Print Culture


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)

Now available for trial! Nineteenth-Century American Drama: Popular Culture and Entertainment, 1820-1900

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The inaugural release of Nineteenth-Century American Drama includes plays that range over the most popular genres of its 80-year time span. There are comedies and melodramas, Revolutionary and Civil War dramas, plays with all-women and all-black casts, temperance plays, and plays for children for school and home entertainment, as well as many plays written by women. Here are some examples of the diversity of genres and titles now available:

Histories:

  • ‘Pocahontas. A Historical Drama, in Five Acts’ by Robert Dale Owen (1837)
  • ‘The Ku Klux Klan, or, The Carpet-Bagger in New Orleans’ by Elizabeth Avery Meriwether (1877)

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Tragedies:

  • ‘Mohammed, The Arabian Prophet. A Tragedy in Five Acts’ by George Henry Miles (1850)

Comedies:

Now available for trial! Nineteenth-Century American Drama: Popular Culture and Entertainment, 1820-1900

New Webinar! Students Becoming Scholars: Using Digital Archives to Create a Powerful Primary Source Assignment

Students Becoming Scholars: Using Digital Archives to Create a Powerful Primary Source Assignment

Presenter: Julie R. Voss, Associate Professor of English, Lenoir-Rhyne University

Voss webinar image.JPGA unique joy lies in the study of rare old books—the compelling promise of imaginative typefaces and yellowed pages, the intoxicating flow of the language, marginalia inscribed centuries before by an original reader, the thrill of making a fresh discovery. Most students aren’t aware of what can be found in their library’s rare book room; indeed, many never explore these revered repositories. But thanks to the magic of digitization, professors can easily share the delights of antiquarian works with their undergraduate students in powerful new ways. 

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New Webinar! Students Becoming Scholars: Using Digital Archives to Create a Powerful Primary Source Assignment

“Rational pastime for the vacant hour”: Highlights from the American Antiquarian Society’s Supplement to Early American Imprints: Evans

From the April release of Early American Imprints, Series I: Supplement from the American Antiquarian Society, here are three scarce 18th-century works, each newly digitized. Featured here is a sermon preached in 1772 by the Mohegan clergyman Samson Occom upon the occasion of the execution in New Haven, Connecticut, of another Native American for murder. Also described below are a rare almanac for Georgia and the Carolinas in 1787 and an unusual bookplate from a Salem, Massachusetts, bookseller’s circulating library.  


A sermon, preached at the execution of Moses Paul, an Indian, who was executed at New-Haven, on the 2d of September, 1772, for the murder of Mr. Moses Cook, late of Waterbury, on the 7th of December, 1771. Preached at the desire of said Paul. By Samson Occom, Minister of the Gospel, and missionary to the Indians (1773) 

“Rational pastime for the vacant hour”: Highlights from the American Antiquarian Society’s Supplement to Early American Imprints: Evans

Uncurbed Desires and Heavenly Glory: Three Execution Narratives in the American Antiquarian Society Supplement to Early American Imprints

The March release of the American Antiquarian Society’s Supplement to Early American Imprints: Evans includes several accounts of men and women who were executed in the last decades of the 18th century. Each of these narratives appears to have been intended as a cautionary lesson. The three selected items below are but a small representation of such jailhouse conversions to Christianity found in Early American Imprints, Series I and II. 


The Adventures and Death of William M'Ilheney: Of the District of Ninety-Six in South-Carolina, who after a very Profligate life, was executed at Prince-Edward Court-House, in Virginia, on the 15th of October, 1789, with Frederic Briggs, and died a penitent (1792) 

Publisher William Glendinning, a “Preacher of the Gospel,” introduces the reader to William M’Ilheney in the first paragraph as a man whose 

Uncurbed Desires and Heavenly Glory: Three Execution Narratives in the American Antiquarian Society Supplement to Early American Imprints

“My body holds a hundred hearts”: Newly Available Works in Evans Collection Supplement

In the February 2016 release of the American Antiquarian Society’s supplement to Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans are 43 newly digitized works. Among them are imprints that describe the discovery of an improbably ancient hermit, offer juveniles an illustrated book of riddles, and articulate a vision of the American Revolution which brings the Roman Catholic Church to its knees.


