January 23, 2012

Photograph of President Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) was the 16th president of the United States. He was born on a farm in Kentucky and moved with his family to Indiana at age eight. At age 21, he moved to Illinois, where he held various jobs and began to study law. He had less than one year of formal education, but became a skilled writer by reading the King James Bible and other English classics. He practiced law in Illinois, served in the Illinois General Assembly, and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1860, he was elected president of the United States on a platform opposing the expansion of slavery to the American West, a stance that precipitated the secession of the southern states from the Union. Refusing to accept secession, Lincoln waged war against the South to preserve the Union and ultimately to abolish slavery in the United States. He was killed by an assassin’s bullet on April 14, 1865, shortly after the South’s surrender. This photograph of Lincoln is by Mathew B. Brady (1823?-96), an early American photographer who opened a gallery in New York City in 1844. Although best known for his battlefield photographs in the Civil War, Brady first made his mark as a portrait photographer who captured many famous people on film.

Memoirs of the Revolution in Bengal, Anno Domini 1757

This work by William Watts (active 1737-58) is an account of the Battle of Plassey, which took place on June 23, 1757, near the village of Pâlāshir, some 150 kilometers north of Calcutta (present-day Kolkata). In this decisive encounter, the forces of the British East India Company, under Robert Clive, defeated Siraj Ud Daulah, the last independent Nawab of Bengal. The British victory and the treaty with the Moghul Empire that ensued brought the province of Bengal and its great wealth under the control of the company, thereby establishing the basis for the expansion of British control in the rest of India. The French East India Company (La Compagnie des Indes Orientales) supported the nawab, and his defeat hastened the elimination of French influence in India. The “Meer Jaffeir” referred to in the title is Mir Jafar, one of Siraj-ud-Daulah's military commanders, who betrayed his leader and helped to cause the defeat. The British East India Company later selected Mir Jafar as its puppet ruler in Bengal.

Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C.: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Mathew Ahmann, Executive Director of the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice, in a Crowd

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place in August 1963 and was the setting for the celebrated “I Have a Dream” speech by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. A. Philip Randolph, a labor leader and founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, proposed a large march on the capital as a way of prodding Congress and the administration of President John F. Kennedy to act on civil rights. Others involved in its planning included King himself, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People President Roy Wilkins, and John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. The march was entirely peaceful, and drew an estimated 200,000-300,000 people. It is widely credited with helping to pass breakthrough civil rights legislation in 1964 and 1965. Shown here on the day of the march are King and Mathew Ahmann, Executive Director of the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice.

Guidance for Would-be Homesteaders on How to Emigrate to Brazil (1932 Edition)

This brochure was published by the Federation of Immigration Associations, which was supported by the Japanese government for the purpose of recruiting emigrants from Japan to other countries. It explains the conditions, preparations, and application process for emigration to Brazil. Japanese emigration to Brazil began in 1908, and reached its peak in 1926–35. Following the abolition of slavery in Brazil in 1888, the government of Brazil looked to immigrants to address a labor shortage in the increasingly important coffee industry. European immigrants, particularly Italians, filled the gap at first, but were later joined by immigrants from Japan, where rural poverty was widespread and the economy was struggling to modernize and to reabsorb soldiers returning after the Russo-Japanese War (1904–5).

Two 7-Year Old Newsies, Profane and Smart, Selling Sunday, Nashville, Tennessee

This photograph, taken by an unknown photographer in Nashville, Tennessee, in November 1910, shows two seven-year old newspaper boys. The photograph is from the collection of the Children’s Bureau, a government office established in 1912 to investigate and report "upon all matters pertaining to the welfare of children and child life among all classes of our people." Enactment of the law was the culmination of a campaign begun in 1903 by two early social reformers, Lillian Wald of New York's Henry Street Settlement House, and Florence Kelly of the National Consumer's League. The first Chief of the Children's Bureau was Julia C. Lathrop (1858-1932), a pioneering social worker active in Hull House, an organization established to provide services to newly-arrived immigrants in Chicago.

Winter Scene with Log Structure, Grisons, Switzerland

This photochrome print of a chalet in Grisons is part of “Nineteenth Century Travel Views of Europe" from the catalog of the Photoglob Company (1895). Baedeker’s Switzerland and the adjacent portions of Italy, Savoy, and Tyrol (1913) noted that Grisons “consists of an immense network of mountains . . . and it is remarkable for the variety of its scenery, climate, and productions." Located in the eastern region of the country, Grisons borders Italy and Liechtenstein and is the largest canton in Switzerland. The chalet depicted here is traditionally Swiss, as typified by its rustic, wooden architecture.