Street in the District of Columbia, fired his all-black staff and replaced them with whites.  Black customers, led by Washingtonian  John Aubrey Davis, maintained a boycott and picketed until the manager relented and brought the Black workers back–with an increase in pay and a reduction in hours.   The success of this action spurred the creation of an ongoing organization–The New Negro Alliance.
New Negro Opinion, October 13, 1943  

The New Negro Alliance was established in 1933 to protest discrimination in employment practices in stores doing business in black neighborhoods.  The organization’s tactics were unique. The Alliance conducted survey research in the neighborhoods surrounding a retail store that excluded black employees.  They then determined the statistical percentage of African Americans among the store’s regular consumers,  presented the statistical information to the store managers, and requested that hiring policies be changed to hire the same percentage of black employees as there were customers.  If the store refused, the Alliance would begin a community education campaign, distributing literature that explained their demands.   Finally, if the store still refused to meet their demands they would organize a picket line and a boycott of the store by all those who supported an end to the exclusion of black employees. 

After the Hamburger Grill, their campaigns targeted the A& P grocery stores, the High Ice Cream Company, Peoples Drug Store, Kaufman’s Department Store, and finally, the Sanitary Grocery Company (later Safeway grocery stores)—which led them all the way to the Supreme Court.   Mary Church Terrell, Mary McLeod Bethune, and many other prominent black Washingtonians joined the picket lines.  Walter E. Washington, later the first Black mayor of the city, Eugene Davidson (later head of the D.C. NAACP), William Hastie (later governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands), Howard University professor N. Naylor Fitzhugh, John Aubrey Davis, attorney Belford V. Lawson, Jr., M. Franklin Thorne (later manager of Langston Terrace housing project), R. Grayson McGuire (owner of the McGuire family funeral homes), and Robert C. Weaver were among the leaders of the New Negro Alliance. Operating largely out of the offices of Belford V. Lawson at 1232 U Street, the Alliance published, the New Negro Opinion, between 1933 and 1937.  Until 1934, M. Franklin Thorne served as editor and William Hastie, as associate editor.  After a number of significant successes, Alliance activities ended around 1941.

To learn more about African American newspapers check here.

Portia James
Senior Historian
Anacostia Community Museum

Thursday, May 19, 2011

In Her Own Words

On the morning of April 22, bluegrass singer Hazel Dickens passed away from complications from pneumonia. Her clear and powerful voice challenged the then male-dominated world of bluegrass music, and unflinchingly drew attention to the struggles of the working class.

Born in West Virginia in 1935 to a coal mining family, her upbringing would influence her music for the rest of her life. Hazel grew up singing with her family (she was the eighth child of eleven). With her father, she and her siblings would sing hymns. When she and her brothers and sisters sang on their own, it was the country songs that played on the radio. Beating on bucket lids and playing a comb with a piece of paper wrapped around it, she and her siblings would sing different parts. Sometimes they would sneak out to dances at other people's houses.

It was difficult to find work in her hometown after many of the mines closed down. Options were especially few for women. When she was 16, she followed one of her sisters north to Baltimore to work in a factory. More members of her family would eventually join them. It was in the Baltimore area that Hazel began playing music outside the home with her family and Mike Seeger, whom her brother had met while receiving treatment for tuberculosis at the Veterans Administration hospital. They would travel around the region to country music parks and contests, and played at a few bars. Once Seeger left to form the New Lost City Ramblers, Hazel played bass with a few bands, but found the harassment on the part of the male-dominated scene difficult to deal with (at one point, she was chased around the room by a drunken fiddle player). She later wrote "Don't Put Her Down, You Helped Put Her There" as a result of these experiences.

Hazel accompanied both Ralph Rinzler and Mike Seeger on road trips throughout Appalachia to collect and record traditional music. The photographs featured here (from the Ralph Rinzler Papers) were taken around 1960 while on a trip to record Clarence Ashley and Doc Watson. They are pictured on the porch of Sophronie Miller Greer, a neighbor of Watson's. Greer and her grandchildren surround Ralph and Hazel as they play. Earlier that day, they had recorded Greer singing "The Triplett Tragedy," a ballad written about the murder of her own husband. Hazel admitted that she was amused by Rinzler and Seeger's enthusiasm for collecting old songs ("Why would anybody want this old stuff?" she remembered thinking at the time), but years later she came to understand the music was more than just a bunch of old songs, it had historical and cultural importance. She tried to learn more of the old songs from her own father before they were lost with him, but at that point his voice had deteriorated, and she was only able to collect fragments.

