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Rare Books and Materials

19th Century Books from Special Collections (selected)

19th Century Books

These pages spotlight artfully-bound 19th-century publications in the Whitworth University Special Collections, a valuable interdisciplinary resource with unique tools for academic research and scholarly discussion.

Visuals are supplemented by discussion on the evolving 19th-century American zeitgeist and its enduring influence. In this context, each work can be understood for its contributions to the American life and worldview, past and present.

Researchers are encouraged to explore these pages for a fun sampling of the expansive collection housed in the Whitworth Library.

Emerging from an era of national tension and structural upheaval that climaxed with the Revolutionary War, the United States ushered in a new phase of history with the adoption of the Constitution. With the Constitution, the United States established a framework of laws, policies, programs, and customs for its newly independent people. The process of developing the national government initiated debate about what values ought to be inscribed in the cultural identity.

The American Revolution had been a largely secular affair, and the Constitution was constructed to separate a single religious identity from the American cultural identity at large. In response to this, a series of religious revivals (known today as the “Second Great Awakening”) swept the United States from the 1790s and into the 1830s, fundamentally altering the character of American religion. Emphasis on personal piety in salvation signaled a fundamental change in thought and made the United States a more protestant nation than it had been before, while opening up the discussion about the implications of a national religious identity.

Fox Book of Martyrs; or On the Acts and Movements of the Christian Church

Author: John Malham

Date: 1813

Place: Philadelphia

Publisher: J & J. L. Gihon

Call Number: BR1601.F6 1813

Reprinted in 1813, the Fox Book of Martyrs profoundly influenced early Protestants and the resurgences of the Second Great Awakening. The book records the persecution of Protestant reformers, and Douglass Campbell captures the implications of such a record:

Those who could read for themselves learned the full details of all the atrocities performed on the Protestant reformers; the illiterate could see the rude illustrations of the various instruments of torture... Take a people just awakening to a new intellectual and religious life; let several generations of them, from childhood to old age, pore over such a book, and its stories become traditions as individual and almost as potent as songs and customs on a nation's life.

This inside title page of the 1813 publication of the Fox Book of Martyrs illustrates the reformed Protestant emphasis on personal faith. Opening the book, the reader is greeted by an image of Bishops Ridley and Latimer being burned at the stake for their participation in the Protestant Reformation. As the image suggests, the publication functions not only as a reference tool, but also as an appeal to the reader to reflect on the state of their own faith.

Sacred Mountains

Author: J.T. Headley

Date: 1847

Place: New York

Publisher: Baker & Schribner

Call Number: BS630.84 1847

This 1847 print by J. T. Headley was produced with the intention of “render[ing] more familiar and lifelike some of the scenes of the Bible.” This design reflects the emphasis placed on the individual’s faith and personal interpretation of the Bible. The emerging evangelical worldview stressed the importance of reading, understanding, and believing Scripture to achieve salvation.

This remarkably well-preserved binding depicts a gold-embossed Moses holding a tablet of Exodus. His stare seems to demand one's undivided attention to his message, which, as was emphasized by 19th-century evangelical thought, was prepared for the reader's special attention and interpretation.

The Holy Bible

Author: --

Date: 1873

Place: Philadelphia

Publisher: --

Call Number: BS196.5 1873

This special 1873 printing of the Holy Bible is contained in a robust 10”x13”x3” gilded wood binding. Reminiscent of a gothic cathedral, with archways and vaulted ceilings, the heavy, raised 3-dimensional binding requires the reader’s physical interaction with the book, simulating opening the doorway to the house of God.

These four passages from the books of Peter, Luke, Romans, and Timothy function in unison to stress the evangelical message of personal enlightenment and faith in the Word of God as necessary for salvation. Gilt and embossed, the commands are visually imposing and make an authoritative claim on the reader's attention and deference.

A History on the Work of Redemption

Author: John Edwards

Date: 1799

Place: Edinburgh

Publisher: Alexander Jardine & Edmund Whitehead

Call Number: BT775.E2 1779

In 1739, Jonathan Edwards preached a series of thirty sermons based on the scriptural passage Isaiah 51:8, intending to develop a treatise on God’s redemption of the world being the most basic doctrine of theology. Edwards died before he could undertake the project, though copies of individual sermons like this one were in circulation throughout the Second Great Awakening. His sermons were enormously influential in popular evangelical circles of the 19th century, and Edwards’ work remains prominent among Christians of various denominations, as he is considered by many to be among the greatest of the Christian theologians.

