Chronicling America’s Historic German Newspapers and the Growth of the American Ethnic Press

Scranton Wochenblatt. Courtesy of Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. Image provided by: Penn State University Libraries.

Scranton Wochenblatt. Courtesy of Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. Image provided by: Penn State University Libraries.

Extra!  Extra!  German Immigrants in the United States

Were Germans the most influential group in the ethnic press?  For a time, yes!  In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Germans came to the United States in droves.  For decades, Germans were the largest non-English-speaking immigrant group in America.  Between 1820 and 1924, over 5.5 million German immigrants arrived in the United States, many of them middle class, urban, and working in the skilled trades, and others establishing farming communities in the West.  Their numbers and dedication to maintaining their language and culture made Germans the most influential force in the American foreign-language press—in the 1880s, the 800 German-language newspapers accounted for about 4/5 of non-English publications, and by 1890, more than 1,000 German newspapers were being published in the United States.

Germans were the first non-English-speaking group to publish newspapers in America.  At least until the First World War, these newspapers were critical for maintaining German American identity.  For many German immigrants, the emphasis was on the first part of that identity—they were Germans first, and sought to become Americans without relinquishing their German-ness.  The group established a pattern that other immigrant groups followed later.  They came to America, settled into cultural enclaves, and constructed microcosms of their society in the new country. Maintaining their language and printing newspapers in their native language was critical to that process.  Some of the many German-language newspapers published in the United States may now be found in Chronicling America.

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New exhibit in Special Collections: The Tilly Losch Collection: Downton Abbey as seen through the Archives

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

Curator of Rare Books, Beth Turcy Kilmarx, and Special Collections Assistant, Mary Tuttle, have created a fascinating exhibit highlighting items from The Tilly Losch Collection, which is held in Binghamton University Libraries’ Special Collections.

Tilly Losch was born in 1904 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary. Tilly begin her career in dancing at the age of 15, dancing in the Vienna Ballet and at Burgtheater, until meeting Max Reinhardt in 1927 and Corky B. Cochran soon after, who helped expand her dancing and choreography to productions in the United States and Europe. Tilly danced with Fred Astaire on Broadway, and gained minor roles in films after moving to Hollywood, including The Garden of Allah (1936), The Good Earth (1937), and A Duel in the Sun (1946). In her time recovering from tuberculosis in a sanatorium in Switzerland, Tilly learned to paint, and was fairly successful in her art career, with many gallery showings and even having one painting being purchased by the Tate museum in London. Tilly was married twice; her second marriage was to Lord Henry George Alfred Marius Victor Herbert, the sixth earl of Carnarvon and owner of Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey), more affectionately known as “Porchey.” They divorced in 1947, though remained amicable and in close contact for the next three decades.

This exhibit includes personal memorabilia of Tilly Losch, including various pieces of correspondence and photographs, as well as several of her paintings and sketchbooks. Some of her notable acquaintances include Fred and Adele Astaire, Cecil Beaton, Marlon Brando, Winston Churchill, Cole Porter, and Orson Welles.

Tilly Losch Exhibit Photograph

Tilly Losch donated her papers and paintings to the Binghamton University Libraries as it also houses the Max Reinhardt Archives. The collection spans 30 linear feet and consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence, as well as legal documents, banking records, personal memorabilia, diaries, press clippings, photographic portraits, and publicity photos. The Tilly Losch Collection also includes a large number of loose sketches, sketchbooks, and over 500 of her paintings, many dealing with autobiographical themes. The materials span the years 1910-1975, though the majority of the collection represents materials accumulated during the years she lived and worked in America: roughly from the 1930s to the time of her death in 1975.

The exhibit is located in Special Collections on the second floor of the Glenn G. Bartle Library, and can be viewed 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday – Friday throughout the summer.

