#AskAnArchivist day is an effort from the Society of American Archivists to bring awareness to the archival community, but also an opportunity for repositories to answer questions about their collections and their jobs. This year Rutgers Special Collections and Univeristy Archives participated for the first time on Twitter (@Rutgers_SCUA). Digital archivist Caryn Radick and processing archivist Tara Maharjan were available for an hour and a half to answer questions.
Throughout the day, they shared other fun facts about the collections in SC/UA. Such as, what is the most glittery item? That would be this untitled work by Miriam Schapiro.
What is the oldest item? A Didrachm coin minted between 280 B.C.E.-276 B.C.E.
Newest acquisition? That would be this folding chair that President Barack Obama sat in during his Rutgers 250 anniversary commencement address.
Oddest item? Probably a mummified cat. It was donated in 1954 and not much is known about it except it is from Egypt.
We were able to share some behind the scenes videos and photos of our collections to answer question like have you ever wonder about the trip our materials take from our closed stacks up to our reading room in the dumbwaiter? Well now you can wonder no more.
Ever wonder about the trip our materials take in the dumbwaiter? Wonder no more. Let's take a trip! #AskAnArchivist
We were able to share some other fun facts, including that not all of our materials are stored on-site. We have other facilities on the Rutgers Campus which hold some of our boxes. Here is one such building with an archivist for a size reference.
We shared some of the toughest things about being an archivist. First, the handwriting can sometimes be tough to read:
Can you read it? It says, “…is away from her and now Old Rutgers means much more to me than ever before. I am…”
Second would be how physical being an an archivist really is – it requires people to lift ~40 pounds, to be able to move pallets of boxes, and use the movable shelves.
But one of the best things about being an archivist (we think) is stumbling across images with cute animals.
We had so much fun with #AskAnArchivist Day. We look forward to participating again next year. If anyone has questions about our archives or about being an archivist you can always reach out on social media @Rutgers_SCUA or by email at email@example.com. We will leave you with some more highlights from the day.
In February 2017 Rutgers University announced that it will name an apartment building on its historic New Brunswick campus after the abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth (c.1797-1883). The decision followed research findings, published in Scarlet and Black: Slavery and Dispossession in Rutgers History, that Sojourner Truth had been enslaved as a child to members of the family of Rutgers’ first president Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh (1736–1790). However, Sojourner Truth–who was born with the name Isabella–never lived in New Jersey but grew up in Ulster County, New York. She was born enslaved to Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh’s brother, Johannes Hardenbergh Jr. (1729-1799), after whose death she and her family became the property of his son Charles. Johannes Jr. has been confused with his father, Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh (1706-1786), a founding trustee of Queens (later Rutgers) College. Not only did they share a name and lived in Hurley, near Kingston. Both also had a son named “Charles” and served as “Colonel” in the Revolutionary War.
The narrative of Sojourner Truth: “Colonel Ardinburgh”
Sojourner Truth, who never learned to read or write, dictated her life’s story to fellow abolitionist Olive Gilbert (1801-1884), which was published as the Narrative of Sojourner Truth in 1850. According to Gilbert (who spelled the names that Truth provided as she heard them), Isabella was “the daughter of James and Betsey, slaves of one Colonel Ardinburgh, Hurley, Ulster County, New York.” After his death, Isabella, her parents, and “ten or twelve other fellow human chattels” became the legal property of his son Charles. Not older than two when her first owner died, Truth only remembered her second master. When he died too, she was about nine years old and was auctioned off to John Neely, a storekeeper who lived in the area. Her new master severely beat her because of her inability to understand orders. Having been raised in a Dutch Reformed household, she had only learned to speak the language of her masters: Dutch.
