Taking a post-Thanksgiving break. In the meantime, check out the very appealing coffee info graphic visuals at Foodbreak.
I don’t shop Walmart any day. I’m asking you not to shop it today.
In 1995, I started a personal boycott against Walmart that lasts until this day. If you revere small town America, then cut back on spending at big corporate America. It’s true that much of our choice in local retailers was obliterated by decades of white flight to the suburbs, the mall-based chain store, and mergers of large retailers. People liked parking lots for their cars and one stop shopping. It’s true; you will pay more at independent stores. But I’ve balanced this by buying less and trying to select companies that have fair worker compensation and a blue profile. Are we really getting back something good as a country by saving a few dollars at Walmart?
No. We are decidedly allowing Walmart to suckle local resources through tax breaks, welfare and food stamps for their underpaid staff, and road improvements to reach their stores. Don’t be fooled. This isn’t good business for our communities. This is destructive. Recently, the news of a Walmart-hosted food drive – for their employees to bring in food to donate to other impoverished employees – has kept the spotlight on their poor employee compensation. Stephen Colbert put the icing on it.
“Some critics out there say Walmart isn’t doing enough, but they’re wrong, because Walmart isn’t doing anything,” he said. “These bins are for Walmart employees to donate to other employees. And where can Walmart’s low wage workers find cheap food to donate? Walmart.”
Watch Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price for more information. Try to feel good handing over money at Walmart after watching.
Don’t knock it: sauerkraut is great on the Thanksgiving table. And it’s a tradition that falls almost exclusively within Maryland’s borders.
When I moved away for my first job in Boston, I was surprised that Thanksgiving sauerkraut horrified my colleagues and housemates. Sauerkraut certainly horrifies a fair amount of people on an everyday basis. I’ve asked a number of Marylanders whether they also have sauerkraut at Thanksgiving, and the answer is almost always yes, even if the response is “yes, but I don’t eat it.”
Certainly, preserved fermented cabbage is a worldwide tradition, including 18th-century sailors that took it on board so that its vitamin C could help ward off scurvy. My great-grandmother made her own in a crock that now stores magazines. We prefer just to grab a can of Silver Floss this day and doctor it with caraway and brown sugar for the table. Like cranberry sauce, sauerkraut is another source of tang and sour to cut through some of the otherwise more bland and rich dishes on the Thanksgiving table.
Read more about Maryland’s Thanksgiving sauerkraut tradition in this Bon Appetit article. I might not care so much if the turkey didn’t turn up at Thanksgiving. But I would miss the sauerkraut.
If this post already sounds familiar, see my post on the 1811-13 watercolor by Secretary to the Russian Consul-General Pavel Petrovich Svinin (MMA 42.95.37) of crossing Wright’s Ferry, near Columbia, Pennsylvania.
While at Winterthur this summer for a research fellowship, I came across a travel journal by Samuel R. Fisher (Mic. 296.1 See the Finding Aid here. The original is in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania). The series of journals include trips to England, South Carolina, and a “Horseback Trip in ‘Back Parts’ of Pennsylvania, with John Townsend. Also – South to Winchester, Va. Journal 4 Month 12th, 1787 to 6 Month 3rd, 1787.” I was looking for descriptions of women’s dress in the back country communities he visited, but Fisher is most descriptive about the topography and Quaker meeting houses on his way through the piedmont and mountains. He travels by Fort Necessity, noting George Washington “had a battle with the French & Indians & near this place” and the Youghiogheny River.
Today, there are myriad ways to cross the Susquehanna whenever you wish. Wright’s Ferry was established early in the 18th century and operated until 1901. In 1787, Anderson’s Ferry opened and lessened traffic at Wright’s Ferry. In previous years, it could take several days for your turn to cross the ferry. Fisher, crossing in 1787, had only to wait for a few hours for the wait for the various canoes and flatboats that made up the crossing.
4 mo: 14 Rose early, sat out & reach Lancaster 18 ½ Miles by 9 O’Clk where breakfasted, calld on Charles Hamilton, Mathias Slough & Myers Solomon on some business, abt 11 O Clk sat out in Co. with Daniel McPherson, his Daughter & Son Isaac – reached Wright’s Ferry abt 1 OClk here dined. I calld to see John Townsend at the Widow Barber’s a friend close at hand, where had just been a Meeting & found him with J Scattergood & sundry other friends. D Mc Pherson Son & Daughter proceeded over the ferry. I waited for Jn Townsend parted with J R Elam who returnd to Lancaster & crossed Susquehanna in Co. with J Townsend , J Scattergood, P Yarnall T or J Speakman reached Yorktown 10 Miles about SunSet. J Townsend & J Scattergood lodged at Elisha Kirks, D Speakman & self at Peter Yarnall’s where were kindly entertained.
