An African Queen, Inside Monticello, a Reconstructionist Reversal, and Recollections of an Underground Railroad Conductor: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The September release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes descriptions of the Kingdom of Matamba and its powerful Queen Anna Zingha; the private life of Thomas Jefferson, as recalled in the 1860s by a former chief overseer; South Carolina during Reconstruction, recorded by the Washington correspondent of the New York Tribune; and the Underground Railroad, written by a former conductor. This release also includes In the Wilds of Africa, an exciting adventure tale replete with detailed illustrations.

Memoirs of Celebrated Women of All Countries (1834)
By Laure Junot, Duchess of Abrantes

Laure Junot, Duchess of Abrantes was an early 19th century French writer known for her attractiveness, extravagance, and sharp tongue. In this volume, Junot includes a biography of Anna Zingha, Queen of the Kingdom of Matamba, located in what is now Angola. Junot covers Queen Zingha’s rise to power and struggle with the Portuguese for control of her country. She describes the funeral ceremony for Zingha’s father in graphic detail:
An African Queen, Inside Monticello, a Reconstructionist Reversal, and Recollections of an Underground Railroad Conductor: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

Just published—The Readex Report: Mohandas Gandhi, "The Coquette," and Andrew Jackson (September 2014)

IN THIS ISSUE: How Gandhi's South African newspaper gave readers pause; the far-reaching impact of literary heroine handles; and the methods critics and rivals used to try and fell Old Hickory.

Slow Reading the News: Gandhi’s Philosophical Experiments with His South African Newspaper
By Isabel Hofmeyr, Professor of African Literature, University of the Witwatersrand

Just published—The Readex Report: Mohandas Gandhi, "The Coquette," and Andrew Jackson (September 2014)

From Harpers Ferry to Gettysburg: Perspectives of Confederate and Union Soldiers

The September release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a wide range of voices and perspectives. The documents include a discourse on slavery in reaction to John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry prior to the war; a Confederate general’s report on a Union general during the war; and two retrospectives written years after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Often these differing viewpoints provide details and nuances not found in other Civil War accounts.


Letter from General C.F. Henningsen in Reply to the Letter of Victor Hugo on the Harper's Ferry Invasion (1860)

Charles Frederick Henningsen was a mercenary who participated in conflicts in Spain, Nicaragua, and Hungary before joining the Confederacy and serving as a brigadier-general. Although it is unclear whether he was born in England or Brussels, his views on slavery and Africans, as espoused here, are unambiguous. He wrote this work the year after abolitionist John Brown failed in his attempt to seize the Harpers Ferry arsenal and start an armed slave revolt. Victor Hugo, a French writer and political activist, had written a letter asking the United States to spare John Brown’s life, but it was received after Brown had been executed in December 1859. Henningsen’s response to Hugo quickly moves past the specifics of Brown’s raid and his own approval of Brown’s execution. He instead turns to the overall condition of Africans and African-Americans, writing that their “race has a different, and, in some respects, inferior mental organization, certainly, to the Caucasian race, and probably to every other, and that he is wanting in natural capacity for freedom.”

Henningsen explained his understanding of the differences between the races, comparing slavery to European serfdom, before voicing a sentiment still echoed in some corners today.

From Harpers Ferry to Gettysburg: Perspectives of Confederate and Union Soldiers

Controversial Literature in The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society

The September release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922, contains many documents categorized as “controversial literature.” This bibliographical term describes works that argue against or express opposition to individual religious and monastic orders, individual religions, individual Christian denominations, and sacred works. Unsurprisingly, much of the controversy in the following documents surrounds Biblical interpretations of the institution of slavery.

A Treatise on Resistance and Non-resistance: in Which Is Included a Scriptural Distinction between the Church of Christ and the Civil Government of the World (1848)
By Royal Gage, minister of the Gospel, Westminster, Vt.

