Seed Sown on Good Soil: Astronomy, Botany, and Medicine in Early American Books

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Perhaps you’ve explored Readex’s five Origins of Modern Science and Technology collections, which include material from the latter half of the twentieth century. For an earlier perspective on the history of science you can also delve into three new digital products:

It may appear counterintuitive to look for science content in material written for children,  or for a distinctly religious audience, or in relation to Native Americans. Consider though that religious leaders were often the most highly educated members of society during America’s formative years. For example, the evangelism of Cambridge-graduate John Eliot in no way diminished his philology in producing his Algonquian Bible in 1663.

Seed Sown on Good Soil: Astronomy, Botany, and Medicine in Early American Books

“Is it proper to call every Indian a savage?”: Early Printed Accounts of the Social Life and Customs of Native Peoples

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Published accounts of the native peoples of North America in the late 18th and early 19th centuries—as depicted in these wide-ranging early American imprints—were varied in accord with the beliefs of the narrators.

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As described in his book below, the Reverend David Jones made two visits “to some nations of Indians on the west side of the River Ohio” in the early 1770s. On his travels he found several churches had been established among the Indians. After leading worship services at them, he remarked, “It was truly pleasing to behold the worship of God here, in a land so lately overspread with heathenish darkness and universal ignorance of God.” He subsequently described “some rude Indians…who had behaved insolently...”

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“Is it proper to call every Indian a savage?”: Early Printed Accounts of the Social Life and Customs of Native Peoples

Politics and Prophylaxis: The World Health Organization, the Politics of International Public Health, and Open Source Epidemiology

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In June 1958, about eight months after the Soviet Union’s Sputnik satellite circled the globe, former Illinois governor and future United Nations ambassador Adlai Stevenson had an idea for another scientific endeavor with global implications: What if the world community could cooperate on achieving a selection of public health goals that knew no boundaries?

U.S. Senate majority leader Lyndon Johnson of Texas had Stevenson’s speech printed in the Congressional Record. Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota promoted Stevenson’s idea on the world stage culminating in its adoption by the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) in 1959.  It would subsequently be sponsored by the UN as the International Health and Medical Research Year (abbreviated as IHY), and coincide with the WHO’s Twelfth World Health Assembly in 1961.

What is IHY? It is a proposed International Health Year to be sponsored by the World Health Organization of the United Nations.

If the plan for it goes through it will be put into effect in June, 1961. During the following year all the nations of the world would contribute their skill and knowledge in an all-out war against cancer, heart disease, mental illness, old age and infants’ diseases, as well as many other human ills.

Politics and Prophylaxis: The World Health Organization, the Politics of International Public Health, and Open Source Epidemiology

Powerful New Tools for Digital Humanists: Introducing Readex Text Explorer (RTE)

For ten years or more, faculty and students have been asking Readex to “bring history to life” in new ways. “You have tremendous products,” they tell us, "and we love them. Thank you. We’d love them even more if we could do more than search, retrieve, read, then search again.”

It’s time to bring on the love.

This week Readex launched “Readex Text Explorer” (RTE), a new embedded service to help students, faculty, and researchers understand texts in amazing new ways.

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RTE is launching with three new collections:

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Each of these collections features the definitive record of its genre or subject from the very beginning (in the 1600s) through the year 1819. The texts cover an endless range of subjects: family, government, Native American relations, child-rearing, health, women’s lives, social commentary, daily life, education, religion, philosophy, politics, and hundreds more.

Powerful New Tools for Digital Humanists: Introducing Readex Text Explorer (RTE)

‘Mild as the Harmless Lamb’: Instructions on Conduct for Females

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Among several common themes in early books for children, instruction in conduct recurs frequently. Searching American Children’s Books, 1654-1819, a new Readex database, whether using Suggested Searches or employing Advanced Search, will result in many relevant texts. As for girls, the instructions on conduct sometimes coincide with the instructions for boys, but not always.

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‘Mild as the Harmless Lamb’: Instructions on Conduct for Females

“Silkeries of the Skies”: The Solar Superstorm of 1859

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Last night one of the most magnificent atmospheric exhibitions that have ever been witnessed in this latitude took place. A display of the aurora borealis of surpassing extent and beauty occupied the heavens, producing the most singular effects, and exciting the admiration and awe of the thousands that witnessed the wondrous sight.

This article, first published in the New York Evening Post, was reporting on what we know today as the solar storm of 1859. This massive storm, the largest of its kind on record, would also become known as the Carrington Event after British astronomer Richard Carrington who made some of the earliest astronomical observations of the solar flare. The flare and resulting geomagnetic storm of 1859 produced auroras seen around the world.

Headlined “Remarkable Atmospheric Phenomena—The Scenery of the Heavens,” the report continues: 

“Silkeries of the Skies”: The Solar Superstorm of 1859

Ghosted: The Eddy Family’s Questionable Claims to Occult Powers in Nineteenth Century Vermont

You’re traveling to another dimension, north of Rutland, Vermont, to a place not only of sight and sound but of mind, on a journey to what was the epicenter of paranormal activity in 1870s America.  Your destination does not appear on any map, but about five miles off Route 7 in the Town of Chittenden there’s a signpost for the High Life Ski Club, formerly the farmstead of the Eddy family. You’ve arrived at “Spirit Vale,” a wondrous realm whose ethereal residents, if they existed at all, benefited from the active suspension of disbelief by mortals holding hands with strangers in a dimly lit room. Call it “the twilight zone.”

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The 1870 census lists the human population of Chittenden, Vermont, as 802 souls including brothers William and Horatio Eddy, their sister Mary, and numerous other close relatives. From 1873 through 1875 the psychic population of the Eddy farmhouse was augmented by a plethora of “materialized spirits” such as “Honto” (a Native American maiden), “The Witch of the Mountain,” even Lord Byron, the famous poet who died in 1824. Guests attending a séance stood a good chance of also seeing the shades of departed loved ones, and many testified to exactly that.

Ghosted: The Eddy Family’s Questionable Claims to Occult Powers in Nineteenth Century Vermont

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