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Novelist finds his place as a modern myth-maker

Alexi Zentner, assistant professor of English at Binghamton University, stands along Cayuga Lake in Ithaca. Zentner's latest novel, The Lobster Kings, will be released May 27. Photo by Jonathan Cohen

Alexi Zentner, assistant professor of English at Binghamton University, stands along Cayuga Lake in Ithaca. Zentner’s latest novel, The Lobster Kings, will be released May 27.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen

By Rachel Coker

The Lobster Kings, Alexi Zentner weaves a story that feels at once perfectly realistic and like a legend borrowed from another era. The novel, published this month by W.W. Norton, arrives just three years after Zentner’s critically acclaimed debut, Touch.

Zentner, an assistant professor of English who joined Binghamton University’s faculty in 2013, describes his style as mythical realism, an idea related to (but separate from) the tradition of magical realism established in Central and South America.

“I try to work the myth through the fabric of the entire story,” he says. “I’m not interested in using myth or magic as a showy parlor trick. I hope what I’m doing is something new and different.”

The Lobster Kings is new and different on a number of levels. The novel, which pays homage to Shakespeare’s King Lear, centers on the relationship between an aging man and his three daughters, one of whom is named Cordelia. But it’s also an entirely modern tale featuring meth dealers and a female ship captain who hopes to stop them before they wreck her hometown. There’s homicide, a rape, the legacy of a world-famous painter and stormy seas, too.

Read more here

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Binghamton University Libraries Special Collections Celebrates International Archives Day!

Iraqi Kurds living in the mountains, 1960s and is from the Vera Beaudin Saeedpour Kurdish Library & Museum Collection.

Iraqi Kurds living in the mountains, 1960s. Image is from the Vera Beaudin Saeedpour Kurdish Library & Museum Collection.

Did you know that the 9th of June was International Archives Day? All around the world, archives and special collections professionals unite their voices on the 9th of June to make people understand why it is important to support archives and the profession.

Read more about International Archives Day here

To celebrate this important day, Binghamton University Libraries Special Collections has submitted a photograph from the Vera Beaudin Saeedpour Kurdish Library & Museum Collection to be included in a virtual tour through archives around the world!

See our image here

You can also browse through photos from other international collections here 

Happy International Archives Day to all!!

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The Columbia Anthology of Gay Literature is Special Collections featured book for June 2014


To celebrate LGBT Pride Month, Special Collections’ featured book for June is The Columbia Anthology of Gay Literature: Readings from Western Antiquity to the Present Day edited by Byrne R.S. Fone.

From the Epic of Gilgamesh to the poems of Allen Ginsberg and gay literature of the 1980s and ’90s, The Columbia Anthology of Gay Literature draws together hundreds of texts from Western literary history that describe experiences of love, friendship, intimacy, desire, and sex among men. Spanning more than two millennia, from ancient Mesopotamia to the late twentieth century, this anthology brings together the best-known texts of gay male writing such as the poetry of Martial and Walt Whitman, and excerpts from E. M. Forster’s Maurice, as well as from lesser known works such as nineteenth-century English homoerotic poetry and selections from two early American novels of homosexual love – Joseph and His Friend and Imre. In The Columbia Anthology readers become acquainted with the early bonds of male companionship found in Homer’s writings on Zeus and Ganymede, and with the homoerotic poetry of Catullus and Juvenal. From Shakespeare’s Sonnets to the philosophy of de Sade, to the political writings of Edmund White, this anthology traces a multifaceted tradition.

As a landmark to the enduring spirit of gay writers, this collection is an essential addition to the library of anyone searching for the historical foundations of gay identities. With its excellent annotations and suggestions for further reading, The Columbia Anthology of Gay Literature will also serve as an invaluable resource to students and scholars in need of a guide to a massive body of literature that has long been hidden, ignored, or misrepresented. (

Byrne R.S. Fone is professor emeritus of English literature at the City College of New York. He is a recognized pioneer in the field of Gay Studies and has written several books in the field including: A Road to Stonewall: Homosexuality and Homophobia in British and American Literature and a study of Walt Whitman: Masculine Landscapes: Walt Whitman and the Homoerotic Text. He has edited the largest and most comprehensive anthology of gay literature, The Columbia Anthology of Gay Literature (our featured book for June) and in Homophobia: A History he examines the history of homophobia over a period covering almost two millennia.

