Subscribe to the Rosenblog!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Franz Ferdinand

Tomorrow marks the hundredth anniversary of the shot that started the Great War. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, was assassinated in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. This led Austria-Hungary to declare war on Serbia, and the current European system of alliances soon meant that the continent was embroiled in World War I.

You can read more about the assassination here and there was a great piece on Morning Edition this morning, which points out how improbable and almost farcical the assassination plot was, if only the results hadn't turned out so catastrophically. NPR has also produced an interesting piece, "A World Without World War One," looking at what things might have looked like had Franz Ferdinand never been assassinated.

In honor of the anniversary, we've put Franz Ferdinand's cigarette case on display in the library and we're featuring it on the blog. The case was made by A. Förster of Vienna and is decorated with the arms of Austria-Hungary

A. Förster, cigarette case owned by Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Vienna. 1954.2070. Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
A. Förster, cigarette case owned by Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Vienna. 1954.2070. Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

A. Förster, cigarette case owned by Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Vienna. 1954.2070. Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia.


Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Things You Can't Send Through the Mail


Countdown Clock

Bloomsday is almost here!


Although Bloomsday itself is Monday, June 16, at the Rosenbach and the Free Library we're celebrating from now through next Wednesday, with a great slate of programs. One of them is an author talk on 6/18 at the Free Library by Kevin Birmingham, author of The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses.

As its title indicates, Birmingham's book addresses the censorship controversies Ulysses faced. In 1920 the book's publishers were arrested for violating Post Office laws about the circulation of obscene material. At the trial in 1921, a panel of judges decided that the Nausicaa episode was in fact obscene and therefore violated the Post Office's Comstock laws.

One of our first editions of Ulysses from 1922 speaks to the inability to legally send Ulysses through the mail.


James Joyce (1882-1941), Ulysses. Paris: Shakespeare & Company, 1922
EL4 J89ul 922a

The inscription notes, "This book was smuggled out of Paris and mailed to us when it first appeared. Because of the censorship in this country he sent it in sections, folded so as to go into an ordinary envelope by regular mail."

On some pages the creases caused by the deceptive mailing are still evident--note the vertical crease on the section shown here.

James Joyce (1882-1941), Ulysses. Paris: Shakespeare & Company, 1922
EL4 J89ul 922a
The Ulysses ban was eventually overturned in 1933, However, Ulysses and other obscene material were not the only things banned from the mail in the early 1920s.  In looking at one of the  "today in history" sites, I found the tidbit that on June 13, 1920 the U.S. Post Office Department  "rule[d] that children could not be sent through parcel post."

I was immediately a bit skeptical, but it turns out that after the advent of Parcel Post in 1913 there were several instances of people sending their children (under the 50 lb postal weight limit) by mail. This wasn't so much a case of parents popping their children in boxes and dropping them in a mail box, but instead of entrusting them to postal employees and paying postage for their transit. There's a great blog post from the Smithsonian's Postal Museum, which goes into various known cases, including a girl who was mailed by train from Pensacola, Florida, to Christianburg, Virginia.

The Postal Museum blog  notes that in 1914 the Postmaster General barred the mailing of humans, but it continued anyway.  It suggests that the last case of child mailing was in 1915, but another blog reproduces a 1918 newspaper article about a recent trip by 2 girls, so it seems to have continued sporadically. I haven't been able to track down exactly what the details were of the June 13, 1920 ban, although perhaps it was just an attempt to reiterate the earlier rules in the face of violations. Any further information or citations would be gratefully received!

In any case, in the 1920s you couldn't send Ulysses through the mail; you couldn't send a child through the mail, and you certainly couldn't send a child reading Ulysses through the mail. But both Ulysses and children are most welcome at our Bloomsday celebration on Monday (as are any postal workers who care to stop in) so please join us.


Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog.

Friday, June 06, 2014

The Atlantic Charter

In honor of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, I'm posting today about the Rosenbach's our most significant World War II document: the Atlantic Charter. The Atlantic Charter was not a formal treaty but a statement by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill to "make known certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world.”

The Atlantic Charter was the result of the Atlantic Conference, held August 9-10, 1941. The United States had not yet declared war but was supplying the Allies through Lend-Lease. Churchill and Roosevelt met on the U.S.S. Augusta, harbored in Newfoundland, to discuss war aims and post-war goals. The Atlantic Charter was an affirmation of the two countries' shared Wilsonian vision for a postwar world, including that they would "seek no aggrandisement, territorial or other," were committed to "respect[ing] the right of all peoples to choose the form of Government under which they will live," and hoped for a peace "which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want."

In a December 1944 press conference, a reporter asked," Mr. President, did Mr. Churchill ever sign the Atlantic Charter?" Roosevelt replied:

" Nobody ever signed the Atlantic Charter. Now that's an amazing statement.
Q. Where is it, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you're thinking in awfully—oh, what will I say?- banal phrases and thought.
There isn't any copy of the Atlantic Charter, so far as I know. I haven't got one. The British haven't got one. The nearest thing you will get is the radio operator on the Augusta and on the Prince of Wales. That's the nearest thing you will come to it. It's one of the things that was agreed to on board ship, and there was no formal document.
And the aides were directed to have the scribbled thing, which had a great many corrections, some I suppose in Mr. Churchill's handwriting, and some in mine, and some in Sir Alec Cadogan's handwriting, some in scraps of paper, some in Sumner Welles's handwriting—and the aides were directed to have it sent off to the British Government, and to the United States Government, and released to the press. That is the Atlantic Charter."

The Rosenbach documents are the typed carbon copies given to the radio room of the U.S.S. Augusta for transmission to Washington.

AMs 499/13 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

AMs 499/13 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

AMs 499/13 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

AMs 499/13 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

AMs 499/13 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Our documents also include a carbon of a message sent from FDR and Churchill to Stalin regarding supplies and planning. There are corrections in Roosevelt's hand and he signed both men's names to the message.
AMs 499/13 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

AMs 499/13 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia
and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog.