The Scuttlebutt about a Scuttled Ship: Visit by Colombian-born Author to the Wolfsonian Library

•September 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment

This afternoon, our resident steamship aficionado and volunteer cataloguer, Dr. Laurence Miller invited Alvaro Mendoza Arango to visit our rare book and special collections library. Mr. Mendoza is one of the authors of De la Gloria al Olvido, a book published in 2014 that details the history and fate of the German steamship, Prinz August Wilhelm.


Born in Barranquilla, Colombia in 1940, Mr. Mendoza first became interested in this Hamburg-Amerika Linie ship when, as a child, he visited Puerto Colombia and saw its mast still emerging from the shallows where her captain scuttled her. Caught in the Caribbean when the First World War broke out, the ship remained anchored in Colombian waters for the duration—as that country remained neutral during the European conflict. After the United States entered the war, the USS Shipping Board sent representatives to Puerto Colombia to purchase and take possession of all German and Austrian ships detained in the area. The German captain decided it was better to burn and scuttle the ship than to see her converted into an enemy transport or auxiliary cruiser. Mr. Mendoza generously inscribed and left us a copy of the book, beautifully illustrated with postcard, photographs, and other illustrations provided by his co-author, Enrique Yidi Daccarett, who has salvaged much from the wreck to be displayed in a museum.


While we unfortunately did not have any original materials about the Prinz August Wilhelm in our own holdings, Dr. Miller and I were able to find some other materials of interest to show our guest. While many of those items have not yet been digitized, we did find an oversized tome with photographic illustrations of the decorative interiors of the steamship, Monarch of Bermuda with images ready to upload.


The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

The H. H. Martyn & Co., Ltd. was responsible for the whole of the interior decorations of the rooms (with the exception of the loose furniture) pictured below.







The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

In addition to the original photograph album, The Wolfsonian Library also holds a few rare color advertising brochures for the same ship, which I thought I would share with our online visitors.



The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

Thanks to the generosity of Dr. Miller, we have a large number of deck plans and other promotional materials related to the Hamburg-Amerika Linie, the company that built the Prinz August Wilhelm in the pre-WWI era. Here is a small sampling of some of our holdings, including some deck plans and brochures for Ariadne. Built in 1951 as Patricia for Swedish Lloyd Gothenburg, it was sold in 1957 to Hamburg-America’s cruise line, until sold again to Chandris in 1972.



The Wolfsonian–FIU, Laurence Miller Collection

Finally, in honor of the birthplace of our guest, I rustled up a photograph album that included an image of a river steamer leaving Barranquilla, Colombia from the 1890s.


The Wolfsonian–FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

The Dog Days of Presidential Campaigns: FDR Defends his Pet Terrier from Republican Political Attack

•September 23, 2016 • Leave a Comment

On this day in history, 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed a gathering of International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union members at a campaign dinner. After discussing labor issues and the progress America was making in the prosecution of the war, he took a few minutes to defend the honor of his pet Scottish terrier, Fala, who had been defamed in Republican political attack ads aimed at the president.


The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of Francis Xavier Luca & Clara Helena Palacio Luca

Fala had been given to President Roosevelt by his cousin, Margaret Suckey, in 1940, when still a puppy. Roosevelt had become attached to the dog, and Fala regularly sat with him as he worked in the Oval Office, and frequently traveled with him on official state visits, as when Roosevelt met with Winston Churchill in Newfoundland in 1941.


The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of Francis Xavier Luca & Clara Helena Palacio Luca

As the 1944 presidential elections neared and it appeared that the Democratic incumbent would probably win another landslide election, Republican political operatives circulated a story aimed at attacking Roosevelt through his pet. FDR’s opponents claimed that after allegedly leaving the pet behind during a trip to the Aleutian Islands, the president had dispatched a Navy destroyer—at taxpayer expense of $20 million dollars—to reclaim the dog.

At the Teamster Union dinner meeting, Roosevelt objected to such “libelous statements about my dog,” and called the Republican attempt to sully the reputation of a defenseless dog a desperate act designed to distract the American electorate from more important issues.


The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of Francis Xavier Luca & Clara Helena Palacio Luca

The images used in this post about a presidential pet come from a satire titled, The Ordeal of Oliver Airdale, or, To the Dogs and Back. Written and illustrated by D. T. Carlisle and published just before America’s entry in the Second World War in 1941, the “satire with teeth in it” reimagines American civilization from colonial times to the outbreak of World War II from the perspective of dogs.

In the story, Oliver Airdale, (an obvious stand in for FDR), watches with anxiety the rise to power of Der Pootsch (Adolf Hitler).


The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of Francis Xavier Luca & Clara Helena Palacio Luca

Even as the Skye Terrier (Charles Lindbergh) and other “America First”-ers preach appeasement and trick other “whelps” into remaining oblivious to the danger posed by the “hounds of Hundia” (Nazi Germany), Oliver Airdale remains steadfast in his stance and drives Der Pootsch from the scene.



