Alabama (?): 1870s. Small 4to (245 x 190 mm). 26 pp. of manuscript entries on lined paper, bound with brads along the top edge (worn). Evidence of what may have been a cover sheet at front and back. Overall toning and soiling. Preserved in a lig-free phase box. Very Good. Item #2874
Postbellum manuscript catalogue of a private library located in the American South, likely Alabama. Vernacular library catalogues such as this one provide incredible insight into what people were actually reading. Our manuscript provides a glimpse into an as-yet unidentified collection in which were contained a wide variety of genres and subjects beyond those influenced by contemporary events (e.g. works on Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee). The library contained three bookcases, numbered 1-3; the catalogue is well arranged according to Subject, and records the literary genres contained within each bookcase. Bookcase no. 1 contains works of fiction (Dickens, Thackery, Twain, Jules Verne, etc.), memoirs and biographies, classics, works and writings, history and travels, poems, and miscellaneous titles. Bookcase no. 2 contains much of the same, though adding more novels, memoirs, and some humerous works, as well as some books on religion. Bookcase no. 3 adds more travel, history, and memoirs while also adding scientific works, farmers' books, and books in politics, medicine, and housewifery. Most of the works were published between the 1850s and mid-1870s. The last numbered entry is "797." It would appear that the collection contained 797 volumes, not titles.
¶ Provenance: Acquired from the estate of Belzora Baker Kemp of Selma, Alabama, then to Bartleby's from whom we obtained it, and who inform us that: "Belzora Baker Kemp (1901-1988) was the granddaughter of George O. Baker, a mechanical and mining engineer who moved to Alabama in 1856, settling in Selma where he engaged in the grain business. One of his daughters, Grace Baker Evans (d.c1935) mentions her home 'Nirvana' at Elm Bluff outside Selma. It was known to have a large library when it was constructed by John Jay Crocheron in about 1845, so perhaps this is an inventory of that collection, with additions."