[New Jersey]: 1848-1850. Vernacular binding of drab wraps sewn at spine. Measuring 8 x 10 inches and comprised of 48 pages in a single cursive hand with calligraphic titles for each selection. Census and marriage records from New Jersey's Gloucester and Somerset Counties suggest the compiler Julia E. Cloud, whose ownership signature appears multiple times throughout, was the daughter of Charles and Lavinia Cloud, whose names also appear in the manuscript. Wed to David Shivers in 1861, she would have brought together the present poetic selection in her young womanhood ten years prior. While some of the selections touch on popular fairytale and natural themes, the lion's share reveal a young woman using literature to prepare for and process the realities faced by many Victorian women: preparations for love and marriage, loss of family members, and separation from children.
The beginning and end of Julia's manuscript includes her own name multiple times, as well as those of family members. Indeed, the ideas of marriage and family loom large in the young woman's collection. Christian Love (1848), The Old Arm Chair (1849), What Shall I bring Thee Mother? (1850) and The Happiest Time (1850) tie together divine love and family unity, depicting the domestic space as one of childhood happiness and filial love. Still a decade away from her own wedding, Julia is taking in Victorian ideologies that encourage her down the path. But Julia also seems aware of the pains life can bring to women. The Weeper (1848), To the Mourner (n.d.), The Sacrifice (1849), and Autumn (1849) deal with the passage of time and the inevitability of grief; even further, Mother What is Heaven? (1849), Lines on Passing the Grave of my Sister (1849), and My Child (n.d.) take such loss from the abstract to the real by addressing the specifics of death.
A research rich piece, Julia's poetry collection offers scholars the opportunity for studying genealogy, the psychology of loss, women's poetry and education, ideologies of gender and motherhood, the transmission of literature in popular women's magazines, and paleography. (Item #3541)