Friday, June 16, 2017

Wild Flowers

Cover and original envelope to Wild Flowers of the White MountainsTwo weeks ago we blogged an herbarium lovingly constructed by a 19th-century missionary. This week, we have a similar object, but one assembled by a clever entrepreneur rather than a passionate collector. Wild Flowers of the White Mountains, published by the Chisholm Brothers in the 1890s, is a selection of wild flower specimens "gathered from Points of Interest in the White Mountains." This particular copy was sold for 50 cents and was a gift to "Margaret" in September of 1891. At that point, many of the flowers in the book would not have been in bloom, so we know the tourist that gave this to Margaret was not the collector. He or she bought this as a souvenir to send to a loved one.

Specimen of wild columbine collection on Mt. Washington
We have a second copy of Wild Flowers of the White Mountains. It must have been assembled at a different date because the specimens it contains are different. On days like today when "Full many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness on the desert air," we are thankful for these relics of the 1890s.

To see our copies of Chisholm's Wild Flowers, ask for White Mountains SB439.C44.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

International Archives Day

French passport for Marcelle RobertLast week, we joined archives and archivists all over the world in celebrating International Archives Day 2017. The theme of this year’s IAD was “Archives, Citizenship and Interculturalism,” which gave us the perfect reason to mine our collections for a good immigration story.

Signed statement of Marcelle Robert's marital status
Marcelle Robert was born in Angoul√™me, France, in 1902. When she met and married American Chester Dwight Perry in 1925 and planned her move to the United States, it was at a time of increasingly stringent regulations on immigration. Congress had passed the Immigration Act of 1924 only a year earlier, imposing strict nationality quotas on immigrants from European countries and barring Asian immigrants entirely. But as an affidavit prepared by the American Consular Service in La Rochelle, France, shows, Marcelle breezed through the immigration process thanks to her marriage to an American. She was granted “non-quota immigrant” status, exempting her from the hurdles that other immigrants faced and even allowing her to bypass Ellis Island upon arrival in the United States. Marcelle had only to offer up her French passport under her unmarried name to prove her identity, and she was essentially on her way. She settled with Chester in New York and gained her citizenship in 1928.

The immigration landscape has grown undeniably more complicated since Marcelle’s journey of nearly a century ago, but the role of archives in documenting human migration around the globe remains the same. The debates, the laws, the stories of individual immigrants — you’ll find them all in the archives.

For more on Marcelle, ask for the Marcelle R. Perry papers, MS-1067.