Reminiscences of Bonnets (1857)

By Florence Fashionhunter

“In my young days bonnets were bonnets, and not little dress-caps, quivering in a very precarious situation, pinned to the twist of the hair. They are not pinned? Oh, you needn’t tell me! There is nothing but pinning that can induce them to remain in place. When I was a girl, things were different; then the bonnets rested on a secure foundation. Fashion?

Figure 1

Figure 1

Well, suppose little bonnets are the fashion; is that any reason why a large red face, round as a full moon, should be ‘set out’ by a tiny gauze bonnet about the proper size for Titania. Oh, don’t talk to me! If you really want to see what I think is a respectable proper bonnet for a lady, hand me that yellow bandbox at the end of my closet-shelf. There, that bonnet (Fig. 1) was made from the highest fashionable authority, Godey’s Lady’s Book for January, 1834! Looks faded? Of course, it does; you would, too, if you had been shut up in a bandbox for more than twenty years. What do I keep it for? Because I like to have some proof that women were not always the foo–. Well, I don’t want to be uncharitable. But, I do wonder Mr. Godey will encourage them in their nonsensical ways; of course, they’ll wear little bonnets as long as they have pages of pretty ones to choose from.

Figure 2

Figure 2

If I was his Fashion Editor, I would show the folly of their ways, and try to correct their tastes. Do I consider my bonnet tasty? Of course I do! You think the plume looks like an enraged chanticleer’s tail, and the whole bonnet has rather a fierce look? Let me tell you that plume cost $25, and is not to be laughed at. Just look on the shelf of my bookcase and bring me Godey, Vol. VIII, and I will enlighten you on the subject of fashions as they were in my day. Am I in an antiquarian mood? Never mind my mood; bring me the book. Turn to page 60, and there you will see what I call a handsome substantial bonnet (Fig. 2). You think the bows look as if they were made of a tablecloth each, and the shape looks as if the pattern was taken from the head-piece of a French bedstead!”

And finishing her long indignant speech with a sigh over my want of taste, my dear Aunt Peggy left me to look over her Godey. I did look! I have seen the Crystal Palace, and most of the things therein! I have seen Tom Thumb, the Bearded Lady, Kossuth, the Aztec Children, President Pierce, Parkinson’s Gardens, the Ravels, and various fashion -plates; but I never—never did see such a figure as the lady in a riding-habit I found in this wonderful book (Fig. 3).

Figure 3

Figure 3

Such a collar! I believe they called them by the very appropriate name of ‘chokers;’ such a belt, and such a perfect dinner-plate of a buckle; such sleeves, swelling out from under a minute cap, with a defiant puff, like a—Ahem! garment on a clothes-line in a high wind; or, to speak more poetically, a rose bursting from the green the bud inclosed it with; such a whip for a lady; oh, I pity her poor horse if she is as independent and high-tempered as she looks. Such a hat and veil; of what fabric can that veil be composed to float in such an eccentric sweep? Such an air and attitude; such, in short, such a tout ensemble! Don’t she look ‘peart,’ with her head thrown back, and her feet in a polka position, as if she meant to “dance up to that man with the goose’s on his buttons there,” and ask him to please to place her on her horse. To judge from appearances, Lady Gay Spanker must have been quite a mild, unassuming person compared with this fair equestrian.

“Look on this picture and on this” (Fig. 4).

Figure 4

Figure 4

From our defiant rider to this lovely ball-room belle. Mark the modest arrangement of the hair, and the bows blushingly putting forward their claims to notice. (Beaux are such modest arrangements.) Mark the necklace, composed apparently of small spikes, which can, I suppose, be converted into deadly weapons on occasions. Mark the breadth of shoulders, the cape of black lace, the full sleeves, and the bows. Did ladies widen their doorways in 1833 (I have Aunt Peggy’s Godey for 1833 now) for their guests to pass in without diminishing their “breadth of effect?” Look at the languishing air of our “’33” belle, and compare her with the “’34” equestrian.

But, how I am wandering off from my bonnets! The fact is, fashions are so entirely different from what they were some twenty or thirty years ago, that I sit with the Book before me, in blank amazement, and wonder what we shall wear next.

(To the tune of  “Little Bo-peep.)

I take the book
To have a good look,
And turn the pages in haste, oh!
And try to think,
As I scan each one,
That they were in very good taste, oh!

If it e’er befall
That, at Fashion’ s call,
We wear the same again, oh!
We shall probably think,
As we tie the string,
That they are just the thing, oh!

Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.

Source: Godey’s Lady’s Book – August 1857

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What Shall be Done with the Yankee Prisoners? [1862]

This letter to the Editor of the Charleston Mercury, published under the pseudonym “Philanthropos,” ran on July 12, 1862.

To the Editor of the (Charleston) Mercury:

The possession of an immense number of Yankee prisoners, captured during the flight of the grand army of Gen. McClellan from the lines before Richmond, makes it an important matter to decide how the said captives can be used to most advantage. It is suggested:

  1. To exchange for Confederate prisoners held by the enemy.
  2. To give the foreigners (composing the larger part, probably of the late United States troops now held as our captives) for the first class to be exchanged.
  3. To hold the native Yankee prisoners in our custody, and put them to manual labor in factories, to make brooms, leather, shoes, buckets, thread, cloth, clocks, etc., until they shall be exchanged for the negros stolen from the plantations.
  4. That for each negro who has been sold or worked to death by the Yankees (exchange being impossible) a ransom of $800 be substituted
  5. That the Yankee prisoners held for this purpose shall be subject to the negro law of the State in which they are imprisoned, or until exchanged or ransomed. The object of this is to recover the negros stolen, and to prevent future loss and injury to southern masters and servants.
  6. That the negros be returned to their owners and the money distributed among those whose negros shall not be recovered.

I am, sir, &c.,


Part I of our Civil War collection, A Newspaper Perspective, contains articles gleaned from over 2,500 issues of The New York Herald, The Charleston Mercury and the Richmond Enquirer, published between November 1, 1860 and April 15, 1865.
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Inside the Archives

Inside the Archives – Summer 2018 – Volume VII Number 2

Summer 2018
Volume VII. Number 2.
One way in which Accessible Archives helps to stimulate interest and research in our primary source databases is by maintaining an extremely active blog presence. During June we will distribute a comprehensive blogathon with a second scheduled for this Fall. In this newsletter we have pulled together a selection of six postings – a “Best of the Blogs”, if you will – from the twelve provided in the initial blogathon and asked our guest writer Jill O’Neil to wrap a narrative around them. We’re sure you will find her coverage both inciteful and informative.

Contemporary Coverage of Historical Events and Thinking

By Jill O’Neill

Jill O’Neill

Jill O’Neill is the Educational Programs Manager for the National Information Standards Organization (NISO). She has been an active member of the information community for thirty years, most recently managing the professional development programs for NFAIS (National Federation of Advanced Information Services).

One of the extraordinary experiences one has in working with collections of primary source documents is tracing from one document to another the unfolding of events as noted in newspapers and other periodicals. Dipping into a variety of the Accessible Archives collections, the reader can follow in half a dozen articles a full century of American history. As these article datelines show, such contemporary news accounts present the frictions of a social order struggling to come to maturity.

Dateline: December 8, 1730, The Pennsylvania Gazette

Our selected century opens with an account of Native Americans meeting King George in September 1730. Accorded a certain degree of dignity, the chiefs were conducted to the Plantation Office in Whitehill in order to be presented to King George II and to formalize a treaty. The ceremony included recognition by Frederick, Prince of Wales. The event was intended to mark the end of hostilities between those tribes and the English colonists.

Yesterday the Indian Chiefs were carried from their Lodgings in King street, Covent Garden, to the Plantation Office at Whitehill, guarded by two Files of Musketeers. When they were brought up to the Lords Commissioners, they sang 4 or 5 Songs in their Country Language; after which the Interpreter was ordered to let them know that they were sent for there to join in Peace with King George and his People; and were desired to say, if they had any Thing further to offer relating to the Contract they had before entered into.

 Upon which the King stood up, and gave a large Feather he had in his hand to the Prince, who thereupon spoke to the Lords Commissioners to this Effect.

That they were sensible of the good Usage they received since they came here, and that they would use our People always well; that they came here like Worms out of the Earth, naked, and that we had put fine Cloaths on their Backs, (pointing to the Cloaths) and that they never should forget such king Dealings, but should declare the same to their Countrymen.

King George II

King George II

And thereupon the Prince laid the Feather with a Bit of Skin upon the Table, saying, It should be as good as the Bible to bind the Contract with King George; and said also, that a Feather should not better love his Son, than they would do us: So made a Peace.

The Commissioners then told them they should have a Copy of the Contract, with the King’s seal to it; and the Governor should entertain them; upon which the King got up and kiss’d the Commissioners, as the Prince had done before; the other Chiefs also did the same; whereupon they sang some more Songs, and then returned home.