“That class of people called Low Dutch”
According to the Narrative Isabella’s first two owners “belonged to that class of people called Low Dutch.” These people were descendants of Dutch Reformed families who had emigrated from the Netherlands (the “Low Countries”) in the 17th century and settled in New York and New Jersey. Uninhibited by their Dutch Reformed faith, they farmed their lands with the help of enslaved blacks, like their English-speaking neighbors. (Read about the farm ledgers of Johannes G. Hardenbergh). In 1707 the grandfather of Sojourner Truth’s owner, also named Johannes Hardenbergh (1670–1745), had purchased a tract of two million acres of land in the Catskill Mountains from a leader of the Esopus Indians. For this land (spread across today’s Ulster, Sullivan and Delaware Counties) Hardenbergh and six others were granted a patent in 1708, which became known as the “Hardenbergh Patent.” By the time of the first federal census of 1790, fifteen heads of Ulster households had the name “Hardenbergh,” of whom ten listed enslaved people. Advertisements for runaway slaves in the Hudson River Valley (including three from members of the Hardenbergh family) indicate that many slaves spoke Dutch as well as English. Sojourner Truth herself always kept a distinct low-Dutch accent, and never had the Southern black accent that the white abolitionist Francis Gage gave her when publishing the speech that became known as “Ain’t I a Woman?” (compare this speech, written 12 years after the original speech, with a more authentic version).
Col. Johannes Hardenbergh (1706-1786), Rosendale, Hurley
As can be seen in Myrtle Hardenbergh Miller’s The Hardenberg family; a genealogical compilation (1958) many male members in the Hardenbergh family inherited the name of the Hardenbergh patriarch in Ulster County. Miller makes a clear distinction between the older Colonel and the younger Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh (1729-1799), the owner of Sojourner Truth. But the older Colonel Hardenbergh (1706-1786) was more famous: he was a field officer under George Washington in the Continental Army, and served in New York’s Colonial Assembly. He lived with his family in “Rosendale,” a house with many rooms as well as slave quarters, formerly owned by his grandfather Colonel Jacob Rutsen. The house, in which Colonel Hardenbergh entertained Washington in 1782 and 1783, burned down in 1911. In the New York Census of Slaves of 1755 Hardenbergh is listed as living in Hurley owning six slaves, which made him one of the largest slaveholders in the county. In 1844 Hurley’s town boundaries changed, however, and the house became part of the newly formed town Rosendale. (View a map of Ulster county, 1829)
Col. Johannes Hardenbergh Jr. (1729-1799), Swartekill, Hurley
Like his brothers and sisters, Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh was born in the family home “Rosendale.” He left home when he was around seventeen years old to prepare for the ministry at the home of John Frelinghuysen (1727-54), a young prominent Dutch Reformed minister, who served five congregations in central New Jersey, and lived in what is now known as the “Old Dutch Parsonage” in Somerville. When Frelinghuysen unexpectedly died in 1754 the young Hardenbergh took over the five pulpits. He married Frelinghuysen’s much older widow, the pietist Dina van Bergh (1725–1807) in 1756 and was ordained to the ministry in 1758. Whether he also retained the three slaves (including a child), whom Dina had inherited according to her first husband’s will, is not known. But they did have at least one slave at the parsonage: in a letter from Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh, written (in Dutch) to his father in 1777, he wrote that he had to hurry “because the negro is getting ready to go” (“wijl de neger gereet maakt om af te gaan“).
In 1781 Hardenbergh was called by the congregations of Marbletown, Rochester, and Wawarsing in Ulster county, and left New Jersey to move back into his parental home “Rosendale” with his family. He returned to New Jersey in 1786 to serve as minister in New Brunswick and president of Queen’s College. Whether he maintained any enslaved people during these last four years of his life we do not know. There are no slaves mentioned in his will.
On April 6, 1917, one hundred years ago, the United States entered The Great War (as it was known then) or the First World War (as we know it today). New Jersey contributed 72,946 draftees and 46,960 volunteers—with more than 140,000 serving by the war’s end—for the final seventeen months of the war. Although the Garden State is teeming with over 160 memorials dedicated to the brave individuals who served in the Great War, their names were largely forgotten until recently. In this blog post we will feature two of these long forgotten New Jersey heroes, using materials from the Rutgers College War Service Bureau and the Terradell Family Papers at the Rutgers University Special Collections and University Archives. These materials, along with many other one-of-a-kind artifacts, are currently on display in “Heaven, Hell, or Hoboken!”: New Jersey in the Great War.
With a growing number of Rutgers men in Uncle Sam’s olive drab, Earl Reed Silvers (RC 1913) established the Rutgers College War Service Bureau (RCWSB) in August 1917 to keep the 800 men in service up to date with frequent news of the college and each other. “As far as can be ascertained, no college or university in the United States kept in such close touch with her alumni and undergraduates in the army or navy,” reflected Silvers, “nor has any college the mass of material, war letters and relics, which were sent to old Rutgers by her appreciative sons.”
