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A Remarkable Case of Alleged Fugitives from Slavery

A Remarkable Case of Alleged Fugitives from Slavery

(Douglass’ Monthly, June 1859) Years ago a woman held as property by A.H. Evans, of this county, came with his consent to St.Louis and worked here for wages, a stipulated part of which was paid to him. She here formed a marriage connecting with a free negro,and had successively two children, whom she reported to her “master” as having died. She had then another child, whose freedom she subsequently purchased, together with her own.

Her present husband is John Jackson, at Fourteenth and Gratiot streets, and does chores at the Recorder’s Court Room and Calaboose. That the mother so long succeeded in averting the suspicion of their existence, from her two children, is most remarkable.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.

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Inside the Archives – Summer 2019 – Volume VIII Number 2

Summer 2019
Volume VIII. Number 2.

Text Mining in the Humanities: What’s a Library to Do?

So, are your humanists asking you for text mining support yet?
Some Humanities scholars have been engaged with these activities for many, many years now, but more and more seem to be getting involved as interest grows and tools become more user-friendly. Libraries increasingly face questions of how to appropriately support text mining activities. Here is a primer and pragmatic advice for those who are considering just how to do this.
Darby Orcutt

Darby Orcutt

First off, what is text mining? Generally, the term is used to refer to a host of computational research practices where a computer “reads” texts at scale and uses algorithms (or artificial intelligence) to quantify or classify texts or their elements. Text mining results can expose linguistic or semantic features, recurrent correlations, and complex patterns across a large corpus. Patterns that a highly observant human scholar might recognize only after a lifetime of reading within their field – or never even notice at all – might be discovered by means of text mining within mere seconds.

Most librarians associate text mining primarily with the digital humanities, but text mining has been an established part of science and social science fields for a very long time. It has perhaps come to the awareness of most academic librarians because humanist scholars have started asking their libraries for help in ways that their more technologically- and quantitatively versed users may not have. In addition, as perhaps disproportionately heavy users of library resources, humanists naturally look to their library as a primary means of discovering information content, accessing it, and for help in using it.

If you see these activities – discovering, accessing, and supporting the use of information – as mission-critical for academic libraries (and I hope you do!), then you’re probably already involved in or at least planning for how to best provide these to humanists around text mining. As with all areas, an institution needs to figure out what its user base is for the service at hand. Text mining currently represents a new interest for many scholars, who may need very basic support, but ranges all the way up to the highly knowledgeable and technically skilled (or humanists who partner with technical experts). When assessing your campus’s needs around text mining, understand that those who are approaching the libraries for help may represent only the more novice portion of your researchers who are engaged in text mining, and that you may need to seek out those who could benefit most from much of what you could offer.


Access to content for text mining is perhaps the most fundamental – and most difficult – aspect of library support for text mining. While we provide all of this wonderful content (databases, ebooks, electronic archives, and more), all of our collections have been built historically for human readers. For computers to “read” our electronic resources means that they have to be able to download (or at least somehow obtain) very large amounts of content, something that might not only overtax the servers of the content provider, but almost certainly violates traditional electronic resource contracts, which of course were designed with human readers in mind.

Fortunately, excellent historical, literary, and cultural content for many eras and geographies can be found, particularly covering works that are no longer in copyright. Quite a few Open Access (OA) resources offer content through APIs (special online interfaces by which data can be easily downloaded en masse) or can be readily “scraped” by researchers (“web scraping” is the technical process of automatically pulling data off of a web site and creating a structured data set from it). One of the more popular OA resources that provides ready data access to strong humanities content is the Making of America (MOA) project, which was a collaboration between the University of Michigan and Cornell University, originally funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 1995 (

Accessible Archives data

In terms of licensed and proprietary content, it has become much more common in recent years for vendors to offer data access, although this is still not a standard contract term for most and so should be pursued by libraries whenever licensing new resources, as well as by seeking addenda on existing resource contracts. The time to ensure access to your collections for text mining purposes is prior to the need, as these licensing processes can take some time, even when the parties readily agree to business terms. For digital collections that are owned (perpetual access) by the library, then some reasonable means of data access for purposes of computational research should be included; libraries should avoid investing in content whose use is contractually limited to non-computational readership. For leased collections, the marketplace has not yet fully settled on one model, for the very pragmatic reason that it’s not necessarily reasonable for a text mining project (which may last for many years) to continue to use robust data sets beyond the period of leased access.

