Shirley Chisholm, Women Political Leaders, and the Oral History Center collection

By Mollie Appel-Turner

On Jan 25, 1972, Congresswomen Shirley Chisholm, representative for New York State’s Twelfth District and the first African American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, announced her candidacy for president. With this announcement, Chisholm became both the first African American to run for a major party’s presidential nomination and also the first woman ever to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. The UC Berkeley Oral History Center has several interviews that address Chisholm’s trailblazing candidacy. In addition, the Center has numerous interviews with other ground-breaking female politicians.

Shirley Chisholm speaking at microphone.
Shirley Chisholm thanking delegates, Democratic National Convention, Miami Beach, Fla., 3rd session (Photo: Library of Congress)

“Anything that black women do like that, they’re pioneering; they’re the first, or one of the first. Because it takes a lot of guts and militancy and sacrifice to do those things when it isn’t popular.”
— Frances Mary Albrier

Frances Mary Albrier was a woman of numerous accomplishments. A graduate of UC Berkeley, she was an indefatigable opponent of racism, a civil rights activist from the 1920s onward, the first woman elected to Alameda County’s Democratic Central Committee, as well as the first black woman hired by Kaiser Shipyards during World War II. She founded the East Bay Women’s Welfare Club, and her efforts led to the hiring of black women teachers in the Berkeley public schools. Albrier discussed Chisholm’s then-recent candidacy when she was interviewed in 1977 and 1978 as part of a series on women political leaders.

Frances Albrier on sidewalk with picket sign
Frances Albrier leading picket at corner of Sacramento and Ashby, 1939. (Photo: Berkeley Plaques)

Mrs. Chisholm pioneered when she ran for Congress in New York as a black woman. Anything that black women do like that, they’re pioneering; they’re the first, or one of the first. Because it takes a lot of guts and militancy and sacrifice to do those things when it isn’t popular, and it wasn’t popular for a black woman in the East or anywhere. Now, when Mrs. Chisholm ran for president, she did it again. She’s pioneered the way for [others]. Eventually, we’ll have a woman president of the United States. Those doors have been opened. People had looked at her and they’ve talked about a woman running for president. They heard what she had to say. It will be much easier for the next woman who has the ambition to run for president to do so.

Janet West was also interviewed for the women political leaders series, focusing on her work as a Santa Barbara Board of Education member. In the multi-interview volume Women in Politics Volume II, West spoke about how her experiences as a parent influenced her desire to run for office, and both motivated and informed her decisions as a board member. In her 1972 oral history, West discussed the significance of Chisholm’s then-contemporary candidacy:

I think if you’re talking about a large political office, people have the idea that you know, a woman couldn’t stand up under the pressures and maybe couldn’t take all that guff or whatever it is. I think we really have to overcome that type of thing and I’m not sure how many votes Shirley Chisholm will get just because she’s a woman, certainly not because she’s black but because she’s a woman and I don’t think people really feel that a woman can do all that hard work. It’s a lot of hard work.

Professor Harry Edwards joined UC Berkeley’s department of sociology in 1971. He conducted scholarship in the area of sociology of race and sport and is also renowned for his involvement in the famous Black Power salute on the victory podium at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. In “Harry Edwards: An Oral History,” he discussed his early life and upbringing in addition to his role as a scholar-activist, his time at Berkeley, and his work as a consultant to national football and basketball teams. When he was interviewed as part of the UC Berkeley African American Faculty and Senior Staff oral history project in 2005, Edwards spoke of Chisholm with both the knowledge of a contemporary and the perspective of a sociologist. Edwards discussed Chisholm’s extraordinary independence:

Closeup view of Dr. Harry Edwards at University Hilton. Photo dated: June 12, 1984.
Harry Edwards, 1984 (Photo: Toru Kawana, Los Angeles Herald Examiner Photo Collection, Los Angeles Public Library via Calisphere)

Shirley Chisholm, first of all, she had one phenomenal liability, and what I call it is the Stevenson syndrome. She was extraordinarily bright. She was extremely intelligent. That’s a phenomenal liability in the convention of the American political scene. She also had an independence to her that put her outside of the authoritative black leadership influence and control circle. The authoritative black leadership influence and control circle tried to get her not to run. They did not feel that it was “time” for a black woman to step out and run for President. She ran without the endorsement of the NAACP, without the endorsement of the Congress of Racial Equality, without the endorsement of SCLC, without the endorsement of Operation PUSH and Jesse Jackson. She ran on her own.

