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Eleanor Peale Jacobs commonplace book

Identifier: MSS 0093-Item 0064

Scope and Contents

This mid-nineteenth century American commonplace book was created by Eleanor Peale Jacobs (1805-1877) of Philadelphia and New York, with contributions from various friends and members of the artistic Peale family, who copied extracts of poetry and prose throughout. The volume also contains calligraphic writing and several ink watercolor illustrations.

Although this commonplace book belonged to Eleanor Peale Jacobs, several other people contributed entries, as shown by the variety of handwriting styles and initials accompanying poems. Most of the entries are extracts of poems composed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, many of which were published in popular literary magazines, including Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, and The Ladies’ Literary Cabinet. At least two poems appear to be from The Winter’s Wreath, an annual gift book published in the late 1820s. The entries include meditations on beauty, death, music, solitude, religion, and friendship. Although most of the poems are unattributed, Peale Jacobs does identify John Pierpont, Lord Byron (“Ld. B.”), and Jane Roscoe Hornblower (“Miss Roscoe”). The volume also includes Clement Clarke Moore’s “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” with a reference to the Troy Sentinel, where Moore’s poem was first published in 1823. Extracts of work by Robert Burns, Thomas Moore, and Sir Walter Scott are also included.

Most of the entries appear to be from the 1820s, although only a few are dated. The first dated poem is “Lines on the Death of Spencer,” by James Montgomery, inscribed “New York Jany 1825 A.M.” A poem entitled “Written at Sea” near the end of the volume is inscribed “L.H.A. Melrose, March 6th 1859.” Untitled poems attributed to “E. Jacobs” are also found near the end of the volume.

The volume is bound with red leather over boards. Both the front and back covers feature gilt-stamped decorative borders. The spine also bears gilt decoration and the word “EXTRACT” in gold letters. The page edges are gilded. The volume has blue marbled endpapers and flyleaves. On the inside of the front cover, there is a red leather label with the words “Miss ELEANOR PEALE.” in gold surrounded by a gold decorative border. A pencil sketch of a woman has been pinned to the first page of the volume. The following pages read “MISS ELEANOR PEALE. N:YORK” and “A BOOK FOR EXTRACTS” in calligraphic text. There are several ink drawings and watercolor illustrations throughout the manuscript. The volume consists of 106 leaves of unlined paper, many of which feature the watermark “BUTLERS & WARD/1818”. The final 22 leaves are blank.


  • Creation: approximately 1820 to 1860


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce isrequired from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical / Historical

This volume was likely created by Eleanor Peale Jacobs (1805-1877), daughter of artist Rembrandt Peale and Eleanor Short Peale. The Peale family was based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but Rembrandt Peale made several lengthy trips to New York City in the early 1820s in search of work. These sojourns may explain the inscription reading “MISS ELEANOR PEALE. N:YORK” at the front of the volume. Eleanor Peale Jacobs probably returned to Philadelphia in early 1825; a poem entitled “Lines on the Death of Spencer” is inscribed “New York Jany 1825 A.M.,” but “The Criminal,” copied several pages later, is dated “Philadelphia Feby 27th 1825, CHM.”

Eleanor Peale married Thomas H. Jacobs in October 1825 at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia. The initials “T.H.J.” can be found following entries dated 1826 and 1828. An untitled poem near the end of the volume is inscribed “T.A.J. Philadelphia,” possibly an attribution to Peale Jacobs’s son, Thomas Angelo Jacobs.

Although most of the entries in this commonplace book are extracts copied from books of poetry and literary magazines, Peale Jacobs may have composed several poems near the end of the volume. Two untitled poems meditating on sin and temptation are signed “E. Jacobs.”

Eleanor Peale Jacobs died in 1877 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Hevner, Carol Eaton and Lillian B. Miller. Rembrandt Peale, 1778-1860: A Life in the Arts. Philadelphia: The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1985.Hornblower, Jane Elizabeth Roscoe. Poems, By One of the Authors of “Poems for Youth, By A Family Circle.” London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1820.Lloyd, Charles. “Nugae Canore.” Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. VI, No. XXXII, November 1819.Moore, Thomas. Melodies, Songs, Sacred Songs, and National Airs. New York: George Long, 1821.Pierpont, John. Airs of Palestine; A Poem. Baltimore: Published for the Author, 1816. “The Blind Mother.” The Ladies’ Literary Cabinet, Vol. I, No. 6, June 19, 1819.A New and Complete Edition of the Works of James Montgomery Vol. 1. Salem, NY: Peter A. Johnson, 1817.The Winter’s Wreath for 1828. London: George B. Whittaker, 1828.The Winter’s Wreath for 1829. London: George B. Whittaker, 1829.“Written in a Small Volume, the Gift of a Deceased Friend.” The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, Vol. II. London: Henry Colburn & Co., 1821.Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Historical Society of Pennsylvania. (accessed via on February 27, 2017)U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970 (accessed via on February 27, 2017)Byron, George Gordon. “Stanzas to Jessy”, July 1807 (accessed February 27, 2017) Auctioneers, Rembrandt Peale, “Landscape with Figure” (accessed February 27, 2017), Don. “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ Began in Troy.” (accessed March 1, 2017)“The Sisters (Eleanor and Rosalba Peale)” (accessed February 27, 2017) Information derived from the collection.


1 volume : 106 leaves ; 25 cm


This mid-nineteenth-century American commonplace book was created by Eleanor Peale Jacobs (1805-1877) of Philadelphia and New York, with contributions from various friends and members of the artistic Peale family, who copied extracts of poetry and prose throughout. The volume also contains calligraphic writing and several ink and watercolor illustrations.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Rockefeller Fund, 1955

Related Materials

This item forms part of MSS 0093 Commonplaces, Albums, and Scrapbooks collection.

Shelving Summary

Item 0064: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0093

Processing Information

Processed and encoded by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, July 2017.

Finding aid for Eleanor Peale Jacobs commonplace book
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2017 July 14
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

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