From the Archives #59 — October 2020

By Sebastián Encina, Collections Manager

1919–1920 proved an adventurous year for Francis Kelsey and his team, and we have been sharing those adventures over the past few months through this blog. Last month, we saw how the adventure began, with a train ride from Detroit to New York City, followed by a sea voyage to England. For the month of September, the team stayed in those locations, wandering from Edinburgh to London.

For this month’s “From the Archives,” we continue this journey. In early October 1919, the team was still in England, finishing up some travels there. On October 10, they are in London, and they move south to Folkestone, near Dover. From there, Kelsey, Swain, and others board ships to cross the Channel. They arrive in Boulogne, France, and quickly make their way to Paris. While in Paris, we get glimpses of the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, the Arc de Triomphe, and of life on the streets. Swain captured a garbage wagon, a woman sweeping, a fish stand on the street, and a flower pushcart. Daily life as it happened in Paris 1919. And time for sightseeing.

After a few days in Paris, they move on to Meaux, Chateau-Thierry, Rheims. They see through cathedrals, bridges, and various structures along the way. And they get reminders of the recent past. Ruined houses and debris. Homes “pitted with bullets.” Wrecked towns, wrecked factories, a wrecked armored car, wrecked forests and trees. Swain sees French soldiers, German prisoners eating soup and clearing rubbish, a war cemetery, a German prisoner’s camp, a shell dump, German headquarters.

From Rheims (or Reims), they move to Berry-au-Bac and onto Soissons. In Berry-au-Bac, Swain captures Kelsey and a French officer standing by a German trench. The photo appears odd, as Swain accidentally double-exposed the frame. We see trees superimposed on the photo, and Kelsey’s face is distorted. The hat, the build, and the beard are definitely Kelsey, even without being able to see the face.

Once they have seen the vicinity, the team returns to Paris, where they visit the Louvre and see other monuments throughout the city. While outside Paris, Swain used the Cirkut camera to capture Berry-au-Bac. The Cirkut camera was designed to use special film, and had a spring mechanism that would render panoramic photographs. An earlier “From the Archives” blog entry highlighted a number of these panoramics, as it was used throughout North Africa, Turkey, and Europe.

Throughout it all, Swain took notes on his photographs so he could remember and document them later. He was using several cameras: the Cirkut, a handheld Kodak camera, and a view camera. He had to keep track of all these images somehow. And it is those notes that led to our archival photographs database.

It must have been shocking to see the remains of war and the destruction from the Great War. Due to the ongoing conflict, it was difficult for Americans to visit Europe. And when they did, they found a very different Europe from what they remembered. As noted numerous times in previous blog entries, Swain captured life returning to a new normal. People in the streets making a living. Clearing up the debris. Getting on to new business.

From France, the team would carry on to other parts of Europe. The last entry for October is the 20th, so our next photos will be from November 1919. Those will be presented next month, so be sure to return to see where our adventurers rode off to next!

October 10: London and passage to France via the English Channel

photo: National Gallery and St. Martin’s, London
“National Gallery and St. Martin’s, London.” KS013.01.
“How autos are carried on the channel steamers.” KS013.07.
“Bow of steamer and head of pier.” KS013.05.
“Chalk cliffs near the harbor, from the steamer.” KS013.04.
“Another view of the chalk cliffs near Folkestone.” KS013.08.
“Cloud and sunlight effect, from the steamer.” KS013.09.
“Fishing boat and tug. French coast line in the distance.” KS013.11.
“A little of the city seen from the steamer.” KS014.01.

