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An African Man of Letters in 18th-century London

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Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho

Among the many new items recently added to LSU’s Rare Book Collection is a copy of Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, An African. Published in London in 1782, these letters were written by one of eighteenth-century England’s most well-known and admired men of African descent.

Ignatius Sancho was orphaned shortly after his birth in 1729 on a slave ship en route to the West Indies. At the age of two, he was sent to England and eventually became a butler in the service of the Duke of Montagu. The duke recongized the young man’s talent and saw to it that he received an education. There were few opportunities for educated Africans in England in those days, however. Sancho attempted a career on the stage, playing roles such as Othello, but he was unsuccessful. Thanks to an annuity from the late duke, he was finally able to set up shop as a grocer in London. By all accounts Sancho was an entertaining figure, hobnobbing with members of fashionable English society as well as the actor David Garrick and the novelist Laurence Sterne. In addition to being a “man of letters,” he also composed music and published a now-lost work on music theory.

Although slavery was outlawed in England in 1772, it continued to be permitted in the British colonies until the early 1800s. The abolition movement was on the rise, however, and men like Ignatius Sancho were held up as examples of Africans’ potential. The editor of his letters, a Miss Crewe, declared: “[My] motive for laying them before the public is the desire of showing that an untutored African may possess abilities equal to a European.” The book was popular, and Miss Crewe was pleased to find that the world was not “inattentive to the voice of obscure merit.”

Michael Taylor is Curator of Books, LSU Libraries’ Special Collections

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Events

Recent Faculty Publications

2019

Comeaux, Dave;  Emily Frank; and Mike Waugh. “Supporting Student Success: E-books as Course Materials,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 2 (Fall/Winter 2019).

O’Neill, Brittany; and  Allen LeBlanc. “Evaluating Trends in Instruction Scheduling Management: A Survey of Louisiana’s Academic Libraries,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 2 (Fall/Winter 2019).

Ziegler, Scott; and Cara Key. “More Than a Pretty Interface: The Louisiana Digital Library as a Data Hub,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 2 (Fall/Winter 2019).

2018

Hebert, Andrea. “Information Literacy Skills of First-Year Library and Information Science Graduate Students: An Exploratory Study,” Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Volume 13, Issue 3 (September 2018).

Miller, Marty. “Sacred vs. Profane in The Great War: A Neutral’s Indictment: Louis Raemaekers’s Use of Religious Imagery in Adoration of the Magi and Our Lady of Antwerp.” Catholic Library World, vol. 89, no. 1, Sept. 2018, pp. 20–32.

Wilder, Stanley. “Delayed Retirements and the Youth Movement among ARL Library Professionals,” Research Library Issues, no. 295 (2018).

Wilder, Stanley. “Hiring and Staffing Trends in ARL Libraries,” Research Library Issues, no. 295 (2018).

Wilder, Stanley. “Selected Demographic Trends in the ARL Professional Population,” Research Library Issues, no. 295 (2018).

Ziegler, Scott; and Richard Shrake. “PAL: Toward a Recommendation System for Manuscripts,” Information Technology and Libraries, Vol. 37, No. 3 (2018).

2017

Caminita, C.; Cook, M.; and Paster, A. (2017). Thirty years of preserving, discovering, and accessing U.S. agricultural information: Past progress and current challenges. Library Trends, 65(3), 293-315.

Dauterive, Sarah; John Bourgeois; and Sarah Simms. “How little is too little? An examination of information literacy instruction duration for freshmen.” Journal of Information Literacy, 11.1 (2017): 204-219.

Fontenot, Mitch; Emily Frank; and Andrea Hebert. “Going Where the Users Are: Three Variations on a Theme,” Louisiana Libraries, Fall 2017.

Hawk, Amanda K. “Highflying Crowdfunding: Creating a Successful Partnership with a Campus Donor,” Archival Outlook, July/August 2017: 12-13, 19. https://www.bluetoad.com/publication/?i=422988.

Hebert, Andrea; and Marty Miller. (2017). Using FSA-OWI photographs to teach information and visual literacy. Louisiana Libraries, 79(3), 19–25.

Johnson, Hayley. “#NoDAPL: Social Media, Empowerment, and Civic Participation at Standing Rock,” Library Trends, Fall 2017.

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