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em>All-Star Games of years past that were played in Washington were full of history: the historic arrival of a president, the effective end of a great pitcher’s career, a media campaign to pack the starting lineup, the first all-star Most Valuable Player award, and an announced starting pitcher who missed the start of the game because of his teeth.
As baseball fans prepare for the 89th All-Star Game, in the nation’s capital on July 17, 2018, many will be unaware of the history made the first time the game was played in Washington. The historic moment arrived even before the first pitch was thrown in Griffith Stadium on July 7, 1937, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The All-Star Game, including FDR’s arrival to the stadium, was filmed by a Washington Senators player, Jimmie DeShong, whose family donated the video to the Pennsylvania State Archives.
Jimmie DeShong Motion Picture Film (1937) featuring Franklin Delano Roosevelt walking - YouTube
President Franklin Roosevelt attends the All-Star game at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., on July 7, 1937. Pennsylvania State Archives, MG-254 Audio Visual Collection, Jimmie DeShong Motion Picture Film (1937).
Following the 1937 game, Washington hosted the all-stars in 1956, 1962, and 1969.
This year’s game at Nationals Park should break a tie. The National and American leagues each have won 43 games, and two ended in ties.
Program from the 1937 All-Star Game. Eleanor Linkous Washington, D.C. Sports Memorabilia Collection, 1925–1956, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.American League All-Star Team, Griffith Stadium, Washington, D.C., July 7, 1937. Photograph by Harrison & Ewing. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Lou Gehrig, Joe Cronin, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Charlie Gehringer, Jimmie Foxx, and Hank Greenberg gather on the field for the fifth annual All-Star Game.
The 1937 game was no contest, as the American League—starting with Lou Gehrig’s two-run homer—dominated in an 8-3 victory led by five New York Yankee starters. But the most important play seemed pretty uneventful at the time. Cleveland’s Earl Averill hit a ball up the middle that broke St. Louis Cardinal pitcher Dizzy Dean’s toe. "Dean returned to action too soon," wrote Joel Zoss and John S. Bowman in The History of Major League Baseball, "and in favoring the painful foot he changed his pitching motion, placing an unnatural strain on his arm which eventually ruined it." After seasons of 20, 30, 28, and 24 wins, he only won 17 of his career 150 victories after the injury.
Program from the 1956 All-Star Game. Eleanor Linkous Washington, D.C. Sports Memorabilia Collection, 1925–1956, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
The players who participated in the 1937 teams were chosen by American League manager Joe McCarthy of the Yankees and National League skipper Bill Terry of the Giants—a change from the fan-picked teams who voted with newspaper ballots. Five of McCarthy’s starting nine were Yankees, and except for Yanks pitcher Lefty Gomez, all starters played the entire game. One headline sarcastically read "Yankees Win Another," as Bill Dickey, Gehrig, Red Rolfe, and Joe DiMaggio combined for seven hits. Washington fans never got to see their all-stars play. McCarthy didn’t use Senators’ catcher Rick Ferrell, his brother Wes, a pitcher, or second baseman Buddy Myer.
Stan Musial played in 24 all-star games. This is his Cardinals jersey from the museum’s collections.
In the 1956 game, it was the Cincinnati Reds with five starters chosen by the fans in a media-organized ballot campaign. The Nationals won 7-3, but Reds power hitters Frank Robinson, Gus Bell, and Ed Bailey were hitless. While six of the National League’s 11 hits came from Reds players, the winners’ lineup was powered by home runs from Willie Mays and Stan Musial. Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams homered for the losers.
Ted Williams played in 18 all-star gamesHat worn by Ted Williams
Six of the 38 players who appeared in the 1956 game were African Americans: Robinson, Mays, Roy Campanella, and Hank Aaron for the Nationals and Vic Power and Harry Simpson for the Americans. The Nationals had three other African Americans players who didn’t play, including eventual Hall-of-Famer Ernie Banks of the Cubs. "The National League, the oldest and presumably the more mature, has three times as many colored players in its ranks than has the junior American League," reported the Baltimore Afro-American.
The first two All-Star games in the capital were at Griffith Stadium, where the capacity attendance for the 1956 contest was 28,843. But in 1961, the original Senators moved to Minnesota and Washington had both an expansion team and a new stadium—filled with 45,480 fans for the 1962 game.
President John F. Kennedy threw out the ceremonial pitch and both teams had a roster of home-run hitters, but the key to the National League’s 3-1 victory was the Dodgers’ speedy shortstop Maury Wills. He entered the game in the sixth inning as a pinch runner, stole second, and scored on a single. He singled in the eighth, and went to third on another single. He scored again on a foul popup. Wills savored the first-ever Most Valuable Player award for an all-star game and kept on running, until he reached a season record of 104 steals that broke Ty Cobb’s record of 96.
By the 1969 game, the District of Columbia Stadium had been renamed in honor of the slain Robert F. Kennedy. The National League won, 9-3, but the game became notable before it started: The designated American League starting pitcher, Detroit’s Denny McLain, hadn’t arrived at game time. The game had been postponed by rain the previous night. McClain, a pilot who had landed his plane in time for the original start, flew back to Detroit to have nine teeth capped the morning of the rescheduled game. He piloted his plane back to the capital on game day, but missed the start by 15 minutes. McLain entered the game in the fourth inning when the victors already had an 8-2 lead—including two-run homers by Cincinnati’s Johnny Bench and Willie McCovey of the Giants. McCovey also hit a second home run—with McLain on the mound.
Larry Margasak is a retired Washington journalist and volunteer at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. He previously has written on New York in the last half of the 1800s through the eyes of piano manufacturer William Steinway, Steinway’s attendance at a Giants-Reds game at the Polo Grounds in 1894 and the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
Join us on July 13, 2018, for Giving and the Game, part of the All-Star Baseball Film Festival. Celebrate and explore Latino baseball culture and the impact of baseball on communities with baseball players and leaders, philanthropists, and historians. The program is made possible by the Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative, a grantmaking program of Fidelity Charitable, through the museum’s Philanthropy Initiative. The initiative is also made possible by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and David M. Rubenstein. In addition, Giving and the Game is supported through a partnership with the Smithsonian Latino Center and La Vida Baseball.
"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."
Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics, recited this oath at the first Special Olympics International Summer Games, held in Chicago in 1968. In her opening ceremonies address, she emphasized that children with intellectual disabilities can be exceptional athletes. "Through sports," she said, "they can realize their potential for growth."
Eunice Kennedy Shriver at the first Special Olympics International Summer Games, Chicago, 1968. Courtesy of Special Olympics International.
At its 50th anniversary, Special Olympics brings together 4.9 million athletes in 172 countries with its mission to "provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities."
As a curator with the sports collection, I collect several different objects, from many different sports and from a variety of athletes. In 2016 a team from Special Olympics met to discuss the 50th anniversary of the organization and the possible donation of materials related to the beginnings of Special Olympics. I was particularly excited to begin collecting objects because I have a personal connection. I was a volunteer with Special Olympics when I was a teenager, as were my kids. In addition, my sister-in-law was a Special Olympics athlete in the 1970s and 1980s. I had collected a couple of medals and a trophy from her for the museum, but that was as far as our Special Olympics collection went.
