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Tom Randolph’s Vision

11 Jul

Isabella’s novel The Randolphs is set in New York City. The book follows the fortunes of the Randolph siblings, all young adults who are each trying to find happiness and their places in the world.

In the story, Tom Randolph—after facing some early trouble in his own life because of alcohol—is a devoted “temperance man.”

In a conversation with his brother-in-law, Mr. Harper, Tom mentions how hard it is for young men to stay away from alcohol because of “how many places in this city it can be found.”

“Only think of the fact that, however much you might desire it, you could not find a hotel to stop at, throughout the length and breadth of this whole city, where liquor is not sold.”

“Is that actually so?” Mr. Harper said, in astonishment.

“It is really so; and not only that, but the large boarding-houses, where most of the working men who are without homes of their own have to gather, have side tables where they retail beer and whiskey. Temptation is spread on every hand, not only for those who want it fearfully by reason of an already formed taste, but for those who, because of no better place in which to spend their leisure time, are compelled to look on until they too follow the general example.”

“And your remedy is?” Mr. Harper asked, inquiringly; and there was a respectful tone in his voice. He was learning something from his young brother-in-law.

“Why, if I had the purse, I would have a temperance hotel.”

Tom’s idea of opening a hotel that didn’t serve alcohol wasn’t a new one. Temperance hotels were very popular in Great Britain and Europe, but they were almost unheard of in America.

In 1867 the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) began operating an alcohol-free hotel for young men in Chicago. Besides lodgings, the Chicago YMCA offered a parlor and a library for members’ use.

The lounge in a YMCA Chicago branch location, about 1923.

Unfortunately, the Chicago YMCA burned down only a year after it opened. Though a new building was constructed in its place, it was built without any sleeping rooms.

In 1869—the same year Isabella wrote The Randolphs—a new YMCA opened in New York City with great fanfare. It housed art studios, a large library, and a lecture hall that could seat 1,500 people.

Artist’s rendering of the lecture room in the New York YMCA. From Harper’s Weekly magazine, 1869.

Members of the New York Y could use the services of a nearby gymnasium; and they could take advantage of a steady schedule of activities designed to offer young men wholesome entertainment. But, again, the New York YMCA was built without sleeping rooms.

The library at the New York YMCA. From Harper’s Weekly magazine, 1869.

Isabella would have been aware of the YMCA and the great growth the organization had enjoyed in the U.S.A. Newspapers across the country regularly printed articles about the Y, and the programs it offer young men that promoted a healthy spirit, mind, and body.

The billiard room in the Hoboken, New Jersey YMCA in 1918.

Most YMCAs had extensive libraries, billiard rooms, and well-appointed cafeterias.

Cafeteria in the Omaha, Nebraska YMCA, 1916.

They were places where young men could socialize and have fun, make friends and learn new skills, all in a “vice-free” environment.

YMCAs often reached out to young men, encouraging them to join and take advantage of the Y’s programs. This is a postcard the YMCA in Cleveland Ohio used in 1910:

On the reverse side is a message of invitation to a young man to join one of the Y’s health classes:

Isabella knew, however, that despite all the wonderful activities and programs the YMCA offered, the Y’s influence over young men ceased the moment they left left the premises. Some young men went home to good families; but far too many went to hotels or boarding houses where liquor was served. That’s one reason she liked the idea of temperance hotels.

A fitness class at the Cleveland, Ohio YMCA in 1910.

In the late 1880s—the same time period when Isabella wrote The Randolphs—the YMCA began putting up a few new buildings that included residence arrangements.

Some of the accommodations were similar to small hotel-like rooms with bathrooms down the hall. Others had dormitories with rows of beds in a single, large room.

A corner of a dormitory style room in the Troy, New York YMCA, 1907.

The YMCA advertised their lodgings as safe and affordable. They were serviceable places to sleep, but they were far from first-class accommodations.

In The Randolphs, Tom Randolph thought it was possible to create a better Christian-based hotel.

Tom envisioned a temperance hotel that had . . .

“. . . carpets, and mirrors, and sofas, and brilliant gaslights, and the glitter of silver, and everything else that is used to entice and entrap. I would have such a place as would offer not a shadow of excuse to any living man for not stopping at the Temperance House, except the one honest reason that he wanted to go where there was rum.”

As Tom said in the story, the best way to fight Satan was with “his own weapons—if they do really belong to him.” If Satan used bright gaslights and glittering glassware to tempt men to drink in saloons, Tom would use the same to entice men into his temperance hotel.

Bible study at a Utah YMCA in 1906.

He thought a nice hotel that offered first-class rooms and excellent service was the very thing needed to interest young men; and if the sleeping rooms were affordably priced, there would be no excuse for men to stay at any other hotel unless they specifically wanted to be able to drink alcohol on the premises.

The lobby of the YMCA in Amsterdam, New York, 1910.

Tom was to have his wish. In the novel, Tom was able to secure the financial backing he needed to buy an old New York City hotel and remodel it. Tom’s adventures in opening and operating the hotel soon include other members of his family, and their involvement helps drive the rest of the story.

An invitation to attend the opening of new rooms at the Carbondale, Pennsylvania YMCA.

Isabella was something of a visionary when she wrote The Randolphs. She foresaw the need for temperance hotels, just as she foresaw the welcome such establishments would receive from communities.

From The Asbury Park Press (New Jersey), April 9, 1906.

By the turn of the century the idea of first-class temperance hotels began to catch on in America. Some communities, like the seaside resort town of Asbury Park, New Jersey, openly invited temperance hotels to open in their town.

From The Daily Notes, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, December 22, 1906.

The YMCA recognized the need, too. The organization had always offered first-class entertainment for its members, but in the 1900s they began upgrading their residence accommodations. Newer YMCAs had residential rooms that were more spacious and home-like (although they still couldn’t be described as “luxurious”).

This 1908 trade card from the Brooklyn New York YMCA pictured a home-like single room.

In 1912 the Boston YMCA began construction on their flagship location in Boston.

The Boston YMCA, 1915.

The building was so large, it covered almost an entire city block on Huntington Avenue. It offered men extensive classes on a range of subjects, including engineering and science. Its health education and body-building programs were the first in the nation. And its residential floors provided plenty of dormitory style sleeping accommodations for young men.

When Tom Randolph opened his temperance hotel in The Randolphs, he named the place Randolph House. Before he opened the doors for business, he ensured Randolph House was consecrated with prayer.

And he did one other thing: he remodeled the old ballroom that was part of the previous hotel. He did the work himself and kept the work secret, until he showed his sister Helen what he had done.

