Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving in the archives

We have two manuscripts (primary sources) that mention Thanksgiving and some nostalgic Thanksgiving postcards and greeting cards.

totally adorable girl fattening up Mr. Turkey, Thanksgiving Greetings postcard, 1909

The first manuscript is a transcribed diary entry from 1877 (p.64, transcribed by Mr. Clarence Jalving, from the Dutch) of Geesje Vander Haar Visscher. It reads...

"The 29th of November [1877] we observed Thanksgiving Day as ordered in the President’s proclamation.*  It’s wintry and yesterday it snowed hard all day. Maria [a daughter] is home and so four of them went to church while my husband and I stayed home. The roads aren’t fit for buggy or sleight[sic] so they walked to church. We talked and read together and felt a profound sense of gratitude for all we had enjoyed throughout the past year. When the children came home they said that Rev. Pieters had preached from Psalm 29: ‘But in His temple He is honored by everyone.' We had a fine meal at noon and gave of our substance for the needs of the students and the poor. And so another Thanksgiving day was history." 

Two kids patriotically obeying the proclamation, untitled postcard, undated

*President Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving on Oct. 3, 1863. To read a copy of the proclamation click here

Turkey makes gobblers of us all [and lets drink wine, too] postcard, 1907

The Clarke has two folders of material on Geesje: a poor quality photocopy of her diary in Dutch, and a much more legible, later, typed transcription of it. The diary is also available on microfilm. The original diary is housed at the Joint Archives of Holland, Michigan. Geesje’s diary discusses family, faith, Holland’s history, crops, the weather, and local events from a Dutch immigrant's faithful perspective.  


Born on Aug. 5, 1820 in Nastenbroek, the Netherlands, Geesje married Mr. Visscher on May 2, 1841. They were both from Separatist families. In 1845 the Visschers sailed for the U.S. with Rev. Van Raalte, eventually settling in Holland (Mich.) by 1846.  Together the Visschers had nine children: a daughter who died after seven weeks in 1843; Lemmie (a daughter) (1844- ); Willem (William) (1845?-1872), who served in the the 16th Michigan Infantry Company D during the Civil War as a substitute; Arend (1849-); Jan (1852-); Maria (1855-1856); Johannes (1856-); Maria (1858-); and Gezina "Selena" (1863-). All of the children became teachers, ministers, and/or married ministers. Lemmie, a teacher, and her minister husband were missionaries to Africa twice, the second time during the end of the Boer War. Jan was a minister in the Dakotas. Arend became a lawyer. Willem studied to become a minister and then studied medicine in NY (State). He died there of smallpox there in 1872. 

Thanksgiving greeting card, undated
Our second item comes in the form of a a Thanksgiving table place card with "Mother" written on a turkey in the Ursula Hemingway Jepson scrapbook, 1903, 1951. It looks very much like this greeting card turkey sans vegetables and leaves. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

UK to get new anti-terrorism laws

Police, intelligence, and security forces in the UK will be more strongly empowered by new laws, if passed,  to fight terrorism into the future, where the fight will continue for an unknown number of years. One of the bills involves insurance companies definitely being banned from paying ransoms in the hope this will deter terrorists from taking hostages for ransoms. Which other bills are coming soon and which powers they will contain is not specified but they will definitely concern controlling and gathering information. A web data gathering plan is also back on the agenda for discussion. The UK is also conducting public information sessions to help people identify homegrown terrorists. The UK is on a high alert for terrorism. If the UK is doing this, other nations will follow. Read more about it here

Bern Art Museum to accept Gurlitt art

Switzerland's Bern Art Museum has agreed to accept Gurlitt's art, which he mostly inherited from his dad who got it as stolen art from Jews from the Nazis. The museum has agreed to work with authorities and descendants of those with claims to the art. The laws work in the favor of the museum. It is difficult to prove your claims. It will be interesting to see how this works out. Several families have very strong claims, others weaker due to lack of paper evidence and time. Some of the art has been "lost" for decades, even since WWII. The museum has stated that contested art will never enter the museum. It is all being kept in an unidentified place. Much of the art has suffered at least some damage as it was kept in less than stellar conditions. This will be a legal nightmare for the museum, and has certainly been a legal nightmare for decades for the families involved.  Read more about it here

Friday, November 21, 2014

Russian wikipedia

Russia (meaning Putin) plans to have its own version of Wikipedia. I smiled when I read this. Russia apparently believes that info about Russia needs to be fair and accurate and that it can do it better job of this than anyone else. Hmmm.  When I was at UM Library School the reference profs told us how the books from the USSR constantly had changed as people were "removed" from history. So the UM staff pasted the new pages over the old pages so you could see how reporting [d]evolved with time and regimes. Eventually, the Soviets sent people to rip entire sections out of the UM's  books on the USSR in order to remove the past history that they no longer approved of. What a sad history. Read more about it here

