Laundry – way more fascinating than you thought

Sawyer's Crystal Blue Little Bo Peep puzzle

Puzzle created by Sawyer’s Crystal Blue Company to advertise their bluing product, circa 1900. When added to wash water, the blue dye makes white clothes look whiter. The swastika symbol in this context means lucky or auspicious object.

Laundry.  At its most basic, washing clothes involves water and a scrubbing action, with soap as an added bonus.  Yet, our ancestors would not recognize the process of doing laundry in 21st century America.  We have incredibly sophisticated computerized machines and a dizzying array of laundry detergents and other products to get our clothes clean.  The evolution of washing technology from washboards to top-loaders, and the social implications of that process, is richly documented in the Joe and Lil Shapiro collection of laundry ephemera (MS.2014.002) now available for use at the John Hay Library.

The Joe and Lil Shapiro collection of laundry ephemera consists of ephemera that depict the history, artifacts and materials used to do laundry from 1800 to 2010.  Most of the items in this collection were produced by companies to advertise laundry products such as bluing, clotheslines and clothespins, dyes, soaps, starch, washboards and washing machines. The advertisements depict not only the variety and evolution of laundry tools and techniques but also attitudes towards women, women’s work, and people of African-American and Chinese descent.  The collection as a whole raises the topic of laundry from something to be avoided to something that tells a fascinating story about American history, technology, chemistry, social expectations, race relations, the status of women, and the power of advertising.  Who knew the laundry hamper could be so informative?

This collection was compiled by Joseph S. Shapiro, Brown class of 1957, and his wife, Lilian Shapiro. Joseph Shapiro was the owner of the Lundermac Company, Inc., which managed and supplied self-service laundries in apartments, condos and dormitories across New England. Lundermac was founded in 1940 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, by Lilian Shapiro’s father, Gerard Wolfe. Joseph Shapiro learned the business from Wolfe, beginning as a salesperson in 1961, and rose to become President of the company in 1988.  Joe and Lil collected anything and everything related to the process of doing laundry including washing machines, washboards, wash paddles, soap boxes, etc.  Only the paper-based ephemeral materials were donated to Brown University.

To learn more about this collection and how it can inform your research projects, contact Holly Snyder, Curator of American Historical Collections, or visit the John Hay Library.

Waterloo 1815: A Bicentennial Exhibition

Battle of Waterloo Exhibit

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, fought on Sunday, June 18th, 1815 in a village in present-day Belgium. A pivotal moment in history, this battle marked the end of both the Napoleonic Empire and France’s domination of Europe in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Waterloo was the closing event of more than a quarter century of global conflict from the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, ushering in nearly fifty years of peacetime in Europe. The decisive battle has maintained a prominent place in public consciousness long after the final moments of combat.

This exhibition, drawn from The Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, visualizes the history of this momentous event. It covers the major actors, precursory battles, public reactions, tourism and commemorations, as well as the details of the battle itself and its grim aftermath. The items on display range from texts and images that are contemporary with the battle to those created as retrospectives.

Location: Hay Exhibition Gallery
Dates: February 16th, 2015 – May 25th, 2015

José Rodrigues Miguéis Papers at the John Hay Library

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José Rodrigues Miguéis

The papers of José Rodrigues Miguéis, the influential Portuguese writer, educator, illustrator, and jurist, are now available for research at the John Hay Library.

Miguéis was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1901.  He left Portugal in 1935 when his political opinions brought him into conflict with the rising fascist party, Estado Novo.  He moved to the United States and became an American citizen returning to Portugal occasionally.  He was the author of at least 23 works of fiction and numerous essays, newspaper columns, and articles.  The Portuguese government recognized his outstanding service to literature by awarding him the Ordem Militar de Santiago da Espada in 1979.

The Miguéis papers comprise the author’s correspondence, literary manuscripts, interviews, diaries, calendars, notebooks, drawings, photographs, audio recordings and awards. It contains work by others that relate to Miguéis, such as literary reviews and criticism, drawings, and adaptations of his work.  This collection also includes approximately 2,000 books from the personal library of Miguéis which features Portuguese and world literature and related literary criticism.

To enter the world of this important 20th century writer contact Patricia Figueroa, Curator of Iberian and Latin American Collections or visit the John Hay Library.

John Birch Society Records at the John Hay Library

John Birch Society

Robert Welch, founder of the John Birch Society shown in his Belmont (Mass.) headquarters with a painting of U.S. Army Capt. John Morrison Birch for whom the society was named. Birch was a Baptist soldier-missionary who was killed by communists in China in 1945.