“What is all this for?” she asked, gazing up and down the room with satisfied eyes. The beauty and the refinement displayed here actually rested her, she was such a lover of beautiful things, especially of things that meant wealth and cultured taste and leisure to enjoy.  

Then Tom unveiled the sign he intended to hang at the entrance to the remodeled ballroom:

Young Men’s Christian Association Rooms.

Only then did he reveal his plan to start a branch of the YMCA at Randolph House, where young Christian men could pray, and socialize, and study their Bibles together.

In The Randolphs Isabella gave us a glimpse into her own dreams and ideals of what a first-class Christian temperance hotel might look like . . . and what it could accomplish in the lives of young men.

You can find out more about Isabella’s novel The Randolphs by click on the book cover.

 

Off to Chautauqua!

27 Jun

The 2018 summer season at Chautauqua Institution opened on Saturday, June 23. Over the next ten weeks, travelers will be planning trips to the great summer assembly, either by car (using a GPS app on their phone for guidance), by air (landing at nearby Chautauqua County Airport at Jamestown), or train (Amtrack tickets can be purchased online or via a smart phone app).

Four ladies from Minnesota, ready to travel! (1920)

Travel to Chautauqua has changed a lot in the 142 years since Isabella Alden wrote Four Girls at Chautauqua. Back in 1876, the only way her lead characters in the story—Eurie, Ruth, Marion, and Flossy—could get to Chautauqua was by train. And preparing for their trip wasn’t as easy as tapping an icon on a smart phone.

Four young women walk to the train station in 1901

The first decision the ladies had to make was how much luggage to take. Practical Marion began the conversation:

“Ruth, are you going to take a trunk?”

Ruth roused herself from the contemplation of her brown gloves to say with a little start, “How you girls do rush things. Why, I haven’t decided yet that I am going.”

“Oh, you’ll go,” Marion Wilbur said. “The question is, are we to take trunks—or, rather, are you to? Because I know I shall not. I’m going to wear my black suit. Put it on on Tuesday morning—or Monday is it that we start?—and wear it until we return. I may take it off, to be sure, while I sleep, but even that is uncertain, as we may not get a place to sleep in; but for once in my life I am not going to be bored with baggage.”

“I shall take mine,” Ruth Erskine said with determination. “I don’t intend to be bored by being without baggage. It is horrid, I think, to go away with only one dress, and feel obliged to wear it whether it is suited to the weather or not, or whatever happens to it.”

An 1870 trade card for a dealer in trunks and valises.

The truth of the matter was that Marion—who barely supported herself on a teacher’s salary—didn’t own enough clothes to fill a travel trunk.

Besides, paying an expressman to deliver her trunk to the station, tipping baggage porters, and checking her trunk through to Chautauqua, was far beyond the cost of what Marion could afford.

A porter tends to a woman’s luggage and dog. (From a 1907 Tuck’s postcard)

As the eldest child of a hard-working doctor, Eurie Mitchell’s travel budget wasn’t much larger than Marion’s.

Ladies preparing to travel in 1915. (From the Indiana History Album)

Ruth Erskine and Flossy Shipley, on the other hand, were wealthy enough to insist on first-class accommodations in all her journeys. In all likelihood, they would have taken more than one trunk, each, as well as other pieces of luggage. Here’s why:

Luggage was much different in 1876 than the pull-suitcases and travel totes we use today.

Excerpt from an article in a 1906 issue of the Minneapolis Journal, illustrating the various types of trunks and cases needed to transport a lady traveler’s belongings.

For starters, different trunks or cases were made to accommodate different types of clothing and belongings.

For example, the average skirt of a woman’s dress in 1876 was made from about 8 to 10 (or more) yards of fabric. Underneath, women wore petticoats made up of an equal amount of material. These skirts, dresses, and undergarments took up a lot of room, and were usually packed in a dress trunk.

Dress trunks were made long and deep so skirts, petticoats, and dresses could be stored flat.

Shirtwaists, jackets, and suits went into a wardrobe trunk, where they could hang properly and minimize creasing and folds.

Wardrobe trunks, like this 1917 model, accommodated hanging garments like jackets and short coats. This particular wardrobe trunk would cost $701.16 in today’s money.

Hats and bonnets were transported in boxes designed to protect their shape and prevent damage to ornaments.

A standard hat box design for 1917. Adjusting for inflation, this hat box would cost $116.95 today.

Lotions and toiletries went into yet another case, fitted out with compartments for bottles and toothbrushes, and powders.

A trade card for a maker of trunks and valises, from about 1910.

Items a traveler might need to keep handy, such as clean handkerchiefs, fresh collars or cuffs, and possibly, a change of shirt waist, were carried in a valise or grip.

Trunks were sturdily built and meant to last a lifetime, despite rough treatment and wear and tear.

Some ladies also used tourist Cases to pack things to carry on the train and keep with them. Tourist cases looked very much like the small suitcases that were in use in the 1950s and 60s. The young women pictured in the photo below all have tourist cases (and one very large trunk!).

College students prepare to return home, about 1909.

For a lady traveling in the late 18th and early 19th century, traveling was not a casual business. It took planning, if she wanted to arrive at her destination looking fresh and effortlessly gowned.

Most hotels had carriages to transport guests and their small pieces of luggage to and from the train station. This 1890 photograph shows such a carriage, as well as a wagon convey trunks and heavy baggage, for a hotel in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

In 1904 The San Francisco Call newspaper published a full-page article on how to properly pack a trunk. The article was filled with plenty of practical, and not-so-practical, advice:

Making a trunk look nice is a distinct art.

A lady’s skirt should never have a front fold.

The author of the article was a professional packer of trunks. She tells the story of a phone call she received from a client:

“I want you to pack my trunks,” said she, “so I can catch the midnight train.”

“How many trunks are there?” I asked.

“There are twenty-seven,” said she, “and several boxes and suit cases, and the wagon is to call for them at five o’clock.”

Twenty-seven trunks! By comparison, Marion, Eurie, Ruth, and Flossy traveled light when they set off for Chautauqua!

You can read the full-page article “How to Pack a Trunk” by clicking here.

You can read all about the 2018 Chautauqua Institution summer program and events. Just click here.

