Carl Sandburg: Poet, Music Anthropologist, Lincoln Biographer

Carl Sandburg

6 January 2018

January 6th marks the 140th Anniversary of Carl Sandburg’s birth. A true 20th Century Renaissance Man, among Sandburg’s accomplishments is bringing Lincoln to life for many early 20th Century Americans in The Prairie Years and The War Years. 

 

 

Carl Sandburg as a boyBorn in 1878, by the time Carl began school, he changed his name to the “more American” Charles. One of seven children, “Charles”  left school in 8th grade to drives a milk wagon. In 1896, he procures a three-day pass to Chicago courtesy of his father’s job in the Quincy, IL railyard. He spends all three days there. By 1878, he is gone for Galesburg.

He spent the next years drifting; riding the rails. He is the quintessential hobo of the day. He must have made a rookie mistake in 1902. Arrested in Pennsylvania, he sat in jail for a week because he couldn’t pay his fare. He served for 8 months in the Spanish American War, tried college home in Illinois, was booted out of West Point-ironically because he flunked is first grammar exam, then worked a variety of jobs, intermittently.

Somewhere along the way he learned to play guitar. He began collecting the local folk songs he heard and he interviewed people. He wrote songs about their lives, too. Music would be a lifelong love for him. A musician would be a wonderful diversion around a hobo camp; a rallying siren on the campaign trail, too. He wrote poetry as the landscape flew past. The musical rhythm of the rails and his wanderlust were at the beginning of their lifelong friendship.

He re-enrolled at Lombard College. Philip Green Wright, an economics professor who would go on to teach at Harvard, strongly supports his efforts. Additionally, Wright moonlighted as a poet, too as well as a printing hobbyist. Sandburg begins to write in earnest. He leaves college without a degree but with a new a sense of what he wants to do.

It was a time in our history when people gathered to hear lectures and talks by professional orators. Chicago’s Bug House Square, across from the Newberry Library, served this purpose. Sandburg joined a travelling lecture circuit. He sang songs, gave talks, and sold little pamphlets printed by Wright. These reprints of his lectures included a few pages of his own poetry.

By 1904, professor Wright publishes Sandburg’s first collection of only poetry, In Reckless Ecstasy. The same year, his poetry and prose volume Incidentals went on the letterpress. Others followed, but few sales did.

In 1907, Sandburg is hired to speak in Racine, WI. The Social-Democratic Party leader is so impressed that he gives Sandburg a party organizer job. For the next five years, Sandburg campaigned for the party; working especially hard to reform child labor laws. Carl is again riding the rails, but this time as a paying customer! He crisscrosses the state campaigning for Socialist causes.

Carl Sandburg and Lillian Steichen arrived in Milwaukee on the same day that winter. Lillian was saying good bye to her friends at party headquarters. After, she would go home to her teaching job in Princeton, IL. Later that year, after countless letters-sometimes even two a day-Lillian and Charles were married in Milwaukee.

Carl and Lillian Sandburg

Lillian Steichen’s brother was Edward Steichen, the important American photographer. Steichen’s work influenced American citizen involvement in both world wars. He also is responsible for elevating fashion photography to an art form; as well as being a painter and a curator. From Vogue to Victory, he was truly a photographer’s photographer. It was Edward who was the go-between when Edward and Lillian’s parents strongly objected to a mere political organizer and poet with an arrest record marrying their University of Chicago-educated, Phi Betta Kappa daughter. Carl, Lillian and Edward had a lifelong bond forged in respect and love.

The Sandburgs lived in many places in Wisconsin-Milwaukee,  Wauwatosa, and Appleton. He continued to self-publish poetry and prose, with little success. Lillian bred chickens and expanded her skills as an amateur geneticist and farmer.

