It’s the time of year to Adopt-a-Book!

What do a wolverine, sunshine, runaway sailors, weaving, and baseball have in common?  These are the titles or subjects of items available at our ninth annual Adopt-a-Book program! Once again our intrepid curators have put together a group of items acquired over the past year or so and put them up for “adoption.”  Supporters of the American Antiquarian Society can “adopt” the these items to help raise funds for further acquisitions.  Over the past eight years, this event has raised well over $100,000 for the curators to acquire even more materials for the collection.  These funds become available during the last quarter of our fiscal year when our acquisitions funds are running low, making them doubly appreciated.

And this year’s online catalog is now up and ready for you to adopt!

Then, on May 3 from 6 to 8 p.m., please join us for our Adopt-a-Book evening, where you can view many of the items (including more materials up for adoption not in the online catalog), chat with curators over food and drink, and bid on a pair of Red Sox tickets, all under our generous dome.

To give you a taste, here are some items up for adoption from each of the five curatorial departments:

Liberty Pole Subscriber listLiberty Pole Subscribers List.
Adopt me for $125

Shortly after the U.S. declared war on Great Britain during the summer of 1812, residents of Providence, Rhode Island, joined together to erect a liberty pole on Cranston St. Liberty poles were often built in towns during the American Revolution as a symbol of freedom and independence. During the War of 1812, which has often been called a second American Revolution, citizens of Providence erected one as well. This list details who subscribed for the construction of the pole. If you value American independence but can’t subscribe to erect a liberty pole, at least you can adopt this list.

The WolverineThe Wolverine (Lebanon, Ky.) Apr. 7, 1863. Vol. 1, no. 1.
Adopt me for $200

This is camp newspaper from the Civil War. This paper was published by members of the 8th Regiment, Michigan Infantry.  An article on the second page thanks Mr. W.H. Wetherton, former publisher of the Lebanon Democrat, for letting them use the office to publisher The Wolverine. The office of the Democrat had been closed because of its Union sympathies in a region that supported secession. No issues of the Democrat are known, but it apparent existed between 1859 and 1862. This is the only issue of The Wolverine that is known to have been published, and it is known in only two other copies at University of Michigan and Western Kentucky University.

Sunshine or Cures for All IllsSophie Amelia Prosser. Sunshine or Cures for All Ills. Boston & New York: American Tract Society, ca. 1860-1868.
Adopt me for $50

This strikingly colored image is from the frontispiece to a book of didactic short stories. The young maid on the right is being questioned by her master about her possibly stealing from valuables. The story really focuses on housekeeper pictured in the center, who is hardened to the young girl’s crying. The master of the house decides to give the girl a second chance by having her live in his country house under the virtuous eye of his wife. The housekeeper eventually realizes that her master is right to be merciful.

Bonaparte Crossing the AlpsjpgAfter Jacques Louis David. Bonaparte Crossing the Alps. New York: N. Currier, after 1838.
Adopt me for $100

This image of Napoleon Bonaparte crossing the Alps on his rearing white horse was reproduced frequently by American printmakers. The immense painting on which is was based was part of the estate of Joseph Bonaparte in Bordentown, New Jersey, from 1815 to about 1840 when it returned to France with Joseph’s daughter. The painting was exhibited frequently in Philadelphia and copies proliferated around New England.

Blind Lady CanvassingBrown, Henrietta. A Blind Lady’s Experience in Four Years’ Canvassing. [U.S.: s.n., 1882].
Adopt me for $200

The bare-bones details of Henrietta Brown’s life begin her narrative: she was born in 1836, was widowed in 1858, lost her sight in 1867, and in 1875 her uncle who had been supporting her died. Brown describes herself as “compelled to drift out from home to canvass for my support.” She purchased $5 worth of books (one of which was titled Comfort for the Desponding) and began canvassing. Her practice seems to have been to go to local pastors across the Midwest, bringing letters of introduction from Illinois ministers, and ask to speak to their congregations on Sunday mornings. Much of the book describes her time on the road and encounters with saloon keepers, coachmen, and railroad conductors. The logistics of travel were difficult for her as a blind woman, but the life seems to have suited her. Henrietta Brown concludes the book: “‘A rolling stone gathers no moss,’ and ‘a setting hen never thrives.’ I have long since learned that a sitting Hen-rietta never accomplishes much by remaining still; and I have resolved to move on, and on, and on.”


Published by

Vincent Golden

Curator of Newspapers and Periodicals, American Antiquarian Society

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *