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Coffin family and Mathew Doyle journal and album, 1828, 1852-1888 (majority within 1852)

1 volume

This volume contains D. Coffin's daily account of the first leg of a sea voyage from New York City to California, covering the progress of the clipper ship Grecian between New York and Cape Horn in early 1852. The journal also includes drawings of scenery made during the voyage, newspaper clippings, penmanship exercises, and children's sketches.

This volume contains a 20-page daily account of the first leg of D. Coffin's voyage from New York City to California, covering the progress of the clipper ship Grecian between New York and Cape Horn in early 1852. The journal also includes 18 coastal profiles drawn in pencil during the voyage. A newspaper clipping at the beginning of the volume concerns the clipper ship Grecian's arrival in San Francisco. It provides names of passengers, names of three people who died during the voyage, a list of goods shipped onboard, and names of consignees.

The journal begins on February 19, 1852. The following day, Coffin arrived in New York, where he purchased a ticket for the ship Grecian, which set sail on March 2. In his first entry, he detailed the ship's specifications, including its size and number of passengers. He kept a daily record of weather and events onboard and frequently mentioned his negative opinion of "immoral" passengers who enjoyed alcohol and gambling. Several of the entries concern medical problems, such as the death of passenger John Morrison from smallpox on March 12, the author's own bout with side and bowel pain, and several other cases of smallpox reported by the ship's doctor on March 21. Though many passengers suffered from illness, they were allowed to go onshore after the ship's arrival at Rio de Janeiro on April 12. Coffin wrote lengthy descriptions of the fort and the city, including its geographical surroundings and a visit by the emperor. On April 15, he reported on local markets and made brief observations about slaves. The Grecian departed Rio de Janeiro on April 19 and Coffin's continued to make daily entries until April 24.

Newspaper clippings, penmanship exercises, and children's sketches make up the rest of the volume. The first 42 pages have pasted-in newspaper clippings of proverbs, humorous anecdotes, informational articles, news articles, and poetry. The creator pasted the clippings over earlier, mostly inaccessible pen writing. Some of the clippings relate to farming, housekeeping, nature, and recent gold discoveries. Two of the articles are a report on a lecture given by Lucy Stone on women's rights, and a brief feature on an "Emancipation Movement in Virginia."

Penmanship exercises and notes (two dated 1862 & 1888), signatures, and children's sketches (three associated with Edna Jane Coffin) are scattered throughout the volume. A pencil sketch of a three-masted sailing ship was signed by Mathew Doyle.


Fred E. Benz motion picture collection, 1929-1950

62 reels (in 5 boxes)

Amateur photographer; sixty-two reels of film shot by Benz on various trips.

When the University of Michigan Media Resources Collection was accessioned by the Bentley Historical Library, a number of films were discovered in the vault that were not related to that collection. Within that material were travel films shot by Fred E. Benz. These films document Benz's travels around the world between 1929 and 1950. The films had been edited together and were probably used by Benz for presentation to local groups and as home entertainment.

The Fred E. Benz Collection contains sixty-two, 400 foot reels of silent 16mm film. It is made up of eight series, one for each trip taken. The series are: Africa, Australia/New Zealand, Guatemala, Havana, Mexico, Russia, South America, and a World Cruise. The contents of each reel are described in the finding aid. Benz has included handwritten descriptions of the images found on the Russian and World Cruise series attached to the inside lids of each can of film. Benz was careful to document most of the locations with a handwritten note displayed before the camera. When cities or natural markers are noted in the finding aid, the identifying information was taken from that supplied by the film maker on the screen or from his notes in the can lids. The spelling of geographic locations in the finding aid reflect the information on the film and not current spellings.

Short notes found with the Mexican footage indicate it was the result of two different trips. The reels retain their original numbering because the numbered reels (1,2,3,4) appear to comprise one trip and numbered/lettered reels (1a, 3a, 4a) comprise the second trip.

The value of the collection is that it captures moments in time, documenting lifestyles, architecture and modes of travel which no longer exist or have evolved over time. Footage exists of London on the eve of war and Shanghai one year before being destroyed by the Japanese invasion.

Perhaps the greater value lies in the depiction of the indigenous lifestyles captured on film. Benz, as an amateur photographer, was interested in the common events that he experienced as he traveled. The collection features extensive recordings of people working or playing, and children of different cultures going about their daily activities. The films show barren huts in remote areas of Russia in the 1930s, families living under stone bridges outside of Buenos Aires, life-saving competitions in Sydney and the plethora of street markets found in most cultures and countries that he traveled through.

Because these are travel films, the scope of the footage included often extends beyond the geographic area used to identify the series. For example, the Australia footage includes material filmed on various Pacific islands, the Asian continent and Japan. The Russian trip contains footage of England and Northern Europe, and the South American films contain shots of the departure from New York. Each series should be examined for additional geographic content.

Special attention should be given to the Mexican series containing film recordings of Mt. Rushmore with construction only partially complete. Included as well are extensive shots of bullfighting in addition to other Mexican scenes. Also of note is the extensive depiction of women throughout all of the series. On the canister containing reel 5 in the Russia series is a receipt from United States Navy Department stating that this reel was being forwarded to Chicago for study of the shots of Kirkenes, Norway.

The color in the Africa, Guatemala, Havana, Mexico and South America series is excellent. The wide, clean, lush cityscapes of Havana and Capetown are richly captured in color and give an indication why they were popular travel destinations at this time.

In addition to the eight travel series, the collection also included one reel of World War II footage assembled by Castle Films from public domain footage. This type of film was sold through camera stores and mail order houses and Benz probably purchased a reel for his own use. The identifying writing on the film can is in Benz's handwriting and clearly belonged with his collection.


