Yesterday morning a colleague and I opened and assembled a six-panel exhibit our library received from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. We had to inspect it to ensure that there was no damage in transit. This morning we are going to install the panels in our exhibit space. I also intend to create a screen roll of related photographs that will run on a loop on a large screen computer. It has been a privilege to collaborate with The Library of America and Gilder Lehrman Institute these past two years.
Yesterday I put the final touches on my upcoming talk this Sunday at Camp Doughboy on Governors Island about John Purroy Mitchel. Later I did a dry run for a friend in my department to work out the kinks. A dress rehearsal always helps with these things in turns of timing, avoiding ambiguity, and just making certain that are sufficiently clear. I am as ready as I am going to be.
In part of the talk I discuss the ways the JP Mitchel is remembered in New York City. Mitchel Square at 168th and Broadway is just one memorial to the Boy Mayor. There too is this beautiful statue that we see above, which was not sculpted expressly for Mitchel himself but for the men on Washington Heights who fought in the war. I happened to be in northern Manhattan a few weeks ago on my way to somewhere else when I stumbled upon it. Yesterday after my walk through my friend and I were discussing Mitchel and breaking down some of the details of his life and times. Color me ignorant but I did not know that the statue in Mitchel Square was designed by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. Gertrude was the mother of Flora Payne Whitney, Quentin Roosevelt’s fiancée. Of course Quentin himself died in a military plane incident above France just two weeks after Mitchel was killed in Louisiana two weeks earlier.
Check out the schedule for Camp Doughboy 2018 here.
I hope everyone had a good weekend. I rested up yesterday in preparation for what will now be a busy week. It is supposed to be in the mid 90s here in New York City today also. I’m ready for autumn days.
This video could have been much longer but here is a small piece from the Smithsonian about the dazzle art used on ships during World War One. Remember that the 1913 Armory Show was held in New York City (and reviewed reasonably favorably by none other than Theodore Roosevelt) in 1913, the year before the war’s start. We and some friends and are hoping to take a ride on one of the contemporary WW1-inspired dazzle ships here in the city this fall. Modern art inspired the camouflage worn by soldiers in uniform. The Allied navies incorporated The same principles were used on vessels as well. Cubism in particular into the camouflage painted onto ships. I have never seen such as this one however, where instead of zebra-like colors and angles the innards of the ship art painted on the outside.
I hope everyone’s Labor Day Weekend is going well. It has been good to have a three day weekend after the long, hard push of the first week of the academic year. I am off to Grant’s Tomb in a little bit and am running a tad late, but wanted to quickly share this photograph. This was Labor Day 1918 in Seattle. Here we see sailors marching around and behind a Red Cross float. The War Industries Board and other governmental and quasi-governmental organizations did much to quell civil unrest during the Great War but there were still a surprising number of strikes. Here is a list I found in a very cursory search, which I am sure it is hardly a complete tally. Franklin D. Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the Wilson Administration and would consciously do all he could as president during World War 2 to ensure labor peace. Still, strikes did occur during the Second World War as well.
Labor Day 1918 fell on Monday September 2. It also marked the end of the Major League Baseball regular season. Teams did not play a regular 154-game schedule but were limited to about 130 games, depending on how many they had gotten in by Labor Day. There were a large number of double-headers that day to squeeze in as much as they could.
Enjoy your weekend, all.
(image/Museum of History & Industry, Seattle)
Flag Day 1918 was a fairly big endeavor here in New York City. For one thing, the United States was now fully engaged in the war in Europe. The Battle of Cantigny for instance had taken place just weeks earlier, with significant casualties and American deaths. Labor, management, public school children and other constituencies turned out that June 14 to show their colors. Overall Flag Day 1918 seems to have been a positive thing. However it commenced what to some may have appeared a more worrying event: June 14, 1918 was the kickoff to what national organizers were calling Loyalty Week, in which the foreign-born, especially Germans, were being asked to demonstrate their adherence and show their support for the war effort. Here we see a whiff of the nativism that had been escalating for some time. Anti-German episodes had occurred in the United States since the start of the war and had increased after the Ludendorff Offensive had begun in March 1918.
Still, tens of thousands of New Yorkers from across the five boroughs, including Russians and Slovaks from Brooklyn, Jews and Italians in the Lower East Side, German-Americans from Yorkville, and those whose roots dated the Revolutionary War Era turned out in a celebratory mood. Here are a few photos, just three of many, from that day.
I’m wrapping up my coffee before heading to work to teach my last bibliographic instruction class of the semester. A friend and I were looking at these Lewis Hine images that The Atlantic posted this week and I thought I would share on this weekend morning. Apparently the American Red Cross commissioned Hine to take these images as a means of drumming up support back home for the Red Cross’s important work attending the sick, the wounded, and the hungry. We actually used the one above in the film we made last fall. It is hard to believe that we are now almost four years into the Great War centennial. I suppose it is difficult to comprehend from an American perspective because we did not join the war until April 1917 and really did not become fully involved until Spring 1918. The Battle of Cantigny, where the First Infantry Division fought so tenaciously, was in May 1918. Hine took the photo above almost a full year later.
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt sailed for Europe on January 1, 1919, around the time Hine was taking the images that The Atlantic published this week as part of a series over the course of the centennial. It was not the first time Eleanor or Franklin had been on the Continent. Now in their 30s, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy and his wife were already well-traveled and had seen much of the world. Still, they were shocked at what they saw in those months after the Armistice. Eleanor wrote at the time that “I never saw anything like Paris. The scandals going on would make many a woman at home unhappy. It is not place for the boys [the impressionable doughboys], especially the younger ones . . . All the women in the restaurant look to me exaggerated, some pretty, all chic, but you wonder if any are ladies.”
Though given the subject matter I don’t know if one can “enjoy” the photographs, they are indeed poignant and striking. Here they are one more time.
(Image/Lewis Wickes Hine, Library of Congress)
We had a great time in Yonkers yesterday for the film showing and discussion about our documentary New Yorkers in Uniform: From World War One to Today. I do not have any pictures of the event itself right now, but I believe a few of the others took some still photographs and possibly even some film footage. If so, I will share when I have. The subject of our film, Thomas Michael Tobin, was born in Yonkers in 1886 and died there in 1966. I have only been to Yonkers three times now: for the on location film shooting in March 2017, the showing this past December, and now again yesterday for the one at the historical society. The city has come to mean a lot to me. I took the photo you see above aboard the train on the way up yesterday morning. As you can see, even though it is late April the foliage has not yet begun here in the Greater New York area.
After the program a small group of us ended up at the Yonkers Brewing Company across the street from the train station for dinner. I don’t want to discuss the details too much right now, but we have some interesting plans that we believe will bring our film project to full fruition between now and the 100th anniversary of the Armistice in November. Ideally we will go back to Yonkers in the fall but we are not 100% certain. We’ll see how it goes.
Doing the event yesterday at the Yonkers Historical Society was a great treat. There were many interesting people involved in some fascinating projects that they told me about during the after party. The doing of local history helps keep the stories alive in immediate and direct ways. I was glad to see there were some young people in attendance as well. I will keep everyone up to date on how things develop over the spring and summer.