By 1910 Carl’s dedication helps fuel a Socialist victory. Their candidate, Emil Seidel, won the Milwaukee mayoral race. Sandburg is appointed Secretary to the Mayor. In his spare time, he began experimenting with rugged, unorthodox free verse. He is inspired by the lives of the working people and the places he sees daily. That summer the Sandburg’s daughter, Margaret is born.

By 1912, frustrated with the plodding pace of reform, Sandburg takes writing jobs in Chicago. He will be working for two Socialist publications. Both published his poetry, too. The family moved to Ravenswood; a neighborhood near the north branch of the Chicago river. Their little home stands today and is only a few blocks from where Mayor Rahm Emmanuel lives today.

Carl Sandburg Home Chicago, IL

That spring, Chicago hosted the International Exposition of Modern Art—the infamous Armory Show. Even though it had been severely toned down from the New York version, the Chicago debut left art lovers shocked and disgusted. Works like DuChamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase caused the scandal to reach the governor’s office. The White Slavery Commission investigated.

But, soon the breezes of change would be blowing through the entire cultural landscape of Chicago and beyond.

1913 would prove a turning point in Sandburg’s life in many ways. He was hired by The Day Book,and was free to write what he wanted, eventually publishing over 100 columns. He picked up a freelance job, too. It meant he could support his family and write poetry at night. That was the writing that gave him the deepest satisfaction. By the summer of 1913, Sandburg has written the poem he titled Chicago.

In the fall, Sandburg’s second child, Madeline, dies during her birth; Carl is fired from The Day Book. When Lillian submits Chicago toThe American Magazine, the poem is rejected.

That winter, the couple chose nine poems to submit to Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.
Dedicated to only poetry and edited by Chicago Art and Culture denizen, Harriet Monroe, the magazine was funded by wealthy Chicagoans. Moore, who I like to think of as the grandmother of the poetry slam, accepted six of his poems for the March 1914 issue.

Poetry Magazine Spring 1914No mention of this era, dubbed “The Chicago Renaissance” would be complete without mentioning the Dill Pickle Club. Located in an alley, in Little Hell-the neighborhood we now call The Gold Coast-the club was a local hang-out frequented by the bohemians and free-thinkers that populated Chicago in those days. Carl became a long-time member of a scene that included Vachel Lindsay, Upton Sinclair and other Chicago literati and artists. I can imagine Sandburg and Lindsay sharing mad beats over strong whiskey late into the night.

The Sandburgs anxiously awaited the March issue of Poetry.The reviews were not good. Readers objected to the brutality.The Dial,another Chicago literary magazine, found “no trace of beauty in the ragged lines.” It was like The Armory Show, except for Poetry!

But, as people started to understand the more modern tone that was sweeping through art and literature, opinions about Sandburg’s work changed. Later that year, Alfred Harcourt, from Henry Holt publishing, read the manuscript for Chicago Poems. He loved it and recommended it for publication.

Carl Sandburg Chicago PoemsSandburg’s Chicago Poems saw its first printing in 1916. It is still in print today. In June of that year, Sandburg’s daughter, Janet was born.

With his chops as a writer firmly established, Sandburg started working as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News late in 1917. He would stay for thirteen years. The only time he left Chicago during his tenure was in 1918. His daughter, Helga was born while he was away covering World War I.

In 1919, he shared the National Poetry Society of America Prize (the forerunner of the official Pulitzer Prize) for Cornhuskers.He adds the title Film Critic to his job at the Chicago Daily News.

In the years from the publication of Chicago Poems to the day he left the Chicago Daily News, he published a dozen other works; including poetry, prose, children’s books, folk music anthologies and his biography of Lincoln’s early life, The Prairie Years.

The success of The Prairie Years allowed Sandburg to write full time. By the late 20s the family had moved to Michigan. Lillian wanted a small farm. Her skills in animal husbandry created two of her chicken breeds, both are prized even today. It was Carl’s idea that she raise dairy goats and Michigan was a much better place than the Chicago area for that. Carl would commute to Chicago on the train a few days a week.

