Across Africa

Verney Lovett Cameron (1844-1894), author of this book, was the first European to cross Equatorial Africa, coast to coast and mostly on foot.  His original mission was to search for the missing explorer David Livingstone, but soon after leaving Zanzibar (an island off Africa’s east coast) early in 1873, he learned that the great man had died.

Journal of Researches into the Natural History and Geology of the Countries Visited During the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle Round the World

This rare second edition of Journal of researches... is the final definitive text of Darwin's "first literary child," revised to reflect his developing ideas on evolution. It chronicles his historic five-year voyage on the Beagle to Brazil, Argentina, Tierra del Fuego, Chile, Peru, the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Australia, and other countries and islands along the way. This journey was the most important event in Darwin's intellectual life.

Lectures on Painting

Lectures on Painting contains three lectures given by James Barry (1741-1806), John Opie (1761-1807), and Henry Fuseli (1741-1825), with an introduction by Ralph Nicholson Wornum (1812-1877). The three lecturers were all members of the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and they were, as well as Wornum, prominent artists of their time. In addition to being an artist, Wornum was also an art historian, administrator, Keeper of the National Gallery in London, and Secretary for the National Gallery's Trustees.

Statistical Atlas of the United States

In Booker T. Washington’s landmark autobiography Up From Slavery, he gives one of the earliest accounts of the "Black Belt." This term was first used geographically for the band of dark, rich soil that runs through the Deep South.

The Autobiography of W. E. B. Du Bois

Published five years after his death, the editor of Autobiography of W. E. B. Du Bois incorporated selected works related to certain passages’ subjects. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963) was an African American author and civil rights activist who focused on advancing education and representation for African Americans. The last of his three autobiographies, this work expanded on his previous essays to provide a new reflective perspective on his 9 decades of life.

The Radical and the Republican

President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass were opponents who became close friends. Although their views and methods differed, Douglass had the President’s ear and could give him advice on recruiting African Americans to win the Civil War, emancipation, and how to treat freed slaves. They met inside of the White House three times. Douglass was fortunate to congratulate Lincoln in person at his second Inaugural Ball, just six weeks before the president was assassinated. This book was written by a CUNY Graduate School history professor who specializes in slavery and the South.

Esquisses Senegalaises

Authentic early images of West Africans are rare—and quite sought after. David Boilat offers us just such a portfolio in Esquisses Sénégalaises, published in 1853. The twenty-four color plates are remarkable for their attention to details of clothing, jewelry, hair styles, skin color, and facial features. His accompanying text describes, with remarkable equanimity for his time period, pertinent customs and behaviors ranging from the admirable to the deplorable—all judged from the local point of view.

Wheel Songs

The beautiful embossed cover of this 1884 book hints at the delights found inside this paean to the big wheel bicycles of the late 19th century. The author S. Conant Foster was an avid cyclist himself, and his collection includes poems both humorous and somber. One is an ode to a fellow member of a Boston cycling club who died in 1880. But most are lighthearted celebrations of bicycling, and many feature lovely illustrations, including one by renowned American artist Childe Hassam.

The Curiosities of Ale & Beer

In the words of the author himself, this tome is responsible for "the bringing to light of many curious facts, so far as I am aware, never before noticed" about the role of ale and beer in the history of mankind. Starting in ancient Egypt, Bickerdyke traces the evolution of beer and brewing up through the late 1800s.

The Book of Costume

The publisher cited the author of this illustrated history only as “a Lady of Rank.” We discovered that her name was Lady Mary Margaret Stanley Egerton, Countess of Wilton, who managed to produce this book despite having 11 children and being a woman in nineteenth century England. Perhaps Lady Mary was inspired to write this history of costume by her mother, an actress named Elisabeth Farren, the second wife of the 12th Earl of Derby.

The Fairy Mythology

Irish author Thomas Keightley, who was active during the 19th century, is considered a pioneer in the field of modern folklore studies. In his groundbreaking work, "The Fairy Mythology," he concludes that similar myths developed in different locations spontaneously, in the vein of the Brothers Grimm's approach, in which they compared the myths of one region to similar tales in other, unrelated regions. This upended the widely held belief that there was a common source to similar myths.

The Skillful Housewife's Book

This book was designed to guide and educate women about how to run what was then her main domain: the home. Discussing politeness and temper, bathing and exercise, simple house cures for ailments, how to preserve eggs and how to make “Splendid Johnny Cake,” this elegant small volume gives advice about everything and anything that exists and happens around a fashionable house. There are instructions even about how to remove grease from books!

The American Woman's Home

This manual on homemaking, an important handbook for a 19th century homemaker, was co-written by the Beecher sisters (as in Harriet Beecher Stowe of Uncle Tom's Cabin fame). By creating this manual, the authors were hoping to provide professional level instruction to women running a servant free household. The book educates on a wide array of areas that women encountered every day at home, including how to prepare and serve healthful foods, how to properly ventilate the kitchen, how to tastefully decorate the home, and how to properly play hostess to a variety of guests.