The Beard Makes the Man

John Deare (British, 1759–1798), Album leaf: Bust of Septimius Severus, Roman Emperor, ca. 1788, pen and black ink and wash on paper, rendered here in black and white. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

John Deare (British, 1759–1798), Album leaf: Bust of Septimius Severus, Roman Emperor, ca. 1788, pen and black ink and wash on paper, rendered here in black and white. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Is identity mutable? Can you alter who you are? Whether or not real transformation is achievable, it is possible to change how others view you. A new exhibition in the Huntington Art Gallery examines an age-old tool used in the effort to influence perception: facial hair. “A History of Whiskers: Facial Hair and Identity in European and American Art, 1750–1920” includes prints, drawings, and photographs of some impressive and bizarre styles that pushed the limits of follicular fashion.

Nowhere is image more important than in the realm of politics, and this is as true today as it was in antiquity. Beards were part of the political costume of ancient Rome. A drawing by British sculptor John Deare shows Emperor Septimius Severus (A.D. 145–211) with long facial locks—a style known as the “philosopher’s beard” because of the many great thinkers in ancient Greece and Rome who sported it. Portraiture was a vital component of a ruler’s public relations campaign, and the philospher’s beard connoted wisdom. The emperor’s likeness—facial hair and all—appeared on coins, equestrian monuments, and portrait busts, like the one recorded by Deare. Septimius Severus took power at a time of great instability, so it was especially important that he present himself as a thoughtful, level-headed leader. The branding seemed to have worked. He went on to reign for nearly twenty years.

Ehrgott, Forbriger, & Co. (American, 1856–74), A.E. Burnside, Maj. Genl. U.S.A., ca. 1862–69, lithograph. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Ehrgott, Forbriger, & Co. (American, 1856–74), A.E. Burnside, Maj. Genl. U.S.A., ca. 1862–69, lithograph. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Grooming manuals of the late 19th and early 20th centuries advised against thin or patchy facial hair, which could make a man appear weak, or so the manuals warned. Ambrose Burnside (1824–1881), Union Army general in the U.S. Civil War, never suffered from scant growth. He cultivated a bold, personal style that earned him a place in the history of facial hair. He is the namesake of sideburns, but Burnside sported more than his eponymous whiskers. The general grew a mustache that extended across his face, covered his cheeks, and connected to his hairline at the ears. This style had already gone out of fashion, however, by the time of Mrs. Humphry’s Etiquette for Every Day, published in 1909. She urged moderation in facial hair, warning that too large a mustache imparts “a belligerent, aggressive air.” Burnside’s style may have been appropriate for leading troops but evidently was ill-suited to civilian life.

Not all of the images in the exhibition portray historical figures. Take, for example, the image of Caliban by British figure painter John Hamilton Mortimer (1740–1779). Caliban is a beastly character from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and he is made even more gruesome by means of facial hair. There is no standard way to depict Caliban. His mother is a witch, and Prospero, the play’s protagonist, describes him as a “poisonous slave, got by the devil himself.”

After John Hamilton Mortimer (British, 1740–1779), Caliban, undated, pen and black ink on paper mounted on board, rendered here in black and white. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

After John Hamilton Mortimer (British, 1740–1779), Caliban, undated, pen and black ink on paper mounted on board, rendered here in black and white. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Some artists imagined him as a deformed man or a creature with a mix of human and fish traits. Mortimer emphasized Caliban’s devilish nature by including a modification of the goatee commonly found in images of Satan, making the beard specifically suited to this hybrid character. Caliban is nefarious, simple-minded, and subhuman. His sagging mustache and pastiche of chin growth are ungroomed and otherworldly, perfectly capturing the character traits of the feral, demonic creature.

One need only look at the preponderance of facial hair on major league baseball players today to realize that beards and mustaches have experienced yet another resurgence. “A History of Whiskers” offers a valuable opportunity to take a look back and observe how men have styled themselves throughout the ages. Fashions have changed, but the desire of individuals to transform how others view them is timeless.

James Fishburne is guest curator of “A History of Whiskers: Facial Hair and Identity in European and American Art, 1750–1920.” He received his Ph.D. in art history from UCLA and is currently a research associate at the Getty Research Institute.

The Brave New (and Old) World of Data

Edison photographer Doug White’s overhead shot of three computer key punch operators creating data entry cards, undated. Southern California Edison Archive. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Edison photographer Doug White’s overhead shot of three computer key punch operators creating data entry cards, undated. Southern California Edison Archive. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Data, made up of units so uniform as to be, almost by necessity, boring, unite to form collectives of information in a data-driven world that is recognized now as exciting, sexy, and consummately modern. And not for the first time, we must add. At least since the rise of print culture, the thrill of data has been linked to brave new technologies.

An international group of historians will consider the promises, fears, practices, and technologies for recording and transmitting data from the 18th century to the present—as well as their implications for the lives of citizens and subjects—during the “Histories of Data and the Database” conference on Nov. 18 and 19 in Rothenberg Hall.

We will follow the history of data from the indexing systems and encyclopedias in early modern Europe, to the printed forms and filing schemes of the late 19th century, to the advent of electronic computers in the last years of the second millennium, which have managed such increasingly large amounts of data that their output must now be stored in an even newer technology—the Cloud.

Slide filing cabinet, biomedical laboratory, 2016. Photo by Soraya de Chadarevian.

Slide filing cabinet, biomedical laboratory, 2016. Photo by Soraya de Chadarevian.

Behind all the data, in one form or another, are people. Indeed, well into the 20th century, humans performed data analysis (and, often enough, they still do). Data analysis became a specialty, and even an occupational category—the so-called “computer.” Up until about 1860, this was usually a man, and thereafter was more likely a woman. Astronomers, archeologists, and medical officers depended on such calculators, as did business firms and government offices. Human heredity, one of the more illustrious objects of data manipulation in the genomic era, was already a data science in 1850.