Carl Sandburg The Prairie Years & The War YearsSandburg’s obsession with Lincoln–there was a fireproof vault in his home where he kept his Lincoln papers–drove him to finish Lincoln’s life story. The War Years, dominated his creative life until its completion in 1939. It was during this time he began to frequent Abraham Lincoln Book Shop. Carl was part of the original circle of Civil War and Lincoln enthusiasts that included authors Bruce Cat­ton, Otto Eisenschiml, E. B. ‘Pete’ Long, Stanley Horn, Lloyd Lewis, and T. Harry Williams, Illinois Governor Otto Kerner and William O. Douglas, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. The logo inside The Prairie Years inspired our logo, too.  Sandburg received his second Pulitzer Prize for the four-volume work in 1940.

The next three decades brought not only The War Years, but over 40 other titles ranging from biography, children’s books, musical anthology, poetry. Trying a new genre, his only novel, Remembrance Rock joined the list. Sandburg also garnered his first film credit during World War II. He wrote the script for Bomber, a 1941 film documentary detailing the manufacturing of warplanes.

Steichen The PhotographerSandburg was thrilled to work on projects with Edward Steichen during this era, too, Sandburg wrote the text for Steichen: The Photographer and collaborated on Road to Victory, Steichen’s World War II photographic exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. Sandburg’s authored the interpretive panels and the companion book to the exhibit. Hastily assembled in the months following the bombing of Pearl Harbor,  it showed people how they could aid the war effort.

By 1945, the Sandburg family moved to their beloved home, Connemara, in Flat Rock, NC. It was primarily at Lillian’s desire, for the benefit of the goat farm. It had greener pastures and a longer growing season. Eventually she would found two goat breeds. Both thrive today at Connermara and are prized for their milk. Carl continued to publish poetry, prose, children’s books, and a couple of autobiographies. An elder bard of the era, his popularity only increased. His Complete Poems earned him his third Pulitzer Prize in 1951.

Edward Steichen honored his brother-in-law’s literary accomplishments In 1953. Steichen organized a photographic exhibit featuring the works of talented your imagists. The exhibit was titled Always the Young Strangers, after Sandburg’s then just-released book.

After World War II, Steichen served as the Director of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art. During his tenure, Carl wrote the text for the exhibition catalog for Steichen’s acclaimed Family of Man exhibit. Opening in 1955, this vast collection includes over 500 photos depicting life, love and death in 68 countries. The exhibit has a permanent home in northern Luxembourg.

In 1958, Sandburg appeared at the parole hearing of Nathan Leopold. Leopold’s attorney, Elmer Gertz, had defended Henry Miller and Jack Ruby. Ever the strong advocate of reform, we will never know what Sandburg said because the stenographer’s machine jammed during his testimony. However, Leopold was granted parole and shortly after left the country forever.

The World of Carl SandburgThe 1960’s saw the stage production of The World of Carl Sandburg, he even had a cameo at the end of the show. Also during the era, he campaigned tirelessly for John F. Kennedy. Mid-decade the last book in his lifetime, Honey and Salt was released, he also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon Johnson. 

The Civil War Centennial provided ample speaking and singing invitations, too. Collecting the music he heard as he travelled gave him fodder for his three enormously popular musical anthologies. In the process, he saved a great deal of regional music from being lost forever.

Carl Sandburg died in 1967 at his beloved Connermara. His ashes are entombed at the home in Galesburg, under a boulder called Remembrance Rock. Lillian is there, too. The brick path to the rock is lined with flagstones that bear quotes from popular Sandburg poems.

Sandburg’s daughters carried on their parent’s legacies in both writing and animal husbandry. Embraced by  his hometown, Galesburg hosts Sandburg Days every spring. Connermara was the first National Park Site dedicated to a poet. It even has goats!

Two Goats

Sandburg himself would probably be most proud of Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg. Sandburg and Philip Green Wright envisioned such a college. They saw “a college, where people of all ages could learn everything from literature and art to metalworking and beekeeping.” It held its first classes in the fall of 1967; a few months after Sandburg’s death. It still has a similar mission today.