Born in 1789 in Walpole, N.H., Royal Gage worked for many years as a pioneer minster in northern Vermont. Among the many topics he discusses in this well-written treatise are the differing perspectives on slavery of Biblical scholars named Fuller and Wayland:
Controversial Literature in The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society

“Nerdy Goodness”— How an Annual Bookstore Trip Is Inspiring Young Black Scholars

Guest post by Joycelyn K. Moody, Sue E. Denman Distinguished Chair in American Literature, University of Texas at San Antonio, and Howard Rambsy II, Associate  Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

“As part of our scholastic adventure to New York, we journeyed to an intellectual mecca. Located in a cozy area in Manhattan at the corner of 12th Street and Broadway stands the Strand Bookstore—a perfect source of inspiration for our burgeoning group of scholars. The bookstore showed us infinite possibilities of research and creativity.”

G. Cherrelle Denwiddie (then of Fisk University) and Alysha Griffin (then of Spelman College) coauthored this recap of our 2010 visit to the Strand Bookstore. Denwiddie and Griffin were two of the eight members of our inaugural cohort of the African American Literatures and Cultures Institute (AALCI).

“Nerdy Goodness”— How  an Annual Bookstore Trip Is Inspiring Young Black Scholars

UFO Fever in America’s Historical Newspapers: The Mysterious Airships of 1896-97

Before Roswell and Area 51, before the Wright Brothers and heavier-than-air flying machines, America’s attention was seized by reports of a “mysterious airship.” For five months beginning in November 1896, newspapers across the country described strange aircraft and lights in the night sky above many Western states.  Although the country was not without its skeptics, and opportunists, by April 1897 much of the Midwest was afflicted with UFO fever.

On November 23, 1896, a story originally reported by the San Francisco Chronicle was picked up by many newspapers across the United States. Under various headlines—such as “All in the Air: A Mysterious Airship Puzzles the People of California” (Minneapolis Journal), “Airship a Fact: A Son of Maine has Mastered the Secret” (Boston Daily Journal), and “An Airship: Residents of Sacramento, Cal., Are Treated to a Rare Sight; Aerial Navigation a Reality” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)—the newspapers all reported the same general story.

About 1 o’clock last Monday morning the inhabitants of Sacramento, who were astir at that hour, claim to have seen an airship passing rapidly over the city. Some merely said they saw a bright light, while others went so far as to say they saw a cigar-shaped flying machine and heard human voices from it. The residents of Oakland also say they saw the same sight a few nights ago. (Duluth News Tribune, November 23, 1896)

UFO Fever in America’s Historical Newspapers: The Mysterious Airships of 1896-97

Testing Convictions: The Power of Readex in the Classroom

Teresa Van Hoy is Associate Professor of History at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. Originally from North Carolina, Prof. Van Hoy moved to Texas to research the intersecting histories of Latin America and the United States. Over the past year she has made extensive use of Readex digital collections in her classroom. Recently Van Hoy shared her thoughts on the impact these collections had on her students:

I have discovered an unexpected outcome of access to Readex databases. I knew they boosted the quality of student research and facilitated our teaching of research skills. But something more powerful turned out to be happening. It was a phenomenon more subtle than the pedagogical objectives I had so long been measuring and celebrating.

What was happening? Students' dearest convictions were being tested. Their deepest sense of what the Alamo means or the prestige of the Texas Rangers or the commitment of Texas to slavery or the presumed triumph of the end of Reconstruction or the role of San Antonio in the Mexican Revolution was tested by their swift and independent access to America’s Historical Newspapers.

Testing Convictions: The Power of Readex in the Classroom

Anti-Slavery Activists, New York Politics, and Formation of the Republican Party: Selected Items from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

One hundred and sixty years ago, on July 6, 1854, the first official party convention of the Republican Party was held in Jackson, Michigan. The party was founded in the Northern states by, among others, anti-slavery activists and ex-Whigs who opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The Whig Party, established in 1833, had become divided over the question of whether to allow the expansion of slavery into the territories. By 1855 the party was collapsing as many of its members joined the new Republican Party or the American Party, which had formed that year around the anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic movement known as the Know-Nothings.  

United States Senatorial Question (1855)
Speeches Delivered in the Assembly of the State of New-York...in Exposition of the Oaths, Obligations, and Rituals of the Know-Nothings, during the Debate on the United States Senatorial Question, February 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6, 1855
Anti-Slavery Activists, New York Politics, and Formation of the Republican Party: Selected Items from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

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