5. Frontispiece and title page for Calamus: A Series of Letters Written during the Years 1868-1880 by Walt Whitman to a Young Friend (Peter Doyle,. ed. R.M. Bucke (Boston, 1897). The frontispiece shows a drawing of Whitman and Doyle together, Doyle standing on the left, his hand loosely draped over Whitman’s near shoulder, and looking at the viewer with a black derby hat, black mustache, three-piece suit, and a cravat. Whitman appears seated on the right, looking at Doyle, with a broad-brimmed hat, white beard, big coat buttoned-up, and his hands in his pockets. The caption reads, “Walt Whitman and Peter Doyle drawn by H.D. Young from a photograph taken by Rice at Washington, D.C., in 1869. On the title page, between title and publisher, an excerpt from “Calamus” is quoted: “Publish my name and hang up my picture as that of the tenderest lover,/The friend, the lover’s portrait of whom his friend his lover was fondest,/Who was not proud of his songs but of the measureless ocean of love within him and freely poured it forth.”


Welcome to Commonplace, a destination for exploring and exchanging ideas about early American history and culture. A bit less formal than a scholarly journal, a bit more scholarly than a popular magazine, Commonplace speaks—and listens—to scholars, museum curators, teachers, hobbyists, and just about anyone interested in American history before 1900. It is for all sorts of people to read about all sorts of things relating to early American life—from architecture to literature, from politics to parlor manners. It’s a place to find insightful analysis of early American history as it is discussed in scholarly literature, as it manifests on the evening news, as it is curated in museums, big and small; as it is performed in documentary and dramatic films and as it shows up in everyday life.

In addition to critical evaluations of books and websites (Reviews) and poetic research and fiction (Creative Writing), our articles explore material and visual culture (Objects); pedagogy, the writing of literary scholarship, and the historian’s craft (Teach); and diverse aspects of America’s past and its many peoples (Learn). For more great content, check out our other projects, (Just Teach One) and (Just Teach One African American Print).


How to cite Commonplace articles:

Author, “Title of Article,” Commonplace: the journal of early American life, date accessed, URL.

Sophie White, “Trading Looks Race, Religion and Dress in French America,” Commonplace: the journal of early American life, accessed September 30, 2019, https://commonplace.online/article/trading-looks-race-religion-dress-french-america/


Joshua R. Greenberg, editor


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