Best Historical Materials: 2019

Anne Frank: The Collected Works. Edited by Anne Frank Fonds. London: Bloomsbury Continuum, 2019. 733pp. $70 hardcover (ISBN: 9781472964918).

The writings of Anne Frank have become required readings to help understand tragedies of World War II and the life and hope seen in the diary of a 15-year old Jewish girl in hiding. Anne Frank: The Collected Works includes all known texts written by Frank, and this volume is the first time all this material has been compiled into one source. The book includes Frank’s diary, “personal reminiscences, daydreams and essays,” letters, verses in friendship books, and notes made in her “Favourite Quotes Notebook.” Before each section, there is a brief summary of the significance of the writings. Accompanying the writings are photographs of Frank and her family, as well as an extensive biography of Frank, the Frank family, the historical context of the time, and an overview of the publication history of the diary. The appendix includes two versions of Frank’s diary – Diary Version A is the original diary with Diary Version B including her additions and comments added at a later date. The book is appropriate for high school, undergraduate, and graduate readers. Recommended for school, college, and public libraries.

Jennifer Brannock, The University of Southern Mississippi

Documents of the Chicano Movement. Edited by Roger Bruns. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2018. $94 hardcover (ISBN: 9781440854491). $69.09 e-book (ISBN: 9781440854507).

This primary source reader collects materials related to Latinx, particularly Mexican American, political activism. The volume is divided into nine topical chapters, defined primarily by the different individuals, groups, or interests within the diverse Chicano Movement. Topics covered include the United Farm Workers, the Land-Grant Movement, the Crusade for Justice, and La Raza Unida. Except for an initial chapter entitled “prelude to protest,” nearly all the documents date from or reflect upon the 1960s and 1970s. Speeches, interviews, pamphlets, reports, and declarations are among the thirty-eight primary source documents.

Bruns has contextualized the documents in the book on numerous levels. Each chapter includes its own topical introduction and each document its own specific introduction. A historical overview preceding the documents brings all this context into a single narrative. For readers wishing for more information, each chapter concludes with related sources for further reading. Most are recent secondary sources, both trade and scholarly publications.

The volume will be best suited for instruction and reference at the undergraduate or advanced high school level. General readers interested in Latinx history may also benefit from the volume. More advanced researchers are unlikely to find much new material or information. Undergraduates, however, will greatly appreciate the nesting introductions, as well as the six-page index. The “further readings” sections that conclude each chapter will provide a basis for undergraduate research papers. Like other volumes in the Eyewitness to History series, the book also contains a chapter on reading and analyzing primary sources and a timeline, both highly useful for high school and undergraduate students.

Scott Libson, Indiana University Bloomington

Gender Roles in American Life: A Documentary History of Political, Social, and Economic Changes. Edited by Constance L. Shehan. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2018. 2 vols. $198 hardcover (ISBN: 9781440859582).

History is often told from the perspective of men with women serving as supporting characters. Gender Roles in American Life: A Documentary History of Political, Social, and Economic Changes looks at primary sources that define the ways in which women were spoken and written about in American from 1775 to the present. The two-volume resource is divided into eight chapters and includes writings ranging from Thomas Paine’s “Occasional Letter on the Female Sex” (1775) to A Woman Journalist Describes Sexism and Misogyny in American Sports Media (2016). In between, you’ll find writings from Alexis de Tocqueville, Susan B. Anthony, “a female textile worker,” Phyllis Schlafly, and The National Organization for Women. Many of the readings are expected like readings by Gloria Steinem or Eleanor Roosevelt, but there are also unique sources from the Girl Scouts (“The Girl Scouts Urge Young Girls to Pursue Lives of Adventure” – 1920) and Jerry Falwell (“Moral Majority Leader Jerry Falwell Laments ‘Assault’ on the Traditional Family” – 1980). Prior to each chapter, there is an introduction that provides the context to the years covered in that section. In addition, each chapter has a list of references and sources for further reading. This resource is appropriate for high school, undergraduate, and graduate readers. Recommended for school, college, and public libraries.

Jennifer Brannock, The University of Southern Mississippi

Documents of Native American Political Development: 1933 to Present. Edited by David E. Wilkins. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. 520 p. $99 hardcover (ISBN: 9780190212070). $97.99 e-book (ISBN: 9780190212087).

With this volume, Wilkins follows up a similarly titled book that documented Native American political and legal innovations in the context of European colonialism from the 1500s to 1933. The new book takes that history to the present, examining political developments following the Indian Reorganization Act, the “Indian New Deal,” which promoted self-rule by, in part, recognizing Native governments, constitutions, and corporations. The introduction outlines the growth and setbacks of self-rule since then. Among the 108 primary sources in the book are a wide variety of legal documents that Native nations have enacted or produced, including constitutions, legal codes, treaties, and intergovernmental memoranda. The book also includes court cases and federal and state law that have had profound impacts on Native self-government. Short introductions contextualize each document and a bibliographic essay will help readers pursue their own research on the topic. The ten-page index is comprehensive and the volume references over 150 Native peoples.

