By Christie Lutz, New Jersey Regional Studies Librarian and Head of Public Services
This is the third and last post in a short series featuring final projects from the Rutgers Byrne First-Year Seminar I taught in Fall 2020, “Examining Archives Through the Lens of Popular Culture.” You can read about the course and the final project, in which students envisioned their own pop culture archives, and check out other student projects, here.
By Christie Lutz, New Jersey Regional Studies Librarian and Head of Public Services
This is the second in a short series featuring final projects from the Rutgers Byrne First-Year Seminar I taught in Fall 2020, “Examining Archives Through the Lens of Popular Culture.” You can read about the course and the final project, in which students envisioned their own pop culture archives, in this post.
By Christie Lutz, New Jersey Regional Studies Librarian and Head of Public Services
For the past two fall semesters, I have taught “Examining Archives Through the Lens of Popular Culture,” a course I developed for the Rutgers Byrne First Year Seminars. In the course, students engage in active, hands-on learning to explore archives and special collections and how they can be used for research. We examine popular culture collections in Rutgers’ Special Collections and University Archives and elsewhere that document a wide range of topics such as the New Brunswick music scene, video games, cookbooks and restaurant menus from around the Garden State, zines representing a variety of subcultures, Women’s March and other protest movement posters, and Jersey Shore memorabilia.
The goals I set for students in this course include developing an understanding and appreciation of archives and special collections; developing primary source research skills and becoming careful interpreters of documents, images, and objects; understanding how critical factors such as ethnicity, race, gender, and class are documented and perpetuated in popular cultural materials; and to learn to think about what is included and excluded in archives and special collections, and why. We also learn from each other as we share, debate, and think creatively about expressions of popular culture.
I will be sharing some of the students’ final projects (some anonymously) for the Fall 2020 course, in which they envision their own pop culture archive, and present their concept for an archive, in narrative form or in a slide show.
By Christie Lutz, New Jersey Regional Studies Librarian and Head of Public Services
Happy New Year from Special Collections and University Archives. In early 2021, we are reflecting on the fact that that 2020 was a difficult and challenging year for so many. Like most of our colleagues in archives and special collections around the country, and indeed around the world, Special Collections and University Archives (SC/UA) faculty and staff have had to redirect our efforts to increase remote services. In summer and fall 2020, we scrambled to enhance access to digital materials, offer Zoom research consultations, and provide remote classroom instruction. We probably made more PDF copies of materials for researchers than any year to date!
While we look forward to the day we can reopen our reading room to researchers near and far, we continue to provide research support, instruction, and information for enjoyment and edification as our faculty and staff work (primarily) remotely. To that end, we’d like to share a few highlights of the work we have been doing to support Rutgers faculty, students, and staff; researchers around the state of New Jersey; and students and scholars from all corners of the world.
“Primary Source Highlights” will be included in the SC/UA Digital Resources Guide we created in the fall. This guide continues to serve as a one-stop-shop for centralized, easy access to SC/UA’s digitized resources.
During the fall semester, we started a project to revamp and update the content of our subject guides. These guides serve as a useful gateway to our collection strengths, and are a particularly good resource for students looking for paper topics, or to see what materials SC/UA holds on a particular topic.
The NJ Digital Newspaper Project blog provides further information about the project and links to all NJ newspapers digitized to date. These newspapers have been digitized as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Reference and Instruction
We will continue to provide instructional support this spring. If you’re looking for resources for your course, or would like a curator or archivist to provide instruction for your class, feel free to send a message to email@example.com and your request will be directed to the appropriate faculty or staff member. For general requests or questions, feel free to contact Christie Lutz, New Jersey Regional Studies Librarian and Head of Public Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking for a quick way to introduce your students to the mission and work of SC/UA, or add a video to your Canvas course? We’ve compiled our videos, including a brief overview of SC/UA aimed at undergraduate students, and a couple of fun quizzes which in one spot. Check out https://libguides.rutgers.edu/scuavideos
You can always write to our reference account at email@example.com with questions and scanning requests. We are continuing to waive our reproduction fees this semester.
