American History - 20th Century

Workshop: How to Do History with Online Mapping Tools - Register Now!

MetroBostonDataCommonCalling all lay historians, data fans, and map enthusiasts!

We are rounding out our 2014 lecture series, "Speaking of Maps: An Exploration of Cartography and History," with a free workshop.

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

How to Do History with Online Mapping Tools

In this workshop, participants will learn how to use online tools to create and consult 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 demonstrate how visualizations of data and space related to our region can help us understand our history. Whether you are interested in exploring demographics, economy, the physical environment, cultural history, 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. This workshop is free thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Ruby W. and LaVon P. Linn Foundation. Space is limited; registration is required. Contact: programs@monh.org.

This workshop is offered by representatives of two local resources for historical material and data visualization:

As University Archivist at the UMass Boston library, Joanne Riley coordinates extensive collections that complement those of the Massachusetts State Archives and the John F. Kennedy Library. The university's urban mission and strong support of community service is reflected in the department's collections of records of urban planning, social action, alternative movements, and community organizations. In that context, Joanne oversees the Mass. Memories Road Show project, a long-term project to collect and archive images and oral history related to Massachusetts communities. She is a member of the advisory board of Mapping Thoreau Country, a project that takes of advantage of digital technologies to use historical maps to organize and interpret images, documents, and information related to Henry David Thoreau's travels throughout the United States.

The MetroBoston DataCommon is an interactive data portal and online mapping tool that provides a wealth of information about the region’s people, communities and neighborhoods through a wide variety of topics -- from arts and education to the environment and transportation. It is a collaborative project of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) and the Boston Indicators Project. The MAPC is a regional planning agency serving the 101 cities and towns of Metropolitan Boston. The Agency promotes smart growth and regional collaboration, and provides a range of analytical, planning, and mapping services to municipalities and community-based organizations in metropolitan Boston. The Boston Indicators Project is coordinated by The Boston Foundation in partnership with the City of Boston and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). Its goals are to democratize access to data and information, to foster informed public discourse and to track progress on shared civic goals.

For further information about the program, contact the Museum at (781) 861-6559 or at programs@monh.org. For information about the museum visit www.monh.org.

Image courtesy of MetroBoston DataCommon.


Lecture Series: Speaking of Maps: An Exploration of Cartography and History, Fall 2014

Speaking of Maps: An Exploration of Cartography and History, Fall 2014

In the fall of 2014, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library continues its program series, “Speaking of Maps: An Exploration of Cartography and History." All programs will be free to the public thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Ruby W. and LaVon P. Linn Foundation.

Maps were among the first objects that the Museum collected after its founding in 1975. Our collection holds maps dating from the 17th century to the present. Using this collection as a touchstone, the series reflects current research that helps us value historical cartography. We hope you are as eager as we are to delve into the past worlds historic maps describe and forge paths to the new ones that digital mapping promises to chart.

Mark your calendar with these dates; future blog posts will share more details about the speakers and their topics.

Historical_Geography_SmithSaturday, 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 environment, the distribution of the institution of slavery, the census, epidemics, and even their own history, Americans gradually learned to view themselves and their nation in altogether new ways.

JRS_smallerSaturday, 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.

MetroBostonDataCommonSaturday, 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.

Image credits:

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.

Courtesy of John Rennie Short.

Courtesy of MetroBoston DataCommon.


Washington's Buttons or Shady Hoax?

86_62_10a-cDP1DBAt the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, we love objects that have a good story. This framed pair of buttons, which were donated in 1986 as part of a large collection of ephemera and prints associated with George Washington (1732-1799), have a fantastic story framed with them. However, years of curatorial experience have also made us somewhat suspicious of stories that seem too good to be true.

