19th Century


“A Land under the Curse of Slavery”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

The February release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes letters of dissent from within the Presbyterian Church, a compilation of judicial biographies titled Atrocious Judges, and a reminder that America’s peculiar institution was not limited to the South. 


Slavery and the Church (1856)  

By Smectymnuus 

Writing under the pseudonym Smectymnuus, the author rebuts arguments presented by the Reverends Nathan Lewis Rice and Nehemiah Adams. He explains “Smectymnuus” is derived from the initials of “the names of five Puritan Divines, who wrote a celebrated treatise in favor of their principles, under this title, in a period of persecution…” 

Alluding to his own potential persecution, the author justifies shielding his given name, noting:  

“A Land under the Curse of Slavery”: Highlights from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

American Mineral Waters, Resorts and Mad Houses: Physical and Mental Health Concerns in 19th-Century Pamphlets

The January release of American Pamphlets, 1820-1922: From the New-York Historical Society includes several works addressing the physical and mental health concerns of 19th-century Americans. Among these are a measured evaluation of the efficacy of the mineral waters at the White Sulphur Springs of West Virginia, an assessment of the winter resorts physicians might choose to recommend to their patients, and a first-hand review of the care of mentally ill people. 


Virginia White Sulphur Springs with the analysis of its waters, the diseases to which they are applicable, and some account of society and its amusements at the Springs (1869) 

By J. J. Moorman, Physician to the White Sulphur Springs; Professor of Medical Jurisprudence and Hygiene in the Washington University, Baltimore; Member of the Baltimore Medical Association, &c.  

Doctor Moorman takes care not to promise definite results for specific complaints as a result of taking the waters at White Sulphur Springs because “such certificates, while they might be serviceable in some cases, would nevertheless, be liable to mislead from the want of proper and scientific discrimination as to the precise nature of the cases given.” However, he is most enthusiastic about the generally beneficial aspects of the waters and the climate: 

American Mineral Waters, Resorts and Mad Houses: Physical and Mental Health Concerns in 19th-Century Pamphlets

Just published—The Readex Report: February 2016

In this issue, Professor Joycelyn Moody challenges students in a Spring 2015 graduate seminar to collaboratively craft articles fueled by discoveries within Afro-Americana Imprints. Moody discusses the students’ work in the context of black/white relations post-Ferguson. The three student-written articles—also published here—focus on female interracial activism, the subtext of Christian abolitionist works, and the motives of 19th-century benefactors.


Unlearning from Uncle Tom's Cabin in Black Literary Studies After Ferguson: Perspectives from a Graduate Seminar Utilizing Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922 

By Joycelyn Moody, Sue E. Denman Distinguished Chair in American Literature, University of Texas at San Antonio

Just published—The Readex Report: February 2016

“Tribal memories, ancestral superstitions, and racial wisdom”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

The January 2016 release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a Frenchman’s description of late 18th-century South Africa, a Briton’s account of early 19th-century America, and an African American’s early 20th-century compilation of folk rhymes.  


Travels into the Interior Parts of Africa (1790)

By Francois Le Vaillant 

Francois Le Vaillant was born in Paramaribo, Surinam, in 1753 to a wealthy French merchant. When he was about ten years old, his family returned to Europe where Le Vaillant would later study natural history and ornithology. In the 1780s Le Vaillant explored South Africa, amassing an extensive collection of birds from which he described many new species. This collection formed the basis for several multivolume works about the peoples and natural history of South Africa. 

 

“Tribal memories, ancestral superstitions, and racial wisdom”: Highlights from Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922

Educated Fleas, Health-Giving Beer, and Sweet-Smelling Elephants: Highlights from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

The December release of the New-York Historical Society’s American Pamphlets includes a publication by the inventor of the flea circus (with descriptions of more than 15 individual acts), a glossy promotional pamphlet from a 19th-century beer brewery, which offers a room-by-room tour of their Manhattan plant, and a brief book about elephants with striking engravings.


The history of the flea; with notes, observations and amusing anecdotes. By L. Bertolotto, the original inventor of the exhibition of educated fleas (1876)

 

Legs have I, and never walk,

I backbite all, but never talk.

Mr. Bertolotto lived in London where he claims he was the first to exhibit what came to be known as a flea circus. This is his account of how he manipulated the fleas into unusual behavior and developed that “invention” into his exhibition of their performances for many of the crowned heads of Europe. Apparently, it was a sensation. He begins with a scientific examination of the insect:

Pulex, the Flea, in Zoology, a genus of insects belonging to the order of Aptera. It has two eyes, and six feet, fitted for leaping, the feelers are like threads, the rostrum is inflected, setaceous, armed with a sting, and the belly is compressed.

He notes that: 

Educated Fleas, Health-Giving Beer, and Sweet-Smelling Elephants: Highlights from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922

“Never-Failing Fount of Loyalty and Patriotism”: Perspectives on African Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces

The current release of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia includes three important perspectives on African Americans in the armed forces. John Henry Paynter writes of being a cabin-boy in the U.S. Navy and seeing much of the world in the late-19th century; Theophilus Gould Steward, himself a Buffalo Soldier, explores the role of African Americans in American military conflicts from the Revolution to the Spanish-American War; and Kelly Miller presents an account of the contributions of African Americans in World War I.