Hitchcock's New and Complete Analysis of the Holy Bible

Author: Roswell D. Hitchcock

Date: 1871

Place: New York

Publisher: A. J. Johnson

Call Number: BS432.H5 1871

Hitchcock’s New and Complete Analysis offered an opportunity to advance one's understanding of Biblical texts in order to enhance one's interpretive abilities and the value of their readings. The title page outlines the contents of the guide, including “a pronouncing dictionary of Scripture proper names, an interpreting dictionary of Scripture proper names, tables of Scripture measures, weights, and coins, with full explanations, a dictionary of religious denominations, sects, parties, and associations in the world, a history of the Bible, and a family record.” Though Hitchcock’s guide was printed some time after the designated period of the Second Great Awakening, it shows the endurance of the worldview shifts of American Protestantism.

As a newly independent nation, the United States experienced an adjustment period of exploring political, economic, social, and geographic boundaries. During the “Jacksonian Era,” many Old World assumptions were challenged, leading to a fundamental change in American thought. Rough frontier life emphasized individual ability based on self-reliance, initiative, and will to work, and education and ancestry were no longer as meaningful in defining life purpose and value.

The Jacksonian Era was a time of social contrasts, economic fluctuation, and wide geographic expansion (known as Manifest Destiny). Manifest Destiny culminated in the acquisition of Oregon and the Mexican war, opening national debate around the spread of slavery. After a short honeymoon period of American nationalism (the “Era of Good Feelings”), sectionalist tensions rose between the industrial north, the agricultural west, and the slave south. Slavery and other social controversies around institutions, education, and literacy were intensified by resurging religious revivals and the Transcendentalist movement. These areas of concern were the primary focus of policy-making leading up to the Civil War.

A Message to Garcia

Author: Elbert Hubbard

Date: 1899

Place: New York

Publisher: Roycrofters

Call Number: BJ1611.H8 1899

For many Americans in the 19th century, transition into frontier life demanded personal industry, self-reliance, and adaptation to the changing world. When the American people again transitioned, now into urban cities, this ideology translated into justification for Social Darwinism. This essay by Elbert Hubbard glorifies the Darwinian ideas informing western capitalism as the most effective employment of human reason. A Message to Garcia is notable for its insights into the origins and implications of the American Dream and the American understanding of individual value in an industrial setting.

This 1899 print of Hubbard's essay visually alludes to the original "letter to Garcia." Bound in urgently red fabric and inscribed with gilded text, the binding communicates the importance of both "the message" and the essay discussing it.

Purgatory and Paradise

Author: Dante Alleghieri

Illustrator: Gustave Dore

Date: 18--

Place: New York

Publisher: John W. Lovell Co.

Call Number: PQ4315.13.C3

Jacksonian American society was divided over the institutions of slavery, westward expansion, and social inequality. The overarching theme of these debates was the moral integrity (or lack thereof) of such institutions. This edition of Dante’s Purgatory and Paradise was released into an atmosphere of uncertainty regarding the ethical infrastructure of American society. Readers at the time would have been sensitive to the moral ambiguity shadowing some of their daily industries, and Dante’s interpretation of God’s moral construct would have contributed to arguments being made against perceived injustices.

This beautifully white- and gold-illuminated binding foreshadows the content within-- personal illumination into the moral construction that Dante proposes will guide one out of the darkness of human iniquity into the presence of God.

An Almanack

Author: Henry Newman

Date: 1844

Place: Boston

Publisher: London Coffee-House

Call Number: AY201.N4 A4 1844

As the American people travelled west, rough frontier life emphasized the need for individual ability, characterized by self-reliance, initiative, and the will to work. This pocket almanac, measuring only 3.5”x4.5”x.5”, was purposed to enable the farmer and traveler to effectively predict and control their environment. The diminutive size of this 1844 copy fulfills the public desire for easy accessibility to such resources. Holding this book in one’s hands, with the workings of nature outlined and bound in a minute vessel, one is given the illusion of dominance over the natural world.

Proud and Lazy

Author: Oliver Optic

Date: 1864

Place: Boston

Publisher: Lee and Shepard

Call Number: PS1006.A5 P7 1864

The industrial mentality of mid-19th century America produced this book, supposedly for the purpose of cultivating personal productivity and compliance in younger generations. Proud and Lazy is one of a series of Riverdale Stories that targeted an audience of pliable young children and future cogs in the social machine. Culturally enforced behavioral institutions spared no punishment for deviants and disruptors to the delicate American gentility, and this book served as a cautionary tale and informative guide for children in need of dispositional reconstruction.

