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Mathew Carey diaries


Held at: Historical Society of Pennsylvania [Contact Us]1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Mathew Carey (1760-1836) was born in Dublin, Ireland, and he arrived in America in 1784 with nine years of experience as a printer and publisher under his belt. With a $400 check he received from the Marquis de Lafayette, Carey established his own publishing and bookselling business in Philadelphia. Among his early publications were the Pennsylvania Evening Herald, the Columbian Magazine, and the American Museum, none of which were very successful. With the outbreak of yellow fever in Philadelphia in 1793, Carey took the opportunity to publish his own work entitled A Short Account of the Malignant Fever, Lately Prevalent in Philadelphia . . ., which marked the beginning of his venture into medical publishing. During the course of his career, Carey published dozens of medical works; however, he also published novels and works by Mason L. Weems, James Fenimore Cooper, Edgar Allan Poe, and Sir Walter Scott, among others. Additionally, his company printed broadsides, atlases, bibles, and political titles, including some of his own writings such as Vindiciae Hibernicae (1819), New Olive Branch (1820), and Essays of Political Economy (1822). Carey devoted his life to political economics after he left the publishing business in the early 1820s.

Comprising this collection is two of Carey's diaries that he kept between the end of 1828 and 1836, They contain a total of 353 written pages plus one detached two-page leaf. In this diaries Carey recorded lengthy descriptions of his daily activities, including extensive reading, writing, editing, publishing, meetings and conversations (including some with well-known people of the the time, such as politician and reformer Robert Dale Owen. In some of the entries Carey documented his relationships with local newspaper editors, his complex and shifting views on economics, and his activities on behalf of poor and marginalized groups, religious activities, family life, and other matters.

Bussy, R. Kenneth. Two Hundred Years of Publishing. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1985. Green, James M. Mathew Carey: Publisher and Patriot. Philadelphia: The Library Company of Philadelphia, 1985. Kaser, David. Messrs. Carey & Lea of Philadelphia: A Study of the History of the Booktrade. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1957.

Purchased, 2012.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Cary Hutto.
Finding Aid Date
; 2016.
Processing made possible by a generous donation from the Young Friends of HSP.
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

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