George Swain – The Kelsey Blog

George Swain

From the Archives #70

By Sebastián Encina, Collections Manager

There are many skills that come in handy when one decides to be an archivist. An understanding of subject matter is beneficial, as it allows the archivist to understand the collection they care for, how to best organize it, and how researchers will access and use the information. Having a good memory is also a benefit to the archivist, as questions often come years apart. On top of all this, an archivist should be well organized.

One aspect of being a good archivist is often not taught or discussed: the ability to decipher handwriting. Archives are composed of a wide variety of materials: typed letters, drawn maps, photographs, and, of course, handwritten letters. They are written in a number of languages, using regional vocabularies, and often not written very neatly. Archivists spend a good amount of time trying to understand what word someone was using or distinguishing a cursive ‘l’ from a cursive ‘e’ and still not fully understand what the person has written.

For this month’s “From the Archives,” we present a selection of letters written by George Robert Swain in 1926 as he traveled to Europe and Egypt. Swain is writing to his family, affectionately referred to as “My Dear People.” On the first page, Swain speaks about heading out, traveling with U-M President C.C. Little, and securing visas to enter France, Italy, and Egypt (at $10 per). In these letters, Swain also speaks of Ned, Swain’s son Edwin L. Swain, who accompanied the elder Swain on these travels. On the first day in New York City, George and Ned meandered through the aquarium and took in the feature film Ben Hur after dinner (“I am inclined to think is the most amazing film I ever saw” [sic]). On the second day, they visited the Museum of Natural History. Through his letters, which almost act as a journal, Swain recounts nearly every aspect of their trip. At the close of letter 2, Swain adds the postscript, “I suppose my next letter will be from France,” indicating that they are off to Europe. Swain signs each letter as “Daddy.”

The letters begin Friday, March 5, 1926, and continue through Sunday, August 15, 1926. There are close to 200 pages of letters with information bursting out the seams. It takes a while to become accustomed to a particular person’s handwriting, but it doesn’t make it easier to read. However, once the words become legible, we see the affection Swain had for his family, and we learn about the adventures he and Ned were able to enjoy. We see how Swain’s travels correspond with the excavations, where they were each day, and what was happening on those days. We learn not only aspects of the archaeological trip, but also about life in the 1920s. What was happening in the world that was affecting them and those they were surrounded by?

There is so much to learn from the materials found within an archive if only we are able to read them. Over time, archivists become familiar with the people they read about, the vocabulary they use, and their penmanship. It can take a long time to eventually breeze through a letter as if it was one’s own handwriting, but once we can, it opens up a whole new world for us to encounter.

A selection of letters from George R. Swain to his family, March 1926.

From the Archives #68

By Sebastián Encina, Collections Manager

We have had many reasons to celebrate this summer in this blog. In May, we celebrated the birthday of Francis Kelsey, born in 1858. Kelsey was an important person in the history of classical studies and archaeology at the University of Michigan, and an instrumental member of the community. His influence can be seen throughout campus.

In June, we celebrated the birthday of Kelsey’s son, Easton. Easton played a part in Kelsey Museum history, though his influence was not as strong as his father’s. Still, Easton was present on numerous U-M projects and excavations. He worked closely with George Swain, and his photographs give us glimpses into the life of this party in the 1920s, along with additional photography of sites, people, and archaeological artifacts.

We are grateful to Easton for what he did for the Kelsey Museum, but it is George Swain who provided the bulk of the photographs in the Kelsey Archives. He was the primary photographer on these voyages, and it was his responsibility to document the trips, photograph artifacts, and show life as it was during this time. For this month’s “From the Archives,” we celebrate George Robert Swain, born 15 July 1866. Over the course of years, we have presented much of Swain’s work on this blog.

George Swain as a young man.

Swain was born in Meredith, New Hampshire. In 1888 he moved to California, where he passed the teacher’s examination. This began a career in teaching, one he continued throughout his life. In 1897 and 1900, Swain earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, respectively, at the University of Michigan. Over the years, Swain lived in Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan, working as an educator and principal.

