African American studies


Black and White Shot Through with Red: Poet Claude McKay Brings the Harlem Renaissance to the Soviet Union

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At the confluence of the period of racial violence known as Red Summer (1919) and the first Red Scare (1917-1920), Jamaica-born poet and journalist Claude McKay merged black anger with radical politics in his most well-known poem, “If We Must Die.”

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McKay’s sonnet initially appeared in the July 1919 issue of The Liberator, a radical socialist magazine published in New York City from 1918-24 by Max and Crystal Eastman. The fame and impact of “If We Must Die” was such that it was soon reprinted as a rallying cry in other progressive magazines such as the September 1919 issue of The Messenger, available in African American Periodicals, 1825-1995.

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Black and White Shot Through with Red: Poet Claude McKay Brings the Harlem Renaissance to the Soviet Union

Celebrating the Remarkable Life and Work of Frederick Douglass through America’s Historical Imprints

This year’s Black History Month marks 200 years since the birth of Frederick Douglass, one of the most influential Americans of the 19th century. While America’s Historical Newspapers includes The North Star, the forceful anti-slavery newspaper Douglass began publishing in Rochester, New York, in 1847, America’s Historical Imprints contains a wealth of primary source material recording, remembering, and celebrating his remarkable life and work.


 

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In his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, found in Black Authors, 1556-1922: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia, Frederick writes of his parents.

My mother was named Harriet Bailey. She was the daughter of Isaac and Betsey Bailey, both colored, and quite dark. My mother was of a darker complexion than either my grandmother or grandfather.

My father was a white man. He was admitted to be such by all I ever heard speak of my parentage. The opinion was also whispered that my master was my father; but of the correctness of this opinion, I know nothing; the means to knowing was withheld from me. My mother and I were separated when I was but an infant – before I knew her as my mother. It is a common custom, in the part of Maryland from which I ran away, to part children from their mothers at a very early age.

He continues, describing his relationship with his mother:

Celebrating the Remarkable Life and Work of Frederick Douglass through America’s Historical Imprints

‘A covenant with death, an agreement with hell’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

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This year’s first release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a work of American travel literature from the 1830s and a history of the United States containing, in part, a retrospective of that same period and of resistance to America’s peculiar institution during it. Also found in this month’s release is a collection of essays on morality that address slavery.        


Impressions of America (1836)

By Tyrone Power, esq.

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Tyrone Power (1797-1841) was born in Waterford County, Ireland. In his teens Power joined a group of travelling actors and went on to successfully earn a living acting at the leading London theatres and appearing at the Theatre Royal in Dublin. He travelled to the United States several times and recorded his Impressions during journeys made in the early 1830s.

Power offers this description of his arrival in Richmond, Virginia:

Whilst waiting at the landing-place amidst the bustle incident to shifting baggage, landing passengers, and packing carriages, I witnessed a wedding assemblage that amused me highly, and was no bad sample of slavery in the Old Dominion.

‘A covenant with death, an agreement with hell’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

Better Learning, Better Classrooms: Why Newspapers Matter

rapt.jpgAlmost every week I’m asked, “How can we use historical newspapers to teach undergraduates?”

Great question!

Mostly it’s faculty who come to me asking for this advice, but librarians wonder about this, too.

Faculty (mostly professors of history, politics, government, and cultural studies) want to be sure their students have an experience in which they truly “touch history.” There’s also a strong desire to have students work directly with primary sources and draw their own conclusions from the materials they encounter. The objective is to instill knowledge, understanding, and critical-thinking skills. That’s a formula, they all agree, for student success.

Historical newspapers, including Readex’s own America's Historical Newspapers, hit the target in every respect. Here are just a few of the ways:

► Students cannot truly understand an event in America’s past without seeing firsthand and in real-time what people said about it. Newspapers are the only certain vehicle for this.

►Newspapers capture “the voice of the moment,” unprocessed, unfiltered, direct, and raw. Students instantly grasp this fact, which drives interest and excitement. Sometimes it even leads to great student papers and presentations!

►Newspapers offer multiple points of view, often across a time span of many days or months or years. They fit perfectly with assignments that require pro-and-con analysis. They also fit perfectly with assignments that ask students to synthesize multiple arguments across time. Newspapers provide most—and sometimes all—of the material a student needs.

Better Learning, Better Classrooms: Why Newspapers Matter

Lithographs, Life Studies and Pen-Pictures: Rare 19th-Century Visual Representations of the American Civil War

The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society now includes two little-known works filled with compelling pictorial representations of the war and its troops.  Also newly digitized this month is a heavily illustrated account of the March through Georgia.


