American History


‘A plodding Englishman, or a pawky Scotchman’: Highlights from Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society

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Among the extraordinarily rare works in Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society are these illustrated items: a compendium of Irish humor and songs, “a pathetic tale” for juveniles which ends happily, and a chapbook celebrating autumn in verse and prose.


The New Irish Jest and Song Book: Being a Collection of Jests, Blunders, Songs and Witty Sayings from the Latest Publications (1803)

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In his preface to this unique imprint, the author enlarges on the word “blunder.”

An Irish blunder is defined to be “a laughable confusion of ideas,” which, when delivered with all the vivacity and particular gesticulation natural to the country, and with that tone of voice, commonly called the brogue, has infinitely a more humorous effect, than the dull, vapid mistakes of a plodding Englishman, or a pawky Scotchman.

‘A plodding Englishman, or a pawky Scotchman’: Highlights from Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society

Nixon Rising: The ‘Pumpkin Papers’ that Haunted Alger Hiss

You may have heard of the “Pentagon Papers” from the Vietnam War era. More recently, the “Panama Papers” exposed the use of that country’s legal and financial institutions for tax evasion. But what about the “Pumpkin Papers?” In the spirit of the season, we’ll shed some light on these documents that were used to keep the specter of communism at bay following World War II.

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In 1950, the admission of the “Pumpkin Papers” as evidence of espionage against Alger Hiss led to his conviction for perjury, resulting in a five-year federal prison sentence. But perhaps as significant, the conviction of Alger Hiss brought U.S. Representative Richard M. Nixon to national prominence, as seen in these clippings from the Readex digital edition of the Washington Evening Star.

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Nixon Rising: The ‘Pumpkin Papers’ that Haunted Alger Hiss

‘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”

'Two such stainless captains': Highlights from the American Antiquarian Society’s Civil War Collection

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This month’s release of imprints from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes two imprints reflecting on events in Richmond, Virginia, following the war. Both publications express sympathetic views of the Confederacy. On a lighter note we focus on a colorfully illustrated picture book for children from the Civil War era.


Robert Edward Lee: An Address Delivered at the Dedication of the Monument to General Robert Edward Lee at Richmond, Virginia, May 29, 1890, by Archer Anderson (1890)

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At a time when memorials to the Confederacy and her most prominent soldiers and politicians are under attack by demands to remove them, it may be timely to consider the impetus and emotion that fueled the erection of these memorials in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The end of Reconstruction ushered in the Jim Crow era. Many of the monuments constructed toward the end of the 19th century were as much a celebration of white supremacy as a permanent memory of the war.

Contemporary Americans are not so likely as Archer Anderson, the author of this address, to assert that:

'Two such stainless captains': Highlights from the American Antiquarian Society’s Civil War Collection

‘Pray cock your eye’: Introducing Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society

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The first release of Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society to the Shaw-Shoemaker digital collection includes:

  • an admonitory story for children who are inclined to “a meddling disposition”
  • an articulate argument against introducing the British factory system in the United States
  • a heavily illustrated book of the “history of birds in the air” in rhyme.

 

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The Story of Charles Maitland; or, The Dangers of a Meddling Disposition (1806)

This rare work tells the story of Charles Maitland, a naughty boy unable to refrain from meddling in other peoples’ affairs. Through this behavior Charles “might (by his meddling disposition) have made a breach between two families who were very much united, and lived on the most friendly terms, if he had had to deal with people of less discernment and good sense.”

‘Pray cock your eye’: Introducing Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society

‘The Market of Human Flesh’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The October release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a piece of travel literature describing America and its peculiar institution, a pamphlet bemoaning the ills of Reconstruction, and speeches and writings on the political aspects of slavery by abolitionist and senator Charles Sumner.


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A Tour in the United States of America (1784)

By John Ferdinand Smyth Stuart, Esq.

