Stolen Identities

I hate tumblr. I link my posts to it, because it is automatic and they display beautifully, but I never go there. I know that pretty much all I will find is lifted: unsourced, uncredited, without any context whatsoever. Of course, the internet is an anarchical wild west, but tumblr is still the worst outlaw: thoroughly unaccountable. It’s clearly cool not to credit on tumblr, so I know that if I go there I will be very, very annoyed: I might find a beautiful picture, but I will never, never find its source. The other day I was searching for some more information about someone who lived in my house 150 years ago: Willard Peele Phillips. I check up on him occasionally, because he was a pretty active entrepreneur and abolitionist and new sources are digitized all the time. I wound up on tumblr, where I found a very familiar photograph, and some very, very familiar text on a blog entitled The Civil War Parlor, whose author claims that “every effort is taken to remember the men and women of the Union and Confederacy equally with dignity and respect”.

Below is the picture, lifted and lightened from my post Remembering the 54th Regiment. Instead of copying my accreditation, she copies my text above, almost word for word. “Her” text is first (in red!) followed by my original words, in bold.

 Three little known Salem men with the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment: Willard Peele Phillips, a prominent Salem businessman served on Governor Andrew’s recruiting committee for the regiment, Luis Fenollosa Emilio was a young captain in the Regiment, and later served as acting commander after he became the only officer to survive Fort Wagner, and Francis H. Fletcher, a clerk in a Salem printing office, enlisted in the Regiment and fought until the end of the war. Those are the bare facts, but the involvement of these three men runs deeper.  Phillips raised money, not only men, for the Regiment, Emilio later became the historian of the Regiment with the 1891 publication of The Brave Black Regiment.  The History of the 54th Massachusetts, 1863-65, and Fletcher protested the army’s unequal (or nonexistent!) pay system while still in service.

Less well-known, in varying degrees, is the involvement of three Salem men with the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment: Willard Peele Phillips, a prominent Salem businessman (who happened to live in my house at the time, or I live in his now) served on Governor Andrew’s recruiting committee for the regiment, Luis Fenollosa Emilio was a young captain in the Regiment, and later served as acting commander after he became the only officer to survive Fort Wagner, and Francis H. Fletcher, a clerk in a Salem printing office, enlisted in the Regiment and fought until the end of the war. Those are the bare facts, but the involvement of these three men runs deeper.  Phillips raised money, not only men, for the Regiment, Emilio later became the historian of the Regiment with the 1891 publication of The Brave Black Regiment.  The History of the 54th Massachusetts, 1863-65, and Fletcher protested the army’s unequal (or nonexistent!) pay system while still in service.

She not only left out the all-important first line (does this woman not know how to cut and paste?) and Francis Fletcher’s letter, but linked this text to the picture without my accreditation: Capts. Tomlinson and Emilio (center) with Lt. Speer, all of Company C of the Massachusetts 54th, May 1863, Library of Congress, Letter of Francis H. Fletcher to Jacob C. Safford, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Consequently Captain Emilio, in the center, is the only proper identification in this picture: his fellow officers, Capt. Tomlinson on his right and Lieutenant Speer on his left, are literally left out of the picture by Miss Civil War Parlor, who, let me remind you, is dedicated to taking every effort to remember the men and women of the Union and Confederacy”.

tumblr_m9c2rfzyGG1rd3evlo1_500

AGAIN: Unknown Photographer, Second Lieutenant Ezekiel G. Tomlinson, Captain Luis F. Emilio, and Second Lieutenant Daniel Spear, October 12, 1863, tintype, 3 1/4 x 2 7/16 in. (8.6 x 6.5 cm.), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. All three survived the War, but only Emilio was from Salem: Tomlinson was from Radnor, Pennsylvania, and Spear was from Boston.

 


26 responses to “Stolen Identities

  • Richard Bevins

    Yes, Donna, but you are a scholar and most people who post to tumblr are clods.

    Like

  • Steve@AnUrbanCottage

    This makes my blood boil. My entire blog was copied by someone in China just so they could use my content to generate advertising dollars. And then a local contractor used photos of my exterior renovation on his Facebook page and claimed to do my renovation in six weeks. So I know exactly how you feel. Did you ask her to remove it?

    Like

  • cecilia

    That is maddening. We are in the public domain. But I would hate for you to stop being out here for us to read. Deeply unsettling. c

    Like

  • dianepascual37

    Wow that is terrible. Yes I agree Tumblr is definitely not a credible place unless you were posting something mindless or for fun. I see so many people reblogging things, what’s the point?

    Like

  • daseger

    Thanks Rich, Steve (omg!), Celi & Diane. It is indeed maddening, but quite honestly I was more appalled by her lack of respect towards these soldiers: as much as I admire Willard Phillips, the guy who lived in my house, for his activism and advocacy he was probably sitting in my (his) parlor while these guys were fighting.

    Like

  • Dianne F

    Hi Donna-I just discovered your blog while looking up some up info about the Lady Pepperrell House. Love the blog — it’s right up my own quirky, random, history-nerd-ish alley.

