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19th Century

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Diaries & Personal Narratives:19th Century

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Growing Up in the 1850s : The Journal of Agnes Lee, Agnes Lee, edited with a Foreword by Mary Custis Lee deButts, introduction by Robert E. Lee deButts, Jr. Historical Note by Mary Tyler Freeman Cheek


1 Growing Up in the 1850s : The Journal of Agnes Lee
Agnes Lee, edited with a Foreword by Mary Custis Lee deButts, introduction by Robert E. Lee deButts, Jr. Historical Note by Mary Tyler Freeman Cheek
171 pages, paperback, University of North Carolina Press
Eleanor Agnes Lee, Robert E. Lee's fifth child, began her journal in December 1852 at the early age of twelve. An articulate young woman, her stated ambitions were modest: "The everyday life of a little school girl of twelve years is not startling," she observed in April 1853; but in fact, her five-year record of a southern girl's life is lively, unpredictable, and full of interesting detail.
The journal opens with a description of the Lee family life in their beloved home, Arlington. Like many military families, the Lees moved often, but Agnes and her family always thought of Arlington -- "with its commanding view, fine old trees, and the soft wild luxuriance of its woods" -- as home. When Lee was appointed the superintendent of West Point, the family reluctantly moved with him to the military academy, but wherever she happened to be, Agnes engagingly described weddings, lavish dinners, concerts, and fancy dress balls.
No mere social butterfly, she also recounted hours teaching slaves (an illegal act at that time) and struggling with her conscience. Often she questioned her own spiritual worthiness; in fact, Agnes expressed herself most openly and ardently when examining her religious commitment and reflecting on death. As pious as whe was eager to improve herself, Agnes prayed that "He would satisfy that longing within me to do something to be something."
In 1855 General Lee went to Texas, while his young daughter was enrolled in the elite Virginia Female Institute in Staunton. Agnes' letters to her parents complete the picture that she has given us of herself -- an appealingly conscientious young girl who had a sense of humor, who strove to live up to her parents' expectations, and who returned fully the love so abundantly given to her.
Agnes' last journal entry was made in January 1858, only three years before the Civil War began. In 1873 she died at Lexington at the young age of thirty-two.
The volume continues with recollections by Mildred Lee, the youngest of the Lee children, about her sister Agnes' death and the garden at Arlington. "I wish I could paint that dear old garden!" she writes. "I have seen others, adorned and beautified by Kings and princes, but none ever seemed so fair to me, as the Kingdom of my childhood."
Growing Up in the 1850s includes an introduction by Robert Edward Lee deButts, Jr., great-great-grandson of General Lee, and a historical note about Arlington House by Mary Tyler Freeman Cheek, Director for Virginia of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Association. The editor, Mary Custis Lee deButts, is Agnes Lee's niece.
842435 
Price: 12.95 USD

 

 

2 The Tagebuch of Ernst Silge, USN
Frank H. Pierce
1996, 5˝x8˝, paper, append., 264 pp, Heritage Books
This book is pure 19-century adventure, from young Ernst Silge's years as a U.S. Navy sailor boy on the fabled China Station in the last days of the great sailing ships to his life as a Colorado homesteader, and finally as a gold miner in the American Rockies. Taken directly from the diaries of a young German immigrant lad with a yearning to travel, a propensity to write, and powers of observation that a seasoned journalist would have admired.
P0489 
Price: 25.00 USD

 
 

 

