April 20, 2015

Franco-Prussian War and Paris Commune Caricatures Collection Now Available in UHDL

We are pleased to announce Franco-Prussian War and Paris Commune Caricatures is now available in the UH Digital Library!

During the turbulent political period of the early 1870s in France, artists satirized the people and events around them in witty and grotesque caricatures. This collections includes 607 of these works related to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 and the Paris Commune of 1871, rendered primarily as pen and ink drawings, drawings with gouache (watercolor), and hand colored lithographs.

In July 1870, war broke out between an expanding Prussia, led by Otto von Bismarck, and an overconfident France, led by Napoleon III (the nephew of Napoleon I). After France suffered multiple defeats in battle, in September 1870 Napoleon III surrendered and the Third Republic was established. During the winter of 1870-1871 the Prussians besieged Paris, and the city’s inhabitants suffered starvation and bombardment. The beleaguered city surrendered in January 1871. A settlement was negotiated with Prussia to form a new French government, but in March 1871 a group of socialists led an insurrection against that government and established the Paris Commune. The Communards ruled the city until their defeat in May 1871. That same month, the Treaty of Frankfurt ended the Franco-Prussian War.

Many of the caricatures in this collection depict political figures from the period such as Napoleon III (referred to by his nickname Badinguet) and Adolphe Thiers (head of the provisional government). Notable artists represented include Honoré Daumier, Cham, and André Gill. The caricatures were sold as individual sheets, as sets, or included in the many newspapers produced in France at this time, and many were created during the Siege of Paris when outside news was scarce.

The original prints were donated to the UH Libraries by art patron and collector Alvin Romanksy. They are available in UH Libraries' Special Collections. Many thanks to all those who helped make this digital collection possible.

April 7, 2015

Mexico Documents Collection Now Available in UHDL

We are pleased to announce the Mexico Documents Collection is now available in the UH Digital Library!

The Mexico Documents Collection contains 162 documents (personal and official correspondence, government orders, decrees, pamphlets, and government announcements), varying from a parchment document with elaborate signature to official typed decrees from the Office of the President. Chronicling Mexico from 1570-1913, the collection spans four distinct periods of Mexican history: the Colonial Period, Mexican Independence, the Mexican-American War, and the Mexican Revolution.

A large portion of the collection is from the years between Mexican Independence (1821) and the end of the Mexican-American War (1849). Nearly all of the items are in Spanish but many have accompanying English translations. Notable individuals found in the collection include Mexican Presidents, Santa Anna de Lopez and Porfirio Diaz, and Jose Joaquin de Hererra. Additionally, some materials document American military actions in Mexico during the Mexican-American War. Lastly, there are an assortment of documents chronicling religion in Mexico as well as business and land transactions.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Mexico Documents Collection. Many thanks to all those who helped make this digital collection possible. You can find this and our many other collections here at the UH Digital Library!

February 19, 2015

Letters from the War

Through letters of correspondence, one can get a glimpse of the daily life of an age gone by. Within the UH Digital Library we are honored to house two collections of letters and one collection of photographs from crew members of the USS Houston.

The first set is from then-S1C William Slough, who joined the US Navy just before his twentieth birthday. In these letters, Slough talks about spending time in the sick bay, his supplies and equipment training, and leisure activities. He also talks about learning to love travel and his plans for the future, which included a career in the Navy and putting off marriage. In addition to the USS Houston, Slough also served on the aircraft carrier the USS Cowpens. He served throughout World War II and reached the rank of Chief Warrant Officer, continuing afterwards to serve in the Navy Reserves for 20 years. Slough married in 1939 and had two children . He died in Victoria, Texas, on Dec. 9, 1991.

Letter from S1C Slough describing the working and living conditions
in Guantanamo Bay.

The period between the sinking of the USS Houston in February of 1942 and the eventual rescuing of the prisoners in 1945 was a harrowing time for Lt. Robert Fulton. His last letter to his parents gave light to the fact that the USS Houston was hit and lost its 8-inch gun as well as 48 crew members. A few days afterwards on February 28, 1942, the ship was sunk and Lt. Fulton was soon brought to the Zentsuji POW camp. It would be three years before any of his loved ones would hear from him again or know his whereabouts. Some were worried that he was taken to Hiroshima where the atomic bomb was just dropped. Luckily, intelligence suggested that no POW camps were located at Hiroshima.

