Dr. Laura Laffrado's recent essay about the role of digitized newspaper databases in literary recovery projects in the Readex Report.
Dr. Laura Laffrado, Director of the Ella Higginson Recovery Project, has been featured in the latest issue of the Readex Report. Readex is a publisher of primary sources and works to increase access to those sources through online databases. After using Readex's Early American Newspapers database, a digital archive featuring national and local newspapers, Dr. Laffrado found two poems by Ella Higginson that she had never heard of. The poems were written early in Higginson's career and were not widely circulated.
In the Readex Report, Dr. Laffrado explains her work with resources like the Early American Newspapers database in tracking down Higginson's writing. Dr. Laffrado has catalogued over 800 Higginson pieces from physical and digital archives. Laffrado writes, "This recent availability of digitized American newspapers with varying circulations and from all U.S. geographical regions has opened unique possibilities for discovering lost works and references."
The earlier published of the two new poems is "Just Once," which appears in the Daily Nebraska State Journal on October 21, 1888.
If we, who never met, should meet,
And, after meeting, come to know
That, if we had but sooner met,
We might have loved each other so;
If, after meeting many times,
The thought should swell into regret
That God had not ordained it so,
That we in freedom could have met;
If, looking in each other's eyes—
The while both knew the same sweet care,
And all but passion—conquered—we
Should read the same thought written there;
If, knowing, then, that we must walk
Henceforth in ways as far apart
As sea to sea, because we saw
What trembled in each other's heart;
Then, if but for one single time,
Well knowing, too, that it was wrong,
Our lips should meet in one last kiss,
Replete with passion, tender, long;
Would this, I say, be sin so black—
Let those all sinless cast the stone—
That a whole blameless after life
Could never for it quite atone?
The second poem is "O, Puget Sound" which appears in the Tacoma publication Every Sunday on September 13, 1890.
O, Puget sound that sparkles at my feet,
How soft thou art! How pure, and cool, and sweet!
One great, red poppy in the sunset's sheen,
The sky above, the golden haze between—
Sunbeams and moonbeams on they bosom meet.
Thou proudly bearest many a white-winged fleet
Upon thy channel's quiet, peaceful street,
And purple skies to kiss thee ever lean—
O, Puget sound!
Care that would rack my bosom canst cheat
Canst cool and quiet passion's restless heat:
And when I stoop to thy arms, soft and green,
I feel thy kisses thrill with rapture keen,
And my sad heart with thy heart, passionate beat
O, Puget sound!
To read about Dr. Laffrado fascinating work on the Ella Higginson Recovery Project in digital newspaper archives, follow this link: