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

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.

We are excited to continue sharing new finding aids to connect students and researchers with the extraordinary manuscript collections at the Clements Library. In this post we will highlight materials relating to Labor and Industry, Print Culture, and Daily Life and Social Networks.

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Labor and Industry

Letters and documents that reflect on business provide rich detail on the economic and social histories of the Americas. They help us see how people traded, what goods people purchased, how items were produced, how they were valued, and even how people related to accounting and math. There is much to be uncovered by exploring collections like the ones shown below.

Henry Stahl collection (1877-1902, bulk 1882-1892)

This collection consists of incoming letters and printed items to Henry Stahl, undertaker at Homeworth and nearby Washington Township, Ohio, in the late 19th century. Stahl kept letters, receipts, and trade cards, plus printed pamphlets, advertisements, and price lists for funeral home supplies and stock. They pertain to caskets and children’s coffins, floral designs, wrappers, linings, trimmings, embalming fluid, headstones/tombstones/monuments, trade magazine subscriptions, and other items. Businesses that Stahl engaged with include Hamilton, Lemmon, Arnold & Company; Excelsior Coffin and Casket Works; Detroit Metallic Casket Company; Cincinnati Coffin Company; and others.

David McCreary receipts (1837-1931, bulk 1837-1862)

This collection is made up of 113 receipts for purchases and sales by David McCreary, a New York State mason, carpenter, and construction worker. These receipts are largely from in and near Caledonia, New York. McCreary’s records are primarily for carpentry work, such as wheelbarrows, benches, common bedsteads, fancy bedsteads, rocking chairs, tables, Windsor chairs, little chairs, oak chairs, sewing chairs, a hearse body, coffins, and more. Wood, supplies, tools, machines, foodstuffs, cloth, labor, barter, medical care, and many other goods and services are represented in the collection.

Alice C. Price Steamboat account book (1856-1857, bulk 1856)

This volume contains accounts for the steamer Alice C. Price from March 1856 to January 1857, documenting expenses for ship upkeep, labor and wages, food, marketing, cartage, wharfage, freight, among others. The account book also includes documentation of passengers and various bills, with some summaries of costs for passage and meals “down” and “up” for unspecified trips. While very few places were named, “Pope’s Creek,” “Bluff’s Point,” and “Cone” [e.g. Coan] appear, situating the steamer in the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. The volume has a “Robert Bell Bookseller and Stationer, Alexandria, Va.” label on the inside front cover.

Print Culture

Studying what and how people engaged with print culture is another fascinating inroad to American history and culture. Several new additions help shed more light on books, newspapers, reading, and literary practices.

Mary A. Lincoln collection (1903)

Mary Alice Lincoln wrote to multiple recipients in a search to obtain books and monographs related to African American suffrage while she was a student at Bates College (Lewiston, Maine). This is a collection of four responses she received from Little, Brown, & Company; American Publishing Co.; the Boston Public Library; and the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences. The letter from the American Publishing Company (Hartford, Connecticut) contains enclosures of printed, illustrated folio advertising circulars/prospectuses for Joseph T. Wilson’s A History of the Black Phalanx, John M. Langston’s From the Virginia Plantation to the National Capitol, and John H. Paynter’s Joining the Navy, or Abroad with Uncle Sam.

Peter McGivney manuscript poetry and song lyrics album ([ca. 1870s?])

This volume was produced by Peter McGivney as a gift for his sister, Julia A. McGivney. Its entries are largely copies of popular song lyrics and some poetry. Many focus on sentimental themes like remembrance, familial relationships, love, death, and religion. A few patriotic titles were included. Peter McGivney elaborately decorated and illustrated the volume with paintings, pencil drawings, pen-and-ink embellishments, printed scrapbook die-cuts, and calligraphic titles and borders. He drew numerous patriotic images, including American flags, shields, eagles, Union soldiers, and a portrait of George Washington. Flowers, leaves, birds, and landscapes feature prominently, along with depictions of women. He drew several illustrations of hands holding calling/visiting cards filled out with the names of friends and family members. One watercolor illustration of an African American man accompanies the lyrics of a minstrel song.

Peter McGivney copied many song lyrics and poems in this volume he made for his sister and included pen-and-ink illustrations to embellish them.

Interchange Book Club (West Newton, Mass.) receipts (1887-1898)

This collection is made up of 113 receipts for book and magazine purchases by the women’s Interchange Book Club of West Newton, Massachusetts, between 1887-1898. Many of the receipts are lists of a dozen or more newly published works of literature, popular novels, travels and tales of foreign lands, a few children’s titles, biographies, and more. Examples of magazine titles include Good Housekeeping, Scribner’s Magazine, Popular Science, Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, St. Nicholas, and many others. They purchased most often from Little, Brown and Company. Some receipts are for purchases of book and magazine lists, and orders from printers for hundreds of member lists and labels.

Bangor Literary Association minute book (1877, 1879, 1882-1886)

This volume contains the minutes of the Bangor Literary Association (of Bangor, Maine) from 1882 to 1886. Originally founded as a debating society, the minutes include the question or topic of discussion along with the names of which members voted in the negative or affirmative. Example subjects of debate include the textbooks for Bangor public schools, the acceptability of deception, the United States proposed canal through Nicaragua, and others.

Newspaper and periodical scrapbook (1860-1890)

This self-adhering scrapbook contains a blend of illustrated and non-illustrated clippings from various printed sources (newspapers, periodicals, books, etc.), originating mostly from New England in the 1860s-1890s. Topics include religion, politics (American and British), the assassination of U.S. President James A. Garfield (1831-1881), health and wellness, eulogies, and other articles. The volume is bears the printed manufacturers label “Mark Twain’s Scrap Book Registered April 23rd. 1878 . . . Published by Slote, Woodman & Co.”

