08/05/2011 § Leave a comment
So….my internship is officially over after today. I’m going to spend a week on cape cod. Then I come home and have elected to come into the internship for one, possibly 2 more days in order to tie up a few loose ends. That doesn’t mean this post will just be a goodbye. It is however my second-to-last-post…maybe 3rd-to-last. I really like this blogging thing.
This week was mostly about turning my research over to my supervisor so that he can be the one who writes the article. I’d love to write it, even though part of me would be nervous. Its a moot point however because I don’t have time. I spent the week getting all my online sources made into a bibliography. Then, I printed some…until the printer ran out of ink…so I emailed the rest to Sean. I’ve come to realize that over the past month I have unwittingly followed Daniel Read Anthony straight into the middle of a debate among historians that has gotten exponentially hotter since the mid 1990s. The debate is over how union soldiers thought about slavery and the larger issue of why they (and confederates) fought and died for so long. There have been some major publications recently by the likes of Gary Gallagher and James McPherson, and Chandra Manning, proving that this debate has legs. If you don’t know who they are, google them. So where do we fit in on the issue? Well our project is not about what all union soldiers thought about blacks and slavery. It is about what one remarkable man thought and how he fits into the larger context. No-one I have talked to, nor any books I have examined talk about Anthony and the story of Order 26…so is it a story that has never been told before? Maybe…which is pretty cool. A friend once told me he thought history was boring because every topic has been covered. Sometimes it may seem that way, but I can assure you all that not the case.
There is still much to be done for this article. Most importantly we need more on Anthony’s personal life. It is time for me to take a backseat in this project, but I will still be keeping my eyes open for leads. If any of my professors are reading this…any tips???
I’ve become attached to this project and its a little odd to just leave it, but thats the way it is. I still hope to maintain a role in the project through this school year.We’ll see just how that goes.
07/29/2011 § Leave a comment
This post won’t have much to do with my project, or with any of Susan B. Anthony’s family. It’s a reflection on an experience that seems so random now that its happened. This post is about how today I tried to help a vietnam veteran with a dilemma. A retired air force colonel, he was up in the office with Sean when I got here today. He was dropping off copies of a book he had published. The book was his mother’s account of her life in this area during the year 1932. She was 25 at the time, the depression was on, and she had been married for 3 years. According to the Colonel, it is full of accounts of day to day life. I instantly recognized it as a valuable primary source. Imagine doing a project on daily life in New England during the depression. Or a study of gender roles in America in the 1920s and 30s. This is about as valuable a source as you could hope to have. A young married woman’s firsthand account of her life for a year in 1932 during the depression. Anyone who has been in the history profession knows thats a valuable source. The author’s sister apparently also kept diaries from that time as well.
Eventually the Colonel told me that he was torn about what to do with the diary itself. He recognizes that it is an important piece, even though I had to explain to him what a ‘primary source’ was and why historians need them, particularly for doing “bottom up” history. He wants it to be available to local people in the future. He also feels (and rightly so!) that it is important to his family. He asked my advice, and the first thing I told him was that family should come first because it is such a personal piece of their history. But, I told him that if he had no one to pass it on to, then archival departments at schools like UMass, Amherst, and Williams would do a superlative job of both preserving it, and making it available to future generations. He also mentioned local historical societies, and the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield. My personal advice was to consider the colleges first so that it could be a resource to students and professors. I know that as a history student still in training, exposure to primary sources has had an important impact on me, and made me a better historian. Primary sources such as diaries teach us that history is complicated because people are complicated, and we need to respect that fact.
Whatever the fate of the diary, I hope the Colonel is happy with his decision more than anything else. I’m pleased he saw fit to ask my advice, and it was interesting to talk to someone about the historical process who isn’t so familiar with it. In the end, simply helping a vietnam veteran to decide what to do with his mother’s diary was an interesting experience, forcing me to think about what we historians do. Its a reminder that we are dealing with people, people who had families like we all do.