For me, he is the true 20th Century Renaissance man; a flaneur of culture. He wanders among it, collecting the things he loves, making them his own and then sharing them so we can learn to love them, too. 

Abraham Lincoln Book Shop has many wonderful Carl Sandburg items. If you come to the shop and sit on all the chairs at our round table you will surely sit in a chair that Carl occupied during one of his many visits to the book shop.

Take a look at our Carl Sandburg offerings today!

M. Sylvia Castle

 

Our Partnership with
Shattered Globe Theatre

The Heavens Are Hung in Black

18 September 2017

Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, Inc. is happy to announce a partnership with Shattered Globe Theatre. Their current production, The Heavens are Hung In Black, examines Abraham Lincoln’s days between the death of Willie Lincoln and the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Celebrating its debut in Illinois, The Heavens are Hung In Black was commissioned by Ford’s Theater for the grand re-opening of the theater in 2009. It is James Still’s personal interpretation on the months leading up to Abraham Lincoln’s signing of The Emancipation Proclamation. This theatrical epic explores Lincoln’s humanity, conscience and leadership through the troubled times of 1862 – as dreams of his famous adversaries and unnamed soldiers walk through his waking life. Sprinkled with text pulled from Lincoln’s prolific letters and speeches, this play explores the heart of the man who led America in a war that we’re still fighting today.

Friend of the book shop, and Pritzker Military Library Alum, Ed Tracy, had this to say about the show:

“…searing and profound production that reveals Lincoln’s anguish and intense personal conflict.”

Director, James Contey, and Lawrence Grimm, the actor portraying Lincoln, joined us at the book shop to talk about the play.

 

Daniel Weinberg, president Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, will be giving a talk after the matinee performance on October 8.

Also, we are recommending two books to enhance your experience with the show. Burrus Carnahan’s Act of Justice, shows how Lincoln used the war powers of the presidency to facilitate and seal the fate of emancipation. We are also recommending George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo, this moving and original father-son story features none other than Abraham Lincoln; as well as an unforgettable cast of supporting characters-living and dead, historical and invented. Soon to be a major motion picture, Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman acquired movie rights to the book in the spring of 2017.

Chicago has a long history of storefront theatres, and Shattered Globe Theatre is part of that legacy. Founded in 1991, Shattered Globe is committed to ensemble of artists and ensemble-based storytelling. They have produced more than 60 plays, including nine American and World premieres, and have garnered an impressive 42 Jeff Awards and 102 Jeff Award Nominations, as well as the acclaim of critics and audiences alike. Shattered Globe Theatre brings its audiences dynamic re-imaginings of classic works, as well as premiere productions that celebrate new voices and innovative viewpoints.

James Still is a four-time nominee for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Three of his plays have received the Distinguished Play Award from the American Alliance for Theatre & Education. His plays have been developed and workshopped at Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute Lab, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, the New Harmony Project, The Lark, New Visions/New Voices at the Kennedy Center, the Bonderman New Play Symposium, the Perry-Mansfield New Works Festival, the Telluride Playwright’s Festival, and the Colorado New Play Summit. In 2015, his The Widow Lincoln, debuted at Ford’s Theatre.

The play runs through October 21st. Two for one tickets are available at Shattered Globe’s website. Use the code “Books” at checkout.

 

Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial

Gwendolyn Brooks

Chicago is all abuzz about the Centennial of Gwendolyn Brooks’ birthday. One of the most highly regarded, highly influential, and widely read poets of 20th-century American poetry, Brooks was a much-honored poet, even in her lifetime, with the distinction of being the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize.

Born in Topeka Kansas in 1917, she was six weeks old when her parents moved to Chicago. She would remain here until the end of her life. She sounds like many of today’s Chicagoans when she said “I am an organic Chicagoan. Living there has given me a multiplicity of characters to aspire for. I hope to live there the rest of my days. That’s my headquarters.”

