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tv   [untitled]    February 11, 2012 11:00am-11:30am EST

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so that was not a possibility. there was a tension between mays and king because martin king wanted to be on the trustee board and some of the trustee board members didn't want king on there. mays couldn't quite deal with th it well. it was only when king won the nobel prize that he could become a trustee for peace. you know, there are internal politics to morehouse college, too. >> thank you. i appreciate it. >> i think i'll leave it. >> we have really been blessed to have these three outstanding scholars with us.
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dr. jelks at the university of kansas. dr. luther smith. professor of church and community at emory university and professor king. dr. mays would often say every man and woman is born into this world to do something unique and something distinctive. if he or she doesn't do it, it will never been done. we thank god much for the three of you and for your scholarly work with mays, thurman and king, but also your scholarly work in other areas. thank you very much. we also thank morehouse college for being able to make this happen and we look forward to moving into the next year as we
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look at the impact of dr. king and his n only us here in atlanta and morehouse, but on the world. thank you very much. [ applause ]
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in the 19th century, middle class american families started displays wealth and status in their homes by purchasing globals and furniture made by local craftsman. david jaffee looks at the decorations and how they helped in the early american culture. this is about an hour. >> it's really a pleasure to be here. i wanted to start with winthrop chandler in many ways begins my
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project in chronological terms as well as how i thought about it. i spent time at the antiquarian society and in worcester county. finally the fruits of it are done and it is a pleasure to be here where much of that project started. i really have been involved in a long-term education and really re-education since my early americanist experience. this has been a more recent development. i wanted to share with you some of my thoughts about how we really do history with objects.
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that's why i thought about calling this learning to look at early american material culture. let me start with an extended anecdote. so this is also robert peckham. this brackets both at beginning and end of this century-long study that i completed. when i was visiting the museum a few summers ago, i made the acquaintance of james wilson, but i discovered the unique power of objects to tell a story that is not available to us from the texture record. i come to the museum to look at objects, but i come to look at the curatorial files. look at texts. i was more comfortable with. it was an exhibit on vermont furniture in the early republic.
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as i wandered through the museum where the early history was displayed, i saw things that helped me understand how artisans and consumers imagined their world. first, my eye was struck by a large neo classical sideboard that you see here with the graceful bow front and sleek lines. looking for all the world like a s sophisticated boston product. it was made in vermont. when you see the inlay, you can see the three are going in one direction and the fourth is the other. this a person, a cabinetmaker, who didn't make lots of sideboards. the fact he was making this one meant he was less familiar than his metro colleague.
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at the other end of the museum, i noticed a marvelous tall clock built by a vermont partnership. the timepiece boasted a calendar wheel and it played seven tunes for each day of the week and a psalm for sunday. then a massive desk and bookcase that you see before you. dominating a corner of the room where the museum had reconstructed the interior of an early 19th century vermont home. as i grew closer, the desk, i learned belonged to james wilson of bradford, vermont. a town north along the connecticut river. inching closer, because i wasn't familiar, the label stated th that wilson was the united
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states first globemaker. the globe sat in a plexicase. it seems strange that the out of the way place is bradford in the early 19th century that globe making. the first american globes were being made. i left the museum that day really enthralled with the thought of learning more about james wilson. how didhe making? what were the sources of his information? for that matter, not just his information, but inspiration? what gave him the project of being a globe maker at the time? as i learned, others -- and you can see here -- go back. as i learned, others in the lands had tried to make globes.
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new hampshire shoemaker sam lane made this in 1760. the idea is a misnomer the more you start to look at things. the layers peel back further. however, lane's was not a commercial globe. he made this for his own purposes. he turned a seven inch oak sphere on his lathe. he cut the boundaries and pinned it in a pine table in the form of a milking stool so it could revolve. he used the local materials. the larger goal here of clocks and globes offer consumers visual control over time and space. satisfied the quest for knowledge while fulfilling a refined person's desire to exhibit symbols of gentle ty.
