Governor of Massachusetts John Winthrop: May 17, 1631

In 1629, John Winthrop joined the Massachusetts Bay Company, after gaining a royal charter to start a colony in New England. Under the condition that the Company and charter be moved to America, Winthrop agreed to sell his estate in England and move to the new colony along with his family. The other members of the Massachusetts Bay Company agreed to these terms and then elected him the first Governor of the New England colony. He was a prominent Puritan and a well liked leader,  who was chosen to be Governor on twelve occasions during his time in New England.

In Winthrop’s A Journal of the Transactions and Occurrences in the Settlement of Massachusetts and the Other New-England Colonies,  From the Year 1630 to 1644, the May 17, 1631 entry states “A general Court at Boston, the former governor was chosen again and all the freemen of the commons were sworn to the government.” Wikipedia has May 18, 1631 listed as the date that John Winthrop took his oath of office, but we were unable to find any references to this date or event. The only other event listed on that date in Winthrop’s journal is a house burning down, with the next entry dated May 27.

John Winthrop was born on January 22, 1588 in Edwardstone, England. He died in office on April 5, 1649 at the age of 61. Winthrop attended Trinity College, Cambridge studying law, after which he served as a Justice of Peace and held a government office and was a country squire at Groton. He had four wives and sixteen children. Winthrop was a highly religious man who devoted himself to scripture and prayer, becoming a devout puritan. By 1640 he became the “custodian of Massachusetts’ orthodoxy”. In 1641 he helped write the Massachusetts Body of Liberties, the first legal sanctioning of slavery in North America.

His push for group discipline and individual responsibility was key to the colony’s success. When Winthrop was not in office as Governor he sat on the Colony Council or the Court of Assistants.

Information for this post was gathered from Lehigh Special Collections’ 1790 edition of Winthrop’s Journal of the Transactions and The Encyclopedia Britannica.

 

Death of John Herschel, May 11th, 1871

1867 Photograph of Sir John Herschel by Julia Margaret Cameron
From the Metropolitan Museum of Art

On this day, May 11th, in 1871, John Herschel died at age 79. Herschel was a knowledgeable Englishman, known for his studies in astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, and various other areas. Herschel was educated in scientific practices at a young age, growing up under the influence of his father, astronomer William Herschel, and his aunt, astronomer Caroline Herschel.

John Herschel studied a variety of subjects, but his most prevalent work was in the field of astronomy. His first major astronomical publication was a continuation of his father’s studies on determining the parallax of a star. This work, published in Transactions of the Royal Society, cataloged systems of double stars and was recognized by the Paris Academy and the Astronomical Society. Today, Herschel is commemorated by a crater on Earth’s moon, named the J. Herschel Crater. See the crater via the following image/link:

J. Herschel Crater, from Google Moon

 

Another significant contribution by John Herschel were his experiments and developments in photography. He was able to produce photographs based on his knowledge and studies of chemical processes, and his studies led to multiple related publications. The term “photography” was coined and popularized by Herschel and he developed the first photographic fixer to preserve photographs.

One of John Herschel’s important publications was his Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy, an edition of which can be found in Lehigh University’s Special Collections. Published in 1931, this book explores the philosophy of scientific research and discovery. Herschel describes abstract science as being “independent of nature,” with artificial systems of creation, deemed to be language, notation, and rational. These systems were designed by humans to analyze and understand our world, and Herschel explains each one with examples in education. Early in the book, Herschel defines science as, “the knowledge of many, orderly and methodically digested and arranged, so as to become attainable by one.”
Lehigh University Special Collections also holds a number of letters and other publications written by John Herschel, mostly related to his astronomical research.

 

Trial and Execution of Antoine Lavoisier, May 8, 1794

Image from the Metropolitan Museum of Art http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436106

Today is the anniversary of French scientist Antoine Lavoisier’s trial and execution by guillotine on May 8, 1794. Lavoisier is famous for his contributions to chemistry. He made many invaluable accomplishments: the naming of oxygen; analysis of the role of this element in combustion and respiration (instead of “phlogiston”); discovery of the conservation of matter in chemical reactions; and quantitative treatment of organic substances. He even worked on solar energy.

