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Friday, July 22, 2016

The DNC Comes to Philadelphia--In 1936

Philadelphia is gearing up for next week's arrival of the Democratic National Convention and museums across town have been highlighting their historical and political collections. We, of course, have our Freedom Train exhibition, looking at a project that both celebrated American history and raised questions (intentionally and unintentionally) about what freedom means. The Constitution Center has an exhibit focused on how candidates run for office while the Academy of Natural Sciences has a showcase of presidential hair. The Inquirer had a nice run down earlier this week of some of the many arts and culture activities associated with the convention.

All of this is nothing new. Back in the Rosenbach brothers' time Philadelphia hosted the 1936 Democratic convention and the Free Library featured an exhibition of "Great Documents of the Democratic Presidents from the Collection of Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach."

An exhibition to celebrate the Democratic National Convention opening June 23, 1936; great documents of the democratic presidents from the collection of Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach.Philadelphia, 1936. Ro1 936d copy 2. Collection of the Rosenbach.

An exhibition to celebrate the Democratic National Convention opening June 23, 1936; great documents of the democratic presidents from the collection of Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach.Philadelphia, 1936. Ro1 936d copy 2. Collection of the Rosenbach.


The exhibition included fifty-seven documents of presidents from Thomas Jefferson to Woodrow Wilson. They were not all from the presidents' time in office; the section on Jefferson starts with a letter  written when he was still a "gay, young law student, dancing and courting" in Williamsburg, Virginia., 37 years before he was elected president.

An exhibition to celebrate the Democratic National Convention opening June 23, 1936; great documents of the democratic presidents from the collection of Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach.Philadelphia, 1936. Ro1 936d copy 1. Collection of the Rosenbach.

An exhibition to celebrate the Democratic National Convention opening June 23, 1936; great documents of the democratic presidents from the collection of Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach.Philadelphia, 1936. Ro1 936d copy 1. Collection of the Rosenbach.

As you can see in these images of the first and last pages of the list, one of our copies of the exhibit catalog was annotated by Bill McCarthy, the first curator of the museum. His marks seem to indicate which of the items from the 1936 exhibit had come to the museum ("R") and which had been sold by the Rosenbach Company in the interim. However, there are some puzzles, such as the fact that the first item in the exhibit, Thomas Jefferson's letter from October 1763, does not have an "R"  note, but it is definitely still here--in fact you can see and touch it for yourself on this Sunday's Founding Fathers hands-on tour.

Thomas Jefferson, autograph letter signed to William Fleming. Williamsburg, [ca. Oct. 1763] Ams 449/19.Collection fo the Rosenbach.
I don't know how many people, either local Philadelphians or out of town visitors, were able to stop by and see Dr. R's documents in 1936, but for all of you in Philadelphia over the next week, it should be a great opportunity to get out, enjoy the city, and check out a wide variety of politically-inspired art and history events. We hope to see you here at the Rosenbach!




Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the primary poster for the Rosen-blog.






Friday, July 15, 2016

Jane Austen in Philadelphia

The first American publication of a Jane Austen novel was an edition of Emma published by Matthew Carey in Philadelphia in 1816. The novel, Austen's fourth, had been published in London in December 1815, but dated 1816 on its cover page. American readers did not have to wait long to read the novel that Sir Walter Scott praised in a review as "finished up to nature, and with a precision which delights the reader." In fact, Scott raved about Austen's abilities as a novelist in her "art of copying from nature as she really exists in the common walks of life, and presenting to the reader, instead of the splendid scenes of an imaginary world, a correct and striking representation of that which is daily taking place around him." So, it is not surprising that the publisher Carey in Philadelphia sought to try this new author with American readers. Although the remaining works of Austen would later be published in Philadelphia in the early 1830s, and British editions of her works had also made their way to America, Emma was the first introduction to Austen's work for most of her American audience. Philadelphians are still reading this remarkable novel 200 years later, as evidenced by the recent celebration of the novel in the city, "Emma: 200 Years of Perfection," a conference hosted by the Jane Austen Society of North America's Eastern Pennsylvania Region.

Thus, Emma has a history in Philadelphia, which is one of the reasons the Rosenbach is presenting a four-session Jane Austen reading group next month. The best reason for choosing to read (or re-read) Emma is because it is a magnificently rewarding experience. Austen didn't just write a brilliant novel; she quietly revolutionized the art form of the novel itself.  Few novels written before Emma are so accomplished in their development of characters and how we discover those characters during our reading. These are things we take for granted in reading contemporary novels: a point of view in a novel reveals an imaginative world to us. Yet, Austen so subtly played with her narration that she created a work that changes significantly on each reading. Critic John Mullan wrote:

"Its heroine is a self-deluded young woman with the leisure and power to meddle in the lives of her neighbours. The narrative was radically experimental because it was designed to share her delusions. The novel bent narration through the distorting lens of its protagonist’s mind. Though little noticed by most of the pioneers of fiction for the next century and more, it belongs with the great experimental novels of Flaubert or Joyce or Woolf. Woolf wrote that if Austen had lived longer and written more, 'She would have been the forerunner of Henry James and of Proust'. In Emma, she is."

Emma is all of this and also boisterous, funny, romantic, and wise. It is the Austen novel that rewards every time you read it. So, join us for some Austen in August in the American city that first published her. As part of the reading group, we will also get up close and personal with some valuable first editions from the Rosenbach's collection, including one of the first American editions. 

EL3 .A933p Pride and Prejudice. 1813. 3 v. Collection of the Rosenbach.

I hope you will join us for some Austen in August! See more information about the reading group here, or call 215-732-1600 ext. 0 to register.

Wednesdays, 6:00-7:45 pm at the Rosenbach:
Week 1 – August 3: Emma Vol 1 (read before 1st session)
Week 2 – August 10: Emma Vol 2
Week 3 – August 17: Emma Vol 3
Week 4 – August 24: Lady Susan and other early works


--Edward G. Pettit, Jane Austen Reading Group Instructor



Thursday, July 07, 2016

The Art of Making Money Plenty

While doing some shelf reading yesterday I ran across around little volume entitled The Art of Making Money Plenty in Every Man's Pocket, printed by Samuel Wood around 1811. The get rich quick title caught my eye and when I opened it up I was fascinated to see that it was presented in the form of a rebus.

The art of making money plenty, in every man's pocket. New-York : Pub. & sold by S. Wood,  [ca. 1815]. Collection of the Rosenbach.
As you can see from the portrait on the left-hand page, the text is attributed to Benjamin Franklin.It turns out to be a shortened and simplified adaptation of his Way to Wealth, a collection of advice and aphorisms about money first printed as "Father Abraham's Speech" in the 1758 edition of Poor Richard's Almanac, which we also have in our collection.


Poor Richard improved: being an almanack and ephemeris. . . for the year of our Lord 1758. . . By Richard Saunders, philom. Philadelphia: Printed and sold by B. Franklin and D. Hall, [1757] A 757poo. Collection of the Rosenbach.
In the 1758 almanac, the financial advice began with the preface, and ran through the monthly pages as well=, as you can see at the lower left of the  December page shown below. The Cambridge Companion to Benjamin Franklin notes that "while some readers consider [it] a jest about money getting and money lending, most readers understand the narrative to stand in as Franklin's lightly mocking advice, often not listened to, regarding working hard and saving one's earnings rather than spending them on superfluities."

Poor Richard improved: being an almanack and ephemeris. . . for the year of our Lord 1758. . . By Richard Saunders, philom. Philadelphia: Printed and sold by B. Franklin and D. Hall, [1757] A 757poo. Collection of the Rosenbach.
The Cambridge Companion also points out that The Way to Wealth proved to be a very popular instructional text for children and was printed over 80 times by 1850, in formats ranging from pamphlet to broadside to newspaper article and that "for less educated readers simplified and ever distorted versions of this text and others of Franklin's also emerged" including The Art of Making Money Plenty, which was first published in 1791. The Library Company of Philadelphia has a nice online exhibit that highlights the evolution and different editions of  The Way of Wealth and its derivatives.

Here is the text of our copy, which gives the rebus version above and a translation below. I really enjoy the images that are used in the rebus, including some that might be less familiar to us today,  such as the car on the first page, the cann (a drinking vessel like a mug) on the second page, and the pockets on the fourth page (women's pockets were a separate article of clothing worn either over or under the skirt).

The art of making money plenty, in every man's pocket. New-York : Pub. & sold by S. Wood,  [ca. 1815]. Collection of the Rosenbach.
The art of making money plenty, in every man's pocket. New-York : Pub. & sold by S. Wood,  [ca. 1815]. Collection of the Rosenbach.
The art of making money plenty, in every man's pocket. New-York : Pub. & sold by S. Wood,  [ca. 1815]. Collection of the Rosenbach.
The art of making money plenty, in every man's pocket. New-York : Pub. & sold by S. Wood,  [ca. 1815]. Collection of the Rosenbach.
The art of making money plenty, in every man's pocket. New-York : Pub. & sold by S. Wood,  [ca. 1815]. Collection of the Rosenbach.
The art of making money plenty, in every man's pocket. New-York : Pub. & sold by S. Wood,  [ca. 1815]. Collection of the Rosenbach.

