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.

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.

That’s no Moon!: The Story of Endor and its Link to Modern Culture

The Endor magazine, published at Lehigh University from 1959 to 1966, has had a profound effect on campus culture into the modern day. It also links Lehigh to some of the biggest names in popular culture. From faculty members who changed their fields to parents of actors, the Endor saw its share of famous names. It started as a publication “to fulfill the need for a literary journal on the Lehigh campus.” The magazine, which focused on more serious art and literature, started a movement for the arts on Lehigh’s campus during a time when the arts were looked down upon by a large majority of engineers on campus.

With its inception in 1959, Endor: A magazine of the arts was created to give students an output for their creativity and avoid the downfalls of the “staff-written” literary magazines of previous years. It also sought to avoid becoming a humor magazine, distinguishing itself from previous Lehigh publications such as the Burr. By the second issue in 1960, it had already gained traction on campus due to its wide variety of writers and represented fields. One article in the Brown and White reported that “When a finance professor (Eli Schwartz) contributes a witty poem, when an authority on 17th century English literature (Ray Armstrong) contributes an excellent short story, and when a music professor (Jonathon Elkus) contributes a provocative essay on contemporary jazz, then, indeed, Endor fulfills a most important function of a university – the extracurricular exchange of creative thinking and artistry.” This began to bring back the mission of a well rounded “gentleman” engineer that Asa Packer had envisioned when he created Lehigh University.

The Endor acts as a reminder of many famous names in Lehigh University history. Mentioned in the above quote, Jonathon Elkus was a music professor at Lehigh who became well known as a concert band composer and director. He eventually won the Edwin Franko Goldman Memorial Citation for his work. Elkus is also remembered for his work as the Director of the Marching 97. Another famous member of Lehigh’s past who is immortalized in the Endor is Professor James R. Frakes, assistant professor of English. In 1961, when the Endor was having a staffing problem, he stepped up as the faculty adviser for the magazine. James Frakes is probably better known to many as the father of actor Jonathan Frakes, who most famously portrayed Commander William T. Riker in Star Trek: The Next Generation. It is interesting that he would publish in a magazine named Endor, which is now known as a moon in the Star Wars universe instead of the ancient village in Galilee for which the magazine is named.

The Endor was able to increase the presence of the arts on campus despite its end in 1966. Poetry readings were increasing in attendance and prose reading was becoming more common. Professor Frakes was known for reading “poetry that conveys a ‘beat attitude of revolt and protest'” and believed beat or ‘beatnik’ poetry would be representative of the ’60s and 70’s. This brings us to the modern Lehigh setting, where open mic nights, concerts, and performances of all kinds can be found on campus and in Bethlehem. It is regrettable that the publication of such magazines will never have the appeal it once had due to the rise of the Internet. However, we now live in a world where all ideas and pieces of art can be shared despite there being fewer formal outlets, which may mean that our campus is looking forward to a cultural golden age.

All publications of the Endor are now available alongside Lehigh’s other student publications on the Internet Archive. Endor will also soon be available on the Lehigh Preserve.

 

Origyns and the History of Women at Lehigh

The history of women at Lehigh is one full of stories of struggles and victories, tragedies and comedies, and exclusion and inclusion. This history (which can be found at this link: http://www.lehigh.edu/~in40yrs/history/) tracks the efforts of women on campus to advance the goal of equality between the male and female genders. In 2001, 31 years after the decision to allow women as undergraduates, the Origyns magazine was released. The publication gave a voice to the women on campus to expose the issues impacting them, from rape to racial discrimination to sexuality. It was published yearly from its inception in 2001 to 2012.

T he first issue had a dedication “for those who have endured physical mental or emotional abuse.” This set the publications tone to be one for helping those women who have faced hardship and discrimination and give them a chance to tell their stories. Eleven years of stories, essays, poetry, and art are kept within the volumes which are now kept within the Lehigh Special Collections. It is hoped that the publications can continue to be of use to those in Women’s and Sexuality Studies along with those who wish to learn about the evolution of feminism on Lehigh’s campus.

 

Digital issues of the Origyns are archived in and accessible through the Lehigh Preserve: http://preserve.lehigh.edu/origyns/

W. Ross Yates

Willard Ross Yates has an illustrious academic history in the field of political science. Before becoming a professor at Lehigh University, he earned his B.A. and M.A. at the University of Oregon and Ph.D. at Yale University. He was a Fulbright Scholar from 1951 to 1952 and served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946. After obtaining his Ph.D in 1956, he taught at Kenyon College and the University of Vermont before coming to Lehigh.

