- Books to Watch Girls By, Paul Woolf
- The Marischal Museum and North America: connections and collections, Neil G. W. Curtis
- US Government Publications: an untapped resource, Gill Ridgley
- American Journals and Magazines in the Arts and Humanities at the British Library, Katherine Baxter
- Best Zine Ever!, Matthew Shaw
- ‘Newly Discovered Documents’ at The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Jayne Hoare
- American Studies Resources Centre, Liverpool John Moores University, Ian Ralston
- Second Air Division USAAF Memorial Library, Alexis K. Ciurczak
- John F. Kennedy-Institute Library Profile, Benjamin Blinten
- Roosevelt Study Center, Middelburg, Netherlands
- Lincolniana at the John Hay Library, Brown University
- Forthcoming Conferences
- Web Sites of Interest
Since this journal is available on the BAAS website, the revivified Resources for American Studies can not only welcome regular subscribers, but idle surfers who have typed in “girls”; “books”; “American Studies”, “Lincoln” or “Little Magazines” into Google: they’re all here. Welcome back also to those have received the newsletter or journal of the BLARS Library Sub-Committee over the past years. Our apologies for this brief caesura: the claims notes that came in to the office gave cheer both because of the efficiency and rigor of your serials claims systems, but also because it’s nice to be missed.
Although the name has changed, and there is a slight shift in tone, the aims and purpose of the newsletter have not. We still aim to provide a place for Americanists of all stripes to find common cause, and to promote American Studies and the collections upon which scholarly endeavours are based, whether in libraries or museums. We welcome contributions from all corners: for instance, in this issue, we have a personal essay by a post-graduate, which helps to provide a perspective of the reader’s point of view.
Finally, an apology. The contents, perhaps necessarily, have a British Library bias. This simply reflects the way the articles fell, as well as the editor’s other position as curator in the Americas section of the British Library. Please help us to make amends by promoting your own holdings. We do, however, have guides to three overseas collections, and two resources within the UK.
Paul Woolf, University of Birmingham
It is now eight years since I completed my undergraduate degree in English and Related Literature at the University of York. After five years away from higher education, working for a company that makes television documentaries, I returned to full-time study in 2002. I am currently in the second year of writing a PhD thesis about depictions of Anglo-American marriages in nineteenth-century fiction at the University of Birmingham.
When I was asked to write this article, about my personal experience of libraries in the UK, I found myself thinking mostly about the differences between the way that I used York’s library, and the way as a postgraduate I now use libraries, Birmingham’s as well as various others.
The very first thing that occurred to me was a fact with which I surprised myself: compared to the number of hours per week I used to spend studying in York’s JB Morrell Library, I now spend very little time actually inside Birmingham’s Main University Library. Whereas I might pass an entire working day in the JB Morrell, a typical visit to the Main University Library is grab-and-dash affair. I go in, seek out and claim the books I need, and get out. Usually, I don’t dwell.
This is, I should stress, no reflection of any dislike of the Main University Library. It’s not perfect, but it’s by no means an unpleasant or ineffectual place. It’s user-friendly and the staff members are always welcoming. No, my initial explanation for spending more time in the library as an undergraduate was, I confess, to do with the overactivity of my late-adolescent hormones. The JB Morrell – specifically, the fourth floor – was a great place to meet girls.(1) Now older, and in a long-term relationship, I evidently do not feel the same need to take advantage of the opportunity for flirtation that university libraries offer.
This explanation soon gave way, though, to a connected, but wider one. Going to the library as an undergraduate was, at least for me, a social activity as much as an academic exercise. It was a place not only to read books and plan essays (and meet girls), but also to see friends, chat, go for a coffee, and make arrangements for the evening’s leisure. The library was, in some ways, just another of the many public spaces on the University campus where one could interact with fellow students.
If my undergraduate study and library use was a public thing, however, postgraduate work is a much more private thing. It requires longer periods of concentration and being surrounded in a library by undergraduates doing exactly what I used to do – chatting with friends and making arrangements for the evening’s leisure – is an unwelcome distraction. I prefer, as I said, to go in, get my books, and go home to read them. That I am enabled to do this by the greater loaning provision available to postgraduates – I am allowed to take out more books and keep them for longer than undergraduates can – I am sure further encourages me to treat the Main University Library as a place from which to borrow books, rather than a place in which to sit down and work.
This brings me on to another point of comparison between my undergraduate and postgraduate experiences. In the period between graduating from York in 1997 and beginning my Master’s degree at Birmingham in 2002, academia went online. During those five years, I had experienced the e-revolution in the professional workplace. When I joined it, the company for which I worked had just two computers with internet access in its main office and most communication was conducted by phone or post. By the time I left, email and internet use were so integral to the firm’s day-to-day life that a few hours during which the office server was temporarily inoperative were a few hours of almost absolute downtime.
Nonetheless, on returning to university, I was still unprepared for the extent to which one could use the internet as an academic research tool. I would have felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of academic stuff available online had it not been for a practical, sensible compulsory research skills course for postgraduates that was run by the Main University Library’s specialist librarian for my department (American and Canadian Studies).
The School of Historical Studies at Birmingham, of which The Department of American and Canadian Studies is a part, has a computer room set aside for postgraduates. I spend much more time in this room working online than I do in the Main University Library. However, I utilise the room in much the same way as the Library: it is a place in which to assemble the materials I need to be able to work at home. (I do have a computer at home but cannot access from it all of the catalogues and databases available on PCs connected to the campus network.) From downloading journal articles on J-Stor to buying books from Amazon and Abebooks, from consulting web encyclopaedias and OED.com to searching online library catalogues and posting requests for information on H-Net’s mailing lists, I am almost as dependent on the internet now as I was in my previous job.
Amazon’s ‘marketplace’ for second-hand books and Abebooks have, in particular, been invaluable. A quick glance around my bookshelves reveals that I have purchased at least two dozen books through these two websites during the eighteen months of my PhD. Many of these are nineteenth-century novels held by only a few university libraries in the UK. I have never attempted an Inter-Library Loan, having been discouraged from doing so by one of my Master’s degree tutors because of the waiting times involved, and it usually works out that it would be substantially more expensive to travel to another university library than to buy the book. So, I prefer to purchase. In any case, these are novels that I want to read several times and consult periodically, so having the books permanently within reach makes sense.
I acknowledge I am fortunate in that, AHRB-funded and having saved some money from my five years of full-time employment, I can afford to buy most of the books I want. I am also financially able to make trips every few months to London to use The University of London’s Senate House library and the British Library. I do this when I have accumulated a list of books that I do not think are worth buying, but that I do need to read or photocopy from. A Young Person’s Railcard, for which anyone in full-time education can apply, enables me to travel to London from Birmingham at peak-time, but for off-peak fares. This means that I can get to the British Library when it opens and spend the whole day there.
I think, in fact, that I have a crush on the British Library. I cherish days passed in the stillness of its reading rooms. I have a feeling when I am there that I am enjoying something of a guilty pleasure. Even the occasional non-appearance of books carefully ordered in advance and the wallet-emptyingly high cost of photocopying at the British Library cannot deter me from visiting.
There is an added bonus to days spent in London. Many friends from my undergraduate time in York now live in the capital, and British Library trips provide an opportunity to meet up with them in the evenings. One friend, with whom I used to sit on the fourth floor of the JB Morrell Library, is convinced that I only use the British Library because it’s also a good place to meet girls. He refuses to accept my protestations that these days it’s only the books in which I’m interested.
1. Of course, when I say “meet girls,” what I really mean is “see girls I’d like to meet, and chicken out of talking to them.”
Neil G. W. Curtis of the Marischal Museum, University of Aberdeen
In 1824 Professor William Knight of Marischal College wrote in his catalogue of the College’s Museum that the collection included an “Indian Pouch, Indian knife, Belt of Wampum, Eight various Girdles, Belts &c used by the N. American Indians, Cloak, ornamented with Beads” and noted that “One of the Girdles and Garters were presented by Mr Ogilvie of Barras”, also a number of other items with a Cherokee or Choctaw provenance, implying that much of this collection originated in the South-West in the era before the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Unfortunately, not enough is known about Ogilvie to explain how he came by this early collection or the nature of this contact between Scot-land and North America. Nonetheless, this material and a small group of other items is an important record of indigenous life before Western impact.
A more expected link lies in the people from Scotland who joined the Hudson’s Bay Company. Fore-most among those represented in Marischal Museum is William Mit-chell (born in Aberdeen in 1802), who from the age of thirty was a sailor and trader with the Company. Becoming a master mariner in 1851, he commanded a number of their ships on the West Coast, including the Cadboro, Una, Recovery and Beaver. He is recorded as being a ‘generous, good-hearted sailor who utterly despised anything small or mean’. In 1852, when in command of the Brigantine Una, he took some gold miners to Haida Gwai’i (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands). There a harbour was named after him, but the expedition broke up in the face of native opposition. On his death in Victoria, Vancouver Island in 1876, his collection was bequeathed to the University.