In 1899, Swain embarked on a bicycle trip across Europe. During this 2,000-mile trip, he photographed Caesar’s battlefields as he visited France, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, and Germany. Swain sold these photographs to educators via a catalogue he produced (the Kelsey Museum has copies of this catalogue). The catalogue caught the eye of Francis Kelsey, who in 1913 hired Swain to be the University of Michigan’s principal photographer.

As U-M photographer, Swain accompanied Kelsey on his various trips, spent time in Karanis documenting the excavation, and photographed artifacts and papyri held in various collections across Europe. Following Kelsey’s death in 1927, Swain focused his efforts on the creation of photographs for use in U-M classes. He had an office in the U-M Library, though he developed many of his photographs in the darkroom in his own home on Packard Avenue. Swain held this position until his death on 8 April 1947.

We owe much to George Swain and what he accomplished as a U-M photographer. This month we highlight Swain as he traveled across Europe, Southwest Asia, and North Africa. In this selection of photographs, we see him in Cairo, having tea atop a pyramid, in Palestine, France, England, Turkey, and Sicily. And we end with image KS153.06, showing a photograph taken at the site of the Great Pyramids in Egypt, which Swain titled, “Footprints in the sands of time.”


“Pyramids. ‘Footprints in the sands of Time’ — of G.R. Swain in the edge of the desert, Kephren in the distance.” Cairo, Egypt, March 25, 1920. KS153.06. Photo by George Swain.

From the Archives #61

By Sebastián Encina, Collections Manager

Over the course of 2020, we have been following the travels of Francis Kelsey and his team as they made their way across Europe. They arrived in 1919 and stayed through August 1920. The past few months here on “From the Archives,” we went back to the start of their journey, recounting the team’s arrival in Europe in 1919. We have watched them land in England, travel about, and make their way to the mainland.

For this month’s “From the Archives,” we join the team as they end 1919. In early December, they were still in Bulgaria, where we left them last month. By December 3, they started their train trip from Sofia to Istanbul. In this series of photographs, we see the train and the sights along the way. It seems that Swain was fond of capturing their entire adventure, which so often meant their modes of transportation. Thus far on this trip, we have seen trains, and ships, cars, and more trains.

Swain also made sure to capture life as they saw it. People working, people milling about, people living their lives. We have seen his attention to architecture, or the remains of it after the ravages of war. On their way to Turkey, we see the same. Men at the station, the landscapes, and buildings along the way.

Once in Istanbul, Swain continued his relentless capture, giving us glimpses of the sites of the city, such as the Hagia Sophia, the bazaar, the Galata Bridge and Tower, the Blue Mosque (Mosque of Ahmed), and the “Bosporus” (Bosphorus). Along the waters, we see numerous ships and boats, including military ships from Italy, the US, and Greece.

After Christmas, the team left Istanbul (“Constantinople”) and traveled some more. More trains, more train stations, more views of the countryside. And more people they met along the way. We see Francis and Easton Kelsey, as well as George Swain himself, posing throughout. We are also allowed to see some of the repercussions of recent events. Miss Cushman’s “relief” kindergarten and all the children there. In photo 7.0156, we see an Armenian refugee camp. Francis Kelsey was heavily involved in the relief effort following the Armenian genocide. Later on this trip, they would spend more time with Armenians and with refugees in Syria.

For their last day of 1919, Kelsey and team were in Adana, not far from the modern Syrian border (and near Aleppo). Here they got more views of the locals, the buildings, the station, and life in general. And more relief work.

Swain was quite prolific with his photo capture. For December 1919 alone, we have records for 376 Swain photographs. We are presenting only 99 this month, but even these show the range of his photographs.

By this point, we have covered the majority of their visit to Europe and beyond, recounting the start of the journey as well as the tail end of the trip. Since the majority of their trip occurred in 1920, and we have already accompanied them throughout 2020, we will take our leave of the team here in Turkey. For glimpses of how the journey continued, be sure to go back and view previous blog posts from 2020, where we present their visits to Turkey, Syria, and elsewhere.

Wherever you find yourself this coming new year’s eve, we wish you the best and a happy holiday. Thank you for following Kelsey and Swain’s adventures this year. In 2021, we will return with new series and memories from the archives. Happy new year!

December 2, 1919: Sofia, Bulgaria

“Residence of the Archibishop near the cathedral.” KS040.05.

