American Collections blog

What's on the mind of Team America?

Introduction

Find out more about our Americas Studies collections on the Americas blog, written by our curatorial team and guest posts from the Eccles Centre writers in residence. Our collections cover both North and South America, as well as the Caribbean. Read more

18 May 2020

¡La lotería! palabra mágica¡ ¡palabra encantadora!* The lotería! Magic word! Charming word!

Since I received greetings cards featuring the illustrations of the colourful Mexican game la lotería, I had wondered what we have in our collection at the British Library. I have soon discovered an amazing selection of books, and catalogues of linocut and woodcut prints, collected over the years.

 

Colourful image of a set of la Lotería board game cards
La Lotería board game cards. Image sourced by flickr. Uploaded by Andreanna Moya, August 2008. Some rights reserved.

 

Here began my journey into the magic of the divination game, and its representation through history. From early prints to variants of the digital age at the time of the Pandemic, this has been a multi-sensorial encounter with la lotería. An experience involving sight, imagination and spirit.

A triumph of Mexican colours and vibes, and a vibrant selection of charms, the traditional game of the lotería has its origins in 15th century Italy, a game played for noble and charitable causes, to collect money in support of the poor and commercial activities in financial crisis. It is then thought to have been adopted by Spain in the 16th century, before finally arriving in Mexico in 1769. Initially played by the colonial Mexican elite, the lotería was spontaneously embraced by all classes of society. It would become a mean for communities and families to interact, and to celebrate of traditional events, such as fairs and anniversaries [1].

¡La lotería! ¡Oh! ¡Palabra mágica¡ ¡palabra encantadora! ¡La lotería! [2].  Ignacio Cumplido, a prolific worker of arts and culture in the early 19th century Mexico, was a printer, writer and Mexican politician of liberal ideology. Alongside those pursuits, he also worked for the Museo Nacional of Mexico City, and in 1829 he became director of the press responsible for the printing of the Correo de la Federación Mexicana. He was later in charge of El Fénix de la Libertad, and El Atleta.

In 1844, while elected senator of the state of Mexico, he continued working as a printer and founded a printing school giving jobs and hope to young orphans and the marginalised. In the same year, the Cumplido’s press issued La Lotería, one of the first interesting essays on the phenomenology and psychology behind the fascination with this game of chances [3]. 

Although Cumplido’s essay refers to the origins and development of the bigger-scale lottery game, where contestants play with numbers printed on tickets previously bought, it is worth drawing attention on the similarity of both games, their origins, and their long-lasting coexistence. It argues that everyone is seduced by the lottery game, a source of illusion and hope, a sort of happiness or, at least, an apparent solace [4].

 

Black and white image of the title page of the book La Lotería printed in Mexico by Ignacio Cumplido in 1988. It depicts a man sat on the floor in the act of emptying his sacks full of coins, result of his lottery win
Screenshot. Title page of the British Library digitised La Lotería, Mexico: Impreso para Ignacio Cumplido, 1844. Shelfmark: DRT Digital Store 8226.aa.26.(3.).

 

In his series of twelve iconic linocuts for the Lotería cards and fortune poems, the artist Artemio Rodríguez combines mastery of the linocut art of print with the rich “politically-inflected imagery of José Guadalupe Posada”. Made between 1995 and 1998, the artist embodied his linocut illustrations in the traditional Mexican lotería card format.

 

Image of the front cover of the book ‘Lotería cards and fortune poems’. It shows an image of one of Rodríguez’s linocuts on a red background with watermarked illustrations
Lotería cards and fortune poems: a book of lives, linocuts by Artemio Rodríguez; poems by Juan Felipe Herrera, San Francisco, California: City Lights Books, 1999. Shelfmark: YC.2002.a.11813.

 

Huasteca is a region of the eastern part of Mexico, an area culturally and ethnographically rich in traditional arts, music and dance, with a precious heritage of indigenous civilizations. In this woodblock collection of prints, Alec Dempster  gives his personal interpretation of this beautiful land, the theatre of the Mesoamerican civilization period, organising visual messages and concepts in an oneiric resolution translated into lotería cards images.

