Rutgers in the First World War, March 1918—“Everybody Is in the War”

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When the United States entered World War I a century ago, Rutgers transformed into a war college focused on supporting America’s war effort. Many students and alumni joined the armed forces. Earl Reed Silvers, assistant to Rutgers president William H. S. Demarest, launched the Rutgers War Service Bureau as a means to keep in touch with Rutgers men in service. This series will feature stories from the War Service Bureau correspondence, offering a window on the impact of the war on Rutgers students and alumni 100 years ago.

At Rutgers: Sports and Serious Illness

As director of the War Service Bureau, Silvers sent biweekly letters to Rutgers men in service. In his first March 1918 Rutgers bulletin Silvers boasted of Rutgers “fairly successful” basketball season, with Paul Robeson as the high scorer. The newsletter also featured updates on baseball, football, and the interclass bowling league.

Excerpt from the War Service Bureau’s 15th letter to men in service, March 13, 1918.

Silvers’s second March War Service Bureau letter carried news of serious illness at Rutgers; the college had almost closed due to a measles epidemic and a student had succumbed to meningitis.

Excerpt from the War Service Bureau’s 14th letter to men in service, March 27, 1918.

From the Men: Hazards Encountered

In March 1918, two Rutgers men shared harrowing events they had experienced and offered reassurance that they’d come through unscathed. In a letter dated March 17, 1918, William Packard (class of  1918)* described being under a gas attack and shelled.

“I was out behind a battery position when suddenly I heard the familiar whizz which tells of the approach of a shell and, after deciding it was coming my way, I literally dove for the nearest shell hole. It burst about a 100 feet away, and being about a 155 showered everything within 200 yards with splinters . . . they passed safely over me. That evening they shelled the deserted village in which I have my room, and so we had to go under ground.”

“For the last hour or so there have been five or six French and two Germans flying above and at intervals of about two minutes they are dropping  big shells just short of this place, the splinters of which light all around.”

Page from Packard’s letter describing shell attack. Transcribed version also available.

Despite his immediate surroundings, Packard’s next sentence offered that “life is quite pleasant and nowhere as bad as it sounds.” He even promised to send shell fragments to Silvers who had asked for souvenirs from the war.

George Bechtel (class of 1914) described a rocky journey to England.

“For three days we were not allowed on deck . . . when we were finally permitted to go out, we found the after deck pretty well messed up. Several of the life boats were wrecked and some civilians in the steerage were literally washed out of their bunks.”

Like Packard, Bechtel claimed to be unaffected by his surroundings, declaring, “I slept soundly through it all….”

Letter from Margaret Bechtel enclosed with letters from George. Silvers transcribed Bechtel’s March 1918 letter for inclusion in the Rutgers Alumni Quarterly.

On traveling through England, Bechtel noted it was, “strange to see women in overalls working beside the men . . . but they make you realize how much everybody is in the war.”

To Learn More

The Rutgers College War Service Bureau collection has been digitized with assistance by a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. A finding aid describing collection is available and provides links to the digitized materials. 

*At the time of writing, Packard was identified as Class of 1918, but due to his absence during the war, graduated in 1921.

The Helen-Chantal Pike Collection on Asbury Park

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To mark the opening of the Helen-Chantal Pike Collection on Asbury Park as well as to help get us out of the New Jersey winter doldrums, we share this essay on Asbury Park postcards and using postcards for research by Rachel Ferrante, Fall 2017 Public History Intern 2017 in Special Collections and University Archives.

 

By Rachel Ferrante

 

There are few things as uniquely iconic as the Asbury Park postcard. The Las Vegas neons and even the Hollywood sign may be the only two cultural images that elicit similar recognition. It seems these images embody regional leisure and tourist culture, recognizable across generations. Because these signs act as visual landmarks, the images are regurgitated in popular culture. An example is the mimicking of the Hollywood sign in the Dreamworks movie “Shrek” as the sign for the fictional city Far Far Away. Using the sign as a landmark, the rest of the scene imitates Hollywood, a defining city in West Coast culture and example of opulence.

About 2,900 miles down I-80, Asbury Park is far more humble. Since its founding in 1871, Asbury Park has repeatedly boomed and busted in its cultural significance, tapping into every aspect of leisure culture one can think of. Asbury has been a physical representation of popular culture, specifically and originally for New York elites, who seem to define high culture throughout much of U.S. history. In fact, Asbury has been a center of both high culture and subculture, making it extremely relevant to the East Coast’s, if not the nation’s, cultural memory and historical interest.

