Gleanings-- Where Did That Name Come From?
Author: Tom Dodd
“Gleanings” readers at the
“Ypsilanti-every-morning-since-WWII-coffee-drinkers-groups” asked Society President Al
Rudisill, “What's the meaning of our publication's name? What are gleanings,
anyway?” Paterfamilias Barney Hughes looked it up: 19 th Century realism
painter Jean Francois Millet may have popularized the term with his 1857 painting, The
Gleaners, we remember seeing in many of our elementary school classrooms alongside Lincoln,
Washington, and Washington Crossing the Delaware. The French artist depicted
peasants scrounging for leftovers in an already-harvested field. After the harvest, landowners
permitted poor local families to scour the fields for whatever they could save (glean) for their own
A leader in the Barbizon School of realistic painting, Millet was the first painter to endow
rural life with a dignity and monumentality that transcended realism, making the peasant an almost
heroic figure. Between 1858–1859 Millet produced the famous
Both works are now in the Musée d'Orsay. This enormously popular painting, showing farm
workers pausing for evening vespers was sold forty years later for the sensational price of 553,000
francs. Angélus reprints also appeared on the classroom and Sunday School
walls of our youth.
The Ypsilanti Historical Society encourages readers to scour the field for stories of the community's past. Look for stories of “dignity and monumentality that transcend” local history and submit them for publication in the Gleanings.