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this is obviously a source of information and knowledge, but an object for decorative display. it serves both purposes. the story of james wilson offers a compelling look at the object in knowledge and the curious ways of achieving that goal. there is something special about this time and place about the village enlightenment was critical to his decision and hi globes, but whether you can make them or get the resources and then whether you can sell them is quite another question. james wilson, farmer and blacksmith, created the first globes in north america from hi bradford, vermont. this is a version of a back
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woods craftsman navigating to produce new commercial commodities in the new nation. the newness of not just new commodities, but the fact this is a few years after the war of independence, but it is a story of american independence. all globing before wilson's were imported. illustrated here is one of his early creations. it was produced in 1810. 13 inches in diameter. wilson was born in londonderry. he worked in his father's farm and learned blacksmithing from his uncle. he went off to search for a farm
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of his own. he crossed the connecticut river and visited relatives and intending to proceed north. this is a family story which i would take with a grain of salt. it serves my purposes wonderfully. i, of course, will use it. according to the family accounts, he saw a pair of globes. globes at this point in time usually were in pairs. probably the first globes he ever saw. he saw them, according to the story, at dartmouth where he peered at them through a keyhole of a locked laboratory room. so how much better could it be from him and objects that are unavailable to someone from his midland station. this fired his imagination that he was going to make his own
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globes, when which we will use sell. this furthered his resolve to manufacture his globes. he moved to bradford. he and his cousin made axes to purchase his land. the next year he made his first globe. it was a large, solid wooden ball covered with paper with the continents and countries drawn in pen and ink. if you know anything about globemaking, commercial globes are not solid spheres of wood, but paper mache. the first problem he faced was his limited knowledge of geography and cartography. he made $100 that winter which allowed him to purchase the 18
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volumes of the encyclopedia. it had a vast amount of knowledge of globe making. there are extensive entries in the encyclopedia. he is really able to obtain this at a general store relatively close to where he is living. my argument here is encyclopedias promise all of the recognized knowledge all in one place. in one area. and in making that information available through print, even in northern new england. wilson then, with his wood working skills, constructed this desk and bookcase to house his
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prized possession. the next hurdle was engraving on copper. it was the first geography text published in the united states in 1784. so, he's really able to get through the proliferation of print in the 18th century to obtain all of this information without this point in time until he met morris, any contact with a cartographer. he used the original model covering it with paper and cutting the paper into spheres. you can see the entry on globe making. and this is actually from a
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recent reconstruction of the bradford, vermont globe. you can see here quite clearly the different -- this is the globe before its restoration. you can see the skim coating of plaster over it that keeps it together. the different cores. these are really 12 cores that have the geographic information that he has engraved and glues on to it. this gives you a better sense of how the globe is made by seeing this project. surmounting all of these obstacles, he spent years to make the copper plate. the problem was the proportion on to a sphere surface. how do you take a flat thing and wrap it around a sphere object?
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he looked to boston for information. visiting morris for additional training. then had to begin all over again taking his copper plate and burnishing it and starting all over again. wilson worked on globe making the next decade. he made everything himself. he built his own tools. he mixed his own ink. shaped the spheres and designed and printed all of his maps. by 1810, he produced his first globes of paper. the paper core suspended in a birch frame with turned legs. only after the decade-long struggle to realize this vision was he able to turn to commercial globe making and begin to manufacture and market these prized items that you see here and really make a living
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out of it. when i was relaying this story at the winter museum a few years ago, the students at the wonderful collection of early american things said oh, but we actually have these embroidered globes made by school girls in the 18th century. i had never heard of the west town school. i said i would love to see one of those. we marched up to the collection. it is the power of objects to make you think in new directions. it is the presence of the objects which really contributes to making connections. so here you see sarah sheppard's plain woven silk. these are about the size of a grapefruit. they are filled and then this is a mixture of both embroidery and pen and ink drawing on the
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surface. you really have multimedia within this one sphere object. although this is in 1844, they were made as early as 1811. they are really concurrent. it tells you about the narrative of the global making construct. it is not just wilson, but the west town school where the globes are made. one is printed. one is embroidered. one is textiles and the other is paper and medical. these fabricated forms make the manifest the new nation through various educational and cultural activities. my purpose in writing the new nation of goods was to tell really the story of these objects and the story of industrialization which i'll focus on in a minute. these all changed in the next
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century and a different tale of industri industrialzation. i also very much intended to tell a story about the role of material culture and thinking with things. historical studies are a series of case studies of artisans and consumers and objects. each chapter begins with an object. i try to use that object like the wilson globe as a way of unpacking larger issues of enlightenment of industrialization. i would argue while scholars have embraced the study of artifact in recent studies, social historical has spent little on the reality. it is what i and others have
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called the visual turn. we had studies of vernacular architecture and textiles and topics like city life in 18th century north america. we have books by dale upton. generally, historians have used objects more to illustrate their studies of prior derived narratives from text which they are more comfortable in reading and analyzing than the shifting artifact. i really question and john styles, a british historian has a wonderful quote. objects enable the social world to happen. i think that is a really telling remark. because materials matter, it really is important to think about how -- i'm going to jump a little bit forward.