She eventually made friends and moved in with a group of people involved in the burgeoning folk music community that was blooming around the Baltimore-Washington area. They often hosted house parties where every floor had a cluster of guests playing old-time, bluegrass, and folk music. Hazel became a familiar voice at these gatherings. Reflecting on this time of her life, she said:

"I remember singing and playing all night long with anyone who wanted to sing with me. One city guy said, 'One thing I like about Hazel, she will sing with you no matter how bad you sing.' He didn't realize it was giving me a life. [In the men's bands] I was generally shunted aside. In this situation, I could be the star of the show."

It was at one of these house parties that she was introduced to Alice Gerrard, with whom she would form a historical musical partnership. In the liner notes to the Smithsonian Folkways reissue of Hazel and Alice's early recordings for Folkways (SFW 40065, Pioneering Women of Bluegrass), Gerrard remembers her husband, Jeremy Foster, saying to her, "There is this little girl with an incredibly big voice that you've got to meet."

The two women began performing together in 1962. Though they couldn't take too many jobs, Hazel had to work and Alice had children, Hazel found freedom in playing with Alice.

"It was not easy, having to practice over kids hollering...[but] I think that finally I found something that I could do [with the music]. And there weren't threatening people around...we could make our own decisions, making up our own arrangements as we went along, picking out our own songs and it was real exciting."

They were encouraged by Peter Siegel and Dave Grisman to record their music, and it became apparent that the only place where they would have total creative freedom was with Moses Asch at Folkways, whose only request was not to spend all of his money. In the reissue's liner notes, Hazel said of the recording, "I think this is one of the all-time historic records. To my knowledge, it was the first time that two women sat down and picked out a bunch of songs and had guts enough to stand behind what they picked out and say, 'We're not changing anything. You have to do it or else.'"

After cutting the record, they performed for the first time at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival, where Asch watched from the front row.

Hazel went on to record and perform by herself and with others. She wrote many songs with powerful messages that drew attention to the hardships of working men and women. "Black Lung" was the first of these she wrote and performed, and she was nervous about how such a politically charged song would be received:

"And I looked up and there was Merle Travis and Mother Maybelle [Carter] and I was scared to death...It was from the gut. It was watching my oldest brother and two brothers-in-law die, it hadn't been too long. And after that I had two other brothers that died with lung disease that worked in the mines."

Dickens was also heavily involved with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. She performed often at the Festival (about 15 times) and participated in the Working Americans program workshops and panels during its run in the 1970s. Her last Festival performance was with Alice Gerrard at the Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert on a beautiful summer evening in July 2010. I sat near the front and would periodically turn around and look at the hundreds of faces sitting enthralled by their harmonies.

All of us here at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage will remember Hazel for her warmth and tenacity, her ringing voice and her humor, her deep love for playing music. Many of the quotes and stories from this post were pulled from Kate Rinzler's 1996 interview with Hazel located in the Ralph Rinzler Papers. In the interview, she speaks candidly about her life and journey. I will remember Hazel Dickens in her own words.

"I tried singing popular style along with the hit parade, but I never could get any satisfaction out of singing that way. My heart was not in it...we were [playing music] for love...and also as a means of expression to alleviate some of the loneliness that we felt by being taken out of our culture, and the only thing of substance we had to bring was the music. And that's what we knew and that's what we loved and that's what we got together in these clusters of people to do."

-Cecilia Peterson, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Manship and the Moods of Time

Part two in our series on the recently cataloged and digitized photographs of Paul Manship sculptures in the Peter A. Juley & Son Collection. Last month we heard from our intern Chris about his favorite Manship sculptures. Now I’ll tell you about mine.


We are well into spring and each day that brings a minute more of sunlight also brings a minute less of darkness.  Because they capture this ebb and flow of time, I’m drawn to Paul Manship’s sculptures The Moods of Time.  The four allegorical figures represent morning, day, evening, and night, and were created for the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair as hour markers in a large sundial.


