American History


The Brief, Wondrous Life of Lafcadio Hearn: Tracking the Author, Journalist and 19th-Century World Traveler through Historical Newspapers

Lafcadio_hearn.jpgAn American author and literary figure in the last quarter of the 19th century, Lafcadio Hearn was known for his fiction and his reportage from the Caribbean and Japan. His own life, however, was as fascinating as fiction itself, and his biography reads like a Charles Dickens novel that morphs into a Hemingway memoir.

Born to a Greek mother and an Irish father, Hearn was brought up in Greece, Ireland, England and France. After moving to Dublin when he was five, his parents divorced. His mother remarried and returned to Greece, while his soldier father was sent to India with his new wife. Hearn was left in Ireland with his aunt, Sarah Brenane, who sent him to a Catholic school in France on the advice of her financial advisor, Henry Molyneux.

495px-Lafcadio_Hearn.jpgFrom there, Hearn went to yet another school in England, but was forced to leave when Molyneux suffers some financial setbacks. His aunt died and Molyneux became her heir. When Hearn turned nineteen, Molyneux gave him a ticket to New York City. From there, he went to Cincinnati, Ohio, where a relative of Molyneux’s was supposed to help him, but didn’t. Hearn lived in abject poverty. But thanks to his multinational upbringing, he was literate and knew several languages.

The Brief, Wondrous Life of Lafcadio Hearn: Tracking the Author, Journalist and 19th-Century World Traveler through Historical Newspapers

‘Mutterings of Pent-up Wrath’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The July release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes examinations of slavery and the slave trade by a poet, an abolitionist society, and a Methodist minister.


 

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The Works of Hannah More (1835)

By Hannah More

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Hannah More (1745-1833) was a poet, playwright, and philanthropist. She was born in Bristol, England and became involved with the literary elite of London as her writing career progressed. More wrote primarily on moral and religious subjects and campaigned against the slave trade. This two-volume anthology of More’s writings begins with a note from the publisher:

When the veil of mortality descends upon splendid genius, that has been long devoted to the instruction and best interests of mankind, the noblest monument that can be erected to commemorate its worth and perpetuate its usefulness, is the collection of those productions which, when separately published, delighted and edified the world.

No writer of the past or present age has equaled HANNAH MORE in the application of great talents to the improvement of society, through all its distinctions, from the humblest to the most exalted station in life.

More’s poem The Slave Trade evidences such praise is well deserved. She writes:

‘Mutterings of Pent-up Wrath’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

‘Very important, if true’: Lunar Quadrupeds, Biped Beavers, and Man-Bats

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Reports of life on the moon, first published in The Sun in late August 1835, were republished quickly by many New York-area newspapers. On August 27, 1835, the Newark Daily Advertiser reprinted an initial report quoting an alleged astronomer who claimed to have “beheld continuous herds of brown quadrupeds” on the surface of the moon. He continued:

The next animal we perceived would be classified on earth as a monster. It was of a bluish lead color, about the size of a goat, with a head and beard like him, and a single horn, slightly inclined forward from the perpendicular. The female was destitute of the horn and beard, but had a much longer tail. It was gregarious, and chiefly abounded on the acclivitous glades of the woods. In elegance of symmetry it rivalled the antelope, and like him it seemed an agile sprightly creature, running with great speed, and springing from the green turf with all the unaccountable antics of a young lamb or kitten. This beautiful creature afforded us the most exquisite amusement.

On August 29 the New York Evangelist provided additional reporting under the headline “Wonderful Astronomical Discoveries”:

The New-York Sun has for the last three days, 25th, 26th and 27th, electrified its readers by publishing extracts from the supplement to the last Edinburgh Journal of Science, giving an account of the wonderful discoveries recently made by Sir John Herschel, with his new and improved telescope, at the Cape of Good Hope.

‘Very important, if true’: Lunar Quadrupeds, Biped Beavers, and Man-Bats

Historian Paul Finkelman Provides New Context to U.S. Immigration Debate at Readex-Sponsored ALA Event [VIDEO]

We are a nation of immigrants, but sometimes it seems we forget that. Professor Paul Finkelman offered a stark reminder of this at the 2017 American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago, and attendees of his Readex-sponsored talk left with a fresh lens through which to view today’s immigration debate.

From Hollywood to Silicon Valley, from baseball stadiums to boardrooms, immigrants and their children enhance our daily lives and culture. Consider the contributions of Andrew Carnegie, Alexander Graham Bell and Albert Einstein. Immigrants, including Irving Berlin, Greta Garbo, Sophia Loren and Joe DiMaggio, have enriched our music, art, and entertainment. Think of the impact more recent innovations by immigrants—like the founding of Google and the creation of the Pentium Micro-Processor—have had on our world.

Ten percent of the first Congress was foreign-born, and immigrants continue to fill critical leadership roles in our government today.

“From the beginning to the present, immigrants and the children of immigrants have played a fairly significant role in American politics,” Finkelman said. “In the last half century we’ve had two Secretaries of State who were immigrants.”

Add to that a foreign-born Secretary of the Treasury and two ambassadors to the United Nations. As Dr. Finkelman noted, unless you are 100% Native American, you are of immigrants.

But how quickly, as a nation, we forget.

