March 25, 2008
In the background, taped on the wall, is the Chew Family tree that I put together in the beginning of the project to try to clarify relationships between people.
The Chews were prolific correspondents. These tables are filled with letters from Benjamin Chew's family members. If we are lucky, we might be able to tell the difference between Maria and Catherine Chew's handwriting, as they often don't sign their letters.
Eventually (we hope very soon), these stacks will be sorted by correspondent's name and date, and placed in neat folders to be included in our finding aid.
March 24, 2008
This is one of the larger drawings about 6 by 7 inches.
One of the few drawings of a woman. Stating "S. Chew August 1855 at night."A chess game 1864 sytle!
There were lots of these great little cameos! Lots of fun was had by all exploring this book!
posted by Julianna Lose (intern)
March 21, 2008
I just really liked the document as an object including all of the burns on the paper from the vellum. The last page is blank and contains a beautiful watermark that, unfortunately, I couldn't capture.
I grew up with the vision of "Roots" as the way slavery was, and these papers are showing that there was much more of a relationship between people than one might expect.
This is not to minimize the brutality implicit in the ownership of human beings. Whether someone was beaten and chained or lived with a family for years, only to be tallied with the horses and furniture in someone's estate, they were owned. This ownership has taken its toll on generations of people, and has greatly impacted our society today. What is interesting about the relationships between slaves and their owners, as documented in these papers, is that it was so complex. It was paternalistic, as we can see in the above document, but there was, in many cases, an element of respect for the slave's experience that surprised me.
March 11, 2008
Apparently, this brew can fool even the most discriminating palates.
Because I am a poet who works with visual elements of the page, I found this letter completely captivating. The lines jump all over the place, and it is hard to tell where one sentence ends and another begins. It is clear that Benjamin Chew (1758-1844) was losing his faculties in the last years of his life, and his later papers document this decline. We likely have this letter because he had someone else make a legible copy to send to his client or friend. Though not as spectacular as some of the beautiful maps the Chews collected, letters like these provide us with valuable information about the lives of the Chew family.