Archive › Blog

The Lincoln Family at Barnum’s

In our Civil War: Part I: A Newspaper Perspective collection subscribers can find news coverage of the events leading up to the war as well as reports on battles, recruitment, troop morale, and logistics.  When the newly elected Abraham Lincoln and his family’s travel towards  Washington, the New York Herald ran several days of human interest stories describing the events and festivities surrounding the new First Family as they passed through New York and saw some of the sights.

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.

The Lincoln Family at Barnum’s

On Tuesday afternoon, soon after Lincoln arrival in the city, Mr. Barnum, the ‘Prince of Showmen,’ waited upon him at the Astor House, and invited him to visit the Museum. Mr. Lincoln said that he would certainly attend some time during yesterday. ‘Don’t forget,’ said Barnum. ‘You ‘Honest Old Abe;’ I shall rely upon you, and I advertise you.’The advertisement appeared, but Mr. Lincoln didn’t. A great many people took this opportunity of seeing the President elect, together with the other curiosities, but they were unfortunately disappointed. They saw the great Lincoln turkey, however, and looked as though they enjoyed it. They didn’t, though, for how can one enjoy the sight of a fine fowl fattened for another person to eat?

Mary Todd Lincoln

Mary Todd Lincoln

During the morning Bob Lincoln, the rail prince, dropped into the Museum and looked through its spacious halls. The ‘What Is It’ enjoyed his distinguished consideration; the Aztec children looked wilder than ever as he faced them, descendants of a long and thin line of kings as they are; the lightning calculator dropped his chalk, and for the first time made only a small mistake in his addition. The young Prince wanted to consult Madame Delmonte, the fortune teller, upon the future of the country, but having connection with extremely Southern latitudes, she rather favored secession. If Mr. Barnum had only left young Lincoln to himself, no one could have recognized him as the son of the President.

Mrs. Lincoln, a handsome matronly lady, paid the Museum a visit, also, and sent her children, with their nurse, to see the ‘Woman in White’ and sit with Mr. Barnum in his private box. Such of the party as could write inscribed their names upon the visitors’ book, under the signatures of Tommy and the Prince of Wales. There was no extraordinary crowd, and very little attention paid to the distinguished visitors. The manner in which the brass band executed the national airs was the most remarkable event of the day at the Museum.

Source: The New York Herald , February 21,1861
Top Image:  Sleighing in New York by T. Benecke 1855.

Barnum Museum Ad

Barnum Museum Ad, Frank Leslie’s Weekly


Yesterday’s Weather Today…

Last month, the weather was a major topic in the news media, as well as social media. Images of snow measured in feet were broadcast from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and even Glengary, WV.  These images and news stories will become a part of the historical record of states from New York to Kentucky to South Carolina.

American County Histories offer in great detail the various weather patterns of counties and regions. They highlight the many natural disasters that a county has suffered, especially violent storms, extended weather patterns and other natural disasters.

In addition, the full-text search capability of the American County Histories database permits the student/researcher to review detailed coverage of local history, geology, geography, transportation, lists of all local participants in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, government, the medical and legal professions, churches and ministers, industry and manufacturing, banking and insurance, schools and teachers, noted celebrations, fire departments and associations, cemeteries, family histories, health and vital statistics, roads and bridges, public officials and legislators, and many additional subject areas.


The climate of this region is very pleasant most of the year, and well calculated for the fullest development of all the common crops of this country. There has not been kept within the limits of Daviess County what is called a “meteorological station,” but we are exceedingly fortunate in being offered the use of an extraordinary diary, faithfully kept by Mr. Joseph Thomas, of Owensboro, for about thirty years, commencing with Jan. 22, 1844, the Monday after his first marriage. This diary is a marvel of a daily record of events, of the weather, and of fine penmanship and correct spelling. Little did he think, thirty-eight years ago, that he would live to see the substance of it or any part of it in print like this, in a large book!

As he generally kept his thermometer in an unoccupied room in the house, or in the entrance hall, about ten to fifteen degrees must be subtracted from the figures in the first part of the following record, for the winter months, to obtain the true temperature out of doors. We have selected and compiled from the diary; to print all of it would make nearly two volumes the size of this. The war record and miscellaneous matters appear elsewhere in this work.

The full-text search capability of the American County Histories database permits the student/researcher to explore all the publications of a particular county by using a single query. In addition, those wishing to read or browse the text on a page by page basis may do so in the original format merely by scrolling down the screen and then continuing to the next chapter.