The Civil War is often considered a great transitional point in American history that set precedents and solidified boundaries for modern America. The Civil War has been viewed in relation to the Revolutionary War as a momentous occasion of fundamental structural change. Yet it has been posited that the Civil War was not in itself a revolution or measure of structural development, but that it was a conflict intensified by the developments of the previous decades—social, political, economic, and cultural.

What we can know with retrospective certainty is that the Civil War was a monumental event that transitioned America from movement for change to effecting change, as the Reconstructive period following the war saw the first real advancements in national policy reflecting the changing public sentiment.


Woman’s Record; or Sketches of All Distinguished Women

Author: Sarah Josepha Hale

Date: 1853

Place: New York

Publisher: Harper & Brothers

Call Number: CT3202.H3 1853

The years leading up to and following the Civil War were heavy with civil unrest and movement for social equality. While slave emancipation was the crucial social movement of the time, the push for women’s liberation was also forceful, if somewhat descreet in some of its tactics. Women's Record may have purposed to give attention to women writers, but the book's dedication was given to the men who "allowed" the women to write.

This print image on the cloth binding of Woman's Record is somewhat reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty. The heavy adornments and floral framework around the woman romanticizes her, effecting majesty and regality, though conveying the burden of maintaining that image.

The Boy Spy

Author: J. O. Kerbey

Date: 1890

Place: Chicago

Publisher: M. A. Donahue & Co.

Call Number: E608.K39 1890

Hailed as a “true and practical history of telegraphers in the battlefield,” The Boy Spy accounts for the mysteries of battles, captures, and escapes of the Civil War. Originally published as a book for boys about boys, The Boy Spy tells of the adventures of secret service members during the Civil War through the eyes of a child soldier. The novel was a kind of social instruction manual in the late 19th century. After the war and reconstruction, social institutions were aimed at shaping a uniform public understanding of “American” values, in this case the values of integrity, loyalty, and nationalism, as well as the spirit of adventure.

To young male readers, the book they held in their hands symbolized a doorway to adventure. Cover illustrations of secret communications, battlefield peril, and a sympathetic character--the title young boy--grab their attention and enthusiasm. The glaring red title is accented by an explosion in the bottom corner, emphasizing the desire and expectation of young readers to find action, adventure, and excitement in war literature.

My Story of the War

Author: Mary A. Livermore

Date: 1890

Place: Hartford

Publisher: A. D. Worthington & Co.

Call Number: E621.L79 1890

Mary A. Livermore is among the most prominent female figures in Civil War history. An active leader in numerous social, humanitarian, and charitable causes, Livermore returned from conflict intent on disseminating the stories of women’s experiences during the war, arguing for reform. My Story of the War is a significant primary resource for examining wartime events, as well as for examining the influence and status of women in civil arenas. This book offers a perspective on the war that in many ways calls into question the ideals presented by Livermore’s male contemporaries (see J. O. Kerbey’s The Boy Spy).

This faded burgundy binding features a slightly embossed, patterned border and a delicate, gilded inscription. The book is bound in diary-like fashion, communicating intimacy and a dedication to the reader, "Yours very truly, Mary A. Livermore."

Proud and Lazy

Author: Oliver Optic

Date: 1864

Place: Boston

Publisher: Lee and Shepard

Call Number: PS1006.A5 P7 1864

The industrial mentality of mid-19th century America produced this book, supposedly for the purpose of cultivating personal productivity and compliance in younger generations. Proud and Lazy is one of a series of Riverdale Stories that targeted an audience of pliable young children and future cogs in the social machine. Culturally enforced behavioral institutions spared no punishment for deviants and disruptors to the delicate American gentility, and this book served as a cautionary tale and informative guide for children in need of dispositional reconstruction.

At this time, American life underwent a pivotal transition from idyllic frontier individualism into the urban social machinery. During the Second Industrial Revolution (1840-70), the American frontier was closing, and the idea of the “American Dream” was somewhat altered by the concept of survivalism. Growth of cities and changing social patterns created an atmosphere of competition. Capitalism, Social Darwinism, and the desire to share in the “good life” of material plenty created a cultural preoccupation with the social mandates for success. Government policies and social mandates promised a chance at “surviving” in the urban environment. The public reacted with increased interest in social reform, the standard of living, and individual liberties.

