Post Art Library

Emancipation Days Celebration is Joplin’s Longest-Running Community Event

Every community has its long-standing events and Joplin is no different. This month, I’d like to tell you about Joplin’s longest-running community event: the Emancipation Day Celebration. Organized annually by our local Black community since the 1800s, this multifaceted event continues to celebrate the end of slavery. Typically, August 4th is set aside for Emancipation Day festivities in Joplin, but these celebrations haven’t always been held only in August.

An early account in the library’s local history files of an Emancipation Day celebration is in the September 21, 1877 edition of the Joplin News Herald newspaper. It states: “The [Black] people of Joplin and vicinity will have a big time here next Wednesday, it being their Independence Day. Extensive preparations are being made for that event, and every [Black] man and woman are doing all in their power to make it a grand success. That they will succeed there can be no doubt whatever. A number of prominent speakers, both white and [Black], will be present.”

Similar articles about Emancipation Day celebrations being held in Joplin in September appeared in local newspapers in 1877, 1891, 1892, 1893, and other years. September Emancipation Day celebrations commemorate the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation issued by president Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862. In it, he “threatened to free all the enslaved people in the states in rebellion if those states did not return to the Union by January 1, 1863.”

At the same time, we have accounts of Emancipation Day celebrations in August, on or around August 4th, as documented in an August 5, 1877 Joplin Daily Herald article. Interestingly, a correction was printed that same year that “The announcement that all the [Black] people of Joplin will celebrate on the fourth of August is untrue. There are some of us who believe that we should celebrate the emancipation of the slaves in our own land, and let those of other nations do the same. The 23rd day of September is a good enough day for us,” signed, P.G. Yeager.

In 1912, Joplin hosted both August and September Emancipation Day celebrations. On August 6th of that year, the Joplin Morning Tribune printed an article describing events at Lakeside Park as “a grand success,” with at least 3,000 attendees. Just a handful of weeks later, on September 19th, the Joplin News Herald tells of a “Big Event” for Emancipation Day being observed at Electric Park, featuring Charles Henry Phillips, a Black orator from St. Louis who was known as “one of the finest speakers in the Middle West.”

A Missouri Historical Review article claims that, since 1920, Black people in Missouri have celebrated on August 4th, though why, exactly, is not known. But, they suggest, “There is a possibility that the date celebrated in Missouri has some reference to the abolition of slavery in the West Indies […] although the connection, if any, has not been established.” If the August 5, 1877 Joplin Daily Herald article is any indication, then the August 4th celebrations are most likely held to commemorate the emancipation of slaves in the West Indies, as described: “The celebration by the [Black] people of the emancipation of the slaves in the West Indies in the year A.D. 1834 by the British parliament at the instance of and by the eloquent pleading of Hugh [?] Wilberforce, who for years stood alone in the advocacy of the claims of humanity upon the civilized world, took place at Castle Rock park upon the banks of Turkey Creek, near this city [Joplin] yesterday.” This is to say that a West Indies Emancipation Day Celebration took place near Joplin at Castle Rock park on August 4, 1877.

A July 11, 1924 Joplin Globe article advertises that the 1924 Emancipation Day celebration was to be held at Ewert Park. Given that the park was deeded to the city in February of that same year, this is the first time Emancipation Day was held at Ewert Park (where it is now celebrated in August as Park Days).

In an August 4, 1984 Joplin Globe article, another reason for the August 4th celebration surfaces: “Area [Black people] celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s Sept. 22, 1862, signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on Aug. 4 because it was on that date in 1863 that the news of slaves being freed reached this area, says Thelma Meeks, a retired schoolteacher.” After all, news traveled slowly in the 1860s!

Regardless of whether it was celebrated in August or September, and whether the reasoning behind choosing when was tied to Lincoln’s proclamation, the abolition of slavery in the West Indies, or because of how slowly news traveled, we know, for certain, that Joplin’s local Black community has held Emancipation Day celebrations for 146+ years with community events featuring music, dance, parades, orators, picnics and barbeques, games, exhibits, markets, and more, making it Joplin’s longest-running community event.

