Digital Scholarship


An American Bohemian, Incriminating an Injustice, and Hopeful of a History: Readex Report (March 2018)

In this issue: A 19th-century stage manager sows blood and thunder; the righteous tones of a patriotic black newspaper; and early Americans envision an inspired past.


Thomas Hamblin’s House of Blood and Thunder: The Transformation of New York’s Bowery Theatre in the Early 19th Century

Robert Davis, Adjunct Assistant Professor, English Department, John Jay College (CUNY)

Davis image 2.jpgThomas Hamblin (1800-1853) was arguably the most influential—and contradictory—figure in antebellum U.S. theater. An English actor and manager, he became synonymous with American working-class nativist culture. He transformed New York City’s Bowery Theatre from a failed venue for refined drama to what became known as “The House of Blood and Thunder.” Hamblin excelled at producing successful melodramas, tragedies, and farces... > Full Story

An American Bohemian, Incriminating an Injustice, and Hopeful of a History: Readex Report (March 2018)

Leading Andrew Jackson Authority Explores Shifting Views About a Controversial U.S. President [VIDEO]

For nearly a century after his death in 1845, Andrew Jackson was held up as a beacon of successful leadership—an American icon whom students were taught to regard with unabashed pride. During his lifetime, the seventh president of the United States was bestowed with such admirable identities as: 

Jackson for blog post.jpgThe Hero of New Orleans
The Avatar of Democracy
The Defender of the Union
The Point Man of Manifest Destiny
The Champion of the Working Class

Today, many Americans know a very different Andrew Jackson—a slave owner and the architect of Indian removal. 

At a Readex-sponsored breakfast presentation during the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Denver, Daniel Feller, the director of The Papers of Andrew Jackson and a history professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, summed it up this way: 

“Andrew Jackson’s reputation has undergone some remarkable somersaults over the years.” 

In his presentation, Feller explored this generational shift and why the nation’s view of Andrew Jackson has changed so dramatically over the decades. 

When historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. published The Age of Jackson in 1945, he devoted a scant two sentences of his book’s 523 pages to Indian affairs. Of Schlesinger’s lack of focus on the topic, Feller insisted the author was not omitting an unpleasant issue to bolster Jackson’s reputation. At the time of Schlesinger’s writing in the mid-20th century, Feller noted, “Indian removal simply didn’t seem that important to [Schlesinger],” nor was it a prominent issue for his readership. 

Leading Andrew Jackson Authority Explores Shifting Views About a Controversial U.S. President [VIDEO]

Better Learning, Better Classrooms: Why Newspapers Matter

rapt.jpgAlmost every week I’m asked, “How can we use historical newspapers to teach undergraduates?”

Great question!

Mostly it’s faculty who come to me asking for this advice, but librarians wonder about this, too.

Faculty (mostly professors of history, politics, government, and cultural studies) want to be sure their students have an experience in which they truly “touch history.” There’s also a strong desire to have students work directly with primary sources and draw their own conclusions from the materials they encounter. The objective is to instill knowledge, understanding, and critical-thinking skills. That’s a formula, they all agree, for student success.

Historical newspapers, including Readex’s own America's Historical Newspapers, hit the target in every respect. Here are just a few of the ways:

► Students cannot truly understand an event in America’s past without seeing firsthand and in real-time what people said about it. Newspapers are the only certain vehicle for this.

►Newspapers capture “the voice of the moment,” unprocessed, unfiltered, direct, and raw. Students instantly grasp this fact, which drives interest and excitement. Sometimes it even leads to great student papers and presentations!

►Newspapers offer multiple points of view, often across a time span of many days or months or years. They fit perfectly with assignments that require pro-and-con analysis. They also fit perfectly with assignments that ask students to synthesize multiple arguments across time. Newspapers provide most—and sometimes all—of the material a student needs.

Better Learning, Better Classrooms: Why Newspapers Matter

Modern Research: A Conversation with Professor Paul Finkelman [VIDEO]

Readex had the opportunity to sit down with Paul Finkelman, a leading authority on American legal history, race relations and religious freedom, to discuss the importance of primary documents in his work as a scholar and professor. Finkelman-book cover.jpgNow the President of Gratz College, Finkelman has taught law and history courses at more than a dozen intuitions. He is the author or editor of more than fifty books, including Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court, which will be published this month by Harvard University Press. 

In our discussion, Finkelman compared his work flow to that of scholars in decades past, noting how the online availability of primary sources not only fosters faster work, but also unlocks new findings in ways never before possible. Watch the highlights of our interview to learn how digital resources like the U.S. Congressional Serial Set and American Pamphlets can help students discover historical connections and energize their research.