The “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” postcard is a specific linen Tichnor style with images geared to Asbury leisure in particular. This style was applied to many postcards centered around other places as well, the likes of which include Niagara Falls and Route 66. Famously, the Asbury postcard was used as the cover of Bruce Springsteen’s breakout album by the same name. So beyond its initial iconic stature the postcard has a history of its own. When you look at the Helen-Chantal Pike Collection on Asbury, the postcards it includes tell a story of Asbury Park’s history. Paired with the other materials in the collection, it is clear the significance certain institutions or moments in time had on the area. However, there are many more layers of significance behind the postcards. They span more than 100 years of regional history that can be contextualized in national political, social, economic, and familial histories, resulting in many potential conclusions using just postcards as primary source material. The rest of this post will address the use of postcards as research tools, using examples from the Helen-Chantal Pike Collection on Asbury Park housed at Rutgers University Special Collections and University Archives.

USING POSTCARDS FOR RESEARCH

In America, the first postcard was developed in 1873 by Massachusetts’ Morgan Envelope company. These cards depicted scenes from conventions and expositions in Chicago at the height of the Industrial Revolution. The first postcard intended for souvenir purposes was actually created in 1893 with scenes from the World’s Columbian Exposition. Postcards thus have deep roots in the northern region of the country, documenting its changing history, and capturing the excitement of progress in many eras. In 1898, Congress passed the Private Mailing Card Act, which allowed postcards to be printed by private companies rather than just the post office. At this point the popularity of “Private Mailing Cards” began to skyrocket. Finally, in 1901, private companies were allowed to call their printed cards “postcards,” and after a few more years of complicated history the picture front, divided back, postcard we all know was legal and being mailed in multiple styles across (a good amount of) the country. This Golden Age of Postcards peaked in 1910, with postcards particularly popular among rural and small town women of the northern United States.

Almost all of the eras of postcards are represented in the Helen-Chantal Pike Collection. Picking one group of postcards at random I was able to see examples of the short period of time where postcards were not divided-back and the sender had to write on the front, or image part, of the postcard. There are also many beautiful examples of the lithographic style of postcards, which were specifically popular during the Golden Age period (1907-1915). Each of these provides immense interdisciplinary relevance with each layer of ink. Some of these semantics are debated among postcard enthusiasts; however, the Golden Age of postcards, no matter what the exact date range, lines up with the foundational period of American culture. One of the major things that shaped the time leading up to the 1920s was the transformation of cinema from silent to film noir. In Asbury Park in particular, cinema was a huge part of the economy, with cinema tycoon Walter Reade even running for mayor of Asbury Park. Postcards of these theaters are great primary source examples of the importance of the erection of these edifices and the positions they held as landmarks of the region. Of the six Reade theaters in Asbury, two are featured prominently in the postcard collection: the Mayfair and the Paramount. Construction and then depiction of these places reflect civic achievement as well as provide insight into the aesthetic values of the region and the time period.

Aside from construction aesthetics many postcards provide insight into fashion. In the case of Asbury Park there are many depictions of changing beachwear trends. A 1910 lithographic postcard (seen at the start of this essay) shows a row of women in large bonnets posing coyly in carriages. The postcards in the “beach” section of the Pike Collection date from 1901 to 2001 so they document an entire century of summers, with their corresponding outfits and activities. The collection can be used to track the changing shore attractions as well. When compared to today, Asbury was previously booming with activities, ferris wheels, games, etc. There was even once a horse track where there is now a parking lot.

CONCLUSION

While the Helen-Chantal Pike Collection focuses closely on the late 19th through mid-20th centuries, it is also relevant to a variety of timely topics. Because of this, its postcard series is a great place to start research on the Asbury Park, leisure, East Coast culture and development, and visual culture. There are, at the very least, enough images to acquaint a researcher to the area and its specific civic importance. At the other end, the series can provide insight into a large amount of research projects with a fairly wide scope. An example of its relevance is the way  in which postcards pose as an interesting precursor to the visual culture we exist within today. In many ways, a postcard was the Instagram of people in the 19th century. The feelings that surround the purchase and sending of the postcard are similar to the reasons one takes photos of their vacation and travel spots today. Mailing the card has been replaced with posting on the internet and the back of the card has been replaced by the caption. In this way, postcards are also structurally similar to Instagram, balancing the impersonal nature of posting to a wide audience by allowing the image to have been captured by the individual. This, like postcards, provides a sense of community through sharing and receiving. However, it is not always to say “wish you were here,” but sometimes “look where I am.”

About

Rachel Ferrante is an undergraduate American Studies and Sociology student at Rutgers working at the Special Collections and University Archives through the Rutgers Public History Internship program. During Fall 2017, she processed the Helen-Chantal Pike Collection on Asbury Park, New Jersey. Outside of the library, she works on cultural history through research with the Aresty Program and in her papers.

To Learn More:

Works consulted:

 

All images displayed are postcards from the Helen Pike collection, Box 5, folder 1.

