African Studies


‘Wild Men of the Woods’: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The January release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes three nineteenth-century tales of African exploration and discovery told by an Englishman, a French-American, and an American.


The Narrative of an Explorer in Tropical South Africa (1853)

By Francis Galton, Esq.

Galton traveller.jpg

Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911) was an English polymath whose areas of knowledge included statistics, sociology and psychology, and anthropology and eugenics. Galton’s curriculum vitae also includes tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, and meteorologist. Among his many “firsts: were creating the statistical concept of correlation, coining the phrase “nature versus nurture,” devising a fingerprint classification method, and mapping the previous day’s weather. His wide array of interests ranged from researching the power of prayer (he concluded it had none) to discovering the optimal manner of making tea.

However, Galton was limited in his beliefs toward the peoples of Africa. In describing the Damara, his prejudices are difficult to overlook:

‘Wild Men of the Woods’: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

African Studies: Explore New Online Resources for Teaching and Research at the 2016 African Studies Association Meeting

ASA-Banner%2059%20ANNUAL%20MEETING.jpgReadex is exhibiting its newest African Studies resources at the 59th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association (ASA) in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 1 to 3, 2016.  Please visit booth 209 to explore online collections of digitized newspapers and books covering centuries of African history and culture.  If not attending, please use the links below to request a trial for your institution. To arrange a meeting with a Readex representative during ASA, please click here.


productbanner-AfricanHistory-v3.jpgAfrican History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia

African Studies: Explore New Online Resources for Teaching and Research at the 2016 African Studies Association Meeting

"Elevating Savages and Barbarians": Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

Within the April release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia are an extensive study of the earth and solar system, including several maps of Africa; a report from the superintendent of the London Missionary Society’s stations in South Africa; and an account of an 1834 “visit to Sierra Leone” titled The White Man's Grave.


Modern Geography: A Description of the Empires, Kingdoms, States, and Colonies (1802) 

By John Pinkerton 

Scottish antiquarian, cartographer, author, numismatist, and historian, John Pinkerton was influential in redefining cartography in the early 19th century and remains best known for Pinkerton’s Modern Atlas. Pinkerton is also recognized as an early advocate of Germanic racial supremacy theory. He wrote several books in which he attempts to remove all Celtic elements from Scottish history, arguing the Gaels were a degenerate imposter race. 

"Elevating Savages and Barbarians": Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

“Power, Grandeur, and Oppression”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The February release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a compilation of travel literature written by several African explorers and two multi-volume works by Edward Delaval Hungerford Elers Napier. 


The Modern Traveller (1800)  

By William Fordyce Mavor 

William Fordyce Mavor (1758-1837) was a teacher, politician, and priest. Introducing his four volumes of travel literature, Mavor writes: 

Valuable as these productions are, yet the size and expense of the volumes preclude many readers of curiosity, intelligence, and knowledge, from being able conveniently to purchase such sources of gratification….To accommodate those who may be desirous of being acquainted with modern discoveries, without choosing to be at such an expense, the object of the present publication is to present, in an abridged form, the most remarkable travels and voyages, which have recently afforded important accessions to our acquaintance with countries and mankind. 

“Power, Grandeur, and Oppression”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

“Tribal memories, ancestral superstitions, and racial wisdom”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The January 2016 release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a Frenchman’s description of late 18th-century South Africa, a Briton’s account of early 19th-century America, and an African American’s early 20th-century compilation of folk rhymes.  


Travels into the Interior Parts of Africa (1790)

By Francois Le Vaillant 

Francois Le Vaillant was born in Paramaribo, Surinam, in 1753 to a wealthy French merchant. When he was about ten years old, his family returned to Europe where Le Vaillant would later study natural history and ornithology. In the 1780s Le Vaillant explored South Africa, amassing an extensive collection of birds from which he described many new species. This collection formed the basis for several multivolume works about the peoples and natural history of South Africa. 

 

“Tribal memories, ancestral superstitions, and racial wisdom”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

“A Wild and Dismal Lament”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The December release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a collection of works arranged as a travel narrative by Catherine Hutton and two multi-volume publications by Richard Lemon Lander, explorer of western Africa.


