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Home » About » Blog » New Manuscript Finding Aids: Winter 2023 Part One

Collections of manuscripts continue to be added to the Clements Library’s holdings to benefit the learning and research of our community of users. The most recent batch of new finding aids includes several thematic groupings, underscoring how archival collections speak to each other and work together to deepen our collective knowledge about the past.

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Children and Education

Materials that demonstrate educational practices have much to tell us about how children learned, what Americans valued, and pedagogical principles. Many of these collections also give glimpses into children’s social lives, with doodles, notes, and commentary added, revealing how education fit within a much wider world for them.

Lila Moran student notebook (1883-1905, bulk 1889)

Lila Moran kept this notebook while a student in Norwich, Connecticut, in 1889. The bulk of the volume consists of compositions relating to British history and vocabulary terms and their definitions. Other content includes two drawings of women, a partial tracing of a hand, and directions for two supernatural rituals or games relating to predicting the future.

Willard Smith Niles manuscript school attendance book (1841-1849, 1864)

This slim volume contains lists of Willard S. Niles’ students at various locations in New York State, scholars’ attendance, and other records between 1841 and 1849. The attendance rolls are divided by commencement date and each student’s name is followed by a row of hash marks. Niles’ children used most of the pages’ margins and blank spaces to practice penmanship, jot their address, repeat student names, and in one case copy a letter from Hiram Niles in Iowa. The letter copy reads “It is very loathsome and mean and disgusting in you not to write once in a month if I get down.” The blank book has tan, paper covers. Printed on the front cover is WRITING BOOK. THE PROPERTY OF MANUFACTURED AND SOLD BY B. MAYNARD… Hamilton, N.Y.: Imprint of G. R. Waldron & Co., with images of a patriotic eagle and shield, small oval depictions of a woman with a ship in the background, and decorative borders. The back cover bears a printed multiplication table.

This pen-and-ink drawing of a woman appears in the opening pages of Lila Moran’s student notebook.

Mary Crawford Penmanship copybooks (1898)

This collection is made up of two slim, pre-printed “Common School Course” penmanship copybooks filled in by Mary Crawford in 1898. Included is a revised edition of the Spencerian system of penmanship, P.R. Spencer. American Book Company, copyright Ivison, Blakeman & Co., 1888. This item includes printed pages of practice sheets and endpapers with printed charts of letter formations, summaries of content, principles, illustrations showing body and hand positioning, and example movement-drill exercises. The second volume is No. 3 Columbia Practical System Vertical Writing by T. H. M’Cool… Philadelphia: Columbia Book Company, 1898. This item includes printed pages of practice sheets and endpapers with printed illustrations showing body and hand positioning, hints to teachers, series synopses, and features of the series.

John Morison copybook (1764-1772)

John Morison of Windham, New Hampshire, compiled this mathematical cypher book, containing extensive notes and practice problems on sailing, surveying, trigonometry, accounting, weights and measures, arithmetic, algebra, fractions, decimals, geometry, geodesia, and navigation. Many of the signatures are of different-size paper and stitched together using different thread. The final signature is upside down from the rest of the volume and contains penmanship practice, poetry, a song, scattered family names, miscellaneous figures, and drawings (including a windmill).

Gilbert Attwood manuscript magazine, The Nick-Nack (1840)

Teenager Gilbert Attwood created this 8-page manuscript magazine titled “The Nick-Nack” (vol. 1) while attending high school in 1840. The magazine features humorous articles and advertisements, comments about Attwood’s teachers and classmates, and several small drawings.

Margaret Montgomery copybook (1809-1838, bulk 1809)

Margaret (“Peggy”) Montgomery kept this copybook in 1809 to practice her penmanship. She copied religious and moral proverbs, poems, and passages, as well as short phrases, alphabets, and examples of financial receipts. The place name “Windham” appears throughout the volume, but no state is provided. At the back of the volume, from May to June 1838, Margaret Montgomery documented accusations that she had stolen teaspoons and detailed her interactions related to the matter. An undated medicinal recipe and directions for its use appear near the end of the volume for the treatment of an unspecified complaint.

Marion Shipley diary, scrapbook, and picture book (1898-1908, bulk 1906-1908)

Marion Shipley compiled this volume while a pre-adolescent and teenager in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She made collages and colored pencil drawings of domestic scenes, exteriors of residences and gardens, animals, and more. The volume also includes diary entries relating to her social life, humor, and experiences at a school at or near the Naval Academy in Portsmouth. She wrote about getting in trouble in class, passing notes, and flirtatious or romantic relationships. Shipley also pasted and laid in correspondence sent to her by young men courting her, and she added brief comments in the volume speaking to her current romantic interests. Several newspaper clippings also feature male actors and royalty, providing additional information about teenage romantic exploration.

Young adolescent relationships are documented in Marion Shipley’s diary, scrapbook, and picture book. This golden heart was painted by a smitten suitor.

Temperance and Intemperance

Nineteenth-century Americans were heavily involved in temperance movements, concerned about the negative effects of alcohol on individuals’ morals and society writ large. And yet, people still continued to drink and taverns were an important part of communal life. It is no surprise, then, that the Clements continues to acquire materials documenting the robust and complicated realm of drinking culture and reform movements.

Temperance Speech manuscript ([1840s-1850s?])

