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
President 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.
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.”
“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:
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.
With incredible energy and expertise, Mark Wahlgren Summers brought history to life with his dynamic interpretation of 19th-century political campaigns for the librarians and educators who attended a Readex-hosted breakfast during the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Orlando. Summers, the Thomas D. Clark Professor of History at the University of Kentucky, where he has taught for the last 32 years, entertained the crowd with his highly animated lecture titled “Politics is just war without the bayonets”: Dirty Politics in a Genteel Age, 1868-1892.
Here, he describes stump speeches, often delivered at train stations, across the campaign trail:
Summers didn’t just tell the crowd about the past, he helped them experience it with his lively retelling, leading attendees to make comments like this:
For most historians, the Gilded Age was the Golden Age of American politics. Well before football or baseball found a vogue, it was the great participatory sport. Families turned out for parades, rallies and barbecues. Campaign clubs designed ornate uniforms and hired brass bands to precede them as they marched. Eligible voters in record numbers showed up at the polls. Watch the full presentation to understand why Summers warned that to be wistful for those days is a grave mistake.
Established in 1994, the W. David Rozkuszka Scholarship provides financial assistance to an individual who is 1) currently working with government documents in a library and 2) trying to complete a master’s degree in library science.
Sponsored by Readex and GODORT (American Library Association’s Government Documents Round Table), the award is named after W. David Rozkuszka, a former Documents Librarian at Stanford University whose talent, work ethic and personality left an indelible mark on the profession. The scholarship award is $3,000, and has assisted 20 students since 1995 with their library education. The 2016 recipient is Julie Wagner, who is entering her second year at the University of North Texas School of Information.
For the past ten years, Manisha Sinha has immersed herself in the 19th century and the world of abolitionists. The fruits of Sinha’s scholarship, a comprehensive history of the abolition movement, The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition (Yale University Press, 2016), arrives in bookstores this month.
Her work is already challenging some of the conventional ideas associated with abolition. For example, Sinha—Professor of Afro-American Studies and History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst—extends the movement’s chronological boundaries to the 18th century and demonstrates that abolition was a radical movement that involved many issues in addition to the emancipation of slaves. Perhaps most importantly, Sinha also brings light to the largely forgotten impact on the abolition movement of free and enslaved African Americans.
Speaking at a Readex breakfast event during the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Boston earlier this month, Sinha shared the major findings of her decade-long dive into abolition history and how she went about conducting research for the book. In the full presentation, Sinha describes her many trips to repositories to review physical documents, and even joked the time she spent at the American Antiquarian Society—which she describes as “the best place to do research”—almost reached the level of an occupation.
“They got me there for a year on an NEH fellowship, and I never left!” Sinha told the audience.
If you will be attending the midwinter meeting of the American Library Association, please visit our exhibit for a demonstration of our new and recent collections. The acclaimed resources highlighted below were created for researching and teaching American and world history over the past four centuries. If we miss you in Boston at booth 1417, please use the links below to request more information, including pricing.
Completing the world’s most comprehensive collection of its kind, African American Newspapers, Series 2, is the essential complement to Series 1 of this widely acclaimed resource. Series 2 now adds virtually all other available newspapers in this genre, including many rare titles—in all, more than 75 publications from 22 states and Washington, D.C. REQUEST PRICING
During the American Library Association midwinter meeting in January 2016, Readex will sponsor a special Sunday breakfast presentation entitled "Did Abolitionists Cause the Civil War?: New Directions in the History of Abolition." An open discussion will follow the talk by Manisha Sinha, acclaimed author of The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition, an ambitious new interracial history of abolition from the American Revolution to the Civil War.
About the Presentation
In this thought-provoking talk, Professor Manisha Sinha challenges the long-standing notion that abolitionists were irresponsible extremists who helped cause the Civil War. She also questions recent historical wisdom that casts abolitionists as bourgeois reformers burdened by racial paternalism and economic conservatism. Starting with early black activism and the Quaker-dominated abolition societies, Sinha recovers the largely forgotten impact of free and enslaved African Americans who shaped the abolition movement's ideology, rhetoric, and tactics. She explores the connections between abolition and other radical movements such as utopian socialism and early feminism. In challenging an entrenched system of labor and racial exploitation, Sinha shows that the abolitionist vision linked the slave's cause to redefining American democracy and the ongoing global struggle for human rights.
With her Civil War expertise, passion for environmental history, and quick wit, Megan Kate Nelson, author of Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War, offered a compelling presentation at the Readex-hosted breakfast during the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in San Francisco.
The acclaimed historian shared her journey through thousands of images created during the Civil War, including sketches, photographs, newspaper illustrations, and engravings. Through these visuals, Nelson unlocked the story of war held in trees. By the end of the hour, her passion for injured landscapes had convinced the audience that trees are, in their own way, veterans of war. They played a critical role in the “destructive creation” by both Union and Confederate soldiers. By the end of the war in 1865, more than 4 million trees had been consumed.
But, the destruction of trees only tells half the story. During the Civil War, trees played a crucial role in construction, providing the necessary material to create sturdy housing structures, critical for soldiers’ survival, especially through cold winter months. These simple buildings gave soldiers a sense of place and community, a small inkling of security in unfamiliar territory hundreds of miles from home. Through her research, Nelson uncovered evidence that soldiers even gave their homes addresses.