Special Collections at Lehigh University has a first edition of his of “Elementary Treatise on Chemistry” ¹, published in 1789, the year used when the French Revolution when described as the “Revolution of 1789”.   In his study of Lavoisier, Jean-Pierre Poirier², describes the book as “the crowning achievement of his undertaking” (192). Included in this wide-ranging work are “essential points of the new chemistry”; “the first modern list of the chemical elements”; and ”instruments and experimental methods of new chemistry”.  The work contains thirteen plates engraved by Madame Lavoisier. Some of these plates are depicted here.(193-195)

As Poirier notes, Lavoisier was only one of several scientists executed in the French Revolution (385-86).  Eventually, the political revolution ate its own; two of its major figures, Danton and Robespierre, were buried in the same area of mass graves as Lavoisier (382). On one account, “During the Reign of Terror, at least 300,000 suspects were arrested; 17,000 were officially executed, and perhaps 10,000 died in prison or without trial.”3

Lavoisier’s greatest contribution was to a different sort of revolution, one of the mind. Poirier quotes I. Bernard Cohen: “the chemical revolution has a primary place among revolutions in science in that it is the first generally recognized major one to have been called a revolution by its chief author” (197).

The Linderman Library exhibit “Daring Knowledge: Diderot’s Encyclopédie“, features more illustrations and information about 18th century chemistry. While the science of the Encyclopédie predates Lavoisier’s mature findings, it provides a snapshot of how chemistry and scientific study were understood in his era.

References

1: https://asa.lib.lehigh.edu/Record/258721

2: https://asa.lib.lehigh.edu/Record/493513

3: https://www.britannica.com/event/Reign-of-Terror

John James Audubon

Today, April 26th, is the birthday of ornithologist, artist and naturalist John James Audubon. Born an illegitimate child to his French plantation owning Father and Creole mother on the island of what is now considered Haiti, John James Audubon was an unlikely candidate to become one of the most prominent naturalists of his era.

“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.” Self-portrait. From “Audubon’s America” by Donald Culross Peattie.

For the first half of his life there was arguably nothing to keep him grounded, quite literally. Upon the untimely death of his servant mother in Saint-Dominigue, he was shipped back to France and adopted by the wife of his father. Quickly, he developed a fascination with the natural world that followed him for the rest of his life. It was in France that he was versed in the knowledge and privileges of a good merchant’s son: art, music, science, history. He was also given ample time to explore the untamed green around him, a separate world that became his source of solitude, healing, wonder, awe and inspiration.

He once said, “In my deepest troubles, I frequently would wrench myself from the persons around me and retire to some secluded part of our noble forests.”

Plate 347: The Smew. Courtesy of audubon.org

During the surge of the Napoleonic Wars in 1803, Audubon, then 18 years old, was relocated again to one of his father’s estates in Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. In time he honed his artistic talents and continued to observe nature, particularly birds. In 1824 he published one of the most influential bird books in history titled “Birds of America.” Subscribers to Audubon’s publications included the likes of King George IV and 7th U.S. President, Andrew Jackson.

 

Turning the pages of Lehigh’s “Birds of America.”

The book itself is a 39.5″ x 29.5″ cover to cover collection of life-size and incredibly detailed paintings of various bird species. The birds are depicted in their natural environment as Audubon might have observed them. Lehigh University is in possession of one of only 120 believed complete collections still in existence. It is on display year-round in the reading room of Linderman Library. View a complete digital exhibit about ornithology and Audubon through Lehigh Special Collections’ Omeka page: Home to Roost: Ornithological Collections at Lehigh University.

The book on display in Linderman Library.

Aptly, today is also National Audubon Day, a day sponsored by the National Audubon Society to commemorate his contributions to the field of ornithology. Use #NationalAudubonDay or #AudubonDay to tag your best bird photos on social media.

 

Earth Day at Lehigh, April 22, 1970

Earth Day as we know it owes its creation to former U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson. A fitting byproduct of the Environmental Movement in the 1970’s, Earth Day promotes environmental awareness and falls on April 22nd each year.