Until 1860, most censuses relied on large sheets of paper carried from door to door by officials who filled out a single line for each household. Many other enterprises, such as observatories, hospitals, government offices, and merchant vessels kept records in bound books. Sometimes their data were simply entombed there, but some of these records were routinely consulted or even combined with financial statements or maps to summarize or reveal patterns.

By 1900, those managing the Prussian census were sending out crates of large cards to Berlin homeworkers to sort cards manually. Using movements like those of a dealer in a casino to sort cards, these workers helped officials create tables of data that combined up to six different variables. After completing the first round, the census officials often sent the cards out again to be sorted in a different way to display the relations among a different set of variables. From their inception, filing systems with index cards brought unprecedented suppleness to data work.

Hollerith punched card, 1895. Library of Congress.

Hollerith punched card, 1895. Library of Congress.

In our digital era, data appears to be immaterial, floating somewhere, or even nowhere. In truth, our modern data deluge depends on great banks of computers and consumes vast quantities of energy. Such data does not melt away, at least not so long as the air conditioning continues to function.

The incomparable increase of data in our own age also includes more waste than ever. The Big Data Hall of Fame for the early 21st century will be filled with heroes who worked out algorithms for processing data from social media to manage advertisements in such a way that seven in a thousand recipients will click the desired link, rather than a mere four or five.

One of the tasks of history is to identify the sources of what enthusiasts proclaim to be utterly new and revolutionary. Yet history is about change and novelty rather than stasis. The wonderful world of data combines the ethereal and the mundane, material things and lofty theories, breakthroughs and bureaucracy. Data seems to beg to be made routine, yet it regularly undermines known rules and conventions. And while seemingly impersonal, it has, in fact, a very human history.

You can read more about the conference program and registration on The Huntington’s website.

Theodore Porter is Distinguished Professor of History and Peter Reill Chair in European History at UCLA.

Soraya de Chadarevian is professor of history with a joint appointment in the UCLA Department of History and the UCLA Center for Society and Genetics.

Hearing NASA’s Earth Science Satellites

As visual strategists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Dan Goods and David Delgado use art and design to explain science. Their newest project is the Orbit Pavilion sound experience, which recently opened at The Huntington. The large silver structure sits on the Celebration Lawn by the terrace of the 1919 café. Inside, visitors can hear sounds representing the movement of the International Space Station and 19 Earth satellites. We asked Goods and Delgado about the thinking behind the project.

Dan Goods (left) and David Delgado test the iPad where visitors can determine which satellite is passing above their heads. Sounds from 28 speakers help visitors “hear” the satellites. Photo by Kate Lain.

Dan Goods (left) and David Delgado test the iPad where visitors can determine which satellite is passing above their heads. Sounds from 28 speakers help visitors “hear” the satellites. Photo by Kate Lain.

Q: Why Earth science satellites?

Goods: Most people know JPL from the Mars missions. But about a third of what we do is related to Earth science. These satellites are constantly circling the globe, relaying information about land, atmosphere, and oceans. That data helps us understand things like earthquakes, the presence of hurricanes, the melting of glaciers.

Q: What was the genesis of this project?

Delgado: We were in the Mojave Desert touring Goldstone, one of three communications complexes NASA uses to track and guide missions in deep space. Here was this huge antenna doing this crucial work of relaying information to and from spacecraft and yet everything was silent. That got us thinking about ways to represent things that can’t be seen or heard.

The cuts in the panels represent the orbits of satellites, which circle the globe approximately every 90 minutes. Photo by Kate Lain.

The cuts in the panels represent the orbits of satellites, which circle the globe approximately every 90 minutes. Photo by Kate Lain.

Q: What exactly are we hearing in the pavilion?

Delgado: We worked with Oakland-based sound artist Shane Myrbeck to give each of the 19 satellites its own “voice.” There are two phases to the sound experience. One phase allows us to hear the satellites passing overhead in real-time—essentially the satellites saying hello to us in their own unique way. Depending on how many satellites are in orbit above you, you will sometimes hear more sounds than at other times. Then, in the second phase, Myrbeck created a one-minute composition representing the orbits of these satellites over 24 hours. The sounds are inspired by aspects of Earth’s ecology being studied in three categories: land, atmosphere, and ocean. For instance, the sound of the satellite Cloudsat, which tracks weather clouds, is represented by desert wind. Then there are sounds related to land and water. The only human voices are of a choir, representing the International Space Station.

Goods: An iPad tells you which phase you’re in, and if the sound is related to real-time data, the iPad’s screen will tell you which satellite you’re “hearing.”

JPL’s visual strategists contend that The Huntington is a “dream spot” to install the Orbit Pavilion. They love the natural setting and the presence of botanical collections from around the world. Photo by Kate Lain.

JPL’s visual strategists contend that The Huntington is a “dream spot” to install the Orbit Pavilion. They love the natural setting and the presence of botanical collections from around the world. Photo by Kate Lain.

Q: The pavilion is a 30-foot wide structure made from bands of aluminum attached to a tubular frame. Why the seashell shape?

Delgado: We worked with designers Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang of the New York design firm StudioKCA to come up with the nautilus shape. If you’ve ever held a seashell up to your ear, then you may remember listening to the “sounds of the ocean.” In this case, you’re listening to the sounds of satellites. It is visually striking and elevates the experience as a whole.

Q: What makes The Huntington a good setting for the Orbit Pavilion?

Goods: Part of Orbit’s message is ecology. We love the fact that Orbit is in a natural setting at The Huntington, surrounded by botanical collections from around the world. Then there’s the connection to the library collection. It’s amazing to think that rare books by early astronomers Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler are so close by.

The 72 panels of water-jet cut aluminum are bolted to the frame to create a double-curved shell. Photo by Dan Goods.

The 72 panels of water-jet cut aluminum are bolted to the frame to create a double-curved shell. Photo by Dan Goods.

