Challenging the Rules

2016-10-11-12-24_page_6A protest against T. Paine’s “Rights of Man” : addressed to the members of a book society, in consequence of the vote of their committee for including the above work in a list of new publications resolved to be purchased for the use of the society / by John Bowles, 1792
JC177.H5 B6 1792c

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) is best known in the United States for his inflammatory 1776 writings, Common Sense and The American Crisis, which contributed significantly to spreading the idea of republicanism, bolstering enthusiasm for separation from Britain, and encouraging recruitment for the Continental Army. Later, Paine wrote Rights of Man in response to the French Revolution, a publication that states that popular political revolution is permissible when a government does not safeguard the natural rights of its people.  What we loved about this volume is that a member of a book society is protesting the purchase of Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man, which is, in fact, a protest!  Double protest!  The book society member resisted including the book because he considered it “an insidious address, under a fictitious and ensnaring title, to weak heads and to bad hearts; as replete with indecency and scurrility; and as dictated by a desire of involving a free and happy country in confusion and ruin.”

2016-10-18-09-57The Strike at Shane’s / Gene Stratton-Porter. Boston : American Humane Education Society, 1893.
Caroline F. Schimmel Fiction Collection of Women in the American Wilderness (cataloging in process)

This early publication of the American Humane Education Society was the first published novel by naturalist, conservationist and photographer, Gene Stratton-Porter. Though her name appears nowhere in the work, Stratton-Porter has since been recognized as the author–according to her grand-daughter, the young campaigner against animal abuse was not sure how her work would be received and was reluctant to embarrass her husband by attaching her name to it.

In this novel, the animals at Shane’s Farm stage a strike to protest their cruel treatment at the hands of Farmer Shane and his son. Happily, their strike and sabotage campaign succeed: Shane and Son are forced to change their behavior! This volume won a prize from the American Humane Education Society in 1893, and is supplemented by articles on animal abuse by Society president George T. Angell.

2016-10-11-12-24_page_3“Legal position of women in Pennsylvania,” 1912
from the Alice Paul draft of dissertation, Ms. Coll. 680

Alice Paul (1885-1977) was an American suffragist, feminist, and women’s rights activist, and the main leader and strategist of the 1910s campaign for the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which prohibits sex discrimination in the right to vote.  She worked for three years in the British suffragette movement, before she returned in 1912 to the United States, where she founded the Woman’s Party. Adopting the political strategies of the British suffragettes, Alice Paul led the 50,000 members of her party in an eight-year fight to get the vote for women with a federal amendment rather than through state legislation.  We are proud that she received both her master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. This document is a well-annotated draft of her dissertation, “Legal position of women in Pennsylvania.”

2016-10-11-13-22_page_1“Marian Anderson singing at the Lincoln Memorial,” 1939 April 9
from the Marian Anderson collection of photographs, Ms. Coll. 198, Volume 7

Marian Anderson (1897-1993) was an American contralto and one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century.  In 1939, she was barred from singing in the concert hall of the Daughters of the American Revolution because of her race.  First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, herself a member of the D.A.R., publicly resigned from the organization in protest and arranged for Marian Anderson to perform at a much larger venue. This photograph shows Marian Anderson performing in a free open-air recital on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before a crowd estimated at 75,000.

2016-10-11-11-45_page_04United black front : we must destroy anything that impairs unity : an open letter to the black community …, 1969
Mapcase E185.615 .U54 1969

The Camden Riot of 1969 was precipitated by reports that a young black woman was assaulted by a white police officer.  Crowds gathered and a policeman and a 15 year old girl were killed.  Violence lasted for two days.  In response to the riot, the black community called for a boycott in Camden, New Jersey, among other actions.  This item states, “the purpose of this action is to bring together all black people and all black organizations to protest the stupidity and ignorance demonstrated by police gang leader [Harold] Melleby and his puppet the mayor [Joseph M. Nardi].”

2016-10-11-12-24_page_7Protesters at Coal Miner’s strike, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 1978
from the Medical Committee for Human Rights records, 1963-2004, Ms. Coll. 641

The Medical Committee for Human Rights was an organization of doctors, nurses, and other health workers dedicated to advancing health among minority groups and equality in the health industry. Working in both southern and northern states, the MCHR also fought for national health insurance, the rights of prisoners, and the end of the Vietnam War.  We believe that the MCHR has this photograph of striking miners because they (the MCHR) were providing free medical clinics after the miners’ companies stopped paying their employees’ medical benefits. These clinics, staffed by doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, lab technicians and others, became a target of a Bituminous Coal Operators Association (BCOA) attack.  According to The Worker, April 15-May 15, 1978, page 13, “the clinics were important, not only for the needed medical care that they provided, but also because they showed the miners that they were not alone in their fight, that there was growing support among not only other workers, but broadly among the American people.”

2016-10-11-11-45_page_01Protect and Survive and Protest and Survive, 1980
from Atomic Age collection pamphlets, 1945-1990s, Print Collection 11

Following World War II, activism against nuclear weapons and nuclear attack was prevalent.  We show you two different booklets from 1980 that largely deal with survival in Great Britain.  The first, Protect and Survive (box 13, folder 5) tells you how to make your home and your family as safe as possible under nuclear attack and includes sections titled, “Challenge to Survival” (heat and blast and fall-out), “Planning for Survival,” “Protect and Survive,” and “Your action check list.”  Readers of this little volume will learn how to build a fall-out room and shelter (whether you live in a flat, bungalow, or caravan), how to stock the fall-out room, how to keep clean, how to limit fire hazards, and how to respond to attack or fall-out warnings.  Protest and Survive, by E.P. Thomas (box 3, folder 36) is much less practical, but instead urges action before attacks and fall-out occur.  The author states, “It would be nicer to have a quiet life. But they are not going to let us have that.  If we wish to survive, we must protest,” page 33.

2016-10-11-12-24_page_1“Dpto. Femenino, Coordinadora Nacional Sindical,” 1984
Chilean Opposition collection, 1983-1984, Ms. Coll. 71, box 1, folder 6

Throughout most of the 1980s, Augusto Pinochet was military dictator in Chile following his overthrow of the democratically-elected Chilean President Salvador Allende. While dictator, Pinochet suppressed opposition to his rule, but there were many dissenters who undermined the legitimacy of his regime. Dissenters demanded democratic elections, the resignation of the Pinochet regime, and an end to human rights abuses and economic hardship. This tiny flyer issued by the Dpto. Femenino Chile for International Women’s Day (March 8, 1984) states that “the end of dictatorship is urgent and we move forward with decided steps toward the reconquest of democracy.”  Indeed, this flyer urges women to join together to launch Chile’s best weapon: the national strike.  Their call is “for bread, work, justice and freedom.”

Celebrate people’s history : 100 posters / organized and curated by Josh MacPhee.
Portfolio NC1849.S54 C46 2016

This cloth-bound box set of 100 posters documents the first 18 years in the Celebrate People’s History Poster series. This diverse set of posters brings to life critical moments in the history of the struggle for social justice. To that end, MacPhee asked artists and designers to illustrate events, groups, and people who have advanced the collective struggle of humanity and attempted to create a more equitable and just world. The posters tell stories from the subjective position of the artists, and are often the stories of underdogs, those written out of history.   These posters are vivid, beautiful, and dramatic–we had a really hard time picking just one, so we didn’t:

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