Americans were concerned about fitting into the economic constructs of productivity and power, and this turned attentions again toward expansion. Desiring new opportunity, Americans traveled westward into Native territories, attempting to “assimilate” Native Americans into society and ease the process of settlement. Boundaries spread to include new Pacific and Caribbean holdings as part of “New Imperialism.” New Imperialism and its system of alliances embroiled America in war with Spain, signaling one of many changes in American relations with Europe. The war marked the emergence of the United States as a global power, a status that would be tested and strengthened throughout modern history.


The 19th Century: It’s History, Progress and Marvelous Achievements

Author: Charles A. Doe

Date: 1900

Place: Philadelphia

Publisher: American Book & Bible House

Call Number: D358.5.N5 1900

This historical record, published in the year 1900, presents a retrospective look at the progress of the 19th century. Advancements in industry, technology, art, intellect, and other social arenas the world over are documented and categorized in this herald of 19th century accomplishment. It is true enough that the century preceding this publication was rife with suffering symptomatic of civil disruption, yet the weariness of the country may have been the largest contributor to the popularity of this optimistic and celebratory book. Successes in reform and reconstruction are often seen only through retrospective lenses; in this case, an entire volume devoted to the glorification of 19th century happenings revitalized nationalism at the turn of the century. In the age of Social Darwinism, this record of prosperity would be especially relevant to those chasing the American Dream, defying adversity to pursue happiness.

This regal cover foretells the optimism and glory to be found within. This illustration in charming black, white, and gold filigree literally puts the countries of the world on a pedestal for their accomplishments, reemphasizing the glory of 19th-century progress.

Noble Lives and Brave Deeds

Author: Clara L. Mateaux

Date: 1890

Place: New York

Publisher: Cassel Publishing Company

Call Number: CT107.M46 1890

By the end of the 19th century, the “American Dream”—images of open lands, political freedom, inventiveness, and individualism of frontier life—had evolved with the ideology of survivalism, as newly defined power structures emphasized personal initiative and contribution. Noble Lives and Brave Deeds is a record and discussion of persons who, up until 1890, exemplified ideal citizenry. The leaders, explorers, inventors, and other vituosos extolled in this book make excellent subjects of discussion on idealism and social virtue.

If at the end of the 19th century new values existed promoting the virtue of individual ability and initiative, Noble Lives and Brave Deeds affirms them. This graphically indulgent cover featuring Joan of Arc glorifies individual greatness and the feat of success against imposing forces.

Down the Great River

Author: Willard Glazier

Date: 1892

Place: Philadelphia

Publisher: Hubbard Brothers

Call Number: F354.G56 1892

America again yearned for new opportunity after the close of Manifest Destiny, leading to further westward expansion into conquered, yet previously unexplored territory. This 1887 work by Willard Glazier documents the author’s expedition to discover the “true source of the Mississippi,” which took him some three-thousand miles from its head waters to the Gulf of Mexico in a canoe. Glazier pursues the glory awarded to Fernand De Soto in 1541, exhibiting the endurance of that adventurous spirit ascribed to the American worldview.

The sentiments of expansionism and domestic exploration is exhibited in this engraved binding. The dark river, a symbol of the unknown, is out-shined by the gilt title and image of boat and oar, emphasizing the adventure of an expedition.

A Message to Garcia

Author: Elbert Hubbard

Date: 1899

Place: New York

Publisher: Roycrofters

Call Number: BJ1611.H8 1899

For many Americans in the 19th century, transition into frontier life demanded personal industry, self-reliance, and adaptation to the changing world. When the American people again transitioned, now into urban cities, this ideology translated into justification for Social Darwinism. This essay by Elbert Hubbard glorifies the Darwinian ideas informing western capitalism as the most effective employment of human reason. A Message to Garcia is notable for its insights into the origins and implications of the American Dream and the American understanding of individual value in an industrial setting.

This 1899 print of Hubbard's essay visually alludes to the original "letter to Garcia." Bound in urgently red fabric and inscribed with gilded text, the binding communicates the importance of both "the message" and the essay discussing it.

Paul and Virginia

Author: Bernardin de St. Pierre

Date: 1879

Place: London

Publisher: George Routledge and Sons

Call Number: PQ2065.P3 E5 1879

This reprint of the classic 1788 French novel by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre circulated during the era of Social Darwinism. The reappearance of this work may have been part of a cultural reaction against “Darwinist” class divisions. The novel denounces the way in which human nature is corrupted by artificial sentimentality covering self-interest, presenting an Enlightened view of religion and the harmoniousness of nature.

