Moses Dawson Collection Fully Digitized and Searchable

April 28, 2011

Thanks to a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), awarded by the State Library of Ohio, Xavier University Library has released the Moses Dawson Papers, a digitized and transcribed collection of 19th century political letters from such figures as Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, and James Knox Polk, in addition to many more letters from other well-known national and Ohio political leaders. The collection includes more than 180 letters.

Moses Dawson (1768-1844) was an extremely influential Cincinnatian in the Jacksonian era, and owned the Cincinnati newspaper The Advertiser (one of the direct predecessors of today’s Cincinnati Enquirer) for more than twenty years. Dawson’s papers, spanning 1811-1845, contain letters of specific interest to Ohioans, as well as letters of vast national and international interest.

Complete transcriptions accompany full-color, high-resolution digital images of each letter, enabling easy reading and full keyword searching of the ornate handwritten script. Each digitized and transcribed letter has been uploaded to DigitalSpace@Xavier, Xavier’s platform for digital documents in OhioLINK’s Digital Resource Commons (DRC). The digital collection also includes biographical information about Dawson and selected correspondents, finding aids, a thesis written about Dawson by a Xavier University student in 1958, documents describing the time period, and newspaper announcements about the collection.

Dawson’s papers have been housed at Xavier for decades and until now had never been digitized or fully cataloged online, so not widely available to scholars. This digitized collection will serve Ohio students, teachers, and others studying and teaching nineteenth century U.S. history and particularly the Jacksonian era, and will be of value to U.S. presidential scholars around the world. This collection of newly digitized primary source materials will inspire new research and strengthen knowledge of these significant figures in U.S. history. The collection was gifted to Xavier University in 1934 by Joseph Debar, a prominent Xavier alumnus and descendant of Moses Dawson.

About Xavier University and the Xavier University Library:
Xavier University is a private university located in Cincinnati, Ohio, providing a liberal arts education in the Catholic, Jesuit tradition. Founded in 1831, it is the sixth-oldest Catholic university in the nation. U.S. News & World Report ranks it No. 3 among master’s-level universities in the Midwest, and The Princeton Review names it as one of the “Best 373 Colleges in America.” Xavier’s University Library includes more than 350,000 print volumes, 100,000 e-books, 85,000 journals, and over 300 research databases. Special Collections contains works from the 13th through the 20th centuries, some 7,000 volumes, manuscripts and letters, spanning a wide range of subject areas. It connects, physically and conceptually, with Xavier’s Conaton Learning Commons, which equips students with the latest academic and technological tools and resources.