Tag Archives: Philadelphia

Larry Aitken Pipe Ceremony (APS Native American Conference)


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This is part of the conference “Building Partnerships Between Archives and Indian Communities,” held at the American Philosophical Society (APS) in Philadelphia, May 2010.

“Pipe Ceremony.” Larry Aitken, Tribal Historian of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.
“We did not mean to leave. But things in the East Coast were killing us. Now more than three centuries later, we have returned to our homeland for the first time. We are here to restore, preserve and educate future generations about our language and culture. The language and customs never died, they just lay dormant. This is an historic opportunity today.”

Following is a photo gallery of the Pipe Ceremony, all photos by Frank Margeson, Copyright (©) 2010 American Philosophical Society.

Larry Aitken Pipe Ceremony (1 of 6)

Larry Aitken Pipe Ceremony (1 of 6)

Larry Aitken Pipe Ceremony (2 of 6)

Larry Aitken Pipe Ceremony (2 of 6)

Larry Aitken Pipe Ceremony (3 of 6)

Larry Aitken Pipe Ceremony (3 of 6)

Larry Aitken Pipe Ceremony (4 of 6)

Larry Aitken Pipe Ceremony (4 of 6)

Larry Aitken Pipe Ceremony (5 of 6)

Larry Aitken Pipe Ceremony (5 of 6)

Larry Aitken Pipe Ceremony (6 of 6)

Larry Aitken Pipe Ceremony (6 of 6)


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Pat McPherson, Introduction; Regna Darnell, Native American Languages as a Core Tradition of the APS (APS Native American Conference)


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This is part of the conference “Building Partnerships Between Archives and Indian Communities,” held at the American Philosophical Society (APS) in Philadelphia, May 2010.

“Introduction.” APS Executive Officer Pat McPherson.
“This language archive is vitally important when many of these languages are in danger of extinction. We are here to celebrate the archive and work together to make it available to Native Americans and scholars.”

“Native American Languages as a Core Tradition of the APS.”
Regna Darnell, Director of the First Nations Studies Program at the University of Western Ontario.

“As the founding director of the First Nation Studies Program, I can tell you that universities are reawakening the protocols of collaborative partnerships. APS is pivotal for the study of Native American languages and to some extent, of Native Peoples.

Thomas Jefferson, Third President of the United States.

Thomas Jefferson, Third President of the United States. He recorded Indian vocabularies. / APS Prints Collection.

“[America’s] Founding Fathers classified the indigenous population as a ‘cabinet of curiosities,’ categorizing them in the natural science field as part of Enlightenment thinking. They also amassed data on the languages of the peoples of America. The Founding Fathers prized something ‘American’ over the Old World, and identified with Native Americans such as by dressing up as them for the Boston Tea Party.

“Early APS Members who were anchored in philosophy did not conduct anthropological fieldwork, though Wilhelm Van Humboldt called for the need to have accurate data numbers on the languages.

“In the book ‘Jefferson and the Indians,’ it tells of Jefferson admiring the freedom of native people living outside of civilization. He thought of the Indians as noble but disappearing, and thus needed records to be available for study of them. Jefferson’s Indian vocabularies was lost in 1809 when he moved to Monticello, but there are remnants at the APS. He recognized the diversity of the Indian languages, and thought that they were the key to the affinity of nations, though he collected mostly Algonquin vocabularies.

	Vocabulary form : List of words, in English, with space for listing the Indian equivalent.

Jefferson's Indian Vocabulary List. List of words, in English, with space for listing the Indian equivalent, 1792. / APS American Indian Vocabulary Collection.

Jefferson’s vision of science is at the core of the APS. Jean Duponceau classified Indian languages on grammar rather than vocabulary, but Jefferson rejected that. But both were mistaken. John Pickering designed a uniform orthography. Albert Gallatin created a map of linguistic groups and a vocabulary. Henry Schoolcraft made Ojibwe narratives. Lewis Cass advised Jefferson on the Lewis and Clark expedition. Daniel Brinton transcribed the Iroquois Bill of Rights, made migration legends and kept Philadelphia on the map for professional anthropology.

“Brinton became the first anthropology professor in the country at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1894 he presented at the World’s Fair, and was the first to include South American languages, drawing the hemisphere into a single fold. Franz Boas, whose base remained in academia, wrote the 1911 “Handbook to American Indian Languages.” Through the 1920s, he developed and catalogued based on fieldwork, demonstrating that each language has its own structure.

“APS kept the manuscripts safely, and now with partnership is establishing communication, respect, collaboration and continuity that lasts across centuries.


