William Stearns


About Author: 

William is Senior Editor, Readex Digital Collections. He has been Editor of the Readex edition of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set since its early days. Previously, he was Editor of NewsBank Global Products and Assistant Vocabulary Editor. For the past ten years, he has also trained numerous NewsBank and Readex indexers.

Posts by this Author

“Separate the callapach from the callapee”: New Selections from Early American Imprints, Supplements from the American Antiquarian Society, 1652-1819

A rebus by Ben FranklinHighlighted below are four newly added items in the major new enrichment to the Evans and Shaw-Shoemaker collections.  These diverse works, now available for the first time in Readex digital editions of Early American Imprints, are from the holdings of the American Antiquarian Society.

The Evans Supplement includes Daniel Boone’s autobiographical account of his early adventures in what was even then called Kentucky, and John Wesley’s reflections on the history of slavery to which he was opposed. The Shaw-Shoemaker Supplement includes Benjamin Franklin’s whimsical rebus for children, advising them to be thrifty, and a captivating cookbook by “an American orphan.”


Adventures of Colonel Daniel Boon, one of the original settlers of Kentucky: containing the wars with the Indians on the Ohio, from 1769 to the present time, and the first establishment and progress of the settlements on that river. Written by the colonel himself (1793)

Many Americans grew up thinking of Daniel Boone as one of the first rough-and-ready frontiersmen who discovered the easiest route through the mountains separating modern-day Virginia from Kentucky. It is surprising then to read this account and to appreciate the quality of his writing and the sensitivity of some of his observations. In a description of “a pleasing ramble” with a friend he writes:

“Separate the callapach from the callapee”: New Selections from Early American Imprints, Supplements from the American Antiquarian Society, 1652-1819

Goodbye Comrades: The Voskhod Space Mission in Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports

The Voskhod program was primarily designed to produce spectacular firsts in space flight. In October of 1964 the Soviets launched the first Voskhod mission. It was the first spacecraft to carry more than one cosmonaut, and among its three-man crew was a medical doctor. His presence aboard and the decision not to wear space suits were also firsts in the space race.  The first spacewalk occurred during the Voskhod’s second and final flight in March 1965.  


Click to open in PDFAccount of the Voskhod Flight (1964)

This is a first-hand account of the mission by two of the Voskhod cosmonauts as told to two correspondents from Pravda. Consequently, it is in the first person and has a rather vernacular appeal. The men begin by talking about the night before the launch, revealing personal relationships among the crew and among all of the other personnel engaged in the program.

When the crew had been raised by elevator to enter the capsule, they paused to look down at the crowd below them:

At parting, the heart always aches a little. Involuntarily, all three of us cried out one and the same thing: Goodbye, Comrades!

Goodbye Comrades: The Voskhod Space Mission in Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports

“Come to the Wilderness”: Highlights for Native American Studies from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

The March release from the New-York Historical Society’s collection of American pamphlets features several publications that focus on Native Americans. Generally using the terms Indians or Indian tribes, these pamphlets depict their lives both before and after European migration into their historic lands. Included in the current release are treaties between the United States government and specific tribes, accounts of travels to, and encounters, with various tribes, tracts about systems of reservations and Indian education, and even a pamphlet promoting tourism.


Massasoit's Town. Sowams in Pokanoket. Its History, Legends and Traditions (1904)

By Virginia Baker

During the Pilgrims’ first years in what became the Massachusetts Bay Colony they were befriended by Wampanoag Indian chief Massasoit.  The author of this pamphlet, in the course of attempting to ascertain the precise location of Massasoit’s place of residence, recounts much of the early history of the relationship between the native inhabitants of what became New England and the English colonists who would largely displace them. It is also a tribute to Massasoit who is described admiringly for his wisdom and generosity. One example is revealed in an episode when Roger Williams had been banned from Salem 1636 and sought refuge in Massapoit’s lands. “[I]n a bitter winter season” he “fled from the savage Christians of Massachusetts Bay to the Christian savages of Narragansett Bay.”

