The first illustrated African American newspaper: The Indianapolis Freeman

Called “the Harper’s Weekly of the Black Press” by historian Irving Garland Penn, the Freeman was the first illustrated African-American newspaper. It was founded in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1888 by Edward C. Cooper. Subsidized by the Republican Party for some of its existence, the Freeman enjoyed large circulation because of the variety and scope of its news coverage and its attention to black culture.

When its correspondents weren’t covering issues and events of interest to African Americans across the nation, the Freeman focused on the actions of past black figures. Many (including two that follow) were illustrated on the Freeman’s front pages in the late 19th-century. Political cartoons and photographs appeared in later years.

Edward Marshall, a favorite tenor in New York, is featured on the front page of the Freeman, November 30, 1889.

The Hon. John M. Langston, Congressman-elect from the Fourth District of Virginia, is featured on the front page of the Freeman, April 6, 1889.

The first illustrated African American newspaper: The Indianapolis Freeman

Just published — The Readex Report: September 2013

IN THIS ISSUE: Scandal mars the mastery of a Native American sporting great; a plucky female editor redefines an iconic southern newspaper; a hulking hoax sparks a sizable 19th-century sensation; a star-crossed sedan slides into obscurity.

"The Great Upheaval": Tracking Jim Thorpe's Swift Fall from Grace after the 1912 Olympics

By Kate Buford, author of Native American Son: The Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe

One hundred and one years ago this past summer, American Indian athlete Jim Thorpe was acclaimed around the world for winning, by huge margins, both the classic pentathlon and the decathlon at the Fifth Olympiad in Stockholm. The King of Sweden famously declared him “the most wonderful athlete in the world.”

Six months later, on January 22, 1913, a newspaper scoop in ... (read article

Just published — The Readex Report: September 2013

Announcing Caribbean Newspapers, 1718-1876: From the American Antiquarian Society

Today Readex distributed this press release:

Readex to Launch Digital Edition of Caribbean Newspapers
New collection is essential for research on Colonial history, the slave trade and the Atlantic region

September 19, 2013 (NAPLES, FL) — The digital collection Caribbean Newspapers, Series 1, 1718-1876: From the American Antiquarian Society will be introduced in October 2013 by Readex, a division of NewsBank. This new online resource—the largest of its kind--will chronicle the evolution of the Caribbean region across two centuries, providing a comprehensive primary resource for studying the development of Western society and international relations within this important group of islands. “With more than 140 Spanish, French, Danish, and British titles—all available for the first time in a fully searchable database—Caribbean Newspapers promises to transform scholarship on the eighteenth and nineteenth-century West Indies,” says Eliga Gould, Chair of the History Department and Professor of History, University of New Hampshire. “It’s going to be a real game changer."

Announcing Caribbean Newspapers, 1718-1876: From the American Antiquarian Society

Cultural Conflict and the Battle of the Sexes in Hispanic American Newspapers

In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15, we are presenting this article by Nicolás Kanellos, published previously  in The Readex Report:

Cultural Conflict and the Battle of the Sexes in Hispanic American Newspapers
By Nicolás Kanellos, Brown Foundation Professor and Director of Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage, University of Houston

Among the various types of writing in early-20th century Hispanic American immigrant newspapers was a genre essential in forming and reinforcing the attitudes of Hispanic communities. It was the crónica, or chronicle, a short, weekly column that humorously and satirically commented on current topics and social habits. In Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries, the crónica had already been cultivated extensively and had helped to define national identity over the course of the 19th century.

In America, however, the crónica came to serve purposes never imagined in Mexico or Spain. From Los Angeles to San Antonio and even up to Chicago, Mexican moralists assumed pseudonyms (in keeping with the tradition of the crónica) and, from this masked perspective, wrote scathing satirical commentaries in the first person. As witnesses to both American and Mexican culture, the cronistas were greatly influenced by popular jokes, anecdotes and speech, and in general, their columns were a mirror of the surrounding social environment.

