Best Historical Materials 2020

Global Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) History. Edited by Howard Chiang. Farmington Hills, Mich: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2019. 3 volumes. 1500 pages. $727; (ISBN: 9780684325552).

The three-volume Global Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) History expands on the Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) History first published in 2004 by ensuring proper representation for non-Western perspectives and locations. There are already a handful of encyclopedias detailing LGBTQ+ culture, but this particular work provides a unique global perspective in their definitions. The editors strived to cover the wide range of genders, races, and classes found in the LGBTQ+ community and made a conscious effort to view LGBTQ+ history from a wider lens than previous works while honoring the reality of the winding path progress often takes through history. The definitions acknowledge influential concepts previous encyclopedias have shied away from such as imperialism, patriarchal society, and racism and how those concepts influence modern definitions in the LGBTQ+ community. Authors and editors were selected from a variety of cultures with diverse views and backgrounds to ensure a well-rounded global encyclopedia. Entries are arranged alphabetically and cover both specific topics such as people and places, and broad overarching themes found in the LGBTQ+ community around the world. Each volume contains a full table of contents that covers all three volumes for an easy overview of what’s available. This work is especially suitable for academic libraries, but it would also be a valuable resource for public and school libraries where questioning people of all ages could have access to accurate information about the LGBTQ+ community.

Amanda Wahlmeier, Johnson County Library, Overland Park, KS.

Martin R. Delany's Civil War and Reconstruction: A Primary Source Reader. Edited by Tunde Adeleke. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2020. 262 pp. $99 hardcover (ISBN: 9781496826633). E-book also available (ISBN: 9781496826688). Martin R. Delany is one of most important 19th century Black leaders in the United States, yet he is understudied and often poorly understood. Delany has been most frequently described as a radical and Black nationalist. But he was also a Union army officer, labored for the Freedmen’s Bureau, and often espoused moderate, pragmatic political views. Tunde Adeleke has sought to enable scholars to develop a more nuanced understanding of Delany’s complicated and often contradictory ideas. Adeleke has painstakingly collected documents written by and about Delany during his career in South Carolina in the Civil War and Reconstruction period from a range of archives and other sources. This allows readers to grapple with Delany’s ideas via his own unedited words. Many of the over 90 documents Adeleke has compiled are published here for the first time.

The introduction begins with an analysis of the historiography of Delany and its shortcomings, followed by a detailed biography. The primary sources are organized chronologically but are also contextualized thematically with detailed introductions to each chapter, which carefully connect the documents to historical events. This work offers not just insight into the life and character of Delany himself, but the challenges of African American leadership generally during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Highly recommended for academic libraries.

Rebecca Lloyd, Temple University

The Atlas of Boston History. Edited by Nancy S. Seasholes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019. 224 pp. 57 color plates. $40 paper (ISBN: 9780226631158). $40 e-book (ISBN: 9780226631295).

This remarkable atlas offers a visual representation of Boston’s physical, economic, political, social, and cultural history from the last ice age to the present. The atlas is edited by Nancy Seasholes, who gathered a group of historians and cartographers to contribute to the project. It includes new and historical maps, charts, and photographs. The maps are colorful and well-designed, and the historical maps have color codes and other details added to enhance their usability. There are detailed sources for each of the maps and accompanying text at the end of the work. The book is organized chronologically, and each section contains a useful introductory essay, giving the atlas a truly narrative feel.

Some of the many interesting topics covered in this volume are the Revolutionary War, landscaped cemeteries, the abolition movement, Irish immigration, water and sewerage systems, public transportation, public housing, and higher education. The atlas would be a valuable resource for the study of any historical trends in Boston. The book even works reasonably well in electronically format, which is somewhat rare for such a visually rich text. Recommended for public, school, and academic libraries.

Rebecca Lloyd, Temple University

Southern Women in the Progressive Era: A Reader. Edited by Roberts Giselle and Walker Melissa. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 2019. $61.99 Hardcover Edition (ISBN: 978-1-61117-925-5). $61.99 E-book Edition (ISBN: 978-1-61117-926-2).

Progressive Era women were activists in many areas, including public health, labor, and racial justice. Women’s’ stories are often overlooked in history, Southern Women in the Progressive Era, an anthology in the Women’s Diaries and Letters of the South series, brings women’s’ voices to the forefront. It features the writings of nine women from the period of 1890 to the end of World War One. The women featured include preachers, educators, suffragists, and more. They represent the range of social backgrounds of the Progressive Era South including Sophonisba Preston Breckinridge, the daughter of a Congressman, and Mary McCleod Bethune whose parents were formerly enslaved. If this volume has one shortcoming it is that the majority of the women included are white.

The book is divided into three thematic sections, “Activists in the making,” “A New Southern Workforce,” and “Regional Commentators.” Each chapter begins with a biographical entry on the featured writer. The original text of the documents, including errors, is preserved, with explanatory notes where needed.

This volume will be well suited to undergraduates who have begun to incorporate primary sources into their projects. Recommended for university libraries and for public libraries whose patrons have an interest in historical documents.

Sarah Meisch-Lacombe, The University of Texas at Tyler

Sodomites, Pederasts, and Tribades in Eighteenth-Century France: A Documentary History. Edited by Jeffrey Merrick. Penn State University Press, 2019. $89.95 Hardcover (ISBN: 9780271083353). $34.95 Paperback (ISBN: 978-0-271-08336-0).