Orbit Pavilion is on view on the Celebration Lawn (across from the Celebration Garden) through Feb. 27, 2017. The Orbit Pavilion kicks off /five, a contemporary arts initiative focused on collaboration between The Huntington and five organizations over a period of five years. The aim is to engage with the Huntington’s library, art, and botanical collections in new and thought-provoking ways. The /five initiative is made possible by a generous gift from The Cheng Family Foundation. Additional funding for Orbit Pavilion was provided by Kim and Ginger Caldwell and the Bry and Judi Danner President’s Discretionary Fund.

For more information on NASA’s Earth science satellites, visit the Mapel Orientation Gallery. You’ll find “Eyes on the Earth,” an interactive program on a large touchscreen, where you can learn more about what the satellites are tracking—such as sea level height or global temperature.

Diana W. Thompson is senior writer for the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington.

Recent Lectures: Oct. 24–Nov. 9, 2016

recent-lectures

Home to gorgeous gardens, spectacular art, and stunning rare books and manuscripts, The Huntington also offers an impressive slate of lectures and conferences on topics and themes related to its collections. Below are audio recordings of five recent lectures.

Mapping the English Village (Nov. 9, 2016)
How did surveyors and cartographers track social and economic relations in early modern England? Steve Hindle, W. M. Keck Foundation Director of Research at The Huntington, explains how one particular map might be used to reconstruct who did what for a living, and who lived next door to whom, in 17th-century rural society.

 

Radical Reproduction (Nov. 3, 2016)
Futuristic notions of family and reproduction in the work of science fiction author Octavia Butler are explored in this discussion with Amy Kind, professor of philosophy at Claremont McKenna College, and Shelley Streeby, professor of ethnic studies and literature at the University of California, San Diego. Butler’s short story “Bloodchild” is a special focus of the discussion. This event is part of “Radio Imagination,” a series of programs and artist commissions exploring Butler’s legacy, organized by the arts group Clockshop.

 

The Cutter Incident (Nov. 1, 2016)
In 1955, the first year of widespread polio vaccination, Cutter Laboratories of Berkeley, Calif., inadvertently released batches of vaccine that contained the live virus. Neal Nathanson, M.D., who headed the unit of the Epidemic Intelligence Service that investigated cases of polio resulting from the Cutter vaccine, discusses the incident and provide an update on efforts toward global eradication of poliomyelitis. This program is presented by the George Dock Society for the History of Medicine and is part of the History of Science Lecture Series.

 

Painters, Carvers, and Style in Chinese Woodblock Printed Images (Oct. 25, 2016)
Suzanne Wright, associate professor of art history at the University of Tennessee, discusses the partnerships between Chinese painters and woodblock carvers who worked together to produce prints of exquisite beauty in the Ming and Qing dynasties. This talk is part of the East Asian Garden Lecture Series.

 

The New Battlefield History of the American Revolution (Oct. 24, 2016)
Woody Holton, professor of American history at the University of South Carolina and the Los Angeles Times Distinguished Fellow at The Huntington, offers a preview of research from his forthcoming book. During the last half-century, as social historians revolutionized the study of nearly every facet of America’s founding era, they left one topic—the battlefield—to traditional historians. Until now. This talk is part of the Distinguished Fellow Lecture Series.

Find more audio recordings of Huntington lectures and conferences on SoundCloud and iTunes U.

The Huntington’s Arcadia

An illustration from landscape architect Lewis Kennedy’s prospectus album, with an overlay showing before and after views. Notitiae of the alterations proposed at Trebartha Hall the seat of F. Hearle Rodd Esqre., Cornwall, Jan. 2, 1815. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Kate Lain.

An illustration from landscape architect Lewis Kennedy’s prospectus album, with an overlay showing before and after views. Notitiae of the alterations proposed at Trebartha Hall the seat of F. Hearle Rodd Esqre., Cornwall, Jan. 2, 1815. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Kate Lain.

Recently, the director and some of the cast from a current production of Tom Stoppard’s play Arcadia stopped by The Huntington to view several of the real-world objects portrayed in the performance by A Noise Within Theatre Company. Stoppard set his play in Derbyshire, with the plot jumping back and forth between the present day and early 19th-century England—a period well represented in The Huntington’s library collections.

The play takes place in Sidley Park, a fictional estate belonging to the Coverly family, and, as its title suggests, reflects on an idealized life in the countryside. The story includes modern-day scholars researching the estate and their musings about the previous residents. A key object in the plot is a prop made to look like a landscape designer’s prospectus album, showing watercolor renderings of the estate’s grounds with overlays to provide before and after views.

Vanessa Wilkie, William A. Moffett Curator of British Historical Manuscripts, shows visitors from A Noise Within Theatre Company selections from The Huntington’s collections relating to the production of Tom Stoppard’s play Arcadia. Left to right: Vanessa Wilkie, Susan Angelo, Geoff Elliott, Eric Curtis Johnson, Alicia Green, and Stephen Weingartner. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Kate Lain.

Vanessa Wilkie, William A. Moffett Curator of British Historical Manuscripts, shows visitors from A Noise Within Theatre Company selections from The Huntington’s collections relating to the production of Tom Stoppard’s play Arcadia. Left to right: Vanessa Wilkie, Susan Angelo, Geoff Elliott, Eric Curtis Johnson, Alicia Green, and Stephen Weingartner. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Kate Lain.

When several Huntington curators and other staff members saw the play, they noticed the prop and remembered a similar object in the collections. That led to a search for the real example of such an album, along with other items from the period. As the group of objects grew, curators decided it was time to share their bounty with the theater troupe.

