American Library Association


‘Dramatic Effects’: 19th-Century Theater as Epicenters of Social Networking

Think about this word: melodrama. What image comes to mind?

Brooklyn College theater historian Amy E. Hughes began her presentation at the 2019 American Library Association Midwinter Meeting with that short thought experiment, asking attendees to picture melodrama.

Did you “see” what they did?

 

Many in the audience had envisioned something akin to the “Railroad Rescue,” a scene that originated in Augustin Daily’s Under the Gaslight, a popular play which premiered in New York City in 1867. But as Hughes would reveal, the “Railroad Sensation”—as it was called then—has a “surprisingly complicated and convoluted history.” View the full presentation.

Throughout her talk, titled “Dramatic Effects: The Impact of Theater on 19th-Century U.S. Culture and Society,” Prof. Hughes provided a fascinating overview of the 19th-century theater industry. She shared some of the discoveries her recent research has reWatkins sm.jpgvealed, and she unpacked the little-known history of that “Railroad Rescue,” pointing out its significant political and social factors.

‘Dramatic Effects’: 19th-Century Theater as Epicenters of Social Networking

‘Dramatic Effects: The Impact of Theater on 19th-Century U.S. Culture and Society’ – Announcing the Readex ALA Midwinter Breakfast

On Sunday, January 27, Readex will host a special breakfast presentation titled “Dramatic Effects: The Impact of Theater on 19th-Century U.S. Culture and Society.” An open discussion will follow the talk by Amy E. Hughes, Associate Professor of Theater History and Criticism at Brooklyn College.

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About the Presentation

From Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: An American Musical, U.S. theater has inspired fervent passion and intense loyalty in those who enjoy and study it. As architecture and activity, edifice and event, refuge and recreation, the theater is deeply beloved.

In this engaging talk, Prof. Amy Hughes—a leading authority on American drama—reveals some of the chaotic complexities of 19th-century theater culture. She brings to life the eclectic amusements staged in playhouses, the diverse work and workers involved, the dynamic camaraderie that sustained theatrical communities, and the lasting influence and impact of its most popular spectacles. To understand 19th-century theater fully, she argues, researchers must read surviving dramas and ephemera against the grain and between the lines.

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About the Speaker

‘Dramatic Effects: The Impact of Theater on 19th-Century U.S. Culture and Society’ – Announcing the Readex ALA Midwinter Breakfast

“The highlight of my conference”: The Readex Breakfast at the 2018 ALA Annual Conference

The Readex-sponsored breakfast presentation continues to be a must-attend event during the American Library Association Annual Conference. In a post-event survey, participants said:

“Always one of the highlights of attending ALA.”

“The Readex breakfast is the highlight of my conference every year.”

“Thanks for not shying away from possibly controversial topics. The speakers are always good.”

Invite for Blog Post ALA 2018 Highlights.JPGOn Sunday, June 24 in New Orleans, Prof. Stephen Aron—a leading authority on the American frontier—presented an alternative history of the Louisiana Territory in a fascinating talk titled “When Indians and Americans Got Along.”

Aron, professor of history and Robert N. Burr Chair at the University of California, Los Angeles, described a period of U.S. history in which Americans and Indians found common ground—at least for a time. He emphasized that the alternative history he describes actually happened, unlike “alternate history”—a genre of fiction in which one or more historical events have a different outcome from what really occurred.

Aron is currently writing a book with the working title Can We All Get Along: An Alternative History of the American West.  Throughout his research, Aron has drawn on digital primary documents, including those in Readex collections:

 

 

View the full presentation.

“The highlight of my conference”: The Readex Breakfast at the 2018 ALA Annual Conference

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]

‘When Indians and Americans Got Along’ – Announcing the Readex Breakfast at the 2018 ALA Annual Conference

On Sunday, June 24, Readex will host a special breakfast presentation titled “When Indians and Americans Got Along: An Alternative History of the Louisiana Territory.” An open discussion will follow the talk by Stephen Aron, professor of history and Robert N. Burr Chair at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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About the Presentation

In this enlightening talk, Prof. Aron—a leading authority on the American frontier—disputes textbook histories that treat the ejection of Indians from their lands as inevitable and relations between native peoples and American pioneers as unremittingly hostile. Aron’s spirited presentation uncovers an alternative history in which some Indian and American migrants to Spanish Louisiana, including most famously Daniel Boone, overcame their enmities and cordially cohabited.

