Early US Literature

Home » Annotated Bibliography

Category Archives: Annotated Bibliography


Episodes of Witchcraft in the Salem Witch Trials

This brief list offers select primary works used to analyze the events that took place during the Salem Witch Trails in the 17th century. Some of the books were written during or shortly after the events; others were written decades later to analyze the events.

Boyer, Paul S.,Nissenbaum, Stephen. “Salem possessed the social origins of witchcraft.” 1974.Web.

This book was published as an effort in tapping into the Salem Witch Trials and documents. The writers believe that the wealth of information available since the trials has not been tapped into by recent historians. The book provides a chronology of events in Salem Village, beginning with the founding of the town in 1626 and up to 1752 when Salem became the independent town, Danvers. The book, mainly, focuses on the town and the families residing in Salem during the witch accusations. Additionally, the book includes maps of Salem, town and village, as well as land owners such as Putnam and Porters. In addition, the book contains charts regarding the size of Salem Village and land ownership, wealth, and other information relating to Salem and its citizens. The book offers an extensive amount of information on two families, Putnam and Porter; following their genealogy and history. It is a great addition for a research on the Salem Witch Trials as it provides a perspective on the people and the village during the outbreak of the witch accusations.

Boyer, Paul.,Nissenbaum, Stephen.,. Salem-Village Witchcraft: A Documentary Record of Local Conflict in Colonial New England. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 1972. Print.

A historical record of the Salem Witch trials, this book is intended for scholars and students in history. The records are presented in a provocative form to allow students to investigate the social conflicts of that era. The book contains transcripts of five witch accusations. The transcript records were derived from the surviving documents on the Salem-Village witchcraft that were arranged in 1938 the Works Progress Administration. The trials of witchcraft cases included in this book are for Sara Good, Rebecca Nurse, Bridget Bishop, John Willard, George Burroughs and other testimonials. The trials of Sara Good are particularly interesting, as the book states, information regarding her life was not as easy to track. The records available on Sara Good include an invoice from Benjamin Browne to Sara Good, and also records of her father, John Solart, a dispute over his estate. The book also includes comments by outside authorities such as, Cotton Mather to John Foster, Governor William Phips to the Earl Nottingham and so on.  The book also follows the accusers such as Samuel Parris, the Wilkins family, Putnam family and others.  Additionally, the book provides an extensive amount of information regarding the history of Salem Village. The book does not dwell on the theological aspects during the witchcraft accusations, and only includes three sermons on Salem-Village Witchcraft.  Additionally, the book does not cover the political aspects that caused the outbreak.

Mather, Cotton,, Mather, Increase,, Harry Houdini Collection (Library of Congress),. The Wonders of the Invisible World: Being an Account of the Tryals of several Witches Lately Executed in New-England. London: John Russell Smith, 1862. Print.

The book, composed by Cotton and Increase Mather, follow the events in Salem-Village. The witch trial accusations transcribed through the lens of the puritans at that time. The book is divided into 6 sections; the first section contains the author’s defense, letters and encounters. The second section follows the discourse on the supernatural world. The section includes trials and narratives and several curiosities. Curiosities, as sampled in the book, appear to be statements of witchcraft and curious behavior. The third section provides accounts of temptations from the “Devil”. When reading these accounts one must keep in mind that they were written in 1862 and devils and spirits were commonly discussed and feared by most puritans. The remainder of the book discusses different accounts and trials of witchcraft. The book is great as it provides a window to the world of the puritans to experience and understand their rational during the Salem Witch Trials. Using examples from scriptures, and different argumentative reasoning for the supernatural occurrences.

Mather, Cotton. Memorable Providences Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions. Printed at Boston in N. England: by R.P., 1689, sold by Joseph Brunning …, 1689. Print.

Cotton Mather, a key figure in the Salem Witch Trials, wrote this book on an account of an episode of witchcraft revolving around Goody Glover. The book was published in 1689 and is available on microfilm at Kent State University’s library. The year of publication and the copy available online makes it difficult to read, but it does provide an interesting insight to the 17th century ideology in America. Cotton Mather begins the book explaining that the episodes mentioned in the book are either witnessed by him, or observed by others and passed on to him. There are accounts of witchcraft reported to him by fathers’ of children and different members of the community. The episodes of witchcraft that Mather sights are narrated in an anecdote form. There are over 7 examples of witchcraft in the book. Additionally, he explains witchcraft and other forms of devil’s work. If conducting research on Salem-Village or the Salem Witch Trials, this book would be a good place to start. The book offers encounters and examples transcribed from the people who initiated or help initiate the trials.

Seabrook, William,,. Witchcraft, its Power in the World Today. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1940. Print.

