Lehigh Valley Rail Road Collection Part 2: Organization of Collection and Scanning

Special Collections originally received the Lehigh Valley Rail Road Land Documents collection in two storage boxes with the documents in disarray, carelessly folded, crumpled, and dusty. After sorting through the contents, it was discovered that some of the documents had been previously numbered and organized, presumably by the Lehigh Valley Railroad office staff. Three quarters of the documents feature red stamped numbers, categorizing them into a certain order. This numbering system was maintained by Special Collections when organizing and processing the collection for use by researchers. With regard to the documents that did not have a red number stamped on them, they were simply organized according to associated references. Additionally, the documents are mostly organized in chronological order, though there are a few exceptions throughout the collection. It is a basic archival principle to maintain the original order used by the creator of the material, as this organization can itself provide useful information.

Physically, the collection now consists of four archival boxes,totaling two linear feet, and one flat box that is also two linear feet, making this a relatively small and manageable archival collection. The first four boxes contain regular sized documents relating to the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company and are number in numerical order from 1 to 4. The fifth box contains documents that were removed from the collection because they were oversized. Each box is compromised of folders and more detailed sub-folders that contain the documents themselves.

After organizing the collection, each document was scanned using one of Special Collections’ overhead scanners at the highest possible quality of 600 dpi. The digital files of the scanned documents were then placed into folders that mirrored the organization structure of the boxes. By the end of this scanning process, all of the documents in the collection had a digital version placed into files based on the physical organizational structure of the collection, making it easy for researchers to identify and locate both the original and digital materials. The digital files can be viewed and freely downloaded through Lehigh’s digital collections site. All of this information is now stored and made available in an archival finding aid, available online through the Lehigh Libraries website.

 

 

World of Tomorrow: The 1939 World’s Fair

(View of the Trylon and Perisphere from the Amusements Area, Wired)

On this day 79 years ago, April 30, 1939, the “World of Tomorrow” opened to the public. No, this wasn’t a Disney theme park, it was the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The Fair was a bubble in time, with buildings straight out of pulp science fiction. Sweeping curves, shining chrome, towers of dizzying heights, and huge geometric shapes not yet seen in everyday architecture. After ten years of the Great Depression, the people of New York and the United States were ready to move on to better times, and the glittering world of the Fair provided an escape that the Depression couldn’t touch. Planning for the Fair began in early 1935, right in the heart of the Depression. After seeing Chicago’s financial success with their “Century of Progress” themed fair in 1933, New York decided to take the risk and host a World’s Fair. Construction for the fair took three whole years and cost a grand total of $155,000,000, which is almost $3,000,000,000 adjusted for inflation! To try and make up for this great expense, the Fair charged admission to all guests, at a price of  75 cents ($13.56 adjusted for inflation) for adults and 25 cents ($4.52 adjusted for inflation) for children. Season passes and student tickets were also available at discounted rates.

(View of the opening ceremony, The Atlantic)

The opening ceremony was quite the spectacle. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt officially opened the Fair with an address honoring George Washington, as opening day marked the 150th anniversary of his inauguration as the first President of the United States, and assured the people that the future would certainly be better. Television was also introduced to the mass public during the opening ceremony by RCA president David Sarnoff. Lastly, Albert Einstein gave a speech about cosmic rays which concluded with the lighting of the Fair, including the the Trylon and Perisphere that made up the central theme center. The Fair would be visited by numerous world leaders, including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II of England in the weeks following the opening. Each of these visits were accompanied by much celebration.

The Fair was divided into seven main areas:

(Portion of a souvenir map from the official guide book)

