Monthly Archives: March 2013

Leaves among the Leaves

Shortly after their arrival, new AAS fellows give a talk to the staff about their project and the sorts of sources they’re hoping to find. In her talk, current fellow Jessica Linker, who is working on her Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut, mentioned that as part of her work on women and science she was seeking examples of botanical volumes compiled by women, and even examples of leaves or flowers pressed into books.

Fellow Jessica Linker next to the array of pressed flowers and leaves.

Within minutes after Jessica’s talk, digital expediting coordinator Megan Bocian had brought her a box of leaves, flowers, and other items that had been found in periodicals in the course of digitizing over seven million pages for EBSCO’s AAS Historical American Periodicals Collection.  Jessica spent the next few hours laying everything out in the reading room. In many cases the inserted items had stained the adjacent pages. We had decided from the outset to keep everything found in the volumes, but it wasn’t until later in the project that we began to track what item had been taken from what volume, something we had previously only been doing if an insertion had a clear connection to the volume it was in.  For Jessica’s purposes it would have been preferable if we had left everything in situ and even to add information about the insertions to the cataloging records, but we made the decision that the resources required to catalog the pressed flowers and leaves would be better spent cataloging books, pamphlets, and other collection items.

As I say above we decided to keep everything, and we now have a very miscellaneous collection of objects that came out of the periodicals. The bulk of the insertions were leaves and flowers, but the scanners also found pieces of cloth, postage stamps, dead insects, newspaper clippings and scraps of paper, a bone letter opener, and even the preserved tail of a small mammal.  And while we still aren’t able to truly catalog most of the items we find in books, our experience with Jessica’s research has made us more sensitive to the issue and it gives us an additional reason to value collection items at AAS as artifacts.

The Acquisitions Table: Lemuel Haynes Sermon

Haynes, Lemuel, “A Sermon Delivered at Rutlan West Parish in Vermont June 1805.”

Lemuel Haynes (1753-1833) was a highly influential religious and anti-slavery leader.  Among Haynes’s many firsts, he was the first African-American to be ordained to the Christian ministry and the first African-American to receive a college degree (an M.A. from Middlebury in 1804).  After serving in the Continental Army during the Revolution, Haynes began his career as a minister in Rutland, Vermont, where he remained for thirty years.  It was during this ministry that Haynes delivered his famous sermon, Universal Salvation, a Very Ancient Doctrine: with Some Account of the Life and Character of Its Author.  Delivered as a response to a lecture by Hosea Ballou on the doctrine of universal redemption, Haynes’ Universal Salvation stands as one of the most famous and reprinted works of religious satire.  This copy of the sermon, in Haynes own hand, contains more than sixty textual differences and three deletions from the printed copies.  Including this copy, only three sermons in Haynes’s own handwriting are known to exist.

New Objects up for Adoption!

Due to the popular demand for “orphans” in our 2013 Adopt-a-Book online catalog, we have recently added twenty new titles for you to review.  All of these new items are priced below $200 and the group includes material from the  books, newspapers, children’s literature, manuscripts and graphic arts departments.

Here are two examples from the new additions that celebrate warmer climates and the arrival of spring (both things that we need here in Worcester, to date the snowiest city in America this winter!)

Orange you glad I’m up for adoption?

Adopt me for $75

Aurantia Grove, Indian River, East Florida. Springfield, MA: Clark W. Bryan & Co., ca. 1871.

The text on this circular promotes raising oranges for investment in the balmy Florida climate. Located northwest of Cape Canaveral, Aurantia Groves was typical of late-nineteenth-century Florida developments. Speculators bought up land and created lots for resale. Groves of orange trees were planted and could be managed from a distance, with a small financial investment. The circular lays out the details of prospective income and uses testimonials from previous investors as proof of success. They even quote Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Palmetto Leaves. An editor of a newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts (where this circular was published) wrote glowingly of a Mr. A.S. Dickinson’s investment in Aurantia, which resulted in 100 boxes of oranges being shipped north in January and sold for 70 cents per pound.

A “Tweet” Children’s Book

Adopt me for $50

The Child’s History of Birds. New York: Mahlon Day, 1837.

Quaker publisher Mahlon Day (1790-1854) was among the most prolific children’s book publishers in antebellum America. This picture book features wood engravings of birds commonly seen by American children, including this description of the Cuckoo, the herald of spring. The description quotes from a poem about the bird from The Juvenile Album (also issued by Day).

Don’t forget we are holding our evening Adopt-a-Book event at the Society on Friday, April 5, 2013 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.  The curators will be displaying fifty more objects for potential adoption.  If you have pre-adopted from the online catalog, admission is free to this event, otherwise $10 at the door.  Come and hear the curators speak about recent acquisitions made possible through the Adopt-a-Book program, nibble delicious food generously provided by Struck Catering, and look over wonderful American books, colorful prints, and important newspapers and manuscripts.  We hope to see you there!

The Acquisitions Table: Aspinwall Courier

Aspinwall Courier.  Aspinwall, Panama.

In the 1850s, Aspinwall (today known as Cólon) was founded as one of the end points of the Panama Railroad, which spanned the isthmus for and provided part of the route to and from the California gold rush regions.  This paper was edited by Frederic E. Foster and printed in English for the American community.  It was published between 1853 and 1857 and only a handful of issues survive.

Adopt-a-Book 2013: Fires and Trains

The AAS curatorial team is just delighted by the response to our 6th annual Adopt-a-Book event, with over half of the selected “orphans” already adopted by generous supporters.  Thank you!  Below, please find one of the few titles for children still available from the online catalog as well as a railroad map from the cartography collection. The night of the event, the curators will be presenting fifty additional titles for adoption, so be sure to come to the Society for our evening event on Friday April 5, from 6:00 to 8:00. In order to keep up with online demand, we hope to post ten additional objects to the web catalog within the next several days.  What a lovely problem to have and we hope you enjoy reading the catalog and supporting the Society’s future acquisitions!

Peter Piper’s Tales. Danger of Fire. Albany: Richard H. Pease, 1844-1847.

Adopt me for $250

This is a rare lithographed picture book issued by Albany book and toy seller Richard H. Pease; he generally used wood engravings.  This text is a set of cautionary poems about the dangers of playing with or near the fire.  In this case, the obstinate Margaret threw some lighted scraps of papers on the floor, which wound up setting the house on fire, destroying her father’s savings, and disfiguring Margaret.  Given the lack of house insurance and the dependence upon open fireplaces for heat, these grim poems conveyed life lessons that needed to be learned if children were to survive into adulthood intact.

Geographically Correct County Map of the States Traversed by the Atchison, Topeka & Sante Fe Railroad. St. Louis: Woodward, Tiernan & Hale, 1877.

Adopt me for $200

This timetable for the Atchison, Topeka and Sante Fe Railroad includes on one side details of scenic highlights, information on connections, and listings of land for sale. The other side provides a (somewhat compressed) route map complete with an image of trains traversing the Great Plains.  The line was chartered in 1859 but did not reach the Kansas/Colorado border until 1873 due to work stoppages associated with the Civil War. In the 1870s, the line moved passengers, cattle, coal and supplies to and from Colorado and northern New Mexico.

You can search the online Adopt-A-Book catalog here.  Keep an eye out for the ten new additions to be added shortly. And remember, if you pre-adopt online, your entrance to the event on April 5th is FREE.  Otherwise, it is $10 at the door.  We look forward to seeing you in Worcester!

WPI Students Team Up with “A New Nation Votes”

Bryan MacDonald (left) and Dan Boudreau presenting their project to AAS staff.

Here at AAS we are always happy to collaborate with that institution across the street, Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  The students there are required to do what is called an Interactive Qualifying Project, which involves a digital humanities project.  To that end, Dan Boudreau and Bryan MacDonald produced “A New Commonwealth Votes: Using GIS to Analyze the Politics of Turn-of-the-19th-Century Massachusetts,” a project that combines emerging GIS software with our New Nation Votes project (whose brand new website will be unveiled by the end of the month).  Boudreau and MacDonald produced a 100-page report complete with a dizzying 80 different maps that analyzed the Congressional elections of 1798 and 1800.

This project, combined with earlier work from their fellow student Kris Kellogg, is hopefully just the first step into a larger world of combining the massive research work of Philip Lampi with emerging software that will allow the New Nation Votes project to take that next step into the world of mapping technology.