Her parents encouraged her writing skills and by the young age of 13 she had published her first poem, Eventide, in a popular children’s magazine, American Childhood. By the time she was 17, the Chicago Defender would be publishing her work regularly.

George E. Kent, critic, and Professor of English at the University of Chicago, said it best when he commented that Brooks occupied “a unique position in American letters. Not only has she combined a strong commitment to racial identity and equality with a mastery of poetic techniques, but she has also managed to bridge the gap between the academic poets of her generation in the 1940s and the young black militant writers of the 1960s.”

Brooks once described her style as “folksy narrative,” but she varied her forms, using free verse, sonnets, and other models. Brooks first collection of poetry,  A Street in Bronzeville captures the  spirit and the essence of the Bronzeville neighborhood perfectly. A destination for many African-American people during the Great Migration, the neighborhood today includes the Black-Metropolis-Bronzeville District. The heart of the Chicago blues and jazz scene in the early 20th Century, this area includes many buildings included on the National Register of Historic Places, and nine buildings that appear on the Chicago Landmarks list, including the Chicago Defender Building. It is a neighborhood rich with African-American history and culture.

In 1950, Brooks received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for her book Annie Allen. The poem traces the changes a young woman experiences as she moves from youthful dreams to the reality of married life. We see Annie Allen grow from childhood to womanhood in an atmosphere conditioned by poverty, racial discrimination, parental expectations, and unhappiness.

In 1953, her only novel, Maud Martha was published. It has been called a “fragmented, poetic narrative;” it again traces the life of a woman as she navigates the passage from childhood to adulthood in black Chicago neighbourhoods.

Just as her first poems reflected the mood of their era, her later works mirrored their time and the horror that racism, sexism and  indifference brought to the community. The title poem of her book,  In The Mecca is a heart-wrenching work that details a woman’s search for her lost child through Chicago’s Mecca Flats. The Mecca Flats was originally a posh hotel for visitors to the World Columbian Exposition, but by 1940 it had become a crowded and dangerous place; that many still called home. A victim of urban renewal, the building was demolished in 1952 to make way for the expansion of IIT.

In 1967, Brooks was commissioned to write a poem for the dedication of Chicago’s Picasso Sculpture, another Chicago institution that is enjoying an anniversary this year.

Brooks continued to work for the rest of her life. Her work matured in the direction of a stronger political stance. Brooks’ poems featured political subjects and figures, such as South African activist Winnie Mandela, the onetime wife of anti-apartheid leader—and later president of the country—Nelson Mandela.

Not just a poet, Brooks was an educator who took her mission seriously. She taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, City College of New York, Columbia College of Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, and Elmhurst College. She was awarded over 75 honorary doctorates during her lifetime and won numerous literary awards.

At the time of her death in late 2000,  Ms. Brooks was the Distinguished Professor of English at Chicago State University and the Poet Laureate of Illinois, a position she had held since 1968.

There are many Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial events planned throughout the city this year. The Poetry Foundation has a comprehensive exhibit that includes Brooks’ scrapbooks, personal writings (she was a chronicler of her own life) as well and much correspondence from other African-American poets and publishing houses. Additionally, The Poetry Foundation has commissioned a play on Brooks’ life. Titled No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, it debuts at The Harold Washington Library Center in November. Produced by Manual Cinema-a creative endeavor that is part design studio, part theatre company-the performance combines intricate paper puppetry, live actors working in shadow, and an original score. Other Chicago venues celebrating Brooks include include the Art Institute, The Newberry Library and Harold Washington Chicago Public Library.  You can learn more at Our Miss Brooks 100.

We Are ShiningOur Author’s Voice network contributed to the celebration. LadyBird & Friends featured a just released version of Brooks’ poem, We Are Shining. This powerful picture book is a celebration of the diversity of our world. Illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist (our guest on the program, below), this life-affirming poem reminds all of us that “Life is for us, and it is shining. We have a right to sing.”  We have a very few signed, first edition copies of this fine book available. Order at AuthorsVoice.net.

