About this Project

"Americanization: What is It? -- What to Do" was an accidental discovery. Folded into the spine of a 1908 European travel journal maintained by plant geneticist George Harrison Shull (1874-1954), the pamphlet receives no explanation or reference in Shull's journal or other personal writings.

The George Harrison Shull Papers feature five wide-ranging diaries recorded between 1893-95 and 1908. Most of these notebooks describe the early education and nascent teaching career of Shull. His 1908 notes on a European trip reflect his growing interest in botany and plant genetics.

It's unclear how this pamphlet came to reside in a journal maintained 11 years earlier. Certainly, Shull often revisited his diaries, often quoting from earlier entries. He was also politically engaged, participating in debates about temperance and women's suffrage and grappling with the possibilities and limitations of Social Darwinist theories, including phrenology and physiognomy. Less clear is where he stood on issues of immigration and assimilation. This, perhaps, sends an invitation to a future scholar exploring the American Philosophical Society's Shull Papers.18

Significantly, Shull's election to the APS may well have introduced him to NSL leaders--including Root, Choate, Pepper, Williams, and Bumpus--and, through them, the 1919 "Americanization" pamphlet. Elected just one year prior to the circulation of that pamphlet, Shull became by all accounts one of the Society's most engaged community members. In his obit in the 1954 APS Year Book, E. Newton Harvey calls Shull one of the Society's "most distinguished and appreciative members," who "rarely missed a meeting since his election in 1918."19


The project was conceived and written by Will Fenton. Will is the Elizabeth R. Moran Fellow at the American Philosophical Society and a doctoral candidate at Fordham University where he specializes in early American literature and the Digital Humanities. Adrienne Winans, Assistant Professor of History at Utah Valley University, served as the project's historical advisor.

This digital gallery was designed and built by Bayard L. Miller and Scott Ziegler for the Center for Digital Scholarship. Learn more about the American Philosophical Society by visiting our website, our digital library, and our other digital library galleries.

Further Reading

Digital Projects and Pedagogy