Have you ever wondered how the totem poles got into Stanley Field Hall?

A lot of man power and a widened door.

© The Field Museum, GN84599, Photographer Herbert P. Burtch.

Moving totem poles formerly located in the Field Columbian Museum. Railroad cars, flat bed trains. Over 22 men outside west side, moving totem poles inside the new Field Museum building.


Drawings of insects found within the heads of mummies:

  • Fig. 1 & 2. - Necrobia mumiarum, natural size
  • Fig. 3 - Anatomical section of Necrobia mumiarum, magnified
  • Fig. 4 & 5 - Dermestes pollinctus, natural size 
  • Fig. 6 & 7 - Anatomical section of Dermestes pollinctus, magnified
  • Fig. 8 - Larva of the Dermestes pollinctus, magnified
  • Fig. 9 - Larva of the Dermestes pollinctus, natural size

from ‘A History of Egyptian Mummies’ by Thomas Pettigrew, 1834

Royal Institution Rare Book Collection

A Note on the Archives: Spelling

I have received some a note from an American indicating I have “misspelled” some of the archive words in tags, making it difficult to search on some topics (“fertiliser” in this case). I’m Canadian, so I use Canadian conventions in my spelling, which are a mix between British conventions, American conventions, and French influence, with some First Nations words thrown in for good measure.

There are a few basic differences, the most common being that words that end in “-ize” in American English are sometimes “-ise” in Canadian English (depending on who you ask, but that is the way I learned in University), often we throw in a ‘u’ after an ‘o’, French-derived words that end in “-er” in American English end in “-re” in Canadian English, and consonants are usually doubled when adding a suffix:

Canadian vs. American

fertiliser = fertilizer

favourite = favorite

centre = center

travelling = traveling

touque = ???

bunny hug = ???

dépanneur = ???

hoser = ???

Being from the prairies, I also sometimes use words like “slough” or “bluff,” but that doesn’t come up much as an issue.

So, if you are looking for something in the archives, that is how I have written them. This is also part of the reason I like the archives in the posts themselves. Best of luck to you in figuring it out.

And no, we don’t say “aboot.” You learn something new every day, eh?

Today marks the 106th anniversary of the death of Charles Duncan McIver, a key advocate for the founding of the State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG) and the school’s first president (1891-1906).


He died of apoplexy on September 17, 1906 while traveling by train with politician William Jennings Bryan from Raleigh to Greensboro. He was only 45 years old (days shy of his 46th birthday).



White Gloves and Party Manners

Written by Marjabelle Young and Ann Buchwald

Illustrated by Christiane

1965 First Edition


This is an illustrated guide to manners for “little girls (and their brothers, too)” written by Young and Buchwald.  Illustrated by French fashion illustrator, Christiane, advice includes instructions on taking a bubble bath, cleaning your finger nails, answering the door at a party, and striking up pleasant conversation.  While outdated, this book offers a nice glimpse into history.  White Gloves and Party Manners is a new acquisition for the Special Collections and is now a part of our “How to be a ‘good girl’” treasury.

This book is a treasure from the Mount Holyoke College Special Collections.  See it live in the treasure case of the library reading room!  To find out more visit us online or in the cellar of Dwight.

Cataloged this week…

Today is Constitution Day, a celebration of the 227th anniversary of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Here in University Archives, we just added to our collection a pocket-sized printing of the U.S. Constitution that was presented to Mattie J. Taylor at her graduation from the State Normal and Industrial College (now UNCG) on May 27, 1904.

The book notes that the books were given to new graduates, many of whom would be going on to careers in public education, in order to “call attention to the importance of teaching the duty of the individual to the community in which he lives, to his State and to his country. The object of public education is good citizenship, and those who have been prepared by the help of the State to teach its schools cannot be impressed too strongly with the idea that it is their high privilege and duty to so train each child intrusted to them as to make him or her a strong, industrious, law-abiding, patriotic citizen.”

This Giant Redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum ) was collected for the Field Museum’s collection in 1911. It was 22 ft in diameter. Record trees have been measured to be 311 ft (94.8 m) in height and over 56 ft (17 m)  in diameter.

© The Field Museum, CSB34454, Photographer Huron H. Smith.

8 men standing inside Giant Redwood tree trunk. Men in undercut of 22 foot diameter trees, Camp 20, Barnwood Lumber Company.

California Redwood Forest Expedition.

