Category Archives: Just for Kicks

Portrait of General James Johnston Pettigrew

Portrait of General James Johnston Pettigrew that hangs on an interior wall at the Southern Historical Collection

A portrait of General James Johnston Pettigrew, painted by William Garl Brown in 1866, hangs on an interior wall at the Southern Historical Collection.

Once in a while, the SHC acquires intriguing artifactual items.  Normally these artifacts are acquired during the acquisition of a greater collection of related manuscript material.  One such artifact was acquired at the time of the gift of the Pettigrew Family Papers (SHC Collection #592):  a framed portrait, in oils, of General James Johnston Pettigrew.

James Johnston Pettigrew (July 4, 1828 – July 17, 1863) was an author, lawyer, linguist, diplomat, and a Confederate general in the American Civil War. He was a major leader in the disastrous Pickett’s Charge and was killed a few days after the Battle of Gettysburg during the Confederate retreat to Virginia.

Our records indicate that the Pettigrew portrait was painted by William Garl Brown in 1866.  The portrait hangs on a wall within the SHC Curator’s office suite.  It’s just another great thing about working for the SHC – enjoying the many historical treasures that surround us as we go about our daily work.  We are pleased to offer this “behind-the-scenes” look at this portrait.

What We’re Browsing: Confederate Spies!

Portion of transcription from John Y. Beall Papers (#2533-z)

Portion of court proceedings from John Y. Beall Papers (#2533-z)

Often, while clicking around in the library catalog, we stumble on these intriguing little pockets of content among the holdings of the SHC.  Sometimes it’s a matter of rediscovering what we forgot we had, or finding stuff that seems to be ‘hidden in plain sight.’ These serendipitous finds remind us of the great breadth and depth of the Collection and provide some fun topics to discuss and share.

Consider, if you will, a recent search we did on “Confederate Spies.” Here are two examples of SHC material found on this topic:

  • John Y. Beall Papers – “Two volumes, dated ca. 1865-1899 and ca. 1935-1942, documenting the trial and execution of John Yates Beall, acting master in the Confederate Navy, for espionage and breaking the laws of war.”  According to our biographical information, Beall was accused of attempting to free fellow Confederate soldiers from the confines of the prison at Johnson’s Island at Sandusky Bay, Ohio.
  • Letters concerning Sam Davis, 1863 -  “Three letters, November-December 1863, from Union soldiers in Tennessee, concerning the execution of Sam Davis at Pulaski, Tenn., on 27 November 1863, as a Confederate spy.”

Tickets to the 1937 Inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Following yesterday’s festivities in Washington, D. C., we felt it might be nice to share with you a piece of presidential inaugurations past. Shown below is a ticket to the 1937 inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, his second inauguration, and the accompanying invitation to meet with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

From the Frank A. Daniels Papers (SHC Collection #4481, finding aid):

Inauguration tickets from 1937

Invitation to meet the Roosevelts

Invitation to meet the Roosevelts

Name that Signature

Many of the SHC’s collections contain letters, notes, cards, and other writings by individuals of a certain historical celebrity. We have many items signed by presidents, sports stars, famous actors, authors, and more.

A number of these luminaries actually have pretty poor penmanship. So, just for fun, we thought we’d share a few squiggly ones here to see if you, the reader, can guess the name behind the signatures. If you’d like to guess, please do so in the comment box below. Later we’ll share the identities of these mystery folks.

Here’s a clue: all of the following are signatures of famous writers of the 20th century.

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You know what this farm needs? More kudzu.

Kudzu was introduced to the United States at the first World’s Fair in 1876, and was planted by southern farmers to prevent land erosion. During World War II, however, tensions between the United States and Japan resulted in a kudzu shortage…that’s right, a kudzu shortage. I discovered this while perusing a website called Remember Cliffside (the subject of a North Carolina Miscellany post from a while back), which contained an article describing the kudzu shortage in Cliffside, N.C. This information proved integral to my understanding the context of this letter, found recently in the Delta and Providence Cooperative Farm Records (finding aid):

Turn-of-the-century Turkey Cartoons

Here are a couple of Thanksgiving cartoons from a “Winter Stories” scrapbook, ca. 1900, from the papers of Charles L. Coon (finding aid), our friend from the previous post. Coon, an early 20th-century education reformer and teacher, put together a number of scrapbooks like this for use in classrooms.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

Looking for a Thanksgiving side dish…how about some monster corn?


Just for fun. This photograph comes from the Bryan Family Papers (Collection #96, finding aid). Unfortunately, this photograph is undated, unattributed, and unidentified. But it’s still undeniably unrelenting in its agricultural intrigue.