Counted among the alumni who corresponded with Silvers and the RCWSB was Theodore “Theo” Rosen (1895-1940), Rutgers College Class of 1916, who served as First Lieutenant in the 315th Infantry, 79th Division.
Creeping and crawling toward the German line in search of a machine gun nest on the early morning of November 4, 1918, Rosen found himself in the path of fire. One bullet rendered his right arm useless; the other tore through his left cheek, filling his mouth with blood and taking out seven teeth. The 23-year-old would lose the top of his left thumb, break his left wrist, have his right arm amputated, and suffer impaired hearing and vision before the onslaught was over. He only recovered consciousness as a P.O.W. on the operating table at Longwy, where he remained prisoner for the eight days before the Armistice in November 1918. Commendation letters in Rosen’s RCWSB file stressed Rosen’s status as a medical marvel thanks to a “masterpiece of surgery.” Noting his “gallantry in action and meritorious services,” Rosen garnered high praise from a department dealing with the paperwork for nearly 4 million American troops.
Following his early death, the war hero’s perseverance and valiance was preserved in the sole issue of Real Heroes (1941) in a comic entitled “The Man Who Wouldn’t Be Licked!” In short, Rosen’s story truly gives new meaning to the phrase “mind over matter.”
Click to read the complete details of Rosen’s “Remarkable Story” from the RCWSB’s Selected Letters, which Earl Reed Silvers intended to turn into a book.
But for every story of Great War survival, there are hundreds of stories of heroes who never made it back home to New Jersey. Counted in the tally of the 3,836 New Jerseyans lost to combat, accident, and disease, was Trentonian Russell “Russ” J. Terradell (1897-1918), whose story is housed in the Terradell Family Papers.
Around a week after Rosen fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Emma L. Terradell tore open this six-page letter from her son, Private Russell Terradell, 61st Regiment, 5th Division. According to Dr. Richard Grippaldi of Rutgers University, such final “just in case” letters were written by soldiers to their families on the eve of battle since the early days of the Civil War, and remain a custom in combat units to this day.
Slain-in-action on October 17th 1918, Terradell’s begins with the introductory understatement, “To the dearest of Mothers, When this reaches you you will know that I have passed over, Mother I know how horribly upset you will be over this and that the scar will always remain.” The 21-year-old patriotically justified his death as he attempted to console his family, “But we shall live forever in the results of our efforts. I did not make much of my life before the war but I believe I have done so now. Often one hears ‘Poor fellow cut off so young without ever having a chance of knowing and enjoying life.’ But for myself thanks for all you have done for me. I have crowded into twenty-one years enough pleasures and experiences of a lifetime, and that is why it is no hardship for me to leave this world so young.” The wrinkled onionskin paper still bears the marks of his mother’s tears one hundred years later, and I dare you not to get a bit choked up over this difficult-to-read letter.
If you’re interested in learning more about New Jersey servicemen like Rosen and Terradell, please check out our latest exhibition, “Heaven, Hell, or Hoboken!”: New Jersey in the Great War. On display through September 15, 2017 in Alexander Library. Curator’s tours are available byappointment, please email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rutgers Special Collections and University Archives has an unusual amount of Dutch materials among its collections. Readers of a previous post know that this is because of the close connection between Queen’s College (renamed Rutgers College in 1825) and the Dutch Reformed Church. As can be seen in our recently updated guide to Dutch manuscripts the majority of the documents relate to 18th century Dutch Reformed communities in New Jersey and New York.
One exception is a collection of 25 Dutch autographs that we recently found among the papers of John Romeyn Brodhead (1814-1873), author of the History of the state of New York (2 vols., 1853-1871). Stored in folders simply labeled “early Dutch documents” they turned out to be signed by famous Dutch naval commanders, statesmen, and members of the House of Orange, many of whom Dutch schoolchildren encounter when they learn about the Dutch “Golden Age.” During this period, roughly spanning the 17th century, the small, newly independent Dutch Republic became a maritime and economic world power, built a colonial empire, and played a major role in European coalition wars, while the political power in the confederation of seven provinces repeatedly shifted between the “State party” (the regents of the provinces of Holland and Zeeland) and the princes of Orange.
