Herald of Freedom

Herald of Freedom:
Perspectives from the Collection

Vincent Golden, Nikki Taylor, Derrick R. Spires, and Eclair Morton

Wednesday, January 18, 2023, at 4:00 pm ET

Approx. 60 minutes

View Program

The American Antiquarian Society is one the nation's chief repositories for newspapers published in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in what is now considered the United States, portions of Canada, and the British West Indies. The collection contains more than two million issues and takes up nearly seven miles of shelving. While recently searching through a backlog of unprocessed newspapers held in the library’s stacks, AAS staff discovered two previously un-recorded issues of Peter H. Clark’s paper Herald of Freedom. These issues were published on June 2 (Volume 1, Number 1) and June 23 (Volume 1, Number 3), 1855.

Peter H. Clark, a prominent African American activist and socialist from Cincinnati, Ohio, was most well-known for his abolitionist speaking and writing. In 1855, he began a weekly abolitionist journal known as the Herald of Freedom. In the first issue published on June 2, 1855, Clark proclaimed, “As might be expected from the proprietorship, a large part of the paper will be devoted to the examination and exposure of the injustice done the FREE COLORED PEOPLE of the United States, and the energetic advocacy of all measure conducive to their political, mental, and moral elevation.” Unfortunately, the paper discontinued after only five months of publication, and Clark later moved to New York to work as an assistant editor of Frederick Douglass' Paper.

During this virtual program, historian Derrick R. Spires and AAS curator of newspapers and periodicals Vincent Golden will discuss the historical significance of the Herald of Freedom and how AAS came to acquire two issues of the short-lived publication. Eclair Morton, the 2022 AAS Conservation Intern, will discuss the significant efforts taken to conserve the nineteenth-century newspaper issues and will provide a live demonstration of some conservation techniques.

Vincent GoldenVincent Golden is the curator of newspapers and periodicals at AAS. He provides reference service to the collection as well as builds and improves access to it. Vince also works with the other curators towards collection development and coordination of multi-collection projects. He was formerly the special collections/reference librarian at the Paul V. Galvin Library at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and worked in the office of Special Collections Administration for several years at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He received his MSLIS from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Nikki M. Taylor is Professor of History and Chair of the Department at Howard University. She specializes in 19th century African American History. Her sub-specialties are in Urban, African American Women, and Intellectual History. Educated at the University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Duke University (MA, PhD, Certificate in Women's Studies), Dr. Taylor has won several fellowships including Fulbright, Social Science Research Council, and Woodrow Wilson. Taylor’s second book, America's First Black Socialist: The Radical Life of Peter H. Clark (2013), is a political and intellectual biography of one of the foremost African American activists, intellectuals, orators, and politicians in the nineteenth-century--a man whose name once was spoken in the same breath as Frederick Douglass, Dr. McCune Smith, and John Mercer Langston. This book charts Clark’s journey from recommending that slaveholders be sent to "hospitable/ graves," to advocating for a separate black nation, to forging alliances with German socialists and labor radicals, to adopting the conservative mantle of the Democratic Party. Dr. Taylor is currently completing her 4th monograph, 'Brooding Over Bloody Revenge:' Enslaved Women, 'Wild Justice' and Lethal Resistance to Slavery. The manuscript examines enslaved women who used lethal violence to resist slavery from the colonial to antebellum eras, challenging all previous interpretations about the nature of their resistance. Taylor was elected to AAS membership in 2022.

Derrick SpiresDerrick R. Spires is Associate Professor of Literatures in English and affiliate faculty in American Studies, Visual Studies, and Media Studies at Cornell University. He specializes in early African American and American print culture, citizenship studies, and African American intellectual history. His first book, The Practice of Citizenship: Black Politics and Print Culture in the Early United States (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), won the Modern Language Association Prize for First Book and the Bibliographical Society/St. Louis Mercantile Library Prize. His work on early African American politics and print culture appears or is forthcoming in African American Review, American Literary History, and edited collections on early African American print culture, American literature, and the Colored Conventions movement. Spires’s work has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council, and the Mellon/Mays Initiatives.

Eclair MortonEclair Morton is a graduate fellow in paper conservation and a dual MA/MS candidate at the Garman Art Conservation Department, State University of New York, Buffalo State. She was the summer 2022 conservation intern at the American Antiquarian Society, where she worked on the Herald of Freedom, 18th-century broadsides, and Civil War era manuscripts. Eclair previously held internships at the Museum of Modern Art, and in private practice in New York. She received her BS from the City University of New York Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies Program, with a focus on organic chemistry and art history. Eclair’s studies are supported by fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the Garman Family Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and by scholarships from the Linton Vincent, and Buffalo State College tuition funds.

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