Album of the Campaign of 1861 in Western Virginia (1862)

This rare volume includes 20 detailed lithographs by illustrator J. Nep Roesler who served with the 47th Ohio Volunteers. Other than a title under each print, there is no text. 

 

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Lithographs, Life Studies and Pen-Pictures: Rare 19th-Century Visual Representations of the American Civil War

Readex collection wins a Choice 2017 Outstanding Academic Title award!

The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society has been a named a 2017 Outstanding Academic Title by Choice, the review publication of the American College & Research Libraries division of ALA. The award is for excellence in presentation and scholarship, the significance of its contribution to the field, its originality and value as an essential treatment of its subject, and significance in building undergraduate collections.

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The award is based on Choice’s review of The American Slavery Collection, which appeared in its August 2017 issue.  Here’s an excerpt:

The American Slavery Collection…comprises more than 3,500 works held by the American Antiquarian Society among its vast collection of material….These credentials tell researchers that they are accessing the finest in peer-reviewed or expert-selected material. A number of developments in the study of popular culture in the last decade, including the intractable plague of racism still afflicting society, have again popularized the examination of slavery and leading students and scholars worldwide to pursue the truth about this ‘peculiar institution.’ Primary sources are always the most reliable for understanding the root causes of issues, and this new digital collection offers such resources as captivity narratives, memoirs, newspapers, photographs, pamphlets, and graphic materials.

Readex collection wins a Choice 2017 Outstanding Academic Title award!

‘The wants and tastes of Southern boys and girls’: Three Scarce Imprints in The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

These rare works from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society include a game book for children of the Confederacy, a satirical piece devastating to the Copperhead, and a sort of almanac for and paean to Southern women in wartime.


Uncle Buddy’s Gift Book, for the Holidays (1863)

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In his preface, the anonymous author asserts that:

You are aware that the Southern Confederacy is a new Government—that it is formed by the States which separated in 1860-61 from the Northern states of the Confederacy known as the United States of North America, because of the injustice of the people of those Northern States; and that, in consequence of this separation, those people are waging a cruel and unjust war upon the people of this Confederacy. Now, in consequence of this war, our ports being blockaded, and our means of communicating with other countries cut off, we are unable to obtain a great many things to which we were once accustomed. Among these things, are juvenile books, with which our bookstores were wont to be largely supplied during the holidays, but which we cannot now obtain, and must, therefore, either do without, or procure the substitutes that we can.

He offers his book as a worthy substitute, indeed a superior one because:

‘The wants and tastes of Southern boys and girls’: Three Scarce Imprints in The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

‘The Privileged Order’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The December release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes three items by women: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Victoria V. Clayton and Sallie Holley. Each offers a different perspective on America’s peculiar institution.

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Address in Favor of Universal Suffrage for the Election of Delegates to the Constitutional Convention (1867)

By Elizabeth Cady Stanton

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‘The Privileged Order’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

‘Kill Him in the Case of Resistance’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The November release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes an Englishman’s observations on the Atlantic slave trade, a Scot’s concerns for the emancipated slaves in the West Indies, and reflections on the American abolitionist movement and slavery by the third baronet of Wraxall.


Narrative of a Voyage to the Southern Atlantic Ocean (1834)

By William Henry Bayley Webster

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William Henry Bayley Webster served aboard the HMS Chanticleer during her scientific expedition in the South Atlantic from 1828 to 1830. Webster, the ship’s surgeon, recorded the manners and customs of various peoples he encountered traveling along the Atlantic coasts of Africa and South America. He makes notes of finding slavery in South America “at the Cape in its mildest form” and at Rio “in all its plenitude” but after arriving at Maranham in northern Brazil he offers more detail, writing:  

‘Kill Him in the Case of Resistance’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

‘A White Man’s Government’: Readex Introduces “African Americans and Reconstruction: Hope and Struggle, 1865-1883”

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Curated from the Library Company of Philadelphia’s acclaimed African American history archive, African Americans and Reconstruction: Hope and Struggle, 1865-1883, is a newly released digital collection of searchable books, pamphlets, and speeches. Its coverage begins with the conclusion of the Civil War and spans eighteen of the most formative years in African American history.

Reconstruction marked an end to slavery and a beginning to the enfranchisement of African Americans. Full citizenship, voting rights, land ownership, employment opportunities, and political participation were only some of the significant gains enjoyed, in theory, by African Americans during this period. Although these rights were granted by amendments to the U.S. Constitution and federal legislation, they were not, in practice, universally protected at local levels.


Using this new collection’s “Suggested Searches” feature, students and other researchers can explore these revealing primary source materials with ease.

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‘A White Man’s Government’: Readex Introduces “African Americans and Reconstruction: Hope and Struggle, 1865-1883”

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