  1. The first, and perhaps most popular, was the Amusements area. This 280 acre section was filled with various types of entertainment, including stage shows, street performers, boardwalk games, and an over the top water ballet organized by showman Billy Rose. Several rides were also present in this area, including the 250 foot tall Life Savers Parachute Tower, which was later moved to the Coney Island boardwalk where it can still be seen, though it is no longer operational.
  2. The Communications and Business Systems area  focused on man’s ability to receive and spread knowledge. Some exhibits found in this area include the American Telephone and Telegraph Co.’s (AT&T) Demonstration Call Room, where visitors could make long distance calls to any registered US telephone, and the Radio Corporation of America’s (RCA) demonstration of newly available televisions.
  3. The Community Interests area was organized around home life and community living. Featured exhibits of this area include the Gardens on Parade, a six acre flower show with a restaurant in the center, and a model home running entirely on gas hosted by multiple American and Canadian utility organizations.
  4. The Food Zone focused on the production, distribution, and consumption of food products. Major exhibits here include the American Tobacco Company, where the cigarette making process was demonstrated, and the Continental Baking Company, who showed the process of making bread and sold sandwiches made from the fresh bread.
  5. The next area, and perhaps the most important, is the Government area, home to over 60 world nations. Some of the biggest exhibits in this area belonged to Great Britain and the British Colonial Empire, Italy, Japan, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and of course, the United States of America. A sub area of the Government zone was the Court of States, where some of the states presented their history, their tourism industry, and their industries.
  6. The next area, moving closer to the heart of the park and perhaps most important to the theme of “The World of Tomorrow,” was the Production and Distribution area which showcased how resources were transformed into products and how they were then put into the hands of the public. Some featured exhibits from this area include the Consolidated Edison Company of New York Incorporated’s diorama, which was about a city block in length and almost four stories tall, and the Bethlehem Steel Company’s “How Steel is Made” show.
  7. The Transportation area was home to many extraordinary exhibits, including a large scale model car-based city presented by General Motors, and a parade of international trains presented by the 27 Eastern railroads on their 17 acre railyard stage.

 

The 1939 fair would close in October after six months of operation, only to reopen again in April of 1940 for a second season of operation. During the gap between seasons, the fair underwent many changes due to the impending Second World War, including the demolition of the USSR Pavilion and the closing of the Poland and Czechoslovakia pavilions. Upon its reopening it was re-themed as “For Peace and Freedom,” due to the escalating war in Europe. The second season of the fair focused much more on the amusements rather than the scientific and historic pavilions. The fair officially closed on October 27th, 1940 and was deemed a financial failure. Upon its closure, many of the fair’s amusements were sold to the famous Steeplechase Park (formerly Luna Park) in Coney Island, and other buildings were repurposed or sold to interested buyers. The site of the Fair would later host the 1964-1965 World’s Fair, famously known for it’s Disney influence, including “It’s a Small World,” and an audio-animatronic Abraham Lincoln. These two fairs would inspire Walt Disney to create the EPCOT Center at his Walt Disney World park in Florida. The fairgrounds are now currently known as Flushing Meadows – Corona Park, and are home to the several remnants of the two world fairs held there.

With these World’s Fairs over and gone, one might wonder why they aren’t held anymore. The short answer is that they still are but in a very different form. These new fairs focus on the environment we live in, both the physical built world and architecture, and the actions we must take to preserve the naturally occurring world. With the ability to see the world on your phone, the need for a traditional World’s Fair has faded away. But still, it is incredible that the 1939 World’s Fair happened amidst the financial crisis that was the Great Depression, and gave people hope that the future would be better.

(View from the top of the Empire State Building looking towards the fair, The Atlantic)

I would also like to thank Eleanor, a volunteer here at the library, for bringing in a souvenir teapot from the 1939 World’s Fair that belonged to her parents. Being able to hold a piece of memorabilia from an event so influential in the growth of our world filled me with a sense of wonder that I can’t quite put into words. 

Works Cited and Related

Zim, Larry., Mel Lerner, and Herbert Rolfes. The World of Tomorrow: The 1939 New York World’s Fair. New York: Harper & Row, 1988. https://asa.lib.lehigh.edu/Record/315869

Queens Museum., Helen A. Harrison, and Joseph P. Cusker. Dawn of a New Day: The New York World’s Fair, 1939/40. Flushing, N.Y. : New York: Queens Museum, 1980. https://asa.lib.lehigh.edu/Record/192428

Wurts, Richard., and Stanley Appelbaum. The New York World’s Fair, 1939/1940 in 155 Photographs. New York: Dover Publications, 1977. https://asa.lib.lehigh.edu/Record/304397

Rolfes, Herbert. The 1939 New York World’s Fair in Postcards. Pittstown, N.J.: Main Street Press, 1988. https://asa.lib.lehigh.edu/Record/319066

New York World’s Fair. Official Guide Book of the New York World’s Fair, 1939. New York: Exposition Publications Inc., 1939. https://asa.lib.lehigh.edu/Record/10757308

Rybczynski, Witold. “What Happened to the World’s Fair?” Architectmagazine.com, The Journal of the American Institute of Architects, 9 Apr. 2018, www.architectmagazine.com/design/what-happened-to-the-worlds-fair_o.