Alongside items from northern coastal British Columbia including a Chilkat blanket and Tsimshian masks is a fine collection of Haida argillite carvings including model totem poles and panel pipes. Among them is one that depicts a paddle steamer with a figurehead in the prow of a beaver, presumably the Beaver, the first steamship on the American West Coast. Others depict people in European dress in combination with traditional Haida motifs. A wonderful mingling of traditions, the panel pipes are a particularly evocative reminder of the complex relationships between native people and European traders and settlers.
These links are also remembered in a tag attached to a small comb donated in 1929 saying ‘Esquimaux comb from Dr. Rae, Hudson’s Bay Co.’ John Rae, from Orphir in Orkney was another, but much more famous, mid-nineteenth-century Scottish adventurer who was renowned for having a greater understanding of native ways of life than most other Europeans. That these links between Scotland and Canada have continued to the present was shown the donation of an Inuit parka by a student whose late husband, Graham Noble of Fraserburgh, had collected it while working as a storeman with the Hudson’s Bay 1969-71.
Marischal Museum therefore now contains what is the third-largest ethnographic collection in Scotland, with a particular strength in North America material (almost 2,000 items). The Arctic collections are perhaps the most import aspect of this; they are certainly the largest. At their core is a donation by Sir William Macgregor (Governor of Newfoundland in the early years of the twentieth century), which includes archaeological material from Labrador as well as nineteenth-century ethnographic items. The most famous single item in the collection is undoubtedly a Greenlandic kayak with hunting equipment which arrived in Aberdeen in the early eighteenth-century. In the 1820s catalogue it is described as ‘Eskimaux canoe in which a native of that country was driven ashore near Belhelvie, about the beginning of the eighteenth century, and died soon after landing’. The first record of this kayak is in a diary written by a Rev. Francis Gastrell of Stratford-upon-Avon who visited Aberdeen in 1760. He says that,
In the Church which is not used (there being a kirk for their way of worship) was a Canoo about seven yards long by two feet wide which about thirty two years since was driven into the Don with a man in it who was all over hairy and spoke a language which no person there could interpret. He lived but three days, tho’ all possible care was taken to recover him.
The distance from Greenland to Scotland is about 1,200 miles, but this could be broken into shorter lengths by landing in Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Shetland and Orkney. This would be needed to prevent the kayaks becoming waterlogged and to get drinking water. Even so, it is difficult to believe in such a long journey on rough seas, particularly with the difficulties of navigating out of sight of land. There are two theories about how the Inuit could have reached the North Sea with their kayaks. The first suggests that they were kidnapped by whalers and brought to Europe as curiosities, but then managed to escape or were freed by their captors. An alternative is that the kayakers took advantage of the colder weather of the ‘Little Ice Age’ of about 1300 to 1850 when ice floes would have drifted much farther south than today and would have offered extra places on which to rest and collect fresh water. The contemporary resonances of the association with climate change has led to this theory becoming more popular, while the possibility of an indigenous North American man exploring Europe also has an appeal.
Along with another kayak ‘with paddles, darts and other implements; presented, 1800, by Captain William Gibbon, Aberdeen’, there is another kayak in Aberdeen, in the buildings of the University’s Medical School. This may be the one in which Eenoolooapik, an Inuit visitor to Aberdeen in 1839, demonstrated his kayaking skills in the River Dee to an admiring crowd. Eenoolooapik was brought to Aberdeen by Captain Penny of the whaling ship Neptune. Sadly when he returned to Labrador the following year he died of tuberculosis.
That the links between the museum and North America are not solely those of colonial collectors was highlighted in 2003 with the repatriation of a split-horn head-dress to the Horn Society of the Kainai (Blood Tribe). The head-dress was donated to the museum in 1934 by a Mrs Bruce Miller, about whom little is known except that her family owned an Aberdeen chemical factory. It is likely that she visited the Blackfoot reservation in Montana, USA in the 1920s, collecting the head-dress, a decorated buckskin shirt, moccasins and some other items. She did not record any tribal names or other details, so for many years the head-dress was merely catalogued as a ‘war bonnet’. This reflects European attitudes towards Native American people and an ignorance of the head-dress being part of a sacred bundle. Sacred bundles are treated as living beings, cared for like a child by people to whom they are ceremonially transferred.
Twenty-first-century contact between Marischal Museum and the Kainai began when an Aberdeen graduate who was working with them realised that their missing head-dress reminded her of one in Aberdeen. On 13 November 2002 a delegation from the Horn Society visited Aberdeen to see if this head-dress was the final sacred bundle for which they had been searching. The group who came to Aberdeen was an elder, Charlie Crow Chief and his wife, and current members of the Horn Society Randy Bottle, Karen Bottle, Duane. They were welcomed to the University by the Principal and museum staff after which they smudged and prayed before identifying the head-dress. We then spent the following couple of days discussing how their request would be dealt with, looking at other probable Blackfoot objects in the collection and writing a joint press release.
Preparing for the possibility of a repatriation request, the University had approved a procedure that that establishes an expert panel to assess a request for repatriation against six criteria (see http://www.abdn.ac.uk/marischalmuseum/collections/policy>). The panel consisted included curators from the National Museums of Scotland and the Glenbow Museum, the latter nominated by the Horn Society, as well as representatives of the University. As well as considering written statements from Marischal Museum and the Horn Society, Randy Bottle and Frank Weasel Head, an elder, also spoke to the panel at that meeting, impressing everyone with their explanations of the importance of the head-dress. It was striking that, although they believed that it was likely that the buckskin shirt had been worn by the last keeper of the head-dress, it was merely a shirt and not part of the sacred bundle, so they did not ask for it to be repatriated. Issues such as photography and the making of a replica were also discussed. They explained that there could only be four head-dresses (rather like North, South, East and West), so making a replica would be impossible, while the photography of sacred objects would be seen as disrespectful. They did, however, accept that the museum should have photographs for its archive and for use in exhibitions and lectures. The Panel’s recommendation in favour of repatriation was approved by the University Court in May 2003. On 7 July 2004, at a public ceremony in the museum ownership of the head-dress was transferred and a Memorandum of Understanding signed to outline the conditions of the repatriation (including a promise of objects to be given to the museum) and to help us to work together in the future. At a private ceremony afterwards, the head-dress was taken into the care of the Horn Society members.
A few months later, a temporary exhibition ‘Going home: museums and repatriation’ told the story of the repatriation of the head-dress and raised some of the issues behind other demands, displaying the copy of the Lakota Ghost Dance shirt on loan from Glasgow. My favourite comments were ‘all of humanity is connected to each other’ and ‘so glad to see this as a discussion – I knew very little about procedures and cases of repatriation.’ Exhibiting the absence of an object can clearly make as much of an impact as displaying an object.
The links established by the repatriation have continued, including an invitation to the Sundance with my family in summer 2004. This visit was far from being just an opportunity to see an exotic ceremony (1). Rather, it was about friendship, generosity and understanding, and led to a greater understanding of the importance of the head-dress and why the repatriation mattered, as well as a richer perspective on the historical contact between the North-East and the native people of North America. Marischal Museum has now played a part in this: the current keeper noted that the head-dress is ‘in good shape’ and the link between Aberdeen and the Kainai will continue to develop. We now look forward to welcoming friends to Aberdeen again, not just to receive objects for the museum collection, but also to learn from each other about concerns we both have such as land rights, the role of traditional languages in schools and how to work with the oil industry for social benefit.
The collections now in the care of Marischal Museum thus document some of the many changing connections between the people of the North-East of Scotland and the native people of North America. From the use of glass beads in the wampum belts donated by William Ogilvie and the argillite panel pipes to the repatriation request from the Kainai, many of these contacts are the product of creative actions by native people faced with the impact of European culture. The museum’s reach has recently been greatly expanded with the development of on-line resources funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) which were launched in September 2004. They include a virtual version of the displays of Marischal Museum with images of all display cases and objects, the texts of all captions and QuickTime panoramas of the museum and conservation lab (see http://www.abdn.ac.uk/virtualmuseum>). This is underlain by a database of some 3,000 items in the collection (http://www.abdn.ac.uk/museumsearch>) with links to archival evidence, associated objects and records of changing interpretations over the last two centuries. While only a small proportion of the items illustrated derive from North America, they all show the connections mediated by people from North-East Scotland that link together many parts of the world. While some of these contacts have been unequal and destructive, some have been much more creative. The challenge for the museum is now to use these collections to increase mutual understanding of our entangled connections, including the creative, the destructive, the unequal, the painful and the challenging.