07/22/2011 § 2 Comments
The research for my proposed final article is progressing, albeit slowly. I’m learning that not having a library I can simply walk to makes research much more challenging. However, today has offered more in terms of results than the last two days combined. When I read anthony’s letter’s I originally thought that Order 26 would be the exception to the rule, and that before the emancipation proclamation, few blacks were sheltered from slave catchers by the union armies. Its looking far more complicated than that; when deciding what to do with what appears to have been a deluge of fugitive slaves, officers and enlisted men were in different camps. I have read accounts of enlisted men who by and large believed that a slave sheltered was a slave who couldn’t help the enemy. This seems like good logic for the enlisted men. For officers, particularly generals who were subject to Lincoln’s demands, it appears to have been a sticky issue. Those who understand the emancipation proclamation will be aware that it only applied to slaves in states that were part of the confederacy. There were many slaves in maryland which remained in the union, despite many strong southern sympathies. There were also slaves in missouri, which ultimately had two governments and whose citizens fought for both sides. (fully explaining both of these states’ positions is very complicated and takes far longer than I have here, but is an important piece of Civil War history and if any readers have questions please ask, or, better yet, look it up yourself) Lincoln did not want to offend slaveholders in states that were fighting for the union, lest they secede. Maryland was especially important because if she seceded, Washington DC would become an island in confederate territory, which could have changed the course of the war entirely. Before emancipation, when generals such as Butler harbored slaves, it touched off heated debates about what to do with slaves. Some prominent Maryland citizens wrote letters to Lincoln protesting that their slaves were being sheltered by union soldiers. Lincoln was caught in a quandary however, because other prominent men, such as Massachusetts Governor John Andrew, protested when his soldiers were employed in returning, or even catching slaves. It is in this maelstrom of political and human rights issues that Daniel Read Anthony injected himself with his Order 26.
07/21/2011 § Leave a comment
In addition to my post at the end of this week, I have a map I was working on when my research focus was still the mill. This map shows major landmarks in my searchfor the mill, and with the geography lesson from earlier this summer, should give a more complete picture of the challenges a researcher faces in looking for a building and dealing with 175 year old land deeds. Follow the link below to access the map.
07/19/2011 § Leave a comment
So far, my internship here at the Birthplace museum has been very rewarding. However to this point, I have done little other than research a variety of topics. I have produced nothing of value as a publication. Now, with only a few weeks remaining, the time as come to begin work on a final product of some sort. At the end of last week and the beginning of this week there was some question as to what that would be, but now, after conversations with both of my supervisors, we have a good idea where we want to take this project. The idea right now is to put together a large piece using one or more aspects of the letters. There are a variety of topics that could be developed from the D.R. Anthony letters, including treatment of fugitive slaves by union officers and enlisted men during the civil war, the history of the women’s rights movement in the western territories during the 19th century, and the roles played and challenges faced by western quakers in the unstable decades of the mide-late 19th century. Any of these could be a rewarding research project, and if done well could pay dividends when the time comes for me to look for jobs. Work on one of those will start next week.
This week the project has been a smaller article, hopefully for publication in the museum’s newsletter. In it I set out my theory as to how Daniel Anthony powered his mill. I won’t recap that here, but if you want to go back to my post from June 17th about the early search for the mill, you can read all about it. The theory is the same. Hopefully this piece will be approved for inclusion soon. Even though its barely 700 words in length, its my first piece ever written specifically for publication, so I’m a little apprehensive. Hopefully my supervisors like it, and hopefully it will be in an upcoming issue. Its admittedly a little weird to be writing something I know will be published. I’ve only ever written with professors in mind. Last year my professors started to suggest that me and my classmates start thinking about a wider audience, but I never really did. My hope is that I can have enough time here at the internship to work on a larger piece and over the next 6 months learn what it takes to write something worthy of publication. In my last semester at school, I hope to conduct an independent study, and if it could be published, it would be a dream come true.
07/09/2011 § Leave a comment
As a researcher, it can sometimes be difficult to recognize when you’ve found something important or exceptional. Thursday was not one of those times. On thursday I found a collection of letters in the online database of the State Historical Society of Kansas. They were written by Daniel Read Anthony (brother of Susan) between 1857 and 1862. Reprinted by the Leavenworth Times (which D.R. and his descendant’s ran) in 1956-57 around the 100th anniversary of D.R. Anthony’s move to Leavenworth, the KSHS digitized them sometime in the mid 2000s. This collection of some 50 letters is an astonishing primary source. That it is available online is somewhat shocking. It clearly speaks to how proud Kansas is of is adopted son.