At Lehigh, he was a professor of political science which would earn him the Hillman Award, the highest honor for a member of the faculty and staff. By the end of his career in 1986 he had held the titles of Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Government Emeritus. He not only excelled in the field of political science but was an expert on the history of Lehigh and Bethlehem. He is most well known for his works “History of the Lehigh Valley Region”, Bethlehem of Pennsylvania, the Golden Years, andLehigh University: A History of Education in Engineering, Business, and the Human Condition of which Lehigh Library Special Collections has the original manuscript and notes for. His works are considered the leading resource for Bethlehem and Lehigh history. He displayed the true signs of a Renaissance man with all the activities he participated in, from the Bach Choir, to completing 130 marathons, and winning prizes for gardening and poetry.

More detail on his life can be found on his obituary linked here:

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/mcall/obituary-print.aspx?n=willard-yates&pid=183929737

Canals Once Believed to Network Around Mars

7c497201e8a5afe6b022af5001c10b8eResearch and design projects on colonizing Mars have been a source of wonder for mankind since they began in the 1990s. But, there used to be a different reason that man would look up to the sky in awe. That reason was the belief that sentient intelligent extra-terrestrials lived on the Martian surface.

Percival Lawrence Lowell, a famous American businessman, mathematician, and astronomer fully believed that intelligent life was creating canals on Mars to sustain life on the dying planet. He wrote multiple books on his observations and conclusions on Mars. Shown here is one of his many maps detailing the canal structures included in his book Mars and its Canals, which was featured in Lehigh’s Cartographic Perspectives Exhibit. His views, though debated by industry professionals, took the interest of many people. Lowell and his claims were not well respected by those in the astronomical community of his time. However, he made his mark on history through his theory on Planet X. Lowell’s search for the mysterious planet that supposedly shifted the orbits of Uranus and Neptune, which was erroneously calculated, came up fruitless. However, he started a fourteen year search for the mysterious ninth planet which concluded in the discovery of the dwarf planet, Pluto, located where Lowell had theorized. Despite being a poor astronomer, making exaggerated conclusions about life on Mars, falsely identifying surface features on Venus, and failing to find the massive ninth planet that he theorized, he made a lasting mark on our knowledge of the Solar System and many of his books are available in the Lehigh University Libraries.

 

A Moral Slide Rule

img_0001
Dr. Claude G. Beardslee was a professor emeritus of moral and religious philosophy at Lehigh University while also serving as the university’s chaplain from 1931 until he retired in 1947. As a professor of moral philosophy, he was interested in the decision making process that people went through, especially in relation to our democratic system. Lehigh’s Special Collections currently holds  three sets of boxes that could have been used for his classes. Upon opening the box, two books sit on top, both written by Beardslee himself. The first book is
Analysis of Moral Problems. In this document, he aims to preach the betterment of society and democracy through the strengthening and teaching of the public in morals and self-governance. The second book is Student Philosophy, which aims to help develop a personal philosophy for students who read it. It is surmised, as there are multiple sets of boxes, that Dr. Beardslee would give these to his graduate students in his Proseminar classes (M.R.Phil. 100 & 101).

img_0004

The most interesting object in these boxes is a large wooden tablet with small planks that have a multitude of moral definitions and suggestions printed on them. The tablet and planks fit together to create an “Executive Sense Slide Rule.” The Executive Sense Slide Rule is a device for analyzing problems and questions in light of different ethics systems and different situations. Dr. Beardslee, in Section A of the slide rule’s instructions, says “The purpose [of the slide rule] is to aid self-education in a spirit which employs the forms of certainty in the personal skills of wisdom.” Earlier in this section, he expressed his belief that the “best conduct and best happiness” come from those whose internal morals are cemented as their character. He does not mean that the morals must be static; he says that there are at least three different moral systems, only one being truly static.

img_0005

The slide rule is used by going through and thinking about how the situation being analyzed fits within the “five forms of character”: thinking, communicating, knowing, judging, and acting. Each movable plank represents one of these characters and has sections for different ways and perspectives from which to look at a problem. Once decided upon one, the rule will give a list of philosophical definitions, wisdom, or knowledge that may be applicable to the situation. This is done for all five forms of character and then the user will have a well formed view of the problem at hand and, ideally, know the implications of the decision they make.

The attempt to systematize a philosophical system such as ethical decision making is a noble effort. The way in which Dr. Beardslee went about creating this system was undoubtedly inspired by the engineering influence at Lehigh University. With the pursuit of engineering and scientific advancement at the university, all should be mindful that any progress is best made under an ethical code. This is to ensure that we do not harm or hinder our neighbors, country, or environment. Dr. Beardslee seems to be creating a unified philosophy for those who are making decisions that will affect everyone. This pursuit aligns with the creation of engineering ethics in the major engineering associations in the early 1900s.

