The Metropolitan Chapter of the Victorian Society in America

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Back Number Budd – In Person Talk

May 9, 2022 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

An African American Innovator in the Old Newspaper Business

About this event

Victorian New Yorkers and their institutions did not consider old newspapers valuable and did not reliably save them. Researchers and others who needed outdated newspapers and magazines had little chance of finding what they wanted unless they happened to learn of Robert M. Budd, better known as Back Number Budd. This African American dealer stockpiled millions of old newspapers, operating from the 1880s into the early 1930s, in Manhattan’s Tenderloin and in Ravenswood, Queens. Ellen Gruber Garvey’s talk will explore Budd’s pioneering work, his novel methods of obtaining materials from hotels, from clubs and libraries, and through trades and bets. Racism constrained his business and customers’ understanding of it.

Anyone who has been blocked from access to research materials during COVID lockdown and restrictions has become sensitized to questions of access. This talk will examine people’s difficulties finding and gaining access to information sources in the 19th century.

Ellen Gruber Garvey is the author of two prize-winning books, Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance, and The Adman in the Parlor: Magazines and the Gendering of Consumer Culture, 1880s-1910s (both from Oxford University Press). She writes and speaks on historical scrapbooks, on how our ancestors managed the floods of information they were drowning in at the end of the 19th century, how abolitionists mined the press as a database, the scandal of women’s bicycling in the 19th century, and much else. She has written for CNN, The Washington Post, New York Times Disunion blog, The Forward, and The Root. She is Professor Emerita at New Jersey City University, and lives on the Lower East Side.

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May 9, 2022
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm