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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Three 19th-Century Tourist Guides to Civil War Battlefields

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Among the newly digitized works from the American Antiquarian Society in The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922 are travel guides for tourists visiting the Gettysburg and Petersburg battlefields after the Civil War.


Danner's Pocket Guide Book with History of the Battle of Gettysburg (1884)

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This promotional pamphlet encourages visits to the iconic battlefield. In addition to an account of the battle, it includes illustrations, anecdotes, and advertisements, especially for accommodations. The City Hotel, which details its best features and services, boasts of having “Toilet rooms on first and second floors” and “Electric light and bells.” Additionally, it advertises:

Battlefield a specialty. Dinner with drive over the Battlefield with for (sic) or more, $1.35 each. Field Glasses go with every team. Six Battlefield Guides connected with Hotel.

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Another advertiser is W.H. Tipton, “Battlefield Photographer,” who writes, “I have been constantly on the field since July, 1863.”

Three 19th-Century Tourist Guides to Civil War Battlefields

Contraband, Conspiracy, and Political Cartoons: New Works in The American Civil War Collection

154FE302DA7FE3C8.jpgThe current release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society, includes:

  • an unusual Christmas story instructive of the need for faith,
  • an elaborate account of the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln,
  • and a lithographic collection of caricatures, or political cartoons, from the years surrounding and including the Civil War.

Contraband Christmas. By N.W.T.R. With illustrations by Hoppin. (1864)

N.W.T.R are the initials for Nathaniel William Taylor Root (1829-1872) who appears to have been particularly interested in preparing Civil War-era boys for military service. The illustrator is Augustus Hoppin who has previously been featured here for his comical works Carrot-pomade and Hay Fever.

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This tale takes place in Rhode Island and entails the Greene family and their three children the eldest of whom is a soldier in the Union Army. When he had last visited his family on leave, he had brought with him a black man who remained with the family to whom he was introduced as Chrismus. When asked, he explained that his former master had named him thus because he was born on Christmas Day twenty years earlier.

Contraband, Conspiracy, and Political Cartoons: New Works in The American Civil War Collection

The Sylvan Retreats of Early American Gentry: A Newly Available Work in the American Antiquarian Society Supplement

pl_007062016_1001_53420_15_Page_02.jpgIncluded in the July release of newly digitized material from the American Antiquarian Society’s Supplement to Early American Imprints: Shaw-Shoemaker is a collection of intaglio prints created by artist William Russell Birch.  In this important work he depicts many of the elegant country estates of early 19th-century American gentry.


The Country Seats of the United States of North America, With Some Scenes Connected With Them (1809)

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William Russell Birch, an engraver and an enamel portraitist, was born in England in 1775. In his youth he was apprenticed to a jeweler as well as portrait painter Sir Joshua Reynolds. Birch emigrated to the United States in 1794, and in 1809 he published this influential collection of intaglio prints of elegant country homes of prominent Americans.

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This imprint contains little text, but the prints are enchanting in their portrayal of sylvan retreats of America’s earlier gentry. The pleasure of the collection rests entirely on the beauty of his work, which helped shape American style in architecture and landscape design.

The Sylvan Retreats of Early American Gentry: A Newly Available Work in the American Antiquarian Society Supplement

“Glory to God! See the Vermonters go it!”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

Other CW 2 sm.jpgThe current release of imprints from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes an intimate recollection of the first Union general to die in the war, an account of a nostalgic return of aging veterans to the scenes of their service in the war, and a remembered account of a peculiar phenomenon experienced by Union soldiers in Louisiana.


Personal Recollections of General Nathaniel Lyon. Prepared by Companion Brigadier-General William A. Hammond, U.S.A. (1900)

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This imprint is striking, in part, because of the biographies of the author and his subject. Nathaniel Lyon was a general in the U.S. Army early in the Civil War. He had served in both the Second Seminole War and Mexican-American War. He was killed in Missouri on August 10, 1861 at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek becoming the first Union general to die in the conflict. William A. Hammond, a physician, served as the Surgeon General of the United States Army from 1862 to 1864. After the war he became the first American to dedicate his career exclusively to neurology authoring many books and articles on the subject. Late in life Hammond authored this memory of his time with Lyon in the years before the war when both men were posted at Fort Riley.

