History professor publishes new book on the Civil War and Reconstruction

Reprinted from ISU News story

For many the Civil War conjures up images of generals and soldiers marching onto battlefields with poised muskets, the dull roar of cannons, and the smell of gunpowder. However, Richard Schneriov and John Jentz paint a different view of the impact the Civil War had on our country’s history against the canvas of Chicago during the mid-nineteenth century.

Bookjacket Image from Amazon.com
Bookjacket Image from Amazon.com

The book, “Chicago in the Age of Capital: Class ,Politics and Democracy during the Civil War and Reconstruction,” argues that civil war’s impact extended beyond that of military conquests in the South to social, political and democratic change in the North.

Following the Civil War capitalism began to emerge as a dominant mode of production within the United States, Schneriov and Jentz argue. Second, the north underwent a revolutionary upheaval comparable to that of the one in the South, as newly formed social movements began to find their footing within U.S. politics. These movements had a profound impact on the nation’s democratic process. Third, within the U.S. class awareness began to emerge among the capitalist and labor classes and reshape politics.

Schneriov said the book was written mainly for other academics and graduate students but some advanced undergraduates may be interested in the book. “People who know a lot about the Civil War era and are interested in the issues of that era may want to read it to broaden their understanding,” Schneriov said. “A lot of people are interested in the military aspects of the Civil War and Reconstruction. This [the book] talks about the social, political and economic aspects.”

Research on the book began in 1986, two years after Schneriov received his Ph.D. at the Northern Illinois University. Schneriov said the authors placed the book on hold before picking it up again in 2004. Jentz and Schneriov worked together closely at the The Newberry Research Library in Chicago. The authors used data from old newspapers, raw census data and other published manuscripts and works at the time to compile a coherent story in support of their arguments.

Schneirov has published three other books, edited three collections, and is a member of the editorial boards of three journals. In 1998, Schneriov’s book “Labor and Urban Politics: Class Conflict and the Origins of Modern Liberalism in Chicago, 1864-97” [AVAILABLE IN THE ISU LIBRARY AT F 548.42 .S35 1998] was awarded the Urban History Association’s prize for Best Book in North American Urban History. Schneirov has taught history at Indiana State University since 1989.

Writer: Ernest Rollins, Indiana State University, media relations assistant, at 812-237-3773



Open Access Research Movement at Princeton

Open Access to research, scholarly articles, etc. is an ongoing ‘hot’ topic. At ISU, Sycamore Scholars is playing a vital role in the process.

Here is a recent article about open access at Princeton:

The movement to make research freely available got a high-profile boost this week with the news that Princeton University’s faculty has unanimously adopted an open-access policy. “The principle of open access is consistent with the fundamental purposes of scholarship,” said the faculty advisory committee that proposed the resolution.

The decision puts the university in line with Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a growing number of other institutions with policies that encourage or require researchers to post open copies of their articles, usually in an institutional repository. Unpublished drafts, books, lecture notes, etc., are not included in the Princeton policy, which gives the university a “nonexclusive right” to make copies of its faculty’s scholarly journal articles publicly available.

“Both the library and members of the faculty, principally in the sciences, have been thinking for some time that we would like to take a concrete step toward making the publications of our extraordinary faculty freely available to a much larger audience and not restricted to those who can afford to pay journal subscription fees,” said Karin Trainer, Princeton’s university librarian. She said they had encountered “no resistance at all” to the idea among faculty members.

The new mandate permits professors to post copies of articles online in “not-for-a-fee venues,” including personal and university Web sites. The faculty advisory committee that recommended the policy said that it will keep faculty members “from giving away all their rights when they publish in a journal.”

Authors may request a waiver for particular articles. Addressing fears that the waiver proviso would render the policy “completely toothless in practice,” the committee said that other universities’ experiences showed that journal publishers will often adjust their contracts when an author’s university has an open-access policy. Ms. Trainer said that the policy does not suggest any penalties for authors who do not comply with it.

Career pressure on junior scholars as well as differences in publishing practices among disciplines”mean that some faculty are not in fact going to be in a position to comply with the new policy without asking for a waiver,” Ms. Trainer said. “And we know that.” She added that even faculty members likely to ask for waivers “understood that it was in the overall university’s best interests to have such a policy in place.”

Unlike Harvard, which has established a repository and an upload procedure for researchers to follow, Princeton does not yet have a system in place to help faculty members make their work available. The faculty committee that recommended the policy encouraged the university to establish an open-access repository. “An open-access policy without a ready means for faculty to post their scholarly articles and an equally ready means of retrieval would be of very limited value,” it said. But it also acknowledged that “there are many issues of implementation and resources to be considered.”

Princeton already has a public data-storage archive, DataSpace, but there’s not a lot of material in it yet. The faculty committee said it thought DSpace could be adapted to serve the open-access mandate. “We are still sorting out our options here,” Ms. Trainer said.

