American Civil War

Commemorating the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth Day

85_41DP1
Ambrotype of Unidentified Man in Masonic Apron and Independent Order of Odd Fellows Collar, 1855-1865, unidentified maker, United States, Museum purchase, 85.41. Photograph by David Bohl.

June 19th will be the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth day, also known as Emancipation Day, in the United States.  Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) issued the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863 declaring that slaves in all states still at war with the federal government were free and would remain so.The proclamation was not fully realized until June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger (1821-1876) announced freedom for all slaves in the Southwest including Texas, the last rebel state to allow slavery following the end of the Civil War. The day is believed to have been named “Juneteenth” by those freed in Texas in 1865.The 13th amendment outlawing slavery everywhere in the United States was subsequently ratified in December 1865.

Since that time, nationwide grassroots celebrations have commemorated this significant moment in American history. In June 2014, the U.S. Senate passed legislation formally recognizing June 19th as “Juneteenth Independence Day” and supporting the nationwide celebration of the holiday.  In light of this anniversary the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is taking a moment to highlight some of the items in our collection related to African American Freemasonry (commonly referred to as Prince Hall Freemasonry) and fraternalism.

The Prince Hall Monument
The Prince Hall Monument in Cambridge, MA was unveiled on May 15, 2010.  Image courtesy of The Prince Hall Monument Project.

African American Freemasonry emerged in 1775 when Prince Hall (1738-1807), an active Methodist and leading citizen in Boston’s African American community, attempted to join Boston’s Masonic Lodges but was denied membership. In response, he and fourteen other African Americans who had been rejected by the established Boston lodges turned to a Masonic Lodge attached to a British regiment stationed in the city. Initiated in 1775, Hall and his Masonic brothers met as members of the British lodge until the Revolutionary War ended. In 1784 Prince Hall and the other members of the British lodge, petitioned the Grand Lodge of England to form a new lodge on American soil. The governing body granted his request, creating African Lodge No. 459.

When Prince Hall died in 1807, African American masons chose to give their fraternity his name to distinguish it from predominantly white “mainstream” lodges that generally excluded blacks throughout the 1800s and early 1900s. Today, there are reported to be over 4500 Prince Hall Lodges worldwide. After the civil war, Prince Hall Freemasonry and other fraternal groups, like the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows and Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks of the World spread throughout the North and South, helping to establish community institutions and benefits for freed families. Prince Hall and other African American Masonic leaders like Moses Dickson (1824-1901) and Lewis Hayden (1811-1889) were  influential activists in the abolitionist and civil rights movements of their era. Their leadership and influence emphasizes how Freemasonry and fraternalism impacted civil rights efforts and afforded African Americans the opportunity to organize toward an equal and free black citizenship in American society.  

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is continuing to look for items related to African American Freemasonry and fraternalism and welcomes inquiries about potential donations. To see items related to African American Freemasonry and fraternalism currently in our collection please visit our museum Flickr page.

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99_044_7DP1DBThis apron originally belonged to an unidentified member of Wilmington, North Carolina’s James W. Telfair Lodge No. 510 who was initiated in March 1915. The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of North Carolina was chartered in 1870. The lodge was named for James W. Telfair Jr. (1837-1914), a slave who later became a reverend at St. Stephen’s African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, North Carolina. Telfair served as Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of North Carolina.  

 

 

Caption: Prince Hall Master Mason Apron, United States, 1915, unidentified maker, United States, Museum purchase, 99.044.7. Photograph by David Bohl.

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  RARE 90_H414 1866In December of 1865, Lewis Hayden, Grand Master of the Massachusetts Prince Hall Grand Lodge, delivered a stirring address to members of that Grand Lodge, calling into question the continued discrimination of African Americans in some Masonic lodges and American society.

Caption: Caste among Masons; address before Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Massachusetts, at the festival of St. John the Evangelist, December 27, 1865 By Lewis Hayden, Grand Master.(Boston, Massachusetts: Edward S. Coombs & Company, [1866])

Call number: RARE 90.H414 1866.