A Year in the Home: February

Godey’s Lady’s Book played an important role in shaping the cultural customs in 19th century America. The “Queen of Monthlies” is best known for the hand-tinted fashion plate that appeared at the start of each issue, which provide a record of the progression of women’s dress.

Beyond clothing fashions, the articles and editorials in Godey’s included descriptions of current trends and acted as an arbiter of manners and helped shape many of the traditions practiced by American families today.

This was part of an 1890 series of articles covering a year of American domestic traditions and lore.

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.

A Year in the Home: February

By Augusta Salisbury Prescott

What are you going to do this year to keep alive the memory of Saint Valentine? Do you know who he was and why he is peculiarly entitled to be held in loving family remembrance?

He was a bishop who dwelt in Rome, and who made it his special care to look after the happiness of married couples, and to assist the young in their matchmaking. So it would be more than a pity if we were to allow the good old custom of celebrating his birthday to fall into desuetude. And then, too, the early months of the year are so long, and ofttimes tedious, that one may be glad to enliven them by taking advantage of every festival possible.

The old idea of sending a valentine in the form of a painted square of paper, containing a sentimental verse and, mayhap, a little looking-glass, has entirely gone out. But in place of this style have come others that make of valentine offerings. things of beauty and a joy as long as they last. They are souvenirs similar to those of Christmas, birthday and Easter, save that they differ in the sentiment, having on them a light line or two, or even no inscription at all save the date.



John Quincy Adams and the Winnebagoes

Although Freedom’s Journal lived a relatively short life, it is important in that it was the first American newspaper written by blacks for blacks. From the beginning the editors felt, “…that a paper devoted to the dissemination of useful knowledge among our brethren, and to their moral and religious improvement, must meet with the cordial approbation of every friend to humanity…“.

Freedom’s Journal often included reprints from other newspapers like the one shown here.

The Winnebagoes at the Capital

The interview between the Winnebagoes and President John Quincy Adams is described very handsomely by a correspondent of the National Intelligencer. The address of the old Chief to the President is highly poetical. We copy as much of the article as our columns will admit.

An old chief stepped forth into the centre of the room, with a long uncouth pipe in his hand, which after a brief ceremonial not precisely intelligible, he brought near the President and waved over his head. It was the calumet of peace. Holding it then before him, and pointing to it, he began an harangue in low guttural tones, accompanied with much earnest gesture. He spoke in short paragraphs an Indian half blood reporting them in French, and a second interpreter conveying them in English.

“Father, I am glad to see you. I hold out the pipe, and I take your hand in friendship.

“Father, a cloud has been between us. It was thick and black. I thought once it would never be removed. But now I see your face. It looks upon me pleasantly.

“Father, a long way stretched between us. – There were these who told me it was blocked up. – They said the Red Men could not pass it. I attempted it. It is like the plain path which conducts to the Great Spirit.

“Father, when I came in sight of your home, it looked white and beautiful. My heart rejoiced. – I thought now I should talk with you.

“Father, the Great Spirit gave to his children, the Winnebagoes, a pleasant plant. It is good to smoke. I have it here,” – touching with his finger the bowl of the pipe – ‘I give it you in peace.’

“Father I am as old as you. My heart is true. They told me your heart was black. It is not so. We salute in friendship.

“Father, I say no more. My talk is little. I am a chief among my people. But one is here who will speak to you soon, and tell you better our thoughts.”

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.



February 2016 Webinar Schedule

This month we are hosting three free webinars on two topics:

Frank Leslie’s Weekly

February 17th, Wednesday, 10am EST
February 18th, Thursday, 1pm EST

This 30-minute webinar will trace America’s development in the 19th and early 20th centuries through this complete collection of the nation’s first illustrated weekly. It will highlight every phase of the evolution of American popular culture over 70 years. In addition, the webinar will illustrate how the Weekly chronicles the nation heading into the catastrophic conflict between North and South, postwar industrial growth and the rise of cities, and the movement westward. By unlocking the immediate past scholars can better understand the events leading to our present day concerns and issues.

Register Now

Use of Primary Sources and Interface/Searchability

February 24th, Wednesday, 10am EST

This 30-minute presentation will focus on the importance of using primary sources and how to locate those documents that will provide the best opportunities for reference librarians, faculty and students to “dig into the past” and discover the essential history that defines our society.

Register Now