Taylor, Alan. “The 1939 New York World’s Fair.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 1 Nov. 2013, www.theatlantic.com/photo/2013/11/the-1939-new-york-worlds-fair/100620/.

Snyder, Jon. “1939’s ‘World of Tomorrow’ Shaped Our Today.” Wired, Conde Nast, 29 Apr. 2010, www.wired.com/2010/04/gallery-1939-worlds-fair/.

James Monroe’s Birthday

For the United States of America, April is a eventful month, having witnessed some of the most important events in the history of the nation. Many of these events are tied to the American Revolutionary War, which established the United States as an independent nation. The famous ride of Paul Revere and William Dawes occurred on April 18th, 1775. The American Revolutionary War began a day later on April 19th, 1775 at Lexington and Concord. Additionally, George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States after the American Revolutionary War on April 30. Another important, though not as well known, event that happened in the month of April is the birth of James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States. James Monroe was the last president of the Virginia Dynasty and provided a vital role in the founding of the United States. About 260 years after his death, Monroe is perhaps best remembered for his famous foreign policy – the Monroe Doctrine. Today, we can use this piece of policy to understand the origins of America’s foreign policy stances.

The Special Collections Department at Lehigh University holds various letters written by James Monroe himself. These letters are addressed to other historical figures such as Alexander Hamilton. Moreover, Fairchild-Martindale Library at Lehigh holds a copy of President Monroe’s 1823 annual address to Congress. This copy contains the portion of the speech that introduces the Monroe Doctrine as well as a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Monroe regarding foreign policy. These documents allow us to understand America’s first foreign policy position.

Essentially, the Monroe Doctrine opposed European intervention in the Americas. Early American leaders wished to remain independent from the numerous European conflicts. In his letter to Monroe, Jefferson says that “our first and fundamental maxim should be, never to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe.” However, these leaders also wanted Europe to respect the independence of the American countries. Thus, as president, Monroe voiced the beliefs of American leaders when he stated that America would physically oppose European intervention in the Americas. Monroe vocalized this idea in his speach when he said that such intervention would “endanger our peace and happiness” and that it would be impossible for America to treat such intervention with “indifference.”

The Monroe Doctrine serves as the key legacy of President James Monroe because it shows the first time America developed a solid, physical stance with respect to foreign policy. Before this policy, America focused on internal affairs and did not have a concrete policy regarding foreign affairs. As America began to develop as a nation, it decided to vocalize its foreign policy. The Monroe Doctrine was the first step in that process. Today, America continues this tradition of articulating distinct foreign policies. Recently, America’s relationship with Russia, China, France, and Syria reflect such foreign policy decisions.

Although the complexity of foreign policy has increased over the last couple of centuries, it is important to note Monroe’s impact on this particular part of American government. He was the first United States president to put forth a concrete foreign policy agenda. Foreign policy has since evolved, but Monroe’s original stance on foreign policy set the groundwork. Monroe’s birthday is an ideal time to remember the impact and contributions of the fifth president of our country.

Works Cited

Monroe, James, and Thomas Jefferson. The Monroe Doctrine: Also, Jefferson’s Letter to Monroe. [s.l.]: Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., Americanization Dept., 1920.

Related Sources

Hamilton, Alexander. [Memorandum] 1797 Regarding the Statements of Mr. Muhlenberg and Mr. Monroe Regarding the James Reynolds Affair. 1797.

Monroe, James. The Writings of James Monroe, Including a Collection of His Public and Private Papers and Correspondence, Now for the First Time Printed. New York: AMS Press, 1969.

Monroe, James, University of Virginia. Library, and United States. National Historical Publications Commission. James Monroe Papers in Virginia Repositories. [Charlottesville: University of Virginia Library, 1969.

