America's Historical Newspapers


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

640px-Kiralfy_Bros__Black_crook__LCCN2014636787.jpg

“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.

_The_naked_truth_An_inside_history_of_the_Black__1897.jpg

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

What makes a primary source interface a GREAT interface?

When Readex recently posed this question to a wide range of researchers, we heard four crucial things:

  • Modern styling—researchers want primary source databases that are visually engaging and feel “right”
  • Ease of use—both experts and novices want their path to primary sources to be simple and intuitive
  • Speed!—software must search quickly, deliver relevant results in a blink, and rapidly display large images
  • Flexible tools that optimize content use and which map to common user needs and workflows.

With this feedback front and center, Readex has been busy making fresh improvements to its interfaces.

Two months ago I had the pleasure of announcing a major overhaul of the America’s Historical Newspapers and World Newspaper Archive platform. User reaction has been extremely positive, and it’s gratifying to see more usage and better research outcomes.

AHN.JPG

We’ve already saved many users a substantial amount of time, too, by introducing a number of efficiencies to the interface.

Of course the work is never done, nor should it be. It’s important to stay abreast of needs and to make continuous improvements to our interfaces and services.

During the past several months we’ve been focusing on the fourth bullet above—“flexible tools that optimize content use.” Much of our effort has focused on enhancing the “document view” experience (sometimes called the “image viewer”) in our products. This is where users encounter the actual primary source in image form.

Throughout 2018, we met with users and asked them about the image viewer. Here’s what they said:

What makes a primary source interface a GREAT interface?

“A fantastic resource” – 1-Minute Video about Bawdy U.S. Newspapers of the 19th Century

The appearance of the terms “licentious” and “licentiousness” in American periodicals rose dramatically in the early 1840s in tandem with the rise of the unruly urban newspapers collectively called the Flash Press. Now a unique collection of this short-lived form of journalism, created from the exceptional holdings of the American Antiquarian Society, is available in digital form.

Learn more about the Flash Press in this new 1-Minute Video:

 

Discussing this collection, the scholar Robert Wilhelm, author of The Bloody Century: True Tales of Murder in 19th Century America, writes:

These 19th-century papers provide a missing link—a sympathetic view of the demimonde, appealing to a literate, urban and mostly male audience to balance the moralistic tone taken by mainstream publications of the time. While I was aware these papers existed, I had no idea how many different titles had been published and how many issues have survived. To have them all available in one place, carefully digitized and easily searchable, is invaluable. I was especially impressed by the quality of the illustrations which were often as important as the text in these publications and are as pleasing to contemporary readers as they were to rakes and sporting men. American Underworld: The Flash Press offers a unique perspective for scholars of American vice and crime as well as researchers in other scholarly areas such as urban life and women’s studies.

“A fantastic resource” – 1-Minute Video about Bawdy U.S. Newspapers of the 19th Century

Extra! Extra! New Era Begins for America’s Historical Newspapers!

New AHN.JPG

 

What a story!

Way back in the early 1940s, book publisher Albert Boni, co-founder of the Modern Library publishing company, established the Readex Microprint Corporation in New York City and Chester, Vermont.

Boni’s purpose: Create surrogates of American historical documents, first to ensure their preservation, and second to enable wide access to the raw materials that document the American journey.

A decade later, in 1955, the American Antiquarian Society invited Readex to publish in microprint form Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1800. Suddenly the near-entire corpus of the earliest American books could be accessed in libraries across the United States and the world.

Over the years more books would be discovered and added to the “Evans” collection—a quest that continues even today.

10_microprint_0001.jpg

 

The success of this partnership led to the microform publication of Early American Imprints, Series II: Shaw-Shoemaker, 1801-1819, and Early American Newspapers , Series 1, 1690-1876.

Extra! Extra! New Era Begins for America’s Historical Newspapers!

The Wall Street Bombing of 1920: Using Historical Newspapers to Trace Terror Campaigns of the Early 20th Century

Lunchtime. Wall Street, September 16, 1920.

Secretaries and clerks crowded the streets of the financial district as a man parked a horse-drawn wagon opposite the headquarters of the J.P. Morgan bank and walked away. The wagon was a bomb: dynamite, with sash weights and other metallic objects serving as makeshift shrapnel. Shortly after noon it exploded.

Wallstreetbmb.jpg

 

The blast shredded the wagon, killed the horse and took the lives of 38 people. Hundreds more were injured. Buildings were damaged and broken glass littered the street. The need to get hundreds of victims to hospitals meant that many were delivered not by ambulance, but by cars that were parked nearby. The street was cleaned. Some evidence was surely lost.