Marischal Museum contacts and website
University of Aberdeen
Aberdeen AB10 1YS
Tel: (general enquiries) +44 (0) 1224 274301
Tel: (conservation laboratory) +44 (0) 1224 274300
Fax: +44 (0) 1224 274302
1. N. Curtis, ‘Going home: from Aberdeen to Standoff’, British Archaeology, 82, May/June 2005, pp. 40-43
Gill Ridgley provides a guide to the giant US Congressional Serial Set
The British Library has excellent holdings of US government publications – a legacy of over two centuries of assiduous collecting from North America. In the Library’s previous incarnation as the British Museum Library it amassed a treasure house of important material: the federal collection has publications going back to the late eighteenth-century, while the states collections include seventeenth-century material from the New England states, legislative material such as the Journals of the House of Assembly of the State of New York (starting with the first session on 10 September 1777) and many of the publications of the confederate states. Inevitably, gaps exist, but the collection measures up very well to those of the principal US libraries.
The US official holdings consist of all the main ‘sets’: The American State Papers 1789-1838 (actually published 1832-1861), The United States Congressional Serial Set (1817 to date), much of the material not contained within the Serial Set such as Congressional Journals and Proceedings, Hearings and Committee prints, and most of the current output of the US Government Printing Office.
Researching official publications is necessarily a complex process, but matters have improved substantially with the advent of the Internet and the growth of online resources generally. In common with many publishers of official publications, the US government now makes most of its current material available on the Government Printing Office website at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/index.html>, while commercial publishers such as Newsbank International, with its digital Archive of Americana are creating exciting full-text databases which exploit the rich resources of official publications and which, most importantly, provide numerous access points. The US Congressional Serial Set has lent itself admirably to projects like this.
The Serial Set is an immense, and underused, resource. Like the British Parliamentary papers, to which it can in part be compared, it forms an unparalleled repository of information of all kinds. Organised into a retrospective, and ongoing, series in 1895 for the GPO by Dr John G Ames, the Set – which contains documents dating back to 1817 – forms the official bound archive of Congressional publications (currently numbering over 14,000 volumes). It consists of Congressional documents of all kinds including administrative reports, and other internal papers; Congressional reports on public and private legislation, Presidential messages (though not proclamations), treaty materials, reports from Congressionally commissioned or conducted investigations, and the annual reports of a number of non-governmental organisations such as the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Boy and Girl Scouts of America. Confusingly, what has been included has changed over time: at certain periods the Census Statistical Abstract and the House and Senate Journals of Proceedings were numbered within the set, as were certain Executive branch publications. These have subsequently been excluded. For those intrigued by the long saga of the compilation of the Serial Set, an interesting account of the history of its printing is available online at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fdlp/history/sset>. Also of interest on the Library of Congress website is a fascinating glimpse into some of the legislative resources of the Serial Set in its American Memory pages at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lawhome.html>.
Apart from documents relating to the administrative and legislative functions of Congress, the Set contains a number of very detailed historical documents, the results of far reaching deliberations of committees of inquiry. As an example, the Report of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War in 1863 provides an extensive – and perhaps lesser known – investigation, with testimony, on the conduct of the Battle of Bull Run. Other examples include the Commission on National Aid to Vocational Education, 1914, and the rather better known Iran-Contra investigations of 1987.
The Set is full of unexpected gems, making it a resource not only for its natural constituency of social scientists and historians but also for genealogists. Not only are there statistics, maps and illustrations in abundance, there are also numerous lists of names: of people registering patents, of army and navy pensioners, of prisoners such as those found in the Report of the Marshall of the District of Columbia, which provides details of the names, ages and offences of those held in Washington County jail on 9 December 1861. The commercially produced digital archives are particularly useful in this regard: the Newsbank set has a special ‘lists’ menu and the texts themselves are searchable.
For earlier Congressional documents, researchers should consult the American State papers set which covers the period from 1789 to 1838 and which was published from 1832 to 1861. As well as this resource, the Library also holds 57 rare Congressional documents published between 1792 and 1817 which are not enumerated as part of the set. They are all individually catalogued.
There is no denying that the Serial Set is bibliographically complex and therefore daunting to first time users. In addition, apart from the few archival sets in the United States, very few libraries have complete runs of the set in numerical order. This is true to a certain extent of the British Library collection, despite its relative comprehensiveness. It acquired many of the Serial Set publications as they were issued, before they were designated with special numeration by the GPO, and some titles are therefore scattered within the catalogue. Fortunately, they are readily findable with a title search.
On the whole, the most useful index to the Serial Set is the CIS US Serial Set Index, 1789-1969, but there are many other published indexes covering particular periods such as the Tables of and annotated index to the Congressional series of United States public documents (1817-1893), the Numerical lists and schedule of volumes of the reports and documents (1933-1980) and the GPO Monthly catalogs. Online indexes such as the GPO website have added a further dimension, while the full-text commercial databases have the bonus of many additional accessing points.
To complement the Serial Set, the BL holds virtually complete runs of the Journals, Records and Proceedings of Congress and a good collection of Congressional Hearings (particularly after the 1950s when these publications were included in the official exchange/depository arrangements for the first time). Departmental publications, most of which are no longer part of the Serial Set, are collected where possible, while major subject collections such as the official history of the American Civil War, published in 128 volumes by the War Records Office in 1880-1902, have always been actively sought. The library also holds archive collections on microform such as the Presidential papers series and the State constitutional conventions.
Librarians frequently complain that not enough use is made of official publications. Difficulty in negotiating catalogues and indexes is certainly one reason; the other is that researchers are frequently unaware of the depth and breadth of the information they contain. The advent of new and improving online resources will help, but Librarians must also recognise a responsibility to ‘advertise’ their collections and to demonstrate to potential users the riches they undoubtedly contain.
Government Printing Office:
An account of the history of the Serial set’s printing:
Katherine Baxter, writing as Curator, U.S. Collections, British Library
The British Library is home to a vast and varied collection of American journals and magazines in the arts and humanities. The holdings range from microfilm of John H. Payne’s The Thespian Mirror, originally published between December 1805 and May 1806, to The Last Supplement to the Whole Earth Catalog, edited by Ken Kesey and Paul Krassner in 1971.
The history of periodical publishing in the U.S. is rich and well documented. The beginning of the last century ushered in a spate of books examining the publishing history of the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Lyon N. Richardson, A History of Early American 0Magazines 1741-1789, 1931 [British Library shelfmark 20017.b.20], already draws on several earlier publications in the field. Focusing on the early years of American periodical publication, Richardson identifies characteristics that, by and large, define the field in the following hundred years. Written by and for the educated classes these periodicals were predominantly eclectic in content but were typically didactic in nature. Material from Europe, which included contemporary works and “classics”, was juxtaposed with home-grown American content such as poetry, science, politics, rhetoric, social comment, essays and occasional narrative. Periodicals were vehicles for intellectual communication and extended discussion of the issues of the day. Neither this, nor the education of the authors, guaranteed the quality or the success of the publication and many only appeared in one or two editions. Perhaps this did not overly matter: the authors were typically highly-educated amateurs for whom the production of periodicals was not a career per se but rather a pleasurable pursuit.
The end of the nineteenth century saw significant developments in every area of the publishing business, leading to a considerable professionalisation of the industry. Syndication became prevalent, distributing articles simultaneously across the U.S. and Europe. Copyright agreements with the U.K., originally intended to protect British authors from piratical reprints, now served U.S. authors sending their work to the U.K. Magazines such as McClure’s [p.p.6383.ae] began employ staff writers who would extensively research articles for illustrated serialisation. No longer offering just the personal views and opinions of an educated but amateur elite, magazines now proffered apparently independent journalism, based on well researched “facts” eloquently presented.
The flipside of this increasing professionalism was an increasing sense of homogenisation that sparked a backlash in the form of what are now commonly termed “the little magazines”. These, in many ways, harked back to the earlier era of American periodicals in their tendency towards coterie, their intellectual pretensions, and their frequently short lifespans. Unlike earlier journals, many women played prominent roles that in the editing of little magazines, a development explored in detail by Jayne E Marek, Women Editing Modernism: “Little” Magazines and Literary History, 1995 [YA.1997.a.13656].