“General view, from the steps of the new cathedral, across the square to the mountains beyond — latter clearly shown.” KS040.11.

“Interior of the new cathedral, toward one transept; Christ in the Temple.” KS040.07.

December 3–4: Train ride from Sofia to Istanbul (“Constantinople”)

“One of the three engines that pulled us up out of the Sofia plain. Made in Germany in 1917.” KS041.05.

“Dining and sleeping cars on the train — express.” KS041.07.

“Just over the divide — train, station, mountains.” KS041.09.

“The engine that pulled us into Constantinople. Had to stop to get its breath at the foot of one small grade.” KS042.02.

“Typical group at a station, men and women.” December 4. KS042.03.

December 5–25: Istanbul (“Constantinople” / “Stamboul”)

“The umbrella mender sitting on the sidewalk on a typical street.” December 5. KS043.04.

“Typical view on one of the modern streets. At this time, signs in French were allowed.” December 5. KS043.05.

“Up the Golden Horn from the Galata Bridge, ferry steamer in the foreground.” December 5. KS043.07.

“View toward Pera and the Galata Tower.” December 5. KS043.11.

“The Galata Bride, looking toward Pera.” December 5. KS043.12.

“From the Galata Tower, toward Stamboul, into the light. Mosques on sky line. Glint of Sea of Marmora in distance.” December 5. KS044.09.

“Pair of buffalo oxen with loaded cart, probably sacks of grain.” December 5. KS045.03.

“Men unloading a small boat.” December 5. KS045.06.

No caption. Group of men. December 5. KS045.08

“Sancta Sophia, from the square.” December 5. KS045.09.

“A view on Pera Street, the great tourist shopping district, and the modern part of Constantinople.” December 7. KS045.12.

“Another view of St. Sophia.” December 7. KS046.01.

“The mosque of Ahmed, near St. Sophia.” December 9. KS046.08.

“Turkish houses with wooden screens at the windows, in Stamboul.” December 9. KS046.09.

“Shop where they pressed the Turkish tabbooses or fezes.” (With the passing of the fez this must be a vanished industry in 1927). December 9. KS046.10.

“A tiny cobbler’s shop by the street in Stamboul.” December 9. KS046.11.

“Street view with Turkish women — little off focus.” December 9. KS046.11.

“Glimpse into courtyard in Stamboul.” December 9. KS047.02.

“Men washing their feet before entering a mosque.” December 9. KS047.03.

“Entrance to the shop of the antiquarian. Andronicos M. Kidaoglou, Imameli Han No. 10, (Merdjan), Stamboul.” December 9. KS047.07.

“A busy corner near the Egyptian bazaar.” December 9. KS047.09.

“Young man having a letter written by the old public letter writer. Near the Egyptian bazaar.” December 9. KS047.10.

“Crowd of people by the booths of the Egyptian bazaar.” December 9. KS047.11.

“A.C.R.N.E. (later “N.E.R.”) bakery, exterior. Formerly an Armenian bakery. Capacity 10,000 loaves a day, but could be doubled with full supply of flour. Bread furnished free to orphan establishments, balance of bread sold for 10 piastres a loaf — ‘about half the cost when stealing is deducted’ — Maj. Arnold.” December 18. 7.0096.

“N.E.R. bakery, sacks of flour in the storeroom up stairs.” December 18. 7.0099.

“Scutari. Bargaining for charcoal.” December 21. KS049.03.

“Scutari. Row of old wooden Turkish houses near the cemetery — of such are fire hazards made.” December 21. KS050.12.

“A pile of mine sweepers on the dock.” December 22. KS051A.01.

“An Italian destroyer at an anchor in the harbor.” December 22. KS051A.02.

“U.S.S. GALVESTON moored to the dock. Taken from the shore.” December 22. 7.0095.

“Looking up along the shores of the Bosporus from the U.S.S. Galveston.” December 22. KS051A.03.

“The old U.S.S. Mississippi, now Greek.” December 22. KS051A.04.

“Bosporus. Anatoli Hissar, Castle of Asia, from the water.” December 22. KS051B.01.

No caption. Bosphorus. December 22. KS051B.06.