An example of one of the election maps produced during their project.


The Acquisitions Table: Atalanta

Bargue, Charles after Alfred de Dreux, Atalanta, Paris, Berlin, New York: Goupil and Knoedler, 1860.

Another beautiful example of transatlantic lithographic printing from France, this image of the horse Atalanta from a series of prints of driving and saddle horses was the bicentennial gift of AAS member George Fox.  Named for a Greek goddess of hunting, the print shows a well-proportioned bay-colored hunter standing near a wall with a stable boy and small dog.  While the boy and the dog are oblivious to the viewer, the horse turns her fine head and looks out at us.  Many of the prints in the set were drawn by the lithographer Charles Bargue after well-known French animal painter Alfred de Dreux.  The prints were also sold individually by Goupil in their shops in France, Germany and New York, and would have appealed to any lover of horses. Bicentennial gift of George K. Fox.

Adopt-a-Book 2013: Romney and Obama, 1844 style

On Friday, April 5th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., the American Antiquarian Society will be hosting our 6th Annual Adopt-A-Book event. This event is an important fundraiser for the curatorial team at the Society, and monies raised will go towards future acquisitions of books, prints, newspapers, manuscripts, and children’s literature. Below are examples of two items that have been put up for adoption by Curator of Newspapers, Vince Golden:

Clay Tribune (New York, NY). May 4, 1844.

Sober Second Thought for the Presidential Campaign of 1844 (New York, NY). Oct. 5, 1844.

Adopt me for $100 each (Or the entire file of issues for $1,000 each)

During elections in the nineteenth century it was quite common for campaign newspapers to be published supporting a specific candidate or party.  These ephemeral publications were short-lived and are often difficult to locate today.  The Clay Tribune supported the Whig Party and the Sober Second Thought for the Presidential Campaign of 1844 supported the Democratic Party.  Both were published in New York during the election of 1844, and they often go toe-to-toe on the issues.  The usual exaggerated political discourse surrounding issues of the day (Texas annexation, growing conflicts with Mexico) is parsed out with reprinted speeches and often vicious negative propaganda against the other side.

Remember, you can browse the entire catalog of the 100 items that make up the 2013 Adopt-A-Book list. Fifty additional items will be available for adoption that evening only. As a bonus, if you pre-adopt, entrance to the evening on April 5th is free!

Calling all readers!

CHAViC director Nan Wolverton with Martin Antonetti, curator of rare books at the Mortimer Rare Book Room, during the opening of the exhibition.

Chances are if you are looking at this, you like to read.  If you are the least bit curious about reading habits in America and how they have been presented in books and images over the past three centuries, I encourage you to visit a new exhibition at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.  Last week the American Antiquarian Society’s Center for Historic American Visual Culture (CHAViC), in collaboration with the Mortimer Rare Book Room at Smith, hosted the opening of A Place of Reading: Three Centuries of Reading in America.  Located in the Book Arts Gallery on the third floor of Neilson Library at Smith, the exhibition is open to the public and will be on view through May 28, 2013. Most of the materials in the exhibition are on loan from AAS.

Cheryl Harned, the curator of the exhibition, installing a case.

Included in the exhibition are representations of the places and events that prompted reading among Americans of all ages. The exhibition is organized into the following sections: The Colonial Home; Revolutionary Taverns; North/South/East/West: Newspapers, Periodicals, and the Popular Press; and Reading at the Front: The Civil War.  An additional section, “Caught in the Act,” highlights other places of reading such as the kitchen, bedroom, bath, prisons, and public spaces.

The exhibition was curated by Cheryl Harned, a University of Massachusetts graduate student who completed an internship at AAS several years ago. Under the direction of former director of CHAViC Gigi Barnhill, Cheryl researched the history of reading and developed an online exhibition for the AAS website as her final project.  More recently, Cheryl developed the online version into a physical exhibition so that visitors can see the actual prints and books. Some of the materials now on view are not in the online exhibition, and the new exhibition also includes objects on loan from the Joseph Allen Skinner Museum of Mount Holyoke College.

