Adopt-a-Book 2011, Part 8: Honor AND Adopt!

Today we conclude our second week of a series of posts that we hope will get you even more excited about the Society’s Adopt-a-Book event to be held at 6PM this coming Tuesday, March 29, 2011 in Antiquarian Hall.

When we began this fund-raising effort a few years ago, we noticed that our adopters often would commemorate a person or persons with their adoption.  We find this highly satisfying!  The Society is able to maintain and expand its holdings, and a relationship or person is honored at the same time.

Below are some memorable “honorable” adoptions from previous Adopt a Book events.  None of the items pictured here are available for adoption but we hope you will enjoy looking them over and learning why others have adopted them.  Please consider an adoption yourself from this year’s Adopt-a-Book 2011 catalog, in honor of whomever you please, of course!

From the 2009 Adopt-a-Book event comes this story from Laura Wasowicz, the Society’s curator of children’s literature:

Phelps, Almira Hart Lincoln.  Caroline Westerley; or The Young Traveller from Ohio. Containing the Letters of a Young Lady of Seventeen, Written to Her Sister. Boy’s and Girl’s Library series. (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1839). [click here for the AAS online catalog record]

Laura recalls,

In 2009, I adopted this book in honor of the late Richard L. Anders (1924-2002) who was the Rare Book Cataloger at AAS from 1968 until 1990.  Dick grew up in Ohio, and had a deep love for the natural world throughout his life.  He did not like cars, and never owned one.  Instead, he opted to walk or ride his bicycle to get to wherever he needed to be.  For that reason, he had the very special opportunity to observe the minute but profound changes that the seasons had to offer on a daily basis, an opportunity which he cherished.  When I acquired this book, I immediately thought that Dick would be very pleased that I found it for our collection.  The author, Almira Phelps, was an educator who wrote botany textbooks for girls.  In this case, she writes about natural history through a series of letters written by a young woman from Ohio who travels to upstate New York with her father.

A perfect match!

We often have people adopt books, newspapers or prints to honor someone in a particular occupation.  In 2009, Kathleen McClintock adopted Old Edward. New York: Daniel Cooledge, [ca. 1833-1837]. [click here for the AAS online catalog record]

This early illustrated children’s story about mental illness is told as a conversation between a father and son on why it is wrong to chase and torment Old Edward, an unbalanced man who wanders about town wearing several hats at once.  Mrs. McClintock adopted the book in honor of her husband, John McClintock, who is a psychologist.

In 2010, we saw several similar occupationally-themed adoptions.  Frances Langille adopted two items last year:

Examination of Teachers, San Francisco, January 1870 (California, 1870) [click here for the AAS online catalog record] and

Pierce, Willard. A century sermon, preached at Foxborough, October 24th, 1828. The day on which the widow Hannah Sumner completed her hundredth year (Dedham, MA: H. & W. H. Mann, 1829) [click here for the AAS online catalog record].

The first object, a printed exam that teachers in California took as part of their certification, was adopted in honor of Frances Langille’s daughter-in-law Laurie Jewers, who is a teacher.  The second, a sermon written to celebrate a parishioners’ 100th birthday, was adopted to mark the occasion of present-day Rev. Dr. Barry McCarthy’s then-upcoming installation as minister of the Greendale People’s Church, Worcester, MA.

Also in 2010, the cookbook, How to make candy. A manual of plain directions of the more popular forms of confectionery (Hartford: N. P. Fletcher, 1875) [click here for the AAS online catalog record], was adopted by Caroline and Andrew Graham of R.A. Graham Co. in honor of their son-in-law, Ron Ward, who is a chef.

Finally, adopters are often drawn to objects because of the sense of place they document. In 2009, the Society’s President Emeritus Marcus McCorison adopted The Berlin city directory … 1858 (Berlin, Wisconsin: J.S. Wright, 1858) [click here for the AAS online catalog record]. This important sammelband of six very rare Wisconsin city directories, each the first published for the individual towns, includes separate listings of residents and businesses, as well as numerous advertisements. Mr. McCorison adopted the set of directories in honor of his late wife Janet K. McCorison, whose family hailed from the Badger State.

In 2010, the current president of the Society, Ellen Dunlap, followed this trend when she adopted James P.Henry’s Resources of the state of Arkansas, with description of counties, rail roads, mines, and the city of Little Rock (Little Rock: Price & McClure, 1872) [click here for the AAS online catalog record] in honor of her husband’s grandfather Jacob Douglas Armstrong (1815-1881) of Armstrong Springs, Arkansas. Jacob was, in her words, “something of a pioneer in the tourist industry in Arkansas where – in addition to being a blacksmith and a farmer and raising a bunch of kids – he ran a hotel and ‘spa’ known for its healing waters.”

This year’s most interesting honorary adoption may very well be the adoption of the Young Ladies Library and Literary Association of Oakland Female Institute’s Donation Book, 1853-1855. It was adopted by AAS Intern (and now temporary staff member) Maury Bouchard in honor of a nineteenth-century clerk in Philadelphia named Nathan Beekley. Regular readers of Past is Present will recognize the name Nathan Beekley as the diarist whose daily entries from 1849 appear in the upper right hand corner of this blog as well as on their own site, Clerk and the City, which Maury has been instrumental in producing. We are certain Nathan would have approved of this item because The Oakland Female Institute opened in 1845 in Norristown, PA (where Nathan lived before moving to the big city and which he mentions frequent visits to in his diary).  Anyone who has been reading along with Nathan’s sociable diary can imagine he made friends with at least some of the ladies in the Female Institute.

Find your own item to adopt in honor of a loved one, an ancestor, or your favorite historical figure by browsing the catalog of all 176 items up for adoption this year.  Follow the directions for “How to Adopt” which are found in the sidebar to the right at the top of the page.  You don’t have to wait until March 29th to adopt!

Published by

Lauren Hewes

Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Graphic Arts, American Antiquarian Society

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