Mary Ann Shadd Cary

Among the items in the Black Abolitionists digital archive are a few hand-written speeches.  The words of the speaker always offer insight into a perspective of history that is only left to use through text records. Yet when you add the actual handwriting, it seems to offer a connection to the writer herself in a more personal way.  This speech by Mary Ann Shadd Cary is a great example of this.

While Mary Shadd Cary was widely recognized as a force for change by her fellow abolitionists during her time, there are few who remember her name today.  Back then, there were very few women abolitionists, and African American women abolitionists were extremely rare.  Encyclopedia.com tells her story quite well.  She was a teacher, a journalist, and “one of the best known and most prolific black writers of her generation.”  Besides her tireless work against slavery and gender equality, she was also the first black woman to edit a newspaper (The Provincial Freeman — March 24, 1853, to September 20, 1857).

Handwritten materials from the 1800s can be difficult to decipher.  This is especially true as the hard copy pages age.  We have transcribed this digitized work as best we can, and we offer our translation of the writing next to the actual text in PDF form.  This allows readers a fascinating glimpse into the author’s thought process, energy, and intense commitment to ending the horrors of slavery.  It demonstrates in a unique way the dedication of this one determined woman to do all she could to help make this happen.

The image below is from the Mary Shadd Cary Papers archive held in Ontario, Canada.  They have graciously given us permission to share this wonderful document with visitors to our digital archives. To read more of this speech, click here.

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Free Soil Party and the Voice of the Fugitive

In 1850, the Free Soil Party was formed to organize the more radical members of the Whigs and Democrats.  Wikipedia.com tells readers that the party leadership consisted mostly of anti-slavery members who opposed expansion of slavery within the U. S.  Good intentions, no doubt about it, but this noble third party practically fell apart about a year after it was formed.

In 1852, however, the party was almost revived during a Free Soilers Convention held in Ann Arbor on September 1.  A reporter for The Voice of the Fugitive newspaper (Canada’s first black newspaper) was there and summed up the event in a short but powerful article (shown here) published towards the end of that month.

The Free Soil party basically ended after the election of 1852 (their candidate, John P. Hale, lost).  Those who remained were swept into the Republican party in 1854.

The Voice of the Fugitive didn’t survive much longer than the Free Soil Party, however.  It’s final publication was issued in December, 1852.  The Voice of the Fugitive (and newspapers like it that followed) helped encourage Canadian sympathy and acceptance of the growing black population as more and more slaves escaped into its territories.

 

 

Education and Slavery

Alexander Crummell, among other Black Abolitionists of his day, spoke frequently and eloquently about the plight of the slave and the cause of freedom. His thoughts were offered not just to those with the power to free the enslaved portion of the population, but to the slaves themselves, encouraging them to live full and productive lives, urging them to be strong in their religious convictions, and offering them words of hope and comfort.  He also stressed the importance of education and the idea that an educated population was a successful one.  Although few slaves had the option of a formal education (in most places during this time, educating the slave was illegal), this was the key to their futures.

Few people have heard of this great man or know the legacy of his great works. Not only was he a wonderful orator, he was also very involved in the political “agitation” (as it was known then) toward a reasoned governmental approach to the question of slavery.

Reading through the many speeches and editorials from Crummell in the Black Abolitionist Archive, we learn that he moved to Liberia in 1853, at first as a missionary, then as a proponent of the American Colonization Society (an organization he had at one time spoken against).  This group was dedicated to relocating newly freed slaves and free people of color to newly settled areas in Africa and the West Indies. Crummell worked to help establish Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, in the newly independent country, along with converting the native people to Christianity.

His strong beliefs in the welfare of his people are obvious in his writings and speeches.  Crummell’s speech on education is among the few handwritten speeches in the Black Abolitionist archive.  Included with the transcription of this speech are his editing marks and notes. This allows the reader to not only get a feel for the way the speech was delivered, but it also allows the reader to step inside the thoughts of an amazing man working tirelessly for a noble cause.

Page 1 of 50 page speech by Alexander Crummell

This is the first page of a 50 page document delivered before the members of the Hamilton Lyceum on July 4, 1844. Interested?  Read more here.