October 11–14: Paris, France

“Statue of the city of Strassburg, Place de la Concorde.” KS014.03.
“Eiffel Tower at sunset, from the Seine.” KS014.04.
“Push cart peddlers in the Rue St. Honoré (not there in 1925).” KS014.06.
“A nearer view of the old women with the push carts, Rue St. Honoré.” KS014.07.
“Part of the Tuileries Garden and the Arc du Carousel.” KS014.08.
“A news stand, kept by a woman.” KS014.09.
“A Paris garbage wagon.” KS014.10.
“Old woman sweeping by garbage wagon. Shutter too slow.” KS014.11.
“A flower push cart. Poor.” KS014.12.
“A street fish stand. Little out of focus.” KS015.01.
“Narrow uphill street leading toward a Montmartre.” KS015.02.
“A bit of the Monmartre cemetery, showing the density of population.” KS015.03.
“Just a bit of the narrow part of the Rue de Rivoli.” KS015.04.
“General view of the Place de la Concorde, traffic in foreground.” KS015_06.
“One of the masculine public conveniences of Paris — typical of Western Europe!” KS015.07.
“Temporary victory monument, by the Avenue Champs Elysées. Figure is the Victory of Samothrace.” KS015.08.
“Another rather more distance view of the temporary victory monument; it is also from a different point of view.” KS015.11.
“Part of the facade of the Grand Palais, where the auto show was held.” KS015.12.
“Part of the Paris Auto Show, Grand Palais.” KS015.09.
“A bridge over the Seine and the Eiffel Tower.” KS016.02.
“On top the Arc du Triomphe.” KS016.03.
“One wedge of buildings as seen from the top of the Arc du Triomphe. Hazy in distance.” KS016.04.
“Mr. Flack on top the Arc du Triomphe.” KS016.05.
“Toward the Eiffel Tower from the top of the Arc du Triomphe.” KS016.06.

October 15: Meaux, Chateau Thierry, and Reims, France

“Facade of the cathedral.” KS016.07.
“The Sossuet Memorial, in the cathedral of Meaux.” KS016.08.
“Nave of the cathedral toward the apse.” KS016.09.
“One of the aisles of the cathedral.” KS016.10.
“Street view at Meaux.” KS016.11.
“Bridge over the Marne at Trilport.” KS017.01.
“Ruined houses and street choked up with debris.” KS017.02.
“Just a street corner in the town.” KS017.04.
“Bridge held by the Americans, view from the end by the Germans. Temporary bridge in position in the view.” KS017.06.
“Another bridge from the same end. See KS017.06.” KS017.07.
“Just a street view. House roofs knocked to pieces.” KS017.08.
“Same bridge from the American end. See KS017.08 and KS017.07.” KS017.09.
“Another view from the same end showing houses on other side riddled with American fire. A metal plate has been set in the bridge approach on this side reading, ‘On this site will be erected a monument commemorating the services of the 3rd Division, U.S.A., 1918.'” KS017.10.
“More ruined houses.” KS017.11.
“Wreckage of an ammunition train blown up by mines.” KS018.03.
“War cemetery. White crosses French; black, German. On the French crosses, name and “Mort Pour la France.” Reims. KS018.05.

October 16–17: Reims

“Toward Rheims from road running northeast from town. Wire entanglements on right and left. Trees more than half destroyed by gun fire. German front lines ran through hollow at foot of hill. Rheims cathedral dimly seen in the distance. Weather cloudy and hazy at time of exposure. Shows how Germans could observe effect of every shell fired at the cathedral.” 7.0001.
“Toward Rheims from more nearly north than the preceding. Shows same road at left. Wire entanglements in immediate foreground. Shows cathedral and some of the town. Countryside waste of weeds, trenches and wire entanglements. Taken under adverse weather conditions.” Text attached to photo: “Reims and its cathedral as seen through a curtain of rain from the second line German trenches, October 16, 1919. Wrecked barbed wire entanglement in the foreground. Photo by George Swain, University of Michigan collection.” 7.0002.
“Facade of Rheims cathedral, taken with 12-inch lens. From the square directly in front. On right and left, rubbish of wrecked buildings cleared from the street. Note holes knocked in towers.” Text attached to photo: “Shell of Reims Cathedral. The interior was gutted by fire. Part of the vaulted ceiling and roof fell in. Much of the ceiling still left over the nave is cracked and threatens to fall, so that visitors are not allowed to pass under it. Photo by George R. Swain, October 16, 1919, through a thin curtain of rain. University of Michigan collection.” 7.0007.
“Long-focus view of part of one side of cathedral to show damage by fire and bombardment.” 7.0011.
“Interior of cathedral looking from the rear toward the apse. Visitors allowed only inside the door for fear roof might fall. Note hole in back end of roof. Also two smaller holes at right overhead. Stained glass shattered to tiny bits. Note big unexploded shell in forground. Custodian asserted not one shell exploded inside the building.” 7.0012.
“Hotel Lafayette, our army Cadillac in front.” KS018.08.
“Square out in front of the cathedral, not looking toward the cathedral.” KS018.09.
“A glimpse from the roof of the Hotel Lafayette.” KS018.12.
“Across the street from a window on the second floor of the hotel.” KS019.01.
“From the roof of the Hotel Lafayette, to the left.” KS019.02.
“Some of the ruins out in front of the cathedral.” KS019.03.
“The towers of the Rheims cathedral –camera pointed up purposely.” KS019.04.
“Tiny corner tower on building near front of cathedral.” KS019.07.
“Right hand side of the roof of the cathedral.” KS019.08.
“German prisoners crossing in front of the cathedral.” KS019.09.
“In the square in front of the cathedral. Mrs. Kelsey and Rediger, our chauffeur and the army Cadillac.” KS019.10.
“German prisoners clearing away rubbish from the front of the cathedral.” KS019.11.
“Serving German prisoners with soup for lunch, out in front of the cathedral.” KS019.12.

