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Shared Reading at a Distance: The Commonplace Books of the Stockton Family, 1812–40


This article uses the commonplace books of four members of the Stockton family of New Jersey to examine domestic reading practices in the antebellum United States. Despite separation by various life events, the Stocktons used their commonplace books to build a repository of shared reading materials. By transcribing the same poems, they extended the communal reading that typically took place at home across the dimensions of space and time. Their commonplace books reminded them of earlier shared readings and allowed them to continue reading together. Their collective reading and commonplacing practices may have been more widespread than we realize.

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