This book is from our Alumni Authors Collection located in Special Collections. It is also part of the The Byrne Fone Collection of Gay Studies, a gift to the Binghamton University Libraries received in 2009.

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Special Collections to be closed Thursday and Friday

Binghamton University Special Collections & University Archives will be closed on Thursday, June 5 and Friday, June 6.

We will re-open on Monday, June 9, at 10:00 a.m.

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Spring Commencement videos available online


Twenty-one speeches were delivered throughout the course of nine Commencement ceremonies held on campus this past weekend. Watch them all online.

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Mapping the Spread of American Slavery

In September of 1861, the U.S. Coast Survey published a large map, just under three feet square, titled a “Map showing the distribution of the slave population of the southern states of the United States.” Based on the population statistics gathered in the 1860 census, and certified by the superintendent of the Census Office, the map depicted the percentage of the population enslaved in each county.

The map showed at a glance the large-scale patterns of slavery in the American South: the concentrations of slavery in eastern Virginia, in South Carolina, and most of all along the Mississippi. It also repaid closer examination, since each county was labeled with the exact percentage enslaved. The map of slavery was one of many thematic maps produced in the nineteenth century United States. As Susan Schulten has shown, this particular map was used by the federal government during the Civil War, and it was a favorite of Abraham Lincoln’s.

Though such thematic maps, in particular of slavery, have their origins in the nineteenth century, the technique is useful for historians. As I see it, one of the main problems for the historians’ method today is the problem of scale. How can we understand the past at different chronological and geographical scales? How can we move intelligibly between looking at individuals and looking at the Atlantic World, between studying a moment and studying several centuries? Maps can help, especially interactive web maps that make it possible to zoom in and out, to represent more than one subject of interest, and to set representations of the past in motion in order to show change over time.

I have created an interactive map of the spread of slavery in the United States from 1790 to 1860. Using Census data available from the NHGIS, the visualization shows the population of slaves, of free African Americans, of all free people, and of the entire United States. It also shows those subjects as population densities and percentages of the population. For any given variable, the scales are held constant from year to year so that the user can see change over time. You can use the map for yourself, and I’ve also written briefly about what the map shows below. Historians have of course often made use of maps of slavery, in particular maps based on the Census, in support of their arguments. What I’ve tried to do in this interactive map is make it possible for users (including me) to explore the census data in support of making historical arguments.

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Ralph Garruto made honorary member of SUNY Distinguished Academy

Ralph Garruto, research professor of biomedical anthropology, has been awarded the SUNY Medallion of Distinction, a system-wide recognition of “exceptional individuals who have distinguished careers … but who have never been eligible for appointment to Distinguished Faculty Rank” as outlined by the SUNY Board of Trustees. As a recipient, he becomes an honorary member of the SUNY Distinguished Academy that includes more than 400 active members, nearly 40 of them at Binghamton.

“We could not be more honored or proud to count you among us and to thank you for your meaningful and valued engagement with the University,” wrote SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, in a letter to Garruto, inviting him to an awards ceremony on May 20.

“As an elected member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, Ralph Garruto is internationally recognized for his work,” President Harvey Stenger said. “We are thrilled that the SUNY system is also acknowledging his many contributions advancing the field of biomedical anthropology.”

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Edwin A. Link Jr. highlighted in Elks Magazine May 2014 issue

Link mag article

Edwin A. Link Jr. is the topic of a story in the recent issue of Elks Magazine.  This magazine is the official publication of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elk of the United States, and has a circulation of over 850,000 readers.  The article is titled “Innovations for Sky and Sea:  the Ed Link Story.”  Several photographs used in the story are copies of the originals that are housed in the Edwin Link Collections in Special Collections.

Image (272)

To see these photographs or the Link Collections, please visit the Special Collections, University Archives and Preservation department in the Glenn G. Bartle Library of the Binghamton University Libraries or the online Link Digital Archives .  The department is open to the public Monday – Friday between the hours of 10 am – 4:00 pm.

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