The “study of the man of intellect”

I came across the following paragraphs today on the opening pages of Father and Daughter: a Portraiture from the Life by Fredrika Bremer. Translated by Mary Howitt. Philadelphia: T.B. Peterson and Brothers, [ca. 1860].  The book was recently cataloged into the Pennsylvania Imprints collection at the State Library of Pennsylvania’s Rare Collections Library.

“There is one class of room which, ever since I was quite young, has appeared to me more beautiful, more to be desired, than any other whatever; it is the silent working-room or study of the man of intellect.  How quiet, and yet how full of life is this sanctuary of thought, in which noiseless combats are fought out, bloodless victories are won; victories sometimes more important in their results to the world than all the Waterloos or Sebastpols; in which a lamp burns whose quiet flame prepares light for future generations, because it lights him, the genius of the room, the silent thinker, who in the work-room of his brain measures the heavens, searches through the depths, weighs stars and grains of sand in search of the eternal ideas, the fundamental laws and truths of all things, and questions and proves, and does not stop until he perceives the scattered sounds or lights arrange themselves harmoniously, and he can exclaim, “I have found it!”


“Many who have thus sought and found have been hailed as the world’s light-bearers.  More numerous are they who only open the path for these silent sincere workers, but who never enjoy the honor and the glory which fall to their lot.  Nevertheless, they participate with them in the happiness of seeking and finding, in so far as they do it.  The solitary thinker knows that future generations will be benefited by the results of his labor, of his lonely watching; knows that he is the herald of a better day on earth.  That is his life and his reward.  And even though he be poor, and of little esteem in the world, yet in his silent study he knows himself to be rich, knows himself to be monarch over a vast realm.”


I just like that description.

Published in: on 10 June 2008 at 1:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jamaica, a Poem in Three Parts

You know how sometimes you see something and a little bell goes off in your head reminding you that this is something you’ve heard of before? Maybe you can’t pull up the reason, but there it is: something to pay attention to.

Happened to me last Friday.

It was almost the end of the work day and I was glancing at the shelves of uncataloged Pamphlet Volumes in our “old” stacks room. One volume on one shelf was taller enough than its fellows that it was shelved spine down. So I pulled it out to see what it contained, perhaps to catalog them this week.

Where I opened the volume was clearly something from the 18th century. So I flipped back to its title page. And there I read:

Jamaica, a poem, in three parts. Written in that island, in the year MDCCLXXVI. To which is annexed, A poetical epistle, from the author in that island to a friend in England. London : Printed for William Nicoll, at No. 51, in St. Paul’s Church Yard, MDCCLXXVII.

There went that bell for some reason. So I looked around. The 9th edition of the online Mitchell’s West Indian Bibliography; Caribbean Books and Pamphlets From 1492 to the Present : English Language Non-Fiction of the West Indies. < > describes the 43 page pamphlet as “exceptionally scarce”. So be it. OCLC’s WorldCat only shows 4 copies in the United States and one in Australia.

Well, now OCLC shows 5 copies in the United States: NY Public, Columbia, Trinity College (Ct.), Rice, and the State Library of Pennsylvania.

The listing in Sabin mentions “See ‘M. Rev.’, LVIII. 142”. That would be the “Monthly Review” published in London 1749-1816. And, believe it or not, we also have that on our shelves. The 3 page review in the February 1778 “Monthly Review” is mixed: “We applaud this young gentleman’s humanity more than his poetry.”

I, too, found the poetry a little tough sledding. The “humanity” part refers to the anonymous poet’s description of the harshness of slavery and his nascent abolitionism. The reviewer takes an interesting tack on this, though, by drawing a favorable comparison between the lot of a Jamaican slave and a common laborer in London. In short, he writes that slaves don’t have it so bad in comparison.

Thomas Warren Krise wrote a dissertation at the University of Chicago in 1995 in which he provides notes about the text. I’m waiting for an inter-library loan copy to arrive.

In all, it’s nice to be able to claim a copy of this early anti-slavery publication. And I hold it up as an example of the kind of treasure yet to be uncovered in our cataloging backlog. (Though I still don’t know why the title rang a bell with me.)