 

Image of the front cover of the book ‘Lotería Huasteca’. It shows one of Dempster’s woodblock prints and depicts a mermaid, a mythological creature part woman and part fish.
Image of front cover. Alec Dempster, Lotería Huasteca, woodblock prints [illustrated], Erin, Ontario: The Porcupine's Quill, 2015. Shelfmark: YD.2016.a.231.

 

Google has been recently Celebrating Lotería in their Make the most of your time at home project, relaunching some of the most popular Google Doodle games from the Google Doodle Archive.

A smile instantly comes to my face every time I think of Lotería … I think of being with my extended family in Mexico for the holidays …  think of the laughter, the excitement, and how all the worries of the world melted away as this game brought us together, even if just for a few hours. It was exciting to collaborate with five Mexican and Mexican-American illustrators to reimagine many of the classic Lotería game art for the Doodle—along with some new cards for a fun sorpresa! (Perla Campos –Google Doodles, from Celebrating Lotería on the presentation of the game and on how she has been in spired by her memories of her family holidays in Mexico).

 

Screenhot from Google page ‘Popular Google Doodle games’. It shows a colourful set of 5 cards depicting La chalupa, El sol, El mundo and El CorazónScreenhot from Google page “Popular Google Doodle games”. Make the most of your time at home with popular past Google Doodle: Lotería 2019.

 

5. El Paraguas. Para el sol y para el agua. The umbrella. For the sun and for the rain.

When I received my first greeting card of the series La Lotería, it was to celebrate an important achievement. A very traditional black umbrella on a blue white-stitched sky background. Come rain or shine, come hell or high water, the umbrella, and what it symbolises, is there to protect me.

 

Photo of two lotería game cards. Card no. 21. La mano / The hand, shows a neat illustration of the hand on a blue-sky background. Card no. 5. El paraguas / The umbrella, shows an open umbrella on a blue white-stitched sky backgroundPhotographic image of greetings card featuring La mano, no. 21, and El Paraguas, no. 5. From La Lotería Notecards, by Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2014. Personal collection.

 

21. La mano. The hand. La mano de un criminal. The hand of a criminal.

The second card I received, a neat illustration of the hand, was in this instance a fun representation of the need to wash our hands. The advice accompanied a basket of goodies given to me during the first days of the lockdown due to the COVID-19, when it was almost impossible to find bread and pasta on supermarket shelves.

Coincidentally, I then came across new versions of my two greeting cards, La mano and La esperanza, amongst a collection re-designed by the Mexican artist Rafael Gonzales Jr. In Pandemic Lotería, a pop-art portrayal of realism and hope, he reinterprets the traditional signs to represent life in the time of the quarantine.

 

Images of lotería game card no. 21. La mano / The hand. It shows the hand holding a pink soap, and card no. 5. La esperanza / The hope. It shows an open umbrella. The stick of the umbrella is a syringe. They represent the importance of washing hands and the hope that scientists will find the COVID-19 vaccine Pandemic Lotería: La Mano and La Esperanza. Sourced by Instagram, uploaded by Rafael Gonzales Jr. (pinche_raf_art). March 2020. ©All images Rafael Gonzales Jr.

 

¡Viva la lotería! Hooray for the lottery!

Blog post by Annalisa Ricciardi, Cataloguer, Americas and Oceania Collections post-1850.

 

Bibliography and suggested reading:

*La Lotería, Mexico: Impreso para Ignacio Cumplido, 1844. Shelfmark: DRT Digital Store 8226.aa.26.(3.), page 3.

[1] On the history of the game of la lotería, visit Teresa Villegas digital project History of La Loteria, and take the chance to explore her digital installation: Traveling exhibition "La Lotería: An Exploration of Mexico". Mexico and USA.

On the history and origins of the lotería game see also Cumplido’s essay, from pages 4-5  [bibliographic details on note no. 2]

[2] La Lotería, para Ignacio Cumplido, 1844. Shelfmark: DRT Digital Store 8226.aa.26.(3.), page 3.