The Huntington’s curator of British historical manuscripts, Vanessa Wilkie, showed the actors and director what she called “the ultimate pitch,” a silk-lined landscape designer’s album portraying the grounds of Trebartha Hall, a grand manor house in the Cornwall countryside. The album, by English landscape architect Lewis Kennedy (1789–1877), proposed a redesign of the gardens illustrated by eight large watercolor views, one with an overlay, and five pen-and-wash vignettes. It is similar to the more famous “Red Books” of Humphry Repton, the 18th-century designer to the rich and famous.

Lord Byron’s handwriting in a copy of the seventh edition of his narrative poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimmage, 1814. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Kate Lain.

Lord Byron’s handwriting in a copy of the seventh edition of his narrative poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimmage, 1814. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Kate Lain.

The actors and director also examined a seventh edition of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimmage (1812), a narrative poem by Romantic poet and celebrity Lord Byron (1788–1824). Byron is a principal character in the play’s progression, although he doesn’t actually appear. Byron’s poem was wildly popular in its day, cementing Byron’s poetic reputation. Stephen Tabor, curator of early printed books, explained that The Huntington’s copy, published in 1814, bears corrections in Byron’s own hand and is a must-see for scholars editing his works.

A third object relates to the character of Thomasina, the teenage Coverly daughter, who is quite precocious and shows signs of being a mathematical genius. Curators brought out a 19th-century geometry and trigonometry volume containing a beautiful hand-colored map. It was just the type of work Thomasina might have studied under the guidance of her tutor, Septimus Hodge.

Mathematics manuscript (1820–1832) by Daniel Hallett, in which geometry and trigonometry are used to calculate and solve problems related to sailing directions. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Kate Lain.

Mathematics manuscript (1820–1832) by Daniel Hallett, in which geometry and trigonometry are used to calculate and solve problems related to sailing directions. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Kate Lain.

Literary manuscripts curator Sara S. “Sue” Hodson produced the greatest stir among the thespians when she displayed an early typed draft of the play Arcadia itself. Stoppard had given the manuscript to The Huntington soon after Hodson visited him in London in the early 1990s.

“Stoppard was writing Arcadia at the time. There he was, chain-smoking like mad, with a huge drafting board, like an artist would have, in front of a big bay window overlooking the city,” Hodson told her enthralled listeners. “I had brought some books on The Huntington with me, and we really bonded. One thing that struck him was the fact that I was living in Arcadia, California, at the time!”

Sara S. “Sue” Hodson, curator of literary manuscripts, shows off an early typed draft of Tom Stoppard’s play Arcadia. Left to right: Sara S. “Sue” Hodson, Geoff Elliott, Mitchell Edmonds, and Susan Angelo. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Kate Lain.

Sara S. “Sue” Hodson, curator of literary manuscripts, shows off an early typed draft of Tom Stoppard’s play Arcadia. Left to right: Sara S. “Sue” Hodson, Geoff Elliott, Mitchell Edmonds, and Susan Angelo. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Kate Lain.

The margins of the draft are filled with Stoppard’s notes, and some pages reveal crossed-out text that never made it into the stage directions. Electrified by the thought that they could uncover unknown clues into the characters they played, the actors called out their scenes to Hodson, who turned the pages to see what the typescript revealed. Actor Susan Angelo, who plays Hannah Jarvis—a famous author researching the hermit who lived on the Sidley Park grounds in the 19th century—discovered that her character was originally written as a divorcée. She had always assumed that Hannah had never been married. She left wondering how this tidbit of insight might inform her next performance.

Arcadia continues at A Noise Within Theatre Company through November 20 (click here for tickets). You can read A Noise Within’s account of their visit to The Huntington on their blog.

Linda Chiavaroli is a volunteer in the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington.

Susan B. Anthony and the Price of Suffrage

Two pages from Susan B. Anthony account book, April 17, 1858–July 27, 1860. In the spring of 1859, Anthony was engaged in preparation for the 9th Woman’s Rights Convention in New York City. The convention opened on May 12, 1859, at the Mozart Hall. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Two pages from Susan B. Anthony account book, April 17, 1858–July 27, 1860. In the spring of 1859, Anthony was engaged in preparation for the 9th Woman’s Rights Convention in New York City. The convention opened on May 12, 1859, at the Mozart Hall. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The sight of an old account ledger doesn’t generally excite many people—aside from historians and forensic accountants. But a ledger that once belonged to the famous American feminist and social reformer Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906) has wider appeal because its entries reveal priceless information about efforts to secure women’s voting rights.

The Huntington acquired such a ledger this year from the Art Directors Guild in Studio City. The cover of the small, tattered, and simple manuscript reads: “S.B. Anthony Rochester N.Y. 1859.”

Anthony, who started out as a schoolteacher, is best remembered for her advocacy of women’s suffrage, which became enshrined as the law of the land when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1920. Popularly known as the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment,” it proclaimed: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Portrait of Susan B. Anthony, 1895, Taber Photographic Co. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Portrait of Susan B. Anthony, 1895, Taber Photographic Co. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

First introduced in 1878, the Anthony Amendment would require 42 years of campaigning in order to garner the constitutionally mandated two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress. Sadly, it passed 14 years after Anthony’s death. It would take another 44 years to get a woman to appear on the presidential ballot of a major political party—that occurred in 1964 with Maine Republican Margaret Chase Smith. (And it would take 52 more years for Hillary Clinton to become, in 2016, the first woman to be nominated for president.)

The Huntington’s Anthony ledger documents the financial realities of prolonged social welfare campaigning. There were venues to be rented, newspaper advertisements to be placed; books and pamphlets to be printed; speakers to be paid; and stenographers, ticket takers, and “police door tenders” to be hired. The latter were important: the proceedings at women’s rights meetings in the mid-19th century were frequently and violently disrupted. As one New York newspaper put it, “women have no rights in public to which men are bound,” and so paying for protection was a must.

Anthony also recorded entries for hotel bills, railroad and riverboat tickets, carriage fares, and even the price of “this book and pencil”—the ledger itself and the implement she used to record each credit and debit. Reading the entries, you can follow Anthony and her traveling companions, Antoinette Brown Blackwell and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as they journeyed to New York City to preside over national conventions, gave public lectures in various New York towns, and spoke at the annual teachers’ meetings in Poughkeepsie and Syracuse.

