Race Relations: Historical Resources

In light of current events, we would like to remind you that the Abbot Public Library offers a multitude of resources with current, reliable, regularly updated information, which is easily accessible and available at any time.

Salem Press (introduced in a previous post) is the latest acquired reference database, with a very large history section, where you can search for particular events or names, or just browse through American history, decade by decade, learning about critical events and influential people.

You can browse through another section, Milestones Documents of American History, to get a better understanding of the most important documents and primary sources.

In addition to browsing and searching, Salem Press offers curated content to explore current events, which is a unique feature of this database. 

To help explore and better understand current events, you can browse through selected essays on several subjects, which are, presently: race relations, social justice, violent demonstration, civil disobedience, and others.

EBSCO History Reference Center, a database which you will find listed under the EBSCOhost, offers full text from reference books, encyclopedia, leading history periodicals, and biographies. The database also has historical photos and maps, as well as archival videos to offer.

Gale Biography is a well-organized database, where you can browse or search for biographies of influential people of their time. 

All these digital databases are free and accessible with your library card through the Digital Resources page on the library blog.

The New York Times published a list of the most influential books on race and the black experience, created by Ibram X. Kendi, a professor of history at the University of Florida and a published author. Here are some of the titles mentioned in that NYT list:

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi won the national Book Award. In his deeply researched book, the author gives an account of the history of racist ideas and thoughts and shows their power through the course of American history.

The New Jim Crow was named the most influential book of the last decade and collected numerous awards, inspiring criminal justice reform activists and organizations. Its tenth anniversary edition was reprinted recently.

Dreams from My Father, published in 1995, is a memoir by Barack Obama that looks at the problem of race, class, and color.

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award; it is also on the PBS Great American Read Top 100 list.

Beloved by Toni Morrison also won the Pulitzer and was adapted as a movie with the same title.

You can also check out the following titles from the list (click the cover image):

The ebook format
The audiobook format

All these ebooks and audiobooks are available through Overdrive/Libby with your card.

Explore and Help Museum and Library Archives from Your Computer

You’ve been on the virtual tours. You’ve made recycled art masterpieces and kept up with the real masterpieces, watched live animal feedings, and done science experiments. You’ve successfully done the museum thing during quarantine. Or have you?

Many museums, including some of our museum partners, historical societies, libraries, and the like have preserved their collections in digital archives that anyone can access from the comfort of their own home. These archives contain the rare, important, illuminating, and sometimes just plain weird documents that tell our collective story.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is the primary archive of all documents relating to the life and work of President John F. Kennedy and his administration. It is also the primary repository of the papers of Ernest Hemingway. Visit their website to view some of JFK’s personal papers and photographs from his life, and listen to audio of his speeches and oral histories from those that knew him best.

The Cape Ann Museum has put together an entire online archival exhibition, Unfolding Histories: Cape Ann Before 1900, exploring the early history of Cape Ann, in addition to their thorough list of digital resources for continuing research projects from home. You can even try your hand at creating your own archival content during this moment in history, with some advice on creating oral histories with your family members.

The Museum of Science Collective Memory archive tells the fascinating history of the museum through staff discussions, photographs and artifacts, and quizzes! Be sure to check out the Junior Explorers Bulletin from 1945, their collection of animal photography, and invertebrate glass models.

The Phillips Library of the Peabody Essex Museum is also a wonderful resource for documents on the cultural heritage of Massachusetts. Through a new digitization initiative, some of the Phillips Library’s extensive collection of manuscripts, photographs, maritime journals, and even documents from the Salem Witch Trials, are now available online.

And if you’d like to do more, many institutions welcome volunteers to transcribe documents to make them more accessible. All it takes is a computer, patience, and time! 

By the People from the Library of Congress is a crowdsourced effort to transcribe and tag digitized content from the Library’s collections, including letters to Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman’s writings, documents from the Women’s Suffrage movement, and more. 

The Smithsonian Museum’s Transcription Center is also full of interesting transcription projects, including Sally Ride’s papers. 

Atlas Obscura has also compiled two lists of various ways to volunteer remotely, such as tagging photos of America’s scenic byways for the National Archives, transcribing science fiction fanzine from the 1930s, and fixing transcripts from public broadcasts, including a conversation with James Baldwin. Check out more of their ideas here and here to get started today!

You can also visit the Abbot Public Library’s own digital archive, featuring articles from the Marblehead Messenger and Marblehead Reporter!