Historical Newspapers


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”

“Chiseling the monuments”: Lafcadio Hearn Observes the Statues of Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson in 19th-Century New Orleans

In light of the current spectacle of statues of Confederate leaders being removed from the streets of New Orleans in the dead of night by masked workers, here is journalist Lafcadio Hearn commenting upon two other statues in that city in his article “New Orleans in Wet Weather” published in the Cincinnati Commercial on December 22, 1877.

…shortly after my arrival in the city I paid a visit to the venerable statue of Henry Clay, on Canal street. It stands in the center of the grand thoroughfare, and is inclosed (sic) by a railing. On the eastern face of the quadrangular pedestal I observed following inscription, deeply cut into the stone and blacked. At least two-thirds of the inscription had been well nigh erased by the removal of the black pigment of the letters, but the phrase “deepest stain” was wonderfully distinct, and the word “SLAVERY” as black as the changeless skin of the Ethiopian:

“IF I COULD BE INSTRUMENTAL IN ERADICATING THIS DEEPEST STAIN, SLAVERY, FROM THE CHARACTER OF OUR COUNTRY, I WOULD NOT EXCHANGE THE PROUD SATISFACTION OF WHICH I SHOULD ENJOY FOR THE HONORS OF ALL THE TRIUMPHS EVER DECREED TO THE MOST SUCCESSFUL CONQUERORS.—HENRY CLAY.”

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“Chiseling the monuments”: Lafcadio Hearn Observes the Statues of Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson in 19th-Century New Orleans

Radical American Periodicals Available in African American Periodicals, 1825-1995

Northwestern University librarian Kathleen E. Bethel has written that the Readex collection of African American Periodicals provides “access to little-known treasures of the Black press.” Among its 170+ rare titles, many of which were not collected by most libraries, are several radical periodicals. Interest in radical American periodicals—especially in unfamiliar and transient titles published by African Americans and other minority groups—continues to grow among scholars and students in different disciplines.

Below is a sample of mastheads and front pages of publications in this genre, all of which are available in African American Periodicals, 1825-1995, the essential companion to African American Newspapers, 1827-1998.

 

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Radical American Periodicals Available in African American Periodicals, 1825-1995

‘Every Man His Own Doctor’: Probing Public Health and Medical Quackery in U.S. Historical Newspapers and Government Publications

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On February 3, 1920, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported on a surgeon who was “grafting the intestinal glands of a goat into human beings to cure those treated of sterility.” The report continues:

Within the past two years, by means of such operations, Dr. Brinkley has made it possible for three men and one woman to become parents. In all four cases the glands of a male goat were used. In each instance a baby boy was born.

In his most recent case Dr. Brinkley used the gland of a female goat.

“I do not say this woman will have a girl baby,” said Dr. Brinkley today, “but I am experimenting. It may be merely a coincidence that all the babies so far have been boys.”[1]

 

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The notorious career of medical mountebank John Brinkley—including years of goat-gland experiments—can be traced through hundreds of articles in Early American Newspapers. Three days after the Fort Worth Star-Telegram story appeared, Brinkley, who had no formal medical education, expanded his claims, as seen in The San Diego Union and Daily Bee:

‘Every Man His Own Doctor’: Probing Public Health and Medical Quackery in U.S. Historical Newspapers and Government Publications

The United States Enters World War I: 28 Newspaper Front Pages from 100 Years Ago Today

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On April 6, 1917, the United States Congress declared war on the German Empire. Although public opinion had been mixed, on April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson stood before a special joint session to make the case that “armed neutrality…is impracticable.” “The wrongs against which we now array ourselves,” he said, “are no common wrongs; they cut to the very roots of human life.” The Senate passed Wilson’s war resolution 82 to 6; the House voted 373 to 50.

The following front pages—representing more than 20 states and 25 cities—capture the momentous American decision to join the Allies in a “war to end all wars.” Each was published a century ago today and can be found in Early American Newspapers, Series 1 to 13, 1690-1922.

From Alaska

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From Arizona

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From California

The United States Enters World War I: 28 Newspaper Front Pages from 100 Years Ago Today

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)

Beer and Loafing in Niagara Falls: Sarcastic Shenanigans from Q.K. Philander Doesticks

“The vault at Pfaffs where the drinkers and laughers meet to eat and drink and carouse

While on the walk immediately overhead pass the myriad feet of Broadway...”

—Walt Whitman (from an unpublished poem)

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A century before gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson and his antihero Raoul Duke there was Mortimer Thomson and his fictional persona Q.K. Philander Doesticks. One of the “bohemian” gang who gathered at Pfaff’s Beer Cellar in Manhattan, Thomson published jaunty anecdotes under his unusual penname in newspapers across America during the 19th century.

His own creation—full name Queer Kritter Philander Doesticks, P.B. (Perfect Brick)—quickly became a favorite reporter. In November 1854 a New York Evening Post article, likely written by Thomson himself, provides this biographical information on Thomson’s eccentric alter ego:

Beer and Loafing in Niagara Falls: Sarcastic Shenanigans from Q.K. Philander Doesticks

‘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]

George Washington’s Runaway Slave

Never-Caught-jacket.jpg“Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge”—a new book about the risks one young woman took for freedom—was published yesterday.  Author Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Distinguished Blue and Gold Professor of Black Studies and History at the University of Delaware, explores not only the 22-year-old’s courageous escape from the Philadelphia home of the first First Family but also the subsequent efforts George Washington took over many years to have her recaptured. 

Writing about Dunbar’s new work, Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of “The Hemingses of Monticello,” says, “There is no way to really know the Washingtons without knowing this story.”  In a discussion at a recent Readex-hosted American Library Association event, Prof. Dunbar shared the story of Ona Judge:

 

 

As explained above, Prof. Dunbar’s sources include historical newspaper coverage spanning Judge’s escape “from the household of the President of the United States,” as described in a 1796 runaway slave advertisement, to articles such as this 1845 item reprinted in the National Anti-Slavery Standard:

George Washington’s Runaway Slave

History Professor David Goldfield Offers New Perspective on Civil War at American Library Association Meeting [VIDEO]

"History is messy."

That’s the lesson David Goldfield, the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History at University of North Carolina, Charlotte, taught at the Readex breakfast presentation at the 2017 American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta. Prof. Goldfield supported this short declaration with several poignant examples.

While our minds tend to enjoy simple, clear-cut, good-versus-evil narratives, the reality is much more complex, Goldfield argued.  He used his research surrounding U.S. religious and Southern history to provide a new look at the causes and outcomes of the American Civil War, first explaining why he finds the often-told story of the war “woefully incomplete.” He asked his audience of academic librarians to entertain a very different perspective on the war.

Throughout his presentation, Goldfield challenged the usual chronicle surrounding the war—the familiar debate of states’ rights and slavery—and instead focused on the consequences of righteousness and the effects of removing the barrier between church and state. According to Goldfield, the Civil War represented the failure of our political system, caused by the injection of religion.

History Professor David Goldfield Offers New Perspective on Civil War at American Library Association Meeting [VIDEO]

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