 

 

 

 

 

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80_9_1DI1 The Grand United Order of Odd Fellows was created in Europe and is a fraternal group that includes mutual benefits. Peter Ogden created the American counterpart of GUOOF in 1843 after obtaining a charter from the fraternal society of England. Membership exploded after the Civil War when African Americans were able to organize lodges in the south. The Grand United Order of Odd Fellows reported a membership of 108,000 in the late 1990s.

 Caption: Grand United Order of Odd Fellows Chart, 1881, Currier & Ives, New York, 80.9.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

 

 

 

 

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  95_049_2DI2The Improved Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks of the World is an African American fraternal order founded in 1897. The IBPOEW offered leadership training, professional networking opportunities, social fellowship, and community service.

Caption: Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World Apron, 1900-1920, USA, Unidentified maker, Museum purchase. Photograph by David Bohl.

References:

Jeffrey Croteau. "Prince Hall: Masonry and the Man." The Northern Light Feb. 2011: 10-13.

Peter P. Hinks and Stephen Kantrowitz, eds. All Men Free and Brethren: Essays on the History of African American Freemasonry (New York: Cornell University Press, 2013).

Nina Mjagkij, ed. Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations (New York: Garland Publishing, 2001).

Aimee E. Newell, The Badge of a Freemason: Masonic Aprons from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library (Lexington, MA: Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, 2015), 222-224.

Previous Blog Posts:

Jeffrey Croteau. "Moses Dickson and the Order of Twelve." Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Blog. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library. May 26, 2008

Aimee Newell. "A New Discovery about an old photo." Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Blog. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.May 1, 2012.

Aimee Newell. "From Boston to Washington D.C.: Prince Hall Freemasonry." Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Blog. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library. February 4, 2010.


Lecture: Reinventing the Map

We are pleased to share more information about the first lecture in the fall, 2014, continuation of our Speaking of Maps: An Exploration of Cartography and History series:

Susan cropped_smallSaturday, September 13, 2:00 p.m.

Susan Schulten, Professor and Chair, Department of History, University of Denver

Reinventing the Map

We live in a culture saturated with maps. We have become accustomed to making them instantly and representing virtually any type of data. Technology makes this possible, but our contemporary use of maps is rooted in a fundamental shift that took place well over a century ago. Professor Schulten will illustrate how, beginning in the nineteenth century Americans began to use maps not only to identify locations and represent the landscape, but to organize, display, and analyze information. Through maps of the agricultural data, landscape features, the distribution of slavery, census results, and the path of epidemics, Americans gradually learned to view themselves and their nation in altogether new ways. Don't miss this special lecture by the country's foremost authority on thematic mapping.

Susan Schulten is a scholar who seeks out ways to share her findings with the general public. Her work on nineteenth-century Americans' innovations in the use of maps has appeared in many locations and formats. Her latest book is Mapping the Nation: History & Cartography in 19th Century America (University of Chicago Press, 2012). Copies of this work will be offered for sale after her lecture and the author will be on hand to sign them. In 2013 the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association awarded Mapping the Nation the Norris Hundley Prize for the most distinguished work of history published in 2012 written by a scholar living in the American and Canadian west.

Historical_Geography_Smith_croppedAs a complement to the book, Prof. Schulten has created a website of the same name that allows readers to explore the fundamentally new ways of thinking ventured into by nineteenth-century cartographers. At the site, you'll find high-resolution images of the maps featured in Mapping the Nation - it's a great teaching tool!

Schulten also writes for the New York Times "Disunion" series, which commemorates the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, and on the relationship of maps and history for The New Republic. Curious readers can check out her "Disunion" post on a mysterious map of Louisiana that illustrates the thorny problems confronted by former Massachusetts governor Nathaniel P. Banks, charged with Reconstruction planning for the Gulf region. Among her many other engaging posts at "Disunion" are one on the Civil War work of noted lithographer John Bachman, originator of the "bird's-eye view" map - in a time before aerial photography! - and one on the United States Coast Survey's visualization of the 1860 U.S. slave population, so important in the Union's efforts to communicate its war aims.

