19th Century


‘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

Disastrous Events, Sorrowful Sam and a Wayward Fish: Early 19th-Century Tales for Children

December’s release of Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 2 from the American Antiquarian Society includes several instructive stories designed to set children on a worthy path in life. Some are prose while others are poetry, and some are illustrated. All are rare.


 

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The Disastrous Events which Attended Joe Dobson: Illustrated with Sixteen Elegant Engravings (1817)

This imprint was published in Philadelphia in 1817 and sold for twenty-five cents. The National Library of Australia provides the only citation on-line other than the American Antiquarian Society. It states that it was “First published in London with title, Cobler [sic], stick to your last, or, The adventures of Joe Dobson / by B.A.T.” The AAS citation also refers to the earlier London publication noting that it appeared in 1809. The complete manuscript appears to be unique to this collection.

Each page of text is illustrated with an engraving, each of which is clearly reproduced. It begins:

Joe Dobson was an Englishman

     In Days of Robin Hood

A Country Farmer, eke was he

     In forest of Sherwood

 

Joe Dobson said unto his Dame,

     I vow that I could do,

More household work in any day,

Disastrous Events, Sorrowful Sam and a Wayward Fish: Early 19th-Century Tales for Children

‘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

Top Ten: The Most Popular Readex Blog Posts Published in 2016

Here are the most-read posts published on the Readex Blog during 2016:

180px-Hubbardton-Battlefield-Monument sm.jpg1. “My knees then smote one against the other”: Highlights from Supplement to Early American Imprints, Shaw-Shoemaker

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... More

Elmira%20barrel sm c2.jpg2. Captured! Firsthand Accounts of Prisoners of War from The American Civil War Collection

Opinions on prisoners of war and prisoner exchanges have dominated recent news cycles. The June release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian... More

Top Ten: The Most Popular Readex Blog Posts Published in 2016

‘The Passions of the People’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

Exercises illustration 4.jpgThe November 2016 release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a personal history of a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church who spent three post-war years in Virginia attempting to reunite the Southern breakaway church with the Northern communion, an account of the erection of a monument to the Union’s first hero of the war, and the observations of people and events witnessed by a telegraph operator in the Department of War.


Virginia After the War: An Account of Three Years’ Experience in Reorganizing the Methodist Episcopal Church in Virginia at the Close of the Civil War by Rev. S. L. M. Conser (1891)

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Rev. Solomon L.M. Conser (1812- ?) was a cleric in the Episcopal Methodist Church for 30 years. Prior to the Civil War he had served as a circuit preacher in southern Virginia. During the war he was a chaplain in the Union Army for two years. 

‘The Passions of the People’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

‘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

Announcing a 2017 ALA Midwinter Breakfast Presentation: ‘American Tragedy: Assailing Common Assumptions about the Civil War’

 

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During the upcoming American Library Association Midwinter Meeting, Readex will host a special Sunday breakfast presentation. Prof. David Goldfield, an exciting speaker and acclaimed authority on the American South, will present “American Tragedy: Assailing Common Assumptions about the Civil War.”

About the Presentation

Goldfield 3.jpgFor the past 50 years historians have achieved a consensus on the interpretative narrative of the American Civil War: that slavery was the primary cause of the conflict, and that the war—while bloody—produced two great results: the abolition of slavery and the salvation of the Union. Beyond the war itself, the same narrative asserts that Reconstruction was a noble but failed attempt to bind up the Union and provide the basic rights of citizenship for the freed slaves. There is nothing inherently wrong with this account, but it is woefully incomplete and, therefore, misleading.

Announcing a 2017 ALA Midwinter Breakfast Presentation: ‘American Tragedy: Assailing Common Assumptions about the Civil War’

‘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

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

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