The December release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes documents on an arresting array of subjects. Highlighted here are imprints about natural history, a religious justification of slavery, judicial opinions in the Dred Scott case, and a critique of a work of Reconstruction-era fiction.
A General Introduction to the Natural History of Mammiferous Animals, with a Particular View of the Physical History of Man, and the More Closely Allied Genera of the Order Quadrumana, or Monkeys (1841) By William Charles Linnaeus Martin
This voluminous work ranges over many topics and includes this brief foray into phrenology.
Most famous for illustrating the first edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Edward Winsor Kemble was highly regarded for his compassionate images of African Americans. Many of these illustrations can be found within Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia. Below are a few examples of Kemble's artwork from a diverse selection of books published at the end of the 19th century:
From Our Phil and Other Stories (1889) by Katharine Floyd Dana, who published more widely under the pen name Olive A. Wadsworth:
The September release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes descriptions of the Kingdom of Matamba and its powerful Queen Anna Zingha; the private life of Thomas Jefferson, as recalled in the 1860s by a former chief overseer; South Carolina during Reconstruction, recorded by the Washington correspondent of the New York Tribune; and the Underground Railroad, written by a former conductor. This release also includes In the Wilds of Africa, an exciting adventure tale replete with detailed illustrations.
Memoirs of Celebrated Women of All Countries (1834) By Laure Junot, Duchess of Abrantes
Laure Junot, Duchess of Abrantes was an early 19th century French writer known for her attractiveness, extravagance, and sharp tongue. In this volume, Junot includes a biography of Anna Zingha, Queen of the Kingdom of Matamba, located in what is now Angola. Junot covers Queen Zingha’s rise to power and struggle with the Portuguese for control of her country. She describes the funeral ceremony for Zingha’s father in graphic detail:
One hundred and sixty years ago, on July 6, 1854, the first official party convention of the Republican Party was held in Jackson, Michigan. The party was founded in the Northern states by, among others, anti-slavery activists and ex-Whigs who opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The Whig Party, established in 1833, had become divided over the question of whether to allow the expansion of slavery into the territories. By 1855 the party was collapsing as many of its members joined the new Republican Party or the American Party, which had formed that year around the anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic movement known as the Know-Nothings.
United States Senatorial Question (1855) Speeches Delivered in the Assembly of the State of New-York...in Exposition of the Oaths, Obligations, and Rituals of the Know-Nothings, during the Debate on the United States Senatorial Question, February 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6, 1855
By the middle of the 19th century many countries had signed treaties for the abolition of the slave trade. Included in the June release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia are treaties between Great Britain and several other countries, namely Venezuela, Haiti, Chile, Ecuador, Belgium, and, finally, the United States. The sentiment behind the changing international political atmosphere was shared by many, but, as seen in additional highlights from this release, was also slow to spread and remained far from universal.
Treaty between Her Majesty and the Republick of Venezuela, for the Abolition of the Slave Trade (1840)
The May release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes several works that provide an outsider’s perspective on subjects ranging from 17th-century Spanish rule of the New World to mid-19th century American life to the slave trade as seen by an unsuspecting sailor.
The English-American his Travail by Sea and Land: or, A New Survey of the West-India's, Containing a Journall of Three Thousand and Three Hundred Miles within the Main Land of America (1648) By Thomas Gage
Published more than 350 years ago, Thomas Gage’s description of the New World is the first English-language work of its kind. Although Gage included important information about the language and customs of indigenous people, his primary objective was convincing Oliver Cromwell to invade Spanish America. In addition to using the brutality of Spanish rulers as a moral justification for invasion, Gage provided a perhaps more persuasive economic incentive. A poem included in the preface concludes with these lines:
To Lands inrich’d with gold, with pearls and gems, But above all, where many thousands stay Of wronged Indians, whom you shall set free From Spanish yoke, and Rome’s idolatry.
The April release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes autobiographies by slaves as well as by an abolitionist, a detailed description of the Yoruba people of West Africa, and much more.
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano; or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1816) By Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano’s story includes his kidnapping in Africa, the horrors of a slave ship, and his wonderment at snow upon his arrival in England. He goes on to describe how he survived a naval battle, a shipwreck in the West Indies, and two earthquakes. Equiano’s autobiography is an adventure tale fit for Hollywood.
In this issue: A professor challenges her graduate students to craft historical narratives fueled by discoveries within Afro-Americana Imprints; their inspired articles reveal the potent research potential of a unique resource.
Would you consider sealing your next envelope with a sticker that read: “Be not partakers in other men’s sins.” More pointedly if you received such a missive, by ripping the seal would you be endorsing or decrying the maxim? I’m not sure, myself. But I was glad to learn about and see the page of gummed Abolitionist labels that my student placed within the discourse of indulgence and sin during the nineteenth century.
Spiritualism in the Lincoln White House? Woman suffrage as the key to white supremacy? The February release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia unearths these and other historical items for scholarly re-examination.
he Creole Case, and Mr. Webster's Despatch; with the Comments of the N.Y. American (1842)
Attributed to William Jay, son of the great jurist John Jay, this imprint explores the implications of one of the most successful slave insurrections in history, achieved with little bloodshed, aboard the Creole. Of the leader of the rebellion, Madison Washington, Jay writes, "The sagacity, bravery and humanity of this man do honor to his name, and, but for his complexion, would excite universal admiration."