October 17–18: Berry-au-Bac and Soissons

“On the road from Rheims to Berry-au-Bac. Trees all wrecked. Ruins of town on the left as well.” KS020.01.
“Wrecked town passed on the road. Nothing but a few walls.” KS020.02.
“Old dugouts and trees wrecked by gun fire.” KS020.04.
“Wrecked sugar factory at Berry-au-Bac.” KS020.08.
“Our auto, the road and a sign “Achtung! Eisenbahn.” not far from the bridge at Berry-au-Bac. It was a little narrow gauge road, presumably for ammunition and supplies.” KS020.10.
“Professor Kelsey and French officer standing by German trench of 1914 (probably a double, but possibly of use).” KS021.08.
“Looking down the ridge between the Aisne and the Miette brook. The line of trees begining at the left and extending three quarters the way across the view, marks the course of the Aisne. The trees at the right mark the Miette brook. A German prisoners’ camp is near the right. This side of that, and crossing the Miette runs the road to Laon. The view is diversified with old trenches, shell holes and the remains of wire entanglemnts. A dug out in the foreground. The view does not extend far enough to the left to show Berry-au-Bac. Size, 9 1/2 x 30 in.” Cirkut001.
“Looking down along the ridge between the Aisne and Miette, especially the side toward the Miette, marked by the trees. The road down the ridge and going to Laon shows in the center of the view. Old trenches and shell holes right and left. The Aisne is located by the trees in the distance at the extreme left of the picture. Size, 9 1/2 x 28 in.” Cirkut004.
“Shell dump. Mostly 75’s by the road from Berry-au-Bac to Laon. Rediger standing at right.” KS021.01.
“German prisoners’ camp and wire stockage, near the Miette brook, at the left of the road to Laon. This is near the slope where Caesar drew up his troops.” KS021.04.
“Wrecked armored car, camouflaged, probably French, on the Miette side of the slope of the ridge. Easton Kelsey inside for scale.” KS021.05.
“Remains of German camoflage by the road running down the ridge between the Aisne and the Miette.” KS021.09.
“Canal boats by empty canal by Berry-au-Bac, seen from the crater, Hill 108.” KS021.10.
“Wrecked forest on the road to Pontavert near Berry-au-Bac.” KS021.11.
“Ruins of Pontavert.” KS021.12.
“Headquarters of German commander, road from Pontavert to Soissons.” KS022.01.
“Rediger replacing a tire on the Cadillac. Not far from Soissons.” KS022.02.
“Pair of traction engines, one each side, pulling four-plow back and forth across the field. Near Soissons.” KS022.03.
“Part of the wrecked facade of the Soissons cathedral.” KS022.04.
“Showing how the backbone of the Soissons cathedral was broken. The structure was damaged beyond repair. A part seems to have been left as a monument. I saw it in 1925 and 1926.” KS022.05.