This account appeared in The Pennsylvania Gazette, a prominent newspaper published from Philadelphia by owner and frequent contributor, Benjamin Franklin. The Pennsylvania Gazette provided its readership with awareness of activities in the Canadian Maritime Provinces through the West Indies and North and South America. Throughout the course of its publication run the newspaper played an important role in directing colonists’ thinking about politics, including the famous political cartoon by Franklin (Join or Die), as well as novel research, including Franklin’s account of his experimental use of a kite to study electricity.

Dateline: January 21, 1773, The Virginia Gazette

An opinion piece in The Virginia Gazette indicates a growing disenchantment with the British Crown’s handling of colonial interests. By this point, George III had been on the throne for more than fifteen years. The economic policies of his ministers would in a matter of months allow the passage of the Tea Act in May 1773 with the result of a protest by local merchants in the form of the Boston Tea Party. Still the language of this piece makes clear the discontent in Colonial America even as the respect due a sovereign suffuses the expressed reproach.

How poor is that Prince, amidst all his wealth, whose subjects are only kept by a slavish fear, the gaoler of the soul. An iron arm, fastened with a screw, may be stronger, but never so useful, because not so natural as an arm of flesh, joined with muscles and sinews: So loving subjects are more serviceable, as being more kindly united to their Sovereign than those which are only forced on with fear and threatening.

Further on, the anonymous author writes:

Let that Prince, who would beware of conspiracies, be rather jealous of such whom his extraordinary favours have advanced than of those whom his displeasure hath discontented: These want means to execute their pleasures, but those have means at pleasure to execute their desires. A Sovereign being the father of his people, he is bound to treat them as his children, and fear makes them only masters of the body, whereas love makes them rulers over the heart. The crown and scepter are things most weighty: If a Prince be good he is laden with labour; if evil, with infamy. Kings should observe the example of celestial bodies, the sun, moon, and the rest, which have great glory and veneration, but no rest or intermission, being in a perpetual office of motion for cherishing of inferior bodies, expressing likewise the true manner of the motions of government, which, though they ought to be swift and rapid in respect of occasion and dispatch, yet are they to be constant and regular, without wavering or confusion…They likewise are to imitate the Heavens, who do not enrich themselves by the earth and seas, nor keep no dead stock, or untouched treasure, of that they draw to themselves from below, but whatsoever moisture they do levy and take from the inferior elements in vapours they return in showers; only storing them for a time to issue and distribute in season. To search into the actions of Princes dilates more curiosity than honesty; for that which is expedient in a Prince, in a lower fortune, is utterly unmeet.

The piece closes with this final piece of counsel:

Kings rule by their laws as God does by the law of nature, and ought as rarely to put in use their supreme prerogative as God doth his power in working miracles.

Of equal status to The Pennsylvania Gazette, The Virginia Gazette covered the region south of the Potomac River, informing the populace of events affecting the English colonies. The Virginia Gazette was at this time still published from offices in Williamsburg, Virginia although it would later be relocated to the city of Richmond, when that city became the new state capital.

Dateline: August 12, 1778, The Gazette of the State of South Carolina

That the economic model of the colonies was itself exploitative is revealed by looking at the classified ads that ran in this newspaper.  Five notices published in that August issue note the label of property applied to human labor in that state. The initial ad offers for sale (though not due to fault of the individual) a male slave used to working in the field. The second offers a reward for the return of Sam, “a dark Mulatto” shoemaker. In the third item, we learn of a runaway wife but the reward goes for the apprehension of one Peter Bourdaju, a deserter who is blamed for the theft of 800 pounds.  Both the runaway wife (Angelica Elizabeth Baour) and Mr. Bourdaju are described in great physical detail:

He is about 5 feet 5 or 6 inches high, thin faced, has a long nose, black curled hair, brown complexion, is slim made, and speaks both French and English; my wife is a short thick made woman, brown complexion, red faced, marked with the small-pox, and has black hair she speaks good English, and a great deal of French when she pleases, and is very bold.

The bilingual couple had lived in Hillsborough Township in South Carolina.

Also listed in the classified ads as runaways are a woman of yellow complexion, Clarinda, formerly belonging to a Mrs Gordon, and a skilled cabinet maker, Henry, who has escaped the ownership of Mrs. Sophia Desering.

