Leaves of an Hour

Early Nineteenth Century Literary Collections: the 1826 Catalog

The Catalogue of 1826 listed 5,818 volumes. This time, the Catalogue divided the collection not by book size (although this was still noted) but by broad subject categories. Modern literary works are to be found in the sections for Transactions of Learned Societies, The Arts, & C., Poetry and Plays, Philology and Rhetoric, Biography and Miscellaneous.

It is clear that efforts were underway to augment the Library's holdings in modern literature since the publication of the 1793 catalog. A notable acquisition was the fifty volume Works of the British Poets. Selections range from Chaucer and Spenser through writers of the mid-eighteenth century, and include in later volumes some modern translations of classical and continental authors.This title and several other similar ones raise the possibility that the Library was undertaking "collection development" in the modern sense: perceived gaps in holdings were filled by acquiring sets of materials.

For the first time, works by women appear in the Library's catalog; Hannah More, Elizabeth Singer Row, Lady Mary Wortley Montague, and Mme. de Maintenon are represented. Perhaps most intriguingly, Eliza Fowler Haywood's The Female Spectator is listed; Haywood was a writer of scandalous romantic novels, and is the first woman to edit a periodical.(1) Another unusual piece is the Ladies Complete Letter Writer. There were of course at that time no women students at Brown. Might it be posited that the young men of Brown wanted to gain a better understanding of the letters written to them by ladies of their acquaintance?

In addition, the Library was beginning to acquire ephemera during this period. The Richards Legacy of 1818 includes "two or three hundred bound volumes of pamphlets, some of them very ancient rare and curious." Writing about them in the 1843 Catalog, Charles Coffin Jewett said:

"There are in the Library more than thirty-five hundred pamphlets, bound in volumes. Some of these are perhaps worthless, but as a whole, they are of the greatest importance. 'Pamphlets,' says D'Israeli 'those leaves of an hour, and volumes of a season, and even of a week, slight and evanescent things as they appear, and scorned at by opposite parties, while each cherishes its own, are in truth the records of the public mind, the secret history of a people, which does not always appear, in the more open narrative.

It is part of the debt which every public Institution owes to the community, to cherish with peculiar care, these fleeting records of their age. They may not be of immediate use, but in future years some of them will be eagerly sought." (2)

This view of collecting began to inform the Library's acquisitions policies in the early nineteenth century, and laid the groundwork for the remarkable collections of ephemera and popular culture that would be amassed in later years.

Image:

*Brown University. Library. Catalogue of books, in the Library of Brown University. Providence: Printed at the office of the Microcosm, by Walter R. Danforth, 1826.
Catalog checked in pencil against holdings of "1793 Library"
Brown University Archives


Titles from the Collections:

*Sanford, Ezekiel, ed. The works of the British poets. With lives of the authors, by Ezekiel Sanford. Philadelphia, Mitchell, Ames, and White, 1819-1822.
Vols. 1-17,22,24 ed. by Sanford; vols. 18-21,23,26-50 ed. by Robert Walsh, Jr Imprint as above in vols. 1-24; Boston, Charles Ewer and Timothy Bedington, 1822, in vols. 26-38, 41-49, 50 dated 1823; vol. 40, Philadelphia, Samuel F. Bradford, 1822.
Starred Book Collection
Miller, Samuel. Brief retrospect of the 18th century. Part first; in two volumes: containing a sketch of the revolutions and improvements in science, arts, and literature during that period. By Samuel Miller. New York: Printed by T. and J. Swords, 1803.
Starred Book Collection
*Pope, Alexander. The Dunciad, variorum. With the prolegomena of Scriblerus. London, A. Dob, 1729.
Bookplate: Richards' Legacy to Brown University 1819".
Starred Book Collection
Scott, Sir Walter. Poetical Works. Baltimore, 1813. 6 vols.
Small Books Collection
*Haywood, Eliza Fowler. The female spectator. By Eliza Haywood. 7th ed. London, H. Gardner, 1771.
Starred Books Collection

Mrs. Haywood is described as a "prolific English writer of sensational romantic novels that mirrored contemporary 18th-century scandals. . . The Female Spectator (1744-46) [is] the first periodical to be written by a woman." (1)
*The ladies complete letter-writer; teaching the art of inditing letters ... Being a collection of letters written by ladies ... the whole forming a polite and improving manual.. 2nd ed., with corrections and additions. London, Printed for the editor, and sold by T. Lownds in Fleet-street, 1765.
Starred Book Collection
More, Hannah. The works of Hannah More, including several pieces never before published. Philadelphia: Published by Edward Earle., J. Maxwell, printer, 1813-1814. 8 vols.
Starred Book Collection
Rowe, Elizabeth Singer. The works of Miss Elizabeth Rowe. Edinburgh, Printed by and for Gray Alston, 1770.
Starred Book Collection

Sources:

1. Encyclopedia Britannica Online (Brown only)

2. Brown University. Library. A catalogue of the library of Brown University, in Providence, Rhode- Island. With an index of subjects. Published Providence, [Brown University], 1843. Isaac D'Israeli quote from Amenities of Literature, vol. 2, p. 375, New York, 1841. Quoted in 1843 catalog.


1754-1793
Early Literary Collections:
The Williams Table & the 1973 Catalog
1793-1826
Early 19th Century Collections:
The 1826 Catalog
1826-1848
Mid 19th Century Collections:
Charles Coffin Jewett & the Catalogue of 1843
1850-1884
The Harris Collection:
The Original Collectors
1848-1893
The Harris Collection &
Late 19th Century Literary Collecting
1893-1930
The Harris Collection:
Harry Lyman Koopman
1930-1965
The Harris Collection:
S. Foster Damon
1964-2001
Contemporary Collecting:
Building on the Past
Leaves of an Hour

Last Updated: Thursday, 05-Jul-2001 15:43:27 EDT.
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