Since those who began to champion the modernist cause (the raw material of which appeared in these irregular and provocative little magazines) were frequently academics, it comes as no surprise to find that the next trend in publications came from the universities and colleges. With a certain inevitability, these periodicals whose cause was initially revolt and innovation became in time the bastions of received wisdom: bastions against which new writers in turn arrayed their artillery in another wave of little magazining. This later spate of little magazining grew out of the beat and hippy movements. Drawing eclectically, as much from transatlantic Dadaism as from regionalised folk traditions, they presented political and social radicalism in aesthetic forms. Like the modernist little magazines before them, and the late eighteenth century periodicals before them, these publications appeared for a coterie audience and were frequently short-lived.
The development of both academic and independent strands in periodical publication has been symbiotically supported in the past thirty years by the proliferation of provision for “Creative Writing”, whether within the academic setting of university or the communal setting of urban and rural writing groups. Moreover, such proliferation has led to increased hybridity in content and editorial policy. Today, the internet and the accessibility of blogging provides the possibility for even greater hybridity and has given a new lease of life to the American traditions of miscellanies, satire, and communal production.
The British Library
The British Library collections represent an extensive cross section of America’s periodical output in original copy and microfilm. They are augmented by a wide range of auxiliary material such as bibliographies and critical histories.
Of particular use is American periodicals, 1741-1900: an index to the microfilm collections, edited by Jean Hoornstra and Trudy Heath, 1979 [RAM 094.30973]. This volume provides a comprehensive introduction to the microfilm contents, through four separate indexes for periodical title, subject, editor and reel number. The microfilms themselves can also be consulted at the British Library [Series 1 mic.a.130-162; Series 2 mic.a163-416, mic.a.3621-4212, mic.b.604/846-1966; Series 3 mic.b.606/1-771].
Twentieth century collections are supported by predominantly thematic bibliographies, such as Nancy K. Humphrey’s American women’s Magazines: An Annotated Historical Guide, 1989 [2725.e.1297] and Walter Goldwater’s Radical Periodicals in America 1890-1950, 1966 [2764.m.29]. The Greenwood Press series, Historical Guides to the World’s Periodicals and Newspapers, devotes the majority of its output to American publications, presenting descriptive and bibliographical information about significant publications within thematically contrived volumes, for example, American Indian and Alaska native newspapers and periodicals, 1971-1985, 1986 [2725.d.373] and Corporate magazines of the United States, 1992 [YC.1992.b.4355].
For contemporary material the CLMP (Council of Literary Magazines and Presses) Directory of Literary Magazines and Presses is invaluable and is updated each year. This lists alphabetically individual presses and periodicals, along with information on editorial policy and contact details. The listing is also available through CLMP’s website, http://www.clmp.org>. A further useful website belongs to Small Press Traffic, http://www.sptraffic.org>, whose links page is rich and extensive. Between them CLMP and Small Press Traffic cover much of contemporary American web and print periodical output from the hyper-productive centres of New York and San Francisco, respectively. Both websites direct readers to publications held at the British Library as well as e-journals accessible through the world wide web. These sources alongside the original materials gathered in the British Library collections themselves provide invaluable resources for future historians of American periodical publication as well at the critic of late twentieth- and early twenty first-century literature.
Matthew Shaw looks at the current zine scene as captured by Best Zine Ever! #3
The partial roof collapse during a concert by the sombre and delicate alternative rock band Yo La Tengo in Hoboken, NJ constituted one of the least-reported disasters of recent years. Only The Onion, ‘America’s Finest Newsource’, carried the tragic story of the loss of 37 record store clerks: “I haven’t seen this much senseless hipster carnage since the Great Sebadoh Fire Of ‘93,” reported one rescue worker, as he pulled out a gold and green puma trainer. Amongst the missing, The Onion noted, were two zine publishers.1
Zines, the punk chapbooks of the literary world, were traditionally assembled by fans (hence the name: an abbreviation of fanzine) of 1960s pop groups and were distributed by mail or handed out at gigs. In time, zines became more political and personal, providing a literary output for adolescent angst, radical politics, oddball comedy and cartoons, and anything in between. The punk and underground music scene of the 80s, the culture wars, the Riot Grrrl movement, and queer politics all added energy and purpose to the zine movement.2 Phrases like the ‘independent magazine revolution’ began to be bandied about and the mainstream media’s fascination with ‘Generation X’ in the early and mid-nineties brought the independent and alternative into the full glare of the capitalist mainstream. Zines, it seemed, were everywhere: critics and cultural theorists began to get a handle on the genre, and mainstream print media also got in on the act, publishing ‘best of’ collections); films such as Ghost World, which drew on the world of alternative comics, projected the ‘indie’ vibe into, if not the mainstream, then at least away from the eddies and grottoes of the past. As one ex-zinester writes, it was the time of the Great Zine Explosion and ‘seemingly every other obsessed nut in the country started putting out zines’.3 Even libraries began to collect them.4
But the brief flowering of the movement also induced criticism of a format that has become moribund, inward-looking and self-referential, more concerned with attitude and image than the content or purpose of the product.5 By the beginning of Bill Clinton’s lame duck period, the creative and relevant spirit of zines had been snuffed out. Zines were still being produced, but the energy, some argued, had gone. To many, zines’ defining individualism, quirkiness and indie spirit had been co-opted by commercial culture as a way to market new products. And, as any hipster knows, fashion moves on. The commercialization of zines and indie culture was seen be practitioners as a Bad Thing. Zines lost their underground cachet, the GenX media story grew old, circulation fell and numerous zines crumpled, never to return. Shrinking from the limelight, faithful zinesters returned to the darkness and authenticity of the underground, which many claimed to prefer (risking only The Onion’s satire).
By the late 90s, the new big story had become the internet: dotcom replaced cut and paste; bytes became cooler than tip-ex. The greatest threat to zines, apart from collapsing concrete at Yo La Tengo concerts, could well have been the internet. No more inky fingers, staples, Xerox bills, or postage costs: the world wide web promised a digital future for twenty-first-century hipster thoughts. Sites such as http://www.blogger.com> and tools such as MoveableType have made online publishing simple and often at zero-cost (for those with internet access). The dated, serial format of weblogging provides the perfect format for the autobiographical output typical of perzines (“personal zines”), and quick search of Blogger, Technorati or Google unleashes an avalanche of digital zines.
But as with most predictions about the e-future, the web has simply expanded the non-virtual world, supporting and developing the printed zine scene rather than replacing it. A new wave of zines is being produced: after the Great Zine Crash of the late 90s, zinesters had simply incubated their zines or passed the torch to a new, younger generation, for whom Nirvana provided their nursery-school music. The political lurch to the right in American politics, the dominance of media conglomerates, the burgeoning NoLogo culture of anti-corporatism, and – perhaps most importantly of all – the attacks of 11 September 2001 and subsequent political reaction, galvanised the faltering zine production machine. Distribution and marketing (a word zinesters often shy from, while often being adept at guerrilla marketing tactics) had posed the biggest problem to the historic zinesters of the 70s to the early 90s (although many were happy with a secretive readership). Zine production had always driven by technology (think of the Xerox copy machine, the home computer, scanners); now distribution and marketing could be transformed. The internet could provide an online presence, pointing potential readers to the real-world zine and its spin-offs, such as clothing, music projects or books, providing a virtual magazine store, listings service and critical mass.
So, zines are still being stapled in Kinkos across the fifty states as we sit here, but are they still relevant: and, more pertinently should they form part of library collections?
Best Zine Ever
Edited by Greg Beans and assembled at the Independent Published Resource Center (http://www.iprc.org>), Best Zine Ever! A review of our favorite zines of 2004 helps to answer these questions. Printed simply in black and white and running to 20 pp (including the cover), BZE sets out to list the ‘greatest zines on the planet’. It takes the view that the best zines let you dial ‘into someone else’s brain and as you read their stories, witness their art and experience their life’, and provides a selection which may well do exactly that. The review, which is stapled and photocopied in time-honoured zine format, provides the names and address of the eighty-or-so zines which BZE considered to be the best of the year. The zines are reviewed by a team of zinesters and zine librarians, including Brooke Young (Leeds supporter and founder of the zine collection at Salt Lake City Public Library) and Jenna Freedman, (zine librarian at Barnard College, New York), describing the merits of their pick in humorous and sometimes idiosyncratic couple of sentences. Each page has a black and white illustration taken from one of the zines. What trends can be detected?
Unsurprisingly, given the predominance of the genre, the majority of the zines chosen are autobiographical perzines, such as America? #12 ($1 to Travis, PO Box 13077, Gainesville, FL 32604-1077):
Whether he’s hanging around his hometown of Gainesville, FL playing soccer, working at the library and going to house shows or travelling the world with his favourite punk band, Travis gets right down to it: the world is full of beautiful friends and blissful moments but just beyond our sight is unimaginable ugliness and ruin.
