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Barbourville (Ky.) Debating Society minutes, 1837-1839, 1922, 1954

3 volumes

The Barbourville (Ky.) Debating Society minutes concern the group's weekly meetings in the late 1830s. Each set of minutes contains attendees' names, the number of affirmative and negative votes regarding that week's question, and the next week's discussion topic. Members discussed subjects related to national and state politics, finances, penal codes, gender, and morality.

The Barbourville (Ky.) Debating Society minutes (122 pages) concern the group's weekly meetings between May 27, 1837, and November 16, 1839, with breaks between November 18, 1837-March 10, 1838, and August 4, 1838-March 30, 1839. The first entry and those that immediately follow the breaks contain the society's 3 constitutions. In addition to meeting minutes, the volume includes a 2-page membership list.

Most sets of weekly minutes list the names of attending members, the names of members selected to debate that meeting's assigned topic, the results of the society's vote, and the topic to be discussed at the following meeting. The minutes also reflect administrative matters settled during meetings, frequently regarding the admittance of new members and the election of officers. The Barbourville Debating Society mainly discussed political matters; some topics were debated on multiple occasions. Issues for debate included banking and taxation, the death penalty, revision of the Kentucky constitution, the admission of Texas to the Union, the relative worth of wealth and talent, the intellectual capacity of men and women, foreign immigration to the United States, the propriety of sanctioning divorces, and the desired amount of government funding for education and infrastructure. On at least two occasions, the society considered whether Native American removal or slavery was the greater evil, and on one occasion they considered whether the United States government could be justified in its actions against the Seminole tribe (July 13, 1839). The society also debated the legacies of politicians such as Andrew Jackson and Napoleon Bonaparte, and discussed the possibility of Henry Clay running for president in 1840.

The Barbourville (Ky.) Debating Society minutes arrived at the Clements Library with two published volumes:

Debating Society minutes, [ca. 1884-1885]

1 volume

This volume contains the text of two debates held by a debating society during the latter half of the nineteenth century. The society compared the relative merits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and discussed whether men and women have equal mental capacities.

This manuscript book of a late 19th-century meeting of an unknown debating society contains the text of two debates. The first argument (76 pages) was to debate whether George Washington or Abraham Lincoln was "the greater man." Individual speakers, whose names have often been added in pencil, are identified as supporting either Washington or Lincoln. Those who advocated for Washington concentrated on his military service and his role in establishing the United States. One repeated argument in his favor, for example, was his refusal to accept a royal title after leading the Continental Army to victory over British forces. Those who favored Lincoln focused on his character, decisions made during the Civil War, and eventual martyrdom. The matter was taken to a vote following an argument that both presidents deserved to be lauded. The middle of this debate is marked by a brief foray into Constitutional issues, particularly the advisability of introducing amendments, though the argument soon returned to its original topic. An additional argument in favor of Washington, written on a separate piece of paper, is placed inside the book's front cover.

Five newspaper clippings are inserted into the volume:
  • "Abraham Lincoln: Lord of Himself, Leader of Others," laid into the front of the volume (undated)
  • "Dallas Academy and Washington's Birthday," containing the program for the Philomethean Society's celebration of George Washington's 152nd birthday, pasted into the volume (1884)
  • "Stand Points in the Life and Times of Washington," containing extracts from a speech delivered by Erastus Brooks on February 22, 1866, pinned into a page in the volume (undated)
  • "Washington's Birthday," commemorating the 153rd anniversary of George Washington's birth, pasted into the volume (1885)
  • Untitled article examining aspects of Abraham Lincoln's character, pasted into the volume (undated)

The second debate (50 pages) concerned a comparison of the "Mental Capacities of the Sexes," specifically whether the minds of women are equal to those men. After heated debate, centered on the more prominent historical roles of men and the impact of women in the domestic and maternal spheres, the group decided overwhelmingly ("Loud cries of All, All") that the genders did share equivalent mental capacities. This debate was briefly interrupted following a general outcry over contentious remarks made by a man named Spooner.