According to the information with the buttons, they are “General George Washington’s Military Waistcoat Buttons,” which he wore during the Revolutionary War. The typewritten note framed with the buttons goes on to trace their descent from George Washington through several generations of his family to William Lanier Washington (1865-1933). At the bottom of the note, William Lanier Washington signed his name and had his signature notarized. The buttons were part of an auction in New York City in February 1922 – they are listed as lot #198 and a note in the catalog indicates that they are “framed, together with the statement, made under affidavit, setting forth the history of these Revolutionary War relics of General Washington, and line of descent to the present owner.”

However, a little research into William Lanier Washington turns up some questions about the authenticity of the buttons. The auction at which these buttons were sold was at least the third that offered items from William Lanier’s collection. A catalog from a 1920 auction also includes multiple lots of buttons from George Washington’s clothing. And, there had been an auction in 1917, as well. Some accounts suggest that William Lanier Washington was known as a pariah in his family, although little has been written by scholars about these auctions or William Lanier. One story related to the 1917 auction ends tragically. At the sale, G.D. Smith (1870-1920), who helped Henry Huntington (1850-1927) assemble his famed library, purchased a pair of candlesticks thought to have been used on Washington’s desk at Mount Vernon. Three years later, William Lanier came to see Smith and attempted to sell him a set of candlesticks that Washington used on his desk at Mount Vernon. Smith related that he had already purchased one such set, got into an argument with Washington and dropped dead in the heat of the moment.

While the stories about William Lanier Washington and the repeated sales from his collection call the authenticity of these buttons - and the other objects in his auctions - into question (see also the survey scale at the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia, and the seal ring at the Sons of the American Revolution), he did have a direct family connection to George Washington and some of the items he sold were owned by George. You can judge for yourself in our new exhibition (June 2014), Prized Relics: Historical Souvenirs from the Collection, where the buttons will be on view.

Pair of Buttons, 1770-1840, unidentified maker, United States, Dr. William L. and Mary B. Guyton Collection, 86.62.10a-c. Photograph by David Bohl.

 


How Much Moxie Do You Have?

2001_051_4DP1DB

The idea of “Throw-back Thursday” seems to be gaining popularity on the internet, especially on sites like Facebook (if you haven’t, please like the Museum on Facebook!) where users post old photographs of themselves and their friends each week.  While our blog comes out on Tuesday, not Thursday, we do like to think that every day is “Throw-back Thursday” at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, since we are devoted to studying and preserving history.  In light of this theme, this post features two bottles from a small collection of Moxie bottles that we received as a gift in 2001.  The “throw-back” part also comes from the fact that we hosted an exhibition in 1993 called “When America Had a Lot of Moxie: A History of America’s First Mass-Marketed Soft Drink.”  Moxie pre-dates Coca-Cola, which was first available in 1886.

Dr. Augustin Thompson (1825-1903) of Lowell, Massachusetts, developed Moxie.  Thompson was born in Maine and served in the Union Army during the Civil War.  After the war, he studied medicine at Hahnemann Homeopathic College in Philadelphia.  Around 1867, Thompson moved to Lowell to open a medical practice.  Soon after, he began developing a recipe for what became known as “Moxie Nerve Food.” 

The bottle at left dates to the 1880s or 1890s when the drink was still marketed as “Moxie Nerve Food.”  Thompson began selling his remedy in 1884 or 1885.  When he applied for a patent in 1885, he explained that it was “a liquid preparation charged with soda for the cure of paralysis, softening of the brain, and mental imbecility.”  The drink caught on in New England and sold widely.  In 1886, one of Thompson’s sons, Francis E., and Freeman N. Young, constructed the first Moxie Bottle Wagon – a horse-drawn four-wheel cart with a replica of a Moxie bottle on the back (see some pictures here).  Many variations were subsequently made and the bottle wagon became one of Moxie’s chief advertising gimmicks. 2001_051_2DP1DB

Moxie continues to be sold up to the present day – see the bottle from 1963 at right, which was bottled in Needham Heights, Massachusetts, in a bottle from the Glenshaw Glass Company in Pennsylvania.  However, it has been many decades since the company was able to claim that it cured any medical conditions.  Today, it is considered a great-tasting, refreshing beverage by its fans, although they also acknowledge that it is an acquired taste.  Are you a fan?  Do you collect Moxie memorabilia?  Tell us about it in a comment below.