The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of Francis Xavier Luca & Clara Helena Palacio Luca

Around the World at the Wolfsonian-FIU Library

•September 20, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Today’s post comes to you courtesy of Dr. Nicolae Harsanyi and Sharf Associate Librarian Rochelle Pienn. Yesterday, Florida International University professor Gail Hollander arrived with ten Global & Sociocultural Studies graduate students for  an introduction to and orientation about The Wolfsonian-FIU rare book and special collections library. The social science students are versed in geography, anthropology, and sociology and interested in a variety of interdisciplinary topics dealing with nationalism, modernization, the social production of urban space, and race, gender, class, and ethnic identities. In preparation for their visit, we pulled for their perusal a variety of visual materials ranging from geographic and cartographic representations of the peoples and resources of the Pacific from the 1939-1940 Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco; rare books dealing with city planning, garden city movements, and urbanization issues; New Deal era tracts with graphic statistics showing the residential breakdown of Houston and other U.S. cities in terms of poverty and race; British colonial photograph albums, and other rare primary source materials. Here is a report from Dr. Harsanyi: 

The professor and visiting graduate students had the opportunity to view various historical and economic maps of various continents and regions of the world. Two spectacular maps reproducing the murals realized by the Mexican artists Miguel Covarrubias for the San Francisco 1939 Pacific Exhibition present the distribution of major ethnic groups inhabiting the shores of the Pacific Ocean as well as the economic resources of their countries.



The Wolfsonian-FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

Colonial powers made efforts to draw up accurate maps of the territories they held.  Here are two maps dating from the end of the nineteenth century about South Africa.  The first one, taken from a Portuguese statistical album published in 1903, deals with the railroad network built in the area, while the second one, dating from 1891, shows the British colonies on the southern part of the continent.


The Wolfsonian-FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection



The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

Sometimes maps prove to be useful propaganda tools. When transformed into games, they are effective in shaping the mind of the players, most often children, and in inculcating certain ideological messages.  A set of two-sided puzzles presents the map of historic Hungary as it has been dismembered after the First World War, its neighboring states acquiring significant parts of its territory.


The Wolfsonian-FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Promised Gift

A board game from the 1930’s Italy presents Rome as the center of the Mediterranean world thanks to the development of a network of air lines and other means of transportation.


The Wolfsonian-FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

On display for the students were different statistics that acquainted them with how eloquent their graphic representation can be.  The Soviet propaganda-machine made extensive use of such innovative pictographic representations to promote the notion of progress that the new regime was supposed to promote along with its societal and economic growth. The first image tellingly suggests the how industrial growth brings about an increase in the number of proletariat, while the second image compares agricultural production in the USSR and Europe.



The Wolfsonian-FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

The students also saw several plates from Otto Neurath’s portfolio of statistical data, Gesellschaft und Wirtschaft, published in Vienna in 1930.





The Wolfsonian-FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

 What follows is Sharf Associate Librarian Rochelle T. Pienn’s observations on her interaction with one of the graduate student visitors:

One of the doctoral students in FIU’s Department of Global & Sociocultural Studies who attended the library presentation researches the history of homelessness and labor in Asia and the British Empire. The Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection contains primary resource material and rare books documenting the use of “coolie” workers. Natives providing unskilled manual labor or doing physical tasks in China and India were often referred to under the indiscriminately racist and blanket term of “coolies.”


The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

This antique albumen print taken by Tosco Peppe is one of many beautiful ethnographic portraits of indigenous people in an original photograph album of Burma, the Andaman Islands, Japan and Australia compiled by Augustus John Lavie. Lavie served in the Royal (Madras) Artillery in 1860, and retired as Lieutenant-Colonel in 1888.


The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection


The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

This early 20th century photograph album documents an official visit to India by an executive from the London office of the Church Missionary Society. His goal was to inspect progress in Peshawar, Amritsar, Mussoorie, Simla, and Lahore—for which he had help from coolie labor.


The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection


The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection


The Wolfsonian-FIU, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection

Images from this 1886 photograph album were put together by H. W. Benson during his peacetime service with the 1st Battalion East Surrey Regiment of Great Britain. The company surveyed the Northwest passage of India. This particular expedition brought Benson and his battalion into Kashmir, Ladakh and beyond to the shores of Lake Pagong in Tibet.

Long Shot: Populist Politician and Presidential Contender Huey Pierce Long Assassinated This Day In History

•September 8, 2016 • Leave a Comment


The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Loan

On this day in 1935, the populist Louisiana governor and U. S. senator, Huey Pierce Long, Jr. was shot only one month after formally announcing his plans to become a contender in the 1936 presidential election. Though surrounded by a cadre of personal bodyguards, the controversial politician and presidential candidate was shot at point-blank range just outside the main hall of the Louisiana state capitol building by Carl Weiss, a doctor whose relatives’ political fortunes had been upset by Long’s political machinations and chicanery. Rushed to the hospital and into surgery, Long would nevertheless die some thirty hours later.