Shirley Chisholm is one of many women politicians discussed in the Oral History Center’s collections. The Oral History Center contains a wide variety of interviews on women in local, state, and national politics. For more on ground-breaking female politicians, the Oral History Center’s Women Political Leaders collection contains interviews that cover almost the entirety of the 20th century, from the suffragists onward. Interviewees include March Fong Eu, the first Asian American woman in the United States to be elected to a state constitutional office; Helen Gahagan Douglas, the first Democratic woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives; and Hope Mendoza Schechter, a member of the Democratic State Central Committee and an activist for both the labor movement and the Mexican American community. The Oral History Center continues to preserve the histories of women leaders in the political sphere and is currently conducting new interviews with female political leaders in the Bay Area Women in Politics and California State Archives projects. For those who wish to learn more, a good place to start is the Oral History Center’s Women in Politics podcast, which has episodes on a variety of important female political leaders of the twentieth century — at the local, state, and national levels — including Francis Albrier.

Mollie Appel-Turner
Mollie Appel-Turner

Mollie Appel-Turner joined the Oral History Center as a student editor in fall 2021. She is currently a fourth-year history student with a concentration in medieval history.

About the Oral History Center

The Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library has interviews on just about every topic imaginable. You can find the interviews mentioned here and all our oral histories from the search feature on our home page. Search by name, keyword, and several other criteria. We preserve voices of people from all walks of life, with varying political perspectives, national origins, and ethnic backgrounds. We are committed to open access and our oral histories and interpretive materials are available online at no cost to scholars and the public.


Primary Sources: Digitized records recently added to the NARA catalog

Record Group 129: Records of the Bureau of Prisons, 1870 - 2009Series: Warden's Notebook Pages, 1934 - 1963Item: Warden's notebook page, with "mug shot," of Joseph Soliwode, 26-AZ.Tag 1929 1934 1937 1938 1944 1945 army Blue Seal Order deafness eczema High Grade moron Honolulu Leavenworth life military prisoner More ... Enter new tags Enter new tags... Comment Login Policy Need Help? Warden's notebook page, with "mug shot," of Joseph SoliwodeThe National Archives and Records Administration recently added new sets of records of digitized items to its catalog.

Warden’s Notebook Pages, 1934 – 1963 (Alcatraz)
These looseleaf notebook pages contain basic summary information about, and an identification photograph (frontal view of face), of each inmate. In some cases collateral material, such as disciplinary reports or news clippings, are also included. Some of the information in these records is incorrect when compared with the more extensive inmate files. Several warden’s notebook pages are not extant, although accompanying disciplinary reports filed with the notebook page are sometimes available. The records were also microfilmed in 1978 by the Bureau of Prisons. The microfilmed version includes some/all of the “missing” original pages. These pages have been printed and interfiled among the original records. The records may be restricted due to privacy concerns. Register numbers 1 through 900 have been screened and are open for research.

Boulder Canyon Project Histories, 1948 – 1966
This series contains histories, which include photographs, data tables, maps, and technical drawings, that describe projects authorized under the Boulder Canyon Project Act, namely Boulder Dam (later renamed Hoover Dam), Boulder Power Plant, located on the Colorado River, and the All-American Canal, all Bureau of Reclamation projects. The histories include information on project construction, operation, and maintenance, including the installation of power plant machinery. The records document the creation and construction of Boulder City, Nevada, and Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Photographs Relating to Federal Aviation Facilities, 1946 – 1972
This series consists of photographs relating to the Federal Aviation Administration’s area operations and facilities throughout Alaska. These locations and facilities include the Aleskya Oil Pipeline, Mt. McKinley or Denali, Merrill Field, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Akiak, Amchitka, Cordova, Fairbanks, Iliamna, Kodiak, Metlakatla, Nenana, Nome, Portage, Skagway, Juneau, Tanana, and Wrangel.