Depicted below is a photograph from Joplin’s 1952 Emancipation Day Celebration at Ewert Park. For more information about Joplin’s Park Days, visit Joplin Emancipation’s website at www.joplinemancipation.com.

 

 

Written By Post Art Library Director Jill Halbach with research assistance by Joplin Public Library Reference Assistant Richard Porter

2022 Post Art Library Holiday Tea

‘Tis the season for our annual holiday tea! We invite you to join us in the Community Room inside Joplin Public Library on Sunday, December 11th from 2-3pm for an informal tea and treats, including a performance by Joplin’s own Midwest Regional Ballet. This is a free, public program. Registration/library card not necessary.

Since 2016, we’ve hosted an annual Holiday Tea inside the library. Held each December, this event typically features a live musical or other performance: local Harpist Amanda Kimble, Father Christmas, and the Ellis Sisters with Historic Murphysburg, Inc. (2016); Still Waters String Ensemble (2017); a Heartland Opera Theatre collaboration (2018); the Thomas Jefferson Cavalier Chorus and Thomas Jefferson String Ensemble (2019); and The Opus 76 Quartet with Pro Musica (2021).

We are a 501(c)3 not-for-profit arts-related organization located inside Joplin Public Library. For more information, or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit PostArtLibrary.org or contact our Executive Director, Jill Halbach, at 417.623.7953 x1041 or jill@postartlibrary.org.

 

JRAC Exhibit: The Eyes Have It

The artists of Joplin Regional Artists Coalition (JRAC) were asked to consider creating an original work of art concerned with and focused on the eye. For time eternal, artists have explored this theme–as symbol, allegory, and as thoughtful contemplation regarding the world around us. Encompassing a variety of mediums, JRAC’s talented members have once again shown us the vast array of viewpoints that art allows.

The Eyes Have It will be exhibited in The Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery inside Joplin Public Library November 1, 2022 – January 2, 2023.

 

     

1st Place, Midori No Honō by Emily Rose; 2nd Place, Seymour by Ginger Copeland

 

 

3rd Place, The King In All His Glory by Curt Penland

 

   

The Eyes Have It exhibit in The Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery inside Joplin Public Library.

Book Review: A Culinary History of Missouri by Suzanne Corbett and Deborah Reinhardt

One of my favorite things about traveling is experiencing the unique food and drink of the places I visit. To be honest, I like that as much, in some cases more, than site-seeing. In Missouri, you don’t have to go far before coming across breweries, distilleries, Kansas City barbeque, St. Louis Italian, Sedalia’s State Fair food, wineries, and much, much more. Although it’s less of a “where to eat travelogue” and more of a history proper, authors Suzanne Corbett and Deborah Reinhardt take us on quite the journey in A Culinary History of Missouri: Foodways & Iconic Dishes of the Show-Me-State.

We begin in colonial Missouri with our first European settlers—the French. According to the authors, “Unlike other American Colonial groups, Missouri’s French defined themselves through their food ways.” They made mud ovens in which to bake bread from wheat they grew and milled. The enslaved Africans who arrived with them introduced okra and gumbos into their food culture.

Food itself aside, it was important to Missouri’s French colonists to maintain their food customs, including table settings and cookware. The table was always set! And cookware was largely the same in poor and wealthy households, featuring kettles, pots (iron, tin, copper, wood), baking pans, pudding molds, pepper mills, utensils, etc.

To grow food, they created common fields, which were not unlike today’s community gardens, though a bit more involved. In these fields, people cultivated a variety of row crops. Some of the fields, such as the one in Ste. Genevieve, are still visible today.

Food was very much tied to holidays and tradition. For example, the King’s Cake, “a fanciful cake enriched with butter, incorporating aromatic spices, ground nuts, and fruit glaze” was baked to celebrate Twelfth Night. As it goes, a bean was placed in the batter before the cake was baked. During the Twelfth Night Ball, the King’s Cake was served to all the gentlemen and whoever found the bean in their cake was proclaimed king and got to choose a queen. This celebration is carried on today at the Gateway Arch Museum in St. Louis. Each year, they welcome the public to their annual Twelfth Night Ball.