The sculptures embody the mood associated with each phase of the daily cycle. Manship used fluid, aerodynamic lines to create a sense of motion and to reflect the celestial passage. Morning sleepily yawns and stretches as he is roused by a rooster, trumpeter, and a small figure pulling the cloth of night from his body.  Day carries the hot sun in his outstretched hands. Wind rushes through his hair as he races the two horses at his feet. His energy is juxtaposed with Evening who is lulled into drowsiness by owls as darkness sets in.   Finally, Night soars above a cloud in a deep slumber.  She is accompanied by the moon and two male figures while she takes her flight through dreams.


Paul Juley’s photos of The Moods of Time make the passage of time almost palpable. His camera’s slow shutter speed turned the World’s Fair visitors into a blur behind the sculptures, serving as a reminder that time is indeed moody and fleeting.

Evening in Manship's garden

“[The sculptures at the fair] summed up [Manship’s] obsession with time,” recalls the artist’s son John Manship. “He believed that a major purpose of art, especially art in the classical tradition, was to reconcile the passage of time with permanence.” Despite this vision, the sculptures were cast in staff (a plaster compound) and were discarded after the fair. Manship loved The Moods of Time so much that he eventually cast smaller bronze versions of the sculptures and even displayed the entire sundial in his personal garden. The originals, however, are gone forever, preserved only in the Juley photographs and in the snapshots taken by fair visitors.

The Moods of Time reminds me both of the permanence of time and the impermanence of the things around us.  Morning flies into day, day into evening, evening into night. Things come and go in a blur.

Emily Moazami, Photograph Archivist, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Samarra 1911: Excavation of Shabbat al-Hawa, Qasr al-Ashiq, and Qubbat al-Sulaibiyya

Once Ernst Herzfeld returned from a trip to Baghdad mid-May, he began a series of small investigations. Herzfeld was still short of workmen; which Thomas Leisten, in his book Excavation of Samarra, Volume 1 Architecture. Final Report of the First Campaign, 1910-1912, attributes to the harvest season and the quarrels with the Qa'immaqam the month before. He sent a team of workmen to Manqur (Balkuwara) and began work on Shabbat al-Hawa.  May 15th-25th Herzfeld uncovered a pre-Islamic cemetery beneath the Islamic layers.  After not being able to find a settlement to justify the existence of the cemetery, Herzfeld moved on to excavate another site.

Image to the Left: Excavation of Sāmarrāʼ (Iraq): Ceramic Vessel, Found in the Pre-Islamic Cemetery Located at Shabbat al-Hawā, 1911-1913 [graphic].

The second excavation took place May 25th-28th, at House XVII located between the alleged palace of Afshin and Manqur.  Herzfeld soon gave up excavating north of the modern city Kura because the modern architecture built over the site destroyed the 9th century CE layers.

Herzfeld then moved to Qasr al-Ashiq May 28th-29th.  From June 1st-5th he supervised the excavation of Qubbat al-Sulaibiyya, only to leave the rest of June for southern and eastern Iran and Iraq.

Image Below: Excavation of Sāmarrāʼ (Iraq): View of the Qaṣr al-ʿĀshiq, 1911-1913 [graphic].

Excavation of Sāmarrāʼ (Iraq): View of the Qaṣr al-ʿĀshiq, 1911-1913 [graphic]. Freer|Sackler Archives.

Samarra 1911: Clashes with Authority led to Sabotage 
Samarra 1911: Excavation of the Great Mosque Finishes, al-Quraina Begins
100th Anniversary of the Samarra Excavation by Ernst Herzfeld

Samarra Resource page.

Rachael Cristine Woody

Freer|Sackler Archives

Friday, May 13, 2011

Finding Treasures in the Museum of the American Indian/Heye Foundation Records

George Gustav Heye laying the corner stone of the
Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation,
November 8, 1916 (P11449)
 20 series, 50 subseries, 600 boxes, and over a thousand post-it notes later, the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation records have been processed, boxed and labeled in full. This collection, which contains records from before George Gustav Heye (1874-1957) officially founded the museum in 1916 until the eventual  transfer to the Smithsonian Institution in 1989, has been a major work in progress since at least 1999 (for a review of this process, see our earlier post). For the past eight months it has been my responsibility as the Processing Archivist to put the final touches on this massive endeavor. This has included re-organizing certain series, processing and integrating the oversize and “miscellaneous” material, entering data and series descriptions in Archivists’ Toolkit, and finally numbering folders and boxes. In honor of the breadth of the collection, I have compiled several vignettes that highlight both the process of completing this task and the interesting treasures I’ve found along the way.

