[ed. note: Penn’s unique collections are used every year by countless scholars and students, beginning with today’s piece we will periodically feature posts from some of these researchers.]
Watercolor paintings, pencil drawings, advice essays, and poems by both famous and obscure poets, as well as the signature of a different person on each page…they’re all in the album of Ann Perrin in Penn’s special collections. Perrin’s album is a friendship album, a book for friends to leave any sort of contribution along with their signature. Friendship albums are a little-studied media that became popular in the United States in the antebellum era.
These albums are obscure enough that most library catalogues do not have a unique subject heading for them; Perrin’s is titled a commonplace book and also catalogued as an autograph album. Friendship albums are in fact a creative melding of these two genres. Continue reading