John Ferdinand Smyth Stuart (1745-1814) studied medicine at Edinburgh University, emigrated to America, and began his practice in Virginia. When the American Revolution began, Stuart, a loyalist, abandoned his home and served in the British Army. During the war he was captured and held prisoner, spending eighteen months in irons. Misfortune followed Stuart. After returning to England after the war, his pension for service was suspended. Moving to the West Indies, he was shipwrecked three times. Returning one more time to England, he learned his pension claims were too old to be heard. In 1814 he was knocked down and killed by a carriage.

Writing of his sojourn in America, Stuart recounts the country’s natural beauty but the charm of his prose is diminished quickly when he writes:

‘The Market of Human Flesh’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

Seductive Spies, a Quest for Friendly Fumes, and a Lethal Love Triangle: Readex Report (October 2017)

In this issue: feminine charms reveal Civil War strategies; a dismembered body linked to a racially charged love triangle; and the dicey dealings of early American anesthesiologists.


Two Women Who Spied During the American Civil War: Going Undercover with Belle Boyd and Pauline Cushman in the Archive of Americana

Bruce D. Roberts, author of Clipper Ship Sailing Cards

Seductive Spies, a Quest for Friendly Fumes, and a Lethal Love Triangle: Readex Report (October 2017)

‘There’s a Dark Man Comin': Readex Introduces "African Americans and Jim Crow: Repression and Protest, 1883-1922"

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Curated from the Library Company of Philadelphia’s acclaimed African American history archive, African Americans and Jim Crow: Repression and Protest, 1883-1922, is a newly released digital collection of searchable books, pamphlets and speeches. Its coverage begins with an 1883 decision known as the “The Civil Rights Cases” in which the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the Civil Rights Act of 1875, declaring the federal government could not prevent discrimination on the basis of race.

This ruling paved the way for the codification of Jim Crow laws that reversed the hard-earned gains African Americans had made during Reconstruction. Public education, transportation, and accommodations were only a few of the areas of daily life in the U.S. in which segregation was legally allowed.


Using this new collection’s “Suggested Searches” feature, students and other researchers can easily explore revealing primary source materials that provide stark reminders of the fierce sense of separation that permeated American society during this divisive era.

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‘There’s a Dark Man Comin': Readex Introduces

Readex Congratulates Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar Whose New Book Has Been Nominated for a 2017 National Book Award

never-caught-9781501126390_lg.jpgCongratulations to Erica Armstrong Dunbar whose new book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge, has been long-listed for the 2017 National Book Awards.  It is one of ten non-fiction nominees for this year’s prize which will be announced on November 15. Dr. Dunbar is the Director of the Library Company of Philaelphia’s African American History Program and the Charles and Mary Beard Professor of History at Rutgers University.

Never Caught was described by Columbia University Professor Eric Foner as “a fascinating and moving account of a courageous and resourceful woman. Beautifully written and utilizing previously untapped sources it sheds new light both on the father of our country and on the intersections of slavery and freedom.”

Readex Congratulates Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar Whose New Book Has Been Nominated for a 2017 National Book Award

Announcing “Undergrads Doing History: Using Digital Primary Sources to Motivate Students” – An Upcoming Webinar by Prof. Carl Robert Keyes

banner top.JPG“How can I better incorporate my own research into the undergraduate courses I teach?”

College and university professors grapple with this question every semester.  In this 45-minute webinar, Prof. Keyes will reveal how he adapted two digital humanities projects—drawn from his own research on advertising in early America—into classroom exercises that challenge students to actively “do” history rather than merely learn about the past.

Register to attend this and learn how to:

• develop alternative assignments that engage student interest yet also enhance skills associated with traditional essays

• improve information literacy by identifying and assessing primary sources and secondary sources

• create research projects based on extensive collections of digital primary sources

• avoid pitfalls when developing digital humanities projects for undergraduate students

The webinar will conclude with an open Q & A session, and all registrants will receive a link to the recorded session.

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Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017 at 2:00 pm Eastern

Announcing “Undergrads Doing History: Using Digital Primary Sources to Motivate Students” – An Upcoming Webinar by Prof. Carl Robert Keyes

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