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it really matters how we understand -- how an object might appeal to users and viewers as an item of display as well as an item of knowledge. how can we best understand why a chest of drawers looks the way it is? we can scan pattern books, other contemporary furniture for clues. we need to think about tools and the tactile experience of making that chest on a cabinetmaker's work bench. what are the decisionsnot in an intellectual form, but a tactile experience one. objects just exist as social markers. this symbolizes someone is refined or gentile. that is like a black box. it doesn't matter how they work, but it matters how you own one.
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they have material presences. that is why we have to look. the construction of a windsor chair provides insights about the changing labor and stylist shifts taking place within the workshop. it matters that the chair is centered in the chair seat after everything is sort of bolted into that. this provides a sturdy platform, but also the fact these different species, these spindles are all turned on the lathe. these are all simple forms that can be made in a chairmaker shop, but can be hacked out in a lumberyard or saw mill dozens of miles away. this allows for a decentralized mode of manufacture throughout new england. this is the means of making thousands of spindles which are assembled later. that is what i mean by looking beyond a textile model of
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manufacturing to see the things which are not necessarily hand made in the way. i wanted to retell the story of industrialization. we have colorful rocking cahair, we value them because they are remote. it is the fact they are folky and hand made that gives them the value. especially in the market. my argument here is the chair is very much part of an emerging industrial mode of manufacture. so i was really interested in how this world of small things and imported luxuries. i really begin with ebeneezer devoti devotion. sitting for his portrait in his woodstock, connecticut study that his wife, martha, had
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commissioned in 1770. this was commissioned from the decorative artist winthrop chandler. ebeneezer sternly sits on a fashionable but restrained chippendale chair. he is such the artist that he picks every one of the tacks in chandler's chair. it is focus on the versatility that he is giving equal light to the face as well as the chair, which i think is one of the characteristics of much of this. he is sitting there with his well thumbed book collection. i thumbed through the books in the brookline public library. they are called from london and geneva. this is a world where most of the goods in the 1770s are
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imported. ebeneezer owns a london tall clock at a time when tall clocks are rare. what is interesting to me after the war for independence, a newly decentralized world of goods and consumers refashions luxury goods like tall clocks and weighty and imported l literary tones. you get a whole range of chairs like this philadelphia chair here with the incredible carving by a scottish immigrant thomas affleck and a whole host of chair makers. this drapes off of this. you get something made by chapin in windsor, connecticut. chapin goes to philadelphia and learns about chair making at a time. when he goes back to connecticut, he makes something
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plainer. there are a lot of different vocabularies based on what their customers desire in their homes. it is not they could not make something fancier, it is that they are targeting their mode of manufacture to appeal to the pocketbook as well as the design vocabulary of their customers. so, in my talking about refashioning instead of the very expensive john marshall life of washington, you get someone like mason weaems. he proclaims the life of george washington with the pamphlet and it gets expanded. or you also start to get portrait painters like ralph earl. earl starts out in massachusetts, then moves to
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great britain during the revolution, he is a loyalist. in 1783, he decides this is a good time to come back to the now united states. again, although he is trained in the british style, he is able to paint in a brushy mode like sir joshua reynolds. when he goes to new milford, connecticut, to paint elijah boardman, he paints an older, line flat mode. this is a huge 7 foot portrayip. it looks like he is about to step off the canvas and join us in the room. you can get james wilson who moves to not just making the 13 inch globes, but downsizes.
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this is much cheaper and less information on the globe, but ranged now in a place and at a cost that many more people could afford. so again, you are getting a wider range and hierarchy of products that are now made domestically. even to take you through the whole process with chairmaking, you start out with the brass clocks. brass is imported in the 1780s and 1790s. far more expensive these tall clocks. you get eli terry. these clockmakers don't use brass. they use a local material, wood, which is available. it doesn't work as well in a humid new england summer. the wheels will swell up and that will mean you lose time. again, it is one-fifth the price


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