Another food-related holiday event takes place annually in Ste. Genevieve. La Guignolee, “Missouri’s original New Year’s Eve,” is a celebration in the streets, taverns, and cafes of the Historic District that features dancing, singing, food, and drink. Like the Twelfth Night Ball in St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve’s La Guignolee is open to the public—ring in the New Year like it’s 1769!

The authors take us linear from the 1700s into 1800s Missouri, when the English and Scotch-Irish, and their enslaved African Americans, “arrived from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and Illinois.” Their specialty? Curing and smoking hams. In fact, they were so good at curing and smoking hams that “Missouri became and remains one of the few states included in the American Ham Belt.” Yes, that’s a thing—the American Ham Belt. Portable soup, a sort of predecessor to bouillon, is also of this era. It was a bone broth boiled down to a gelatinous paste then dried and cut and could be reconstituted with water.

We visit Arrow Rock Tavern, which was established in 1834 and is the oldest continually operating restaurant west of the Mississippi River. Soups and stews were its most common fare, with occasional special dishes, such as fried chicken. Fantastically, Arrow Rock Tavern still serves fried chicken daily.

The authors bring to light how food and the introduction of new food to an area can change, or re-establish, food production. For example, when Turkey Red wheat was introduced to Missouri by Russian immigrants in the 1870s, it “revitalized milling operations” when two men bought the old community mill, rebuilt it, and produced “Queen of the Pantry Flour,” which became very popular. It’s interesting to think that if Turkey Red wheat hadn’t been introduced to that area, the mill would have, like so many others, fallen into disrepair and likely eventually been torn down.

I didn’t realize Missouri is home to big-name food brands, such as Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix (which began as Pearl Milling Company Pancake Mix, the namesake which it returned to in 2021 “in an effort to make positive progress for racial equality”) and Saltines. Also, the Golden Delicious apple was discovered and developed in Louisiana, Missouri. Other food discoveries originated in Missouri, too, such as burnt ends in Kansas City, and the first bread slicing machine in St. Joseph.

The railroad had a tremendous impact on food, helping to overcome “regional limitations” by significantly reducing the time it takes to move food, thereby “making more food accessible and affordable.” Moreover, as passenger service increased, so did the demand to dine while in transit. Hence, the dining car (which was preceded by buffet/refreshments cars, not unlike those used by airlines today, though they failed to appease travelers’ appetites).

The Rockcliffe and Garth Woodside mansions, both of which are on the National Register of Historic Places in Hannibal, Missouri, offer a sort of breakfast reenactment in honor of Mark Twain: “Elegant breakfast served in a style that Twain would have approved.” Visitors may also dine at the Mark Twain Dinette, a circa 1940s diner near his boyhood home.

Interestingly, we learn about much more than the history of food in Missouri. We learn, too, about the history of our culture and our people. Take, for example, Crown Candy in north St. Louis. Opened in 1913 by best friends who emigrated from Greece, Crown Candy Kitchen is the city’s oldest operating soda fountain. (And, though it’s not mentioned in the book, I hear they have good BLTs!) Jazz, politics, and sports are among the cultural aspects discussed by the authors.

A culinary history of Missouri would not be complete without touching on Missouri’s breweries and wineries, of which Missouri has (and has had) plenty. The authors discuss German settlement of central Missouri and the “grape lots” that came to be in that area, which lead to the establishment of Missouri wineries. Breweries in St. Louis, as well as other areas, are highlighted, as well as the impact of prohibition on alcohol-related establishments throughout the state.

Not only does this book serve as a culinary history of Missouri, but a cookbook, too. At the end of each chapter, you’ll find the recipes referenced. Here are some that caught my eye: 1830 Chicken Pie, Cowboy Beef and Beans, Saltine Cracker Pie, Fred Harvey Railroad Cole Slaw, and Pioneer Chili.

As always, happy reading and, in this case, happy eating.

Book review by Jill Halbach Sullivan, Post Art Library Director.

Abstract Paintings by Lori Marble

Favorite Children’s Books Reimagined: What Do You See?, an exhibit featuring abstract paintings by Lori Marble, will soon be at the Library!

