1884 Autograph Letter Signed by Alvan S. Southworth, former Secretary to the American Geographical Society, Travel Writer, Journalist.
“When I last heard from the Editor he was working on ‘C’...”
Autograph letter signed by Alvan S. Southworth, travel writer, journalist, and former secretary of the American Geographical Society, to Philadelphia printers and publishers Sherman & Co. Southworth seeks to contribute articles on various geographical subjects to a new edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Southworth, who had attended The U.S. Naval Academy, was the author of the travel book Four Thousand Miles of African Travel: A Personal Record of a Journey up the Nile and through the Soudan to the Confines of Central Africa…, published in 1875. Southworth’s obituary notice from the American Geographical Society reports that “[h]e was born in Lockport, N. Y. ... He was a newspaper correspondent during the Franco-Prussian War, and afterwards went to Egypt. He returned to America in 1873 and was elected Recording Secretary of this SOCIETY, a position which he held for three years. After his retirement he became a writer for the periodical press.”¹
In the present 1884 letter, Southworth seizes the opportunity to bring his travel writing experience and geographical connections to the attention of the new publishers of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Southworth writes, in part:
I have been informed that the ownership and prosecution of the work on the Stoddard Edition of the Encyclopedia [sic] Brittanica now rests with you. If so, I write to say that I would be glad to contribute articles. I did some important work in the letter “A” writing “Africa” partially and entirely “Asia” and “Arctic.” When I last heard from the Editor he was working on “C.” I may add that I have the Geog[rap]h[ica]l. Society’s library 12,000 vols. at my command and am familiar likewise with the cyclopedias in the English, French, amd German languages and have a wide experience in this kind of literary labor besides being a rapid and accurate worker.
Southworth goes on to state that if the publishers submit “...a list of articles I will point out such as I can do myself and in what time and indicate other specialists competent to treat the subjects not familiar to my pen.”
Though written on a hotel letterhead, Southworth’s letter cleverly directs replies to the address of the American Geographical Society. A contemporary pencil note at the conclusion of the letter reads: “Mr. Sherman says Probably this letter may be of use to you.”
Description: 1884 Autograph Letter Signed by Alvan S. Southworth, former Secretary to the American Geographical Society, Travel Writer, Journalist.
New York, December 15, 1884. pp. 8vo. Single leaf. Illustrated letterhead of “Gilsey House, New York.” Contemporary pencil annotation. Folds; very good.
Note. 1. Bulletin of the American Geographical Society, Volume 33 (New York, 1901), p87.