The Suprising History of Lehigh’s Earliest Civil War Collection

 

Lehigh's copy of Literature of the Rebellion, inscribed by John Russell Bartlett in 1883.

Lehigh’s copy of Literature of the Rebellion, inscribed by John Russell Bartlett in 1883.

 

2015 marks the end of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. Like many academic libraries, Lehigh’s Special Collections has a large collection of materials that were written and published during the Civil War. The bulk of our collection, however, comes from one man: Rhode Island writer, publisher, and politician John Russell Bartlett (1805-1886). Who was Bartlett and how did his Civil War collection come to Lehigh? Read on to find out.

Although Lehigh was founded in 1865, Linderman Library was not established until 1878. The first university librarian, Professor of Chemistry William H. Chandler (known as “Billie”), was responsible for building the library’s collections.[1] And, thanks to the generosity of Lehigh’s founder, Asa Packer, Chandler had plenty of money to do so.[2] Although it may seem strange that a chemist was picked to oversee the library, Chandler was by all accounts a polymath and an ardent book-lover. He even compiled his own general encyclopedia (Chandler’s Encyclopedia: An Epitome of Universal Knowledge, 1898). Chandler was known to scour catalogs from dealers across the United States and Europe looking for valuable books that would help Lehigh become a world-class library.[3] Competing with Harvard, Yale, and other more established libraries, Chandler successfully purchased a number of important rare book collections during the first fifteen years of the library’s existence.[4] One of these collections came from the personal library of John Russell Bartlett.

Born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1805, Bartlett was a man of many talents and interests. He began his career as a banker, but before long, his love of books and reading took him in a different direction. In the mid-1830s, Bartlett moved to New York, where he entered into the book business. He and his partner, Charles Welford, opened the bookstore and publishing firm Bartlett & Welford in 1840. After the Mexican-American War, however, Bartlett was appointed to head up the Mexican Boundary Commission. When he returned to the United States, Bartlett became the Secretary of State of Rhode Island, a position which he held until 1872. Over the course of his life, Bartlett wrote a number of books, including A Dictionary of Americanisms (1848) and A Personal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents in Texas (1854) and Memoirs of Rhode Island Officers (1867).[5]

At the start of the Civil War, Bartlett began collecting books, pamphlets, broadsides, and anything else he could find related to the conflict. He was not alone. A number of individuals, including Benson J. Lossing and John A. McAllister, were also early collectors of the Civil War.[6] Unlike his fellow antiquarians, however, Bartlett’s collection was, in the words of one contemporary, “a working library.”[7] His purpose in collecting was to compile a bibliography that would aid future historians of the conflict. To ensure that the bibliography was comprehensive, Bartlett placed notices in major newspapers asking Americans to support his efforts by sending him relevant publications.[8] He also personally wrote to authors asking for copies of their work. Many individuals responded to Bartlett’s requests. In fact, we found several such letters tucked inside the pamphlets Bartlett sold to Lehigh. These items have been digitized, and are now available online through our I Remain website. In the end, Bartlett’s hard work paid off. When Literature of the Rebellion was finally published in 1866, it contained over 6,000 entries.

Even after his bibliography was finished, Bartlett continued to collect material related to the conflict. By the 1870s, Bartlett’s Civil War collection was well known. One writer remarked in 1875, “The materials which it preserves, necessary to a just and proper writing of the history of the great rebellion, are such as could not possibly be duplicated…Its loss by fire or other means, would be irreparable.”[9] On examining Bartlett’s collection a few years later, writer Horatio Rogers proclaimed it to be one of the largest of its kind in the country.[10]

The Library's early accession book noted everything that came from Bartlett.

The Library’s accession book noted everything that came from Bartlett.

Unfortunately, because of financial difficulties, Bartlett was forced to sell his Civil War collection.[11] In 1872, he offered 3,000 books and pamphlets to the Union League Club for $10,000. They declined.[12] In 1882, he approached Cornell University with the collection. They also declined, saying that they did not have the money.[13] We do not know if Bartlett approached Lehigh, or if Chandler took the lead and contacted Bartlett. But in 1885, Chandler officially purchased the collection. Lehigh received about 6,000 books, pamphlets, and broadsides, as well as a small manuscript collection related to the establishment of Gettysburg Cemetery in Pennsylvania (of which Bartlett played an important role).[14]

