The first volume of Leander’s diary, now safely archived

In the first chapter of American Sympathy, my 2001 study of the literary representation of affection between men in the antebellum United States, I wrote about two genteel Quakers in late-18th-century Philadelphia who kept diaries recording their romantic friendship. Their names were John Fishbourne Mifflin and James Gibson, and they went by the cognomens of Leander and Lorenzo, respectively. Gibson’s diary and the second volume of Mifflin’s were, and still are, in the archives of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. (Here’s a link to the catalog entry for the physical diaries, and one page of Leander/Mifflin’s diary has been digitized and is available online here. Rather cleverly, the page that the archivists chose to digitize is the one where Leander/Mifflin begins to describe a rather erotic dream that he had about Lorenzo/Gibson.)

I also had access to the first volume of Leander/Mifflin’s diary, through a photocopy that was loaned to me. This photocopy had been made by a bookseller decades earlier, while appraising a private individual’s collection. For safety’s sake, before returning this photocopy, I made a photocopy for myself. This turned out to be prudent, because the first-generation photocopy that I returned was later lost, and although the person who was thought to be the owner of the original manuscript graciously granted me permission to publish, he later told me that he had never been able to locate the original in his collection. Perhaps the bookseller had been mistaken in his memory of who owned the original. In any case, the second-generation photocopy that I had made became the only copy available to scholars.

Over the years, I sent reproductions of the photocopy to any scholar who asked, including Richard Godbeer, who wrote about the diarists in The Overflowing of Friendship (2013), and Sarah Knott, who wrote about them in Sensibility and the American Revolution (2009), but it made me nervous that I hadn’t made any provision about putting the photocopy into an archive somewhere. When my father-in-law passed away this January, I was reminded of the propriety of taking care of these things sooner rather than later, and at last I emailed the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to ask them if they would take custody of the photocopy. I’m happy to report that they said yes, I sent it, and it arrived safely. It doesn’t seem to be in their online catalog yet, but it’s there, if any scholar wants to consult it.

Of course I made a third-generation photocopy for myself, before I put the second-generation one in the mail.

The View from our window

Matteo Pericoli, Caleb Crain's window in The View from Your Window, 2009

No doubt you have wondered what the mysterious blogger behind Steamboats Are Ruining Everything sees when he looks up from his laptop. The answer (at least when I work at the kitchen table): a lot of sky, and a few backyards in southern Park Slope, Brooklyn. You can see the view for yourself at left, as improved by the art of our friend Matteo Pericoli. Having drawn Manhattan from the inside and the outside, Matteo has returned to draw New York as sixty-three of its writers, architects, designers, and producers see it, in a book titled The City Out My Window. Besides our window in higher-fi, and a few of my thoughts about it, the book features the windows of Mario Batali, Stephen Colbert, Nico Muhly, and Lorin Stein. Matteo promised not to show the interior of anyone's home, and he doesn't, but the views are strangely revelatory anyway—inside-out Peeping-Tomism, somehow. For further sample peeks, including the views of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Wynton Marsalis, check out Matteo's website.