Bookshelf provides descriptions and notices of recent publications on Pennsylvania subjects.

J. Horace McFarland: A Thorn for Beauty

by Ernest Morrison
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1995 (393 pages, cloth, $19.95)

Three-quarters of a century ago, his was a name known throughout the na­tion. To some, he was ordained the “High Priest of the Rose.” To others, he was christened the “Father of the National Park Service.” And to even more, he was hailed the “lay-spokesper­son for the City Beautiful movement.” Simply put, J. Horace McFarland (1859- 1948) of Harrisburg was many things to many people. He was, first and foremost, one of the earliest Americans to sound the alarm for environmental and scenic protection. Not content with the prevail­ing conservation policies at the opening of this century – a time during which the word conservation was universally interpreted to mean efficiency, or the elimination of waste – McFarland “pricked the consciousness” of presidents, politicians, and the public to promote environmental legislation, including the creation of the National Park Service. An astute entrepreneur, he employed his business acumen, coupled with the influence of the powerful American Civic Association (of which he was elected its first president in 1904), to campaign successfully for environmental education and reform. J. Horace McFarland: A Thorn for Beauty is more than a biography of this visionary individual; it is a critical assessment of the contributions of this native Pennsylvanian who helped pro­tect Niagara Falls from predatory power company interests, who fought together with naturalist John Muir (1838-1914) and the Sierra Club to preserve the Hetch Hetchy Valley in California’s fa. bled Yosemite National Park, and who encouraged the growing of truly American varieties of roses and successfully argued for the opening of the American Rose Society, founded in 1892 as a commercial trade association, to amateur gardeners. A printer by profession, McFarland was esteemed by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. He advised secretaries of the interior for a period spanning four decades. He was also a noted writer, editor, and photographer; in addition to contributing to The Outlook, The Review of Reviews, and Ladies’ Home Journal magazines and editing (and printing) the American Rose Annual, McFarland wrote several books, including Getting Acquainted with the Trees (1904), My Growing Garden (1915), The Rose in America (1923), and Roses of tile World in Color (1936). According to the author, for more than half a century McFarland corresponded – often to lobby his causes – with many prominent figures of the day such as Liberty Hyde Bailey, Mira Lloyd Dock, Gifford Pinchot, Frederick Law Olmsted, and Harold Ickes. He was a feisty advocate for better cities and a tenacious steward of the land. In his foreword to J. Horace McFarland: A Thorn for Beauty, Bruce Babbitt lauds the book’s subject for “giving most of his life to educating the public and gathering support for programs of civic improvement and to insure the preservation of America’s natural beauty.” This handsomely illustrated book concludes with a chronology of McFarland’s life and work, a listing of his books and articles in national publi­cations, a record of reviews of his work, an index of quotations, several appendices devoted to meetings and members of the American Civic Association, exten­sive notes, sources, bibliography, and an exhaustive but easy-to-use index.


John Lewis Krimmel: Genre Artist of the Early Republic

by Anneliese Harding
Winterthur, 1994 (268 pages, cloth, $60.00)

John Lewis Krimmel (1786-1821) was America’s first genre painter. A German immigrant who worked in Philadelphia for a dozen years, from 1809 to 1821, he was initially influenced by artists David Wilkie, William Hogarth, and Benjamin West (see “A Pennsylvania Yankee in King George’s Court,” an article about the life and career of West, a Pennsylvania native, by David M. Glixon in the summer 1993 issue). After revisiting Europe in 1817-1818, Krimmel became inspired by German romanticism and found an appreciation for French neoclassical painting. His down-to-earth, slightly jocose, and at times gently moralizing approach to painting successfully linked the neoclassicist’s sense of realism and structure with the romantic’s fervent dedication to nature and humanity. John Lewis Krimmel: Genre Artist of the Early Republic traces the artist’s development, using selections from both his sketchbook images and his completed oil paintings. Seven sketchbooks, now in the library at the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum in Wilmington, Delaware, contain about seven hundred individual images on nearly three hundred pages. These works range from quick pencil sketches to finished water­colors of people, plants, animals, objects, and buildings. The book places the artist’s specialty, genre art, in an interna­tional context by discussing his work m terms of larger stylistic trends in European and American art, and defines his use of democratic and moralizing theme:, within the political and social changes affecting both the Continent and Philadelphia. Images of Philadelphia illustrating John Lewis Krimmel: Genre Artist of the Early Republic include Pepper-Pot: A Scene in the Philadelphia Market (1811); his famous and often published View of Centre Square on the Fourth of July, now called Fourth of July in Center Square (1811-1812); Sunday Morning in Front of Arch Street Meeting House (1811-1812); Elegant Couple Meets Chimney Sweeps in Front of Christ Church (1811-1812); Oyster Barrow in Front of Chestnut Street Theatre (1811-1812); Members of the City Troop of Philadelphia (1812-1813); Winter Scene with the Bank of the United States in the Background (1812-1813); Election Day 1815 (1815); and A Patriotic Society Parading Past Independence Hall (1821). In addition, this authoritative and liberally illustrated book (with more than one hundred color photographs) features views of Chambersburg, Franklin County, and Easton, Northampton County, as well as scenes along the Lehigh River.


Democratic Miners

by Perry K. Blatz
State University of New York Press, 1994 (368 pages, cloth, $19.95)

Subtitled Work and Labor Relations in the Anthracite Coal Industry, 1875-1925, this work traces the history of work and labor relations in Pennsylvania’s hard coal industry, focusing on conditions that led up to, and followed, the infamous strike of 1902. The strike, an epic five-and-a-half. month struggle, prompted the federal government to intervene in a labor dis­pute for the first time in the nation’s history. Focusing on the workplace, the author places the 1902 strike – during which one hundred and fifty thousand miners and their families confronted some of the oldest and most powerful corporations in the country – in the context of a turbulent half-century of labor-management relations. Democratic Miners, which characterizes the conflict as “one of the titanic industrial struggles in American history,” discusses the walkout’s impact on millions of consumers, which induced President Theodore Roosevelt to enter the bitter fray. According to the author, the anthracite strike of 1902 was not primarily concerned about money but, instead, grew heated because of the threat posed by the mine workers under the leadership of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) to the coal operators’ control of the work force and their business. The book offers a number of incidents that re­veal the miners’ hostilities (including little known workplace disputes and internal union quarrels), chronicles the actions taken by powerful UMWA president John Mitchell (1870-1919), and addresses the proceedings of the Anthracite Coal Strike Commission (which conducted hearings for three and a half months). Essentially, Democratic Miners tells the saga of the experience of work and the unionization of the anthracite industry, enhancing the story by reconstructing the ways in which coal miners might have related to the 1902 strike. The author delves beyond what took place at the national level of the UMWA to reach the district level and, when possible, even the local level. Democratic Miners includes more than a dozen illustrations and more than fifteen tables and charts, in addition to extensive notes, a selected bibliography, and an index.