 

A Second Attempt at Historical Baking

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Back in May of 2016, I had my first attempt at trying to bake from a historical recipe. (You can read about it here.)  Over a year later I decided to give it another try, this time with a different recipe.  In looking through old cookbooks, I stumbled across a Swiss Cake in an 1881 copy of Betty, the bishop’s lady, or, Choice receipts from experienced housewives, published in Newark, New Jersey.

The description that reads, “This makes a good and inexpensive cake” really sold me.  The ingredients seemed normal for a cake recipe and they were all things that I had home.  It was perfect.

I collected my ingredients and measured them out as the recipe stated.  The recipe states to flavor with nutmeg or lemon, however, I am not a fan of nutmeg on its own so I added one and a half teaspoons of cinnamon and a fourth of a teaspoon of nutmeg.

I creamed my butter and sugar, added my eggs and condensed milk, then slowly incorporated my sifted flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

                  

It was at this point that I realized my 21st century baking skills did not translate well to 1880’s baking.  My batter was thick, too thick to be a cake batter, but resembled cookie dough instead.

The recipe called for “sweet milk,” in my modern mind that meant condensed milk, which is what I used.  But it turns out that “sweet milk” is just whole milk.  In older recipes “sweet milk” was used to differentiate from “sour milk” meaning milk that was left out to sour or in some cases it meant buttermilk.

The “batter” was made, it tasted good, but it did not seem like it would bake well as a cake.  I tested this theory by making a few mini-cupcakes. After 10 minutes of baking they were still raw on the inside, after 15 minutes of baking they were cooked though, but were rather dense and not very enjoyable.

                 

Since the “batter” seemed more like cookie dough to me, I made them into cookies instead.  They baked in 13 minutes, were soft, and rather delicious.  While I did not end up with Swiss Cake, I did get some enjoyable cookies.  Maybe my next attempt at historical baking will be more successful.

               

 

Swiss Cake Cookies

Ingredients

1/4 cup (half a stick) butter

1 and 1/2 cups sugar

2 1/2 cups flour – sifted

8 oz condensed milk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Set oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream together sugar and butter.
  3. Add eggs and condensed milk to the sugar and butter.
  4. Combine sifted flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Slowly add to wet ingredients.
  5. Once well combined, drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 13 minutes, rotating halfway though.
  7. Enjoy!

#AskAnArchivist

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#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

Posted by Rutgers University Special Collections and University Archives on Wednesday, October 4, 2017

 

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 scua_ref@libraries.rutgers.edu.  We will leave you with some more highlights from the day.

How Rutgers University is connected to Sojourner Truth: The Hardenbergh family in Ulster County, NY

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by Helene van Rossum

 

Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh (posthumous silhouette) and Sojourner Truth, 1883

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”

Frontispiece of The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, 1850

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”

Advertisement in the Ulster Gazette by Jacob Hardenbergh about two runaway slaves (1808)

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

Postcard of the home of Col. Johannes Hardenbergh  (1706-1786) in Rosendale, Ulster county

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

Inventory of Charles Hardenbergh’s estate, listing Isabella, her brother Peter and her mother Bett (source) (full inventory)

The younger Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh was lieutenant Colonel of the Fourth or Middle Regiment, Ulster County in August 1775, and received his appointment as Colonel in February 1779. Married to Maria LeFevre, he lived with his family in Swartekill, Esopus, which was a short distance north of Rifton and also part of the town of Hurley. Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh Jr. appears in the 1790 census for Hurley with seven slaves, who must have included Isabella’s parents James and Betsey and possibly siblings of Isabella who were sold before she was born. It was his son Charles who inherited Sojourner Truth and her family. Born in 1765, he was married to Annetje LeFevre and died in 1808. The inventory of his estate, written on May 12, 1808 and filed on January 2, 1810 lists “1 negro slave Sam, 1 negro wench Bett, 1 d(itt)o Izabella (and) 1 d(itt)o boy Peet.” Isabella, Peter, and the man named Sam were valued at 100 dollar but Isabella’s mother Bett was only valued at one dollar. Rather than being sold, she was freed so that she could take care of her old and sick husband, James Bomefree. Sadly, as recounted in The Narrative, “Mama Bett” (spelled as “Mau-mau Bett” by Olive Gilbert) preceded him in death, and he died in miserable circumstances.

 

Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh (1736–1790)

Jacob R. Hardenbergh to his father, December 6, 1777 (in Dutch, read up close)

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.

 

This blog post was extracted from the presentation “Land, Faith and Slaves: the shared heritage of the Hardenbergh family, Rutgers University, and the Dutch reformed Church on June 17, 2017 

Forgotten Heroes: New Jerseyans and Rutgers Alumni During the Great War

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By Flora Boros

 

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.”

Portrait of Theodore Rosen. Undated, ca. 1926.

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.

