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Products for grant RQ-249881-16

RQ-249881-16
Correspondence of James K. Polk
Ernest Freeberg, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=RQ-249881-16

Absent Authors and Missing Manuscripts: Editing the Letters of James K. Polk (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Absent Authors and Missing Manuscripts: Editing the Letters of James K. Polk
Author: Michael David Cohen
Abstract: This paper outlined the process of creating a scholarly edition of historical documents and highlighted several of the associated challenges related to manuscripts. An anonymous letter, signed "The Devil," led the editor of the Correspondence of James K. Polk on an investigation to learn the author's identity. The copy press, an eighteenth- and nineteenth-century precursor of the photocopier, enabled President Polk to retain copies of his outgoing letters but left his editor with often-difficult-to-decipher documents. Finally, the inside an envelope retained a faint, backwards copy of the missing letter it once had contained; digital manipulation allowed the editor to read this lost document.
Date: 10/29/2016
Primary URL: http://earlychina.org/manuscript-cultures-minicon.html
Primary URL Description: Conference program
Conference Name: Manuscript Cultures Minicon, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The James K. Polk Project: A President’s Letters in Print and Online (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: The James K. Polk Project: A President’s Letters in Print and Online
Author: Michael David Cohen
Abstract: This poster presented the work of the James K. Polk Project, a major undertaking in documentary editing. The project produces a selected and annotated edition of letters by and to Polk (1795–1849), who served from 1845 to 1849 as the eleventh president of the United States. The letterpress and digital volumes for the first time make important documents—many held by the Library of Congress but others scattered among numerous archives and private collections—easily accessible to scholars, students, and others interested in U.S. history. The letters cover political and diplomatic topics ranging from Andrew Jackson’s war on the Bank of the United States to the Mexican-American War and from the growing debate over slavery to relations with the Kingdom of Hawaii. The letters also illuminate the culture, society, economy, and science of the first half of the nineteenth century. The poster taught American Historical Association members about both the work of the Polk Project and the historical field of documentary editing. Images of a manuscript letter highlighted the rich primary-source material the project makes accessible. Bullet points and quotations from letters introduced some of the diverse historical topics documented by the letters. A map showed the many repositories that house Polk letters. Transcriptions and annotations showed the work process of an editor. The presenter brought copies of a published volume and the forthcoming thirteenth volume, as well as a laptop to demonstrate the project’s online products. In conversations with the audience, the presenter explained not only the project’s work and accomplishments over the past six decades but also the ongoing work to prepare the fourteenth and final volume. The poster format thus best facilitated the presentation of a letterpress and digital project dedicated to making often-hidden nineteenth-century sources accessible and legible to a twenty-first-century audience.
Date: 01/07/2017
Primary URL: https://aha.confex.com/aha/2017/webprogram/Paper20326.html
Primary URL Description: Abstract on conference website
Conference Name: American Historical Association

Correspondence of James K. Polk: Volume XIII, August 1847–March 1848 (Book)
Title: Correspondence of James K. Polk: Volume XIII, August 1847–March 1848
Author: James K. Polk
Editor: Bradley J. Nichols, Editorial Assistant
Editor: Michael David Cohen, Editor
Abstract: Volume thirteen of the Correspondence of James K. Polk documents a critical juncture in the history of North America. The eleventh president’s letters from August 1847 to March 1848 reveal his and his correspondents’ official and personal concerns during the final months of the Mexican War. The U.S. capture of Mexico City and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo redrew the continental map. Mexican land stretching from Texas to California became part of the United States. Including the earlier settlement of the northwestern boundary with Canada, Polk’s policies had enlarged his country by one-third. Governing the new land proved a challenge. At odds over whether to allow slavery west of Texas, Congress could not unite on a bill to form territorial governments. Some began to fear that discord over slavery’s expansion would split the nation in two. Polk faced other crises and opportunities. Letters discuss treaty negotiations with the Kingdom of Hawaii, Mormons’ journey from Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley, and U.S. interest in annexing Cuba. Dakota leaders sought the president’s help in conflicts with other Indians and with U.S. officials. European revolutions prompted hopes in America, including by Polk, for the spread of republican government. 1848 was an election year. Though some urged Polk to reconsider his pledge not to seek reelection, he let others vie for the Democratic nomination. Ominously, a split within the party in New York over slavery threatened any Democrat’s chance of retaining the White House. The president wrote to friends and family and monitored his private business. Of particular interest to him were the work of the slaves on his Mississippi plantation and the construction of the Nashville home where he and his wife, Sarah, looked forward to retiring. These are but a sampling of the topics addressed in Polk’s letters. Presented here with full annotation, they illuminate American politics, diplomacy, economy, and culture.
Year: 2017
Primary URL: https://trace.tennessee.edu/utk_polk/14/
Primary URL Description: Open-access pdf, published May 2019
Secondary URL: http://utpress.org/title/correspondence-of-james-k-polk-vol-13/
Secondary URL Description: Print publisher's listing
Access Model: Book; open-access pdf
Publisher: Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press (print) and Newfound Press (online pdf)
Type: Scholarly Edition
ISBN: 9781621902751
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes

James K. Polk and His Time: A Conference Finale to the Polk Project (Conference/Institute/Seminar)
Title: James K. Polk and His Time: A Conference Finale to the Polk Project
Author: James K. Polk Project
Abstract: In 2019, after sixty-one years of work, the James K. Polk Project will complete the fourteenth and final volume of the “Correspondence of James K. Polk.” Transcribed and annotated letters from Polk’s entire life and presidency will be accessible to scholars, teachers, students, and all Americans. On April 12–13 we celebrated this accomplishment with “James K. Polk and His Time: A Conference Finale to the Polk Project.” The event was hosted by the University of Tennessee History Department and held at the East Tennessee Historical Society, in Knoxville. Over eighty academic scholars, public historians, and community members gathered to take stock of what we now know about Polk and to assess the project’s contributions to historical study. Sessions included a keynote address by Amy S. Greenberg, a roundtable on Polk’s impact, a screening of Brian Rose’s Polk documentary, and presentations about Polk house museums. C-SPAN 3 recorded several sessions for a later national broadcast and archiving online.
Date Range: April 12–13, 2019
Location: East Tennessee Historical Society, Knoxville, TN
Primary URL: https://polkproject.utk.edu/conference/
Primary URL Description: This section of the Polk Project's website includes the program and other information about the conference.
Secondary URL: https://www.c-span.org/
Secondary URL Description: This website includes video of three sessions of the conference. They can be found by searching the archive of videos for "Polk."

Correspondence of James K. Polk: Transcriptions, April 1848–June 1849 (Database/Archive/Digital Edition)
Title: Correspondence of James K. Polk: Transcriptions, April 1848–June 1849
Author: Michael David Cohen, Editor
Author: Bradley J. Nichols, Editorial Assistant
Abstract: Work continues on Volume 14 of the Correspondence of James K. Polk, which will complete the series. In the meantime, as we prepare that volume’s annotation and letter summaries, we see no reason not to share the transcriptions. Here you can read 104 letters that Polk wrote and 260 that he received between April 1, 1848, and his death on June 15, 1849. They contain few notes, chiefly describing the texts, identifying enclosures, and citing other Polk letters referenced. But they are accurate, carefully proofread reproductions of the primary documents. The letters on this site help to illuminate the aftermath of the Mexican War, including Polk’s unsuccessful effort to establish territorial governments for the lands acquired from Mexico; the election of Polk’s successor, in which Whig and Mexican War general Zachary Taylor defeated Democrat and Polk friend Lewis Cass; and renewed concern over Polk’s having misled senators in 1845 about his intentions regarding Texas annexation. They discuss the heated debate over slavery in the United States, the spreading revolutionary activity in Europe, and American interest in purchasing Cuba. Correspondents include California gold seekers, India’s poet laureate, and the wives of John Quincy Adams and Robert E. Lee. Polk exchanged personal letters with friends and relatives including three of his siblings; his nephew and ward; and his wife, Sarah Childress Polk. Letters from the last months of his presidency and from his brief retirement address the final illness and the anticipated legacy of one of the most consequential presidents in U.S. history.
Year: 2019
Primary URL: https://newfoundpress.utk.edu/correspondence-of-james-k-polk/
Primary URL Description: Publisher's gateway to edition
Secondary URL: https://polk.lib.utk.edu/exist/apps/polk-papers/polk.xml
Secondary URL Description: Direct access to edition
Access Model: open access

Concluding the James K. Polk Project (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Concluding the James K. Polk Project
Author: Michael David Cohen
Abstract: Part of the roundtable “In Light of the Evidence: End-of-Project Goals and Reflections,” this talk addressed tasks peculiar to ending in the twenty-first century a documentary editing project that began in the 1950s. Between its first and last volumes, the James K. Polk Project found lots of letters that belonged in earlier ones. What to do with them? Expectations of digital publication differ for volume 14, in 2019, from those for volume 11, in 2009—to say nothing of volume 1, in 1969. How to reconcile those? And how can editors incorporate a subject’s death into a series that has always focused on that subject’s life?
Date: 06/21/2019
Primary URL: https://www.documentaryediting.org/wordpress/?page_id=4785
Primary URL Description: This page features the conference program.
Conference Name: Association for Documentary Editing

James K. Polk and the Freedom of Religion (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: James K. Polk and the Freedom of Religion
Author: Michael David Cohen
Abstract: James K. Polk, the eleventh president (1845–49), exercised a principled commitment to religious freedom. Amid widespread animosity toward the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, he provided moral and financial support to Mormons journeying from Illinois to Iowa to the Salt Lake Valley. Wanting them to identify as Americans, he ordered the formation of a battalion of Mormons to help fight the Mexican-American War. He also appointed Jesuits to minister to U.S. soldiers and to assure Mexicans that the United States was not waging war on Catholicism. When a Presbyterian clergyman criticized him for those appointments, he labeled the man “a bigotted fanatic” and “told him that, thank God, under our constitution there was no connection between Church and State, and that in my action as President of the U.S. I recognized no distinction of creeds” (Polk, diary entry of October 14, 1846). An independent believer and a devotee of Thomas Jefferson, Polk retained in a prejudiced age the third president’s liberal political philosophy toward religion.
Date: 10/26/2019
Primary URL: https://theandreascenter.org/ppci/
Primary URL Description: This page features the conference program.
Conference Name: Presidential Politics Conference of Iowa


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