In 2003, Readex began a special partnership with Dartmouth College Library. Readex wished to scan a number of specific maps and color illustrations for our definitive digital edition of the 14,000-volume U.S. Congressional Serial Set—the crown jewel of American government publications. The Serial Set, which contains the Reports, Documents and Journals of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, is an exceptional source of primary material on nearly two centuries of American history. To ensure the comprehensiveness of our digital edition, our initial goal was to borrow and scan these items located in the Dartmouth volumes.
In 2005, this Dartmouth-Readex partnership expanded from the initial request to a landmark project to preserve the complete print set at the Dartmouth College Library. In addition to enabling Readex to offer researchers the most accurate and comprehensive digital edition available, this unique partnership brought several benefits to the Dartmouth College Library: the cleaning and repair of more than 13,800 volumes, including the critical repair of spines and thousands of fold-out maps; creation of detailed item records for every volume; and invaluable first-hand experience with a large-scale digitization project.
<h5 style="text-align: center;">“Report of a committee of the Linnæan Society of New England relative to a large marine animal, supposed to be a serpent, seen near Cape Ann, Massachusetts, in August, 1817.” From Early American Imprints, Series II.</h5>
<p>Upon opening your copy of <em>The Salem Gazette</em> on New Year’s Day, 1818, your continued patronage would have been solicited with a page in verse which included the following:</p>
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Nothing says “home” quite like a map of Alaska and adjacent lands shown as Russian and British territory—with annotations in French!
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</a><p>“Map showing Russian territory of Alaska and coastline of western Canada. Alaskan Boundary Tribunal” (1903). Source: U.S. Congressional Serial Set, Readex</p></div>
Where would America be without maps? In cases where the United States purchased significant portions of its domain from other countries, the transactions would have been a hard sell without detailed maps showing boundaries, landmarks—and possibilities. Likewise for territory acquired in resolution of conflicts, maps were crucial in determining sovereignty and peaceable relations with potential adversaries.
Consider the following map as a realtor might: Where would you put a fort? A port? Is the land timbered? Any navigable rivers? How’s the neighborhood? Can the previous owner offer clear title, or will there be a war? Will the financing come through? And after all that—is the acquisition constitutional? This is no place for buyer’s remorse!
<p>Lincoln J. Beachey (March 3, 1887 – March 14, 1915)</p></div>
In the early 20th century, aviator Lincoln Beachey and his Curtis biplane amazed and delighted crowds with the “Dip of Death” and his mastery of “looping the loop.” Or by daring to fly upside down, which on one occasion shook $300 from his pocket and led him to quip,
<blockquote>I am willing to take a chance of losing my life flying upside down but it’s certainly tough to be torn loose from my bank roll, too.<sup>1</sup></blockquote>
A groundbreaking aviator and breathtaking stuntman, he could boast of having performed for over 20 million spectators, or about one fifth of the U.S. population at the time. Yet 100 years later his name is largely unknown.
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In our latest issue: A recent New York Times op-ed posits digitized newspapers have "the potential to revolutionize biographical research"; digital archives expose corrupt corporate governance across history; how sailing cards leveraged an idealized picture of manhood and masculinity; and the lethal legacy of an ephemeral American sport—plus three featured posts from this blog.