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Evan Rothera, a PhD Candidate from the History Department at The Pennsylvania State University is one of our 2012 Strochlitz Travel Grant awardees. He visited us in early August to research the Latin American Newspaper Collection. Below is his essay that document his experience using the collection, preliminary findings and future directions for his research.
I applied for a Rose and Sigmund Strochlitz Travel Grant from the Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center so that I could conduct research on Domingo F. Sarmiento and Argentine uses of Abraham Lincoln’s image. My primary research question concerned the reception in Argentina and Latin America of Sarmiento’s biography of Abraham Lincoln, Vida de Lincoln. While serving as Argentine Minister to the United States, Sarmiento published Vida in 1866, which made it one of the earliest post-assassination Lincoln biographies and the first published in Spanish. My previous research indicated that the biography received a great deal of positive press in the United States, but was generally ignored in Latin America. This was ironic, because Sarmiento intended the biography to serve as a model and guide for Argentines and Argentina, as well as a vindication of his actions as Governor of the Province of San Juan. In order conduct further research on Sarmiento and Vida, I came to the Dodd Center to use their extensive collection of Latin American newspapers. This collection includes important Argentine newspapers such as The Weekly Standard and La Prensa, which are invaluable to the study of the Argentine Republic, but also a variety of smaller papers. Therefore, I was able to comb through a variety of papers, large and small, most published in Buenos Aires, but some in the provinces, to see what, if anything, Argentines said about Vida. What I found did not really surprise me. I did not discover any comments on or analysis of Vida. Still, in the absence of positive evidence, negative evidence can often paint as compelling and nuanced a story.
On the other hand, while the negative evidence from the Argentine papers was useful, I did not come to the Dodd Center just to sample from Argentine papers. All collections have both strengths and weaknesses and two of the greatest strengths of this collection are its volume and its breadth. The Southern Cone is well represented, so I found useful Uruguayan and Chilean newspapers (and if I was able to read Portuguese, the Brazilian papers would also have been helpful). Furthermore, I examined Bolivian, Peruvian, and Colombian newspapers. Reading through these papers I saw many articles about Sarmiento, which I transcribed or photographed for future use, but nothing about Vida. My search, it seems, turned up reams of negative evidence, which, while useful in analyzing the reception of Vida, cannot compose the bulk of a dissertation.
Simply searching for information about Vida would have been a bit analogous to looking through a haystack for a proverbial needle, so I came armed with additional questions. In my research proposal I noted that the research I would be conducting would allow me to begin to probe larger questions. How, for instance, did people in Argentina and the United States seek to construct usable figures (in Argentina, a usable Lincoln; in the United States, a usable Sarmiento). What drew Sarmiento to Lincoln and how did Sarmiento adapt and alter Lincoln’s image for an Argentine context? What about the idea of comparative constitutionalism? By this I do not mean simply the links between the constitutions of the United States and Argentina, but constitutional practices during times of war, such as the suspension of habeas corpus, the suppression of opposition newspapers, and the declaration of “state of siege.” That is to say, I had additional questions to think about over the course of my stay in Connecticut.
As I began my research, I found that the material I was reading suggested additional questions. Given that we live in a digitized world, the enterprise of research has altered quite considerably in the past decades. Of course we are fortunate in the sense that so many primary source materials are online, and therefore easily accessible, but I have found that, convenience aside, there are drawbacks to researching online. For one, no database is infallible. Second, people often use the word search function and grab articles without looking at rest of the items in the newspaper and therefore lose vital context. Finally, looking at a document on a computer screen is simply not the same as looking at it in person. Researching in archives and getting your fingers dirty in the primary sources (I mean this literally – newspapers can be messy) – is an experience that all historians should have and the reason why, for all that I think online research is convenient, I will never give up going to archives.
As I read through these newspapers I found that new questions were pushing their way into the forefront of my brain. The period I am studying was the period of the War of the Triple Alliance, where Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil took on Paraguay and the dictator Francisco Solano Lopez. This was a particularly brutal conflict and cost a great deal of lives, material, and treasure. As I read through articles describing the war, I saw many focused on the participation of women. Perhaps some of these articles were meant only to mock Eliza Lynch, the mistress of Lopez, for they said that she rallied the women of the country to fight in the army and die alongside men. On the other hand, other articles suggested that women were being employed in combat. It made me think of the Civil War in the United States and the fact that historians have, of late, become much more attentive to the multiple roles women played in the conflict. Women, as a variety of historians have demonstrated, could motivate soldiers to desert or help strengthen Confederate nationalism; women were involved in benevolent activity; women persuaded men to vote Republican or Democrat; and women were often chided for lukewarm patriotism and inhibiting the war effort. Of the work on women, however, the least attention has been devoted to women in combat. We know that only a handful of women fought on either side during the Civil War, but why was so much more attention given to South American women who fought than North American women? Was it simply because the Paraguayan War was a more desperate conflict or were there deeper reasons?
