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Frank E. Ellwanger Commonplace Book 1906-1914


Held at: Lehigh University Special Collections [Contact Us]Lehigh University, Linderman Library, 30 Library Drive, Bethlehem, PA 18045

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Lehigh University Special Collections. 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

In an earlier age, the commonplace book or receipt book was a compilation of useful knowledge usually assembled by women responsible for a household out in the country. In this particular case the compiler is a scientifically curious man. The scope of time specifically noted ranges from 1906 to 1914. Mr. Frank E. Ellwanger, the creator of this compendium, was a long time resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The volume notes his personal four resident addresses as well as other addresses of people he seems to have known in Philadelphia. The compilation is composed of a plethora of handy household hints, medical remedies and cures, formulas for various products, mechanical drawings and designs of useful appliances, engineering observations, and economical improvements to many existing appliances of the early 20th century. Also noted are Pennsylvania localities beyond Philadelphia such as a description of a water aireator or cooler as seen at the Allentown Fair in 1906 or finding a good source of dry yeast in Hazelton, Pennsylvania and a visit to St. Luke's Hospital (Bethlehem) for poison ivy treatment. Among the many hints and tidbits of information and recommendations are recipes for hair growth stimulant, a diabetes cure, a kidney disease remedy, skin whitening elixir, purifying tainted meat and water, wart and mole removal (tincture of Cannibus indica), a consumption cure, appendicitis remedy to mention just a few of the many homeopathic information that seemed to be of his special interest. Included are many chemical formulae with references to a book by Williams titled as Elements of Chemistry noting the various catalytic reactions of NaCl, hydrogen, formation of acids, oxidation, atmospheric pressure and use of hydrochloric acid for numerous solutions. Interesting mechanical devices that are illustrated: a power generator powered by the waves of the surf, a corn popper, a burglar alarm, economical water pumping, various heating devices, economical use of petroleum and gas. Also noted as of interest to Mr. Ellwanger are various engineering elements such as the Murray Marine Steady-Floating Steel Structures for ship salvage, an unreinforced concrete bridge, concrete for building homes, cement compounds, aluminum solder. This compilation of ephemera gives an interesting insight into the mindset of the amateur scientist and a self- improvement citizen of the early 20th century – before the age of easy access to knowledge by way of the computer. It follows in the earlier tradition of a receipt book or commonplace book.

The scrapbook contains 289 numbered pages many of which are blank. The first numbered pages contain adages advising against fear, encouragement ( an adage by Elbert Hubbard, a turn-of-the 20th-century writer and propagandist for can-do American inventors and tycoons), a Table of Equivalents compiled and prepared by Chas. D. Clarkson, Dep't of Commerce and Finance Drexel Institute and an index of sorts (with the note Don't Hurry). Pages 19 to 252 contain the body of the compilation of handwritten notes, newspaper and magazine clippings some glued on to the pages others loosely attached. Among the main body of the collection are several pages left blank among the entries as if to leave room for additional information. The writing is in black ink.

This hard cover book is bound in red leather with gold embossing and contains 289 numbered pages. It measures 5 ¾" x 9" x 1 ¼" (14.25cm x 22.5cm x 3cm) with marbleized printed end pages and page edges. The book spine is missing. Inside the front cover is a label bearing the following: Wm. H. Hoskins Co. Mfg. Stationers, Business Furniture, Printers, Engravers, Blank Book Makers. 904 906 Chestnut Street…Philadelphia. On the inner side of the facing fly leaf is handwritten in black ink: Property of Frank E. Ellwanger #5919 Ellsworth St, Phila. Pa. Other addresses that are crossed out are: 1720 Willington St., 2741 W. 13th Phila. Pa., #4539 N. 19th Phila, Pa. Also crossed out is "try American Trust Co. "for address." Broad and Ridge Ave. Phila. Not crossed out is a note: "Try Integrity Title and Trust Co. 4th and Green at Phila Pa. Another note below is: My Harmonious days are Tuesday (born on this day) Thursday and Saturday. At the bottom of this page is the number 682 ½ printed in purple ink on the lower right side of the inner fly leaf. The Index of 190 items appears on numbered pages 2 to 9; following are nine blank pages faintly lined. The main collection of memorabilia begins on page 19 and continues to page 252.


Lehigh University Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
Eleanor Nothelfer
Finding Aid Date
October 21, 2013
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Collection housed remotely. Users need to contact 24 hours in advance.

Collection Inventory

SC MS 0169. Description of the Volume.
Scope and Contents

The contents Index is listed below. Although in the compilation the index is not alphabetized, for convenience of the Special Collection user, the Index has been somewhat ordered to gain an insight into the interests of the compiler. Mr. Ellwanger's Index alphabetized:

