Reference Point

Spring 2011

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 0 of 13

Spring 2011 Univ ersit y Libraries' Ne wsletter Historic confl ict rising Exhibit examines Michigan prior to Civil War's start 150 years ago During the mid-1800s every state in the U.S. – including Michigan – was preparing for a war that changed the nation forever. As America marks 150 years since the start of the Civil War, the Clarke Historical Library's new exhibit, "Moving Toward the Precipice: Michigan in the Years Before the Civil War, depicts the state of Michigan in the years leading up to it. " The exhibit off ers a glimpse into Michigan life in the decades prior to the Civil War to help viewers better understand what – beyond the debate over slavery – was important and what Michiganians took to war in 1861. Agriculture was the most common source of employment in Michigan in the years leading up to the Civil War. In addition, there was both ethnic and religious confl ict, as well as tremendous social, political and economic changes. The Clarke exhibit includes images and literature relevant to these and other issues critical to the time period. "History matters because it gives you a context to understand the present and a direction for the future, " says Frank Boles, director of the Clarke Historical Library. "If you don't understand the context, you get swept away in the rhetoric. " Roy Burlington agrees and is providing his insight to help with developing a special feature of the exhibit: coins and currency used prior to the Civil War. Burlington, a CMU biology professor emeritus, is an amateur historian and avid coin enthusiast. "We live in a great country, and it's important to know where our country came from," he says. Burlington recently met with Janet Danek, University Libraries coordinator of exhibits and projects, to discuss what coins and currency to feature and how they relate to the culture of the times. "Objects are just objects until you put a story with them," Danek says. One of the most important of such items in the years leading up to the Civil War were the Hard Times Tokens, according to Burlington. These tokens were privately produced and served as unoffi cial currency during the diffi cult pre-war decades. Many Volume 7, Issue 1 Library exhibit coordinator Janet Danek and local coin enthusiast Roy Burlington explore facts about pre-Civil War-era coinage. of the tokens included satirical and political messages, including those that were pro- and antislavery. The exhibit will feature representative Hard Times Tokens as well as actual coins produced by the U.S. Mint. • 'Moving Toward the Precipice: Michigan in the Years Before the Civil War' An exhibit depicting the state of Michigan in the years leading up to the Civil War, which began 150 years ago • Through August 2011 • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at Clarke Historical Library •

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Reference Point - Spring 2011