STOCKBRIDGE – The Stockbridge Library’s Historic Room has acquired a bound volume of an early 19th-century Stockbridge newspaper that an expert describes as “extremely rare”. It contains fascinating fact and fiction for the serious student as well as the simply curious.
According to Mrs. Harold Pierce, curator of the library, the Political Atlas is the most recent and probably the most important acquisition of the historical room in recent years. The volume contains issues 1 to 76, covering the period from February 14, 1807 to July 22, 1808.
Bookseller Harold M. Burstein of Waltham said the Union List of Newspapers records only four limited and fragmentary collections of the Atlas issues, while this volume extends 33 issues beyond the known one of “History and Bibliography of American Newspapers” by Brigham.
The Atlas was published by Cornelius Sturtevant Jr., about whom nothing could be found in a cursory check of the Historic Hall archives. It is also not known how long after July 1808 the journal continued to be published. It is interesting to note, however, that the first issue came out only two weeks after the Western Star (the first Berkshire county newspaper, which after many permutations became the Eagle) moved from Stockbridge to Pittsfield.
Readers of the Atlas can be compared to modern readers of Time or Newsweek or perhaps even Reader’s Digest, for much of the four pages of each issue were taken up with dispatches from other newspapers (of course, c was before the days of the newswire). services). Throughout its pages unfolds the story of Aaron Burr’s conspiracy trial; the trials and tribulations of Napoleon Bonaparte; the war between France and Russia; the rumblings against Britain’s printing of sailors (“the gratuitous and inhuman indignation of the British”) which eventually led to the War of 1812. As the publisher Sturtevant announced in its first issue, ” …no effort will be spared to make THE ATLAS a complete book, a repository of all important events that may come to its knowledge.”
(Presumably Stockbridge residents read the Burr trial with particular interest, since Burr was the grandson of famed Stockbridge theologian and missionary Jonathan Edwards.)
This story within a story is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.