“Bosporus. Roumeli Hissar at sunset, into the light.” December 22. KS051B.10.

“Two of the men servants at the Continental Hotel. Duplicate of KS052.02.” December 24. KS052.02.

“Bread for sale.” December 24. KS052.07.

“Porter carrying a large bureau with mirror, on his shoulders.” December 24. KS052.08.

“Front of the Continental Hotel.” December 24. KS052.09.

“Scene in a fruit market.” December 24. KS052.11.

“Easton Kelsey by the parapet of one of the Seven Towers.” December 24. KS053.12.

“Bosporus. From the hill back, looking through between the two outer towers of Roumeli Hissar, across the Bosporus toward Anatoli Hissar and the surrounding country. Long focus lens — better view than the preceding — 70127.” On the verso of the photograph is written in Swain’s hand: “Roumeli Hissar where Mohammedans crossed into Europe. Bosphorus 1/2 mile (west?).” 7.0129.

“The crew of the U.S.N. launch that took us down to the Seven Towers.” December 24. KS054.01.

“Easton Kelsey by the flag in the stern of the launch.” December 24. KS054.08.

“G.R. Swain by the flag in the stern of the launch. Undertimed.” December 24. KS054.09.

“Mr. Perry, Mr. Bristol and Mr. Stevens, photographed in the yard of the Y.M.C.A.” (Last picture taken of Mr. Perry before he was shot on the Aintab road.) Second copy of photo has its own caption: “Left to right: James Perry, killed near Aintab, February 1; Secretary Bristol and Associate Secretary Stevens, of the Y.M.C.A. Association in Constantinople, photograph made December 25, 1919. Photograph by George R. Swain.” December 25. 7.0012.

December 27–28: Train ride from Derince (“Derindje”) to Konya (“Konia”)

“The A.C.R.N.E. restaurant at Derindje. Derindje was the landing point for stuff by steamer from the U.S.A. and other places at this time.” December 27. KS056.01.

“Approaching Affiun Kara Hissar, the junction point for the line from Smyrna. High bluffs near the line.” December 28. KS056.05.

“Just a crowd by the train at a station.” December 28. DKS056.06.

“Just a snap shot on a station platform. Professor (Francis W.) Kelsey at the left. Well built station.” December 28. KS056.08.

“Line of five Hindoo soldiers at a station.” December 28. KS056.09.

“Group of native men at one of the stations.” December 28. KS056.10.

“A native omnibus — araba. This is a four-wheeled vehicle.” December 28. KS056.11.

“Party that travelled down through Asia Minor in freight cars. Same as 7.147, except that in this one the Armenian cook is standing in the door of the Diner.” (Figure on left with hat and topcoat looks very much like F. Kelsey. DSB.) Ula Kushla, Turkey. December 28. 7.0148.

“Our four freight cars de luxe. The Armenian cook is standing in the door of the dining car.” December 28. KS057.05.

“Five of the party in the door of the dining car. The man is Major Arnold.” December 28. KS057.04.

December 29: Konya (“Konia”)

“A poverty stricken woman in the street.” KS057.09.

“A group of ‘relief’ kindergarten children. Miss Cushman’s work.” KS057.10.

“A new boy coming to the school. Miss Cushman’s work.” KS057.11.

“Miss Cushman talking to some boys.” KS057.12.

“Children doing kindergarten exercises.” KS058.01.

“Another kindergarten exercise — little out of focus.” KS058.03.

“General view of Miss Cushman’s ‘plant’, the American Polyclinic.” (Used as a hotel in September 1924). KS058.05.

“Some native women, veiled, going by the fountain in front of Miss Cushman’s.” KS058.07.

“The Reo Speed Wagon in front of the entrance to Miss Cushman’s – the American Polyclinic.” KS058.08.

“Street view — shutter too slow.” KS058.09.

“Women by a mosque — likely beggars.” KS058.10.

“General view of the approach to the Museum.” (Practically unchanged in 1924). KS059.02.

“Ruins of the Armenian church.” KS059.05.

December 30: Train ride from Konya to Adana

“A caravan encamped, somewhere south of Konia.” KS059.09.

“A near view of some camels.” KS059.10.

“Crowd on the station platform at Eregli.” KS059.11.