Remember your favorite books from childhood? Perhaps you even have one or two on your bookshelf today? Now, picture them reimagined as abstract paintings. Artist Lori Marble, the now adult child of a librarian, lovingly remembers the books that shaped her childhood.

She asked the librarians at Joplin Public and Post Art Libraries about their favorite children’s books, read them, and painted them in an abstract, mixed-media style. She paints in an ambidextrous fashion, laying down large swatches of bold color using a palette knife in her left hand, while incorporating bold brush strokes and subtle details with her right. Her love of symbolism and pattern is evident in each work on paper.

The display is purposely hung at a child’s eye-view and will prompt each viewer to ask “What do you see?” This exhibit is presented by the Post Art Library in The Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery inside Joplin Public Library. Free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Post Art Library Director Jill Sullivan at (417) 623-7953 x1041.

 

EXHIBIT INFO:

June 9 – August 31, 2022 | Opening reception: June 9, 2022, 6:30-7:30pm

 

Sculptures by Zach VanBecelaere

We’re glad to present Sculptures by Zach VanBecelaere in the Post Reading Room inside Joplin Public Library from Sunday, May 1st – Thursday, June 30th.

Working primarily with steel and stainless steel, Zach VanBecelaere uses a variety of metalworking techniques to manipulate materials into new forms. He incorporates welding used for harsh texture, high mirror polished finishes, and patinated rusted finishes to create contrast and duality in his work. His work stems from a fascination with the natural processes of growth and decay while exploring the relationship between the two.

For more information, contact Post Art Library Director Jill Sullivan at 417-623-7953 x1041.

EXHIBIT INFO

Sunday, May 1st – Thursday, June 30th

 

The Thought Knot by Zach VanBecelaere (with PAL Director Jill Sullivan for scale).

Photography by Mitsu Harter

We invite you to visit our Local History gallery to take in the photography of Mitsu Harter. For many years she expressed her artistic vision with paint, on canvas, and even on walls and ceilings within her home. After an accident that required the rebuilding of her hand, she searched for a way to continue to share her dreams of light, color, nature’s brilliant beauty, and exquisite timeless history. She eventually picked up a camera and now uses her artist’s eye to pinpoint the miraculous dwelling among the mundane, to expose the color residing in the shadows. Harter’s photographs feature historic sites and structures.

For more information, contact Jill Sullivan at 417-623-7953 x1041.

EXHIBIT INFO

Sunday, May 1st – Tuesday, May 31st | Reception: Sunday, May 15th, 2-3pm

 

Church – Picher, Oklahoma by Mitsu Harter

COMBINE: Spring

COMBINE is a collaborative and interdisciplinary group of MSSU Art & Design students. This, their inaugural group exhibition, explores various creative responses to the concept of “spring.” COMBINE: Spring is on exhibit in the Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery inside Joplin Public Library until Sunday, May 29, 2022. Visit the library during the opening reception on Thursday, April 28 between 6:30-7:30pm for an opportunity to meet the artists.

For more information, contact Jill Sullivan at 417-623-7953 x1041.

EXHIBIT INFO

Thursday, April 28th – Sunday, May 29th | Reception: Thursday, April 28, 6:30-7:30pm 

 

Book Review: Just My Type by Simon Garfield

Pity Comic Sans, the font that people love to hate. Developed by Vincent Connare in the mid-1990s, Comic Sans is what author Simon Garfield describes as “type that has gone wrong” in his book Just My Type, an engaging history of type (which, these days, the average person refers to as a ‘font,’ but more on that later).

Connare designed Comic Sans as a reaction against the perceived formality of Times New Roman. Specifically, as a new typeface for Microsoft Bob, a user-friendly software program designed for people who didn’t use – or were frightened of – computers. Connare believed that Times New Roman didn’t mesh well with other elements of the software, such as its “accessible language and […] appealing illustrations.” Ultimately, Connare’s new type couldn’t be worked into the package. Guess what? Microsoft Bob failed. Not long afterward, Connare’s Comic Sans was released in another software package that indeed became popular.