Nelson took advantage of a political atmosphere ripened by the Teach-in movement, Vietnam War protesting, and the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, which dumped an estimated 80,000 barrels of crude oil into the Pacific. Remarkably, the Day achieved overwhelming support, drawing crowds of thousands all over the country to demonstrate environmental protection and mindfulness. College and university students did not waiver in their support of environmentalism either, sending a wave across the nation.

This wave of support made its way to Lehigh University, with the first Earth Day on April 22nd, 1970 being documented in the Brown and White student newspaper archives. Lecturers and activists visited campus and took a rather drastic tone, the front page reading: “Ecology Ethics Needed for Survival on Earth.” The message was to change our mindset and change our ways of life to accommodate an advancing world.

Humans, unlike most other species on Earth, feel entitled to manipulate and damage the environment for our benefit. “Most animals are born with an inherited wisdom” to not ruin the environment, professor and ecological pioneer Francis Trembley explained. Something needed to change in order for the human race to survive.

The week also featured other significant speakers, but Earth Day was met with some opposition that may still be relevant today. Many argued it was just a day to scare or cast a pessimistic shadow on human development. Still others saw it as mostly symbolic, not achieving any real revolution.

A student writer at the time expressed his opinion of Earth Day in a piece titled, “Earth Day Approach Wrong.” To summarize, pollution is advantageous in a capitalistic society; it’s profitable because being green and environmentally aware doesn’t make money. There’s no incentive. And, all the while students are being informed to change their ways, to take better care of their environment, but the government and large corporations are those who really should be taking notes. The problems of environmental pollution are more ingrained in the way society operates, the way resources are allocated and the way technology is utilized.

As Lehigh celebrates Earth Day again in 2017, it continues a long standing tradition. An Earth Day fair is scheduled to take place on the University front lawn, and the month is filled with other various events, but the questions posed in 1970 remain. And, matters are growing more complex with budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and climate change denial.

America’s Chosen One: Lincoln’s Assassination, April 14, 1865

As we remember the assassination of Abraham Lincoln on April 14th, it is hard to forget his effect on our country and the way in which he was viewed in his own time. Lincoln is credited with abolishing slavery, strengthening the federal government, keeping the union, and bolstering the American economy to play on the world scale. He led the United States through it’s bloodiest war, the Civil War. These feats of leaderships led to Lincoln becoming the savior, the virtual Christ, of the United States. The people of the time worshiped him as a deity come to earth, especially after his death. What was it about him that brought this imagery into the minds of Americans? Well, first there is the obvious. He died saving the union of the country, the most important ideological object to many Americans. So, we have a direct comparison to Christ dying for humanity’s sins but what other parts of Lincoln’s life were comparable to legend.

Let us start at his birth. He had a humble beginning, making a name for himself as a business owner and politician. This not only put him on the level of many Americans, it made his success appear that much more miraculous. Later, even the date of his birth would be considered a fateful day if only because Charles Darwin was born the same day. Two men who would later change the world in their own respective ways were born half a world apart. The pieces of the legend of Lincoln are beginning to come together now. However, what cemented the view of Lincoln as the savior was the day of his death.

As we have seen, his death for the Union is in parallel with Christ’s death for humanity but this view came about mainly because Lincoln was shot on Good Friday, the day on which Christians mourn the death of Christ. He died a day later, on Holy Saturday, and the next morning, Easter Sunday, priests, reverends, and pastors across the United States preached about the death of Lincoln and it’s biblical parallels. Some of these sermons can be seen in Lehigh’s Special Collections and in the online “Lincolniana” Exhibit. Putting together the coincidentally important day of his birth, his amazing feats as the leader of America, and the biblical parallels of his death, it is safe to say that the story of Abraham Lincoln should not only be remembered as the story of a great leader but as the stuff of legend.

Happy Birthday Thomas Jefferson!

