Outsiders in 19th-Century Press History: Multicultural Perspectives

Article excerpt

Outsiders in l9th-Century Press History: Multicultural Perspectives. Frankie Hutton and Barbara Straus Reed, eds. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1995. $35.00 cloth, $19.95 paper.

As editors, Frankie Hutton and Barbara Straus Reed write in their introduction to Outsiders in 19thCentury Press History: Multicultural Perspectives, American outsider groups were frequently ignored and misrepresented in the mainstream press. Examining the publications of various marginalized groups provides modern readers with a more complicated sense of the outsider experience in nineteenthcentury America by allowing long silenced groups to speak for themselves.

Positing that the press is "and always has been an essential window through which to view various aspects of American history," the editors have worked to create a collection that hopes to be "part of a longoverdue continuum on multicultural aspects of American press history" (1). Chapters in this volume offer examinations of Black presses, Jewish journalism, Spanish language newspapers in California, Chinese American newspapers, Native American publications, Woman's Rights presses, Mormons and the Press and Peace Advocacy presses. This collection is a significant step toward reclaiming marginalized voices and giving outsider presses and newspapers the attention they deserve.

Recurrent in this book are examinations of how various outsider groups negotiated the chasms between the ideals and realities of American life. William E. Huntzicker quotes a rare published firstperson account of Chung Sun, a nineteenth-century Chinese man in the United States. Hoping America would be a land of justice for all, Chung Sun apologizes for "expressing a painful disappointment" and describes the United States as "a jumble of confusion and a labyrinth of contradictions" (72). In examining the chasms and contradictions within American culture, outsider presses were negotiating the margins and, ultimately, their place in American society. …