Friday, November 16, 2012

LCP Collections on Exhibit throughout Philadelphia and Beyond

Benjamin Rush's An Inquiry into the Effects of Spiritous Liquors on the Human Body (Boston: 1790)
Materials in the collections of the Library Company are frequently in demand by exhibition curators at other institutions.  Currently, materials are out on loan to the National Constitution Center, the Architectural Archives at the University of Pennsylvania, Goucher College, the Union League, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Fairfield Museum and History Center, and the William L. Clements Library on the University of Michigan Campus.

Perhaps the most important work currently on loan is Abraham Lincoln's autograph manuscript of a preliminary to the Emancipation Proclamation, "A Proclamation .. entitled An Act to suppress insurrection, and ... to seize and confiscate property of Rebels," from July 25, 1962.  The manuscript is currently on view at the Clements Library in Ann Arbor as part of an exhibition entitled "Proclaiming Emancipation: Slavery and Freedom in the Era of the Civil War" running through February 18, 2013 — timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Proclamation.

We have two items currently on loan to the National Constitution Center for its just-opened exhibition “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.” Benjamin Rush’s An Inquiry into the Effects of Spirituous Liquors on the Human Body (Boston: 1790) is displayed open to the “moral and physical thermometer,” which illustrates that the type of alcohol consumed correlates to particular social ills and criminal behaviors. Mild spirits will cause headache and dyspepsia, while consumption of the hardest liquors will necessarily lead one to a life of violent crime and a death on the gallows. Also on loan is T.S. Arthur’s Ten Nights in a Bar-Room, and What I Saw There (Boston, 1854), a first edition copy of this extremely popular and influential work on the destructiveness of alcohol use.  The exhibition will be open at the Constitution Center until May 2013.

Frank Furness, Juniper and Locust Street Building.  Ink and wash drawing. (Philadelphia: 1879)
 In addition to hosting our own exhibition as part of Philadelphia’s citywide commemoration of the centennial of architect Frank Furness’s death, the Library Company’s Print Department also lent several items to Penn’s Architectural Archives for its Furness exhibition. Frank Furness: Making a Modern Library will be on view until January 18, 2013, at the Kroiz Gallery of the Fisher Fine Arts Building on the university’s campus. This exhibition focuses on six Furness designed-libraries, including the Library Company’s former home at Juniper and Locust, and puts them in the context of library construction in Philadelphia.  William Birch’s ca. 1799 engraving of the Library Company’s first building near the State House, two architectural plans of our South Broad Street library building, and a Frank Furness rendering of our Juniper and Locust building are all featured in the exhibition.

In April, we loaned to Goucher College an 1816 Bible published in Philadelphia by Mathew Carey. The Bible belonged to Harriet Ridgely, later Mrs. Henry Banner Chew. It includes birth and death records of the Chew family, and it was those records that were of most interest to Goucher. The college is located on the land that was once Epsom Farm, the former residence of Harriet and Henry Chew. The Bible was displayed, open to the family records, in Goucher’s exhibition “Recovering a Lost World: Epsom Farm, 1772-1921.” The exhibition closed on October 31 and the Bible will be returning to the Library Company very soon.

During each year of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Union League of Philadelphia is mounting an exhibition of materials relating to Philadelphia’s involvement in the conflict. We loaned materials in 2011 for its exhibition on 1861, and this year, we again loaned materials for the exhibition “Philadelphia 1862: A City at War.” Four of our pamphlets are on display, including Charles Ingersoll’s A Letter to a Friend in a Slave State and Horace Binney’s The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus Under the Constitution. The exhibition will run through the end of 2012.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s current exhibition “Shipwreck! Winslow Homer and ‘The Life Line’” includes five books from our collection. Each features an illustration of a sea-related tragedy or rescue. Three of the volumes are gift books from our extensive collection of this genre: books that were generally intended to be gifted, were typically geared toward a female audience, and were composed of poetry, prose, and art from multiple sources. This exhibition will close in December 2012.

Finally, the Print Department has also lent two items to the Fairfield, Conn., Museum and History Center’s exhibition Promise of Freedom: The Emancipation Proclamation. Commemorating the 150th anniversary of this landmark document, the exhibition, which will be open until February 24, 2013, explores the issues of freedom, equality, and citizenship during the Civil War and today. A Thomas Nast engraving, The Past and the Future, and a lithograph recruiting African Americans to serve as soldiers in the Civil War are the two Library Company items appearing in this exhibition.

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