“Glory to God! See the Vermonters go it!”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

“My knees then smote one against the other”: Highlights from Supplement to Early American Imprints, Shaw-Shoemaker

Monument at Hubbardton Battlefield, Hubbardton, Vermont, commemorating Revolutionary War battle of 7 July 1777.This month’s release of new material in the Early American Imprints Supplement from the American Antiquarian Society includes:

• a biographical account of a young American rebel who was wounded and captured by the British in the Battle of Hubbardton

• an odd tale of a vision experienced by a traveler in the early 19th century

• and an appeal from the Shakers in New York, pleading for their status as conscientious objectors to military service. 


 

“My knees then smote one against the other”: Highlights from Supplement to Early American Imprints, Shaw-Shoemaker

“Achievements that should not be omitted”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

The May release of the American Antiquarian Society’s American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922, includes:

• an unusual account of the role that American Indians played in assisting the Union Army in the Trans-Mississippi Theater

• the diary of a young gentleman from Massachusetts recounting his nine months of service in the Union Army’s campaign in North Carolina

• and a program detailing the 1904 National Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic in the city of Boston. 


The Union Indian Brigade in the Civil War (1922)

By Wiley Britton 

The American Civil War Collection includes various accounts of the role that African Americans, both free and enslaved, played in the war on both sides. It is unusual to read an account of the participation of American Indians in the conflict. Wiley Britton provides a detailed and laudatory history of

“Achievements that should not be omitted”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

“A common railer and brawler”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection

The May release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a document arguing that slavery enslaves the owners as well as the enslaved, written by a woman who had lived in the American South, an account of an abolitionist address that ends when the minister delivering it is arrested, and the affecting address to the court from a man found guilty of assisting a fugitive slave in making an escape. 


Influence of Slavery upon the White Population. By a Former Resident of Slave States (1855) 

This tract, published by American Anti-Slavery Society in 1855, was written by Louisa Jane Whiting Baker. She establishes her position at the outset:

A true understanding of the nature and influences of American slavery forces the conviction that this system renders the master no less a “victim” than the slave. The attractive elegances of social life may deceive the superficial observer; but a deeper insight will discover, under this light drapery, not only a world of secret misery, but of hideous corruption.

“A common railer and brawler”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection

“The stylus of history shall make a truthful record”: Highlights from the American Antiquarian Society’s Civil War Collection

The April release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a richly illustrated pictorial history of the war, an essay by a Scottish aristocrat on the causes of the war, and a history of the decade leading to the war written by an abolitionist correspondent from Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune whose views underwent revision and revelation. 


The Pictorial Field Book of the Civil War in the United States of America

By Benson J. Lossing, LL.D. Illustrated by many hundred engravings on wood, by Lossing and Barritt, from sketches by the author and others (1879) 

The promise of the title is not in vain. Indeed, this three-volume work is profusely illustrated. The citation assigns the imprint to the genres of Intaglio prints and Relief prints among others. Further, the citation also references many engravers and illustrators, by name, whose work contributed to the history. Appreciation of this imprint is enhanced by some knowledge of Benson John Lossing, a 19th-century American historian. 

“The stylus of history shall make a truthful record”: Highlights from the American Antiquarian Society’s Civil War Collection

“A Very Surprising Narrative of a Young Woman, Who Was Discovered in a Rocky Cave!” and Other Highlights from the American Antiquarian Society’s Supplement to Early American Imprints: Shaw-Shoemaker

The April release of newly digitized material available in the American Antiquarian Society Supplement to Early American Imprints: Shaw-Shoemaker includes a cautionary account of the death of a child, a captivity narrative which is likely false, and a beautifully illustrated display of engraving ciphers. 


Obituary of Charles Petit, a boy who lately died at the Orphan Asylum, in New York (1818) 

This pamphlet was published by the Philadelphia Female Tract Society and printed by Lydia R. Bailey (1779-1869), one of the most successful women in the 19th-century printing business. While it was not unusual for women to be printers, most commonly because they were the widows or daughters of male printers, Bailey was distinctive. She was active for nearly 50 years and upon her retirement was considered to be the last of the widow printers as the industry and society evolved. 

In contrast to Bailey’s long and successful life, Charles Petit was a poor orphan whose death at an early age is here related.  

“A Very Surprising Narrative of a Young Woman, Who Was Discovered in a Rocky Cave!” and Other Highlights from the American Antiquarian Society’s Supplement to Early American Imprints: Shaw-Shoemaker

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