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Overview: Building Partnerships Between Archives and Indian Communities Conference at American Philosophical Society (APS)


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“Building Partnerships Between Archives and Indian Communities” was a conference held May 20–21, 2010 at the American Philosophical Society (APS) in Philadelphia. (Short URL: http://tinyurl.com/APS-Ind-Conf)

Larry Aitken Pipe Ceremony (2 of 6)

Larry Aitken, tribal historian for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, performs a pipe ceremony in the Jefferson Garden next to the American Philosophical Society on May 20, 2010.
Photo by Frank Margeson/APS.

The Mellon Foundation sponsored the conference, and also provided a grant that allowed APS to build a digital archive of endangered Native American languages, including 1,000+ hours of language materials from 54 indigenous languages, Miller added. APS also recently received a Getty Foundation grant that enabled the institution to review its collection of more than 110,000 images of American Indians and to digitize more than 1,000 images. APS worked with a Native American advisory board on both of these grant projects.

The conference “illuminated the ways that tribal and Indian interests can benefit from a new openness on the part of archives and museums, and demonstrated how modern-day Indian societies can benefit from collections held by institutions far from their communities,” writes Hon. Robert Miller, Chief Justice of the Grand Ronde Tribe and conference presenter, in the Indian Country Today newspaper.

Read more coverage in the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s article, “Trying to Save Vanishing Languages.” (also available as a PDF).

Opening Ceremonies
1) “Greeting,” APS President Baruch Blumberg.
2) “Welcome Song,” Elder Watie Akins, Penobscot Nation.
3) “Greeting,” Chief Glenna Wallace, Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma.
4) “Prayer,” Elder-in-Residence Tom Belt, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
5) “Pipe Ceremony,” Tribal Historian Larry Aitken, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. Includes a Photo Gallery.

History of APS Native American Collection
1) “Introduction,” APS Executive Officer Pat McPherson.
2) “Native American Languages as a Core Tradition of APS,”
Regna Darnell, Director of the First Nations Studies Program at the University of Western Ontario.
3) “Preserving American Indian Languages and Cultures,”
Robert Miller, Professor of Law at Lewis and Clark Law School.
4) “Building Partnerships: Collaborative Projects Between the APS and Indigenous Communities,”
Timothy Powell, Director of Native American Projects at APS.

Conference Notes:
Session 1A: “Developing Protocols for Native American Materials.”
Session 1B: “Linguistics, Language Teaching, and Cultural Revitalization,” (Restricted Access).
Session 2A: “A Federated Future: Exploring Partnerships Between Cultural Institutions.”
Session 2B: “Viewing the APS Archives Through Indigenous Eyes,”
(Restricted Access).
Session 3: “Digital Repatriation: A New Historical Era.”
Session 4: “Where Do We Go From Here?”


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New on Phillibustering: Wakefield Baffles Phillies, as Halladay Loses to Red Sox; Mitch Williams’ Autograph War?

Two new posts up on my colleague’s blog Phillibustering, a Phillies fan transplanted in Washington D.C.

Tim Wakefield Montage.

Tim Wakefield Montage. © Stephen Baron / Skyline Stories.

Wrote about the Philadelphia Phillies losing to Boston Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on Sunday, and former Phillies closer Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams signing his new book “Straight Talk From Wild Thing” — possibly to start an autograph war with fellow Phillies alum Greg “The Bull” Luzinski.

Mitch Williams Book Signing

Mitch Williams Book Signing. © Stephen Baron / Skyline Stories.


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Philadelphia’s Colonial-Era Portraits were the Facebook Profile Pictures of their Time

Read the related Skyline Stories post on Verplanck’s presentation.
View The Library Company’s exhibit on daugerrotypes.
Browse books on early American photography at partner Diane Publishing.


OLD CITY, Philadelphia — When was the last time you had your portrait taken? I don’t mean by a cameraphone or digital camera, but actually sitting down, in a pose and wearing a suit or dress. College graduation or high school prom?

Miniature of Isaac Newtown, APS

Miniature of Isaac Newtown, ca. late 1700s. / American Philosophical Society.

But in colonial-era Philadelphia, portraits in the form of miniatures, silhouettes and early photos were popular, especially among the wealthy to maintain group identities, said independent scholar and curator Anne Verplanck at her recent lecture co-sponsored by the American Philosophical Society and The Library Company of Philadelphia. (Disclosure: I manage the APS’ Facebook page.)

From 1790-1810, miniatures were fashionable in Europe and the newly formed United States, she said. Artists such as James Peale, Charles Wilson Peale and Benjamin Trott painted tiny portraits, mostly of the “mercantile elite,” who put these in lockets, bracelets and necklaces.

