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InfoGuides | Pepperdine Libraries

American Literature in Special Collections: 17th & 18th Century Literature

An overview highlighting 19th, 20th, and 21st American literature and poetry held in Pepperdine's Special Collections. Compilation includes first editions and copies with inscriptions from writers.

17th & 18th Century American Literature

Prior to the 19th century, few “novels” as we know them in their modern form were published and circulating throughout American society. Toward the end of the 18th century, writers began to publish more novel-like works. Before the novel established its presence and popularity, writings such as essays, magazines, newspapers, memoirs, and journal-like accounts were more common. The Puritan and Great Awakening movements designated this era as religiously-significant, and much of the corresponding literature addresses religious traditions and morals. Following a religion-dominated 17th century was the Enlightenment movement of the 18th century, during which writers produced works of reason, logic, and challenge to the long-accepted norms. Featured here are four 17th-18th century American works: two nonfiction, journal-like accounts; one nonfiction informative piece; and an 18th century newspaper copy.

Samuel Hopkins

Memoirs of the Life of Mrs. Sarah Osborn: Who Died at Newport, Rhodeisland, on the Second Day of August 1796, in the Eighty Third Year of Her Age by Samuel Hopkins
Call Number: BR1725.O7 H6
Hopkins, Samuel, et al. Memoirs of the Life of Mrs. Sarah Osborn : Who Died at Newport, Rhodeisland, on the Second Day of August 1796, in the Eighty Third Year of Her Age. Printed at Worcester, Massachusetts by Leonard Worcester, 1799.
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First edition memoir of Mrs. Sarah Osborn written by Samuel Hopkins, Pastor of the First Congregational Church in Newport, Rhode Island. The novel is comprised of four sections: “Part I: Containing an Account of the first thirty years of her Life;” “Part II: Containing a general Account of her Life;” “Part III: Extracts from her Diary;” and “Part IV: The Conclusion of her Life.” Hopkins was of the early Congregationalist clergy members to become staunchly anti-slavery and pro-abolition. His progressive theological beliefs polarized him and his “New Light” congregation from more traditional groups and pastors. Through her memoirs, Osborn became an influential voice of American Protestantism and Evangelical Christianity.

Thomas Story

A Journal of the Life of Thomas Story, Containing an Account of His Remarkable Convincement of and Embracing the Principles of Truth As Held by the People Called Quakers and Also of His Travels and Labours in the Service of the Gospel, with Many Other Occurrences and Observations by Thomas Story
Call Number: Oversize BX7795.S82 A3 1747 
Story, Thomas. A Journal of the Life of Thomas Story: Containing an Account of His Remarkable Convincement of and Embracing the Principles of Truth As Held by the People Called Quakers and Also of His Travels and Labours in the Service of the Gospel, with Many Other Occurrences and Observations. Printed by I. Thompson, 1747.
18th-century book written by Thomas Story offering theological perspective and wisdom. At the start of the account, Story presents his intentions of the book: “That which I intend by the following Work, is, to record the tender Mercies and Judgements of the Lord; to relate my own Experience of his Dealings with me thro’ the Course of my Life; and to write a faithful Journal of Travels and Labours in the Service of the Gospel: Which I design for my own Review; and likewise for the serious Perusal of all those who may incline to enquire into Things of this Nature.”  
Thomas Story was born in 1670 to an Anglican family in England. By young adulthood, he began to question the Anglican practice and strove to challenge and strengthen his own spirituality with new perspectives. In 1691 at the Broughton Quaker Meeting, Story felt overwhelmed by the spirit of God and Truth. Over the years following, he traveled throughout Europe spreading Quaker ideology and eventually moved to colonial America to help strengthen and grow the Quaker communities there.

William Penn

A Brief Account of the Rise and Progress of the People Called Quakers: In Which Their Fundamental Principle, Doctrines, Worship, Ministry and Discipline, Are Plainly Declared. with a Summary Relation of the Former Dispensations of God in the World by William Penn
Call Number: BX7617.P5 B7 1783
Penn, William, et al. A Brief Account of the Rise and Progress of the People Called Quakers: In Which Their Fundamental Principle, Doctrines, Worship, Ministry and Discipline, Are Plainly Declared. with a Summary Relation of the Former Dispensations of God in the World. 7th ed., James Adams, 1783.
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Seventh edition book written by William Penn, originally published in 1694. In this text Penn accounts for the establishment and growth of the Quaker community, discussing the following topics: the Christian God and the appointing of the Quaker people; the practices, doctrines, and principles of the Quaker people and Church; the process and credibility of Quaker ministry; and a list of incitements or exhortations for the Quaker community.
William Penn was a late 17th-century, early 18th-century politician, writer, and Quaker. Though born into an Anglican family, Penn was close friends with George Fox, the founder of the Quaker practice (also known as the Religious Society of Friends) and joined the religious sect at the age of 22. Penn traveled with Fox throughout Europe assisting him in spreading the Quaker faith and wrote several testimonies of Quaker ideology. 
 

Thomas' Massachusetts Spy

Thomas's Massachusetts Spy, or, Worcester Gazette; vol. XIV, no. 704, Thursday, October 14, 1784 
Thomas Massachusetts Spy, or, Worcester Gazette 14 October 1784. Print. 
October 14th, 1784 edition of the Massachusetts Spy, a political New England newspaper founded by Isaiah Thomas in 1770. The Massachusetts Spy, later known as the Worcester Gazette, appealed to working class communities who “had not much time to spare from business” (Thomas, qtd. in Patrick Olson Rare Books). All throughout the colonies, the Massachusetts Spy was the most popular American newspaper. Thomas’ support of the Whig party and independence from Britain was evident in the newspaper, prompting resistance and trouble from British authorities.
The masthead or header of this edition was engraved by Paul Revere, featuring images and the following text: “LIBERTY DEFENDED FROM TYRANNY;” “THOMAS’S Massachusetts Spy: OR, WORCESTER GAZETTE;” “UNION.” This edition contains a variety of written texts and advertisements, including the following: “a petition from Almassa Ali Cawn, wife of Almas Ali Cawn, whom the British cruelly executed in India, marking an early appearance of a letter frequently reprinted between 1784 and 1790. Also includes news of various affairs in Europe; the Bombardment of Algiers (“A prodigious number of people are slain...The Jews all went into the back country, with their treasures, before the Spanish fleet arrived”); fashion updates; reports from various parts of the US; and a continuation of William Robertson’s History of America” (Patrick Olson Rare Books).

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