I also began to think about the problem of the frontier. I contend that we need a good monograph surveying policies against indigenous people throughout the Americas. How were actions against Native Americans caught up in the rhetoric of nationalism and empire? Why did different countries adopt different methods for removing or exterminating their indigenous populations? How did the ideas of civilization and barbarism determine policy throughout the Americas? Finally, returning to Sarmiento, I read a lot of anti-Sarmiento articles that excoriated Sarmiento as a traitor to Argentina because he opposed Argentina and sided with Chile in a border dispute. Sarmiento did this, in part, because Argentina was, at that point, under the control of the dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas. Newspapers asked how could Sarmiento profess to be a patriot when he opposed his country and was therefore disloyal. This was the very same question that the Copperheads, the anti-war Democrats, faced in the United States. In Senator Stephen Arnold Douglas’s famous formulation, there was no room for dissent, because, in such a conflict as the Civil War, there could only be patriots and traitors. But anti-war Democrats insisted that they were the true patriots, loyal to the spirit of 1776 and to the nation, and opposed to a tyrant and a despot, Lincoln. Without reviving the pointless debate over whether Lincoln was or was not a dictator (he was not) a serious interrogation of the fears of the Democrats that Lincoln was a despot could prove enlightening, particularly when compared with the case of Sarmiento. Furthermore, such a comparison could help historians make progress in understanding the role and function of the opposition (loyal or otherwise).
From my report it should be evident that my project is both comparative, and therefore explores the United States and Argentina, as well as transnational. A good comparative project sheds light on both of the areas or countries that it examines and does not reduce one country to a pale reflection of the other. I am also interested in exploring linkages between the United States and Argentina, namely the flow of people, goods, and ideas. Hence, the discussion of how Vida was received in Argentina and the United States and its impact. But there are other elements, besides the diffusion of Vida, to be explored as well. For instance, migration of people from the United States to Argentina (as President, Sarmiento brought in educators and scientists from the United States) and from Argentina to the United States (Argentines who fought in the Civil War, for instance). Although still in the early stages, I believe that the information I found sheds light on both the United States and Argentina and holds intriguing possibilities for further study.
In closing, I would heartily recommend the Latin American Newspaper Collection at the Archives & Special Collections at the Dodd Center. It is an underutilized, but vitally important resource. In two weeks, I barely scratched the surface. It is a collection that holds a great many hidden gems and should appeal to a wide array of historians.
Evan Rothera, PhD Candidate, History Department at The Pennsylvania State University and 2012 Strochlitz Travel Grant awardee. To contact him, email Evan at ecr5102 (at) psu.edu
As the 2012 Presidential election gears up for the fall, American voters are being inundated with statistics, information, perspectives and opinions on the candidates vying for office. Quite frequently, the reports are augmented by statistics generated from public opinion polls. Archives & Special Collections has been collecting the papers of American pollsters since 1995 with the donation of the Elmo Roper Papers. Those interested in the work involved in creating political polls and science behind them have a wide range of collections in which to conduct research. The public polling collections, which include the papers of Archibald Crossley, Samuel Lubell, Paul Perry, James Vicary and Daniel Yankelovich, now include the work of Warren Mitofsky.
Warren Mitofsky, who conducted and invented the first exit poll in the 1967 Kentucky Gubernatorial Election. Warren Mitofsky, was born on September 17, 1934, in the Bronx, NY. He attended and graduated from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC, and did graduate work at the University of North Carolina. Mitofsky began his career working for the U.S. Census Bureau. While there, he designed many surveys on demographics including those for the poverty program and presidential commissions. During this time, he also developed, with his colleague Joseph Waksberg, an efficient random digit dialing sampling method that would be widely implemented and an industry standard for many years. Mitofsky left the Census Bureau for CBS News in 1967 to become the executive director of the election and survey unit, a post he held until 1990. Inspired by George Fine’s surveys of moviegoers after they left the theater, At the same time he developed the analysis and projection systems used to call elections. Exit polls were first used in national elections in 1972 and remain in use to the present day.
