How Early-19th-Century Students Cemented Their Bonds Through Friendship Albums
Friendship albums became popular in America in the 1820s, as the blossoming culture of sentimentalism made its mark on personal relationships, especially those of young people. Bookmakers created sturdy, thick, leather-bound books expressly for friends to leave emotional tributes. This album was a gift to Mary Wallace Peck, a former student and then drawing teacher at the Litchfield Female Academy in Connecticut, from her fiancé Edward Mansfield in 1825.
Finding the Poetry in Walt Whitman’s Newly Rediscovered Health Advice
On Friday, the journal Walt Whitman Quarterly Review published a special issue reprinting a series of journalistic treatises by Whitman, expounding on the nature of health. "Manly Health and Training," written under the pseudonym "Mose Velsor" and published in installments in the New York Atlas in 1858, is 47,000 words long, and you can read the whole thing here.
A WWI–Era Memo Asking French Officers to Practice Jim Crow With Black American Troops
In this memo published by W.E.B. DuBois in the NAACP's magazine the Crisis in 1919, a French liaison to the American military in France counsels French officers on the proper treatment of black American troops. The memo, signed by Colonel J.L.A. Linard of the American Expeditionary Force Headquarters, voices white American concerns that black soldiers and officers working with the French were being treated with too much "familiarity and indulgence."
A Trove of Newly-Digitized Trademarks Offers A Capsule History of Late-19th-Century California
The California State Archives recently announced that it has digitized thousands of trademark applications filed with the state between 1861 and 1900. California passed a trademark law in 1863, years before the first federal trademark legislation. The state acted in part, writes the State Archives, to regulate the "explosion of commerce after the Gold Rush."
Some Surviving Receipts for Taxes Paid in 18th-Century England and Scotland
This small group of receipts for taxes paid in the United Kingdom, before the institution of an income tax in 1799, show how land, real estate, and other property translated into money owed in the last decade of the 18th century.
An Affectionate 1932 Illustrated Map of Harlem Nightlife
Yale's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library just acquired this original pen-and-brush version of E. Simms Campbell's nightlife map of Harlem, from 1932. The map, drawn by an illustrator who frequented many of the establishments he depicted, exudes an insider's pride in the robust music scene in full swing during the Harlem Renaissance.
Some Delightfully Scatological and Cruel Nursery Rhymes, From the Oldest Surviving Book of Them
The British Library holds this 1744 book of nursery rhymes, Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book, which was sold in London and is the oldest surviving published collection in the genre. Some of the rhymes inTommy Thumb's are still familiar; others, like the wonderful "Piss a Bed," have dropped out of circulation.
Poignant Petitions From 19th-Century Mothers Hoping to Surrender Illegitimate Children
The petitions below come from a recently concluded exhibition, "The Fallen Woman," at London's Foundling Museum. In the pair of 19th-century documents, two unmarried mothers, Damaris Phillips and Anne Giddings, ask the Foundling Hospital to take their illegitimate children into its care. Both petitions were rejected.
A 19th-Century 3-D Bird’s-Eye Map of Mt. Fuji, With All the Bells and Whistles
This woodblock print map of Japan's Mt. Fuji, which can be folded to represent the mountain's iconic conical shape, was produced by an unknown publisher sometime around 1848. Writing about the map in the new book Cartographic Japan: A History in Maps, Miyazaki Fumiko speculates that the item may have been printed and sold by oshi, traveling performers and acolytes from Yoshida, one starting point for pilgrimages up the mountain.
A ’70s Board Game Designed to Teach Players About Race, Housing, and Privilege
In May 2012, science-fiction writer and blogger John Scalzi published a post titled "Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is." "I've been thinking of a way to explain to straight white men how life works for them, without invoking the dreaded word 'privilege,' to which they react like vampires being fed a garlic tart at high noon," Scalzi wrote. His solution: an extended metaphor drawn from role-playing games.