October 20: Paris

“Company of French soldiers resting by the Seine, Paris.” KS022.06.
“Part of the facade of the Louvre.” KS022.08.
“The Gambetta statue and its environment, Tuileries Gardens.” KS022.09.
“The end of the Arc du Carousel toward the Seine.” KS022.10.
“The Arc du Carousel in its environment, seen from the side toward the Place de la Concorde.” KS022.11.
“One of the fountains of the Place de la Concorde.” KS022.12.
“One of the monuments at the head of the bridge of Alexander III.” KS023.01.

News from the Conservation Lab — Artifact QT

By Caroline Roberts, Conservator

It’s October, and we are coming up on nine months of pandemic life. A lot of us are struggling right now, and trying to find comfort where we can. Being here at the Kelsey always gives me a lift. I just love spending quality time with the artifacts. Caring for them helps me put worries aside and grounds me in the here and now. Part of this comes from necessity — you really need to focus while photographing or treating an artifact — but there is also something meditative about working with an ancient object.

Egyptian faience ushabti figurine. Gift of Robert Gillman, 1952. KM 1980.4.35.

The ushabti figurine I’m treating today is one of thousands that were mass-produced in ancient Egypt. Its purpose was to serve the deceased in the afterlife; this particular one holds a sickle in each hand, ready to work the farm. Its turquoise color comes from copper minerals that were mixed with sand and salts and heated to form the figurine’s glazed surface. This ushabti is not only a tireless helper, it is also a really cool piece of ancient technology.

This artifact is in the lab because it needs a little TLC. And frankly, so do a lot of us. Let’s not forget to take care of ourselves — and each other — as we navigate these difficult times.

Ugly Object of the Month — October 2020

By Caroline Roberts, Conservator

It’s close to midnight
And something evil’s lurking in the dark
Under the moonlight
You see a sight that almost stops your heart …

small bronze figurine
Bronze figurine of ???, from Karanis, Egypt. Height, 5.4 cm. Roman Egyptian. KM 10886.

Happy (almost) Halloween, Kelsey blog fans! It’s October, and this month’s Ugly Object is something straight out of a horror movie. This bronze figurine was discovered in the South Temple complex at Karanis, and although an old catalogue entry identifies it as Eros, I don’t really buy it. I mean, this object doesn’t exactly radiate love and physical desire. Both feet and one hand are missing, and the one that remains is clutching something  — a cluster of grapes? Something more sinister? Cue the spooky music.

What really strikes me though is the figure’s weird posture, which looks like one of those impressive zombie dance maneuvers featured in Thriller. (Or maybe it’s just an awkward attempt at contrapposto — who knows?) Whether this is Eros or an undead version of him, this little figurine is going to haunt my dreams.

New Kelsey Blog: The Social Lives of Coins

The Kelsey’s new assistant curator of numismatics, Irene Soto Marín, has launched a weekly blog called The Social Lives of Coins: Archaeology and Numismatics at the Kelsey. In it, she will highlight interesting discoveries she makes as she studies the 40,000+ coins in the Kelsey’s collection. Join Irene on an exciting journey into history as she explores the ancient world through the Kelsey’s one-of-a-kind numismatic collection. And don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss a post!

From the Archives #58

By Sebastián Encina, Collections Manager

The August 2020 “From the Archives” blog entry recounted the final days of Francis W. Kelsey and team’s year-long trip as they traversed Europe, southwest Asia, and northern Africa. One hundred years ago, in August of 1920, Kelsey, his wife Mary, their son Easton, the photographer George Swain, and several others were in England, France, Belgium, and Germany before they departed on their return voyage to the US. Through George Swain’s eyes (and cameras), we saw what Europe looked like only a century ago. We saw a Europe still recovering from a devastating war, returning to their new normal. And much of the world was also recovering from the pandemic of 1918. 

On this year-long adventure, Kelsey and his team saw many countries, documented numerous sites, connected with friends and colleagues, and started making plans to initiate archaeological excavations. The voyage home must have been a relief for the team, after spending so long on the road. They saw much, but such a trip can be exhausting. And a century later, it is interesting for us to see their trip and the fruits of their labors. They had no idea how the next decade or so would turn out, but we see the seeds being planted during this venture. Though some of the groundwork for those excavations were laid prior to the 1919/1920 trip, it was around this time that Kelsey founded the Institute of Archaeological Research (IAR) for the purpose of running archaeological excavations. In 1924, they returned to commence archaeological work at Carthage, Antioch, and Karanis.