We’re starting to roll out a new look and feel to our finding aids, via ArchivesSpace, a platform that will provide easier searching of our manuscript collections and a uniform look and feel.
Along with the rest of Rutgers University Libraries, we are developing a new website that will be more user-friendly and feature updated content.
You can always check the SC/UA website and social media feeds (links in the column to the right, plus the New Brunswick Music Scene Archive on Facebook) for the latest news, events, and changes in operating status and/or services.
Happy 2020! We’re kicking off the new year with this piece by Emily Crispino, a graduate student in the Library and Information Science Department at Rutgers’ School of Communication and Information. During the fall 2019 semester, Emily was a public services intern in Special Collections and University Archives. In this position she assisted researchers at our busy reference desk and researched and responded to a variety of inquiries from around the world related to New Jersey history and genealogy through our virtual reference service.
While I cannot claim enough knowledge to call myself an herbalist, my shelves full of dried plants would seem to qualify me as an herbal enthusiast. I brew a yearly elderberry syrup to ward off winter colds, drink teas for just about every ailment, and occasionally concoct something new after consulting my personal library of herbals. Written by everyone from New Age gurus to a former botanist for the USDA, these books outline the medicinal properties of plants, accompanied by physical descriptions, dosage information, and recipes for preparations such as salves and tinctures. Often, photographs or botanical sketches accompany each entry.
Ideas about health and medicine have changed a great deal over the last 300 years, but the herbal format has remained largely the same. Special Collections and University Archives holds many examples of historical herbals, including two that I would like to examine in this post. The first is a 1798 edition of Nicholas Culpeper’s English Physician and Complete Herbal, first issued in 1652. The second is A Curious Herbal by Elizabeth Blackwell, a 1751 edition of a work first published in 1737. Just like my New Age gurus and government workers, Culpeper and Blackwell approached herbalism from entirely different points of view. Yet both books are written in the service of healing, designed to help people help themselves.
Nicholas Culpeper was a character to say the least, boasting a colorful career as an herbalist, astrologer, and sometime soldier against the King during the English Civil War. A non-conformist both in medicine and politics, Culpeper frequently received criticism from the more traditional physicians of his day. In 17th century London, the medical profession was dominated by the Royal College of Physicians, whose Censors bestowed licenses upon those whom they deemed worthy to practice. Culpeper loudly criticized their methods and accused them of overcharging for their services, making medical care inaccessible to the poor. In his own practice, he saw patients regardless of their financial status and examined them holistically before diagnosing and treating them. (2)
Elizabeth Blackwell’s herbal was born of more personal motivations. After her husband, a physician, was thrown into debtor’s prison, she began work on A Curious Herbal as a means to raise the funds to free him. While Blackwell was a skilled botanical illustrator and may have had some training as a midwife, she does not appear to have been an herbalist in the strict sense. The medical information in her book was primarily derived from another herbal, the Botanicum Officinale, with the permission of its author. Nevertheless, Blackwell spent years carefully sketching, engraving, and coloring plates of medicinal plants for her herbal, supported in her endeavor by a number of respected physicians and apothecaries. A Curious Herbal received significant praise and sold well, successfully paying her husband’s debts and securing his release. (1)
The differing backgrounds of Culpeper and Blackwell are clearly reflected in their herbals. Culpeper’s Complete Herbal contains a great deal more text than A Curious Herbal, including information on common ailments and preparing medicines in addition to his alphabetical directory of herbs. Sparing no words when explaining their properties, Culpeper’s physical descriptions of plants are surprisingly inconsistent, and he entirely neglects to describe those that he believes are commonly known. “I hold it needless to write any description of this,” he explains, referring to the elder tree, “[since] any boy that plays with a potgun, will not mistake another tree instead of elder.” The missing descriptions are not well supplemented by the illustrations, which are tiny and crammed onto designated pages.
Even these are 1798 additions, with the first edition of Culpeper’s herbal including no images at all. A Curious Herbal, on the other hand, is built around Blackwell’s illustrations. These full-page plates depict seeds, roots, and flowers in addition to the main bodies of the plants and are detailed enough to help readers identify them in the wild.