Original blueprint of the MAI building at 155th and Broadway in New York City
Hello Mr. Heye:  When I first began working at the NMAI Archive Center, Head Archivist Jennifer O’Neal asked me what I knew about the Museum of the American Indian (MAI), Heye Foundation . My knowledge, being limited to a short paper I had written for an anthropology class at the University of Maryland, was not extensive. So I was very grateful when she handed me several articles and references about the history of MAI and its illustrious founder George Gustav Heye.  Over the past eight months, George Heye and I have become rather close (he was also referred to as “Chief,” “Dr. Heye,” and at times by his closest colleagues in jest “Heye, wide and handsome”).  Although his personal papers and correspondence are rather small relative to the rest of the collection, his presence is felt in everything from financial ledgers to publications and from purchase records to catalog notes. The son of a German immigrant who made his fortune in the petroleum industry, Heye received a degree in engineering from Columbia College and began a career as an electrical engineer in the late 1890’s. While working on a railroad project in Arizona in 1897, Heye purchased his first Navajo shirt which sparked a lifelong obsession with the collection of Native American objects.  At first, Heye kept all of his objects in his Madison Avenue apartment, much to the chagrin of his first wife who eventually divorced him in 1912.  In Box 4, Folder 3 you can actually see the floor plans Heye had made for his apartment, which included various display cases to accommodate his continuously growing collection before the museum was built at 155th Street and Broadway in 1916.

Fred Mifsud, Edwin F. Coffin, and William C. Orchard
repairing pottery (P05605)
 “A little nonsense now and then is the best thing for the wisest men”:  Even before MAI was officially founded, Heye had been gathering a group of anthropologists, archaeologists and collectors to work for him. These men eventually become the first staff (and board) members of the museum. During the early years of MAI the staff was a bit of a boy’s club and in addition to their scholarly pursuits they thoroughly enjoyed poking fun at one another. This was evident in the The Museum Mustard, an internal staff newsletter started in 1918 as a humorous weekly publication written by and circulated among the staff. One week it was published by the upstairs or “attic gang” which included George Heye, Frank Utley, Jess Nusbaum, W.C. Orchard, Edwin Coffin, Charles Turbyfill and Foster Saville. Their edition was named “Heye Jinks.” The downstairs bunch,  F.W. Hodge, Marshall Saville, M.R. Harrington, George Pepper, Alanson Skinner and Donald Cadzow  would publish a column the following week called “Hodge Podge.” No one was spared in these publications, and although much of what was written would today be considered wildly politically incorrect, below are two “appropriate” snippets from the Mustard:
Museum Mustard Cover, January 26, 1918 (Box 129, Folder 5)

    "The Museum Mustard, Vol. 1 No. 8"

G. Hubbard Squash Pepper, the attic poet, confessed to our reporter Monday that he had swiped, cribbed, filched, abstracted, purloined, plagiarized and STOLEN the best parts of the last attic mustard from Joe Miller’s Joke Book and Three Years in Arkansaw. We suspected it! We knew it! When we read the pages of said paper at first we were filled with surprise, and holy joy, to think that, by our noble precept and example the attic had actually published an issue that approached our standard. But alas! on closer examination some of the quips had a very familiar look. We searched for them among the tomes of our vast library--and found them as stated. Pepp, when taxed with the crime, confessed!

 "The Museum Mustard Vol. 1 No. 13"

The entire Museum staff was sorry to see the return of our rotund director. The pleasant three weeks sleep that was had by all was most rudely interrupted and it meant hard work again for all. Many a yawn and muttered curse was heard as the staff unrolled themselves from their blankets. In fact M.R. decided he could no longer stand the strain of keeping awake, and chewing the end of a pencil, during his working day of twenty minutes so, believing his sleep will be more continuous in the country, he leaves us for a six months snooze at Lansdale.