Information Cards for Inmates of the Langenstein-Zwieberge Concentration Camp, ca. 1947 – ca. 1947
This series consists an index to inmates of the Langenstein-Zwieberge concentration camp. Each index file includes the inmate’s name, date of birth, nationality, and prisoner number. Files of deceased inmates are marked with a cross. The index, originally created by the German authorities in charge of the camp, is in German.

Intelligence Files, 1946 – 1953
The Intelligence Files include charts, graphs, correspondence, memorandums, reports, and printed materials and is comprised of four subseries. The Central Intelligence Files subseries consists mostly of daily summaries of the military situation in Korea from June 1950 to January 1953, with references to political and economic issues, cease-fire negotiations, and communist propaganda. Also in the subseries are intelligence memorandums concerning Europe, the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, Israel, Yugoslavia, and China.


T is for Topsy-Turvy: Our interviewees describe when things went haywire

It’s been a topsy-turvy couple of years. But it’s not the only time in recent memory that the world’s turned upside down. As the Omicron variant has once again derailed our path to normalcy, I decided to search the Oral History Center’s collection to see what our interviewees have described as topsy-turvy. Referencing the trivial to some of the most challenging times in recent history, those who used the adjective included household names like Chief Justice Earl Warren and California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, as well as artists, urban planners, venture capitalists, and Rosie the Riveters. Topics raised include the rise of Hitler, atomic weapons, the Great Depression, educational equity, campaign finance, messy houses, and downtown San Francisco. Here are the results. 

See below for a detailed description of how to search our collection by a keyword like topsy-turvy.

Mannequin crumpled over broken furniture in a test house after an atomic explosion
Mannequin after the Operation Cue atomic blast, 1955 (Photo: National Archives)

The rise of Hitler

Betty Hardison: Rosie the Riveter World War II American Home Front Oral History Project

“The world was beginning to be topsy-turvy. That was around 1939, when Hitler was not being very friendly.” 

During World War II, Betty Hardison worked at the Mare Island Naval Shipyards for the department responsible for repairing ships damaged during Pearl Harbor. Here she reflects on why she gave up her dream of university and journalism and took her first job.

Betty Hardison
Betty Hardison

When it was time to go off to school, I sold my clarinet and I went to Armstrong Business College in Berkeley. . . . It no longer exists, but it was a very prominent business school at the  time. I took secretarial and all phases of business. But at that time, then, the world was beginning to be topsy-turvy. That was around 1939, when Hitler was not being very friendly. . . . Journalism was a strong goal. I had been editor of the yearbook and things like that, so I thought that I wanted to go to the university and take journalism. But then with the world being turned upside-down, I went for my first job.

Related discussion within the interview: educational expectations for women, life in Calistoga, California during the Great Depression

Downtown San Francisco

Robert Riley: 1988–2000 Curator of Media Arts, SFMOMA 75th Anniversary 

“He found San Francisco to be completely topsy-turvy, vertiginous, and absolutely mad.”

Three screens on a wall with blurry images of street scenes
Steve McQueen’s “Drumroll” on display (Photo: Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art)

Robert Riley, the curator of media arts for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, recalled the inspiration for artist Steve McQueen’s work, Drumroll. McQueen had visited San Francisco during the exhibit of his work, Bear, in the early 1990s. 

When he was in San Francisco, he experienced the hurly-burly, topsy-turvy development of the downtown—there was a lot of construction when he was here. There was traffic mayhem. . . . He found San Francisco to be completely topsy-turvy, vertiginous, and absolutely mad. He work-shopped an idea here of putting a camera lens into the drain hole of a striped orange construction barrel, which he borrowed. He’s a large man. He decided to start pushing the barrel down the street and just telling people to look out.

Related discussion within the interview: acquisition of Steve McQueen’s work, Bear; the development of Drumroll 

Atomic bomb testing

Jean Fuller: Organizing Women: Careers in Volunteer Politics, Law, and Policy Administration

“Was that the mannequin whose head was cut off? Do you remember?”

Jean Fuller, director of women’s activities of the Federal Civil Defense Administration, 1954–58, was present at an atomic bomb test explosion in May 1955, dubbed Operation Cue. Conducted by the Atomic Energy Commission outside of Las Vegas, the test was designed to determine how the blast would affect people (represented by mannequins), food, and various structures. Looking at before and after photos of a test home, Fuller discusses the results with her interviewer, Miriam Stein. 

