Valentines by Louis Prang, circa 1880s
The ancient custom of observing St. Valentine’s Day began with the early Romans, but the first written message using St. Valentine’s name is found in England in the late 1600s. The oldest valentines that the Phillips Library holds are these two in the Spitzenbilder style. Folk artists created papercuts in Germany in the 17th century. Austrian monks and nuns went on to create “Spitzenbilder,” splendid “lace-pictures” of cut paper.
Angelina Emily Grimké Weld (1805–1879) Copy of engraved portrait of Angelina Grimké, ca. 1845. From Woman's Rights Collection, 1853–1958, Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute.
I recently finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, a novel about an urban slave in early 19th-century Charleston, South Carolina, and her owners, the Grimké family. The author tells us that she was inspired by the historic figures of Sarah and Angelina Grimké, the first female abolition agents and among the earliest American feminists. According to Kidd, “Sarah was the first woman in the United States to write a comprehensive feminist manifesto, and Angelina was the first woman to speak before a legislative body.” After Sarah moved to Philadelphia and became a Quaker, she began speaking publicly against slavery and crusading for women’s rights. With her sister, Angelina, and Angelina’s husband, Theodore Weld, she wrote American Slavery as It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses, a book that influenced Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published 13 years later.
Since we have a well-developed collection of abolitionist materials, I decided to check out our catalog to see if the Phillips Library held any books by or about the Grimkés. We have copies of several of their published works, including American Slavery mentioned above.
Hand-drawn Commission Merchant Card from MH 16, Benjamin Crowninshield Family Papers, announcing Ben Crowninshield as a Commission Merchant for New Orleans
The Phillips Library is pleased to announce that we have recently completed a project funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a Federal agency which Congress established to promote the preservation and use of America’s documentary heritage. This project resulted in the processing of over 300 linear feet of archival materials of national significance.