This digital collection showcases archival material relating to the economic and epistemological uses of gossip in US American literature and culture in the nineteenth century. It is part of the DFG-funded project "Economy and Epistemology of Gossip in 19th- and early 20th-century Literature and Culture." The collection displays selected objects of study as well as research-related output.

Actress Charlotte Cushman quickly emerged as the perfect case study for thinking through women’s participation in the public sphere and the role of gossip (as both source of information and object of study in its own right). In our constantly evolving database, we trace the role and relevance of gossip – both private and mediated – to her reputation and legacy. Charlotte Cushman (1816-1876) was the first renowned US American actress to be successful on both sides of the Atlantic. Born in the US, she advanced her carreer by moving to England. In the 1850s and 1860s, she lived in Rome for an extensive period of time. She was thus introduced to and formed social circles both in the United States as well as in Europe. Her same-sex relationships as well as her gender-bending performances and attitude in daily life required Cushman to manage her reputation carefully. The selected corpus of archival documents comprises both publicly circulated texts as well as private life writing.

The archival material collected from various archives in the US consists of a range of different types of documents: letters, diary entries, articles (both from the archives or online databases), cartoons, digitized photographs and paintings, transcripts from former Cushman researchers, auto/biographies, etc. Users can access these documents on so-called item pages that display (often standardized) metadata, descriptions about content and contexts, tags (linking items according to content-related or time-specific categories), (semantic) relationships to other documents/people/events/etc., maps, timelines, and transcriptions of handwritten archival documents. Based on our research questions, we assigned the items to different exhibits such as press coverage or Cushman's networks. For more information about annotations, plugins, and metadata, please visit our user and annotation guidelines.

The Cushman collection is a work in progress, the central database for our research data, and a key visualization tool to make sense of temporary, spatial, and personal networks and developments. As this collection continues to grow, we hope to add collections relating to foreign gossip correspondents for US American magazines like Anne Hampton Brewster and Grace Greenwood. We also plan to provide insight into some particularly insightful examples for the ways gossip travels through archives.

For updates on the larger research project, see our blog (WordPress). For a full list of secondary sources, a selection of primary texts, and an overview of archives (with abbreviations), please see our sources page.


Recently Added Items

Letter from Grace Greenwood to James Fields, 1849

Huntington, JTFP, Box 40, FI 1733, SJL to JF, 1849.pdf

Greenwood informs Fields that she will not sell her copyrights. She also asks him to forward the enclosed note to Mr. Sargent and to tell Mr. Whipple that Greenwood regrets not seeing him and Mrs. Edwin. Credit Huntington Library, James Thomas Fields Papers and Addenda

"Letter from Rome," Boston Daily Advertiser, March 2, 1870

Brewster, Anne_Letter From Rome. Boston Daily Advertiser, March 2 1870.pdf

Brewster attends to social gatherings and a funeral in Rome. She characterizes the well-known Louis Veuillot as a "violent writer" whose articles often disclose secrets. Brewster repeatedly uses the term gossip in this article. Credit 19th Century U.S. Newspapers

"Cromwell at the Coffin of Charles I.," Graham's Magazine, 1843

1843. Graham s Magazine. Cromwell at the coffin.pdf

Poem by Charlotte Cushman Credit Hathi Trust