American Thought

Students in two of Professor Robert Westbrook's courses in American intellectual history, "The American Mind, 1600-1865" (History 267) and "The American Mind, 1865-1990" (History 268), use manuscript materials as part of a research assignment. This assignment, called "Other People's Mail," requires that students transcribe a document and write an introduction to it, placing the document in its context and suggesting the ways in which it bears on significant themes in the course. Student essays along with transcriptions of the documents and images of the originals letters, have been digitized and are linked below. If one or the other of these courses are currently underway, links to the essays for that course are not available.

Please Note: All rights regarding the papers rest with the authors. The images of the manuscripts may not be reproduced without obtaining prior written permission from the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. 


The documents for History 267 include:

Introduction to Walt Whitman Letter to Nat Bloom, September 5, 1863
by Jennie Smithken-Lindsay 
by Jason Kalin
by Ian Harmand

Introduction to Charles Grandison Finney Letter, November 1, 1830
by Zach Harkenrider
by Katherine Chaison

Introduction to Lydia Maria Child's Letter to Harriet Jacobs, August 13, 1860
by Emily Hessney 

Introduction to Stephen S. Foster's Letter to Richard D. Webb, June 8, 1858
by Mariko Troyer

Introduction to William Henry Seward's letter to Abraham Lincoln, February 24th, 1861
by Michael Kelly


The documents for History 268 include: 

Introduction to Thomas E. Dewey's Speech
by Zach Harkenrider 

God Damn the Bicentennial: A Patriotic Essay by John Gardner 
by David Lu
by Caroline Skwiersky

Introduction to Charles Darwin's Letter to Lewis Henry Morgan
by Sue Prince

Introduction to Chester Himes' Letter to John A. Williams
by Mary E. Pagano