New Bedford, CT: 1855-1859. Comprised of 18 handwritten pages, three hand-drawn illustrations, and 12 pages of pasted in ephemera. Red leather with gilt to spine and boards; some scuffing and shelfwear to extremities, front boards slightly bowed. Text block partially detached from spine but holding, causing some looseness of early signatures. A fascinating collection of quoted poetry, friendship messages, and contemporary news stories that give a glimpse into one girl's fascination with adventure.
A gift inscription on the book's first page gives insight into who Louise Woods was: an adventurous spirit, desirous of travel and new experiences. "In this changing world we are often obliged to separate from those who are fondly cherished...it is pleasing to peruse the sentiments penned by their own hand and accompanied by their own signature. Often do such incentives give wings to the imagination." On the pages immediately following, we see that the book giver knew the recipient well, for she pastes in an article on the possible discovery of mermaids at sea, and on the debate regarding anatomical dissection of newly discovered species. Other pasted in articles include coverage of tornadoes, expeditions and voyages to South America, and whaling. Handwritten contributions to the book range from religious sentiments, to personal letters about time spent together in friendship, to drawings of ships at sea. Across these entries there is a theme of inevitable separation and hopes of friends remembering and being true to each other's memories regardless of time and space.
An interesting album, providing a glimpse into the preoccupations and fantasies of a young woman living near the sea. With research possibilities including but not limited to paleography, maritime culture, dissection and vivisection, coastal weather patterns, the history of education, and gender studies. (Item #2469)