“Ye May Session of Ye Woman’s Rights Convention—Ye Orator of Ye Day Denouncing Ye Lords of Creation,” Harper’s Weekly, June 11, 1859. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

“Ye May Session of Ye Woman’s Rights Convention—Ye Orator of Ye Day Denouncing Ye Lords of Creation,” Harper’s Weekly, June 11, 1859. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Fundraising became particularly challenging in the wake of the 1857 Panic. In 1858, Francis Jackson made a gift of $5,000 (the equivalent of roughly $135,000 in today’s money) to the cause, and a year later, Charles F. Hovey, a wealthy Boston merchant, donated 10 times as much. The main sources of revenue, however, were the funds raised from public events, subscriptions, and much smaller donations—$20 from Francis Jackson, $25 from Geritt Smith, $3 from Lucretia Mott. In December 1859, Anthony recorded a $1 cash donation received at a meeting commemorating John Brown, the abolitionist who had been executed on charges of treason, murder, and insurrection two weeks earlier.

There are also meticulous records of the proceeds from the admission to meetings and sales of lecture tickets and suffragist and abolitionist literature. All in all, Anthony ran a remarkably efficient campaign that paid for itself, with significant sums carried over.

We delight in criticizing the power of money in American politics today. It is instructive that, as Anthony’s little ledger shows, a successful civil rights movement requires not only heroism and sacrifice, but also the less glamorous and pedestrian labor of accounting.

Related content on Verso:
“I have been & gone & done it!!” (Nov. 5, 2013)

Olga Tsapina is the Norris Foundation Curator of American Historical Manuscripts at The Huntington.

A Raven Named Sir Nevermore?

Embossed, color lithographed inner lid label of a cigar box, no date, from the Jay T. Last Collection of Graphic Arts and Social History. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Embossed, color lithographed inner lid label of a cigar box, no date, from the Jay T. Last Collection of Graphic Arts and Social History. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

I remember the moment when I fell in love with the Huntington Library. I was researching 19th-century agriculture and, in particular, the use of guano—the droppings of cormorants, boobies, and pelicans on the Chincha Islands off the coast of Peru.

Hard as it is to believe now, this was the hot commodity in the 19th century. Renowned for its fertilizing powers, it was called “white gold.” The United States nearly got into a war with Peru over it, and the “guano question” was discussed in three annual messages by U.S. presidents. I wondered what The Huntington had on the stuff.

Quite a lot, as it turned out. There were agricultural treatises, manuals, advertisements, and sheet music related to guano. And then there was an intriguing catalog entry for the papers of a certain “Sir Manson Nevermore, RPA, 1848–2005.” I clicked the link.

I should say now that, in my career, I’ve seen a lot of catalog entries. But I’d never seen an entry like this.

The entry for Sir Nevermore in the Library’s online catalog.

The entry for Sir Nevermore in the Library’s online catalog.

Sir Manson, I learned, was “a venerable, although somewhat deranged and unkempt raven that was irritating the hell out of the Manuscripts Department of the Huntington Library in 2003 and 2004.” His papers, continues the catalog entry, were “an unwelcome gift” of Sir Manson himself and are “restricted to readers willing to climb up on the roof.” They contain, besides two pounds of bird droppings, “field notes compiled by Nevermore in the process of his activities, including treatises on window pecking, wing flailing, yodeling, pooping, and general avian vandalism.” Subject headings include “Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery – Fauna,” “Guano – Production and direction – California, Southern,” and “Human beings – Infuriation of, Avian.”

“The Huntington,” I thought. “This is my kind of place.”

I ordered the Nevermore papers in the Ahmanson Reading Room. I got some nervous giggles, but no archival boxes filled with bird droppings. So where did this entry come from? I showed it to Anne Blecksmith, the head of Reader Services. She was puzzled. “How did this get here?”

Anne poked around. The record had been edited 23 times, far more than the usual entry. But it was over 10 years old. Would I be able to find out who wrote it? “Maybe the curators know something,” Anne advised. “Birds are always banging the windows of their offices. In fact, I think Melissa Lo sent around a picture of one.”

The game was afoot. I knocked on Melissa’s door—she’s the Dibner Assistant Curator of Science and Technology. She welcomed me into her office, and I saw a high window over her desk. “Melissa,” I said, pointing to it, “Tell me about the birds.” “You mean Manson?” she asked. I don’t think real detective work actually ever goes this smoothly.

Title page of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, published by E.P. Dutton and Co., no date. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Title page of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, published by E.P. Dutton and Co., no date. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

“The person you want to talk to is Olga Tsapina,” said Melissa. Olga is the Norris Foundation Curator of American Historical Manuscripts and, I am now convinced, the hidden genius behind the whole thing.

I found her at her desk. “How do you know about Manson?” she asked. I explained my guano research. “Ah,” she said, and sat back in her chair. She knew this day would come.

The story tumbled out. It was 2004. The library was adopting a new interface and the curators wanted to create a catalog entry to test the system. But the curators were, by that point, under siege from a months-long raven onslaught. There was one “deranged raven,” Olga explained, who had been attacking their windows twice daily. At 9 a.m., “he would start prancing around the ledge,” cooing and gazing at his own reflection in the ultraviolet shielding on the windows. Then, his narcissism turning to rage, he would “fling himself at the windowpane” and furiously try to tear down the UV shielding. The whole show repeated at 4 p.m.

I looked at the windows. Large strips of the UV shielding were missing.

Countermeasures, Olga explained, were taken. The late Bill Frank—curator of Hispanic, cartographic, and western American manuscripts—got up on the roof, flapping his hands to try to scare Sir Manson off. Dan Lewis, Dibner Senior Curator of the History of Science and Technology and a noted expert on the history of ornithology, tried making hawk sounds. A Nerf ball was deployed, though with little result.