The full text is rather harsher:

RUN AWAY the 4th of August, a negro wench names Clarinda, of a yellow complexion, had on when she went away a cross-bar check coat, a coarse white linen shirt, and a blue handkerchief on her head, and formerly belonged to Mrs. Gordon, Whoever will deliver the said wench to the warden of the work-house in Charlestown, or to the subscribers in King-street, shall receive a reward of fifty pounds currency and all reasonable charges; and whoever harbours or entertains her, may depend upon being prosecuted to the utmost rigor of the law.

RUN away from the subscriber, a negro man named Harry, who was sent to me by his Mistress, Mrs. Sophia Desering, to go to Combahee, but he has taken the advantage of his Mistress’s letter,and gone to work at the cabinet marker’s business in Charlestown, upwards of six weeks since. I do offer a reward of one hundred pounds to any person that will give information of his being employed or harboured by a white person, and twenty if by a negro; or the reward of ten dollars to any one that will deliver him to the Warden of the Workhouse, or to me at Combahee.

The Accessible Archives collection of South Carolina Newspapers contains four newspapers covering that region — The South Carolina Gazette, The South Carolina and American General Gazette, the South Carolina Gazette & Country Journal, and the Gazette of the State of South Carolina — collectively encompassing the years 1732 -1780.

Dateline: September 1778, American County Histories

Others were fleeing the authorities for other reasons. A history of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in New Jersey tells the story of a young Stephen Edwards who was hiding from cavalry officer Captain Jonathan Forman. Forman tracked Edwards to his father’s farm, entering the bedroom of Mrs. Edwards at midnight with a party of men. Forman challenged the woman:

“Who have you here?” said Forman.

“A laboring woman,” replied Mrs. Edwards.

The captain detected the disguise, and on looking under the bed, saw Edwards’ clothing, which he examined, and in which he found the papers given him by Colonel Taylor.

He then said, “Edwards, I am sorry to find you! You see these papers? You have brought yourself into a very disagreeable situation— you know the fate of spies!”

Edwards denied the allegation, remarking that he was not such and could not so be considered.

The author of the county history goes on to note:

The guilt of Edwards was conclusively proven; deep sympathy was felt for his parents and wife, but the perils of the patriots at this time were so great that prompt and decisive action was necessary for their own preservation.

The foolhardiness of Edwards in keeping treasonable papers about him was remarkable. Some features of this affair will remind the reader of the unfortunate Major Andre. It is probable that Edwards was executed about September, 1778.

The American County Histories collection covers counties from across the United States in nine groupings including: Central, Mid-Atlantic Part 1, Mid-Atlantic Part 2, Midwest, New England Part 1, New England Part 2, Southeastern, The Southwest, and The West. Edwards’ story appears in the digital edition of A History of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Embracing a Genealogical Record of Earliest Settlers in Monmouth and Ocean Counties and Their Descendants, The Indians: Their Language, Manners and Customs, Important Historical Events.

Dateline: August 18, 1832, The Liberator

By the time of this final item in our “century of history”, Charles Carroll, the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence, would be dying. Andrew Jackson was closing out his first term as President of the United States and John Marshall was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. There was a cholera pandemic weighing down on the Eastern seaboard, but at the same time the larger problem of the “Slavery Question” was beginning to be publicly articulated.

In the pages of The Liberator, an important advocate for the abolition of slavery, the following report appeared of prophetic remarks made by Mr. Gaston to the youth of the University of North Carolina.

On you will devolve the duty which has been too long neglected, but which cannot with impunity be neglected much longer, of providing for the mitigation, and (is it too much to hope for in North Carolina?) for the ultimate extirpation of the worst evil that afflicts the Southern part of our Confederacy.

Full well do you know to what I refer, for on this subject there is, with all of us, a morbid sensitiveness which gives warning even of an approach to it. Disguise the truth as we may, and throw the blame where we will, it is Slavery which more than any other cause, keeps us back in the career of improvement.

It stifles industry and represses enterprise – it is fatal to economy and providence – it discourages skill – impairs our strength as a community…

The Liberator would continue to publish through the end of 1865. The full run of issues is available from Accessible Archives.

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Imaging for American County Histories Completed

We have finalized the imaging portion of our massive American County Histories collection. The project culminated with the inclusion of the last volumes from the expanded portions of the New England and Mid-Atlantic Regions. Imaging previously was completed for the original coverage of these areas as well as for the Southeast, Southwest, West, Central and Midwest regions. As with all our collections, we are providing customized MARC records, and these free records are now fully available for all completed images. As a reminder access to this database – and to all our collections – is supported through all discovery services.