For this month’s “From the Archives,” we look back 101 years and share where it all began. In September 1919, Francis Kelsey and his team boarded a train in Detroit that was bound for New York City. In New York, they boarded the Columbia, a steamer that would sail across the Atlantic to England (seeing Ireland and Scotland along the way). From there, they would begin their journey across Europe. 

Swain seems to have always had his camera at the ready. He captured views of the train station in Detroit, the docks in New York City, life aboard the Columbia, and nine days later, Ireland and Scotland. While on the isle of Britain, the team visited Glasgow, Edinburgh, Berwick, York, and London. We see some of the usual stops along the way, including the river Thames, the Tower of London, the British Museum, Parliament, Westminster Abbey. We also see the people along the street: a fruit vendor, a newspaper boy, a man wearing a sandwich board advertising a play, and an artist on his knees creating art. We see the cars, buses, and attire that were in style at the time. Kelsey and Swain posing before the sites, calling out tourists but acting the tourists themselves.

As noted, this trip afforded the team the opportunity to see so much, take stock of the situation, and plot future work. The photos shared this month show the beginning of the trip; last month we saw its conclusion. In between the two points in time, Kelsey added many miles to his personal odometer, and Swain’s work resulted in a large portion of the Kelsey Museum’s current archives. These are a great resource for scholarly endeavors, but also for the curious who are interested in life one hundred years ago. Thus far, we have presented only a portion of what they saw. In the coming months, we may see a bit more. For this month, we revel in the onset of the journey, wishing the team a healthy trip, already knowing well how successful it will be.

September 4: Detroit train station

“Electric locomotive in the Michigan Central yards, Detroit, by the station.” 4 September 1919. KS001.01.

September 5–15: New York, embarkation and voyage

“Approach to the Cunard docks, New York, from the street.” 5 September 1919. KS001.02.
“Atlantic liners. Columbia, looking toward the bow as she lay at the dock in New York.” 6 September 1919. KS001.05.
“Charlotte Kelsey and others on the dock, taken from the deck of the Columbia.” 6 September 1919. KS002.01.
“Hoboken, seen from the steamer Columbia.” 6 September 1919.
“Statue of Liberty, from the steamer.” 6 September 1919. KS002.05.
“Atlantic liners. Columbia. A pleasant day on deck. Everybody happy.” 8 September 1919. KS003.04.
“Atlantic liners. Columbia. Looking toward the bow.” 8 September 1919. KS002.12.
“Atlantic liners. Columbia. Looking from the stern toward the superstructure.” 8 September 1919. KS003.05.
“Atlantic liners. Columbia. A sunset at sea.” 12 September 1919. KS004.05.
“Atlantic liners. Columbia. Capt. Blaikie at the bridge.” 15 September 1919. KS004.09.
“A bit of the Irish coast near Moville.” 15 September 1919. KS006.06.

September 16: Glasgow, Scotland

“Another view of the University.” 16 September 1919. KS007.04.
“A look up the tower of the University.” 16 September 1919. KS007.08.
“A bit of the University cloisters.” 16 September 1919. KS007.06.
“Looking out in front of the Museum.” 16 September 1919. KS007.03.

September 17: Edinburgh, Scotland

“The approach to the Castle.” 17 September 1919. KS007.10.
“A group of tourists in the Castle. Professor (Francis W.) Kelsey near the center.” 17 September 1919. KS008.02.
“Cemetery for soldiers’ dogs, at the Castle.” 17 September 1919. KS008.06.
“On the street, omnibus run by gas from a balloon-tank on top.” 17 September 1919. KS008.07.
“A double-deck electric tram.” 17 September 1919. KS008.08.
“View of river and bridge from the train.” 17 September 1919. KS008.11.