More Mylar Please:  When the staff weren’t busy writing for the Museum Mustard, much of the original MAI staff spent a significant part of the year in the field. From 1904 on, George Heye spent large sums of money on field work and expeditions to collect as many artifacts as possible. In earlier years Heye made appearances in the field, most notably spending his honeymoon with the newly minted Thea Heye (his second wife) digging up the Nacoochee Mound in Georgia, however, collectors such as M.R. Harrington, S.K. Lothrop and A.H. Verrill, to name a few, would spend months collecting on behalf of George and the museum. These expeditions ranged all over North and South America bringing in hundreds of thousands of objects as well as anthropological notes and ethnographic research on Native American tribes (to be published in the various MAI publications). The expedition series includes original field notebooks, catalog notes, expense records and correspondence, the bulk of which range from 1907 through the 1930’s.  One of my more interesting tasks was re-organizing this series; pulling expedition records out of the collector’s files, rearranging the records by date, place and tribe, and making sure the more fragile documents were placed in protective mylar. One of the more extensive expeditions was  the Hendricks-Hodge Expedition in Hawikuh, New Mexico. In 1917, Heye, with major financial support from a founding trustee, Harmon W. Hendricks, enthusiastically endorsed and sponsored the excavation of Hawikuh under the leadership of F. W. Hodge. From 1917-1923 the Hendricks-Hodge Expedition carried out the most extensive archaeological investigations of a single site in the United States up to that time. One of the things I enjoyed looking through were the ink drawings Hodge made of each individual piece of pottery. Note: The Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections also holds a small manuscript collection on this expedition, see the Hendricks-Hodge Archaeological Expedition papers #9170

Original pottery excavated at Hawikuh, New Mexico  (9/6374)
Original pottery drawn by Hodge (9/6374)

Mark Raymond Harrington's
Report Card from 1892; he was 10 years old

The Mixed up files of M.R. Harrington:  In the process of re-organizing the expedition records I found myself neck deep in almost 20 boxes of M.R. Harrington’s files. Mark Raymond Harrington (1882-1971) was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Rose Martha Smith Harrington and Mark Walrod Harrington, astronomer, meteorologist, and then director of the University of Michigan’s Detroit Observatory. While still a teenager, Harrington worked for F.W. Putnam of the American Museum of Natural History excavating sites around New York City. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in anthropology from Columbia University in New York, writing his 1908 master’s thesis on Iroquois archaeology. When George Heye first approached Harrington In 1908, Harrington was working at Covert’s Indian Store after being unable to procure a job at the American Museum of Natural History. Heye offered Harrington $100 dollars a month to work for him, “I’ve got a wife!” said Harrington and haggled up to $125. Once a salary was agreed upon, M.R. Harrington began what ended up being a twenty year stint as an employee of the Museum of the American Indian. Between 1908 and 1928, Harrington lived among 43 different Native American tribes collecting vast amounts of ethnographic material, much of which was later published in Indian Notes and Monographs and Indian Notes, as well as various other publications. Although Harrington left MAI and New York altogether for the Southwest Museum in 1928 many of his personal records wound up within the MAI records. Not only do we have his field notes and catalog records, what you might usually find in collectors records, there are additional gems to be found such as correspondence describing his first encounters with his third wife, Edna Parker. I have to admit I had to force myself to stop reading his correspondence since I wasn’t getting any work done! Some other interesting tidbits included, estate records from his first wife’s mother’s will, military records from his service in WWI, his certificate of initiation as a Master Mason in the Hiawatha Lodge, No. 434. and my personal favorite, his primary school report card from 1892 (when he was 10 years old).


Heye on his Foundation:  Another favorite find were several cartoons drawn by Joseph Keppler, like the one to the left. Joseph Keppler Jr. was born Udo J. Keppler in 1872 and followed in the footsteps of his father Joseph Ferdinand Keppler who was a political cartoonist and the founder of Puck Magazine. Keppler later changed his name to honor his father and spent a significant time among the Seneca Nation as an activist for the tribe and an avid collector. Keppler was made a Pine Tree Chief of the New York Senecas in 1899 and was given the name Gyantwaka, although in his later correspondence to George Heye he signed his name “To-Nis-Gah”. While some of Keppler’s Iroquois papers (which include records of events and people at the Tonawanda and Cattaraugus reservations) are also at the Cornell University Library Division of Rare and Manuscript Collection,  the MAI collection has several original cartoons he drew in relation to his time at MAI. Some of them feature George Heye, with whom he maintained a friendship until his death in 1956. When I originally came across these cartoons they were still in their glass frames but I was easily able to remove them and place them with the rest of the material we had on Keppler, which included some biographical information and correspondence. 

