University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department


Lettres d'un cultivateur américain
Lettres d'un cultivateur américain


History has been a longstanding collecting focus of the University of Delaware Library and Special Collections houses strong collections on all aspects of this topic. History encompasses the broadest range of subjects and is perhaps the most multi-faceted of any scholarly discipline and the University of Delaware Library's holdings in history reflect this diversity. All aspects and periods of world history are represented in the collection; however, Special Collections's holdings are particularly strong in British, European, and American history from the sixteenth century to the present. Although the Library's comprehensive Delaware Collection is described separately in this catalog, Delaware's historic status as the First State helped stimulate the growth of a collection of rare book and manuscript materials which documents the colonial period and the early decades of the Republic. Special Collections's holdings for the Civil War period are also strong and late-nineteenth and twentieth-century strengths include a growing collection of United States congressional papers and the papers of the diplomat George S. Messersmith, whose distinguished career spanned more than four decades.

Special Collections houses a strong collection on French history, politics, and culture, including nearly one thousand French Revolutionary pamphlets and a superb collection of "Mazarinades," the prose and verse tracts issued against the seventeenth-century French clergyman and politician, Cardinal Jules Mazarin. The Frank W. Tober Collection also includes a significant collection of material relating to the French Revolution and to Napoleon. Other subject collections of note include travel and exploration, leisure and recreation, material culture, and worlds fairs and expositions. A collection of more than two thousand trade catalogs documents the commercial history of the United States and offers students and scholars opportunities for research in a vast array of topics. A significant collection of trade cards, sample books, advertising posters, and other ephemeral trade literature is also present. Special Collections also houses collections of historical maps and photographs, which are particularly strong for Delaware and the surrounding region. Major collections on the history of science and technology and the history of horticulture are described separately in this catalog.

The University of Delaware Library also holds a wealth of manuscript and archival resources in history. In addition to the holdings described in the Delaware Collection, Special Collections holds over two hundred collections of family and business papers which are especially strong for the Philadelphia area. A collection of several hundred diaries, scrapbooks, ships logs, account books, and ledgers maintained by individuals and businesses provides an opportunity for scholars to explore a widely diverse range of primary resources. Special Collections's manuscript holdings in other areas such as literature, art and architecture, and horticulture also include material of interest for students and scholars engaged in historical research.

Leviathan Thomas Hobbes, 1588-1679.
Leviathan, or, The Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civill. London: Printed for Andrew Crooke ..., 1651.

Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan was one of the most important and controversial works of the seventeenth century. Banned by the English Licensers almost immediately after this first edition was printed, Leviathan was reprinted in numerous spurious editions. The University of Delaware Library's copy is a first edition that once belonged to Sir Philip Warwick, a political writer and contemporary of Hobbes.

Gervase Markham, 1568-1637.
The English House-wife, Containg the Inward and Outward Vertues which Ought to Be in a Compleat Woman. London: G. Sawbridge, 1675. Ninth edition.

Gervase Markham was a prolific and versatile author who wrote on such diverse topics as horses, archery, animal husbandry, military tactics, and domestic science. The English House-Wife was one of his most enduringly-popular works and was reprinted on numerous occasions. It forms part of the University of Delaware Library's important collection of early works on etiquette, manners, and domestic science.

John Dickinson, 1732-1808.
Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies. Philadelphia: Printed by David Hall, and William Sellers, 1768.

John Dickinson was one of the most important and influential figures of the American Revolutionary period. Holder of various political offices in both Pennsylvania and Delaware, as an author, Dickinson's best known work is his Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies. In Letters from a Farmer, Dickinson voiced his grievances against British taxation of the American colonies. Reprinted numerous times, Letters from a Farmer became the most influential and widely read political statement of the American revolutionary period until the publication of Thomas Paine's Common Sense in 1776.

Hannah Adams, 1755-1831.
An Alphabetical Compendium of the Various Sects, which Have Appeared in the World from the Beginning of the Christian Aera to the Present Day... Boston: Printed by B. Edes & Sons, no. 42 Cornhill, 1784.

Hannah Adams is generally considered to be the first woman author in America to earn her living as a professional writer. An Alphabetical Compendium, which includes one of the earliest accounts of the Shakers, as well as other religious groups, is her first major published work.

J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur, 1735-1813.
Lettres d'un cultivateur américain addressées à W.m S...on esq.r depuis l'année 1770, jusqu'en 1786. Paris: Cuchet, 1787. Two volumes.

Crèvecouer immigrated to America from France in 1760. He traveled widely throughout the American colonies and his letters, published originally in English as Letters from an American Farmer (London, 1782), remain one of the best sources on rural life in Colonial America just prior to the Revolution. This edition is the first French printing of the book.

The Federalist, a Collection of Essays Written in Favour of the New Constitution, as Agreed upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787. New-York: Printed and sold by J. and A. M'Lean, No. 41, Hanover-Square, 1788.

The original intent of these eighty-five essays, which were signed by the pseudonym Publius, and written primarily by Alexander Hamilton with assistance from John Jay and James Madison, was to persuade the citizens of New York to accept the proposed Constitution which had been drafted at the Federal Convention at Philadelphia (May-September 1787). Over the years, however, the collected essays have become recognized as the most important American body of writing on government and the most authoritative statement of the precise objectives which the framers of the Constitution hoped to attain. This copy of The Federalist is one of a very few surviving examples of the special issue of the first edition.

Jean Jacques Rousseau, 1712-1778.
A Dissertation on Political Economy: to which is Added, A treatise on the Social Compact; or, The Principles of Politic Law. Albany: Printed and sold by Barber & Southwick, 1797.

This title is the scarce first American edition of two of Rousseau's most important treatises. The University of Delaware Library houses a significant collection of the works of Rousseau in first and early printings in both the original French and in translation.

Meriwether Lewis, 1774-1809. William Clark, 1770-1838.
History of the Expedition under the Command of Lewis and the Pacific Ocean. Performed during the years 1804-5-6. Philadelphia: Bradford and Inskeep; New York: Abraham H. Inskeep, 1814. Two volumes.

Meriwether Lewis's and William Clark's exploration of the American west was one of the most important accomplishments of the early Republic. Lewis and Clark completed their historic expedition in September, 1806; however, this first published account, which is an edited version of the journals they maintained during their travels, was not published until February 20, 1814, five years after Lewis's death.

Colored Patriots of the American Revolution William Cooper Nell, 1816-1874.
The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, with Sketches of Several Distinguished Colored Persons: to which is Added a Brief Survey of the Condition and Prospects of Colored Americans. Boston: R. F. Wallcut, 1855.

Born in Boston, William Cooper Nell emerged as an author and social activist in Massachusetts during the 1840s. In this extensive compilation, Nell documents the African American contribution to the American Revolutionary effort; in addition, he has written short biographical sketches of numerous African American figures throughout history and provides a general overview of the contemporary state of blacks in America. The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, which includes an introduction by Harriet Beecher Stowe, is regarded as the first work of historical scholarship written by an African American.

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