Reproducing Independence Day

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian

Vicksburg, Mississippi’s most famous Independence Day, July 4, 1863, marked the surrender of its Confederate forces to Union Major General U. S. Grant during the American Civil War. After a 47-day siege of the city, which sat atop a high bluff on the Mississippi River, Grant accepted a negotiated truce from Vicksburg’s Confederate Lt. General John C. Pemberton on July 3. He surrendered the next day. This victory marked a turning point in the war. The Confederacy lost control of the Mississippi River as well as access between the eastern Confederacy and the Trans-Mississippi Confederacy of Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana. At nearly the same moment, Union forces defeated Confederates at Gettysburg, a loss for Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia that decisively checked Confederate encroachment northward.

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1863-07-02-VicksburgMS_Daily Citizen_bJ.M. Swords, publisher of the Vicksburg Daily Citizen, fled the city but left the July 2, 1863 edition partially finished on his press. Occupying Union soldiers completed it with an addendum dated July 4. Paper supplies in the besieged city, however, were long depleted so they printed the newspaper on what they had—wallpaper. Swords had earlier resorted to the same measure, creating so-called “wall-paper editions” on June 16, 18, 20, 27, 30, and July 2.

The last line of the July 4 note proved correct: the paper became a valuable curiosity. More than 30 reproductions have been identified, including this one. The Library of Congress holds two originals and two reproductions and offers guidance on identifying copies. Although of little monetary value, reproductions nevertheless are significant historical documents. They surfaced very soon after the war, probably as souvenirs at soldiers’ reunions.

Although many copies of its famous Fourth of July newspaper exist, after its defeat and surrender the city of Vicksburg did not officially celebrate Independence Day until 1945.

 


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Memorial Day: Stories of War by a Civil War Veteran

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian

When Congress declared the last Monday in May a national holiday in 1968, it standardized the many different ways that Americans had remembered our war dead since the Civil War (1861-1865). Defining “Decoration Day,” as Memorial Day was first known after that war, became part of a larger cultural and political conflict about how to remember the Civil War itself.

Wikimedia-Bierce_from_The_Letters_1922-croppedWriter, poet, journalist, and veteran Ambrose Bierce shaped this post-war conversation. As a nineteen year old he joined the Ninth Indiana regiment and served nearly the entire conflict. Bierce later settled in California as a journalist and writer, contributing social criticism and satire to the San Francisco Examiner and other publications.

Of the many former soldiers who put their wartime experiences into literature, Bierce probably had seen the most combat. It never left him. By the 1880s, when American culture was awash in sentimental and nostalgic literature about the Civil War and slavery, Bierce’s stories stood apart. He despised war sentiment and, as one historian put it, “never stopped recollecting the corpses.” (David Blight, Race and Reunion, 2001, p. 248) Bierce’s realism about war’s horrors, most notably expressed in “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and “Chickamauga,” was nearly unrivaled in his generation and distinguished him from other writers until after World War I.

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In addition to the finely-produced first edition of collected short stories featured here, Tales of Soldiers and Civilians, Hesburgh Library holds every first edition work by Bierce, thanks to the generosity of two university benefactors, John Bennett Shaw and Walter Trohan.

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For more about Ambrose Bierce, and where most of this post’s content comes, see, David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2001). See also S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, Ambrose Bierce: An Annotated Bibliography of Primary Sources (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999).

 


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Leap Day

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII reformed the Julian calendar in order to bring the date for celebrating Easter closer in line with the date the early Church had celebrated it. He removed 10 days, skipping from October 4 to October 15, 1582, established February 29 as the official day to be added during a leap year, revised how leap years were determined, and also set January 1 as the first day of the year.

Although most Catholic countries adopted these reforms after they were enacted in 1582 by the papal bull Inter gravissimas, Protestant and Orthodox countries resisted. England and her colonies did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until almost two centuries later as this excerpt from the 1752 edition of Poor Richard Improved, an almanac published by Benjamin Franklin, explains.

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Bram Stoker’s Manuscript of His Lecture on Abraham Lincoln

Bram Stoker (1847-1912), when he was manager of the renowned English actor Henry Irving, made many trips to the United States. Over the course of these visits and perhaps after meeting the poet Walt Whitman in 1884, he became intrigued by Abraham Lincoln. In the late 1880s and 1890s, Stoker lectured on Lincoln at numerous venues in both the United States and Europe.

In composing his lecture, Stoker drew on many of the standard sources of the day and also quotes Whitman. Stoker emphasizes slavery throughout and Lincoln’s role as emancipator. A long prelude provides background on the “peculiar institution” in the United States and the sectional crisis of the 1850s. Then follows the life of Lincoln proper. Stoker’s attitude toward his subject is reverent in the extreme. Explaining that “the hour had come for the final struggle . . . between slavery and freedom,” Stoker reiterates to the audience in introducing his subject, “The hour had come—and with it . . . came the man—Abraham Lincoln.”

Notre Dame holds the original, working copy of Bram Stoker’s 152-page, unbound manuscript. Approximately half of the Notre Dame manuscript is a single, essentially sustained narrative though deletions, additions, and corrections abound. The rest consists of variations on portions of that narrative inserted, perhaps, to suit a particular audience.