Open-access advocates welcomed Princeton’s decision. Lorraine Haricombe, the university librarian at the University of Kansas, said she was delighted by the news. She helped put together the Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions, or Coapi, to share experiences and open-access strategies. She said the group would invite Princeton to join its discussions. “This shows strong support for what universities do, and that is share their scholarship for the support of the cause and as a public good,” Ms. Haricombe said.

Reposted from Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus RSS feed (9/29/11)

Another Big Read/Fahrenheit 451 Program on April 12 with Jake Jakaitis

Join the last discussion of the Wabash Valley Big Read on Thursday, April 12, at 6pm in the Library Events Area. Jake Jakaitis, Director of Undergraduate Studies in English at ISU, will give a presentation: Adapting Fahrenheit 451. This will include Tim Hamilton’s authorized graphic novel and Francois Truffaut’s film (with film excerpts) adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s novel. Light refreshments.

Main home of the Wabash Valley Big Read 2012

Next year’s Big Read will be Tom Sawyer.

Authors & Artists Recognition Event – come one, come all!

Everyone is cordially invited to the 27thAuthors and Artists Reception on Wednesday, February 22, with reception at 3 p.m. and program starting at 3:30.; it will be held in the Library’s Events Area. The Authors and Artists, a longstanding event, pays tribute to faculty authors and artists as well as recognizing one graduate student and one undergraduate student for the Library’s Bakerman Research Awards. Come and learn how ISU faculty and students are making a difference with their writing and artistic efforts. This year’s keynote speaker is Dean Brad Balch, Bayh College of Education. President Dan Bradley and Provost Jack Maynard will bring greetings to the campus.

I hope you can attend to help celebrate the excellent work of our faculty and students.

Alberta Comer, Dean, Library Services

Library’s Eugene Debs Collection Acquires New Letters

January 25 2012 – article reprinted from ISU Today

Cinda May sat with the phone to her ear listening as the auctioneer in New York City said “Holding, holding.”

“I’m thinking, ‘yes, yes,’ then a third bidder came in,” May said.

May continued bidding and bought 20 letters that union organizer, presidential candidate and Terre Haute-native Eugene Debs wrote to his nephew, Robert Heinl, from 1893 to 1925.

“I felt very strongly that they really needed to be here,” said May, special collections chair at Indiana State University’s Cunningham Memorial Library.

In the handwritten and typed letters, which join about 6,000 other items in the library’s Debs Collection, Debs wrote personal and political news to his favorite nephew, as Heinl grew up to become a newspaper columnist and editor in New York and Washington.

In one of the more important letters dated Sept. 26, 1918, two weeks after Debs was found guilty of sedition, he tells his nephew that such a verdict was “inevitable.”

“If my position is right nothing else matters, and I am absolutely sure that it is, as sure as I am of my own soul. What the world in its present madness says or thinks or does is nothing to me,” Debs wrote in the letter. He also alluded to a difference of opinion between the uncle and nephew, “I know my position from your point of view is indefensible and it would be a sheer waste of time to argue about it…We may be very widely separated in our views but our hearts toward each other will remain unchanged.”

Such letters provide an important link to Debs during a 30-year period when he worked to organize unions, found the International Workers of the World, lead the Socialist Party and run for president five times, according to May. Debs made his last presidential run, in 1920, from prison and received 913,664 votes.

The collection also includes a letter to Heinl from his uncle, Theodore Debs, brother of Eugene Debs, who served as secretary to his brother. In the March 13, 1921, letter, Theodore wrote, “The Boss is still animated with the old spirit and you can gamble your last dollar that he will not allow these p—ants to humiliate him or put anything over without a vigorous come-back, even if he is in prison.”

President Warren Harding commuted Debs’ prison sentence to time served and he was released on Dec. 23, 1921.
“They do contain information about what is going on in his life. It shows his human side,” May said. “They provide a window into the family.”

Letters provide an important link to influential figures and allow historians to study a period and a person, according to May.

“It may be the only place to find certain kinds of information,” she said. “There’s a comfort zone that you’re in when you’re communicating with kin.”

In a letter in August 1914, Debs writes to his nephew about presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, “Strange how many people here seem to think of him almost as a god. In the final searching analysis of history he will almost if not entirely disappear from view.”

In another letter written in Cleveland in September 1914, Debs wrote about World War I, “These are stirring days and it sometimes seems as if the world were stark mad and our so-called civilization bent upon destroying itself from the face of the earth. The carnival of blood and iron in Europe is frightful and enough to fill me with pity and horror. But if it will finally make for the overthrow of such savages as William and Nicholas and the vampires they represent, it will at least make some atonement for its awful cost of humanity.”

The letters will be stored in ISU Special Collections and available for researchers to view. Special Collections is located on the third floor of the library and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m.

Cinda May shows a few of letters that Eugene Debs wrote to his nephew. ISU Photo/Tony Campbell


Letters from Eugene Debs to his nephew. ISU Photo/Tony Campbell

Contact: Cinda May, Indiana State University, Special Collections chair at 812-237-2534 or cinda.may@indstate.edu

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University, associate director of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or jennifer.sicking@indstate.edu