On that first afternoon, police weren’t sure whether the bombing was deliberate or the result of a crash between an automobile and a truck delivering explosives to a nearby construction site. Before long, though, members of the bomb squad became convinced it had been a bomb. Once that was determined, police began trying to figure out who had done it.

The explosion was big news across the country. Thanks to wire service reports, afternoon papers in the Midwest and West could publish stories about it on the day it happened. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram used the Associated Press story, under the headline “Blast Wrecks J.P. Morgan Offices; Over Score Killed.”

A mysterious explosion, disastrous in its effects, occurred today in Wall Street, killing more than a score of persons and injuring hundreds.

The Wall Street Bombing of 1920: Using Historical Newspapers to Trace Terror Campaigns of the Early 20th Century

Cold Weather Conflict, Freethinkers & Faith, and Tactical Taxes: Readex Report (Oct. 2018)

In this issue: Soldiers at Chickamauga battle enemies and the elements; black thought leaders weigh outrage and religious conviction; and the political power of tariffs.


Antebellum America’s Galvanizing Issue: The Tariff

William Bolt, Associate Professor of History, Francis Marion University

Tariff Wars.jpgFor the past 50 years few Americans discussed tariffs. That has changed in the past two years. During his presidential campaign of 2016, Donald Trump hinted that he would impose tariffs in order to revitalize manufacturing in the United States. From the stump, Trump assailed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other trade agreements. While economists recoiled over these pronouncements because of the harm they might cause domestic markets, they forgot that trade restrictions serve a political purpose as well. > Full Story


Black Freethought from Slavery to Civil Rights: Atheism and Agnosticism in African American Cultural and Intellectual Life

Christopher Cameron, Associate Professor of History, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Cold Weather Conflict, Freethinkers & Faith, and Tactical Taxes: Readex Report (Oct. 2018)

Notable Titles in ‘The American West,’ Series 13 of Early American Newspapers

Now complete, Series 13 represents the world’s largest digital collection of 19th-century U.S. newspapers from the American West. Dramatically extending the geographical breadth and depth of Early American Newspapers, it delivers more than 2,000 titles published in all 24 states west of the Mississippi River. Researchers now have new opportunities for fresh discoveries on nearly every aspect of American settlement and frontier life.

1280px-East_and_West_Shaking_hands_at_the_laying_of_last_rail_Union_Pacific_Railroad_-_Restoration.jpg

Created from the holdings of the American Antiquarian Society, The American West features not only many of the earliest and rarest titles published in each Western region, but also some of the West’s most successful and influential newspapers. Among the hundreds of notable titles in Series 13 are these:

Daily Alta EAN 13.JPG

Daily Alta California (San Francisco, California; 1850-1876): The first daily newspaper in California, the Daily Alta California chronicled the rise of San Francisco from a provincial port-town to a major Western city. It was printed on the first steam-driven press in the West, and its excellent journalism soon made it the leading paper of the state.

 

Notable Titles in ‘The American West,’ Series 13 of Early American Newspapers

‘Light Up Your College Classroom with Primary Sources’—A new eBook for librarians and faculty

eBook image for Blog.JPG

This unique 34-page eBook offers five original articles that offer fresh ways to captivate and inspire college students—all based on the authors’ actual classroom experience. Written for both librarians and faculty, each short article offers first-hand descriptions of the successful integration of primary sources into teaching activities at a range of academic institutions.

Download eBook Now.JPG

The classroom uses of primary sources described in this new eBook have worked not only to introduce students to the experience of the past, but also to create deeper engagement with research activities that spark lively discussions and improve the teaching process.

 

‘Light Up Your College Classroom with Primary Sources’—A new eBook for librarians and faculty

Announcing ‘Immigrant Communities’ – The newest series of Early American Newspapers from the American Antiquarian Society

EAN 15 Email Banner.JPG

In 1800, America had fewer than 100,000 foreign-born citizens; in 1880 there would be more than six million. Newspapers published by and for these newly arrived immigrants began in America’s Eastern seaboard cities, but by the 1840s they had spread into the heartland. In some communities new immigrants were welcomed, but in others they fell victim to ethnic or religious prejudice.

Early American Newspapers, Series 15, 1822-1879: Immigrant Communities, is designed to provide a one-of-a-kind window into both sides of this uniquely American story. Series 15 contains 160 immigrant papers, many of which are considered the most important 19th-century publications of this genre. Complementing these and providing valuable context are traditional, general-interest newspapers published contemporaneously in those same cities or regions.

For more information about this unique, on-the-scene history of America’s ethnic cultures, please contact Readex Marketing.

Announcing ‘Immigrant Communities’ – The newest series of Early American Newspapers from the American Antiquarian Society

“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

Pages


Back to top