And you can read previous posts about going to Chautauqua; just click on one of the links below:

A Tour of Chautauqua – Getting There

A Tour of Chautauqua – Where to Stay

A Tour of Chautauqua: Having Fun

A Tour of Chautauqua: Lectures and Classes

A Tour of Chautauqua: Palestine Park

A Tour of Chautauqua: A Healthy Body

A Tour of Chautauqua: The Teachers’ Retreat

 

Pansy’s Favorite Author: Susan Warner

6 Jun

Isabella Alden was a prolific author, a Sunday school teacher, a mother, and a dedicated minister’s wife who was devoted to the members of her husband’s congregation.

In the few leisure hours she had, she was a great reader, and one of her favorite authors was Susan Warner. Isabella was such a fan, she even mentioned Susan Warner’s books in her own novels.

For example, in her book What They Couldn’t, Professor Landis has his eye on his neighbor, Miss Mary Cameron.

He believes Mary to be a troubled young woman, whose face wears the clear signs of unrest. He wants to help her, but unhappy Mary avoids him as much as possible—until the day they meet by accident at the public library.

Professor Landis strikes up a conversation and asks Mary what books and authors she likes to read.

“Tell me if you ever indulge in one of my favorites. Do you read Miss Warner?”

The professor is, of course, talking about Susan Warner. Miss Warner’s first novel, The Wide, Wide World, was published in 1850, and told the story of young Ellen Montgomery, who must rely on her Christian faith when she is sent to live with unkind relatives who lead a more worldly lifestyle.

A well-worn and much read copy of The Wide, Wide World.

The Wide, Wide World was a run-away best-seller—a fact that’s even more remarkable when you consider that the book was published at a time when most people, women in particular, did not often read novels.

In Isabella’s novel What They Couldn’t, Mary Cameron considers herself too sophisticated to confess to enjoying the simple stories of Christian faith that Susan Warner wrote. She scoffs at the mention of Susan Warner’s name and repeats some of the criticisms Isabella often heard and read about Susan’s work:

“You cannot mean the old-fashioned Miss Warner, with her interminable ‘Wide, Wide World’ and ‘Queechy’ and ‘The Hills of —’ something or other!” she said.

“Ah, but I do! She is the very Miss Warner, with her ‘Say and Seal’ and her ‘Old Helmet,’ and all the other creations of her earnest brain. I am glad to find you familiar with her.”

“I am not. You give me too much credit. It was a spasm of my childhood, long since passed. Professor Landis, it is not possible that you can intend to seriously commend her writings!”

“Why not?”

“Because she is not worthy of it. From a literary point of view, which I supposed a teacher would feel bound to consider, I am sure she is of no account; and as for her characters — It is the same person always, whether in masculine or feminine dress, and the most improbable one imaginable.”

Susan Warner in an undated photograph.

When Isabella wrote those lines, she was repeating criticisms that had often been leveled against Susan Warner’s novels. Susan Warner’s books were regularly maligned by reviewers as old-fashioned, with weak, unnatural characters who were too good and perfect to be believed.

But then, Isabella did something remarkable. In What They Couldn’t she turns those criticisms around by having her character, Professor Landis, ask Mary Cameron this question about Susan Warner’s books:

“Are the characters you have mentioned better than the Pattern?”

“The pattern?” she repeated in genuine bewilderment. This young woman was so unused to meeting a religious thought in ordinary conversation that her mind did not take in his meaning.

“Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ. He came among us for that purpose, among others, you remember. Has Miss Warner succeeded in imagining a human being superior to him?”

“Of course not. But she has tried to make a human being like him; and that makes the whole unnatural.”

“I beg pardon, but what is a copy worth unless one strives to attain to it?”

Isabella understood Susan Warner’s reasons for writing her books as she did. Unlike other Christian authors of the same period, who wrote moralistic fiction, Susan Warner’s books were inspirational; Susan hoped to encourage readers not just to achieve salvation through Christ, but to emulate Christ in their every-day lives.

Isabella’s Inspiration

She certainly influenced Isabella. Isabella often used the same theme Susan Warner used in The Wide, Wide World—a child sent to live with strangers—in her own books.

One example is Line Bryant, who goes to live with a wealthy family in the city when a series of mishaps takes her far from home in Isabella’s novel Twenty Minutes Late. Although Line has been raised with good principles, she learns what it means to follow Christ by the example set by the family that takes her in.

Many of Isabella’s novels are based on that theme; The Man of the House and Reuben’s Hindrances are two other examples of stories involving children who learn from older friends or acquaintances about salvation through Jesus.

Susan’s Writing Career

Under the pen name “Elizabeth Wetherell” Susan Warner wrote about thirty novels, many of which were best-sellers and went into multiple editions.

One of those books was The Old Helmet, which remained popular for decades after its initial publication in 1864.

Thirty years later, Isabella mentioned The Old Helmet in her novel, Her Associate Members.

Once again, Isabella brought up the topic of Susan Warner’s books in a conversation between her heroine, Chrissy Holmes, and a friend from church:

“I am going to see if you do not, after all, like some of my favorites. Do you ever read Miss Warner’s books?”

“What has she written? I hardly ever notice the name of the author.”

“Miss Warner has written a large number of books. ‘The Hills of the Shatemuc’ was one of my favorites, and ‘The Old Helmet’ was another.”

In Isabella’s novel John Remington, Martyr, she described how John—newly ordained and assigned his first church—believed that the right books placed in the hands of his congregants could teach Christ’s principles just as well as any sermon he could deliver:

Great care was taken to select and circulate attractive religious books through the parish. And here one had need of great discernment to fit the right book or tract to the right person. If sure that James’ “Anxious Inquirer” or Baxter’s “Call” or Bunyan’s “Come and Welcome” would not be read by certain persons, then there was a wide field to choose from to secure an excellent religious story, from “Pilgrim’s Progress” down to Miss Warner’s “Queechy” and “Old Helmet.”

Isabella’s Flawed Characters

Isabella may have been inspired by Susan Warner’s books, but she did not copy them. One major difference between Isabella’s novels and Susan’s works was in the characters they each created.

Isabella wasn’t afraid to create a heroine who was less than perfect. In that way, her stories were probably more believable than Susan Warner’s, and her characters were more natural and relateable to readers of her time.

Susan Warner’s book My Desire provides an example. In the book, Miss Desire Burgoyne is just blossoming into Christian womanhood. She lives a quiet life in the country with one of her sisters; but when her wealthy eldest sister invites her to spend time with her in the city, Desire’s Christian faith is tested at every turn. Then she makes the acquaintance of Maxmillian Iredell, who is also a Christian. Soon, Desire finds herself falling in love for the first time, even as she must face one of the hardest tests for a Christian: forgiving the very person who cruelly betrayed her.