Susan Schulten is professor of history and department chair at the University of Denver. She is also the author The Geographical Imagination in America, 1880-1950 (2001). In 2010, she was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation grant for her work on thematic mapping. 

Upcoming programs in this series are:

Saturday, October 4, 2:00 p.m.

John Rennie Short, Professor, Department of Public Policy, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Cartographic Encounters: Native Americans in the Exploration and Mapping of North America

In this lecture Professor Short will outline the role of indigenous people in the exploration and mapping of North America. Drawing on diaries, maps, and official reports, he will demonstrate how Native American guides, informants, and mapmakers were essential to European and American exploration and mapping in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Saturday, November 22, 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Workshop: How to Do History with Online Mapping Tools

In this workshop, participants will learn how to use an online tool to create maps that chart Metro Boston area history. Staff from the MetroBoston DataCommon, a provider of free applications that make it possible to map data, will collaborate with Joanne Riley, University Archivist at UMass Boston, to show lay historians, data fans, and map enthusiasts how visualizations of data related to our region can help us understand our history. Whether you are interested in exploring demographics, economy, the physical environment, politics or more, bring your curiosity and your questions. Our presenters will share examples and point the way to potential uses of digital mapping for your local history research. Space is limited; registration is required by November 5. Contact: programs@monh.org.

For further information, contact the Museum at (781) 861-6559 or check our website: www.monh.org.

Image credits:

Courtesy of Susan Schulten.

Historical Geography, [S.l.], 1888. John F. Smith.  llus. in: Harper's weekly, February 28, 1863. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, LC-2002624023. This and other maps can be explored at Schulten's website, Mapping the Nation.


New to the Collection: Odd Fellows Gavel

 2014_036DP2DBBy 1900, over 250 fraternal groups existed in the United States numbering six million members.  To fully understand and appreciate Freemasonry in America, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collects objects and documents associated with all types of fraternal organizations.  Many of these groups were inspired by Freemasonry and adopted similar structures and rituals.  We recently acquired this carved gavel with the three-link chain symbol of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.  The gavel represents fifty years of American history.  An inscription on the head of the gavel reads “Presented to Grant Lodge No. 335 by H.W. Swank Lookout Mtn. April 29, 1914.”

In November 1863, Lookout Mountain, near Chattanooga, Tennessee, was the site of the Civil War’s “battle above the clouds.”  Under the leadership of General Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), the Union Army was able to attack the Confederate troops who occupied the mountain and drive them away.  The following day the Union forces continued to Missionary Ridge and broke the Confederate lines around Chattanooga.  Unfortunately, H.W. Swank’s connection to Lookout Mountain is unknown.  Was he one of the soldiers that fought in that battle?  Did he have a relative that fought there?  Did he just enjoy the natural beauty of the site?  The mountain continued to be a tourist destination, as shown in this cabinet card from the Museum’s collection.  During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Americans began to visit Civil War sites as they healed from the war and remembered those who were lost there. 85_80_29DS2

Originally founded in England in 1745, the American branch of the Odd Fellows was organized in Baltimore in 1819 by Thomas Wildey (1782-1861).  The group took several cues from Freemasonry – they share some symbols, as well as the three-degree structure for initiation, although the specific rituals are different.  Presumably, Swank was a member of Grant Lodge No. 335, which was located in Redkey, Indiana, a town about halfway between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.  Thirteen members instituted Grant Lodge No. 335 in Redkey in September 1869.  According to a 1922 local history, Oddfellowship “prospered in Jay county [where Redkey was located] and…several lodges are reported to be doing well.”

The gavel is currently [September 2014] on view in our lobby as part of a changing display of recent acquisitions.  Consider coming by to see it – or leave us a comment below about whether you have been to Lookout Mountain!

