Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia, ca. 1876

Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ca. 1876

Source: Elihu A. White Papers, #14.11.a (P-14/6)

Staff Person: Jonathan Dembo

Description: This photograph of Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia dates from the 1870s.  It’s name derives from the fact that it was originally built in 1770-1773 to serve as a meeting hall for the Carpenters’ Companies of the City and County of Philadelphia, the nation’s oldest surviving trade guild.  The handwritten caption on the verso of the photograph reads: “Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia, Pa. Birthplace of Liberty. Built 1770. The Hall where the first Continental Congress was held Sept. 5 1774″.  Located on Chestnut Street it is only a few blocks away from the Pennsylvania State House, better known as Independence Hall.  The First Continental Congress, met in Carpenter’s Hall, in September and October of 1774 because the State House was being used by the Colonial Assembly at the time.  It was during its sessions, here, that the Congress banned the further importation of slaves and to end the slave trade between the colonies. The Hall later served as a hospital for wounded and sick soldiers, both British and American during the Revolution. Designed by architect Robert Smith (1722-1777), the building is a two-story Georgian style brick structure.  It is one of the few building extant in the 1770s that continues to be used for its original purpose.  Over the years, Carpenter’s Hall has housed a wide variety of organizations, including Benjamin Franklin’s American Philosophical Society and his Library Company of Philadelphia.  It also served as home to both the First and Second Banks of the United States.  While open to the public and operated in cooperation with the National Park Service, the building is still in private hands and remains the meeting place for the Carpenter’s Company and other labor organizations.  It looks today much as it did in the 1870s and 1770s.  Elihu A. White (1824-1900) probably acquired the photograph on a visit to Philadelphia during the 1870s or 1880s.  White was a Quaker farmer and business leader from Belvidere, North Carolina.  He was also heavily involved in social reform, education, and Republican political activities.  He served in a variety of local offices and was a member of the Reconstruction era State Senate 1868-1870.  He served as a collector of Internal Revenue during the Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison administrations, 1879-1893. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina in the 1890s.  Throughout his life White was active in a variety of local, state, and national Temperance and Prohibition organizations, including the Women’s Christian Temperance Union was led the campaign to prohibit the sale of alcohol in the United States.

Concrete River Steamers of World War I, ca. 1921


Source: John B. Green Collection #380.2.b
Staff Person: Jonathan Dembo
Description: Seen in the photograph above are four, unnamed, concrete-hulled river steamers at the Newport Shipping Corporation shipyard, in New Bern, North Carolina. They are obviously incomplete and unnamed. Built to solve the desperate shortage of steel for shipping during World War I, they were just one of the many innovations, from flame-throwers to tanks to aerial warfare, inspired by the “War to End All Wars”. During the first World War, steel had become so scarce that the U. S. Shipping Corporation which controlled all American shipping during the war, recommended that President Woodrow Wilson approve the construction of 24 such concrete ships. Of the 24, only 12 were built, at a total cost of $50 million. The Newport Shipbuilding Corporation of New Bern, NC was one of the companies selected to build the ships. Not one of the ships was finished in time to contribute to the war effort and were launched only in 1921, just when a huge surplus of now-unneeded shipping was beginning to flood the market. By the time the ships were completed, the war was already long over and the nation was still mired in a deep postwar recession. Just what happened to the ships built in New Bern is a matter of some conjecture. Most of the others sank or were converted to other purposes such as breakwaters, hotels, and fishing piers. It is unclear what happened to some of them. Please contact the author if you know the present location of any of the New Bern built concrete ships.

Russian Phrase Book

4 April 2012

Source: Special Collections Reference Collection PG2689 .U56 1943

Staff Person: Ralph Scott

Description: This restricted World War II publication by the War Department “contains the Russian words and expressions you are most likely to need.” It was designed for use by Allied service personnel serving in the Soviet Union. The book contains such useful phrases as “Help”, “I am lost”, “I am poisoned”, “He was bitten by a snake” as well as “The U.S. Government will pay you” translated into Russian. One section on communications contains the phrases “reverse the charges” and “Will you speak to anybody at that number?” Designed as handy little helps for service personnel the book was designed to be shown to the person speaking Russian, and no doubt came in handy when “in-country.” While the publication was restricted, it could be shared with “persons of undoubted loyalty and discretion.” This Army Technical Manual as well as a number of others were given to Joyner Library by Professor Larry Babits of the History Department.