My Desire is a touching and heart-felt story, but critics once again claimed that Susan Warner made Desire Burgoyne a little too perfect to be believed.

Isabella had her own perfect characters. In The Chautauqua Series of books, Flossy Shipley is beautiful and wealthy, and she always knows exactly what to say and do. Just like Desire Burgoyne, Flossy’s new-found Christian faith is tested in many unforeseen ways when the people she loves most, wrong her. Luckily, Flossy meets godly Evan Roberts, who supports her in her Christian journey, and helps her forgive the people who tried to discourage her from following Christ.

Elsie Chilton contends with the same dilemma in Isabella’s novel, John Remington, Martyr. Elsie’s wealthy, influential father expects her to marry the man of his choice, even though Elsie is increasingly attracted to Earle Mason, a man dedicated to performing good works in Jesus’ name.

When Fiction Follows Fact

Isabella’s novel Interrupted is about a young woman named Claire Benedict. Born to wealth and privilege, Claire is forced to go to work to avoid living in poverty when her father encounters financial hardships and dies unexpectedly.

That story is very much like the story of Susan Warner’s life.

Undated photo of Susan Warner in her later years.

Susan and her sister Anna were born in New York (which is also Isabella’s home state) to wealthy parents. But when her father suffered significant financial losses, they sold their mansion in town and moved to an old farmhouse on Constitution Island, near West Point.

The Warner home on Constitution Island.

The change was a hard one for the family. They no longer had household servants and coachmen to see to their needs and drive them about. They no longer shopped at expensive stores and mingled with the cream of society. Instead, they had to learn to make their own clothes and grow their own food.

Susan and her younger sister Anna did not suffer their hardships alone; the sisters became devout Christians and sought ways to serve Christ in their everyday lives. They began to hold Bible studies for cadets at the nearby United States Military Academy. They continued those Bible studies with the cadets for over forty years.

Susan Warner and a few of the cadets she taught.

Susan also began to express her Christian faith with her pen. It was while she was living on Constitution Island that Susan wrote The Wide, Wide World. The book was published in 1850 and became an instant run-away best seller.

Two years later she published Queechy. Elizabeth Barrett Browning and George Eliot were outspoken fans of the book.

She went on to write about thirty novels, including The Hills of Shatemuc (in 1856), The Old Helmet (1863), Daisy (1868), Pine Needles (1877), My Desire (1879), and The End of a Coil (1880), just to name a few.

When Susan Warner died in 1885, West Point honored her by ensuring she was buried on the grounds of the military academy, along with America’s most respected military leaders, historic heroes, astronauts, and Medal of Honor recipients.

The graves of Susan Warner (left) and her sister Anna (right) at the West Point Cemetery.

Fittingly, Susan and her sister Anna are interred next to the Cadet Monument in a quiet corner of the cemetery.

The Cadet Monument at West Point Cemetery.

The military academy also ensured Susan’s home on Constitution Island was preserved, after the Warner sisters willed the land and house to West Point. Today the home is a museum that houses many artifacts related to Susan’s life and work.


Did you know you can read many of Susan Warner’s books for free?

Amazon has many of Susan Warner’s novels available as free e-books, and you don’t have to own an Amazon Kindle to read them! Click here to see a full list of her available novels in print and e-book formats.

Barnes and Noble also has many Susan Warner e-books priced as low as 99 cents. Click here to see a complete list.


More about Susan Warner

You can read more about Susan Warner’s interesting life and discover how her family home became a popular museum by visiting this website:

ConstitutionIsland.org

There’s also a Wikipedia page dedicated to Susan Warner, which you can find here:

Wikipedia.org

And this article describes Susan’s loving and faithful ministry to the young cadets at West Point:

Heroes, Heroines, and History

Finally, this website gives examples of the many fan letters Susan Warner received from readers of her novel, The Wide, Wide World:

Common-Place.org


Have you read any of Susan Warner’s books?

How do you think they compare to Isabella Alden’s novels? Which Susan Warner book is your favorite? Please share your thoughts!

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A Nice Oyster Supper

25 Apr

There’s a recurring theme in many of Isabella’s books you may have noticed:

Whenever a group of characters needed to raise money for their church or favorite cause, their first inclination was to earn the money through a social event.

Ad from a 1918 North Carolina newspaper.

Isabella’s characters held fairs and festivals, old folk’s suppers and young folk’s concerts, character parties and tableaux, strawberry soirees and ice cream socials—all in the name of raising money for their church or charity.

Announcement in Fort Mill Times (South Carolina), November 17, 1910.

Carrie Spafford in The Pocket Measure didn’t see the sense of it. She asked:

“Why do you suppose we always think of devices of this kind whenever we talk about money for the cause of Christ?”

Carrie asked a good question. Whenever there was money to be earned, Isabella’s characters—much like the people in churches Isabella observed first hand—spent long hours and lots of money to stage events by which they hoped to receive donations for their cause.

The Camden (Tennessee) Chronicle, February 9, 1912.

The most popular method Isabella’s characters turned to for raising money was the oyster supper.

That’s what happened in Isabella’s short story, “Circulating Decimals.” As soon as the ladies of the Penn Avenue Church realized the church library was in need of new books, they decided to take action.

Up rose the women, the respectable, middle-aged, matronly women. The library must be replenished, the money must be raised. They—the matrons—would do this thing speedily and quietly. They would have an oyster supper on a large scale, make preparation for a great many guests, furnish oysters in every possible style, and with them such coffee as only they could make, to say nothing of the inevitable cake and cream, and side dishes for those who did not relish oysters. So they went to work quietly, skillfully, expeditiously. Baking, broiling, frying, stewing!

A portion of a comic appearing in the Washington DC Evening Star, January 1, 1911.

Oysters were also the go-to choice when Isabella’s characters entertained guests in their home.

Preparing an oyster supper; and 1873 print.

Flossie Roberts served oysters with jellies and sauces to the rough boys in her Sunday-school class in Ester Ried Yet Speaking.

Oysters with Lemon, a painting by Otto Scholderer, 1891.

And when the impoverished Cameron family in What They Couldn’t struggled to find a way to entertain their society friends with little money, they decided to invite their discerning friends to a simple lunch:

Their ideas of simplicity would have bewildered some people. A lunch without salads was not to be thought of, of course; and chicken salads were the best. No matter if chicken was very expensive just now, it did not take a great deal for a salad. Then oysters were just getting nice, and, after the long summer, seemed so new; raw oysters were the very thing with which to begin a lunch. Served on the half-shell and properly garnished, there was no simple dish which looked more inviting.

