April 28, 2013 marked the 75th Anniversary of the Quabbin Reservoir and the flooding of the four town that now lay at its bottom: Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott. However, through the A New Nation Votes project, we have access to a piece of the history from these towns – their voting records from their founding through 1825. Here is a sampling of some of the major categories were votes from these town appear.
Lt. Governor Elections
For more information about the Quabbin, and about the Connecticut River and its Tributaries, check out the Pioneer Valley History Network’s special topic website.
The latest issue of the Journal of the Early Republic is composed of articles written using data found in the voting records which comprise the A New Nation Votes project. The opening article by Caroline F. Sloat provides a succinct introduction to the history of the project and to Phil Lampi, the gatherer of the data (and 2013 Tufts honorary degree recipient.) The Journal is full of articles by premier scholars who have long been associated with the project, including John L. Brooke, Donald Ratcliffe, Rosemarie Zagarri, and Andrew W. Robertson. Yet, to me, the most exciting article is by Lampi himself in which he discusses the resurgence of the Federalist Party between 1808-1816. My first job at Tufts was doing data entry for Virginia votes for this project. I had studied history during my undergraduate education (mostly European, admittedly), and was just returning to graduate school to get a masters degrees in library science and history. I was immediately taken by the number of Federalists who where running in – and winning – elections in Virginia well past the end of the War of 1812. All of the scholarship I had encountered previously told me that the Federalist party was long dead and buried by this point. But here was the data showing this conventional wisdom wasn’t supported by the numbers. This one encounter showed me the power this data holds, and I am very heartened whenever Phil gets to share what he’s found and whenever he gets the recognition he so truly deserves.
I would strongly encourage you to check out your local library to access this Journal. If they don’t carry the print copy, see if they subscribe to JSTOR or ProjectMUSE online resources.
The DCA staff was overjoyed to see the announcement that Philip Lampi and Lois Gibbs are among the 2013 recipients of honorary degrees. Both Phil and Lois are amazing people who are hugely deserving of this honor, and they are near and dear to all of us at DCA.
Researcher Philip J. Lampi and project director John B. Hench of the American Antiquarian Society
As the New Nation Votes elections portal states, Philip J. Lampi has been collecting election returns for the past 45 years. His dedication and expertise in the area of Early American Politics has aided many contemporary scholars in their research at the Society. In the past, this body of election data was thought to be impossible to collect because of the vast and unwieldy nature of the unindexed newspapers and poor record keeping in this early period. He has received several grants over the years to assist him in his collecting. Under the current NEH grant, project staff and consultants at the American Antiquarian Society, DCA, and elsewhere are working to digitize a good portion of the tens of thousands of typed and handwritten tabulations and raw source materials that Lampi has accumulated as part of his life’s work. The project website will be updated frequently to monitor progress. The available election returns are fully searchable by such key index points as year, geographical constituency, office, names of candidates, and party labels.
Lois Gibbs is an environmental activist who formed the Love Canal Homeowners Association after discovering that her entire neighborhood of Love Canal, Niagara Falls, New York, had been built on a toxic waste dump which also included dioxin. Against strong opposition by local, state and federal government agencies and Occidental Petroleum, the organization succeeded and President Carter issued an Emergency Declaration in October 1980 to get 833 families evacuated and Love Canal cleaned up. Lois Gibbs and the association were instrumental in the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or Superfund. Gibbs founded the Citizens’ Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste, eventually Center for Health, Environment and Justice in 1980 to support and assist community groups and is its executive director. She has published about Love Canal and their efforts to get it cleaned up and a TV movie was made in called ‘Lois Gibbs: the Love Canal Story.’ Lois’ papers, as well as those of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice are held by the DCA. A new finding aid for the collection will be released in the next few weeks.