Eyewitness to the Civil War and Reconstruction: Historic Newspaper Added Through Alumnus James Mason’s Bequest
By Alice Bampton
Falvey Memorial Library recently received a bequest from the estate of James L. Mason ’64 A&S , who died in 2009. Mason’s gift was used to purchase the Christian Recorder, which began regular publication in Philadelphia in1861.
History professor Judith Giesberg, Ph.D., teaches the History Practicum graduate seminar in which her students actively use the Christian Recorder, “the premier journal for news about emancipation and civil rights,” for news stories about legal cases from the 1860s through the 1880s and “the activism of black communities around the country.”
Last fall several students used parts of the Recorder to find want ads “placed by former slaves looking for lost loved ones in the ‘Information Wanted page,’ school integration cases argued in … Pennsylvania and elsewhere, and the paper’s coverage of the passage of Reconstruction amendments and the 1876 Civil Rights Act.”
Dr. Giesberg notes that students will now have access to the full run of the newspaper and “will be able to expand their understanding of the nineteenth and early twentieth century antecedents to the 20th century civil rights movement.”
The Christian Recorder was published by the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church with the stated purpose of “the Dissemination of Religion, Morality, Literature and Science.” (Accessible Archives) (more…)