With the 50th anniversary approaching, I met Special Olympics athletes and camp counselors from the original organization created by Eunice Kennedy Shriver—Camp Shriver. The idea for Special Olympics began in Shriver's Maryland backyard in 1962 with a group of children with intellectual disabilities interacting through play, with camp counselors from the local high school. Through sports, Shriver was changing the way people acted and reacted toward people who had intellectual disabilities. By 1968 Shriver had organized the first Special Olympics International Summer Games at Soldier Field in Chicago and introduced the world to the idea of inclusion through sports.
Camp Shriver at Shriver's Timberlawn estate, 1962. Courtesy of Mary Hammerbacher Manner.Camp Shriver at Shriver's Timberlawn estate, 1962. Courtesy of Mary Hammerbacher Manner.
I met with a few of the counselors, now in their 70s, and talked about those early days at Shriver's Timberlawn estate in Bethesda, Maryland. The counselors were trained in how to interact with the "mentally retarded," as people with intellectual disabilities were called at the time, but were not sure what to expect until the first kids arrived at the camp. Kids and counselors hit it off right away, learning from each other and creating close bonds.
Most of the kids rode buses from Washington, D.C., and this was for many of them their first exposure to swimming, canoeing, horseback riding, and structured gaming. The counselors still remember the names of the campers they worked with each year at the camp. I was able to collect a lot of material from the counselors, such as song sheets, camp schedules, instructional manuals for game-playing for people with intellectual disabilities, handmade ribbons, trophies, and artwork made by campers and counselors alike. There were also special awards and pins given by Eunice Kennedy Shriver to the counselors for their participation in the program.
Camp counselors at Camp Shriver with camp kids in 1962. Courtesy of Mary Hammerbacher Manner.Photo of a handmade award. A red piece of paper is cut into a circle with a blue ribbon. It says "Special award for individualism to Mary" in marker
Collecting from Special Olympics athletes and their families was important in order to get a complete picture of Special Olympics and its impact on the community. Dave and Iris Sheets of Greensboro, North Carolina, welcomed me into their home and into the room of their son, Marty. His room held trophies, plaques, medals, sporting equipment, posters, and scrapbooks documenting his history as a Special Olympics athlete. Unfortunately Marty Sheets had passed away a few years before my visit, but his parents kept his memory alive as they regaled me with stories of his adventures over the years, and of all the people, celebrities, and presidents he had met through Special Olympics.
His dad allowed me to collect whatever I wanted from Sheets's collection, which included his personal golf clubs (his favorite sport!), scrapbooks, photographs, medals, and plaques, but one of the coolest things I collected was a vest with pins attached to it. These pins included Olympic and Special Olympics pins, which are often traded at the different games. Sheets also had a set of note cards, carefully written and printed by his father for him to read at different functions in which he talked about his participation in Special Olympics and his life as a person with Down Syndrome. These convey his infectious spirit and love of sports, and help explain why he became a worldwide ambassador for Special Olympics.
Marty Sheets's vest of Olympic and Special Olympics trading pins.An example of one of Sheets's note-card speeches.
Sheets wearing the Special Olympics oath on his shirt with Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Courtesy of Dave Sheets.
I also met Loretta Claiborne, another athlete whose participation in Special Olympics steered her life in a direction it might not have gone. Her childhood in rural Pennsylvania was difficult. Teased by classmates for her thick glasses and the way she talked, she realized running away from bullies was her best bet, and she learned to run fast. She grew angry with the way she was treated by kids and adults alike and became prone to physical outbursts, until a social worker introduced her to Special Olympics as a teen. Channeling her energy into training for track and field events, Claiborne began earning medals and breaking records.
Claiborne's growing confidence eventually led her to motivational speaking, telling people worldwide what it was like growing up with intellectual disabilities and how, through sports, she was able to find purpose and peace. When Claiborne came to the museum to see the sports collection, she wasn't sure if she wanted to donate her objects. It can be hard to part with beloved items! But when she saw Althea Gibson's tennis outfit, she changed her mind. She told me how her mother talked about Gibson, the first African American athlete to win at Wimbledon. Claiborne's mom explained that if Gibson could use sports to combat adversity and succeed in life, so could Loretta.
Loretta Claiborne at home with her siblings, 1960s.Claiborne carrying the Special Olympics torch at the 2015 World Games in Los Angeles. Courtesy of Special Olympics International.Loretta receiving the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPY’s in 1996. Courtesy of Special Olympics International.
The museum’s Special Olympics collections are far from complete, but because the museum was able to collect a number of objects from athletes, their families, and Special Olympics International, they are much more comprehensive and begin to tell the story of these athletes—their struggles and their triumphs. Special Olympics at 50, the new display case opening this month, examines four diverse athletes through the lens of Special Olympics, exploring their personal journey through sports using objects and photos. The opportunity to participate, compete, socialize, and grow through sports carries out of Shriver's vision of inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities.
Piano manufacturer William Steinway kept a diary from 1861 to 1896. It resides in the National Museum of American History’s Archives Center as part of the Steinway and Sons Records and Family Papers, 1857–1919.
On Friday night, June 22, 1894, New York City hosted a fine parade. The city had built a triumphal arch at Madison and 26th and passed a resolution that citizens of the city should illuminate and decorate their homes to welcome visitors to the city. The visitors came from 25 cities all up and down the East Coast—from Buffalo to Pittsburgh to Richmond to Boston. The marchers were greeted by cheering crowds—500,000 in all—and displays of fireworks. The parade, with its accompanying excitement, was the opening event of a grand occasion celebrating German heritage and love of song—a Sängerfest, or singing festival. As many as 20,000 people were in the parade, carrying lighted torches and wearing alpine hats; among them were 6,000 singers. The visiting singers, all men, were the honorees, and they marched with local mounted police, parade marshals, drum corps, veterans groups, and local bands, as well as those who accompanied them from their home cities.
After months of preparation at home, the visiting singers were ready to give three massive public concerts and participate in two days of competition to win grand prizes. According to the Musical Courier, a music trade weekly published at the time, this country had never before seen so many male singers gathered together. More than 130 clubs participated in the concerts, and about 50 in the competitions. William Steinway—the famous piano manufacturer, fine tenor singer, and always one to nurture music and German culture—served as honorary president, as well as a financial sponsor, for this festival.
Portrait of William Steinway, 1882, engraving from “Encyclopedia of Contemporary Biography” vol. 3, 1883, after photo by Naegeli, Union Square, New York City, Courtesy of Henry Z. Steinway Archive.
In fact William had helped organize and participated in Sängerfests for many years, as he noted in his diary: “At L.K. [Liederkranz] hall with Saengerfest committee” (July 1, 1865); “Write Musical Criticism of Sängerfest for the Review.” (July 21, 1867); “with 15 members of L.K. to Schutzenpark to Sangerfest of Hudson Co. Singers.” (September 15, 1873). Steinway makes many more references to Sängerfests throughout the 1880s and 1890s.
