70 episodes

“Talking in the Library” is an audio platform for scholars to share the projects they’re pursuing using the rich collections at America’s oldest cultural institution, the Library Company of Philadelphia.

This podcast is hosted by Director of Research and Public Programs, Will Fenton, produced by Ann McShane, and recorded at Indy Hall in Philadelphia.

Logo design by Nicole Graham. Theme music by Krestovsky ("Terrible Art").

Talking in the Library The Library Company of Philadelphia

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 7 Ratings

“Talking in the Library” is an audio platform for scholars to share the projects they’re pursuing using the rich collections at America’s oldest cultural institution, the Library Company of Philadelphia.

This podcast is hosted by Director of Research and Public Programs, Will Fenton, produced by Ann McShane, and recorded at Indy Hall in Philadelphia.

Logo design by Nicole Graham. Theme music by Krestovsky ("Terrible Art").

    Fireside Chat: Liberty Displaying the Arts & Sciences (Emily Casey)

    Fireside Chat: Liberty Displaying the Arts & Sciences (Emily Casey)

    Liberty Displaying the Arts & Sciences: Abolition and Empire in the Post-Revolution Atlantic World

    Emily Casey, Art Historian and Educator

    • 59 min
    Fireside Chat: Biddle, Jackson, and a Nation in Turmoil (Cordelia Frances Biddle)

    Fireside Chat: Biddle, Jackson, and a Nation in Turmoil (Cordelia Frances Biddle)

    The first half of the 19th century was an era of upheaval. The United States nearly lost the War of 1812. Partisanship became endemic during violent clashes regarding States’ Rights and the abolition of slavery. The battle between Andrew Jackson and Nicholas Biddle over the Second Bank of the United States epitomized a nation in turmoil: Biddle, the erudite aristocrat versus Jackson, the plain-spoken warrior. The conflict altered America’s political arena.

    In 1832, President Andrew Jackson vowed to kill the Central Bank, setting in motion the infamous Bank War that almost bankrupted the nation. Under Biddle’s guidance, the Second Bank of the United States had become the most stable financial institution in the world. Biddle fought Jackson with tenacity and vigor; so did members of Congress not under the sway of “Old Hickory.” Jackson accused Biddle of treason; Biddle declared that the president promoted anarchy. The fight riveted the nation.

    The United States is experiencing a reappearance of deep schisms within our population. They hearken back to the earliest debates about the federal government’s role regarding fiduciary responsibility and social welfare. The ideological descendants of Nicholas Biddle and Andrew Jackson are as polarized today as they were during the nineteenth century.

    With this book, author Cordelia Frances Biddle documents the epic fight between Nicholas Biddle and Andrew Jackson over the fate of the Second Bank of the United States, shedding new light with previously undiscovered documents while bringing the story to life in a compelling biography of political intrigue.

    • 55 min
    Fireside Chat: Beyond the Boundaries of Childhood (Crystal Lynn Webster)

    Fireside Chat: Beyond the Boundaries of Childhood (Crystal Lynn Webster)

    For all that is known about the depth and breadth of African American history, we still understand surprisingly little about the lives of African American children, particularly those affected by northern emancipation. But hidden in institutional records, school primers and penmanship books, biographical sketches, and unpublished documents is a rich archive that reveals the social and affective worlds of northern Black children. Drawing evidence from the urban centers of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, Crystal Webster's innovative research yields a powerful new history of African American childhood before the Civil War. Webster argues that young African Americans were frequently left outside the nineteenth century's emerging constructions of both race and childhood. They were marginalized in the development of schooling, ignored in debates over child labor, and presumed to lack the inherent innocence ascribed to white children. But Webster shows that Black children nevertheless carved out physical and social space for play, for learning, and for their own aspirations.

    Reading her sources against the grain, Webster reveals a complex reality for antebellum Black children. Lacking societal status, they nevertheless found meaningful agency as historical actors, making the most of the limited freedoms and possibilities they enjoyed.

    • 52 min
    Fireside Chat: Merchants of Medicines (Zachary Dorner)

    Fireside Chat: Merchants of Medicines (Zachary Dorner)

    The period from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth century—the so-called long eighteenth century of English history—was a time of profound global change, marked by the expansion of intercontinental empires, long-distance trade, and human enslavement. It was also the moment when medicines, previously produced locally and in small batches, became global products. As greater numbers of British subjects struggled to survive overseas, more medicines than ever were manufactured and exported to help them. Most historical accounts, however, obscure the medicine trade’s dependence on slave labor, plantation agriculture, and colonial warfare.

    In Merchants of Medicines, Zachary Dorner follows the earliest industrial pharmaceuticals from their manufacture in the United Kingdom, across trade routes, and to the edges of empire, telling a story of what medicines were, what they did, and what they meant. He brings to life business, medical, and government records to evoke a vibrant early modern world of London laboratories, Caribbean estates, South Asian factories, New England timber camps, and ships at sea. In these settings, medicines were produced, distributed, and consumed in new ways to help confront challenges of distance, labor, and authority in colonial territories. Merchants of Medicines offers a new history of economic and medical development across early America, Britain, and South Asia, revealing the unsettlingly close ties among medicine, finance, warfare, and slavery that changed people’s expectations of their health and their bodies.

    • 1 hr
    Fireside Chat: Occupied America (Donald Johnson)

    Fireside Chat: Occupied America (Donald Johnson)

    In Occupied America, Donald F. Johnson chronicles the everyday experience of ordinary people living under military occupation during the American Revolution. Focusing on day-to-day life in port cities held by the British Army, Johnson recounts how men and women from a variety of backgrounds navigated harsh conditions, mitigated threats to their families and livelihoods, took advantage of new opportunities, and balanced precariously between revolutionary and royal attempts to secure their allegiance.

    Between 1775 and 1783, every large port city along the Eastern seaboard fell under British rule at one time or another. As centers of population and commerce, these cities—Boston, New York, Newport, Philadelphia, Savannah, Charleston—should have been bastions from which the empire could restore order and inspire loyalty. Military rule's exceptional social atmosphere initially did provide opportunities for many people—especially women and the enslaved, but also free men both rich and poor—to reinvent their lives, and while these opportunities came with risks, the hope of social betterment inspired thousands to embrace military rule. Nevertheless, as Johnson demonstrates, occupation failed to bring about a restoration of imperial authority, as harsh material circumstances forced even the most loyal subjects to turn to illicit means to feed and shelter themselves, while many maintained ties to rebel camps for the same reasons. As occupations dragged on, most residents no longer viewed restored royal rule as a viable option.

    Don Johnson is associate professor of early American history at North Dakota State University, where his research focuses on popular politics and everyday experience during the American Revolution. His first book, Occupied America: British Military Rule and the Experience of Revolution, was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2020, and other writings have appeared in the Journal of American History, The Journal of Commonwealth and Imperial History, and the William and Mary Quarterly, among other venues. Johnson earned his PhD in American History from Northwestern University and also holds an MA from the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Program in American Material Culture.

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Fireside Chat: Creative Confluence in a Peak Poetry World (Orchid Tierney, Jena Osman, Andrea Krupp)

    Fireside Chat: Creative Confluence in a Peak Poetry World (Orchid Tierney, Jena Osman, Andrea Krupp)

    A conversation with Orchid Tierney, author of A Year of Misreading the Wildcats; Jena Osman, author of Motion Studies; and Andrea Krupp, curator of Seeing Coal.

    • 57 min

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