Friday, July 23, 2010

Old Style vs New Style

Pope Gregory XIII, portrait by Lavinia FontanaImage via Wikipedia
     When the Moravians settled Bethlehem in 1741, they marked the beginning of a new year on March 25th. In 1741, for example, the year ended on March 24th, 1741; the following day was March 25th, 1742.  March was the first month of the year, April, the second, and continued on, with February as the twelfth and last month of the year. Pennsylvania, as a colony governed under British rule, was required to follow the British sanctioned Old Style or Julian calendar. The American settlers who originated from countries that used the Gregorian calendar (New Style) continued to use the New Style calendar after they immigrated to America. This led to much confusion, such as recording birthdays and celebrating holidays. Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, France, Belgium and the Catholic states of the Netherlands had all accepted the Gregorian calendar during the 1500s. Protestant Germany had made the change in 1700. The Moravian Brethren dealt with this problem by double dating their congressional diary entrees and correspondence with Old Style and New Style dates, separated with a slash.
     The tropical year of 365 days, five hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds is the time it takes the earth to circulate around the sun. The astronomer, Sosigenes, advised Julius Caesar to adopt a new calendar, in 46 BC, as an attempt to align the calendar with the tropical year. The new calendar, known as the Julian calendar, eventually was found to have some limitations. It was eleven minutes too long each year. By the sixteenth century, ten extra days had accumulated. Pope Gregory XIII was concerned that the calculated date of Easter by the Julian calendar had become incorrect. Christians believed that the date of the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the most important observance of the year. Therefore, upon the advice of the astronomer Clavius, Pope Gregory ordered the calendar to be revised, by papal bull. The Gregorian reform removed ten days from October 1582, and adjusted the leap year schedule to keep things on an even keel. The year 2008 will be a leap year.               
     The Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian calendar immediately. Because the Church of England was the official religion of England, its leaders were not inclined to follow Pope Gregory’s new calendar. However, by the mid-18th century, England (and her colonies) could no longer avoid the transition. Finally in 1751, the British Parliament passed the "Act for Regulating the Commencement of the Year; and for Correcting the Calendar now in Use" to join the rest of Europe, in using the Gregorian calendar. To fall in line with the correct date, Parliament degreed that eleven days needed to be eliminated. They omitted the days from September 3rd to 13th 1752. Parliament specified these dates as they avoided conflict with any major festivals in Britain.
     A painting by William Hogarth, in 1755; titled "An Election Entertainment", shows British commoners protesting against the Gregorian calendar with a banner stating, "Give us our Eleven days." Some citizens believed that the change in calendar was an attempt by landlords to cheat them out of a week and a half's rent.
     American newspapers and almanacs informed the colonists of the new act. The change to the New Style calendar appeared to have gone smoothly, as the newspapers did not report any protests. The Pennsylvania colonial proprietary government passed "An Act to prevent Disputes about the Dates of Conveyances, and other Instruments and Writings" shortly before the New Style calendar took effect. Benjamin Franklin printed the wording of the act in his Poor Richard's Almanac. Franklin’s comment about the omitted days was, "And what an indulgence is here, for those who love their pillow to lie down in peace on the second of this month and not perhaps awake till the morning of the fourteenth." Many colonists, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, continued to celebrate the Old Style dates of their birthdays. Thomas Jefferson’s grave stone, located at Monticello in Virginia, is inscribed with his birth date followed by O.S.
     With all the American colonists using the same calendar in 1752, it helped to make transactions easier between them. It may have contributed to the establishment of an independent identity as nation, which was not what the British Parliament had in mind.