The images in the first edition were colored as well, adding to their accuracy. At the same time, the accompanying text is minimal, lacking the depth of medical information contained in Culpeper’s herbal. There is also no distinguishable order to the entries, requiring one to flip through the entire book to find information on a specific plant.
Of particular interest is the front matter of A Curious Herbal, revealing a further difference between the two books. A large illustration of ancient Greek botanists Theophrastus and Dioscorides precedes the official endorsement of the College of Physicians, signed by its then-president and Censors.
The recommendations do not end there, as a subsequent page proclaims the approval of nine more physicians and “Gentlemen.” This reception to Blackwell’s herbal could not be more unlike that of Culpeper’s, which, despite its immense popularity, received no such praise from the College. The College’s opinion of Culpeper may be summed up in a comment from member William Johnson, who proclaimed one of his works “a paper fit to wipe one’s breeches withal.” (2)
New editions of Culpeper’s Complete Herbal are published to this day, testifying to the enduring attraction of traditional medicine and home remedies. Elizabeth Blackwell too is slowly gaining recognition, and a calendar featuring her work has been released for 2020. Although they came to herbalism from very different backgrounds, those who come to it today are no less diverse. Alongside countless modern additions to the body of herbal literature, the centuries-old works of Culpeper and Blackwell have continued to inspire new herbalists—and herbal enthusiasts.
1 Madge, B. (15 April 2003). “Elizabeth Blackwell—the forgotten herbalist?” Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1046/j.1471-1842.2001.00330.x
2 Wooley, B. (2004). Heal thyself: Nicholas Culpeper and the seventeenth-century struggle to bring medicine to the people. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
The other day I was strolling through the trails of Watchung Reservation when I stumbled upon the “Deserted Village”, a ghost-town deep in the woods of Watchung Reservation and currently maintained by the Union County Park System. The history of the village goes something like this: In the eighteenth century, Peter Willcocks settled on the area and used the land for his sawmill and farm which later turned into the print-making town of Feltville. In the late ninetheenth century, the skeleton of Feltville was transformed into a summer resort called Glenside Park. The tenement-like apartment buildings of Feltville were repurposed as luxury cabins for the resort and their wooden corpses still remain in the woods of Watchung Reservation.
In between smacking away mosquitoes, I tiptoed over the crumbling porch of one of Glenside Park’s converted cottages to get a closer look. I peered through a dusty window and managed to get a glimpse of the interior. As expected, there wasn’t much to see: An empty parlor with splintering floorboards, a central hearth with a paint-chipped, chalky white mantel, and my personal favorite, faded sage paisley wallpaper. A friend of mine commented, “I don’t believe in ghosts, but this place is definitely haunted.” A warranted response, but I envisioned what the cottage once was: A cozy place to return to for a few nineteeth century middle class vacationers after a long day out in nature. I laughed imagining how a rustic escape to the wilderness for Victorians still involved wearing long, heavy dresses and returning to a charming wallpapered cottage, sealed off from the elements. I kicked a mosquito off of my exposed left leg, smearing mud in the process.
I’ve been thinking about the solemn, cozy mood of that aging old parlor in the woods. What stood out to me most was the faded wallpaper that was completely torn off in spots and starting to peel in others, but for those who used the parlor over 100 years ago, it must have perfectly complimented the natural color palette of the outdoors. Nineteenth century design did not hold back from pattern and clutter and I expect that this aged wallpaper once played an important role in the overall experience of vacationing at the resort.
The Janeway Wallpaper Businesses: New Brunswick, NJ
A few months before my Deserted Village adventure, I received a reference inquiry at Rutgers Special Collections and University Archives from Bo Sullivan, antique wallpaper enthusiast and founder of Arcalus Period Design and Bolling & Co. He was working with a client who was in the process of renovating a historic house in Ohio. During the project, they came across remnants of antique wallpaper that was still stuck to the original wall. In a corner of the wallpaper it said “Janeway,” referring to a New Brunswick wallpaper company operating in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In an effort to restore the room to its original design, the renovation group and Bo contacted Rutgers SC/UA looking for wallpaper samples from Janeway & Carpender from the late 1800s, hoping to find a match. So I began my search. In the process, I developed a brief timeline of the Janeway wallpaper history of New Brunswick.