3 From Beacon Hill to the Crystal Palace: The 1851 Travel Diary of a Working-Class Woman
Lorenza Stevens Berbineau, Karen L. Kilcup, ed.
160 pp, bibliography, index, 2002, hardback, University of Iowa Press
Because prior studies of American women's travel writing have focused exclusively on middle-class and wealthy travelers, it has been difficult to assess the genre and its participants in a holistic fashion. One of the very few surviving working-class travel diaries, Lorenza Stevens Berbineau's account provides readers with a unique perspective of a domestic servant in the wealthy Lowell family in Boston. Staying in luxurious hotels and caring for her young charge Eddie during her six-month grand tour, Berbineau wrote detailed and insightful entries about the people and places she saw.
Contributing to the traditions of women's, diary, and travel literature from the perspective of a domestic servant, Berbineau's narrative reveals an arresting and intimate outlook on both her own life and the activities, places, and people she encounters. For example, she carefully records Europeans' religious practices, working people and their behavior, and each region's aesthetic qualities. Clearly writing in haste and with a pleasing freedom from the constraints of orthographic and stylistic convention, Berbineau offers a distinctive voice and a discerning perspective. Alert to nuances of social class, her narrative is as appealing and informative to today's readers as it no doubt was to her fellow domestics in the Lowell household.
Unobtrusively edited to retain as much as possible the individuality and texture of the author's original manuscript, From Beacon Hill to the Crystal Palace offers readers brief framing summaries, informative endnotes, and a valuable introduction that analyzes Berbineau's narrative in relation to gender and class issues and compares it to the published travel writing of her famous contemporary, Harriet Beecher Stowe.

About Author
Karen Kilcup is professor of American literature, University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Named a U.S. National Distinguished Teacher in 1987, she was recently the Davidson Eminent Scholar Chair at Florida International University. She is the editor of Soft Canons: American Women Writers and Masculine Tradition (University of Iowa, 1999) and Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers: An Anthology and the author of Robert Frost and Feminine Literary Tradition.

Reviews
“An extraordinary recovered text. . . . Kilcup brings Lorenza Berbineau before readers as a woman, domestic servant, traveler, and diarist, thereby advancing our understanding of all four variables in American cultural studies more broadly.”— Phyllis Cole, author of Mary Moody Emerson and the Origins of Transcendentalism: A Family History
457948 
Price: 27.95 USD

 

 

4 A Tale of New England: The Diaries of Hiram Harwood, Vermont Farmer, 1810-1837
Robert E. Shalhope
320 pages, 5 halftones and 3 line drawings, hardback, Johns Hopkins University Press
The extraordinary diary of Vermont farmer Hiram Harwood-a fourteen-volume record of personal, family, and community events from 1808 to 1837-provides Robert E. Shalhope with the material for this rich microhistory. Harwood's struggle to reach full manhood and assume his position as head of the family, his misgivings about challenging-much less displacing-his father, the changes American life brought to this traditional rite of passage, Hiram's relationships with wife and children, seasonal events, and all the day-to-day experiences of this finally tragic figure make for a fascinating story and provide a highly unusual window into antebellum American life.
Although he focuses mainly on the story of a single farmer, Shalhope also incorporates other stories from this wide-ranging chronicle. Readers glimpse the social, political, economic, and religious life of the entire New England region. Most of all, though, the story of Hiram Harwood reveals the personal price exacted of him by one family's unyielding belief in patriarchy.

About Author
Robert E. Shalhope is George Lynn Cross Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of Sterling Price: Portrait of a Southerner, John Taylor of Caroline: Pastoral Republican, The Roots of Democracy: American Culture and Thought, 1760–1800, and Bennington and the Green Mountain Boys: The Emergency of Liberal Democracy in Vermont, 1760-1850, the last published by Johns Hopkins.

Reviews
"Shalhope's new book skillfully analyzes Hiram Harwood's diaries and quotes them liberally, resulting in what might be called a retroactive autobiography of a Vermont farmer who lived in the 1820s and 1830s."--Tyler Resch, Bennington Banner

"Presents the life of troubled young Harwood, a Bennington, Vermont farmer who struggled to attain his own identity within a restrictive family environment marked by strong patriarchy and family cohesion."--Choice

"With keen and often profound insight, Robert Shalhope recovers and narrates the often comic, but ultimately tragic, life of Hiram Harwood, a Vermont farmer struggling against the expectations of patriarchy. Shalhope explores an extraordinarily rich set of diaries to illuminate the interplay of family conflict, partisan politics, and culture wars—revealing the dark corners of rural life in the early American republic."--Alan Taylor, University of California, Davis

"This fine book will fascinate American historians and general readers alike. Making wonderful use of an extraordinary document, Shalhope gives us a richly detailed account of life in rural Vermont, showing the familial, economic, political, and religious tensions occasioned by the transition from small-scale, diversified family farming to commercial agriculture in New England."--James T. Kloppenberg, Harvard University
871271 
Price: 45.00 USD

 


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