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English 4300: Early American Literature in Special Collections: Special Collections Sources

The Lucubrator

This semester you are going to help Special Collections solve a mystery.  This manuscript was donated to the MU Libraries by Mrs. Edwin Ball in 1974.  Its title page attributes the work to James Noyes, but we know very little else about it.  It consists of a series of essays on a wide variety of topics.  Titles include "On Female Education," "On Bad Neighbors," and "On the Utility of Dancing," to name a few. The essays are dated between 1794 and 1797. James Noyes (1778-1799) wrote a mathematics textbook and a couple of almanacks around 1793-1794, but we have not been able to establish whether he and the author of this manuscript are one and the same.

Who was James Noyes?  Is this manuscript in his hand?  Where was it created?  Were the essays ever published?

The resources on this page should help you start to piece together the answers.


There are very few early American novels or works of poetry in the collections, but the ones below may be of interest.

  • The advertisement for a husband : a novel in a series of letters between Belinda Blacket, Louisa Lenox, and others : two volumes in one. Worcester [Mass.] : Printed by Isaiah Thomas, Jun. and sold by him at his printing office, September, 1799. Rare PR3991.A1 A28 1799
  • Barlow, Joel, 1754-1812.    The Columbiad   a poem / By Joel Barlow.    Philadelphia : Published by C. and A. Conrad and Co. Philadelphia  Conrad, Lucas and Co. Baltimore.  Fry and Kammerer, Printers, 1809. RARE    818 B249
  • Carey, Mathew, 1760-1839.    The Porcupiniad, a Hudibrastic poem, in four cantos, addressed to William Cobbett / by Mathew Carey.    Philadelphia : Printed for and sold by the author, March 2, 1799 (Copy right secured according to Act of Congress)   RARE    E321 .C277 1799
  • Dwight, Timothy, 1752-1817. Greenfield Hill : a poem. [New York] : [Printed by Childs and Swaine], [1794] Rare PS739 .G8 1794
  • -----. The conquest of Canäan : a poem in eleven books / by Timothy Dwight. Hartford : Printed by Elisha Babcock, 1785. RARE    PS739 .C7 1785
  • Kimber, Edward. "Itinerant Observations in America" from The London magazine, and monthly chronologer. London : Printed by C. Ackers for T. Cox, 1736-1746. Rare AP3 .L86  v. 14-15
  • The Lady's pocket library. Philadelphia : From the press of Mathew Carey ..., March 20, 1792. Rare HQ1201 .L2
  • Louvet de Couvray, Jean-Baptiste, 1760-1797. Love and Patriotism! or, The extraordinary adventures of M. Duportail, late Major-general in the armies of the United States : interspersed with many surprising incidents in the life of the late Count Pulauski. Philadelphia : Printed by Carey & Markland, 1797. Rare       PZ3.L938 L6 1797
  • Macgowan, John, 1726-1780. Infernal conference, or, Dialogues of devils / by the Listener. Worcester, Mass. : Printed by L. Worcester, for I. Thomas, 1795. Rare       BV4515 .M29 1795  
  • Morton, Sarah Wentworth, 1759-1846.    Beacon Hill. A local poem, historic and descriptive. Book I.    Boston : Printed by Manning & Loring for the author, 1797.  RARE    PS808.M7 B4 1797
  • Rowson, Mrs., 1762-1824. Charlotte Temple : a tale of truth / by Mrs. Rowson. Windsor [Vt.] : Preston Merrifield, 1815 ([Windsor, Vt.] : T.M. Pomroy) Rare 828 R799c
  • Trumbull, John, 1750-1831.    M'Fingal : a modern epic poem, in four cantos / By John Trumbull, esq.  With explanatory notes.    [Hallowell, Me.] : Published and sold by Ezekiel Goodale, at the Hallowell bookstore.  [Peter Edes, printer, Augusta], 1813. RARE    PS852 .M3 1813
  • Warren, Mercy Otis, 1728-1814.    [Poems dramatic and miscellaneous / by Mrs. M. Warren ...].    [Boston] : [Printed by I. Thomas and E.T. Andrews], [1790.] RARE    PS858.W8 P6 1790

Sermons and Religious Works

Sermons, tracts, and other religious works are one of the strengths of this collection.  There are far too many examples in the collections to list here.  To find them, look for these subject headings in the MERLIN catalog:

Government and Politics

There are many political publications in pamphlet form in the collections. Like sermons, there are too many to list here, but try the following MERLIN searches:


Travel and Exploration

Try searching for specific states and regions combined with the subheading "Description and travel."  Results for United States - Description and travel, limited by publication date prior to 1800, are below.

You may also want to see the following sources:

Accounts of Native Americans can often be found in the literature of travel and exploration, but there are also a few works devoted to this subject in the collections:

Microform Resources

MU Libraries has one of the largest microfilm collections in the United States.  These subject guides may relate to the topics of this class.

Periodical publications

Most of the periodicals in Special Collections are in microfilm.  You can find guides to periodicals on the Special Collections website:

These periodicals can be found in their original format: