The Acquisitions Table: Sketches from Nature

Brown, Frances.  Sketches from Nature, for My Juvenile Friends.Cleveland: Mrs. H.F.M. Brown; Cincinnati: Longley Brothers; Boston: Bela Marsh, 1858.

This is a remarkable collection of short stories that were clearly the product of the reformist press that flourished in Boston, Cincinnati, and Cleveland shortly before the Civil War.  Although the wood-engraved illustrations look quite conventional–here is a picture of a May Queen being “crowned”–the text is anything but conventional.  In the short essay on “Girls’ rights,” Mrs. Brown exhorts her young readers, “You have rights, and it is time you were looking them up.  … You have a right to learn, to cook, to wash, to make shirts, to skate, to swim, to roll the hoop, to fly the kite, to laugh till your soul is brimful of mirth, and your lungs full of air.”

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