American Periodicals: History on a Page

Written By: Tess Meagher (History Class of 2020)

Want to see original publications of American authors, not in books, but in periodicals? Interested in understanding the media culture of a time period? All of this and more is available at the new Watkinson Library exhibit. The Watkinson Library at Trinity College currently has Easy Vehicles and Knowledge for an Enlightened and Free People: American Periodicals in the Watkinson, 1750-1950 on exhibit. The exhibition will be in the Watkinson from now until June 15, 2018. The exhibit was curated by Leonard Banco, M.D., who, though a guest curator, is a trustee of the Watkinson. The exhibition features the hundreds of american periodicals the Watkinson has in its collection. Dr. Banco has divided these periodicals into the categories of general interest, music, women, religion, politics, and literature for easier research into the exhibit. At the exhibit are pamphlets containing summaries of the works featured that both students and faculty can take to further interests or research.

I found the exhibit especially compelling as a history student. Standing in the Watkinson and see many, clearly old, periodicals spread around and opened to carefully picked pages meant to pique your interest is curiosity candy. From seeing first editions of famous works, to learning about medical practices and theories of different time periods in America, to viewing election coverage from the nineteenth century, the exhibit offers a window into American history that is unique because it is all primary sources. History students should take advantage of this exhibit. Wandering around may just give you a new area of historical interest, or  at the very least feed an old one. Not only history students should visit, however. Because the exhibit is curated into subtopics, students from nearly all majors from English, to biology can find something interesting here.

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