Zines such as Burn Collector #13 ($4, Stickfigure, PO Box 55462, Atlanta, GA 30308) can have a ‘much more literary feeling’, while still focusing on the ‘dark, jaded musings’ of the zinester, Al Burian, who deftly compares his life with that of Kilgore Trout, the main character from Kurt Vonegut’s Breakfast of Champions: ‘if you aren’t already familiar with Burn Collector, close your curtains, unplug your phone, bake some cookies, and recline with the new issue’.
Other zines have a wider, less personal remit: in the case of Art Missive ($3-$10, Lauren Jade Martin, PO Box 150318, Brooklun NY 11215, laurenjaded@ riseup.net), a cultural, Brooklyn-centred one: ‘insightful interviews with younger, emerging visual, book, and video artists and a photo essay on south Brooklyn’. Art Missive is also bound with a letter pressed cover adding ‘a touch of elegance.’ Stop Go Destroy #5 ($2 to Clint, 5245 College Ave, Box 411, Oakland CA 94618) is a ‘gem’ made by ‘smart art school students’ with a black-on-black cover. Politics also features strongly, typically from a left of centre or anarchic perspective. East Village Inky #25 ($3 to Ayun Halliday, PO Bo 22754, Brookly, NY 11202-2754) protests the Republican National Convention’s New York jaunt.
Some zines emerge out of distinct scenes, often bringing a political and witty take on lifestyle choices or leisure pursuits: Bearing Edge: a publication for and about drummers; Cash Flag (B-movies and horror films); Chainbreaker (political biking), Salt & Slush: Winter Recipies (vegetarian or vegan, with zinester-friendly instructions such as form dough balls ‘the size of skateboard wheels’).
Pop culture finds its zinester in Cartography for Beginners or Femme: the golden age of Wonder Woman (Mandy, firstname.lastname@example.org) ‘writings and comix about comix’, and several others listed n BZE.
Other zines reveal the format’s ability to rework and share reality, celebrating and philosophising the mundane (for example King-Cat #63 ($3 to John Porcellino, PO Box 170535, San Francisco, CA 94117, www.king-cat.net) offers ‘stories of barbers I have known, pigeons, palm tree and a California Road Trip’). More profound issues are tackled in Broken Hipster Zine ($1, Emikop, 2520 SE 43rd Ave #B, Portland, OR 97206), with drawings of Emiko’s ‘wrenching and intense story of… kidney failure and dialysis’. Body image and institutionalised medicine are explored without ‘poor-me-victim kind of narration’ in Fat Farm ($1, Max Airbour, 8728 Thermal St., Oakland CA 94605).
Many of the zines concentrate on employment, such as the remarkable stories of John Mejias, Paping #11 ($8 to John Mejias, Box 12845, E 7th, NYC 10003, www.paping.org) whose ‘woodcut like comics about the immigrant kids and worn-out teachers that really win me over every time’, or the (mental) underemployment of McJobs in Leeking Ink #28 & 29 ($2, Davida Briar, P.O. Box 963, Harve de Grace, MD 21078), ‘a tale of job hell’, Lululand #3 & 4 ($3 to Amy Adoyzie, c/o Lululand, PO Box 356, Van Nuys, CA 91408-0356) ‘This is it. The zine of the year!… You almost wish you were at that crappy job with Amy just so you can hear her riff on it’: (“Ghee was there for three and a half months. After the daily grind of clicking, dragging and typing up grant proposal after proposal, her hands became so incapacitated that she couldn’t even grip a pen. She quit. She said, ‘Salary and paid vacation don’t mean much if I can’t fucking turn the doorknob to leave’”)) or Adventures of Corprit Boy #6 ($2 to Paul Nama, PO Box 82055, Portland, OR 97282), which capitalises on the fact that ‘all zinesters love getting mail’ by publishing forty postcards about the writer’s ‘surroundings and his thoughts on the state of the world’ while the author was sent to work in a dumptruck factory.
Transport provided the most striking theme this year, with many zinesters providing etiquette tips or lashing out at inconsiderate motorists: Transport: Constant Rider: Manners for Mover #6 ‘romance stories, hygiene hints & tips for successfully riding the bus’; Go By Bicycle #3 and Little, Official Primer of Bicycling Culture in Portland are just some of the zines dealing with the perils of getting out and about in the US. Or try Sara’s account of cycling from Bellingham, Washington, to Tucson, Arizona: Glossalia #4 ($2 to Sara, 5711, NE 24th, Portland, OR 97211): ‘“She Rode HUNDRESD OF MILES! By HERSELF! On a BICYCLE!” (said by old codger in Crescent City, CA’. And there are guides to where to go, if you can get there, such as Miniature Pocket Guide to San Francisco, inspired by Portland Zinester’s Guide, night-time walks in Oakland by Clint (Stop Go Destroy #5) or two-week educational art school tour of Cuba (Educational Tourist, $3, Microcosm Zine Distro):
This morning we travel to ISA, the only art university in Cuba… Legend has it that Che and Castro played golf here in 1961. They decided that this place could not be used for such unimportant things, ‘Let’s make a city of arts!’ they cried. I wonder if they were wearing military gear or golfing outfits?
The prize for conservation nightmare must go to Dream Whip #13 ($4, Bill Brown, P.O. Box 53832, Lubbock, TX 79453): ‘The only down side of Dream Whip is that it is bound with rubber bands, though the thickness of the zine would make binding a problem, and the rubber bands are only a problem for dorky librarians’, concludes Celia Perez, a librarian in Chicago.
What’s out? The environment seems to find fewer followers, although Frugal Environmentalist ($17.95 per annum, 4 issues, P.O. Box 45095, Seattle, WA 98145-0095) contains ‘not one bit of useless information.’ BZE is printed on recycled paper with vegetable based inks. (RAS, I fear, is not). Music zines are thin on the ground, and there are (I think) no zines about working at a dot.com. Both sexes and all genders are given fairly equal weight in the selection of zines, but Riot Grrrls are, it seems, thin on the ground.
Finally, BZE, as is natural given its institutional berth at the IPPR in Portland is North-West coast-centric, although zines from New York and the heartland – and even Australia (All Slay: the sex issue – a Buffy the Vampire Slayer zine) do make their appearance. Enough, one feels, for several future MA thesis and the mulch for a PhD or two, at less than the cost of an academic monograph (although acquisition, processing and preservation costs are likely to disproportionably high).
Best Zine Ever! #3 () Tugboat Press, PO Box 12409, Pdx, OR 97212, USA.
Also available via Microcosm Zine Distro, http://www.microsmpublishing.com>.
The United Kingdom is presently not well-served by collections of US Zines, although some institutions, such as the Women’s Library, London, have notable collections of British zines (with some US copies). In part this is because zines are hostile to libraries, preferring less institutional and bureaucratic habitats as their home. They are serials (never the easiest format to collect); they are published erratically (with runs coming to a sudden stop and then revivifying, perhaps under a different title); they may be classed as ephemera (and so may be out of scope); they are usually printed on cheap, acidic paper (lying in the stacks as latent preservation time bombs); and, worst of all, they are not distributed by library suppliers (and refuse to issue invoices). These are all surmountable, with the final point perhaps the hardest to overcome. A stash of US postage stamps, dollar bills, a corporate credit card and, most importantly, access to a Paypal account may smooth the acquisition of US zines. There may also be restrictions on access: as some US librarians have discovered, zines are sometimes obscene, libellous or unsuitable for younger readers.
US Zine collections can be found at Salt Lake Public Library, San Diego State University, and Bingham Center, Duke University, holds the Sarah Dyer zine collection.
Yahoo Groups hosts a zine librarian’s list at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/zinelibrarians/>
Salt Lake Public Library (Zine Collection)
West Coast Zine Archive in the Special Collections and University Archives at San Diego State University
The Women’s Library, London
Zillions of Zines: the Sarah Dyer Collection, Bingham Center, Duke University:
In July of last year, the Bingham Center received a gift that could prove to be one of our most important 20th century collections. The Sarah Dyer Zine Collection came to us in seven unassuming boxes bursting with thousands of self-published works by women and girls. The publications are opinionated and sometimes unapologetically personal. They range from photocopy-collage to slick-looking glossies, and they express the incredible breadth of women’s interests and talents, as well as the depth of their desire to communicate.
Duncombe, Stephen, Notes from Underground. Zines and the politics of alternative culture (London & New York: Verso, 1997).
Eggers, David Eggers, The Best American Nonrequired Reading (2002), pp. 105-108.
Friedman, R. Seth, ed., The Factsheet Five Zine Reader: the best writing from the underground world of zines (New York: Three Rivers Press; London: Random Houses, c.1997).
Gunderloy, Mike & Cari Goldberg Janice, The World of Zines. A guide to the independent magazine revolution (New York: Penguin Books, 1992).