Janeway & Company, one of the oldest American wallpaper companies, was founded in 1844 and prospered until 1914 when William Janeway, head of the business, decided to retire. The factory was located on Water Street in New Brunswick, right along the Raritan River. In the early hours of February 7, 1885, two freight trains carrying oil collided on the bridge over Water Street. It ignited a series of fires in the area, including the Janeway & Company factory which was completely destroyed. The company eventually rebuilt and relocated to a stronger structure nearby. Jacob J. Janeway, of another branch of the Janeway family tree, worked at Janeway & Company from 1865 to 1872. He then partnered with Charles J. Carpender to develop Janeway & Carpender, based in New Brunswick. Jacob Janeway eventually bought out Carpender’s shares and the company continued to thrive well into the 1900s. Janeway & Carpender had factory buildings in the areas of Paterson, Schuyler, and Church Streets in New Brunswick and eventually expanded to Chicago and Philadelphia. They too, suffered the effects of a destructive electrical fire in 1907. Within two hours, the factory burned to the ground and for a year following, the site was reportedly still smoldering. The company built a new factory across the Raritan in Highland Park and at the time, it was the largest wallpaper wallpaper factory in the country.
Newspaper clipping and photographs of the 1885 fire and the damage to Janeway & Co. factory (New Jersey Views and New Brunswick Vertical File):
Before and after the 1907 fire of Janeway & Carpender (New Jersey Views and New Brunswick Vertical File):
Wallpaper and Design
Amidst my research, I came across a few beautiful 1911 sample books from Janeway & Carpender in the Sinclair New Jersey Collection. They all include a trifecta of a border with coordinating backdrop wallpaper and ceiling pattern. The designs varied from page to page, but what stood out to me the most was the richness of the colors and the bold design. For example, some of the vibrant red and green patterns were shockingly intense. I questioned why nineteenth century folks sought for their rooms to look like Christmas just exploded all over their walls, but after awhile the Christmas-couture look started to grow on me. In fact, all of the pages were absolutely stunning. I thanked the wallpaper gods that they were not lost in a papery flame, since tragic fires seemed to be a trend for New Brunswick wallpaper factories.
Although the sample books in the collection unfortunately did not reveal a perfect match in design to the found samples in the historic house, they did pique my curiosity into nineteenth century wallpaper culture. What were the social implications of wallpaper? How did it compare to the other decorative arts during the period? And why is it no longer an interior design staple?
Prior to the early nineteenth century when wallpaper began to stick its patterned tendrils onto the walls of Western middle-class homes, it was not very popular. In contrast, Eastern countries had been using patterned rice paper as wall decoration for quite some time. In the West, wallpaper was generally associated with lack of wealth, imitation, and falsity. After all, if you intended to decorate your walls, why not go for a richly embroidered tapestry made of a fabulously expensive material? A true mark of high taste was the real, authentic thing and wallpaper was an imposter material, trying to be like its cooler, richer cousin. I can’t help but think of the tacky imitation-marble wallpaper that currently lines the bathroom walls of my family home and how it pathetically hangs off of the wall in places, like a child’s Halloween costume after a long night of trick-or-treating.
The Industrial Revolution gave rise to a fresh crop of laborers that operated new machinery. This led to an improved economy and a rising middle class in the mid-nineteenth century. As the economic classes became much less disparate, more people could acquire art and décor and experiment with interior design moreso than even before, igniting a consumerist boom. Additionally, the development of machine printing and a repealed tax on paper products allowed for folks to more readily choose to decorate their homes with wallpaper, a more affordable option than expensive fabrics and tapestries.
