By Jojo Karlin
Spotlight: Matthew Knip and The Philip C. Van Buskirk Archive
On 02, Oct 2017 | In Spotlight | By Jojo Karlin
Project: Philip C. Van Buskirk Archive
Project type: Digital Archives, Digital Publishing
Campus: GC & Hunter
The Philip C. Van Buskirk Archive employs a small group of CUNY students to digitize and make freely available the first seven years of the unpublished journals of Philip C. Van Buskirk. The nearly-completed archive is free and publicly available for reading and searching.
Born into the upper class, educated and literate—the son of a Maryland Secretary of State—Van Buskirk “fell” into the working-class, largely illiterate, maritime culture after his father’s suicide. Beginning in 1851 and running for fifty years, he kept an extensive diary of the intimate details of his life and the lives of his fellow sailors.
The resulting journals provide a unique window into aspects of this working-class world that have proven difficult for scholars to access because they were almost never written down. While the journals present his perspective, they also allow access to voices he discovered in working-class spaces, perspectives that were seldom allowed within written discourse of the time. The journals have the capability to reshape assumptions at the heart of history, art, literary, and cultural criticism.