Published in: on 5 May 2008 at 1:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Possible Genealogical Treasure

So I’m cataloging my little heart out this week and come across a copy of the Fifty-First Annual Report of the Directors and Officers of the American Asylum at Hartford, for the Education and Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb (Hartford, CT: Case, Lockwood and Company, 1867).  Turns out that pages 72-117 of this report contains a “list of pupils of the American Asylum from the opening of the school, April 15, 1817, to May 11, 1867.”  Fifty years worth of enrollment information!

And not just the names of the students, but all the following information: Residence (city, state); Year of admission; Age [at time of admission]; Cause of Deafness; “Deaf and Dumb Relatives” [number and relation, but no names]; “How supp’t’d” [by the state, friends, or family]; Time under Instruction; and “Remarks” [including whether still a pupil; profession; whether married; whether dead].

Most of the students came from New England, but a few were from as far away as Ohio and Virginia.  Just seems like a LOT of names, ages, and towns; too many to be ignored.  I’m wondering whether it might unlock a few genealogical puzzles where someone seems to disappear from the records for a few years. 

For example, why might Emeline Thayer not be in the federal census at Warren, Vermont in 1860?  Well, because she was at the school for 7 years starting in 1859.  What about Philander Thayer of Sandisfield, Massachusetts not being in the 1850 federal census there?  He was at the school for 6 years from 1844.  Both were 16 when admitted.  Her deafness came as a result of scarlet fever at age 18 months; his due to “ulcers in head” at age 9 months.

The State Library of Pennsylvania copy of this report is in the Rare Collections Library, PV 100, no.5.

Published in: on 25 April 2008 at 7:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Hold Your Horses!

Posting has slowed down, I know.  Our move is on hiatus while the historic newspapers collection is inventoried and then wrapped in acid free paper for storage.  Meanwhile, I’m cataloging my way into our backlog.  I’m working mostly with our pamphlet volumes, which are primarily from the 19th century but include some late 18th and early 20th century materials.  It’s always surprising when I have to create a new bibliographic record in OCLC for one of these items. How could we possibly be the first library to record this item?

Another section of the backlog that I’m delving into are the legal treatises.  These also reveal a surprising breadth in age and topic (although in this case they are pretty much all legal topics).  And while much of the legal reading is tough going for a non-lawyer, sometimes I happen across things that I find fascinating.

For example . . . from the 1st American edition of “Remarks on the Present System of Road-Making; with Observations Deduced form [sic] Practice and Experience, with a View to a Revision of the Existing Law [etc., etc.] by John Loudon M’Adam, esq. (Baltimore: Printed by J. Robinson 1821) come these little facts about horses and the mail system in England:

in 1819 the ‘Select Committee on the Highways of the Kingdom’ took several days of evidence.  They asked William Waterhouse, the coachman at the Swan-with-two-Necks in Lad-lane, how many horses he kept to move his mail and stage coaches around. Answer: “About four-hundred.” (p.87)

They questioned William Horne, who kept the Golden Cross Inn, Charing Cross and also was “proprietor of many mail and stage coaches,” “Do you find that your horses that are employed in the stages near London, wear out sooner than those at a greater distance? — Much sooner, I should think. I employ about four hundred horses myself, and I am sure I buy one hundred and fifty a year [t]o support the number, and keep the stock in order. I consider that my stock wears out fully in three years.” (pp. 89-90).

Here in the automobile age, we simply have no idea what it took to move people and goods around by true horsepower.

Published in: on 23 April 2008 at 10:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Moving Hiatus and “Sunday at St. Louis”

We spent 3 weeks moving books and newspapers into one of the three renovated spaces, but have been in a kind of suspended animation since the beginning of March while the other areas go through their final preparations to receive collection materials.  This pause in trundling book trucks through hallways, into the freight elevator, into the various ‘air locks,’ and back again has given our other technical processing folks time to inventory and wrap more old newspapers so that they (the newspapers) will be ready when the moving starts up again.

 In the mean time, I came across the following item of interest while cataloging bound pamphlets today. 