“Shepherd with wide coat — moved a little.” KS060.05.

“Group, most of the men of our party, in front of the A.C.R.N.E. house at Ula Kushla.” KS060.09.

“A glimpse into the heart of the Taurus range.” KS061.05.

“The station at Tchefte Khan.” KS062.01.

“Station and mountain, taken from top of train.” KS062.09.

December 31: Adana

“General view of part of Armenian refugee camp at Adana. Armenians were moved here from Aleppo. Tents were ditched and comfortably dry.” 7.0156.

“Demobilized Turkish soldiers at the Adana station.” KS062.12.

“Car with BAGDAD in metal letters on the side — railway car.” KS063.02.

“Camels by the station.” KS064.02.

“Group of fairly well dressed natives, probably mostly Turkish.” KS064.06.

“Exterior of the Adana station. Expanse of sloppy mud, woman with basket walking through it.” KS063.05.

“Woman (Armenian?) and child in street by wall.” KS063.07.

“Group of natives bolling cotton by hand, on the sidewalk just outside the hospital.” KS063.09.

“Gateway to the hospital, American.” KS063.08.

“Very similar to the preceding, KS063.10, but group in slightly different position.” KS063.11.

“General view along the corridor (arcade) of the Hospital.” KS063.12.

“An English industrial “plant” — relief work. Interior, time exposure, some moved.” KS064.08.

“Group of Miss Webb’s girls in the courtyard with looms, machines, etc. Three or four Armenian girl-mothers at the left in the foreground.” 7.0154.

“At Miss Webb’s school. Three Armenian girls and the rugs they had been weaving.” On the verso of the photograph is written in Swain’s hand: “Girls of Adana, weaving rugs.” 7.0153.

From the Archives #60

By Sebastián Encina, Collections Manager

Over the past few months, we have been recounting Francis Kelsey’s, George Swain’s, and the rest of the team’s year-long trip to Europe, Southwest Asia, and North Africa. Back in September of 1919, the team made their way from Ann Arbor to Detroit and then to New York City in order to cross the Atlantic so they could visit those areas affected by the Great War (World War I). The trip lasted through August 1920, when they returned to Michigan. 

At the onset of the trip, the team landed in the United Kingdom and made their way south, visiting several towns and taking stock of the land which had been ravaged by war for years. They also were able to connect with colleagues and friends. Over the course of months, they made their way across Europe, heading toward Greece, Turkey, and Egypt.

For this month’s “From the Archives,” we present the continuation of this trip. In November 1919, the team found themselves primarily in Romania (“Roumania”), Bulgaria, and Serbia (“Servia”). They began the month in Paris (KS023.02, mandatory Eiffel Tower view), then made their way east through Switzerland and arrived in Serbia. In Serbia, we mostly see the surrounding landscapes, the train station, and some soldiers. We also catch a glimpse of Easton Kelsey, Francis Kelsey’s son. It was not just the University of Michigan faculty and staff on this trip, but some family members as well.

The team continued their voyage to Romania, staying in Bucharest. Swain captures life there, from the view from their hotel room to the procession of the royal carriage. We also see children (bootblacks) waiting for work, various buildings they came across, the market and all its wares for sale (soap, sausages, rugs, books, etc.), and an interesting ad for Ford automobiles. Outside of Bucharest, in Adam Klissi (modern Adamclisi), we see a selection of photos for the Tropaeum Traiani, which was originally constructed in 109 CE. 

Swain and the rest visit other regions of Romania, where they see the effects of the war, before they arrive in Bulgaria. Once in Sofia, they visit the museum, observe the locals, and admire the buildings. And here is where they ended in late November 1919. Though already in Europe for three months, their journey is still just beginning. Kelsey and crew will soon arrive in Turkey, where they will ring in 1920. Be sure to return next month to see the amazing views they will treat us to.

November 9, 1919: Paris, France

“The Eiffel tower at sunset.” KS023.02.

November 15: Brigue, Switzerland

“Ascending the valley toward Brigue; shows head of train as well as view.” KS023.04.

“Parts of two cars of the Simplon-Orient Express. Station, Brigue.” KS023.06.

“Looking ahead toward the mountains, from the station at Brigue.” KS023.07.