The author of this book states that the book is factual and the people and places mentioned in the book are real. The book, the author states, is addressed to rational readers who do not believe in witchcraft and black magic. The author argues that the witchcraft and power that most see and believe is not supernatural, however, witchcraft relies on psychology to perform their craft. Part one in the book follows the witches and their dolls. The chapter follows the history of dolls and their role in witchcraft, and different uses for these dolls. The author discusses incidents and encounters with dolls and witchcraft. In part two, the book covers vampires and werewolves. The author identifies the differences between the factitious or supernatural image of a vampire and a werewolf and the reality. The author explains the behavior of such individuals in terms of psychology. This book might be interesting to read, however, this book does not provide information for a scholarly research. Aside from historical, geographical background on witchcraft the book’s information and argument seem very dated for the most part.


The Life of Frederick Douglass Digitized

On February 20, 1895, America bade farewell to Frederick Douglass, one of the most influential human rights activists in American history. Douglass spent almost his entire life opposing slavery and advocating issues on gender.  Douglas was very famous for his speaking career, which he started by narrating his experiences when he was a slave. To understand Fredrick Douglas, his life as a slave and his life as a freeman, I have looked at four digital databases that explore him: “Frederick Douglass Papers Edition”, “Frederick Douglass: National Historic Site”, “Frederick Douglass Comes to Life”, and “Digital History: Frederick Douglass’ Letter to Mary Todd Lincoln.”

The first digital database is “Frederick Douglass Papers Edition,” an excellent project that was integrated in 1973 at Yale University, as a result of consultations among the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The project aims at preserving the primary source materials that document Frederick Douglass. The database offers a biography of Douglass supplemented by a timeline of events associated with his life. Another excellent feature in this site is that it includes a general bibliography of Douglass, from his autobiographies to books about him to books directed especially for youth. Moreover, this project offers information about Douglass’s speeches, debates, interviews, and finally his correspondence under which it includes a list that indicates the date of the letters, the recipients, the place in which it was written, and the location of where the text was deemed. Overall, the website is a great attempt to supply a well-annotated scholarly publications of Douglass’s works.

In the second digital database, “Frederick Douglass: National Historic Site,” Douglass’ life is not comprehensively explored; yet beautifully presented. This database serves as an exhibit of Douglass’ life at Cedar Hill, Washington, D.C., where Douglass spent the last years of his life. Because this home was important in Douglass’ political life, this exhibit comes to shed light on one major part in his life. The features available in this site include a house tour, portraits of Douglass, and an image gallery. In these features, visitors can see a wide range of Douglass’ personal possessions, books, his home furnishings, and photographs of his family and friends. It is an ambitious project; however, the fact that it is designed specifically to tackle one part of Douglass’ life makes this site less useful when the exploration of his life is needed.

The “Frederick Douglass Comes to Life” website has a poor design, but contains a lot of information that is designed for classroom discussions and hands-on workshops. This website provides a brief biography of Douglass. Also, three of Douglass’ important speeches are included: “The Church and Prejudice”, “Fighting Rebels with Only One Hand,” and “What the Black Man Wants.” Another great feature in this website is the Douglass Scholars Program that aims at spreading Douglass’ message and gives information about Douglass’ life that would inspire young people in their lives. The program is intended for elementary through secondary schools. The idea behind this innovative program is great. The main goal is to teach Douglass’ principles. The principles are:

  • The Proper Use of Power Is To Promote the Common Good.
  • Give Up Something You Want In Order To Help Someone Else.
  • Overcome Doubt and Fear.
  • Understand Why and How To Control the Human Ego.
  • Do What Is Right and Proper Even If No One Is Looking.
  • Use Knowledge and Understanding Wisely.
  • Overcome Indecisiveness.
  •  Make Gratitude a Part of Every Thought And Action.
  • Practice the Skill of Listening Carefully Before Making Judgments.
  • Remain True To Your Word.
  • Hold a Vision For the Desired Future.
  • Recognize That Your Success Is As Much a Motivation To Others As To You.

The program is given in various forms: a three-day comprehensive program that invites students to grasp these principles, or one-day and two-day programs, that offer only introduction to the principles. Schedules for these programs are outlined in the website.

The last digital tool, “Digital History: Frederick Douglass’ Letter to Mary Todd Lincoln” examines only one particular aspect of Douglass’ life, which is his relationship with Abraham Lincoln. In order to do so, Douglass’ letter to Lincoln’s recently widowed Mary Todd is fully examined. In this letter, Douglass thanks Mary Todd for her gift of Lincoln’s walking cane. The site displays a manuscript of the letter and its transcript. It also provides a brief biography of his life and a section for additional web resources about Douglass.