Perris, Kate. Unearthing the underground: a comparative study of zines in libraries. Dissertation for the MA in Information Services Management at London Metropolitan University, August 2004.
Robbins, Trina, From Girls to Grrrlz. A history of ? comics from teens to zines (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1999).
http://grrrlzines.net/writingonzines.htm> includes an extensive bibliography
2. Stephen Duncombe, Notes for from Underground: zines and the politics of culture (London & New York: Verso, 1997), pp. 141-173. For an example of the commercial interest in the post-baby boomer market labelled ‘Generation X’, see The Generation X Market (New York: [Packaged Facts], 1996). Douglas Coupland, Generation X: tales from an accelerated culture (New York: St Martins Press, 1991), may be to blame. A commentary on zines brief breaking of the surface of mainstream culture can be found at Chip Rowe, ‘What They’re Saying About Us’, www.zinebook.com, http://www.zinebook.com/resource/biblio.html> (accessed 12 April 2005), which lists articles in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Newsday and Penthouse. Since the early ‘90s, many critics would argue that the underground has been colonised by mainstream, commercial culture and that the distinction is only made when marketers appropriate the underground in search of the cool.
3. John Marr, ‘Zines are Dead’, Bad Subjects, issue 46 (December 1999), ‹http://www.eserver.org/bs/46/marr.html?source=zinebook› (accessed 12 April 2005).
4. Mike Gunderloy & Cari Goldberg Janice, The World of Zines: a guide to the independent magazine revolution (New York: Penguin Books, 1992); R. Seth Friedman, The Factsheet Five Zine Reader: the best writing from the underground world of zines (New York: Three Rivers Press, c. 1997); Duncombe, Notes for from Underground.
5. For a collection of valedictory essays and criticisms, see ‘Zine Controversies’, www.zinebook.com, http://www.zinebook.com/directory/zine-controversies.html> (accessed 12 April 2005). Similar charges have been levelled at the hand press movement.
Jayne Hoare, Cambridge University Library
The US-based Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, founded in 1994 to promote the study and love of American history, maintains a substantial collection of more than 60,000 documents detailing the social and political history of the United States. The collection’s holdings include manuscript letters, diaries, maps, photographs, printed books and pamphlets ranging from 1493 through modern times. The Collection is particularly rich with materials in the Revolutionary, Antebellum, Civil War and Reconstruction periods. Highlights of the Collection include signed copies of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Thirteenth Amendment, a rare printed copy of the first draft of the Constitution, and thousands of unpublished Civil War soldiers’ letters. Letters written by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and others vividly record the issues and events of their day. The writings of such notable women as Lucy Knox, Mercy Otis Warren and Catherine Macaulay discuss a variety of military, political and social issues.
The collection is on deposit at the New York Historical Society in New York, and researchers can visit by appointment. To make its resources more internationally available for researchers, librarians, and teachers the Institute has undertaken to publish some of the documents on its web site. ‘Newly Discovered Documents’ are published every two weeks and are among some of the rarest and most valuable materials in the collection. Anyone who wants to know instantly when a new document is published can sign up to be notified via email.
Featured documents already published are listed below, with brief descriptions taken from the Institute’s web pages (http:// www.gilderlehrman.org>)
Martha Washington to Francis B. Washington – In one of Martha Washington’s earliest known letters, she shows conflicting feelings about balancing her family life with her role as a political wife.
Diary of a Black Soldier in the 8th U.S. Colored Troops, Company G, and Eyewitness – William P. Woodlin, a musician in Company G of the 8th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops (8th USCT), compiled a 123-page diary describing his military service from November 1863 to December 1864. His near daily reports, told in a stoic and detached voice, provide a window into the life of African American soldiers on the front line.
The “Three-Fifths Clause” – This broadside detailing data from the 1800 census in New York provides a sense of the pervasiveness of slavery, even in a northern state like New York.
“… we Cannot indulge in grief however mournful yet pleasing.” – In this beautifully written letter, Robert E. Lee attempts to console his son on the loss of his son’s wife. The letter demonstrates the tremendous emotion Lee felt for his family and offers a glimpse of the strength that carried Lee through the war.
Provisional Army Orders Detailing Ceremony in Honor of George Washington’s Death – Washington could have never held back the outpouring of national grief despite his specific request to “be Interred in a private manner, without parade, or funeral Oration.”
George Washington to New Hampshire, December 29, 1777 – George Washington’s words in this letter represent a stirring plea for help at the darkest moment of the American Revolution. This famous letter illustrates Valley Forge as an icon of American perseverance and resolve in the face of cruel fortune and overwhelming odds.
Political Intrigue and the Electoral College – The Jeffersonians felt threatened by Burr’s ambition and took out an insurance policy with the passage of the 12th amendment.
Mutiny – The plot to either kidnap or assassinate George Washington was never close to reaching its lofty goals, but it did point toward disaffection in the Continental Army.
Hamilton vs. the Partisan Press – Alexander Hamilton made verbal jousting in the press a venerated American tradition. He took full advantage of the freedom of the press outlined in the Bill of Rights, as did his innumerable enemies.
“That Monster, the constitution.” – This unique copy of the Constitution, printed in the early spring of 1788 by Claxton and Babcock in Albany, New York, can be seen as a last minute offensive by the Federalists to garner support for the proposed government.
“- 5 VIII (-),IV,X 5VII1 III IV IX made of more V 10 1 5 III IX II 5 IX 1 VII 8 5 10 VIII IX 7 5 III II ( ) VIII 1 10 0 The advice comes with double force ~” – Written to his son-in-law on Friday, July 20, 1804, nine days after his duel with Alexander Hamilton, this letter offers the possibility that hidden in the mystery of his cipher lie Burr’s genuine motives, plans, and feelings at this critical moment in American history.
“I doubt whether we should have had a real Union but for Hamilton; I think you must know that Jefferson would never have given us one.” Letter from Horace Greeley to Henry Stephens Randall – Written in 1861, this letter from Horace Greeley to Henry Stephens Randall emphasizes Alexander Hamilton’s role in building a strong federal government and stable economy.
The Declaration of Independence – The Declaration of Independence called for recognition of fundamental rights that demanded protection. The Revolution secured American Independence and the Constitution codified a means to maintain American liberty. Alexander Hamilton may not have signed the Declaration, but he certainly left his imprimatur on the new government it promised.
The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States – Where the draft’s opening reflects the sense of the thirteen states as separate entities, the final version’s “We the People of the United States” invokes the Hamiltonian vision of a united nation.
“General Hamilton was this morning woun[d]ed by that wretch Burr” – Mere hours after the duel, Angelica Church writes in haste to her brother Philip Schuyler to break the news to him, expressing her futile hope that Hamilton would recover. The hasty scrawl of her handwriting suggests the degree of her distress.
“The expediency of encouraging manufactures in the United States…appears at this time to be pretty generally admitted”
Alexander Hamilton’s Report on Manufactures – Hamilton offered a remarkably modern economic vision based on investment, industry, and expanded commerce. Most strikingly, it was an economic vision with no place for slavery.
“Jefferson is in my view less dangerous than Burr”
Alexander Hamilton on the Deadlocked Presidential Election – This letter is one of a stream that Hamilton sent fellow Federalists during the deadlock that followed the election of 1800. They were among the most consequential Hamilton ever wrote, for both Hamilton and the nation.
“To be thus monopolized, by a little nut-brown maid like you”. A Love Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Elizabeth Schuyler – In this intimate letter to Elizabeth Schuyler, Hamilton casts himself as both a lover and a statesman. His charm succeeded and the two were married on December 14, 1780 at Betsey’s family home near Albany, New York.
“The want of money makes us want everything else” – In his letter to a French diplomat, Hamilton cannot refute his ally’s gloomy view of the war. By October 1780 Hamilton was discouraged by the apparent apathy of the American people and the ineffectuality of their elected representatives, as well as by the recent discover of Benedict Arnold’s treachery.
“I never mean… to possess another slave by purchase”:
George Washington on the Abolition of Slavery – Among all the well known founders who were major slaveholders at the time of the Revolution, George Washington was the only one who actually ended up freeing his slaves. But Washington never spoke out publicly against the institution of slavery. Instead, he arrived at his conclusion that slavery was immoral and inconsistent with the ideals of the American Revolution gradually, privately, and with difficulty.
“In the End You Are Sure to Succeed”: Lincoln on Perseverance – In one of Lincoln’s most accomplished personal letters, he writes to George Clayton Latham, a friend of his son Robert, on perseverance. This gem of optimistic correspondence testifies as eloquently to Lincoln’s own perseverance, discipline, and uncompromising work ethic as it does to his extraordinary ability to inspire others.