A plate of oyster patties from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Cookery, 1907.

In these stories, and many others, Isabella was sharing a very real circumstance of life in late 19th and early 20th century America:

America loved oysters and ate them in abundance.

Business card for an oyster dealer, 1880.

Fresh oysters were prized, but thanks to advancements in canning methods, oysters could be shipped inland to Midwest cities that previously had no means for buying and consuming seafood.

And new techniques for harvesting oysters made them so abundantly available, their cost was half as much as beef, per pound. They were inexpensive and popular, and Americans couldn’t get enough of them.

A plate of grilled oysters, from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Cookery, 1907.

Cook books of the time had recipes for stewed oysters, fried oysters, broiled oysters, and pickled oysters.

A 1915 cookbook published by the Oyster Growers and Dealers Association of North America. You can click on the cover to see the entire cookbook.

Americans served oyster patties, oyster pies, and soups. They added oysters to their meats, stuffed them in turkeys, and scrambled them with eggs.

For those who didn’t want to prepare oysters themselves, they could find oysters on the menu of most restaurants and public houses.

The Union Oyster House in Boston, Massachusetts was founded in 1826 and is still in business today.

Most major towns in America could boast an oyster parlor or oyster saloon.

A 1903 newspaper ad for a Louisiana oyster saloon offering a ladies’ private parlor.

Many such establishments had private dining rooms for ladies, where they could eat oysters in an environment that did not offend their delicate sensibilities.

An 1881 ad for an oyster saloon in Astoria, Oregon.

Americans’ love for oysters spawned an entirely new industry of serving plates and utensils designed specifically for oysters.

An oyster plate from the late 1800s. With six oyster wells, it is decorated in the Chinoiserie style popular at the time.

It’s no wonder, then, that when Isabella’s characters planned a dinner or a party, they naturally thought to put oysters on the menu. They were inexpensive, easy to prepare, and almost everyone liked them.

A silver oyster fork from Tiffany & Company, dated 1872

But cooking and selling oysters didn’t guarantee that a fund-raising event would be successful. Though festivals and dinners and other fund-raisers were very stylish, Isabella believed that more money and effort were spent on putting the events together than the organizers ever made from donations.

When talk turned to having a fund-raising festival of some kind in The Pocket Measure, Callie Spafford stated Isabella’s opinion plainly:

“Haven’t you often seen gentlemen eat fifty cents worth of oysters and cake and cream and fruit and celery, and I don’t know what else, and pay twenty-five cents for it all, and think they were being benevolent?”

Despite the questionable economics, oyster suppers remained a favorite form of charity fundraisers in America . . . and in Isabella’s novels.

 

Pay as You Go

18 Apr

When Isabella wrote Interrupted in 1881 she was forty years old and had lived through one of the greatest financial disasters in American history.

It was a troubling time for the country, and Isabella reflected that trouble in her story. The main character, Claire Benedict, is a young woman raised in the lap of luxury, who suddenly finds herself—along with her mother and sister—virtually penniless when her father dies unexpectedly.

Isabella wrote:

How do such things occur? I cannot tell. Yet how many times in your life have you personally known of them—families who are millionaires today, and beggars tomorrow? It was just that sort of blow which came to the Benedicts.

Isabella had seen real-life examples of wealthy businessmen turned into paupers overnight. Just eight years before Interrupted was published, America suffered through The Panic of 1873.

The Collapse of a Bank by Vladimir Egorovic Makovsky. Note the despair of the man in the center of the painting, compared to the bank manager on the right, pocketing cash as he heads for the exit.

The Panic was caused by many factors, but the fatal spark came from Jay Cooke & Co., an American banking house that borrowed heavily to finance railroad expansion in the U.S.

Newspaper illustration showing crowds gathered outside Jay Cooke & Co. banking house in September, 1873.

Cooke was caught using a number of deceptive business practices, including shell companies to hide costs from investors, a scheme discovered in 1872. The revelation damaged investor confidence, and Cooke’s bank suffered heavy losses until, in 1873, Cooke was forced to suspend all deposits and payments, and closed the bank’s doors.

A run on the Fourth National Bank, New York City, 1873. From Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.

That announcement sent shock-waves through Wall Street, and led to a panic of bank runs and bank failures throughout the country.

The extent of the economic crash was so great, the New York Stock Exchange closed two days later and stayed closed for ten days.

Crowds on Broad Street near the Stock Exchange on September 20 after the closing of the Exchange doors.

Those banks that survived the initial crash immediately called in their debts, which caused an alarming number of foreclosures and bankruptcies throughout the country.

The Panic of 1873 commenced on September 18; by and the end of the year . . .

  • One in every eight Americans was unemployed
  • Employers that were still in business cut wages, on average by 25%
  • Construction of businesses and homes came to a standstill
  • The value of land dropped and profits crashed
  • Tens of thousands of workers—many Civil War veterans—became homeless transients, making “tramp” a commonplace American term

Retailers did their best to keep their doors open. Many abandoned attempts to make a profit and had to be content to merely break even.

Advertisement in a Philadelphia newspaper.

It was a desperate time in America; and the economic depression that followed the crash lasted almost seven years.

As the economy began a slow recovery, the average Americans found the financial rules had changed.

The cover of Harper’s Weekly magazine on October 18, 1873.

For starters, there was a lopsided disparity of wealth distribution. Rich industrialists like Andrew Carnegie and John Rockefeller, who survived the Long Depression intact, now owned over 71% of the nation’s wealth.

A merchant’s sign proclaiming their cash-only policy.

The average American found banks no longer wanted their business. J. P. Morgan’s banking house required a minimum personal value before they allowed a new customer to even walk in their door.

The J. P. Morgan Bank building at the corner of Broad and Wall Streets, New York, as it appeared in 1914.

So Americans had no choice but to turn to cash.

It was a natural reaction, since most Americans were aware that buying on credit and shady financing deals had caused the Panic of 1873 in the first place. They came to distrust credit and lending institutions, and developed their own barter systems and cash-only policies.

A cartoon illustrating America’s altered attitude toward credit.

Isabella wrote about it in The Pocket Measure.

In that story, Mrs. Spafford suggests to a group of girls from church that they earn money by starting a business selling hand-made items.

“Where would we get our material?”

“We would need a buying committee—someone whose duty it would be to purchase material.”

“Suppose she hadn’t money enough for the purchases?”

“Then we should manifestly have to do without the material until such time as we could afford to enlarge our business.”

“Couldn’t we buy on credit?”