Thomas Jefferson is remembered by many living both in and outside of the United States for a variety of for different actions and accomplishments. From enacting Louisiana Purchase, to publishing the Notes on the State of Virginia, to founding the University of Virginia, and writing the Jefferson Bible, his life and actions have captured the interest of people of all walks of life. He was a man who expressed an interest in everything and wanted to educate himself and teach others about all subjects he deemed important. He mastered the trades of surveying, architecture, mathematics, mechanics, and horticulture while practicing philosophy and, most famously, theology. He worked in law for most of his life and in 1775 truly began his political career by writing the Declaration of Independence.

In Lehigh’s Special Collections, there are an 1800 edition of Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia and an 1806 edition of Discoveries Made by Captains Lewis & Clark by Jefferson. Along with these, there are handwritten letters to and from Jefferson in the I Remain digital archive, pictured below.

Play Ball!: Henry Chadwick’s 1866 Base Ball Player’s Book of Reference

Cabinet card portrait of Henry Chadwick seated with a book in his hands. / G. Frank E. Pearsall, 289 Fulton St. [Brooklyn, N.Y.], [1874].
Cabinet card portrait of Henry Chadwick seated with a book in his hands. / G. Frank E. Pearsall, 289 Fulton St. [Brooklyn, N.Y.], [1874]. (BL-13-58a National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)
base ball title page
Title Page

To celebrate the beginning of the 2017 Major League Baseball season, Special Collections has digitized and made available The Base Ball Player’s Book of Reference, an exceedingly rare book of baseball rules and statistics written by Henry Chadwick. Only one other institution, the American Antiquarian Society, reports holding the 1866 edition of this work. The copy held by Lehigh is a unique presentation copy signed by the author, containing the note “Compliments of H Chadwick.”

 

An early spokesperson for the sport of baseball, Henry Chadwick gained renown as a pioneering sports journalist. Seeking to describe the events of games in greater detail and make it easier to follow by a wider fan base, Chadwick invented many basic terms and statistics, including:

  • The batting average (BA), used to analyze the skill of a batter
  • The earned run average (ERA), used to measure runs scored as a result of a pitcher
  • The letter K to denote a strike
  • The box-score, used to record the runs, hits, put-outs, assists and errors that occurred during a game
  • Numbering defensive positions and abbreviating plays to aid in score-keeping

Henry Chadwick Baseball Hall of Fame Plaque
Henry Chadwick Baseball Hall of Fame Plaque (http://baseballhall.org/hof/chadwick-henry)

All of these innovations are still commonly used to describe and analyze the game of baseball. Since Chadwick’s initial use of statistics, a plethora of new and increasingly complex statistics have been created to better analyze players and their abilities, the practice now described as Sabermetrics. For his significant contributions to the national game of baseball, Chadwick was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1938, just the third year of its existence. Lehigh’s holding is not the first baseball rule book, written by Chadwick in 1858 as recognized by the Hall of Fame, but it still provides a fascinating glimpse into the early days of baseball.

While many of the rules in the book will be familiar to modern baseball fans, there are several differences. What we now refer to as balls, Chadwick describes as “Delivering Unfair Balls,” for which an umpire should warn the pitcher before keeping count of unfair balls and allowing the batter to take a base after three such calls, not the modern four. It is difficult to imagine baseball without the iconic home run, but according to Chadwick,

Home runs are not recognized by the rules. Custom considers a home run as being made, if the home base is reached before the ball passes the line of the home base from the outer field, provided the batsman has not been obliged to stop on any base for fear of being put out. A “ clean home run” — and none other should be counted in the score— is a run made from home to home, from a hit made to long field beyond the reach of the out-fielders.

Chadwick also allows for foul balls to be caught for outs after a single bounce, a rule that would later be eliminated. Before Chadwick’s rules, it was commonly accepted that fair one bounce balls could be caught by fielders for outs. However, Chadwick preferred fielders to get outs by catching balls directly hit from the bat, which is how the game is played today.

As the new baseball season begins, it is interesting to take a retrospective look at how America’s pastime has developed since its creation and popularization in the 19th century. Lehigh’s digitized copy of Chadwick’s 1866 The Base Ball Player’s Book of Reference can be read or downloaded in its entirety on the Internet Archive. For more information about this book, visit Lehigh’s library catalog. You can read more about Henry Chadwick on his Baseball Hall of Fame page.

