William Stearns


About Author: 

William is Senior Editor, Readex Digital Collections. He has been Editor of the Readex edition of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set since its early days. Previously, he was Editor of NewsBank Global Products and Assistant Vocabulary Editor. For the past ten years, he has also trained numerous NewsBank and Readex indexers.

Posts by this Author

‘A plodding Englishman, or a pawky Scotchman’: Highlights from Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society

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Among the extraordinarily rare works in Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society are these illustrated items: a compendium of Irish humor and songs, “a pathetic tale” for juveniles which ends happily, and a chapbook celebrating autumn in verse and prose.


The New Irish Jest and Song Book: Being a Collection of Jests, Blunders, Songs and Witty Sayings from the Latest Publications (1803)

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In his preface to this unique imprint, the author enlarges on the word “blunder.”

An Irish blunder is defined to be “a laughable confusion of ideas,” which, when delivered with all the vivacity and particular gesticulation natural to the country, and with that tone of voice, commonly called the brogue, has infinitely a more humorous effect, than the dull, vapid mistakes of a plodding Englishman, or a pawky Scotchman.

‘A plodding Englishman, or a pawky Scotchman’: Highlights from Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society

'Two such stainless captains': Highlights from the American Antiquarian Society’s Civil War Collection

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This month’s release of imprints from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes two imprints reflecting on events in Richmond, Virginia, following the war. Both publications express sympathetic views of the Confederacy. On a lighter note we focus on a colorfully illustrated picture book for children from the Civil War era.


Robert Edward Lee: An Address Delivered at the Dedication of the Monument to General Robert Edward Lee at Richmond, Virginia, May 29, 1890, by Archer Anderson (1890)

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At a time when memorials to the Confederacy and her most prominent soldiers and politicians are under attack by demands to remove them, it may be timely to consider the impetus and emotion that fueled the erection of these memorials in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The end of Reconstruction ushered in the Jim Crow era. Many of the monuments constructed toward the end of the 19th century were as much a celebration of white supremacy as a permanent memory of the war.

Contemporary Americans are not so likely as Archer Anderson, the author of this address, to assert that:

'Two such stainless captains': Highlights from the American Antiquarian Society’s Civil War Collection

‘Pray cock your eye’: Introducing Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society

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The first release of Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society to the Shaw-Shoemaker digital collection includes:

  • an admonitory story for children who are inclined to “a meddling disposition”
  • an articulate argument against introducing the British factory system in the United States
  • a heavily illustrated book of the “history of birds in the air” in rhyme.

 

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The Story of Charles Maitland; or, The Dangers of a Meddling Disposition (1806)

This rare work tells the story of Charles Maitland, a naughty boy unable to refrain from meddling in other peoples’ affairs. Through this behavior Charles “might (by his meddling disposition) have made a breach between two families who were very much united, and lived on the most friendly terms, if he had had to deal with people of less discernment and good sense.”

‘Pray cock your eye’: Introducing Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 3 from the American Antiquarian Society

“He did not die in the war, but he died of it.”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

Among the newly released works in The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society are memorials to two quite different men who fought for the Union. Also included is the account of an anti-slavery journalist who acted as the head of the American consulate in Bristol, England, throughout the Civil War.


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A Memorial of Lieut. John W. Grout, of the 15th Massachusetts Volunteers, Killed at Ball's Bluff, October 21, 1861 (1861)

By the Rev. E. Cutler

Reverend Cutler begins his memorial by describing the young Lieutenant Grout:

The subject of this sketch won a claim to this memorial, not only as being one of the first commissioned officers that has fallen in this campaign from the state of Massachusetts, but also as leaving a fame independent of fiction, of exaggeration, and of the partiality of friends.

He was born in the summer of 1843, and had barely attained the age at which a legal claim could be made upon his service, when he fell a voluntary sacrifice on the altar of his country.

“He did not die in the war, but he died of it.”: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

‘To kill a man for rumple groans’: Highlights from an American Antiquarian Supplement to Early American Imprints, 1801-1819

The May release of Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 2 from the American Antiquarian Society includes many exceptionally rare imprints. Among them are an illustrated early reader presenting the “inhabitants of the world,” a novella about virtue rewarded, and a comic account of a clever Scotsman who entertained and defied King James VI.


 

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Inhabitants of the World, Alphabetically Arranged (1818)

 

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This imprint was donated to the American Antiquarian Society by James d’Alté Aldridge Welch (1907-1970) who was a noted collector of early American children’s books and who published bibliographies of this genre. One of the extremely rare works he donated to the society, “Inhabitants of the World” has an entry for each letter of the alphabet. Every entry has a handsome illustration and a brief description. Naturally, we begin with A.

African

Though much oppressed, and slaves to many nations, yet they are laborious, forbearing, and ingenious.

‘To kill a man for rumple groans’: Highlights from an American Antiquarian Supplement to Early American Imprints, 1801-1819

‘Sublime and Important Subjects’: Highlights from an American Antiquarian Supplement to Early American Imprints, 1801-1819

The April release of Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 2 from the American Antiquarian Society includes an extremely rare speller “for the improvement of youth,” an official record of the deaths and their causes in New York City in the early years of the 19th century, and an instruction book on reading for young children.