Acetylene made safe 241
Amalgamating Battery Zincs (Page 429 Avery's Physics) 190
Antiseptic/Hydrogen Peroxide (its uses) 98
Apparatus (Bending or Baring), 123, 125
Apparatus (Reduction), 124
Apparatus (Sausage casings), 127, 132
Appentacitis. 166
Artificial draft. 153
Artificial Rubber for tires 181
Asthma. 167
Auto fuel. 137
Automatic Bookeeper 176
Automatic latch lock 174
Barometer Paper. 163
Bead, 129
Bed Sores 190
Bending, mending & cutting tops off glass jars/tubes 123
Bird Tonic loss of voice 31
Black Ants. 162
Blackberry Brandy 95
Boils/Carbuncles. 116, 246
Boreing in glass 123
Brazing 189
Bugs, 117
Building Materials needed for a house 180
Buoys & Floating wharf 94, 136, 184
Burn remedy 242
Burn the smoke. 134, 137, 147,153, 162,173,178-179,241,247
Cancer & Tumor Remedy (good) 31
Candle grease & Stain Remover 49
Candles. 226
Catarrh Remedy (good) 19
Catarrh remedy (simple) 19
Celluloid incombustible 241
Chaffing or for Babies 31
Chills - simple cure 33
Cholera Infantum by Dr. Abbot 31
Clean Paint Brushes (Remove Paint). 53
Clean Paints. 171
Cocoa (scumless), 133
Coke, 126
Concrete 94, 102, 155, 181
Consumption Cure 168
Corn Popper 219
Corn/Bunion Cure. 150, 170, 246
Corns, callous, moles, warts. 170
Destroy worms in the lawn 139
Diabetus. 167
Disinfectant 190
Disinfectant for all contagious diseases 98
Double Furnace (intense heat cheap). 148, 247
Ear & Tooth Ache 239
Earache Cure, 239
Eggs to preserve 121
Elevator 87
Erysipelas Remedy 224 - 246
Extraction (oil) (moisture), 115
Eye Tonic - to remove irritation by Dr. Ealer 101
Feed box apparatus. 135
Felon - Bad Burns Bunions Good Samaritan Ointment 246
Fertilizer (good by Wanner). 99, 158
Fever Remedy/Pneumonia 168
Fireproof, 130
Fitz to cure 236
Flegm remover, 116
Flood protection - stop shore from being washed away 95
Floors - Stained & polished 130
Flux 163
Formulas 102 to 122
Freckles. 160
Fruits preserved in Natural Condition. 163
Fuel. 89, 91, 134, 137, 162, 178, 179
Fusibility. 230
Futures by the controls, 220
Gallstone cure. 162
Galvanize Iron to Solder Iron. 5, 161, 163
Gas (Economizer) 89, 91, 93, 134, 137, 162, 178, 241
Gas fuel formula. 93
Gas Water. 91, 241
Gathered finger 239
Glue. 169
Gluten. 167
Gold & copper Synthetically. 161
Gold from sea water 248
Hair Tonic (Lavona Decomposee (Smiths) 131
Heel plates. 140
High temperatures 230
Hives. 86
Hives. 86
Hominy (Lye) to make it 90
Hot air heater cheap. 134, 137, 147, 162, 153, 173, 178, 241
Ice, 27, 111, 164, 182
Inflammation ovaries. 167
Inflammation. 166
Ingrowing Toe nail, 150
Iodine finish to wod. 243
Itimization, 114
Ivy Poison. 166, 171, 177
Jelly, 119
Kidney trouble, 227
Kill weeds & Vegetation 92
Kite. 140
Leather & mend shoes. 114, 138
Lime Kiln 148
Lubricating grease 226
Luminous Paint. 163
Maintain level in fluid or water. 152, 178
Make Diamonds, 128
Mead (old fashioned) 95
Measure Coal in bin 193
Melting or Fusing Magnetite. 163
Mouse or Rabbit Trap. 60
Nettle sting Antidote, 159
New cement. 102, 155
Oil (to pump easily) 61
Oil distillation. 142
Oil stoves 178-179
Oils, 114, 131
Paint (filler for crevices). 53, 225
Paint cement. 245
Panama to clean 181
Paste. 234
Piles cured in one night 119
Planting/Sprouting Slips. 92, 162
Polish for furniture. 171
Polish for silver, 163
Post Preserver 191
Potato Alcohol. 154
Pour hot jelly or H20 into glass. 31
Power. 136
Preserve Leather/mending shoes. 114, 138
Preserve Shingles. 162
Prevent Rusting of Heater pipes. 159
Prevent Rusting of Iron. 165
Pumping power. 47, 94, 142, 147, 184
Quinzy Cure (flax for sty or black eye). 98
Quinzy Cure. 242
Radiation. 134, 137, 147, 162
Raspberry Vinegar. 30
Reflector. 149
Remove glass stoppers & lids. 30
Remove Ink stain Rust stain easily. 238
Rheumatism cure 188
Roof Lead & 1st coat of Paint on galvanized iron 245
Rubber. 139
SeaSick & Trolley sick 187
Season wood (Caution). 162
Seed Planting or Sprouting 92
Skin (substitute for) 151
Skin diseases - Eczema - Barber's itch 209
Small Pox Remedy. 88
Smelter 148
Soap 226
Soldering Fluid 181
Sore feet remedy 242, 246
Sore feet, 162
Splinters easily removed 252
Spring (Rope) 183
Stumps removal. 114
Sty remedy 233
Subterranean Power 47
Syphon or pump water power. 142-145
Table of Equivalents/on 2nd fly Leaf
Tainted meat to clean & purify 224
Tartaric Acid. 19
Teeth, 239
Telescope. 32
Temper 185
Thymol Menthol antiseptic, Preservative, Pain Killer 223
Tonsillitis. 242-246
Tooth ache or ulcerated tooth, 239
Transferring Fluid 180
Travel over ice & water. 156, 157
Tredle for power. 141
Trenton Fertilizer Co. 158
Turbine Speed Regulator Stop Motion. 172
Vacuum Insulation 97
Valve (no Jerk no Jar) 175
Varnish & Whitewash. 155, 244
Vermin Exterminator 117, 190
Watch compass 86
Water - carrying power. 151
Water cooler & aireator for gas Engines 218
Water testing impurity. 146
Wax (Sealing Wax), Close Bottles, 114
Weaning a child. 96
Wet & Dry Battery. 165
Window Fastener. 169
Write (etch on Metals). 163
Yeast (Liquid & Dry) 29

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