The Tour of Africa (1819)

Arranged by Catherine Hutton

Catherine Hutton was a novelist, historian, and prolific letter-writer and receiver; over her 90 years she amassed a collection of over 2,000 letters from a wide array of correspondents. Her interest in such a diversity of perspectives is reflected in her approach to The Tour of Africa:

The design of the following work is to assemble together all that is most interesting relative to Africa; to bring whatever may have been described by different travelers, or mentioned at various times by the same traveler, into one point of view; and to form the whole into a regular narrative. It appeared to me that these objects would be best attained by creating an imaginary traveler, who should speak in his own person. I am aware that truth and fiction should not be mingled, and I have not mingled them. They are distinct, though they constantly appear together; the traveler himself being ideal, and all he recounts true, as far as the best authors can be relied upon.

This three-volume compilation contains accounts “of all the countries in that quarter of the globe, hitherto visited by Europeans; with the manners and customs of the inhabitants.”

Below are two of the maps Hutton includes:

“A Wild and Dismal Lament”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

“The Torrid Zone”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The November release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a 17th-century magnum opus and a turn of the 18th-century scholar’s compilation of hundreds of works, both of which attempt to describe their entire known worlds. Also in this release is a history of trade with Africa which contains the texts of several ancient treaties.


Cosmography, in Four Books: Containing the Chorography and History of the Whole World, and All the Principal Kingdoms, Provinces, Seas, and Isles Thereof (1670)

By Peter Heylyn

In this ambitious 17th-century work English scholar Peter Heylyn attempts to give a detailed account of nearly every aspect of the world. Writing about Africa, he describes the origins of the continent’s name:

By the Grecians it is called most commonly Lybia…part of it taken for the whole; by the Ethiopians, Alkebulam; by the Indians, Besecath. But the most noted name thereof is Africa, which Josephus out of Cleodenus and Polyhistor, deriveth from Epher, or Apher, one of the Nephews of Abraham, by Midian the Son of Keturah. The Arabians, by whom it is called Ifrichea, derive it from the Verb Faruch, signifying to divide; because more visibly divided both from their own Country, and the rest of the World, than any other part thereof which was known unto them.

“The Torrid Zone”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

“This Is a White Man’s Country”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The July release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes an English abolitionist’s perspective on the slave trade, a speech advocating for equal suffrage in post-Civil War America, and an incredible advertising circular for a book about Henry Morton Stanley’s adventures in Africa.


 The History of Uncle Tom's Countrymen: with a Description of Their Sufferings in the Capture, the Voyage, and the Field (1853)

By Humanity

Although slavery had been abolished throughout the British Empire in 1833, Great Britain continued to import products produced by slave labor. Calling for an end to the importation of American cotton and the tacit support of slavery, the author writes:

The plea that we are compelled from necessity to purchase the fruits of the slave is feeble in the extreme. It is either from a willful negligence or postulated blindness on our parts, that we have so long allowed ourselves to become thus dependent, and we now wish to make a virtue of necessity; but of all evils under the sun, that of making vice commendable is the greatest. The Times of November the 25th, 1852, says—“Show me the man chiefly benefitted by this crime, and I will show you the greatest criminal.” If then the people of England reap the chief benefit, they are certainly the chief criminals.

“This Is a White Man’s Country”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

Afro-Americana Imprints: A Small Sample of Newly Released Titles (April 2013)

Upon completion, Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia will provide researchers with more than 12,000 printed works on diverse aspects of African American history, literature and culture. Among the more than 1,300 items in the April 2013 release are these six:

• Hotel keepers, head waiters, and housekeepers' guide. By Tunis G. Campbell. Published in 1848 (Imprint #1992)

[Campbell, a freeborn African-American, and later an important figure in Reconstruction, wrote this guide while he was a hotel steward. His system for running a high-class dining room calls for military-style drills, but also insists that employers treat waitstaff with dignity. Nearly half the book is devoted to recipes, including eel soup, stewed hare and orange puffs.]

• The life of Africaner, a Namacqua chief, of South Africa. By the Rev. J. Campbell. Published in 1825 (Imprint #1974)

Afro-Americana Imprints: A Small Sample of Newly Released Titles (April 2013)

Slavery in Brazil: A Few Examples from Historical Newspapers

According to purehistory.org, Brazil was one of the world’s largest importers of African slaves, obtaining approximately one-third of the slaves taken from Africa during the Atlantic slave trade. It is estimated that more than three million Africans were sent to Brazil as slaves, a far higher number than were imported into North America.¹ As the number of Africans forced to farm cotton and sugar plantations grew from the 16th to the 19th century, the Brazilian economy became highly dependent on slave labor. Even after obtaining independence from Portugal in 1822, Brazil resisted the U.K.-led anti-slavery movement.²
Slavery in Brazil: A Few Examples from Historical Newspapers

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