Accessible Archives was one of the first commercial vendors of historical archives to offer equal access for text mining as for human readers for perpetual access content. A data mining addendum is included in their standard license agreement. In addition, as Accessible Archives prides itself on the high quality of its TEI Lite XML and rekeyed content at 98% quality or better, their collections more easily suit the technical needs of many especially mid-range humanities researchers. High-end data science researchers can handle content in virtually any way that they can get it, although well-structured metadata is usually preferred. Technically less sophisticated researchers (which are the vast majority of humanist text miners) generally require fairly well-structured metadata to accomplish their work.


Researchers who engage in text mining often have great difficulty in finding accessible data sets. Even libraries that have worked to make such accessible for their researchers do not yet represent them well   – in part, because as a research library community, the frequently thorny issues of discovery have not yet been adequately addressed in any standardized fashion. At present, discovery that data access is available for resources largely happens outside of library catalogs and usually only via lists on library web sites of resources that can be mined by authorized users. This effectively means that researchers must look for resources first within the silo of the type of research they wish to do (text mining) and only then based on the nature (subject, period, genre) of the content itself. Clearly representing the means of accessing data sets also proves challenging, as these are quite diverse, ranging from APIs to mediated vendor requests via librarians to even local library storage on hard drives. In an ideal environment, libraries would readily offer samples of the data set as well so that researchers can make sure that they have the capacity to deal with any particularities of its formatting. Lastly, the provenance and history of the data set (if even known by its owner) may be vital to a given researcher, especially as metadata practices may have changed during the course of its digital production, particularly for resources that were created or revised over a longer period of time. Believe it or not, these are only some of the aspects of a data set that may be crucial to a researcher in finding an appropriate corpus to mine.


Providing appropriate services in support of text mining activities is similarly challenging, and should be very context-driven, reflecting the user needs, mission, priorities, and capacity of the individual library. For high-end researchers, simple access and discovery support may be adequate, as they already have the tools, expertise, and support structures to conduct their research. Yet, the majority of our text mining users (and the fastest growing demographic) fall somewhere in the range between novice and knowledgeable non-expert. Scaling support services to this community on your campus requires knowing that community and recognizing that its needs may change rapidly.

Will your library support text mining tools? Many strong Open Source tools exist to which you may refer users; one of the most venerable sets of textual analysis tools is MALLET (MAchine Learning for LanguagE Toolkit), produced by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and freely available online at

Many more or less “out-of-the-box” applications satisfy the needs of novice or occasional textual analysts, and easy web searches reveal the most popular tools that other libraries recommend and promote to their users, obviating the need for your library to wholly reinvent this wheel. For more advanced text mining researchers and those who are willing to invest time in learning a more robust tool, the software RStudio, which offers an open source edition, is today’s most popular choice. At the very least, installing basic open source tools and RStudio software on library computers will be helpful to many of your users and begin to communicate at least some level of support for text mining activities.

Will your library provide training for text mining? Many research libraries are now finding that they cannot offer enough instruction sessions to meet the demand for RStudio training. Many routinely offer instruction in web scraping, visualization tools, and a host of other text mining related subjects to users hungry for this content. Of course, whether the library is the appropriate provider of this instruction depends on how your campus is structured, but as a large information need at present, librarians bear a responsibility to at least make sure that it is well addressed at their institution. Perhaps it is best for your library to partner with other units in making sure these itches are scratched, or perhaps even a vended solution fits your institution best. There are a growing number of commercial options that provide on-demand training for users in text and data mining techniques, methods, and tools, and for many schools the cost of licensed training content may scale better than developing, hiring, and supporting staff with the necessary expertise.

