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[Detail] Daniel A. P. Murray. Photographer unknown. Photo, undated

1) Persuasive Argument

This collection is an excellent resource for studying persuasive literature and the techniques authors use to put forth an argument. Using the pamphlets, students can analyze the strength and persuasiveness of an author's argument. Students can search in other parts of the collection or other sources for evidence that the author's arguments or causes bore fruit over time. Using the collection, students might create their own pamphlets on contemporary issues of importance to them.

2) Poetry and Prose

The collection offers poetry and prose useful for studying themes such as courage and risk, achieving independence, vision and ideals, self reliance, friendship and love, family, growth and change, loss and recovery, corruption and consequences. For example, one poem evokes the dramatic story of a slave auction where a son is separated from his mother and sold. The poem is both an example of 19th century poetry and a poignant piece on the themes of family, loss, and consequences (of the slave system).

Search on poems for selections such as,

THE SLAVE MOTHER (Begins on page no. 6)

Heard you that shriek? It rose
So wildly on the air,
It seem'd as if a burden'd heart
Was breaking in despair.
Saw you those hands so sadly clasped--
The bowed and feeble head--
The shuddering of that fragile form--
That look of grief and dread?
Saw you the sad, imploring eye?
Its every glance was pain,

As if a storm of agony
Were sweeping through the brain.
She is a mother pale with fear,
Her boy clings to her side,
And in her kyrtle vainly tries
His trembling form to hide.
He is not hers, although she bore
For him a mother's pains;
He is not hers, although her blood
is coursing through his veins!
He is not hers, for cruel hands
May rudely tear apart
The only wreath of household love
That binds her breaking heart.
His love has been a joyous light
That o'er her pathway smiled,
A fountain gushing ever new,
Amid life's desert wild.
His lightest word has been a tone
Of music round her heart,
Their lives a streamlet blent in one--
Oh, Father! must they part?
They tear him from her circling arms,
Her last and fond embrace:--
Oh! never more may her sad eyes
Gaze on his mournful face.
No marvel, then, these bitter shrieks
Disturb the listening air;
She is a mother, and her heart
Is breaking in despair.

From the pamphlet: "Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects," by Harper,
Frances Ellen Watkins, 1825-1911