The Week in Early American History

TWEAHHappy weekend, all…to the links!

History saved & sold: Just in time for American Archives Month, independent historian Liz Covart traces the conservation of a British grenadier’s cap and its path from Rhode Island to Boston, where you can view it during Friday’s roundtable discussion at the Old State House on the “Royal Proclamation” of 1763. If you’re more of an early, early Americanist, take note: A newly discovered cache of 17th-century church records from Massachusetts are headed for digital preservation as part of New England’s Hidden Histories project, which “has created electronic copies from 22 churches, most of which have also given originals to Boston’s Congregational Library for safekeeping. The goal is to digitize the best records from 200 to 300 Massachusetts churches before turning to other states.” In other breaking news, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York signed an agreement with British publisher Adam Matthew to digitize 50,000 items, including: the 1493 Barcelona Letter, two versions of the U.S. Constitution, manuscript letters from the founding era, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century diaries and  pamphlets, Robert E. Lee’s request to surrender, and even a letter from a Titanic survivor. In auction headlines, a previously unknown 1844 presidential campaign flag sold (in June) for nearly $50,000 in Ohio. Also, congratulations to the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon, now open for research!

History repeating: At the International Business Times, lessons from Erie really make the national debt burden resonate, and in Virginia, residents wrestle with the raising of a Confederate battle flag on Interstate-95. There’s plenty afoot in the public history sphere, too. At Chicago’s Newberry Library, visitors can enjoy “Home Front: Daily Life in the Civil War North,” a retelling of the conflict via the Library’s trove of early American documents and artifacts. And, a little later in October, Cotton Mather scholars will gather at Boston’s Congregational Library for “Mather Redux,” an appreciation and reinterpretation of the prolific Puritan’s life and works.

History in-progress: Web-wide, Edward L. Ayers reflects on undergraduate views of the historical profession, and Robert Wilson chats about his new biography of Civil War photographer Mathew Brady. And, worth a read: Smithsonian’s Tony Horwitz camps out with Joseph McGill, Jr., a Civil War re-enactor dedicated to spending a night in every former slave dwelling in America (twelve states so far, sometimes in shackles). There McGill discusses the effect his visits have had on the descendants of slaves and slave-owners alike: “I want people to respect and restore these places, together, and not be afraid to tell their stories.”

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