When I was cleaning out my parents’ house, in a drawer wrapped in cloth and tied with pink ribbon, I found three old books—one of those books was Gertrude Richards, my grandmother’s, autograph book from the 1880’s. After looking though the book, I decided that I need to do a little research on autograph books in general. I found that they were common in the 1700’s in Europe among students to collect signatures and information about their friends and teachers. Autograph books were introduced in the United States in the 1800's by immigrants and became particularly popular during and after the Civil War. The owners of the book gave them to their friends, relatives and schoolmates, who in turn might only sign their name, write a poem, or draw a picture.
I went back then and looked more closely at Granny’s book. The first thing I discovered was that it was given to her by her Aunt Emily for Christmas in 1884. I also found that the contents of the book were pretty typical of what I had read about. There were several pages of drawing—a girl by a fence, a fan with the message to stay cool, and this my favorite—a dog and cat. You can see that it was drawn in 1885 by Florence Marvin.
There were also pages that came with pictures already on them. Granny’s cousin, Walter, signed this one. By the way, he was the only male to sign the autograph book.
I am not sure that Agnes Nightingale picked this page because of the bird on it or not, but I thought it was a rather appropriate choice.
There were many poems—which in my research I discovered were available from books, magazines, etc. Here are two.
Other people just signed their names with the date.
while her sister, Floyd, signed one of the pages with a picture on it.