A collection of records created by the John Birch Society are now available for research at the John Hay Library.  The records, the bulk of which date from 1965-1989, provide an excellent view into the work of the JBS and its mission “To bring about less government, more responsibility, and — with God’s help — a better world by providing leadership, education, and organized volunteer action in accordance with moral and Constitutional principles.”

The John Birch Society was founded in Indianapolis, Indiana, on December 9, 1958. Robert Welch, Jr. (1899–1985), a retired candy manufacturer, led the organization from its founding until his retirement in 1983. The original twelve founding members included Fred Koch (1900-1967), founder of Koch Industries, and Robert Waring Stoddard (1906-1984), president of Wyman-Gordon, a manufacturer of complex metal components. The Society was named in honor of John Birch, an American Baptist missionary and United States Army intelligence officer who was killed by Chinese communists on August 25, 1945, making him, in the Society’s view, the first casualty of the Cold War.

The Society has local chapters in all fifty states. It uses grassroots lobbying, educational meetings, petition drives and letter-writing campaigns to gain members and influence public policy. The goals of the society include limiting government and blocking an international conspiracy designed to replace Western nations with a one-world socialist government.  Accordingly, the Society has opposed any trade or diplomatic relations with communist countries and American membership in the United Nations. In addition, the Society opposes the federal income tax and the Federal Reserve system, Social Security, the Medicare program, the creation of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the transfer of control of the Panama Canal from the United States to the Republic of Panama, the Civil Rights Movement, sex education in public schools, and efforts to add fluoride to water supplies. While it supports the American military, it has opposed American military intervention overseas. The Society has operated Summer Youth Camps across the United States and produces radio programs, newspapers columns, and films.

This collection of JBS records totals 45 linear feet and dates from 1928-1990 (bulk 1965-1989) and includes correspondence, business files, publications and audio-visual material.  Additional information about JBS can be found in a related collection called the John Birch Society pamphlets (Ms.2014.001) which contains copies of their publications and newspaper articles about their activities.

To learn more about the John Birch Society and related collections consult the LibGuide on American Conservatism.

Lecture | Ted Widmer, “Brown’s DNA”

Please join the John Hay Library as we celebrate the University’s 250-year history with a lecture series by Brown faculty and staff that highlights themes from the University Archives’ “Elements of Tradition and Change” exhibit.

The first lecture will be given by historian Ted Widmer entitled “Brown’s DNA”.  The lecture will incorporate aspects of Brown’s history Dr. Widmer has encountered during research for his history of Brown University.  He currently serves as Assistant to the President at the University.

Dr. Widmer is widely published on topics in American history and politics. His first book, Young America: The Flowering of Democracy in New York City, was the recipient of the 2001 Washington Irving Literary Medal. He is the author of Martin Van Buren and Ark of the Liberties: America and the World and co-author of Campaigns: A Century of Presidential Races.  Widmer earned a Ph.D. in the history of American civilization, an A.M. in history, and an A.B. in the history and literature of France and America from Harvard University.

 

 

Date: Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Time: 5:30 pm

Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library

Speakers: Ted Widmer, Assistant to the President: “Brown’s DNA”

 

Lecture Series | Elements of Tradition and Change: Brown University’s First 250 Years

The John Hay Library celebrates the University’s 250-year history with a lecture series by Brown faculty and staff that highlights themes from the University Archives’ “Elements of Tradition and Change” exhibit.  All of the lectures will be in the Lownes Room, John Hay Library at 5:30 pm:

Ted Widmer, Assistant to the President: “Brown’s DNA”
Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rob Emlen, University Curator: “Making a Campus on College Hill: Sacrificing an Historic Neighborhood to Build a Better College”
Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Beth Taylor, Senior Lecturer in English: “Letters Home: Brown Alumni at War”
Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Luther Spoehr, Senior Lecturer in Education: “Wayland and Magaziner and (Much) More: The Brown Curriculum through the Years”
Thursday, December 4, 2014 (rescheduled)

Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library
Time: 5:30 pm

Lecture | The Brown Charter: Digital Discoveries

imbr00000004842_02md_WEBBrown University’s Charter manuscript exists as two pieces of water-damaged parchment, with few visible letters. To coincide with Brown’s 250th anniversary, Rachel Lapkin, Library Materials Conservator, began working with Digital Production Services photographer Lindsay Elgin to see if modern imaging techniques could reveal more of the original manuscript. Learn about the characteristics of parchment, and of manuscript ink, and how these traits can be exploited by specialized lighting and processing techniques to allow for closer examination into this object’s memory.