Social clubs formed around singing were common in Germany. In the United States, the first German club was formed in 1835 in Philadelphia, the Männerchor (men’s chorus). The next year, the Baltimore Liederkranz (singing club) was formed. The first Sängerfest in the musical history of the United States was held in 1837, when the Baltimore Liederkranz traveled to Philadelphia on March 13. The Philadelphia Männerchor subsequently traveled to Baltimore on March 28.
German singing societies sprang up in many other cities in the middle of the 19th century. Several cities had more than one singing society. Some clubs invited women to become members while others were solely comprised of men.
The first Sängerfest where all known singing societies were invited and where prizes were awarded was held in Cincinnati, in 1849. It was sponsored by an umbrella organization, now known as the Nord-Amerikanischer Sängerbund (North American Association of Singers). Shortly thereafter, a rival organization in the Eastern states, now known as the Nordöstlicher (North Eastern) Sängerbund, was formed. Both groups ultimately settled on holding a Sängerfest every three years, offset from one another.
The 1894 festival was the 17th Sängerfest sponsored by the Nordöstlicher Sängerbund. Esteemed visitors to the festival included New York Governor Russell Flower, Mayor Thomas Gilroy, the U.S. ambassador to Germany and the Consul General from Germany. President Cleveland was also expected, though he backed out at the last minute because of pressing work and health issues.
The singing events were held at Madison Square Garden. A huge semicircular, tiered stand that filled the entire eastern end of the venue was created for the occasion. Madison Square Garden was extensively decorated with bunting, flags, banners portraying German composers and poets, and foliage.
Madison Square Garden, 1891. Image credit: Image credit: Photographer unknown / Courtesy of Museum of the City of New York. 91.69.31
On Saturday, June 23, the United Singers of New York and Brooklyn—the local host societies—gave a public concert. On Sunday and Monday afternoons, the prize competitions were held—four different competitions altogether. In the evenings, concerts featuring the full complement of singers and well-known soloists were staged. For the Sunday concert, Madison Square Garden held 16,000 persons—the largest ever seen there, according to The New York Times. This was exceeded on Monday evening with 18,000 present.
While the majority of the pieces sung and played at the festival were of German origin, it was notable that the pomp of the first concert day with its eminent attendees and fine speeches was introduced by “The Star Spangled Banner.” And the concert on Sunday night, June 24, ended with the orchestra playing “American Fantasy” by Victor Herbert and then with a repeat of “The Star Spangled Banner,” sung by the entire chorus with the entire audience joining in. The New York Herald lauded the “devoted patriotism” that this represented and called it a “grand close to a grand concert.”
Contemporaneous newspapers reported extensively on the festival, with serious descriptions but also some humorous anecdotes. The New York Herald in particular pointed out the human element. In one account, people were noted as selling programs that were actually being given out free. In another, people were selling seats that actually did not exist because they would have been under the risers where the singers stood. And another commented on the disappointment of visitors who could not buy beer in New York on a Sunday.
The festival concluded with a grand picnic on Tuesday, where the competition winners were announced and prizes given. At least 25,000 people attended this picnic, at Ulmer Park in Brooklyn, a well-known beer park not far from Coney Island. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that 6,000 kegs of beer were procured for the occasion. The prizes were significant and included Steinway pianos.
What was the Big Apple like in the second half of the 19th century? The daily diary of piano manufacturer William Steinway opens a window into a New York of concerts, politics, sports, theater, restaurants, and much more. Steinway’s diary resides in the National Museum of American History’s Archives Center as part of the Steinway & Sons Records and Family Papers, 1857–1919. The diary covers the period from April 20, 1861, through November 8, 1896, about three weeks before Steinway’s death.
“I wanna wake up in the city that doesn’t sleep…”
In the last half of the 1800s, long before Frank Sinatra sang those words, before the city had a subway, when there were no Yankees and Knicks, the singer’s words would still have resonated with many residents. Piano manufacturer William Steinway, who lived in upscale Gramercy Park in Lower Manhattan, was among them, and his daily diary opens a window into the New York he knew.
He saw great artists in a great concert hall, which he happened to own. He smelled the sea as he ate oysters at the famous Fulton Fish Market. He attended a ball—and mocked some of the ladies—at the old Madison Square Garden. A German immigrant, he attended plays at a German-themed theater. He went to a grand hotel to meet with the Democratic Party bosses. He left work one day to take in a baseball game at the Polo Grounds. He was a regular at the restaurant that was the “in” place for songwriters. Browse through the diary and you’ll find the New York that Steinway knew.
Oct. 31, 1866: “Inauguration Concert by the Bateman Concert troupe. Everybody is delighted with the acoustic qualities. House filled to overflowing. Great Success. Supper afterwards, jolly time til 3 AM.” Henry Z. Steinway Archive
Steinway was a bit of a genius in building one of New York’s finest concert halls, which opened on East 14th Street in 1866. Concertgoers had to walk through Steinway & Sons piano showrooms to enter the hall, and the manufacturer demanded that artists appearing there could only press the keys of a Steinway piano. Steinway once caused the New York Philharmonic—then the resident orchestra—to cancel a performance when a guest wanted to play on a rival’s keyboard, according to Music and Culture in America, 1861–1918. Steinway Hall hosted 40 to 70 major concerts a year and other programs such as Charles Dickens’s reading before a capacity audience on December 9, 1867. The hall’s last event was in 1890, and Carnegie Hall opened the next year as the city’s top concert venue.
Fulton Fish Market
June 17, 1870: “Go with wife to Fulton market eat oysters” Image credit: T. H. McAllister / Museum of the City of New York. X2010.11.10058
In March 2005, as the Fulton Fish Market got closer to its move from Manhattan to the Bronx, the New York Times wrote that it was “easy to become sentimental” in the market’s 184th year. “Arrive at daybreak, when the sky is turning pink beyond the Brooklyn Bridge, and you have found a forgotten city,” the article said, describing salesmen hoisting fish over their shoulders, workers pushing carts, and night laborers huddling around bonfires in cold weather. But the famous market also had a sordid history. A Time magazine report on organized crime in 2001 mentioned the mob influence on the fish market, and noted: “In 1988 the U.S. succeeded in placing a trustee at the fish market with a four-year mandate to battle racketeering. . . . In reality, little has changed.” William Steinway’s love of oysters took him to the Fulton Fish Market but, by 1927, New York’s oysters were exposed to too much pollution to eat. The Billion Oyster Project, launched in 2014, is working to restore one billion live oysters to New York Harbor by the year 2035.
Oct. 14, 1885: “Very busy, in eve'g to Thalia Theatre” Image credit: Samuel Hollyer (1826–1919) / Museum of the City of New York. 29.100.870
The Thalia, previously the Bowery Theatre, was in the Bowery section of the Lower East Side, and lasted for 103 years under different names. It survived a succession of fires but burned down for good in 1929. Productions at the theater were geared to different ethnic groups, depending on the ownership, and at different times servedJewish, Italian, and Chinese audiences. German plays were performed there from 1879 through 1888, and Jewish actors gave performances in 1889 and 1890, according to King’s Handbook of New York City. Lyricist Yip Harburg (“Over the Rainbow,” “April in Paris,” “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”) once said, “On many a Saturday . . . my father packed me up and told my mother that we were going to shul to hear a magid. But somehow . . . we always arrived at the Thalia Theater.” (A shul is a synagogue, and a magid was an itinerant Jewish preacher, or story narrator.)