Jean Fuller in coveralls leaning on a sign that says Civil Defense Administration
Jean Wood Fuller, 1958 (Photo: Federal Civil Defense Administration/Internet Archive)

Fuller: Now, here’s the before scene of that living room where we saw the man all topsy-turvy. As you see there were draperies and there were Venetian blinds. Now, had they had the draperies pulled completely across, the blinds probably would not have done quite as much damage but they were only as people normally leave them.

Stein: Was that the mannequin whose head was cut off? Do you remember?

Fuller: No, he was upside down here someplace.

Stein: That’s right. He was hanging over a chair.

Fuller: Yes, but he undoubtedly would have been dead.

Related discussion within the interview: detailed account of the atomic test

Campaign finance

Earl Warren Sr.: Conversations with Earl Warren on California Government

“Some poor son of a gun with no money but with a great issue will come along, and he’ll just turn them topsy-turvy.”

Earl Warren, who attended UC Berkeley as an undergraduate and also received his law degree from Berkeley Law, was governor of California and chief justice of the United States Supreme Court. Here he discusses campaign finance with his interviewer, Amelia Fry, and an editor from Doubleday and Company, Luther Nichols, who was assisting Warren with his autobiography.

Earl Warren painting
Official paining of Earl Warren as governor of California

Nichols: I think Alioto spent half a million dollars—

 Warren: More than that.

 Nichols: It came out to something like six dollars a voter — six dollars a vote—

 Warren: Well, I’ll tell you. Of course, it’ll go along that way and then some poor son of a gun with no money but with a great issue will come along, and he’ll just turn them topsy-turvy. Now, you take that fellow who was elected—was it governor or senator—in Florida this year [1971]. He was a little country lawyer, Chiles, his name is— He’s a little country lawyer, he had no money of any kind to spend, but he told them he was going to start in the north of Florida and was going to walk clear through the state making his campaign. And, by George, he did. He’d arrange every way that— To start in the morning where there was a television station, and they’d pick him up there, say something about him, and he’d always stop at a television station at night. [Laughter] He got publicity that way and never spent a nickel on it, and he went all through the state, and he beat the whole outfit. [Laughter]

 Fry: And he got all that free TV time!

 Warren: Oh yes, he got all that free TV time.

 Fry: He must have had a million dollars of TV time!

 Warren: [Laughter] And never paid a dime for it!

Related discussion within the interview: decision to run for governor, campaign finance

Education

Justice Cruz Reynoso: California Supreme Court Justice, Professor of Law, Vice-Chair United States Commission on Human Rights, and 2000 Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient

“Somehow those parents, when they have come to a meeting, have felt uncomfortable, as my parents did when they went to a PTA meeting.”

Cruz Reynoso, who received his law degree from Berkeley Law, was the first Hispanic California State Supreme Court justice. Here he reflects on race relations and parental involvement in schools.  

Cruz Reynoso
Cruz Reynoso (Photo: UC Davis School of Law)

I will tell you a story because it turns things topsy-turvy. I may have told you about this. I was invited to go speak on a Saturday to a parent-student group in a school in the Los Angeles area. When I got there, I noticed that practically everybody involved was Spanish-speaking, and a great majority of the kids there were there, but the leadership of the PTA and practically everybody in charge was Latino. So I asked, “Is this an entirely Latino school? Do you have some other folk?” And they said, “Oh yes, about 20 percent of our students are Anglo.” And I said, “Well, where are the Anglo parents?” And they said, “We don’t know. We keep inviting them; they just don’t come.” I was bemused because I have heard that story told a hundred times about Latino parents by Anglo parents, “You know we keep sending these notices. They don’t come. They must not be—” They don’t say this, but the implication is “they must not be interested in education or must not be interested in their kids.” Well, I just said, “Maybe you ought to do something more so they feel comfortable when they come to these meetings and so on.” Something is not quite right when 20 percent of the parents don’t come to a Saturday function that is supposed to be good for everybody. I don’t know what they have done right or wrong, I really don’t. I nonetheless have the absolute sense that they haven’t done enough. Somehow those parents, when they have come to a meeting, have felt uncomfortable, as my parents did when they went to a PTA meeting. And we as human beings are smart enough to be able to figure things out on how to make those folk feel more comfortable and so on.  

