Davenporters in the Domain

This coming Monday, January 1, 2024, we celebrate “Public Domain Day,” when copyright protections under U.S. law expire for books published in the year 1928. Works such as D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, W.E.B. Du Bois’ Dark Princess, A. A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner, and Wanda Gág’s Millions of Cats, among others, may be copied, shared, sampled, reinterpreted, expanded upon and otherwise adapted without the need to obtain permissions or pay fees.

Two books in our collection entering the public domain in the New Year do not appear on lists of notable works like the one above, but they are invaluable to understanding our local history and culture.

Our copies of Susan Glaspell’s novel Brook Evans (SC FIC GLA) and Charles Edward Russell’s non-fiction account A-Rafting on the Mississip’ (SC CLOSED STACKS 977.7 RUSSE) are shown below, each with their original 1928 copyright registration and 1955 copyright renewal from the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress’ Catalog of Copyright Entries.

Davenporter Glaspell needs little introduction; her literary reputation, especially as a dramatist, was secure by the time Brook Evans was written. Her fourth of nine novels, like many of her works, was set in a Midwestern farming community where idealistic characters rebelled against established social norms. In it, a child conceived out of wedlock (alongside a brook) grapples with her mother’s desire that she live her life by loving freely.

Charles Edward Russell was the son of abolitionist newspaperman Edward Russell, editor of the Davenport Gazette. He was known primarily as a muckraking journalist of the Progressive Era, a Pulitzer-prize winning biographer, and as one of the founders of the NAACP. In A-Rafting on the Mississip’ he turned his attention from national issues to steamboat pilots and the lumber industry they served in his native Mississippi River Valley.

(posted by Katie)

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