Hoffman House Hotel
Oct. 15, 1885: “Park Com. McLean takes me to Democratic Headquarters at Hoffmann House…” Image credit: Byron Company (New York, N.Y.) / Museum of the City of New York. 22.214.171.12449
Political power brokers from Tammany Hall, the city’s Democratic political machine, considered the hotel on Broadway between 24th and 25th Streets their headquarters. The major attraction, however, was not politics but rather William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s painting Nymphs and Satyr showing four nude women prancing around a faun. In The Epic of New York City, author Edward Robb Ellis recounts how, during the paralyzing blizzard of 1888, actor Maurice Barrymore—“his face flushed with brandy”—began reciting Shakespeare in the hotel’s bar. After a stockbroker tried to silence him, a free-for-all broke out. But Barrymore “kept his perch on the table, and ignored the shattering of glasses and the smashing of furniture, his eyes flaming and his magnificent voice booming, ‘A horse! A horse! My Kingdom for a horse!’” from Richard III. The hotel closed in 1915.
Madison Square Garden
Feb. 20, 1891: In evg with wife, Louis v. B. (son-in-law Louis von Bernuth) and Paula (daughter) in Box 9 Madison Square Garden, at Arion Ball, grand affair, immense number of the demimonde remain til nearly 1 AM (Steinway was referring to a term for women on the fringes of respectable society). Image credit: Photographer unknown / Museum of the City of New York. 91.69.31
Steinway went to the second of four Madison Square Gardens, built by a syndicate that included business titans J. P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and W. W. Astor. Opened in 1890 at the site of the original, Madison Avenue and 26th Street, this Madison Square Garden was a Beaux Arts building designed by renowned architect Stanford White. Ironically, White was shot to death in the upstairs cabaret in 1906 by the husband of his previous lover. There were 5,000 seats with the floor area left open, and 9,000 with floor seats. The Madison Square Garden had a movable skylight that covered half the building, giving operators the option of bringing in fresh air. The building had a cafe, a concert hall, a roof garden, and events that included circuses, concerts, horse and dog shows, and bicycle tournaments. A tower offered great views of the city, with a statue at the top, of the Roman goddess Diana. She was unveiled in 1891, with “a grand illumination of red fire, colored lights, and rockets” revealing that Diana was nude, according to Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. Moralists protested, “but J. P. Morgan liked it and it stayed.” The second Madison Square Garden was demolished in 1925
Sept. 1, 1894: “I then drive to Polo grounds 155th str. & 8th Ave. and see a most interesting baseball game between Cincinnati + New York. At least 15,000 spectators are there.” Image credit: National Baseball Hall of Fame Library, Cooperstown, New York.
Steinway held a board meeting on this Saturday but then ditched any further work to attend a Giants-Reds doubleheader. His diary suggests he only saw one of the games. As noted in an earlier post about Steinway’s visit to the Polo Grounds, the Giants “lost the first game and won the second by the identical scores of 8-6. The attendance in the box score of the second game was 12,000. And the reporters who covered the doubleheader wrote of what then appeared to be a missed opportunity in the pennant race, since the 68–38 Giants were playing the 45–60 Reds.”
April 17, 1896: “Lovely party… in all 24 persons at Luchows, one of the most glorious days of my life, drank two Würzburger (a brand of German beer). Image credit: Advertising Souvenir & Calendar Co. / Museum of the City of New York. X2011.34.3835
August Lüchow opened his famed German restaurant in 1882. Some reports said he received a $1,500 loan from William Steinway, but the diary doesn’t mention it. The restaurant was at East 14th Street, now the site of a New York University dorm. Steinway’s concert hall and showroom were across the street, and the piano manufacturer was a regular. In 1914 composer Victor Herbert and eight associates founded the organization that became the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers in the restaurant, according to a plaque erected at the site in 1965. According to The Big Onion Guide to New York City: Ten Historic Tours, Luchow’s and nearby restaurants “became legendary hot spots where celebrities and performers mingled . . . while critics wrote their reviews at the dinner tables. The popular tune ‘Yes Sir, That’s My Baby’ is said to have been written one drunken night by Gus Kahn on a Luchow’s tablecloth.”
Larry Margasak is a retired Washington journalist and museum volunteer. He previously wrote articles on the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Fair Housing Law, Steinway’s seven-year struggle to plan New York’s subway, and Steinway’s vision of suburban America, which became a reality in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, New York.
Hawkeye’s corduroy bathrobe looks purple in real life, but comes across as red on camera.
The chronically jet-lagged actor Alan Alda got bitten by fleas the few times he tried to take a nap on his army cot between takes of the hit television show M*A*S*H. In the Operating Room scenes, he was often “operating” on a copy of the script. The show’s writing was so tightly controlled, that no one on the cast was allowed to adlib lines.
These are just a few of the revelations that actor Alan Alda, now 82, shared in a phone interview as he discussed his 11-year stint acting, writing, and directing episodes of the award-winning dark comedy M*A*S*H. The television show chronicled the adventures of a Mobile Army Surgical Unit during the Korean War (1950–1953) and aired its final episode to record audiences 35 years ago.
In 1983, 20th Century Fox donated to the Smithsonian two full sets from the show, the bachelor officers’ quarters known as the “Swamp,” and the Operating Room, along with several costumes, props, and scripts. The M*A*S*H objects were displayed in a wildly popular exhibit at the museum from 1983 through 1985 and remain among the jewels of our entertainment collection.
Alda played Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce but everyone called him “Hawkeye”—a nickname bestowed by his father after the main character in James Fenimore Cooper’s novel The Last of the Mohicans. Pierce is a skirt-chasing, practical-joke-pulling, heavy-drinking army doctor who rails against military authority and the senseless death of war, but who is dedicated to his patients.
Alda, who didn’t have any medical training and ignored his father’s advice to explore premed classes in college, found it easy to take on the role of a surgeon.
The 4077 Operating Room on display at the museum in the mid-1980s.
“I was very comfortable in the operating room, because no one was dying for real. And there was no real blood,” he said. “Most of the time we were putting stitches in pieces of foam rubber. I would often be operating on a copy of the script. So I could read the dialog while I was operating,” he said.
According to Alda, there was no medical advisor on set during the early episodes. The writers would work with a physician while they were creating the shows, but eventually they hired a nurse to be on set during filming.
“We didn’t have supervision during the operations for the first few weeks, and we made horrible mistakes, like going from patient to patient without changing our gloves,” remembered Alda.
The script, on the other hand, was closely supervised, said Alda.
Actor Alan Alda cowrote about 10 percent of the episodes.
“When the script was final, we didn’t change a word. We would sometimes go to the phone and call Larry Gelbart (the head writer), and we’d say this scene doesn’t seem to be working, you want to come over?” recalled Alda.
Gelbart would ride his bike over to the soundstage and work with the script, and then they’d shoot the scene. But once, Alda remembered, he and Wayne Rogers, who played Dr. Trapper John, were on the exterior set at the Fox Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains north of Los Angeles. There was no phone at the rustic outpost and, even though neither of them understood a particular line, Alda said it as it appeared. The next day as they were watching the rushes, Gelbart turned to Alda and said “Why did you say that?”
