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Housekeeper's Alliance

Mrs. Chatwitt on Domestic Help (1864)

The want of good domestic help in the United States is a great evil, and one which daily increases; and, were it not for the influx of foreigners, I do not know but necessity would drive all housekeepers to some great boarding-house system, thus banishing the holiest of all places– our homes and our private firesides.

No one can travel through our country towns, especially of the Free States of the West, without being struck with the careworn, faded expression of women scarcely thirty years of age; and the merest glimpse at their cares and duties, and the hard work that inevitably falls to their share, shows plainly, why they are broken down ere they are in their prime; shows why there are so many motherless children; why there are so many men mourning over the beloved of their youth, and the breaking up of their household ties; why there are so many with second and third wives.

The young housekeepers, the day after marriage

The young housekeepers, the day after marriage

Look at a young girl entering upon the duties of matrimony, loving and beloved, and anxious to fulfill her domestic and social duties. Watch her year by year until a little family have clustered around her; see with what energy and amiability she has striven against sickness, poor help, and all the thousand trials and perplexities that no one but American housekeepers can understand. With an infant in her arms and an inexperienced girl to help her, she superintends her housekeeping, receives company, nurses her children, acts the seamstress, and strives for her husband’s comfort; and soften her miserable help deserts her when she can least do without. What wonder health and beauty give way! And she could not retain her spirits, and hope against hope that she will be relieved in time to recruit her failing health and energies, but for that calm trust, which I glory in saying most of my countrywomen possess, in an all-wise Creator, an overruling Providence, and a kind Heavenly Father. Yet, though God overrules all things, He does not wish us to fold our hands over this evil; even with faith in Him, we must endeavor to remove it, and look to Him to bless our efforts, not our passiveness. What can be done? Will not some one take up a pen, and tell us what is practicable?– not theories; something practical?


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The Latest Full Text Books Online

As part of the ongoing expansion of our American County History Collection into the Western and Southwestern United States we are working quickly to add new titles in Arizona, Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

This process involves books coming online initially in image only form with each page scanned and readable as a high resolution JPG.  These books then undergo a double key entry process to provide a full text version that can be read or searched.  The five most recent books to “graduate” to full text searchability are listed here:

  • California: Memorial and Biographical History Merced, Stanislaus, Calaveras, Tuolumne and Mariposa Counties California — 1892 — Containing a History of this Important Section of the Pacific Coast from the Earliest Period of its Occupancy to the Present Time, together with Glimpses of its Prospective Future; with full-page Portraits of some of its most Eminent Men, and Biographical Mention of many of its Pioneers, and also of Prominent Citizens of Today.
  • Colorado: History of Colorado – Volume I — 1918 — The facts relating thereto are stated not as opinions or mere conclusions of the writers or individual informants, but, in order to avoid personal bias and prejudice, all that is set forth pertaining to important events of public interest in the departments of state history—the military, industrial, educational, religious and social organizations and their progress and results—has been taken from the records, reports and archives, national and state, of the government and administrative bodies relating to the several topics.
  • Oregon: Pioneer History of Coos and Curry Counties — 1898 — Orvil Dodge quite properly referred to himself as “the compiler” throughout the book. When commissioned by the Pioneer and Historical Association to prepare a volume of “heroic deeds and thrilling adventures,” he readily turned to the old citizens of Coos and Curry counties for their assistance. Their memories, some of them indistinct, their letters and personal narratives all became sources for this volume.
  • Oregon: An Illustrated History of Central Oregon Embracing Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, Wheeler, Crook, Lake and Klamath Counties — 1905 — Histories of the state of Oregon have been written before and the field ably covered in a general way. But this, the latest work of the kind, goes more deeply into county detail and contains some features that have never before been presented to the public. For instance the two portraits of the Indian pilgrims to St. Louis in search of the ‘White Man’s Book,’ were procured by us from the Smithsonian Institute, and we believe they have never before been reproduced in any history. Their arduous journey, from a historical viewpoint, forms one of the most romantic episodes in the story of the old and famous Territory of Oregon.
  • Utah: History of Utah — 1890 — In the history of Utah we come upon a new series of social phenomena, whose multiformity and unconventionality awaken the liveliest interest. We find ourselves at once outside the beaten track of conquest for gold and glory; of wholesale robberies and human slaughters for the love of Christ; of encomiendas, repartimientos, serfdoms, or other species of civilized imposition; of missionary invasion resulting in certain death to the aborigines, but in broad acres and well filled storehouses for the men of practical piety; of emigration for rich and cheap lands, or for colonization and empire alone; nor have we here a hurried scramble for wealth, or a corporation for the management of a game preserve. There is the charm of novelty about the present subject, if no other; for in our analyses of human progress we never tire of watching the behavior of various elements under various conditions.

