8,000 Papers from Benjamin Franklin Now Available Digitally

The Library of Congress has made available its collection of Benjamin Franklin papers online. While transcribed versions have been available you can now see what the originals look like. While only a small portion of the available papers of Franklin, this is an important step in preserving and sharing the history of one of our countries great founding fathers. The majority of Franklins surviving papers are held by the American Philosophical Society and there are several other archives with significant holdings.

See an article discussing the papers here.

Visit the Library of Congress site to view the Franklin papers here.

You may learn more about the effort to publish Franklin’s papers by visiting the Yale University website here.

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The Tatler of Society in Florida is Now Available Digitally

Courtesy of the Spring 2018 issue of the St. Augustine Historical Society newsletter. I used several articles from the Tatler in my book ST. AUGUSTINE & THE CIVIL WAR (Civil War Series) finding interesting tidbits on former Civil War Generals and when they were in town and what they were up to. It was not digital with an index at the time so I know I didn’t get the full use out of this fascinating reference.  Now if they can just get this source available online.

Hidden Treasures: The Tatler  Written by Bob Nawrocki

The arrival of Henry M. Flagler and the opening of his hotels brought wealthy winter tourists to St. Augustine by the train load. Before email, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media, the wealthy visitors used print publications to find out what their peers were doing.

Anna Marcotte, who previously worked on the St. Augustine News, started The Tatler of Society in Florida to document the comings and goings of wealthy visitors to St. Augustine; The Tatler was only published during the winter season. The Tatler offered a listing of who came into town, where they were staying, menus of specials events, descriptions of dresses and gowns worn to dances and ads for hotels and souvenirs.

The Research Library has the only complete collection of The Tatler in the United States. It is an invaluable resource for a researcher looking into the Gilded Age in St. Augustine. Until recently, the only way to find information in The Tatler was to read each issue until you found the information you needed. This took time and caused wear and tear to our only copies of The Tatler.

Thanks to the hard work of Marty Cawley, a Research Library volunteer, The Tatler is fully indexed. Ms. Cawley went through each issue and indexed the articles and photographs in each issue. The information was entered into Emily, our online catalog, and is available to anyone with access to the Internet. To access our catalog, visit oldesthouse.org and click on the Research Library button.

To protect our set of The Tatler, the entire run has been scanned and converted into a set of PDFs. To scan our bound set, it was necessary to use an oversize scanner. Matt Armstrong, Collections Coordinator of the University of Florida Historic St. Augustine Library at the Governor’s House, offered use of their library’s oversize scanner for this project. Chad Germany, Assistant Librarian, scanned the collection and organized the PDFs. The PDFs are only available in the reading room of the Research Library. The fragile original copies of The Tatler will be placed in secure storage where they will be in temperature and humidity controlled space, preserving them for the future.

Upcoming Appearance in Lake County

Lake County Courthouse
Lake County Courthouse in Tavares, FL

I have just today confirmed an appearance with the Lake County Historical Society at their Artists and Authors event taking place on Saturday, April 28, 2018 from 10-2p. I will have copies of all three of my books available for purchase. This should be a fun event. LCHS has some great volunteers and they usually attract a strong crowd. I missed their recent Museum by Moonlight event but heard it was a fantastic time.

 

The Lake County Historical Society operates the museum in the Lake County Courthouse located on the ground floor at 317 W. Main Street in downtown Tavares.  My dear friend Bob Grenier serves as Curator and has done a tremendous job. If you haven’t visited you are missing out.

I hope to see you there!

Controversial New Release from Fonthill Media

Today brought news of what is sure to be a controversial new release from Fonthill Media and distributed by Arcadia Publishing and author Phillip Thomas Tucker. The book is titled Blacks in Gray Uniforms: A New Look at the South’s Most Forgotten Combat Troops 1861-1865. Needless to say the title will no doubt come under some scrutiny as will the subject matter.

This is a subject that has hot feelings on both sides and some, including Kevin Levin, have almost made a career of arguing against the notion of black Confederate soldiers. In fact, he has a soon to be released book on the subject, Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth.

Author Phillip Thomas Tucker has written widely on several historical themes including the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Alamo, Custer’s Last Stand, and others, often with poor to mixed reviews, especially from authoritative sources.

As for whether there were black soldiers in the Confederate army you will have to make your own decision. The evidence, including findings I made working on my book ST. AUGUSTINE & THE CIVIL WAR (Civil War Series), shows there were black soldiers in the Confederate army. My small number of finds however were musicians and non combat soldiers. North Carolina historian Michael Hardy however has found record of several black Confederates who fought. These trace amounts do not lead to the claims many have put forth of large numbers of blacks fighting for the Confederacy but they should make us step back from the statement that there were NO black troops in the Confederate service.

While Arcadia is often very generous in supplying me with review copies I did not receive a copy of this title. Personally, while skeptical, I will withhold judgement until seeing the book and reviewing the notes and bibliography which I hope are included. Often times, with the space limitations imposed by Fonthill Media these are left out. For a title like this that would be a critical error in my view.