A.C. Smith’s portrait of Edgar Allan Poe, 1843 or 1844, watercolor on paper. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

A.C. Smith’s portrait of Edgar Allan Poe, 1843 or 1844, watercolor on paper. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Confronted with a similarly insistent raven, Edgar Allan Poe had turned to poetry. The curatorial staff, instead, expressed its soul in the distinctive idiom of archivists: the card catalog entry.

The Sir Manson Nevermore entry, it should be said, is a model of the form, like a perfectly executed sonnet. Because the record was designed to test the system, it has values for all fields. Thus, our raven has a name (“Manson,” after the serial killer to whom the raven is said to bear a physical resemblance; “Nevermore” as a nod to Poe), a title (Sir), and even a post-nominal title (RPA: Royal Pain in the Ass).

The staff composed the entry, Olga at the keyboard, as a joke—“a collective effort born of cooperation and amidst multiple bouts of undignified giggling.” But Richard Jackson, supervising librarian, insisted that it remain. Jackson teaches cataloging, and he uses the entry in his classes. Budding archivists, in other words, cut their teeth on the Sir Manson record.

It has traveled further than that. Because The Huntington’s system connects to larger databases, Sir Manson Nevermore has been absorbed into the great global bibliographic network. He’s in WorldCat; he’s in ArchiveGrid. Researchers anywhere on the planet working on guano—my specialty—might stumble across the record. So might those working on “skylights and windowsills” or on “scratches and beak marks.”

And they have. I found Manson. So did the staff at the Library of Congress. Search the great libraries of the world for those holding “excrement samples,” and there you’ll find Sir Manson, tapping, tapping at the windowpane.

A bird that appears to fit Sir Nevermore’s description flails its wings against a Library window in 2015. Photo by Melissa Lo.

A bird that appears to fit Sir Nevermore’s description flails its wings against a Library window in 2015. Photo by Melissa Lo.

“Manson is one of my proudest achievements,” Olga beamed.

The catalog lists Sir Manson’s date of death as 2005. “The Manuscripts Department has refused to comment on Sir Manson’s sudden disappearance,” it says. But is Sir Manson dead?

Olga herself is uncharacteristically vague on the question. Sir Manson’s daily visitations ended in 2005. In that year, researchers found dead birds in 52 out of California’s 58 counties that tested positive for West Nile virus. So, that’s the official story.

Still, ravens can live for decades, and there have been some suspicious sightings. “He comes back every once a while,” Olga intimated in a conspiratorial tone. Indeed, Melissa’s photograph shows, if not Sir Manson, then certainly a bird who fits the description. “Deranged”? Check. “Unkempt”? Check. Flailing his wings while yodeling and pooping? Hard to tell from the photograph, but I couldn’t rule it out.

Olga floated another theory. The last time the curatorial staff definitively laid eyes on Sir Manson, there was another raven with him. Sir Manson did his usual demented hell-sprite routine while the other raven watched, looking vaguely horrified. The staff decided that Raven #2 was Sir Manson’s therapist.

Maybe he didn’t die, Olga suggested. “Maybe he got help.”

Daniel Immerwahr is assistant professor of history at Northwestern University and was a 2015–16 National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Huntington. He is the author of Thinking Small: The United States and the Lure of Community Development. You can watch his lecture “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Guano But Were Afraid to Ask” on YouTube.

Breathing New Life into Trees

Growth had slowed on this coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) near the Boone Gallery. Photo by Kate Lain.

Growth had slowed on this coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) near the Boone Gallery. Photo by Kate Lain.

Huntington arborist Daniel Goyette first investigated the two-story-high coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) near the Boone Gallery to address concerns that its growth had slowed. Soil was built up around one side of it, and it appeared to be listing. On closer inspection, the tree doctor determined that the tree was slowly suffocating and required a root collar excavation. Say what?

Over time, soil, leaf litter, and other natural materials can accumulate around the base of a tree—literally cutting off the tree’s ability to breathe. In this case, the problem was exacerbated by gopher activity, which had created a mound of soil on one side. The additional soil also gave the impression that the tree was leaning.

Over time, soil accumulates around a tree’s trunk, cutting off the air supply. Help is on the way, in the form of an air spade attached to an air compressor, seen here in the background. Photo by Kate Lain.

Over time, soil accumulates around a tree’s trunk, cutting off the air supply. Help is on the way, in the form of an air spade attached to an air compressor, seen here in the background. Photo by Kate Lain.

“For a tree to breathe, it needs to have its root collar unencumbered and exposed,” says Goyette. “Especially with native oaks, you don’t want to put soil or mulch up against them.”

In a healthy, mature tree, large buttress roots rise partway out of the ground, creating root flare—where the root meets the ground and flares out. Goyette couldn’t even see the buttress roots. So he brought out one of his favorite tree-care tools: the air spade.

Attached to a compressor, the spade shoots 110 pounds per square inch of air through a metal tube and nozzle. The blast of air is just powerful enough to dislodge soil without damaging delicate roots.

Huntington arborist Daniel Goyette uses an air spade to dislodge excess soil and expose the tree’s buttress roots. Photo by Kate Lain.

Huntington arborist Daniel Goyette uses an air spade to dislodge excess soil and expose the tree’s buttress roots. Photo by Kate Lain.

Before using the air spade, Goyette takes a few precautions. He turns a soaker hose on overnight so that the soil around the root flare won’t create a dust storm during excavation. Then he dons ear plugs and protective glasses. A loud whirring noise fills the air as Goyette points the nozzle at the tree’s base. He angles the nozzle to nudge loose the soil around small feeder roots, and then he works his way around the tree.