In closing, the above-mentioned digital tools are probably the most visited ones. It is very evident that the life of Frederick Douglass has not been abundantly digitized. More work is needed to address one of the most influential heroes in American history.

Works Cited

“Frederick Douglass.” National Historic Site. Web. 26 July 2013.

“Frederick Douglass Comes to Life.” Frederick Douglass Speeches-Seminars on Race Relations and Gender Equity. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 July 2013.

“Frederick Douglass’ Letter to Mary Todd Lincoln.” Digital History. Web. 27 July 2013.

“The Frederick Douglass Papers.” The Frederick Douglass Papers Edition: Series Two. Institute for American Thought. Web. 26 July 2013.

Tools for Finding Scholarly Biographies Online

Scholarly databases are a useful tool for students or academics who are looking to access a wide array of information from the comfort of their home, office, or desk.  With the number of databases available, it can be confusing or even intimidating to figure out where to begin if a user has not utilized these tools before, either through a subscription service, public library, or college or university library.  In looking at three similar databases, it is easy to determine that, despite these databases being similar in nature, that these tools vary greatly.  To examine each database, I attempted to search for the biographies of three prominent Puritans: Anne Hutchinson, John Cotton, and John Winthrop.

Dictionary of Literary Biography

The main page of the Dictionary of Literary Biography looks harmless enough.  There are basic and advanced search options, as well as the option to browse the database by author or to browse volumes of smaller biographical information based on publication or ethnicity.  At first glance, Dictionary of Literary Biography covers a wide range of writers, ethnicities, and backgrounds.  Not all of these writers are strictly American or have published in exclusively one genre.  This database is well-suited for those who are looking for a broad range of writers over a span of time and geography.  James L. Harner, in the Literary Research Guide, writes, “Most volumes are organized around a genre, group, or type of writer within a historical period of a national literature; the majority of the 368 volumes published by October 2012 are devoted to literatures in English” (Harner).

When using the basic search for the three Puritan writers in question, the database did not return any results for Anne Hutchinson, John Cotton, or John Winthrop.  The advanced search displayed the same lack of results, and after browsing the catalogue by author, I discovered that none of these writers were listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography.  In taking random samples of the authors who are listed on the website, the Dictionary of Literary Biography may not be suited for those looking for biographies of early American writers, but instead may better serve those with a more contemporary focus.

American National Biography Online

When arriving at the main page of the American National Biography, the search function can be impressive to those who are familiar with scholarly databases, but very intimidating to those who may not be as experienced with digital scholarly tools.  The “basic” search gives users the option to search by name of their subject in either articles or bibliographies, and also allows options to narrow possible results by dates of birth and/or death, occupation, place of birth, or to include or exclude results with illustrations or additional online resources.

The first search I tried in the database was for Anne Hutchinson, leaving all of the search parameters at their default settings except for sex, which I chose as female.  American National Biography Online returned one result, a 1350-word biography written by Elaine C. Huber in Antinomian Leaders.  The biography itself is helpful because it not only talks about Hutchinson, but links to the biographies of her associates, including John Cotton and John Winthrop.  Both Cotton and Winthrop’s pages displayed extensive biographies as well as portraits of both figures.

Each entry also includes a brief bibliography of scholarly works about that individual.  The formatting of the bibliography is a little confusing because it is all squished into one paragraph, without breaks or traditional formatting, but it is not confusing enough that an average user cannot sort it out.  Overall, the American National Biography Online is an excellent database to use for those who are comfortable with using advanced search features.  For those who may be new to scholarly databases and having to set extensive parameters, this online tool may take some getting used to.  This database does receive praise from scholars, however, as Harner describes this resource as “the country’s standard national biography for the foreseeable future” (Harner).

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography has a very user-friendly homepage with the basic search readily available.  If a user were to scroll further down the page, he or she could find other various resources that the Dictionary has to offer, such as information on themes throughout history or about various historical documents, such as the Magna Carta.  In addition to the basic search, there are also tabs to bring up browsing functions such as searching the database, browsing the database, or searching the database by theme.

When attempting a search for Anne Hutchinson, the database returned one biographical result and one thematic result.  The biography, written by Michael P. Winship, is comparable to the biography found at the American National Biography Online, but also gives a brief paragraph about her famous children.  Oxford Dictionary of National Biography also returned one thematic result, titled Imperial Lives in the Oxford DNB.  This feature article discusses a number of British citizens who, for some reason, were considered dissidents in terms of political, religious, or social views.  The feature article is interesting because it not only describes the relationships among some of these historical figures, but also includes portraits of people discussed in the article.  Harner writes of this database, “Besides its superior search capabilities, the online ODNB offers other advantages over the print version: it is updated and corrected three times per year, hyperlinks allow for easy navigation between related articles (and within longer ones) and for connections to other electronic sources that provide additional information on the biography, and images are in color” (Harner).

