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Archive for the ‘Native Americans’ Category

Cool Thoughts on the Consequences to Great Britain of American Independence (London, 1780)

Cool Thoughts on the Consequences to Great Britain of American Independence (London, 1780)

The title for this week’s blog is adapted from this 1780 pamphlet by Joseph Galloway, one of dozens of such publications available for use in the Archives & Special Collections. While we don’t claim anything like the comprehensive coverage of the published debates around the American Revolution available at places like the American Antiquarian Society, we do have a respectable teaching collection.

Between these examples and the eighteenth-century manuscripts in the Plimpton French and Indian War Items and the Lord Jeffery Amherst collections, researchers can gain insight into the tumultuous decades between the 1750s and the close of the American Revolution in 1783. [Note that many items from the Jeffery Amherst Collection are now available online, and digitization of that collection is ongoing.]

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A page from this volume.

A page from this volume.

There was some celebrating back in early May, when we completed the cataloging of the 1,397 titles in the Younghee Kim-Wait/Pablo Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection. Thankfully, no one got Gatorade poured on them, as had been threatened. I thought I would share in this post a little bit of the detective work that the last few titles required, and suggest questions that may be worth further research.

At first glance, a collection of poetry, stories, and art created in 1969 by students at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) certainly looked as if it were a one-of-a-kind manuscript. Indeed, a note from the book dealer had called it “a unique collection.” Closer examination revealed that the text was printed (probably by silk-screening), although some of the artwork may have been done by hand before the printing. With no title page on our copy, I searched WorldCat in several different ways before I felt confident that there are at least two other copies of this work in libraries, one at the New Mexico State Library, and one at UC Davis. I suspect no copy has an actual title page, and this can lead to different libraries accidentally cataloging the same work in different ways. The copy at UC Davis was given a title based on the first poem in the book…which can be a valid choice according to cataloging rules, but sometimes is confusing for researchers.

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I am freshly returned to the Archives after a wonderful trip to Austin, TX to attend the annual conference of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA). The conference was a fantastic gathering of people from all walks of life and I heard many inspiring presentations and talked excitedly about the research opportunities supported by the new collections at Amherst College.

Upon my return to the library this morning, I was greeted with two boxes full of books for our Native American collections donated by Peter Webb, Class of 1974. Before I get to some of the items Peter donated, I want to mention another gift from Bob Giddings, Class of 1965.

Instruction for the Indians

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I am delighted to announce that we have nearly completed cataloging the whole of the Younghee Kim-Wait/Pablo Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection. As of this morning, 1,372 titles are now included in the Five College Libraries Catalog and the books themselves are on the shelves in the Archives & Special Collections ready to be used. (Except for those on display in our current exhibition: Native Voices/Native Books, on view through July 31.) Our spectacular catalogers expect to wrap up cataloging the last few items by the end of May.

As soon as the cataloging of the Kim-Wait/Eisenberg books is finished, we will turn our attention to working through the 500+ books we recently purchased to build on that collection. Last month we took delivery of another 20 cartons of books, this time from the personal collection of Joseph Bruchac, noted author, editor and publisher. Bruchac’s personal papers — his manuscripts, correspondence, and other documents of his deep involvement with Native American writing — are held by the Beinecke Library at Yale University. The books we acquired were owned by Joseph Bruchac, but are generally not particularly rare or valuable in and of themselves.

So why did we purchase this collection?

Because of items like these:

Masterpieces of American Indian Literature (1993)

Masterpieces of American Indian Literature (1993)

The Portable North American Indian Reader (1974)

The Portable North American Indian Reader (1974)

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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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