“It was in the script,” replied Alda.
“It was a typo!” retorted Gelbart.
Alda, who had trained in improv early in his career, kept pushing for a show in which the actors could improvise.
“I knew that you could get stuff through improvisation that you can’t get through writing and acting the writing. You can get more personal stuff that’s surprising,” he said.
Ultimately, the creative team allowed for two episodes that incorporated some improvisation. Both were critically acclaimed, documentary-type shows in which real-life war correspondent Clete Roberts conducts a series of interviews with the staff in the style of famed World War II-era journalist Edward R. Murrow. Shot entirely in black and white, “The Interview” (season 4, episode 25) was the final episode for writer Larry Gelbart. Roberts returned to the M*A*S*H unit for a follow-up documentary in “Our Finest Hour” (season 7, episode 4), which interspersed black-and-white adlibbed interviews with scenes from earlier shows.
Actor Alan Alda’s cot and sleeping bag from the set of "M*A*S*H"
An overarching theme throughout the series is how overworked the surgeons are. Countless scenes show the physicians palpably exhausted as they change out of their scrubs after marathon surgery sessions. For Alda, the fatigue was not necessarily an act. Because he didn’t want to uproot his wife and three daughters from their New Jersey home, he commuted to Los Angeles during the spring filming months for about four or five years. Eventually, the girls went off to college, and his wife, Arlene, joined him in Los Angeles.
“It was an interesting experience, because I would get the red eye on Friday night, and get home at six in the morning, and take a nap and then be there in time for the children to say, ‘I’ll see ya, I‘m going out now,’” he reminisced.
“I’d fly back on Sunday afternoon, so I was pretty much in a constant state of jet lag for four months out of the year,” he stated.
As a result, he tried a couple of times to take catnaps in his army cot, which, while comfortable, was not very appealing.
“I guess they didn’t clean out the studio much. We had mice that would pee on our chessboard and a couple of fleas in the cots, so I only tried sleeping there once or twice,” he explained.
Letter in a blue envelope addressed to "Farrah Fawcett"
Included among the museum’s prized M*A*S*H collection are two signature costumes from Alda’s character, Hawkeye’s trademark corduroy bathrobe and a blue and white Hawaiian shirt. Alda clarified that these weren’t plucked from his personal closet, but were selected by the wardrobe department to reflect Capt. Pierce.
Capt. Hawkeye Pierce’s classic blue and white hibiscus Hawaiian shirt
“I did have my own collection of Hawaiian shirts, but just enough to have my kids make fun of me,” he admitted.
Capt. Pierce could do a remarkably realistic Grouch Marx imitation.
The museum also has a pair of Groucho glasses that Hawkeye would occasionally don to amuse patients in the recovery room.
“I wasn’t a particular fan of the Marx brothers,” Alda explained, “but my voice just happened to fall in that vocal range. I finally dropped it because I was doing it too much,” he continued.
The M*A*S*H series, which ran for 11 seasons, lasted nearly four times the length of the actual Korean War. The show ended with a two-and-a-half-hour special, cowritten and directed by Alda, that the Nielsen ratings company claims is the most-watched scripted television ever.
M*A*S*H episodes are still being shown on television today. The show has earned millions in syndication and continues to be popular with viewers. Alda believes that ultimately, viewers respond to the mission that M*A*S*H doctors, nurses, and staff were trying to serve.
“As silly as the show was, or as lighthearted as it was often, there was always this understanding that people were dying or being wounded, and there were many other people who were trying to save them, who were working night and day at this, and I think that expression of human experience resonates with audiences,” said Alda.
Alda says he is grateful for the experience and exposure that he got working on M*A*S*H. After the series ended in 1983, Alda went on to write, direct, and star in movies; to continue acting on stage and television; to author three nonfiction books; to host the science series Scientific American Frontiers; and to start companies that help scientists, health professionals, and business people improve their communication skills.
“It made all the other things that I did the rest of my life possible,” he concluded.
Lucy Harvey is a Program Assistant in the Division of Armed Forces History who also volunteers with the Division of Culture and the Arts. She has also blogged about the costumes from the show and the popular "M*A*S*H" exhibition that once existed at this museum.
This June marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Robert “Bobby” Francis Kennedy. Being a native Northern Virginian, I knew that the stadium where the Washington Redskins played from 1961 to 1996 was named for Robert Kennedy. (The stadium was originally called District of Columbia Stadium, DC Stadium, and was renamed RFK Memorial Stadium in January 1969.) I also knew that Robert Kennedy was a younger brother to President John F. Kennedy and that he too was assassinated. However, like so many students of my generation, my middle and high school history classes only made it to World War II before the end of the school year, so I never had a chance to study Robert Kennedy’s life.
For the past few weeks I’ve been on a quest to learn about who Robert Kennedy was. What is his legacy? Do we remember him because he was working to enforce and expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965? Do we remember him because if he had won the Democratic Nomination for President he may have defeated Richard Nixon in the 1968 election? Or do we remember him because he was a Kennedy?
What I’ve learned is that Robert Kennedy appealed to many, not because he was John F. Kennedy’s younger brother, but because he continued that youthful and optimistic hope that his brother had brought to the country eight years prior. He had a vision of what America could be and did what he could to make that vision a reality. He is remembered because a large number of Americans felt that they could relate to him in one way or another. The fact that so many Americans remember him as “Bobby” Kennedy is instructive. Bobby was a rare political who “mingled” with the average American. He didn’t just stand on a platform and give speeches; he got down on the ground, down to their level, and spoke to them. He wanted to know the issues that plagued them and in turn tell them what he could do, not tell them what they wanted to hear.
As attorney general (a position he held from 1961 to 1964), Kennedy fought for integration and voting rights, and he tackled organized crime—does the name Jimmy Hoffa ring any bells? He deployed the U.S. Marshals to protect the Freedom Riders and to escort James Meredith to class at the University of Mississippi. He also ordered the Interstate Commerce Commission to end segregation at interstate bus terminals. As attorney general, Kennedy threatened the owner of the Redskins to integrate the team, or he would revoke the team’s lease because the stadium was federally owned. Ironically, or because of this, DC Stadium was renamed RFK Memorial Stadium.
Letter with attorney general letterhead from Robert Kennedy to Michael Sofranoff. Sofranoff sent numerous letters to Kennedy commenting on the outcome of recent elections, concerns of communism, the status of the conflict in Vietnam, and juvenile delinquency, as well as general words of support. He later donated letters from Kennedy to the museum.
In 1964 Kennedy resigned from his position as attorney general and was elected senator from New York. While serving as senator, he continued to advocate for civil rights and human rights around the globe. Kennedy also was a critic of the war in Vietnam, and he urged the Johnson Administration not only to not escalate the conflict but to work toward an end of the war in Vietnam.