Among the autographs in the collection are signatures from Land’s Advocate Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, Grand Pensionary Johan de Witt and his brother Cornelis de Witt (both lynched by an Orangist mob in the “disaster year” 1672) and the famous admirals Maarten Tromp and Michiel de Ruyter–the latter the subject of the 2015 movie Admiral. Most of the documents have extensive burn marks and were laminated decades ago with a fiber-like material no longer used by present-day conservators. How did these Dutch autographs, which should have been in the Dutch National Archives, end up among Brodhead’s papers? Why did they all relate to war ships or other naval matters? And why did most of them have burn marks? With the help of the Dutch historian Jaap Jacobs, who specializes in 17th-century Dutch and colonial history, we were able to unravel the mystery.
John Romeyn Brodhead (1814-1873)
Brodhead was the son of a prominent clergyman of the Dutch Reformed Church and a descendent of one of the English conquerors of New Amsterdam in 1664, who settled with his family in Esopus, New York. John Romeyn Brodhead graduated from Rutgers in 1831 and was admitted to the bar in New York in 1835. Rather than pursuing a career in law, however, he devoted himself to the study of American colonial history. When he obtained an appointment as attaché to the American legation at The Hague in 1839, he scoured the Dutch archives for materials about the early Dutch history of New York. In 1841 he was appointed by New York governor William Seward to procure and transcribe documents in European archives concerning the colonial history of the state. In 1844 he returned from Europe with 80 volumes of transcriptions from Dutch, English, and French archives, which he listed in The Final Report in 1845.
Familiar with Dutch history and 17th century handwriting, Brodhead must have easily recognized the names on the documents that we found among his papers. So how did he obtain them? Were they stolen? When we showed Jaap Jacobs the scorched documents, he was able to provide an explanation. At the time Brodhead visited European archives in the early 1840s, the archives of the five Dutch admiralties, which administered naval matters in the Dutch Republic, were held at the “Ministerie van Marine” (Ministry of Naval Affairs) in The Hague. On January 8, 1844, a huge fire broke out in the building, when a maid lighting a candle in the minister’s quarters accidentally set the curtains on fire. The quickly spreading fire is described in detail in a pamphlet with folded-out images of the building before, during, and after the fire. To save the archives, people threw the smoldering papers out the window, but the blazing wind spread them across the city in the sleet and snow. According to the finding aid to the Admiralty Archives in the National Archives only part of the materials was returned: these can be viewed (with similar burn marks) under their respective folder-level descriptions (see example). Many ended up in the hand of collectors such as Brodhead.
Paperwork during a naval war
Although the people who signed the documents were important historical figures, the contents themselves relate to less significant matters. The 1613 letters from Johan van Oldenbarneveldt, for instance, who had played a major role in the Dutch Republic’s struggle for independence but was beheaded for “treason” in 1619, merely concerned getting somebody a job, and providing a ship for a captain to carry certain letters. As a whole, however, the documents provide a fascinating glimpse of the day-to-day administration of running the navy, at a time when the country protected merchant ships and engaged in warfare during the Eighty Years’ War against Spain (concluded in 1648), the first three Anglo-Dutch wars (1652-1674) and the Franco-Dutch war (1672-1678). The letters to the admiralties address a wide variety of practical issues: from the provision of safe passage of foreign ambassadors, to naval blockades, smugglers, and, as in the letter displayed above, Dutch sailors who were captured at sea and required intercession from the Dutch ambassador at the English court (in 1665 temporarily residing at Oxford to evade the plague in London).
The most interesting letters are those from Dutch admirals who report to their employers about their commissions, detailing their travels, who they met, and the weather. The letters include requests for new orders and supplies and sometimes complaints, such as in the case of Vice-Admiral Johan de Liefde, who reported about ‘stinking beer’ (1665). The greatest surprise was an undamaged resolution by Michiel de Ruyter and his Council of War aboard the ship “De Neptunis,” two days after the battle of Plymouth on August 26, 1652 (August 16 according to the English calendar). During this early battle in the first Anglo-Dutch war, General-at-Sea George Ayscue attacked a Dutch convoy of 60 merchant ships sailing to the Mediterranean, escorted by De Ruyter’s squadron. Although the English fleet had more ships and was better armed, De Ruyter won the battle and the English had to retreat to Plymouth for repairs.