Wonder of Wonders! or The Remarkable Discovery of an American Hermit, Who Lived Upwards of 220 years (1795) 

This obscure document purports to be a true narrative of events that occurred when two explorers first ventured into the western regions of Virginia at a time when the state had no clearly defined western boundary. The author begins by stating: 

A knowledge of human nature under every appearance, is not only pleasing, but in many respects useful and necessary. The following account, as it is a discovery made within the limits of our own country, and confirmed by them who were eye-witnesses, may with great propriety deserve our notice. 

The author sets us on this strange journey: 

“My body holds a hundred hearts”: Newly Available Works in Evans Collection Supplement

Cramp, Croup and Convulsions: Highlights from the American Antiquarian Society supplement to the Shaw-Shoemaker collection

The January 2016 release of new material includes many single-sheet imprints. These rare works cover a broad range of issues and purposes. The three examples below include an admonitory poem, a promotion for the Columbian Museum in Boston, and an abstract of the bill of mortality for Boston in 1814. 


The Looking Glass, or a Description of Some Female Characters to be Avoided by Youths of Both Sexes. By a Young Man of P (1810)  

From Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement from the American Antiquarian Society, 1801-1819

Although this imprint has some damage which obscures a few words, the reader is yet able to enjoy the whole and intuit the obscured. While the poem is amusing and the descriptions acute, the reader may be left to wonder if any of the indictments of these hapless females might also apply to certain young men. The occasional use of “dose” for “does” is not a typo. 

AVOID the girl who takes delight

To make an outside show,

With ruffles round her neck so white,

And dirty clothes below.

Cramp, Croup and Convulsions: Highlights from the American Antiquarian Society supplement to the Shaw-Shoemaker collection

An Independence-Minded Ally, Wistful Postbellum Memoirs, and a Forgotten Comic-Strip Savant: The Readex Report (November 2015)

In this issue: the heralded 19th-century return of an independence-minded ally; wresting insight from wistful Postbellum memoirs; and an entire genre fueled by a forgotten comic-strip savant.


Lafayette’s Return: An Early American Media Event

By Jonathan Wilfred Wilson, Adjunct Instructor, Department of History, University of Scranton

In summer 2015, a wooden frigate named the Hermione sailed from France to the United States. It was recreating one of the voyages that brought the Marquis de Lafayette to fight in the American War of Independence. The new Hermione was a painstaking replica of Lafayette’s ship, built with authentic eighteenth-century methods. Its voyage, however, became a modern multimedia spectacle—with international television coverage, a website, and a busy Twitter account. > Full Story 


Reading between the Lines: Exploring Postbellum Plantation Memoirists through Digitized Newspaper Collections

An Independence-Minded Ally, Wistful Postbellum Memoirs, and a Forgotten Comic-Strip Savant: The Readex Report (November 2015)

Just published—The Readex Report: February 2015 (10th Anniversary Issue)

IN OUR 1OTH ANNIVERSARY ISSUE: Civil War-era writers see biblical parallels in the American profile; students use primary sources to refine their research processes; and a heated debate rages on the effects of African-inspired inoculations.

Civil War Biblicism and the Demise of the Confederacy
By Eran Shalev, Senior Lecturer, History Department, Haifa University, Israel
Just published—The Readex Report: February 2015 (10th Anniversary Issue)

A “Dirty and Diabolical Business”—Dividing Lines Over Slavery and Slave-Catching in 19th-Century America

The October release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes documents illustrating the deep religious, political, and legal divisions within 19th-century American society over the issue of slavery.

An Address, Delivered on the Fourth of July, 1836 (1836)
By Charles Fitch, Pastor of the Free Congregational Church, Boston

“We hold it to be self-evident, that God has created all men equal, and endowed them with certain unalienable rights, and that among these rights, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
    
That is my text—and if ever one sentence was written in the English language, which expresses more than any other, the true spirit of those who would abolish slavery throughout the world, it seems to me to be this. It comprises just everything for which abolitionists contend. It covers the whole ground, and reaches the farthest possible extent of all their avowed principles, and of all the measures which they contemplate, or which they desire to see used, for the deliverance of their fellow-men who are held in chains.

Thus begins this address by Pastor Fitch who was adamant that “God has given men equal rights, according to the Declaration of American Independence” and “he who will not allow [African-Americans] these rights, is a transgressor of [God’s] law.”  Nor did Fitch equivocate between types of slave owners, saying:

A “Dirty and Diabolical Business”—Dividing Lines Over Slavery and Slave-Catching in 19th-Century America

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