Today, Lehigh still has most of this collection, and it is not uncommon to find a book in the stacks with Bartlett’s name in it. The books and pamphlets are wonderful primary sources for those researching the Civil War. But they also have much to offer scholars interested in the history of reading and collecting. Bartlett took notes in a number of the texts, even sometimes recording where he had purchased the item. One of the books from Bartlett’s library that is now owned by Lehigh is Walter S. Newhall: A Memoir by Sara Butler Wrister. The book was published in Philadelphia in 1864. Inside the book, Bartlett wrote his name and a brief note explaining that he bought the book at the Metropolitan Fair in New York, at the table of Mrs. George McClellan on Saturday, April 9th, 1864. Other books were inscribed by the people who gave them to Bartlett. Reverend Augustus Woodbury inscribed his book, Major General Ambrose E. Burnside and the Ninth Army Corps (Providence: Sidney S. Rider & Brother, 1867) to Bartlett in March of 1867. These are just two examples of a rich and unique collection that deserves to be studied more thoroughly.


[1] R. D. Billinger, “The Chandler Influence in American Chemistry,” Journal of Chemical Education (June 1939), 253-257.

[2] M.E. Evans, “Lehigh University Library, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,” The Library Association Record 61:4 (April 1959), 90.

[3] Robert Metcalf Smith and Howard Seavoy Leach, The Shakespeare Folios and the Forgeries of Shakespeare’s Handwriting (Bethlehem, PA: 1927), 7-8.

[4] New York Times, April 3, 1883; December 18, 1887; February 28, 1890.

[5] John Russell Bartlett, The Autobiography of John Russell Bartlett, 1805-1886 (Providence, RI: John Carter Brown Library, 2006).

[6] Sandra Markham, “John McAllister Collects the Civil War,” The Magazine Antiques 170:2 (August 2006), 102-107. McAllister’s Civil War collection is now owned by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

[7] Horatio Rogers, The Private Libraries of Providence (Providence: Sidney S. Rider, 1878), 135.

[8] See, for example: Boston Daily Advertiser, May 9, 1865.

[9] Samuel L. Boardman, “A Valuable Collection,” Potter’s American Monthly 4:40 (April 1875), 270.

[10] Rogers, 142.

[11] John Duncan Haskell Jr., “John Russell Bartlett (1805-1886): Bookman,” Ph.D. dissertation, The George Washington University, 1977, 288-289.

[12] Haskell, 263.

[13] Haskell, 266.

[14] “Fifth Annual Report of the Library Committee to the Board of Trustees of the Lehigh University (For the Year Ending May 31, 1885),” Lehigh University Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes 1 (June 18, 1885), 564. The remainder of Bartlett’s library is at the Rhode Island Historical Society. His papers are split between the Rhode Island Historical Society and the John Carter Brown Library.

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Clara Gravez and the Mart Science and Engineering Library Dedication

This May 30th will mark the 47th anniversary of the dedication of Mart Library, back when its addition (which morphed it into Fairchild-Martindale library) hadn’t been built yet.

The Mart Science and Engineering Library was a milestone project for the career of James D. Mack, the head librarian at the time, and the dedication was a sensational affair.

To help commemorate the birth of this new library, Mack invited a very special guest: Mary Clara Gravez, the first reference librarian at Lehigh. Ms. Gravez became reference librarian in 1947, retired in 1955, and attended the dedication ceremonies on May 30, 1969. At 85 years old, she traveled all the way from Evansville, Indiana.

gravez-1Ms. Gravez was celebrated at the dedication, and even received a corsage along with Mrs. Leon T. Mart, the library’s largest donor, and Mart’s daughter, Mrs. Richard Powell.

In Gravez’s thank you letter dated June 9, 1969 to James Mack, she writes about how much she appreciated all of the attention, compliments Mack on the event, and even calls the dedication her “swansong.”

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James Mack’s personal speech draft, which mentioned Clara Gravez as a dear friend. Since Ms. Gravez did not work in Mart Library, she was not considered as a “Martian”

Clara Gravez’s personal thank you letter to James D. Mack after the dedication

Clara Gravez’s personal thank you letter to James D. Mack after the dedication

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A Short and Sweet Vacation

Those were the days.  When a vacation could be just Phillipsburg to Bethlehem.  And when $100 was a huge baggage liability.

Check out this ticket stub issued by the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company which was started by Lehigh’s founder Asa Packer.

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A War Club for President Richards

At the twentieth reunion of the class of 1902, an unusual gift was given to Lehigh’s President Richards.

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Before the reunion banquet, the class presented him with a large war club with a brass plate inscribed with who it was from and how to use it. The part on how to use it is missing from the artifact today.

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It is thought that this artifact is a copy or mock of a ceremonial mace, which would be used in important ceremonies to represent a persons, particularly the president’s in this case, authority.

