Category: 19th Century

“A Great Blow to All Truth”: The Dreyfus Affair of Turn-of-the-Century France
08 October 2019 by Grayson Van Beuren


“A Great Blow to All Truth”: The Dreyfus Affair of Turn-of-the-Century France

“[…] what a spot of mud on your name—I was going to say on your reign—is this abominable Dreyfus affair! A council of war, under order, has just dared to acquit Esterhazy, a great blow to all truth, all justice. And it is finished, France has this stain on her cheek, History will write that it was under your presidency that such a social crime could be committed.” –Section from “J’Accuse…!,” open letter from Émile Zola to (read more)




“Whirl up, sea”: The Life and Poetry of H.D.
09 September 2019 by Grayson Van Beuren


“Whirl up, sea”: The Life and Poetry of H.D.

Whirl up, sea— Whirl your pointed pines, Splash your great pines On our rocks, Hurl your green over us— Cover us with your pools of fir. “Oread,” Hilda “H.D.” Doolittle, 1914     This remains poet Hilda Doolittle’s (1886 – 1961) most famous piece of work. It is a wonderful example of the Modernist poetical school of Imagism: an effort to pare down poetry to the essentials of imagery and metaphor.1 In this case, (read more)




“A Want of Dignity Wholly Unworthy of the Government”: James Smithson, the Annual Report, and the Question: “Should the Federal Government Participate in Scientific Investigation?”
04 June 2019 by Grayson Van Beuren


“A Want of Dignity Wholly Unworthy of the Government”: James Smithson, the Annual Report, and the Question: “Should the Federal Government Participate in Scientific Investigation?”

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC recently named Lonnie G. Bunch III as its fourteenth Secretary, the first African American to hold the position. In celebration of this occasion, let’s explore the beginnings of the Smithsonian.   The Smithsonian Institution is a remarkable institution. Founded in 1846 and sometimes called “the nation’s attic,” the institution brings millions of visitors in contact with science and history each year. Scholars (read more)




“The Entire Collection Could Have Been Held by a Four-Shelf Bookcase”: Dr. John Shaw Billings and the Surgeon General Office’s Library
16 May 2019 by Grayson Van Beuren


“The Entire Collection Could Have Been Held by a Four-Shelf Bookcase”: Dr. John Shaw Billings and the Surgeon General Office’s Library

We recently augmented 19th Century Masterfile with data from the Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon-General’s Office. This index—and the library that spawned it—were largely the work of one incredible surgeon and bibliophile: Dr. John Shaw Billings.   We’ve all, while researching, thought to ourselves, “I sure wish the library had this particular book,” or lamented, “It sure would be great if this library’s collection was (read more)




“My Invention Relates to What Is Commonly Known as…”: Finding Clues to the Past in Historical U.S. Patents
17 January 2019 by Grayson Van Beuren


“My Invention Relates to What Is Commonly Known as…”: Finding Clues to the Past in Historical U.S. Patents

Research often takes us in weird directions whether you are a scholar completing a chapter for a book, a student working on a project for class … or an editor checking sources for a piece of copy. Coming across the unexpected is one of the best parts of the process, and an experience I went through recently. –Ed. In a recent blog post, I mentioned that ephemeral common knowledge is one of the hardest things to preserve since it is never considered important enough to record (read more)




“A Deficiency in our Political Annals”: Rivals of Early Congressional Reporting
27 September 2018 by Grayson Van Beuren


“A Deficiency in our Political Annals”: Rivals of Early Congressional Reporting

Exploring the Register of Debates and the Congressional Globe… Today we will look at two mainstays of early Congressional reporting: the Register of Debates and the Congressional Globe. Both dominated the journalistic world of Congress and politics in the decades before the Government Printing Office began producing its official account of Congress—the Congressional Record—in 1873. And because the two overlapped in coverage, many assumed they were partisan rivals. But (read more)




Sources as Windows to Narrative: Periodical Indexes – Harder to Access, Highly Insightful
05 September 2018 by Grayson Van Beuren


Sources as Windows to Narrative: Periodical Indexes – Harder to Access, Highly Insightful

Periodical indexes are not often considered valuable source material unto themselves. There is a tendency to see them simply as neutral orderings of objective reality. After all, how can a list of sources be anything more than a means to more (and better) sources? How can a list of sources contain an agenda or narrative? Quite well, it would seem. As curated lists of source material, indexes are susceptible to internal biases and narratives as least as much as the editorial cartoons we (read more)




Sources as Windows to Narrative: Political Cartoons – Easy to Access, Easy to Deceive
16 August 2018 by Grayson Van Beuren


Sources as Windows to Narrative: Political Cartoons – Easy to Access, Easy to Deceive

