Original articles by academic faculty, librarians and other researchers.


In this issue: Turn-of-the-century black intellectuals challenge a dark pseudo-science; the politics of antislavery in the early twentieth-century press; and the flash press reveals ordinary and outrageous lives of urban women.

Archives of Freedom: Fugitive Science in Antebellum Black Newspapers

Fugitive Science: Empiricism and Freedom in Early African American Culture (NYU Press, 2017) traces a forgotten history of black resistance to the ascendency of racial science in the nineteenth century. Beginning in the late eighteenth century, naturalists, medical doctors, comparative anatomists, and a variety of gentleman scientists became increasingly interested in the construction of human taxonomies that justified regimes of settler colonialism and enslavement in the Americas. Enslaved and indigenous people were easy targets for human experiments because of their capture and confinement within spaces like the plantation, the slave ship, and later, the reservation. Their bodies were also required as embodied “proofs” of the racial hierarchies being imagined and constructed in the minds of white settlers. While the history of scientific and medical exploitation is a dark and unsettling story, one that poignantly illustrates the nature of racial subjection in the Americas more broadly, it was not without its opponents. Indeed, at every turn in the history of racialized experimentation, we are able to locate subjects who were resisting, challenging, and refusing the conditions of the their exploitation.

 

Archives of Freedom:  Fugitive Science in Antebellum Black Newspapers


Reverend Peter Thomas Stanford Pushes Back: The Politics of Antislavery in the Early Twentieth-Century Press

In the late 1890s, Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee Institute’s principal and a former slave, was one of the most recognized black men on the planet.  His agenda for enabling jobs and education for post-Reconstruction black southerners also assuaged many white Americans’ anxieties about black economic competition and political empowerment. Another former slave turned educator shared Washington’s politics and vied with him for fame.  The Rev. Peter Thomas Stanford, M.A., M.D., D.D., L.L.D., and PhD, was hailed by the Sept. 12, 1903, Richmond Planet as “the next best known man in the work of educating his people to Booker T. Washington.”

Born in slavery in Virginia and raised briefly among Native Americans, Stanford became a writer and educator, an activist against lynching and racial violence, an institution-builder, and the first African American pastor of a church in Birmingham, England. His writings—autobiographies, a pamphlet, a textbook (three editions), speeches, sermons, and newspaper articles—demonstrate the evolution of African American print productions after the Reconstruction. Our forthcoming book on Stanford (UGA Press, 2020) revives the story of his transatlantic activism and cultural politics in Canada, England, and the United States.

 

Reverend Peter Thomas Stanford Pushes Back: The Politics of Antislavery in the Early Twentieth-Century Press


Finding Women in the Flash Press: From Entrepreneurs and Entertainers to Criminals and Consumers

 

American Underworld: The Flash Press offers rare glimpses of women's place and presence in nineteenth-century northeastern American cities. The digital collection is particularly rich in evidence of women as entrepreneurs, entertainers, and consumers of goods and cultural products. Cultural historians and literary scholars will also find fictional women across the database, with women appearing in serialized stories as sweethearts and wives, mothers, victims of crime, and working women.

It is well worth noting that the women represented in the pages of these newspapers are, overwhelmingly, white. Black women appear infrequently in news of criminal activities or as contemptible stereotypes of black womanhood. One brief but notable reference to a non-white woman is a small item in an 1835 edition of the Albany Microscope: Afong Moy, a Chinese woman who made a career out of speaking and performing before American audiences, was planning to write a book about the American people.

 

Finding Women in the Flash Press: From Entrepreneurs and Entertainers to Criminals and Consumers


Welcome to The Readex Report

This online publication explores diverse aspects of digital historical collections and provides insight into web-based resources, including the Archive of Americana and Archive of International Studies.

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