Independent Order of Odd Fellows Gavel, 1914, Tennessee, Museum purchase, 2014.036.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Unidentified Group at Lookout Mountain, 1870-1920, J.B. Linn, Tennessee, gift of the Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, USA, 85.80.29.


Three Civil War Lectures Now Available Online!

Tony Horwitz 3-12 012We've come to the end of our two-year lecture series marking the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. Through the generous support of Ruby W. Linn and the Ruby W. and LaVon P. Linn Foundation, we were able to mount nine fantastic talks by scholars of the Civil War. Our speakers brought us closer to wartime experience and the meaning people drew from it, as well as the larger context of the war in 19th-century America. In 2012 and 2103, hundreds of people came to see them. To see who the speakers were, click here for our posts about the talks - and be sure not to miss the second page!

If you were unable to attend these lectures, or you'd like to relive them, we can help. Here are recordings of the three fall 2013 Civil War lectures, given by scholars at the forefront of their research fields. The topics are diverse and represent different perspectives on the military and Copperhead Party_LOC_croppedsocial conflicts the United States struggled through, so one of them is likely to strike your fancy. Each video is about 50 minutes long.

Nicole Etcheson (Ball State University), The Anti-Civil War Movement in the North: Copperheads in a Midwestern Community, 1861-1865

LMAIllustrationJane Schultz (Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis), A Season with the Army: Civil War Nurse Harriet Eaton and New England's Role in Medical Relief Work 

Robert Weible (Chief Curator of the New York State Museum and New York State Historian), Not that this is Going to Be a Real War: The Civil War, the Marshall House Flag, and Elmer Ellsworth’s Martyrdom. This segment integrates a special treat - a piece on the conservation of the Marshall House Flag, a huge Confederate banner captured by Ellsworth Envelope_croppedthe first Union officer to fall in the Civil War. The video comes courtesy of New York State Military Museum

To read more about the talks, you can refer to our blog posts about the Etcheson, Schultz, and Weible presentations. We thank our friends at Lexington's community access station, LexMedia, for recording, editing, and posting all three talks.

Stay tuned for the next Museum lecture series, coming in spring 2014. Check our programs page for a preview.

Image credits:

Tony Horwitz speaking before a crowd of over 300 at the Maxwell Auditorium, March 2012.

The copperhead party - in favor of a vigorous prosecution of peace! Illus. in: Harper's weekly, February 28, 1863. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-132749.

Frontispiece illustration for: Louisa M. Alcott. Hospital Sketches and Camp and Fireside Stories. Boston: Roberts Bros., 1869. 

E.E. Ellsworth, late colonel of N.Y Fire Zouaves, c. 1861. E. & H.T. Anthony, New York. LC-DIG-ppmsca-08357.  Library of Congress.


Lecture: A Civil War Cause Celebre - The Union's First Martyr and a Confederate Flag, 11/9

Ellsworth Envelope_croppedJoin us on Saturday, November 9, at 2 PM for the last lecture in our two-year series marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Robert Weible, Chief Curator of the New York State Museum and New York State Historian will explore a key event at the beginning of the war between the states, the death of Union officer Elmer Ellsworth. Weible's talk, entitled 'Not that this is Going to Be Real War': The Civil War, the Marshall House Flag, and Elmer Ellsworth's Martrydom, will trace the meaning of this gripping event for contemporaries on both sides of the Mason-Dixson line.

Ellsworth was killed by a seccessionist Virginian in a face-to-face confrontation over whether an outsized Confederate national flag would continue to fly over the city of Alexandria. Supporters of both the Northern and the Southern causes saw trenchant symbolism in this event, which was framed as a martyrdom in Northern newspapers and popular magazines. Weible will also speak on the story of the massive, 14- by 24-foot flag itself, now held by the New York State Military Museum and exhibited at the New York State Museum in conjunction with its current Civil War exhibition. The talk is free, thanks to the generous support of the Ruby W. Linn and LaVonn P. Linn Foundation

On April 12, 1861, Confederate artillery opened fire on Fort Sumter, located in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. The fort was occupied by Federal troops, asserting Union presence and authority in South Carolina, which was one of the first seven states to have seceeded from the Union. Decades of growing strife between northern and southern states now erupted in civil war. Only a few weeks later, Union troops streamed into Northern Virginia, among them Colonel Elmer Ellsworth and his 11th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, known as the First Fire Zouaves.