Letter from Robert Kennedy to Sofranoff commenting on the war in Vietnam
In March 1968 Kennedy threw his hat in the ring and announced his candidacy for president of the United States. In his announcement speech he said, “I do not run for the presidency merely to oppose any man, but to propose new policies. I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and because I have such strong feelings about what must be done, and I feel that I’m obliged to do all that I can.” In the late 1960s only a handful of states held campaign primaries. Kennedy won numerous primaries, including in D.C. Several campaign polls showed Kennedy in tough competition with other leading candidates, including Senator Eugene McCarthy and Vice President Hubert Humphrey.
Robert Kennedy campaign buttons
In April 1968 Kennedy was in Indiana on a regularly scheduled campaign stop when he was informed that the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot and killed. Although Kennedy and King weren’t necessarily allies in the civil rights movement, Kennedy noticed the work of King and other civil rights leaders and incorporated their undertaking into his agenda as attorney general, senator, and presidential candidate. Instead of his planned speech, Kennedy stood in the back of a truck in front of a gathering of thousands of African Americans in Indianapolis and told them what had happened in Memphis, Tennessee. Warned of violence and riots, and without a police escort, Robert Kennedy insisted that he be the one to tell the crowd. He was able to connect the assassination of King to that of his brother. He understood what King’s death would mean to the African American communities not just in Indianapolis but around the country. Many give Kennedy credit for helping to keep the peace in Indianapolis when other cities across the country broke out in violence.
Two months later, on June 5, Kennedy was at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles celebrating his win in the California primary. After addressing a crowd of supporters, plans changed and Kennedy was to meet directly with the press instead of meeting a second group of supporters. It was in the kitchen hallway that Sirhan Sirhan fired eight shots. Three of those shots found their mark and struck Kennedy in the head and neck. Five others near the kitchen were injured, but survived.
Teletype relaying the events of the assassination of Robert Kennedy
The funeral service for Robert F. Kennedy was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. His body was then transported by train to Arlington National Cemetery, where at a rare evening burial he was laid to rest next to his brother John F. Kennedy. Thousands of mourners lined the train route to pay their respects.
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Service program and mourning card
On my quest to learn about Robert Kennedy I have learned that, like most people, he was multidimensional. The late 1960s was a turbulent period in our nation’s history. There are so many issues to be studied and discussed. On this 50th anniversary there are new books on Kennedy being published, and magazines such as People and LIFE are printing commemorative issues. It is a time in which we can look back and remember what was and what could have been. We look back to see how far we have come in 50 years and wonder what will happen in the next 50 years.
Young Charles Taylor drowned in June 1818. He was six years, seven months, and 10 days old, the son of Nathan and Sally Taylor. While a painting would keep only the sacred memory of his short life alive, American philanthropists and their associates abroad were working to keep others at risk of drowning alive in body and soul.
This watercolor was painted by Joseph Ayer in Peru, New York. The inscription reads: Sacred to the Memory of /Charles Taylor, /Son of Nathan & Sally Taylor, /Drowned June 21, /A.D.1818,. Aetatas (sic). 6 yrs. 7 mo. 10 days.
Saving drowning victims was a new charitable cause in the late 1700s. The movement began in Amsterdam in 1767 when a group of men created a society to rescue and resuscitate people from drowning—a common problem due to the city's many canals. Over the next decades, the idea spread, largely through the networks of medical men, around Europe, the British Isles, the Caribbean, and North America. In Britain, the charities promoting the rescue and resuscitation of victims of drowning and certain other types of accidents were typically known by the name "humane society," and that was the term Americans generally used too, long before it was used to refer to animal welfare organizations.
Americans began establishing humane societies in the 1780s. The first was set up in Philadelphia in 1780, the second in Boston in 1786; John Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere were among the members. People in Baltimore, Maryland; Charleston, South Carolina; Newburyport, Massachusetts; New York City, New York; Wilmington, Delaware; and elsewhere followed suit, although not all the groups flourished. Following the British model, the organizations worked by offering rewards of money, medals, or certificates to those who rescued or resuscitated drowning victims. They printed and disseminated information about the most up-to-date resuscitation methods, in public places along waterways, in newspapers, and elsewhere. They also shared stories about successes, and challenges, in annual reports and newspapers.
The Humane Society of Massachusetts bestowed this medal on a rescuer named Henry Austin Whitney "for courage and presence of mind for rescuing his mother and niece from drowning at Windsor Lock, Conn., October 30, 1852."
Only well-to-do white men served as trustees of the charities, but many others contributed time and effort to the cause. Most rescuers and most rescued people were laboring men or boys. African Americans were among the rescued and rescuers, and monetary rewards to them or for saving their lives were comparable to those for white rescuers and white lives. Women and girls aided in caring for people dragged from the water. Even very young children sometimes raised the alarm that someone was at risk of drowning. In a maritime world where many people could not swim, a watery grave was an ever-present danger, and saving lives entailed the involvement of many.
Along with relying on broad participation, the humane society movement fostered innovations. The Massachusetts Humane Society added a new dimension to its lifesaving endeavors by building huts along the state's coast to provide shelter for shipwrecked mariners. The transatlantic movement as a whole nurtured improvements in resuscitation techniques, with methods ranging from warming bodies, applying friction, and injecting tobacco smoke to administering chest compression. The societies printed information about the newest therapies and exchanged their materials to learn from one another. Humane societies also encouraged the development and improvement of lifesaving equipment such as life vests and lifeboats. Moreover, they pioneered in suicide prevention by focusing attention on self-destruction as a cause for some drowning incidents. In addition to the societies' efforts to recover would-be suicides from water and to resuscitate them as needed, clergymen involved with the movement ministered to suicidal souls who had been stopped in attempts to end their lives. In time, as their understandings of and approach to suicide evolved, members of the Massachusetts Humane Society led the formation of New England's first hospital devoted to mental health, eventually known as McLean Hospital.
Patent model for a lifeboat, developed by Joseph Francis, 1841. Humane societies helped spark interest in building and improving lifeboats. Joseph Francis, who grew up in Massachusetts where attention to lifeboat technology was strong, was a noted builder of lifeboats in the 1800s.
Not all aspects of the cause succeeded. Some of the movement's techniques, such as tobacco enemas administered by bellows, are now rejected. Conditions at the mental hospitals, created in part due to the movement's support, drew censure in the 1800s and since. Yet by encouraging the contributions and innovations of many, humane societies' supporters worked to make the world safer in hopes that others would not suffer the heartache that Charles Taylor's parents did.
Amanda B. Moniz is the David M. Rubenstein Curator of Philanthropy in the Division of Home and Community Life.
The Philanthropy Initiative is made possible by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and David M. Rubenstein, with additional support by the Fidelity Charitable Trustees' Initiative, a grantmaking program of Fidelity Charitable.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.
With Pride Month celebrations recognizing LGBTQ history and culture throughout the country this June, what better way to highlight the occasion than by studying historical LGBTQ rulers with coins?
Throughout history, there are many examples of world leaders who for their gender expressions and sexual orientations would today be seen as members of the LGBTQ community. In some regions or eras, a range of expressions of gender and sexuality were accepted and even encouraged. In regions where certain forms of self-identification and expression were unwelcome, some individuals were still true to their own identity in their own ways. Chief among those who had the privilege of living and loving as they saw fit were historic rulers we would today describe as LGBTQ. It should be emphasized that although we would describe these rulers as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer today, that identification may not have been the way they would want to be described. These terms are modern constructs and are used as aides in telling these human stories.