When the Washington Metro was built in the 1970s, it was planned and built as a wagon wheel. Upscale malls and subdivisions far-flung from the city center were considered posh and the main purpose of the Metro was to deliver suits to government offices and their suckling contractors. In the evening, it would deliver them back to their comfortable suburban existences. If this was the ideal, it was not how real people lived. Anyone who tries to drive east-west across Montgomery County between the spurs of the transit line knows it’s a time-draining snarl. It’s one of my least favorite places to be. Recent streetcar and light rail initiatives around DC, the city is trying to knit its neighborhoods back together again. The 16-mile Purple Line will also connect several other transit systems together
Interestingly, the Purple line is using a joint public/private arrangement to fund construction and operation of the system. It feels kind of throwback. Nobody is made happy about the use of imminent domain to acquire lands, especially business owners, home owners, and the posh golf course that the line is planned to pass.
Here is some information and viewpoints on the project at the MTA website, Purple Line Now, and opposing voices at Gazette.Net (which has an interesting if problematic interactive of sites that will be impacted by the construction of the line).
My post from last year, “What Is A Collections Manager?” is, by far, the post for which I get the most views. It is read at rates almost twice that of the next most popular post, which is on assembling Downton Abbey looks for Halloween.
I could hypothesize why “What Is A Collections Manager?” is so popular. Partly, I think this is due to the lack of information on the profession. Collections Manager, as a title, has also been misused and shaped to encompass what varying institutions wish to accomplish with this person. So I assume readers are looking for information.
But I would rather know directly from you why I have so many people looking for information about collections managers. Who are you? Are you a curator, a conservator, a student looking for information about museum professions, a collections manager looking for assistance explaining your role in a museum? Do you find it difficult to find collections care resources? Are you curious about what sort of training you need, or advancement opportunities you’ll have in the future?
I’m the Vice Chair of the Collection Care Network of the American Institute for Conservation. We promote preventive conservation and collection care systems and staffing through programs and projects. If there are needs you perceive in better understanding the role and the practice of collection care and collections management, let me know. If you like Museum Monday, read more posts here.
Otherwise, keep enjoying The Still Room. Thanks for reading.
My Harford County, Maryland family could never be described as prominent. They are not historical figures. Certainly, the family names are ones the people know, interwoven through local people’s memories (read about how interwoven my family is here). They, like so many others, were farmers, soldiers, and later, civilian employees of Aberdeen Proving Ground.
Fortunately, the arrival of inexpensive cameras appealed to my family and they started snapping images of their everyday lives. Cars, dogs, and family members standing on the lawn after dinner were the general subjects of many photos from the early twentieth century. I posted this previous 1920s hunting dog image a few weeks ago from a different branch of family in Delta, Pennsylvania, just a short way up the Susquehanna from my Harford County family. Here, my grandfather, Sappington Lee Bowman, and great uncle, Robert Bayless Bowman, are captured with their hunting dog. I’d like to imagine that my great-grandfather took this photograph while hunting with the boys. He died of colon cancer in 1934.
This image is likely in the environs around Aberdeen, Maryland, as they grew up on a small farm in the general vicinity of the now heavily developed area around Target and Beards Hill Plaza. The scraggly trees and heavy clothes on the kids denote the fall or winter setting. Interestingly, the breed of this dog is very similar to that in the other image I posted, an English Pointer with maybe a little Beagle mixed in. He’s very interested in the the pile of rabbits accumulated with who knows how much help by the adult holding the camera. My grandfather kept a hunting dog most of his life, the last a beagle named Scholtzie, who would help find ducks and geese after they were shot out of the sky.
The Messiah, written by George Frideric Handel in 1741 and first performed in Dublin before its launch in London, was originally meant for Easter. Many of us have attended the oratorio’s performance at Yuletide, a practice that gained popularity in the United States in the early nineteenth century. My first and fondest memories of The Messiah are not of it in performance, but listening to my Dad play a record of it on the hefty hi-fi as we opened presents and ate dinner (and let me tell you, that Sylvania hunk of metal really went up to 11!). When our family lived in Wisconsin and drove in a huge van back to the east coast for visits, one memorable family sing of “O We Like Sheep” occurred as we wended our way through the pastures off the side of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Read more about Handel and The Messiah in Jonathan Kandell’s Smithsonian magazine article.