Press Release–New Ulysses S. Grant Biography

I received the following information from Westholme Publishing concerning a new release of theirs, scheduled for May 2018; The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant: Preserving the Civil War’s Legacy written by Paul Kahan.

A short, focused history of the politics of Reconstruction in a changing America:
On December 5, 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant transmitted his eighth and final message to Congress. In reviewing his tenure as president, Grant proclaimed, “Mistakes have been made,” though he assured Congress, his administration’s “failures have been errors of judgment, not of intent.” Until recently, scholars have portrayed Grant as among the country’s worst chief executives. Though the scholarly consensus about Grant’s presidency is changing, the general public knows little, if anything, about his two terms, other than their outsized reputation for corruption. While scandals are undoubtedly part of the story, there is more to Grant’s presidency: Grant faced the Panic of 1873, the severest economic depression in U.S. history, defeated the powerful Senator Charles Sumner on the annexation of Cuba, and deftly avoided war with Spain while laying the groundwork for the “special relationship” between Great Britain and the United States. Grant’s efforts to ensure justice for African-Americans and American Indians, however, were undercut by his own decisions and by the contradictory demands of the various constituencies that made up the Republican Party.

In The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant: Preserving the Civil War’s Legacy, historian Paul Kahan focuses on the unique political, economic, and cultural forces unleashed by the Civil War and how Grant addressed these issues during his tumultuous two terms as chief executive. A timely reassessment, The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant sheds new light on the business of politics in the decade after the Civil War and portrays an energetic and even progressive executive whose legacy has been overshadowed by both his wartime service and his administration’s many scandals.

Library Additions–February 2018 (2)

Thank you to Arcadia Publishing for sending along review copies of the following books. Both look like they will be very good. They both follow the standard Arcadia format; image heavy and less than 200 pages in length total. Both books contain end notes and index. Blount’s contains a bibliography while the longer book by Hardy did not have space but his notes are always thorough.

First up is Kirk’s Civil War Raids Along the Blue Ridge (Civil War Series) written by the prolific and award-winning North Carolina Civil War author, and friend of mine, Michael C. Hardy.

In the Southern Appalachian Mountains, no character was more loved or despised than Union officer George W. Kirk. He led a group of deserters on numerous raids between Tennessee and North Carolina in 1863. At Camp Vance in Morganton, Kirk’s mounted raiders showcased guerrilla warfare penetrating deep within Confederate territory. As Home Guards struggled to keep Western North Carolina communities safe, Kirk’s men brought fear throughout the region for their ability to strike and create havoc without warning.

Author Russell W. Blount gives us Wilson’s Raid: The Final Blow to the Confederacy (Civil War Series). In the closing months of the Civil War, General James Wilson led a Union cavalry raid through Alabama and parts of Georgia. Wilson, the young, brash “boy general” of the Union, matched wits against Nathan Bedford Forrest, the South’s legendary “wizard of the saddle.” Wilson’s Raiders swept through cities like Selma, Tuscaloosa and Montgomery, destroying the last remaining industrial production centers of the Confederacy along with any hopes of its survival. Forrest and his desperately outnumbered cavalry had no option but to try to stop the Union’s advance. Join Russell Blount as he examines the eyewitness accounts and diaries chronicling this defining moment in America’s bloodiest war.

Library Additions–February 2018 (1)

Thank you to my good friends at Arcadia Publishing for sending along copies of a couple of their new Civil War releases.

New Bern and the Civil War (Civil War Series) written by James Edward White III.

On March 14, 1862, Federal forces under the command of General Ambrose Burnside overwhelmed Confederate forces in the Battle of New Bern, capturing the town and its important seaport. From that time on, Confederates planned to retake the city. D.H. Hill and James J. Pettigrew made the first attempt but failed miserably. General George Pickett tried in February 1864. He nearly succeeded but called the attack off on the edge of victory. The Confederates made another charge in May led by General Robert Hoke. They had the city surrounded with superior forces when Lee called Hoke back to Richmond and ended the expedition. Author Jim White details the chaotic history of New Bern in the Civil War.

Wade Hampton’s Iron Scouts: Confederate Special Forces (Civil War Series) written by D. Michael Thomas.

Serving from late 1862 to the war’s end, Wade Hampton’s Scouts were a key component of the comprehensive intelligence network designed by Generals Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart and Wade Hampton. The Scouts were stationed behind enemy lines on a permanent basis and provided critical military intelligence to their generals. They became proficient in “unconventional” warfare and emerged unscathed in so many close-combat actions that their foes grudgingly dubbed them Hampton’s “Iron Scouts.” Author D. Michael Thomas presents the previously untold story of the Iron Scouts for the first time.

Library Additions January 2018 (1)

Thank you to Southern Illinois University Press for sending along a complimentary copy of Turning Points of the American Civil War (Engaging the Civil War).