In heteronormative societies, the very real history of the spectrum of human sexuality is often erased. This volume uses the documentary evidence available to show the wide experience of human sexuality and desire in eighteenth-century France. It includes new translations of documents that will be accessible to the modern reader. It is not meant to be exhaustive but to show the range of extant source material. Some of the instances described in the documents would be considered legal and moral by twenty-first-century standards, while others would not. The editor is careful not to apply twenty-first-century motivations and identities to the individuals in the documents.

Each section begins with an explanation of where the archival documents are found and who created them, as well as a summary of what the documents show. The first part of the volume features records of different law enforcement groups on the surveillance and detention of men who engaged in and solicited sex in public places. The second part of the volume includes excerpts from news sources, literature, and other texts to explore how eighteenth-century French citizens viewed same-sex desire.

This volume will be of interest to many scholars, including those interested in the history of gender and sexuality, police power, the Enlightenment Era, and archival research. Recommended for University Libraries.

Sarah Meisch-Lacombe, The University of Texas at Tyler

Na, Man’gap. The Diary of 1636: The Second Manchu Invasion of Korea. Translated by George L. Kallander. New York: Columbia University Press, 2020. $120 hardcover (ISBN: 9780231197564). $30 paperback (ISBN: 9780231197571). $29.99 e-book (ISBN: 9780231552233).

The diary of Na Man’gap (1592-1642) documents not only the events surrounding the second Manchu (Qing) invasion of the Korean peninsula, but also the social and political dynamics of the Chosŏn dynasty (1392-1897) at a key moment of transformation. Translator George L. Kallander contextualizes the work with a lengthy introduction that covers Na, the diary, and Chosŏn history. He convincingly argues for the centrality of the invasion in shifting Chosŏn to focus more inwardly and less on China. This, in turn, produced long-term economic, political, and cultural changes. The diary and Kallander’s commentary sheds light on the origins of that transformation.

Na’s diary consists of eight sections, the longest of which was written as a contemporaneous day-to-day account of the invasion. Na was serving in the government when the Manchu invaded and he sheltered in Namhan Mountain Fortress with King Injo when the Chosŏn court fled Hanyang (Seoul) to escape the quickly advancing Manchu army. He remained there until the Manchu surrounded the fortress and forced Injo and his son to agree to humiliating terms of surrender. Following the invasion, Na was demoted and lived in exile while completing and editing his diary.

Kallander provides many tools to help readers follow Na’s narrative, including a dramatis personae section; a glossary of names, terms, and places; and thirty pages of endnotes. The bibliography lists related English and Korean primary and secondary sources and the twenty-page index includes names, places, and topics. The translated diary will undoubtedly be most useful for instructors of Asian history at English-language colleges and universities, but anyone interested in East Asian history will find the translation and commentary enjoyable and easy to follow.

Scott Libson, Indiana University Bloomington

Medieval Disability Sourcebook: Western Europe. Edited by Cameron Hunt McNabb. Brooklyn, NY: Punctum Books, 2020. 501pp. Open Access: (ISBN: 9781950192748)

Medieval Disability Sourcebook: Western Europe examines medieval documents relating to impairments and disabilities. The book is the brainchild of The Society for the Study of Disability in the Middle Ages and was produced with the intention of the book being used in undergraduate and graduate classes. With over 40 contributors from various disciplines, the book emphasizes its interdisciplinary nature through the topics and types of documents highlighted.

The book is divided by format – historical and medical documents, religious texts, poetry, prose, and images. Each entry includes an introduction to the document with an emphasis on the representation of the disabilities and the significance of religious, legal, and medical perceptions of the impairments. For further reading, a bibliography is provided. All documents are presented in modern English, often with the original text alongside the translation. A thematic table of content is available which provides a list of the primary sources arranged by disability or impairment including blindness, mental illness, leprosy, and (in)fertility and reproduction.

The editor and others involved in the production of the book are dedicated to accessibility. In their minds, it was essential that the book was published with an open-source, academic press to allow for the greatest audience. This resource is recommended for academic libraries and professors teaching disability studies.

Jennifer Brannock, The University of Southern Mississippi

Stalin’s Master Narrative: A Critical Edition of the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), Short Course. Edited by David Brandenberger and Mikhail Zelenov. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019. 780 p. $65 Hardcover (ISBN: 9780300155365).

The History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks): Short Course served as a central publication to the development of party ideology since the beginning of its circulation in 1938. This publication was crafted first by Ye. M. Yaroslavsky, V.G. Knorin, and N.N. Popov before it was edited by Stalin and because of the edits that he made, presents his narrative on party and state history. This narrative stats with the creation of the Social-Democratic Labour Party in 1883 and going through to 1937 and the introduction of the new constitution. This publication was not only central to the Soviet Union but also would become a basis for which other socialist societies developed around the world.

Brandenberger and Zelenov have created a critical edition to this ideology centerpiece that looks at the original version of the Short Course and shows how Stalin revised the document. The critical edition of the Short Course is based on the 1939 English translation but also includes translations from the original work and three different versions of edits that were made by Stalin. Because of the work that Brandenberger and Zelenov have done with the publication of this critical edition it allows for Cold War, Modern Russian, and other scholars to see how much of Soviet ideology was created and influenced by the actions of Stalin’s edits to the Short Course.

This book is recommended for academic libraries and those pursuing academic research relating to Soviet ideology.

Kathryn New, Mississippi State University