MarshallHouseEllsworth met his fate just after his twenty-fourth birthday in the Virginian city of Alexandria, at the Marshall House Hotel. This building had a particularly long flagpole, and on it flew the Confederate colors - which could be seen from the White House in Washington, D.C. Ellsworth took a small party of soldiers on a mission to cut down the offending flag. The Marshall House innkeeper, James Jackson, was not about to let the extremely large "stars and bars" seccessionist flag be destroyed. The dramatic confrontation that ensued resulted in Ellsworth's death at Jackson's hand. The first Union officer killed in the war between the states became a martyr for the federal cause and an arch-villain in Confederate eyes. Newspapers and popular magazines on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line proclaimed to their readers the significance of the Marshall House flag and the death of Ellsworth.

Robert Weible is a well-known public historian and former president of the National Council for Public History who has held key positions in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York. He is familiar to many in the Boston area as the first historian at Lowell National Historical Park. He has also served as Director of Public History for the State Museum of Pennsylvania, Acting Director of the Pennsylvania State Archives, and Chief of the Division of History for the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission. Educators and scholars will know him as a former grants director for Teaching American History and National Endowment for the Humanities.

For further information, contact the Museum at (781) 861-6559. www.monh.org.

Image credits:

E.E. Ellsworth, late colonel of N.Y Fire Zouaves, c. 1861. E. & H.T. Anthony, New York. LC-DIG-ppmsca-08357. Library of Congress.

[Alexandria, Va. The Marshall House, King and Pitt Streets], [Between 1860 and 1865]. LC-B8171-2294. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

 

 

 

 


Lecture - A Season with the Army: Civil War Nurse Harriet Eaton, 10/26

Continuing our fall series of Civil War lectures, at 2 PM on Saturday, October 26, we welcome to the Museum Jane Schultz, Professor of English, American Studies, and Women’s Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis. Her topic will be "A Season with the Army: Civil War Nurse Harriet Eaton and New England’s Role in Medical Relief Work," based on her 2010 scholarly edition, This Birth Place of Souls: The Civil War Nursing Diary of Harriet Eaton. Admission is free, thanks to the generous support of the Ruby W. and LaVon P. Linn Foundation.

Schultz2012Jane Schultz, the nation’s expert on Civil War nursing, will discuss a New England woman’s critical role on the battlefields of Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. Harriet Eaton was born as Harriet Hope Agnes Bacon in 1818 in Newton, MA. Her marriage to Baptist minister Jeremiah Sewall Eaton was followed by relocation to Portland, ME, where her husband led the Free Street Baptist Church. She was one of the first volunteers to enlist in the Maine Camp Hospital Association, an aid organization established by the church in October of 1862, in the wake of the Battle of Antietam. One of a handful of women who served as regimental nurses, she led a transient existence, roving the field hospitals that grew as battles raged.

CityPointHospitalHarriet Eaton’s diary and papers offer insight into the experience of the twenty-one thousand women who served in Union military hospitals. Her uncensored nursing diary is a rarity among medical accounts of the war, showing the diarist to be an astute observer of human nature. She struggled with the disruptions of transience, scarcely sleeping in the same place twice, but found the politics of daily toil even more challenging. Though Eaton praised some of the surgeons with whom she worked, she labeled others charlatans whose neglect had deadly implications for the rank and file. If she saw villainy in her medical colleagues, she also saw her service as an opportunity to convert the soldiers who were her patients. The diary stands in contrast to accounts of women's hospital work published as post-war memoirs, which were often carefully crafted narratives attentive to conventions of propriety and commemorative practice.