The Aesthetic and Arts and Crafts Movements in the latter half of the nineteenth century pushed back against industrialization and mass produced goods, emphasizing an “art for art’s sake” mentality. Designers like William Morris and C.F.A. Voysey were important figures in these movements, looking to non-Western countries and nature for design inspiration and abstracting traditional imagery into two-dimensional patterns. They also encouraged slower, handmade techniques of production such as block printing, as seen in Japanese prints. This non-Western influence also spurred collectors to purchase exotic pieces of furniture and other ornamental objects to decorate their homes.
The Deserted Village serves as a useful microcosm of the social and economic change over a few centuries of American history. Its humble beginnings as a farm and sawmill turned industrial factory town in the mid 1800s, and then, as if the spirit of William Morris himself breathed through the village, rebelled against the industrialized lifestyle and transformed into a summer resort, looking back to nature.
Less is (not always) more
Over the last century, the use of wallpaper has decreased in popularity. Design trends have shifted toward minimalism with white or neutral colored walls, glass panels, and a few quirky or “exotic” statement pieces. In my opinion, a general algorithm for any trendy interior includes whitewashed walls, an Eastern inspired tapestry (perhaps featuring a mandala or a hamsa) hanging loosely over a mid-century modern style sleek couch, complete with a lush green plant on the floor, for what I can only guess is to add some sign of life to the staleness of the space. I like to call this aesthetic the “blogger home”. Minimalism with a pop of color or texture and an interesting handmade basket from your most recent trip to South Africa makes for great Instagram content. In other words, it increases your social capital.
It is no new critique that a highly decorated Victorian household could be reflective of a colonizing worldview. Hand-picked trinkets and souvenirs from various countries and cultures were used to elevate one’s social status by appropriating them as their own. In many ways not much has changed in today’s design style. An interesting perspective on this whitewashed aesthetic is that it reflects something specifically tied to white-Americans. Young, professional hipsters are most often displayed in the media with quirkily decorated white-walled homes. Indeed, this style is not just centralized to American home design (the Scandinavians and Moroccans are just some of those who have been doing it for much longer), but there is still something to say about the bleaching of tonality and pattern, speckled with interesting trinkets to add a little “culture” to a home. In many ways, the only difference between some of today’s interiors and a Victorian interior is that the walls have now been scrubbed clean. Maybe we can learn something from the evolution of interior design, that evolution does not necessarily imply improvement.
Despite my criticism of this aesthetic, I acknowledge the benefits. White walls reflect light and help make a space look larger. They also allow for people to focus on beautiful objects and decorative pieces and allows them to move more easily without the risk of clashing with wall design. However, not all hope is lost on the wallpaper front as there seems to be a slow shift of reintroducing wallpaper into homes as accent walls. Rather than using it as a backdrop, wallpaper is now a point of focus in a room. And maybe this is what interior design needs. Nineteenth century wallpaper companies like Janeway & Carpender and designers like Morris and Voysey considered their product not merely as a cheap decorative backdrop, but as a work of art. Perhaps now, after the rise and fall of its popularity, the value of wallpaper can once again be elevated and provide a much needed element of mood and character to a room.
Where is our Glenside Park window into wallpaper history?
Looking to the design styles of the past can reveal a lot about the environment and people of a certain era. It is therefore important to maintain a record of the decorative arts, but wallpaper tends to present a preservation issue. Its very nature is ephemeral, discrete enough to be painted over or scraped off when one grows tired of it. It is easily damaged, stained, defaced, and replaced. Not many records of the wallpaper still remain, and if they do, they might be peeling off the walls of an abandoned summer resort in Union County, NJ, a historic house in Ohio, and even in my parent’s bathroom. In other cases, wallpaper preservation can be much more deadly. Some nineteenth century wallpapers were known to use pigments traced with arsenic, particularly the color green. One such book owned by Michigan State University has been practically shrink-wrapped by cautious librarians to prevent people from directly coming in contact with the arsenic-laden pages. Well-preserved wallpaper sample books are not only fantastically entertaining to flip through but they are brilliant artifacts of varying aesthetics, social changes, economic disparities, and personal preference across a period of time.