Out of the three databases, I found the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography to be the most useful of the three.  Not only did the database return a moderately-detailed biography, but also provided search results that extended Hutchinson’s biography and made connections to other historical figures who may be useful when pursuing scholarly work.  For those who are familiar with databases, all three resources provide easy to use interfaces that allow users to search using a variety of parameters.  For those who may not be as familiar with online research resources, it may take a little bit of playing around in order to understand how these tools work, and to figure out how to get the results a user is looking for.

Works Cited

American National Biography.  The Oxford Index, April 2013.  Web.  29 July 2013.

Dictionary of Literary Biography Complete Online.  Gale Databases.  Web.  29 July 2013.

Harner, James L.  “American National Biography Online.”  Literary Research Guide.  5thEd.  E-book.  30 July 2013.

———-.  “Dictionary of Literary Biography.”  Literary Research Guide.  5th ed.  E-book. 30 July 2013.

———-.  “Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.”  Literary Research Guide.  5th ed. E-book.  30 July 2013.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  Oxford University Press, 2004-2013.  Web. 29 July 2013.

Annotated Bibliography for Literary Criticism and Theory Databases

This is an annotated bibliography for those interested in literary theory. The purpose of this project is to make it easier to find scholarly databases that contain fundamental criticism.

American National Biography Online, Oxford University Press, Web. 1st August 2013.

For any historicist, American National Bibliography online is well worth using. Almost all the Early American Authors are there. There is an extensive biography on William Bradford. It explains his early works as a historian; so, that can be crucial to a historic outlook on a text. It also contains a long biography on Lydia Maria Child, who is, honestly, just now being studied again. The iography goes into fairly good detail about her book Hobomok—which involved interracial love btween a woman and a Native American. It’s nearly impossibly not to find an author—even from Early American literature—on this database. For Historicists, this is a vital tool. Historicism puts works of literature into the context of what was/is happening at the time. Furthermore, historicism uses the author’s life as a backbone for textual analysis of prose, poetry, and drama. This database, as well, needs institutional access. It is lamentable that many high school students can’t use this resource. It’s very helpful in engaging in literary criticism—Stephen Greenblat would be of note—but it would be a comfort to know that developing minds could read it too. Most people have little or no patience at all for long biographies—unless they are used for historical context in higher education.

Gender Studies Databases, EBSCOhost, Web. 1st August 2013

This database, hosted through EBSCO, contains a great deal of content on  LGBT theory applied to many literary texts. However, the main reason this website is so enticing to a student in American literature, is that it applies these theories to pre-Civil War texts. For example, one only need to punch in Melville to retrieve a few solid academic entries ranging from homosexuality in “Billy Budd,” to “heterotopia.” So, although some of the resources come up with few results, they are peer reviewed, scholarly works. Interestingly enough, there are twenty-sic articles on Gender Studies about early American literature, alone.  However, there are considerably less results for other early writer; and, at other times, no entries at all. With that in mind, this is a good apparatus to use for LGBT or Gender Studies. It’s almost a springboard to delve into so much more. All the articles have extensive bibliographies. This helps any academic find many paths to this particular literary criticism. Also, this particular literature is not typically looked at through this critical lens. It provides a different view at the literature we have come to know.</p>

International Women’s Studies Database, EBSCOhost, Web. 1st August 2013

This is a fairly good starting point to find feminist criticism on many texts that pertain to Puritan literature. Even more so, there are quite a few academic journal articles dealing with a Women’s Study perspective on the Puritans alone. It certainly behooves a pupil to venture into it, because there seems to be more specific feminist criticism on this database than the others. The Women’s Studies criticism is, of course, in the forefront. This website, too, is published an EBSCO vehicle,; but, it sort everything one needs for these theories and criticisms into a neat package. Something that is rather interesting, is the fact that if one searches for “Walt Whitman,” there are a host of different articles about Women’s Studies and LGBT criticisms, but about ninety percent of them are written by men.  This, in some ways, makes the database more diverse. Therefore, the apparatus is useful in really engaging in arguments that are going on about Early American literature in these fields. The database is highly recommended for anyone who wants to delve into the nature of Women’s Studies—which has become more and more important in the last twenty years.