Jane Schultz is also the author of Women at the Front: Hospital Workers in Civil War America (2004). In that work, she shows that women war workers during the Civil War era were not all white and middle class. Women without middle-class advantages and African-American women also served as hospital workers, though women like Harriet Eaton left a stronger paper trail. On one hand, women of middle-class origin had to struggle against the belief that nursing wounded soldiers was an improper role because it exposed them to so many men and so much horror. On the other, they showed themselves eager to maintain race and class boundaries between themselves and the other women around them.

Schultz will be available after the talk to sign her book This Birth Place of Souls: The Civil War Nursing Diary of Harriet Eaton.
 
The final lecture in the series is:

"'Not that this is Going to Be a Real War': The Civil War, the Marshall House Flag, and Elmer Ellsworth’s Martyrdom" by Robert Weible, State Historian, Chief Curator, New York State Museum on Saturday, November 9, 2:00 pm.

For further information, contact the Museum at (781) 861-6559. www.monh.org.

Image credits:

Courtesy of Jane Schultz.

Field hospital near City Point, Va. (1861-1865). NYPL Wallach Division: Photography Collection. Digital ID: 114682.


Lecture: The Civil War in a Northern Community, 10/5

Civil War lectures return to the Museum for fall 2013! The next presentation will be on October 5, 2013 at 2pm, when we welcome Professor Nicole Etcheson of Ball State University. She will speak on "The Anti-Civil War Movement in the North: Copperheads in a Midwestern Community, 1861-1865." Admission is free, thanks to the generous support of the Ruby W. and LaVon P. Linn Foundation.

Copperhead Party_LOC_croppedCopperheads, anti-war Democrats, protested against the policies of the Lincoln administration, opposed emancipation and resisted the draft with violence. Were the Copperheads expressing sentiments that mirrored concerns of their fellow citizens? Did they actually aid the Confederacy?

Nicole 2011Nicole Etcheson is the Alexander M. Bracken Professor of History at Ball State University. She is the author of A Generation at War: The Civil War Era in a Northern Community, which won the 2012 Avery O. Craven Award from the Organization of American Historians; Bleeding Kansas (2004); and The Emerging Midwest (1996). She is currently working on a project about suffrage in the post-Civil War era.

Join us earlier in the day on Saturday, October 5, for a 1:00 pm free gallery talk in "A Sublime Brotherhood:  200 Years of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction." Aimee E. Newell, the Museum's Director of Collections and curator of the exhibition, will share her knowledge of the Scottish Rite's French roots, its founding in America two centuries ago and its evolution into one of the most popular American fraternal groups during the 1900s. The exhibition includes photos, costumes, and other Scottish Rite materials, many of which have never previously been on view.

The final lectures in this series, with which the Museum is marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, are:

"A Season with the Army: Civil War Nurse Harriet Eaton and New England's Role in Medical Relief Work," by Jane Schultz, Professor of English and American Studies, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis on Saturday, October 26, at 2:00 pm;

and "'Not that this is Going to Be a Real War': The Civil War, the Marshall House Flag, and Elmer Ellsworth’s Martyrdom" by Robert Weible, State Historian, Chief Curator, New York State Museum on Saturday, November 9, 2:00 pm.

For further information, contact the Museum at (781) 861-6559. www.monh.org

Image credits:

The copperhead party - in favor of a vigorous prosecution of peace! Illus. in: Harper's weekly, February 28, 1863. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-132749.

Courtesy Nicole Etcheson.


Civil War Lecture Explores Black Activists in Boston: March 23 at 2 p.m.

Our 2013 Civil War Lecture Series begins this weekend! Join us for the first lecture in the series. The series explores the history of this divisive war and its meaning for our nation today.

Stephen Kantrowitz KANTROWITZ
A Citizenship of the Heart: Black Activists and Universal Brotherhood in Civil War-Era Boston
Saturday, March 23 at 2 p.m., free

Stephen Kantrowitz, Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, will explore how the fight to abolish slavery was part of a broader campaign by Boston’s African American community to claim full citizenship. The talk will trace the activities of Prince Hall Freemason Lewis Hayden, a fugitive slave and Boston anti-slavery activist. Hayden’s Masonic engagement reflects the development of ideas and practices of black citizenship as tool to remake the republic into a place where all men could belong. Kantrowitz will be available after the talk to sign his book, More than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889.