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.
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Help Wikipedia with US History

Wikipedia Summer of Monuments is a campaign to improve
coverage of American historic sites on Wikipedia.

We are interested in working with photographers, historians, libraries, and archives to contribute photographs to Wikipedia. Our special focus this summer is the American South, where historic places are underrepresented. However, all pictures of U.S. historic sites will be accepted.

Prizes for the best pictures! The best individual photographers will win cash prizes of $500, $300, and $150. The best institutional collection contributed will win an Institutional Prize of $1,000!


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Old slave block in St. Louis Hotel, New Orleans, La.

An Interesting Slave Case

A few months ago a slave, named ______ Brown, belonging to a Mr. Somerville of Maryland, was murdered by his master. Some time after, the master himself was murdered, and a brother of the murdered slave was taken up and tried for the offense. Not the smallest evidence could be made out against him, and he was acquitted.

Acquittal of a colored man in such a region of the world must be held as a most convincing proof of his innocence. But the relatives of the deceased sold Brown into the desolating bondage of the South. He made his escape from New Orleans and reached Philadelphia, where he expected to live in safety. But the man-stealer was on his track. Brown had a wife and seven children in Maryland, whom he was desirous of rescuing from bondage. He had assumed the name of Russell, but a correspondence was commenced from Philadelphia in his real name; the letter reached the slave-owners, and they determined to be revenged still farther.

The thieves of Maryland had no longer any control over his body as property, for they had made it over to the thieves of New Orleans; but two of them appeared at Philadelphia, claiming Brown as a murderer!! This is a favorite and hackneyed mode of seizing a victim. The applicants knew well that they had no right to claim the persecuted man as a murderer, for he had been tried and acquitted and could not be tried again. But, if they had him once in their possession, they could easily do privately what they could not do judicially, and, at least, they could punish him severely for running away, and restore him to chains and bondage.

Two bloodhounds appeared at the magistrate’s office in Philadelphia, claiming their victim. He was clapped into prison, but the warrant was informal, and on that ground he was released. Seizing the favorable moment, before the informality could be remedied, Brown made track for Canada, passing through New York. Rev. Mr. Young of that city, kindly agreed to accompany the persecuted man to Canada.

Without the loss of a moment, they proceeded to Montreal, and laid the case before Lord Elgin, claiming that protection which it is the glory of the British law to give to the innocent. Proofs of the trial and acquittal, which, with other particulars, had been published in pamphlet form, were laid before the Governor-General, who gave his unqualified assurance that the hunted man would not be surrendered to his persecutors.

The appeal was not too soon. Next day the two bloodseekers presented themselves before the Governor-General, demanding the surrender of Brown, and, it is almost unnecessary to say, they met with a pointed refusal. And now, this injured man, with his wife and seven children, who had also escaped, are in Canada, safe from the hands of the man-stealer. Some magistrate, from ignorance of the facts, may give him up on a charge of murder, although this is not likely. However, to prevent it, we have to request our contemporaries, as an act of justice and humanity, to hand around this note of warning.

Let it never be said that there is a single magistrate in the length and breadth of British North America so ignorant or so indifferent as to surrender a fellow man into the hands of the relentless slaveholder. – Toronto Banner.

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.

Source: The North Star, September 7, 1849
Image: Old slave block in St. Louis Hotel, New Orleans, La.

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Labor Day parade, New York, New York

Celebrating the American Worker

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887.  During that year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit.

By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.


Grand Prosperity Parades

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper usually featured at least one photo from parades in New York City or other locations.

Grand Prosperity Parade in New York. - September 17, 1908

Grand Prosperity Parade in New York. – September 17, 1908

A Grand Prosperity Parade on Labor Day  – 40,000 well-paid workers, men and women, marching down Fifth Avenue, New York.


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