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This is the first year Americans celebrate Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Minnesotans can explore the holiday's historical roots by searching the American Antiquarian Society's Historical Periodicals database. The database, available online via eLibrary Minnesota, features digitized images from the pages of American magazines and journals published between 1684 and 1912.

A screen capture of page 87 of the June 2, 1865 edition of The Liberator.
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Juneteenth, celebrated each year on June 19, recognizes the date in 1865 when Union troops announced the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas, effectively ending legal slavery in the United States. The first Juneteenth celebration took place in 1866 in Galveston, Texas.

The American Antiquarian Society's Historical Periodicals database, available via eLibrary Minnesota, features digitized images from the pages of American magazines and journals published between 1684 and 1912, including many that shed light on the Reconstruction era and the early history of Juneteenth.

For example, the June 2, 1865 edition of The Liberator, an abolitionist periodical published in Philadelphia, contains a summary of the May 29, 1865 meeting of the Emancipation League, including excerpts from a speech given at the meeting: 

"The most important element of the [present situation of our country] is not peace, nor the return of the soldiers. True, Kirby Smith has surrendered the last army. Nevertheless, now the war begins. We have now to contend with a more subtle and powerful enemy, which lurks in our own households, the prejudice...in which we have been trained from infancy. God, however, has so interwoven our destiny with that of our fellow citizens of African descent, that only by full justice to them can we obtain salvation to ourselves."

Minnesota's libraries contain the resources necessary to thoroughly research American history. Many of these resources, including eLibrary Minnesota, the Minnesota Digital Library, and MNLINK (Minnesota's statewide interlibrary loan portal) are available online. Researchers can take their efforts even further by chatting directly with a librarian on AskMN.

Written by

Zach Miller
Head of Communications
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Encyclopedia, magazine, journal, and newspaper articles, plus multimedia, primary sources, and more