The Idiosyncratic Index Subjects of Harbottle Dorr, Jr.

By Peter K. Steinberg, Collection Services

Part of the Harbottle Dorr, Jr. Annotated Newspaper project has been to transcribe and encode for presentation and searching at our website his interesting and detailed indexes. In the process, we took special notice of those subject headings that were quirky, weird, and–to our “modern” sensibilities–humorous.

There are four volumes, as you now know. (If you do not, read more about Dorr’s newpaper collection here.) At the time of this post, three of these indexes have been completely transcribed and encoded for display on our website, and we are working feverishly on the fourth — the last and longest volume. This is the first of two posts on Dorr’s idiosyncratic index terms in volumes one and two; a second post later this year will feature some entries from the third and fourth volumes.

In the Index examples below, we have kept true to Dorr’s spellings and abbreviations, which, because he worked on the indexes while running his shop, can include “misspelt” words.  The general structure of the index is similar to that found in a book: index term(s) followed by a page number.

Volume 1
Eater a remarkable one yt had 3 Stomachs 21
Frost bitten person’s Receipe for 10
Hutchinson Govr. censured by the House, as having a Lust of Ambition and Power 581
Irish Blunders of two that fought a Dad 13
Lunatic’s sensible reply 13
North Carolina Men kill Beaver & make uneasiness 49
Printers on their bad Spelling 32
Prediction of Good News 279
Toms desire 174
Vampres (Vampyres) Account of 49
Vampres (Vampyres) Essay against 55

Volume 2
Address of the Lords To the young Ladies of Boston, desiring them to beware of bad Company. 386
Addresses, absurdity of them in general. 455
Anarchy better than Tyranny. 222. 759. 771.
Bleeding at the Nose a Remarkable Cure for it. 641
Dogs, Mad. 729. 778.
Mulberry Trees the methods of Cultivating them. &c. 194. 457. 580.
Pimps and Cooks appointed to Places in America 21.
Suns, or fixed Stars, their appearance continually encreasing, proves that there are millions of habitable Words 679. 702. 705
Toads, a Cure for Cancers. 211.

Some of these terms, no doubt, have relevance today. Some terms–if applied today in a news story–might even tender a person instant, though ultimately ephemeral, Twitter or YouTube fame.

In early 2013, MHS will present page images of all the annotated newspapers assembled by Harbottle Dorr and the index pages he created.  The images of the actual index pages that we will present in early 2013 should be clear enough to read as Dorr’s handwriting is generally neat. However, the MHS will provide a transcription of Dorr’s index pages, and in the transcription each of the page numbers will be hyperlinked, taking you directly to the page referenced.