Long’s legacy continues to generate controversy. As Louisiana’s youngest governor, the thirty-four-year old lawyer championed the cause of poor, working class persons against the power and interests of Standard Oil and other petro-chemical refineries in his state, demanding that the rich corporations pay their fair share of taxes. Some of his achievements were admirable, as when Long brought an end to discriminatory poll taxes and provided free textbooks for Louisiana schoolchildren regardless of race. During his term as governor of Louisiana, Long reshaped the landscape of the state by inaugurating the greatest road and highway building initiative in the history of Louisiana that added nearly 2,000 miles of paved highways. He also pushed forward the building of a bridge spanning the mighty Mississippi, the construction of a new governor’s mansion and state capital, a charity hospital and an airport for New Orleans, and buildings and a stadium for the Louisiana State University campus.


The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

But Long could be petty in his dealings as well, rewarding political cronies with state jobs or contracts, and retaliating against political opponents by supporting candidates running against them, by stopping state roads at the borders of their districts, or by firing relatives employed in state jobs. On the national stage, Long argued that ending the Great Depression required a radical restructuring of the economy. Towards that end, Long advocated the redistribution of wealth, founded a Share Our Wealth Society, and launched a political platform with a campaign song that promised to make “Every man a King.”

After the Senate rejected one of his bills, Long warned them that a “mob is coming to hang the other ninety-five of you damn scoundrels and I’m undecided whether to stick here with you or go out and lead them.”


The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Loan

Not averse to using bribery or blackmail, the “Kingfish” once notoriously boasted that he bought legislators “like sacks of potatoes, [and] shuffled them like a deck of cards.” His political enemies labeled him a demagogue and rabble-rouser and tried to have him impeached and thrown out of office. But ever the politician, Long used his popularity and the patronage power of his office to build an unassailable political machine and to thwart his political opponents by means fair and foul. Long’s enemies responded in kind. Although he survived impeachment proceedings unscathed, he regularly received credible death threats, so that he never went out in public without a detail of armed bodyguards. In the end, even that precaution proved insufficient.

Long’s image is caricatured in an installation presently on view in the foyer of The Wolfsonian–FIU library, titled The Politics of -Isms.


Although derided as a dangerous demagogue and socialist by his adversaries on the right, Long was lampooned and caricatured by the Communist Party’s most prominent artist, Hugo Gellert. In one lithographic plate, Gellert depicted Huey Long as one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, appearing in a Ku Klux Klan outfit and brandishing leg irons and chains.


The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of Francis Xavier Luca & Clara Helena Palacio Luca

Another image penned by Gellert ridiculed Long’s campaign song by depicting the working men of Louisiana wearing crowns of thorns.


The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

If you happen to be in the Miami area this presidential election season, be sure to visit the library installation where you can see these and other politically-charged propaganda materials from the 1930s.

Unhappy Anniversary: The Wolfsonian Library Commemorates the September 1, 1939 German Invasion of Poland

•September 1, 2016 • Leave a Comment


Portfolio plate designed by Antonio Arias Bernal (Mexican, 1914-1960),

The WolfsonianFIU, Gift of Martijn F. Le Coultre

On this day in 1939, Adolf Hitler inaugurated the German “Blitzkrieg” assault on Poland that marked the beginning of the Second World War.


The WolfsonianFIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

The initial phase of the “lightning”-like attack involved heavy aerial bombardment of airfields, railroad lines, munitions depots, followed by a fast moving mobile land invasion by tanks and artillery preparing the way for the German infantry.


The WolfsonianFIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

Although the Polish army numbered one million men, it was ill-equipped in comparison. Cavalry units proved no match for German tanks and armored vehicles.


The WolfsonianFIU, Gift of Steve Heller

The Ribbentrop-Molotov (Hitler-Stalin) Nonaggression Pact signed on August 23, 1939, secretly made provisions for the Soviets to invade Poland from the East later in mid-September.


Portfolio plate designed by Antonio Arias Bernal (Mexican, 1914-1960),

The WolfsonianFIU, Gift of Martijn F. Le  Coultre

While treaty obligations required Great Britain and France to come to Poland’s aid, England responded to the invasion by declaring war on September 3rd, organizing a few half-hearted bombing raids over Germany, and then inaugurating an eight-month long Sitzkrieg (or “sitting war”). While the French began (and quickly ended) an offensive against the Saar in September, the attack amounted to nothing, and they withdrew days later. In the meantime, Poland was overrun, divided, and dismembered into Nazi and Soviet occupied territories.