September 18: York, England

“The cathedral towers. Hazy.” 18 September 1919. KS009.04.
“Part of the ruins of the abbey.” 18 September 1919. KS009.10.
“Latin inscription on a roman sarcophagus in the museum. Very plain.” 18 September 1919. KS009.08.
“G.R. Swain on top the city wall.” 18 September 1919. KS010.03.
“A bit of the old city wall, cathedral towers in the distance. Professor (Francis W.) and Mrs. Kelsey on the wall, but not very clear.” 18 September 1919. KS010.02.

September 20–28: London, England

“The main entrance gates to the British Museum, facade in the background.” 20 September 1919. KS010.06.
“Just a street view, vista.” 20 September 1919. KS010.07.
“The Monument-single column.” 20 September 1919. KS010.07.
“Looking along the Thames from London bridge to the Tower bridge.” 20 September 1919. KS010.09.
“The approach to the Tower bridge.” 20 September 1919. KS010.10.
“Up the Thames from the base of the Tower bridge.” 20 September 1919. KS010.11.
“Rear of Westminster Abbey.” 24 September 1919. KS011.02.
“The Houses of Parliament, not from the river.” 24 September 1919. KS011.03.
“Houses of Parliament, river side.” 24 September 1919. KS011.04.
“A fruit vendor’s cart — apples and bananas. Street view.” 24 September 1919. KS011.06.
“A London ‘news boy’ with his bulletin board. What the test vote was about not known. League of Nations?” 24 September 1919. KS011.07.
“A London ‘sandwich’ man with a theatre advertisement.” 24 September 1919. KS011.08.
“In front of a book stall. Little out of focus.” 24 September 1919. KS011.09.
“A sidewalk artist at work.” 24 September 1919. KS011.11.
“Westminster Bridge, St. Stephen’s Clock Tower and part of the Houses of Parliament.” 28 September 1919. KS011.12.
“Government buildings near Westminster.” 28 September 1919. KS012.01.
“One of the Horse guards at Whitehall.” 28 September 1919. KS012.02.
“Milk cabs (‘churns’ they called them) stacked in Hyde Park, time of the railway strike.” 28 September 1919. KS012.07.

News from the Conservation Lab — Let’s Do Some Paperwork!

By Suzanne Davis & Caroline Roberts

Autumn is in the air. Students are back on campus and we’re working to keep things safe and up to date in the Conservation Lab. Every September we perform an annual review of the lab’s safety protocols, things like our chemical hygiene plan and standard operating procedures (now even more exciting, thanks to COVID-19). We’ve also got lots of training updates going on this month: an ethics and research practice refresher for Suzanne, emergency operations training for both of us, and — special to us at the Kelsey Museum — object handling training! Yes, every practitioner working with Kelsey Museum objects (including us) does a little refresher on safely handling our precious ancient artifacts. All part of keeping it real (and compliant) here at the Kelsey.


Suzanne Davis reviewing the Conservation Lab’s chemical hygiene plan and standard operating procedures.

Ugly Object of the Month — September

By Caroline Roberts, Conservator

Hey, Ugly Object fans! It is great to be back at the Kelsey part-time and working with the collection again. One thing I’ve missed most about being away from the museum are the surprises — the chance discoveries than can happen while examining artifacts up close. This month’s Ugly Object is a rather unassuming funerary stela from Terenouthis, Egypt, showing a woman with upraised arms. At first glance, it doesn’t look like there’s much going on here beyond the carved figure, and I was not expecting to find more than a few small traces of pigment in the woman’s chiton. But as soon as I shined a UV light over the surface, hidden figures emerged! Look closely and you might be able to see a fringed shroud hanging over the woman’s left arm, an Anubis figure reclining on a plinth to her left, and below the woman’s feet … a painted inscription! 

Limestone funerary stela KM 21021 from Terenouthis, Egypt, late 2nd–early 4th century CE. Left, under visible light; right, under longwave ultraviolet light.

At what point did these images disappear? A photograph of the stela shows faint traces of the shroud, canine figure, and inscription, but the fact that they aren’t mentioned in the Terenouthis stelae’s published catalogue suggests that these elements had nearly disappeared by the early 1960s. Today, they are all but invisible to the human eye. Thankfully, some trace of the original paint remains in a form that is sensitive to UV light. This makes me wonder … how many other stelae have images and inscriptions that await rediscovery?

