“A Taste for Human Flesh”: The Jersey Shore Shark Attacks of 1916

As the lifeguards drew near him the water about the man was suddenly tinged with red and he shrieked loudly. A woman on shore cried that the man in the red canoe had upset, but others realized it was blood that colored the water and the woman fainted.

(“Shark Kills Bather off Jersey Beach," The Evening Times (Pawtucket, Rhode Island), July 7, 1916)

Sm Shk.jpgCharles Bruder, an employee of a Spring Haven, New Jersey resort, had just become the second victim in a series of shark attacks that plagued the Jersey shore in July 1916. Reflecting the widespread national coverage these local attacks received, Early American Newspapers contains rich cache of articles covering the terrible events of that summer.

The first incident took place on Saturday, July 1, in Beach Haven, N.J. By the following Monday the news had been picked up by the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Charles E. Vansant, 23, son of a Philadelphia physician, was attacked by a shark or other big fish while bathing in the surf off here yesterday, according to eyewitnesses, and died before he could be rescued.

Alexander Ott, an expert swimmer, who saw the encounter, rushed to Vansant’s assistance, but he was apparently dead when Ott reached him.

There were wounds on Vansant’s legs showing he had been bitten.

In the days between the first two attacks, attempts were made to calm the public by describing the first incident as a single occurrence that would not likely be repeated. On Thursday, July 6, a writer from The Philadelphia Inquirer quipped

“A Taste for Human Flesh”: The Jersey Shore Shark Attacks of 1916

The Worst Day for Casualties in British Military History: A Look Back at the Battle of the Somme through Early American Newspapers

July 1, 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of the day the British army suffered the worst losses in its history, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. American newspapers and news services had correspondents in Britain, France and Germany, who were the main opponents on the Western Front, covering the events of the war. This was possible because the United States had not yet entered the war. Readex’s Early American Newspapers contains the accounts those correspondents filed about this battle as well as the rest of World War I.

July 1, 1916: After five days of an artillery barrage intended to destroy the barbed wire and thin out the German defenders, officers blew their whistles at 7:30 a.m. and the British troops went over the top. The plan by the commanding generals was that this attack would cut through the German lines and turn a static war back into a war of movement. Originally expected to be led by French forces, the lengthy battle of Verdun shifted the main attack to the British sector. Planned in late 1915, the attack was planned to coincide with the Brusilov Offensive on the Eastern Front in present-day western Ukraine. 

 

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The Worst Day for Casualties in British Military History: A Look Back at the Battle of the Somme through Early American Newspapers

“The Yankee proper hate all foreigners”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

The current release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes several accounts of the war from the perspective of citizens and sympathizers of the Confederacy. We look at a diary of a young clergyman who served as a North Carolina company chaplain throughout the war, an account by an Englishman who enlisted in the CSA Army, and a personal account of the Union occupation of New Orleans by an outraged lady of that city.


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Experience of a Confederate Chaplain, 1861-1864. By Rev. A.D. Betts, D.D., N.C. Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church (1900)

The Reverend A.D. Betts was a member of the North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He served as the chaplain for the 30th North Carolina Troops during the Civil War. He introduced his personal history of this service by noting that

The chronicles of a Confederate Chaplain’s diary will doubtless furnish the staple for weaving a most engaging story when the true historian shall find them

The perusal of these plain annals will surely revive in the memory of many a Confederate Veteran the vivid panorama of that unequalled and heroic struggle for the perpetuation of certain principles that underlie the purest and best form of government in the estimation of loyal Southrons [sic].

“The Yankee proper hate all foreigners”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

The U.S. Presidential Election of 1980: International Perspectives from Open-Source Intelligence Reports

Ronald Reagan campaigning with Nancy Reagan in Columbia, South Carolina. 10/10/80.Every U.S. presidential election attracts worldwide interest, and Reports from the Foreign Broadcast Information Service—available from Readex in a unique digital edition—provide English-language analysis of them from all sides of the political and geographical world.

These open-source intelligence reports can be used to understand how different nations viewed the outcome of the 1980 contest between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Some of their conclusions are somewhat surprising, especially in light of what actually happened during the eight years Reagan was president.  


The first excerpt below was broadcast in Persian from the Tehran Domestic Service on November 6, 1980. The transcript states at the beginning that this is “Unattributed political commentary.” Its headline is “Carter, Reagan Called Identical.” Some of the language in the opening paragraphs could have seemingly come from an Eastern European or Soviet source. 

The U.S. Presidential Election of 1980: International Perspectives from Open-Source Intelligence Reports

“The Savage Mob”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The June release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a collection of letters by an Englishman about his stay in the Antebellum United States, a compilation of poems about religion, slavery and drinking, as well as an anthology of murders and confessions. 