Cultural Conflict and the Battle of the Sexes in Hispanic American Newspapers

The centerpiece of African American studies

The digital edition of Afro-Americana Imprints, one of the world’s preeminent collections for African American studies, is available as a single complete collection, or in one or more of the following modules, organized by historic era:

I. Discovery and Colonization, 1535-1771

A. Exploration and Establishment of Slavery and the Slave Trade (1535-1728)
Exploration and colonization of Africa and Americas; establishment of trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery in Americas


B. Prelude to Revolution and Abolitionism (1729-1771)
Rise of trans-Atlantic antislavery literature; slave revolts in U.S. and Caribbean; Enlightenment ideals of human rights

The centerpiece of African American studies

Seeing and Sinning: Recent Highlights from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

“I, sin [have seen] mani things,—and ron mani dangres.”

So begins the phonetically-spelled journal of a peripatetic 19th-century seaman. The helpful parenthetical translation—[have seen] for “sin”—comes courtesy of B.C.C. Parker, Chaplain of the Floating Church of Our Saviour, for Seamen “permanently moored” in New York City. The sailor, Francis G. Chapard, readily admits to a modicum of sinning, while praying, fighting, and exploring his way through a list of ports that would impress Odysseus. Parker transcribed Chapard’s story, and published it, along with extracts from his own journal, in one of the featured pamphlets below.

Many of the other pamphlets also explore the nature of “seeing” and of “sinning.” Reflecting a society grappling with rapid change, they exhibit piety and skepticism, science and pseudoscience, lofty humanitarianism and callous disregard, with these contradictory strands often evident in the same pamphlet.

Seeing and Sinning: Recent Highlights from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

We Come from a Land Down Under: Australia’s Thrilling Victory in the 1983 America’s Cup

Our guest blogger is Louise Paolacci, Director, Bezi Publishing Services Pty Ltd, Australia

This September marks the 30th anniversary of Australia’s momentous victory in the America’s Cup yacht race. Australia II was the first foreign challenger to win the coveted trophy, breaking 132 years of U.S. domination.

The rivalry between the New York Yacht Club’s Liberty and the Royal Perth Yacht Club’s Australia II was the subject of feverish media attention throughout the summer of 1983, as captured in Readex’s 20th-Century American Newspapers.

From the outset, Australia II was viewed as one of the favorites among the foreign challengers to win the race.

We Come from a Land Down Under: Australia’s Thrilling Victory in the 1983 America’s Cup

“On the Advantage and Amusement derived from the reading of News-Papers” (1783)

From 230 years ago, as reprinted in the New-York Gazetteer or Northern Intelligencer on the first of September 1783:

“On the Advantage and Amusement derived from the reading of News-Papers” (1783)

A Crazy Verdict (as seen in the Washington Evening Star)

Look for this new Readex advertisement in the fall 2013 issue of Documents to the People, the official publication of the Government Documents Round Table (GODORT) of the American Library Association (ALA).

A Crazy Verdict (as seen in the Washington Evening Star)

Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922 – Highlights from the August 2013 Release

To date, more than 1,900 imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia’s acclaimed Afro-Americana Collection are available in the Readex digital edition. Here are a few titles of special interest from last month’s release:

 

  • Miscegenation: the theory of the blending of the races, applied to the American white man and Negro (1864)

The term "miscegenation" was originally coined in this imprint. It reads like an extraordinarily enlightened document on the equality of the races, but was, in fact, a hoax by New York World editor David Goodman Croly. Croly used it to attempt to entrap President Lincoln and leading abolitionists into endorsing then-inflammatory notions of the mixing of the races.

 

  • The indictment against the Congo government report of the King's commission of inquiry and the testimony which compelled it (1905)
  • King Leopold's soliloquy a defense of his Congo rule by Mark Twain (1905)

The dreadful atrocities committed by agents of Belgian King Leopold II in Congo Free State are condemned in both these imprints. Samuel Clemens figures in both, first as a Vice President of the Congo Reform Association that produced the indictment, and then as Mark Twain, the grim satirist, author of the "Soliloquy."

 

Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922 – Highlights from the August 2013 Release

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