Stay tuned for more!

From the Archives #57

By Sebastián Encina, Collections Manager

In 1919 and 1920, just after the end of the Great War, Francis Kelsey took a long journey, from England to continental Europe, to Turkey and Syria, through to Egypt. He brought with him a group of people to assist in these travels, including photographer George R. Swain and his own son, Easton Kelsey. This was their first opportunity in a long time to visit this side of the world. They had quite a lot of work to accomplish on this trip, for its purpose was twofold. They were there on humanitarian grounds, visiting Red Cross refugee camps in Turkey and Syria following the Armenian genocide. They were also there to visit colleagues, collections, and historical and archaeological sites. In Egypt, they began planning future archaeological expeditions.

For this month’s “From the Archives,” we present a selection of twenty-five photographs showcasing the group’s travels exactly 100 years ago. In August of 1920, they found themselves in England, France, Belgium, and Germany. The photographs from this leg of the trip, taken by George Swain and Easton Kelsey, show the range of their adventures and activities. We see Windsor Castle in England, with tourists milling about outside. The team connects with Herr and Frau Reindjes and her sister, as they rent a car in Germany. We also see them dealing with their vehicles, extracting them from ditches and changing their tires.

We also get a chance to see post-war life in the respective countries. A man with plow and oxen in Tongeren, Belgium. Another man in Koblenz, Germany, with his dog-pulled cart. An amorous couple (“Local color,” according to the photo label), also in Koblenz, Germany. In Dijon, France, we see a view of one of the castles of the Dukes of Burgundy, and in Paris, we get a glimpse of the Place de l’Opera. Swain and Kelsey provide us with views of other structures, both natural and human-made. In some captions, they include the words “Good,” or “Excellent,” attesting to the quality of the photograph.

Along with these images of resilience, we find ourselves looking at the devastation brought about by the Great War. In La Fere, France, we see “piles of war wreckage” where buildings, including homes, once stood. In Alsace, we see barbed wire entanglements scattered through a field and a shell-hole with wrecked woods in the background. Throughout the war, Kelsey was in frequent communication with his friends and colleagues in Europe and Southwest Asia. The plight of people and areas affected by the war was on his mind, as it was for many Americans.

By the end of August 1920, Swain’s and Kelsey’s photographic documentation of this trip seems to have come to an end. Thanks to their work, we get to see how Europe was one hundred years ago. People were getting back to their lives after years of war, trying to find their new normal. After almost an entire year traveling through Europe, Southwest Asia, and Egypt, it was time for these Americans to return to their normal as well.


black and white photo of Windsor Castle
August 1, 1920, London, England. “Windsor. Approach to the castle, and castle. Tourists.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK322.

August 1, 1920, London, England. “Windsor. Tower on the site of one built by William the Conqueror.” Easton Kelsey, photo KK323.

black and white photo of a man and dog on bridge
August 9, 1920, Koblenz, Germany. “Four-wheeled cart drawn by a big dog, on the pontoon bridge.” George R. Swain, photo KS225.10.

black and white photo of a stone bridge
August 9, 1920, Koblenz, Germany. “Stone bridge across the Moselle, at Cobler looking up stream; raft of logs in the foreground.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK324.

black and white photo of a river
August 9, 1920, Koblenz, Germany. “Confluence of the Rhine and Moselle, looking up the Moselle. Shows considerable of the country.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK327.

black and white photo of crowded bridge
August 9, 1920, Koblenz, Germany. “Throng of traffic on the pontoon bridge.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK341..

black and white photo of a man and woman embracing
August 11, 1920, Koblenz, Germany. “Local color at the Kranenberg, above Andernach.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK339.

black and white photo of a 1920s car
August 15, 1920, Koblenz, Germany. “Our army Cadillac has to change tires.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK369.

black and white photo of army troops in formation.
August 16, 1920, Koblenz, Germany. “U.S. soldiers marching along the street. Good.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK355.

black and white photo of a 1920s car with passengers
August 17, 1920, Koblenz, Germany. “The German car we rented at the gas station at Coblenz. In front, Frau Reindjes and her sister; on the back seat, GR Swain and Professor (Francis W.) Kelsey; Herr Reindjes standing by car.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK365.