November 16: Train ride heading east, with stops at Zagreb (“Agram”) and Timisoara (“Temesvan”)

“At Steinbach, looking ahead. Simplon-Orient Express.” KS023.10.

“At Steinbach, looking back.” KS023.09.

“Train and station at Agram.” KS024.03.

“Part of train and Easton Kelsey at Agram.” KS024.01.

“Nearer view of Easton Kelsey and the side of the sleeping car, at Agram.” KS024.02.

“The engine that pulled the train. Taken at Agram.” KS024.05.

“Soldiers put off the train beyond Agram — tried to ride on sleeping car in corridor.” KS024.07.

“Train in station somewhere east of Agram.” KS024.08.

“The station at Temesvan.” KS024.09.

“A few French soldiers at … station.” KS024.11.

November 18–25: Bucharest, Romania

“From the window of the Hotel Bristol toward the Carpati restaurant.” November 18. KS024.12.

“A row of bootblacks — enough mud to give many a job.” November 18. KS025.02.

“Mounted guards waiting for the royal carriage — opening of parliament.” November 20. KS025.03.

“Soldiers waiting for the royal carriage.” November 20. KS025.04.

“Royal carriage — king and queen going to open Parliament.” November 20. KS025.06.

“Street view in the better part of Bucharest.” November 20. KS025.08.

“Statuary group at head of street out beyond the Hotel Bristol.” November 20. KS025.11.

“A street view and some boot blacks.” November 20. KS026.01.

“Ponies with driver and a cartload of brush.” November 20. KS026.02.

“Part of a squad of cavalry.” November 20. KS026.08.

“Nearer view of the breech of the big Skoda gun out by the Exposition grounds.” November 20. KS026.11.

“Adam Klissi reliefs. General view showing arrangement of slabs on the terrace by the Archaeological Museum.” November 21. 7.0059.

“Adam Klissi reliefs. General view of about eight slabs of relief.” November 21. KS027.06.

“Adam Klissi reliefs. Two slabs, one of soldiers with banners.” November 21. KS027.04.

“Cart, driver and one ox, detail of the yoke used.” November 21. KS027.10.

“Woman trying to sweep up mud — one of the ‘White Wings’ force.” November 21. KS028.11.

“Cart with body woven like a basket.” November 23. KS029.04.

“Street vendors by the market.” November 23. KS029.09.

“By the market, selling things from small tables.” November 23. KS030.07.

“Pork on the hoof — drove of hogs passing along the street.” November 23. KS030.10.

“Church with three cupolas on Gravitei St.” November 23. KS031.08.

“The ‘Carol I Foundation’ used as a library.” November 23. KS031.01.

“Street view with Ford auto ad.– man spitting out Fords.” November 23. KS031.04.

“Donkey and cart by the old market.” November 23. KS029.01.

“Book stalls along by the river — a la Paris.” November 23. KS029.03.

“Front of a Greek shop near the market — Panels between windows painted to show costumes apparently — possibly national.” November 24. KS032.12.

“Women waiting, or resting, by the street, seated.” November 24. KS032.02.

“A corner of the cloth market — fabrics mostly in the web.” November 24. KS032.03.

“The earthen jug and jar section of the market.” November 24. KS032.04.

“Slabs of soap corded up, for sale at the market.” November 24. KS032.05.

“Sausages for sale.” November 24. KS032.11.

“Row of book stalls along by the river — better view than the other of the same thing.” November 25. KS034.11.

“Rugs for sale — hung along by the sidewalk.” November 25. KS033.07.

“Oxen and cart with huge cask, down by the market.” November 25. KS035.01.

“Just some onions for sale — at the market of course.” November 25. KS035.06.

“The patient donkey and his cart, with some of the market beyond.” November 25. KS035.08.

“A group at the entrance to the market.” November 25. KS035.10.

“A close up view of a stall where earthen jugs, jars and pots are sold.” November 25. KS035.11.

November 26: Giurgiu, Romania

“The clock tower on a frosty morning.” KS036.06.

“Looking down the street of shops. One sign with Trajan represented.” KS036.02.

“General view on a street in the wrecked quarter.” 7.0089.