 

 

Banned Books Week: Daniel Gerhard “Dan” Brown and Modern Censorship

Throughout much of the latter part of the written word’s existence, books, especially of the science and fiction genres, have been banned for featuring content that went against the social or religious norms of society. One of the most famous conduits of these bans has been the Catholic Church, which published an index of banned books considered sinful to read, titled the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. This index lasted from 1529 to 1966, when it was declared to not have paramount moral authority. Other sources of book bans throughout history have been governments, school systems, and religions. The targets of many early bans were scientific works such as those of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo in the 16th and 17th centuries. As history crept into the modern day and fiction became a more common genre of writing, banning books for sexual depictions, violence, and unpopular political views has become more common. In the modern age, with much emphasis being put on tolerance and acceptance, people may think that we are beyond the banning books, but we still see bans ranging from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, J.D. Salinger’s A Catcher in the Rye, Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Authors can face bans on their books due to a book’s content and because they draw from facts in the real world.

The Da Vinci Code

In 2000, when Daniel Gerhard “Dan” Brown released his first Robert Langdon novel, Angels and Demons, he sparked a worldwide conversation on the content of literature and its relation to the real world. The book was a mystery which concluded in a camerlengo planting an antimatter bomb in the Vatican and faking a vision from God in order to save what he believed to be a dying Catholic Church. Brown’s consistent use of scientific facts and religious beliefs in his story added to the realism for which he became known. Many were infuriated for the insinuation that the Catholic Church’s hierarchy could be corrupt. This became a full-fledged debate with Brown’s 2003 publication of The Da Vinci Code. This novel is a mystery-thriller focusing on a murder connected to a secret society that was created to protect the Holy Grail. In the novel, Brown evokes the idea that the Holy Grail refers to Mary Magdalene and her descendants, who began with the children she bore with Jesus of Nazareth. Despite this idea being unoriginal, Brown brought it into the spotlight and offered the evidence for it in the novel. Some viewed this claim to be an affront on the Catholic Church and Christians everywhere. This led to the book being banned in countries such as Lebanon, Manila, India, Egypt, Pakistan, Samoa, Sri Lanka, and Jordan and being severely criticized by other countries including the Vatican. Brown’s books continue to use the themes of science and religion to analyze views on religion, the soul, morals, and hidden history. As movies based on his work come out worldwide, more and more governments and religions have been banning and criticizing the content of his writing.

We are now at an impasse in the debate where we can decide that Brown’s work is an example of artistic freedom and one man’s view on the world or denounce his work for going against traditional views and blurring the line between fiction and reality. This is a choice for our generation and for all future generations so that all views of a topic may be known and maybe, like in the case of early astronomers, the controversial views expressed may be proved true. This is why no book, written word, or even speech should be silenced or censored “for even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

LEPOCO 50th Anniversary

Congratulations to the LEPOCO (Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern), a now ingrained Lehigh Valley institution, for turning fifty this year. For the last fifty years, the Lehigh-Plepocoocono Committee of Concern has been the voice of peace and environmentalism in the Lehigh Valley. The committee began as a local group advocating for the end of the Vietnam war under the name of “The Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern to End War in Viet Nam”. The group, spearheaded by Peter Cohen, advocated for an end to the draft and the war. This was the focus of LEPOCO until the war officially ended in 1975.

They fought against the war for the first decade of their organization. Through marches, rallies, posters, and talks, the message of peace and understanding was spread through the Lehigh Valley. With events like the Harrisburg Seven and celebrities like Jane Fonda coming to speak in the area, the group was able to become known nationwide. While the war was still going on, LEPOCO set their sights on President Richard Nixon. They called for his impeachment beginning in 1972. The continuing political involvement of the group expedited the distrust and investigation into President Nixon’s hidden activities.

vietnamThe fact that they had accomplished the goal of ending the war did not stop the Committee, rather it opened up more opportunities to promote peace and wellness outside of Vietnam. After the Vietnam War, worked as activists to help those affected by the war in Vietnam and build relations with Japan through a sister-city project, which produced the Japanese Garden which now sits in Bethlehem. After the Three Mile Island Nuclear Accident, LEPOCO fought against the building and construction of nuclear energy facilities which coincided with their anti-nuclear weapon position. From the 1970s to the present, LEPOCO has also supported labor rights with assisting the farm workers movement and Cesar Chavez in the 1970s and continuing to work for civil rights throughout its history. LEPOCO has been one of the largest and most prominent activist groups in the Lehigh Valley and is continuing its work to bring peace to the world to this day.
rodale
Today, the Lehigh University Special Collections houses Archives of LEPOCO which includes correspondence, posters, pamphlets, photographs, slides, business records, newsletters, and newspaper clippings all referencing the group’s activist activities. This collection is open to researchers learn more about LEPOCO and peace activities in Lehigh Valley.
For more information about the collection, please contact Special Collections.