‘In the Green Hell of the Amazon:’ From the Rediscovered Notebooks of an Early Russian Explorer of Brazil

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The 2016 Olympic Games and mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus have drawn the world's attention to Brazil recently. Even the Russians attending the Rio games may not be aware that one of their illustrious forebears, Grigory Langsdorff, was present as the first Russian Consul General in that city over 200 years ago. The story of this important naturalist and explorer is told in “Russian Scientists in Brazil, A Forgotten Expedition,” published in 1963 in Nauka i Zhizn' (Science and Life), and found in English-language translation in Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports.

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Langsdorff served as consul in Rio from 1813-1820. By then he had already circumnavigated the world and spoke five languages including Portuguese, hence his appointment to the then-Portuguese colony of Brazil. His official duties in Rio were eclipsed by his scientific passion, however, and mosquito-borne complications from tropical diseases ultimately took his mind and ended his career.

‘In the Green Hell of the Amazon:’ From the Rediscovered Notebooks of an Early Russian Explorer of Brazil

Announcing Image Viewing Enhancements for America’s Historical Newspapers and America’s Historical Imprints

On September 12, 2016, America’s Historical Newspapers and America’s Historical Imprints were updated with new features that improve image viewing and reading. These features include a larger image screen, a navigation box for easy scrolling, full-screen viewing capability (meaning a user can expand the image to fit the entire screen, on any device), and improved magnification tools. These enhancements provide a more powerful and effective reading and viewing experience for researchers.

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Features like the table of contents, email, download, citation export, and more, are all still available. Nothing has been taken away from users, and much has been improved.

With the new image viewer, students and researchers will find the reading and viewing of images to be easier and more enjoyable, and their time spent on research will be more productive.

The enhanced image viewer is one of many improvements made to Readex interfaces over the past year. In mid-2015 Readex launched new interfaces for America’s Historical Newspapers, America’s Historical Imprints, and World Newspaper Archive. The new interfaces offer stronger graphics (appealing especially to students) and improved navigation. In February 2016, Readex launched Readex AllSearch, a new platform that lets users search across all Readex collections at once.

Announcing Image Viewing Enhancements for America’s Historical Newspapers and America’s Historical Imprints

Black Politics, Transatlantic Adventures, and Working Women’s Dress: The Readex Report (Sept. 2016)

In this issue: Mining elusive proof of Antebellum black politics; wily wealth building during the Revolutionary War era; and runaway slave ads provide unintentional insight into Colonial Era fashion.


Excavating Antebellum Black Politics via America’s Historical Newspapers

Van Gosse, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of History, Franklin & Marshall College

RR 916 1.jpgI am finishing a history of antebellum black politics, a little-studied topic for which many of the usual sources are unavailable: white politicians did not record their correspondence with black men, and the latter rarely donated personal papers to libraries, for obvious reasons. However, America’s Historical Newspapers (AHN), used with precision, can produce extraordinary insights into the quotidian fabric of American politics and culture, evidence otherwise unavailable.> Full Story


The Mysterious Mr. Carter: Transatlantic Adventures in Early American Finance

Tom Cutterham, Lecturer in U.S. History, University of Birmingham

Black Politics, Transatlantic Adventures, and Working Women’s Dress: The Readex Report (Sept. 2016)

Contraband, Conspiracy, and Political Cartoons: New Works in The American Civil War Collection

154FE302DA7FE3C8.jpgThe current release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society, includes:

  • an unusual Christmas story instructive of the need for faith,
  • an elaborate account of the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln,
  • and a lithographic collection of caricatures, or political cartoons, from the years surrounding and including the Civil War.

Contraband Christmas. By N.W.T.R. With illustrations by Hoppin. (1864)

N.W.T.R are the initials for Nathaniel William Taylor Root (1829-1872) who appears to have been particularly interested in preparing Civil War-era boys for military service. The illustrator is Augustus Hoppin who has previously been featured here for his comical works Carrot-pomade and Hay Fever.

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Contraband, Conspiracy, and Political Cartoons: New Works in The American Civil War Collection

A ‘Nation of Slaveholders’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The August release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes publications with differing religious perspectives on American slavery. Highlighted here are works by one of the founders of the United States General Convention of Universalists, Elhanan Winchester, and by two lesser-known authors.


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The Reigning Abominations, Especially the Slave Trade (1788)

By Elhanan Winchester

Elhanan Winchester was an itinerant preacher, five-time husband, and a founder of what became the Universalist Church of America. He was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1751 and was ordained a Baptist minister 20 years later. During his ministry, Winchester travelled to South Carolina and Virginia preaching to both blacks and whites and sharing openly the gospel with slaves. In 1781 his congregation was excommunicated by the Baptist Church.

Describing his experience in Virginia, Winchester writes:

Though I have been in Virginia but a few days, I have seen and heard that which greatly affects my heart, and I shall therefore take notice of some of those abominations which, I fear, greatly prevail in this country, and which threaten it with ruin and desolation, unless repentance and reformation prevent.