The resolution by De Ruyter and his Council of War states that after long deliberations they had decided–when the circumstances would allow them and with the help of God–to “attack, capture, or at least burn and ruin the English fleet, as much as they were able as soldiers and sailors” (“aen te tasten, te veroveren, oft ten minsten te verbranden en te ruijneren, soo veel naer soldaet en zee-manschap ons mogelyck sal syn”). Historians know that De Ruyter very much wanted to go after Ayscue’s ships while they retreated for repairs (ultimately, the winds just did not work out in De Ruyter’s favor). But who would have thought it would be expressed in an official resolution, written on paper, and signed aboard the ship?
Disability pay for a sailor, 1781
Only one autograph in Brodhead’s collection dates from the 18th century, a time that historically is viewed less favorably than the glorious “Golden Age.” The Dutch themselves already considered the century as a time of decline, reaching its depths during the fateful 4th Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784), which England declared because of secret Dutch trade and negotiations with the American colonies. Discontented burghers, who called themselves “Patriots” and were inspired by the American Revolution, blamed Prince William V, Commander-in-Chief, for the inability of the fleet to protect Dutch merchant ships, as illustrated by the Battle of Dogger Bank, on August 5, 1781.
The autograph is a letter from Prince William V to the Admiralty of Amsterdam in support of a request by Johan Christoff Munsterman, a sailor who had lost his left arm during the Battle of Dogger Bank. Instead of the 350 guilders that were promised, Munsterman preferred to receive a silver ducat a week throughout his life–an early form of disability pay. Did the Amsterdam Admiralty grant this wish? Hopefully the answer can be found in the Admiralty Archives in the National Archives in The Hague. Thanks to modern technology, the documents in the Brodhead Collection are now digitized and virtually united with the other documents in the Admiralty Archives.
With greatest thanks to Jaap Jacobs for his help with the transcriptions and providing context for the documents
Visitors to our new website may recognize the image in the top right corner as the yellowed pencil sketch in our recent exhibit Rutgers through the Centuries. Nothing is known about the artist C.C. Abeel, but we do know the original lithograph on which his drawing is based: J.H. Bufford’s View of the City of New Brunswick, N.J. taken from the Rail Road Hotel at East Brunswick. The lithograph, which can be found in our Pictorial Collection, was published about 1838 with a helpful list of the sites depicted. In this blog post we will have a closer look.
The railroad and the Rail Road Hotel
The Railroad Hotel was established shortly after the opening of the railroad from Jersey City to New Brunswick by the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Company in 1836. The line ended at the terminus on the eastern bank of the Raritan River in what was known as East Brunswick (now Highland Park). Passengers to New Brunswick had to go down steep stairs from the tracks and take a carriage across the Albany Street bridge. Some passengers, however, went to the Railroad hotel instead, advertised as “a most desirable retreat during the summer months” for its “beautiful location” (right). It was from this hotel that the young artist and lithographer John Henry Bufford (1810-1870) drew his View of New Brunswick shortly after the building of the railroad bridge, which put an end to the East Brunswick terminus.
The Raritan River and sloop canal
As Jeanne Kolva and Joanne Pisciotta describe in Highland Park: Borough of Homesthe new two-tier railroad bridge, which carried pedestrians, carriages and wagons on its lower level, caused competition for the old Albany Street bridge. The wooden toll bridge, built in 1794 (#2 on the left), was left to deteriorate and was ultimately demolished in 1848. Parallel to the Raritan (#1) on the New Brunswick side of the river was the newly dug Delaware & Raritan Canal or, in Bufford’s words, “Sloop Canal” (#4). One of the major engineering feats of the era, it was created between 1830 and 1834 for three million dollars, dug by immigrants, mainly by hand. Canal boats carrying freight were towed by mules along the canal, but in Bufford’s lithograph there are only one-masted sailboats (sloops). To complete the picture of New Brunswick as a transportation hub, Bufford drew a steamboat from New York, one of the many managed by Cornelius Vanderbilt or one of his competitors (#3).