    I suppose you might consider imitation the highest form of flattery. The lifting is an old sport. In researching the Pepperrells, I have come across a number of portraits of Mary Hirst Pepperrell and various family members (e.g. the first William, his wife Margery Bray) and none are ever attributed to a specific artist (although Lady Mary’s portrait is sometimes attributed to Copley, which I don’t think is correct). Some of these portraits were lifted from digitized copies of 19th c. histories and they didn’t attribute the artists either. But it’s a fascinating puzzle!
    Dianne F.

    Like

    • daseger

      Hi Dianne,
      One of my favorite houses in the world! I grew up just up the road in York Harbor. I’m sure that you know that there’s a wonderful portrait of Mr. (sir?) Pepperrell down here at the Peabody Essex Museum?

      Like

      • daseger

        Oh–just found your blog–look forward to exploring it further–but I see you know of Sir William!

        Like

      • Dianne

        Love PEM, eveN if none of the gallery tenders had the slightest idea as to who Sir William was or where I could find his portrait.

        I am working on a post about the curse of the Pepperrell House and the Cutts family who lived there in the 19th century. The layers of history are so fascinating!

        Like

  • downeastdilettante

    In the early days, the internet was a bit like the wild west, with very few rules, but we’ve all learned since—and among the things we all should have learned is the difference between ‘fair use’ and plagiarism, as well as the importance of giving credit to sources (for Pete’s sake, why does this one elude so many?). I’ve been stunned several times since I’ve started blogging to find my material re-cycled by others—-to say nothing of a proposed post being lifted by a rapacious and voracious lady design blogger in Texas (I had mentioned the idea and source to a mutual friend who stupidly told her and she was off and running—and would not be checked. But, the topper for me was while researching a subject to find an entire blog post inserted into the text of a paid article written by someone else in the Weir Times Newspaper in Laconia NH. I was flabbergasted, and when I called the paper, was flabbergasted again at how little it mattered to the publisher, who really really should have known better, and clearly didn’t care.about copyright laws. The author a freelance writer, actually truly believed that giving me credit justified using the blog post, which constituted more than half his story. In this case, so annoyed and stunned, I sought damages, which were donated to a children’s charity last Christmas..

    Anyway, that’s my experience—a long winded way of saying I understand your surprise and frustration, both personally and intellectually.

    Like

    • daseger

      When your stuff winds up in PRINT under someone else’s byline it really is another matter altogether….egregious…..so glad the children had a merry Christmas!

      Like

  • markd60

    There is a website specifically designed for catching plagirsts, (sp?). Not sure where it is, I stumbled onto it long ago, but I’m sure you could find it easily.

    Like

    • daseger

      Well we are in the public domain, Mark–I just wish she had ripped me off more accurately, I guess.

      Like

      • daseger

        Thanks–but I don’t think we need this!

        Like

      • S. Lynn

        I have come to learn about the Civil War through reading blogs like yours, I have deep respect for the men of the 54th, I had no idea who they were at the time I posted that photo so long ago, ( I knew nothing at all about the Civil War) I have now gone on to even have one of my colorized photos of Colonel Shaw in the Civil War trusts magazine, Hollowed Ground. I am quite the fan of the 54th now, I just had no idea how important quoting sources was, or verifying the photographs on other sites before you hit the post button on your blog. Its funny an editor on Tumblr wrote me and told me I one of the few people that list sources or research their posts, and Tumblr would be taken more seriously as a blogging platform if people did use the blog as an example. Yes, theres a lot of junk on Tumblr. I can imagine you were livid when you saw that post. I am so sorry. I just never looked back at posts that were that old. Thank You for your reply. I confessed publically on my blog also.

        Like

  • westerner54

    I’m surprised that she didn’t just lift your whole paragraph – including the line about Phillips living in your house!

    Like

  • gpcox

    Great article, Donna, but I also stopped in to make sure I told you to have a fantastic Mother’s Day! ❤

    Like

  • S. Lynn

    Just to repost here as I had to search for the info that was posted on my blog to find you on this site. Yes, sloppy and rude. To my bad credit I did not post credits or links to the original when I started.

    I have deleted the post, after doing some internet searching I had no idea where the information had come from. I see it on your blog now.

    My sincerest apology, like I said early on when I first created the site I was not even sure what I was doing, nor did I think about credit or asking for reblog permission on a blog I was planning to delete, as I have now for the past year. As for identification, I have no clue why it was not identified correctly, (Probably because I did not get the info from you for the photo)

    Again I apologize for the early on mistake of a first time blogger and someone who knew nothing about the Civil War at the time it was posted. As you can see from the other posts and recent posts I always include sources or click through links, and ask for permission on reblogs if I’m not sure on copyright etc.

    Like

    • daseger

      Thank you for your sincere apology which I certainly accept; I think I sound a bit too indignant in my own post, but it’s just the history professor in me–I really was more concerned with the misidentification of the veterans in the picture than I was with my own credit. I have checked out your more recent posts and applaud your identification of sources and photographs.

      Like

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