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Steichen's photographs of the 1920s-1930s on exhibit

Archivist brings boxes of notable photographer Edward Steichen's prints made for major fashion magazines from the Conde Nast  archives in NY. [CN is a premier media company that creates some of the world's major magazines, mostly fashion.] The article says the photographs haven't seen the light of day in decades since they were created in the 1920s-1930s. I think not, but the title draws you to read the article. I think the archivist looked at them, and probably sleeved them, identified them, and inventoried them, too. The archivist clearly knew where they were located and was able to retrieve them for the journalist. I doubt the archivist appreciates the title of the article. The archivist is not named. I feel for the archivist, don't you?

A lot of the images involve big name female stars of the period wearing designer clothes because this pre-dates major models and the magazines knew they needed someone who looked good and comfortable on/with the camera. There are also some major male writers and politicos featured as well as some of Steichen's more artistic images. Some of the photos are currently exhibited at London's Photographer's Gallery until Jan. 18th. No word as to what will happen with the photographs after the exhibit. Will they be sold, pitched, returned to their archives and recognized for their worth, or what?

Here's a link to the Gallery's exhibit

Read more of the article here

If you want to know more about the fashion magazine industry leader noted above click here

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Anonymous and the KKK

Anonymous. They really mean action, don't they? They attack full force out of nowhere. They are a force to be reckoned with. I admire their guts.

After the KKK blogged that it would hurt people who protested in  Ferguson, Missouri, and we all know what happened there, a white police officer shot an unarmed black youth, and the racial unrest that continues, which leads you to believe it has been happening for decades, Anonymous took over the KKK's online presence, exposing members via their FB accounts with addresses, phone numbers, work places, the names and ages of their kids, and even photographs of KKK family members.

Anonymous says it is not acting against free speech, but instead against the physical threats the KKK promised to protesters as a hate group. The KKK members have now been completely publicly exposed for the first time ever. I wonder if anyone will attack the KKK members now that they have been forced out of their sheets. Maybe they will be afraid for the first time in their lives. It is interesting that Anonymous did this, and that they went so far as to even include the KKK children. They are children, but they are children who are being brought up to hate and propagate hate. If I were their parents I would be afraid for them and for myself.

As an archivist at an archives which holds several sets of KKK membership cards from the 1920s, clearly identifying people, their spouses, occupations, and general addresses, this current exposure is new and different. The few membership cards of the past, found in various states, have usually been found decades after most members are dead. They are usually found by accident after an KKK ex-officer dies having forgotten to dispose of the records. Now, Anonymous has exposed current, active KKK members, some of them with young children. Very few KKK members have been arrested while active over the years, and not all of this personal, identifying, familial information was widely dispersed to the public. This is a historic event of revelation and must be infuriating and probably terrifying to at least some KKK members.

What are the implications of this Anonymous action? Will the KKK be arrested by the feds for threatening to hurt people for trying to invoke freedom of expression, or for hate crimes or for impeding civil rights? Will the KKK retract their threats? Will they in turn be threatened or attacked? Will they ask for protection? If they are attacked, will Anonymous be blamed? It must tick the KKK off to be exposed and not have a direct, known target to go after and intimidate or beat up. If the KKK tries other online means I hope that Anonymous re-exposes them. Will Anonymous take over other hate groups' accounts? Too bad they can't hit ISIS. Maybe they are trying, who knows? This is a very interesting development in online media control of hate groups. I'll bet the NSA, the feds, and local law enforcement are trying to figure out who is doing what and how to react to it. Oh wait...they've apparently been trying to do that for some time now. Local and state MO officials do not seem to have a clue. I'm thinking that they might benefit from classes on public servant hood, humanity, and basic communication skills.  Who or what will Anonymous hit next and why? Read more about it at

Researching what your ancestors did in WWI

Hail to Europe which is making a really big deal out of remembering WWI and making available and known  to  the public many archival sources documenting people of that era. This is an interesting online step-by-step set of instructions about how to conduct your own family research for WWI veterans if you are from the UK. It is very similar to how you conduct American research, same types of records, sources, and research plans. Many American  enlistment or draft forms  are now available as well as other vital records (birth, marriage, death record) on Searching is not as easy as it is portrayed to be in tv commercials, but it is way easier than it was when you had to use microfilm on the old hand crank microfilm readers which didn't print or copy or download. Read more about it here