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.

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.