Mary Bowden received her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Texas at Austin, and taught in the Department of English at UT for 16 years. After her retirement from teaching, she has continued her independent scholarship. She has so far written three books: Philip Freneau (1972), Washington Irving (1981), and On the Road with Washington Irving: Chiefly in 1832 (2009).
Tell us a little bit about the project you're currently working on.
Mary Bowden: Right now I'm working on this book that will be on the subject of second generation Americans, that is, those born after the constitution–when they go abroad, how they react to the world abroad. It dates from about 1810-1830, a relatively small period of time.
I became interested in this collection because a lot of people don't realize that they not only contained the local news, but also news from all over the world. And how did they get that news? Through letters from citizen correspondents in their travels abroad.
Here's a case in point in the Boston Patriot from 1813: private correspondence from Alexandria, Louisiana, December 4, reporting the latest news from Goliad. This is from a letter from Colonel Magee, who was at Goliad, and it probably exists in no other place, other than in this newspaper.