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Archive for the ‘Native Americans’ Category

One of the highlights of the Kim-Wait/Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection is a copy of the fourth edition of A Sermon, Preached at the Execution of Moses Paul, an Indian, who was Executed at New-Haven, on the 2d of September 1772, for the Murder of Mr. Moses Cook, Late of Waterbury, on the 7th of December 1771 printed in New London, Connecticut in 1772.

Samson Occom. Fourth edition, 1772.

Samson Occom. Fourth edition, 1772.

We also hold two copies of the curious 1788 edition of the same sermon published in London, with an additional work by Jonathan Edwards appended to it.

Samson Occom. London, 1788.

Samson Occom. London, 1788.

The original 1772 edition is generally regarded as the first published book by a Native American author, and it raises a host of fascinating questions about the treatment of Native people by the British Colonial justice system, drunkenness, and capital punishment. The multiple editions of the Sermon that appeared over the next 50 years are a testament to its popularity. A digitized version of the 1788 edition is available online through The Internet Archive.

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Title page of The White Wampum

Title page of The White Wampum (read digitized version from HathiTrust)

The last time we posted about the Kim-Wait/Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection was in November, and Mike happened to mention a 1931 biography called The Mohawk Princess. The subject of that biography was E. Pauline Johnson (1861-1913) also known as Tekahionwake. Thanks to the Kim-Wait/Eisenberg collection, we now hold first edition copies of all six of Johnson’s books. Johnson was one of the first Native American women to publish poetry and prose, and “one of Canada’s leading poets of the late nineteenth century…notable because she celebrated her Mohawk heritage at a time when it was not fashionable; she wrote about the Canadian landscape from a native perspective.”¹

Emily Pauline Johnson was born on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario. Her father was a Mohawk leader named George Henry Martin Johnson and her mother was Emily Susanna Howells, born in England. Johnson’s writing style reflects the influence of the English Romantics as well as stories learned from her paternal grandfather. Johnson published poems in newspapers and magazines in the 1880s and 1890s.

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In recent months, it seems that team mascots have stolen the media spotlight. Whether it be the Washington Redskins or the Amherst College Lord Jeffs, mascots and their connotations have become a hot topic. In light of the recent debate surrounding the Amherst College mascot (see this article in The Amherst Student), I thought it might be interesting to explore the man at the center of the maelstrom: Lord Jeffery Amherst, Commander in Chief of British Forces in North America during the French and Indian War, and according to some, the Adolf Hitler of the 18th century.  Currently, the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections at Frost Library has some five boxes of original historical documents and artifacts related to Jeffery Amherst and his descendants.  Here are 7 interesting facts about Jeffery Amherst, taken straight from the documents:

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As Thanksgiving approaches, you may be looking for a new recipe to try out. We have a few cookbooks in our collections. Perhaps some useful tips from 1828 on boiling or roasting turkey?

Domestic Cookery

“Against the time when it shall be ready, prepare a fine oyster-sauce, very thick of the butter, and pour over it.”

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E99As of today, 335 titles of the approximately 1,500 books in the Kim-Wait/Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection have been fully cataloged. I have enjoyed getting to know the collection by placing the cataloged items on the shelves in LC call number order. We are integrating these books into our general special collections shelving, rather than maintaining them as a physically separate collection, so it has been interesting seeing where they end up and what books are next to them on the shelves. Many of the books are ending up in the Library of Congress Call number range E51 through E99, as shown in the picture above. We are doing a lot of shifting to make room for these books in that range.

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Detail from title page of Black Elk Speaks (1932)

Detail from title page of Black Elk Speaks (1932)

You may have heard through other sources, such as this college press release, that the Archives and Special Collections recently acquired a very large and exciting collection of Native American literature. As we have explained on our page about the collection, it is…

…one of the most comprehensive collections of books by Native American Indian authors ever assembled by a private collector. A generous gift from Younghee Kim-Wait (AC 1982) made it possible for the library to purchase the Pablo Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection. Pablo Eisenberg devoted years of his life to collecting nearly 1,500 books written by Native American Indian authors ranging in date from 1772 (Samson Occom) to living writers still publishing today (Louise Erdrich).

 

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In the fall of 2011 we mounted an exhibition of Native American materials housed in the Archives & Special Collections to coincide with an extended visit from Fred Hoxie, a specialist in Native American history. Professor Hoxie graduated from Amherst College in 1969 and returned to campus as the 2011 Frost Fellow, sponsored by the Friends of Amherst College Library. While Native American history and culture is not one of our greatest strengths, the collection does contain a few gems.

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