Since the late 19th century, the Statue of Liberty has symbolized freedom, standing as a welcoming beacon to millions of immigrants reaching America’s shore. The poem at the base of the statue, written by Emma Lazarus, declares: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddle masses yearning to breathe free.” 

Is the United States still a welcoming haven?

Historian Paul Finkelman Provides New Context to U.S. Immigration Debate at Readex-Sponsored ALA Event [VIDEO]

‘The Demagogue and His Recital of Imaginary Wrongs’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

The June release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes unique accounts of the war by two Union surgeons and a recipient of the Medal of Honor.  


 

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Three Years in the Sixth Corps (1879)

By George Thomas Stevens

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George Thomas Stevens (1832-1921) served as a surgeon in the 77th Regiment of New York Volunteers. He draws on his own contemporaneous notes, official reports, and letters from officers to write “a concise narrative of events in the Army of the Potomac from 1861 to the close of the rebellion, April, 1865.”

Stevens describes his regiment’s march to Gettysburg, writing:

‘The Demagogue and His Recital of Imaginary Wrongs’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

‘The Scum of the Infernal Pit’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The June release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a clergyman’s critique of Thomas Jefferson’s candidacy for the presidency, a Quaker’s message to slave-owners, and an abolitionist’s speech from the floor of the House of Representatives.


 

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Serious Considerations on the Election of a President (1800)

By William Linn

Reverend William Linn (1752-1808) served as a chaplain in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and was the first Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives. Linn opposed Thomas Jefferson’s presidential run for religious reasons.

…my objection to his being promoted to the Presidency is founded singly upon his disbelief of the Holy Scriptures; or, in other words, his rejection of the Christian Religion and open profession of Deism.

Linn turns to Jefferson’s writings to prove he is not a Christian. Linn quotes Jefferson casting doubt on a global flood and making reference to an age of the earth greater than 6000 years. He then quotes Jefferson’s musings on various races of people and how they compared:

‘The Scum of the Infernal Pit’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

‘To kill a man for rumple groans’: Highlights from an American Antiquarian Supplement to Early American Imprints, 1801-1819

The May release of Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 2 from the American Antiquarian Society includes many exceptionally rare imprints. Among them are an illustrated early reader presenting the “inhabitants of the world,” a novella about virtue rewarded, and a comic account of a clever Scotsman who entertained and defied King James VI.


 

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Inhabitants of the World, Alphabetically Arranged (1818)

 

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This imprint was donated to the American Antiquarian Society by James d’Alté Aldridge Welch (1907-1970) who was a noted collector of early American children’s books and who published bibliographies of this genre. One of the extremely rare works he donated to the society, “Inhabitants of the World” has an entry for each letter of the alphabet. Every entry has a handsome illustration and a brief description. Naturally, we begin with A.

African

Though much oppressed, and slaves to many nations, yet they are laborious, forbearing, and ingenious.

‘To kill a man for rumple groans’: Highlights from an American Antiquarian Supplement to Early American Imprints, 1801-1819

Four New Bookmarks and Posters Available for Readex Collections

For libraries looking to create awareness and increase usage of their Readex collections, we have created four new sets of posters and bookmarks to support those goals. 

The artwork for each of these items may now be individually downloaded for local printing.  To download artwork for one or more of the four posters seen immediately below, please contact the Readex marketing department. To download bookmark artwork, please click on the links below the posters.

For African American Newspapers

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For Caribbean Newspapers

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For Early American Imprints

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And for Early American Newspapers

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Four New Bookmarks and Posters Available for Readex Collections

The Russia Connection: Historical Proposals to Reestablish a Land Link across the Bering Strait

There’s general agreement that as recently as 11,000 years ago the Asian and North American continents were connected by a land bridge over which hominids and other animals crossed. Today, the Bering Strait is only about 50 miles wide at its narrowest point, and less than 200 feet deep.

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Two small islands are situated midway between the continental land masses. Big Diomede Island belongs to Russia; Little Diomede Island belongs to the United States. The islands are separated by approximately two miles—and the International Date Line.

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For reference, the English Channel, between the United Kingdom and France, is about 20 miles wide and similar in depth to the Bering Strait. An undersea tunnel was proposed there during the 19th century, and has since been completed. The Suez Canal, linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean, was built in 1869. The Panama Canal was completed in 1914. In keeping with these ambitious projects, some structure across or beneath the Bering Strait has long been suggested as both practical and possible.

The Russia Connection: Historical Proposals to Reestablish a Land Link across the Bering Strait

'American Libraries' Reports on Twentieth-Century Global Perspectives

In the Solutions section of its May 2017 issue, American Libraries writes:

AM cover large.JPG“Readex…has introduced a new family of primary source archives. Twentieth-Century Global Perspectives brings together digital resources comprising primary source documents from around the world that focus on five separate categories: apartheid; American race relations; the Cold War; immigrations, migrations, and refugees; and the Middle East and North Africa. Each of these categories includes original sources, such as government publications, newspapers, and transcribed television and radio broadcasts, as well as US government analysis, collected by the CIA between 1941 and 1996.

“With increasing interest in immigration, race relations, unrest in the Middle East, and tensions between the US and Russia, these collections offer access to valuable sources that can provide history and context for current situations. The focus on sources from outside the US also allows researchers to explore these topics beyond current political frameworks.

'American Libraries' Reports on Twentieth-Century Global Perspectives

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