Several hours of excavation were enough to finally reveal the start of the buttress roots. They’ve been completely covered with soil, subjecting the tree to ongoing stress. Uncovering them may require removing about a foot or more of soil from the tree’s trunk, says Goyette. Once he uncovers the roots, he can make sure nothing else is negatively impacting the tree. “I’m hoping that, by next spring, we’ll see a whole new flush of growth,” he says.

A compressor supplies a powerful jet of air to the nozzle. Photo by Kate Lain.

A compressor supplies a powerful jet of air to the nozzle. Photo by Kate Lain.

Wind and the raking of leaves off nearby paths eventually causes soil build-up around trees. “We’re fortunate to be a botanical garden that’s close to 100 years old,” says Goyette. “But we need to keep up with this sort of maintenance.”

Considering that The Huntington possesses roughly 10,000 trees, many of which date to its founding, Goyette clearly has his work cut out for him. But when you stand under the dense canopy of the oak, its shade cutting the temperature by 10 or more degrees, you’re grateful that he’s on the job.

Another coast live oak requires treatment. The base of a tree trunk should flare. When it looks like a straight telephone pole, there’s generally a problem. (Homeowners sometimes create a similar issue by planting a tree too deep.) Photo by Kate Lain.

Another coast live oak requires treatment. The base of a tree trunk should flare. When it looks like a straight telephone pole, there’s generally a problem. (Homeowners sometimes create a similar issue by planting a tree too deep.) Photo by Kate Lain.

Diana W. Thompson is senior writer for the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington.

Becoming America

This selection of quilts, made between 1850 and 1900, includes a wide variety of styles and patterns. The spinning wheel in the foreground dates from the early 18th century. Jonathan and Karin Fielding Collection. Photo by Kate Lain.

This selection of quilts, made between 1850 and 1900, includes a wide variety of styles and patterns. The spinning wheel in the foreground dates from the early 18th century. Jonathan and Karin Fielding Collection. Photo by Kate Lain.

An astonishingly rich installation of early American art provides a pre-Thanksgiving visual feast for Huntington visitors, beginning Oct. 22. That’s opening day for the new Jonathan and Karin Fielding Wing in the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art.

On view in the elegant new space designed by Frederick Fisher and Partners is an inaugural exhibition of more than 200 works from the Fieldings’ magnificent collection of 18th- and early 19th-century paintings, sculpture, furniture, ceramics, metal, needlework, and other decorative arts that explore early American history through objects made for daily use and through images of the people who used them.

“Becoming America: Highlights from the Jonathan and Karin Fielding Collection” reveals the creativity and distinctive genius of America’s early artists and craftspeople. Rather than collecting work made for the affluent residents of coastal cities like Boston, Newport, New York, and Philadelphia, the Fieldings have with a few exceptions focused on items created by craftspeople in rural New England. These are objects of beauty and utility meant for the burgeoning middle class—the farmers, merchants, ministers, and magistrates in villages throughout the northeastern United States.

The wall along the entryway into the Fielding Wing displays useful implements made of metal, including ice tongs, bootjacks, and long-handled tools for the fireplace. Jonathan and Karin Fielding Collection. Photo by Kate Lain.

The wall along the entryway into the Fielding Wing displays useful implements made of metal, including ice tongs, bootjacks, and long-handled tools for the fireplace. Jonathan and Karin Fielding Collection. Photo by Kate Lain.

Along the entryway into the Fielding Wing, visitors will encounter an impressive wall of useful items made of metal—such as toasters, trivets, long-handled tools for the fireplace, and decorative bootjacks—that were an essential part of daily life in early America. In the 17th century, the iron used to make these objects was mined from open-pit sites throughout the Northeast and then refined in regional foundries. Once the impurities were removed, the iron was either cast into useful shapes in elaborate molds or hammered by blacksmiths into a wide variety of functional forms.

Even the most basic tools were often given remarkably inventive shapes and rich decoration. Examples include an Adam and Eve fireback, used to reflect and retain heat in a fireplace, and a leaping stag weathervane, made of a light copper material so that it could pivot freely in the wind.

A massive wall of quilts dominates another space in the gallery. Typically used as bedcovers, hand-stitched quilts added vivid color to American households in the late 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. They also offered women the opportunity to demonstrate their creative capacities, as they employed their mathematical skills, artistic imagination, and inventiveness. The complex stitches seen in early American quilts create subtle linear patterns that often form a dynamic contrast to the quilt’s bold overall design.

Maker unknown, Album Quilt (detail), ca. 1850, cotton. Jonathan and Karin Fielding Collection. Photo by Kate Lain.

Maker unknown, Album Quilt (detail), ca. 1850, cotton. Jonathan and Karin Fielding Collection. Photo by Kate Lain.

The quilts on view, made between 1850 and 1900, include a wide variety of styles and patterns. Notable among them are the complex Lone Star Quilt of 1850, the vibrant Album Quilt made around 1850, and the boldly graphic Diamond Amish Quilt, made around 1896.

A separate display focuses on mid-19th century American interiors, inspired by two watercolors—Joseph H. Davis’s Family Portrait of Charles and Comfort Caverly and Their Son Isaac of 1836 and Jacob Maentel’s Portrait of Hatter John Mays of Schaefferstown of around 1830.

Among the highlights presented in this space are a chest attributed to the New Hampshire shop of cabinetmaker Samuel Dunlap; a tall case clock by Benjamin Willard Jr.; three scrimshaw busks carved and decorated by sailors and used as stays in women’s corsets; and a chip-carved spoon rack. The display also features several shop signs, a small hat merchant’s sample, a pair of decorative fire buckets, and a powder horn, all suggesting the world beyond the confines of a domestic interior.

This gallery is arranged to suggest the interior of an American home in the mid-19th century. Jonathan and Karin Fielding Collection. Photo by Kate Lain.

This gallery is arranged to suggest the interior of an American home in the mid-19th century. Jonathan and Karin Fielding Collection. Photo by Kate Lain.