JSTOR, JSTOR.org, Web. 1st August 2013

JSTOR is a beast when it comes to finding theoretical criticisms on just about anything.  If one does a sear for Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, it is only necessary to fill in a blank. For example, there are countless Derridian interpretations, and Foucault viewpoints; everything ranging from post-structuralism to feminism. There is a plethora of knowledge in this database.  There are post-colonial arguments in articles concerned with the Puritans and its giants—William Bradford, John Winthrop, etc. There is a great deal of work done in the sociological field of  Cultural Studies that use Pierre Bordieu’s essay, “Distinction,” to show different class and socio-economic issues. Of course, Marxism from Barthes to Althusser is represented by this database. There are many articles of Marxist thought dealing with the ideologies of the Puritans, Melville, Dickinson, and Whitman. Marxism is one of theories favorite tools and it works incredibly well applied to early American literature. To use this database, you must either pay or have access from some institution.  For most scholars, this is not a problem due to access through a university.  It is a great database for literary criticism—possibly the best this author has access to.

20th-Century Literary Criticism Gale Learning. Web. 1st August 2013.

Literature Criticism Online is a database that deals with Twentieth Century literary criticism. Notwithstanding, these theories are applied to numerous texts that entered into the canon starting back to 1400. In fact there is a very long edited book that critiques everything from 1400 to 1800. The layout is nice and has pictures of the original text. As far as literary criticism is concerned, there is a vault of different theories and criticisms. The articles are peer reviewed, academic, trustworthy writings. There is a good amount on Melville and Hawthorne—which is not uncommon—including studies about Marxist readings of “Bartleby, the Scrivener : A Story of Wall Street.” There are articles that assiduously look at Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin in a diverse amount of microscopic views. These include, racial studies, Marxism, historicism, and cultural studies. Furthermore, one can find book length chapters on Charles Brockden Brown and Lydia Maria Child. Thus, the database is a wonderful tool for looking straight for criticism. It saves the student time and shortens the path to finding the articles he or she need. However, it is also only available through use at a university or other institution.

Resources for the High School English Teacher in Teaching Edgar Allen Poe

This bibliography is a collection of resources that can be used by high school English teachers to support their understanding, and the teaching of Edgar Allan Poe’s life and literature. Along with several sources specifically geared towards teachers with lesson plans and teaching resources, there are also teaching applications described with each source. I purposely chose five very different sources to provide an educator with a large scope of websites, literature, and biographies of Poe.

Hayes, Kevin J, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Print.

Suggested in the Bedford American Literature Instructor’s Guide as an important piece of work on Poe, this companion is a collection of fourteen scholarly essays that gives a sufficient introduction to Poe studies and to the life of Poe. As it was published in 2002, this is a newer collection of essays on Poe and offers some new research and perspective on his work and life. The collection begins by giving a detailed and factual timeline of important events in Poe’s life, something that can be used in the classroom. While each chapter/essay is aimed at giving new insight on the life and work of Poe, like his poetry and invention of science fiction, I found two to be particularly helpful in the high school English classroom: “Poe and the Gothic Tradition,” and “Poe and Popular Culture.” These two essays would be of some interest to the high school English teacher as they deal with issues commonly taught with Poe’s literature: gothic elements and Poe’s correlation with popular culture. At the end of the companion, there is a comprehensive list containing a bibliography and references that may be helpful to English teachers and curious students seeking more information on Poe.

Logan, Lisa. “Edgar Allan Poe.” Bedford American Literature Instructor’s Guide. Boston: Beford/St.Martins, 2008. 103-104. Web. 30 July 2013.

This guide was written largely to college professors in teaching the works of Edgar Allan Poe, but I would argue that it is just as helpful in aiding instruction at the high school level as well. This guide gives information on approaches to teach his literature, such as focusing on the craft and skill of Poe, and to make sure students don’t confuse Poe’s life with his work. While students do need to know biographical information, this guides states that the focus should be on his work and the impact of his work on genres like symbolic fantasy and the detective story. The classroom issues stated by Bedford explain that while Poe was an early American author, he didn’t write about the historical events of his time period; therefore, we read Poe recursively and this puts us in danger of overlooking his larger contributions. It states that one way to overcome this is to, “to consider the selections as fictional meditations on art, the imagination, or the subconscious” (104). Next is a selection of connections to other authors and other texts, such as Hawthorne and Emerson. This can be help teachers make the connections between early American texts clear.  Perhaps the most helpful section of this guide includes a section of discussion questions that can be used with any Poe text used in the high school setting. Lastly, there is a brief biography of this that educators can read to better understand the life and work of Poe.

“Teachers.” The Museum of Edgar Allan Poe. n.p., 2010. Web. 30 July 2013.

