Early American Newspapers


Readex Announces New Collections Coming Fall 2018

Readex is pleased to announce several new digital collections created in partnership with such leading repositories as the American Antiquarian Society, The British Library, and others.  Coming fall 2018, these primary source collections are designed to meet wide-ranging teaching and research needs in diverse areas of American and African studies. 


African Newspapers: The British Library Collection

AN BL image.JPGCreated in partnership with the British Library, this unique database features 64 newspapers from across the African continent, all published before 1900. From culture to history to geopolitics, the pages of these newspapers offer fresh research opportunities for students and scholars interested in topics related to Africa, including European exploration, colonial exploitation, economics, Atlantic trade, early moves towards self-governance, the growth of South Africa, and much more. Because Africa produced comparatively few newspapers in the 19th century, each page in this collection is significant, offering invaluable insight into the people, issues and events that shaped the continent. Through eyewitness reporting, editorials, letters, advertisements, obituaries, and military reports, the newspapers in this one-of-a-kind collection chronicle African history and daily life as never before.


American Policy Series

Readex Announces New Collections Coming Fall 2018

Casting Light on the Bomb-Throwers: Revisiting Chicago’s 1886 Haymarket Riot and Its Social Fallout

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There’s an ironic twist in the contents of Chicago’s Sunday Inter Ocean newspaper for October 10, 1886, that wouldn’t have been apparent to its readers of that day. Much of the issue was devoted to transcribing the 5-1/2 hour courtroom speech of Albert Parsons, defending himself and seven of his anarchist compatriots against the death penalty for their alleged complicity in the Haymarket Riot of May 4, 1886.

The last act in the great anarchist drama was played yesterday, at least so far as Cook County is concerned. Only the curtain of the gallows needs to be rang down and the drama is ended. So, as the courtroom filled when the doors were opened at 9:45, the specter of death seemed to have entered before them. The vision of eight dangling forms seemed to fill the air with its unwholesome presence.

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Casting Light on the Bomb-Throwers: Revisiting Chicago’s 1886 Haymarket Riot and Its Social Fallout

The Savage Struggle for Life Aboard the RMS Atlantic: Tracking a Pre-Titanic Maritime Disaster through America’s Historical Newspapers

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“Terrible Ocean Calamity: A White Star Line Steamer Lost,” read the Boston Evening Journal’s headline. The article went on to report:

It is our painful duty this morning to record the most terrible marine disaster that has ever occurred on our coast—the loss of a great ocean steamship with about 750 lives.

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Readers would be excused to think RMS Titanic at this point. However, the RMS Atlantic disaster preceded the loss of the Titanic by 39 years. On June 2, 1873, 145 years ago, the Jackson Daily Citizen ran a front-page article beneath the headline, “A Watery Grave,” stating:

The White Star steamer Atlantic…while coming into this port [Halifax] for coal, struck on Meagher’s Rock, near Cape Prospect, 22 miles west of Halifax, and became a total wreck. Of about 1,000 souls on board upwards of 700 were drowned. The third officer, Brady, arrived in this city this evening. He says that the Atlantic left Liverpool on the 20th of March with upward of 900 steerage passengers and about 50 cabin passengers. The steamer experienced boisterous weather during the passage, but all went well till noon, Monday, the 31st, when the supply of coal became nearly exhausted and the captain determined to put into Halifax.

The Savage Struggle for Life Aboard the RMS Atlantic: Tracking a Pre-Titanic Maritime Disaster through America’s Historical Newspapers

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)

Out of Africa: Ota Benga’s Journey from the Congo to a Cage at the Bronx Zoo

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LECTURED BY THE HEATHEN—Is American hospitality inferior to that of barbarians? Are our manners below the standard of heathendom? These questions are suggested by certain comments of the Batwa pygmies, who are on exhibition at St. Louis. These pygmies come from Central Africa and represent about the lowest type of the human race. They were brought to this country by a missionary, and apparently imagined that they would be received as guests and hospitably entertained. It is a shock to learn that the impression which the Batwa visitors have received is not altogether favorable.

