American Broadsides and Ephemera


“The Drama Is—Rubbish”: The Early Impact of ‘The Black Crook,’ the Shocking and Scandalous American Musical

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“The Black Crook”—the progenitor of spectacular theater in the United States—opened at Niblo’s Garden, a 3,000-seat New York City playhouse, on September 12, 1866. Whether this American musical can be called the country’s first, “The Black Crook” had an immense impact on the future of popular entertainment in the U.S.  Its initial production ran for nearly 500 performances and created a nationwide mania, stimulated by the clergy who railed against its abundant display of female pulchritude.

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In his preface to “The Naked Truth!”: An Inside History of The Black Crook (1897), digitized from the holdings of the New-York Historical Society and found in American Pamphlets, Joseph Whitton wrote:

It is curious that the history of the Black Crook—the pioneer of the American Spectacular Drama, and greater in tinseled gorgeousness and money-drawing power than any of its followers—should never have been told, or, rather, truthfully told.

Whitton by his own account had a “connection with the financial department of Niblo’s Garden, previous to the production and during the run of the Crook,” which “enables him to know the facts…”

“The Drama Is—Rubbish”: The Early Impact of ‘The Black Crook,’ the Shocking and Scandalous American Musical

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)

Going Green: The Essence of Porter, and Other Examples of the Brewing Industry’s Murky Past

This is the time of year many St. Patrick’s Day celebrants literally go green, whether by donning green apparel, quaffing green beer, or just watching the flow of a local river temporarily dyed green. In 21st-century America, most people are reasonably sure the added color is harmless; however, in the 18th and 19th centuries beer drinkers had good reason for concern. While today’s large breweries assure customers their beer is made from only the finest ingredients, including water of unmatched purity, the use of pure or even clean water was not always the case. And in 1840 a New Yorker was sued for $300,000 for saying just that.

From American Broadsides and Ephemera

Going Green: The Essence of Porter, and Other Examples of the Brewing Industry’s Murky Past

Free Webinar! American Broadsides and Ephemera: Exploring Visual Culture in 19th-Century America

Readex will offer a live webinar on Feb. 26, 2015, for librarians, faculty and students who have an interest in Visual Culture studies. This in-depth session will explore the content, features and functionality of American Broadsides and Ephemera, 1749-1900, a Readex Archive of Americana collection.

Based on the American Antiquarian Society’s landmark collection, American Broadsides and Ephemera provides nearly 30,000 fully searchable images of visual and graphical materials printed in America during the 18th and 19th centuries. These rare materials provide
Free Webinar! American Broadsides and Ephemera: Exploring Visual Culture in 19th-Century America

Just published—The Readex Report: February 2014

IN THIS ISSUE: A stirring look at an iconic abolitionist, the triumphant return of a renowned revolutionary, and a dead poet transmits verses via a mendacious medium.

The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass in Anacostia (Washington, D.C.) as told in the Washington Evening Star
By John Muller, author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C.: The Lion of Anacostia

Just published—The Readex Report: February 2014

Just published — The Readex Report: September 2012

In this issue: celebrating a milestone of African American freedom; China's canal system sparks domestic curiosity and competition; students reveal the history of Radical Republicans; and fetching females hawk clipper-ship trips. Freedom Bound: The Sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation By Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Associate Professor of History, University of Delaware, and Director of the Program in African American History, Library Company of Philadelphia
In 2013, people across the United States will celebrate the sesquicentennial of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. As the country approached a third year of bloody civil war, President Abraham Lincoln issued what has become the most symbolic of mandates. Although limited in many ways, the Proclamation stands as a centerpiece in the long struggle to end racial slavery in America, an institution that spanned more than two centuries and brought death and despair to millions of people of African descent. (read article)
Lake Erie by Way of Guangzhou: Or, The Other Canal Boom By Dael Norwood, Ph.D. Candidate in History, Princeton University
Just published — The Readex Report: September 2012

Charles Dickens turns 200

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth. America’s Historical Newspapers contains hundreds of contemporaneous articles about this genius of English literature, as well as reviews of his works and advertisements for his books. Here are a few samples, supplemented by the menu of a banquet held in his honor, found in American Broadsides and Ephemera.
Charles Dickens turns 200

The Readex Report: In Praise of Librarians and Archivists; Of Presidents and Papers; Ephemeral Loyalties; and Playing Hardball

In our latest issue: A professor lauds his colleagues in the library; dissecting a timeless inaugural speech; consumption versus nationalism in early America; and the unheralded impact of a hard-swinging civil rights giant. In Praise of Librarians and Archivists: Appreciating the Colleagues Who Make Professors’ Jobs Easier By Mark Cheathem, Associate Professor of History, Cumberland University Since I was a child begging my mother to take me to the library on a daily basis, I have appreciated the designated keepers of books. Conducting research as an undergraduate student made me aware of the specialized jobs that academic librarians did every day to make life easier for the clueless young people like me who wandered into the building with no idea about how to find academic journal articles or primary sources.... (read article)
The Readex Report: In Praise of Librarians and Archivists; Of Presidents and Papers; Ephemeral Loyalties; and Playing Hardball

"Appeal to Loyal Women!" -- The Creation of the United States Sanitary Commission and the Impact of Civilian Volunteers during the American Civil War

Henry Whitney Bellows (1814-1882), planner and president of the United States Sanitary Commission, the leading soldiers' aid society, during the American Civil War.

On April 12, 1861, Confederate artillery opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. The first shots had been fired in a war that would last four long and bloody years. This April marked the beginning of a four-year commemoration of the 150th anniversary, or Sesquicentennial,of the American Civil War. Over the next four years, Civil War re-enactors, historians and history enthusiasts from across the United States will gather to help commemorate the battles and other important events linked to the war.

"Appeal to Loyal Women!" -- The Creation of the United States Sanitary Commission and the Impact of Civilian Volunteers during the American Civil War

Civil War Imagery on Clipper Ship Sailing Cards

Our guest blogger today is Bruce D. Roberts, author of Clipper Ship Sailing Cards (2007) and Mechanical Bank Trade Cards (2008). His new article on "The Development of the American Advertising Card" appears in the April 2011 issue of The Readex Report.

In the mid-nineteenth century, clipper ships sailed from New York and Boston to San Francisco. Shipping lines advertised voyages of clipper ships via sailing cards, most of which were issued between 1856 and 1868. The American Civil War fell right in the middle of this span, and Civil War imagery is seen on many cards. The examples below are found in American Broadsides and Ephemera, Series I, a Readex digital archive created in partnership with the American Antiquarian Society.

Invincible

Civil War Imagery on Clipper Ship Sailing Cards

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