Slavery and Abolition in the Creation of the Library Company of Philadelphia
Lecture with Sean Moore
This talk will explain the Library’s historical connections to Atlantic slavery and abolition, citing manuscripts and printed works that document eighteenth-century shareholders’ involvement in the West Indies trade, slavery in Pennsylvania, and the activities of members like Anthony Benezet who were abolitionist shareholders from its earliest days. It will also discuss the circulation of abolitionist books, as evident in the surviving 1794-1812 borrowing receipt book, and in doing so, claim that the Library Company was exceptional among America’s slavery-endowed early proprietary subscription libraries in stocking so many antislavery books that were actually read. It will also examine the development of Quaker antislavery from its beginnings in the mid-seventeenth-century to the Society of Friends Meeting that banned its members from owning slaves. The portrait of the library and others like the New York Society Library, Redwood Library, Charleston Library Society, and Salem Athenaeum that will emerge from this talk is that though they were founded by men engaged in slavery-related enterprise with expensive tastes for European cultural products, those institutions and their books nonetheless became resources for the abolitionist movement.
Francis Johnson at the Roots of American Music with Brian Farrow
Friday, September 13
The Library Company of Philadelphia, 1314 Locust Street
6:00pm: Talk & Performance
District 1199C Union Hall, 1319 Locust Street
Francis Johnson, the favored musician of the Early National Era America, helped define this country’s sound by not just replicating its foreign influences but by innovating them. From the strains of melodies that marked America’s reflection on popular events (Lafayette’s return visit to America, the disenfranchisement of black bodies, the themes of the nation’s military elite, the Independence of Haiti) to the strains of his practice that lead to traditions that find their way through ragtime and jazz, Francis is the pivotal figure at the crux of America’s sound.
Brian Farrow, noted fiddler, bassist, songwriter, independent scholar and teaching artist, will be sharing Johnson’s legacy; how he influenced a generation and why a modern contextualization is imperative to the nation’s musical legacy.
Revolutionary Networks: The Business and Politics of Printing the News, 1763 – 1789
Wednesday, September 18
6:00pm – 7:30pm Lecture with Joseph M. Adelman, Department of History, Framingham State University
Hosted by the Program in Early American Economy and Society
During the American Revolution, newspapers, pamphlets, almanacs, and broadsides played a crucial role as a forum for public debate. In Revolutionary Networks, Joseph M. Adelman argues that printers were artisans who mingled with the elite but labored in a manual trade, and that they used their connections to shape Revolutionary political ideology and mass mobilization. At the same time, printers balanced political beliefs with the commercial interests of their businesses, the customs of the printing trade, and the prevailing mood of their communities. Drawing on a database of 756 printers active during the Revolutionary era, along with a rich collection of archival and printed sources, Adelman surveys printers’ networks and explains how they played a vital role in the progress of the Revolution and creation of a new republic.
For more information, contact Cathy Matson, PEAES Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (215) 546-3181. For additional information on the Program in Early American Economy and Society and its activities, visit librarycompany.org/academic-programs/peaes.
The Pioneer Americanists: Early Collectors, Dealers, and Bibliographers
Thursday, September 25
This presentation, based on the William L. Clements Library’s new book of the same title, is a captivating look at the lives and careers of eight generations of outstanding Americanists prior to 1900. The lecture blends material from autobiographical and contemporary biographical sketches of White Kennett, Isaiah Thomas, James Lenox, Joseph Sabin, John Carter Brown, Lyman Copeland Draper, George Brinley Jr., and the other noteworthy specialists who created and nurtured the Americana field from the late seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. Illustrations from the collections of the Clements Library and other leading institutional archives provide a panoramic window on the early story of Americana appreciation, collecting and description. Anyone with a professional or avocational interest in antiquarian Americana will find “The Pioneer Americanists” a treasury of information, enlightenment, and inspiration.
About J. Kevin Graffagnino
J. Kevin Graffagnino has been the director of the University of Michigan’s William L. Clements Library since 2008. He has also served as executive director of the Vermont and Kentucky state historical societies, as library director at the Wisconsin Historical Society, and as a Special Collections curator at the University of Vermont library. Author or editor of 23 books and dozens of scholarly and popular articles, Dr. Graffagnino has delivered hundreds of lectures from Maine to California on American history, antiquarian books, and related topics.
Mirror of a City: Images of Philadelphia, 1780 – 1950
September 26 / October 10 / October 24
5:30pm – 8:00pm
Erika Piola, Director of the Visual Culture Program and Sarah Weatherwax, Curator of Print and Photographs
Library Company of Philadelphia
The Print and Photograph Department at the Library Company of Philadelphia holds one of the few public historical, American popular graphic arts collections in the country. With a focus on the visual history of Philadelphia from the era of the early nation through post-World War II, the graphics materials chronicle the evolution of the city and the story of their creators, collectors, and distributors like few others. In this seminar Library Company curators, Sarah Weatherwax and Erika Piola will provide a sensory journey of the Library’s premiere collection of prints, photographs, drawings, watercolors, maps, and ephemera depicting the city as it developed over three centuries from port city to urban metropolis.
The three-part seminar will examine the pivotal role of Philadelphia in creating the visual culture of the nation as a center for printmaking, photography, and collecting. Sessions will explore the social, cultural, and technological influences affecting Philadelphia image making; the known, hidden, and forgotten image makers; and the changing aesthetics of the physical city, as well as tastes of those who notably collected all manner of Philadelphia imagery. Seminar attendees will also gain knowledge about the evolution of the Library’s graphic collections, as well as have hands-on experiences with specimens of early photography, including daguerreotypes and stereographs.
To pay by check contact Clarissa Lowry, Program & Events Coordinator, at email@example.com or 215-546-3181, ext. 130. For more information about the seminar series, contact Will Fenton, Director of Scholarly Innovation, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-546-3181, ext. 119.