Veterans Day 2019

For Veterans Day, today we honor our military veterans and thank them for their service. Veterans Day commemorates veterans of all wars and recognizes them even after their service ends. Veterans Day originated as Armistice Day in 1919 after the anniversary of the end of the First World War. 

Here at Linderman Library, we have a few books explaining Armistice day and the history behind the creation of the day. Even in Special Collections there are books remembering veterans as well as their mental health after returning from war. Military service is hard on many, if not all soldiers, and we as citizens should remember such hardships. We should also remember that even when veterans’ military service has ended, many still face battles like homelessness, mental health issues, unemployment and much more. Pictured below are selections from two books about the 1918 Armistice that ended World War I from the Linderman Library stacks. 

United Nations Day 2019

Today, October 24th, we celebrate the creation of the United Nations on its 74th year of operation. The international organization was created in 1945 after the Second World War by 51 countries. The purpose of the UN is to maintain international peace and security. Member countries are also trying to improve relations among nations to create social progress, better living standards and human rights. Here at Lehigh University Special Collections we have a pamphlet from 1948 called “World Peace through the United Nations” by Thomas J. Watson.

Watson was an American businessman who served as the chairman and CEO for International Business Machines (IBM) from 1914 to 1956. He developed the IBM management style and corporate culture, growing it into one of the biggest corporations in the world. While at IBM, Watson was a member of the Newcomen Society of North America, an educational foundation dedicated to celebrating the history of engineering and technology. This pamphlet focuses on the United Nations’ effectiveness after World War II, with Watson’s speech detailing ways to help maintain this peace. The ideas presented by Watson were to highlight opportunities for business leader to maintain economic peace through the the United Nations. It was stated as “World Peace through World Trade” that would strengthen the economic foundation of the world. The idea and slogan were originally produced by Watson for The International Chamber of Commerce, but World War II broke out before his plans could be put into effect. The idea was for businesses to operate as a unified entity across separate states. 

Lehigh University is now a registered Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with the United Nations, just the sixth university in the world to achieve such recognition.

Banned Books Week 2019

The theme of this banned books week is “Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark. Keep the Light On!”. The censorship in books over the years has left some of the world’s most historic authors in the dark. In this case we are looking at the extraordinary author Toni Morrison, who is known as “The Patron Saint of Banned Books.” Morrison is a historic black author who tackled many issues of race and self identity in the black community. Morrison used powerful imagery that made her stories unique and creative. On the other hand her works were often seen as controversial by parents groups due to their explicit content. Overall, Morrison had her four books Beloved, Song of Solomon, Sula, and The Bluest Eye banned due to their graphic content and the realistic life events portrayed throughout her books. 

Morrison passed away on August 5th at the age of 88. Through recognizing her banned books, we continue to celebrate the life and work of Toni Morrison. Here at Lehigh University in Linderman Library we have a few of her works in circulation. To “The Patron Saint of Banned Books” thank you for keeping the light on and speaking on the issues that people still try to avoid. 

 

Lehigh Valley Rail Road Collection: Part 3

Part III: Metadata and Conclusion

The next step in the digitization process for the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company Land Documents collection involved creating metadata. Metadata is data that summarizes the basic information about other data. In this case, the metadata was an Excel spreadsheet for each sub-folder or folder in the collection. The spreadsheet included basic information for each document in the sub-folder or folder such as title, identifier number, the document’s box and folder, date scanned, and relevant associated subjects. Once the metadata was completed, the scanned documents were uploaded as a collection following the organizational method of the physical collection. The metadata is also included for the sub-folders and folders to describe the basic information about the documents.

There are a couple of things I learned throughout the process of digitizing this collection. The first is the importance of metadata. At first glance, metadata seems unimportant. It simply gives the basic information about the data in question and takes a long time to create. Yet, metadata provides a very important role. When a collection appears as an online resource, it is very hard for a person interested in the collection to find each document’s basic information easily. It would require further searching and consequently more of a time commitment. The metadata provides a simple and fast way to obtain the document’s basic information. Therefore, people investigating a digitized online collection will be able to understand the basics of what they’re looking at without having to commit excess time to learn such minor and basic details. Additionally, I learned about the importance of having  collections available online in their digitized form. This particular collection contains information pertinent to a wide variety of research interests such as the development of America as an industrial power, the history of coal mining in Pennsylvania, and the dealings of businesses in the 19th century. Without its availability online, people would not be able to easily access this collection and the important information it provides without physically visiting Linderman Library and viewing the material in the Special Collections office. Ultimately, digital collections allow people to access primary source documents and the information they yield from anywhere in the world at any time.

Visit the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company Land Documents collection.

 

 

 

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’.”