The lecture is made possible by the generous support of the Ruby W. and LaVon P. Linn Foundation.

For more information on the Civil War Lecture Series, please refer to the Museum's programs page. For information on visiting the Museum please click here, or call 781 861-6559.

Photo credit: Courtesy Stephen Kantrowitz

 


Found on a Civil War Battlefield

80_60DI1The recent release of the movie Lincoln reminds us that we are still marking the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. As previous posts have noted, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is fortunate to have a number of items associated with that conflict in its collection (to see more, visit our website, select our online collection and search for “Civil War”).

I recently came across this intriguing, Civil War-related photograph in the collection. The round case (about 1 3/4 inches in diameter) contains photographs of Union Generals Ambrose E. Burnside (1824-1881) and George B. McClellan (1826-1885). Burnside was born in Indiana and attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After serving in the Mexican War (1846-1848), he settled in Rhode Island. Burnside returned to military service during the Civil War, but is remembered for a lackluster record, including a disastrous performance at the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862, when the Union Army suffered 13,000 casualties. After the war, Burnside entered political life, serving as Governor of Rhode Island three times and as a U.S. Senator twice. In 1871, he became the first president of the National Rifle Association. He died in Rhode Island in 1881.

George B. McClellan, born in Philadelphia, also attended West Point in the 1840s and fought in the Mexican War. In 1857, he left the military and took a position as Chief Engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad. When the Civil War began, McClellan returned to military service, becoming popular with his men, but employing a command style that put him at odds with President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865). In November 1861, McClellan became General-in-Chief of the Union army. McClellan often hesitated and delayed his attacks, fearing that he faced an enemy with more troops than he had. By November 1862, after McClellan’s failure to make significant progress, he was relieved of command. In 1864, he ran against Lincoln for president and lost. After the war, McClellan returned to work in the engineering field and also served as Governor of New Jersey. He died in New Jersey in 1885.

When these photos were donated to the Museum in 1980, the donor provided a family story that the case “was found on the battlefield at Gettysburg in the latter part of August or early September 1863 by my grandfather, George E. Blose.” George Elmer Blose, born in 1836 in Hamilton, Pennsylvania, was 27 years old in 1863. By the time of the 1860 federal census, Blose had moved east to Perry Township, Pennsylvania, where he lived in his father’s house and worked as a laborer. Records of George’s military service during the Civil War are unclear – a couple of George Blose’s are listed from Pennsylvania, but it is inconclusive which record belongs to George E. Blose, if any. By the time of the 1900 U.S. Census, Blose was listed as the head of his household and worked as a farmer in Perry.

At the time that the Civil War began, photography was still a relatively new development. Family members scrambled to have portraits of their loved ones taken before the men marched off to battle. Portraits of generals, like these of Burnside and McClellan, were popular sellers in the North. Whether George Blose found this pair of portraits on the battlefield as his family recalled, or if he purchased them as a souvenir of the nation-rending conflict he lived through is not known.  Nor is the maker of these portraits identified.  While Mathew Brady is perhaps the most well-known photographer associated with Civil War pictures, he actually took few himself. Instead, he financed a group of field photographers, sending them out to take the images, while he acquired and published the negatives. To see more photographs from the Museum’s collection, visit our website and search the online collection.

Generals Ambrose E. Burnside and George B. McClellan, ca. 1862, unidentified maker, United States. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, gift of Olney V. Wadding, 80.60.

Sources:

William Marvel, “Ambrose E. Burnside (1824-1881),” retrieved November 28, 2012, from Encyclopedia Virginia: http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Burnside_Ambrose_E_1824-1881.

“Ambrose E. Burnside,” retrieved November 28, 2012, http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/ambrose-burnside.html.

