Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Orphaned Manuscript Volumes and NHPRC Processing Grant Update


Many if not all of us have seen orphaned tomes and incomplete sets of multi-volume works in used book stores, in library sales, and on private bookshelves. Similarly, manuscript collections are rarely complete, as letters, diaries, and documents are often divided, discarded, or selectively preserved by their owners.

In 2011, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) awarded the Manuscripts Division a basic processing grant to create finding aids for over 1,600 collections. Since beginning work on the grant, we have identified several instances of a particularly vexing sort of incomplete collection: Multi-volume manuscript books that lack the first volume. Without first volumes, these works must be described without an author and sometimes without the author's title. Two examples include the History of the Four Quarters of the Globe, 1791-1793; and The History of the Reign of George III, 1820-1823. The locations of the first volumes of these works are currently unknown.

History of the Four Quarters of the Globe, 1791-1793.
Volume three of this 3-volume work contains detailed geographical, historical, and other descriptive accounts of Western Europe and the Americas, as well as a history of astronomy and a timeline of world history, with a focus on Biblical events and European affairs. The title on the cover is "Manuscript Account from Germany to Turkey in Europe with a Description of America Finishing with a Copious Explanation of the Terrestrial & Celestial Globes," though the author's concluding remarks refer to it as a "History of the Four Quarters of the Globe," begun around November 1789. We currently know nothing about its author "I. C. Junr."

The History of the Reign of George III, King of Great Britain, 1820-1823.
The Clements Library owns volumes II, III, and IV of this 4-volume work by "K. H." The author intended the book as a continuation of Tobias Smollet's The History of England. Our three volumes span 1,323 pages, covering the period between 1770 and the King's death in 1820. Its contents include the conflicts in North America during the American Revolutionary era and the War of 1812.



Among other recently available NHPRC-funded finding aids are:
  • Lydia Haskell papers, 1820-1857. Journals, correspondence, and other materials pertaining to Haskell's spiritual life and involvement with the Methodist Episcopal Church in Maine.
  • Famous Boxers manuscript, [ca. 1830s]. 546-page manuscript containing detailed descriptions of boxing matches, biographical information about prominent boxers, and related poetry, portraits, and illustrations, primarily concerning the sport's history in England during the early 1800s. English and American boxers are represented, including some African Americans.
  • Mathewson family collection, 1796-1840. Papers related to the Mathewson family of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York, including content about their involvement in the early Shaker community of New Lebanon, New York, in the 1780s and 1790s.
  • Richard Howe Signal and Instruction Book, [ca. 1776]. Signals, instructions, and explanatory information pertaining to the Royal Navy's operations under Vice Admiral Richard Howe around the time of the American Revolution.
  • Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais papers, 1766-1832. Correspondence of Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, playwright and supporter of the American Revolution; his wife, Marie-Thérèse-Emilie Willer-Mawlar; and his daughter, Eugénie Beaumarchais Delarue. 
  • Bert C. Whitney diary, 1918-1919. Diary written while serving in the 304th Sanitary Train in France during World War I. Whitney described his transatlantic voyages, his experiences near the front line at Verdun in late 1918, and his travels around France after the armistice.
Researchers may view the Clements Library's finding aids associated with the National Historical Publications and Records Commission by searching the Clements Library Manuscripts Division EAD website for "NHPRC."


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