‘Sunday at St. Louis’

“Sunday at St. Louis is a queer day.  Go to church and try to be as good as gold, but you can’t help being in the world of work and amusement.  The cars run the same as ever, many of the shops are doing a lively business, lager beer and dance houses and [sic] in full blast and the theatre getting double receipts; out towards the fields the Germans are having a high old time, and down at the levee steamers are arriving and departing mid all kinds of bustle, and astonishing your weak nerves by screeching Yankee Doodle, Oh Susanna, &c., out of their steam pipes, as if determined to leave no quiet on earth.  The effect of these horse power melodies is intensely ludicrous, and with the accompaniment of high jinks from a crowd of boys and men who vary the game of bluff, played in the open street, by casual firing at cats and old tiles, the general absence of sanctity is enough to drive a quiet, moral Philadelphian into fits.”

This is from page 17 of the: Philadelphia Board of Trade.  Narrative of the excursion to the West, made by the delegation of the Board of Trade of Philadelphia. Reprinted from the letters published in the “Philadelphia Inquirer,” from its special correspondent.  Philadelphia: Inquirer Printing Office, 1860.  It is a 24 page pamphlet describing a junket through Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Louisville, Cincinnati  from 16 October to 3 November 1860.  According to the OCLC WorldCat, this pamphlet is held only at the Library Company in Philadelphia, at the New York Public Library, and at the State Library of Pennsylvania.

I used to live in St. Louis and especially enjoy this word picture drawn by “a quiet, moral Philadelphian.”

Published in: on 18 March 2008 at 9:42 am  Leave a Comment  

The Move Has Begun

We finally began moving the Rare Collections Library to the renovated space within our building on Monday.

No telling how long it will take us (we’re doing it ourselves, after several flip-flops between having an outside firm do it and having us do it), but so far things have gone very well. Notes are up on our website that include the sentence “We expect the collection will again become available sometime this Spring/Summer.”

Published in: on 15 February 2008 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Go or Stay? Which Will it Be?

Here’s an interesting bit of inner conversation I came across some time back in a book by J. G. Kohl titled Austria : Vienna, Prague, etc., etc. (Philadelphia : Carey and Hart, 1844.)  It is bound in our PV [Pamphlet Volume] 865, no. 6. Here’s something that Kohl says on page 9:

“To travel or not to travel, was once more the question. To wander, to stroll through the world, or to remain and shoot out roots like a tree. Whether ‘twas nobler in a man to tend his own little garden, or to arm himself against a sea of troubles, and plough his way round our terrestrial planet? A house, or a tent? A warm room, or a windy seat in a post coach? A shady tree, or a budless staff? One friend, or a thousand friendly faces?”

As I read various hiking narratives, this is kind of the inner debate lots of people go through.

Published in: on 1 February 2008 at 9:08 am  Leave a Comment  

George Ross Diary Excerpt

I have to include another excerpt from the George Ross farm diaries that I described earlier.  On Thursday, 12 January 1815, Ross writes from his Lancaster, Pennsylvania farmstead:

No work, it being recommended by the Presdt. as a day of humiliation & prayer.  I caus’d my People to abstain from menial services – Not out of Respect for Madison for whom I feel the most contemptible opinion; but as in the case of Snyder who is equally contemptible,  I revere the sacred offices, which these miscreants now fill, & hope when they are chang’d we will cheerfully obey their successors.

So, I guess Ross didn’t like President Madison?  Or maybe his conduct of the War of 1812?

Published in: on 29 January 2008 at 9:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Pennsylvania Publishers in our PA Imprints Collection – Philadelphia “H”

Here is the newest installment of the preliminary list of imprints from Pennsylvania cities and towns. This post includes printers and publishers from Philadelphia whose names start with the letters “H.”  It comes from the online catalog of the “Pennsylvania Imprints to 1865″ collection in the Rare Collections Library at the State Library of Pennsylvania.  The dates represent only the span of examples from the particular presses that are on our shelves; while printers/publishers came and went, many would have been in business longer that the date span shown here.  Think of the dates as ‘flourished’ dates.

As always: this is a preliminary list.  Printers and publishers are mixed together here.

