Digital Scholarship


Historian Paul Finkelman Provides New Context to U.S. Immigration Debate at Readex-Sponsored ALA Event [VIDEO]

We are a nation of immigrants, but sometimes it seems we forget that. Professor Paul Finkelman offered a stark reminder of this at the 2017 American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago, and attendees of his Readex-sponsored talk left with a fresh lens through which to view today’s immigration debate.

From Hollywood to Silicon Valley, from baseball stadiums to boardrooms, immigrants and their children enhance our daily lives and culture. Consider the contributions of Andrew Carnegie, Alexander Graham Bell and Albert Einstein. Immigrants, including Irving Berlin, Greta Garbo, Sophia Loren and Joe DiMaggio, have enriched our music, art, and entertainment. Think of the impact more recent innovations by immigrants—like the founding of Google and the creation of the Pentium Micro-Processor—have had on our world.

Ten percent of the first Congress was foreign-born, and immigrants continue to fill critical leadership roles in our government today.

“From the beginning to the present, immigrants and the children of immigrants have played a fairly significant role in American politics,” Finkelman said. “In the last half century we’ve had two Secretaries of State who were immigrants.”

Add to that a foreign-born Secretary of the Treasury and two ambassadors to the United Nations. As Dr. Finkelman noted, unless you are 100% Native American, you are of immigrants.

But how quickly, as a nation, we forget.

Since the late 19th century, the Statue of Liberty has symbolized freedom, standing as a welcoming beacon to millions of immigrants reaching America’s shore. The poem at the base of the statue, written by Emma Lazarus, declares: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddle masses yearning to breathe free.” 

Is the United States still a welcoming haven?

Historian Paul Finkelman Provides New Context to U.S. Immigration Debate at Readex-Sponsored ALA Event [VIDEO]

The Russia Connection: Historical Proposals to Reestablish a Land Link across the Bering Strait

There’s general agreement that as recently as 11,000 years ago the Asian and North American continents were connected by a land bridge over which hominids and other animals crossed. Today, the Bering Strait is only about 50 miles wide at its narrowest point, and less than 200 feet deep.

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Two small islands are situated midway between the continental land masses. Big Diomede Island belongs to Russia; Little Diomede Island belongs to the United States. The islands are separated by approximately two miles—and the International Date Line.

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For reference, the English Channel, between the United Kingdom and France, is about 20 miles wide and similar in depth to the Bering Strait. An undersea tunnel was proposed there during the 19th century, and has since been completed. The Suez Canal, linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean, was built in 1869. The Panama Canal was completed in 1914. In keeping with these ambitious projects, some structure across or beneath the Bering Strait has long been suggested as both practical and possible.

The Russia Connection: Historical Proposals to Reestablish a Land Link across the Bering Strait

Announcing the Readex 2017 ALA Breakfast Event: “A Nation of Immigrants and a History of Anti-Immigration”

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On Sunday, June 25, Readex will host a special breakfast presentation titled, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…” Except Them: A Nation of Immigrants and a History of Anti-Immigration.” An open discussion will follow the talk by Prof. Paul Finkelman, a leading authority on American legal history, race relations and religious freedom.

About the Presentation

Americans take pride in being a nation of immigrants and a “melting pot.” But as early as the 1640s, some leaders in the American colonies were complaining about the “wrong” kind of immigrants. This timely talk lends historical perspective to current controversies with refugees, walls and executive orders.

Announcing the Readex 2017 ALA Breakfast Event: “A Nation of Immigrants and a History of Anti-Immigration”

Signing Jackie Robinson, Malpractice in South Africa, An American Bohemian: The Readex Report (March 2017)

In this issue: the seminal inking of an African American baseball legend, Apartheid-era doctors under fire for neglect, and the unexplained loss of a literary luminary.


The Robinson Interregnum: The Black Press Responds to the Signing of Jackie Robinson, October 23, 1945-March 1, 1946

Thomas Aiello, Associate Professor of History, Valdosta State University

jackie 2.jpgThere is little about the life of Jackie Robinson that historians do not know. Each part of his saga has been analyzed time and again. Among the periods sometimes given short shrift, however, is the time between the seminal event of his signing with the Montreal Royals, AAA farm team of Branch Rickey’s Brooklyn Dodgers, in October 1945 and his arrival in Sanford, Florida, for his first spring training in an unapologetically racist South….Each of those accounts uses major black weeklies to create a picture of Robinson’s actions and the black response, but looking at smaller black weeklies, less trumpeted than the Pittsburgh Courier and Chicago Defender, a more nuanced picture of that response helps color the solid scholarship that already exists. > Full Story

Signing Jackie Robinson, Malpractice in South Africa, An American Bohemian: The Readex Report (March 2017)

‘Primary Sources Now: A Conversation with Professor David Goldfield’ [VIDEO]

Readex recently sat down with David Goldfield, the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and author of America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation. In our short discussion, Goldfield described how his extensive study of U.S. religious and Southern history—including newspaper editorials, church sermons and other primary source documents—enabled him to identify a critically important aspect of the American Civil War not often discussed by other historians.