Watch the program below:

 

Iannelli Bust to Be Reproduced, Displayed in Paris!

Alphonso Iannelli Abraham Lincoln Bust

31 July 2017

One of the most rewarding parts of our jobs here are Abraham Lincoln Book Shop is the opportunity to find the right homes for the objects that come through the shop. What’s even more rewarding is learning what happens to these objects after they leave our hands.

Today’s Chicago Tribune brings us news that one of our favorite and most rewarding placements will bring joy to even more people!

While de-camping from our Chicago Ave. shop a two winters ago, we had the opportunity to place a Lincoln bust created my modernist Alphonso Iannelli. Iannelli was a student of Gutzon Borglum and has strong Chicago roots.

From 1912 to 1915, Iannelli designed posters for the vaudeville acts appearing at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. There he met Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1914, Wright convinced him to come to Chicago to work on the Midway Gardens. Iannelli is the man behind the still-popular Sprites. He designed many of the structures at the Century of Progress Chicago World’s Fair, too.

Later he opened studio with his wife, Margaret in Park Ridge IL. Together, they expanded into commercial design, advertising, product design and architectural interiors. Local venues, including his studio, and two theaters designed by him still stand today. Visitors to Chicago can see his work at the Adler Planetarium; as well as the carving at One Prudential Plaza, on Randolph St.

Alfonso and Margaret were the subject of a well-attended, months-long Messengers of Modernism exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2013. Our own M. Sylvia Castle, a fan of modernism and Chicago’s role in bringing it to the world,  attended the exhibit. Iannelli’s Park Ridge studio was acquired by the Kalo Foundation in 2001. It is now part of The Kalo Arts and Crafts Community House, a well-respected center for silversmithing and other disciplines of The Arts & Crafts movement.

Visiting the exhibit sparked her interest in The Kalo Foundation in Park Ridge, IL. Imagine her surprise when when she saw this membership brochure.

Alphonso Iannelli Abraham Lincoln Bust

She had been walking past the bust used on the brochure every, single day for years! Daniel Weinberg, the shop’s owner had acquired it from a long-shuttered gallery in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood.

Sylvia’s regular habit of attending First Fridays,  a monthly mass gallery opening the shop’s old neighborhood acquainted her with David Jameson, a dealer in modernist and architectural drawings. Jameson was also an expert in the works of Iannelli. He is the author of Alfonso Iannelli: Modern By Design. It was with David’s help that we confirmed that the Lincoln bust that had for years, welcomed visitors to the book shop, was indeed a modernist treasure.

As we started to pack and ready things for moving out of the old shop it became obvious that the best thing we could do is place as many things as we possibly could. The stress on these objects-the packing, the storing expense and environment, the unpacking-can damage them. We had spoken to the Kalo Foundation previously about the Lincoln bust; but they are a small operation with a limited budget. The move gave us all an opportunity to finally send Mr. Lincoln home to Kalo.

That brings us to today’s news. Thanks to Judy Barclay and the Paris-Chicago Sister City Committee the Iannelli bust is being replicated. The replica travelling to Paris! We are thrilled to play a small role in this success!

In his interpretation of Lincoln, Iannelli has a much different opinion of Lincoln than many of his predecessors and peers. Of the Lincoln art of the day, Iannelli said “I wish they appreciated the depth and the bigness, the loftiness of the character of Lincoln. If they did, how could they put up a building like this to commemorate him?” He was no fan of the Greco-Roman ideal that so dominated public monuments of the day.

Iannelli’s sculpture captures Lincoln as a human and not the godlike image so popular of that era. In a time dominated by formal, Romanesque renderings of Lincoln, this has an evocative, hand-wrought quality seldom seen in the early 20th Century. It is Lincoln at his informal, yet deeply serious and ponderous best. It is the very early modernist, Iannelli, deeply considering and responding to the very modern (for his era) Abraham Lincoln.

