Davidson’s Imbibable Past

{Cross Posted on the Davidson Archives blog}   Lewis Bell came to Davidson College in 1865 and graduated in 1870. Though he was a student during the Reconstruction Era, it is likely that most of his college experiences were mundane. He was a member of the Eumenean Literary Society. Among his papers held in the college archive is a donation request from the society from the year after he graduated. Like many Davidson students, he…

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From the archive

From the Antigua Observer of July 22nd, 1847: BRITISH OFFICERS ROASTED ALIVE AND DEVOURED BY CANNIBALS – A letter has been received in London, from an officer of H.M. war steamer Driver, detailing the particulars of an engagement between the British and the New Zealanders, in which ten men of the Carton frigate were killed, and thirteen wounded, exclusive of several men of the 89th regiment.  The savages roasted alive two European officers, whom they…

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Fire! July 19th, 1845 – The Financial District

On July 19th, 1845, New York City caught fire.  It started in a whale oil warehouse in lower Manhattan and spread quickly, eventually engulfing warehouses full of explosives.  The fire burned for over eight hours, and when it was finally put out, 30 people had died. The fire was commemorated in popular prints in the 1880s, two of which currently held by the New York Public Library:   I came across the fire while trying…

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More bureaucracy

Perhaps it’s just that reading organizational records means more bureaucracy than I’m generally used to, but I’ve been intrigued by entries in the monthly meeting minutes of the Philadelphia Society of Friends that report on general levels of attendance at meetings throughout the week.  I’ve just moved on to the yearly meeting, and found that those reports were aggregated, with the conclusion “The hour is generally well observed.  All the meetings notice instances of sleeping,…

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Snarky bureaucracy, c. 1846

I’ve finally tracked down the files containing army correspondence relative to Fort Gibson, in Indian Territory, around the time that the Cherokee Nation raised funds for famine relief.  Many of the letters are about troop movements, but the one I’m reading now is crabby about whoever is responsible for the fort’s finances: You are mistaken in supposing that the regulation of July 12th, 1845 went into operation at Fort Gibson only from the date of…

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Archival gem (on stereotypes)

I took a trip down to Charleston today to look at the records of the Charleston Hibernian Society – the body that collected donations for famine relief in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.  All told, these men took in approximately $15,000, and letters to the English consulate in New Orleans suggest that still more donations were made directly to British representatives in America.  Sadly, the 1886 Charleston earthquake seems to have destroyed the minute…

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Quick note: Henry Street, New York, 1847 – a particularly philanthropic street?

Building on the patterns I’ve been trying to track in famine donors, I also noticed today that of the thirteen individual donors from New York City, nearly a quarter lived within a few blocks on Henry Street.  I don’t know what it’s about, or if it’s just a random happenstance but I’ve got a whole other list of NYC donors and I look forward to finding out! Henry Street via NYPL

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NARA does online gaming

I’m a little late to the game with this, but I was really happy to find that in 2012, the US National Archives moved into the online gaming world and into the itunes store, with apps like DocsTeach (online here). DocsTeach is, on the face of it, a fantastic idea.  It centers the idea that a considerable part of historical learning comes through the analysis of primary sources, and seems to try to build activities…

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