American History


Immersed in Primary Documents: A Conversation with Professor Daniel Feller [VIDEO]

This past January, history professor Daniel Feller delivered a highly praised presentation on shifting views of Andrew Jackson at the American Librarian Association midwinter meeting in Denver. Following his talk, Prof. Feller met with Readex to discuss how digitized primary sources have helped to unlock many important new discoveries about this controversial figure whose reputation has “undergone some remarkable somersaults over the years.” 

Feller began by describing the mission of “The Papers of Andrew Jackson”—the major project he directs at the University of Tennessee—to create a complete literary record of the nation’s seventh president by, among other things, tracking down every letter Andrew Jackson wrote, and every letter written to him. Digitized documents and the ability to use keyword search have proven critical to the project’s continued success.

“Digital databases, such as newspapers, now enable us to find things that we never would have been able to find before,” Feller said. He is also optimistic that Readex’s digital edition of The Territorial Papers of the United States will yield additional new findings critical to a fuller understanding of Jackson’s presidency.

Watch the interview to learn how a creative search strategy enabled his research team to find previously unknown letters, published as “curiosities” in newspapers, long after they were written and far from where they originated.

Immersed in Primary Documents: A Conversation with Professor Daniel Feller [VIDEO]

‘The Accursed Incubus’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

The April release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a book about the war’s causes by “A Southerner,” a sermon on the “national troubles” by a New Englander, and the autobiography of a prisoner of war by a self-described opium addict.


Fanaticism, and Its Results: or, Facts Versus Fancies (1860)

By A Southerner

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Under the subtitle “Facts versus Fancies,” the author begins his work.

In offering to the public the few imperfect and hastily written thoughts which are herein contained, we have been influenced by no party zeal, or sectional motives. The only feelings which have influenced us, have been truth and justice. A desire to do justice to both parties—North and South.

He continues, writing in a section titled “The Demon of Abolitionism”:

We would not do injustice to any one or any party, and we trust that we will be able to show that our assertion is true, and that the only traitors in the land are those who are known as the Abolition and Republican parties.

Continuing his characterization of Republicans and abolitionists as traitors, the author proclaims his support for a unified nation before writing: 

The South has now an opportunity offered her, which, in our humble judgment, she ought not to neglect. The State of South Carolina proposes to her sister Southern States, that they shall each appoint delegates to a Convention, to be held in Atlanta, Georgia.

‘The Accursed Incubus’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

Overt Operations: The North Korean Seizure of the USS Pueblo Exacerbates Flaws in U.S. Naval Intelligence

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As President Trump prepares for a landmark summit meeting with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, it’s worthwhile to recall an actual landmark in that country’s capital, Pyongyang. Moored on the Potong River in the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum, the USS Pueblo is still listed by the U.S. Navy as in active military service since it was seized by the North Koreans on January 23, 1968. One crew member was killed during the assault, and the 82 survivors were imprisoned and tortured by the North Koreans for nearly a year.

Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, America’s suspicions of communism and deployments against the Russians remained largely unchanged. If President Trump expects dramatic shifts in North Korean or American strategic interests to result from a single summit, history has shown that deadly games of cat-and-mouse are persistent motifs of international relations despite diplomatic initiatives to the contrary.

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Overt Operations: The North Korean Seizure of the USS Pueblo Exacerbates Flaws in U.S. Naval Intelligence

‘The voice of female sorrow’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The April release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes the first edition of the abolitionist newsletter The Tourist, a two-volume work examining the sinfulness of American slavery, and a collection of letters by and to noted social reformer Abigail Hopper Gibbons.


The Tourist; or, Sketch Book of the Times (1832)

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Published under the superintendence of the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual Abolition of Slavery Throughout the British Dominions, The Tourist was a literary and anti-slavery journal. It focused upon the exposure of slavery abuses but also contained poetry and essays on religion, housewife duties, and ancient astronomy. The first edition includes this moving account of a white woman attempting to purchase her childhood friend’s freedom:                                                    

‘The voice of female sorrow’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

Scandal, Brothels and Blackmail: Announcing the Release of “American Underworld: The Flash Press”

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“When the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) was founded in 1812, its ambitious goal was to collect one of everything printed in the United States.  Thus this national research library of early American history and culture has a premier collection of low-life raunchy urban periodicals. Rarely saved by more decorous libraries, these obscure publications define a largely masculine subculture (saloons, brothels, boxing rings) that posed a stark alternative to antebellum respectability.”

