Curator's Corner Blog

Monthly Archives: April 2015

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Happy May Day!

 

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May 1st, otherwise known as May Day, has been celebrated by Europeans and Americans for hundreds of years. In pre-Christian societies, May Day celebrated the rebirth and fertility that occurred during springtime. May Day celebrations originally sprang from the Roman festival honoring Floralia, the goddess of flowers. Over time May Day became a Christian-based holiday in which people would anonymously leave baskets of flowers on their neighbor’s doorsteps as a sign of goodwill and friendship.  Many European and American communities held May Day celebrations in which children danced around a tall, wooden maypole, often decorated with colorful ribbons. A maypole is visible in the photograph of a May Day celebration being held in Kalispell in 1913.

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The May Day celebrations of nature and springtime are immortalized in American poet, Ralph Waldo Emmerson’s 1914 poem entitled “May-Day and Other Pieces, Song of Nature.” Below is an excerpt from Emmerson’s “May-Day.”

“Wreaths for the May! for happy Spring

 To-day shall all her dowry bring,

The love of kind, the joy, the grace,

Hymen of element and race,

Knowing well to celebrate

 With song and hue and star and state,

With tender light and youthful cheer,

The spousals of the new-born year.

 Spring is strong and virtuous

 Broad-sowing, cheerful, plenteous,

Quickening underneath the mould

Grains beyond the price of gold.

 So deep and large her bounties are,

That one broad, long midsummer day

Shall to the planet overpay

The ravage of a year of war.”

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History of Arbor Day

History of Arbor Day

When pioneers J. Sterling Morton and his wife came to the Nebraska Territory in 1854 they immediately planted trees, shrubs, and other vegetation in their new home. Morton became the editor at one of Nebraska’s best newspapers. He used his employment as a journalist to educate and encourage the public about trees. Morton was originally from Detroit and he along with other pioneers missed seeing trees on the landscape. Besides aesthetic benefits, tees were also useful as windbreaks to stabilize soil, for fuel and building materials, and as a source of shade from the sun. Morton advised not only individuals to plant trees, but also civic organizations to take part in planting trees. Morton wielded more legitimacy and respect when he became secretary of the Nebraska Territory. He used this opportunity to continue to emphasize the value of trees.

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During January 4th, 1872 Morton proposed a tree-planting holiday at a meeting of the State Board of Agriculture. The holiday was to be called “Arbor Day.” The holiday was to be held on April 10, 1872. To promote the new holiday prizes were given to counties and individuals for planting the largest number of trees on that day. On the first Arbor Day in Nebraska it is believed that more than one million trees were planted.  After the territory became recognized as a state, Governor Robert W. Furnas declared Arbor Day a holiday on March 12, 1874. It was celebrated on April 10, 1874. Arbor Day was declared a legal holiday in 1885 and Morton’s birthday, April 22nd, was named a day of observance.  The April 1885 celebration of Arbor Day included a parade and a speech by J. Sterling Morton. In Nebraska City students went to school and each grade planted at least one tree for the students to take care of. After the mass planting, the students led a parade from there schools to the opera house. The children waved banners and the closer the children got to the opera house the townspeople joined the march. The festivities celebrating the first legal holiday of Arbor Day ended with a speech from Morton.

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In the 1870s states across the U.S. passed legislation to observe Arbor Day. The last Friday of April is the most common day to celebrate Arbor Day, but it can vary across the country to coincide with the best tree planting weather. In Montana it is celebrated on the last Friday in April.

Click on the link to learn about Arbor Day in Montana.

https://www.arborday.org/states/state.cfm?state=MT

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Happy Birthday Jefferson!

In celebration of Thomas Jefferson’s April 13th Birthday our HMFM interns wrote a short biography and found Jefferson within the HMFM Collections.

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On April 13, 1743 at Shadwell, Virginia Thomas Jefferson was born. Thomas Jefferson would grow up to be one of the most influential people in the making of America. He was the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, the founder of the University of Virginia, and the third president of the United States (1801-1809).

