Frederick C. Blanchard
He was an ordinary soldier. Not of distinguishing rank, average built
of average height for the time period. You will not find his name
connected to any famous battles or campaigns. You will not find him
listed in any of the over sixty thousand books written about the Civil War.
Yet Frederick C. Blanchard served his nation during the bloodiest war in
American history, and left behind a legacy that only now is beginning to
be recognized for it’s historical importance; a scrapbook. A scrapbook
covering the time of, and immediately following the American Civil War.
The forerunner of the Scrapbook, or Commonplace Book as they have been
called, was first compiled during the Greek and Roman era. The word
“album” meaning white tablet, referring to the various sources of information
that was recorded on paper tables that were white. (Buckler, Patricia. “From
the Personal to the Historical.” The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment
of Humanity Magazine. Summer 2003. Page 5) During the Medieval and
Renaissance eras, scribes began to bind drawings, writings, scientific &
religious notations, as well as interpretations of allegorical meanings into
books, and by the 1600s Commonplace Books were established as “books in which
good sayings and notable observations are recorded.” (Ibid.) It would
not however, be until 1706 and the publication of John Locke’s “A New Method
of Making Common-Place-Books,” that the use of these books would become popular,
and by the early nineteenth century, “friendship albums,” as they were now
called (in which autographs, poetry, invitations, and letters were kept),
had become part of everyday life. However these books were mostly
seen as commonplace items, with many late nineteenth-century advice books
referring to them not for their value as historical documents, but rather
as a nice craft for children to engage in. But as Patricia Prandini
Buckler, associate professor of English at Purdue North Central in Westville
Indiana points out, “years ago scrapbooks gave meaning to the lives of their
creators; today they continue to help historians understand those lives.”
(Buckler, Patricia Prandini. “From the Personal to the Historical.” The Mary
Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity. Summer 2003. Page 13.)
The serious study of the scrapbook as an historical document is a fairly
recent one. Most books published on the subject in the eighteen and
early 1900s focused on the actual creation of said books, more in the line
of “how-to” manuals than the importance of the information therein.
Examples of this can be found in Janet E Ruutz-Rees’ Home Occupations
and Shaw G. Bernard’s My Expensive Scrap Book
, published in 1883
and 1915 respectfully. Ruutz-Rees’ work, published by D. Appleton
and Company of New York, looks at the materials best used for creating these
books, the best way to organize said books, as well as instructions on creating
inset books, “books with the margins wide enough to allow the insertion of
material from other books.” (Bias, Danielle & Black, Rebecca & Tucker,
Susan. Scrapbooks and Albums, Theories and Practice. <www.tulane.edu/~welib/susan.html>
Page 13.) Bernard’s “book,” which was in reality a nineteen-page pamphlet
for the Hemstreet Clipping Bureau, describes the creditability in using
clippings to “establish oneself as a credible witness in law proceedings
or as a learned person.” (Ibid.) While this approach is slightly more
important than the “how-to” manuals printed at the time, the author creates
the pamphlet more for commercial, rather than historical importance.
It would not be until the later half of the twentieth century that the
scrapbook as an historical document began to be considered seriously.
In 1988 Ackbar Abbas published an article for the New Literary History
magazine, entitled “Walter Benjamin’s Collector: The Fate of the Modern Experience,”
in which the author chronicles the history of scrapbooks, but also examines
the relationship between the individual creating the scrapbook and the person
later examining it. 1991 saw Patricia Prandini Buckler publish “A Silent
Women Speaks: The Poetry in a Women’s Scrapbook of the 1840s,” for issue
sixteen of the magazine Prospects, in which the author examines the pomes
placed in the scrapbook of Ann Elizabeth Buckler, produced from 1832 to 1855.
In examining the pomes Buckler claims that one can get an insight into the
many issues faced by women of early nineteenth century, and that the “scrapbook
served not only as one of the few ways women could express themselves, but
also as [an] autobiographical testament…of an individual who would otherwise
remain anonymous.” (Bias, Danielle & Black, Rebecca & Tucker, Susan.
Scrapbooks and Albums, Theories and Practice. <www.tulane.edu/~welib/susan.html>
Page 3.) Writing for the Archival and Bibliographic Series of the
Newcomb College Center for Research on Women
, author Jennifer Bruing
examines the social life of women in the early part of the twentieth century
“through the use of eleven scrapbooks held in the Newcomb College collection.”
(Bruning, Jennifer. “Pages of History.” Archival and Bibliographic Series
of the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women. Issue #4, 1993)
In 1995 Jim Burant, in his paper, “More Than A File Cabinet: Scrapbooks
as Personal Expression” (presented at the annual meeting of the Society
of American Archivist), argued, “that scrapbooks are among the most ubiquitous
form of family record keeping” (Bias, Danielle & Black, Rebecca &
Tucker, Susan. Scrapbooks and Albums, Theories and Practice. <www.tulane.edu/~welib/susan.html>
Page 3.), comparing the scrapbook to modern day videotapes of family events.
The early part of the twenty-first century saw several articles published
expounding the importance of the scrapbook in relation to both historical
memory and material culture. In her article for the Journal of
, “Scrapbooks: Intrinsic Value and Material Culture,”
author Juliana Kuipers states the importance that the formatting and arrangements
of a scrapbook play to researchers looking at this material as historical
documents. (Kuiper, Juliana. “Scrapbooks: Intrinsic Value and Material Culture.”
