Bridges to the Past: Everything from the Cold War Is New Again

A left front view of a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft parked on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS AmericaSeveral weeks ago a Dutch investigation determined that a civilian airliner flying over contested Ukraine territory was brought down by a missile of Russian manufacture; Presidents Obama and Putin continue to spar over "deconfliction" in Syrian airspace. And Steven Spielberg's latest film, "Bridge of Spies," based upon the Soviets' downing of an American U-2 reconnaissance aircraft in May 1960, was released internationally. Is this art imitating life? Or it could be more as William Faulkner wrote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

In this month's highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, we're going back to the future: Political prisoners. Electronic countermeasures. Confrontations on the German Autobahn. Let the credits roll: the Cold War's about to get hot. Again.

US-USSR Incident on the Berlin Autobahn

Muenchner Merkur (Munich Mercury) – 20 October 1963

If your commute was challenging this morning, at least you didn't have armored personnel carriers and spiked vehicle barriers blocking the roadway. In October 1963 an American military convoy traveling through East Berlin to West Germany encountered all that and more. Protests were filed. Ultimatums issued. There was talk of "misunderstandings" and "compromise," but also of "provocation" and "heavy undesirable consequences."

Bridges to the Past: Everything from the Cold War Is New Again

“Doubt, darkness and mystery”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The October release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes the autobiography of an African prince; an account by an African American missionary, sailor, and minister; and an early 19th-century murder mystery.

A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw: An African Prince (1774)

By Ukawsaw Gronniosaw

James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw’s own Narrative was the only major source of his life story until an obituary dated October 2, 1775, was uncovered in a U.K. newspaper:

On Thursday died, in this city, aged 70, James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, an African prince, of Zoara. He left the country in the early part of his life, with a view to acquire proper notions of the Divine Being, and the worship due to Him. He met with many trials and embarrassments, was much afflicted and persecuted. His last moments exhibited that cheerful serenity which, at such a time, is the certain effect of a thorough conviction of the great truths of Christianity. He published a narrative of his life.

Gronniosaw’s “trials and embarrassments” included being sold into slavery and brought to New York via Barbados where he was sold again. He would eventually gain his freedom, serve in Martinique and Cuba as a soldier in the British army, and, upon his discharge, cross the Atlantic to England. Gronniosaw’s slave narrative is thought to be the first autobiography published by an African in Britain. He begins his chronicle by describing his early life and inquisitive nature:

“Doubt, darkness and mystery”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

Lugubrious Grins, Annual Attacks, and the Social Circus: Highlights from Three Creatively Illustrated 19th-Century Works

In the October release of American Pamphlets, 1820-1922: From the New-York Historical Society are three whimsical and elaborately illustrated pamphlets unique to this collection. The first two are by illustrator Augustus Hoppin (1828-1896), a widely published American caricaturist who appears to have been largely obscured in the mist of history. We are fortunate to have access to his flights of fancy, highlights of which are seen below. The third work featured here is by another prolific illustrator who flourished at the end of the 19th-century. A master of the Art Nouveau style, H.W. McVickar also remains nearly completely forgotten today.

Carrot-pomade, with twenty-six illustrations by Augustus Hoppin (1864)

Carrot-pomade describes the alchemy that transforms carrots into a miraculous ointment which stimulates and regenerates hair growth: “Hair ten carats fine!” boasts the title page.


Author/illustrator Hoppin dedicates his work, “To All those who have witnessed the wonderful effects of Carrot-Pomade on the waste places of the human cranium…” Each illustration corresponds to a letter of the alphabet, beginning with “A is Adolphe with lugubrious grin,” “B is the Bald-spot where the hair is so thin.”


Lugubrious Grins, Annual Attacks, and the Social Circus: Highlights from Three Creatively Illustrated 19th-Century Works

Civil War Artwork, Romance, and First-Person Accounts

From The American Civil War CollectionThe current release of imprints from the American Antiquarian Society’s The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922, includes many fine examples of illustrated Civil War envelopes, a scathing indictment of the pension system for veterans and their widows, and an old soldier’s reminiscences of his Union Army service.

The Loyalty States, Union. Illinois (1861)

From The American Civil War CollectionThis single example of the genre Civil War envelopes is from the state of Illinois. To be fully appreciated, it is helpful to view this scarce printed item in context with all of the Civil War envelopes found in the American Antiquarian Society’s extraordinary holdings, many of which are available in this online collection, as seen in the examples below.

According to the American Antiquarian Society (AAS),

Publication of Civil War envelopes began as early as the mid-1850’s, when north-south divisions began to take shape, but ended prior to the war’s conclusion because most believed that it was too indulgent and expensive to continue production in time of war.

 All of the envelopes were decorated with illustrations, many of them in color. The AAS further explains:

Civil War Artwork, Romance, and First-Person Accounts

Foreign Broadcast Information Service: A Brief Overview of Its Daily Reports and Their Value for International Studies

From 1941 to 1996 the U.S. government published the Daily Report of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS). FBIS was begun in 1941 as a means of letting the government know what propaganda was being broadcast into the U.S. by the shortwave radio services of the foreign governments involved in the European war.

Broadcasts deemed of potential interest to U.S. government officials were selected for translation into English. Political, economic and war news dominated the first years of FBIS. Broadcasts were either transcribed in their entirety, in part, or were briefly summarized. Every day a Daily Report was published and delivered. After World War II the number of FBIS sources grew, and the size of the Daily Report ballooned. In the early 1970s FBIS Daily Reports began to be delivered in Regional Reports whose names changed over time. Sources now included newspapers and television news shows as well as radio broadcasts.