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Jefferson was known as an “arm chair” adventurer because of his interest in the frontier. Jefferson desired for the social and economic structure of the United States to be built upon small agricultural farmers. He saw the west as an opportunity for the new country to expand the land available for farming. In 1803 President Jefferson signed the Louisiana Purchase with France. The Louisiana Purchase was a land deal where the U.S. bought 827,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River for $15 million dollars. Napoleon had originally wanted to restore French power in the New World, but his plans were going to rot. A slave and free black rebellion in the French colony of Saint Domingue (Haiti) required Napoleon to send the French army to quell the uprising. The French army suffered heavily losses from yellow fever. Napoleon also feared that a war with Britain was on the horizon.

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After acquiring the large parcel of land, Thomas Jefferson commissioned the Lewis and Clark Expedition to explore the Northwest Territory. Jefferson wanted the men to discover a transcontinental route and identify the natural resources. Jefferson chose Meriwether Lewis because of his knowledge of the military and frontier. Lewis and Jefferson also were family friends and former neighbors. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left in 1804 with 45 men to paddle the Missouri River, traverse the Rocky Mountains, and from the Columbia River they saw the Pacific Ocean by November 1805. The men returned to St. Louis in September 1806 and they brought with them information about the native people, plants and animals, and geography.

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At the end of his life, Jefferson wanted his tomb to state what he had given to the people and not what the people had given to him. And so on his epitaph it states:

HERE WAS BURIED
THOMAS JEFFERSON
AUTHOR OF THE
DECLARATION
OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE
OF THE
STATUTE OF VIRGINIA
FOR
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
AND FATHER OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
BORN APRIL 2, 1743 O.S. DIED JULY 4. 1826

On April 13, 1743 at Shadwell, Virginia Thomas Jefferson was born. Thomas Jefferson would grow up to be one of the most influential people in the making of America. He was the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, the founder of the University of Virginia, and the third president of the United States (1801-1809).

Jefferson was known as an “arm chair” adventurer because of his interest in the frontier. Jefferson desired for the social and economic structure of the United States to be built upon small agricultural farmers. He saw the west as an opportunity for the new country to expand the land available for farming. In 1803 President Jefferson signed the Louisiana Purchase with France. The Louisiana Purchase was a land deal where the U.S. bought 827,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River for $15 million dollars. Napoleon had originally wanted to restore French power in the New World, but his plans were going to rot. A slave and free black rebellion in the French colony of Saint Domingue (Haiti) required Napoleon to send the French army to quell the uprising. The French army suffered heavily losses from yellow fever. Napoleon also feared that a war with Britain was on the horizon.

After acquiring the large parcel of land, Thomas Jefferson commissioned the Lewis and Clark Expedition to explore the Northwest Territory. Jefferson wanted the men to discover a transcontinental route and identify the natural resources. Jefferson chose Meriwether Lewis because of his knowledge of the military and frontier. Lewis and Jefferson also were family friends and former neighbors. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left in 1804 with 45 men to paddle the Missouri River, traverse the Rocky Mountains, and from the Columbia River they saw the Pacific Ocean by November 1805. The men returned to St. Louis in September 1806 and they brought with them information about the native people, plants and animals, and geography.

 

At the end of his life, Jefferson wanted his tomb to state what he had given to the people and not what the people had given to him. And so on his epitaph it states:

HERE WAS BURIED
THOMAS JEFFERSON
AUTHOR OF THE
DECLARATION
OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE
OF THE
STATUTE OF VIRGINIA
FOR
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
AND FATHER OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
BORN APRIL 2, 1743 O.S. DIED JULY 4. 1826

Thomas Jefferson’s role in the early develop of United States resulted in lasting effects because the Declaration of Independence declared the 13 colonies a free and independent country which we still are today. Here in Montana we can still see evidence of Thomas Jefferson’s presidency. The Lewis and Clark expedition toured through the future Montana territory and across the state there are monuments and places named after the men. The Lewis and Clark expedition began the movement of the American people westward. The fur trappers first led westward expansion, but the discovery of precious metals and the Homestead Act quickly increased the number of white settlers as they sought to complete Manifest Destiny.

http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/thomas-jefferson-brief-biography