Related discussion within the interview: affirmative action generally, and in particular at UC Berkeley

Venture capital partnerships

Paul Bancroft III: Early Bay Area Venture Capitalists: Shaping the Economic and Commerce, Industry, and Labor Landscape

“Others are saying the world has kind of gone topsy-turvy today—I don’t mean today, but up until recently.”

Paul “Pete” Bancroft was an early participant in the venture capital industry and president, CEO, and director of Bessemer Securities Corporation. Mr. Bancroft also devoted considerable time to The Bancroft Library, which was founded by his great grandfather, Hubert Howe Bancroft. 

Paul Bancroft
Paul “Pete” Bancroft

It finally evolved, unfortunately, to the point where the venture capital partnerships were investing so much money that with the fees they were getting, the 1 percent to 2.5 percent of the assets, that they were making more money that way than they were on the profits that were being made when the investments were sold. It meant that they were really starting to lose sight of really making money on the companies they were investing in. Which is why Arthur Rock and others are saying the world has kind of gone topsy-turvy today— I don’t mean today [2010], but up until recently.

Related discussion within the interview: venture capital partnerships, CEO salaries, Bessemer Venture Partners

The de Young Museum. . . and the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Jim Chappell: Directing the Resurgence of SPUR & Urban Planning in San Francisco

“Who can hate a baby seal?”

Jim Chappell is a retired urban planner whose forty-year career focused on intertwining environmental conservation into urban design. As the director of the nonprofit SPUR (San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association), he helped shape San Francisco into a modern city. Here he discusses design and structural problems with two California landmarks.

Jim Chappell with San Francisco Ferry Building in the background
Jim Chappell

The de Young Museum harkens back to the Midwinter Exposition of 1894, and then opened as the de Young Museum in 1895. It grew topsy-turvy over the years and was badly damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. In fact, they built a steel exoskeleton around it to keep the walls from falling down. It had never been a great museum in terms of collection or building. And they are related. . . . 

The [Monterey Bay] Academy was three or four years behind the de Young, so they got to learn from the mistakes, or at least knew what they were going to be up against when they started. Like the de Young, it was a building that had grown like topsy and was a mess of a building even before the earthquake. And then in the earthquake, pipes broke, which isn’t very good if you’re an aquarium. . . .

A baby seal peaking up out of the water
A baby seal

So in March 2000—this was three-and-a-half years after the first de Young bond vote—there was an $87 million bond on the ballot for the Academy. They needed 66 2/3 percent “yes.” They got sixty-seven. Phew. Just sneaked by. It was a different call than “old art.” It was “kids.” Their poster for the “yes” on the measure was a baby seal. Who can hate a baby seal? 

Related discussion within the interview: California’s proposition system, the adaptability of Golden Gate Park, and the evolution of parks and recreation since the 1800s.

Some other references to topsy-turvy

The Great Depression

You see, you had a topsy-turvy country.” Karl Holton, first director of the California Youth Corrections Authority, in the oral history collection, Earl Warren and the Youth Authority.

Art 

“I am  astounded  by  the  energy  of  her  construction  machinery  in  the  landscape, the  ‘topsy-turvy,’  earthquaking  quality  she  accentuates  in  her  paintings  of  San  Francisco  streets,  and  the  destruction  of  the  cumbersome Embarcadero  Freeway.” Nell Sinton: An Adventurous Spirit: The Life of a California Artist

Organizational turmoil

“Then, after a little over three years there, when things went topsy-turvy at DuPont Merck, I called Bill and asked, ‘Got a job left there?’ So that’s when I came back to Chiron, in ’94. It was an interesting period.” David W. Jr. Martin: UCSF Professor, Genentech Vice President of Research, and Beyond

The music industry

“The whole job pays 1500 bucks, this is a seven-piece band, but it cost $500 to rent the piano. So the piano is making three times what any of the musicians are making. This is how things have gone. The world, everything’s topsy-turvy. The priorities are all askew. So this is the kind of stuff we’re facing.” Jazz musician John Gill in Turk Murphy, Earthquake McGoon’s, and the New Orleans Revival.