“Heaven Alone Can Foretell”: Washington’s Reluctance to Become President – In this April 1789 letter to General Henry Knox, George Washington’s friend from the Continental Army who now served as Secretary of War, Washington accepts the inevitability of his election to the presidency, but with remarkable reluctance.
“Your Late Lamented Husband” – Following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, widow Mary Todd Lincoln sent Frederick Douglass the President’s “favorite walking staff.” In his remarkable letter of reply, Douglass assured the First Lady that he would forever possess the cane as an “object of sacred interest,” not only for himself, but because of Mr. Lincoln’s “humane interest in the welfare of my whole race.”
Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Principles – Apart from his authorship of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson is best known to us through his letters. A conscientious correspondent both as a public servant and private citizen, Jefferson’s letters over a period of some 65 years number in the tens of thousands, many of which are still unpublished. But their numbers are less notable than their wide-ranging and highly quotable content, which is matched by the skill and precision with which he wrote.
John Quincy Adams and the Amistad Case – Abolitionists enlisted former U.S. President John Quincy Adams to represent the Amistad captives’ petition for freedom before the Supreme Court. Adams, then a 73-year-old U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts, had in recent years fought tirelessly against Congress’s “gag rule” banning anti-slavery petitions. Here, with characteristic humility, Adams accepts the job of representing the Amistad captives, hoping he will “do justice to their cause.”
“I love you, but hate slavery.” – On October 4, 1857, Frederick Douglass wrote an extraordinary letter to his former master, Hugh Auld. At the heart of this letter, written when Douglass was 39 and already famous as an abolitionist leader, is the great man’s effort to recover facts and dates from his childhood.
Account of Sinking of the Titanic – This letter, written on Carpathia stationery by a first class passenger on the Titanic, is one of the earliest, most immediate and compelling accounts of the disaster.
“Newly Discovered Documents” and email notification service can be found on the The Gilder Lehrman Institute’s web pages at:
Ian Ralston outlines the purpose and holdings of the Centre
Established in 1987 with the aid of a grant from the United States government and with the support of the British Association for American Studies, the American Studies Resources Centre (ASRC) initially began its work supporting the study of the United States in secondary schools and community colleges across the United Kingdom. This was achieved by responding directly to research requests from both students and teachers. An audiovisual loan service, the publication of an annual magazine and a programme of student conferences complemented this work. Over a period of several years the ASRC expanded its remit to include undergraduate students of American Studies, as well as private requests from the general public and the media both in the UK and abroad. A highly successful website ARNet (http://www.americansc.org.uk) was also created to support this work. This website now includes a full listing of every American Studies undergraduate degree and MA programme offered by UK Universities, as well as an online magazine and book reviews section.
At present the ASRC continues to support all of the above noted areas. It has also expanded its conference programme and has acted as host for numerous visiting US academics and the presentation of guest lectures. The ASRC also maintains close links with a number of American Universities and academics/writers, as well as having a US-based Advisory Panel.
Located in the Aldham Robarts Learning Resource Centre, the ASRC welcomes visits from school or college groups for study days and from interested individuals. Services such as the audiovisual loan service remain open to teachers or lecturers. Visiting groups are also welcome to make use of the ASRC’s collection of texts on all aspects of the study of the USA. A new collection of materials (donated to John Moores University) on the McCarthy period will also become available to users in the near future.
For details of all ASRC services, log onto the ASRC web site, ARNet, at http://www.americansc.org.uk.
The opening hours of the ASRC are subject to semester variation; therefore, before any visit, users are strongly advised to email the Director (email@example.com) or telephone 0151 231 3241.
Alexis K. Ciurczak, Fulbright Librarian, Second Air Division Memorial Library
During the Second World War over 6,700 young Americans, members of the 2nd Air Division of the 8th United States Army Air Forces, based in Norfolk and Suffolk England, lost their lives in the line of duty. The Second Air Division Memorial Library is an outgrowth of an original idea of three senior officers of the 2nd Air Division, B/Gen Milton Arnold (2nd Combat Wing), Col. Frederick Bryan, Deputy Chief of Staff, Headquarters 2nd Air Division, and Lt. Col. Ion Walker, Ground Exec., 467th Bomb Group. It began with a fund raising effort launched before hostilities ended in 1945. An Appeal was launched to leave a permanent memorial to the fallen comrades of the 2nd Air Division. What resulted was the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library, which, through the Memorial Trust, has been funded largely through the 2nd Air Division Association, which is comprised of former members of the 2nd Air Division USAAF.
The purpose of the Library is to house a collection of materials about American freedom, culture, and life, about the Second World War in the air, and about the special relationship between the people of the United Kingdom, specifically the people of East Anglia, and the people of the United States.
The Second Air Division USAAF Memorial Library is a unique war memorial as well as being a fully functioning library, open to the public. The library is spread over approximately 2,000 square feet (185 square meters) on the ground floor of the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library, in The Forum, located in the city centre. The library consists of the book collection of over 4700 titles, numerous current American periodical subscriptions, archival material and a collection of paintings and memorabilia. The subject strength is World War II, US Air Force and aviation history, and unit histories of the Bomb Groups of the 8th Air Force. The archive collection, currently located at the Norfolk Records Office, consists of records of the various Bomb Groups and their personnel. The library also has an extensive collection of videos and oral history material, relating to veterans’ experiences in WW II, as well as a large collection of original photographs relating to the airfields in Norfolk and Suffolk of the “Mighty Eighth” (8th Air Force). In addition to the World War II collection, the library focuses on American Studies materials, notably American art, history, music (jazz and blues), Native American art and culture, biography, cookery, quilting and other American crafts, and current travel guides.
The Shrine Area, as this library is an official War Memorial, is designed to be a place for peaceful reflection and meditation. The Roll of Honour, listing all those from the Second Air Division, who lost their lives in the line of duty between 1942 and 1945, is on display here as well as the standards and banners of the various Bomb Groups.
Visitors to the Memorial Library include returning veterans from the 8th Air Force and their families, descendants of these veterans researching family and flight mission history, aviation and World War II enthusiasts and the general public. Students from the American Studies programs in the area use the collection as well.
Each year, the Second Air Division sponsors a Fulbright Fellow to serve the Trust as the American Librarian, in the Memorial Library. Both the Trust Librarians and the Library Information Assistants can assist visitors with their information needs and research questions during regular opening hours, which are currently Monday to Saturday 9:00am – 5:00pm with late opening Tuesday at 10:00am. Phone and email enquiries are also accepted. Photocopying facilities and free Internet access are also available.
The Forum, Millennium Plain
Norwich NR2 1AW
Benjamin Blinten, Head Librarian, Library of the John F. Kennedy-Institute
The Library of the John F. Kennedy-Institute (JFKI) was founded in 1952 and today holds the largest collection of North American Studies materials in Germany. Besides serving teachers and students of the Kennedy-Institute it is also an important European source for research on North America. This role is acknowledged by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft which has included the JFKI Library in its grant scheme, supporting the acquisition of microform collections on ethnic minorities and North American newspapers on microfilm. The library is also supported by the Canadian and American embassies in Berlin. Every year, between forty and fifty scholars from all over Europe visit the library through a grant program funded jointly by the Canadian embassy and the Freie Universität Berlin of which the JFKI is a part.
Today the library holds about 900,000 volumes, 70% of which are in microform, and subscribes to about 350 periodicals. The large microform collections include Early American Imprints, Pre-1900 Canadiana and Early American Newspapers. Subject areas covered are literary studies, cultural studies, history, sociology (including urban and women’s studies), political science, economy and – to a smaller degree – language (American English), art, religion, education and geography. The library also owns 16,000 slides, 2,000 videos and 1,500 records. It is connected to the electronic services of the University Library of the Freie Universität, including e-journals and bibliographic databases like MLA, America: History and Life, Sociological Abstracts and Contemporary Authors.
The library is open free of charge to the general public. Lending service, though, is restricted to residents of Berlin and the surrounding area. Almost all books and a large part of the microforms are available in open stacks. Since 2000 the library has used the Dewey Decimal Classification for shelving its new acquisitions, although the largest part of the book collection is organised by the old classification system created especially for the JFKI library in the 1960s and 1970s. The reading room area offers twenty workplaces with PCs, 66 without, several copying machines and microform readers, two reader-printers and two scanners – one for microforms and one for books. There is also a screening room equipped with VHS and DVD players and a stereo set.
Details of the collections can be found at
Freie Universität Berlin
John F. Kennedy-Institute for North American Studies
phone: +49 (0)30 838 52703
fax : +49 (0)30 838 52882
The Roosevelt Study Center is a research institute, conference centre, and library on twentieth-century American history located in a twelfth-century abbey in Middelburg, the Netherlands. It is named after three famous Americans, whose ancestors emigrated from Zeeland, the Netherlands, to the New World in the seventeenth century: President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), and Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962).