Letter from Mary Guinn to W. L. Fulton mentioning that Hiroshima
did not seem to be one of the sites of the prisoner camps.
The Navy found the locations of the POW camps through intercepted Japanese radio programming as well as the programs' contents. Somehow the prisoners were also able to send mail at some point during their captivity. Unlike some of the other POW camps, prisoners at Zentsuji were treated fairly humanely and even had some sort of education while they were locked up. Some spent their time reading books, and others even had time to learn the Japanese language. Other activities included collecting grass for the rabbits that were at the camp, and doing miscellaneous chores.

Published letters from POWs of the Zentsuji camp that talk about their
activities during captivity..

News about POWs was not always credible. During that time, despite the grief that many families were feeling there were still people that took advantage of the worried families. A warning at the bottom this letter hints that some scammers would give false information to people for a fee.

Situations were not as nice for other POWs; many were literally worked to death or close to it. while working on various projects for their Japanese captors. Unlike in the Zentsuji POW camp, prisoners of war in other camps endured heavy labor and poor living conditions. Despite all of this, soldiers kindled a sense of camaraderie with prisoners from other countries. They relied on stealing food and supplies in order to stay alive and find out how the war was going outside of the camp.

Though a lot of the prisons were out in the middle of nowhere, some were located among urban areas as well. In the story "American POWs in Saigon," by fellow U.S.S. Houston shipmate Otto Schwartz, he reveals what life was like working on the Burma/Thailand 'Death Railway'. One camp was located in French Indochina, which is now current-day Vietnam. POWs were bused regularly through the towns wearing little to no clothing while French residents were going about their normal business.

Multiple accounts tell of what happened the night when the U.S.S. Houston went down. There were also hour-by-hour accounts of the last battle of the Houston and how much of the crew went down fighting. They also account for the other eight ships that were a part of the striking force:

De Ruyter - Dutch light cruiser
Exeter - British heavy cruiser
Perth - Australian heavy cruiser
Java - Dutch light cruiser
Electra - British light cruiser
Jupiter - British destroyer
Encounter - British destroyer
Witte de Witte - Dutch destroyer
Kortenaer - Dutch destroyer
Paul Jones - American destroyer
Edsel - American destroyer
Edwards - American destroyer
Ford - American destroyer

The accounts also tell in detail what was happening with the other ships down to every attack they made and every hit they took.

Make sure you check out our USS Houston (CA-30) Photographs, Lt. Robert B. Fulton USS Houston Letters, and William Slough USS Houston Letters collection, and also check out our other wonderful collections here at the UH Digital Library.

February 11, 2015

1930 México as Photographed by Luis Márquez

Cantadores del Valle de México 
"Singers of the Mexican Valley"

The 1930 México Photographs by Luis Márquez collection is a portrayal of 1930 México and its citizens, from the local street vendors to the dancers and musicians. Using hand-tinted techniques, Márquez transforms the black and white photographs into colorful pieces of artistic photography. The images where taken in various locations of 1930 México.

Luis Márquez was born on September 25, 1899 in México. His first work was published in the magazine Nuestro México in 1932 however it wasn't until his photography was included in the May 1937 issue of National Geographic which helped Márquez gain international recognition. His photographs where reproduced as postcards and published alongside Eugenio Fischgruns work in a series of 96 postcards. One observation of the photographs is the primary use of hand-tinted earth tones by Marquez. Below are a few of the photographs by Márquez available via UHDL.

Danzantes de La Pluma 
"Dancers of The Feather"

Dazante is a popular religious dance in which the locals would give thanks to the gods for their bountiful crops and a successful harvest. The dancers adorned themselves with: a large feathered headdress or a penacho that has large mirrors placed in the middle or sides of the headdress, a multicolored vest and a heart made of fabric over the vest to signify the heart of the warrior. In the right hand they carry a sonaja de hojalata or a tin rattle and on their left they carry a Macana or a wooden shaft with a heavy metal or stone object at the end that is adorned with the colors of the Mexican flag. The photography captured by Márquez depicts the Danzantes not only as they look but the significance of the colors they wear.

Tehuana de Fiesta 
"Festive Zapotecan Dress"

The photograph shows a Mexican woman in a Tehuana which is a Zapotecan traditional dress. The dark earth tones are a contrast to the lighter tones of the flowers that she is holding and the ones adorning her Tehuana.

Vendedor de Ollas 
"Pottery Vendor"

Vendedor de Ollas is a great example of Márquez capturing in photographic form the lives of everyday citizens of 1930 Mexico.

The collection is composed of 27 hand-tinted and signed photographs by Luis Márquez. The photographs from this post came from the Luis Márquez Photographs collection. The original materials are available in the UH Libraries' Special Collections in the Governor James V. Allred Papers Visit the UH Digital Library for more collections and don't forget to share this post.