References:

Q. David Bowers, The Moxie Encyclopedia: Volume 1 – The History (Wolfesboro, NH: The Vestal Press, 1985).

Frank N. Potter, The Book of Moxie (Paducah, KY: Collector Books, 1987).

Top: Moxie Nerve Food Bottle, 1880-1900, unidentified maker, United States.  Gift of Peter G. Huntsman, 2001.051.4.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Bottom: Moxie Bottle, 1963, Glenshaw Glass Company, Glenshaw, PA.  Gift of Peter G. Huntsman, 2001.051.2.  Photograph by David Bohl.


Lecture: Historical Maps and Digital Visualizations - Tools for Genealogists

From sixteenth-century maps depicting the location of Irish clans to maps of DNA test results showing ancient migration patterns, family historians use maps in many ways to tell the story of their ancestries. No longer content to use maps for reference, modern genealogists create maps employing a variety of software products and social media to research and share their ancestries.

MMHP4571Melinda Kashuba of Shasta College explores the wide range of maps family historians employ to research and document their families’ story in her lecture, “Organizing Wonder: Using Maps in Family History Research,” Saturday, April 12 at 2 pm at the museum. The lecture is free thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Ruby W. and LaVon P. Linn Foundation.

After the lecture, Ms. Kashuba will offer an informal discussion with interested audience members.

Melinda Kashuba holds a PhD in Geography from the University of California, Los Angeles.She is a popular lecturer and author of Walking with Your Ancestors: a Genealogist’s Guide to Using Maps and Geography plus numerous articles in genealogical magazines and other publications. Her specialties include nineteenth and twentieth century American records and maps. She performs genealogical research for clients and is a member of the National Genealogical Society, the Association of Professional Genealogists, California State Genealogical Alliance, and the Shasta County Genealogical Society.

This talk is part of the Museum's 2014 lecture series: “Speaking of Maps: An Exploration of Cartography and History.” This spring and fall, we are offering a series of programs related to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library’s collection of historic maps. Click here to see the most up-to-date topics, speakers, and dates and here to read a recent post about the series.

For our final spring map lecture, we will welcome David Bosse, Librarian and Curator of Maps, Historic Deerfield, to the Museum & Library on Saturday, June 7. His 2 p.m. presentation will be on: Map and Chart Publishing in Boston in the 18th Century.

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

Image credit:

Courtesy of Melinda Kashuba


Memories of World War I

2000_059_8DP1As the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library’s curator, I write a collections-related article for the quarterly publication of the Scottish Rite fraternity, The Northern Light.  This is a task that I enjoy very much and I can always tell when the issue is hitting mailboxes across the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, since calls and emails start coming in response to my article.  However, I was somewhat unprepared for the large response to my most recent piece on World War I, which appeared in the February 2014 issue.

In commemoration of the beginning of the centennial of the war, I highlighted several World War I-era items from our collection, including this trench art lamp, which we previously showcased in a blog post.  The lamp was presented to Union Lodge No. 31 in New London, Connecticut, on December 25, 1922, by member Robert T. Woolsey (1893-1944).  In the past few weeks, since the magazine was mailed to members, I have received more than twelve phone calls, emails and letters.  Several respondents told me stories about their own family World War I souvenirs – including two similar lamps.

