19th Century Collection
This book collection, cataloged in the library's online catalog, is an insightful record of the early settlers in these western New York State hills. The collection showcases various categories of their readings and writings:
Early Children's Books: We have some examples of textbooks from the one-room schoolhouse era, as well as illustrations of Victorian publications; e.g., Mother Goose with drawings by Kate Greenaway.
Early Travel: There must have been many armchair travelers in the Alfred area, judging from their books. Included are such titles as Six Months Among the Palm Groves, Coral Reefs and Volcanoes of the Sandwich Islands, (1882) and accounts of early explorations of Africa and the Nile River.
Folk Medicine: These books provided fascinating documentation on medical practices current in the 19th century; e.g., The Water Cure in Chronic Disease, James Gully (1849); Consumption: How to Prevent It and How to Cure It, J. Jackson (1862); and a collection of well-thumbed almanacs such as Dr. Jayne's Medical Almanac and Guide to Health (1875). The latter promises a lifetime cure for every imaginable ailment - if you buy his patent medicine.
Suffrage: The local weekly played it down but nearby newspapers headlined the 1887 attempt by a group of Alfred women (including the university president's wife) to vote. The struggle to obtain voting rights for women was a passionate cause in this area - one of the reasons why the library has a signed set of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage's History of Women Suffrage, vols. 1-6 (1881), which Anthony presented to the University.
Temperance: This movement attracted strong interest among both men and women in the Alfred locale. Newspapers, club minutes and sermons reflect the considerable efforts of residents to eradicate the Demon Rum.
Abolition: Freedom for all of God's children, not just the privileged white, was another popular cause. Some interesting items are Voices of Freedom, ed. by Julia Griffiths (185-); Twenty-two Years a Slave and Forty Years a Freeman, by A. Steward (1857); and The Underground Rail Road by William Still (1879).