Juliette Gordon Low

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Juliette Gordon Low (1860-1927) How Girls Can Help Their Country, Adapted from Agnes Baden-Powell and Sir Robert Baden-Powell’s Handbook [by Juliette Gordon Low]. NY: G.S.A. National Council, 1917.

Long, long ago, during a rainstorm as I sat on the dirt in a pup-tent at Girl Scout summer camp in Philadelphia, I realized my own keenest desire while in the wilderness – was to not be there. That would mature slightly into awe at those girls and women who went therein, voluntarily or not. This small but information-packed volume is from the intermediary state in the organization. Juliette Low had established an American organization based on and shadowing the British model in 1912-13. Here she takes the next step, publishing a local version of the handbook, sticking in a few pages at the end about The Star Spangled Banner and a reading list of mostly American authors, but still focusing on girls’ readiness for war on the home-front. Since then GSA has nurtured millions of equally bewildered young women in finding a place of confidence and control of their environment and care for the environment.

Nellie Bly

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Nellie Bly [pseudonym of Elizabeth Cochran Seaman] (1864-1922) Game of Around the World with Nellie Bly; A Novel and Fascinating Game With the World’s Globe Circler; with Plenty of Excitement by Land and Sea. NY: McLoughlin Bros Pub., 1890.

Still in print and sold at all the National Park Service shops as a puzzle, this board game celebrates the wager that a journalist and her bosses at The New York World made: to best the 80-day-jaunt of Jules Verne ’s fictional Phileas Fogg. Under the nom-de-plume Nellie Bly, she sent back regular reports of the sights, sounds, and smells of places she reached by ship, train, rickshaw, sampan, camel, horse, and burro. The nation was agog, and huge crowds cheered as Elizabeth disembarked in New York on day seventy-two!


C.P. Traill–Canadian Wild Flowers

65 _B3V0709 TraillCatharine Parr Strickland Traill (1802-1899) Canadian Wild Flowers. Painted and Lithographed By Agnes Fitzgibbon, With Botanical Descriptions By C. P. Traill. Montreal: Printed  and Published by John Lovell, 1868. First edition.

Up until 1868, Canadian books were printed and illustrated in Britain. This large-format study, one of the first serious botanical works on indigenous plants, was home-produced. Readers have long delighted in the graceful, yet scientifically precise text by Catharine, and in the beautiful hand-painted lithographs by her niece, Agnes Dunbar Moodie Fitzgibbon. Canadian art and literature would never have become this amazing this early without the arrival of the prodigiously talented Strickland sisters, Catharine and Susanna.

Annie Oakley

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Annie Oakley

Annie Oakley (born Phoebe Ann Mosey, 1860-1926) Photo, London, 1891, inscribed “Compliments of Annie Oakley,  Strassburg,  April 18th, 1891”

2 pairs of gloves, leather & beaded suede, ca. 1900, each signed in pen on the lining.

A heart card pierced by 5 bullets.

A typed telegraph letter on Pennsylvania Limited stationery to Emma Butler

Steamer  trunk,  ca. 1917 & 48E. Photo of the leads in “The Western Girl,” NY, 1902?

48E _B3V0769 OakleyAnnie is still so mythologized–a lot due to her–but this is a sampling from her real life. The aptness of her nickname “Little Sure Shot” is evidenced by the slew of medals covering her chest. She gave this particular photo to Nate Salisbury, manager of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. Five bullets went through the red heart of this promotional card, tossed in the air twelve yards away from the sharpshooter. She always wore gloves to shoot, and had surprisingly big hands for a tiny woman, size 9 or 10. The brown leather ones bear her signature logo of three running horses’ heads. In 1902-4 she starred in a play written for her, “The Western Girl,” in New York. She is standing on the left with the actors who played her father and blind sister. She ’s wearing a curly brown  wig, as her own hair had turned  white after the 1901 train accident and five surgeries on her spine which halted her rodeo career. When in 1903 the Hearst tabloids published that she had been arrested in Chicago for shoplifting a pair of men’s pants (a local drug addict told the cops her name was Annie Oakley), she sued the pants off them. The telegram celebrates her victory. She was awarded the enormous sum of $27,500, though it took until 1910 for the foot-dragging Hearst to pay up. Annie and her husband Frank Butler traveled extensively during World War 1 to raise funds and entertain at troop camps. She also gave classes on sharpshooting to women. The Seward wood and metal trunk is stencilled upside down, so that when the lid is raised, it advertises her name. She also scratched her signature heart near the handle.

Calamity Jane’s Autobiography

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Calamity Jane, born Martha Jane Cannery, a.k.a. Marthy C. Burke (1852-1903) Life and Adventures of Calamity Jane. By Herself. Livingston,  MT, 1896. Second edition, original pink wrapper, engraved portrait on front cover. Studio photo by R. L. Kelly, signed in the plate.

Calamity Jane was the delight of the public and the bane of historians. Ramon Adams claims the only accurate fact in her story is her birth. In this brief account, she piled uncountable untruths on a fascinating life–disguised herself as a boy and joined George Custer as a scout in 1870; dallied with Wild Bill Hickok; was a Pony Express rider in the Black Hills; captured with a meat cleaver the desperado who’d shot Hickok in the back; prospected; drove wagon trains; raised cattle; married Clinton Burke in 1885 and had a baby girl in 1887 in Texas (that she did do); and ran a hotel in Boul- der. This, the personal copy of the bookseller and bibliographer Edward Eberstadt, is one of only a handful of either edition to survive, though thousands must have been printed since they were intended to earn her a living in retirement.

Bessie Marchant–Daughters of the Dominion

50 _B3V0603 MarchantBessie Marchant (1862–1941) Daughters of the Dominion: A Story of the Canadian Frontier, Illustrated by William  Rainey, R.I. London &c: Blackie & Son, Limited, 1909. First edition.

Right alongside “write what you know,” advice to authors has always been “write what sells.” Lettres d’une Peruvienne is an excellent example. Bessie Marchant wrote at least thirty-seven young adult books set in the Americas, from the Andes to the Pampas to the Everglades to the Northland; other titles were set in India, Turkey, and South Africa. Not only were they all thrilling tales, glorious page-turners, but they were also published and republished in irresistibly gorgeous pictorial bindings. They were a favorite for British school prizes, this one for First Class to Edith Wardle at Upperthorpe,  Sheffield in July 1909. Not once did Bessie ever set a toe outside England.