African American Women’s History in the Digital Age: A Readex Breakfast Presentation

On January 26, 2014, during the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting, Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Director of the Program in African American History at the Library Company of Philadelphia, will present “Still Reading the Silences: African American Women’s History in the Digital Age.”

Prof. Dunbar’s talk will focus on the work of recovering early African American women's history, both before and during the digital revolution. She will examine the utility and limitations of digitization in early African American history. For many historians, the digitization of documents and images has allowed scholars wider access to important evidence. Yet for historians of women and people of African descent the evidence trail remains elusive. While digitization promotes the wider dissemination of historical evidence, it doesn't provide a remedy for absent voices. Dunbar will discuss the ways that historians of women and people of African descent must engage in new digitization technology as well as older techniques of gathering and interpreting evidence.

African American Women’s History in the Digital Age: A Readex Breakfast Presentation

Published by Authority: The Boston News-Letter, 1704-1776

The Boston News-Letter was the first continuously published newspaper in the British Colonies of North America, surviving for 72 years.  It appeared 13 years after the one and only issue of America’s first multi-page newspaper, Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, was published in 1690. Established more than 300 years ago, the Boston News-Letter was first published and printed on April 24, 1704, by John Campbell and Bartholomew Green, respectively. The News-Letter was noted for its pro-British sympathies, and the words “published by authority” appeared on its front page.

Also of note was the News-Letter’s coverage of the movements of pirates during what we now refer to as the “Golden Age of Piracy” (1650s to 1730s). This information often came from firsthand accounts related to publisher Campbell by sailors arriving in the port of Boston. And there were many such accounts, including numerous mentions of Edward “Blackbeard” Teach. Perhaps of most interest among them would be the news of Blackbeard’s sensational death. This item, which describes his 1718 decapitation in hand-to-hand combat on-board ship, was published in the News-Letter dated Monday February 23, to Monday March 2, 1719.

Published by Authority: The Boston News-Letter, 1704-1776

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