“Unspeakable losses of treasure, love and life”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

The current release of imprints from the American Antiquarian Society’s American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922, includes strikingly different assessments of the war’s origins as described a half century apart by two very different men. In 1862 the governor of Virginia’s Union sympathetic rump government left no doubt as to where the responsibility for the war lay. By contrast, writing 50 years later a veteran of the Union Army is not nearly so certain as the governor.


To the People of Virginia (1862)

A supporter of Abraham Lincoln, Francis Harrison Pierpont [sometimes Peirpont] was a native Virginian opposed to his state’s secession. When Virginia voted to secede, a number of counties in the northwest refused to go along. They formed an alternative government in Wheeling which they called the “Restored government of Virginia,” sent representatives to the U.S. Congress, and elected Pierpont to be their governor. He was reelected in 1863 and led the successful campaign to establish the new state of West Virginia. In 1862 he wrote and published this letter “To the people of Virginia.”

“Unspeakable losses of treasure, love and life”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

Hitler, Heroes, and Harmony: Newly Digitized Reports from the Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports

In this month’s release of JPRS Reports, 1957-1994, we’re exploring psychology—dark & light, hortative & theoretical, aspirational and actual.


Hitler’s Former Headquarters Now a Tourist Attraction in Poland

On a road in Rastenburg (now Ketrzyn), Poland, past the wild swans and the birches, the Polish Society for Tourism and Home Lore erected a sign leading travelers to the “Wolf’s Lair.” Upon arrival in 1963, for the price of ten zloty the curious visitor could tour the numbered ruins of the massive complex of reinforced concrete which served as Adolf Hitler’s headquarters from 1941-1944, where the Fuhrer narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. The presence of schoolgirls and wild strawberries are noted among the graves and mine fields in this short, poignant report.


From JPRS ReportsThe Lei Feng Campaign: A Pictorial Report on a Chinese Communist Hero

Lei Feng was literally the poster child for Chinese communism beginning in February 1963, although there is disagreement as to the existence of the actual person depicted. Some of the visual details were lost during the reproduction process, but there’s still a great deal to be learned through the captions and especially the numerous cartoons. If you’ve seen this Chinese Everyman once, you’ll recall having seen him a thousand times, which was the point, after all, as he was held to be the best guide and highest realization of the ideal communist citizen.

From JPRS Reports

Hitler, Heroes, and Harmony: Newly Digitized Reports from the Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports

“This Is a White Man’s Country”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The July release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes an English abolitionist’s perspective on the slave trade, a speech advocating for equal suffrage in post-Civil War America, and an incredible advertising circular for a book about Henry Morton Stanley’s adventures in Africa.


 The History of Uncle Tom's Countrymen: with a Description of Their Sufferings in the Capture, the Voyage, and the Field (1853)

By Humanity

Although slavery had been abolished throughout the British Empire in 1833, Great Britain continued to import products produced by slave labor. Calling for an end to the importation of American cotton and the tacit support of slavery, the author writes:

The plea that we are compelled from necessity to purchase the fruits of the slave is feeble in the extreme. It is either from a willful negligence or postulated blindness on our parts, that we have so long allowed ourselves to become thus dependent, and we now wish to make a virtue of necessity; but of all evils under the sun, that of making vice commendable is the greatest. The Times of November the 25th, 1852, says—“Show me the man chiefly benefitted by this crime, and I will show you the greatest criminal.” If then the people of England reap the chief benefit, they are certainly the chief criminals.

“This Is a White Man’s Country”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

“The Synagogue of Satan”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

The July release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society contains a review of the debate before the Virginia Legislature on the abolition of slavery, a defense of the Methodist Episcopal Church’s position on slavery, and an essay interpreting the liberal philosophy that inspired the U.S. Constitution through the lens of religion.


 An Essay on Slavery (1849)

By Thomas Roderick Dew  

Thomas Roderick Dew was an educator and writer who served as the 13th president of the College of William & Mary. In 1832, Dew published a review of the debate in the Virginia legislature on the merits and ramifications of the abolition of slavery following Nat Turner’s slave rebellion.