Lyman Wheeler diaries, 1852-1855

2 volumes

Lyman Wheeler of western New York wrote two diaries from February 1852 to June 1855, recording his experiences as a house painter, teacher, and adherent of medical practices like phrenology, hydrotherapy, and vegetarianism. He wrote of his social, intellectual, and professional activities in the region, and described trips he took to cities and towns in western New York and New York City. The second volume includes much content related to his involvement in the "water cure," including time as both a patient and worker at the Forestville Water Cure, and a visit to the Orange Mountain Water Cure in New Jersey.

Lyman Wheeler of western New York wrote two diaries from February 1852 to June 1855, recording his experiences as a house painter, teacher, and adherent of medical practices like phrenology, hydrotherapy, and vegetarianism. He wrote of his social, intellectual, and professional activities in the region, and described trips he took to cities and towns in western New York and New York City. The second volume includes much content related to his involvement in the "water cure," including time as both a patient and worker at the Forestville Water Cure and a visit to the Orange Mountain Water Cure in New Jersey.

Volume 1 opens in February 1852 with Lyman Wheeler working as a house painter in Buffalo, New York. In addition to describing his work and its negative impact on his health, Wheeler also commented on the social scene in Buffalo, including religious services, lectures, concerts, and steamer arrivals. He occasionally described buildings in detail and mentioned notable events, like the visit of Lajos Kossuth (1802-1894) in May 1852, viewing "Mr. Craven's Panorama of a voyage to California..." (June 6, 1852), a funeral procession for Henry Clay (July 6, 1852), and events like fires, trials, and cholera (June 29, 1852).

In July 1852, Wheeler took up residence in Villenova, New York, where he helped family with farming, painted houses and buggies, and in November 1852 secured a teaching position, which he held through March 1853. While in Villenova, he wrote about his daily activities; religious activities; visits to nearby towns like Dayton, Fredonia, and Forestville; his dissatisfaction with the town's morals, education, and intemperance; lawsuits; and musings about women and marriage. In January 1853, Wheeler appears to have been participating in a debate group, which discussed issues like capital punishment, immigration, the relative merits of Christopher Columbus and George Washington, the abolition of slavery, and others. In mid-July 1854, Wheeler travelled to New York City, and he described his journey there and back. While in the city he saw a procession with President Franklin Pierce (1804-1869); visited P. T. Barnum's Museum, describing the "Whiskered woman" in detail; went to the Crystal Palace; attended Fowlers & Wells Phrenological Cabinet and had L. N. Fowler perform a phrenological exam of his head; and visited other tourist attractions.

Throughout the volume, Wheeler commented about temperance efforts and his displeasure at alcohol usage, and occasionally referenced other reform movements like the Graham diet (April 12, 1852) and abolitionism. He wrote frequently about his health, describing himself as an "invalid" (June 14, 1852), and wrote of his efforts to manage his wellbeing, including purchasing medicines. On May 4, 1853, Wheeler commented about his interest in phrenology, calling it "one of the sciences that is to aid much in the great work of reform that must be carried on to ameliorate the condition of mankind." His investment in the field appeared to be growing, as he noted arguing with "opposers" (May 27, 1853; June 1, 1853), attending the "Phrenological Cabinet" in New York City, and having an exam performed (July 18, 1853 and July 21, 1853).

This volume also includes a description of the Crystal Palace on the first page, and several original poems composed by Wheeler are interspersed.

Volume 2 begins with Lyman Wheeler in Hanover, New York, on December 3, 1853. Wheeler was engaged with teachers' institutes, which gave lectures and debates on instructional issues, and he was teaching his own school. Throughout the volume, he continued to visit school districts and attend lectures and meetings relating to education, including a lecture by Horace Greeley (December 9, 1854). He actively attended religious services, critiquing the social scene, and engaging with temperance affairs.

Lyman Wheeler continued to experience poor health and was often frustrated at being unable to pursue steady work. He attempted to find medical remedies. On January 7, 1854, Wheeler made the acquaintance of Dr. Charles Parker of Forestville, who presided over a water cure program, and by April 9, 1854, Wheeler had begun treatment. Wheeler described the treatments he received, their impact on his health, other patients, and his general thoughts on the water cure and the connection between the mind and body. At several times throughout the year, he made agreements with the doctors and administrators to allow him to stay on the premises, possibly in exchange for labor. He commented on the sense of community he experienced at "the cure." He also explored other medical avenues, including vegetarianism (May 10, 1854; February 1, 1855) and phrenology. He subscribed to phrenological journals and critiqued people's diets regularly.

When not undergoing treatment, Wheeler continued to work as a painter and at shingling. In June 1854, he travelled to Bolton, Connecticut, where he helped with farm labor and visited nearby locales. He described stops along the way, including in Buffalo where he and his travelling companion made make-shift baths using a washtub. While in New York City, he visited Fowlers & Wells Cabinet and Bookshop, and in Connecticut, he visited several cities, including Hartford and New Haven, where he attended events like 4th of July celebrations, a balloon ascension, and religious services. On his return journey, he again stopped in New York City, where he contracted as a book agent for Fowlers and Wells (see July 13-15, 1854) and proceeded to attempt to sell books in New Jersey, unsuccessfully. He went on to stay at the South Orange Water Cure, also called the Orange Mountain Water Cure. He described the facilities, the labor he performed there, and other patients (July 17-31, 1854), before returning to New York where he investigated other publishers he could contract with as a book agent and visited the Crystal Palace. On his travels back to western New York, Wheeler noted a circus at Bridgewater, New York (August 8, 1854).

Wheeler again took up residence at the Forestville Water Cure in late September 1854, working as “Bath Man & Servant of the Sick & the Afflicted” (September 26, 1854), and he wrote commentary on the patients. On December 8, 1854, Wheeler described the accidental burning of the Forestville Water Cure due to a stove fire. Wheeler stayed in the area, maintaining his interest in baths, vegetable diet, and temperate living. He commented on social visits and occurrences, including the trial of Elam Hoag for assault and battery on Rosaltha House, and the books he was reading (February 3, 1855). After a tour around several sites in western New York, Wheeler briefly stayed in Jamestown, New York, in March 1855, working at the new water cure Dr. Parker had established, before returning to Villenova.

Additional content in volume two includes a recipe for medicinal treatments for warts and corns (on the inside front cover), an entry for a "Great Rail Road Route To the Pacific," and an original poem penned by Wheeler (July 9, 1854). Near the end of the volume, Wheeler copied three articles from the "Universalist Code of Faith" and listed out details of his students in Hanover from November 23, 1853, to February 8, 1854.


Upjohn family papers, 1795-1916

3.3 linear feet (in 4 boxes)

Papers collected by Robert U. Redpath and Richard U. Light of the Upjohn family of upstate New York and western Michigan, founders of the Upjohn Company. Daybooks, daily journals, sermon notes, and journal of trip to America and on the Erie Canal in 1830 of William Upjohn.

This collection, accumulated by Robert U. Redpath and Richard U. Light, consists largely of papers of William Upjohn, born in England, who migration to New York in 1830. Much of the material dates from before the passage to America, and includes sermons, daybooks and journals, and material relating to his work as surveyor and timber appraiser. The materials after 1830 concern his passage to his eventual home in upper New York State and to his business endeavors. Of interest is a folder of the minutes of the Greenbush Debating Society in 1833. In addition, there is a series consisting of papers (mainly photocopied) of other family members, including correspondence, Civil War materials, and miscellanea. A final series is comprised of various medical volumes owned by Upjohn family members.

Transcripts for diaries of William Upjohn written from 1820 to 1826 were added to the collection in 2019.