COVID-19: New Primary Resources

[This blogpost will continually be updated with new online primary collections as they become available to Bodleian readers.]

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Bodleian Libraries have been sourcing online collections to assist Oxford students and researchers in their studies. This blogpost contains newly available primary resources that may be of interest to those studying American History, Politics and Culture.

Please note that the resources listed here are separate to the online collections which have already been purchased by the VHL or Bodleian. You can view these collections on our online guide to US Studies at Oxford. 

You can also visit our Diigo page to view our recommended open access resources.

Gale Primary Sources (25/03/2020)

Gale Primary Sources have opened up the a significant number of their collections to readers of the Bodleian Library, without restriction or cost, until the 1st September.

The new resources include thematic collections focused on diverse topics such as legal history, sexuality and gender and forced migration. Individual collections which may be of interest include:

Visit Gale Primary Sources at Oxford to view all the collections now available to Bodleian readers.

Bloomsbury Collections (updated 01/07/2020)

Bloomsbury have kindly provided access to Bodleian readers to their Bloomsbury Collections and Drama Online. This includes over 2,000 e-books which have been added into Solo, on topics as diverse as History, Constitutional and Administrative Law, International Relations and Literature.

Drama Online also includes interviews, critical works and text on key American dramas, such as the works of Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller. It also includes audio-recordings and texts of key performances.

Bloomsbury has also opened up a number of their digital platforms for Bodleian readers to access. These collections include edited titles regarding key topics and primary resources, and can be limited by place, time period or themes. Of particular interest includes:

Access to these resources has been extended to 31st July 2020. 

Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War

Our colleagues at the Social Science Library have organised temporary access to Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War: Intelligence, Strategy and Diplomacy, available until the 30th July.

Check our separate blog post on this resource for more information.

If you have any questions about the collections listed above, or would like us to consider purchasing a particular online primary resource, email bethan.davies@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

“LGBT Americans for”: Presidential Elections and the Movement for Gay Rights, 1980-2020.

Emma Day is a DPhil candidate in American History at the University of Oxford and this year’s History Graduate Scholar at the Rothermere American Institute. Her dissertation is a history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States, with a particular focus on women’s healthcare activism, from 1980 to the present. You can follow her on Twitter: @EmmaRoseDay

On March 1st, 2020, Pete Buttigieg, former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, ended his campaign to become the 46th president of the United States. A white man who attended a string of the world’s most prestigious universities, who, if elected, would have become the youngest president in US history, Buttigieg was an interesting candidate for simultaneously inhabiting a number of remarkable and unremarkable qualities in a presidential hopeful. Perhaps most notably, coming out at the age of thirty-three in 2015, just five years ago, he was also the first, openly gay person to seriously contend for the highest US office. While some within the LGBTQ+ community have debated the significance of Buttigieg’s campaign for the ongoing movement for gay equality, his success in getting as far as he did, not least in becoming the first gay candidate to win a presidential nominating contest with his narrow victory in Iowa, nonetheless represented how far the gay rights movement has come politically in the past forty years.

Election ephemera from the Philip and Rosamund Davies U.S. Elections Campaigns Archive at the VHL sheds light on the trajectory of gay rights issues from the margins to the centre of mainstream politics during this period. Much of this transition began in the early 1980s with the presidential campaign of Reverend Jesse Jackson, the second African American to run for president after Shirley Chisholm’s campaign a decade earlier. Born in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1941, Jackson, a civil rights activist, Baptist minister, and politician announced his campaign for president of the United States in November 1983.[i] Pledging to create a “Rainbow Coalition” of various minority groups, Jackson used his platform to bring members of the LGBTQ+ community into the Democratic party in unprecedented ways as part of this coalition, as a 1984 leaflet in the archive demonstrates.[ii] His Rainbow Coalition speech, delivered at the Democratic convention in San Francisco in July 1984, was the first to mention gay and lesbian Americans at a national convention.[iii] After losing the nomination to Walter Mondale (D-MN), Jackson ran for president again in 1988, and gave his first speech after announcing his second presidential bid at the second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in October 1987.[iv]

A leaflet showing Jesse Jackson, on yellow paper. There are rainbow bands behind the image.

Leaflet: Jesse Jackson for President, 1984, MSS. Amer. s. 33 / 4 / 5

Left-wing political organisations with strong LGBTQ+ factions such as the Workers World Party in turn supported Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign as “part of the growing mass movement against racism and for basic democratic rights,” as a Workers World newspaper in the archive shows.[v] Following four years under President Ronald Reagan and facing the prospect of another four, groups such as the Workers World Party saw Jackson as an alternative to the imperialism, racism, and capitalism that they argued had characterised Reagan’s first term in office. Specifically, and, similarly to Jackson, they demanded “money for jobs—not wars abroad.”[vi] Moreover, as the devastation and human loss wrought by the AIDS epidemic from the early 1980s onwards was met with a slow federal response, such groups also fought for money to address the escalating health crisis instead of funding military intervention in Central America, Lebanon, South Africa and Grenada, as memos in the newspaper from 1984 show.[vii] Items in the U.S. Elections Campaigns Archive therefore speak to the intersectional and reciprocal coalition-building that took place between those fighting against capitalism, racism, sexism, imperialism, homophobia and for social justice in this decade.

