What IS all this?

If you’re trying to find out how much a book is worth | If you’d like to include these texts at your own site
Other things I’ve done | What’s new at this site


What is all this?
It’s my indulgence.

I love early 19th-century American works for children. It’s that kind of love that screams at the racism, the sexism, and the jingoism and the xenophobia. And then looks for more, because this is important stuff. This is what 19th-century American citizens, voters, and politicians read in their most impressionable years. This is the stuff that still pops up in some American culture and thinking—sometimes in ugly ways. Certain early 19th-century books for adults also interest me, especially the stuff written by writers not usually studied in classes on American lit.

Why put up this page?
Believe it or not, this is what I love most to do: researching, reading, transcribing. And connecting things. And exploring texts not often taken seriously in histories of American literature. (Actually, many of the 19th-century American writers we study were among the least popular in their own time.) This page allows me to organize what I’ve learned and read. And it’s really great to have my “reference library” someplace where I can look at it any place with Internet access!


Why focus on THIS stuff?

Robert Merry’s Museum has been my central passion—intellectually, that is—since I discovered it in 1985. I needed a subject for my doctoral dissertation in American Studies and figured I could get about 200 pages out of a magazine that ran for 32 years. Little did I know that I’d have to leave out stuff to keep the dissertation to one volume! I’ve realized that the Museum was probably the central magazine in the history of American children’s magazines: its popularity strengthened the combination of literary fiction and nonfiction that became the hallmark of 19th-century periodicals for children and that we see today in magazines like Cricket; and the Museum was the first to consciously create a community of readers, which other magazines soon copied and which we still see today. Studying the Museum, I got interested in Samuel Griswold Goodrich. And Jacob Abbott; and 19th-century American children’s magazines; and 19th-century American children’s lives; and ....

Just for the sake of sanity (mine), I’ve focused on American culture from 1800 to 1872. 1872 because that was the Museum ’s last year; 1800 because—well—because I needed a beginning date. That doesn’t mean that I don’t know that 1800 was the last year of the eighteenth century, nor does it mean that if I’m ever offered a copy of a pre-1800 children’s magazine, I won’t grab it and add it to the site. (Go ahead—offer me one & see what happens.)


Why the transcriptions?

Transcribing these pieces lets me think about them and connect them with other works written for children (and adults) at the time. And, to be truthful, it offers me a chance to read a lot of what I’ve collected. I was surprised to find that no one had yet offered transcriptions of Goodrich’s works or—more surprising—of Fanny Fern’s essays. On the other hand, that allowed me to do it.

And, yes, almost all the stuff I transcribe are from copies in my personal collection. (Why it costs more every time I move .... )

What’s to come?

I have several more books by Gail Hamilton, and a children’s book by Fanny Fern. And 13 more volumes of the Token. And a handful of gift books for children. And tons of Peter Parley stuff, including a charming little chapbook that describes early 19th-century New York City. And Dilworth’s grammar, selections from Caleb Bingham’s works, several books on letter writing, and Jenkins’ Art of Writing. I’d also like to transcribe Henry Ward Beecher’s Star Papers. There are a number of serials from Merry’s Museum that I think people would enjoy, including the Civil War stories “Battles at Home” and “Philip Snow’s War”. And I’ve barely started on my eight volumes of Our Young Folks. Or The Little Corporal. Or The Children’s Hour. Or the Student/Schoolmate magazines. Or the Juvenile Miscellany. Or the Youth’s Companion, Youth’s Cabinet, Forrester’s Playmate, Forrester’s Boys and Girls, Our Boys and Girls, Riverside Magazine, Juvenile Gazette, and Parley’s Magazine. I’m behind on the The Slave’s Friend (a very happy state of affairs!). And— Well, I think you’ve got the gist.

Please enjoy the site, but remember that it’s entirely the creation of one person, scanning and transcribing and researching (usually after a very long day at work), wearing out her own copies, and paying to make the material available without advertisements. If you’d like to feature some of these works at your site, please link to these pages. If you’d like to make them available in another format, please write to me, so we can make arrangements. Or transcribe them yourself: there’s nothing that says you can’t find your own copies to transcribe or scan! Copyrighted material includes the papers I’ve written, my commentaries, and the specific electronic form of the documents. Feel free to save these files to disk or to print them for your own use, or to link to them. If you’re quoting this material in your own work, please remember me in the acknowledgments and let me know where to find a copy, so I can enjoy your take on the subject. If you wish copies for educational purposes, please ask me first, so I can point you to a clean copy. No permission is granted for commercial use.

How much is —— worth?

$5. (Since I’m not a dealer, I don’t try to price books. But there was a marvelous book dealer who, every time I dragged out a book he hadn’t priced, would say, “Five bucks?”) If you’re trying to find out the price actual book dealers have put on copies of your book, you can get an idea by looking it up at
Bibliofind or Bookfinder; you also could see how much someone paid for it on eBay. If you’re trying to learn more about its author (birth and death dates, and what else they’ve written), or when it was published, the Library of Congress online catalog is a good bet.