 

 

Contact us for more information about Readex digital collections for classroom and research use

Modern Research: A Conversation with Professor Paul Finkelman [VIDEO]

Andrei Vlasov, the Russian Liberation Army, and Operation Keelhaul: A Tragic Diplomatic and Humanitarian Debacle

The aims of the Committee of Liberation of the Peoples of Russia are: the overthrow of Stalin’s tyranny, the liberation of the peoples of Russia from the Bolshevik system, and the restitution of those rights to the peoples of Russia which they fought for and won in the people’s revolution of 1917.

Andrei Vlasov, The Prague Manifesto, November 14, 1944

It’s November 14, 1944, and an armed uprising against Stalinist terror and Bolshevism is in progress. Its participants number well into the six figures and have been formed into an actual army. Its leader is Andrei Vlasov, a former general in the Red Army who had fought the Germans at the Battle of Moscow in 1941. Now he is allied with them, but only just.

Vlasov 1.png

Vlasov makes his way to the microphone in a crowded ballroom in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and declaims a manifesto excoriating Soviet communist oppression. He speaks as a pragmatic man of firm convictions and steady purpose, and he gives a bravura performance, a definitive example of speaking truth to power. But he is also a man divided in his loyalties.

Vlasov 2.png

 

Andrei Vlasov, the Russian Liberation Army, and Operation Keelhaul: A Tragic Diplomatic and Humanitarian Debacle

Seductive Spies, a Quest for Friendly Fumes, and a Lethal Love Triangle: Readex Report (October 2017)

In this issue: feminine charms reveal Civil War strategies; a dismembered body linked to a racially charged love triangle; and the dicey dealings of early American anesthesiologists.


Two Women Who Spied During the American Civil War: Going Undercover with Belle Boyd and Pauline Cushman in the Archive of Americana

Bruce D. Roberts, author of Clipper Ship Sailing Cards

Two Women 1b.jpgIn July 1861—just three months after the bombardment of Fort Sumter—unabashed Southern sympathizer Rose O’Neal Greenhow of Washington, D.C., was already engaged in espionage on behalf of the Confederacy. Well-placed in Washington society—and adept at bleeding information from the many men who found her attractive—Greenhow learned that Union troops under General Irvin McDowell would attack Rebel forces in Manassas, Virginia, within days... > Full Story

Seductive Spies, a Quest for Friendly Fumes, and a Lethal Love Triangle: Readex Report (October 2017)

Readex Congratulates Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar Whose New Book Has Been Nominated for a 2017 National Book Award

never-caught-9781501126390_lg.jpgCongratulations to Erica Armstrong Dunbar whose new book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge, has been long-listed for the 2017 National Book Awards.  It is one of ten non-fiction nominees for this year’s prize which will be announced on November 15. Dr. Dunbar is the Director of the Library Company of Philaelphia’s African American History Program and the Charles and Mary Beard Professor of History at Rutgers University.

Never Caught was described by Columbia University Professor Eric Foner as “a fascinating and moving account of a courageous and resourceful woman. Beautifully written and utilizing previously untapped sources it sheds new light both on the father of our country and on the intersections of slavery and freedom.”

Readex Congratulates Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar Whose New Book Has Been Nominated for a 2017 National Book Award

Announcing “Undergrads Doing History: Using Digital Primary Sources to Motivate Students” – An Upcoming Webinar by Prof. Carl Robert Keyes

banner top.JPG“How can I better incorporate my own research into the undergraduate courses I teach?”

College and university professors grapple with this question every semester.  In this 45-minute webinar, Prof. Keyes will reveal how he adapted two digital humanities projects—drawn from his own research on advertising in early America—into classroom exercises that challenge students to actively “do” history rather than merely learn about the past.

Register to attend this and learn how to:

• develop alternative assignments that engage student interest yet also enhance skills associated with traditional essays

• improve information literacy by identifying and assessing primary sources and secondary sources

• create research projects based on extensive collections of digital primary sources

• avoid pitfalls when developing digital humanities projects for undergraduate students

The webinar will conclude with an open Q & A session, and all registrants will receive a link to the recorded session.

Small Register Now Button for 2017 Keyes Webinar.JPG

Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017 at 2:00 pm Eastern

Announcing “Undergrads Doing History: Using Digital Primary Sources to Motivate Students” – An Upcoming Webinar by Prof. Carl Robert Keyes

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 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.

Bering 1.png

 

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.

Bering 2.png

 

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

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