America's Historical Imprints


‘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

‘What a Bummer knows’ and Other Newly Added Books in The American Civil War Collection

Berne 4 a.jpgThe December release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes: the first-hand account of one of Sherman’s notorious bummers—the nickname used to describe the men under Sherman’s Union army who took food from Southern homes; a short work of wartime fiction from a New England woman; and the history of a monument erected in remembrance of the Massachusetts men who died on North Carolina battlefields.


 

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Bentonville: What a bummer knows about it. Prepared by companion Brevet Major Charles E. Belknap, U.S. Volunteers, read at the stated meeting of January 4, 1893 (1893)

The 21st Michigan Volunteer Infantry website provides an obituary for Captain Charles E. Belknap (1846-1929) and this inscription on his memorial in Grand Rapids, Michigan:

‘What a Bummer knows’ and Other Newly Added Books in The American Civil War Collection

Stearns on Stearns: ‘The Universal Kalendar’ for 1784

The November release of Early American Imprints, Series I: Supplement from the American Antiquarian Society includes a Revolutionary Era almanac created by a complicated, autodidactic scientist and physician whose life was defined by his Tory sympathies during and after the Revolution. He also happens to be a distant relative.


The Universal Kalendar, and the North-American's Almanack, for the Year of our Lord Christ, 1784: Calculated for the Latitude and Longitude of the City of New-York (1783)

By Samuel Stearns, professor of mathematicks and physic

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Containing,

(Besides the usual Astronomical Calculations)

The most excellent and comprehensive Tide Tables, ever published in North-America—Observable Days—Physical Receipts—Remarkable Events—and An Account of the Times, the Battles have happened in the late War; with many other Things, very useful and entertaining.

 

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Stearns on Stearns: ‘The Universal Kalendar’ for 1784

‘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

‘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

‘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

Students Becoming Scholars: Using Digital Archives to Create a Powerful Primary Source Assignment [Webinar on Demand]

In a recent webinar, Dr. Julie Voss, Associate Professor, Department of English, Lenoir-Rhyne University, shared her experience using a digital archive of 18th-century books, broadsides and pamphlets to fascinate and challenge an undergraduate class of English majors. Using the Readex Early American Imprints collection, she asked her students to select an out-of-print text and then create an original modern edition of the work. Throughout this process, they experienced the joys and frustrations of working with rare old books, expanded their repertoire of research skills, and, in the end, began to see themselves as legitimate scholars.

Attendees told us they were hoping to:

  • Gain new ideas for engaging students in research using primary sources
  • Learn practical ways for using this kind of assignment in the classroom
  • Hear about collaboration between faculty and librarians

According to our follow up survey, their expectations were met!

“I especially appreciated learning new ways of assessing students’ knowledge. I knew a standard English research paper was not appropriate, but didn't know how to design a project.”

“Prof. Voss's project has given me ideas for expanding current student projects.”

And attendees left with ideas for implementing primary source research at their institutions:

“We look forward to expanding this project to include not only items from digital archive databases, but documents and manuscripts from our physical archives.”

Students Becoming Scholars: Using Digital Archives to Create a Powerful Primary Source Assignment [Webinar on Demand]

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