“There we stayed, the Hotel Vlasca, the only hotel left standing in Giurgiu.” KS036.07.

“A shop and the Cafe Verdun, where we listened to some folk songs.” KS036.09.

“All that was left of what was a good hotel.” 7.0093.

“Typical ruins after a Bulgarian bombardment.” KS036.04.

November 27–28: Bulgaria: Ruse (“Roustchouk”) and train trip to Sofia

“The engine and part of the train at Roustchouk.” November 27. KS037.02.

“Our sleeper in the station at Roustchouk.” November 27. KS037.03.

“A look ahead up the valley.” Ruse to Sofia, November 28. KS038.04.

“Typical view where a side stream comes down. Several houses in sight.” Ruse to Sofia, November 28. KS038.05.

“View back down the canyon. Good.” Ruse to Sofia, November 28. KS038.09.

“Rock slides from the side walls of the canyon.” Ruse to Sofia, November 28. KS038.07.

“Part of a station in the deep part of the canyon.” Ruse to Sofia, November 28. KS038.12.

“Train in the station at Svogue.” Ruse to Sofiia, November 28. KS039.03.

November 29–30: Sofia, Bulgaria

“An inscription (Latin) in the yard of the Museum.” November 29. KS039.04.

“Union Palace Hotel.” November 30. KS039.09.

“Mosque near the Municipal Baths.” November 30. KS039.11.

“One of the lions at the head of the Lion Bridge. Peddler’s cart below.” November 30. KS039.12.

“A priest at the entrance to the old sanctuary, now below the street level.” November 30. KS039.05.

“Buffalo oxen, cart with load of wood.” November 30. KS040.02.

“Group of women in national costume. Little out of focus.” November 30. KS040.01.

From the Archives #59

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.

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.

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.

From the Archives #56

By Sebastián Encina, Collections Manager

This year has proven to be a difficult one for many people. COVID-19 has affected the health of a great number of people throughout the world. Through it all, the people at the frontline have proven how essential they have been and still are. Nurses and doctors have been stretched thin, and we thank them for their dedication.

Acknowledging the work of health professionals is not limited only to emergencies and times of crisis. Hospital workers face dire situations day after day. And still, they show up to help people.

For this month’s “From the Archives,” we present this picture taken 100 years ago by George Swain. In 1919 and 1920, Swain and Francis Kelsey traveled through Turkey and Syria. They had several goals during this trip, including some archaeological ones. In addition to this work, Kelsey was intent on visiting humanitarian efforts in Turkey and Syria, including orphanages and hospitals, and the refugees who were there.

In June 1920, Swain snapped a photo of nurses and staff in front of a hospital in Istanbul (Swain refers to it as Stamboul, as it was still Constantinople at the time). The nurses worked at the Canadian Hospital for Tubercular Children. On the reverse side of the photo, someone wrote the following:

The personnel of the Canadian Hosp for Tubercular Children Yédi Koulé consists of

A Greek cook and housemaid, husband and wife
A Greek guard and pantry maid, husband and wife
Two Turkish chauffeurs
Two Armenian orderlies
One Armenian kitchen boy
One Armenian gardener
One Armenian Housekeeper
Five Armenian nurses
Three Russian nurses

All natives seen in the photo are Armenians, others not being on the place the day the photo was taken. The Hospital’s (formal opening) will take place on Canada’s Dominion Day July 1st.

Tubercular children to be admitted June 21st.


group shot of people sitting on steps
Group of nine nurses and staff members on the steps of the Canadian Hospital for Tubercular Children in Istanbul, June 1920. Photo by George Swain. Kelsey Archives 7.0583.

handwritten note on back of photo
Handwritten note on the back of photo 7.0583.

A mix of people of different origins and nationalities came together in order to help children. Kelsey was invested in these efforts and worked with the Red Cross to help provide resources to those in need in the region.

It is evident that nurses and doctors have consistently been doing what they can for the sick. And have been for a long time. The events of 2020 are just another example of this effort. We are grateful to the people putting themselves in positions to help us when we need them most.

From the Archives #54

By Sebastián Encina

Each year around May, people in and around Ann Arbor start heading to Nichols Arboretum to see the blooming flowers and trees, the signs of spring returning to our area. This year, Nichols will not be planting their regular peony gardens, but people will still be making their way to the arboretum to see what other colorful flowers are growing. 