This page on The Museum of Edgar Allan Poe’s website is directed for the use of secondary teachers. It contains true information about Poe’s life, scholarly information on the literary impact Poe has made, and detailed information about the style of Poe’s writing in works like “The Cask of Amontillado.” The section that contains the selection of readings can be especially helpful to high school teachers and students interested in more detailed work on Poe’s life including important biographies, collection of works (essays, reviews, literature) and works of illustration. There is an opportunity for educators to send in their information to receive a free Poe activity packet with lesson plans and activities to supplement reading. The website also gives information on how a teacher or administrator could schedule an educational tour of the actual museum. For example, they can take the “Tell Tall Heart” Mock Trial which, “After a performance of ‘The Tell Tale Heart,’ students are given evidence in a ‘trial’ against the protagonist and are asked to determine if s/he is innocent by reason of insanity or guilty as charged.” For classroom applications, teachers can use this resource page to further their own reading and understanding of Poe and his work, or they may choose to use this page to suggest further reading for advanced students interested in knowing more about Poe. I find the interactive tours to be a good idea in sparking the interest of students and allowing them to further understand the impact of Poe’s work.

The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore. n.p., 23 May 2013. Web. 30 July 2013.

This digital database has a vast amount of resources for educators and they do not need to seek special permission for the use of these materials in the school setting. Under the “Writings of Edgar Allan Poe” heading there are three links to massive collections of work by Poe that can be used to supplement some of the more mainstream literature taught in the classroom.  Next, the largest section contained on this site includes information on the life of Poe, such as The Poe Log, and Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography, all of which are free e-texts and easily accessible to an educator for use in the classroom. Also included on the website is information about Poe in Baltimore and information regarding the publications from the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore. For the high school English teacher, this database was chosen because it has a large amount of information about Poe contained on one webpage. The information will help aid with classroom instruction, like the important biographies and collections of work, while all of the information is very easily accessed through this website. Also, this site explains that it takes time to make sure everything they publish and post is factual and error free, important in teaching Poe because there is a lot of information about his life and work that is indeed incorrect. This is a reliable place to get factual information.

Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. New York: D. Appleton-Century Company, 1941. Web. 30 July 2013.

This critical biography was suggested reading in the Bedford American Literature Instructor’s Guide and according to The Museum of Edgar Allan Poe, this biography is the least biased account of Poe’s life published to date. The author of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore website states that while it is now dated, it is an impressive articulation of what we know about Poe’s life today. As an e-text, this biography is free to the public and easily accessible to high school English teachers and students. It explains in the preface that Quinn tries to tell the story of Poe the American, not the exotic as others have painted him. The text is very similar to The Poe Log as it tells a narrative version of Poe’s life, along with primary source information like newspaper articles and letters to and from Poe to reveal the truth about his life, challenges, and achievements. At the end of the text there is an appendix that contains small essays on information discussed in the critical biography, like Poe’s birthplace location and his last journey before his death. Important to the educator is that Quinn strives to use primary sources as his evidence, not the subjective opinions of others. In the classroom, accounts of his life can be compared to Quinn’s work as students work through the subjective and objective information about Poe’s life.

Annotated Bibliography of Databases Relating to 18th and 19th Century African American History

Abstract: My recent research relating to the use of slavery-era spirituals led me to 19th century author, William Wells Brown’s early compilation of abolition songs. In attempting to draw distinctions between the music of slavery and abolition, I added Brown’s novel of mixed-race enslavement, Clotel, to the scope of my research, and ultimately utilized these databases to aid in my understanding of 18th and 19th century racial categorizations and their use in the fiction of the era.

African American Newspapers. Readex, Web. 27 July 2013.

        This database of 19th and 20th century African American newspapers allows the user to choose between searches of “Full Text,” “Headline,” “Standard Title,” and “Title as Published.” My research, however, was best completed using simple keyword searches. One of the database’s most useful features was the user’s ability to select a particular era of American History for browsing or narrowing search results. These historical eras were explained with headings such as “Jacksonian Era” or “Roaring Twenties,” and were followed up with basic keywords relating to major events in African American studies. In terms of the functionality of the database and ease of use, the zoom feature lacked subtlety in the levels of focus, but in light of the microfilmed source material, the inconsistency was not terribly problematic. The various tabs at the top of the page allowed for a number of distinctions in searches, with the “Article Types” tab, in particular, narrowing searches between the journalistic and social aspects of newspapers. Additional tabs at the top of the search, including one for language, allowed users to select English or French. Ultimately, this database was functional, not fancy. While the previously mentioned zoom feature was inconsistent, I did find that it worked better in Google Chrome than in Internet Explorer.

Annual Bibliography of English language and Literature.

