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Finding Aid for the E. Stiff Commonplace Book, 1798-1807
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography/History
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: E. Stiff Commonplace Book
    Date (inclusive): 1798-1807
    Collection number: 170/052
    Creator: Stiff, E.
    Extent: 220 leaves : paper ; 28 x 22 cm
    Abstract: This early nineteenth century commonplace book belonged to an Englishwoman, possibly living in Devonshire. Contents are largely poems and hymns, in addition to a few letters, literary excerpts, and riddles.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], E. Stiff Commonplace Book (Collection 170/52). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 4230403 

    Processing Note

    Cataloged by Manushag Powell, with assistance from Jain Fletcher and Laurel McPhee, in the Center For Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), July 2004.


    This commonplace book was the property of an Englishwoman, E. Stiff, perhaps living in Devonshire. References within the text suggest that she lived in Devon in the Southwest of England, in or near Ilfracombe. No specific date of composition is given, but the majority of the material falls in the range of 1798-1807. The author's handwriting and spelling suggest that she was educated. She notes that her great-grandfather is "the Worthy Mr. Brough" of London belonging to the Milliners Company, and some entries suggest that her mother may be a woman named Catharine, living in London. The author's choice of religious writers strongly suggests she was a dissenter.

    Scope and Content

    The content is chiefly religious, though the last third of the volume is more secular and social (letters, riddles, and tombstone inscriptions). The author drew material from popular periodicals, including the Poetical Monitor, Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Magazine. Contents include excerpts from publications attached to known writers, such as Georgiana Cavendish, William Cowper, Robert Fleming, John Hawkesworth, Thomas á Kempis, Joseph Priestly, Isaac Watts, and Henry Kirke White. There is also a large selection of women's writing, most likely transcribed from local friends and acquaintances of the author, including women named Sarah Pennam, Miss Wrayford, and Mrs. Watts, "wife of the Chymist and Druggist in the Strand."
    Layout: The book is divided into two sections. From ff. 1r-72r the author writes from front to back and left to right, but starting at 72v, the author flips the book around and begins to write from the opposite end, so ff. 72v-133v appear written back to front. There are two sets of page numbers, both in pencil and in different hands. One counts leaves, starting from the front of the book and going straight through; the other counts page numbers and depends on the direction of the text.
    Script: Cursive.
    Binding: Bound in vellum.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Genres and Forms of Material


    Related Material

    Bound Manuscripts Collection (Collection 170)  . Available at UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library.