Date: Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Time: 4 pm

Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library

Speakers:

Rachel Lapkin, Library Materials Conservator

Lindsay Elgin, Photographer, Digital Production Services

John Hay Library Open Saturday 9/27 for Fall Celebration

brown250

As part of Brown University’s Imagine Brown 250+ Fall Celebration the John Hay Library will be open Saturday, September 27th (10 am – 6 pm).  The Hay Library will be open during its regular hours Sunday, September 28th (noon – 10 pm).

In addition to the ongoing exhibits, Elements of Tradition and Change: Brown University’s First 250 Years and The Great War, 1914–1918, visitors may take part in tours:

2 pm: Curator’s Tour of Elements of Tradition and Change

Engage in a lively exhibition tour with University Archivist Jennifer Betts.  Ms. Betts will discuss the exhibition’s themes as well as the history behind the University Archives collection materials on display. The exhibit highlights the University’s founding, evolving educational curriculum, social transformations, and the expanding campus.

2-2:45 pm and 3-3:45 pm: Tours of the John Hay Library

Join Peter Harrington, Curator, Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, to view various special collections including the display of 5,000 miniature toy soldiers, and the Lincoln and Napoleon Rooms. Following the tour, take the opportunity to view the recently remodeled first floor of the Hay.

 

 

Exhibit lecture | Behind the Scenes of Elements of Tradition and Change with Rachel Shipps and Abigail Ettelman

Join Rachel Shipps AM’14 and Abigail Ettelman AM’14, both graduates of the Public Humanities program at Brown, for a behind the scenes tour of the exhibit “Elements of Tradition and Change: Brown University’s First 250 Years.” Ms. Shipps and Ms. Ettelman, who curated the exhibit under the direction of University Archivist Jennifer Betts, will highlight some of the the challenges involved when creating an exhibit that encompasses many years and topics. In addition, both will discuss their favorite aspects of Brown University history. This event is free and open to the public.

Date: September 18, 2014
Time: 4 p.m.
Location: Lownes Room | John Hay Library

Lincoln’s Birthday

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Image Credit: The image on the left and in the center is from George L. Spaulding (comp.), “Days We Celebrate” sheet music for Lincoln’s Birthday, published by Theodore Presser Co. in Philadelphia, 1914 (Lincoln Sheet Music); The image on the right is from “Lincoln’s Birthday” postcard, printed in London by Raphael Tuck & Sons, circa 1909 (Lincoln Graphics)

It may be difficult for anyone now under the age of 30 to imagine, but for most of the twentieth century the birthday of Abraham Lincoln was keenly celebrated in the United States, particularly in those states which had participated in the effort to preserve the Union during the Civil War. In fact, the earliest known commemoration of Lincoln’s birthday dates to 1874 in Buffalo, New York. Buffalo pharmacist Julius Francis took up the mantle of advocating a federal holiday in honor of Lincoln on his birthday, and repeatedly petitioned Congress toward that end. By 1909, when the Lincoln Centennial was celebrated, the idea of commemorating Lincoln’s birthday as a holiday had taken a firm hold on the public imagination.

During the years he served as President, Lincoln’s own birthday celebrations were subdued, as the conduct of the war to preserve the Union, the welfare of Union soldiers and other major problems faced by the nation weighed heavily on his conscience. On February 12, 1864—150 years ago today—Lincoln marked his birthday by assuring that James Taylor, a soldier who had been sentenced to death for desertion by Court Martial, would not lose his life.

Abraham Lincoln to John A. Dix

Image Credit: Telegrams from Abraham Lincoln to Gen. Dix in New York (Lincoln Manuscripts)

Abraham Lincoln to Stephen Cabot

Telegrams from Abraham Lincoln to Stephen Cabot at Boston, February 12, 1864 (Lincoln Manuscripts)

Brown University’s John Hay Library is home to the McLellan Lincoln Collection, one of the largest and most distinguished Lincoln collections held by an academic institution. These holdings document all aspects of Lincoln’s life, his term as President of the United States, and his legacy in American politics and popular culture. A significant portion of the collection is freely available to the public online in the Brown University Library’s Lincolniana at Brown website.

Contact: Holly Snyder |  (401) 863-1515