The WolfsonianFIU, Gift of Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Phoney War on the Western Front continued with no major military land operations until the Germans, having “pacified” Poland, turned their troops and attentions westward, attacking France and the Low Countries on May 10, 1940.

Paris Liberated on This Day in History: A Wolfsonian Library Reflection

•August 25, 2016 • Leave a Comment

This brief post commemorates the liberation of Paris from German occupation on August 25th, 1944, an event celebrated in a couple of French children’s propaganda books in The Wolfsonian library collection.

XC1991_884_000The WolfsonianFIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

In the days leading up to the liberation, members of the French Resistance had entered the city, freed some civilian prisoners, and taken over the Grand Palais. German snipers, however, continued to contest the advance of an armored division entering Paris from the South.


The WolfsonianFIU, Gift of Pamela K. Harer

More than 625 Resistance fighters and civilians perished during the battle to liberate the French capital, and in retaliation, some German prisoners and French collaborators were summarily killed upon capture. But after two days of fighting, Allied forces of the 2nd Armored Division swept into Paris virtually unopposed.


Portfolio plate from Album historico la II Guerra Mundial illustrated by Antonio Arias Bernal

The WolfsonianFIU, Gift of Martijn F. Le Coultre

Sacco and Vanzetti Executed on This Day in History: A Wolfsonian Reflection

•August 23, 2016 • Leave a Comment

It only seems fitting to mark the anniversary of the execution of Italian-born anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti this day in 1927, as the library has just opened a new installation on Socialism, Communism, and other political “Isms.”

Politics of Isms Installation View04

So entwined have the names (and fate) of Sacco and Vanzetti become in legend, song, art, and history, that it would be difficult to imagine referring to either of the anarchists executed on this day without mentioning the other as well, as they were tried and died together. Although both men had been born in Italy and immigrated to the United States in 1908, neither the shoemaker and night watchman (Sacco) nor the fish peddler (Vanzetti) had known the other before meeting during a strike in 1917.

Both men opposed American intervention in the First World War, fled to Mexico, and upon their return at the war’s end, became committed followers of Luigi Galleani, an Italian anarchist who advocated bombings, assassination, and violent revolution to end the deplorable working conditions endured by immigrant factory workers in America. After their leader and eight associates were rounded up and deported in June, 1919, the remaining sixty or so Galleanists either went into hiding or participated in retaliatory acts of terrorism, including a botched bomb attempt against U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Several Italian anarchists were arrested and interrogated, and one Galleanist, Andrea Salsedo fell to his death from the 14th floor of the Bureau of Investigation offices in New York. Two days later, Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested for an unrelated crime, tried, and condemned to death.


Painting by Peppino Mangravite

The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection

On April 15, 1920, the paymaster, Frederick Parmenter, and a guard, Alessandro Beradelli of the Slater and Morrill Shoe Company in South Braintree, Massachusetts were shot and killed by robbers who seized the company’s payroll boxes and sped away in a stolen Buick.

Speculating that the robbery—(and another several months earlier)—had been planned to finance the anarchists’ agenda, the police arrested Sacco and Vanzetti on May 5, 1920 when they and a couple of other Italian associates attempted to pick up a car presumed to be one of the getaway vehicles. Sacco and Vanzetti were both armed at the time of their arrest and lied about having any anarchist affiliations; they were charged with armed robbery and murder.

On September 16, 1920, a bomb exploded on Wall Street, killing 38 and seriously injuring 143. The explosion was the deadliest act of terrorism in U.S. history, and was presumed to have been a retaliatory strike by other Galleanists. It created an atmosphere of hysteria that undoubtedly prejudiced the judge and jury in the Sacco and Vanzetti case.


Getty Images

The prosecution made much of the defendants’ anarchist affiliations, and in the anti-anarchist hysteria of the period it is not surprising that the jury deliberated for no more than a few hours before finding both men guilty of first degree murder on July 14, 1921.


The Wolfsonian–FIU purchase with Founder’s fund

Before, during, and after the trial, the presiding judge, Webster Thayer made numerous public statements condemning Bolshevism and anarchism as grave dangers to America’s institutions, and he denied all of the defendants’ post-trial motions for a new trial.


Portrait of Judge Thayer by American Communist artist, Hugo Gellert

The Wolfsonian–FIU purchase with Founder’s fund

By 1925, the case had attracted worldwide notice, with rallies organized on their behalf in nearly every major city in North and South America, Europe, and the Far East.


The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift made by Ideal Gladstone, in memory of her husband, John.

While their April 1927 death sentence provoked worldwide demonstrations in support of their clemency or pardon, a three-man commission appointed by Massachusetts Governor Alvan Fuller upheld the verdict, and on August 23, 1927, Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco died in the electric chair.


Design by Rockwell Kent commemorating the Execution of Sacco and Vanzetti

The Wolfsonian–FIU, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. Collection