Black Politics, Transatlantic Adventures, and Working Women’s Dress: The Readex Report (Sept. 2016)
In this issue: Mining elusive proof of Antebellum black politics; wily wealth building during the Revolutionary War era; and runaway slave ads provide unintentional insight into Colonial Era fashion.
Van Gosse, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of History, Franklin & Marshall College
I am finishing a history of antebellum black politics, a little-studied topic for which many of the usual sources are unavailable: white politicians did not record their correspondence with black men, and the latter rarely donated personal papers to libraries, for obvious reasons. However, America’s Historical Newspapers (AHN), used with precision, can produce extraordinary insights into the quotidian fabric of American politics and culture, evidence otherwise unavailable.> Full Story
Tom Cutterham, Lecturer in U.S. History, University of Birmingham
In August 1799, as partisan antagonism heated up in advance of the forthcoming U.S. presidential election, the Republican press worked hard to paint the Federalist establishment in the colors of an imperial court. Drawing comparisons with Caesar’s Rome, these newspapers pointed out that leading figures in the political and business elites of the new nation were tied to each other by more than just their shared social position.> Full Story
Rebecca Fifield, Head of Collection Management, Special Collections, The New York Public Library
Indentured and enslaved women in the American colonies provided domestic, agricultural, and commercial labor, but left behind little documentary evidence of their lives. Some women chose to abscond from service. In Figure 1 below, a runaway woman’s master has recorded details of her appearance in a newspaper advertisement which seeks her return. Written from the master’s perspective, such runaway ads often state the name of the woman, describe her visual appearance, record the clothing she wore when she eloped, and occasionally mention personality quirks and aptitudes. These ads offer intriguing glimpses of women whose story is otherwise difficult to tell through other documentary sources.> Full Story
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