Modernism’s objective was to be a great equalizer—to bring beauty and design to the masses. The goal of Emancipation was equality—bringing freedom to the masses. Dying almost a century apart, the two men shared a mission.

Bon Voyage, Monsieur Iannelli!

Learn More About The Kalo Foundation

Learn More about the Paris replica in the Chicago Tribune.

Memorial Day at Chicago’s Rosehill Cemetery

Everett Monument Rosehill Cemetery

30 May 2017

Yesterday was Memorial Day.

The usual story about it’s origin is that the holiday was started by Union General John Logan. Logan was commander-in-chief of a Union veterans’ organization called the Grand Army of the Republic. Logan issued a decree establishing what was then called “Decoration Day” on May 5, 1868.  The day was “designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

John Logan is a well-known Chicago figure. He has a boulevard and a neighborhood named after him; as well as a statue in Grant Park.

Another important Chicago landmark related to the Civil War is Rosehill Cemetery. Dedicated in 1864, the cemetery is the final resting place to over 350 Civil War veterans. Yesterday, as with all Memorial Days at Rosehill, was a day of honoring our soldiers from all wars. There are speeches, a parade, and a 21-gun salute. One of the most moving events in the program encourages attendees to plant flags at the graves of the soldiers.

Our own Bjorn Skaptason shared this from yesterday’s program:

Bjorn Memorial Day

The Civil War lives in every corner of Chicago, In many ways, all of us who work here are always working. Bjorn’s text from yesterday, shows that.

We all wish you and all your loved ones a joyous summer. While you’re having fun, please remember the soldiers and sailors that gave their lives for you.

Lincoln’s Journey Home

Lincoln Funeral Silk Ribbon

3 May 2017

On this date 152 years ago Lincoln’s body was lying in state here in Chicago. Throughout the day-at a rate of 7,000 per hour-mourners filed past the casket paying their final respects to President Lincoln. That evening, the Lincoln Funeral Train would make the last portion of it’s journey home to Springfield, IL.

The Tribune solemnly reported, “Our father, our friend, our deliverer, is dead; the first outthrust of grief, great, overwhelming, though it were, was yet broken by the excitement of the occasion, and our subsequent wailings even have not been without sad interest.  But now that the form is forever departed, naught save the memory of the man remains, now comes the rank desolation and sorrow, which though not so demonstrative, is more affective.  The head of the nation, of the race, is gone from among us – even his form has departed.  We mourn him now as indeed gone; the place which knew him so long, shall know him no more forever.”  

Back in 2015, during the marking of the Lincoln Sesquicentennial, Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, Inc. organized and staged a commemorative event marking the anniversary of the Lincoln funeral train’s arrival in Chicago. Watch the video of our program:

Block Museum Receives Steichen Gift

Steichen and Sandburg

May 1, 2017

Followers of Carl Sandburg and his family will be happy to know that Northwestern University’s Block Museum of Art has just received a major gift of Edward Steichen’s photographs. These 44 photographs are a gift from Richard and Jackie Hollander.

These silver gelatin and platinum prints by the the iconic photographer are the second gift to the Block from the Hollanders. In 2013, they gifted the Block with 49 other Steichen photographs. The photographs were printed by the artist himself, bringing value as well as the artist’s true vision to the images.

Steichen is credited with elevating fashion photography to an art; as well as being a painter and a curator. His command of units dedicated to military photography in both World Wars helped win those wars. From Vogue to Victory, he was a “photographer’s photographer.”

Lillian Steichen, Carl Sandburg’s wife was Edward Steichen’s brother. Edward and Carl were lifelong friends. Edward went to bat for the couple when his parents objected to their University of Chicago-educated, Phi Betta Kappa daughter marrying a poet-drifter with a community organizer job. 