As the new director of CHAViC, I find this exhibition particularly exciting because as an instructor in American Studies and Art History at Smith, I can use it as a teaching tool. This week I took my students to see the numerous discussion-provoking examples of people reading and what they could help us to understand about gender and national identity. They especially loved seeing the photograph of the elderly matron reading in bed (see left) and the mid-nineteenth-century mother reading a novel in the kitchen while chaos ensues all around her!  Go see for yourself–it’s worth a visit. Take a complimentary bookmark home with you, and don’t forget to write a note in the guest book about your favorite place to read!

For more information on the exhibition visit:

The Acquisitions Table: Juno on a Journey

Abbott, Jacob. Juno on a Journey.The Juno Stories.New York: Dodd & Mead, ca. 1870.

Jacob Abbott’s Juno was among the first female African American protagonists of a children’s book series.  In this book, Juno is enlisted to take a little white boy named Georgie on a train journey by the boy’s father.  During this early fictional account of rail travel, Juno and Georgie make various side trips, as in this case of visiting a wheel barrow factory.  Although there is a “No Admittance” sign above the door (for safety reasons), the African American craftsman greets them at the door, and (probably attracted by Juno’s gracious presence) gives them a tour of his shop.  The gift of AAS member Charles H.B. Arning in honor of the Bicentennial.

Get Ready for the 2013 Adopt-a-Book Event!

On Friday, April 5th from 6:00 to 8:00pm, the American Antiquarian Society will be hosting our 6th Annual Adopt-A-Book event.  This event is an important fundraiser for the curatorial team at the Society, and monies raised will go towards future acquisitions of books, prints, newspapers, manuscripts, and children’s literature.

You can browse the entire catalog of the 100 items that make up the 2013 Adopt-A-Book list.  Fifty additional items will be available for adoption that evening only. Prices for adopting range from $25 to $500 and you can adopt in honor or memory of another person (or pet, or institution, or cause – which have all  happened in the past).  Books will be plated with a special bookplate spelling out the specifics of your adoption. As a bonus this year, if you pre-adopt via the online catalog list, entrance to the Adopt-a-Book evening on April 5th is free!

So, don’t miss the boat! Adopt!

Boats, Sloops, Steamships and Yachts. Ephemera cards (set of 14), 1870-1890.

Adopt me for $200.00

These colorful cards of well-known warships, steamers, and yachts were intended to be collected and arranged in photograph-style albums and viewed in the parlor or nursery.  Louis Prang of Boston was a major producer of similar cards, issuing sets of flowers, adorable children, pets, urban views, and sea shells. Although this set is without imprint, it could well be a Prang production as it features several ships that berthed in Boston.

A Hairy Discovery

Former AAS intern Melissa Lydston worked in our Manuscript Department, processing a collection of family papers.  The Warfield Family resided in Providence, Rhode Island in the mid-nineteenth century.  The patriarch of the family, Daniel Warfield, was a soap maker and dye maker.  The collection proved to have more than just letters.  Read below for her findings.

In the Warfield Family Papers, some of the most interesting letters contain more than just paper.  The Warfields exchange locks of hair with one another, for both superstitious and medicinal reasons.

In one letter, a friend of the family, Olive, asks Mrs. Emma Warfield to see if she has any friends in the spirit world.  Olive includes a lock of hair along with the request.  Her request aligns with Mrs. Warfield’s husband, Daniel Warfield’s, interests.  Daniel Warfield speaks about the “spiritual world” and seeks out spiritual meetings in Boston, as well as meetings in the Masonic Club and the Oddfellows.  He even falls upon his spiritual habits when bad luck strikes.  In one letter, Daniel writes to his wife from Newton Upper Falls, Massachusetts, saying that he may be discharged from his job.  He asks his wife to contact the spirit world for him.

The hair is also used as a prescriptive measure. Two separate letters with two different locks of hair are addressed to Daniel Warfield in Providence, Rhode Island. One letter includes a lock of blonde hair; the other includes a lock of brown hair. One belongs to Uncle George who is feeling “badly” and sends the hair to Daniel in order to determine his illness. Emma writes the letter for George and promises he will pay one dollar for the prescription. In another letter, Emma sends her own hair to get a prescription for her stomach. She includes the lock in order for Daniel to “state whether it is caused by [her] hair or not.”

It seems that hair is a link to the spirit world for the Warfields, and perhaps worth far more than the words inside the accompanying letters.