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New Online Collections Illustrate Victorian Pop Culture, Immigrant Experiences, and Frontier Life

By BTL on April 11, 2017 10:40 AM | Permalink

UNLV University Libraries continues to seek out and purchase access to new collections containing primary sources for use by faculty and students. Primary sources are images, documents, and other artifacts that provide a firsthand account or direct evidence of historical topics. The University Libraries has added three new primary source collections on Victorian-era pop culture, life on the frontier in the 19th century, and emigrant experiences to the Americas and Australasia in the 19th century.

Victorian Popular Culture
If you are interested in the history of visual entertainment, a new online collection of primary sources, Victorian Popular Culture, offers up video demonstrations of devices developed before movies were invented, such as flickbooks, zoetropes, and mutoscopes. This collection takes a broad look at the kind of entertainment crowds would gather for in the 19th century. It contains reproductions of posters and playbills, as well as photos, books, and secondary sources discussing four genres of popular entertainment:  Spiritualism, Sensation, and Magic; Circuses, Sideshows, and Freaks; Music Hall, Theatre, and Popular Entertainment; and Moving Pictures, Optical Entertainments, and the Advent of Cinema. Theatre historians, film and music scholars, and readers of 19th century novels and poems will find much to wonder at in this peep into the minds of British and American entertainment seekers.

Frontier Life
Frontier Life: Borderlands, Settlement, and Colonial Encounters reproduces documents created when Europeans began to settle in North America, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. The collection contains descriptions of interactions between people of different cultural, economic, and political backgrounds within the colonizing group, as well as records of contacts with indigenous peoples. In addition to photos, pamphlets, letters, and diaries, stories can also be gleaned from government papers, business records, land transactions, and legal documents reproduced from a variety of museum and university collections. Using this collection, students in History 476, the Mexican Revolution, uncovered firsthand reports in handwritten letters, diaries, petitions, requests to purchase land, maps, and agricultural details about Mexico and Baja California that clarified the interests and perspectives of revolutionary forces and their opposition in the early 20th century.

Migration to New Worlds
Migration to New Worlds: The Century of Immigration is a manuscript collection that documents emigration experiences of settlers from Great Britain, Ireland, mainland Europe, and Asia to the New World and Australasia. Collections of letters and other personal accounts reveal the stories of individuals and families who left for reasons - poverty, persecution, work opportunities, family circumstances, land grants, political motivation, and religious freedom - and records from the British government also shed light on the movement of Indian and Chinese indentured laborers from plantations in the West Indies. Shipping papers, logbooks, and ship plans detail the the travel experience, including some grueling daily accounts of life aboard convict ships bound for Australia. The collection also contains copies of tickets, baggage tags, and pamphlets promoting various destinations to potential emigrants, illuminating the dreams and reality of immigration in the 19th century.

For more information on primary source databases available through UNLV University Libraries, visit this online guide. If you would like to request trial access for a primary source database that is currently unavailable through the UNLV University Libraries, contact your Liaison Librarian.