Railroad bridge and view to the right
The new bridge, built in 1838, was the first railroad bridge across the Raritan river. Bufford’s depiction of the lower tier (#7) makes the noise and darkness experienced by passengers and horses easy to imagine. To the north of the new railway bridge was the canal lock that allowed boats to move from the upper to the lower level of the Raritan & Delaware Canal at New Brunswick.
Bufford drew the canal lock as well as structures that he listed as “Water Works & Mill seats” (#8). Maps of New Brunswick from our Map Collection shed light on what Bufford depicted. While a map of 1837 only displays the water power plant behind the lock, a later map reveals an adjoining saw mill and paper and cotton factory. In the distance Bufford drew Rutgers College, founded as “Queens College” in 1766 (#9). The first cornerstone of the building, presently known as “Old Queens,” was laid in 1809 but it was only expanded to its present size in 1825 after financial support was received from various sources, including the philanthropist Henry Rutgers, who also donated the college’s bell.
Admiring the view
As described inViews and Viewmakers of Urban America businesses greatly benefited from the portrayal of their cities as bustling centers of industry, commerce, and progress. In stark contrast with the novelties of the canal, railroad, and bridge is the tranquility of the scene at the front. Seated on a tree trunk is a company of wanderers (5), admiring the view, which includes the sloops on the canal (#4) and the spires of the Dutch Reformed Church (6, left) and Christ Episcopal Church (6, right). On the left is a horse rider following the path along the river; on the right we see a man and a dog, hunting birds. They all look like they will soon have refreshments at the Railroad Hotel.
Earlier this month, we challenged the students in Dr. Lena Struwe’s Byrne Seminar on Food Evolution to dig into a fraction of our holdings concerning culinary history, recipes, cookbooks and global food exchange. Below are some highlights from materials we pulled for the class.
An herbal is a compilation of information about medicinal plants including their botanical identifiers, habitats, therapeutic effects on the body, and medicinal preparation. All herbals follow the same pattern: for this condition, take this plant, prepare it in a certain manner, administer it, and expect this result. Throughout Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, herbs might not have been ranked high on the European gastronomic table, but they were well-established remedies, and with the help of herbal recipes the cook was expected to keep a household healthy.
Written by one of the most respected plant experts of his time, John Gerard’s thick tome, The Herball Or, Generall Historie of Plantes (ca. 1633) included the first descriptions printed in English of New World imports like potatoes, corn, yucca, and squash.
Notably, The Herball contains images that would have been the first that most English speakers would have seen of the potato. Although the plant was brought to England in 1586, it was not until the early eighteenth century when the potato finally became a staple in the European diet. Ahead of his time, Gerard commended potatoes as a “wholesome” food, best prepared “either rosted in the embers, or boyled and eaten with oyle, vinegar and pepper.”
To illustrate The Herball, publisher John Norton rented nearly 1,800 of the most accurate illustrations of the time, woodblocks from the Frankfurt publisher of the “father of German botany,” Jacobus Theodorus’ Eicones Plantarum (ca. 1590). Norton commissioned sixteen additional woodcuts of plants. Among the edible imports was an illustration of the potato, supposedly illustrated from a specimen grown in Gerard’s garden that was given to him by Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake.
The French Cook: A System of Fashionable and Economical Cookery (ca. 1822) was perhaps the most extravagant work on French cookery published in England up to that time. By the eighteenth century, French food had been clearly established as the most popular type of cuisine in Great Britain. As was typical for the time, the author modified French techniques, Anglicized recipes while keeping French terminology, and equated French food with expense and extravagance throughout the introductions and commentary framing the recipes.
Such cookbooks targeted Britain’s middle classes, who desired fashionable displays of wealth and sophistication, straight from the mouth of the former cook to Louis XVI and the Earl of Sefton, and steward to the Duke of York. In a world that was becoming increasingly globalized, cookbooks meant that it was easier than ever to create an enviable lifestyle. Industrious Brits could serve an elaborate wild boar pie based on Ude’s pastry patterns, creations that epitomized Britain’s nobility—the ultimate expression of a life of wealth and ease. If you flip through its pages, you will surely notice how this book was written for English “gentlemen” and “ladies,” terms which became associated with a specific type of attitude, wealth and sophistication rather than family history.