A highlight of the book is a series of constitutions, proposed constitutions, or amended constitutions, dating from 1935 to 1993. The constitutions provide rich documentation, not only about the individual nations that adopted them, but also about the development of Native constitutions during the twentieth century.

The two volumes fill a void within the field of political science, which has largely overlooked Native political institutions, but researchers and students from many fields will find the book highly edifying and interesting. It brings together documents that would otherwise be difficult or time-consuming to locate. Researchers of 20th or 21st-century Native history will undoubtedly want to look through the volume and educators will find sections to assign to students, whether in high school, college, or graduate school. The book will also be of interest to more general readers, since it covers aspects of Native history often overlooked in other works.

Scott Libson, Indiana University Bloomington

The Empires of the Near East and India: Source Studies of the Safavid, Ottoman, and Mughal Literate Communities. Edited by Hani Khafipour. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019. 672 p. $150 hardcover (ISBN: 9780231174367). $49.99 e-book (ISBN: 9780231547840)

Finding primary source texts from the early modern Near East empires can be a daunting task for students. This compilation offers an extensive and diverse collection of sources in English translation from the Safavid, Ottoman, and Mughal empires. This book encourages researchers to view the early modern Islamic empires as porous territories with connected histories rather than entirely distinct realms. Studying the empires through primary sources allows scholars to draw new conclusions from those found in monographic literature, which often perpetuate Eurocentric and nationalistic understandings of the early modern history of this region.

There are eleven chapters in the book, each containing a primary source from each of the three empires on a particular theme. There is a brief introduction to each chapter’s topic. Then each primary source has a more extensive introduction contextualizing the translated source material that follows. The source themes include religion, politics, philosophy, literature, and the visual arts. The book includes an index and an extensive bibliography. Recommended for academic libraries.

Rebecca Lloyd, Temple University

The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela. Liveright Publishing Corporation; 2018; 620 pp; ed. by Sahm Venter; ISBN 978-1-63149-117-7: $35.00.

“The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela” includes letters written by Mandela from 1962 – 1990, many of which are previously unpublished. Though many letters were written in English, the letters originally written in Afrikaans and isiXhosa have been translated into English for this volume. The original images of these letters are then printed on the opposite page from the transcript. The letters are arranged in chronological order and grouped by prison sentence, with two sections being dedicated to the Robben Island Maximum Security Prison. Appendices at the end of the volume provide a glossary, timeline, and a map of South Africa from about 1996. A ten-page index at the back of the book provides quick reference for places, names, and ideas referenced in Mandela’s letters. Each letter includes a brief introduction to aid the reader in viewing each letter as a standalone document to utilize the text without reading the book straight through.

The volume gives relevant background text to each letter’s contemporary history, both in Mandela’s family life and in South African. The forward, written by Mandela’s granddaughter Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela, and the introduction, written by the editor Sahm Venter, both give details for the reader to better understand the organization and context of the letters.

Overall, this volume will help researchers or readers interested in Nelson Mandela, but also those interested in South African history, apartheid, race relations, and world affairs.

Amanda Wahlmeier, Johnson County Library, Shawnee Mission, Kansas

The Yale Law School Guide to Research in American Legal History. Written by John B. Nann and Morris L. Cohen. New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2018. 368pp. $35 paper. (ISBN:9780300118537).

Legal history is an area of research that is not always easy to navigate, even for an experienced researcher. This addition to the Yale Law Library Series in Legal History and Reference aims to demystify the process of researching American legal history. The book’s chapters are organized into six different time periods ranging from the 1500s to the 2010s. Each chapter describes recommended print and online resources for researchers to consult. In addition, each chapter ends with a case study to show how the resources could be used. The book’s other chapters cover general bibliographic resources, legal language and biographies, international and civil law, nonlegal resources, and archival materials. This book presents its material in a way that is both comprehensive and easy to follow. Given the topic, this is no easy feat. Recommended for law libraries, academic libraries, and other libraries with collections containing historical legal resources.

Mackenzie Ryan, Minnesota Historical Society

Women in Colonial Latin America, 1526 to 1806: Texts and Contexts. Edited by Nora E. Jaffary and Jane E. Mangan. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2018. 328 p. $66 hardcover (ISBN: 9781624667510). $66 e-book (ISBN: 9781624667527).

Primary sources from Latin America are, naturally, typically in Spanish or Portuguese. This excellent collection of translated sources allows students and researchers who read English to engage with the history of women in the region during the colonial period. This collection offers insights into the lives of women of European, indigenous, African, and mixed-race descent from a range of socio-economic backgrounds. The sources are mainly drawn from archival legal documents, and most of them have been published for the first time. The sources are organized chronologically but have also been curated around thematic connections, such as family, law, sexuality and gender, etc. Each chapter includes useful background and contextual information, questions to consider when reading the primary sources, and suggested further readings. An index and a glossary are included. Recommended for academic libraries.

Rebecca Lloyd, Temple University