— Patricia Cohen, co-author of The Flash Press

In the first half of the 19th century a number of unruly urban newspapers—collectively called the Flash Press—began to appear.  One of the earliest titles in this short-lived form of journalism was The Flash, which inspired scores of copycat papers. More than sixty of these heavily researched publications from the holdings of the American Antiquarian Society are planned for Readex’s American Underworld: The Flash Press. And now more than a third of these ephemeral titles have been digitized and released in this unique new digital newspaper collection.

 

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Scandal, Brothels and Blackmail: Announcing the Release of “American Underworld: The Flash Press”

Union POWs in Confederate Prisons: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

 

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The latest release of imprints from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes several accounts by Union soldiers who were prisoners of war in Confederate prisons.


Prison-life in the Tobacco Warehouse at Richmond by a Ball's Bluff Prisoner, Lieut. Wm. C. Harris, of Col. Baker's California Regiment (1862)

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In an earlier release from this collection we featured a walking tour of Richmond, Virginia, during which the narrator observes the prison that had been converted from a tobacco warehouse. This imprint describes life inside that prison. Prisoner Harris gives us his personal recollections and dedicates his reflections:

To my Brother-Prisoners in Richmond these sketches are affectionately inscribed by the author

In his preface the author states his intention:

These sketches were written to lessen the tedium of my lengthy imprisonment; and if they serve to recall to my prison-companions the scenes enacted in the old Warehouse, and enlist the interest and sympathies of the reader, they will have accomplished all that is desired by the publication of them.

Union POWs in Confederate Prisons: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

A Video Preview of the Digital Edition of the Territorial Papers of the United States

Since the early 1940s, Readex has been the leading innovator in the publication of historical American resources. We started our work with massive projects, including Early American Imprints, based on the Evans and Shaw-Shoemaker bibliographies, and Early American Newspapers.

Back then, the medium was microprint and then microform, and it often took ten…or twenty…or thirty years to complete a single product. Many source institutions had to be visited; many documents had to be filmed; and many license agreements had to be drawn up. New technologies had to be developed, too, to ensure that the original images were captured as effectively as possible. These early major collections later became online digital offerings, of course. The ones mentioned above proved to be absolutely foundational back in the early days of digitization.

Today, Readex is extremely proud to be the developer of one more foundational product: Territorial Papers of the United States. This new collection—which we are releasing in four series beginning in June 2018—captures the essential history of more than half of the states of the United States when they were still territories. From Florida to California to Alaska and just about everywhere else in between, Territorial Papers is the crucial—and until now, undigitized—record of a growing, expanding America.

A Video Preview of the Digital Edition of the Territorial Papers of the United States

‘The Hard Pillow of the Dying Hero’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

This month’s release of imprints from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes the personal account of a formidable nurse and her care of wounded and dying Union Army soldiers, an address to a reunion of Confederate veterans in 1895, and a first-person description of a southern woman’s travails in a Union prison in the post-war era.


In Hospital and Camp: A Woman’s Record of Thrilling Incidents among the Wounded in the Late War (1869)

By Sophronia E. Bucklin

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Sophronia Bucklin (1828-1902) was an unmarried seamstress born in 1828 and living in upstate New York when the war began. She was determined to serve, as her opening paragraph of this account makes clear.

When, in the complexity of national affairs, it became necessary for armed men to assemble in multitudes, to become exposed to the hardships and privations of camps and deadly peril of battle fields, there arose the same necessity for woman to lend her helping hand to bind up the wounds of the shattered soldier, and smooth the hard pillow of the dying hero.

She met her mission, and her tireless work did not go unnoticed although she may not be as well remembered as Dorothea Dix or Clara Barton. Someone using the initials S.L.C. has written an introduction to this imprint in which she cites Bucklin as the embodiment of countless women of courage and forbearance.

‘The Hard Pillow of the Dying Hero’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

‘The Village of Innocence’: Rare Early 19th-Century Children’s Books from the American Antiquarian Society

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Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society makes available more than 1,700 rare and unique publications printed between 1801 and 1819. Included in the newest release, and highlighted below, are several illustrated works of juvenile literature intended to instruct and uplift.


A Premium (1803)

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It can be striking to observe how many stories for children used to refer to death occasionally to attribute it as a naughty youngster’s fate . A verse of the poem which opens this tale:

Do whate’er thy hand shall find,

With all thy might with all thy mind,

Now in works of love abound,

None can in the grave be found.

This somber poem is followed by another titled “On the Death of a Favorite Cat.” The ensuing illustration depicts three children pointing to a dead cat which had been hanged from a branch. This cat had been enticed by a trap set to catch a fox.

The text includes a sprinkling of aphorisms, including:

He that is his own appraiser, will be disappointed in the value.

‘The Village of Innocence’: Rare Early 19th-Century Children’s Books from the American Antiquarian Society

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]

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