5x7 glass negative



Old envelop

Here is something special. It is an opened envelop that I fished out of a box of medieval archival remainders in the archives of the Dutch city of Maastricht. I was looking for unknown fragments of medieval manuscripts, while wading through piles of old binding materials like the stack shown in the lower image. The envelop appears to have been ripped open and in that state it remains. It is post-medieval and dates from the 19th century.

It is special for its original contents. Casual handwriting states what that was: a medal (“Médaille de Ste Hélène”) offered to one Gerard Timmermans, previously a soldier (“ancien. militaire”) in the army of “L’Empereur Napoléon I” - emperor Napoleon. The St Helene medal was offered by the later Napoleon III (d. 1871) to soldiers who had participated in the campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte, veterans that were addressed as “Remnants of the Great Army”.

The envelop is really not supposed to exist anymore: it is a miracle that it was not thrown out. I like to think it was received with a shout of surprise, opened up and put aside, while the medal was fixed to the recipients coat. How great that that moment of joy is captured by an old envelop placed in a box of archival material, waiting for discovery.

Pic (my own): Maastricht, Regionaal Historisch Centrum,18.A Box 543 Varia. More about the (now lost) medal here (with a pic). This is the archive where I found it.

Delta Sigma Theta sorority members, Des Moines, Iowa, circa 1924

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, is a private, not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world. Since its founding more than 200,000 women have joined the organization. The organization is a sisterhood of predominantly Black, college educated women. [source]

Iowa Digital Library: Delta Sigma Theta sorority members, Des Moines, Iowa, circa 1924

View all Women’s History Wednesday posts

Mammal Monday, Okapi, also known as the forest giraffe or zebra giraffe. It is most closely related to the giraffe. Okapis have scent glands on each foot that produce a tar-like substance to mark their territory.

© The Field Museum, CSZ59325.

Okapi, mounted mammal specimen, Okapia johnstoni Hall 22 Case 22 African Mammals.

8x10 Interpositive



The first electric motor was created on this day in 1821.

In 1820 Hans Christian Ørsted announced his discovery that the flow of an electric current through a wire produced a magnetic field around the wire. André-Marie Ampère followed on and showed that the magnetic force apparently was a circular one, producing in effect a cylinder of magnetism around the wire. No such circular force had ever before been observed.

In 1821 Michael Faraday set about trying to understand the work of Ørsted and Ampère, devising his own experiment using a small mercury bath. This device, which transformed electrical energy into mechanical energy, was the first electric motor.

This apparatus is the only original surviving example made by Faraday the following year after his discovery in 1822.

The motor features a stiff wire which hang down into a glass vessel which has a bar magnet secured at the bottom. The glass vessel would then be part filled with mercury (a metal that is liquid at room temperature and an excellent conductor). Faraday connected his apparatus to a battery, which sent electricity through the wire creating a magnetic field around it. This field interacted with the field around the magnet and caused the wire to rotate clockwise.

This discovery led Faraday to contemplate the nature of electricity. Unlike his contemporaries, he was not convinced that electricity was a material fluid that flowed through wires like water through a pipe. Instead, he thought of it as a vibration or force that was somehow transmitted as the result of tensions created in the conductor.

In Faraday’s scientific notebook he commented:


1821 Sept 3

….continually turn round. Arranged a magnet needle in a glass tube with mercury about it and by a cork, water, etc. supported a connecting wire so that the upper end should go into the silver cup and its mercury and the lower move in the channel of mercury round the pole of the needle. The battery arranged with the wire as before. In this way got the revolution of the wire round the pole of the magnet. The direction was as follows, looking from the above down.

Very satisfactory, but make more sensible apparatus.

Tuesday Sept. 4

Apparatus for revolution of wire and magnet. A deep basin with a bit of wax at bottom and then filled with mercury, a Magnet stuck upright in wax so that pole just above surface of mercury, then piece of wire floated by cork, at lower end dipping into mercury and above into silver cup as before, and confined by wire or capillary attraction from leaving the M. Pole.

Faraday’s motor and scientific notebook can be found within the museum and archival collections of the Ri.

  • Killer Queen
  • Queen
Born Today: Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara, September 5, 1946 – November 24, 1991) was a British singer-songwriter and producer, best known as the lead vocalist and lyricist of the rock band Queen. Learn more about this 2001 inductee at the Library and Archives.

Audio clip: Queen, “Killer Queen,” recorded in Tokyo, Japan in 1985. From the Frederick S. Boros Audio Recordings.