Both Mrs. Spafford and Addie Stowell shook their heads emphatically at this, and Addie said:

“No, ma’am! You don’t catch me launching out in any enterprise that hasn’t a solid cash foundation. I should expect my father to disown me forthwith. If there is anything he hates, it is the credit system.”

This rebus proclaims “Fork over what you owe.”

Almost all of Isabella’s novels reflect that sentiment. From David Ransom’s Watch to Ester Ried’s Namesake, Isabella made certain her characters earned the money they needed. They didn’t buy anything “on credit.”

A merchant’s broadside from 1875.

Her characters saved up for years to purchase a train ticket or a new dress.

Another example of a merchant’s broadside.

They counted pennies and survived on johnny cakes and molasses.

In fact, most of Isabella’s stories feature characters who live in poverty—the sort of poverty Isabella witnessed first-hand in the years following the 1873 crash.

What do you think?

Do you have a favorite Isabella Alden book that features characters who were poor or insisted on earning the money for the things they wanted to buy? Share your favorite Isabella book by commenting in the Leave a Reply box below.


You can learn more about the Financial Panic of 1873 by watching this short video about the Panic’s impact on the citizens of Illinois:

And you can click on any book cover to find out more about Isabella’s novels mentioned in this post.

 

A Stranger in New York

28 Mar

If you’ve read Isabella’s novel Ester Ried’s Namesake, you probably remember Esther Ried Randall’s reaction when handsome Professor Langham invited her to join a party he was organizing.

His plan was to drive a group of friends to the city to spend the day, then treat everyone to an evening show at the theater.

A 1908 theater poster for Guiseppe Verdi’s opera, “Aida.”

Poor Esther! She wanted so much to drive to town and spend a day shopping and seeing the sights; but her loving Christian parents had taught her that good Christians did not attend theater performances.

“Beverly” was a popular play in 1904. It was based on the best-selling novel of the same name by George Barr McCutcheon. Renowned artist Harrison Fisher created the poster artwork.

With her parents’ scruples in mind, Esther declined the professor’s invitation, saying:

“I may as well tell you plainly that I do not attend the theater.”

“Oh, is that all? As a rule I think I may be said not to do so myself. But isn’t it drawing the line rather closely, being in fact what might be called Puritanical, not to go at all?”

There was an amused smile on his face and a note of amused toleration in his voice. Still, Esther might have answered him quietly but for that word “Puritanical.” Over that she flamed.

Doris Farrand struggled with the same issue when her boyfriend Richard invited her to attend a play with “a splendid moral lesson” in the book Doris Farrand’s Vocation.

In 1898 “The Sorrows of Satan,” based on the best-selling novel by Marie Corelli, was a moralistic play with a Faustian theme.

When Doris declined his invitation, Richard couldn’t understand her reason; neither could Doris’s sister, Athalie, who told Doris:

“It seems narrow-minded to object to [theater-going] these days. Why, Doris, the very best people go to this particular play.”

“The Curse of Drink” was a 1904 temperance play that portrayed one man’s addiction to drink, and it’s affect on his family.

Doris’s boyfriend was a seminary student; he was studying to be a minister. Surely, he argued, he was a better judge of what was right and wrong; surely Doris should trust his judgment and go with him to the theater.

“Alice Sit by the Fire” was a sweet, wholesome play written by J. M. Barrie, the author of “Peter Pan” and “The Little Minister.” Actress Mary Shaw starred in the 1907 production.

But in the end, Doris stood firm in her decision to remain at home, which didn’t please Richard at all.

Esther Randall also stayed at home, and struggled with the idea of living by her parents’ “hated scruples.” She felt she was missing out on all the fun in life, merely because her mother and father had some old-fashioned ideas.

Esther’s best friend told her:

“You live in a little narrow space all hedged about with ‘Thou shalt nots’ or ‘I must nots,’ and that seems to be all there is of your religion.”

Esther couldn’t have agreed more!

In the book, Isabella describes Esther’s struggles in a very compelling way. Isabella understood what it was like to be young and want to go where her friends went and do that they did.

“The Shoemaker” was a heart-warming 1907 play that promised it’s audience “tears and laughter.”

But as a Christian, Isabella was very aware of the example she set for her family, friends, and acquaintances.

And because her husband was a minister, Isabella knew members of the congregation scrutinized her behavior—some did so to take inspiration, and others to find fault.

Whatever their reasons, Isabella knew people watched her, and she was careful to set what she hoped was a good and clear example of Christian living.

She often mentioned Romans 14:15-16 as her guide:

For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.

Therefore, do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil.

Isabella knew those verses weren’t just about food; they applied to anything a Christian might do or say that could influence others.

This innocuous-looking ad for a new play, “A Stranger in New York” appeared in an 1890 Brooklyn, New York newspaper.

She knew that if a non-believer—or a new or struggling Christian—should see her entering a theater to see a morality play, that non-believer might assume that she went to other plays, as well, and that she considered any theater production to be acceptable.

This poster for “A Stranger in New York” may look innocent by today’s standards; but in 1890 it was quite risqué. Ladies did not lift their skirts to show their ankles; nor did they allow men to put their arms around them in a familiar manner.

Isabella didn’t want to run that risk, so she made it a rule in her life not to attend the theater for any reason.

Another poster for “A Stranger in New York.” The image includes every possible element that was contrary to Christian standards of the time: women wearing short skirts and scandalously revealing leotards, cigars, wine, and flirtatious behavior.

She wasn’t alone in setting that standard. In 1892 Methodist Bishop John Heyl Vincent (a co-founder of Chautauqua Institution) published a short book titled Better Not.

In his book Bishop Vincent explained why Christians should ask themselves hard questions about their actions, and whether those actions were harmful or helpful to a soul who may follow their lead.

Isabella agreed with Bishop Vincent’s position, and even mentioned his book Better Not in her story of Esther Ried Randall’s struggle with “scruples.”

She hoped that young Christian women who read Esther’s story would be inspired to keep those two verses in Romans foremost in their minds whenever they planned an evening entertainment with friends and family.


You can read Bishop Vincent’s book Better Not for free! Click here to find it on Google Books. Then click on the red “Ebook – Free” button to read it on your phone or table, or to download it as a pdf.

And you can click on the book cover to find out more about Ester Ried’s Namesake (Book 7 in the Ester Ried Series).

The Long Way Home

12 Mar

In 1912 Isabella Alden published her novel The Long Way Home. She was 71 years old at the time.