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Folio 19r, showing the first example of the beginning of the lecture (MSE/IR 5304-1B).
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Folio 98r, showing a variation on the beginning of the lecture (MSE/IR 5304-1B).
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Folio 99r, showing another version of the beginning of the lecture (MSE/IR 5304-1B).
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Folio 160r, showing a third version of the beginning of the lecture (MSE/IR 5304-1B).

Polish Christmas Carols

Pastorałki by Tytus Czyżewski and Tadeusz Makowski

The images below depict Christmas celebrations by Gorals, the indigenous highlanders from the Carpathian Mountains in southern Poland. Dressed in traditional leather shoes with lacing, tight trousers with ornamented belts, and mountaineer hats with feathers, they gather joyfully to dance and sing.

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This charming livre d’artiste is comprised of six Christmas poems (pastorałki) written by Polish Futurist poet Tytus Czyżewski (1880-1945) between 1919 and 1922. Tadeusz Makowski (1882-1932), a leading Polish artist of his time, designed the cover and produced six full-page woodcuts to accompany each poem. Both artists were living in Paris when this book was commissioned and published in 1925 as an inaugural edition by the Polskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Książki (Polish Society of Book Lovers). Czyżewski’s expressive verse and Makowski’s “primitive” woodcuts capture whimsical images from folk tradition and rituals of their native land. Rustic and textured hand-made paper with rough and even edges on which the book was printed also conveys a sense of folksiness.

The present copy is a special issue printed for Staniława Piotra, who was the first president of the Polskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Książki. It was acquired by the library in 2013.

 

This is the last post for 2015. Happy holidays to you and yours from Notre Dame’s Rare Books and Special Collections!

 


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Thanksgiving and football

by George Rugg, Curator, Americana

Thanksgiving Day was instrumental to the growth of American football. A season-ending game between the previous year’s top two college teams was first scheduled for Thanksgiving in 1876. In 1880 the contest was moved to New York, where it evolved from game to social event, inaugurating the city’s winter season.

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By the time the 124-page “memento program” shown here was published, in 1893, the Thanksgiving game was attracting 40,000 people and earning the participating schools (in this case, Yale and Princeton) upwards of $10,000. It was also providing ample fodder for the dozens of New York dailies, whose exhaustive coverage brought college football to broad new constituencies. Many faculty and trustees had misgivings about all this attention, about the loss of old Thanksgiving traditions, and about students’ postgame celebrations in the city; these factors and others led to the abandonment of New York after 1897.

Football-shaped programs were published with some frequency in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the case of this 1893 Yale-Princeton Thanksgiving program, the rectos of each leaf contain athletic and school information of various kinds, while the versos contain decidedly upscale advertisements.

 


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Commemorating Civil War Veterans

by Rachel Bohlmann, American History Librarian

Americans celebrate November 11th as Veterans’ Day. It commemorates Armistice Day—November 11, 1918—when, at the eleventh hour that day, France, Great Britain, and the United States (the Allied powers) and Germany signed an armistice that ended hostilities of the Great War (1914 – 1918). After World War II the United States officially designated November 11th as a day to remember veterans of all wars. However, its WWI origins remain in the Arlington National Cemetery ceremony, which includes a wreath placed on the Tomb of the Unknowns at 11 am.

Letter, Thomas Francis McGrath to his mother, January 20, 1863 and Veteran’s Badge, Dedication of NY State Monument, Antietam, September 17, 1920.
Letter, Thomas Francis McGrath to his mother, January 20, 1863 (MSN/CW 1001-16), and Veteran’s Badge, Dedication of NY State Monument, Antietam, September 17, 1920 (MSN/CW 1001-44).

Hesburgh Libraries’ Rare Book and Special Collections department holds many unique or rare items by soldiers about war remembrance. The Civil War (1861-1865) created a lot of soldiers who, even as they fought, reflected and recorded. Thomas Francis McGrath (1839 – 1922) traveled from Ireland to enlist in the 69th New York Infantry, a part of the Irish Brigade. In an 1863 letter to his mother, he contrasted Irish and Irish-American soldiers who died fighting for the United States, “that land, which gives a home . . . to the . . . oppressed of all nations,” with Irish men who lost their lives in the British army, fighting “under a Foreign Flag . . . for a government that robs his country and banishes her sons to a distant land.”

Carte-de-visite Portrait of Lt. James C. Woodworth, 1865, and 25th Massachusetts Infantry annual reunion ribbon, October 17, 1899.
Carte-de-visite portrait of Lt. James C. Woodworth, 1865 (MSN/CW 1014-16), and 25th Massachusetts Infantry annual reunion ribbon, October 17, 1899 (MSN/CW 1014-31).

James C. Woodworth (1839 – 1900) served in the 25th Massachusetts Infantry. He kept an 800-page diary of his wartime experience and collected miniature tintype portraits of soldiers in his company (an opening of which is this blog post’s lead image, MSN/CW 1014-15). After the war both McGrath and Woodworth attended soldiers’ reunions until the end of their lives; McGrath appeared at a monument dedication at Antietam in 1920, when he was in his early eighties, and two years after the end of World War I.

 


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