Portraiture has a room all its own. During the colonial era, portraits were generally bought only by wealthy merchants or royal officials in cities like Boston and New York. By the early 19th century, however, portraits decorated the parlors of middle-class homes throughout the Northeast.

One of the most impressive paintings on display is the Modigliani-esque Portrait of Albert G. Gilman (1831) by A. Ellis, about whom almost nothing is known. Only 15 portraits, all from the Readfield-Waterville area of central Maine, have been attributed to the artist. The sitter, probably Albert Gallatin Gilman (1806–1871), was a schoolteacher born in Mount Vernon, Maine. His steam-sculpted wool tailcoat with puffed sleeves and a notched collar employs the latest English tailoring and perfectly frames his cravat, jeweled stickpin, and crisply pleated shirt frill. A yellow waistcoat marks him as an unrepentant dandy.

Detail from Portrait of Albert G. Gilman of New Hampshire,1831, by A. Ellis. Oil on basswood panel. Jonathan and Karin Fielding Collection.

Detail from Portrait of Albert G. Gilman of New Hampshire,1831, by A. Ellis. Oil on basswood panel. Jonathan and Karin Fielding Collection.

Visitors can extend their immersion in American culture through a new exhibition in the Chandler Wing of the Scott Galleries, “Real American Places: Edward Weston and Leaves of Grass,” and in the West Hall of the Library, where the second of two consecutive exhibitions focusing on the crucial role of national parks in American history opens: “Geographies of Wonder: Evolution of the National Park Idea, 1933–2016.” Both exhibitions start on Oct. 22.

So does “flORIlegium: Folded Transformations from the Natural World by Robert J. Lang,” an exhibition in the Brody Botanical Center of the Japanese art of origami, featuring more than 20 original works by the internationally renowned origami master Robert J. Lang. The display is open on weekends only. (Lang will give a free public lecture on the art and science of origami on Sunday, Oct. 23, at 2 p.m. in Rothenberg Hall.)

Kevin Durkin is editor of Verso and managing editor in the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington.

Early Modern Literary Geographies

“View of Wotton Underwood,” anonymous, 1565. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

“View of Wotton Underwood,” anonymous, 1565. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

One of the gems in The Huntington’s library collection is a 16th-century image titled “View from Wotton Underwood.” Although officially cataloged as a “map,” it’s quite different from what we usually call a map today. Offering a detailed and colorful point of view on a particular Buckinghamshire village, this map encompasses not only residences, but also what a geographer might term the local “taskscape,” indicating worked farmland and energy-generating windmills.

Such a view can provide valuable insights to cartographic historians, geographers, archaeologists, literary scholars, and social historians, among others. In this regard, the “View from Wotton Underwood” is an apt illustration for our interdisciplinary conference on “Early Modern Literary Geographies,” which will take place on Oct. 14 and 15 in Rothenberg Hall.

In recent decades, arts and humanities subjects have undergone what is often referred to as a “spatial turn,” drawing influences and ideas into their realms from such social sciences as cultural geography and architecture. At the same time, the social sciences have been enriched with ideas and methods from humanities subjects and creative engagements with poetry, fiction, and the visual arts. The field of “literary geographies” builds on these mutual interests. Scholars think in innovative ways about the literary representation of landscape, space, and place, and also about how space was conceptualized, imagined, and used.

Detail from the frontispiece of John Ogilby’s Britannia, 1675, drawn by Francis Barlow, engraved by Wenceslaus Hollar. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Detail from the frontispiece of John Ogilby’s Britannia, 1675, drawn by Francis Barlow, engraved by Wenceslaus Hollar. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Our focus for the conference is on the late 16th and early 17th centuries in England, primarily, though also in the neighboring countries of Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. The early modern period was a time when new technologies for mapping, surveying, and navigation dramatically altered people’s understandings of the world in which they lived. Such changes occurred in the context of world travel and global exploration, which reached a new peak under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. These changes also took place on the domestic front, as depicted in “View from Wotton Underwood.”

During the early modern period, London grew into a major capital city that was increasingly shaped not only by global trade, but also by its relationship to the regions and provinces that fed its ever stronger demand for human and material resources. (The representation of London in John Ogilby’s Britannia (1675), the first modern road atlas, demonstrates both the city’s centrality to an emerging nation as well as its place within a national travel network.) The growth of the metropolis inevitably led to transformations in conceptions of space and place, as London’s citizens, many of them migrants to the city, sought to make sense of the sometimes heady, sometimes alienating experience of living cheek by jowl with each other.

Map indicating rivers in Somerset and Wiltshire counties from Michael Drayton’s Poly-Olbion, 1613. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

Map indicating rivers in Somerset and Wiltshire counties from Michael Drayton’s Poly-Olbion, 1613. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The conference is organized under four major headings—body, household, neighborhood, and region. We see each of these four terms as a crucial spatial concept. We move out from the individual self to think about how identity was shaped and formed by the specific places, spaces, buildings, habitats, and communities in which people lived, worked, and experienced the world.

We have invited conference participants—historians, geographers, experts in literature and archaeology, and scholars of performance studies—to explore a capacious understanding of early modern space and place, one that embraces rural and provincial communities as much as metropolitan ones and which works on very different scales and sizes. We have urged presenters to think about households from the grandest estate to the humblest cottage or tenement. And we have asked them to think through the importance of such habitats as forests and fens—as well as waterways, rivers, and oceans—as they tell the stories of how early modern people lived, imagined, and felt.

For us, literary geographies in their early modern incarnation are about moving through as much as dwelling in space and place, and we expect concepts such as mobility and enactment, embodiment and experience, to feature prominently in our conference discussions.

You can read more about the conference program and registration on The Huntington’s website.

Julie Sanders is pro-vice-chancellor for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and professor of English Literature and Drama at Newcastle University.

Garrett A. Sullivan, Jr., is liberal arts research professor of English at Pennsylvania State University.