 

 

The 150th Anniversary of America’s purchase of Alaska

On March 30, 1867, the United States bought the territory of Russian America which was renamed Alaska and Yukon Territories. The name Alaska was derived from the original name for the archipelago and peninsula of the territory, Aliaska. With the addition of territory, expeditions went out to explore the newly purchased land. In Lehigh’s Special Collections is a book reminiscing on one such expedition.  Travel and Adventure in the Territory of Alaska is an account by Frederick Whymper, an experienced explorer of Alaska, who would be there to see the raising of the first American Flag in the territory. Whymper was known as a talented  engraver and artist before his exploration days. His father was a renowned artist, and his brother, Edward Whymper, became the first person to climb the Matterhorn. Whymper’s book displays the vast knowledge he had gained in his expeditions along with his sense of humor. In the preface he describes the purchase of the territory by the United States and ends with “I glean that the United States Government, so far from regretting the purchase of Alaska, are almost ready to bid for Iceland and Greenland! Mr. Seward’s mania for icebergs and snow-fields seems insatiable.”

Whymper’s book covers his own expeditions as well as many of the cultural impacts on the United States. He details the hundreds of people who traveled through Alaska looking for the “Northern El Dorado” during the Alaskan Gold Rush. He chronicles the confrontations with the natives and, when relations were better, their culture and communities. He continues to observe the development of Alaska through visits to Sitka, the capital at the time, traveling with an expedition to create telegraph communications, and following the businesses and trades going in and out. Later in the book, he details much about the development of California at the time.

With 2017 marking the 150th anniversary of the United States’ purchase of Alaska, we at Special Collections encourage you to explore this expansive land and others through the eyes of those who first trekked into the unknown and wild. To view this book you can request to view it here. To see other great books exploring our past, visit us online.

Photographs of Civil Engineering from the Civil War

The Herman Haupt Civil War Military Transportation Photographs collection, which includes sixty photographs showing the Union Army’s construction of roads and bridges, has been digitized and is now available online. Brigadier General Herman Haupt, responsible for the publication of these photographs, was chief of construction and transportation on the United States military railroads from 1863 to 1865. Many of the photographs in this collection show truss bridges designed by Haupt, whose bridge design made such a distinct impression President Abraham Lincoln that he remarked “That man Haupt has built a bridge four hundred feet long and eighty feet high, across Potomac Creek, on which loaded trains are passing every hour, and upon my word, gentlemen, there is nothing in it but cornstalks and beanpoles.”

On the cover of the book containing the descriptions of the photographs is a hand written note reading “Photographs were taken by Capt. A.J. Russell Chief of Photograph Corps. U.S. Military Railroads.” A second handwritten note reads “This handwriting is that of Herman Haupt with which I am familiar. Edward Haupt July 19/1928.” Andrew J. Russell was the first official photographer of the Union Army and captured many of its engineering projects, including those overseen by Haupt. Russell is perhaps best known for his later work with the Union Pacific Railroad, capturing the historic meeting of the Transcontinental Rail at Promontory Summit, Utah.

SC PHOTO 0001- Photograph 13
SC PHOTO 0001- Photograph 13

Haupt was adept at rapidly constructing bridges that helped the advancement of the Union Army. He was also skilled at damaging railroads to prevent their use by the Confederate Army and repairing the damage done to railroads by the Confederate Army. Many of the photographs depict the bending and straightening of rails by various different methods.

SC PHOTO 0001- Photograph 56
SC PHOTO 0001- Photograph 56

This collection also includes illustrated recreations of many of Haupt’s and Russell’s photographs. A brief comparison of the illustrations with the original photographs reveals some subtle alterations. While many of the photographs feature black laborers, some the laborers in the illustrated reproductions are inaccurately portrayed as white.

The digitized photographs and their descriptions can be found at Lehigh’s digital collections. Additional information about Lehigh’s holdings can be accessed in the finding aid for this collection.

Read more about Herman Haupt at the National Archives website.

See a complete set of these photographs at the Library of Congress.