Joining the Navy: Abroad with Uncle Sam (1895)

By John Henry Paynter

I believe that the public generally desires to be informed somewhat of the personal history of the author whose work engages their attention; in deference to that impression I may say briefly that I was born at New Castle, Delaware, on the 15th of February, 1862, in the house where my paternal grandmother now lives. My father came to Washington…in 1858…having been given a place under the government. My mother, whom I do not remember, survived but a little while the birth of my sister, who in turn after a few brief months followed her into the angel land.

“Never-Failing Fount of Loyalty and Patriotism”: Perspectives on African Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces

“Here Dwells Youth”: Selections from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922: From the New-York Historical Society

Included in this month’s release are pamphlets on American food and cookery, a satire on the role of insurance companies in the aftermath of the Great Chicago fire, a promotional brochure touting a revolutionary beauty treatment, a colorful souvenir program from the Russian Ballet’s visit to New York City in 1916, and elegant catalogs from coach and automobile manufacturers.

Here are descriptions of the latter three.

 


The New Beauty (1921)

“Here Dwells Youth” trumpets the first page of this illustrated pamphlet produced by Primrose House on East 52nd Street in New York City. This establishment promised women the key to manifesting their real beauty, proclaiming:

That subtle beauty really is within every woman. When she can be made to realize that, her ability to express it will simply have to follow a really scientific method of correcting difficulties and of bringing out her own best points.

This “really scientific method” was called the “Primrose House Face-Molding Treatments.”

The potential client is counseled that “It is careless and unnecessary for a woman to allow signs of neglect—a sagging chin, a drooping cheek, a tired eye” because, after all, “Every man likes to feel proud of his wife. Children love to think mother is the most beautiful person they know.”

There is a description of the lengths to which the founder of Primrose House and her staff have gone to collect only the most exotic beauty preparations from the four corners of the Earth:

“Here Dwells Youth”: Selections from American Pamphlets, 1820-1922: From the New-York Historical Society

Lugubrious Grins, Annual Attacks, and the Social Circus: Highlights from Three Creatively Illustrated 19th-Century Works

In the October release of American Pamphlets, 1820-1922: From the New-York Historical Society are three whimsical and elaborately illustrated pamphlets unique to this collection. The first two are by illustrator Augustus Hoppin (1828-1896), a widely published American caricaturist who appears to have been largely obscured in the mist of history. We are fortunate to have access to his flights of fancy, highlights of which are seen below. The third work featured here is by another prolific illustrator who flourished at the end of the 19th-century. A master of the Art Nouveau style, H.W. McVickar also remains nearly completely forgotten today.


Carrot-pomade, with twenty-six illustrations by Augustus Hoppin (1864)

Carrot-pomade describes the alchemy that transforms carrots into a miraculous ointment which stimulates and regenerates hair growth: “Hair ten carats fine!” boasts the title page.

 

Author/illustrator Hoppin dedicates his work, “To All those who have witnessed the wonderful effects of Carrot-Pomade on the waste places of the human cranium…” Each illustration corresponds to a letter of the alphabet, beginning with “A is Adolphe with lugubrious grin,” “B is the Bald-spot where the hair is so thin.”

 

Lugubrious Grins, Annual Attacks, and the Social Circus: Highlights from Three Creatively Illustrated 19th-Century Works

Civil War Artwork, Romance, and First-Person Accounts

From The American Civil War CollectionThe current release of imprints from the American Antiquarian Society’s The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922, includes many fine examples of illustrated Civil War envelopes, a scathing indictment of the pension system for veterans and their widows, and an old soldier’s reminiscences of his Union Army service.


The Loyalty States, Union. Illinois (1861)

From The American Civil War CollectionThis single example of the genre Civil War envelopes is from the state of Illinois. To be fully appreciated, it is helpful to view this scarce printed item in context with all of the Civil War envelopes found in the American Antiquarian Society’s extraordinary holdings, many of which are available in this online collection, as seen in the examples below.

According to the American Antiquarian Society (AAS),

Publication of Civil War envelopes began as early as the mid-1850’s, when north-south divisions began to take shape, but ended prior to the war’s conclusion because most believed that it was too indulgent and expensive to continue production in time of war.

 All of the envelopes were decorated with illustrations, many of them in color. The AAS further explains:

Civil War Artwork, Romance, and First-Person Accounts

“A Crime of the Deepest Dye”: Speeches from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

The October release of The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes speeches illustrating the growing controversy surrounding America’s peculiar institution in the decade leading up to the Civil War.

Highlighted here are speeches from the floor of the House of Representatives, the floor of the Senate of Massachusetts, and a street corner in Alton, Illinois.


Ohio congressman Joshua Reed GiddingsPayment for Slaves (1849)

Speech of Representative Joshua Reed Giddings

In dissenting to legislation before the U.S. House of Representatives—the “Bill To Pay the Heirs of Antonio Pacheco for a Slave Sent West of the Mississippi with the Seminole Indians in 1838”—Ohio congressman Joshua Reed Giddings makes both an emotional and technical argument after giving a brief background of the case.

The claimant, in 1835, residing in Florida, professed to own a negro man named Lewis….The master hired him to an officer of the United States, to act as a guide to the troops under the command of Major Dade, for which he was to receive twenty-five dollars per month.

It is unclear whether Lewis deserted the army or was captured by the enemy when Dade was defeated, but Lewis was recaptured in 1837 by U.S. General Jesup who…

“A Crime of the Deepest Dye”: Speeches from The American Slavery Collection, 1820-1922

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