If you are interested in looking at the Janeway & Carpender wallpaper books at Rutgers Special Collections or learning more about the companies, you can search our holdings and Sinclair New Jersey Collection in the EAD finding aids, and contact the reference desk with any questions.
Over the past two months, I have been conversing with Dr. Glyn Thompson, a retired art history professor from Leeds University, in regards to our holding of early twentieth-century pottery company trade catalogs in the Sinclair New Jersey Collection. His research question is a fascinating one: Did Marcel Duchamp create the iconic 1917 ready-made Fountain? Dr. Thompson argues that Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven was the creator of Fountain by supporting a counter narrative of the creation of one of the most important works of art in the twentieth century.
The art history Fountain myth goes like this:
Duchamp began creating ready-mades in 1913, when he chose a spinning bicycle wheel as a work of art. Ready-mades are just as they sound: commercially manufactured everyday items. Part of the allure of the ready-made is in the artistic choice of the object; the other is in the reading of the form in an attempt to find meaning. In 1917 Duchamp bought a urinal from the J. L. Mott Pottery Company which had a showroom in the Upper West Side. He turned the urinal on its side, and signed it “R Mutt 1917”. R Mutt, or the full Richard Mutt, is a word play on the name Mott and also the cartoon characters Mutt and Jeff. Duchamp then submitted the urinal to the annual exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists, of which he was a member. The society was formed by artists who were subverting the typical exhibition favoritism of other art clubs by accepting anything that an artist submitted. Artworks were to be hung/displayed alphabetically. Duchamp challenged the society’s liberal take on art and artists, pushing to see if they would accept anything as a work of art. Members of the society were appalled by the submission, and refused to display it, hiding the urinal in a back room. After the exhibition, Duchamp resigned from the society because of the conservatism. Alfred Stieglitz photographed the urinal at Gallery 291 and ultimately the original urinal was lost.
With Fountain, Duchamp was pushing the boundaries of the definition of art and authorship in asking questions like: “What is a work of art? Who gets to decide, the artist or the critic? Can a work derive from an idea alone, or does it require the hand of a maker? These questions strike at the core of our understanding of art itself.” Is it art because it’s made by an artist? What is the difference between a tea cup and a sculpture that looks like a tea cup? Why are functional items not art?
Other than several articles published in Blind Man issue number 2 from 1917, there was little to nothing published about the urinal, including the identity of Richard Mutt. In the 1950s and 1960s Duchamp took credit for, and authorized replicas to be made of The Fountain. This art history narrative of the creation and eventual attribution of Fountain to Duchamp serves to fuel the status of Duchamp as a misunderstood, avant-garde genius whose whole life was art, creating this myth and mythical artist that has ignored facts and obvious faults.
But it doesn’t seem to matter to art history if Duchamp created Fountain. Stated rather succinctly in a 2017 Artsy article: “But to try and establish the true authorship of the Fountain is exactly the kind of quixotic undertaking that would have had Duchamp in stitches. Let’s take a moment to recall that Monsieur Duchamp took a urinal, turned it upside down, signed it ‘R. Mutt,’ and submitted it to a salon; the pursuit of truth was decidedly not his quest.” Ignoring the questionable authorship of one of the most important artworks of the twentieth century because Duchamp is your favorite artist is a quixotic and fundamental misunderstanding of the intersection of feminism and art history. I’m willing to look past Joseph Beuys’ lies about his origin story in order to see his artistic merit because at least his ideas were original. Women artists deserve more than to be regulated as the kooky sidekicks, the sexy muses, or the martyred wives whose work gets stolen by their male counter-parts. Why is Marcel Duchamp a genius and Elsa a kook?
The evidence that Fountain was chosen and submitted by Marcel Duchamp is largely based on statements made by Duchamp in the 1950s and 1960s. Dr. Glyn Thompson is attempting to interrupt the Artist-as-genius narrative with his research into the Trenton Pottery Company. The counter-narrative he produces is a convincing argument that one of the greatest works of art was, in fact, created by a woman. More information can be found in Thompson’s eBook Duchamp’s Urinal? The Facts Behind the Façade.
