Falvey Memorial Library's Special Collections and Digital Library proudly presents the fully digitized autobiographical manuscript of 19th century American, Samuel Alanson Lane. Leather-bound and handwritten in ink, this one-of-a-kind manuscript has become a historical gem among the many treasures digitally donated to the Digital Library. But perhaps what is the most priceless feature of this manuscript is the unique insight this 450 page autobiography offers historians and history lovers: a depiction of 19th century American life by an average man.
In order to present this insider's look at a fascinating period in American history, a team of librarians, students, interns and volunteers worked on both digitally scanning this manuscript from cover to cover, as well as meticulously transcribing Lane's every word. This online exhibit was created in order to highlight the exciting journey of one man’s life, in order to educate and inform those who want to learn more about the zeitgeist of 19th century America.
Lane's first person accounts, describing the many historical happenings during the 19th century, are a great resource for researchers seeking a fresh perspective of this period in American history. It is highly recommended for those who enjoy this exhibit to read the full transcription of Lane’s manuscript as it includes many additional heart-warming anecdotes and funny tales not included in this brief preview of his life.
-- Curated by Johanna Hibbs (Father Thomas Middleton Digital Library Intern 2008), with graphic design by Christopher Barr.
Born on the 15th day of June in the year of 1815, Samuel Alanson Lane would become yet another witness to the scientific and technological progress and revolutionary social change that occurred in the 19th century. Born and raised in Suffield, Conn, Lane grew up on a farm and was raised around machinery and tools while his father, Comfort Lane (b. 1783), was an inventor of a version of the cotton gin, aptly named the Suffield Cotton Gin in 1826. In 1826, with the sudden death of his father, S. A. Lane was forced to abandon his school house studies to help provide for his family by working on nearby farms. It was not until 1831, that S. A. Lane left his home in Suffield to go off and work for a couple of store owners in Massachusetts followed by a book canvassing job in the South from 1833-1835. From January in 1835 until May of the same year, Lane travels around the U.S., looking for work in numerous cities including, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland until finally settling in what would become his hometown, Akron, Ohio on June 29, 1835.