The Art of Making Money Plenty was also printed in broadside format, such as this 1817 version in the Library of Congress and an 1840 version at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

The Art of Making Money Plenty in Every Man's Pocket by Doctor Franklin.
New York: P. Maverick, 1817. Library of Congress Rare Book & Special Collections Division



Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the primary poster for the Rosen-blog.



Friday, July 01, 2016

Founding Fathers for the Fourth

As we gear up for July 4th weekend, we wanted to kick off the festivities with some fabulous founding father documents to put us in the spirit.

This document regarding Washington's role as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army is currently on display in our Freedom Train exhibition. Dr. Rosenbach lent it to the original Freedom Train back in 1947 and it is still in our collection today.  The Documents on the Freedom Train pamphlet described it this way: "This is the original Congressional order  (December 27, 1776) signed by John Hancock as the President of Congress and conferring new and vast powers upon General Washington in an effort to meet the current military crisis."


United States. Continental Congress, order. Philadelphia, 27 December 1776. AMs 1084/17. Collection of the Rosenbach

United States. Continental Congress, order. Philadelphia, 27 December 1776. AMs 1084/17. Collection of the Rosenbach.


Here's an excerpt of the order, describing the Congress's faith in Washington and the temporary powers he was granted. (You can read the whole text at American Archives):

"The unjust but determined purpose of the British Court to enslave these free States, obvious through every delusive insinuation to the contrary, having placed things in such a situation that the very existence of civil liberty now depends on the right execution of military powers, and the vigorous decisive conduct of these being impossible to distant, numerous, and deliberative bodies, this Congress having maturely considered the present crisis, and having perfect reliance on the wisdom, vigour, and uprightness of General Washington, do hereby

Resolve, that General Washington shall be, and he is hereby, vested with full, ample, and complete power, to raise and collect together...sixteen Battalions of Infantry...to appoint Officers for the said Battalions; to raise, officer, and equip three thousand Light-Horse, three Regiments of Artillery, and a Corps of Engineers, and establish their pay; to apply to any of the States for such aid of the Militia as he shall judge necessary; to form such Magazines of Provisions, and in such places, as he shall think proper; to displace and appoint all officers under the rank of Brigadier-General, and to fill up all vacancies in every other department in the American Army; to take, wherever he may be, whatever he may want for the use of the Army, if the inhabitants will not sell it, allowing a reasonable price for the same; to arrest and confine persons who refuse to take the Continental Currency, or are otherwise disaffected to the American cause, and return to the States of which they are citizens, their names and the nature of their offences, together with the witnesses to prove them."

Another of my favorite documents, which you can see on our Founding Fathers hands-on tour, is this letter from Thomas Jefferson to David Humphreys in 1789, in which he talks about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Thomas Jefferson, autograph letter signed to David Humphreys. 18 March 1789.
AMs 1059/14.5. Collection of the Rosenbach.
Here again is an excerpt, with full text available via the National Archives.

"The operations which have taken place in America lately, fill me with pleasure. In the first place they realize the confidence I had that whenever our affairs get obviously wrong, the good sense of the people will interpose and set them to rights. The example of changing a constitution by assembling the wise men of the state, instead of assembling armies, will be worth as much to the world as the former examples we had given them. The constitution too which was the result of our deliberations, is unquestionably the wisest ever yet presented to men, and some of the accomodations of interest which it has adopted are greatly pleasing to me who have before had occasions of seeing how difficult those interests were to accomodate. A general concurrence of opinion seems to authorize us to say it has some defects. I am one of those who think it a defect that the important rights, not placed in security by the frame of the constitution itself, were not explicitly secured by a supplementary declaration. There are rights which it is useless to surrender to the government, and which yet, governments have always been fond to invade. These are the rights of thinking, and publishing our thoughts by speaking or writing: the right of free commerce: the right of personal freedom. There are instruments for administering the government, so peculiarly trust-worthy, that we should never leave the legislature at liberty to change them. The new constitution has secured these in the executive and legislative departments; but not in the judiciary. It should have established trials by the people themselves, that is to say by jury. There are instruments so dangerous to the rights of the nation, and which place them so totally at the mercy of their governors, that those governors, whether legislative or executive, should be restrained from keeping such instruments on foot but in well defined cases. Such an instrument is a standing army. We are now allowed to say such a declaration of rights, as a supplement to the constitution where that is silent, is wanting to secure us in these points. The general voice has legitimated this objection. It has not however authorized me to consider as a real defect, what I thought and still think one, the perpetual re-eligibility of the president. But three states out of 11. having declared against this, we must suppose we are wrong according to the fundamental law of every society, the lex majoris partis, to which we are bound to submit."
Happy Independence Day to all!



Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the primary poster for the Rosen-blog.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Freedom Train Exhibit on Track at the Rosenbach!


Our newest exhibit, Freedom Train 1947-1949: Exhibiting America's Past to Shape America's Future,  opens next Friday, July 1, and the collections staff has been hard at work on installation. The Freedom Train was a massive traveling exhibition of  over 125 American historical documents, housed in a specially designed train, that crossed the country from September 1947 to January 1949, visiting all 48 states and attracting attendance of 3.5 million visitors. The idea for the train came out of the Justice Department, although they eventually turned to private supporters and created the non-profit American Heritage Foundation to actually run the project. (Some readers may also remember a second Freedom Train that traveled the country for the 1976 Bicentennial with a mixture of historic documents and artifacts.)

Photograph of Freedom Train
  Photograph of Freedom Train. National Archives and Records Administration. research.archives.gov/description/12167190

The documents on board the original Freedom Train ranged from the Bay Psalm Book to Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence to the German and Japanese surrender documents from World War II. Philip and Dr. R. were lenders to the train and Dr. R also served on the Document Advisory Committee that helped decide what should be included in the exhibit. Our exhibit will include sixteen of the Freedom Train documents; five are the exact copies that traveled on the train, others are the same book, but not exactly the actual copy that traveled (for example, we are displaying the Free Library's copy of Mourt's Relation, instead of the Library of Congress copy). We have also created an interactive that digitally reunites all 125+ documents.

Photograph of Freedom Train Exhibit
 Photograph of Freedom Train exhibit. National Archives and Records Administration.  research.archives.gov/description/12167304

The Freedom Train itself debuted in Philadelphia on September 17, 1947, Constitution Day, before beginning its 37,000 mile journey around the country.

Winthrop W. Aldrich, telegram to A.S.W. Rosenbach inviting him to a preview of the Freedom Train. 8 September 1947. RCo I:013:02. Collection of the Rosenbach.

The train was accompanied by a massive citizenship education campaign organized around the slogan "Freedom is Everybody's Job." This rededication campaign reached one out of every three Americans by utilizing every venue from newspapers to newsreels to Captain Marvel comics and Popeye cartoons. Here are Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters singing the Freedom Train theme song, which was written by Irving Berlin.



The Freedom Train has so many fascinating stories associated with it; the documents themselves are compelling, as is the debate over what should be included and what image the organizers strove to present of America as the nation emerged from decades of depression and war into a new Cold War world. There is also an important civil rights story: the question of whether the Freedom Train—an exhibit dedicated to freedom—would allow segregated visitation as it passed through areas that enforced segregation. Langston Hughes penned the protest poem “Freedom Train” that pointedly raised this question and we will be displaying  his manuscript of the poem in our exhibit, on loan from the John Hope and Aurelia E. Franklin Library at Fisk University. Ultimately a policy of desegregated visitation was adopted and the African American community kept pressure on the organizers to follow through. Most cities proved willing to comply (although there were ongoing debates about what exactly constituted segregated or desegregated visitation) but stops were cancelled in Memphis and Birmingham when they refused to create desegregated viewing plans.

Desegregated line, Pine Bluff, Arkansas. National Archives and Records Administration.
Amid all the serious historical stories, one element of the Freedom Train that pleased our collection staff was the wonderful pictures of National Archives staff installing Freedom Train documents in  nice dresses and pearls. Around here, our installation attire usually tends more towards the t-shirt and jeans with a screwdriver sticking out of the back pocket. We decided to walk in our foremothers' footsteps and dress up a bit for this installation. I'll wrap up this post with a few then and now pictures:

Photograph of National Archives Personnel Working on Installation of Documents on the Freedom Train
Photograph of Ms. Hamer Installing Display Documents on the Freedom Train. National Archives and Records Administration. research.archives.gov/description/18520029.
Photograph of Ms. Zink, Rosenbach registrar, installing display documents at the Rosenbach.
Photograph of Ms. Haas, exhibition curator, cleaning plexiglas hood for an exhibit case at the Rosenbach.
Photograph of National Archives Employees Peggy Mangum and Florence Nichol Loading the Log of the Frigate Constitution onto the Freedom Train
Photograph of National Archives Employees Peggy Mangum and Florence Nichol Loading the Log of the Frigate Constitution onto the Freedom Train. National Archives and Records Administration. research.archives.gov/description/868640
Photograph of Rosenbach employees Judy Guston and Kathy Haas loading an exhibition hood into the gallery.


Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach and the primary poster for the Rosen-blog.