“George B. McClellan,” retrieved November 28, 2012, http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/george-mcclellan.html.

“Photography and the Civil War, 1861-1865, Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History,” retrieved November 28, 2012, http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/phcw/hd_phcw.htm.

 


Rethinking Zoeth Knowles

A sharp-eyed and knowledgeable blog reader recently got in touch with us to suggest that a previous post about a Civil War era photograph in our collection was due for re-examination.

96_045_3DP1DBBased on the information provided to the museum by the Cloues family, who donated the photograph in 1996, staff had identified the subject of this and the previously posted photograph as Zoeth Knowles (b. 1843).  Research undertaken for our 2007 exhibition, “Remember Me:  Highlights from the National Heritage Museum”, told us that Boston resident Knowles served in the Civil War as a member of the Signal Corps.  A late 1800s history of this group included an interesting reminiscence that at their instruction camp in 1862, “Members were collected from all points of the compass….Those who were present at the camp will recollect the varied uniforms, Zouave and others, worn by the various members.”  The case for Zoeth Knowles as the subject of the photograph seemed strong, until a new opinion came our way.

Our blog reader told us that, based on the portrait subject’s particular uniform, this soldier could not have been a member of the Signal Corps but was, in fact, part of Company K of the 19th Massachusetts Regiment of the Infantry, known as the “Boston Tiger Fire Zouaves.”  A history of the regiment noted that members of this company wore light blue baggy trousers, dark blue jackets with buttons and dark blue fez caps.  This may be the uniform depicted in the photographs.96_045_1T1

These photographs came to the museum with a quilt made for Mary Eliza Knowles (b. ca. 1844) in recognition for her service as president of the Massachusetts Women’s Relief Corps.  The Women's Relief Corps was an auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization for Union veterans of the Civil War.  It also carved out its own areas of interest and action. In the 1890s the WRC promoted "patriotic instruction for our public schools" and the related project of displaying flags in schools and other public places. Each of the 64 blocks in this quilt bears the identification number of a Women's Relief Corps' local chapter and, in some cases, the chapter's name and location.

Mary Eliza Knowles married former Signal Corp member and cabinetmaker Zoeth Knowles in 1866.  Prompted by our reader’s suggestion, I looked into the connections between the Knowles and Cloues families.  Soon, a feasible explanation for the donors’  probably incorrect identification of Zoeth Knowles as the subject of the photograph emerged.  In making the gift of the quilt and photographs to the museum, the donor related that Mary Eliza Knowles was her great aunt (she was actually her great-great aunt). As generations passed, it appears the Cloues family lost sight of which uncle the images that accompanied the quilt portrayed.  Both the husband and the brother of the quilt-recipient served in the Civil War, so it would be easy to mistake one for the other!  Like his brother-in-law, Mary Knowles’ brother, Theodore Cloues (ca. 1832-1919), fought in the Civil War.  He served in Company K of the 19th Massachusetts Regiment of the Infantry--the “Boston Tiger Fire Zouaves.” Before the war and after he earned his living as a sail maker in the Boston area.  Based on the question and information posed by our reader, Theodore Cloues is likely the subject of this photograph and the other view posted earlier. 

Regardless of this mix-up, we are grateful to the Cloues family's gift to the museum as well as to our knowledgeable blog readers.  Please keep your comments coming!

References:

J. Willard Brown, The Signal Corps, U. S. A. in the War of the Rebellion, Boston, Massachusetts:  U. S. Veteran Signal Corps Association, 1896, pages 59 and 812.

Ernest Linden Wiatt, History of the Nineteenth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1861-1865, Salem, Massachusetts: The Salem Press, 1906, pages 2-3.

Photo credits:

Theodore Cloues, ca. 1864. Unidentified Photographer, Probably Boston. Gift of the Cloues Family, 96.045.3.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Quilt, 1890-1891. Various Makers, Massachusetts.  Gift of the Cloues Family, 96.045.1.  Photograph by David Bohl.