License Agreement Term Improvements for Accessible Archives June 2018

 All customers will receive an e-mail blast from Unlimited Priorities LLC, Exclusive Sales and Marketing Agent, for Accessible Archives, Inc.

License Agreement Term Improvements

License Agreement Term Improvements

 Upcoming Conference Event

Coming to the ALA Annual Conference?
We’d love to visit with you.
Contact us for an appointment; we have lots to talk about.

Ernest N. Morial Convention Center – Halls G-J Booth #2760

Ernest N. Morial Convention Center – Halls G-J – Booth #2760

© 2018 Accessible Archives, Inc.

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American County History Completion Update

Accessible Archives Completes Imaging for American County Histories Database
MARC Records Also Now Available for All Seven U.S. Regions

Malvern, PA (June 5, 2018)Accessible Archives, Inc.®, an electronic publisher of full-text primary source historical databases, has announced the finalization of the imaging portion of its massive American County Histories collection. The project culminated with the inclusion of the last volumes from the expanded portions of the New England and Mid-Atlantic Regions. Imaging previously was completed for the original coverage of these areas as well as for the Southeast, Southwest, West, Central and Midwest regions.

Published primarily between 1870 and 1923, county histories are a cornerstone of local historical and genealogical research.  They provide historians and genealogists with regional overviews and general community conditions.  Ancestor research often yields collateral information about neighbors, friends and associates.  Additional areas include government, medical and legal professions, churches, industries, schools, fire departments, cemeteries, transportation, and local and regional geological conditions.  For an overview of non-traditional uses and original sources, please see our whitepaper on the topic.

In addition to the careful imaging of these volumes, each article within the volumes is keyed and XML-tagged instead of utilizing dirty OCR. Although this effort is extremely time-consuming forty-one states are fully available with the project targeted for year-end completion. Accessible Archives continues to be the only authority for coverage of all fifty states, Thus, users are able to search by individual county, across a state or region, or throughout the entire country as a unified entry. In addition, a search can be constructed across all additional databases, thus gleaning results from such diverse areas as African American Newspapers, The Civil War, Women’s History and the like.

Accessible Archives provides additional access support through the provision of customized MARC records. These free records are now fully available for all completed images. Access also is supported through all discovery services.

In its role as exclusive sales and marketing agent for Accessible Archives, Unlimited Priorities LLC ® continues to manage this important project by providing technical and production assistance, product development and licensing agreements. Iris L. Hanney, Unlimited Priorities president, observed: “The completion of this immense project opens broad avenues for research covering every aspect of the development of towns and cities, counties and states, and the country as a whole. It also has firmly established Accessible Archives as the foremost digitized source for nationwide coverage of county histories.”

About Accessible Archives, Inc.

Accessible Archives utilizes a team of digital technology and conversion specialists to provide vast quantities of archived historical information previously available only in microform, hard copy or as images only.  Databases containing diverse primary source materials – leading books, newspapers and periodicals – reflect broad views across 18th and 19th century America. Accessible Archives will continue to add titles covering important topics and time periods to assist scholars and students at all academic levels. Unlimited Priorities LLC is the exclusive sales and marketing agent for Accessible Archives.


Iris L. Hanney
Unlimited Priorities LLC

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Accessible Archives Will Be at ALA Annual in New Orleans!

Accessible Archives wants to meet with you at ALA’s Annual Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, June 22-25.  You can find us in the Exhibit Hall, with our exclusive sales and marketing agent, Unlimited Priorities LLC, at booth #2760 in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Halls G-J.

Accessible Archives, utilizing digital technology and a large team of conversion specialists, provides diverse primary sources from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th century, reflecting broad views across American history and culture – including: African American life, Women’s Suffrage, American County Histories, Colonial America, the Civil War, America in World War I, and much more. Our databases allow access to the rich store of materials — eyewitness accounts of historical events, vivid descriptions of daily life, editorial observations, and commerce as seen through advertisements — from over 200 years of leading books, newspapers, and periodicals then current. With our faceted search page, students, faculty, and librarians will go beyond just the facts and figures of American history and into a deeper understanding of their search topic.

Would love the opportunity to explore how Accessible Archives can best serve your needs and how we can make that happen!

Let’s make a date to chat?!  Please contact us for an appointment so we don’t miss you!

Booth Hours:

  • Friday, June 22, Opening Reception: 5:30pm – 7:00pm
  • Saturday, June 23: 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Sunday, June 24: 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Monday, June 25, Exhibits Closing Events: 9:00am – 2:00pm
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