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.
In this issue: helping young African-American scholars move toward new academic heights; six-foot-under censorship in the honor-bound Old South; and a Founding Father's focus on frugality shapes the American dream.
For the last five summers, the two of us have coordinated the African American Literatures and Cultures Institute (AALCI)—a program for college students with interests in eventually pursuing graduate degrees. The Institute convenes on the campus of the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) for the month of June. The program has provided us with important opportunities to enhance undergraduate students’ learning and to orient them toward a broader as well as deeper realm of ideas concerning African American studies. > Full Story
Reliving a moment in history through the pages of America’s Historical Newspapers takes the event out of its place on the timeline of history and reinserts it into the messy context of its era. The details of the event aren’t altered, but what surrounds it makes you think, “Oh wow, that was going on at the same time.” Or, “Man, I didn’t know he was involved in this.” Or, “I never knew that happened.”
Sometimes even events that everybody knows about are seen in new ways. The response to the attack on Pearl Harbor is a case in point. One of the odd things is that Pearl Harbor seems to exist almost outside of the wartime context, even though Japan was at war in China. The bombs falling on Hawaii and the sinking of our ships dominate our memory of it, even though it had a greater role in Japan’s war strategy which sometimes seems forgotten.
In 1895 editors at thirteen major American newspapers were asked to use their “prophetic powers” to forecast the news publishing world a century hence.
Over the previous decades, many of them had personally witnessed a host of “advancements in the art of newspaper making”: “from the Washington hand press to the perfecting press; from the stage coach to the telegraph; from paper at 10 cents to good paper at 2 cents a pound; from handset to marvelous typesetting machines…”
In this full-page article found in America’s Historical Newspapers, each of those prominent journalists “draw aside the curtain and peer into the future” to imagine the newspaper of 1995.
Here are excerpts from their predictions published nearly 120 years ago.