Other things I’ve done

Papers & presentations:
“From Bobbsey Twins to Batman: Research Possibilities in the Hess Collection.” Presentation at Children’s Literature Forum, Children’s Literature Research Collection, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, 1982.
“Choosing the Right Path: Didacticism in Choose-your-own-adventure Books.” Paper presented at Popular Culture Association Convention, Atlanta, Georgia, 1986. Available online
“Robert Merry’s Museum and the Lure of the Sensational.” Paper presented at Popular Culture Association Convention, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1988. Available online
“The Stratemeyers of New Jersey; or, The Secrets in the Old Archives.” Paper presented at American Culture Association Convention, Louisville, Kentucky, 1992.
A quickie look at the kind of information researchers can garner from the U. S. census.
“Death and the Readers of Robert Merry’s Museum.” Paper presented at American Culture Association Convention, Chicago, Illinois, 1994. Available online
“Too Good to Be True: 150 Years of Mary Sue.” Paper presented at American Culture Association Convention, San Diego, California, 1999. Expanded version available online
“An ‘Online Community’ of the Nineteenth Century.” Paper presented at Popular Culture Association Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2001. Expanded version available online
“Samuel Goodrich and the Branding of American Children’s Literature.” Paper presented at Popular Culture Association Convention, Boston, Massachusetts, 2007. Published Dime Novel Roundup 77 (Feb 2008): 4-12. Available online
“Reading the Covers of Some Early American Periodicals for Children.” 40-minute version presented to the Washington Area Group for Print Culture Studies, Washington, DC, 2010. 15-minute version presented at Popular Culture Association Convention, St. Louis, Missouri, 2010.
“How Prehistoric Beasts Met Nineteenth-century American Children.” Presentation at Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing Conference, Washington, DC, 2011.
Most of the material is online.

Exhibit:
“Going to War.” Exhibit at the Children’s Literature Research Collection, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, 1986.
How the American Revolution, the American Civil War, & World War I were presented in popular books, comics, & magazines for children.

Blog:
So Many Words, So Little Time
Updates, plans for this site, & occasional lectures.

Flickr account:
merry_coz
Articles:
“Fables into Picturebooks.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, 9 (1984): 73-75.
A survey of the way fables have been retold in picture books, for the 500th anniversary of William Caxton’s edition of Aesop’s fables.
“Youth’s Temperance Advocate.” In Children’s Periodicals of the United States, ed. R. Gordon Kelly. Greenwood Press, 1984.
The piece that started it all.
“Jane Louise Curry.” In Twentieth-Century Children’s Writers. St. James Press, 1989.
An interesting American writer.
“Jane Langton.” In Twentieth-Century Young Adult Writers. St. James Press, 1994.
A wonderful writer, especially for children.
“Clement Moore and ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas.’ ” Introduction to A catalogue of the Editions of The Night Before Christmas from the Barbara Loftus Perrone Collection. West Chester University, West Chester, PA, 2001. Available online
“Midwestern children’s literature.” For Encyclopedia of the Midwest. Bloomington, IN: University of Indiana Press, 2006.
Themes in books by midwestern writers past & present.
“Samuel Goodrich and the Branding of American Children’s Literature.” Dime Novel Roundup. 77 (Feb 2008): 4-12. Available online

Scholarly books:
Reference Guide to Modern Fantasy for Children. Greenwood Press, 1984.
From Abadan to Zyll: an encyclopedia of people, places, & things in 100 works. One of the American Library Association’s Outstanding Reference Books, 1985.
“A Visit to Merry’s Museum; or Social Values in a Nineteenth-Century American Periodical for Children.” PhD thesis, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, 1987. Updated version available online
Beverly Cleary. Twayne, 1991. Included in Twayne’s Women Authors on CD-ROM, 1995-whenever.
Themes in the works of a major American writer.
Letters from Nineteenth-century American Children to Robert Merry’s Museum Magazine. Edwin Mellen Press, 2001. Expanded version available online

Fiction:
The Fog’s Net. Illus. Ruth Gamper. Houghton Mifflin, 1994.
A picture book now out of print.
“How Pete and Mirelda Went to Market.” Ladybug magazine, November, 1994.
Onomatopoeia gone overboard, with some wonderful illustrations by Margaret Sanfilippo, who draws a darned good donkey.

Computer game (soooo not quittin’ the day job....):
“The House at the Edge of Time.” (1989)
A text adventure played in DOS—now with its very own official web page!


Copyright 2001-2014, Pat Pflieger

To “Nineteenth-Century Children & What They Read
Some of the children | Some of their magazines
To “Voices from 19th-Century America
Some works for adults, 1800-1872

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