Find new historical collections for research and teaching at ALA Midwinter

If you will be attending the midwinter meeting of the American Library Association, please visit our exhibit for a demonstration of our new and recent collections. The acclaimed resources highlighted below were created for researching and teaching American and world history over the past four centuries. If we miss you in Boston at booth 1417, please use the links below to request more information, including pricing. 


African American Newspapers, Series 2, 1835-1956

Completing the world’s most comprehensive collection of its kind, African American Newspapers, Series 2, is the essential complement to Series 1 of this widely acclaimed resource. Series 2 now adds virtually all other available newspapers in this genre, including many rare titles—in all, more than 75 publications from 22 states and Washington, D.C. REQUEST PRICING 


American Business: Agricultural Newspapers

Find new historical collections for research and teaching at ALA Midwinter

Educated Fleas, Health-Giving Beer, and Sweet-Smelling Elephants: Highlights from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

The December release of the New-York Historical Society’s American Pamphlets includes a publication by the inventor of the flea circus (with descriptions of more than 15 individual acts), a glossy promotional pamphlet from a 19th-century beer brewery, which offers a room-by-room tour of their Manhattan plant, and a brief book about elephants with striking engravings.


The history of the flea; with notes, observations and amusing anecdotes. By L. Bertolotto, the original inventor of the exhibition of educated fleas (1876)

 

Legs have I, and never walk,

I backbite all, but never talk.

Mr. Bertolotto lived in London where he claims he was the first to exhibit what came to be known as a flea circus. This is his account of how he manipulated the fleas into unusual behavior and developed that “invention” into his exhibition of their performances for many of the crowned heads of Europe. Apparently, it was a sensation. He begins with a scientific examination of the insect:

Pulex, the Flea, in Zoology, a genus of insects belonging to the order of Aptera. It has two eyes, and six feet, fitted for leaping, the feelers are like threads, the rostrum is inflected, setaceous, armed with a sting, and the belly is compressed.

He notes that: 

Educated Fleas, Health-Giving Beer, and Sweet-Smelling Elephants: Highlights from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

Tapas Rojas: Brief Reports on Cold War Communism in Latin America

Marchers for Allende, 1964. Photograph by Jim WallaceHyperinflation in Venezuela and Argentina. Transformative elections. Plummeting oil revenue for Brazil. Leftist governments have faced significant political and economic challenges recently. Fifty years ago, regional socialist experiments were at a more nascent and often violent stage in their development.

In this month’s highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, we’ll peruse family snapshots of Latin American politics back when communism—for all its bloodshed and “red” ideology—appeared more black-and-white.


Guerilla Threats against Peasantry

La Esfera (The Globe) – 3 December 1962

In what could be the first line of a novel, the opening sentence of this report says volumes about life in Venezuela in 1962: “Fabricio and his partisans threatened to shoot the peasants.” Che Guevara’s name comes up, as does the revolutionary character of Jesus Christ’s ministry on Earth.


Bolivian Peasant Leader Attacks Police and Defies Minister of Government

Presencia (Presence) – 23 November 1962

A government attempt to retrieve a stolen vehicle turns into a five-hour confrontation.


Communist Political Activities in Brazil

Novos Rumos (New Ways) – 14-20 December 1962

Conferences rather than confrontations here as the peasants attempt to consolidate their power and better their situation.


Cuban Economic Highlights—1961

Revolucion (Revolution) – 30 December 1961

Tapas Rojas: Brief Reports on Cold War Communism in Latin America

“A Wild and Dismal Lament”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The December release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a collection of works arranged as a travel narrative by Catherine Hutton and two multi-volume publications by Richard Lemon Lander, explorer of western Africa.


The Tour of Africa (1819)

Arranged by Catherine Hutton

Catherine Hutton was a novelist, historian, and prolific letter-writer and receiver; over her 90 years she amassed a collection of over 2,000 letters from a wide array of correspondents. Her interest in such a diversity of perspectives is reflected in her approach to The Tour of Africa:

The design of the following work is to assemble together all that is most interesting relative to Africa; to bring whatever may have been described by different travelers, or mentioned at various times by the same traveler, into one point of view; and to form the whole into a regular narrative. It appeared to me that these objects would be best attained by creating an imaginary traveler, who should speak in his own person. I am aware that truth and fiction should not be mingled, and I have not mingled them. They are distinct, though they constantly appear together; the traveler himself being ideal, and all he recounts true, as far as the best authors can be relied upon.

This three-volume compilation contains accounts “of all the countries in that quarter of the globe, hitherto visited by Europeans; with the manners and customs of the inhabitants.”