Another caller wanted to clarify the significance of the Statue of Liberty motif that is painted on a World War I helmet in our collection.  The helmet, which was originally worn by soldier Timothy Mahoney (b. 1889), is also painted with the identification of his unit – part of the 77th Division.  In the article I mentioned that the Statue of Liberty was a common helmet decoration, reminding soldiers of what they were fighting for.  However, in this case, as the caller reminded me, it had a more formal connection since the 77th Division was known as the “Statue of Liberty Division.”  The men had shoulder patches showing the statue inside a blue truncated triangle, much as it appears on the helmet. 80_29_1cDI1

Several other responders generously offered World War I material from their own family collections as a donation to the Museum.  So far we have received a trench telescope used by a British soldier, a Masonic “Welcome Home” badge from Excelsior Lodge No. 175 and several items of ephemera from a soldier who fought in the 315th Infantry, including a menu for a Masonic dinner that he attended in 1919.  We rely on donations in order to refine and improve our collection, so we are extremely grateful for these gifts.  We look forward to cataloging them and using them for future research and exhibitions.  If you have something that you would like to donate to our collection, see our staff contact page and get in touch!

Masonic Trench Art Lamp, 1918-1922, France or United States, Museum purchase, 2000.059.8.  Photograph by David Bohl.

World War I Helmet, 1918, United States, gift of Eva M. Mahoney, 80.29.1c. 


Register Now! April 11, 2014 Symposium - Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism

UN2000_0131_49DS1Don't miss out!  Register now for the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library symposium on Friday, April 11, 2014 - Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism.  This day-long symposium seeks to present the newest research on American fraternal groups.  By 1900, over 250 American fraternal groups existed, numbering six million members.  The study of their activities and influence in the United States, past and present, offers the potential for new interpretations of American society and culture.

The day will include:

"Mid-Nineteenth Century Lodges: Middle-Class Families in the Absence of Women," Kristen M. Jeschke, DeVry University

"Bragging Brethren and Solid Sisters? Contrasting Mobilization Patterns Among Male and Female Orders During the Spanish-American War," Jeffrey Tyssens, Vrije Universiteit Brussels

"Painted Ambition: Notes on Some Early Masonic Wall Painting," Margaret Goehring, New Mexico State University

"Pilgrimage and Procession: The Knights Templar Triennial Conclaves and the Dream of the American West," Adam G. Kendall, Henry Wilson Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry, Grand Lodge of California

"The Colored Knights of Pythias," Stephen Hill Sr., Phylaxis Society

"'The Farmer Feeds Us All': The Origins and Evolution of a Grange Anthem," Stephen Canner, Independent Scholar

Participants will also have their choice of a tour of our exhibition, "A Sublime Brotherhood: 200 Years of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction," a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum collection, or a tour of highlights in the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives.

Registration is $65 ($60 for museum members) and includes morning refreshments, lunch and a closing reception.  The day runs from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.  To register - BY MARCH 21 - visit our website and complete a registration form.

The symposium is funded in part by the Supreme Council, N.M.J., U.S.A.

 


Come In from the Cold! Museum Gallery Talks, January-March

The Museum is showing two fabulous exhibitions featuring objects from our collection. The curators of these shows will present our free spring gallery talks. Come in from the cold and seize an opportunity to learn from the makers of the exhibitions!

Hilary cropped 2Journeys and Discoveries: The Stories Maps Tellon view through the beginning of April, was curated by Hilary Anderson Stelling, Director of Exhibitions and Audience Development. Join her for a gallery talk on Saturday, January 11, 2:00 p.m. or Saturday, February 1, 2:00 p.m. Maps can chart everything from newly explored territories, familiar hometowns or distant theatres of war. This free talk will share some of the stories maps tell.

Newell PhotoA Sublime Brotherhood:  200 Years of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction was curated by Aimee E. Newell, the Museum's Director of Collections. Two free gallery talks on this show are slotted for Saturday, February 8, 2:00 p.m. and Saturday, March 22, 2:00 p.m.Come and learn about 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 Scottish Rite items, many of which have never previously been on view.

"A Sublime Brotherhood" celebrates the bicentennial of the Scottish Rite fraternity. Our readers may be interested in the accompanying anniversary publication, co-authored by Aimee E. Newell and other Museum staff. To learn more about the book and how to order it, read our previous post.