Professor Goldfield also explained why he uses digitized primary sources in his teaching to excite and engage students. Watch the interview to learn how online resources like The American Civil War Collection help students gain a wider view of history based on a variety of perspectives.

Contact us for more information about The American Civil War Collection or other primary source collections for classroom use.

‘Primary Sources Now: A Conversation with Professor David Goldfield’ [VIDEO]

Announcing a 2017 ALA Midwinter Breakfast Presentation: ‘American Tragedy: Assailing Common Assumptions about the Civil War’

 

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During the upcoming American Library Association Midwinter Meeting, Readex will host a special Sunday breakfast presentation. Prof. David Goldfield, an exciting speaker and acclaimed authority on the American South, will present “American Tragedy: Assailing Common Assumptions about the Civil War.”

About the Presentation

Goldfield 3.jpgFor the past 50 years historians have achieved a consensus on the interpretative narrative of the American Civil War: that slavery was the primary cause of the conflict, and that the war—while bloody—produced two great results: the abolition of slavery and the salvation of the Union. Beyond the war itself, the same narrative asserts that Reconstruction was a noble but failed attempt to bind up the Union and provide the basic rights of citizenship for the freed slaves. There is nothing inherently wrong with this account, but it is woefully incomplete and, therefore, misleading.

Announcing a 2017 ALA Midwinter Breakfast Presentation: ‘American Tragedy: Assailing Common Assumptions about the Civil War’

Students Becoming Scholars: Using Digital Archives to Create a Powerful Primary Source Assignment [Webinar on Demand]

In a recent webinar, Dr. Julie Voss, Associate Professor, Department of English, Lenoir-Rhyne University, shared her experience using a digital archive of 18th-century books, broadsides and pamphlets to fascinate and challenge an undergraduate class of English majors. Using the Readex Early American Imprints collection, she asked her students to select an out-of-print text and then create an original modern edition of the work. Throughout this process, they experienced the joys and frustrations of working with rare old books, expanded their repertoire of research skills, and, in the end, began to see themselves as legitimate scholars.

Attendees told us they were hoping to:

  • Gain new ideas for engaging students in research using primary sources
  • Learn practical ways for using this kind of assignment in the classroom
  • Hear about collaboration between faculty and librarians

According to our follow up survey, their expectations were met!

“I especially appreciated learning new ways of assessing students’ knowledge. I knew a standard English research paper was not appropriate, but didn't know how to design a project.”

“Prof. Voss's project has given me ideas for expanding current student projects.”

And attendees left with ideas for implementing primary source research at their institutions:

“We look forward to expanding this project to include not only items from digital archive databases, but documents and manuscripts from our physical archives.”

Students Becoming Scholars: Using Digital Archives to Create a Powerful Primary Source Assignment [Webinar on Demand]

Black Politics, Transatlantic Adventures, and Working Women’s Dress: The Readex Report (Sept. 2016)

In this issue: Mining elusive proof of Antebellum black politics; wily wealth building during the Revolutionary War era; and runaway slave ads provide unintentional insight into Colonial Era fashion.


Excavating Antebellum Black Politics via America’s Historical Newspapers

Van Gosse, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of History, Franklin & Marshall College

RR 916 1.jpgI am finishing a history of antebellum black politics, a little-studied topic for which many of the usual sources are unavailable: white politicians did not record their correspondence with black men, and the latter rarely donated personal papers to libraries, for obvious reasons. However, America’s Historical Newspapers (AHN), used with precision, can produce extraordinary insights into the quotidian fabric of American politics and culture, evidence otherwise unavailable.> Full Story


The Mysterious Mr. Carter: Transatlantic Adventures in Early American Finance

Tom Cutterham, Lecturer in U.S. History, University of Birmingham

Black Politics, Transatlantic Adventures, and Working Women’s Dress: The Readex Report (Sept. 2016)

Exotic China, Canadian Blacks and a Forgotten American War: The Readex Report (April 2016)

In this issue: The first American vessel to reach exotic China sparks nationwide wonder; nineteenth-century Canadian blacks find their voice in the American press; and an unheralded hero from a forgotten American war. 


The “New People” in China: Using Historical Newspapers to Analyze America’s First Contacts with Asia

By Dane Morrison, Professor of Early American History, Salem State University 

Exotic China, Canadian Blacks and a Forgotten American War: The Readex Report (April 2016)

Readex Report contributor T.J. Stiles wins 2016 Pulitzer Prize in History

[Editor’s note: This week the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in History was awarded to T. J. Stiles for “Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America.” One of America’s most accomplished independent scholars, Stiles won the 2009 National Book Award in Nonfiction and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for “The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt.” In this previously published Readex Report article, he discusses his use of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set—the single most important series of American government publications—for biographical research.] 


 Commodore Vanderbilt: Patriot or War Profiteer? 

By T.J. Stiles, author of Custer’s Trials, The First Tycoon, and Jessie James: Last Rebel of the Civil War 

Readex Report contributor T.J. Stiles wins 2016 Pulitzer Prize in History

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