My hope is that these letters will serve as the central piece to my new project. Over the next 2 weeks I hope to begin work on a series of short articles, each dealing with a different theme from the letter collection. Of particular interest is D.R.’s firsthand account of his controversial Brigade Order No. 26 that put a stop to Southern slave catchers crossing through Union ranks looking for slaves during the war. According to the letters, he issued this as acting commander of the 2nd Kansas Cavalry regiment in the summer of 1862 while the unit was campaigning in western Tennessee. Hopefully these will eventually be published in the Museum’s newsletter, or on their own as a special publication.
In some ways it is a relief to have found these and to have a firm, tangible task to pursue. Up to this point all I had achieved in 5 weeks at the museum is produce a fat folder of research on land deeds, possible mill locations, and local history. Regarding Daniel’s mill, the activities of Humphrey Jr and Sr, and the sizable fortune they amassed, I may know more than anyone outside the Anthony family. This is good. But, this is also an internship, and everyone expects me to produce something tangible. I expect that of myself. Now I am on the fast track to having that tangible item; something I can put my hands on and say I conceptualized and wrote myself.
07/08/2011 § Leave a comment
If readers have been following my blog closely, they will notice that my posts have been in reference to activities that took place days before the posts go up. I suppose I ought to have made clear that each post did not refer to the week it went up. Because I started my blog nearly 3 weeks after I started work at the museum, I had to catch up. The good news is I am finally caught up. I have spent the last week on vacation with friends in Orlando, Florida, in part to celebrate my 21st birthday. I also used this time to write my posts for the past two weeks, including this one. From now on posts will be current and will go up on the friday or saturday of the week they are written.
Last week, the week before I left for Florida, marked a transition of sorts. Having followed a couple leads with the Mill, I had found myself in a considerably different place than I started. I had learned about the Mill, but more than that I had learned about the land dealings in a small corner of Adams, and I had learned of the fantastic success and wealth of Susan B. Anthony’s paternal grandfather, uncle, and cousins. Judging from maps of the time, for much of the mid-1800s Humphrey Anthony Sr and/or Jr controlled hundreds if not thousands of acres of lucrative farmland. Indeed, some of the large farms of the 1900s were the results of Anthony family inheritances or sales. A good example is the Nelson family, which owned a large amount of land, including the Walker Farm plot (expanded to 200 acres) thanks to the fact that Jessie Nelson was Humphrey Anthony Jr’s daughter. Humphrey Anthony Jr, at the time of his death in 1896, had personal finances of over $130,000, which was a very large sum in those days. His real estate holdings were valued at $23,000 as well. These discovery’s have led me to an interesting idea. I am intriuged by the possibility of studying Humphrey Sr. and the rest of the Anthony family that descended from him. Much has been made of Humphrey’s famous granddaughter and the Rochester branch. But that group left Adams in 1826, and while Adams can call itself her birthplace and even though she may have visited often, it is not where she spent most of her life. Her grandfather, uncle, and cousins however did spend their whole lives in Adams, and they became very wealthy and have a much more linear connection to the town’s past because large pieces of their lands are still important farms and they had many dealings with prominent local captains of industry, including the Pecks and Hoxies (who were in-laws). I think this would be a worthwhile pursuit, but for now it will have to wait.
I have not, and am unlikely to ever find something I can touch, or pick up and say “this was part of Daniel Anthony’s Mill.” Leave that fantasy for the dreams. For now, that project will be put on the back burner, and I will return to researching Susan B. Anthony’s brothers service in the Civil War, as well as the lives they lived in Kansas. Information on Jacob Anthony is slim, and the first order of business is to call the Kansas State Historical Society and see what they have to say. I know they have materials about Daniel Read Anthony, including some of his correspondence, as well as microfilm of his newspaper (the Leavenworth Daily, which is still in circulation). Hopefully they will consent to send us copies of some materials. Of course, if finances allowed, I would go to Kansas and take advantage of that famous midwestern hospitality in person, but alas it will have to occur over the phone. I am optimistic.