She had begun a trend about ten years before of writing books directed toward adult readers. It began with Mara, her most controversial novel.  Mara (published in 1902) was about a young woman who inadvertently married a man who practiced polygamy.

Unto the End told the story of a young wife’s dilemma when she discovered her husband’s infidelity; it was published the same year.

For several years thereafter Isabella regularly published new novels with her adult readers in mind:

1904 – Doris Farrand’s Vocation

1905 – David Ransom’s Watch

1906 – Ester Ried’s Namesake

1907 – Ruth Erskine’s Son

1908 – The Browns at Mount Hermon

1911 – Lost on the Trail

In each book, Isabella tackled important and emotional topics. She wrote about young women who wanted to be judged on their own merits, instead of on their wealth and social standing (or lack thereof).

She also wrote about women who sought real purpose in their lives by working to make a different in the world in Jesus’ name.

She even wrote about one woman’s struggle to love an unlovable daughter-in-law (in Ruth Erskine’s Son).

Isabella continued that trend with The Long Way Home. The story is about Andy and Ilsa, a young couple in love, and their impetuous decision to marry. They exchange marriage vows on the very day Ilsa graduates from high school!

An original illustration from The Long Way Home, showing Ilsa and Andy at a Chautauqua-style summer encampment.

It isn’t long before their hasty decision—combined with a selfish streak in one and a lack of understanding in the other—begins to lead Andy and Ilsa down a path that may undermine their marriage vows.

Ilsa’s mother counsels her to refuse Andy’s suit, saying, “He’ll never be able to buy you diamonds.”

In her adult books Isabella often wrote about the strain and unhappiness that results when a husband and wife do not share the same religious views, and she explores that premise in this story.

A new acquaintance senses Andy’s heart is open to accepting Christ. She invites him to join her family for dinner and a revival-style lecture given by a premier preacher of the day.

In The Long Way Home, Andy is given many opportunities to choose to follow Jesus Christ, but each time he takes a different path because his eagerness to please Ilsa overrides the callings of his own conscience.

Ilsa also struggles with her conscience, but it takes a dramatic turn of events before she’ll admit that she, too, contributed to the turmoil in her marriage.

Ultimately, the very fact that Andy and Ilsa failed to place God at the center of their union turns out to be one of the great wedges that threatens to drive them apart.

As the title suggests, Isabella finally brings her characters “home” and they have their happily ever, but only after Andy and Ilsa learn to put their trust in God before each other.

The Long Way Home is now available as an e-book for only 99 cents! You can find it at these bookseller sites:

          

You can learn more about Isabella’s books mentioned in this post by visiting her Books page.

Read Along with Mrs. Fenton and the CLSC

7 Mar

One of Isabella Alden’s most touching characters is Mrs. Fenton, a homemaker and mother who played a pivotal role in The Hall in the Grove.

Mrs. Fenton had no pretentions; she considered herself an average person, and believed her only talents were as a housekeeper, wife, and mother.

Isabella wrote of her:

Her bread was of the lightest and sweetest. Her chambers were kept in that delicate purity which rests weary heads, and sometimes hearts. Her windows were as clear as hands could make them; her snowy curtains were looped in graceful folds, and with just the right tint of ribbon to blend well with surroundings. Her vines and plants climbed and budded and blossomed in luxurious fashion. Her husband’s buttons were always in place, held by firm threads of her placing; his collars and cuffs shone brilliantly, for her own hands clear-starched and ironed them. Indeed, in whatsoever department of home life you looked, you would be likely, after thorough investigation, to pronounce Mrs. Fenton a model.

Mrs. Fenton’s fourteen-year-old son Robert was her pride and joy. She raised him to be . . .

Straight as an arrow, morally, as well as physically—a grand, truthful, earnest-hearted boy.

She also raised him to be a good student, to take his studies seriously, and apply himself to every lesson and exam.

Mrs. Fenton herself had been a bright student, but her own education as a girl had been limited; so as Robert progressed through his studies, she began to feel her own limitations more and more.

When Robert asked her help with a homework problem, Mrs. Fenton realized she not only didn’t know the answer, she didn’t even know how to steer him toward finding the correct answer himself.

And when he sought her input in preparing for a topic that was to come up on an important exam, she didn’t even understand the subject he was asking about. As similar incidents became more frequent, poor Mrs. Fenton felt “a stab in that mother’s heart.” Her greatest fear was that Robert would one day recognize her short-comings and be ashamed of her.

This CLSC ad appeared in an 1896 edition of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine.

So when Mrs. Fenton visits a friend and hears about the Chautauqua Scientific and Literary Circle for the first time, she begins to wonder if the program might be the answer to her worries.

This eight-page pamphlet for the 1885-1886 school year describes the CLSC program in full. Thousands of adults across the country wrote to the CLSC every year, requesting their annual pamphlet. Click on it to read the entire brochure.

Once Mrs. Fenton understood what the CLSC was and what it could do for her, she became an advocate of the program in her town.

So what, exactly, was the CLSC?

A CLSC receipt for membership dues, 1887.

The CLSC was an education program for adults—young and old—who were unable to obtain a college education. For an annual membership fee of fifty cents (plus the cost of books) adults could enroll in the CLSC’s systematic course of reading in key subjects:

History
Literature
Science
The Arts

The beauty of the program was that members could earn the equivalent of a four-year college course . . . from home!

Imagine receiving one of these beautifully illustrated envelopes in the mail from the CLSC! This one is from 1885 and bears the motto, “Never Be Discouraged.”

CLSC members followed a weekly outline that required them to work a little every day and read prescribed passages from selected books. Then, once a year, they completed an examination (the CLSC called it a “memoranda”) that consisted of questions about the books they’d read. The questions . . .

. . . are to be answered, as far as possible, from memory; where memory fails, the students are expected to refer to their books for help, but to give the answers in their own language.

The exam was typically four pages of questions, but to earn extra credit, members could elect to complete a sixteen-page paper, containing questions that were more comprehensive. An 80% score on the expanded memoranda earned the member a special white seal on their diploma.

The offices of the CLSC on the grounds at Chautauqua Institution in 1896.

Four years and four such annual exams later, CLSC members earned a college degree that carried the same weight and prestige as any other college or university in the country.

A CLSC diploma. This one bears several seals of post-graduate courses of study.

The CLSC program was incredibly popular. Some members followed the program alone. Some members organized into local circles. By 1881 there were over 1,000 local circles in towns and villages across the country.

A CLSC circle in rural Lewisburg, Tennessee, 1911.