         Modern Humanities Research Association. Web. 29 July 2013. ABELL is a subscription-based service only available to those with institutional access; however, this database seems like a must have for a legitimate research university. The search engine was through and allowed users to choose between the standard options of “Keyword,” “Subject,” and “Author,” while also providing options for searching ,materials using the ISBN number. In terms of my research, I was able to view scholarship on the origins of the spiritual as an art form and its study as an academic discipline. The database was, additionally, useful for determining recent areas of William Wells Brown scholarship, which has steadily increased since 2004. In providing a through listing of recent Brown scholarship, the ABELL database’s results allowed me to continue my research into the compilation of spirituals and abolition songs with confidence that the topic was not redundant and was still worthy of additional scholarly consideration.

Index to Black Periodicals Full Text. Chadwyck Healey. Web. 30 July 2013.

        This database was accessible through Kent State University’s Pan-African Studies Databases, and is available as an annual subscription. The search engine contained all of the expected keyword and subject modifiers, although the search by year was limited to 1900, which, initially, appeared to hinder some of my research into racial categorizations and their use in earlier American literature. After selecting the “Refine Search” option, I was returned to the main search page and provided the same search modifiers as before, which effectively meant there were no distinctions between a basic and refined search. The browse feature was an additional option for every basic search; however, the pull-down menu options were confusing and used terms, including unusual number combinations (not years), that were unfamiliar and unrelated to basic keyword searches. In the end, the Index to Black Periodicals was more useful for my research into the history and etymology of quadroons and octoroons than it was for researching spirituals and work songs. However, there were a number of clear limitations to the search engine, as the majority of articles relevant to my research were written after 1990. Perhaps this was the best I could hope for a periodical index concentrating on 20th century articles. Based on my use of this database, the Index to Black Periodicals seems most relevant to more recent African American scholarship.

Music Index Online. Ebsco Host. Web. 26 July 2013.

        The Music Index Online is accessible through EBSCO Host and provided a nice point of cross reference with the University of North Carolina’s Documenting the American South collection of spirituals. UNC’s webpage’s vast catalog of African American spirituals provided titles and lyrical variations I was able to paste into the Music Index Online in my efforts to locate scholarly resources. EBSCO host, however, with its obvious limitations, required a number of search term modifications for me to glean meaningful results. In terms of these searches, I was better served by using “negro” and “spirituals” rather than “slave” and “spirituals” to obtain better results. Additionally, the search engine only allows users to search back to 1914, a limitation that may benefit a contemporary understanding of spirituals and works songs, but ultimately hinders an examination of older collections and compilations of the music. One useful feature of the database was the search history, which was an especially useful tool for research performed over an extended time, through multiple sessions. This feature’s usefulness, however, was offset by the problematic “Add to Folder” option, which most EBSCO users know works only as long as the user stays logged in through the sponsoring institution’s page. These folders cannot always be accessed at a later date.

Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries. Smithsonian Folkways. Web 23 July 2013.

        The database describes itself as “a virtual encyclopedia of the world’s musical and aural traditions. The collection provides educators, students, and interested listeners with an unprecedented variety of online resources that support the creation, continuity, and preservation of diverse musical forms” (Web). An institutional subscription is not a requirement for access, and the page informs users that the database is accessible through the Music Online Interface. More importantly, the database is also available via a simple Google search. Ultimately, this database is more beneficial to educators or researchers seeking audio clips than for those doing traditional print research. The Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries database is a high quality teaching resource that provides lesson and teaching overviews for a variety of education levels. One unfortunate aspect of the database is the absence of a bibliography of print sources connected to the recorded works and sound clips; however, the vast collection of full songs based on Smithsonian Folkways collections allowed me to examine recordings of well-known, public domain spirituals without the obvious limitations of transcribed dialect.

Selections from Walt Whitman’s “Children of Adam” Poems

Walt Whitman is perhaps one of the most well-known American poets.  Throughout his life, Whitman worked in a variety of clerical and editorial positions that also caused him to produce a great body of work, much of which has been preserved and organized by The Walt Whitman Archive.  One of his groups of poems, known as the “Children of Adam” poems, is an interesting topic of study because of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s advice that Whitman do major revisions to the collection in order to remove “vulgar” material.  This bibliography looks at the first five poems in the “Children of Adam” collection, as Whitman begins to attempt to chronicle the rise and fall of man through his poetry.

Whitman, Walt.  “A Woman Waits for Me.”  1860.  MS.  The Walt Whitman Archive.  31 July 2013.

The tone of “A Woman Waits for Me” is different from poems preceding it in the “Children of Adam” series.  Previously, the tone of the first three poems was a tender, lovingly persuasive message that was meant to entice women softly and gently.  In “A Woman Waits for Me,” the speaker’s tone turns forceful to the point where the male character in the poem appears to be forcing himself on a woman in the name of perpetuating the human race.