Sandburg wrote the text for Steichen: The Photographer and collaborated on Road to Victory, Steichen’s World War II photographic exhibit at the MOMA. Sandburg’s contribution also included writing the book that accompanied the exhibit.  Carl also wrote the text for the exhibition catalog for Steichen’s acclaimed Family of Man exhibit. Opening in 1955, this vast collection includes over 500 photos depicting life, love and death in 68 countries. The exhibit has a permanent home in northern Luxembourg, Steichen’s country of origin.

Learn more about the photographs and the Block Museum of Art.

 

Of Local Interest Art Young at Loyola University’s Cudahy Library

Art Young Cartoon

10 March 2017

Anthony Mourek, long time friend, colleague and fellow Manuscript Society member, collects the political cartoons of Art Young. His collection is featured in an exhibit at the Cudahy Library, 6515 N. Kenmore Avenue, Chicago. The library is on the Lakeshore campus of Loyola University. Closing on March 31, we urge you to go see it!

Art Young (1866-1943) stood as a central figure in the most important magazines of art and politics of his time, including The Masses, The Liberator and his own brilliant, if short lived, humor magazine Good Morning. He was a contributor to Life, Puck, Judge, Metropolitan Magazine, The Nation. 

His non-factional politics and humanitarian vision, combined with a mischievously subversive sense of humor, also made Art Young uniquely capable of reaching well into the mainstream of American journalism.

Life in the White House

A White House Diary

8 March 2017

Every family goes through a big adjustment when moving. The President (and his family, most of the time) are not exempt from that adjustment. Moving into a place dubbed The People’s House is daunting. Making it even more difficult is the fact that it is really only temporary.  Making a home among all that history would leave anyone off balance at the very least.

Read what Lady Bird Johnson had to say about it in A White House Diary.

Here is a great round-up of some of the accounts of life in the White House from Lapham’s Quarterly.

Nicolay and Hay, and Their “Other” Lincoln

Nicolay and Hay Abraham Lincoln: A History

16 March 2016

Abraham Lincoln: A History, by President Lincoln’s private secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay, stands even today as the most massive single work ever written on the sixteenth president. The publication of the ten-volume set by the Century Company in 1890 gave the public the first comprehensive life based upon Lincoln’s own papers – papers that Robert Todd Lincoln made exclusively available to Nicolay and Hay. No other biographers had access to these papers until James G. Randall in 1947. The list of great Lincoln writers who did not have access to Robert’s collection includes Albert Beveridge and Carl Sandburg.

The publication of the ten volumes in well-known green cloth binding did not, however, represent the first opportunity for the public to sample the work.  Century Magazine, the publication that created the famous compilation, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, published the chapters of Abraham Lincoln: A History serially during the 1880’s.  By the time students of Abraham Lincoln’s life read Nicolay and Hay in 1890, they could already have read much of the story in the Century.  The serialized version was not an exact reprint of what came later.  In fact a third contributor to the project, editor Richard Gilder, effected the Century version of each chapter substantially.  Gilder received drafts from Nicolay and Hay – or in some cases Nicolay or Hay, because while the authors collaborated on some sections they wrote other chapters independently of each other – and then fashioned them for the magazine.  Of especial concern to Gilder were certain long sections describing the Civil War from the authors’ pointedly Unionist perspective.  Since Century was a national publication Gilder made changes to soften criticism of the Confederacy, and to focus on Lincoln as a unifier rather than a warrior-president.

It is exceedingly difficult to acquire a full-length copy of this “Gilder” version of Nicolay and Hay.  To do so almost requires finding a set that a loyal Century subscriber personally collected and bound at the time they were released.  The set we are offering now is bound in slightly non-matching ¾ leather spines, with cloth boards and marbled end pages.  The condition of all the volumes are very good. There are other copies of the “Gilder” version on the market, but because each set was personally curated by a collector at the time of publication each set is essentially one-of-a-kind.