These historic LGBTQ rulers, like so few other LGBTQ people, have been immortalized through coins from their eras. The National Numismatic Collection has several examples of such coins that represent a wide range of LGBTQ rulers throughout history.
As an emperor, Elagabalus lived a privileged life that allowed for open expression. Beyond applying cosmetics and wearing women’s clothing, Elagabalus was known to have used self-referencing terms such as queen, lady, mistress, and wife. Indeed, Elagabalus is even said to have publicly married the male athlete Zoticus in a ceremony in Rome. Despite having many affairs, Elagabalus loved one man above all others, the chariot driver Hierocles, whom Elagabalus referred to by calling him husband. Though Elagabalus was assassinated in 222 A.D., the leader’s likeness—depicted as a traditional male emperor—is captured in the coinage minted during Elagabalus’s reign, such as on the gold Aureus pictured above.
Princess Isabella of Parma was the daughter of the Duke of Parma and Louise Élisabeth, the eldest daughter of the king of France, Louis XV. At the age of 18, Isabella was married to Archduke Joseph of Austria, who would later become the Holy Roman Emperor. However, Isabella was incredibly unhappy with her marriage to Joseph, even though he was very happy with her. Instead, the princess sought out the love of her husband’s sister, Archduchess Maria Christina. Many of Isabella’s letters to Maria Christina still exist today, and illustrate the depth of their love for one another. Their relationship lasted until Isabella died in childbirth at the young age of 21. Shortly after her death, the archduke became Holy Roman Emperor; his lonely likeness lives on in the gold ducat coin of Regensburg.
Though not as prominent or as encouraged as in Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, men engaging in same-sex romantic and sexual relationships is well documented in Moorish Spain. Instead of embracing their sexuality and announcing their love, these citizens were encouraged to keep their romances to themselves. And so the Caliph Al-Hakam II conducted himself, enjoying youthful romances with other men. However, later in his life, as the caliph it was his duty to marry and produce male heirs. Eventually he did marry a woman, but his wife dressed and acted in the manners of men of the time—he even gave her the male name Jafar. The coin pictured above was minted for his reign.
In medieval Japan, male sexuality was often fluid, with samurai, and later commoners, emulating upper classes by taking on younger male lovers. This practice, known as wakashūdo, was encouraged and was seen as an important part of samurai training, with the older warrior fostering and protecting the younger novice while teaching him the ways of the samurai. Perhaps most famous for this practice in the period were the rulers of the Tokugawa shogunate. Out of the 11 Tokugawa rulers, eight are known to have had male love affairs. One particularly turbulent affair between Shōgun Iemitsu and his older lover, Sakabe Gozaemon, is said to have ended violently when Iemitsu murdered Sakabe while the two shared a bath. The Kanei Tsuho coin above is similar to other coins of the Tokugawa era, and would have circulated in conjunction with coinage of the reigning monarch of the period.
Queen Christina of Sweden’s father raised and educated the young heir like a boy. Christina ruled for 10 years, from the age of 18, before ultimately deciding to abdicate the throne in favor of a cousin, Charles X, so that Christina did not have to marry and could convert to Catholicism. Christina shocked many courts in Europe, including the Vatican, by wearing men’s clothing and acting in the manner of a man. Christina loved and had relationships with many women, including with Ebba Sparre, who was also a Swedish noble. Christina lived a long and interesting life and was later buried in the grotto at the Vatican. Many of the portraits and likenesses of Christina such as the silver taler above show the former leader in a more feminine light. Christina may have dressed differently than described for these portraits, or artists may have changed the portrait’s appearance to conform to social norms of the period.
However these historic LGBTQ rulers would have described themselves, what is apparent is that they were true to themselves, and to their love. LGBTQ history may be harder to uncover than other histories, but sometimes if you follow the clues and look closer at the written sources and objects from their eras, such as coins, their stories may slowly start to emerge. These coins help tell LGBTQ history in an unexpected way and convey the modern message: “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!”
Kelsey Wiggins is a museum specialist for the National Numismatic Collection. She has also blogged about gold rushes that weren’t in California.
The arts are "a space where we can give dignity to others while interrogating our own circumstances," Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, said at the museum's annual symposium, The Power of Giving: Philanthropy's Impact on American Life. Held on March 22, 2018, the program explored philanthropy's impact on and through culture and the arts. As he reflected on the relationship between giving and the arts, Walker said that "throughout our history, we have seen artists and activists work hand in hand. We have seen art inspire and elevate whole movements for change."
Power of Giving 2018 | Culture & the Arts: Darren Walker Highlights - YouTube
As Walker suggests, music, storytelling, drama, and other arts have an emotional impact that motivates giving time and money to causes, while philanthropic appeals help artists attract audiences. To continue the conversation about the arts and giving, here's a look at three objects that tell stories about how Americans used the arts to promote social change in the 1800s.
Singing against slavery"The Grave of Bonaparte" sheet music, song and music by L. Heath, as performed by the Hutchinson Family Singers, Boston, 1843. "The Grave of Bonaparte," recalling the French leader who vanquished much of Europe before being defeated, reflected the Hutchinson Family Singers' concern for the cause of freedom abroad as well as at home.
In the 1840s, the popular Hutchinson Family Singers from New Hampshire introduced music to the developing antislavery movement. As the sheet music for "The Grave of Bonaparte" suggests, the singers were concerned about freedom in other forms and many places, but they had their biggest impact on the American antislavery movement. Performing before integrated audiences, siblings Judson, John, Asa, and Abby—who were managed by their brother Jesse—helped nurture opposition to slavery among those not exposed to its evils. They also helped build far-flung antislavery networks thanks to their travel and the newspaper coverage of their events. Moreover, the success of their antislavery songs showed that the cause had commercial appeal. Works such as the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin would cater to that appeal–and help further develop antislavery sentiment. In addition to their contributions to reform causes, the group shaped American musical identity. At a time when Americans favored European musicians, the Hutchinson Family Singers spurred new interest in American music.
Entertaining for educationDiorama of Fisk Jubilee Singers, made by Diedra Ball with assistance from Stephney Keyser in 1994–1998 based on an 1873 painting by Edward Havel. Gift of Diedra J. Bell and Dr. Stephney J. Keyser.
After the Civil War, African Americans and sympathetic whites sought to create opportunities for African Americans to pursue higher education. For example, the American Missionary Association established Fisk University for African Americans in 1866. In 1871 the Fisk Jubilee Singers were organized. Using savvy marketing and publicity techinques to attract audiences, the group toured the United States and Europe fundraising for the school. The singers also advocated for African American rights and independence. Initially, they performed a range of the era's popular songs, but found that white audiences responded most strongly to spirituals. At a time when Americans still sought to establish cultural independence from Europe, many white concertgoers identified the spirituals as a distinctly American musical style. For their part, the singers themselves used the interest in their music to craft and manage their image in a society that either limited black roles or cast them in offensive, stereotypical imagery.