Then, after being included in Windows 95, Comic Sans was everywhere. So much so that people got sick of it. Like, really sick of it. Garfield tells us of Holly and David Combs, a couple who made an anti-Comic Sans website and sold “Ban Comic Sans” merchandise. It’s not necessarily that the Combs thought Comic Sans had no place in the world, but that it needed to be put back in its place. This seemingly ubiquitous hatred of Comic Sans is not unlike how people love to hate Merlot–they know little about its complexities, nuances, and when it is, in fact, a smart, or dare I say the right, choice.

Not only does Garfield give us the history of type/fonts, but, in some cases, the histories of their creators. One such case is the grisly history (that I definitely won’t mention here) of Eric Gill, whose typeface Gill Sans appeared in 1928 as “one of the twentieth century’s earliest and classic sans serif fonts” and is still widely used today.

Speaking of Sans Serif fonts, what’s the difference between that and Serif? I’ll tell you, but Garfield will tell you better with one of the fantastic visuals that accompany the text throughout his book. Serif fonts have feet and tips, which are the serifs. Remove those and voila! You have Sans Serif.

So what about this whole typeface and type/font thing? While typeface is a certain style of lettering, fonts refer to variations of a typeface, including size, weight, and so on. Garfield writes: “Fonts were once known as founts. Fonts and founts weren’t the same as typefaces, and typefaces weren’t the same as type.” He highlights this and many other more technical aspects of typography that, admittedly, readers without a keen interest in type may not find interesting. For example, typographers once had typescales (depth scales) for measuring not only the type, but the space between it, both of which are referred to as the point size, or, for typographers (and printers, as in printing presses) these measurements are grouped into picas.

“DIY” is one of my favorite chapters because it introduced me to the John Bull Printing Outfit, a DIY typographic kit released in the 1930s. It was both creative and educational and, to me, looks and sounds like loads of fun (Hello, eBay!). Garfield goes on to discuss other methods of personal printing, from Letrasets to typewriters to floppy disks, ending the chapter saying that “well-printed” materials are “fast becoming heritage,” yet “typefaces – both their preponderance and ingenuity – have not suffered a similar decline in fortunes.” He writes further that perhaps we have too many.

I particularly appreciate how easy-reading this book is. Although I didn’t learn this till 250 pages in, the book is set in Sabon, which is known for its readability. Perhaps my sharing this with you is somewhat of a spoiler, but I have good reason for doing so. That I thought the book was easy-reading before knowing a particular font was chosen to achieve just that illustrates how much of a connection we have between text – not just what it says, but how it looks – and the way we process information and, more generally, the world.

Literally every printed word was someone’s decision to use a particular typeface or font. The newspaper (or screen, if that’s your style) that you’re holding in your hand to read this review is but one example. Whether we realize it or not – or like it or not – the way that things look impact the way that we interact with them and fonts are no exception. Have you ever been put off by some fonts and not others? Made choices as a consumer based on fonts and labels? Sure you have, as have I.

Garfield reminds us that, like anything else, fonts have rules. Though he’s not necessarily opposed, he wonders “to what extent do rules stifle individuality and creativity?” (Good question.) I’ll leave you with a few so-called rules mentioned by Garfield, though he attributes them to Paul Felton: “Thou shalt not apply more than three typefaces in a document;” “Remember that a typeface that is not legible is not truly a typeface;” and “Thou shalt not use only capitals when setting vast body copy.”

As always, happy reading.

Book review by Jill Halbach Sullivan, Post Art Library Director.

Young Artists Gallery Exhibit

We’ve partnered with Joplin Public Library for the inaugural exhibit of their Young Artists Club! Open to children through age 12, the Young Artists Club meets monthly to learn new art techniques and make artwork. Exhibited here are their self-portraits, which they learned how to create in April.

Join us on Friday, May 13th from 4pm-5pm for the Young Artists Gallery closing reception, where you’ll have the opportunity to meet these young artists and celebrate their works, as well as enjoy light refreshments.

For more information about the Young Artists Club, visit Joplin Public Library’s Children’s Library or call 417-623-7953 x 1035.