Press/Journalists
Press Release
May 20, 1998
Harriet Beecher Stowe and Amelia Earhart Documents Added to National Archives Web

College Park, MD. . . In May, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) added more than 3,000 historic documents and photographs to its web site as part of its ongoing Electronic Access Project. Among the recently digitized records are two multi-page documents from the United States Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, concerning Case #9 October Session 1852, "Stowe versus Thomas," and a 96-page "Report of the Search for Amelia Earhart, July 2-18, 1937."

Shortly after Harriet Beecher Stowe published "Uncle Tomís Cabin" or "Life Among the Lowly," F.W. Thomas, the editor of a German newspaper in Philadelphia, began translating the work into German and publishing it in installments - without paying the requisite royalties. Mrs. Stowe and her husband sued Mr. Thomas in the Federal court in Philadelphia.

Much to the surprise and disappointment of the Stowes, the court dismissed the case opining that Mrs. Stowe made Uncle Tom, Topsy, and other characters in the work public domain to be manipulated by other authors when she published her book. Furthermore, because the book was translated into a different language from the original, the Thomas publications were not considered to be a copy of the original, but new and independent creations. Although a remarkably interesting copyright interpretation, this case is most often used in studies of fugitive slaves.

The original case files are held by the National Archives and Records Administration, Mid Atlantic Region at 900 Market Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Also digitized and made available this month is the AReport of the Search for Amelia Earhart, July 2-18, 1937" compiled and submitted by the Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, on July 31, 1937 (serial 095). The assembled materials constitute the report of the search for Amelia Earhart Putnam and Fred J. Noonan by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard during the period of July 2 through 18, 1937, shortly after the aircraft disappeared over the Pacific Ocean during an around-the-world-flight. According to the report, the plane, which was never found, went down en route from Lae to Howland Island. Included in the report are track charts and search plans for the ships and aircraft that participated in the operation. Although this event happened in 1937, the report is filed among the World War II Action and Operational Reports of the Records of the Chief of Naval Operations, Record Group 38.

More than 344,000 descriptions and 52,000 digitized items are currently in NAIL (NARA ARCHIVAL INFORMATION LOCATOR). By mid-1999, approximately 120,000 items will be digitized and available electronically. The Electronic Access Project will enable anyone, anywhere, with a computer connected to the Internet to search descriptions of NARA's nationwide holdings and view digital copies of many important documents. The project is funded by the U.S. Congress with the support of Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska.

Other highlights of the recently added materials include:

  • 29 documents from the St. George and St. Paul Pribilof Island Logbooks, 1872-1961, that include a wealth of information about the islands and their inhabitants.
  • 105 Pribilof Islands photographs, ca. 1890-ca.1970.
  • 272 photographs from photographic negatives of archaeology of the southwestern United States and of Native American delegations, 1879-1907.
  • 1798 photographs of agricultural economics activities, 1911-1947, which document efficient farming and marketing techniques throughout the United States.
  • 3715 photographs that document the daily life and treatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
  • 8 documents from case file "Civil 4292, Mendez et. al. v. Westminster School District of Orange County et. al." 03/02/1945-07/18/1947. This early school desegregation case preceded Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, by many years.
  • Indian Scout Pension Application Statement of Don Juan, 1922.
  • 219 speeches of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-1945.

For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail.

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