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Peek in the Stacks: special collections

Not so Distant: A Letter from 1919

Alton L. Flanders served in an American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F) infantry battalion during World War I. He wrote letters to his cousin, Mrs. Jason Coppernoll, while in training at Camp Devens in Ayer, Massachusettes, and while stationed in France with the A.E.F. These letters make up the Alton F. Flanders World War I Correspondence Collection, and have been fully digitized as part of the World War I Narratives ...

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The Power of the Post

As many of us stay at home during the pandemic, we keep in touch with our family and friends through video chats, text messages, and a number of other technological communication methods. Although our newly Zoom-centered lives can feel filled with screens, we also remain connected through the physical mail system that delivers letters and packages ...

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Saint Patrick in the Archives

Originally, Saint Patrick’s Day was a religious celebration of the life of the patron saint of Ireland. The March 17th celebration that bears his name is believed to be his death date in the year 461 CE. Saint Patrick is known for having brought Christianity to Ireland and, to a certain degree, to the Anglo-Saxon world.  As a young man in what is now the United Kingdom, he was abducted and enslaved in Ireland. During this period, he leaned on his Christian faith for solace...

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Slavery and the Law

Laws protect the rights of a nation's citizens, but with regards to American slavery, were used as a tool to advance both pro- and anti-slavery efforts. Our understanding of the arc of American slavery and its aftermath is informed, in part, by the push and pull of laws that mark shifting social, political and economic environments. For instance, the Missouri Compromise of 1820 added Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state. This guaranteed equal slave-state to free-state representation in the United States Senate, and also imposed geographical restrictions on where slavery could be practiced...

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Spotlight on African American LGBTQ+ Periodicals

In late 1969, almost six months after the Stonewall Riots occurred in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, the Gay Activists Alliance was founded in New York City. The group included the Black Lesbian Caucus, which later renamed itself Salsa Soul Sisters, Third World Wimmin Inc., credited as the oldest Black lesbian organization in the United States and known today as African Ancestral Lesbians United for Societal Change.In 1974 the Salsa Soul Sisters were a collective of Black and Latina lesbians who offered alternatives to the gay and lesbian social scene which historically discriminated against lesbians of color...

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Early African American Poetry and Fiction

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, African-American poetry and fiction began to develop in two distinctly different ways. As educational opportunities improved in selected areas of the United States, some black writers sought to emulate the traditional forms and themes of classical white authors. Still others began to experiment with non-traditional styles, seizing upon opportunities to battle racism through literature...

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George Cruikshank

George Cruikshank was a 19th century engraver, caricaturist, illustrator, and satirist. The Cruikshank family was awash with artist/illustrators, including George himself, his father Isaac, brother Isaac Robert (later known as Robert), and nephew Percy. Cruikshank's career spanned more than 70 years, working in both copper and in wood. He is often cited as the successor of illustrator William Hogarth. While exceptionally prolific, Cruikshank remains best known for his work on sociopolitical topics such as slavery and temperance...

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Journal of a Trip from Liverpool to San Francisco

Special Collections and Archives holds many unique and interesting diaries which chronicle the adventures of travelers from all over the world. One of these, entitled, Journal of a Trip from Liverpool to San Francisco, was penned by a young Englishwoman visiting the United States for the very first time. The journal chronicles her trip from April to June of 1895, beginning with a trip across the sea on the “luxurious” S.S Teutonic...

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What is this place?

As people move around the 2nd floor of the library and pass Special Collections and Archives, they sometimes pop in to ask, "What is this place?" Special Collections and Archives holds the library’s rare book and periodical collections, and a wide variety of manuscript collections and individual items. The next question often starts "So, what is your (pick an adjective) item or book?" Today for our blog, we have set out to answer a few of your most pressing questions...

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John Steinbeck Highlights in Special Collections and Archives

Special Collections and Archives holds many rare, unique, limited, and first edition works of American literature, including books by famed author John Steinbeck whose books of fiction and non-fiction have often sparked controversy. This year marks the 80th anniversary of the publication of The Grapes of Wrath, which focuses on the plight of farm workers ...

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