Mitofsky’s career and work to refine the outcome of elections is well documented in his papers, and with the publication of the finding aid (http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/findaids/mitofsky/MSS20080071.html), the collection is now open for research.
–Betsy Pittman, University Archivist
“Crafting a public identity: a workshop for creative artists, writers and performers on navigating the arts business maze” will be presented at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center on September 28, 2012, from 1-3:30pm in Konover Auditorium. Susan Raab, CEO of Raab Associates, will moderate a panel consisting of Charles Coe, Program Officer at the Massachusetts Cultural Council; Sharon Butler, Professor at Eastern Connecticut State University; Jeff Raab, 2012 graduate of NYU’s Steinhardt Musical Theatre Program; Roxie Munro, author/illustrator of over 35 children’s books; and Laura Rossi Totten, a book publishing and public relations expert.
The panel will discuss the strategies, techniques and tools used to build an effective marketing presence. The workshop is sponsored by the Aetna Chair of Writing, English Department at the University of Connecticut, The Straightors Fund, and the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection at the UConn Libraries. Attendance is limited, so reserve now with firstname.lastname@example.org.
–Terri J. Goldich, Curator, Northeast Children’s Literature Collection
Despite the fact that the history of the Italian peninsula is so rich and so well known, many people forget that Italy is a very young country—even younger than the United States. In fact, the Italy that we know today did not become unified until 1861 and Rome did not become her capital until 1871. The vast Italian Risorgimento collection held in Archives and Special Collections contains three parts—books, pamphlets, and broadsides—and allows us to better understand the Italian revolutionary period that led up to Unification.
I had the privilege of working on the broadside collection, nearly 6000 documents that would have been hung in public spaces to convey important information to people living in a given city or town. The collection is in fantastic condition, and it appears that most of these particular broadsides were not actually hung, but were collected and catalogued by various people in the different regions in which they were produced. Documents in such good condition are rare, and allow us to not only see the progression of historical events, but also the innovations in printing that occurred over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries. The earliest documents in the collection are printed on thick paper, often with a more ornate typeface and with intricate regional mastheads. Over the course of 200 years, the paper quality declines and typefaces become more standardized. While there are still ornate mastheads, they are not nearly as intricate as earlier examples.
One of the most interesting things about looking at the documents as whole – which are now accessible to the public and in chronological order— is that one can see the evolution of the various issues that they discuss. One day, there might be a document warning about a potential epidemic (often cholera or bovine influenza) and a few days later there may be another instructing people on how to sterilize their homes and barns in order to prevent further infection.
Many of the documents also speak to the dramatic political changes that occurred in the Peninsula. There are a significant number of broadsides from the Napoleonic period, when Napoleon and his forces were in control of Northern Italy. Napoleon created the Cisalpine Republic, and there are many documents from this provisional government. What is most interesting about these broadsides though, is that they use the newly created French Republican calendar, which had an entirely different month/day scheme from the traditional Gregorian system. While this makes dating the broadsides a bit more difficult, is also shows us the influence of the French Revolution on Italy and how interconnected the two nations were during the 19th century.
As the collection is focused on the Risorgimento, which means Resurgence in Italian, it is fitting that the largest number of documents come from major revolutionary years 1831, 1848, and 1849. While there are so many interesting documents to see, two that I found particularly fascinating came from 1849. The first is a proclamation from the Roman Republic, which lasted for only 6 months, declaring freedom on religion. This was a major development, not only because of Italy’s Catholic legacy, but because it was coming from Rome, the seat of the Pope. Keeping with this theme of religion, I also discovered a Republican Catechism. This document is structured in the question/answer format of a traditional catechism, but discusses revolutionary goals, enemies, and allies. It is a perfect example of the marriage between tradition and innovation in the newly developing Italian state.
This is just a sampling of the rich materials to be found in the Italian Risorgimento Broadside collection, which will prove to be an invaluable historical resource.
– Jessica Strom, Graduate Intern
Congratulations, Dr. Nel, on an exceptional work of scholarship.
Philip Nel, Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss (Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 2012). ISBN 978-1-61703-624-8. EBook 978-1-61703-625-5.