With John Styles’s book The Dress of the People and the exhibition Threads of Feeling, I became familiar with The London Foundling Hospital. The Foundling was established in 1739 by sea captain Thomas Coram. In this era before reliable birth control, widespread and devastating infectious disease, and few options for many poor parents, Coram sought a way to protect those abandoned babies he saw left in the streets of London. The Foundling ran as an institution until the 1950s, and still continues as the foundation Coram today. Both Handel and painter William Hogarth became early patrons of The Foundling. Handel quickly launched The Messiah in London after its test run in Dublin. Handel never married, and whether he ever had any children is unknown (Coram and Hogarth, though married, never had any children). In 1750, Handel began an annual benefit concert of The Messiah in the Chapel of The Foundling Hospital. These annual concerts continued through Handel’s death in 1759, and the piece was performed each year through 1777. It is estimated that Handel’s charitable giving to The Foundling is approximately £500,000 in today’s money. The Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury holds the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, including an original copy of The Messiah, manuscripts, libretti, and other works.
While not written specifically for The Foundling, Handel’s later involvement gives new meaning to “For unto us a child is born.”
A pie lays broken in the street, a distraught servant teased by the chimney sweeps who caused her to drop it. She’s likely on her way back from the bakery to which her mistress sent the pie to be baked.
While the British had an extensive print culture in the late 18th century, Americans did not. Depictions of 18th century American laboring classes are exceedingly rare. While the Jersey Nanny has been studied as a depiction of an American servant, its artist, John Greenwood, was mostly a copyist of British works. A few years after the publishing of the Jersey Nanny, he left the colonies to train in England, and never returned. It’s not that American colonists would find her appearance largely different from working women in their community, but it is probably not truly an American image. Charles Wilson Peale, on the other hand, was an accomplished painter (much more so than his limited printmaking efforts), depicting a truly American scene.
The servant depicted in The Accident in Lombard Street wears no stays, a short gown pinned askance, and a petticoat (the fullness probably assisted by another underneath). Patterning of her clothing may depict striped fabrics commonly worn by servants. She’s very crudely rendered, so that details regarding her headdress and footwear (if any) are hard to read.
The servant in this image is a perfect analogy for what we’ve lost in our understanding of working dress of the 18th century: the details. Learn more about my study of working women’s dress through newspaper runaway advertisements here.
Public transportation in the early 20th century captured our imagination. It was modern, new, a technological advance not just for those with money, but for the people. The most iconic and compelling images place us against our machinery. The dress of women provides often the greatest contrast of “man” versus machine. Below are a few images/depictions of us and our transit systems that caught my fancy this morning.
This New York City image captures mostly a male commuting population in their summertime straw boaters (but interestingly, dark suits). A summertime ride on an open streetcar was probably one of the few refreshing moments during an urban summer. The men sit within the hard, regimented structure of the streetcar, advertising pasted on the structural elements above their heads. Then, a woman in sparkling white bends against the constraints of her corset to climb over the running board, her hat draped in a luscious shock of white feather. She is sinuous in form against the machinery, a highlight against the dark, male interior.
A fashionable but sensibly dressed lady beckons to the viewer to accept her suggestion that the London Underground is “The Way for All.” It is not solely for the laborer or store clerk, but that the more fashionable could benefit in getting from point A to point B by joining their S-bended silhouettes to join the masses depicted in the background. Her S-bend corseted shape is further used to bend her further into the image, and give her a sense of forward motion.
Compare this with the despair and grit of the age of transit’s demise in the 1970s and 1980s, captured as only photography of the NYC Subway can. Yet Bruce Davidson, whose work in the 1980s NYC Subway is captured in the book Subway tried to rehumanize the transit system during a time when urban personal interactions had broken down. These two women are ready for a night on the town. Habitual subway riders create their own privacy among all the others we are thrown together with by chance on the train. These two women stand within momentary quiet for the few seconds before the graffiti covered train approaches and the disinterested vigilence of train riding begins. Their youth and beauty are out of sync with their environment, once new but now decayed and dangerous.
Most of us who live here never wear white on the subway.