A Colorful Winter

Winter in Detroit is usually experienced in variations of black and white: the frozen ground holds only a deep layer of snow broken here and there by stick black tree trunks and drab gray buildings.  The sky is often white before settling into its gray descent to early darkness.  Everything sleeps; and it seems all color is drained from the world during the bleak winter months.

Art allows a bridge for the seasons here.  Dynamic color temporarily replaces what nature withholds this time of year.  And one of the best places to find a colorful respite from these drab winter scenes is the Maurice Greenia, Jr. Collection in the Digital Archives.

This week we take a look at Maurice’s collage collection.  What better way to bring together color and seasonal change (two things that don’t usually belong together) than with a collage?   There are 21 items in this collection and each one is a wealth of color, offering viewers a momentary departure from the blank cold of winter and into the creative warmth of a colorful array of pattern for a while.

The introduction to this section of the archive tells us:

“Maurice Greenia, Jr. has long experimented with collage.  He enjoys the medium as a change of pace from drawing and painting.

He draws from a large collection of paper materials in this work.  These include wallpaper sample books, clippings from various sources, old photographs, ticket stubs and other found materials.”

 

1965

Fifty years ago in 1965, students at the University of Detroit were much like the students on campus today … well, mostly.  There were a few things different back then.  Imagining the average student in those days compared with students today is likely to conjure immediate visions of lack: no technology, no polar fleece, and no backpacks.

One thing students in 1965 did have in common with students today is registration.  The difference here is not one of lack but of abundance in terms of time, convenience, and assistance.  These days access to online registration helps new students negotiate what was once a tedious manual enrollment process.  A prospective student now can peruse the detailed offering of programs all online.  (That’s where the technology comes in.)

In 1965, a prospective student found this type of information through written correspondence, course catalogs, and visits to campus.  Registration in those days was a commitment of time, energy, and logic with negotiating the labyrinth of hallway tables seemingly designed to offer a challenge to critical thinking skills. It was accomplished, but not without some complaint.

Shown here is a page from the 1965 Summer Session Bulletin for U of D.  The instructions on this page offer a bit of insight into the registration process of students back then.  It’s a whole lot easier now and a whole lot friendlier. Now that we have backpacks and polar fleece, however, maybe a trip to campus for in-person registration is not such a bad idea.

Want to see more pages like this one?  Check out our Course Catalogs and Bulletins Digital Archive!

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 University of Detroit Summer Session Course Catalog, 1965.

 

Geodesics

One of the most recent additions to our Digital Archives is in the Dichotomy collection.  This archive provides access to the digitized issues of Dichotomy, a journal published by the School of Architecture students since 1978. In the archive’s introduction, Noah Resnick, Associate Professor of Architecture, tells visitors that Dichotomy,

“… strives to be the critical link to the discourse on design, architecture, urbanism, and community development. Like the institution, Dichotomy focuses on social justice and critical thought concerning intellectual, spiritual, ethical, and social development issues occurring in and outside of Detroit. The aim of Dichotomy is to disseminate these relevant investigations conducted by students, faculty, and professionals. “

Since 1978, Dichotomy has been a repository of academic discourse from students and professors as well as luminaries in the fields of architecture and design.  Each issue focuses on a simple yet provocative theme around which articles and featured projects are curated.”

This original collection was digitized by the 2011-12 Dichotomy student editors.  While not all issues are included at this time, we are adding more as they become available.

The latest addition to the collection is titled “Geodesics,” published in 1968.  This issue, authored by Edward Popko and considered a primer on geodesic domes, offers a unique investigation of Geodesic structures that is at once educational and fascinating.  Previous visitors to this archive may find exploring the drawings contained in this issue to be an engaging and delightful way to spend a snowy afternoon this winter.

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Come explore all the Dichotomy: School of Architecture Student Journal collection has to offer by clicking here.

 

Father Lord Lights Up the Land

The biography of Father Daniel A. Lord included in the “Light Up the Land” digital archive, tells readers that he was born in Chicago in 1888. This year marks the 60th anniversary of his death on January 15, 1955.

Father Lord is known for his remarkable literary and dramatic works, his dedication to his student-based charitable and devotional groups, and his artistic approach to communicating his message to a youthful audience through theater, writing, and music.