A house in disarray

“We arrived in the most topsy-turvy mess of things in that house.” Ursula Bingham: A Lady’s Life: New England, Berkeley, China

How to search for a keyword like topsy-turvy

You can find the interviews mentioned here and all our oral histories from the search feature on our home page. Search by name, keyword, and several other criteria. From our home page, I entered topsy turvy in the search box and clicked search. (I did not get a different result with/without a hyphen.) There were 18 total results, including when the interviewer used the term or it appeared in an introduction. 

Screen shot of search box

When you get to the results page, you might not initially see any oral histories. This is because the “full text” feature is off by default. On the results page, toggle on “Fulltext search.” A number of oral histories will populate on that page in a list. Please note that sometimes I get better results when I change the default “all the words” to “partial phrase.”

Screen shot of results page showing "full text off"

 

Screen shot of results page showing full text on

Screen shot showing partial phrase

From the results list, click on any oral history. The next page will provide information about the oral history, such as interviewer, publication date, project, and so on. That page also enables you to read or download a PDF of the oral history. Without downloading, I entered the word “topsy” into the oral history search feature and selected “highlight all.” Then I just clicked on the arrow to be taken directly to the word. Repeat clicking on the arrow to see all examples of the search term within the oral history. 

Screen shot of search within the Oral HIstory

About the Oral History Center

The Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library has interviews on just about every topic imaginable. We preserve voices of people from all walks of life, with varying political perspectives, national origins, and ethnic backgrounds. We are committed to open access and our oral histories and interpretive materials, including our podcasts and articles, are available online at no cost to scholars and the public.


Primary Sources: Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980

The Library has acquired Readex’s Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980, a collection of Spanish- and English-language newspapers printed in the U.S. during the 19th and 20th centuries. The papers are sourced from the “Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project,” a national research effort directed by Nicolás Kanellos, Brown Foundation Professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of Houston.

The resource can be cross-searched with other Readex historical newspaper series, including Early American Newspapers, Caribbean Newspapers, and African American Newspapers, 1827-1998.

 

 


Primary Sources: Confederate Slave Payrolls

The National Archives recently released a digitized collection of Confederate Slave Payrolls, 1861-1865 that are part of Record Group 109, War Department Collection of Confederate Records. The records list the names and locations of the slaves whose labor was leased to the Confederacy for a variety of tasks, including digging entrenchments, creating obstructions on rivers, digging potassium nitrate for gunpowder, and providing labor at ordnance factories and arsenals. The payrolls provide the name and usually the place of residence of each slave owner. The information provided about the slave included his or her name, date and place employed, occupation, number of days worked, daily rate of pay, total amount of pay, and name of the Confederate Officer responsible for the payroll. The article “Civil War Confederate Slave Payroll Records” provides more information about the content and organization of the records.


Primary Sources: Cumhuriyet Digital Archive

selection of newspaper's front pagesThe Library recently acquired the Cumhuriyet Digital Archive, which provides access to the complete run of the newspaper since its establishment in 1924. This information is provided on the digital platform: “…Cumhuriyet (“The Republic”) is the oldest secular Turkish daily newspaper and is widely considered one of the last remaining opposition newspapers in Turkey. Founded by journalist Yunus Nadi Abalıoğlu at the initiative of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Cumhuriyet was the first newspaper of the Turkish Republic and promoted a belief in democracy, secularism and the rule of law. According to the newspaper’s editorial principles: Cumhuriyet is an independent newspaper; it is the defender of nothing but the Republic, of democracy in the scientific and broad sense. It will fight every force that tries to overthrow the Republic and the notion and principles of democracy. It will endeavor for the embracing by society of the principle of secularism along the path of “Enlightenment” ushered in by Atatürk’s revolution and principles.”


Primary Sources: Cuban Periodicals: Cultural Magazines Published by Casa de las Américas, 1960–2009

Cuban Periodicals: Cultural Magazines Published by Casa de las Américas, 1960–2009
Cuban Periodicals: Cultural Magazines Published by Casa de las Américas, 1960–2009 provides access to the archives of four cultural magazines published by Casa de las Américas in Havana, Cuba. It includes the highly influential journal Casa, the theater journal Conjunto, the music journal Boletín de Música, and Anales del Caribe, a journal about the rich artistic and literary production in the Caribbean.