[3] On the very charismatic Ignacio Cumplido, intensely active in the arts and culture of 19th century Mexico, see the British Library digitised: Tipo que contiene parte de los caracteres y demas útiles de la imprenta de la calle de los Rebeldes num. 2, dirigida por Ignacio Cumplido [por Ignacio Cumplido], México, [Impreso por Ignacio Cumplido], 1936. Shelfmark: DRT Digital Store RB.23.a.34189.

On Complido’s art of printing and typography see: Cumplido, I., Establecimiento tipográfico de Ignacio Cumplido: libro de muestras, México, Distrito Federal, Instituto Mora, 2001, (1871facsimile edition). Shelfmark: YA.2003.b.763.

Garone Gravier, Marina, Nineteenth-century Mexican graphic design: the case of Ignacio Cumplido, in Design Issues, Vol. 18, no. 4 (Autumn, 2002), pages 54-63. Shelfmark: 3559.976000. 

[4] La Lotería, para Ignacio Cumplido, 1844. Shelfmark: DRT Digital Store 8226.aa.26.(3.), page 4 etc.

Lotería cards and fortune poems: a book of lives, linocuts by Artemio Rodríguez; poems by Juan Felipe Herrera, San Francisco, California: City Lights Books, 1999. Shelfmark: YC.2002.a.11813.

Artemio Rodríguez, on British Library catalogue.

Juan Felipe Herrera, on British Library catalogue.

For a more accurate understanding of the linocut art of Artemio Rodríguez, check the article Ingenuity and Homage: Poetic Lotería by Artemio Rodríguez, written by Katherine Blood for On Paper: Journal of the Washington Print Club (Fall 2016 Volume 1, No. 2) and available as a reprint in the blog session of the Library of Congress website: https://bit.ly/3dq5gqG

Dempster, Alec, Lotería Huasteca, woodblock prints [illustrated], Erin, Ontario: The Porcupine's Quill, 2015. Shelfmark: YD.2016.a.231. Check the author’s website for a more detailed explanation of the book.

Beezley, William H., Mexican national identity: memory, innuendo, and popular culture, University of Arizona Press, 2008. Shelfmark: m08/.25229

Loaeza, Guadalupe, De mexicanos, como la lotería: anécdotas que marcan su lugar en la historia, México: Ediciones B Vergara, 2009. Shelfmark: YF.2010.a.25316

 

 

14 May 2020

Views from the shore

Changing the perspective on James Cook’s arrival in Australia: online resources offering a view from the shore 

At the end of April, 250 years ago, the Gweagal people, in Kurnell (Kamay Botany Bay, New South Wales) encountered strangers approaching their shore. The written versions of this initial contact in journals and letters have since been studied and commemorated in Western culture. Extensive celebrations of the bicentenary in 1970 were televised worldwide and included a lengthy royal tour, pageants, and multiple re-enactments of Cook's arrival. Yet, now in 2020, James Cook's legacy in Australia is often the subject of controversial debate with commemoration events considerably more subdued than those 50 years ago. Re-examination of the original journals, letters and documents from the voyages by scholars since the 1970s has offered glimpses of a different narrative, and we are now beginning to hear other views of the events in 1770 and subsequent encounters: those recorded through story, song and dance and passed down through descendants of the Gweagal people and other communities who witnessed Cook's voyage up the east coast of Australia.  

Protestors during the Melbourne Invasion Day march in Melbourne on 26 January 2020
'Ever stopped to look through our eyes?' placard at Australia Day protests in Melbourne on 26 January 2020. Image by Mark Hrkac 2020 on Flickr, Creative Commons BY 2.0

With many of the public events marking the 250th anniversary suspended due to the current global pandemic (see Maria Nugent's perspective on the thwarted anniversary plans in her article, Virtually Captain Cook), we can look to the wealth of online exhibitions and digital resources that have been made available to explore First People’s accounts of Cook’s arrival in Australia. One such exhibition is the National Museum of Australia’s Endeavour Voyage: The Untold Stories of Cook and the First Australians which will be releasing new digital content to follow the voyage up Australia’s east coast until August 2020. This exhibition looks at the missing voices from the Endeavour story and content includes The Message: The Story from the Shore, a film made in collaboration with Indigenous communities which re-imagines how the news of the arrival of strangers was passed along groups on the east coast.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

East Coast Encounter: Re-imagining 1770 from Aust National Maritime Museum on Vimeo.