A ‘Nation of Slaveholders’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

New Webinar! Students Becoming Scholars: Using Digital Archives to Create a Powerful Primary Source Assignment

Students Becoming Scholars: Using Digital Archives to Create a Powerful Primary Source Assignment

Presenter: Julie R. Voss, Associate Professor of English, Lenoir-Rhyne University

Voss webinar image.JPGA unique joy lies in the study of rare old books—the compelling promise of imaginative typefaces and yellowed pages, the intoxicating flow of the language, marginalia inscribed centuries before by an original reader, the thrill of making a fresh discovery. Most students aren’t aware of what can be found in their library’s rare book room; indeed, many never explore these revered repositories. But thanks to the magic of digitization, professors can easily share the delights of antiquarian works with their undergraduate students in powerful new ways. 

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New Webinar! Students Becoming Scholars: Using Digital Archives to Create a Powerful Primary Source Assignment

The 1864 GOP National Convention and ‘the Little Squad of Bolters’

250px-Republican_presidential_ticket_1864b.jpgEvery four years the American political parties gather to nominate their presidential candidate. The months preceding the conventions are often the most fractious periods in American politics as spring turns to summer and internecine squabbles turn to feuds. This was particularly true in 1864.

As the National Union Party convention in Baltimore neared the young Republican Party was at risk of being torn apart. An uncompromising faction of the party, the Radical Republicans, opposed nominating President Lincoln for a second term and even held their own convention in Cleveland. They objected to the president’s policy on slavery, his administration of the war, and his post-war plans which they found too lenient.

Most Radical Republican leaders expected the Confederates to be treated severely after the war. In early January 1864, under the headline “The Logic of History: Bloodthirsty Venom of the ‘Loyalists,’” the Wisconsin Daily Patriot printed the following:

During the summer of 1863, according to the Washington Chronicle, Jim Lane, a Republican United States Senator from Kansas, made a speech in Washington, in which he gave utterance to the following bloodthirsty sentiments:

“I would like to live long enough to see every white man in South Carolina, in hell, and the negroes inheriting their territory.”

[Loud applause.]

The 1864 GOP National Convention and ‘the Little Squad of Bolters’

'In the Shadow of Conventions:' Gender Equality in Islamic Society

 

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The scope of Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, is much broader than politics and national security; social issues are also well represented. In the four reports excerpted below we proceed from general to particular. The first, which includes the cartoons here, is a diverse collection of articles from Arabic-language sources; the second a travel diary of a woman visiting oases in Egypt. The third and fourth items both concern the conflict of Muslim traditions in the former Soviet Union—the latter report specifically with regard to the nomadic culture of Kazakhstan. Together they offer valuable insights into the role of women in Muslim countries, both in urban and rural settings.

The first report, Near East/North Africa Report, No. 2620, Status of women in Persian Gulf countries (JPRS-81769, 09/15/1982. 90 pages) touches upon such contemporary topics as age discrimination, suffrage, driving, marriage and divorce, employment, education, dress, and East/West cultural differences.

'In the Shadow of Conventions:' Gender Equality in Islamic Society

Dangerous Ground: Competing Interests and Intentions in the South China Sea

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Do you know how the many islands, shoals, and reefs were formed? It is a great miracle of nature.

Thus begins Chapter 2 of the book Our Country’s South Sea Archipelagoes (JPRS Report 18424, 3/28/1963) by Ch’en Tung-k’ang, published in 1962. In light of recent developments a revised edition might be warranted, for today that “miracle of nature” involves large-scale dredging and the impoundment of sand and coral into areas large enough to support permanent Chinese military bases and claims to the surrounding waters.

The “Rich and Beautiful Treasure Islands” referred to in the book’s table of contents are increasingly seen as fraught, perilous, and treasured by competing parties in the international arena.

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It's tempting to view China’s island-building program as a recent phenomenon, begun in response to the America's “pivot” to Asia. But Ch’en's book claims, “Ever since ancient times, these islands and islets in the South Sea have been the territory of our country.”

Dangerous Ground: Competing Interests and Intentions in the South China Sea

Running Amuck: Following a Phrase in Early American Newspapers

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Running amuck is one of the terrors of the East, but is far less common than it formally was….The word amuck is a corruption of amoak, Javanese, to kill, and the thing is simply a miscellaneous, indiscriminate killing. The natives of those Eastern lands become, from long continued, excessive use of opium, ferociously frantic, and their frenzy is often intensified by religious fanaticism. Then, absolutely mad, they rush into the streets—frequently nude—cursing, biting, and stabbing…whomever they encounter.[1]

Although the inspired description of the act of running amuck, as described in this 1880 article, is dubious, its definition and derivation are on firmer footing. The article, continuing its flair for the dramatic, concludes:

Nothing is as formidable as an amuck-runner, and it is not strange that he is mercilessly slain….A European or American who has seen an amuck is very apt to remember it.[2]

Running Amuck: Following a Phrase in Early American Newspapers

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