Primary Sources: HistoryMakers Digital Archive

The HistoryMakers The HistoryMakers Digital Archive is an ongoing oral history project begun in 1993 to record, preserve, and disseminate the stories of African Americans and African-American led groups and movements. The interviewees come from a variety of fields and from across the United States. The high-quality video interviews are broken up into sections with brief summaries of the content, and each section is accompanied by a transcript. The resource can be searched by aspects of historical context, biographical themes, or qualities of the interview.


Primary Sources: New acquisitions from Adam Matthew Digital

This summer the Library invested in a number of archival collections from Adam Matthew Digital. The descriptions here were provided by the company.

Colonial Caribbean: CO Files from The National Archives, UK
This enormous range of unique primary sources covers British governance of 25 islands in the Caribbean from 1624-1872, meeting teaching and research needs across a wide variety of themes, from settlement and colonial rivalries in the region, to the economics of the plantation systems and the impact of slavery, to crime and punishment and the everyday lives of the people that called the islands home. The first module stretches from the turbulent years of early British settlement to the rise of the abolition movement, amongst the fierce rivalries with the Spanish, Danish and French powers in the Caribbean region. Settlement, Slavery, and Empire, 1624-1832 documents the rise of absentee landlords, and traces the rise and decline of the slave trade, from the regular transportation of enslaved peoples through trade and shipping, to the rise of the abolition movement.

Sex and Sexuality
Sex & Sexuality covers a broad range of topics and is drawn from leading archives around the world. From papers of leading sexologists, to LGBTQI+ personal histories, the collection is an essential resource for the study of human sexuality, its complexities and its history. Sourced solely from the renowned Kinsey Institute Library & Special Collections, Module I makes available essential primary sources from the tenures of the first three Institute directors: Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey, Dr. Paul Gebhard and Dr. June Reinisch. While Module II, sourced from archives in the US, UK and Australia, including a number of collections from the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives at University of Southern California Libraries, explores LGBTIQ+ personal histories, self-expression and community activism.

Ethnomusicology
Presenting content from across the globe, this diverse and comprehensive resource features thousands of audio field recordings and interviews, educational recordings, film footage, field notebooks, slides, correspondence and ephemera from over 60 fields of study, including sites in West Africa, North America, South East Asia and more. Produced in collaboration with the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive – a world centre for the study of Ethnomusicology – the content within this collection gives access to the cultural and social lives of the source communities represented within the recordings; allowing users a unique insight into the musical traditions of these communities. This collection therefore allows for the study of cultural identity, social norms, religion and ritual, gender roles, as well as many other themes.

African American Communities
A diverse range of primary source material is showcased in this collection that focuses on race relations across social, political, cultural and religious arenas, focusing predominantly on Atlanta, Chicago, Brooklyn, and towns and cities in North Carolina this collection presents multiple aspects of the African American community. Through pamphlets, periodicals, correspondence, official records and in-depth oral histories, it reveals the challenges of racism, discrimination and integration, and the expressions of a unique African American culture and identity.

American Indian Newspapers
Representing a huge variety in style, production and audience, the newspapers in this database include national periodicals as well as local community news and student publications. This digital collection provides exciting research opportunities into a range of subjects from an Indigenous perspective, including the civil rights era and American Indian Movement (AIM), education, environmentalism, land rights and cultural representation. This resource has been developed with, and has only been made possible by, the permission and contribution of the newspaper publishers and Tribal Councils concerned. Adam Matthew is extremely grateful for their continuing support of this project.

Gender: Identity and Social Change
From traditional constructions of femininity and masculinity, to the struggle for women’s rights and the emergence of the men’s movement, Gender: Identity and Social Change offers three centuries of primary source material for the exploration of gender history. Explore records from men’s and women’s organisations, advice literature and etiquette books to reveal developing gender roles and relations. Gain an insight into changing societal expectations about gender roles through personal diaries and correspondence and explore the life and careers of key figures and pioneers in gender history.