The Australian National Maritime Museum's Encounters 2020 program includes resources designed to bring to life perspectives from the shore as well as those from the ship. Material here includes an animated short film, The Strange Big Canoe, which combines journal records and Indigenous histories to depict HMB Endeavour’s voyage along the east coast, and the film, East Coast Encounter: Re-imagining 1770, which tells the story of the East Coast Encounter project, where a group of artists re-visit key places where Cook landed on Australia's East Coast. The Australian Government's Shared Histories site, part of their Endeavour 250 anniversary program, draws on items from these national collections to reflect on the events of 1770, and the lasting impact of the voyages on Indigenous Australians.

We are still here protest sign, Melbourne 2019
'We are still here' placard. Image by Julian Meehan, 2019 on Flickr Creative Commons BY 2.0

In the UK, the Portico Museum in Manchester, have launched the online exhibition What it is to be here: Colonisation and Resistance which is running until July 2020. The exhibits here trace the First Peoples of Australia’s resistance to colonisation in seven stages, from the first encounters in ‘The view from the shore’ up to the present day in ‘What it is to be here 2020’. This exhibition builds on the connections which have developed between Manchester, AIATSIS and the First Nations people of Australia. This relationship also saw the return of 43 secret sacred and ceremonial objects to the Aranda people of Central Australia, Gangalidda Garawa peoples’ of northwest Queensland, Nyamal people of the Pilbara and Yawuru people of Broome in 2019.

'Do you know the history of the land you walk?' placard at Australia Day protests in Melbourne, 2018.
'Do you know the history of the land you walk?' placard at Australia Day protests in Melbourne, 2018. Image by John Englart 2018 on Flickr, Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0

Online material is also available through previous exhibitions on the voyages, including Dr Shayne T. Williams’ article An Indigenous Australian perspective on Cook's arrival and Responses from across the Pacific from the the British Library's James Cook: The Voyages exhibition in 2018. The National Library of Australia held the exhibition Cook and the Pacific from 22 September 2018 to 10 February 2019 and material is still available online, including a useful overview of the exhibition. Resources from this exhibition include First Nation Voices, where contemporary responses to objects from the exhibition were provided by First Nation peoples from the communities visited by Cook on his voyages in the Pacific, and John Maynard's essay, “I’m Captain Cooked”: Aboriginal Perspectives on James Cook, 1770–2020. See also the blog post written during the exhibition which explores the relationships First Nation peoples have now with the Indigenous word-lists that were compiled during the voyages. The National Library of Australia have also created a collection of webpages on the 250th anniversary, captured for posterity through their web archive, which includes many of the sites mentioned in this post.

'Listen to Indigenous Voices' placard at Australia Day protests on Melbourne, 2019
'Listen to Indigenous Voices' placard at Australia Day protests in Melbourne, 2019.Andrew Arch 2019 on Flickr Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0

Further digital resources which offer Indigenous perspectives on the 250th anniversary include articles from a variety of media sources. National Indigenous Television (NITV) features a piece from a Wuthathi man who considers why the anniversary can be seen as reason for celebration, award-winning journalist, Paul Daley, reflects on the Cook legacy in his essay On Cook in the literary journal, Meanjin, and ABC News looks at the first sighting of the Endeavour as remembered by the Yuin people of south-eastern Australia as part of their Walking Together series. The Conversation, an online source of viewpoints from the research community, has released a series of articles from Australian and UK academics which reflect on the impact of Cook’s arrival in the Pacific 250 years ago. The articles, 19 at the time of writing, cover a variety of topics from teaching Cook in the classroom to the impact of the voyages on Indigenous women. Maria Nugent, Co-Director, Australian Centre for Indigenous History, Australian National University, considers the Aboriginal Australian viewpoints on Cook collected during the bicentenary in 1970 which continue to shape the way we understand Cook today, while Bruce Buchan (Griffith University) and Eddie Synot (Indigenous Law Centre, University of NSW) explore how First Nations people are using art to challenge and confront Cook's legacies in Australia.