–Terri J. Goldich, Curator, Northeast Children’s Literature Collection
For many years now Archives & Special Collections has been working to get more and more of our archival collections online, available to researchers off-campus and across the globe. One of the ways we are doing this is by participating in the collaborative network of the Internet Archive, which provides access for the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format. We recently put up a set of product catalogs from the historical records of the E. Ingraham Company, which produced clocks and watches for well over a century in Bristol, Connecticut.
Researchers can access the catalogs directly from this link: http://archive.org/search.php?query=collection%3Auconn_libraries+AND+E.+Ingraham+Co and will see catalogs of the clocks and watches sold by the company from 1881 to 1940. I want to extend my thanks to Tom Koenig, Catalog and Metadata Librarian, for cataloging the items prior to the scanning and to Michael J. Bennett, Digital Projects Librarian, and his assistants Allison Hale and Kathleen Deep, for their expert scanning and work to get the items on the Internet Archive. This project is a great example of the ways the UConn Libraries staff collaborates on projects and I am grateful for everyone’s efforts.
More information about the E. Ingraham Company, and the historical records that are in Archives & Special Collections, can be found in the finding aid at http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/findaids/Ingraham/MSS19800034.html.
Laura Smith, Curator for the Business, Railroad and Labor Collections
The James Slater Papers are ripe for any interested researcher, whether the topic is scientific, entomological, or historical. Here we have a fascinating man’s life, observations, and accomplishments awaiting study and reference. James Slater was a remarkable person, and his papers, dating from the early 1930’s to 2004, prove it.
Slater’s chosen career at UConn was as a professor of entomology, but entomological study was not enough for him. There was another field that also caught his interest—the study of gravestones of the American Colonial period, and their carvers. He visited even the most neglected graveyards in Connecticut, carefully recording his discoveries of particular carvers, and published a book on the subject. The sheer amount of writing required for his scientific and historical work would be more than enough for most people, but not for Slater. Even while he was carefully recording data and writing on bugs and gravestone carvers, he recorded the daily events of his own life in a long-running daily diary. A look at all these things in the James Slater Papers offers us a glimpse of his scientific career, his historical avocation, and his inner thoughts.
The scientific, professional part of Slater’s life is the most prominent in the collection, with scientific subjects occupying much of the correspondence. It is here that Slater’s career is laid out in detail, and we can see how devoted and interested he was in his field. He frequently corresponded with other entomologists as far away as Russia, Germany, Australia, and South Africa, often assisting others in the study of true bugs (hemiptera) of the family lygaeidae, while gathering his own research through field work and specimen collections. We can see the product of this research in the large number of printed publications, detailing the discovery of new species of bugs, including Atrazonotus umbrosus, pictured here.
Slater’s gravestone research and personal diaries are somewhat secondary in number to the extensive amount of entomological research, but they do not dwindle in importance or interest, and are far from sparse. The diary is composed of 61 volumes of its own, while the gravestone research is monumental enough to be distributed across several boxes. As a result of his long research into gravestones, Slater wrote a detailed book, The Colonial Gravestones of Eastern Connecticut and the Men Who Made Them.
Several iterations of the manuscript of this book, along with Slater’s detailed notes and correspondence on gravestones, can be found in the collection. The manuscripts and galley proofs provide photographs of all the stones that Slater describes. The large number of carefully organized drafts and research notes illustrate the careful, accurate research that Slater put into this project in his meticulous analysis of the work of early American carvers such as Jotham Warren, Obadiah Wheeler, and many others.
James Slater approached this avocation with a professional interest, working with as much care as he devoted to the study of the bugs of his professional career. The same can be said for his diary. The 61 volumes present an almost uninterrupted account of his daily inner thoughts and observations from the years 1937 to 2004. It is here we can learn about his life in the days before his entomological career, and before his study of gravestones, of his time in the Navy in World War II, his thoughts on the war itself, its beginning in Europe and then the United States, and his horror at the news of the atomic bomb, pictured here in his entry for August 8, 1945.
The sheer extent of the time covered by the diaries provides us with both these descriptions of important historical events, while also illustrating the progress of this one remarkable, multifaceted, prolific man, from youth into old age. Through its extensive amount of documents, and such a wide range of topics, such a collection as this cannot be consigned to obscurity, but will surely remain an important resource to researchers from many different disciplines for many years to come.
– Daniel Allie, student employee