The stunning elegance of this purple, black, and gold design reflects the opulence of aristocracy, while the despondent figures communicate the characters' discontent with the status quo.

Our Famous Women

Author: --

Date: 1884

Place: Hartford

Publisher: A. D. Worthington & Co.

Call Number: E176.8.O8

This 1884 compilation,“comprising the lives and deeds of American women who have distinguished themselves,” is authored autobigraphically by 20 women who exemplified excellence and success in the late 19th century. Patriots, philanthropists, artists, educators, women of distinction address their fame and the acts that earned their recognition. Our Famous Women is an essential part of any collection of American history, spotlighting the women that shaped the country. These women ensured their contributions were recognized, laying foundations for future movements for equality.

The cover of this edition of Our Famous Women is testimony to the breadth and dynamism of women's contributions to American history. The illustration is very busy, and gilt impressed images of flames (power), nature (environmentalism), pottery (art and culture), busts (battle and defense), and abstract designs (intellectualism), convey the prevalence and distinction of women in some of the most important arenas of history.

The Story of the Spanish Armada

Author: --

Date: 1888

Place: London

Publisher: T. Nelson & Sons

Call Number: DA360.S8 1888

Published in 1888 in London, England, The Story of the Spanish Armada was a source of national pride for the English, circulating on the 300-year anniversary of the English naval victory over Spain. Although America was not involved in the story of the Armada, the publication appeared just a few years before the US would be embroiled in the Spanish-American War, from which America would also emerge victorious. The publication is an interesting addition to discussion about late-19th century shifts in American foreign relations with Spain.

Printed in London, The Story of the Spanish Armada is a significant source of English national pride. The illuminated calligraphy contrasted against red and black reflects the boldness and nobility of the victors.

Indian Fairy Tales

Author: W. S. Phillips

Date: 1902

Place: Chicago

Publisher: Star Publishing Co.

Call Number: E78.N77 PS 1902

Further westward expansion meant pushing American territorial boundaries into Native American lands. The result was a change in status for Native American populations as the government attempted to “assimilate” them into society and ease the process of settlement. This book of “Indian Fairy Tales,” published for the entertainment of white American children, demonstrates one of the measures taken to integrate tribal communities and their traditional belief systems. This book may aid discussions on social perceptions of Native American communities, the history of acculturation, or the mythology and faith traditions of Pacific Northwest tribes.

The cover of Indian Fairy Tales hints at its intended audience--white American children. The children stand at the edge of a pathway, the boundary between their culture and that of their Native neighbor. It seems to be a scene of mutual curiosity and connectivity, highlighted by the uniformity of red coloring, and presents an idealized view of the interactions involved in the acculturation process.


Uncle Tom's Cabin

Author: Harriet Beecher Stowe

Date: 1911

Place: Chicago

Publisher: Rand, McNally & Co.

Call Number: PS2954.U5 1911

If Uncle Tom’s Cabin was, as Will Kaufman said, the novel that "helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War," this 1911 reprint was a reminder of the power of its words and ideas. During the 20th-century stretch of the Civil Rights Movement, the poignancy of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s groundbreaking novel was reintroduced to the public consciousness. Audiences were attuned to the civil and social arguments of the Civil Rights movement and quick to observe this reprint as testimony to the grievances of the African-American population. This publication is a valuable addition to conversations on the Civil Rights Movement of both the 19th and 20th centuries.

This edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin features an embossed image of Topsy, dancing and smiling with the spirit that made her one of the most famous characters of Civil War literature. The yellow detailing on Topsy's white dress and the shadow along her body effect sunlight shining on her.

Life and Works of Spurgeon

Author: J. R. Jones

Date: 1892

Place: --

Publisher: Memorial Publishing Co.

Call Number: BX6495.S7 N6 1892

Charles Haddon Spurgeon is here remembered for his contributions to Reformed Christianity in the second half of the 19th century. Spurgeon remains influential among various Christian denominations, known to some as the "Prince of Preachers". A leading figure in the Reformed Baptist tradition, Spurgeon opposed the theological tendencies of Enlightenment thought. Many of Spurgeon’s contemporaries, as well as modern theologians, consider his messages among the most interesting in Christian literature. This 1892 Memorial Edition of The Life and Works of Spurgeon looks at the vision and legacy of this important figure of theological life and study.

His image embossed like a golden seal on a clean lavender board binding, Spurgeon is here memorialized for his works and vision, considered by some to be among the best Christian theologians.

