"A Nation of Readers" Examines U.S. Cultural History

“A Nation of Readers,” an exhibition of books, pamphlets, manuscripts, newspapers and other materials from the Mandeville Special Collections Library, illustrates the significance of reading in American life from the colonial period to the present. The exhibit, which will be on view on the main floor of Geisel Library through June 30, 2013, examines four threads of American cultural history: the diversity of audiences within the American reading public; the variety of reading materials sought by and available to those audiences; the ways in which reading materials have been marketed to the American public; and the influence of certain American institutions that have promoted books and encouraged reading.

The exhibition includes Thomas Jefferson’s personal copy of a French history text (Volney’s Les Ruines, ou Meditations sur les revolutions des empires, 1791); the best-selling first edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852); lurid nineteenth-century dime novels such as Morgan, the Sea Outlaw (1875); guides to the California gold mines of 1849; manuscripts and first editions by beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss; books printed especially for troops serving during wartime; influential cookbooks such as The Joy of Cooking (1931); popular books that had a profound effect on the American public, such as Helen Hunt Jackson’s Ramona (1884) and Richard Wrights’s Native Son (1940); plus many more examples of what Americans have read since the nation’s founding.

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Media Contact

Dolores Davies
Director of Communications & Engagement