Hickman Price, Jr. Papers, 1918-1968

9 linear feet

Executive with the Kaiser-Frazer Corp., later with Willys Motor Inc. Corporate correspondence, including files concerning his work with Willys-Overland in Brazil; also materials relating to his interest in Latin America, including summary reports prepared for President-elect Kennedy in 1960; miscellaneous correspondence with Adlai Stevenson; and photographs.

The papers of Hickman Price, Jr. document the workings of Willys Overland, Inc. and Kaiser-Frazer Corp, the two corporations which merged in 1953 and which became the principal international producers of the Jeep. Because so much of Price's career was spent in the development of the South American market, the collection includes much information about the role of American businesses in less well-developed economies. The collection is only partially processed.


Lynn A. Townsend papers, 1959-1978

2 linear feet — 2 oversize volumes

Chrysler Corporation executive. Speeches, clippings, photographs and articles by or about Townsend and the Chrysler Corporation.

The Lynn Township papers consist of materials relating to his public relation role on behalf of the Chrysler Corporation. The collection consists of speeches, clippings and magazine with articles by and about Townsend, and a scrapbook given to him in recognition of his work with the Economic Growth Council of Detroit. The photographs in the collection are of Townsend with political figures and celebrities, inspecting Chrysler plants overseas, and participating in various social functions.


Ralph A. Sawyer Papers, 1918-1978

11.3 linear feet — 1 film reel

Physicist, University of Michigan professor, dean of the graduate school; correspondence, writings, speeches, organizational files, audio-visual materials.

Although the Ralph A. Sawyer collection includes materials relating to all phases of his career, beginning with his studies at the University of Chicago in 1918-1919, the strength of the files are for those activities outside of the University of Michigan, notably his work with the U.S. Navy laboratories, Joint Task Force One, the American Institute of Physics, and the Optical Society of America. Files dealing with his University of Michigan activities are less complete as these materials will be found with the records of those units which Sawyer headed.


Stanley M. Swinton papers, 1935-1985

5 linear feet

Journalist, foreign correspondent; correspondence, material accumulated as a journalist, articles, clippings, and other writings; and photographs.

The Stanley Swinton papers include correspondence; dispatch files; notebooks relating to the death of Mussolini, the Malayan insurgency in the late 1940s, and the Indonesian revolutions; notes of interviews with Seni Premot of Thailand, Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia, Ho Chi-Minh of Vietnam, Konrad Adenauer of West Germany, Joao Goulart of Brazil, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, and Kim Jong Pil of South Korea. The bulk of Swinton's writings will be found in the collection, either in draft or in clippings of his articles. The series in the collection are Correspondence; Newspaper career; Writings, speeches, etc.; Personal and miscellaneous; Photographs; and Printed Material.


Thomas O. LeRoy journal, 1841-1842

1 volume

Thomas O. LeRoy's journal contains log entries, diary entries, and drawings that he composed while sailing onboard the merchant ship Natchez from New York to Valparaíso, Chile, and back to New York between September 1841 and May 1842. LeRoy recorded the ship's progress, his observations about seafaring life, the scenery he passed, his travels in Chile, and other topics.

Thomas O. LeRoy's journal contains approximately 85 pages of log and diary entries that he composed while sailing onboard the merchant ship Natchez from New York to Valparaíso, Chile, and back to New York between September 1841 and May 1842. Also included are 9 drawings he made on the voyage, an inventory of the belongings he carried during the trip, and 7 pages of double-entry bookkeeping accounts of Captain Robert Waterman of the brig Konohassett and of Theodore Lewis of the brig Philip Howe.

LeRoy began his journal with a brief entry on August 28, 1841, and the Natchez set sail under Captain Robert Waterman on September 1. Between September 1 and November 11, LeRoy regularly kept detailed log entries documenting the ship's course, winds, and notable onboard occurrences. The log entries were often interspersed with prose accounts of life on the Natchez, in which he mentioned seeing birds and aquatic animals, and described the scenery, particularly after the Natchez reached the Brazilian coast. In early November, LeRoy interrupted his log with detailed descriptions of the scenery around Tierra del Fuego, and he resumed his regular entries until reaching Valparaíso, Chile, on November 15.

LeRoy recorded his impressions of the Chilean people and discussed his travels around the country, which included visits to nearby towns and to Santiago. He noted other ships in the harbor, reconsidered his decision to embark on a seafaring life, and discussed sailors' religious beliefs. The Natchez began its return journey on February 6, 1842, and LeRoy continued to write journal entries about his experiences onboard, sometimes mentioning his eagerness to return to his family. After a brief stop at Pernambuco, Brazil, the ship sailed through the Caribbean and, at a point of about 160 miles from New York, LeRoy composed his final entry, dated May 1, 1842. The journal is followed by an inventory of the belongings LeRoy brought along on his trip. He dedicated the volume to Midshipman Charles Cooper of New York.

LeRoy drew 9 pencil sketches during his time on the Natchez.

The illustrations are as follows:
  • Cape Horn
  • Juan Fernandez, "the Island where Robinson Crusoe resided"
  • Huasco, Chile
  • "Attack on fort Moultrie by the British"
  • "Ship Natchez... in a snow squall"
  • "View of the Brazil Coast near El Salvador with Negro Fishermans Hut on a small rocky Island"
  • Cape St. Augustine, Brazil, and Saint Aleixo Island
  • Brazilian coast near Pernambuco, with a view of a "Coca Nut Plantation"
  • View of Brazil near Cape São Roque

The volume holds 7 pages of double-entry bookkeeping accounts. These record the finances of Theodore Lewis of the brig Philip Howe and those of Robert Waterman during a trip to Asia onboard the Konohassett.