The Dreadful Scrapbook

In August of 2002 a curious book came into my possession. It was a fairly nondescript textbook from the Victorian era. The book was "Seventy Lessons In Civil Government", written by Calvin Townshend in 1875. The book was strangely bowed, and could not close, however. This was due to there being far more pages inside of it than the binding could contain. The book's owner had pasted newspaper articles inside, using the textbook as a scrapbook. The name "Edna M." is signed in pencil on an end-paper, but whether "Edna M." was the textbook's original owner or the scrapbook maker is unknown.

The articles chosen for the scrapbook are all stories of gruesome deaths, obituaries, catastrophes, disasters, murders, tragedies, and crimes. There are no dates present on most stories, however the first entries place the beginning of the collection at December 30th, 1894 and the last entry is dated March 6, 1895.


There are 214 pages of entries, with each page averaging four articles. Entries are mostly from the Mid-Atlantic region, with Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York contributing the most content.

Age has been fairly kind to the book, but it is now showing signs of deterioration. Some articles are beginning to come loose, and I am unsure the best method to repair them.

Before time begins to claim this one-hundred thirty-six year old book, I thought it best to preserve it digitally and make it available for everyone.

I am only one man engaged in this endeavor, but I will continue to scan and annotate the book's contents for posterity. Each article is assigned tags and metadata to help with searches, both within this site and without. To help readers navigate the book there is an index located to the right of this page. As articles are scanned and made available they will appear at the top of the index. Additionally, the site will recommend articles which have similar content to whichever article the reader is currently viewing.

I hope that the book provides a valuable resource beyond the merely puerile indulgences of those of us with morbid curiosities. The contents represent possible links to current families, companies, and communities. The tags and annotations I am providing may help someone to research their ancestry, to place a curious family heirloom, or to answer questions about their home towns. A good example is the fate of a particular cemetery, the Machpelah Cemetery in Philadelphia. It was considered such a menace to public health that the bodies were exhumed and moved to another cemetery named "Graceland." What stands on the site now, one-hundred seventeen years later is a CVS pharmacy.

I appreciate feedback and comments, of course.

Please check in from time to time as the scrapbook grows.


Last Updated ( Thursday, 05 September 2013 11:00 )

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