Seamus Dunphy


About Author: 

A Readex Editorial Content Analyst, Seamus joined NewsBank in 2006 as a U.S. Congressional Serial Set indexer. He received his BA in History from Marlboro College and continues to study political science and economics. His passion for organic gardening stems from the lessons of hard work and sustainable living he learned on his family’s farm.

Posts by this Author

‘Catch the Itch’: Three Newly Digitized Works from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

The January release of Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a 17th-century report on the British territories across the Atlantic, an 18th-century essay on diseases of the West Indies and their remedies, and a 19th-century collection of casually racist drawings.


 

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The Present State of His Majesties Isles and Territories in America (1687)

By Richard Blome

Richard Blome (1635-1705) was an English author and cartographer. His report on the American Territories is accompanied by maps, astronomical charts, and “a table by which, at any time of the day or night here in England, you may know what hour it is in any of those parts.”

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In addition to charts and tables, Blome’s book contains thrilling descriptions of the natural world of the Caribbean. Here’s his account of dangers beneath the surface of the seas around Antigua.

‘Catch the Itch’: Three Newly Digitized Works from Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920

‘Frowning upon every privilege of birth’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

Included in the January 2017 release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia are several works that provide insight into the conditions under which many African Americans lived in Antebellum America.


The Farmer’s Accountant and Instructions for Overseers (1828)

By Pleasant Suit

Pleasant Suit, the author of this bookkeeping guide for farmers, notes that he has “been in the habit of keeping Books upwards of thirty years, part of the time in the largest importing and exporting Mercantile house in Virginia.”  He illustrates his method of accounting for African Americans among other “stock accounts” with charts like this:

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Entries in the book’s “F.A.Q.” section include:

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Q. Why do you debit Negro account to Stock account?

A. Because it is a component part of it, and it enables you at all times to know how many you have, by comparing the debtor’s side with the credit: If any are sold you credit the account by what you receive, and if one or more dies you credit the account by Profit and Loss for the valuation; and if your women should have children, you debit this amount to Profit and Loss for the number and value of them.

Q. Why do you debit Horse account to Stock account?

‘Frowning upon every privilege of birth’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

‘Lifeless in the snow’: The Schoolhouse Blizzard of 1888

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On January 12, 1888, an unexpected blizzard rushed across the American Northwest. The storm arrived on a relatively warm day and many people were unprepared when the temperature plunged that afternoon. Under the headline, “Midnight at Noon,” the Boston Daily Advertiser reported:

At Fargo…mercury 47’ below zero and a hurricane blowing….At Neche, Dak. the thermometer is 58’ below zero.

Reports in Early American Newspapers include many accounts of adults and children caught in the lethal blizzard. Although relatively few of its victims were schoolchildren, the historic event is now commonly referred to as the Schoolhouse or Schoolchildren’s Blizzard. The plight of schoolchildren was an immediate focus of the reporting. On Jan. 13, the Duluth Daily News wrote:

“The storm came up suddenly and it is feared that many school children who were out on the prairie are lost. Whistles were kept blowing all day as signals to the unfortunates.”

On the same day, the Boston Daily Journal added more details:

‘Lifeless in the snow’: The Schoolhouse Blizzard of 1888

‘A new species of Monster’: Newly Digitized Items in Early American Imprints, Series II

GerryMonster 4.jpgThe December release of Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 1 from the American Antiquarian Society includes rare broadsides on health, politics, and entertainment. This release, which also contains a scarce atlas mapping the West Indies, is the final major release of this collection.


 

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Indian Medicines: Recommendations and Directions (1805)

By Charity Shaw

Early nineteenth-century America saw the commercialization of many aspects of American Indian culture, including the use of therapeutic herbs and other approaches to popular medicine. Charity Shaw offers an array of remedies for a wider range of maladies, writing:

Indian Medicines, composed of roots and herbs only, adapted to almost every complaint, so rapid in their progress, that one week will decide their power and efficacy. Indisputable testimonies can be produced, of their curing numbers of the Dysentery (in three days,) Canker, Tooth Ache, Rheumatism, contracted Sinews, callous Swellings, Gravel, Tape-Worm and all others in old and young, Scrofulous Humours, Cancers, Itch, Hooping Cough, Consumptive and Liver Complaints, Leprosy, Sciatica, Dropsy and Fevers, since May last.

One such testimonial is offered by Freelove Boyden:

‘A new species of Monster’: Newly Digitized Items in Early American Imprints, Series II

‘A Weapon of the Deadliest Kind’: Selections from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The December release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a patently racist collection “of laughable caricatures on the march of manners amongst the blacks,” a fictional memoir of questionable morality, and a proposed solution to “a menace to American civilization” by a white supremacist.


 

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Tregear's Black Jokes (1834)

London-based publisher Gabriel Shear Tregear (1802-1841) managed his Humorous and Sporting Print Shop from the late 1820s to his death. His shop was renowned, and later infamous, for the multitude of caricatures and prints filling its windows. He was forced to reduce the number of displayed items after a child was struck accidently by a passing wagon due to the size of the gathered crowd near the shop. This hard-to-find collection of drawings by little-known artist W. Summers illustrates the societal racism of the period. It also includes the scarce plates numbered 1, 2, 5, 13, 14, 17, and 20.

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The Memoirs of Dolly Morton (1904)

By Hugues Rebell

‘A Weapon of the Deadliest Kind’: Selections from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

‘Progressive and Arrogant Pretensions’: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

The November release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes responses by three Southern senators to anti-slavery resolutions enacted in Vermont, a call for placing temperance and abolitionism above political party, and a speech by Charles Sumner on the “origin, necessity and permanence” of the Republican Party.