If you come to a talk on January 11 or February 1, you'll have the chance to see our Library and Archives exhibition, Secret Scripts: Masonic and Fraternal Ritual Books, curated by Jeffrey Croteau, Library Manager. You can see Jeff's posts on books and manuscripts in that show here

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


A Salute to the American Military

Jacket in caseThis summer (2013), the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is pleased to be one of 1,800 museums across America to welcome military personnel and their families in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families and the Department of Defense, as part of the Blue Star Museums program.

The program runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day and identifies museums that offer free admission to active-duty military personnel and their family members. The Museum & Library is included on the Blue Star Museums website. “Blue Star Museums is something that service members and their families look forward to every year and we are thrilled with the continued growth of the program,” said Blue Star Families CEO Kathy Roth-Douquet. “Through this distinctive collaboration…service members and their families can connect with our national treasures.” The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is proud to participate in this program and to support our military families. BlueStarLogo1800

The Museum’s collection includes numerous objects and documents associated with the American military and its soldiers, dating from the Revolution to the Iraq War. The leather jacket shown here is currently on view in our exhibition, “Journeys and Discoveries: The Stories Maps Tell.” It was originally worn by Technical Sergeant Ronald W. Hirtle (1924-1986) during World War II. A radio operator and gunner, Hirtle belonged to the 491st “Ringer” Bomb Squadron of the 14th Air Force – also known as the “Flying Tigers” – and logged over 200 combat hours on almost 50 bombing missions in the China-Burma-India Theater.

Jacket2The exhibition also features an Escape and Evasion Map of Burma and Siam and the Far East and a selection of Asian currencies that the Air Force provided to Hirtle. An airman like Hirtle could be shot down in unfamiliar territory. To prepare for this possibility, the Air Force equipped its flyers with lightweight escape kits. Hirtle’s map is printed on silk making it quiet to use, more impervious to water than paper and easy to hide. The currency would allow him to buy food and water, or pay a local resident to help him return to American forces.

Air Force Type A-2 Flight Jacket, 1942-1945, Aero Leather Clothing Co., Beacon, NY; Escape and Evasion Map of Burma and Siam and the Far East, 1942-1945; Currency, 1942-1945; all gifts of the Family of Ronald W. Hirtle, 96.041.1, .2 and .3a-f.


Astronaut John Glenn's Scottish Rite Ring

Glenn Ring Front2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Scottish Rite’s Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (see these posts for more information on the history of the Scottish Rite). The Jurisdiction’s Supreme Council founded the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in 1975. To celebrate, we are presenting a new exhibition, “A Sublime Brotherhood: Two Hundred Years of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.”

Opening June 15, 2013, the exhibition uses more than 100 objects and images to tell the story of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. While most people assume that the Scottish Rite began in Scotland, it was actually founded in France in the mid-1700s. Early groups met in the West Indies, eventually taking root in New York, New Orleans, and Philadelphia. Glenn Ring Inside

Among the objects on view is the 33rd degree ring originally owned by astronaut and Freemason John H. Glenn Jr. (b. 1921). The first American to orbit the earth, in 1962, Glenn circled the planet three times in the Mercury capsule Friendship 7. After retiring from the Marine Corps in 1965, Glenn pursued his interest in politics. Starting in 1974, he served Ohio for four consecutive terms in the United States Senate. The Grand Master of Ohio made John Glenn a Mason at sight in 1978. In 1998, soon after Glenn received the Scottish Rite’s 33rd degree, conferred on selected members as a high honor, he wore this ring when he returned to space in the shuttle Discovery.  On the journey he became the oldest American to participate in a NASA mission.

Starting Saturday, June 15, 2013, the exhibition will be open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On June 15, 2013, at 2 p.m., Aimee E. Newell, the museum’s Director of Collections and curator of the exhibition, will give a gallery talk. Please visit www.nationalheritagemuseum.org for more information.

Scottish Rite 33rd Degree Ring, 1998, Irons and Russell Company, New York, NY, gift of John H. Glenn Jr. in memory and honor of Vern Riffe, a good friend, 33° Mason, and the longest serving Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives in history, 2000.018a. Photographs by David Bohl.