William Stearns


About Author: 

William is Senior Editor, Readex Digital Collections. He has been Editor of the Readex edition of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set since its early days. Previously, he was Editor of NewsBank Global Products and Assistant Vocabulary Editor. For the past ten years, he has also trained numerous NewsBank and Readex indexers.

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‘The Village of Innocence’: Rare Early 19th-Century Children’s Books from the American Antiquarian Society

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Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society makes available more than 1,700 rare and unique publications printed between 1801 and 1819. Included in the newest release, and highlighted below, are several illustrated works of juvenile literature intended to instruct and uplift.


A Premium (1803)

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It can be striking to observe how many stories for children used to refer to death occasionally to attribute it as a naughty youngster’s fate . A verse of the poem which opens this tale:

Do whate’er thy hand shall find,

With all thy might with all thy mind,

Now in works of love abound,

None can in the grave be found.

This somber poem is followed by another titled “On the Death of a Favorite Cat.” The ensuing illustration depicts three children pointing to a dead cat which had been hanged from a branch. This cat had been enticed by a trap set to catch a fox.

The text includes a sprinkling of aphorisms, including:

He that is his own appraiser, will be disappointed in the value.

‘The Village of Innocence’: Rare Early 19th-Century Children’s Books from the American Antiquarian Society

Lithographs, Life Studies and Pen-Pictures: Rare 19th-Century Visual Representations of the American Civil War

The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society now includes two little-known works filled with compelling pictorial representations of the war and its troops.  Also newly digitized this month is a heavily illustrated account of the March through Georgia.


Album of the Campaign of 1861 in Western Virginia (1862)

This rare volume includes 20 detailed lithographs by illustrator J. Nep Roesler who served with the 47th Ohio Volunteers. Other than a title under each print, there is no text. 

 

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Lithographs, Life Studies and Pen-Pictures: Rare 19th-Century Visual Representations of the American Civil War

‘In the wild deserts of Ohio’: Highlights from Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society

The current release of Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society includes several exceedingly rare imprints, including the captivity narrative and children’s poetry books highlighted below.  Each is illustrated.


The Cries of London, As They Are Daily Exhibited in the Streets. With an Epigram in Verse, Adapted To Each. Embellished with Elegant Characteristic Engravings (1805)

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Similar to other books about the street mongers of New York and Philadelphia, this imprint is beautifully illustrated by intaglio prints attributed to William Ralph. In the preface, the author admonishes the reader not to abjure the lower classes which engage in street sales who are “generally speaking, of the lowest and most illiterate order.” However, he advises respect:

…and daily experience will demonstrate, that the most amiable virtues and excellent dispositions are frequently met with in the lowest spheres of life; and therefore, although we should not act towards our inferiors with an unbecoming familiarity, we should never treat them with haughtiness, nor make them the subject of our ridicule; remembering, that while a sounding title or a weighty purse may excite the temporary admiration of an unthinking multitude, virtue, piety, and integrity, are the only things that can ensure the blessing of Heaven, and render us truly respectable.

The preface concludes with a verse about London the last few lines of which pose a question.

Chairmen, carmen, kennel-rakers,

‘In the wild deserts of Ohio’: Highlights from Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society

‘The wants and tastes of Southern boys and girls’: Three Scarce Imprints in The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

These rare works from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society include a game book for children of the Confederacy, a satirical piece devastating to the Copperhead, and a sort of almanac for and paean to Southern women in wartime.


Uncle Buddy’s Gift Book, for the Holidays (1863)

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In his preface, the anonymous author asserts that:

You are aware that the Southern Confederacy is a new Government—that it is formed by the States which separated in 1860-61 from the Northern states of the Confederacy known as the United States of North America, because of the injustice of the people of those Northern States; and that, in consequence of this separation, those people are waging a cruel and unjust war upon the people of this Confederacy. Now, in consequence of this war, our ports being blockaded, and our means of communicating with other countries cut off, we are unable to obtain a great many things to which we were once accustomed. Among these things, are juvenile books, with which our bookstores were wont to be largely supplied during the holidays, but which we cannot now obtain, and must, therefore, either do without, or procure the substitutes that we can.

He offers his book as a worthy substitute, indeed a superior one because:

‘The wants and tastes of Southern boys and girls’: Three Scarce Imprints in The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

‘For the want of Yankee butter’: Rare Imprints from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

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For this month’s highlights from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society, we have selected two rare works: a Southern almanac and an imprint on the plight of Union veterans made deaf consequent to their service.


Historical Register and Confederates Assistant to National Independence: Containing a discovery for the preservation of Butter, together with other valuable Recipes, and important information for the Soldier, and the People in general throughout the Confederate States of America (1862)

By H.W.R. Jackson

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Mr. Jackson authored several books in passionate defense of the Confederate States of America, all of which portrayed the genteel but aggressive determination of the Southerners to triumph over the corrupt, lawless Yankees. The inclusion of the making butter in his title reflects his whole point that the South need no longer depend on the products of the North in order to prosper even in wartime. The imprint is structured somewhat like an almanac presenting statistics and accounts of the war intermixed with recipes, remedies, and agricultural advice.

‘For the want of Yankee butter’: Rare Imprints from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922

‘A plodding Englishman, or a pawky Scotchman’: Highlights from Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society

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Among the extraordinarily rare works in Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society are these illustrated items: a compendium of Irish humor and songs, “a pathetic tale” for juveniles which ends happily, and a chapbook celebrating autumn in verse and prose.


The New Irish Jest and Song Book: Being a Collection of Jests, Blunders, Songs and Witty Sayings from the Latest Publications (1803)

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In his preface to this unique imprint, the author enlarges on the word “blunder.”

An Irish blunder is defined to be “a laughable confusion of ideas,” which, when delivered with all the vivacity and particular gesticulation natural to the country, and with that tone of voice, commonly called the brogue, has infinitely a more humorous effect, than the dull, vapid mistakes of a plodding Englishman, or a pawky Scotchman.

‘A plodding Englishman, or a pawky Scotchman’: Highlights from Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society

'Two such stainless captains': Highlights from the American Antiquarian Society’s Civil War Collection

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This month’s release of imprints from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes two imprints reflecting on events in Richmond, Virginia, following the war. Both publications express sympathetic views of the Confederacy. On a lighter note we focus on a colorfully illustrated picture book for children from the Civil War era.


Robert Edward Lee: An Address Delivered at the Dedication of the Monument to General Robert Edward Lee at Richmond, Virginia, May 29, 1890, by Archer Anderson (1890)

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At a time when memorials to the Confederacy and her most prominent soldiers and politicians are under attack by demands to remove them, it may be timely to consider the impetus and emotion that fueled the erection of these memorials in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The end of Reconstruction ushered in the Jim Crow era. Many of the monuments constructed toward the end of the 19th century were as much a celebration of white supremacy as a permanent memory of the war.

Contemporary Americans are not so likely as Archer Anderson, the author of this address, to assert that:

'Two such stainless captains': Highlights from the American Antiquarian Society’s Civil War Collection

‘Pray cock your eye’: Introducing Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society

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The first release of Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society to the Shaw-Shoemaker digital collection includes:

  • an admonitory story for children who are inclined to “a meddling disposition”
  • an articulate argument against introducing the British factory system in the United States
  • a heavily illustrated book of the “history of birds in the air” in rhyme.

 

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The Story of Charles Maitland; or, The Dangers of a Meddling Disposition (1806)

This rare work tells the story of Charles Maitland, a naughty boy unable to refrain from meddling in other peoples’ affairs. Through this behavior Charles “might (by his meddling disposition) have made a breach between two families who were very much united, and lived on the most friendly terms, if he had had to deal with people of less discernment and good sense.”

‘Pray cock your eye’: Introducing Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society

“He did not die in the war, but he died of it.”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

Among the newly released works in The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society are memorials to two quite different men who fought for the Union. Also included is the account of an anti-slavery journalist who acted as the head of the American consulate in Bristol, England, throughout the Civil War.


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A Memorial of Lieut. John W. Grout, of the 15th Massachusetts Volunteers, Killed at Ball's Bluff, October 21, 1861 (1861)

By the Rev. E. Cutler

Reverend Cutler begins his memorial by describing the young Lieutenant Grout:

The subject of this sketch won a claim to this memorial, not only as being one of the first commissioned officers that has fallen in this campaign from the state of Massachusetts, but also as leaving a fame independent of fiction, of exaggeration, and of the partiality of friends.

He was born in the summer of 1843, and had barely attained the age at which a legal claim could be made upon his service, when he fell a voluntary sacrifice on the altar of his country.

“He did not die in the war, but he died of it.”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

‘To kill a man for rumple groans’: Highlights from an American Antiquarian Supplement to Early American Imprints, 1801-1819

The May release of Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 2 from the American Antiquarian Society includes many exceptionally rare imprints. Among them are an illustrated early reader presenting the “inhabitants of the world,” a novella about virtue rewarded, and a comic account of a clever Scotsman who entertained and defied King James VI.


 

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Inhabitants of the World, Alphabetically Arranged (1818)

 

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This imprint was donated to the American Antiquarian Society by James d’Alté Aldridge Welch (1907-1970) who was a noted collector of early American children’s books and who published bibliographies of this genre. One of the extremely rare works he donated to the society, “Inhabitants of the World” has an entry for each letter of the alphabet. Every entry has a handsome illustration and a brief description. Naturally, we begin with A.

African

Though much oppressed, and slaves to many nations, yet they are laborious, forbearing, and ingenious.

‘To kill a man for rumple groans’: Highlights from an American Antiquarian Supplement to Early American Imprints, 1801-1819

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