Ready for another dive into a super cool database you didn’t know you needed? Welcome to the Nineteenth Century Collections Online! As the name implies, this database is focused on primary source documents from the 1800’s, including diaries, letters, military orders, church records, newspapers, and more, all on a variety of hot topics from the era.
Are you a true crime fan interested in learning more about Jack the Ripper? Take a look at The Whitechapel Murders Papers. This collection contains numerous letters to the editor, from concerned citizens in London and throughout England. Here is one letter, from someone named W. Harrison, who claims to have seen on of the murders in their dream. They said they saw two men “of medium height, slim figures and respectably dressed” in their dream, and want detectives to investigate. At that point in time, were the police desperate enough to listen to the dreams on random citizens? You’ll have to read these letters for yourself to find out.
What about those of you studying to be actors, or just particularly enjoy theater history? You’d probably enjoy looking through the British Playbills, 1780-1861 collection. The Drury Lane Theater (which still exists by the way), performed several Shakespeare plays in 1826 and 1827, including Othello, The Merry Wives of Windsor, King Richard III, King Lear, the Merchant of Venice, and Macbeth. Drury Lane was not the only theater company performing Shakespeare either. The Covent Garden Theater spent their 1830/1831 season performing Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, and Henry VIII (advertised here as King Henry VIII).
Perhaps you are a history buff instead? There are several collections relating to the various U.S. Consulates across eastern Asia, including the consul in Bangkok, Siam (now Thailand), the consul in Batavia, Java, Netherlands East Indies (now Jakarta, Java, Indonesia), the consul in Chinkiang, China (now Zhenjiang), the consul in Hong Kong, the consul in Iloilo, Philippines, the consul in Nagasaki, Japan, and more. Each of these collections include letters to military leaders, diplomats in both Asia and America, and even treaties signed between the United States and the various counties seen here.
Utagawa, Sadahide. An American Mercentile Building in Yokohama (Yokohama ijin shokan no zu). 1861, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago.
If you have any interest in learning more about the nineteenth century, the Nineteenth Century Collections Database is a great place to finds some stunning primary source documents. Take some time looking around, and don’t forget, if you every need research help, or help navigating any databases, feel free to call, text, chat, or swing by the Reference Desk and we are more then happy to assist!