 

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A Spelling Exercise, for the Improvement of Youth (1813)

Selected by Charles Keyser, teacher at the German-Hall Seminary

In his preface, Keyser describes the problem that his 19 years of teaching have revealed to him. Of his students, he writes:

…I have found, by experience, that too many are deficient in the rudiments of a good English education, particularly in SPELLING. Very many are unable, at the first trial, either to spell or define words of one, two, or three syllables, which are sounded alike, but differently spelled, as: ware, merchandize; wear, to use; were, plural of was; and where, in that place: wherefore, to facilitate the scholar’s improvement in spelling, and for my own pleasure in teaching, I have collected nearly all the words of this class and arranged them alphabetically in lessons, containing fourteen or fifteen words each.

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‘Sublime and Important Subjects’: Highlights from an American Antiquarian Supplement to Early American Imprints, 1801-1819

Serve It Up: Works on Cookery and Household Management in America’s Historical Imprints

3a30207r.jpgAmerica’s Historical Imprints features dozens of valuable books on cookery and household management which provide essential insight into the diet and etiquette of earlier times. Contemporary readers may find some of the recipes disconcerting although advocates of the nose-to-tail movement should applaud the economy of our forebearers. They wasted little when slaughtering animals, making use of lungs, brains, thyroid glands, heads and other parts which are not so widely regarded as desirable now.

 


 

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The experienced English housekeeper, for the use and ease of ladies, housekeepers, cooks, etc. Written purely from practice, and dedicated to the Hon. Lady Elizabeth Warburton. Whom the author lately served as housekeeper: consisting of near nine hundred original receipts, most of which never appeared in print (1801)

By Elizabeth Raffald

Turtle was a popular dish in earlier times. Most of the cookbooks include instructions for preparing them. Here are excerpts from the elaborate recipe Raffald provides:

To dress a TURTLE of a hundred weight

Serve It Up: Works on Cookery and Household Management in America’s Historical Imprints

‘Vegetables for the well men’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

The United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) was created by Congress in 1861 as a private agency to care for sick and wounded Union troops, but it also provided supplies and creature comforts to many other U.S. Army soldiers. Women assumed a prominent role in its efforts, and the USSC raised the equivalent of almost 400 million dollars today. The current release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes three imprints that focus on the Commission’s work and related Sanitary Fairs.


 

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Catalogue: Arms, Trophies, and Curiosities (1865)

During the course of the Civil War, volunteers staged numerous Sanitary Fairs throughout the North. These ambitious and elaborate events were instrumental in raising money for the USSC. This imprint details war-related items on exhibition at a Chicago fair. The extensive catalogue includes these entries:

Bed Quilt made by the children of the Freedsman’s (sic) School, Huntsville Alabama, expressly for this Fair. Names of the children written on the white block.

Bed Spread, from Appotomax (sic) C.H.

Bushwhackers’ saddles.

Ring from the body of Capt. Stennbere, 23d Rebel Tenn. Regt. from 21st regt.

Gourd dish, from a plantation in South Carolina.

Confederate spelling book.

‘Vegetables for the well men’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

‘Docile attention and cheerful obedience’: Highlights from the American Antiquarian Society’s Second Supplement to Early American Imprints: Shaw-Shoemaker

Elmina Cuts_Page_3 dance.jpgThe March release of Early American Imprints, Series II: Supplement 2 from the American Antiquarian Society includes a rare description of a “Juvenile Seminary” in New York City; a discourse delivered to the New-York Historical Society in 1809 marking the 200th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s exploration of the region; and a whimsical, illustrated story for young women.


 

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A Discourse Designed to Commemorate the Discovery of New-York by Henry Hudson; Delivered before the New-York Historical Society, September 4, 1809; Being the Completion of the Second Century Since that Event (1810)

By Samuel Miller, D.D., one of the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church in the City of New-York, and member of the Historical Society

In his opening remarks, Miller recognizes the importance of the date of his delivery:

‘Docile attention and cheerful obedience’: Highlights from the American Antiquarian Society’s Second Supplement to Early American Imprints: Shaw-Shoemaker

‘The Sun of rebellion disappears behind the bulwark of Loyalty’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

The newest release of imprints from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a treatise on the rights to land, labor, and education; a very personal account of one Union soldier’s war; and a detailed account of the fate that befell soldiers from a small town in northern Vermont.


 

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The American Crisis; or, Trial and Triumph of Democracy (1865)

By Warren Chase, author of “Life line of the lone one,” “Fugitive wife,” etc.

The title page of this imprint includes a quote from Shelley:

“War is the statesman’s game, the lawyer’s jest,

The priest’s delight, and the hired assassin’s trade.”

and the unattributed declaration:

We will defend the government that secures to all its children land, labor, and education.

Warren Chase (1813-1891) was an American idealist who associated himself with the philosophy of Charles Fourier of France. Fourier was an advocate of “utopian socialism” which was the impetus for the development of several intentional communities in the U.S., including Brook Farm in Massachusetts, a transcendentalist community founded by Nathaniel Hawthorne and others. In the 1840s, Chase was involved in establishing the Wisconsin Phalanx—an intentional community which subsequently evolved into the village of Ceresco, later annexed by the city of Ripon.

‘The Sun of rebellion disappears behind the bulwark of Loyalty’: Highlights from The American Civil War Collection

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