The speaker’s attitudes toward sexual intercourse have also made a change in this poem.  Previously, Whitman’s speaker used more poetic language to describe the act of sex, portraying it as a beautiful part of nature.  In “A Woman Waits for Me,” the speaker gets as explicit as was probably socially acceptable for a poet in the mid-nineteenth century, describing in a forcefully poetic way just how the act of sexual intercourse between the speaker and this woman will aid in the continuation of mankind.  There is to be no shame in this act, however, because the speaker says that engaging in this act will not only produce children who will give birth to children, but also will create the individuals who will be responsible for contributing to the greatness of humanity.

———-.  “I Sing the Body Electric.”  1860.  MS.  The Walt Whitman Archive.  31 July 2013.

“I Sing the Body Electric” is the longest poem in the “Children of Adam” collection.  Divided into nine sections, this poem takes the reader from the speaker’s feelings after the sexual encounter between Adam and Eve through the slave era in the United States.  At the beginning of this poem, the speaker describes what anatomy and feelings make men men and women women, giving special attention to the slight movements, glances, and touches between men and women that may express or conjure desire.

In later sections of the poem, the speaker questions societal views on what makes a male or female a human being in the eyes of society.  The speaker describes helping at slave auctions, watching as men and women of various ages, sizes, shapes, and colors being auctioned off as if they were objects without feeling.  Whitman’s speaker draws on his previous descriptions of men and women and what he knows about those who are being auctioned as slaves – that they are mothers and fathers of sons and daughters – to question whether or not readers at that time should really consider slaves as property because they are different or to think of them as fellow humans because, in many ways, they are the same as the readers of the time.

———-.  “From Pent Up Aching Rivers.”  1860.  MS.  The Walt Whitman Archive.  31 July 2013.

After reading “From Pent Up Aching Rivers,” it is clear as to why Emerson urged Whitman to do large scale revisions to the “Children of Adam” poems before publication.  “From Pent Up Aching Rivers” is Whitman’s rendition of the fall of man and the lust that Adam felt for Eve in Eden.  A significant part of the poem is dedicated to the speaker describing his intense lust for another woman, presumably Adam speaking to Eve despite the lack of names for the man and woman in the poem.

The speaker also seems to take care that this not just a plea for interaction out of lust, but that the speaker truly does love the woman described in the poem.  The speaker talks about how he has waited for this woman, almost too long, and now that she is in sight his feelings for her have heightened.  Later in the poem, he goes on to describe that this is not just about the two of them, that these feelings will also lead to the conception of children and the furthering of the human race.  As cold and scientific as this proposal may sound to the modern reader, Whitman through his speaker makes this a tender moment, describing the aftermath as a moment when both of them have created a bond that neither of them want to break right away.

———-.  “Spontaneous Me.”  1860.  MS.  The Walt Whitman Archive.  31 July 2013.

Upon reading this poem, one of the motifs Whitman wove into this piece is that of frustration.  The speaker, presumably Adam, along with the woman (Eve) have become parents.  Adam appears to be having problems reconciling his physical feelings and need for intimacy with Eve with the responsibilities of parenthood, which he describes as a certain kind of chastity.  He can still remember the moments of intimacy shared between him and Eve, and those memories seem to be weighing on him as a man, which reads as though Adam is a man with unfulfilled needs.

Through Adam’s frustration, however, there is a sense of determination.  Towards the end of the poem, there is a section where Adam describes the natural scene around them as Eve and his daughter play nearby.  After Adam has described the natural part of this scene, he then speaks of his desire to father sons and the oath that he has taken to make sure that the human race is continued.  While Adam appreciates his daughters, there is a greed gnawing at him to produce sons, and this greed is compelling him to try to conceive a son to the point where he is careless in regards to the child’s conception.

———-.  “To the Garden the World.”  1860.  MS.  The Walt Whitman Archive.  31 July 2013.

This brief introduction to the “Children of Adam” collection reads like a call to the speaker’s audience to come and listen to the speaker’s story.  The speaker summons people of all stations in life – men, women, children, fertile and not, to come to an unnamed garden to witness a new beginning of some sort.  This beginning is described as being something excited, as the speaker describes shaking and rumbling, as well as feeling love and beauty as he or she awakes from his or her slumber.

“To the Garden the World” is an interesting introduction in that the poem tries to describe a beginning of civilization, one in which Eve is described as following the speaker, after the beginning of civilization has already taken place.  Through the imagery in this poem, it appears that Whitman wants to encourage some kind of rebirth of humanity, represented by the speaker feeling a new beginning formulating after awaking from sleeping.  The last three lines, however, take a turn away from biblical imagery by describing Eve possibly walking behind the speaker or walking at the speaker’s side.  Regardless of the spatial relationship between Eve and the speaker, the speaker seems content with however the arrangement works and appears willing to go on this journey with Eve.