A newspaper clipping from Workers World, showing support for Gay and Lesbian Rights,

Newspaper: Workers World, 26(45), recto. 1 Nov. MSS. Amer. s. 33 / 4 / 5

The growing salience of gay rights issues to subsequent presidential races are further seen in a number of election pins from the 2000s. Badges from 2012 advocated “LGBT for Obama Biden” and “Obama for Marriage Equality.”[viii] While factions of the gay rights movement have long debated how much weight to place on the fight for marriage equality, as well as the fight to serve openly in the military, for the broader struggle for LGBTQ+ equality and rights, both issues continued to frame the political debate into the twenty-first century. Obama gained the support of LGBTQ+ voters in part through his revoking of the Clinton-era “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prohibited gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans form serving unless they remained closeted in 2010, and, in 2015, during his second term in office, the Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage in the landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges. While these legislative developments show how far attitudes towards gay rights have evolved since the early 1980s, a majority of states still do not have explicit laws protecting LGBTQ+ Americans from discrimination, similar to federal laws that exist on race, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability on their books. The Equality Act, a federal law that would prohibit discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, was passed in the House of Representatives in May 2019. It will require the next US president to sign it into law if it passes in the Senate.

Two pin badges. One on the left says "LGBT for Obama-Biden 2012" with a rainbow background. The second "Obama for marriage equality" shows Obama on a blue background.

Barack Obama Campaign, 2012, Buttons: “Obama-Biden: LGBT for 2012” and “Obama for marriage equality” MM Amer. s. 33 (not-catalogued).

The stakes of the 2020 presidential election for members of the LGBTQ+ community are therefore particularly high. President Donald Trump has already said that he opposes the Equality Act in its current form.[ix] As such, Democratic candidates seeking to beat Trump in November can learn from the importance of weaving together broad, intersectional platforms for social justice—as Jackson, in alliance with groups such as the Workers World Party, did in 1984—that are then acted upon and translated into policy when in office.

To request access to items from the Philip and Rosamund Davies U.S. Elections Campaigns Archive, email vhl@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

*****

[i] Leaflet: Jesse Jackson for President, 1984, MSS. Amer. s. 33 / 4 / 5

[ii] Leaflet: Jesse Jackson Headquarters, Vote for Jesse Jackson: The Most Progressive Democrat, 1984; Leaflet: Women’s Press Project, “Jackson for President,” 1984, 162-163, MSS. Amer. s. 33 / 4 / 5

[iii] Alex Bollinger, “How Jesse Jackson helped bring gay rights to the Democratic mainstream,” LGBTQ Nation, February 28, 2018, accessed 5 March 2020, https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2018/02/jesse-jackson-helped-mainstream-gay-rights-democratic-party/

[iv] Emily K. Hobson, Lavender and Red: Liberation and Solidarity in the Gay and Lesbian Left (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2016), 168.

[v] Newspaper: Workers World, 26(45), recto. 1 Nov. MSS. Amer. s. 33 / 4 / 5

[vi] Newspaper: Workers World, 26(45), verso. 1 Nov. MSS. Amer. s. 33 / 4 / 5

[vii] Memo: Workers World, “Workers World Presidential Candidates Support Lesbian and Gay Freedom Day, Demand Immediate Government Action on Lesbian and Gay Rights,” June 18, 1984, 30; Workers World, “Statement by Larry Holmes and Gloria La Riva in Front of Federal Elections Commission,” January 27, 1984, 1-2, MSS. Amer. s. 33 / 4 / 5

[viii] Barack Obama Campaign, 2012, Buttons: “Obama-Biden: LGBT for 2012” and “Obama for marriage equality” MM Amer. s. 33 (not-catalogued).

[ix] Chris Johnson, “The House vote on the Equality Act is the easy part. What’s next?” Washington Blade, 15 May 2019, accessed 4 March 2020, https://www.washingtonblade.com/2019/05/15/the-house-vote-on-the-equality-act-is-the-easy-part-whats-next/

American National Biography: February 2020 update

Believing that the life of a nation is told by the lives of its people, the American National Biography consists of over 19,000 scholarly biographies of significant, influential, or notorious figures from American history.

The latest update to the American National Biography, released Thursday 27th February, adds six new biographies of men and women who worked as educators and academics. New additions include:

Paul Samuelson (1915–2009), the MIT economist who in 1970 became the first American to win the Nobel Prize in Economics (technically the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel). The leading representative of the Keynesian age, his scholarly and popular writing reshaped mid-twentieth-century economic thought.

Fabiola Cabeza De Baca (1894–1991), whose work teaching in rural New Mexico evolved into working for the New Mexico Agriculture Extension Services, where she visited and lived in people’s homes, empowering women by teaching them to combine modern technologies with traditional practices. Her writings preserved New Mexican history and culture.

Octavius Catto (1839–1871), teacher at the Institute of Colored Youth in Philadelphia whose incredible career included serving as major and inspector general for the 5th Brigade, 1st Division of the Pennsylvania National Guard during the Civil War, fighting successfully to integrate Philadelphia’s trolley system in the 1860s, and even co-founding and playing for the Pythian Base Ball Club, the city’s second black baseball team.

Mary Daly (1928–2010), a controversial radical feminist philosopher and theologian who spent thirty-three years teaching at (and clashing with the administration of) Boston College, finally leaving in 1999 when the university refused to let her teach men and women in separate classes.

Robert Leslie Wharton (1871–1960), a Presbyterian missionary who established religious schools in Cuba, including La Progrresiva in Cardenas. Ultimately, La Progresiva served over 2000 students with a Christian workers training school, a vocational school, and a junior college.

Mary Elizabeth Carnegie (1916–2008), African American nurse who established Virginia’s first baccalaureate nursing program at Hampton Institute, and, beginning in 1945, transformed the nursing curriculum at the Florida A & M school of nursing. She became the first African American elected to the Florida State Nurses Association Board of Directors, before joining the editorial staff at the American Journal of Nursing, where, over the next 35 years, she would advance up the ranks to Senior Editor.

Jo Payne, Head of Biographical and General Reference, Oxford University Press