“Come to the Wilderness”: Highlights for Native American Studies from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

“A Population Excitable As Ours”: Highlights from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922: From the New-York Historical Society

Many of the works in the February 2015 release of American Pamphlets concern slavery and the American Civil War. Included are narratives about former slaves, arguments that slavery is ordained by God, arguments against slavery and for abolition, an essay on how to manage one’s slaves, and a detailed accounting of the cost of the Civil War to each town in one New England state. Among the authors of these pamphlets are two great writers, Victor Hugo and John Greenleaf Whittier.

 

“A Population Excitable As Ours”: Highlights from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922: From the New-York Historical Society

Women in Disguise, Distress and Even in Battle: Riveting Works by Women in American Pamphlets

Although men constitute a preponderance of the authors of the more than 25,000 American pamphlets in the New-York Historical Society’s extraordinary collection, many works written and published by women are also included. From the most recent release of American Pamphlets, Series 1, 1822-1922, here are brief descriptions of three gripping personal narratives by American women:


The life and adventures of Ann Eliza Dow being a true narrative written by herself (1845)

Women in Disguise, Distress and Even in Battle: Riveting Works by Women in American Pamphlets

Rebellion, Riot, and Mutiny: Compelling Criminal Trials in Afro-Americana Imprints

A recent release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922, includes compelling accounts of several significant criminal trials. Five of these, spanning the years 1824 to 1851, are highlighted below.

Statement of the proceedings of the directors of the London Missionary Society, in the case of Rev. John Smith, missionary, Demerara. Extracted from the Missionary chronicle for March 1824 (1824)

Rebellion, Riot, and Mutiny: Compelling Criminal Trials in Afro-Americana Imprints

Islam in the Soviet Union: Translated Reports from the Joint Publications Research Service

From an earlier release of Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1994, we recently highlighted five reports concerning religion and atheism in the USSR in the 1960s. The September 2014 release of JPRS also includes translations from the Soviet Union on this same broad topic with particular attention paid to Islam.

Entry on “Islam” in Great Soviet Encyclopedia

Islam in the Soviet Union: Translated Reports from the Joint Publications Research Service

Calculating the Second Coming in 19th-Century America: Selected Items from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

The first four decades of the 19th century were a time of increased religious activity known as the Second Great Awakening. One of the most widely recognized religious activists of this time was William Miller (1782-1849) who lived in the border area between Vermont and New York State. As a young man in Poultney, Vermont, Miller was a confirmed and public Deist; however, as a result of his experience in the War of 1812, particularly in the Battle of Plattsburgh, where the significantly outnumbered Americans were victorious, Miller concluded this victory was the result of an interventionist deity.
Calculating the Second Coming in 19th-Century America: Selected Items from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

Faith. Will. Power: Astrology, Hypnotism and Animal Magnetism in the 19th Century

Many people highly educated individuals in the 19th century conducted scientific inquiries into astrology, hypnotism, and mesmerism. Then, as now, people were divided in their convictions and beliefs regarding these subjects. In the following selections of pamphlets extolling or condemning these phenomena, hypnotism and mesmerism, which was also called animal magnetism, sometimes seem interchangeable, while astrology appears independent of the others. 

Psychography, or, The Embodiment of Thought; with an Analysis of Phreno-magnetism, “Neurology,” and Mental Hallucination, including Rules to Govern and Produce the Magnetic State by Robt. H. Collyer, M.D. (1843)
Faith. Will. Power: Astrology, Hypnotism and Animal Magnetism in the 19th Century

Space Race Research by the Soviet Union: English-Language Translations from JPRS Reports

For most of the second half of the twentieth century, the United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in serious competition on many fronts.  Perhaps the most popular and comprehensible manifestation of this competition was the space race.  It is not surprising that a significant effort was made by the Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) to gather and translate a wide spectrum of scientific and technical articles published by the Soviets.  From the July release of JPRS Reports, we highlight advances in space science and space travel research.

The Space Age: Exploration of the Moon

This report was published less than three years before the United States landed men on the moon and Neil Armstrong took “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” The author states,

The first five years in space (1957-1962) passed under the sigh of triumphal attainments of the USSR in all fields of space research, including lunar exploration.

He defines the American space program largely by its failures, while extolling the steady stream of Soviet accomplishments. However, he does credit American research, particularly photographing the moon's surface but asserts that the photography could not answer critical questions that only a successful soft landing on the moon's surface could satisfy.

Space Race Research by the Soviet Union: English-Language Translations from JPRS Reports

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