Assignment 2: Exploring the Archives
“There will come a time when
our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle!”
—August Spies, before his execution
Today we’ll dedicate our time to exploring the Haymarket Affair archives
at the Library of Congress American Memory Collection and the Chicago Historical
1) Briefly read through the Chicago Historical Society’s explanation regarding
historical evidence and the project of the digital archives: The Nature of Historical
Evidence, The Haymarket Affair
Evidence, and What is the Digital
2) Then spend some time familiarizing yourself with the American Memory
Anarchists on Trial: Evidence from the Haymarket Affair, 1886-1887 and
the Chicago Historical Society’s Haymarket Affair Digital
At this stage, let intuition and curiosity guide you, but be certain to
check out an assortment of artifacts (trial transcripts, newspaper depictions,
engraved images, etc.) found on each site.
(For now you should disregard
the Dramas of Haymarket site, sponsored by Northwestern University
and affiliated with the Chicago Historical Society. We’ll visit that
site for Assignment 3.)
You’ll find digital
transcripts for many items in each collection, but be certain to take advantage
of the images of the material artifacts themselves. For instance,
the images of the Spies and Parsons autobiographies are as close as we can
get—without traveling to Chicago—to holding the historical objects in our
hands. And the appearance of a historical artifact can often tell
us just as much as the text of what it says. For instance, what might
Spies’ handwriting suggest about him?
Be certain to give yourself a sense of coverage from diverse types of
artifacts: trial proceedings and witness testimony, material evidence from
the trial (the unexploded bomb, etc), the Spies and Parsons autobiographies,
broadsides and Socialist newspapers, popular engravings and prints, etc.
3) Now, get serious about testing claims:
- Start looking for material
relevant to the claims you selected.
- But, also, return to
yesterday's discussion board forum, and refresh yourself on the claims that
others in your group specified. That might give you a list of 10-12
claims to work with.
- You will not have time
to research each claim, of course; the list simply insures that you have
a large pool to select from in case your choices turn out to be dead-ends.
- And the list encourages
you to alert group members to artifacts relevant to their choices that you
find (post that information to them on yesterday's board or send email,
4) Now, get concrete about
putting an historian on trial:
- As you search, also be
alert for sides or aspects to the Affair that the historians leave out.
- From your research in
the digital archives, select three artifacts relevant to one claim to report
back on under the Discussion Board entry, “Exploring the Archives: Artifact
- Try to find artifacts
of a different nature (one witness’ testimony, one popular engraving, and
one Socialist broadside, for example), but focus on ones that intrigue you
and which speak to your historian’s claim about the Haymarket Affair.
- Please identify the specific
locations of the selected items by collection and description or by direct
URL link so that others may easily view them.
- For your three artifacts,
consider answering some of the possible following questions but do
answer the last::
- What is your artifact?
What text or images did you find?
- Where was your artifact
- Who authored or created
the artifact? For what purpose was it created?
- What does your artifact
indicate about the defendants? German immigrants? The police?
The government? The labor movement? Socialism?
5) Read other artifact reports
as time permits, but reply thoughtfully to the report of at least one other
person (if at all possible, reply to a person you haven't replied to before
and who hasn't received a reply). And consider an addendum to your
artifact report as a result of reading others.
- Most importantly,
does your cluster of artifacts reinforce, refute, complicate, or modify
the claim of your historian? On the basis of your research,
how does your historian do on the "test"?
"The firing upon Fort Sumter was a terrible thing
to our country, but it was open warfare.
I think it was nothing compared with this insidious, infamous plot to ruin
our laws and
our country secretly and in this cowardly way."
-------Prosecutor Julius S. Grinnell