 

Lehigh Valley Rail Road Collection: Part 1

Part I: The History

The Lehigh University Libraries Special Collections department, located in Linderman Library, houses a collection of Lehigh Valley Railroad Land Documents. This collection contains approximately 384 documents (deeds, titles, indentures, correspondence and leases) for anthracite coal lands, 40 envelopes, 20 maps, two pamphlets, one photogravure, and one large colored “painting.” Many of these items are dusty, stained, crumpled, and some are very fragile, requiring care in handling. Most of the documents, envelopes, and maps in this collection belonged to the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company, which was created by Lehigh University’s founder, Asa Packer, in order to transport the large amount of coal being mined in Pennsylvania. Packer owned such coal mines around Mauch Chunk (Jim Thorpe), Pennsylvania and had relied on the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company to ship his coal on canal-boats to the industrial metropolises of the East. However, Packer came to believe that the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company was charging him too much money to ship his coal along its canals. When the company refused to lower the prices for shipping, Packer decided to buy up railroad lines and create a transportation system that would allow him to ship his coal faster and cheaper. Asa Packer’s control of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company allowed him employ a measure of vertical integration in the coal industry, though Packer would later sell of his coal interests to focus on the railroad.  Thus, the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company served as a critical organization in the industrial history of Pennsylvania, and the United States at large. This collection of documents from the company gives us insight into the operations and transactions of a company that helped America become a world industrial power.

The Lehigh Valley Railroad Land Documents collection was recently digitized and is now available in its entirety through Lehigh’s digital collection site.

For more detailed information about the items in the Lehigh Valley Railroad Land Documents, please see the finding aid.

The records of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation company mentioned in this post have also been digitized and made available online, and check the finding aid for more information.

Christmas at Lehigh 100 Years Ago

With Christmas only three weeks away, now is a perfect time to reflect on the holiday’s history at at Lehigh. One hundred years ago, Lehigh students celebrated Christmas as a time of joy and, contemplation. Lehigh’s student newspaper, The Brown and White, provides a glimpse into Christmases during the era of the First World War (1914-1918).

Today, pine trees are one of the most common symbols associated with Christmas. In 1914, the Lehigh community celebrated Christmas with a 75 foot tall tree, decorated with colored incandescent lights and placed where Packard Laboratory now stands. As stated in the above article, the practice of lighting a tree for Christmas had started at Lehigh the previous year, 1913. Santa Claus, another beloved icon of Christmas, can also be found in Lehigh publications from the time of the First World War. The plight of sick and wounded soldiers in Europe was heavy on American minds, and the Red Cross ran numerous fundraising drives to improve medical support on European battlefields. One example of such a drive held around Christmastime can be seen above featuring Santa Claus. American citizens were also encouraged to help the war effort by not sending Christmas cards, which were described as “useless and unproductive,” and to instead contribute money towards more charitable operations, which can be seen summarized above.

Vol. 25 No. 20 Page 1, 12/7/1917
Vol. 25 No. 20 Page 3, 12/7/1917

 

Another facet of wartime Christmas was the shortening of the 1917 Christmas holidays at Lehigh. Originally set to run until January 2, the faculty decided to reduce the holiday to only six days, from December 21 to December 27, in order to allow men to complete their coursework before potentially being drafted to serve in the First World War. There was an understandable student outcry to this decision. The official notice and student response are shown above.

The digital Brown and White archive provides a portal into Lehigh’s past, and a connection to Christmases past.

Happy 259th Birthday Noah Webster!

Frontispiece of  An American Dictionary of the English Language

On this day, October 16th, in 1758, a pioneer in American English-language education was born. Noah Webster is one of the most influential figures in the early decades of American history; having published some of the most well-known textbooks and dictionaries of the nineteenth century. Webster’s first famous publication came with his 1783 A Grammatical Institute of the English Language, which was nicknamed the “Blue-Backed Speller” for its blue covers. Lehigh Special Collections holds an 1805 edition of Webster’s work The American Spelling Book, a later publication title of the Blue-Backed Speller. Webster aimed to provide a standard for American spelling and grammar, and also sought to educate schoolchildren with books written in America.

In 1801, Webster began compiling a dictionary of American usages and spellings of words. As Americans had slightly different ways of speaking than the English, Webster thought that a comprehensive dictionary would prove useful in standardizing the country’s language. After five years of work, he published A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language in 1806. This volume contained approximately 37,000 words with concise definitions for each. A first edition copy of this work can be found in Lehigh Special Collections.