“Miniatures needed proximity for viewing, so they expressed private sentiments,” Verplanck said during her lecture “Philadelphians’ Uses of Silhouettes, Miniatures and Daguerreotypes, 1760-1860” on February 24. “Some were embellished with a signature or locket of hair.”

Silhouette of Thomas Jefferson, APS

Silhouette of Thomas Jefferson, ca. 1800? / American Philosophical Society

Wealthy, urban Quakers tended to separate themselves from other groups, usually buying silhouettes and photos instead of miniatures. “Quakers preferred plainness and not having to interpret an artist’s work,” Verplanck said. “Physiognomy was popular too, it was being able to tell a person’s character by their body or face.”

In contrast to miniatures, silhouettes did not require an appointment or a long sitting time, as the images were not exposed. A small machine traced the person’s outline.

In the early 1800s, as the United States celebrated its founding and French General Marquis de Lafayette visited the country, Quakers collected one another’s silhouettes. “Quakers preserved and interpreted their identity and role in early United States history before genealogy became popular in the 1850s-60s,” she said.

After an early photo method called the daguerreotype was invented in France in 1839, Philadelphia (along with Boston, New York and Wilmington) became hubs of professional and amateur scientists experimenting with the new medium.

Daguerreotype of Paul Back Goddard, APS

One of Philadelphia's first daguerreotypes, of Dr. Paul Beck Goddard, 1839. / American Philosophical Society

Daguerreotypes provided an exact likeness, and were novel and inexpensive, Verplanck said. It took only 10-15 minutes to sit for a daguerreotype, and the top galleries in Philadelphia were on Market, Chestnut and Arch Streets. While miniatures cost $100-200, daguerreotypes cost $3-6.

Colonial-era sitters had to choose options that are familiar to anyone who changes their Facebook profile picture: what outfit should I wear? serious or fun pose? for a background, do I want the mountains or space lasers?


Read the related Skyline Stories post on Verplanck’s presentation.
View The Library Company’s exhibit on daugerrotypes.
Browse books on early American photography at partner Diane Publishing.


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Philadelphia’s Miniatures, Silhouettes and Daguerreotypes Presentation

Read the related Skyline Stories post on Verplanck’s presentation.
View The Library Company’s exhibit on daugerrotypes.
Browse books on early American photography at partner Diane Publishing.


Below is the slideshow that was to have been presented before the lecture: “Philadelphians’ Interest in Silhouettes, Miniatures, and Daguerreotypes, 1760-1860” by Anne Verplanck, independent scholar and curator, on February 24, 2010. The lecture was co-sponsored by the American Philosophical Society and The Library Company of Philadelphia.

You can also become a Facebook fan of the American Philosophical Society and The Library Company. (Disclosure: I manage the APS’ Facebook page.)

The Library Company of Philadelphia also recently exhibited “Catching A Shadow: Daguerreotypes in Philadelphia, 1839-1860.”


Read the related Skyline Stories post on Verplanck’s presentation.
View The Library Company’s exhibit on daugerrotypes.
Browse books on early American photography at partner Diane Publishing.


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Yuletide Spirit on Elfreth’s Alley

Carolers on Elfreth's Alley

Carolers on Elfreth's Alley, during the annual "Deck the Alley" event.

OLD CITY, Philadelphia — Fresh pine boughs, gingerbread, logs on the fire – and the first snowfall of the year.

This may sound like the book “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” but no! This was the scene at “Deck the Alley” on Elfreth’s Alley, held on December 5th.

“Deck the Alley” is Elfreth’s Alley’s roughly 10th annual self-guided tour of 13 private homes festooned with Christmas and holiday decorations. Elfreth’s Alley bills itself as the oldest continually-inhabited street in the country, dating to 1702. About 200 visitors paid $25 each to tour the colonial-era homes (plus cider and soup from The Clay Studio), while author Trinka Noble read from her children’s book “The Scarlet Stocking Spy.”

Elfreth's Alley Flickr Gallery

Robert and Susan Kettell, two longtime residents, spent countless hours decorating their late-1700s home. The Kettells hosted carolers in the living room, while the dining room warmly glowed with candlelight. In another house, a Christmas tree’s ornaments had been made by the resident’s late Grandmother.

Perhaps the best bit of holiday magic was when Gordon Trotter, a direct descendant of Daniel Trotter, an Elfreth’s Alley tenant in the 1770s, finally walked into his ancestor’s house. After current owner Sheri Watson met him, she said, “It was wonderful meeting someone with the connection to the past.” Trotter added, “I think it’s fantastic that I was able to come back to this house!”

“Deck the Alley” is one of the Alley’s two annual festivals, the other being Fête Day in June.

Note: A version of this article is slated to be published by Elfreth’s Alley.

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