The following are Thompson’s core arguments:
1.) In a 1917 letter to his sister, Suzanne Duchamp, Marcel writes:
“April II  My dear Suzanne- Impossible to write- I heard from Crotti that you were working hard. Tell me what you are making and if it’s not too difficult to send. Perhaps, I could have a show of your work in the month of October or November-next-here. But tell me what you are making- Tell this detail to the family: The Independents have opened here with immense success. One of my female friends under a masculine pseudonym, Richard Mutt, sent in a porcelain urinal as a sculpture it was not at all indecent-no reason for refusing it. The committee has decided to refuse to show this thing. I have handed in my resignation and it will be a bit of gossip of some value in New York- I would like to have a special exhibition of the people who were refused at the Independents-but that would be a redundancy! And the urinal would have been lonely- See you soon, Affect. Marcel”[emphasis mine]
The letter is translated and published in Francis Naumann’s 1982 article, though Thompson observes that in footnote 18 Naumann is confused as to why Duchamp would write about this woman friend, refusing to acknowledge that it may be true. The letter is housed in Jean Crotti’s Papers at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.
2.) Duchamp could not have purchased the urinal from J. L. Mott Pottery Company because
a. You couldn’t just walk in and purchase a urinal from their showroom in New York. You needed a tradesman to be the moderator between you and the company (a practice that is similar today). Additionally, the urinal itself would have been made in and purchased in Trenton, New Jersey, where the factory was. These protocols can be found in the company’s trade catalogs.
b. Mott didn’t make a urinal similar enough to the 1917 image of the urinal.
c. Therefore, the name R. Mutt couldn’t have come from J. L. Mott Company.
3.) The Trenton Potteries Company created the Vitreous China, Bedfordshire No. 1 Flat Backed Lipped Urinal between 1915 and 1921 and it visually matches the Stieglitz photograph of Fountain. This is confirmed both through trade catalogs, and the urinal that is in Glyn Thompson’s personal collection.
4.) Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven was a German-born Dada artist living in Philadelphia who was one of the only women who could have created Fountain.
5.) R. Mutt is a Dada play of words on the German word “armut” which translates to poverty or destitution. Poverty of morality was a possible theme of the urinal since on April 6, 1917 the United States declared war on Germany. On April 9th, the urinal reached the exhibition. Also on April 6th, regulations were passed to control movements of German-born individuals on U.S. soil.
It’s difficult to prove without a doubt that Elsa submitted the urinal, choosing it to be a work of art. My initial reaction was, and continues to be: of course she did. Because Elsa WAS Dada. She was Art. She once wore postage stamps as makeup, a birdcage around her neck, and carpet sample rings as bracelets. When she showed up to be George Biddle’s model, she removed her jacket revealing these everyday items and he was shocked. Pictures of her in simple Google searches show a woman making strange gestures and poses for the camera. While Dada performances were meant to make the bourgeois uncomfortable, Elsa made everyone uncomfortable all of the time.
And then there’s God (1917). Previously attributed to Morton Schamburg, God is composed of a twisted drainpipe secured onto a miter box. Readings of the work are tenuous at best, but I like to think that God symbolizes the impotence and mediocrity of “important” men.
Additionally, her poem Astride mimics an orgasm, the climax in a flurry of nonsense words:
HEE HEE HEEEEEEAAA
It is not a stretch then, to think that the Baroness would choose a urinal to send to the Independents exhibition: she used everyday objects in her art, she was keen on word play and bodily functions, and she used herself and her art to make people uncomfortable.
But Elsa tends to get a bad rap. She is often described as: “eccentric”, “crazy”, “visionary”, “strange” and “outrageous”. Like the cult of Frida Kahlo, the Baroness’ sexual exploits and her life take larger precedent than her work: a subheading to a Timeline article states “Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven was once arrested for walking down Fifth Avenue in a men’s suit.” In comparison, H.P. Roche describes Duchamp as thus: “When I met Marcel Duchamp in New York in 1916, he was twenty nine years old and wore a halo…From 1911 to 1923 my memories of him as a person are even more alive than my recollections of his work…He was creating his own legend, a young prophet who wrote scarcely a line, but whose words would be repeated from mouth to mouth…” The comparison and hypocrisy is hardly unique to someone who studies women artists, and yet it continues to be infuriating.