And as the weather continues getting warmer, more people will venture out to their gardens and start planting their own flowers and plants. Soon our neighborhoods will be full of brilliant, beautiful colors and amazing smells. (Sorry, allergy sufferers!)

Flowers and natural beauty have been a source of joy and happiness for thousands of years. The natural world decorated the walls, pottery, and other items of the ancient world. Stroll through the galleries of the Kelsey Museum and you will see many examples of nature-inspired motifs on a wide range of objects.

So, too, did our predecessors at the University of Michigan appreciate the beauty of flowers. For this month’s “From the Archives,” we bring their flowers to you. Though not as brilliant and vibrant as the flowers you can see and smell in the gardens of Matthaei and Nichols, they evoke the beauty that people share no matter where they are. George R. Swain captured the beauty of flowers in England, France, Greece, Egypt, Belgium, Palestine, and Turkey, in gardens, placed near monuments, growing in the wild, and for sale. In his photographs presented here, we see a funeral procession, a decorated cenotaph, flower vendors in Brussels, someone’s private home garden. Swain was sure to point his camera everywhere while traveling with the U-M teams.

Soon, Ann Arbor will be full of flowers and beauty. We will wander the parks and gardens appreciating what we see, often stopping to snap our own photos to share. We are continuing a practice so many people have enjoyed for so long.


Black and white photo of an Istanbul market, 1919

From the Archives #49 — December 2019

By Sebastián Encina, Collections Manager

In December, many of us spend a lot of time at local stores perusing goods that we think would make great gifts for our loved ones. We spend hours trying to find the perfect gift, the item that shows how we think about those we care about, whether they are close to us or far away.

For this month’s “From the Archives,” we go one hundred years back in time, to December 1919, to find a University of Michigan staff member far from home but doing the same thing — going to shops and markets, perhaps to find souvenirs to send back home to Michigan. In 1919 and 1920, U-M photographer George R. Swain accompanied Francis Kelsey on an expedition through Europe and the Mediterranean region. Their goal was to document classical sites as well as to identify sites that might have potential for future excavations.

Here we present seven images taken by Swain in Istanbul — or Constantinople, as it was referred to then (some photo captions refer to the area of “Stamboul”). While traveling, Swain photographed not only archaeological artifacts, sites, and structures, nor did he focus solely on collections at other museums. Almost everywhere he went, Swain turned the camera around to his surroundings, to the people in the area, offering us a glimpse into life in those countries at that time.

The photos shown here cover a time period of 20 days, from 5 December to 24 December 1919. Swain captures life at several shops and businesses in Istanbul. We see a person fixing umbrellas. A cobbler’s shop. A busy corner at the bazaar. Bread and fruit for sale. All the shopping Swain chose to capture.

These photographs allow us to see what the city was like one hundred years ago. People who visit Istanbul now will notice many similarities, but also many differences. The bazaar, though altered, remains. Maybe some of those same shops are still there! And the sentiment is the same. People going about doing their shopping, purchasing items they need, or gifts for friends and family. Now in 2019, we continue doing the same.

Black and white photo of an Istanbul market, 1919
“The umbrella mender sitting on the sidewalk on a typical street.” 5 December 1919. KS043.4.

Black and white photo of an Istanbul market, 1919
“Shop where they pressed the Turkish tabbooses or fezes.” 9 December 1919. (With the passing of the fez, this was a vanished industry by 1927.) KS046.10.

Black and white photo of an Istanbul market, 1919
“A tiny cobbler’s shop by the street in Stamboul.” 9 December 1919. KS046.11.

Black and white photo of an Istanbul market, 1919
“A busy corner near the Egyptian bazaar.” 9 December 1919. KS047.9.

Black and white photo of an Istanbul market, 1919
“Crowd of people by the booths of the Egyptian bazaar.” 9 December 1919. KS047.11.

Black and white photo of an Istanbul market, 1919
“Bread for sale.” 24 December 1919. KS052.7.

Black and white photo of an Istanbul market, 1919
“Scene in a fruit market.” 24 December 1919. KS052.11.

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