Below are two of the maps Hutton includes:

“A Wild and Dismal Lament”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

“Never-Failing Fount of Loyalty and Patriotism”: Perspectives on African Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces

The current release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes three important perspectives on African Americans in the armed forces. John Henry Paynter writes of being a cabin-boy in the U.S. Navy and seeing much of the world in the late-19th century; Theophilus Gould Steward, himself a Buffalo Soldier, explores the role of African Americans in American military conflicts from the Revolution to the Spanish-American War; and Kelly Miller presents an account of the contributions of African Americans in World War I.


Joining the Navy: Abroad with Uncle Sam (1895)

By John Henry Paynter

I believe that the public generally desires to be informed somewhat of the personal history of the author whose work engages their attention; in deference to that impression I may say briefly that I was born at New Castle, Delaware, on the 15th of February, 1862, in the house where my paternal grandmother now lives. My father came to Washington…in 1858…having been given a place under the government. My mother, whom I do not remember, survived but a little while the birth of my sister, who in turn after a few brief months followed her into the angel land.

“Never-Failing Fount of Loyalty and Patriotism”: Perspectives on African Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces

“The Shameful, Sinful, Cowardly, Brutish Deed”: Highlights from the American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

The December release of the American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a history of Pennsylvania Hall, which stood completed for three days before being burned to the ground by rioters, a collection of dialogues for school children, including the script on slavery excerpted below, and an 1853 edition of Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, which includes his views on slavery.


History of Pennsylvania Hall (1838)

In 1838, the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society built Pennsylvania Hall to serve as a forum for the free exchange of ideas and principles. Three days after its construction was completed, the hall was destroyed in a fire set by an anti-abolitionist mob. The History of Pennsylvania Hall includes the texts of speeches given within its walls as well as this description its beautiful interior:

Behind the arch was a dome divided into panels, supported by pilasters and an entablature of the Grecian Ionic order, —the whole forming a chaste and beautiful arrangement. On this forum was a superb desk or altar, with a rich blue silk panel; behind this stood the president’s chair; on each side of this was a carved chair for the vice presidents; next to these were sofas; in front of which stood the secretary and treasurer’s tables, with chairs to match. All these articles were made of Pennsylvania walnut of the richest quality; the chairs were lined with blue silk plush; the sofas with blue damask moreen; and the tables were hung with blue silk.

“The Shameful, Sinful, Cowardly, Brutish Deed”: Highlights from the American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

“Here Dwells Youth”: Selections from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922: From the New-York Historical Society

Included in this month’s release are pamphlets on American food and cookery, a satire on the role of insurance companies in the aftermath of the Great Chicago fire, a promotional brochure touting a revolutionary beauty treatment, a colorful souvenir program from the Russian Ballet’s visit to New York City in 1916, and elegant catalogs from coach and automobile manufacturers.

Here are descriptions of the latter three.

 


The New Beauty (1921)

“Here Dwells Youth” trumpets the first page of this illustrated pamphlet produced by Primrose House on East 52nd Street in New York City. This establishment promised women the key to manifesting their real beauty, proclaiming:

That subtle beauty really is within every woman. When she can be made to realize that, her ability to express it will simply have to follow a really scientific method of correcting difficulties and of bringing out her own best points.

This “really scientific method” was called the “Primrose House Face-Molding Treatments.”

The potential client is counseled that “It is careless and unnecessary for a woman to allow signs of neglect—a sagging chin, a drooping cheek, a tired eye” because, after all, “Every man likes to feel proud of his wife. Children love to think mother is the most beautiful person they know.”

There is a description of the lengths to which the founder of Primrose House and her staff have gone to collect only the most exotic beauty preparations from the four corners of the Earth:

“Here Dwells Youth”: Selections from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922: From the New-York Historical Society

Did Abolitionists Cause the Civil War? A Readex-sponsored American Library Association Breakfast Event

During the American Library Association midwinter meeting in January 2016, Readex will sponsor a special Sunday breakfast presentation entitled "Did Abolitionists Cause the Civil War?: New Directions in the History of Abolition." An open discussion will follow the talk by Manisha Sinha, acclaimed author of The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition, an ambitious new interracial history of abolition from the American Revolution to the Civil War.

About the Presentation

In this thought-provoking talk, Professor Manisha Sinha challenges the long-standing notion that abolitionists were irresponsible extremists who helped cause the Civil War. She also questions recent historical wisdom that casts abolitionists as bourgeois reformers burdened by racial paternalism and economic conservatism. Starting with early black activism and the Quaker-dominated abolition societies, Sinha recovers the largely forgotten impact of free and enslaved African Americans who shaped the abolition movement's ideology, rhetoric, and tactics. She explores the connections between abolition and other radical movements such as utopian socialism and early feminism. In challenging an entrenched system of labor and racial exploitation, Sinha shows that the abolitionist vision linked the slave's cause to redefining American democracy and the ongoing global struggle for human rights.

About the Presenter

Did Abolitionists Cause the Civil War? A Readex-sponsored American Library Association Breakfast Event

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