Dew favored the continuation of slavery, arguing that laws should not be changed in the aftermath of a crisis:

“The Synagogue of Satan”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

Now Available on Video: “Battle Logs: Visualizing the Destruction of Forests in the American Civil War”

With her Civil War expertise, passion for environmental history, and quick wit, Megan Kate Nelson, author of Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War, offered a compelling presentation at the Readex-hosted breakfast during the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in San Francisco.

The acclaimed historian shared her journey through thousands of images created during the Civil War, including sketches, photographs, newspaper illustrations, and engravings. Through these visuals, Nelson unlocked the story of war held in trees. By the end of the hour, her passion for injured landscapes had convinced the audience that trees are, in their own way, veterans of war. They played a critical role in the “destructive creation” by both Union and Confederate soldiers. By the end of the war in 1865, more than 4 million trees had been consumed.

But, the destruction of trees only tells half the story. During the Civil War, trees played a crucial role in construction, providing the necessary material to create sturdy housing structures, critical for soldiers’ survival, especially through cold winter months. These simple buildings gave soldiers a sense of place and community, a small inkling of security in unfamiliar territory hundreds of miles from home. Through her research, Nelson uncovered evidence that soldiers even gave their homes addresses.

Now Available on Video: “Battle Logs: Visualizing the Destruction of Forests in the American Civil War”

San Francisco Conference Founds the United Nations: A Look Back through Three Readex Collections

From America's Historical Newspapers

Beginning on April 25, 1945, as World War II entered its final months, delegates from dozens of nations gathered at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. Their goal was the creation of an international organization that would lessen the chances of a third global conflict.  The meeting’s official name was the United Nations Conference on International Organization (UNCIO), but it was more typically called the San Francisco Conference.  

The participants debated the institutional framework that had been negotiated earlier in the year by the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C.  Chaired by U.S. diplomat Alger Hiss, and addressed by President Harry Truman, the San Francisco Conference ultimately produced the United Nations Charter, which was signed on June 26, 1945.

Readex collections offer three different ways to see real-time accounts of this historic meeting. The first is through the daily press accounts in America’s Historical Newspapers.  The actions of the delegates in the build-up to the final charter can be traced through news stories, editorials, opinion columns, photographs and cartoons.

From America's Historical Newspapers

San Francisco Conference Founds the United Nations: A Look Back through Three Readex Collections

“Free from Care”: Resort and Hotel Brochures from the American Pamphlets collection

From American PamphletsThe first days of summer are a fine time to highlight pamphlets advertising the glories of two resort hotels and one city establishment. These three documents are from this month’s release of American Pamphlets, Series 1, 1820-1922: From the New-York Historical Society. They are among many other pamphlets celebrating country rambles, local histories, and recreational pastimes.


Echoes from the Sea: Coleman House [by] Frank B. Conover (1901)

We begin our holiday tour at the ocean, specifically at Asbury Park, New Jersey, where “stands the Coleman House, the centre of coast life and gaiety.” Mr. Conover, the author, has the highest praise for this grand hotel and for “Mr. Frank B. Conover, whose management of the hotel has been most successful for the past three seasons.” His fulsome description of Asbury Park is a striking contrast to the contemporary condition of the resort. It has been undergoing significant revival but only after having fallen on hard times.

In 1901 Conover was able to write that “it is a refined resort, abounding in great natural beauty and numerous forms of enjoyment. It is not merely a seashore resort, but it is a city of the sea, comprising a beautiful blending of country, seashore and city life.”

From American Pamphlets

“Free from Care”: Resort and Hotel Brochures from the American Pamphlets collection

From the Earth to the Moon: New Heights of Human Achievement from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports

From JPRS ReportsWe’re approaching escape velocity from a variety of perspectives this month. Is it the Moon you’re wanting to visit, or would you be content with achieving a few Earth orbits to advance your country’s standing in the Space Race? June’s highlights are about flight—aspirational, actual, and perceptual.