Recitals for refugeesGrand Concert in Aid of the Russian Jewish Refugees program, Boston, 1882
In the early 1880s, Russian Jewish refugees arrived in the United States fleeing brutal persecution at home. Newspapers around the country covered their plight and efforts to aid them. Using a common fundraising technique, supporters organized a benefit concert, featuring musical societies from Boston, Lynn, Salem, and Taunton, Massachusetts, to assist the refugees. A newspaper announcement about the event both encouraged people to buy tickets and tried to fight anti-Semitism by reminding readers that the Jewish community in Boston had often contributed to charitable efforts for others. As with other benefit concerts, the publicity around the event provided an opportunity not only to solicit support but also to foster reflection on societal challenges.
As philanthropists today look to the arts to effect social change, these objects offer reminders about why the arts and activism have had such a close relationship for centuries. The long tradition of Americans using the arts to move people to support all manner of philanthropic endeavors has shaped American society by advancing causes while also shaping American culture by fostering appreciation for the arts.
Amanda B. Moniz is the David M. Rubenstein Curator of Philanthropy in the Division of Home and Community Life.
The Philanthropy Initiative is made possible by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and David M. Rubenstein, with additional support by the Fidelity Charitable Trustees' Initiative, a grantmaking program of Fidelity Charitable.
What is it about Abraham Lincoln and vampires? When Seth Grahame-Smith published his action/horror mash-up novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, scholars cringed. Few historians studying the 16th president were willing to go on the record to say what many truly thought, but suffice to say, it was not as supportive as the praise given for turning the life of Alexander Hamilton into a Broadway play. Nevertheless, a Lincoln/vampire connection does exist, and part of that story is now in the Smithsonian Institution.
Signed copy of the 1899 edition of "Dracula," originally published in 1897. Courtesy of Smithsonian Libraries; photo by Morgan Aronson.
In 1886 three men—New York businessman and art collector Thomas B. Clarke, Century Magazine editor Richard W. Gilder, and famed American artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens—contacted the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Spencer Baird, with a proposal. The three represented a consortium of subscribers who had recently purchased from Douglas Volk casts of the life mask and hands of Abraham Lincoln—items made by Volk’s father, Leonard, in 1860. If the Smithsonian promised to preserve the plaster mask and hands, and to guarantee that no future copies were ever made from the originals, the group would donate its Lincoln relics and a set of the bronze copies made by Saint-Gaudens.
In April 1860 Chicago sculptor Leonard W. Volk learned that Abraham Lincoln was engaged in a protracted legal case in the city and requested that the former Illinois congressman come to his studio for a sitting. Lincoln—who often sought out opportunities to be photographed at key moments in his life—made time to be immortalized in a work by one of the city’s leading artists. During their sessions, to aid in his creation of a bust, Volk produced this life cast of Lincoln. Captured in plaster is Lincoln on the verge of taking his place on the national stage, with every line and wrinkle on his face recorded. The bronze copy of the cast is currently on display in the “American Stories” exhibition.
On May 18 Leonard W. Volk was in Springfield, Illinois, as news of Lincoln’s Republican presidential nomination became known. This time Volk asked to cast the nominee’s powerful hands. In Lincoln’s two-story house, the sculptor set up shop. Volk asked that Lincoln hold something in his right hand, and the two finally decided on a round piece of wood. Lincoln went out to his shed and sawed off a portion of a broomstick. Volk kept the wood and later inserted it into his personal copy of the plaster-casted hands. The right hand is distinctly swollen, having shaken so many supporters’ hands the day before. The casts are currently on display in the “American Presidency” exhibition.
On January 1888 the institution received the donation. It consisted of the original plaster life mask and hands, a bronze set produced by Saint-Gaudens, a signed affidavit from Leonard Volk, and an illuminated list of the 33 subscribers who, as a group, made the donation. The list includes well-known friends and admirers of Lincoln such as John Hay, the former president’s private secretary. But one name curiously stands out: Bram Stoker, the Irish-born author of Dracula.
This illuminated certificate on vellum accompanied the 33-subscribers' donation to the Smithsonian.
A close-up of Stoker’s name on the illuminated certificate.
Why did Bram Stoker join the group, and how did he ever learn about the project? When the museum was given the opportunity to collect Stoker’s copy of the life mask, we decided to find answers to these questions.
It turned out that American poet Walt Whitman held the answers. Stoker—like a number of young Irish students at Trinity College in Dublin—was drawn to this rebellious voice from across the ocean that explored the notion of manly love and comradeship. In 1872 Stoker began a correspondence with the poet. In what can only be considered fan letters, Stoker poured out his soul and declared himself a Walt-Whitmanite.
Photograph of Walt Whitman taken by George Collins Cox, 1887
For much of his professional life, Stoker was the business manager for celebrated actor Henry Irving and his Lyceum Theatre in London. As the theater’s manager, Stoker made several trips to the United States in the 1880s. These trips allowed him to meet his literary idol—who, in his estimation, did not disappoint. Stoker would later write, “I found [Whitman] all that I had ever dreamed of, or wished for in him.” During these visits, Whitman shared with Stoker his memories of his own personal hero, Abraham Lincoln. Stoker recalled how “our conversation presently drifted towards Abraham Lincoln for whom he had an almost idolatrous affection. I confess that in this I shared; and it was another bond of union between us.”
In 1886 Stoker visited Saint-Gaudens’s New York studio, hoping to persuade the artist to make a bust of Whitman. Saint-Gaudens expressed interest in creating a sculpture of the poet, but it never materialized due to Whitman’s declining health. By chance, sitting in the studio were the original casts of Lincoln’s life mask and hands. Seeing the relics, Stoker not only joined the list of subscribers, he convinced Henry Irving to participate as well.
Bronze Abraham Lincoln life mask purchased by Bram Stoker.
Affixed to the back of each life mask is an individualized plate with the name of the subscriber.
Back in London, with the bronze mask of Lincoln resting on the podium, Stoker delivered a series of lectures on America in which he presented the stories that Whitman had shared with him. At his death in 1913, Stoker’s widow auctioned off many of his possessions. Prominently listed in the sales announcement were the author’s notes on Dracula, his Whitman collection, and the cast hands and mask of Lincoln.
The life mask found its way into the personal collection of prominent American financier and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. (the whereabouts of the hands are unknown). He would pass the mask on to his son Nelson Rockefeller, who shared Lincoln’s presidential ambitions and would become governor of New York and vice president under Gerald Ford. Nelson gave the life mask to his daughter Mary Rockefeller, who presented it to her Springfield, Illinois-born husband, Thomas Bruce Morgan, whose career included being a writer; magazine editor for LOOK, Esquire, and The Village Voice; and press aide to presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson and New York City Mayor John Lindsay. Following Morgan’s death, his children, Kate and Nick Morgan, hoped to find a more public home for Bram Stoker’s life mask and offered it to the National Museum of American History. This not only resulted in a wonderful new acquisition to the collection, but also led the museum to answer the riddle of Stoker’s involvement with the original donation in 1888.
While the mystery of how and why Bram Stoker joined the group of subscribers has been solved, additional connections between Lincoln and vampires will have to wait for another day.
Harry R. Rubenstein is a curator in the Division of Political History.