Philadelphia – David Hall – 1766
Philadelphia – D. Hall and W. Sellers – 1766-1800
Philadelphia – Harrison Hall; Harrison Hall, William Brown, pr. – 1818-1828
Philadelphia – Parry Hall – 1791-1792
Philadelphia – Peleg Hall – 1790
Philadelphia – Printed for William Hall and Wrigley & Berriman – 1794
Philadelphia – Wm. Hall, jun. & Geo. W. Pierie – 1809-1810
Philadelphia – Hall & Atkinson – 1820
Philadelphia – D. Hannah – 1818
Philadelphia – H. A. Harder – 1836
Philadelphia – J. Harding, printer; Jesper Harding – 1819-1841
Philadelphia – G.S. Harris, printer – 1851
Philadelphia – A. Hart; A. Hart, late Carey and Hart – 1851-1860
Philadelphia – John Haslett – 1860
Philadelphia – Haswell & Barrington – 1837
Philadelphia – Haswell, Barrington, and Haswell; E. Barrington & G.D. Haswell – 1837-1845
Philadelphia – P. Hay; Peter Hay & Co., printers – 1830-1838
Philadelphia – Hayes & Zell – 1857
Philadelphia – Hazard & Mitchell – 1849
Philadelphia – Dennis Heartt – 1810-1818
Philadelphia – John Hellings – 1809
Philadelphia – Hellings and Aitken – 1811
Philadelphia – A. & J. G. Henderson – 1796
Philadelphia – Herald Office – 1808
Philadelphia – Heston  – 1811
Philadelphia – Hickman & Hazzard – 1821-1822
Philadelphia – Hoff – 1796
Philadelphia – Hoff and Derrick; Printed by John Hoff – 1794-1802
Philadelphia – J. Hoff & W.F. M’Laughlin – 1803
Philadelphia – D. Hogan; David Hogan – 1803-1823
Philadelphia – Hogan & M’Elroy – 1797-1798
Philadelphia – Hogan & Thompson – 1833-1850
Philadelphia – H. Hooker – 1838
Philadelphia – B. B Hopkins – 1808-1811
Philadelphia – Hopkins and Earle – 1807-1810
Philadelphia – Heinrich Horn – 1832
Philadelphia – J. Howe – 1824-1834
Philadelphia – G. Howorth, & M’Carty & Davis – 1819
Philadelphia – Huddy & Duval – 1839-1842
Philadelphia – James Humphreys; James Humphreys, junior; James Y. Humphreys; J. & A.Y. Humphreys – 1773-1813
Philadelphia – Uriah Hunt – 1822-1850

Published in: on 28 January 2008 at 10:21 am  Comments (1)  

Confederate Military Law … and inserts

One recently-cataloged (as in ‘earlier this week’) item in our collection is The judge advocate’s vade mecum : embracing a general view of military law, and the practice before courts martial, with an epitome of the law of evidence, as applicable to military trials / by C.H. Lee. Richmond : West and Johnston, 1863 (and copyright 1862). 

By itself, it’s ‘merely’ an interesting Confederate publication (published in Richmond, but printed in Charleston, SC by Evans & Cogswell) about their military law system.  What makes our copy special is that pasted into the front on pages 3, 4, and 5 are manuscript notes signed by Major Mason Morfit, Quartermaster CSA, for the disbursal of large amounts of corn on April 3 and 4, 1865.  These requisition slips for 24, 360, and 36 pounds of corn were signed in the week before Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. 

Morfit was, at various times, quartermaster in charge of Confederate prisons in Richmond and Danville, VA, and in Salisbury, NC.  Though a lawyer before the war, he enlisted as a private and rose through the ranks to become a major.  Afterwards Morfit refused to sign the oath pledging never to take up arms against the Union, so he was not allowed to resume his legal career.  He died in 1921 at his son’s home in Webster Groves (suburban St. Louis), MO.

A further interesting note: written across the top of the title page are the words “5th Ohio Cavalry”.  That raises the question of whether someone from that unit confiscated this volume.  slrare call number: 343.01 L51 1863.

Published in: on 25 January 2008 at 9:29 am  Comments (1)