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[Original Art]

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Accession Number: 1949.22.42

Entitled: How Some of the Boys Looked When the Rebels Began to Shoot Bullets

Physical Description: Hand painted glass lanternslide in handmade rectangular wood frame. Image depicts the face of a frightened man with his mouth hanging open in a frown. The small amount of background is black. This is a slide picture, so there is an extra piece of glass painted with eyes and a red spot for a tongue. This is sandwiched next to the painted picture that moves slightly to show the man’s eyes and tongue moving from left to right. The left side of the wood frame has a semicircular cutout for access to move the piece of glass. Handwriting in pencil around the left side of the window. Each piece of glass has a separate cutout at the back of the frame. The main painting is held in place with two metal glazing points. The slide glass is held loosely in place with three glazing points. The wood and glass are cut at a slight upward angle near the left side so that the glass will only move a few millimeters.

History of Object: Lanternslide painted by Samuel James Reader of Indianola, Kansas, and given to the donor by daughter Elizabeth Reader. Samuel Reader moved to Kansas in 1855 when he was 19 years old and lived in Indianola, a town north of Topeka, until his death in 1914. Primarily a farmer, he also was a Civil War soldier, artist, trustee for the township and Rochester Cemetery, and built two of his own houses. Reader kept a diary with nearly daily entries from age 13 until July 22, 1913. This diary makes up fifteen volumes. According to diary entries, Reader began making lanternslides on January 12, 1866. He created his first magic lantern out of a nail keg with a spyglass, but the image was very blurry. After a few months he tried to convince his aunt Eliza of the need to purchase a proper magic lantern, arguing that he saved money by not purchasing alcohol or tobacco. On June 30th, 1866, Reader received by mail order a magic lantern tube and chromotrope (the latter gave the appearance of a kaleidoscope when a lever was moved up and down.) Reader continued to purchase new and improved magic lantern equipment for many years. According to a letter from his daughter, Elizabeth Reader (dated December 1, 1942), their house was crowded with neighbors watching lanternslide shows on winter evenings. She noted that her father also held shows at country schoolhouses and churches to raise money for the community. He used a pocketknife and saw to make the slides. Reader noted in his diary that he laid out the slides on the roof for the paint to dry. The subject of this lanternslide is Reader's experiences in the Civil War. He mustered in to the 2nd Kansas State Militia in September 1863 as a Quartermaster and 2nd Lieutenant. Reader fought in the Battle of the Big Blue in October 1864, and was taken prisoner by Confederate soldiers on October 22, 1864. Reader recorded his experiences in his diary shortly after returning home, including an account of the battle as well as his capture and escape a few days later. When Reader began making lanternslides, he painted images of his experiences during the war.

Date: Between 1866 and 1913

Dimensions (in cm): 10.70 (H) 17.30 (W) 1.20 (D)

Marks/Inscriptions: [Handwritten on frame] How some of the boys / looked when the / Rebels / began to shoot bullets || [Carved into back of frame/ top, left corner] 20 ||

Index Terms

Associations and Subjects

    Business / Organization: Militias
    Origin, Place of: Shawnee County (Kan.)
    Origin, Place of: Topeka (Kan.)
    Individual: Reader, Samuel James, 1836-1914
    Event: Big Blue, Battle of the, Mo., 1864
    Event: Civil War, 1861-1865
    Origin, Place of: Indianola (Kan.)
    Event: United States History Civil War, 1861-1865
    Business / Organization: Kansas. Militia. Regiment, 2nd
    Event: Big Blue, Battle of, Jackson County, Mo. 1864
    Business / Organization: 2nd Kansas Militia
    Business / Organization: Second Kansas Militia
    Event: Battle of Big Blue, 1864

Creators and Contributors

    Reader, Samuel J.

Status: Cataloged

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