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Fraktur in the Lehigh Valley

     Around New Year's Day in the 18th and 19th centuries, children, friends or neighbors might give each other a Neuesjahreswunsch or New Year’s Wish. Verses were written on paper in elaborate handwriting and illustrated with flowers, birds or animals, in ink and watercolor. A translation from German on a greeting from 1798 says, “Let peace and unity reign at all times, that hatred and envy will disappear, that love bind, now and with this new year. O Lord! Make my wishes come true.”
     The Pennsylvania German emigrant documented births, baptisms (Taufschein) and marriages (Traufschein) with Fraktur, between 1750 and 1900. Henry Mercer defined Fraktur as a decorated document, handwritten in German in fractured pen strokes, although a few were written in English. The writing is similar to the 15th-century typeface called Fraktur. The documents were often colorfully embellished with paintings of birds, flowers, sun, moon, hearts, trees and animals. Lutheran and Reformed ministers and school teachers created many of the Fraktur that exist in collections today. It was an additional source of income for the poorly paid teachers. Eventually, traveling artists offered the services of creating Fraktur for the farm families of Pennsylvania.
     The origins of the art can be traced to Alsace or Switzerland. The European handwritten manuscripts communicated serious religious themes or governmental proclamations. In America, Fraktur became more personal and centered on family events. School teachers used Vorschrift (letter exercises), drawing samples of the alphabet, to teach lettering skills and penmanship. The Pennsylvanian German community adopted Fraktur as their own.
     There are only a few examples of Fraktur in the Moravian settlements as they preferred to document important events through their congregational daily diary. Their beautifully written memoirs or Lebenslaufe might be considered a form of Fraktur.
     The first Fraktur in America, were created by the German Seventh Day Baptist Cloister in Ephrata, Lancaster County, in the mid 1700s. The Mennonites, Dunkers, Schwenkfelders and Amish also produced Fraktur.
     Fraktur artists made their own or ordered imported pigments such as vermilion, gamboge (yellow), Prussian blue, indigo, and orpiment. The Osborne Company in Philadelphia began manufacturing watercolors in the 1820s, making the supplies easier to obtain. They could be purchased at the local apothecary or drugstore. In an Osborne paint box from 1826, thirty different pigment cakes were included. Many of the watercolor paints used from 1700 to 1850 contained lead. The deadly ingredient was used to make colors more opaque or lighter. Mercury and arsenic were also typical additives.
     Early pens were made from a quill taken from the wing of a goose, swan or turkey. By the 1800s, steel nibs were manufactured, which gave the artist more control. Iron gall ink, the commonly used black ink, was easily made; the ingredients were inexpensive and readily available.
Imported or from local paper mills, paper was always obtainable. Around 1689 William Rittenhouse constructed the first paper mill in the American colonies in Germantown. Most Fraktur were painted on sheets of paper measuring 16 by 13 inches or 8 by 13 inches.
     As more sophisticated printing processes became available, forms for fraktur were printed with colorful designs and blank spaces for information to be filled in later. Printers advanced from using woodblocks in the 18th century to lithographic printing in the 19th century. The Currier and Ives Company mass produced black-and-white as well as full-color Fraktur.
     With the German immigrants assimilation in America, the custom of Fraktur disappeared. When the Pennsylvania legislature created common schools in 1834, school teachers were required to teach only in english. The patriotic feelings evoked by the Civil War made it less popular for German Americans to champion their roots.
     A Northampton County schoolmaster, Johannes Ernst Spangenberg (1755-1814), was much in demand for his Fraktur and was known as the “Easton Bible Artist.” Spangenberg lived in Easton with his wife, Elizabeth Blantz and their eleven children. Spangenberg may have listened to the reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 8, 1776, in Easton, as he soon enlisted in the militia to fight in the Revolutionary War. He taught at the stone schoolhouse at 229 Church St. in Easton. His Fraktur work featured a variety of themes, including buildings with arched windows and turrets topped with pennants, musicians, flowers and animals. He was finally identified by Monroe Fabian, associate curator at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., who found a signature on one of the Fraktur. The Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society has two Spangenberg Fraktur in their collection. One of his Fraktur, owned by a private collector, sold for $134,500 at an auction in 2002.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Allentown State Hospital

