September 2009 Archives

An interesting and charming bit of 18th century Americana from the historical manuscripts collections at Special Collections, Honnold/Mudd Library: Alexander Little's "cypheren book", a manuscript bound in homespun blue cloth, comprising mathematical principles and tables, including financial calculations as well as tables of weights and measures and avoirdupoise. It was created by Little between Nov. 12, 1795 to Aug. 12, 1796, when he was 16 years old, perhaps during an apprenticeship.

The manuscript numbers 26 folded sheets; here are two sample pages:

cipherbook1

cipherbook2

We know a little bit about Alexander Little. He was born February 20, 1779 in Virginia. He married Rachel Robinson, daughter of William and Ann Robinson. At some point, he lived in Mercer County, Kentucky, then moved to Indiana where he died July 26,1849.