 

Men and Things in America: Being the Experience of a Year’s Residence in the United States, in a Series of Letters to a Friend (1838) 

By Andrew Bell 

In 1835 English historian and author Andrew Bell travelled to the United States. During his yearlong stay in America he took copious notes of his experiences and upon his return compiled them as a series of letters written under the pseudonym, A. Thomson. Bell discusses many topics including the opinions of Americans toward the Irish and that of the Irish toward Americans, the “pretended absence of poverty in America,” and the conditions of African Americans. 

After writing about both the Shakers and the Quakers, Bell describes the relationship of the latter with African Americans. 

“The Savage Mob”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

“That Execrable Sum of All Villainies”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The June release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes narratives by both a British Army cavalryman and the British Army’s Commander-in-Chief. Also found in this release is an account by an Austrian explorer who was one of the first Europeans to visit Lake Turkana in the Kenyan Rift Valley.  


 

Travels in Western Africa, in 1845 & 1846 (1847) 

By John Duncan 

Scotsman John Duncan served in the British Army’s cavalry and journeyed twice to Africa. During the Niger expedition of 1841 he was struck with a poisoned arrow and suffered from fever but was undaunted. He returned to Africa in 1845 and traveled “from Whydah, through the kingdom of Dahomey, to Adofoodia, in the interior.” 

Duncan uses a regrettable tone to describe some of the peoples he encounters, declaring the Fantee “of all the Africans I have yet seen the laziest and dirtiest….They are remarkably dull of comprehension, and, unless constantly watched, will lie down and do nothing.” Nor is he impressed by their superstition-based approach to medicine. However, Duncan is most disturbed by their exuberant celebrations, writing:  

“That Execrable Sum of All Villainies”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

“My knees then smote one against the other”: Highlights from Supplement to Early American Imprints, Shaw-Shoemaker

Monument at Hubbardton Battlefield, Hubbardton, Vermont, commemorating Revolutionary War battle of 7 July 1777.This month’s release of new material in the Early American Imprints Supplement from the American Antiquarian Society includes:

• a biographical account of a young American rebel who was wounded and captured by the British in the Battle of Hubbardton

• an odd tale of a vision experienced by a traveler in the early 19th century

• and an appeal from the Shakers in New York, pleading for their status as conscientious objectors to military service. 


 

“My knees then smote one against the other”: Highlights from Supplement to Early American Imprints, Shaw-Shoemaker

Now Open for Bidding: Silent Auction to Support 2016 GODORT Scholarship

Established in 1994, the W. David Rozkuszka Scholarship provides financial assistance to an individual who is 1) currently working with government documents in a library and 2) trying to complete a master’s degree in library science. 

Sponsored by Readex and GODORT (American Library Association’s Government Documents Round Table), the award is named after W. David Rozkuszka, a former Documents Librarian at Stanford University whose talent, work ethic and personality left an indelible mark on the profession. The scholarship award is $3,000, and has assisted 20 students since 1995 with their library education. The 2016 recipient is Julie Wagner, who is entering her second year at the University of North Texas School of Information. 

Place your bid today to stay in beautiful Naples, Florida, or charming Chester, Vermont. Auction bidding ends at 4 pm EST on Friday, July 1, 2016. 

Thank you for supporting GODORT and the W. David Rozkuszka Scholarship!

Now Open for Bidding: Silent Auction to Support 2016 GODORT Scholarship

“Achievements that should not be omitted”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

The May release of the American Antiquarian Society’s American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922, includes:

• an unusual account of the role that American Indians played in assisting the Union Army in the Trans-Mississippi Theater

• the diary of a young gentleman from Massachusetts recounting his nine months of service in the Union Army’s campaign in North Carolina

• and a program detailing the 1904 National Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic in the city of Boston. 


The Union Indian Brigade in the Civil War (1922)

By Wiley Britton 

The American Civil War Collection includes various accounts of the role that African Americans, both free and enslaved, played in the war on both sides. It is unusual to read an account of the participation of American Indians in the conflict. Wiley Britton provides a detailed and laudatory history of

“Achievements that should not be omitted”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

The Body Politic: Public Health and Quality of Life in the Eastern Bloc

In such diverse forums as National Geographic, The Aspen Institute, and the TED-talk series, there has been an active discussion of “blue zones,” initially proposed as five distinct geographic locales where the populace demonstrates greater longevity and a higher quality of life than the norm. The concept was popularized by the author Dan Buettner, and includes areas such as Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; and Loma Linda, California. Conspicuously absent from the list, however, is any location in the former Eastern Bloc.  

In this month's highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, we're delving into some of the statistical and qualitative material which might contribute to an understanding of the absence of “red” countries from “blue” zones.  


Comparative Studies on the Frequency of Suicides in the Two German States

Das Deutsche Gesundheitswesen (The German Health Service), Vol. XVI. No. 19, May 1961 

The Body Politic: Public Health and Quality of Life in the Eastern Bloc

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