The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare is currently closing the Allentown State Hospital, one of seven state psychiatric hospitals in the state. The hospital serves patients from Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Monroe, and Pike counties. Institutional care for the mentally ill has been replaced by community based care since the Mental Heath Procedures Act of 1976 was passed. Today the usual course of treatment would involve a short stay in a psychiatric ward of a hospital, such as St. Luke’s Hospital. The patient would receive a diagnosis, group therapy and appropriate medication. They would then be discharged to a day program to ease back into the community.
When the Allentown State Hospital opened on October 2, 1912, it was the first homeopathic hospital in the state. It was originally called the Pennsylvania Homeopathic Hospital for the Insane. The hospital was built on 209 acres in Hanover Township, which included the former estates of Robert E. Wright and J. Marshall Wright. The site was equal distance between Allentown and Bethlehem, in an area known as Rittersville.
The ceremony for the laying of the corner-stone on June 27, 1904, was attended by Governor Samuel W. Pennypacker, many state legislators and a large group of “homeopathic” physicians. The guests traveled by trains, trolleys and carriages. Music was provided by the Allentown Pioneer Band and a prayer given by Rev. William D.C. Keiter of Bethlehem. Architect Philip H. Johnson presented a copper box containing the newspapers of the day, assortment of coins, a copy of the Act of Legislature ordering the building of the hospital and a list of all the homeopathic physicians in the state. The Governor then spread cement over the cornerstone and the “time capsule.” After the ceremony, the guests walked to the vacated Wright buildings to enjoy a lunch arranged on long tables.
Due to financial problems in the state there was a delay of eight years before the hospital was completed. The institution was built to serve 1000 patients. The Central Railroad ran by the southern end of the property. The Lehigh Valley Trolley Co. ran a line bordering the property on the north.
The hospital, designed by Johnson, was built in a block plan with several buildings connected by corridors. The buildings included; administration buildings, four patient ward buildings, two chapels, dining rooms, operating room, auditorium, kitchen, ice plant, laundry, boiler, and electric plant. An aerial tramway was built between the railroad and the power plant to facilitate the delivery of coal. It was a totally self contained community Land and building costs totaled $1,931,270.
The first Board of Trustees, appointed by Governor John K. Tener, were Harry C, Trexler, president; Edward M. Young, secretary and treasurer; Russel C. Stewart, Archibald Johnston, John J. Tuller, M.D., William A Seibert, M.D., Leonard Peckitt, F.J. Slough, M.D. and George R. Bedford. Henry I Klopp was appointed the first superintendent. The hospital was at near capacity within a year. Norristown and Danville State Hospitals transferred 750 patients immediately, due to overcrowded conditions in those institutions.
The homeopathic treatment for a patient began with a period of bed rest. The patient then received plenty of fresh air, nutritious food, hydrotherapy, exercise, re-education and occupational therapy. The belief was that under proper conditions, the body would heal itself.
A farm was operated on the grounds through the labor of employees and hospital patients. The produce fed the staff and patients. The cost for care for a week of hospitalization was about $5.00 per patient.
In the 1790s, Samuel Christian Friedrich Hahnemann of Germany, created the homeopathic approach to the treatment of illnesses. Homeopathy treats the mind and body together. Hahnemann wrote medical papers on his new treatment and trained medical students in Germany. Because of the high numbers of German immigrants to Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley, many physicians in the area were trained in this method. The first homeopathic medical college in the world was founded in 1836 in Allentown. The college president, Constantine Hering, is considered the Father of American Homeopathy. It is no surprise that in 1901, the state legislature selected a site between Allentown and Bethlehem to build the state’s first homeopathic treatment hospital for the mentally ill.
During the Great Depression, the Public Works Administration contracted with architects Lovelace and Spillman of Bethlehem to design a new dining hall for the hospital. During the 1950s, the hospital was severely overcrowded, reaching the highest patient population in its history of 2012. Today there are 175 patients in the care of the hospital.