The Roosevelt Study Center (RSC) is subsidized by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Province of Zeeland, and private corporations and institutions. The RSC cooperates with Dutch universities in research projects, as well as with the Theodore Roosevelt Association and the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute in various ways. The RSC is a founding member of the American Studies Network, a cooperation of the twenty foremost American Studies Centers in Europe. It has an annual newsletter, The Roosevelt Review, and an inhouse publications series.
Research in American history
The Roosevelt Study Center offers the following resources for research in American history :
The RSC has 93 collections with primary documents. Most of those documents were put on microfilm or microfiche. Some of these collections were published in hardbound volumes. The documents can be read by using readers. A reader printer can photocopy documents both from microfiche and microfilm (€ 0.10 a copy). The list below reveals whether it is a microfilm (FILM) or microfiche (FICHE) collection. Almost all collections have a guide or index. It is also possible to make prints from digital collections (€ 0.10 a copy).
The RSC maintains a reference library with 7,000 volumes. Most books can be borrowed free of charge, with a maximum of five volumes per visitor. An online catalogue allows searches by title, author, and subject. A detailed systematic guide is available. A photocopier is available at the secretary’s office.
Periodicals and Newspapers
The RSC subscribes to 27 scholarly journals and has a collection of 15 historical magazines, partly on microform. Periodicals cannot be checked out. A digital copy of The New York Times can be accessed.
Videos and DVDs
The RSC owns a collection of 400 videos on aspects of American history and DVDs with newsreels on the Roosevelts. A detailed subject guide with summaries of the videos is available. Viewers should make an appointment with the secretary.
The RSC has 75 films on 35 mm, mostly historical documentaries of the TR period and the immediate post-World War II period.
The Roosevelt Study Center is the venue for a number of conferences. Each year the RSC hosts the annual meeting of the Netherlands American Studies Association in June. In the month April in odd-numbered years European Historians of the United States meet in the RSC for a conference. Apart from these events the RSC stages international seminars and conferences on specialized subjects and participates in conferences organized by related institutes.
Recent conferences include the Netherlands American Studies Association (NASA) organized a conference on “The Stories of World War II” at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, a bilingual conference at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam on “Morsels in the Melting Pot: The Persistence of Isolated Dutch Communities in North America, 1800-2000” and a symposium on “Nederlandse media en de Amerikaanse presidentsverkiezingen” in Utrecht.
RSC Research Grant
European scholars at all stages in their careers (advanced students preparing for a master’s or doctoral degree, and scholars preparing a publication) are invited to apply for a RSC Research Grant. The grant consists of a per diem of € 30 (covering bed and breakfast in a low-budget hotel), payment for a rail ticket/ferry ticket and a lump sum of € 45 for photocopies. The research period at the Roosevelt Study Center must be one (minimum) to four (maximum) weeks. The maximum of the grant is € 950.
All applications for a RSC research grant involving research work leading to a master’s or doctoral degree must be endorsed by the professor supervising the work. The Roosevelt Study Center can only offer a limited number of grants and will divide them between applicants from different European countries.
Applications for a Roosevelt Study Center research grant should be submitted at least two months before the desired period of research. Applications including the completed forms, a description of the research project (1-3 pages), and a curriculum vitae should be submitted to:
Prof. Dr. Cornelis A. van Minnen
Roosevelt Study Center
P.O. Box 6001
4330 LA Middelburg
Brown University Library Special Collections
The Special Collections of the Brown University Library contain more than 2,500,000 items, well over half the library’s total resources. Holdings range from Babylonian clay tablets and Egyptian papyri to books, manuscripts and ephemera. Among the more unexpected items are portraits and paintings by old masters, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s tea set, Amy Lowell’s cigars, 5,000 toy soldiers, and locks of hair from several famous heads – among them, Lincoln, Napoleon, and Sir Walter Scott.
The collections, housed in the John Hay Library include some 300,000 monographs, 725,000 manuscripts, 500,000 pieces of sheet music, and 50,000 each of broadsides, photographs, prints and postage stamps, plus over one million archival files and records. Among the most notable holdings are the world’s largest collection of American poetry and plays, one of the nation’s finest history of science collections, an exceptional collection of Lincolniana, and an internationally-known collection on military history. There are also important collections of incunabula, collections devoted to the writings of major individual authors, such as Poe, Thoreau, Zola, and William Blake, and manuscript and archival collections that offer research opportunities in a wide variety of historical and literary subjects.
The approximately 250 separate collections have been accumulated over more than two centuries. They fall into two general categories: books or other research materials originally included in the library’s general collections and later isolated because of value, age, rarity, fragility, historical interest, or potential for enhancement of a specific special collection; and collections or individual items acquired with the intention of retaining their separate identity.
Charles Woodberry McLellan Collection of Lincolniana
A collection, comprising more than 30,000 items in various media, of materials by and about Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the United States, and about the historical and political context of his life and career, chiefly the U.S. Civil War and its causes and aftermath. The collection of Charles Woodberry McLellan, one of five great Lincoln collectors at the turn of the 20th century, was acquired for Brown University in 1923 by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Class of 1897, and others, in memory of John Hay, Class of 1858, one of Lincoln’s White House secretaries; in the ensuing 75 years it has been increased to more than five times its original size.
The books and pamphlets include 85-90 percent of the titles in Jay Monaghan’s Lincoln bibliography, 1829-1939 (many in multiple editions and variant copies), as well as many thousand volumes of contemporary and later publications relating to the Civil War and the slavery controversy. In conjunction with the Harris Collection, the John Hay Library holds probably the largest collection anywhere of poems about Lincoln. There is also a good selection of representative titles of books that Lincoln read.
The manuscript collection includes original letters, notes, and documents, over 950 written or signed by Lincoln; material relating to Lincoln’s family and associates; and facsimiles of manuscripts held by other institutions. The broadsides include song sheets, political sheets, ballots, and posters; also 27 of the 52 printed editions listed in Charles Eberstadt, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. There is a selection of newspapers for 1860-1865; an index to the 11,300+ entries for Lincoln items in all existing files of Illinois newspapers to the end of the Civil War; and photocopies of the clipping files of the Louis A. Warren Lincoln Library and Museum, Fort Wayne, Ind.
The prints, arranged according to Meserve numbers, include most of the known photographs of Lincoln, engravings, and Currier & Ives prints. There are also original oil portraits by artists of Lincoln’s day, most notably the portrait by Peter Baumgras, 1827-1903; some original drawings, as well as a scrapbook of Thomas Nasts’s Civil War sketches. The statuary includes two Rogers groups, an original Truman Bartlett plaster statuette, and replicas of Leonard Volk’s work. The sheet music comprises every known piece relating to Lincoln, including funeral marches, memorial songs, and campaign songs. The museum objects include over 550 medals, mourning and campaign badges, coins, postage stamps, etc.
For further information on the Civil War history collections at Brown, see also the following Bibliofile article:
N.B. The information and text on the John F. Kennedy Institute, the Roosevelt Study Center and the John Hay Library have been sourced from the relevant web pages, with the kind permission and assistance of the librarians and curators.
Points of Contact: The Heritages of William Carlos Williams
July 27-29, 2005
Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Theatre
July 28-31, 2005
Westin St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco, California.
5 August 2005
School of American and Canadian Studies, University of Nottingham.
12th Olomouc Colloquium of American Studies
4-9 September 2005
Palacky University, Olomouc, Czech Republic.
Paddy’s Lamentation: Ireland and the American Civil War
13 October 2005
Poetry Centre, South Wing (Room S.1.5), Faculty of Arts, University of Manchester.
US Political Cartoons
18 October 2005
Day Conference, British Library.
Organised by the Eccles Centre for American Studies
10-13 November 2005
MMLA: Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The United States in the 1980s: the Reagan Years
10-12 November 2005
A three-day interdisciplinary conference examining the subject of the United States in the 1980s.
Rothermere American Institute, Oxford University
5th MESEA Conference The Society for Multi-Ethnic Studies: Europe and the Americas
18-20 May 2006
The Atlantic World of Print in the Age of Franklin of Philadelphia.
29-30 September 2006
Sponsored by the Library Company of Philadelphia, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, and the School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania. In conjunction with the American Printing History Association annual meeting.
Current listings are available on the BAAS website:
France in America
The Library of Congress and the National Library of France (Bibliothèque nationale de France) have launched a bilingual (English-French) online presentation that explores the history of the French presence in North America and the interactions between the French and American peoples from the early 16th to the early 19th centuries.
FirstGov US Government Graphics and Photographs