It’s doubtful that in Elsa’s archives there will be a diary entry stating “And on this day I mailed a urinal to Louise Norton to be submitted to the Society of American Artists under the name R Mutt, signifying poverty.” Even if there was a diary entry existed, I doubt that it would change peoples’ minds. She was a liar, so you can’t trust her; she was crazy so you can’t believe anything she says; she was just looking for a buck; she was taking advantage of that poor man for her own sake; and all of the other things that people say in order to discredit women who speak out about their experiences. It’s difficult to think of a way to end this post without falling into a pit of despair. Perhaps it is through Dr. Thompson’s efforts to shout into the abyss with his book, his articles, his interviews, and his exhibitions that a change for Elsa will occur. After all, an unwillingness to be quiet is one of our best feminist tools.
 Dr. Glyn Thompson, Duchamp’s Urinal? The Facts Behind the Façade (Wild Pansy Press, 2015), 11-13.
 Exhibitions: Challenge and Defy, at Sidney Janis Gallery, 1950, New York. International Dada Exhibition, at Sidney Janis Gallery (15 April-9 May 1953), New York; Retrospective Dada, Dusseldorf (5 September- 19 October 1958). Interview: Text:
 There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the talent of certain artists, but insistence on the status of the Artist as Genius disallows criticism and unconvincingly simplifies the narrative of their life and work. In addition, modern women artists are almost never described as geniuses. See Linda Nochlin’s “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” for a more succinct analysis of the rhetoric associated with male and female artists.
 Francis M. Naumann, “Affectueusement, Marcel: Ten Letters from Marcel Duchamp to Suzanne Duchamp and Jean Crotti,” Archives of American Art Journal (vol 22, no. 4 1982), 8. Written extensively by John Higgs in “The Shock of the New,” Stranger Than You Can Imagine: Making Sense of the Twentieth Century (London: Weidenfield and Nicolson, 2015), 35-51. Argued by Thompson in Duchamp’s Urinal?, 17-18.
 Louise Norton could also be a potential creator of Fountain. In the Stieglitz photograph, the exhibition entry card is still attached, which lists Norton’s address as R. Mutt’s address. Additionally, she wrote an article in Blind Man about R Mutt. To my knowledge, there is no archival collection, book, or article about her art for comparison.
 Thompson, Duchamp’s Urinal?, 70.
 Additional questions arise, for me, from Duchamp’s story that he simply submitted the piece to the exhibition and that those in charge censored his avant-garde poke at the supposedly liberal Society. The story makes Duchamp seem like he was just a member of the art society, when in fact he played a large administrative role. According to the exhibition catalog for the 1917 exhibition, Marcel Duchamp a director of the Society, and was the director of the hanging committee (See Figures). The catalog can be seen in full here. The hanging committee included George Bellows and Rockwell Kent. Because there were no juries and no prizes in the Society, as long as the artist paid their dues then their work would be hung. In order to prevent hierarchies and favoritism, the pieces were hung alphabetically. This was a very liberal take on annual art exhibition for clubs and societies which often attempted to mark ‘the best” through juries and strategic hangings. But how can you say that those in charge denied your readymade when you were the one who was in charge?
An exhibit of materials commemorating the one-year anniversary of the New Brunswick Music Scene Archive is on display now in the Special Collections and University Archives Gallery at Alexander Library.
Reflecting the history of the city’s independent music since the 1980s, the display features a wide variety of objects—from records and tapes to zines, flyers, and other ephemera—that were donated from the personal collections of those involved in the scene over the years. Highlights include issues of Jersey Beat and New Brunswick Underground, flyers for shows held at the Court Tavern and the Melody Bar, and recordings from local acts such as The Blasés and The Weeping Cysts.