War in South Africa

Author: William Harding

Date: 1899

Place: Chicago

Publisher: The Dominion Company

Call Number: DT980.H26 1899

William Harding’s “strange story of a weird world” follows the reemergence of imperialism at the turn of the century. Harding records events of the “Scramble for Africa,” when many major world powers partitioned Africa, exploiting native peoples and natural resources. The attitudes of “Old Imperialism” held fast, as secrecy and ethnocentrism glossed over the dark happenings on the “dark continent.”

The cover of this book foils the western "civilized" peoples and the "savage" South African populations. The alarming red detailing on the monochrome lithograph contrasts "savagery" and "civilization," representing military power on the soldier and savagery on the African. The juxtaposition of light and dark reflect the issues of racial politics and the arrival of "enlightenment" on the "dark continent."

Belford's Annual

Author: Thomas W. Handford; True Williams; Frank Bromley; Arthur Vaughan; George Clarke; others

Date: 1889

Place: Chicago

Publisher: Belford, Clarke, and Co.

Call Number: AY12 .B4 1889

This 1889-90 issue of the annual magazine from Belford, Clarke, and Co. was a self-proclaimed “perfect charm,” an “American book for American children.” Published once annually, this rare publication is a compilation of “stories, poems, incidents of adventure, fables, biographical sketches, historic scenes, Sabbath chimes, doings of the daughters of the king, etc., etc., all designed for the pleasure and profit of the young.” Much like the young person’s magazines on shelves today, Belford’s Annual was a source of entertainment and a direct line for communicating messages, values, and ideas to adolescents. Belford’s Annual proves the endurance of the printed magazine as an effective means of perpetuating institutionalized value systems.

This page excerpted from the 1889-90 issue of Belford's Annual reveals the ideas being communicated to young readers and the way those messages were being communicated.

The Schoolmaster in Comedy and Satire

Author: --

Date: 1894

Place: New York

Publisher: American Book Company

Call Number: LB1781.S62 1894

In the late 19th century, scholars and intellectuals gave new attention to comedy and satire as mediums for teaching. Fiction literature was recognized for its ability to communicate values, but the satirical and comedic genres were largely unappreciated due to their relative obscurity in the realm of academic study. The Schoolmaster in Comedy and Satire was released for the purpose of training teachers to recognize and understand satire. The belief was that such instruction would enable instructors to incorporate satirical pieces into their curriculum, thus broadening the spectrum of learning taking place in schoolrooms across America.

This textbook for the teacher, printed in 1894, encourages the study of satire and comedy as legitimate means of education. The publishers describe a "moral" element, a kind of nobility inherent in satire that may advance classroom instruction and understanding of certain ideologies. This gold-detailed copy is complete with a golden seal of approval by the very academic-looking author, who seems to praise with this cover the contributions of comedy to one's well-rounded education.

Impertinent Poems

Author: Edmund Vance Cooke

Date: 1904

Place: Boston

Publisher: Forbes & Company

Call Number: PS3505.O56 I5 1904

Author poet Edmund Vance Cooke quipped that the “chief impertinence was in calling [his works] poems.” Impertinent Poems is a charming collection of cheeky denunciations disguised as whimsical poems that call attention to defects in human nature. True to the form of today’s stand-up comedy, Cooke’s poems savor perhaps a bit too much of the truth, prompting self-evaluation through satirical criticism. Impertinent Poems is a tongue-in-cheek appraisal self-proclaimed “Enlightened” persons. A century later, the collection is relevant in a world of increasingly more knowledge and increasingly less wisdom.

Cooke's jeers begin on the cover. A white lithograph of an older gentleman, representing the intellectual, is adamant in his study, yet the spider web suggests his head is vacant of real enlightened thought. Meanwhile, the jester, a representation of Cooke or his poems, crouches in amused observation, pointing and jeering at the intellectual's foolishness.


Character Lessons in American Biography

Author: James Terry White

Date: 1909

Place: New York

Publisher: Character Development League

Call Number: BJ.1531 W5 1909

The 20th century saw a burgeoning expectation of Americans to share in the “good life” of material plenty, creating a cultural preoccupation with the social mandates of the successful. Government policies and social regulations promised one a chance at “surviving” in the urban environment. Character Lessons in American Biography, published by the Character Development League, is a public code of ethics, promising the knowledge needed to navigate the social sphere and secure the rewards of the “ideal” American. This book reveals the value systems in place at the turn of the century and the ways those systems were maintained.