American book publishers, 1865 to 1920

Faculty Fellow Lucas Dietrich, a visiting lecturer of English, is creating a website using the web publishing platform Omeka that will provide information on American publishers from 1865 to 1920.

Dietrich said pages on the website will be dedicated to major publishers during that time period - some of which still exist today, including Houghton Mifflin and Lippincott.

The pages will provide an overview of the publisher along with resources that include secondary sources and archives, he said. He is also working to create a list of the publications each company completed during this time period. 

Dietrich said he wished he had access to a website like this when he was working on his book Writing Across the Color Line (2020), where he studied the relationship between multi-ethnic American authors and publishers of that time. 

He said a challenge to this project is the scope of publishers he could create pages for.

For his book, his research focused primarily on three publishers, but for the website he plans to include 10 or more of the major publishers of the era.

Dietrich said he intends to finish approximately half of those publishers by the end of the semester, adding he believes once he gets the first few done, he will have a strong foundation for creating the pages for more publishers.

 “These publishers are really significant, and they're in many ways responsible for circulating ideas, discussion, and communication throughout the country,” he said. 

“It seems very particular to be examining these publishers, but then you think about the fact that it was such a print culture and they're responsible for deciding what gets published and shared,” he added. 

Dietrich explained this aspect of publishing is one of the reasons he is interested in this project. He said he wants to explore more of how the decisions and management of these companies shaped American culture.

He said he hopes his project will contribute to promoting digital humanities. 

“There's something really new, fresh, and innovative about the digital humanities and I think it has a way to sort of revitalize the humanities,” Dietrich said. “They're all still applicable and valuable today.”