black and white photo of 1920s car and passengers
August 20, 1920, near Tongeren, Belgium. “Views. A stop to fix a blow-out on a tire, near Tongres. Shows Professor (Francis W.) Kelsey, Capt. Minuth and Frau Reindjes.” George R. Swain, photo KS227.05.

black and white photo of a statue
August 20, 1920, Tongeren, Belgium. “Statue of Ambiorix.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK359.

black and white photo of a man with oxen
August 20, 1920, Tongeren, Belgium. “Man with oxen and plow, road beyond.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK361.

black and white photo of man and woman on a bench
August 21, 1920, Spa, Belgium. “Herr and Frau Reindjes on the grounds at Spa. Little out of focus.” George R. Swain, photo KS227.11.

black and white photo of a river
August 22, 1920, Namur, Belgium. “Looking down the Meuse from the top of the Citadel.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK377.

black and white photo of a woman seated on stone steps
August 22, 1920, Belgium. “Picture of Frau Reindjes, somewhere in Belgium.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK378.

photo of a ruined house
August 23, 1920, La Fere, France. “War-wrecked house.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK379.

black and white photo of ruins in French village after WWI
August 23, 1920, La Fere, France. “Another pile of war wreckage.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK380.

black and white photo of people in front of bombed buildings
August 23, 1920, La Fere, France. “Jumble of war wreckage — once houses.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK381.

August 26, 1920, Alesia, France. “The car in the ditch, coming down the hill. Professor (Francis W.) Kelsey at the right.” George R. Swain, photo KS229.07.

black and white photo of a triumphal arch
August 27, 1920, Dijon, France. “Small triumphal arch at Dijon near the hotel.” George R. Swain, photo KS229.10.

black and white photo of a building
August 27, 1920, Dijon, France. “More detailed view of one end of the castle of the Dukes of Burgundy.” George R. Swain, photo KS230.02.

black and white photo of a field with barbed wire
August 28, 1920, near Colmar, France. “Near Colmar. Barbed wire entanglements scattered through a field.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK394.

black and white photo of a parched field
August 28, 1920, near Colmar, France. “Near Colmar. A shell hole in the foreground with water, wrecked woods beyond.” Easton T. Kelsey, photo KK395.

black and white photo of a building in Paris
August 30, 1920, Paris, France. “Place de l’Opera looking toward the Opera house. Excellent.” George R. Swain, photo KS230.12.

August News from the Conservation Lab — Conservators in the house!

By Caroline Roberts & Suzanne Davis

We are back in the lab!!!

Suzanne and I are very excited to be back at the Kelsey doing conservation and collection-focused research a few days a week. Here we are preparing some of the Kelsey’s Terenouthis stelae for photography.

selfie of two women wearing masks
Socially distanced selfie with stelae from Terenouthis, Egypt, 3rd–4th centuries CE.

Ugly Object of the Month — August 2020

By Caroline Roberts, Conservator

August 26 is National Dog Day, and our canine-loving readers out there will appreciate this month’s Ugly Object pick, a terracotta dog figurine from Karanis, Egypt. This previously painted ceramic pup was discovered in 1935, and its original function remains something of a mystery. We can all agree though that it in the 2,000 years since its manufacture (probably in a three-part mold), this figurine has preserved much of its original charm.

terracotta figurine of a small dog
Terracotta figurine of a dog from Karanis, Egypt. 1st–3rd century AD. Ceramic, gesso, pigment. KM 6909.

In fact, you’re probably wondering how this critter made our Ugly Object cut. If you’re able to look past the cute collar and curly tail, you’ll see a pair of highly skeptical-looking incised eyes — one of which has a brow that is ever so slightly raised. It’s a look not unlike the one I get from my toddler when I offer him asparagus. This adorable dog is … Discerning? Disgruntled? Maybe sleep-deprived?

Another mystery to ponder.

I learned about this and other canines in the Kelsey collection from Terry Wilfong’s catalog for his 2015 exhibition Death Dogs, which is available on the Kelsey website as a free PDF download, along with many more digitized publications.