Wednesday, April 05, 2006

19th Century Americana

This is a website reviewed in one of my historical journals. If you're interested in what children read in the 19th century and/or in Americana I strongly suggest it.

I came across one 1851 letter from a girl in Virginia reporting the arrival of a new piano (the latest thing in midcentury American) saying--well if the Union dissolves at least we have our piano. Or this excerpt from The Behaviour Book, by Eliza Leslie (1853):
" If the servants are coloured men, refrain from all conversation in their presence that may grate harshly on their feelings, by reminding them of their unfortunate African blood. Do not talk of them as 'negroes,' * or 'darkies.' Avoid all discussions of abolition, (either for or against,) when coloured people are by. Also, quote none of their laughable sayings While they are present.

When the domestics are Irish, and you have occasion to reprove them for their negligence, forgetfulness, or blunders, do so without any reference to their country. If you find one who is disrespectful or insolent, or who persists in asserting a falsehood, it is safest to make no reply yourself, but to have the matter represented to the proprietor of the house; desiring that another waiter may be allotted to you."

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