A Quickly Made Uncle Tom’s Cabin Tie-In Card Game, From 1852
One of the many Uncle Tom's Cabin–themed bits of culture that made their way onto the market after the book's publication in March 1852, this card game, sold that same year in Providence, Rhode Island, shows how the audience that read Harriet Beecher Stowe's superpopular book adapted its fictional world for its own purposes.
Remembering Hundreds of Years of Deadly Gun-Related Accidents in the United States
In a new book, Melancholy Accidents: Three Centuries of Stray Bullets and Bad Luck, Peter Manseau collects American newspaper notices of tragedies involving firearms from 1739 to 1916. The book's title comes from the terms newspapers often used to tag news of mishaps, listing these gun accidents alongside "drownings, horse tramplings, or steamship explosions," Manseau writes.
A Plea on Behalf of Immigrants, Written (Most Likely) in Shakespeare’s Hand, Now Digitized
The British Library has recently digitized part of a multiauthored play, "The Booke of Sir Thomas Moore," written between about 1596 and 1604. Three pages of this draft of the play are apparently written by William Shakespeare, and they represent the only available sample of his handwriting in a play script.
Pages From Theodore Roosevelt’s Field Notebooks Record Animals Seen—and Killed
From the time Theodore Roosevelt was 8 years old and saw a dead seal in an open-air market in New York City, he was fascinated by the natural world. Theodore Roosevelt in the Field, the recent book by Michael R. Canfield, includes images of pages from many of the notebooks Roosevelt used to record his trips to watch—and hunt—birds and animals.
Late-19th-Century Business Maps of San Francisco’s Chinatown, Used to Determine Immigration Status
Walking through San Francisco's Chinatown in 1894, immigration officer John Lynch recorded the nature of the small businesses lining the ethnic enclave's streets and alleys. The National Archives has digitized the maps Lynch and other immigration investigators used to track the fish vendors, tailors, and restaurants found along streets like Washington Alley, which is mapped below.
Illustrated Propaganda for Elementary-School Students in Mussolini’s Italy
American student Barbara Donahue (then Barbara Finlay) lived in Italy between August 1937 and March 1938, when she was 7 and 8 years old. She attended a Catholic school, the Istituto Vittoria Colonna, in Milan. There, she was issued these small soft-covered government-produced student notebooks, decorated with colorful, dramatic illustrations. (The Donahue family are long-time family friends; Barbara's son Bill showed me her collection of notebooks and allowed me to scan them.)
Interactive Map Lets You Track How 19th- and Early-20th-Century American Newspapers Covered Any Topic
This interactive map, put together by the Georgia Tech Research Institute and the University of Georgia's eHistory initiative, uses the Library of Congress' database of historical newspapers, Chronicling America, to track frequency of keywords in newspapers and visualize the results across time and space.
Timeline Lets You Browse Hundreds of Historical Documents From the Vault Blog
Something that’s always bothered me about the Vault has been the way posts can end up feeling unconnected to a bigger historical picture. Sure, I try as hard as I can to write about the way each document fits into its period of origin, but the Internet is a relentless decontextualizer. If you found this blog through one of its popular posts, like the medicinal plants map of the United States or the CIA’s guide to workplace sabotage, it’s unlikely that you were able to browse documents from the same time period that I’d written about in the past—unless you were killing a lot of time at work that day.
Wistful Memories of the Confederacy, 50 Years After the Civil War
These two very similar posters, copyrighted in Atlanta and published in Iowa around 1910, commemorate the Confederacy 50 years after its founding. Distributed as a promotional item by the First National Bank of Gainesville, Georgia, the first poster below incorporates portraits of Confederate leaders, a map, images of currency and memorials, and (on its reverse side) the lyrics to Confederate poems and songs.
A Colorful Late-19th-Century Map of Native American Languages
John Wesley Powell, explorer, geologist, and scientist, produced this map while he was the head of the Bureau of American Ethnology, as part of an 1890 Annual Report. According to Powell's description of the project, the map plotted "linguistic stocks of American Indians," as they were situated "at the time when the tribes composing them first became known to the European."