Journal of Archival Organization, Volume 2, Number 3, 2004. Pages 83 – 91)
Patricia Prandi Buckler again enters the fray with her 2003 article; “From
the Personal to the Historical,” published in The Mary Baker Eddy Library
for the Betterment of Humanity magazine. In it the author traces the
history of scrap booking from a nineteenth century exercise for children,
to the more serious aspects the “hobby” took on in the mid to late twentieth
century. As the author points out, “many nineteenth-century keepers
of scrapbooks were keenly aware of the historical nature of their compositions…[as]
scrapbooks frequently documented lives not documented elsewhere.” (Buckler,
Patricia Prandini. “From the Personal to the Historical.” The Mary Baker
Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity. Summer 2003. Page 12.)
The scrapbook today plays a very important part in understanding the past,
not only for the primary documents contained within its pages, but also
for the material culture its represents. The scrapbook not only let’s
one see into the past, but it lets one see into the past through the eyes
of its author. The author or creator of the scrapbook decides what
is of importance to his or her personal recollections, and in doing so we
may gain an understanding of the author himself. The Blanchard scrapbook
is no exception. By exploring and analyzing its contents, we will present
the material as both a collection of individual documents, and as a single
complete document and how it relates to both historical memory and material
culture. The paper will be divided into three sections:
- Cataloging and transcription of Scrapbook contents.
- Examination and evaluation of the scrapbook as it relates to historical
- A brief biographical profile of Frederick Blanchard.
In the end its is hoped that by examining this reference source, we will
not only gain a better understanding of the dynamics which when into creating
said scrapbook, but also into what was, and was not, important to the author,
in addition to how the author viewed his own life. At the very least,
through the transcription and examination of the original unreleased documents,
we may shed new light into that greatest struggle of the American past.
The role of historical memory plays a large part in American society today.
How we view ourselves in great part depends on how we view our past.
The American Civil War is considered a watershed in the development of the
American identity, as is the most singled researched event in American history.
This work is important because it examines an otherwise overlooked source
of information: the scrapbook. Considered a exercise for children
in the nineteenth-century, and a source of family memory in the twentieth,
it is only within the confines of the twenty-first century that the material
collected within its pages is finally being considered not only for its
value in historic documents, but for providing a look into the mind of an
individual long since passed. How a person views his own time in the
memorabilia one keeps is just as important as the material that allows us
to piece together the past. And the scrapbook, taken in both lights,
presents an opportunity to explore that past.
Primary and Secondary Sources
The primary sources that will be used in compiling the paper will include
the scrapbook of Captain Frederick C. Blancahrd, complied during the later
years of the nineteenth-century and entrusted to the Brooklyn Public Library
(BPL) sometime during the 1930s. The collection came into the position
of this author in the early 1980s, when said author’s father (having been
an employee of the BPL for 47 years), found the scrapbook on a discard pile.
In addition several documents from the National Archives will be used to
present a limited biographical profile of Captain Blanchard and his tenure
within the Union Army. The use of secondary material will be kept to
a minim, and used only to support the argument that scrapbooks present a
viable source of historical importance. The sources and documents that
will be referenced include but are not limited to:
- Blanchard, Fredrick. Blanchard Civil War Scrapbook.
- Pension Records of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
- Pension Records of the Department of the Interior.
- Pay Records of the 42nd Massachusetts Militia Infantry.
- Letters written by Frederick C. Blanchard of various dates.
- The American Civil War Research Database <www.civilwardata.com>
- The Civil War Home Page <www.civil-war.net>
- Shotgun’s American Civil War Home Page <www.civilwarhome.com>
Civil War history, like history itself, is not static. As noted Civil
War historian William C. Davis writes, “Oddly, history changes...history
is a fluid process in which little remains certain for long.” (General Edward
J. Stackpole. "Chancellorsville: Lee's Greatest Battle." Harrisburg: Stackpole
Books, 1988. Page ii.) The material of today builds upon and supplements
the material of yesterday. It is not that the early history of the
Civil War has become useless, but has been redefined as new information has
been brought to light. Therefore any new information, however humbled,
adds to the overall knowledge of the topic. By looking into the material
one collected in the “scrapbook,” one may not only see the picture of the
individual author come to life, but also a very different picture that differs
from the general view that has been presented on a subject over the years.
- Bruning, Jennifer. “Pages of History.” Archival and Bibliographic
Series of the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women. Issue
- General Edward J. Stackpole. Chancellorsville: Lee's Greatest Battle.
Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 1988.
- Buckler, Patricia Prandini. “From the Personal to the Historical.”
The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity. Summer 2003
- Kuiper, Juliana. “Scrapbooks: Intrinsic Value and Material Culture.”
Journal of Archival Organization, Volume 2, Number 3, 2004.
- Bias, Danielle & Black, Rebecca & Tucker, Susan. Scrapbooks
and Albums, Theories and Practice. <www.tulane.edu/~welib/susan.html>
The Frederick C. Blancahrd Scrapbook Project ©
2006 John Rocco Roberto.
All original photographs of scrapbook and text © 2005/2006 John Rocco