The Early Poems of Sarah Morgan Bryan (Piatt) in The New York Ledger, 1857-1860 (Sarah Piatt Recovery Project)

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The Early Poems of Sarah Morgan Bryan (Piatt) in the New York Ledger, 1857-1860
Professor Elizabeth Renker, The Ohio State University Department of English

This project digitizes for free public access all the known early poems by Sarah Morgan Bryan (Piatt) published in The New York Ledger, one of the blockbuster periodicals of its age, a wildly popular and influential publication with a national circulation. The Ledger brought Sallie's poems to its national readership often on a weekly basis, establishing her as a well-known and indeed celebrity "poetess"—a common term for women poets at this time. This substantial archive of her early work includes 83 poems published between 25 April 1857 and 29 Dec. 1860, poems that are not currently available in any published edition. This site thus makes free to the public the only collection available anywhere of the early poems of Sallie M. Bryan in the Ledger. To date, scholarship has focused on Piatt's poems published after her marriage in 1861. This digital edition thus makes a foundational contribution to the evolution of Piatt studies, adding a substantial number of mostly unknown poems to the scholarly archive of her primary works.

The materials on this site are built on the foundational recovery work done by Paula Bernat Bennett. (Bennett's research materials are housed in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library of The Ohio State University Libraries. The finding aid is available at Bennett's generous and incalculable contributions to this public humanities project also included writing most of the transcriptions and notes to the poems, transcriptions then revised and edited by Elizabeth Renker of the Ohio State Department of English. Dr. Renker also created the keywords for each poem. While a doctoral candidate at The Ohio State University, Dr. Ayendy Bonifacio managed the painstaking research in the many issues of the Ledger published during these years, checking Bennett's findings to create what would become this digital archive; he also discovered the earliest known Ledger poem by Sallie M. Bryan, "The Bark that Never Can Return," published on 25 April 1857.

Another recent discovery in April 2018 by Sean E. Andres, of nine previously unknown publications by Sallie M. Bryan in 1857 and 1858 in the Louisville, KY Baptist journal The Christian Repository, and Family Visitant, ed. S.H. Ford and Mrs. S.R. Ford [Sallie Rochester Ford], makes it clear that much work remains to be done to find still-unknown publications by Sallie M. Bryan in the periodicals of her age. (Andres' find includes eight poems and one sketch, "Eva's Last Letter to Her Atheist Lover," reminding us that Sallie's publications were not restricted to poems. Andres is a marketing professional working on Cincinnati public history projects as an avocation; he announced his discovery to Elizabeth Renker in April 2018 and granted her permission to share it.) If additional poems emerge in other issues of the Ledger, we will add them to this collection.

A few comments from the technical support team:
Digital images (PDFs and JPGs derived from TIFF originals) and a transcription are provided for each poem, as well as a scan of the full page on which the poem was published, to establish context. These reproductions will vary in quality as not all of the papers are still available in print form in The Rare Books and Manuscripts Library at The Ohio State University. For some issues we had to rely on Ohio State's microfilm copies. In addition, we are grateful to have benefited from the online access provided to some needed pages through Digital Library@Villanova, Villanova University (, and to have received high-resolution scans of two newly discovered poems from the Libraries at Case Western Reserve University.


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