At a minimum, consultative needs must be anticipated and addressed, as inevitably users on every campus will seek assistance for text mining activities. Planning ahead with regard to access, discovery, and support services for text mining will at least show that librarians have thought about their roles in providing information services within the realm of computationally assisted research, and these roles should be considered carefully not just within the silo of text mining or digital humanities, but holistically within the larger context of support for digital scholarship and data research of all kinds across the disciplines.

Darby Orcutt is Assistant Head, Collections & Research Strategy, NC State University Libraries, Faculty, University Honors Program, Affiliated Faculty, Center for Innovative Management Studies, Affiliated Faculty, Genetic Engineering & Society Center, and Affiliated Faculty, Leadership in Public Science Cluster, as well as recently served as the Associate Chair of the Faculty of NC State. A national leader in developing models for access to proprietary and use-limited data for content mining and computational research, his current work revolves primarily around research support and engagement for interdisciplinary teams.

Accessible Archives Responds to Our Customers’ Needs!

Michigan & Pennsylvania County Histories Now Available
Accessible Archives announces the completion of Pennsylvania & Michigan in our landmark American County Histories Series. Accessible Archives is the only publisher that has collected and digitized all of the county histories of the U.S. – all 50 states and the District of Columbia in one database! We offer free MARC records, images and full text of all the books – over a million pages of content!

Carolina Consortium
Accessible Archives is pleased to join the participating academic and public libraries in the Carolina Consortium! We recently attended the Carolina Consortium Conference and Iris Hanney conducted a successful Premier on Accessible Archives!

Expanded Direct Product Links
Accessible Archives has responded to requests from our customers for expanded direct browsing and search links for two of our most popular digital collections – African American Newspapers and American County Histories! Accessible Archives recognizes the value of these expanded links for use in a library’s research guides and libguides.

Achieving Higher Customer Satisfaction Is Our Goal at Accessible Archives

 Katherine Brown, Collections Analyst, Auraria Library —  Thank you so much for your help with figuring this out! I really appreciate your prompt responses and dedication to figuring out the problem.”

Elizabeth J. Cronin, Coordinator Information Services, Ocean County Library — “The Military Newspapers of the WWI archive has been great to promote since it includes the Camp Dix paper.  The picture of the Camp library is a treasure.”

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Angie Thompson, Cataloging Assistant, Liberty University — “I really appreciate your quick response and timely resolution. I deal with a lot of our electronic content vendors when problems arise, and your team’s support is head and shoulders above the rest!”

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Contact us for an appointment; we have lots to talk about!
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Woman in Japan OG

Woman In Japan – Godey’s Lady’s Book (1886)

This profile on the women of Japan appeared in the March 1886 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book.

By Helen H.S. Thompson

There are two distinct types of physiognomy strongly indicated among the Japanese women. The higher classes possess clearly cut features, on fine, long, oval faces, deep sunken eye sockets, oblique eyes, with long, drooping lids, and high arched eyebrows, lofty, narrow forehead, small red lips, pointed chin, and very small hands and feet.

Among the agricultural and laboring class, are seen the round flattened face, level eyes and expanded nose. The grotesque pictures of Japanese life familiar to all, are usually drawn from this class. The ladies of Japan are noticeable for taste in dress, and when occasion requires are attired in elegant and splendid costumes. The grace and richness of the attire worn by the women of rank and wealth is a frequent surprise to the traveler. In our travel through the empire we were not infrequently guests in an ex- damio’s home, and among the samarai class, where we beheld long, trailing robes of exquisitely embroidered silks, chiefly of white, crimson or ashen hues, open bodice crossed and filled in with soft, rich laces, that would delight a connoisseur; luxuriant hair flowing over the shoulders, or bound in one beautiful tress, or formed into an elegant and indescribable coiffure upon the head, each indicating age and condition, whether maiden, wife or widow, with picturesque fan, flowing, open sleeve, punctilious etiquette and charming manners.

Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.


To Arms

Men of Color, to Arms! (1863)

(Douglass’ Monthly – March, 1863) When first the rebel cannon shattered the walls of Sumter, and drove away its starving garrison, I predicted that the war, then and there inaugurated would not be fought but entirely by white men. Every month’s experience during these two dreary years, has confirmed that opinion. A war undertaken and brazenly carried on for the perpetual enslavement of colored men, calls logically and loudly upon colored men to help to suppress it. Only a moderate share of sagacity was needed to see that the arm of the slave was the best defence against the arm of the slaveholder. Hence with every reverse to the National arms, with every exulting shout of victory raised by the slaveholding rebels, I have implored the imperrilled nation to unchain against her foes her powerful black hand. Slowly and reluctantly that appeal is beginning to be heeded. Stop not now to complain that it was not heeded sooner. It may, or it may not have been best that it should not. This is not the time to discuss that question. Leave it to the future. When the war is over, the country is saved, peace is established, and the black man’s rights are secured, as they will be, history with an impartial hand, will dispose of that and sundry other questions. Action! action! not criticism, is the plain duty of this hour. Words are now useful only as they stimulate to blows. The office of speech now is only to point out when, here and how, to strike to the best advantage.

Who would be free themselves must strike the blow. Better even to die free, than to live slaves.

There is no time for delay. The tide is at its flood that leads on to fortune. From East to West, from North to South, the sky is written all over “NOW OR NEVER.” Liberty won by white men would lose half its lustre. Who would be free themselves must strike the blow. Better even to die free, than to live slaves. This is the sentiment of every brave colored man amongst us. There are weak and cowardly men in all nations. We have them amongst us. They tell you that this is the “white man’s war”;— that you will be no “better off after, than before the war”; that the getting of you into the army is to “sacrifice you on the first opportunity.” Believe them not—cowards themselves, they do not wish to have their cowardice shamed by your brave example. Leave them to their timidity, or to whatever motive may hold them back.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.


Notes from the Dress Reform Convention of 1856

Victorian dress reform was an objective of the Victorian dress reform movement (also known as the rational dress movement) of the middle and late Victorian era, comprising various reformers who proposed, designed, and wore clothing considered more practical and comfortable than the fashions of the time. Dress reformists were largely middle class women involved in the first wave of feminism in the United States and in Britain, from the 1850s through the 1890s.

Dress Reform Convention

(The Lily, May 1856)  Thursday and Friday, the 21st and 22d of February, were pleasant, happy days in Glen Haven. Pleasant days! Happy days! Not merely that winter had relaxed his suilen benumbing grasp, that the merry sunshine and genial warmth filled the air, that gentle zephys whispered of coming spring, but because the hearts and souls of many people were filled with noble aspiration, bounding hope and generous resolve. The great heart of Nature and the heart of man beat in union.

On those days there met together noble men and women, who with one accord lifted their voices in praise of God and his handiwork—man; thanking God for his blessings of life, health, happiness, and the promise of an eternal progression, and who, not content with depreciating the evils that “Mar the harmonies of life,” bound themselves in fraternal bond to work steadily, cordially, and unremittingly for their overthrow.

That on the pallid cheek of woman, the rose of health again may bloom; that the lifeless, hopeless glance of her eye may give way to the sparkling cheerfulness which betokens a poor soul in a sound body; that lassitude, languor, vacillation, and inefficiency shall no longer sit enthroned in the temple of the soul, but in their stead hope and power, vigor, and a wisely-tempered resolution; these are the ends to which their actions tend. Is there one who does not bid them God speed?

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Women’s Suffrage Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily (1849-1856), National Citizen and Ballot Box (1878-1881), The Revolution (1868-1872), The New Citizen (1909-1912), The Western Woman Voter (1911-1913), and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).


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