The primary source is the historian’s most prized asset. However, sources taken on their own are not necessarily interesting; it is how the researcher can see in them and through them, placing them in context to piece together historical narrative, that makes them intriguing. When used effectively, sources can truly be windows into history, and—like windows—they can be clear, dirty, foggy, even distorted and deceptive. Political cartoons are an example of a relatively (read more)




“The Honeypot Approach”: The Origin and Development of the NYPL Public Domain Collection
26 July 2018 by Grayson Van Beuren


“The Honeypot Approach”: The Origin and Development of the NYPL Public Domain Collection

Exploring the NYPL Public Domain Collection… Today we will look at the New York Public Library’s Public Domain Collection. The NYPL recently made approximately 190,000 digitized public domain items from their special collections available online for unrestricted use. Why does the NYPL have such a large library of digitized material? Why do they have such a large special collection at all? To answer these questions, we have explore  the genesis of the NYPL collection in (read more)




"A Profitable, Elevating, and Attractive Profession”: Bettering Farming through the Farmers' Bulletin
12 July 2018 by Grayson Van Beuren


"A Profitable, Elevating, and Attractive Profession”: Bettering Farming through the Farmers

Exploring the Farmers’ Bulletin… Our “Exploring” series continues with the Farmers’ Bulletin, a publication from the United States Department of Agriculture that first appeared in 1889. For over a century, the Bulletin has disseminated the latest research out of Agricultural Experiment Stations across the country with the aim of leading farmers to bigger crop yields and more rewarding home lives. Persuit of this goal has sometimes led the Bulletin to publish (read more)




“A High Indignity…and Notorious Breach of Privilege”
23 May 2018 by Grayson Van Beuren


“A High Indignity…and Notorious Breach of Privilege”

Exploring Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates... At Paratext, historical sources—primary, secondary, and tertiary—are our business. Not all historical sources are immediately intuitive, and many hide fascinating stories. This is the first post in our “Exploring” blog series, which will delve into various useful sources available to researchers and scholars at all levels. We address issues of historical context, illuminate methods of use, and parse out biases (read more)




Largest Repository for History of Science Periodicals Now Online
30 November 2016 by Paratext Editorial


Largest Repository for History of Science Periodicals Now Online

356 years after The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge held their first 'learned society' meeting in 1660, Paratext announces the addition of The Society's International Catalogue of Scientific Literature, 1901-1914 to 19th Century Masterfile: 1106-1930. This is the continuation of the monumental Catalogue of Scientific Papers 1800-1900, which Paratext deployed in 2012.   The International Catalogue is the largest single editorial (read more)




Adam Matthew Content Now Accessible via 19th Century Masterfile: 1106-1930
21 June 2016 by Paratext Editorial


Adam Matthew Content Now Accessible via 19th Century Masterfile: 1106-1930

Paratext is pleased to announce that extensive content from Adam Matthew is now accessible via 19th Century Masterfile: 1106-1930. Adam Matthew, an imprint of SAGE, is an award-winning publisher of digital primary source collections for the humanities and social sciences, covering subject areas from medieval family life to 20th-century history and culture. Nearly 100,000 links from 33 collections are being added to 19th Century Masterfile’s Image/Media section, broadening research (read more)




The Granite Monthly in 19th Century Masterfile
08 October 2012 by Paratext Editorial


The Granite Monthly in 19th Century Masterfile

The Granite Monthly was a New Hampshire publication that covered news, issues of import to the society of the time and general interest articles. It now joins over 70 other valuable primary source indexes that enjoy easier discovery with one searchbox in 19th Century Masterfile. The Granite Monthly file in 19th Century Masterfile contains nearly 20,000 primary source records from 1877-1930.  Most of these citations conveniently include links (read more)




Links to Royal Society Full-Text Journals' Now in 19th Century Masterfile
31 January 2012 by Paratext Editorial


Links to Royal Society Full-Text Journals

The Royal Society is the oldest scientific academy still in existence, having begun in the 17th century with the regular meetings of natural philosophers interested in promoting knowledge of the natural world through observation and experiment. Paratext is pleased to announce that more than 6,000 links to the full text of the Royal Society Journals are now included in 19th Century Masterfile. The journals make up part of the more than 1,500 titles indexed within (read more)




Index to the Farmers' Bulletin Now in 19th Century Masterfile
25 April 2011 by Paratext Editorial


Index to the Farmers

19th Century Masterfile has always been the ‘due diligence’ resource for historians. Its usefulness is now expanded to cover works in both technology and agricultural science. To that end, Paratext has significantly enhanced the scope and research value of 19th Century Masterfile for historical agricultural studies through the addition of the Index to Farmers’ Bulletin, 1889-1930. The Farmers’ Bulletin was for many years one of the most (read more)




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