Foreign Office Files for Japan (Expansion of previously purchased content.)
Sourced from the rich FO 371 and FO 262 series at The National Archives, UK, this resource unites formerly restricted Japan-specific documents and is enhanced by the addition of a selection of FO 371 Far Eastern General sub-series, and Western and American Department papers. Topics covered include ultra-nationalism and the Japanese agenda of imperial dominance in the Far East, employment and social conditions in a time of global economic instability, and the ‘Great Kanto Earthquake’ of 1923 which flattened Tokyo. These documents record relations with Axis Powers in the context of changing alliances, the deterioration of relations with the Allies as World War Two reached the Pacific, and American post-war occupation of Japan.

Foreign Office Files for South East Asia
With material drawn from the National Archives, UK, this product provides a Western view of events in the region through official government documents and records covering the wider region and the rising animosity towards the perceived threat of communism at the time. There is a particular emphasis on the turbulent creation of Malaysia, alongside the release of the Cobbold Commission report, the end of the Malayan Emergency, and the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation.

Migration to New Worlds
Set against a backdrop of colonial expansion, industrial progress and global conflict, Migration to New Worlds tells the stories of individuals and families who risked everything to build new lives in North America and Australasia between 1800 and 1980. Unique primary source diaries, correspondence, photographs, oral histories and journals narrate the vivid realities of ocean travel and life in adopted homelands. Organisational correspondence, government proceedings, shipping company papers and records of advocacy groups provide key context to migrants’ everyday struggles.

Race Relations in America
The Race Relations Department, based at Fisk University, was a highly influential think tank offering a forum for discussion and research on racial topics. The work of the Department highlighted topics such as poverty and inequality, class, housing, employment, education and government policy. Its programme attracted many well-known figures in the Civil Rights Movement, including Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr., Bayard Rustin, Charles Houston, and Marguerite Cartwright. This resource sheds light on the fascinating work of the Department through the digitisation of extensive records from the Department’s archives, now held at the Amistad Research Center in New Orleans.


Mexico and the conquest of Tenochtitlán (May 1521-2021)

The month of May this year marks the five-hundredth anniversary of the fall of Tenochtitlán (1521-2021). The tragedies that unfolded in the continent after the conquest are well documented. However, as far as the accounts of the fall of the Tenochtitlán are concerned, there are several different opinions and disagreements. What about the letters of Hernán Cortés? Here is the second letter from the WDL

Also on the archive.org, we see a digitized copy of JCB’s 1552 Francisco López de Gómara’s “La historia general de las Indias, y todo lo acaescido enellas dende que se ganaron hasta agora. ; y La conquista de Mexico, y dela Nueua España.
 

 

What are some of the primary sources that are now open access and can be used to inform us about the events that unfolded five hundred years ago? One such source is Bernal Díaz del Castillo’s is work, Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España.” On the right, one sees a title page of the 1632 imprint of the same that is available in Google Books.

While some often use paintings from the late 17th century to depict and describe the fall of the capital of the Aztecs, these are often functions of the artistic license, and in some cases, we do not know who could have painted them.

 

The painting, such as the one below, is one example from the Library of Congress’ collection. Can images narrate the nuanced past accurately? These images are from the LOC’s exhibition and also in Wikimedia commons.

But where are the voices of those who were conquered but not vanquished? Can we rely on Codex Florentino as one perhaps contested source? The WDL (from the collection of Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenziana) has made it available for the readers to judge the process that began with the conquest of Tenochtitlán. The LOC’s description reads, “Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva España” (General History of the Things of New Spain), as the Florentine Codex is formally known, is an encyclopedic work about the people and culture of central Mexico compiled over a period of 30 years by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún (1499–1590), a Franciscan missionary who arrived in Mexico in 1529, eight years after completion of the Spanish conquest by Hernan Cortés. The text is in Spanish and Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. Its 12 books, richly illustrated by indigenous artists, cover the Aztec religion and calendar, economic and social life, Aztec history and mythology, the use of plants and animals and the Spanish conquest as seen through the eyes of the native Mexicans.”

I leave you with unfinished thoughts. Can a manuscript tell the story? See for yourself by watching Getty Researcher Institute’s five-part series. And with Taibo’s, “¿Historia para qué?”I love Paco Ignacio Taibo II’s argument about who we are? And his questioning of sanitization history where Cortes and Cuauhtemōc are dancing La Sandunga.