These 'views from the shore' are vital in helping to build a shared and balanced narrative of the encounters in 1770, and allow a deeper understanding of Australia's history: a perspective that, 250 years later, is reflected in the ethos of the official anniversary activities in 2020:

It is an opportunity for Australians of all backgrounds to listen to and learn from each other’s stories, to understand what took place, and to discuss what it means for our future. It is a chance to reflect on our histories and to connect our cultures.

(Australian Government, 2020)

 

Lucy Rowland, Curator of Oceania Published Collections post-1850

 

References and further reading:

Australian Government (2020) 250th anniversary of Captain Cook's voyage to Australia [online] Available at: https://www.arts.gov.au/what-we-do/cultural-heritage/250th-anniversary-captain-cooks-voyage-australia

Hokari, M. (2011). Gurindji journey : A Japanese historian in the outback. Kensington, N.S.W.: University of New South Wales Press. BL shelfmark YD.2011.a.4474

Konishi, S., Nugent, M, & Shellam, T. (2015). Indigenous intermediaries : New perspectives on exploration archives. Acton, A.C.T. : Australian National University Press. BL shelfmark YD.2017.b.161

Pascoe, B. (2018). Dark emu : Aboriginal Australia and the birth of agriculture. Melbourne : Scribe. BL shelfmark YK.2019.a.662

Rose, D.B. (1991). Hidden histories. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies. BL shelfmark YA.1994.b.5340

 

 

 

 

12 May 2020

A brief history of nursing in the US

It's international nursing day.  We're not ones to miss an opportunity to discuss nursing history: it is a fascinating field that has evolved massively since early narratives that related 'great deeds' and celebrated nurses as angels and saints.  By taking a nuanced approach informed by cultural and sociological theories, nursing history has instead redirected its attention onto nursing practice, and recovering the experiences of nurses and patients who have been excluded from mainstream histories.  With this in mind, we'd like to quickly look at a few works in our collections that you can access from home that give an insight into often overlooked aspects of nursing history.

In the United States, as in the UK, nursing became a more formalised profession in the 19th Century.  Some key factors led to this shift in tending to the sick, in particular the rise of urbanisation, the associated spread of disease, and awareness of the importance of public sanitation; military conflicts with escalating numbers of casualties; and the broader growth in medical knowledge which included specific development of education provisions for nurses. 

Nonetheless, it must be recognised that while most early nursing was done informally by families in the home and community setting, with knowledge passed on inter-generationally, nurses also formed an important component of earlier medical establishments and practices. 

Charter for establishing an hospital
Charter for establishing an Hospital in the City of New York (Rules and Regulations for the government of the New York Hospital, etc.). New York, 1794.  Digital Store T.33.(4.)   http://access.bl.uk/item/viewer/ark:/81055/vdc_100033821481.0x000001

The above royal charter of 1771 passed by King George III established the Society of the New York Hospital, and outlines the rules and regulations for its running.  The charter instructs the President to appoint "Physicians and Surgeons as they shall judge necessary to attend the said Hospital... and also to appoint an Apothecary, a Steward, and Matron, of and for the said Hospital".  Clearly the role of the matron was deemed sufficiently important to warrant mentioning alongside the Hospital's key medical personnel, and its specific responsibilities were outlined further.

Matron duties Charter for establishing an hospital
"Duty of the matron"

Some of the above might sound familiar to anyone who has had a stay in hospital.  While consisting mainly of overseeing nursing staff, housekeeping, and public order, these routines were, and to a large degree continue to be, essential to the maintenance of hospital hygiene and proper care of patients.  Nonetheless, differences remained: many of the 'nurses' overseen by the matron were actually patients who were well enough to tend to others, their own linen "and such other Service as the Matron or Steward shall require."

By 1839, the New York Hospital was well established and had a large library of reference materials, some of which can be explored in this volume.

