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    Jan 22

    Written by: Michael Dalby 1/22/2010 1:53 PM 

    Recently, a book published in Cleveland in 1844 caught my eye. It's fairly substantial - two volumes totaling over 500 pages with many illustrations, and a subtitle "Designed As a Book of Leisure Reading For All Classes."  I wondered how many people had time for leisure reading in 1844, and I was surprised that there was a publisher in Cleveland at that time. It was my impression that it still would have been a fairly rural frontier town. (According to the census of 1840, Cleveland had a population of 6,071 - the 45th largest city in the United States - and Ohio City had 1,577 residents.)

    In fact, one of the earliest commercial enterprises in frontier towns was often a printer, who would start a newspaper. The first newspaper in Cleveland (Cleaveland Gazette and Commercial Register) appeared in 1818. According to The Cleveland Book Trade, 1819-1912 by Russell Duino, no real publishing activity occurred until the late 1830's when Sanford and Lott published the first city directory.  This firm changed its name a few times over the years, and in 1841 expanded it business by starting a subscription lending library, which lasted only about a year. This was a forerunner to the Cleveland Library Association, which eventually became Cleveland Public Library. 

    The book that caught my eye, The Museum of Remarkable and Interesting Events: containing historical and other accounts, published by Sanford & Hayward, contains many stories relating to "eccentric personages, noble examples of fortitude...with various other entertaining narratives, anecdotes,  etc. etc." and actually makes for fascinating reading.  This, and other books published in the early period of Cleveland's history, are available in Special Collections.

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