Graham E. Fuller, a former C.I.A. official, wrote about FBIS Reports in a Consortium News piece entitled, “Value in Reading Others’ Propaganda,” which was published online on September 29, 2015. In this piece Fuller writes:

Indeed there was an entire branch of CIA which monitored and published on a daily basis a thick booklet of selected broadcast items from around the world—available by subscription. The Foreign Broadcast Information Service provided an invaluable service. It is now sadly defunct, the victim of short-sighted budget cutting—an operation which probably cost less annually than one fighter aircraft and offered much more.

Foreign Broadcast Information Service: A Brief Overview of Its Daily Reports and Their Value for International Studies

“A Crime of the Deepest Dye”: Speeches from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

The October release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes speeches illustrating the growing controversy surrounding America’s peculiar institution in the decade leading up to the Civil War.

Highlighted here are speeches from the floor of the House of Representatives, the floor of the Senate of Massachusetts, and a street corner in Alton, Illinois.

Ohio congressman Joshua Reed GiddingsPayment for Slaves (1849)

Speech of Representative Joshua Reed Giddings

In dissenting to legislation before the U.S. House of Representatives—the “Bill To Pay the Heirs of Antonio Pacheco for a Slave Sent West of the Mississippi with the Seminole Indians in 1838”—Ohio congressman Joshua Reed Giddings makes both an emotional and technical argument after giving a brief background of the case.

The claimant, in 1835, residing in Florida, professed to own a negro man named Lewis….The master hired him to an officer of the United States, to act as a guide to the troops under the command of Major Dade, for which he was to receive twenty-five dollars per month.

It is unclear whether Lewis deserted the army or was captured by the enemy when Dade was defeated, but Lewis was recaptured in 1837 by U.S. General Jesup who…

“A Crime of the Deepest Dye”: Speeches from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

“Sunshine for the youthful mind”: Highlights from the American Antiquarian Society’s Supplement to Early American Imprints, Series II

Picture books for children, games and riddles for the whole family, and a poem about the Devil disturbing the good citizens of Hardwick, Massachusetts, are among the documents found in the September release of Early American Imprints, Series II, Supplement from the American Antiquarian Society, 1801-1819. The picture book highlighted here includes ten leaves of beautiful color plates, many of which are shown below.

The Devil in Hardwick (1803)

By John Bunyan, Jun.

Reading between the lines of Mr. Bunyan’s verse, it seems possible that the citizens of Hardwick had purchased a bell for their church tower, and that some townsfolk, or at least the poet, did not fully appreciate this innovation.

From Early American Imprints: Supplements from the American Antiquarian SocietyA Hardwick bard, not long ago,

Did publicly declare,

“The Devil soon will be about,

“He cannot live in Ware!”


Tho’ poets oft in fiction deal,

They sometimes prophets are;

As ev’ry one must know full well,

In Hardwick, and in Ware.


This town so fam’d in ancient times,

As can our fathers tell;

Has rais’d its reputation much,

By purchasing a BELL.

No sooner had the bell been installed than it began to ring at unaccountable hours of the night distressing the neighborhood:

“Sunshine for the youthful mind”: Highlights from the American Antiquarian Society’s Supplement to Early American Imprints, Series II

“Are the souls of your children of no Value?”: Early American Instructions for Parents and Their Children

Within the most recent release of new material from Early American Imprints, Series I, Supplement from the American Antiquarian Society, 1652-1800, are several books meant to be instructive to children and, in some instances, their parents.

A token for children: being an exact account of the conversion, holy and exemplary lives and joyful deaths of several young children. By James Janeway, Minister of the Gospel; To which is added, A token for the children of New-England. Or, Some examples of children, in whom fear of God was remarkably budding before they died; in several parts of New-England. Preserved and published for the encouragement of piety in other children. With new additions (1752)

The title of this work, first published in 1700, is substantial, and oddly punctuated, but the message seems clear: pious children meet happy deaths. Finding joy in a child’s death may be a formidable challenge for contemporary society, but the Reverend Janeway (1636?-1674) is insistent upon it and upon instilling in children this hard lesson.

In his preface, Janeway addresses parents, asking “Are the souls of your children of no Value? Are you willing that they should be Brands of Hell?” He instructs that children “are not too Little to die; they are not too Little to go to Hell…” and he continues with general advice for children who would be saved:

I. Take heed of what you know is naught: As Lying; O that is a grievous Fault indeed, and naughty Words, and taking the Lord’s Name in vain, and playing upon the Lord’s Day, and keeping bad Company, and playing with ungodly Children: But if you go to school with such, tell them, that God will not love them, but the devil will have them, if they continue to be so naught.

“Are the souls of your children of no Value?”: Early American Instructions for Parents and Their Children

Toddies Innumerable and Punches Without Limit

19th-Century Cocktail from The Cocktail Explorer.comOne joy of 19th-century American newspapers is reading the columns devoted to non-news things. The example seen below—published on page three of the Indiana State Journal on August 11, 1897—is entitled “Drinks and Drinkers: What People of Various Lands Exhilarate Themselves With.”

After a quick whip-around describing the drinking styles in various parts of the United States—the Easterner is quick, the Southerner courtly and discursive in conversation, and military men say “How” and down it goes—the unnamed author declares:

It is a world of strange drinks. Americans are supposed to be past masters in the art of mixing singular decoctions. The very names of them give the untraveled Englishman a sense of wonder extreme. We have the cocktail of various kinds, the rickey, the ginsling, the julep, the stone fence, the eye opener, the brain duster, the silver fizz, the golden fizz, the smash, the pick-me-up, the Remsen cooler, toddies innumerable and punches without limit. One barkeeper of New York city, known to newspaper men affectionately as “the only William,” has published a book containing recipes for the making of more than five thousand drinks. Many of them are of his own invention, but they may be had as far west as the Pacific.

Further in, the author explores beyond the U.S.:

Toddies Innumerable and Punches Without Limit

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