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Manuscripts of Colonial and Revolutionary America

What follows is a list of Colonial and Revolutionary copybooks and ciphering books from the North American manuscript holdings in the Department of Special Collections, University Libraries of Notre Dame. Copybooks and ciphering books included here date wholly or primarily from the years before 1788.

  • SILAS STEPHENS COPYBOOK. 1753-1772. 1 vol., 32 cm., 49 leaves, with 91 pages of entries, mostly in Stephens' hand. The owner's inscription on the front cover of this copybook reads: "Silas Stephens His Book Anno Do[min]i 1753." Stephens was probably a resident of Connecticut; his signature appears throughout the book (though sometimes spelled "Stevens," "Stephenson," or "Stevenson"). Most of the book's lessons are written in his hand; many of these are dated, from as early as 1754 to as late as 1759. The exercises recorded in the book progress from arithmetic, to geometry, to trigonometry, to navigation, to accounting. Much of the latter part of the book is given over to mock accounts of various kinds, including ships' inventories. The only notable literary or religious content in Stephens' hand is a copy of Psalm 58, on 41v-42r. A second, more practiced hand is also evident at various points in the book; the sole date related to the entries in this second hand is 1772. MSN/COL 9250-1.

  • THOMAS CHAPMAN CIPHERING BOOK. 1769-1788 (bulk 1769-1772). 1 vol., 34 cm., 21 leaves, with 42 pages of manuscript. The title page of this ciphering book is inscribed "Thomas Chapman / His Book of Arithmetic / Made in the Year of our Lord 1769". Chapman (1754-1795) was a son of the planter John Chapman, of Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Copied lessons include numeration, addition of integers, addition of money, addition of troy weights, apothecaries' weight, avoirdupois weight, cloth measure, liquid measure, dry measure, land measure, adding time, subtraction of sundries, multiplication, division, division of crops, and reduction. Most of the problems under the heading "division of crops" relate to tobacco. Though scattered notations date to as late as 1788, the arithmetical content was probably completed by the early 1770s. MSN/COL 9251-1.

  • SILAS FARNSWORTH, JR. ACCOUNT BOOK. 1773-1787. 1 vol., 16 cm., 19 leaves, with 38 pages of manuscript in Farnsworth's hand. This booklet was the property of Silas Farnsworth, Jr., born c1755 in Worcester County, Massachusetts. During the years the book was maintained Farnsworth appears to have been living in New Hampshire, probably in Cheshire County in the state's southwestern corner. Personal debit accounts with named individuals, with entries ranging from 1775 to 1787, occupy some 14 pages of the volume. As here recorded, Farnsworth's income derived primarily from farm produce and animal products, including substantial amounts of beef and pork. An entry for 3 July 1777 states: "I Sent of[f] for the use of the army 50 lb Pork 9 lb 8 oz of Ches 25 lb Flour". The first 21 pages of the booklet are given over to handwriting exercises, some of which are dated 1773 and include Farnsworth's name. MSN/COL 9304-1.

  Related Collections:   Colonial & Revolutionary America Early National & Antebellum America American Civil War Modern America Sports

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