The Broad Sweep of Imperialism: As Seen in Open-Source Intelligence Reports from the U.S. Government

Of those Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports that are not strictly technical in nature, it would be fair to say that imperialism is at least an implicit theme throughout.

This month's highlights include scientists seeking to ease tensions between nuclear states, a Swedish view of the Cold War, a caustic Soviet evaluation of Harvard's Russian Research Center, and three reports describing the challenges facing African nations breaking free from colonial relationships. 


The Pugwash Meetings of Scientists—A Soviet View

Vestnik Akademii Nauk, SSSR (Herald of the Academy of Sciences, USSR) Vol. XXXI No. 11, 1961

The Cold War enjoys a September sojourn in Stowe, Vermont, in this report. Nikita Khrushchev sends greetings from home in the form of a two-page letter justifying the resumption of nuclear tests. The title characterizes Pugwash as “meetings,” but today we recognize Pugwash as a movement kicked-off by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, still vital after 60 years. (10 pages) 


The Cold War

Ny Militar Tidshrift (New Military Journal) Vol. 34 No. 6, 1961 

The Broad Sweep of Imperialism: As Seen in Open-Source Intelligence Reports from the U.S. Government

“Sweetly Thrilling Symphonies”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

The April release of Black Authors, 1556-1922: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes two late 19th-century collections of biographical sketches, one of African American musicians and a second including a wide range of influential African Americans. Also found in the current release is a history of African American troops in the Civil War. 


Music and Some Highly Musical People (1878) 

By James Monroe Trotter 

In 1842, James Monroe Trotter was born into slavery in Mississippi. Freed by their owner, he and his two sisters and mother, Letitia, moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where Trotter could grow up in freedom. Prior to the Civil War, Trotter taught in Ohio and met Virginia Isaacs, his future wife. During the war, he served, and was promoted quickly, in the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. After the war, he worked in the Post Office Department in Boston and as Recorder of Deeds in Washington, D.C. 

Trotter begins this volume by asking, what is music? And then offers this elegant answer:  

“Sweetly Thrilling Symphonies”: Highlights from Black Authors, 1556-1922

Announcing a 2016 ALA Breakfast Presentation: Dirty Politics in a Genteel Age, 1868-1892

During the upcoming American Library Association conference, Readex will host a special Sunday breakfast presentation. Prof. Mark Wahlgren Summers, an engaging speaker and highly praised authority on 19th-century U.S. political history, will present “Politics is just war without bayonets”: Dirty Politics in a Genteel Age, 1868-1892. 

About the Presentation

For most historians, the Gilded Age was the Golden Age of American Politics.  Well before football or baseball found a vogue, it was the great participatory sport.  Families turned out for parades, rallies and barbecues.  Campaign clubs designed ornate uniforms and hired brass bands to precede them as they marched.  Eligible voters in record numbers showed up at the polls—and sometimes at the polls of the state next door to theirs if it had a different election day.

Announcing a 2016 ALA Breakfast Presentation: Dirty Politics in a Genteel Age, 1868-1892

"Elevating Savages and Barbarians": Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

Within the April release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia are an extensive study of the earth and solar system, including several maps of Africa; a report from the superintendent of the London Missionary Society’s stations in South Africa; and an account of an 1834 “visit to Sierra Leone” titled The White Man's Grave.


Modern Geography: A Description of the Empires, Kingdoms, States, and Colonies (1802) 

By John Pinkerton 

Scottish antiquarian, cartographer, author, numismatist, and historian, John Pinkerton was influential in redefining cartography in the early 19th century and remains best known for Pinkerton’s Modern Atlas. Pinkerton is also recognized as an early advocate of Germanic racial supremacy theory. He wrote several books in which he attempts to remove all Celtic elements from Scottish history, arguing the Gaels were a degenerate imposter race. 

The Memphis Massacre of 1866: As Seen through Local News Coverage and a Government Report found in the Archive of Americana

In the century following the end of the Civil War, brutal assaults on black people and their neighborhoods by mobs of white people, often described as "race riots," were intended, in part, to blunt the demand for equal rights and to enforce white supremacy on former slaves. Another goal was to drive former slaves back to plantations and out of urban areas. The first of these large-scale attacks took place in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1866. 

The terrible state of affairs, between the white and black races, which the teachings of the Radical extremists to the negro have caused the fear of, almost since the cessations of hostilities, commenced in our city about 6 o’clock yesterday, in serious and fatal earnest. The war began on South street, in the extreme southern portion of the Corporation. It originated from a difficulty between a white and negro boy, near the bridge over the bayou, on the street already mentioned.

The Memphis Massacre of 1866: As Seen through Local News Coverage and a Government Report found in the Archive of Americana

“Thy Chains Are Broken, Africa, Be Free!”: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

The April release of Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a collection of observations on tropical medicine, an anthology of poems by James Montgomery, and an assemblage of laws pertaining to the British West Indies. 


Medical and Miscellaneous Observations, Relative to the West India Islands (1817) 

By John Williamson, M.D.  

Dr. John Williamson was a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh, and had served as a surgeon for the Caithness Highlanders, a regiment of the Highland Fencible Corps.

In 1798 Williamson traveled to Jamaica where he remained for over a decade. Williamson writes about encountering specific ailments: “The yaws have been long a loathsome and disgusting disease, as well as an immense source of loss to proprietors.” And describes the need for reforming the administration of the island’s health services: “The hospital management of negroes being defective, improvements are suggested, to place these establishments on a foundation consistent with the comfort and welfare of mutual interests.” 

“Thy Chains Are Broken, Africa, Be Free!”: Highlights from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

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)

Cold War Tourism: The Sights (and Sites) of Soviet History

In this month’s highlights from Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) Reports, 1957-1995, we’re taking a break from overheated rhetoric on both sides of the Iron Curtain to draw attention to the extraordinary attractions of the former Soviet Union. If, as Tip O’Neill maintained, “all politics is local,” then surely some travel is beneficial for discovering the soul of Russia beyond the slogans and soundbites.   


Guidebook to Moscow Clubs and Houses of Culture (1961) 

Behold, a comprehensive reference to such diverse institutions as the Central House of the Architect, the Club of the Moscow Liquor-Brandy Distillery, the Club of the Low Gas Consumption Automobile Factory, and hundreds of other social and industrial societies circa 1961. This guide comes complete with addresses, telephone numbers, transit connections, and summary paragraphs of the attractions. For an adventurous traveller, it would provide an unorthodox and fascinating means of exploring Moscow off the beaten track and from a unique historical perspective. (163 pages) 


Instructions for Patients at Health Resorts in the Ukraine (1962) 

Cold War Tourism: The Sights (and Sites) of Soviet History

“The Iron Hand of Persecution”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The April release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes an English minister's examination of the "United States of America and of the European Settlements in America and the West-Indies," published in 1796. This work includes the color plate of a tobacco plant seen to the right. Also highlighted below are works printed in London offering two perspectives on the slave trade between Africa and the Caribbean.   


An Historical, Geographical, Commercial, and Philosophical View of the United States of America and of the European Settlements in America and the West-Indies (1796) 

By William Winterbotham 

“The Iron Hand of Persecution”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

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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