Supplementaryand analytic cataogue
Supplementary and Analytic Catalogue of the New York Hospital Library. August, 1939.  Digital Store 823.g.31.   http://access.bl.uk/item/viewer/ark:/81055/vdc_100063965657.0x000001

Within this, one can find the following titles:

Detail Supplementaryand analytic cataogue

and

Detail Supplementaryand analytic cataogue 2

and

Detail Supplementaryand analytic cataogue 3

In the intervening decades nursing and particularly midwifery particularly had become roles with clearly outlined sets of practices and key knowledge that could be passed on via a more formal route.  Indeed, in 1839 a Quaker, Dr Joseph Warrington founded the Nurse Society of Philadelphia with the aim of improving obstetrical care for poor women.  These early efforts had limited success as many still regarded nursing as a familial duty, and could not afford to pay for either the education or the care that they could receive from family and acquaintances for free.[1]  Nonetheless, early programmes provided a framework for subsequent education efforts.

This process of formalisation of the profession was substantially accelerated by the outbreak of the Civil War.  There are many records by and about nurses and nursing during the war, perhaps the best known of which are Clara Barton's works (many of her papers are available digitally on the Library of Congress' website), Louisa May Alcott's Hospital Sketches and Amanda Akin's The Lady Nurse of Ward E.  Both are understandably popular.  A lesser known work is this account by A.H. Hoge.

Boys in Blue
A.H. Hoge, The Boys in Blue; or Heroes of the 'Rank and File.' Comprising incidents and reminiscences from Camp, Battle-Field, and Hosptial, with narratives of the sacrifice, suffering, and triumps of the Soldiers of the Republic. 1867.  Digital Store 9602.ee.12.   http://access.bl.uk/item/viewer/ark:/81055/vdc_100038561496.0x000001

Mrs Abraham Holmes Hoge played a key role in fundraising for the US Sanitary Commission throughout the war.  Thanks to her efforts, the Commission was able to supply battlefront hospitals with much needed medical supplies that were regularly delivered by Mrs Hoge, who also volunteered as a nurse at many key battles.  She would later relate these experiences at salon talks, in order to fundraise for further efforts.  Her work also brought her into close contact with politicians and military personnel.  This volume is thus heavily propagandistic in tone, but provides an insight into the administration of wartime hospitals, as well as accounts from numerous hospitals, with a range of nursing personnel, at different points in the war.  Similar information can also be gleaned from the papers of Mary Ann Bickerdyke who acted as an agent for the Sanitary Commission, which are available to read on the Library of Congress website

The war proved a turning point in the profession: over 20,000 nurses served as nurses across the north and south.  Subsequently, a number of key training programmes based in hospitals secured the future of the profession and by the turn of the century there were over four hundred nurse training programmes in hospitals across the United States.  Thereafter, professional organisations began to rise exponentially, some of the most noteworthy include the National League for Nursing Education, American Nurses Association, and the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, as well as many local organisations.

The war also inevitably also radically changed how nurses were perceived by the public - tropes such as patient, self-sacrificing saints who tend to fallen heroes in a battle against an enemy were popularised in print and songs such as 'Our Lady of the Hospital'.

Our Lady of the Hospital
Millard, H, and Miles O'Reilly. Our Lady of the Hospital. Wm. Hall & Son, New York, 1864. Notated Music. https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200001684/
 
The ward is silent again
As our lady resumes her place,
And I see, as I watch her, a patient pain
That is pitiful in her face;
Lily of beauty, too bright for a camp,
O, saint! That ever our sorrows will share!
Now I see by the light of the shaded lamp,
Tears fall on the page of her prayer

The above is the final chorus in a stark depiction of a night spent on a Civil War hospital ward, from the perspective of a patient.  Sanitised versions of such sentiments continued to circulate, sometimes obscuring the long history of a complex profession, the skills and knowledge of those employed within it, the unpaid and unrecognised care provided by relatives at home, and the autonomy of patients.  Thankfully, historians continue to look beyond the popular platitudes and well-visited narratives to help us understand the multiple facets of a fascinating and rich history of nursing.

 

[1] Michelle C. Hehman, “The Rise of a Profession: ‘An Art and a Science’ 1873 – 1901” in Arlene W. Keeling et al. (eds.) History of Professional Nursing in the United States: Toward a Culture of Health.