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Fanny Sententious, Volume 1


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. 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

The Safford family descends from the Buell and Norton families, who emigrated to America prior to the American Revolution. These families were united in 1793 with the marriage of John Norton and Lucretia Buell (1763-1852). The Nortons were the parents of nine children: Luman, John, Clarissa, Lucretia, Laura, Jonathan, Eliza, Lydia and Norman. Six of the nine children had their own children, and as a result, according to one obituary, Lucretia Buell Norton's mother lived to see 441 descendents. Lydia Norton (1802-1890), the eighth of the nine children, married Henry Safford (1800-1868) in 1827. Henry Safford was the son of Silas Safford and the brother of Deacon Alonzo Safford (1798-1877) and Fanny Safford (1802-1822). Henry and Lydia Safford were the parents of Helen (d. 1895), Fanny (1832-1881), Kate (1834-1905) and Silas Henry (1837-1906). Although it is difficult to determine authoritatively, Henry Safford's daughter, Fanny, probably created the bulk of Fanny Sententious. It is important to note, however, that notations and clippings were added to the volume following her death until about 1907.

Captain Jonathan Buell and Silas Safford served in the Revolutionary War. John Norton established United States Pottery in 1793 in Bennington, Vermont, which continued in existence under various name changes, and was operated by Norton's descendents until 1884. Luman Norton (1785-1858) served as a judge and in Vermont state government; Alonzo Safford served as a deacon; and Henry Squires, son of Buckley and Lucretia Norton Squires, was a well-known tenor who sang in operas in New York, Europe and Australia. The family appears to have been close-knit, and considerable pride in the accomplishments of family members is displayed in the volume.

This volume, entitled Fanny Sententious, consists of newspaper clippings of poetry, religious tracts, and family history for the Buell, Norton, Safford and Squires families. There are some pressed flowers and a few photographs, but the vast majority of the material is clippings from unidentified and undated newspapers. The volume is divided into two main segments, poetry and family history. Although the title indicates that there are multiple volumes, Volume 1 is the only volume that exists.

Attached on the front inside cover of the volume is an envelope containing four picture postcards addressed to Mrs. David Longaker in Chester, Pennsylvania and sent from Bennington, Vermont; a brief note stating that Mrs. Leach died August 27, 1840; and two lists: one listing birth and death dates of family members, and the other listing the average duration of life for members of various professions at the latitude of Boston. Two of the postcards are dated 1906 and 1907, but the remainder of the material in this envelope is undated. All of the postcards are of buildings, presumably in Bennington, and one is labeled as a Safford home in Bennington, Vermont. The first section, titled by the author as "Poetry," contains newspaper clippings of poetry on a variety of topics and by a diverse group of poets. The poems cover a breadth of topics, including religion; family; death; growing old; the Civil War, abolition, and Abraham Lincoln; and George Washington, to name only a few. Poets include William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878), John G. Saxe (1816-1887), Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861), John G. Whittier (1807-1892), and Mrs. F.B.M. Brotherson. Although located in the section titled, "Poetry," there are some clippings that are not poetry, but articles about issues such as art (Verdi and Shakespeare), science (astronomy, archaeology, oceanography), patriotic themes (how to make an American flag and the history of and verses for "La Marseillaise," the "Star Spangled Banner," and the "Battle Hymn of the Republic), and history. In addition, there are how-to's and lessons, such as how to play chess, "How to Furnish a House," by Henry Ward Beecher, "homely hints for husbands," and "lessons for those who like them." On occasion, the clippings seem to be arranged by topic, but researchers are advised to browse the entire volume. One notable page includes: "Noah's Ark and the Great Eastern," "length of the mile in various countries," "the White Mountains," "fruit culture," the "Doom of Turkey," "the inventor of railroads," the definition of "musician," and the "cause and treatment of cholera." Most of these articles do not include authors, dates, or identification of the newspaper from which they were clipped.

A small section entitled, "Letters," can be found amongst the poetry and articles. These are not original letters, but clippings of articles about letters. Included in this section are articles about letters from Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine, Daniel Webster, Robert Fulton, and Charlotte Cushman. Many of these letters relate to the Civil War.

The last segment of the book, comprising about a quarter of the volume, consists of clippings about family history. It has not been titled by the author. Researchers will find two photographs of what are presumed to be a family home, and one photograph of the headstone of Lucretia Buell Norton's grave. The remainder of the book consists of death notices, obituaries and eulogies. There is information about: Captain Jonathan Buell's wife, John Norton, Luman Norton, Luman Preston Norton, Julius Philip Norton, Buckley Squires, Lucretia Norton Squires, Norman Buckley Squires, Henry Squires, Mary Abell Squires Booth, Eliza Norton Hutchins, Laura Allen Norton Hills, Silas Safford, deacon Alonzo Safford, and Fanny Safford (1802-1822). Researchers should also consult the envelope attached to the front cover of this volume for listing of birth and death dates of many members of the family.

Of interest are a few sketches of people that are found in the volume. None of the drawings are labeled and it is unknown if the artist is Fanny (1832-1881), who probably created the bulk of the volume. However, notes located next to the obituary for her aunt Fanny (1802-1822) indicate that she attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and that her art was admired by the public, and therefore it is possible that she created the sketches.

This volume provides a fascinating glimpse in the interests of a young woman during the middle of the 19th century. Researchers will find little unique in the individual items; but as a compilation, this volume may be particularly interesting to those studying women's education and readership, and responses by women to the Civil War.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Holly Mengel
Finding Aid Date
The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources' "Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives" Project.
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This collection is open for research use.

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Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

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Fanny Sententious, Volume 1, circa 1850-1908.
Call Number AC85.A100.885s

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