Drawing on Spanish colonial records and the Territorial Papers of the United States, Aron explores how former enemies found common ground in the 1790s and how generally friendly interactions continued after the Louisiana Purchase transferred the territory to the United States. But in the decade after the War of 1812, he explains, amicable relations gave way to pressure from a new group of settlers and to the demands of “American democracy.” These changes challenged the authority of territorial officials like William Clark and paved the trail for Indian removals to and through the Louisiana Territory.

About the Speaker

‘When Indians and Americans Got Along’ – Announcing the Readex Breakfast at the 2018 ALA Annual Conference

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]

Announcing the Readex 2018 ALA Midwinter Breakfast—‘Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears: Setting the Record Straight’

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On Sunday, February 11, Readex will host a special breakfast presentation titled, “Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears: Setting the Record Straight.” An open discussion will follow the talk by Daniel Feller, a professor of history and one of the nation’s leading authorities on Andrew Jackson.

About the Presentation

insetpic-jackson2.jpgPresident Andrew Jackson's Indian removal policy is today the single greatest stain on his once heroic reputation. As many of us were taught, Jackson was an Indian-hater who drove the Cherokees and other Indians from their ancestral homes, producing the infamous Trail of Tears on which many thousands died. When the Supreme Court tried to stop him, he nakedly defied its order, saying “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it.”

But, as often happens in history, what everyone knows may not be exactly true. What really happened, what alternatives were available, and how much of the blame should Jackson bear? In this presentation, Daniel Feller, Professor of History and Editor/Director of The Papers of Andrew Jackson at the University of Tennessee, strikes beneath the surface of this well-known tale to reassess the historical facts of Indian removal and to consider their implications.

About the Speaker

Announcing the Readex 2018 ALA Midwinter Breakfast—‘Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears: Setting the Record Straight’

Readex Congratulates Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar Whose New Book Has Been Nominated for a 2017 National Book Award

never-caught-9781501126390_lg.jpgCongratulations to Erica Armstrong Dunbar whose new book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge, has been long-listed for the 2017 National Book Awards.  It is one of ten non-fiction nominees for this year’s prize which will be announced on November 15. Dr. Dunbar is the Director of the Library Company of Philaelphia’s African American History Program and the Charles and Mary Beard Professor of History at Rutgers University.

Never Caught was described by Columbia University Professor Eric Foner as “a fascinating and moving account of a courageous and resourceful woman. Beautifully written and utilizing previously untapped sources it sheds new light both on the father of our country and on the intersections of slavery and freedom.”

Readex Congratulates Dr. Erica Armstrong Dunbar Whose New Book Has Been Nominated for a 2017 National Book Award

George Washington’s Runaway Slave

Never-Caught-jacket.jpg“Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge”—a new book about the risks one young woman took for freedom—was published yesterday.  Author Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Distinguished Blue and Gold Professor of Black Studies and History at the University of Delaware, explores not only the 22-year-old’s courageous escape from the Philadelphia home of the first First Family but also the subsequent efforts George Washington took over many years to have her recaptured. 

Writing about Dunbar’s new work, Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of “The Hemingses of Monticello,” says, “There is no way to really know the Washingtons without knowing this story.”  In a discussion at a recent Readex-hosted American Library Association event, Prof. Dunbar shared the story of Ona Judge:

 

 

As explained above, Prof. Dunbar’s sources include historical newspaper coverage spanning Judge’s escape “from the household of the President of the United States,” as described in a 1796 runaway slave advertisement, to articles such as this 1845 item reprinted in the National Anti-Slavery Standard:

George Washington’s Runaway Slave

History Professor David Goldfield Offers New Perspective on Civil War at American Library Association Meeting [VIDEO]

"History is messy."

That’s the lesson David Goldfield, the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History at University of North Carolina, Charlotte, taught at the Readex breakfast presentation at the 2017 American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta. Prof. Goldfield supported this short declaration with several poignant examples.

While our minds tend to enjoy simple, clear-cut, good-versus-evil narratives, the reality is much more complex, Goldfield argued.  He used his research surrounding U.S. religious and Southern history to provide a new look at the causes and outcomes of the American Civil War, first explaining why he finds the often-told story of the war “woefully incomplete.” He asked his audience of academic librarians to entertain a very different perspective on the war.

Throughout his presentation, Goldfield challenged the usual chronicle surrounding the war—the familiar debate of states’ rights and slavery—and instead focused on the consequences of righteousness and the effects of removing the barrier between church and state. According to Goldfield, the Civil War represented the failure of our political system, caused by the injection of religion.

History Professor David Goldfield Offers New Perspective on Civil War at American Library Association Meeting [VIDEO]

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