Miscellaneous” can be a dreaded word: I knew as I approached the boxes labeled such I was about to be treading into dangerous territory. The nagging voice in my head told me “you should have looked through those boxes BEFORE you started numbering a 600 box collection.”  Luckily for me, some of the records really were miscellaneous although I still had to pull out and re-integrate one third of the folders. Though these folders tend to be particularly frustrating, letters without authors or visible dates are just one example, you can also find some remarkable things.  One such remarkable object is a document titled “Capitulation of the Seminole Nation to the U.S. Army in Florida, Mar 7, 1837.” Following a small amount of research I discovered that this document comes out of the second Seminole War, also known as the Florida War (1835-1842). After a year of continuous attack and resource loss, several Seminole Chiefs agreed to meet with General Thomas Jesup. A council was held a Fort Dade and the document officialy called “The Capitulation of the Seminole Nation of Indians and their allies by Jumper, Holatoochee, or Davy, and Yaholoochee, representing the principal chief Micanopy,” was signed. The document appears to be the original, and if not the original than made at the same time, 1837, which leads me to wonder how and when did George Heye, or the museum, come to be in the possession of it.

This is but one of the thousands questions that has arisen as I have picked my way slowly but surely through the MAI/Heye Foundation records. I’m sure, as I am about to embark on the digitization of the collection, a thousand more questions will arise. What I am hoping is that researchers coming from all walks of life will now be able to more easily find the answers that they are searching for.

~Rachel Menyuk, Archive Assistant

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A tweeted day at the NAA

On 11 May 2011 I live-blogged my day at the National Anthropological Archives. Using twitter and reproduced here, this is some of what happens for us on run-of-the-mill days at the Museum Support Center.

- Josh Gorman, Program Assistant, National Anthropological Archives

Good morning! Live-tweeting a day at the NAA. First up, finding stamps to send some deeds of gift. And coffee.

Busy day in the reading room- five researchers and most of the interns. Will be helping Leanda pull, I bet.

Oh - and volunteers. Alan Bain is hard at work describing the AAA association papers (siris record; ) Thanks Alan!

New collection came yesterday- made a new accession for Gina for the Carl Etter photos Look it came w/ box lists!

Quick find a report I wrote two months ago! How many square feet do we use?

Seriously - no one has stamps?

Lars from NMNH repatriation office is in looking for more funerary objects. Looking at Collins' and Hrdlicka at Nunivak isl. and Hooper Bay.

Lars at work

SIRIS records: Collins, ; Hrdlicka,

Waiting for a signature - Acting Director Candace Greene keeps pretty busy around here.

Mark at our partner archive, the Human Studies Film Archive, is disposing a huge stack of used film canisters.

Lorain is working through the inventory of the SAA papers - lots of association records here to take care of

SIRIS record for SAA:

Just offered a collection - records related to the Kennewick man court case! Really important part of NAGPRA history!

Some interesting lunchtime reading from @ The Digital Humanities Situation

Love my picture? Army surgeon Edward Palmer left lots of things for us to study + he's so dreamy

Jeanine is working on our Save Americas Treasures-funded conservation and digitization of the BAE manuscripts.

She's shooting Curtain's Karok vocabulary from 1889

These images will help tribal-affiliated linguists take materials back to source communities and strengthen language education and programs.

Curator Gwen Isaac surprised us today - continuing her work on We'wah looking through the vertical file.

Sarah Keyes, fellow from AMAH is here studying immigrant/indigenous interactions in the 19th c plains as folks moved west.

JMG Finding lots of great ethnographic grounding in Ewers () Dorsey () LaFlesche ()

JMG Manning the reference desk - trying not to bother researchers and find some mobile work to do. Should have pulled some boxes for myself ;)

JMG Finally got to pull some items from the pod! Leanda was so on top of it today I nearly missed my chance!

JMG Now it's time to update the accessions DB on the shared network drive. Several accessions this month leaving Lorain scrambling for space.

JMG And now on to nitrate negatives. That's not a safety negative - or- How I learned to love exploding film!

JMG Thanks for the great day, folks. I'm going to call this off and finish some of the little email and other bits of the day. Ciao!