This 8-page manuscript speech was written by a currently unidentified author in the United States seeking the presidency in a temperance society, perhaps sometime in the 1840s or 1850s. The orator addressed “Fellow Citizens” and focused their anti-alcohol rhetoric on moral, social, and political issues. They focused on the fiscal costs of prosecutions, imprisonment, and overcrowded jails; on election corruption due to intemperate men selling their votes for alcohol money; and on the damnation of “drunkards” resulting from the immorality of liquor distributors. He expressed sympathy for the intemperate while simultaneously blaming them for moral failings. Brief references to the sex of the intemperate and conflict with Great Britain are present. The orator occasionally drew language and comparisons used in speeches and letters of the American Temperance Union, New-York Society for the Promotion of Intemperance, and others.

True family account book and family history (1761-1771, 1848-1863)

This account book kept largely by Jacob, Anne, and Anna True consists of records relating to their family business in Salisbury, Massachusetts. The True family ran a multi-purpose organization and operated it as a tavern, inn, bank, and store for foodstuffs and other goods. The volume also contains a narration and history of the extended True family, a study of the Webster family, and a 16-page recounting of the American Revolutionary War naval battle between the Bonhomme Richard and the HMS Serapis.

Jacob A. Kip account book (1742-1780)

Jacob A. Kip, a Dutch-descended New Yorker, kept this account book between 1742 and 1780, recording his customers’ purchases. Kip operated a tavern and ran a ferry across the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn. The accounts include debtors’ names, goods or services, and prices. Tavern accounts contain ongoing purchases of mugs, drams, and other relatively small amounts of alcoholic beverages (such as beer, cider, rum, wine, gin, grog, sling, toddies, and punch), tobacco, occasional breakfasts, and dinners. Ferry-related charges include the number of people (e.g., transport of a man, a wife, and a servant) and horses, and/or the goods being transported. Kip wrote phonetically in English and Dutch, and a number of his clients had Dutch surnames. Rarely, Kip noted the professions of his customers (such as a schoolteacher and a clerk).

Polkville (N.Y.) manuscript temperance address (1848)

This impassioned speech about the dangers of intemperance, licentiousness, and infidelity was given at Polkville, New York, in May 1848. The currently unidentified orator warned against traveling exhibitions, theater, sleight of hand, “modern ballroom influence,” and public singing.

Middlebrook Council No. 61 Friends of Temperance meeting minutes (1848-1878, bulk 1869-1871)

This volume contains the meeting minutes for the Middlebrook Council No. 61 Friends of Temperance in Middlebrook, Virginia. The records cover its founding in 1869 with their constitution and minutes through 1871 (largely consisting of the names of members who attended the meetings). At one meeting, a member was punished for drinking cider on New Years’ Day. The remainder of the volume contains scribbles, penmanship practice, math problems, and additional content.

Madison (Conn.) temperance speech ([1849?])

A currently unidentified person wrote this temperance speech in Madison, Connecticut, around 1849. The writer included extracts from previous annual reports of the Madison Temperance Society and provided a brief history of the society before writing about the effect of drinking and temperance on society.

Michael J. Daly notebook (1935)

This notebook pertains to two alcohol tax cases investigated by Michael J. Daly of the Internal Revenue Service. Both cases occurred in Massachusetts in mid-winter 1935.


While religion and its influence can be found embedded throughout the Clements’ holdings, the following new finding aids have it at their heart.

Charles Barrell letters (1855-1857)

This collection contains six letters by Charles Barrell to his sister Mary and father George, while he attended the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria (1855) and while he traveled to Beirut and London (1857, 1859). The primary topic of his letters to Mary was the search for his own personal understanding of Christian religious belief. At the seminary, he expressed his deep frustrations with churches and rejected authoritative interpretations of scripture by clergymen. He explored Episcopalian evangelicalism, reflected on “Second-Advent” ministry, and traveled in the near East to find peace in his “heart & mind” and to seek independence from his family and financial support. Barrell harshly judged people who did not believe or practice religion “right,” treated skeptically those who followed “the multitude,” and expressed regular concerns about his reputation. His relationship with his father and his father’s opinions of him and his activities are a regular topic of discussion.

A Missionary’s Fate. A Prophecy illustrated poem ([1868-1870s?])

An anonymous author dedicated this 44cm x 29cm volume, “A Missionary’s Fate. A Prophecy,” to Miss Minnie Jenks, in or after 1868. It includes seven pages of neatly written, rhyming, narrative poetry accompanied by five ink and watercolor illustrations. This xenophobic cautionary poem and illustrations trace a young woman’s fatal transatlantic Christian missionary expedition. She departs the United States intending to convert and teach Assamese people, but she is instead transported to Africa where her solitary missionary efforts result in her murder and cannibalization. The illustrations include her seaside departure, the missionary standing on a stump and singing to (racist caricatures of) African men, cannibalism, African men trying on the woman’s clothing, and a scene of grief back in the United States.

Pond family drawings ([ca. 1880s])

The collection consists of hand-made sketchbooks and loose sheets of paper featuring drawings likely made by children Edith, Jennie, and Theodore Pond while residing in Syria (present-day Lebanon) with their missionary parents, Theodore S. Pond and Julia Pond. Prominent imagery depicted includes domestic scenes, women and children at work and play, and women tending to the sick. The Ponds rarely specified locations in their drawings, and while they may have been generic or imagined scenes some may have been made to reflect the Pond family’s residence or experience while in Syria (present-day Lebanon).

The evocative artwork in the Pond family drawings include detailed domestic scenes and images centering women and children.