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It was just a passing notice in the press, a minor commentary on the spectacle that was the 1904 World’s Fair, held in St. Louis and also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Compared with the general trend of the newspaper coverage of indigenous people displayed at the fair, this article was marked by the charitable tone of the correspondent. Despite the implicit racism of “heathen” being placed “on exhibition” and judged as less highly evolved, the writer here was at least sympathetic to the Africans’ claims.

Out of Africa: Ota Benga’s Journey from the Congo to a Cage at the Bronx Zoo

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]

Better Learning, Better Classrooms: Why Newspapers Matter

rapt.jpgAlmost every week I’m asked, “How can we use historical newspapers to teach undergraduates?”

Great question!

Mostly it’s faculty who come to me asking for this advice, but librarians wonder about this, too.

Faculty (mostly professors of history, politics, government, and cultural studies) want to be sure their students have an experience in which they truly “touch history.” There’s also a strong desire to have students work directly with primary sources and draw their own conclusions from the materials they encounter. The objective is to instill knowledge, understanding, and critical-thinking skills. That’s a formula, they all agree, for student success.

Historical newspapers, including Readex’s own America's Historical Newspapers, hit the target in every respect. Here are just a few of the ways:

► Students cannot truly understand an event in America’s past without seeing firsthand and in real-time what people said about it. Newspapers are the only certain vehicle for this.

►Newspapers capture “the voice of the moment,” unprocessed, unfiltered, direct, and raw. Students instantly grasp this fact, which drives interest and excitement. Sometimes it even leads to great student papers and presentations!

►Newspapers offer multiple points of view, often across a time span of many days or months or years. They fit perfectly with assignments that require pro-and-con analysis. They also fit perfectly with assignments that ask students to synthesize multiple arguments across time. Newspapers provide most—and sometimes all—of the material a student needs.

Better Learning, Better Classrooms: Why Newspapers Matter

Seductive Spies, a Quest for Friendly Fumes, and a Lethal Love Triangle: Readex Report (October 2017)

In this issue: feminine charms reveal Civil War strategies; a dismembered body linked to a racially charged love triangle; and the dicey dealings of early American anesthesiologists.


Two Women Who Spied During the American Civil War: Going Undercover with Belle Boyd and Pauline Cushman in the Archive of Americana

Bruce D. Roberts, author of Clipper Ship Sailing Cards

Two Women 1b.jpgIn July 1861—just three months after the bombardment of Fort Sumter—unabashed Southern sympathizer Rose O’Neal Greenhow of Washington, D.C., was already engaged in espionage on behalf of the Confederacy. Well-placed in Washington society—and adept at bleeding information from the many men who found her attractive—Greenhow learned that Union troops under General Irvin McDowell would attack Rebel forces in Manassas, Virginia, within days... > Full Story

Seductive Spies, a Quest for Friendly Fumes, and a Lethal Love Triangle: Readex Report (October 2017)

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

Announcing “Undergrads Doing History: Using Digital Primary Sources to Motivate Students” – An Upcoming Webinar by Prof. Carl Robert Keyes

banner top.JPG“How can I better incorporate my own research into the undergraduate courses I teach?”

College and university professors grapple with this question every semester.  In this 45-minute webinar, Prof. Keyes will reveal how he adapted two digital humanities projects—drawn from his own research on advertising in early America—into classroom exercises that challenge students to actively “do” history rather than merely learn about the past.

Register to attend this and learn how to:

• develop alternative assignments that engage student interest yet also enhance skills associated with traditional essays

• improve information literacy by identifying and assessing primary sources and secondary sources

• create research projects based on extensive collections of digital primary sources

• avoid pitfalls when developing digital humanities projects for undergraduate students

The webinar will conclude with an open Q & A session, and all registrants will receive a link to the recorded session.

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Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017 at 2:00 pm Eastern

Announcing “Undergrads Doing History: Using Digital Primary Sources to Motivate Students” – An Upcoming Webinar by Prof. Carl Robert Keyes

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