Engaging the Civil War, a series founded by the editors of the Emerging Civil War blog group, adopts the sensibility and accessibility of public history while adhering to the standards of academic scholarship. To engage readers and bring them to a new understanding of America’s great story, series authors draw on insights they gained while working with the public—walking the ground where history happened at battlefields and historic sites, talking with visitors in museums, and educating students in classrooms.

With fresh perspectives, field-tested ideas, and in-depth research, volumes in the series connect readers with the story of the Civil War in ways that make history meaningful to them while underscoring the continued relevance of the war, its causes, and its effects. All Americans can claim the Civil War as part of their history. This series helps them engage with it.

About the book:

Contributors to this collection, public historians with experience at Civil War battle sites, examine key shifts in the Civil War and the context surrounding them to show that many chains of events caused the course of the war to change: the Federal defeats at First Bull Run and Ball’s Bluff, the wounding of Joseph Johnston at Seven Pines and the Confederate victory at Chancellorsville, the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Federal victory at Vicksburg, Grant’s decision to move on to Richmond rather than retreat from the Wilderness, the naming of John B. Hood as commander of the Army of Tennessee, and the 1864 presidential election. In their conclusion, the editors suggest that the assassination of Abraham Lincoln might have been the war’s final turning point.

Historian Patricia C. Griffin Has Passed Away

I received this notice in my email today.

Dear Members of the St. Augustine Historical Society,

It is with great sadness that I announce the death of Dr. Patricia C. Griffin. Dr. Griffin was always available to assist the Society whenever we called upon her. She was a former president of The St. Augustine Historical Society, one of the very few Research Associates of the Society as voted by the Board of Trustees, and a contributor to El Escribano and The Oldest City. She shared in the academic work of her archaeologist husband, Dr. John Griffin, and her knowledge and love of St. Augustine was her gift to others. Her texts, Mullet on the Beach: The Minorcans of Florida, 1768-1788 (Florida Sand Dollar Books) and The Odyssey of an African Slave by Sitiki, are classics–wonderful examples of weaving anthropological perspective into historic writing.

She will be greatly missed, and we offer our condolences to her family.

Sincerely yours,
Magen Wilson
Executive Director

Patricia Conaway Griffin, Ph.D.
January 30, 1920 – December 31, 2017

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Well known to St. Augustine for her groundbreaking ethnic studies. Dr. Patricia Griffin examined the first twenty years of Florida’s Minorcan community in the 1988 El Escribano: Mullet on the Beach (Later republished in book form by the University Press of Florida.) As early as 1971 African Americans became a major focus with a study of the Frenchtown neighborhood in Tallahassee and later as editor & annotator of The Odyssey of an African Slave by Sitiki. Short articles written for the historical society included: Emerson in St. Augustine and Mary Evans: Woman of Substance as well as the chapter on the Second Spanish Period in The Oldest City: Saga of Survival. She was active with the project to microfilm the Roman Catholic Church records in the Island of Minorca and the historical society published her diary of the 1994 expedition in El Escribano. Dr. Griffin served as President of the historical society in 2003. In 1992 as a tribute to her scholarship, the Board of Trustees made her one of the very few Research Associates of the St. Augustine Historical Society.

Pat was born in San Luis Obispo, California, an old Spanish Franciscan Mission town. She received an AB from University of California (Berkeley) in 1943. In 1945 she completed a Master’s degree in social service administration at the University of Chicago. A Master’s degree in anthropology came in 1977 from the University of Florida. She earned a Doctorate in anthropology from the University of Florida with her dissertation on the impact of tourism of local festivals, specifically St. Augustine. Dr. Griffin spent the majority of her time since 1954 in St. Augustine when her late husband Dr. John Griffin accepted the position Executive Historian of the St. Augustine Historical Society. From 1955 to 1957, she taught history and social studies in St. Johns County high schools. The Griffins were founding members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Augustine in 1985. She was on the faculty of Florida State University from 1970 to 1980. She was editor of the Florida Journal of Anthropology in 1975. In the 1980s, she held various positions as an administrator and clinical social worker with the Tri-County Mental Health Services, Inc. The Historical Research Institute at Flagler College inducted her in the 1990s. Pat edited her husband John’s papers into Fifty Years of Southeastern Archaeology: Selected Works of John W. Griffin for the University Press of Florida in 1996. Some of her most recent writings were as an historical and anthropological consultant for archaeological reports on several eastern Florida plantation sites excavated by Ted Payne.

In addition to her career in teaching and social work, she and her late husband John raised five children over the course of their long marriage. Dr. Griffin was an avid runner who held two age records in the Gate River Run in Jacksonville. In 1984 she was a member of the Silver Haired Legislature of Florida. From 1980-1985, Dr. Griffin served on the Board of Directors of the Area Agency on Aging which covers all of northeast Florida plus Flagler & Volusia Counties.

Condolences may be sent to the Griffin family at 901 North Griffin Shores Drive, St. Augustine, Florida 32080.