The class seemed to have an infamous reputation at Lehigh for stuff like this. In the alumni bulletins leading up to the presentation of this mace, there were many comments on the class. Class of 1902 member, “Bob” Bird said that the reunion would be a quiet one and, in response, the author of the Bulletin responded saying “If so, it will be the first time this class has ever been quiet. I think they are trying to spring a surprise on the other reunion classes.” The Reunion Committee was described as “live-wires” and the class itself was said to be “one of those dangerous small classes.”

The war club was brought to Special Collections after being discovered in Packard Laboratory storage. It is cataloged and shelved with the other curious and divergent items in the Lehigh Memorabilia Collection.

Here are the links to the Alumni Bulletin online articles about the Class of 1902:

https://archive.org/stream/lehighalumnibull0908#page/20/mode/2up

https://archive.org/stream/lehighalumnibull0907#page/18/mode/2up

https://archive.org/stream/lehighalumnibull0909#page/10/mode/2up/

https://archive.org/stream/lehighalumnibull0903#page/18/mode/2up

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1998 MLK Birthday at Lehigh

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Prof. Booth speaking at the MLK birthday event, 1998

The photograph above in the Lehigh Archives has a note attached reads as:
“Lehigh Observes Martin Luther King birthday: — Berrisford Booth  shares his selected reading during Lehigh’s first event observing Martin Luther King’s birthday. The Lehigh community gathered to read poems, plays, texts and scripture at noon in Great Room of Ulrich Student Center on January 19 (1998)” Photo by. T.Patton, Class of 1998

This year’s MLK Celebration events can be seen here: http://studentaffairs.lehigh.edu/mlk

 

 

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William Gregory Barthold Papers ready for research

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William G. Barthold as a younger man.

In the late 1930s, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania was faced with juvenile crime rates approaching an alarming high. The historical Christmas City had become plagued by the “folly of juveniles, [and] the heartaches they caused their parents and guardians” by the year 1938, with many residents pleading and fighting for stronger law enforcement in the area. It was during this period of rampant endemic youth crime that William G. Barthold was elected as Judge to preside over the Northampton area. Within just one year, delinquency showed a significant drop thanks to Barthold’s and law enforcement officials’ “indefatigable efforts” (Bethlehem Globe Times, 1939). Beginning then, and continuing throughout the rest of his time as a judge, Barthold was praised for his successful attempts to reduce crime in Bethlehem. Ultimately, Barthold spent 30 years in service to the community, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Moravian College for his efforts in “combating juvenile delinquency” and for being a “leading citizen of the community” (Moravian Alumni Bulletin 1948).

A campaign poster advertising Barthold for the position of District Attorney.

A campaign poster advertising Barthold for the position of District Attorney.

However, Barthold did not only serve as a judge in the Bethlehem area–in fact, he spent most of his life in Bethlehem, PA. Graduating from Bethlehem High School in 1914 as valedictorian of his class, he went on to attend Lehigh University. During his time here, he became a founding member of the Alphi Chi Rho fraternity–which lost its place on the hill in 2007 due to a shortage in membership–and took classes such as physics, trigonometry, geology, and economics, along with all of Latin, German, Greek, and French. It’s interesting to note that, unlike today, Lehigh students at the time were required to take physical education and had class schedules running straight from 8am to 4pm almost every single day. It was also a time when the university endorsed “Spring House Party” season, creating memorabilia for fraternities like the photo booklet pictured here, featuring Phi Delta Theta’s 1947 class.

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After his time at Lehigh, Barthold went on to graduate from Harvard University in 1922, completing a course in law and receiving the degree that allowed his legal career to begin. He was first a District attorney–starting in 1928 as assistant–then filled various positions in the community such as Solicitor-Sheriff of Northampton County from 1934-1935 and Solicitor of Bethlehem School District from 1934-1938. Right before his election as a judge, he served a brief term as a Pennsylvania State senator from 1937-1938, running a successful campaign but choosing after two years to pursue a career as a judge in his home county. It is, of course, there that Barthold spent the remainder of his active life as a public figure.

Barthold being sworn into the Pennsylvania State Senate after his election in 1937.

Barthold being sworn into the Pennsylvania State Senate after his election in 1937.

William Gregory Barthold Papers contains a wide variety of items that span in subject matter from Lehigh memorabilia to Bethlehem census statistics, and in format from certifications to personal scrapbooks assembled by Barthold Family. Overall, the material within provides vivid historical context for an image of Bethlehem from the ‘30s to the’ 60s, as well as tracing the life and works of a figure who was greatly influential in the city’s development. Alongside the bulk of the collection, those interested in Lehigh University history–or that of Harvard or Moravian–will also find documents concerning these schools, providing insight to a much different time period in education.

