Interesting Discoveries in Stainforth Scrapbooks

While Stainforth kept a very detailed catalog of his collection of women’s writing, he also kept personal scrapbooks with clippings of smaller pieces of writing. Scrapbooking was a common hobby during his time, and people would often exchange them with eachother. The pieces in Stainforths are all written by women and are by and large poetry. While researching the book, I made some interesting (and humorous) findings, of which I will share a few. 

Firstly, Stainforth included many handwritten notes and letters which are extremely useful in helping us learn more about his collection process. One letter that stood out came from a convent on the Isle of Mann, in which the person writing (yet to be identified) explains to Stainforth that they have sent him the newest tracts from the Isle. Upon further digging, we discovered that Stainforth had possible relatives on the Island, possibly explaining his vast collection of writing from the area. Below is an excerpt from the letter.

Next, a ballad with sheet music, entitled “The College Petition. Stainforth collected many hymns and odes, but very few including the sheet music. The pamphlet states that James Clarke wrote the music, but upon further inspection, Stainforth left a handwritten note indicating that the author of the song was a woman named Jane Prospect. I found this rather interesting as she has no personal record in his catalog, and we were unable to find any other information on her online. Perhaps this means that he knew her personally, and wanted to ensure that she was given some form of credit for her writing.  

The pamphlet came from St. Paul’s Church Yard, which we know was less than a mile away from Stainforth’s parish. It is also worth noting that this area was a major hub for the printing and publishing industry, as well as a meeting place for the religious community. To learn more about the Geographical landscape of Stainforth, please see Susan Guinn-Chipman project here

Lastly, a rather humorous poem immediately caught my attention, the title: “When Lovers Come to Woo A Girl,” author: unknown. The short poem describes how young men attempt to “woo” a young woman, through rather lackluster methods. At the end of the poem, the girl answered his question (which I take as a proposal, but interpretations may vary) with a simple: “fa la la la l, &e, &c”, an incredible response. While this is by no means a literary masterpiece, it gives insight into the depth and variety of writing that Stainforth collected. 

These scrapbooks have been a lot of fun to look through and research, and have helped us learn more about how Stainforth collected work and corresponded with authors. We look forward to continuing to unpack the contents of these scrapbooks and comparing them with the data in our database.

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