Webster continued his work as a lexicographer after 1806, and eventually published a followup dictionary in 1828 titled An American Dictionary of the English Language. This work expands on Webster’s first dictionaty by defining over 65,000 words.  Special Collections also holds a first edition of this work, available to interested researchers.

A hand-written letter by Webster is also held by Lehigh, and can be accessed through I Remain: A Digital Archive of Letters, Manuscripts, and Ephemera.

In addition to publishing educational volumes, Webster was active politically and strongly advocated the Copyright Act of 1831. The Webster name is still closely associated with dictionaries as the Merriam-Webster dictionary is still being actively updated and published. The hyphenation is the result of George and Charles Merriam purchasing the rights to Webster’s An American Dictionary of the English Language following his death in 1843. Noah Webster is still noteworthy today for his push to provide widespread access to high-quality educational resources. As Webster wrote in his 1807 A Philosophical and Practical Grammar of the English Language, “the most necessary learning is, ‘to unlearn that which is naught’.”

Happy Birthday Germantown – A Borough Rich in Literary History

On this day in 1683, the borough of Germantown, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was founded. Despite encompassing an area of only about three square miles, the area has a surprisingly intricate history. Germantown was founded by German Quaker and Mennonite immigrants, and, even today, October 6 is noted as German-American Day. Germantown first became notable a mere five years after its founding, in 1688, when America’s anti-slavery movement took off there, through the issuance of the Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery, written by Francis Daniel Pastorius. Germantown also served as a battleground during the American Revolutionary War, when the Continental Army attacked the British garrison there. While a loss for the Americans, the British still suffered heavy casualties. As decades have passed, Germantown’s demographics have consistently changed. While initially comprised of primarily German immigrants (naturally), in the mid-nineteenth century the demographic began to include a large number of Italian immigrants. Another shift occurred around the second World War, as African American families from the south moved to Philadelphia – today, Germantown is a primarily African American community.

While Germantown boasts a truly impressive history for such a small area, what I find most interesting about the borough is its ties to the literary world and Lehigh Special Collections. In the mid-1700’s, Germantown resident Christoph Sauer brought a new element to the infant American printing industry when he started producing books in German and with a standard German type face. In 1739, Sauer printed the first book using a German type face – Fraktur, specifically – in America. Sauer sought to cater to the large numbers of German immigrants in the Philadelphia area who were forced to either buy imported books or use books not printed in Fraktur facing. Four years later, in 1743, Sauer printed the first Bible in any European language in America. Lehigh Special Collections holds original copies of both of these books, which can be seen below.

#BannedBooksWeek 2017: The Lord of the Rings

One of the most influential fantasy fiction stories of all time, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings has taken millions of people on the perilous journey through Middle-earth. However, to some, this journey is just too perilous to allow others to read. The books, along with The Hobbit, have since been banned a number of times in various schools and churches with reasons ranging from depictions of smoking to outright satanism.

In a number of schools, The Lord of the Rings has been banned for the frequent use of a pipe by various characters in the book. The National Health Service in Plymouth, England claimed that children were more likely to start smoking because of books and films like The Lord of the Rings. However, the trilogy has seen much harsher criticisms for darker reasons.

All three volumes of The Lord of the Rings

Catholic and Christian communities in particular have had a history of denouncing the books saying they promote witchcraft. The references to darkness and sorcery did not sit well with churches and religious schools. Somewhat recently, a group in the Christ Community Church in Alamogordo, New Mexico set fire to a pile of books that included Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. They claimed the books to be evil and said they were destroying people with their satanic ways.

Ironically, J.R.R. Tolkien was devoutly religious, having converted to Roman Catholicism at a very young age. His Biblical inspiration is often said to show up in characters like Gandalf and in the general story of light versus darkness. An even stronger example, Tolkien’s other work about the world of Middle-earth, The Silmarillion, has numerous similarities to the book of Genesis.

Map of Middle-earth located on the back cover of the library’s 1993 edition of The Lord of the Rings

Despite the banning and disputes The Lord of the Rings has suffered, it continues to excite people of all ages. Whether you believe Tolkien promotes witchcraft, references Christianity, or merely creates a magic world, he has certainly influenced the world with his stories.

 

References:

http://world.edu/banned-book-awareness-lord-rings-jrr-tolkien/

http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/31766

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.

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.