James Johns papers (1857-1865)

This collection consists of letters, poems printed on a personal press, an essay, and manuscript newspapers made to look like printed text by James Johns of Huntington, Vermont, between 1857 and 1865. It includes two letters sent to rare book and manuscripts dealer Henry Stevens concerning his patronage of Johns’ writings as well as Vermont affairs. Two poems are included in the collection, one relating to Spiritualism and the other to the inauguration of James Buchanan. Five copies of Johns’ manuscript newspaper, “Vermont Autograph and Remarker,” are present, with articles on national politics, religion, African American suffrage and rights, the aftermath of the Civil War, and more. One essay on Abraham Lincoln is also included.

G. Bush, “Miles Standish. Opera in Two Acts” music manuscript (1865, 1866)

This volume contains C. G. Bush’s manuscript musical score for his two-act opera “Miles Standish,” composed in 1865 and 1866, and adapted from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem of the same name. The score was written in ink but includes additional notes and corrections in pencil. The volume includes the libretto, act and scene titles, lyrics, and musical notations.

C. G. Bush’s volume provides a musical score for his operatic adaptation of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Miles Standish.”

Daily Life and Social Networks

Records of people’s daily lives, the people they interact with, and the minutiae that occupy their attention provide remarkable insight into the lived realities of the past. The following new finding aids promise to give students and researchers new opportunities to explore the interests, experiences, and relationships that fill the day to day.

Charles Child diary (1860)

Charles Child of New York, New York, filled out this pre-printed daily diary from January 1 through August 21, 1860, recording his social visits, correspondence relating to matrimonial newspaper advertisements, activities with the Cadets of Temperance, and his work as an engraver. The back of the volume includes “Cash Accounts” and “Bills Payable” filled out for the entire year.

Samuel Philbrick journal (1857-1859)

Samuel Philbrick of Brookline, Massachusetts, kept this diary (53 pages) between January 10, 1857, and September 12, 1859, one week prior to his death. He wrote of the weather, his agricultural pursuits, and news of friends, family, and the local community. His entries reflect an interest in political and international affairs, touching on such topics as slavery and abolition, the Panic of 1857, the transatlantic telegraph, and more. Several entries regard his religious faith, and the concluding pages document his final illness and awareness of his impending death. Four loose manuscripts are laid into the volume, including condolence letters from Theodore Dwight Weld, Angelina Emily Grimké Weld, Sarah Moore Grimké, and Maria Weston Chapman, and a handwritten copy of a letter, possibly written by Samuel Philbrick, regards his youth growing up in New Hampshire.

Top: Friendship and Autograph Album Collection Vol: Roemer 1876-1882

Bottom: Friendship and Autograph Album Collection Vol: New England 1878

Friendship and Autograph Album collection (1826-1932, bulk 1826-1908)

The Clements Library’s collection of individual friendship and autograph albums (the ones that are not part of larger bodies of family papers) dates primarily from the second half of the 19th century. The creators of these albums sought out friends, family, schoolmates, public persons, and others to write signatures, sentiments, poetry, extracts from books and serials, personal sentiments, and more. Contributions often emphasize ties of friendship, exhortations to seek love, happiness, or Christian religious salvation. Most of the volumes in this collection were compiled in the Northeast United States and areas in the Midwest, with urban and rural areas represented. The greater number of the albums were kept by young women and the bulk of the signers were also female. Contributors occasionally illustrated pages with calligraphic designs, trompe l’oeil visiting cards, animals, flowers, and themes that had particular significance to their relationship with the keeper of the album. The volumes in this collection are largely decorative blank books adorned with tooled covers, sometimes containing interspersed engravings of religious, literary, historical, and landscape themes. Some include pasted-in photographs, die-cuts, or stickers.

Blount-Bulen letters (1844, 1855)

This collection consists of three letters sent from members of the Blount and Bulen families from Minnesota in 1844 and 1855 back to relatives in Mexico, New York. They describe the family’s migration from New York to Phelps, Minnesota, their efforts to establish farms in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and descriptions of the country. The letters include phonetic spellings, and two of the letters were written jointly by several members of the family.

Practical and Medicinal Recipes manuscript ([1860s?])

This 18-page volume has a wallpaper cover, and it contains a variety of practical, household, and medicinal recipes. The entries pertain to printing on fabric, sheet music engraving, improvements in photography, several types of matches, adhesives, different kinds and colors of ink, hair removal, removal of freckles, soaps, pomatum and hair oil, wart salve, rouge, prevention of hair falling out, a pimple cure, blacking, white gunpowder, and more. The currently unidentified compiler drew a few entries from 1840s to 1860s published books and serials, such as Scientific American, James Booth’s Encyclopedia of Chemistry, The Homestead, The Golden Rule, The Dollar Newspaper, and others. While the purpose of the volume is not explicitly clear, a few entries are for large quantities and others have notes on the difference between costs of raw materials versus sales revenue, suggesting that the compiler may (or may not) have been a huckster, peddler, or perhaps a manufacturer or wholesaler of these products.

Physician’s travel diary (1846)

A young physician wrote most of this diary while a passenger on a voyage from Alexandria, Virginia, to Boston, Massachusetts, in 1846. Content includes humorous accounts of sailing by river and ocean, observations of sailors’ superstitions (i.e., Mother Carey’s Chickens, also known as Storm Petrels, St. Elmo’s fire, etc.), weather and storm patterns, personal health, and patient treatment.