 

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The Reality of Rationing in World War II

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The United States government asked the American public to make many sacrifices during World War II. One of the manifestations of this was rationing resources. Thus, ration stamps were soon a hot item throughout the United States.

In 1942 the Emergency Price Control Act granted the Office of Price Administration the ability to set price limits and ration food and other commodities. Thus, Americans were soon rationing coffee, cheese, fats, canned fish, canned milk, and even gasoline.
Americans received ration books that allowed them to buy a designated amount of a good so long as they would give over the stamp when purchasing that good. Hence, if a person has 5 stamps for 8 ounces of sugar each, then they they are limited to that (40 ounces total of sugar). Over ninety-one percent of the US population registered for these booklets during World War II.

In truth, an entire barter system was established. People would trade their stamps to one another leading to a ration stamp Black Market. Below are a set of ration stamps for gasoline. These stamps are in a scrapbook assembled by George Richter of Ridgewood, New Jersey. This scrapbook donated by George Richter’s son, Martin Richter, Lehigh University professor emeritus, and it contains a plethora of newspaper clippings and other World War II memorabilia. A guide (finding aid) to the scrapbook is created by Special Collections Collections student assistant Daniella Fodera, Class of 2018.

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Interestingly enough, according to Wired magazine (This day in Tech: Dec. 1942: Mandatory Gas Rationing, Lots of Whining) there was no gasoline shortage. Rather, the United States government rationed gasoline to keep people from nonessential driving. This is because rubber was in high demand. The government wanted to limit the amount of car wheels being manufactured for consumers so that the excess rubber could go towards the war movement.

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Lehigh University Turkey Trot

“The turkey squawked, the people gawked, and William Mountain got the bird as he won the  Turkey Trot…”

Thus was the headline in the Brown and White after the first Turkey Trot was held on Wednesday, November 14, 1956.  Drinker 4 was the triumphant hall.  The Turkey Trot has remained a Lehigh University tradition ever since.  It is a grueling 2.6 mile race with an ever shifting course.  As it is Lehigh’s campus, there is always a vertical run up “the hill” that leaves participants feeling the effects days after.  It was originally exclusively for residential halls and living fraternities.  Now, the Turkey Trot is open to all students.  The Turkey Trot celebrates two holidays: Thanksgiving and the Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry.

Recent years have amassed as many as 800 participants in the race.  Racers join in teams.   Runners are known to show up in outlandish outfits for the race.  One can see neon blobs and even the occasional Santa running the cross-country style race.  The Turkey Trot is entering its 58th year at Lehigh University.  It is one of the longest traditions Lehigh has and many are dedicated keeping it alive.

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Runners of the Turkey Trot, circa 1970

 

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“Pick Billy Sheridan”

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1951 newspaper clipping

February 10, 1951 issue of the Nassau Review (Hempstead, NH) reports that Lehigh’s legendary wrestling coach William “Billy” Sheridan was selected as the coach in charge of the United States team in the Pan-American in Buenos Aires.

The Brown and White’s story states that Lehigh freshman Werner Seel qualified to be in the team along with Coach Sheridan. However, Seel chooses not to go “due to studies”:

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Remembering the First Founder’s Day

On October 17th Lehigh will be celebrating its 136th Founder’s Day with a ceremony at 4:00 pm in Packer Memorial Chapel.

Founder’s Day is a long celebrated tradition.  Its first celebration came the same year as the death of the University’s founder, Asa Packer. On June 18th, 1879 alumni Rossiter W. Raymond addressed the Alumni Association of Lehigh University.

The keynote speech celebrated Packer’s legacy.  Rossiter pronounced, “Whereas, By the death of the Hon. Asa Packer the Lehigh Valley has lost a citizen, to whom it owes, more than to any other man, its present development and wealth, and the Lehigh University has lost a friend who held it ever close to his heart…”  and continued, “…It is also fitting that we should give expression to the admiration which we feel for his character as a man, for the life which he lived, and for the good which he did ; and that we desire to render him just praise…”

Packer was a skilled businessman who made his fortune in the railroad industry and then founded Lehigh University with a portion of his wealth.  Rossiter’s speech moves on to the obstacle of defining success in our lives.  You can read this inspiring address given on our first Founder’s Day in its entirety:

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Cover of Rossiter W. Raymond’s first Founder’s Day address

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Sages of the Pages