In the final paragraph of his article on Father Lord titled Dan Lord, Hollywood Priest published on the America Magazine web site, David J. Endres tells his readers the following:

“Lord’s ability to engage and energize youth was unmatched in his time. He made the truth attractive, spoke frankly about the church’s teachings and imparted his message with youthful enthusiasm. Lord’s legacy to this century, then, is not a call for the church to turn back the clock to a bygone era but to use every means to evangelize zealously in the 21st century.”

The UDM Libraries and Instructional Design Studio’s Digital Collection is pleased to offer Father Lord’s play in digital format.  As the beginning of “Part 1″ explains, this is “…not a film play but the filmed story of a play…”.  We see and hear Father Lord speaking to the audience, along with his interaction with Father Celestin J. Steiner, president of the university at the time.  This offers viewers a rare glimpse into one aspect of life in 1952, along with Father’s Lord’s extraordinary work.  This archive is a unique window into Father Lord’s life, his ideas, and his influence on education at the university during those years.

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“Old Winter has Come Again, Alack”

One of the best topics for conversation when nothing else is on the table for discussion is the weather.  Weather discussion offers you an endless supply of metaphor, an easy connection between strangers (who doesn’t enjoy talking about the weather?), and a huge area for opinion of one sort or another. It also offers a great way to ease into heavier subjects, such as poverty and the misery of the poor.

During the 1800s, the press offered the African population (both enslaved and free) a source for discussion of common interests, a sounding board for frustrations, and a connection to others in similar circumstances.  From this desire to connect grew several prominent black newspapers (a column from one of those newspapers, the Provincial Freeman, is shown below). And while these newspapers were dedicated to a specific audience, the editors knew that this media offered access to those who might best be able to help with social issues. In an effort to “keep an eye” on the black population, readers were often among the white community (mostly among white government officials).  In this way, black newspapers claimed a potential for understanding and perhaps a way to promote the cause of freedom and gain a powerful ally for change.

The article shown here from the Black Abolitionist Archive, is a great example of the way in which newspaper writers of the day were able to weave social commentary into banal conversational exchange.  The writer reminds readers that even though the seasons change, poverty is always there, and is always the same.

 

Provincial Freeman December 9, 1854

Merry Christmas!

While searching for something “Christmas-y” in the Digital Archives,  I came across this entry in the The James T. Callow Folklore Archive.  The poem, a reworking of A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore, struck me as a wonderfully creative way to teach children the true meaning of Christmas.

In researching this original poem, I discovered that Clement Clarke Moore wrote A Visit from St. Nicholas for his own children in 1822.  It was published anonymously by someone in his family and he didn’t even get credit for it until years later.  And, while Moore wrote other poems and had other work published, this one poem is what he’s remembered for.  This one poem has been associated with Christmas for generations.

The re-write published in Professor Callow’s archive, really only works with a knowledge of this original poem.  And to me, that’s what makes it notable, interesting, and distinct.

Interested in other traditions and customs associated with Christmas?  Check out The James T. Callow Folklore archive.  It’s a great way to spend a snowy Christmas afternoon.

‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
AND ALL THROUGH THE TOWN
ST. JOSEPH WAS SEARCHING,
WALKING UP ROADS AND DOWN.
OUR LADY WAS WAITING
SO MEEK AND SO MILD,
WHILE JOSEPH WAS SEEKING
A PLACE FOR THE CHILD.
THE CHILDREN WERE NESTLED,
EACH SNUG IN HIS BED;
AND THE GROWNUPS WOULDN’T BOTHER,
“THERE’S NO ROOM,” THEY SAID.
WHEN EVEN THE INNKEEPER SENT THEM AWAY
AND JOSEPH WAS WONDERING WHERE THEY WOULD STAY,
HE THOUGHT OF THE CAVE IN THE SIDE OF THE HILL.
“LET’S GO THERE,” SAID MARY, “IT’S SILENT AND STILL.”
THE MOON ON THE BREAST
OF THE NEW FALLEN SNOW
MADE A PATHWAY OF LIGHT
FOR THEIR TIRED FEET TO GO.
AND IN THE CAVE
IN A CRADLE OF HAY
THE SAVIOR WAS BORN
ON THAT FIRST CHRISTMAS DAY!
THE FATHER WAS WATCHING
IN HEAVEN ABOVE,
AND SENT FOR HIS ANGELS,
HIS COURTIERS OF LOVE.
MORE RAPID THAN EAGLES,
GOD’S BRIGHT ANGELS CAME,
REJOICING AND EAGER,
AS EACH HEARD HIS NAME.
“COME POWERS, COME CHERUBS,
COME VIRTUES AND RAPHAEL;
COME THRONES AND DOMINIONS,
COME MICHAEL AND GABRIEL.”
“NOW FLY TO THE EARTH
WHERE MY POOR PEOPLE LIVE,
ANNOUNCE THE GLAD TIDINGS
MY SON COMES TO GIVE!”
THE SHEPHERDS WERE WATCHING
THEIR FLOCKS ON THIS NIGHT;
AND SAW IN THE HEAVENS
AN UNEARTHLY LIGHT.
THE ANGELS ASSURED THEM
THEY’D NOTHING TO FEAR,
“IT’S CHRISTMAS,” THEY SAID,
“THE SAVIOR IS HERE.”
THEY HASTENED TO FIND HIM,
AND STOOD AT THE DOOR,
UNTIL MARY INVITED THEM IN
TO ADORE.
HE WAS SWADDLED IN BANDS
FROM HIS HEAD TO HIS FEET,
AND NEVER DID SHEPHERDS
SEE A BABY SO SWEET.
HE SPOKE NOT A WORD,
BUT THE SHEPHERDS ALL KNEW
HE WAS TELLING THEM SECRETS,
AND BLESSING THEM, TOO.
THEN SOFTLY THEY LEFT HIM,
THE BABE IN THE HAY,
AND REJOICED WITH GREAT JOY,
ON THAT FIRST CHRISTMAS DAY.
MARY HEARD THEM EXCLAIM
AS THEY WALKED UP THE HILL,
“GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST;
PEACE TO MEN OF GOOD WILL.”

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1914

One hundred years ago in December, 1914, the University of Detroit celebrated the upcoming holidays with a special “Xmas Number” edition of the Tamarack.  The look of this issue is slightly different, but the material included is just as creative and interesting as all the others.  Reading through some of the stories and poetry included in each Tamarack publication allows the reader to time travel a bit; but the December, 1914, issue offers a glimpse into Detroit’s place in a unique period in U.S. history.

The Tamarack is not just about nostalgia, however.  As the country was swiftly growing into the new century, much like today, the attachment to the familiarity of what was is even now strongly felt in this Tamarack’s perspective. A longing for home in those early years of the last century, often meant a longing for the country and the family farm.  Memories of childhood, changes in the seasons, and the anticipated holiday gatherings were then presented in clear juxtaposition to the noisy bustle of a growing city those writers knew.  Today these sorts of memories hold a different significance and importance to the fast pace of our modern perception.

The important political issues of today held a different meaning to those who awoke that Christmas morning in 1914 to the exciting promise of a more bountiful new year just ahead.  Immigration in those days was not a matter of keeping out illegal aliens but about managing the sheer numbers of immigrants flooding onto our shores.  The country in 1914 was on the brink of WWI, and no previous conflict could prepare us for what was waiting to take thousands of lives. Our primary goal regarding war was about victory (“might makes right”), not about human rights back then. The political environment was one of restriction and control, and this was reflected in the quickly changing policies regarding women’s rights, prohibition, and economic growth through manufacturing and trade.

And then of course, Henry Ford stood at the ready with jobs, and the ability for the average worker to realize a greater income working fewer hours than was previously the case.  This meant the promise of more leisure time: time spent on education, reading, and art.  (This was the time when Jazz was coming into its own in the northern states, and the assembly line was enhancing the quality of life for so many Detroiters by helping redefine what “leisure” really was.)

The main goals for the graduates of 1914 were advancing with industry, finding a place in the rapid growth of corporate America, and defending the country from those who would interfere with this rush of progress. The focus of the “Xmas Number” Tamarack was on nostalgia, the changing seasons, and just getting through to graduation.  All the excitement of the bright future those students saw before them was waiting for them at the other end of the holiday season.  All the goofing and friendship they had enjoyed during their carefree college years at U. of D. were bound to pay off in more of the same forever and ever.  Right?

 

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