2. Various spines of conduct of life and etiquette books for men from the 1830s-1850s. 1. Timothy Shay Arthur, Advice to Young Men on Their Duties and Conduct in Life (Boston, 1848). 2-3. William Alcott. Young Man’s Guide (Boston: Lilly, Wait, Colman, & Holden, 1833). 4. American Gentleman: True Politeness / By an American gentleman. (New York: Leavitt and Allen, 1848). Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. Spines of two black books with worn and elaborately decorated covers. The book on the left is black with gold ornamentation and reads, “Young Man’s Guide,” while the book to the right is black with raised botanical motifs and reads, “American Gentleman.”


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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