These circles—composed of men, women and teens—met in city apartments and rural farm houses. They discussed a variety of topics related to their reading assignments, from the conduct of the Greeks and Romans, to the hereditary line of English kings.

The College Hill Circle in Winfield Kansas, 1913. The oldest and youngest members were aged 76 and 13.

Some local circles arranged lectures or organized public discussions in town halls. Other circles organized by members’ heritage; the CLSC furnished them with text-books in their native language.

A San Diego, California circle in 1915.

In CLSC circles around the world household servants read Shakespeare’s sonnets alongside society matrons; bank presidents discussed the history of Hadrian’s Wall with grocery clerks.

A CLSC circle in Enid, Oklahoma in 1911. The ladies in white in the front row are in the graduating class.

It’s no wonder that Mrs. Fenton was intrigued by the idea of joining the Chautauqua Scientific and Literary Circle. She quickly realized that a CLSC circle in her home town would be the answer to her troubles . . . and her prayers.

You can read all about Mrs. Fenton’s efforts to organize a CLSC chapter and how it changed not only her life, but the lives of her friends and neighbors, in The Hall in the Grove.

Click here to read The Hall in the Grove on your Kindle, tablet, smart phone or PC.

Click here to read it on your Nook.

Did you know you can still join the CLSC? All it takes is payment of a modest membership fee and a commitment to read a book a month from the CLSC’s approved book list.  You can find out more and download their approved book list by clicking here.

And if you’d like to know what it’s like for a modern day woman to read her way through the CLSC program, be sure to read The Hall in the Grove blog.

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Let’s Go Sledding!

28 Feb

It’s the last day of February, and some parts of the U.S. are waking up to a cold winter morning. There’s snow on the ground and a nip in the air; and for many children, those conditions equate to perfect sledding weather.

Children sledding in Washington D.C. in 1915

The children in Isabella Alden’s books are fond of sledding, too, especially the boys.

In Her Mother’s Bible, Ralph Selmser looks forward to having a day of fun that includes sledding:

“Tomorrow’s Saturday, and I’m going to give Ned a ride on my sled, and I’m going to get green things and berries for Mary Jane to trim up the room for father’s birthday; and there isn’t a thing to do all day but I’ll rather do than not.”

A sledding party in Rochester, New York, 1908.

For some of Isabella’s characters, sledding wasn’t just for fun and games. Sidney (in Sidney Martin’s Christmas) uses his sled in a variety of different and practical ways.

A 1910 toboggan party

With his sled, Sidney gives a pleasant ride to a friend. He also hauls heavy items, and transports an injured boy home after he takes a tumble in the snow.

Sledding in Central Park, New York in 1900

Joseph, the young hero of A Dozen of Them, didn’t own a sled of his own, but still found a way to enjoy sledding.

He liked nothing better than to turn pony himself, and give Rettie a ride on her box sled; and so through the day everything was merry and happy.

Sledding on an icy pond in 1869

Later in the story, Joseph is astonished to learn he is the recipient of a sled of his own! His friends joyously break the news to him:

And then all the children talked at once.
“Why, you had a hand-sled!” said one.
“A perfect beauty!” exclaimed another.
“One of the boss kind!” explained a third. “And it has your name on it in red letters.”

Adults also enjoyed sliding through the snow. Toboggans, which are longer than child-sized sleds, could carry more than one passenger.

An 1885 ad for Star Toboggans

In her books Isabella didn’t mention grown-ups enjoying downhill sledding, but these images show it was a popular winter pastime for people of all ages.

The Toboggan Party by artist Henry Sandham, 1882.

In fact, sledding and tobogganing were so much fun in Isabella’s time, children, especially, didn’t always wait for perfect conditions like fresh snow and gently-sloping hills—they made do with what they had.

That’s what these children did in 1921. They took advantage of a sleety morning by sledding down the steps of the War and Navy building in Washington D.C.


You can read all the stories mentioned in this post for free! Just click on a link below to get started:

A Dozen of Them

Her Mother’s Bible

Sidney Martin’s Christmas

 

More About “The Golden Texts”

24 Jan

Last week Karen—a long-time reader of this blog—asked a question about the “Golden Texts” mentioned in many of Isabella Alden’s stories, including Gertrude’s Diary and The Exact Truth.

Karen asked:

Where can I get one of these booklets that have these Golden Verses in them? Were they distributed in Sunday Schools as part of the materials?

The Golden Texts were a very popular teaching method used by Sunday-schools and missionary societies in the late 1800s.

In those days, almost every major Christian denomination—especially Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian—operated a publishing house as one of its departments.

They produced Golden Text lessons in the form of pamphlets and trading cards, which were styled and written for the most part to appeal to children, aged toddlers to teens.

The tradecard-style lesson below is No. 3 in a series about the Golden Texts found in the Book of Matthew. The card was produced by the publishing arm of the Presbyterian Church, and was intended to be used by Sunday-school teachers as a lesson help.

You can see the subscription rate to purchase cards on the reverse side:

Card No. 5 in the series features another Golden Text from the Book of Matthew:

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Here’s an example of a Golden Text lesson card the American Baptists produced for their churches and ministries:

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Not all the lessons were printed by churches. The publishing company of Ward & Drummond produced Golden Text lessons in pamphlet form for many years.

This Ward & Drummond pamphlet is bound with a paper boards and feature lovely artwork. The pamphlet measures just 2-3/4” by 4-1/4” so it could be tucked into a boy’s pocket or a girl’s purse.

The back cover displays Ward & Drummond’s contact information:

Some good news: This particular Ward & Drummond pamphlet is for sale on ebay! You can click here to see the listing.

Like Ward & Drummond, Cincinnati publishers Walden & Stowe specialized in publishing religious materials, like this 1881 “Picture Lesson Paper”:

It was printed on paper and bound by thread stitches on the spine. It features a Golden Text from Luke 1:46-47:

My soul doth magnify the Lord; and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

You can click on the image to see a PDF of the entire four-page leaflet.

Walden & Stowe published many Christian leaflets, including Sunday-school tracts written by Reverend Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, who helped direct the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle.

Examples of Golden Text teaching aids—in both leaflet and postcard styles—often come up for sale on sites like ebay and Etsy, so it pays to check back often with both sites.

Writer Jenny Berlin

Faith, romance, and a place to belong

The Hall in the Grove

Author of Classic Christian Fiction

Isabella Alden

Author of Classic Christian Fiction

Britt Reads Fiction

Reviews and giveaways for Christian fiction. Bringing readers information on great stories and connecting authors with their readers.

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