Excerpt of “The Man Who Wouldn’t Be Licked!” Real Heroes (1941) (view complete comic)

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.

First page of Russell Terradell’s letter to his mother. Undated, ca. Oct. 1918. (view complete letter)

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.

Russell Terradell surrounded by his mother and three sisters Eleanor, Emma “Loretta,” and Streline “Mercedes.” Undated, ca. 1917.

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 by appointment, please email inquiries to flora.boros@rutgers.edu.

 

Scorched Dutch 17th century autographs at Rutgers Special Collections: a mystery solved

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One of the scorched documents: letter from the Dutch ambassador to England to the Admiralty of Zeeland, October 19, 1665 (view up close)

By Helene van Rossum

 

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.

Maarten Harpertszn. Tromp (1597-1653) by Michiel Janszn. van Mierevelt’s atelier (Rijksmuseum)

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         (Rutgers 1831)

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.

“A view of New Amsterdam on the Island of Man[hattan]” from 1665 by Johannes Vingboons (Read more)
The documents, edited and translated by somebody else, were published in the first 11 volumes of Documents relative to the colonial history of the state of New York (1853-1887). Brodhead died two years after the second volume of his History of the state of New York appeared. His papers came to Rutgers, his alma mater. They include correspondence,  diaries, and notes for the writing of the History of the State of New York, as well as some family papers  (John Romeyn Brodhead papers, MC 1458).

 

The fire at the Ministry of Naval Affairs, January 8, 1844 (Rijksmuseum). View additional images

Fire at the Ministry of Naval Affairs, 1844

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.

 

William V joins the Admiralty of Amsterdam as Commander-in-Chief in 1768, by Reinier Vinkeles (Rijksmuseum)

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).

(Read descriptions on page 5-8 of the list).

The Council of War aboard Admiral Michiel de Ruyter’s ship “The Seven Provinces” prior to the Four Day Battle, 1666, by Willem van de Velde the Elder (Rijksmuseum)

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.

Resolution by Michiel de Ruyter and the Council of War aboard “De Neptunis,” August 28, 1652 (view up close)

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 Battle of Dogger Bank, 1781, by Thomas Luny (1758-1837) (National Maritime Museum, Greenwich)

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

Late Fall 2016-Winter 2017 Acquisitions

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American Whig Society. Catalogue of the American Whig Society. Princeton, NJ: Published by the order of the Society, Princeton University, 1865.

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Forgosh, Linda B. Louis Bamberger: Department Store Innovator and Philanthropist. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2016.

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Fuentes, Marissa J. and White, Deborah Gray. Scarlet and Black Volume 1: Slavery and Dispossession in Rutgers History. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2016.

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Hajdu, David. Love for Sale: Pop Music in America. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2016.

Havens, Mark. Out of Season: The Vanishing Architecture of the Wildwoods. London: Booth-Clibborn Editions, 2016.

Havens, Jessie L. Cold Case: Hall-Mills Murderer Revisited. Bridgewater, NJ: Heritage Trail Association, 2016.

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Listokin, David, Dorothea Berkhout and James W. Hughes. New Brunswick, New Jersey: The Decline and Revitalization of Urban America. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2016.

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National Jewish Committee on Scouting. The Ner Tamid Guide for Boy Scouts and Explorers. New Brunswick, NJ, 1961.

Negron, Rosina. Comparison and General Analysis of Support Systems for Heritage Sites in New Jersey, California and Puerto Rico. Philadelphia: Managing Heritage for Sustainability, Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, 1999.

New Jersey National Guard, Cavalry Regiment, 102nd.  First Squadron of Cavalry NJ: Essex Troop: 100th Anniversary of the Mexican Border Campaign, 1916-1917. West Orange, NJ: 102nd Cavalry Regiment Association, 2016.

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New York Shipbuilding Corporation. Safety Rules and Regulations. Camden, NJ: New York Shipbuilding Corporation, 1941.

Nutt, Charles W. Life Happens: How Catholic Baby Boomers Coped with a Changing World. Vineland, NJ: Anlo Communications, L.L.C., 2009.

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Rabig, Julia. The Fixers: Devolution, Development & Civil Society in Newark, 1960-1990. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2016.

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Stewart, Kelly Loyd. An Illustrated History of the Society of The Cincinnati in The State of New Jersey. The Society of the Cincinnati in The State of New Jersey, 2014

Sullivan, Jaime Primak and Eve Adamson. The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl: Adventures in life and Love in the Heart of Dixie. New York: Touchstone, 2016.

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Wacker, Peter O. Etching The Rural Landscape in Early New Jersey. 2000.

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Woodbury, David O. A Measure for Greatness: A Short Biography of Edward Weston. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1949.

Zampini, Daniel James. After it Rains. Haverhill, MA: Fireborn Publishing, 2016