Pet Book Project Part 2.1: Education and The Editor

My book for this project, The Girl’s Own Outdoor Book, was published in 1889 in Philadelphia by the J.B. Lippincott Company. The company was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1836 by a man named Joshua Ballinger Lippincott. They started out publishing only Bibles and prayer books, but then expanded far beyond that, publishing everything from poetry to biographies to dictionaries. The company was incorporated in 1878, and became one of the most well-known publishers in the world by the end of the 19th century. They also produced a literary magazine for about 45 years, called Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. It was published in both the US and the UK. Over the course of the 20th century, Lippincott focused much of its publishing on textbooks for use in elementary and high schools, and on journals in medicine and nursing. It appears that the company was invested in education, whether it was for religion, early education, medicine, or otherwise. It is not surprising, then, that the company published my pet book, as it is a reference book for young women and girls to use to further their outdoor education. Starting in 1978, the company changed names quite a bit and merged with multiple other publishers. It was first merged with Harper and Row Publishers, then Wolters Kluwer (which is a global information services company), then Raven Press, and then Williams and Wilkins. Today, the company name is only used as a publishing imprint of Wolters Kluwer Health, a company whose goal is education in the medical field.

One of the displays of the communications circuit within the book is an advertisement on one of the first few pages. It describes The Girl’s Own Outdoor Book as the latest in a “series of useful and entertaining books for the home circle,” and says that it “will provide a fitting sequel to the excellent volume from the same source — The Girl’s Own Indoor Book.” Not only does this tell us that the book is a part of a series of similar educational books for young women, it tells us that these books may not have gained enough popularity at this point in time to sell by their name alone. The advertisement was placed purposely in an effort to spread word about the book and the series as a whole, and to try to get more people to buy a copy. As for it being part of a series, I was not able to find any additional books in the series besides The Girl’s Own Outdoor Book and The Girl’s Own Indoor Book, which implies that this series was actually just these two books alone. 

Another indication of the communications circuit that shows up in the book is a bookseller label, on the bottom left corner of the first page in the book.

It reads, “W.B. Clarke & Co., Booksellers & Stationers, Boston.” I was unable to find much information about this bookseller, except that they had two or three different locations in Boston, and that they do not seem to exist anymore.

Additionally, rather than there being just one author, many different authors all contributed to the book. It was all compiled and edited by a man named Charles Peters, who also edited The Girl’s Own Indoor Book. His name is the only one listed on the title page, which makes me think that he had the most influence on what ended up in this book, and made most of the decisions about what was included. While the names of the authors of different sections or chapters of the book are mentioned in the table of contents, they are in much smaller print and do not stand out from the rest of the text on the page, the way that Charles Peters’ name does on the title page. The individual authors themselves do not seem to have much importance; what matters is the content of the book and the name of the editor. The name “Charles Peters” may have been a selling point for these books.

According to WorldCat, Peters was an active author and editor from 1880 to 1907, and has 21 works in 57 publications. Virtually all of his works are handy books for girls that relate to education and domestic responsibilities. This tells us that as an editor, he was well-versed in working on books of this type, and it seems to have been his main area of work.

As for the make of the book itself, the cover and binding feel like they are made of cloth-covered cardboard. It feels sturdy, like the book was meant to last, but the book is also obviously well-worn and has been used a lot. The cloth is a dark blue-grey color, and is frayed around the edges. Within the book, the text is typed in medium-sized, easy-to-read font, with normal margins. The text of the table of contents is slightly different. It is more closely packed together, and is all in capital letters. The text is also smaller there than it is in the rest of the book. Again, this suggests that the content of the book is what matters rather than the authors who contributed to the content.

This table of contents suggests that the book is not meant to be read the whole way through, but rather read as more of a reference book, allowing the reader to pick and choose which sections they actually want to read. The binding of the book appears to be the original binding, but the pages inside are actually pulling away from the spine of the book and starting to fall out. The pages are also uneven along the edge, but it is unclear whether this comes from the lack of support from the spine or if it is how the book was bound originally.

Based on all of this information, it seems that The Girl’s Own Outdoor Book was edited and published by people whose focus was specifically on this type of book, and that it was a well-used reference book, probably used in a home.