In contrast to the male “food artists” coming out of France, women who wanted to establish a professional presence as a cookbook author framed their books by drawing on experience as wives, mothers, and housekeepers. Relegated by feminine stereotypes, female cookbook authors sold themselves as experts in all matters of the household, not just as cooks. As women ventured into this male-dominated realm, cookbooks slowly evolved into manuals of instruction for amateur cooks and housekeepers to maintain hearth, home, and familial values.
Late to the gastronomic game, Americans only began publishing cookbooks in 1742. Nearby New York and Philadelphian publishers cornered the market until New Jersey’s first cookbook, Economical Cookery: Designed to Assist the Housekeeper in Retrenching Her Expenses, by the Exclusion of Spiritous Liquors from Her Cookery (ca. 1839). It was written by an anonymous female author who urged women to take an active part in the Temperance Movement by eliminating liquors from their cooking and thereby safeguard their families from “the debasing slavery” of alcoholism.
Among her booze-free recipes is election cake, a culinary creation dating back to 1660 that makes the rounds every election. Originating from when food and “ardent spirits” were persuasive agents for controlling local votes, both were dispensed lavishly as bribes and rewards. Be sure to check out NPR’s coverage, “A History of Election Cake and Why Bakers Want to #MakeAmericaCakeAgain,” complete with audio!
The collection includes privately and commercially produced recipe books, typically written for women. Among the commercial ones is a recipe book from the New Jersey based Campbell Soup Company, published in 1910 for “the ambitious housewife, confronted daily with the necessity of catering to the capricious appetites of her household.” The booklet has menu suggestions for every day of the month, with a Campbell soup as one of the courses for lunch or dinner or both. Another Campbell recipe book, shown above, addresses not only the women of the 1950s, but also future consumers: teenage girls. The section “Teen time menus” includes cheerful references to marching band practice, babysitting jobs, and being “happy as a clam.”
A great number of the non-commercial recipe books are produced by women communities of various denominations, often for fundraising purposes. One of the more unusual ones is the Cook Book of the Stars, printed in 1959 by a Flemington chapter of the Freemason society “Order of the Eastern Star,” which ended its list of recipes–tongue-in-cheek–with a recipe “how to preserve a husband” (displayed on top).
Newbold family account books
A more unusual place for New Jersey recipes is one of the five farm account books, kept by Thomas Newbold (1760-1823) at Springfield township, Burlington County, and his son Thomas Jr. The first three of the volumes, which altogether span almost eighty years (1790-1877) are “day books:” daily accounts and memoranda of transactions and agreements that were later transferred to ledgers. Among the regular entries on the last few pages of the first day book are a few recipes for dishes and remedies for cures, jotted down in different hands, either from Newbold family members or customers visiting the farm. The food recipes include calves feet jelly, puff paste, bologna sausage, and cured ham, while the remaining recipes are remedies for dysentery, cancer sores, felons (finger infections) and botts in horses (a disease caused by botfly maggots in a a horse’s intestines or stomach).
Whether looking for recipes or remedies, visitors are always welcome to browse the collections at Rutgers Special Collections and University Archives. Bon appetit!
For people who are familiar with the history of Rutgers University, founded as Queen’s College by the Reformed Dutch Church in 1766, it will not be surprising that there are Dutch archival materials among the university’s Special Collections. Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh (1735-1790), the college’s first president, was a member of the powerful Dutch Hardenbergh family that had settled in the Hudson valley in the 17th century. The philanthropist Henry Rutgers (1745-1830), after whom the college was renamed in 1825, was also a descendant from New Netherlands colonists. On the occasion of this year’s annual conference of the New Netherlands Institute, dedicated to New Jersey’s Dutch past, we have embarked upon a search for Dutch resources in our collections, some of which have only been accessible through a card catalogue so far. The provisional list that we came up with contains surprises. (Download the list.) Below are some highlights.
Dinah van Bergh’s pietist diary, 1746
The only Dutch document that has gained some attention in the past is the devotional diary that Dinah Van Bergh (1725-1807), daughter of a wealthy Amsterdam merchant, kept in 1746 and 1747. Her pietist faith inspired her to believe that God wanted her to marry the Reformed Dutch minister Johannes Frelinghuysen in 1750 and follow him to Raritan, New Jersey, where he was to serve as minister to three congregations. The diaries, of which the earliest part is owned by Rutgers and the second by the Sage library at the Theological Seminary in New Brunwick, is available online in an English translation, along with a few letters and a religious Dutch poem (view a publication of the diary in Dutch).
Sadly, Johannes Frelinghuysen died in 1754, leaving Dinah widowed with two young children. When one of Frelinghuysen’s pupils proposed to her, the much younger Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh (Rutgers’ future president), she again felt it was God’s will that she would serve as a minister’s wife in New Jersey and cancelled her plans to return to the Netherlands. Her wedding dress, used for either her first or second marriage (or both), is one of the Dutch treasures at Rutgers University Special Collections.
Johannes’s G. Hardenbergh’s farm ledgers, 1763-1794
Of particular interest to local historians are two farm ledgers, kept by Johannes Gerardus Hardenbergh (1731-1812), cousin of Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh. In 1762 he built a farm house at Kerhonksen, 16 miles from Kingston, Ulster County NY, later known as the “Old Fort,” where he raised his family and lived until his death. The house played an important role in the Revolutionary War: in October 1777 governor George Clinton ordered the government’s most important papers at Kingston to be sent there for safekeeping, only days before Kingston was torched by the British.
Hardenbergh’s farm ledgers, which span the years 1763-1794 (with references to a third volume), are an interesting example of a barter economy. Purchases by customers (mainly wheat, corn, and butter) are recorded on the left; payments were usually made in services rather than in cash, expressed in pounds under the heading “contra” on the right. Those services often included days of mowing, ploughing, spinning, or just “work” for somebody else. Particular services included the making of a coffin, or mending shoes for members of the family, as in the case of Benjamin Oosterhoudt (shown above). There are a few more individuals listed among the members of the household whose shoes were mended, with simple English first names, rather than Dutch. Could they have been Hardenbergh’s slaves? According to the first census records eleven enslaved people lived on his farm in 1790.
A most interesting aspect of the ledgers is that all entries are written in Dutch, which may well have been the language spoken at the farm. Dutch was the only language known to Sojourner Truth (c. 1797-1883) as a child. She was born enslaved in Swartekill, Ulster County on the farm of Hardenbergh’s cousin Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh (1729-1799), who was the oldest brother of Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh. According to her personal narrative, in which she refers to her first master as Colonel Ardinburgh, her lack of understanding English caused her to be severely beaten by her new master, John Nealy in Kingston, after she was auctioned off in 1806.
The ledgers raise the question who did the actual labor that was traded for the goods that Hardenbergh sold. How many people doing the “work” recorded in the ledgers were enslaved? We will need more research to find out.
Dutch autographs from the Netherlands, 1673-1781
A final surprise found among the Dutch materials in our holdings is a folder among the papers of the historian John Romeyn Brodhead (1814-1873), simply labeled “early Dutch documents.” Brodhead, who spent time in Dutch archives to transcribe documents relating to New York’s colonial history, clearly had an eye for names of famous Dutch naval heroes and politicians. But that will be the subject of another post. Stay tuned!
Two-hundred and twelve years ago today, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr faced each other in a duel on the cliffs of Weehawken, New Jersey.
Among our Sinclair New Jersey Collection holdings, we have a handful of postcard views and other images depicting the Weehawken dueling grounds, which have seen some changes over the years. The 1810 image below depicts a bucolic scene, with boats gliding by on the Hudson River.
This postcard, mailed in 1919, features the boulder on which Alexander Hamilton purportedly rested his head after being mortally wounded by Burr. The site depicted here is not the precise site of the duel, however. The boulder was moved from its original spot to make way for train tracks. And today, the bust of Hamilton sits upon a pedestal, with the boulder sitting behind it.
While Alexander Hamilton himself has been the focus of recent interest, Special Collections and University Archives also holds the X-Burr Collection, a collection of books on Aaron Burr that were donated to Rutgers by the Aaron Burr Society. Below is the title page from one of the books in the collection, authored shortly after the duel by Lysander, the pseudonym of federal judge Willam P. Van Ness. Van Ness was a friend of Burr’s who served as his second in the duel.