Remarks of Messrs. Clemens, Butler, and Jefferson Davis, on the Vermont Resolutions Relating to Slavery (1850)

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On January 10, 1850, Senators Jeremiah Clemens, Andrew Butler, and Jefferson Davis delivered speeches before the U.S. Senate responding to several anti-slavery resolutions passed by the Vermont General Assembly and presented to the U.S. Senate. The first resolution found:

That slavery is a crime against humanity, and a sore evil in the body politic, that was excused in the framers of the Federal Constitution as a crime entailed upon the country by their predecessors and tolerated solely as a thing of inexorable necessity.

The General Assembly further resolved to petition Vermont’s U.S. Senators to resist the extension of slavery to the territories. Senator Clemens began his remarks by explaining why he had not attempted to block a motion to print the resolutions:

‘Progressive and Arrogant Pretensions’: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

‘Idle Amusements’: Highlights from Early American Imprints, Series II, Supplement 2

November’s release of Early American Imprints, Series II, Supplement 2 from the American Antiquarian Society, 1801-1819, contains more than two dozen rare broadsides covering a wide variety of topics. They range from legislative acts regarding taxation of theatrical exhibitions and regulations for New York Harbor to advertisements from an assortment of early 19th-century businesses. Also found in this release is a diverse array of scarce juvenile literature, including collections of poems, prayers, and short stories; instructional primers such as spellers, alphabet books, and grammars; and works containing nursery rhymes, riddles, and Bible stories.


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An Act, To Regulate and Tax Theatrical Exhibitions in the City of New York, and for other purposes therein mentioned (1802)

By the Legislative Assembly of the State of New York

WHEREAS Theatrical Exhibitions and the like idle amusements have a tendency to corrupt the morals of Youth in general, and frequently prove a source of distress to families: Therefore, BE IT ENACTED by the People of the State of New-York, represented in Senate and Assembly, That it shall be lawful, from and after the passing of this Act, for the Mayor, Aldermen and Commonalty of the city of New York, and they are hereby authorized and directed to levy and collect a tax of [   ] per cent, on all Tickets, to be issued by them, for Theatrical Exhibitions within the said city.

‘Idle Amusements’: Highlights from Early American Imprints, Series II, Supplement 2

‘Gas! Gas! Gas!’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The November 2016 release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes several Antebellum broadsides announcing a variety of entertainment events, a volume describing a dangerous expedition to Central Africa, and a Reconstruction-era speech delivered in the U.S. Senate by a former Republican governor from Indiana.


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Gas! Gas! Gas! (1853)

By Masonic Hall (Philadelphia, PA)

This broadside advertises a number of extraordinary attractions including an infant percussionist “who beats over one hundred popular airs on the drum” and B.S. Bowen, the “celebrated banjoist and Southern Ethiopian delineator.” However, the main attraction was undoubtedly Dr. Greenwood’s exhibition of nitrous oxide, or laughing gas.

…Professor Greenwood will exhibit his nitrous oxide gas being the only person now engaged in exhibiting its most pleasing and sensitive powers in public exhibitions. Upwards of 500,000 persons, both Ladies and Gentlemen, have inhaled this most wonderful Gas, administered only by Professor Greenwood, a great many of whom have admitted to have been greatly benefited by its most wonderful powers.


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An Account of the Progress of the Expedition to Central Africa (1854)

‘Gas! Gas! Gas!’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

‘Deceive and Distress Your Adversaries’: Highlights from Early American Imprints, Series II, Supplement 2

The first release of Early American Imprints, Series II, Supplement 2 from the American Antiquarian Society, 1801-1819 includes a two-volume compilation of an 1808 magazine parodying culture and politics, a book of rules and improvements to various recreational pastimes, and “a new and complete system of fortune telling” published in 1817.


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Salmagundi (1808)

Salmagundi, subtitled The Whim-whams and Opinions of Launcelot Langstaff, Esq. and Others, was a satirical periodical lampooning New York City culture and politics. The authors, Washington Irving, his brother William, and James Kirke Paulding, produced 20 issues between January 24, 1807, and January 15, 1808, before the magazine was discontinued due to a disagreement between the writers and the publisher. Articles appeared under a variety of pseudonyms including Will Wizard, Launcelot Langstaff, Pindar Cockloft, and Mustapha Rub-a-Dub Keli Khan.

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Each issue begins with the following lines of mock Latin and their translation:

In hoc est hoax, cum quiz et joksez,

Et smokem, toastem, roastem folksez

Fee, faw, fum.

                                                            Psalmanazar

‘Deceive and Distress Your Adversaries’: Highlights from Early American Imprints, Series II, Supplement 2

‘Two Strange Lumps of Humanity’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The October release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes an autobiography by conjoined twins, instructions on how to stage a successful minstrel show, and a collection of racist illustrations depicting African Americans in the South.


 

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History and Medical Description of the Two-headed Girl (1869)

 

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We are, indeed, a strange people, justly regarded both by scientific and ordinary eyes as the greatest natural curiosities the world has ever had sent upon its surface.

Millie and Christina were born into slavery in North Carolina in 1852. In addition to the “two-headed girl,” they were referred to as the Carolina twins, the United African twins, and the two-headed nightingale. They write in their autobiography about having been bought and sold several times while still in their infancy:

…we became separated from our parents, and after a few more transfers in the way of ownership, became the property of Mr. Jos. P. Smith, who gave for us, two strange lumps of humanity, the sum of $30,000. He, with a goodness of heart…ascertained where our parents were…purchased them, and all our little brothers and sisters, thus bringing a long separated family together…

‘Two Strange Lumps of Humanity’: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

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