A New Assault on the Moon is Coming Soon

The Space Race was in progress and the Russians were winning. Shortly before his death, President Kennedy had announced his intention to send Americans to the Moon. But the Soviet Union had already taken the first pictures of the Moon’s dark side and had executed a “hard landing” with telemetry, whereas all the United States had managed was the very hard landing of Ranger 6 with video inexplicably out of commission. Was the Moon covered with dust to the extent of several meters that would bury future landers—and astronauts—or was the surface more firm and amenable to unmanned and manned visitors? This brief report from Bulgaria shows how confident the Soviet Union was in its technological, and by extension, its political systems.


Diary of a Pilot-Cosmonaut

In 1963 the Soviets would put the first woman into space and send two spacecraft into orbit at the same time—twice—while the United States was working on sending two astronauts into space in the same capsule with Project Gemini. This 43-page report is a colloquial account of life as a Russian cosmonaut, enigmatically attributed to “K.” in the Russian title.


From Airplane to Spaceship: Notes of an Astronaut Flight Instructor

From the Earth to the Moon: New Heights of Human Achievement from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports

“Like a Tiger in the Toils”: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

The June release of Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a biography of the “Terror of Jamaica,” a letter from British slavery apologists justifying continuation of the institution in the Bahamas, and the descriptions of an English naturalist.


The Life and Exploits of Three-Finger'd Jack, the Terror of Jamaica (1801)

By William Burdett

 

To some, Jack Mansong was the most feared runaway slave in Jamaica during the 1700s. In fact, Mansong was so infamous his life has been the subject of several books, two of which became bestsellers, and dramatic performances, such as the musical Obi which had a run of at least nine years in British theatres. William Burdett’s work begins by describing Mansong’s early life in Africa and his eventual capture and enslavement:

Mansong, with gleaming saber, like a tiger in the toils, darted on the foremost, and cleft him to the ground. The weapons of his adversaries clashed over his head; but he heeded not death, and struggled hard to break the chains that encircled him. He still fought, and his blood streamed around; till at length quite exhausted, he fell, covered with wounds; and four of his adversaries lay dead beside him. The others bound up his wounds, and, with the rest of his party, sent him to the caravan of a Slatee, or Slave-merchant.

Burdett continues, writing of Mansong’s arrival in Jamaica as a slave, his unbreakable spirit, and his promise to seek revenge against his captors:

“Like a Tiger in the Toils”: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

“Skin-Deep Democracy”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

The June release of Black Authors, 1556-1922: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes the portents of a West Indian astrologer, a scholar’s escape from being tarred and feathered, and the poems of James Madison Bell.


The O.B. or, West Indian Astrologer's Whole Secret Art and System of Prediction, by Planetary Influence, Laid Open (1823)

By Ignatius Lewis, the Jamaica Seer of Color

To his secret art and system of prediction, Ignatius Lewis added “charms, spells, and incantations; love presents, bewitching secrets, and fortune telling, by cards, dice, tea, coffee, &c. with good or ill fortune; the days, weeks, or months, of abstaining from, or embarking in, any engagement of importance, particularly marriage.”

On a lunar table showing “the moon’s influence over the female sex” are these potential experiences: “Loss of Reputation, Treachery, and Tears.” And, “What you save in trifles you will squander largely, and do no good with it.” And, “You will soon see one whom you will wish far distant but you cannot avoid the meeting.”

The influence of Diana may signify that: “You will never marry; or if you should, by some unexpected chance or turn of fate, embrace wedlock, you will not be happy, so be cautious.”

Another table offers these mostly frightful possibilities:

A. You will be run away with against your own consent.

B. You will elope with your own free will.

C. You will have many lovers, even in old age.

D. A duel will take place on your account.

E. You will place your affections on a very amorous youth, who will deceive you, and cloud your future days with sorrow.

“Skin-Deep Democracy”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

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