Pickard, Kate E.R., letter, Camillus, [N.Y.], May 9, 1856, to "Uncle Peter" [Peter Still]


[Page: 1]


May 9th 1856

Dear Uncle Peter

It is a very long time since I heard from you -- I hope you & Aunt Vina have been comfortable in your own home through all the past cold winter. How glad you must have been to see the Spring!

The book is almost ready. Mr Pickard sayw Mr. Hamilton, the publisher, yesterday. He said that he had the promise of having the book ready to issue on the 15th of this month. I think however it may possibly be delayed a few days longer. Mr. Hamilton has taken as partner in this business the Firm of Miller, Orton, & Mulligan, of Auburn - one of the best publishing houses in the state. They published [Frederick Douglass]' book last year, and have published several other works on Slavery. I think the arrangement will be a great help to the circulation of the book. You & I must begin to plan what to do with our money.

Mr Hamilton showed me the proof of the pictures the last time I saw him.

[Page: 2]

They all suited me very well except the portraits of yourself and family - and they looked no more like you all than if they had been made entirely by guess. I sent your daguerreotypes to the Engraver, but somehow or other he blundered sadly. You never saw a meaner looking set of "darkies" than he made you out to be. He had you seated in front with your head down, looking as though you had just taken a "cutting up" & expected soon to receive another. Aunt Vina they had standing before you - a big woman - about like our big Sally - looking no more like herself than she looks like me - except the color - and the children standing in the background looked no better.

I told Mr. Hamilton I should object to publishing such a thing as that for your family - it would be an insult to you & to your friends. He thought so too - he had never seen you, he said, but from what he had heard of you, he thought you must be different looking people from those[?]. So, as it was so late that preparing another plate would hinder the work, we concluded that it would be best to leave that picture out, of this edition at least.

Your mother's face, I think, is very good -

[Page: 3]

that was just copied from the daguerreotype without attempting to give her figure. The engraver had not of course had a chance to read the story - he had the daguerreotypes & knew it was a family of ransomed slaves - so I suppose he thought he must make them look slavish. Well, I should rather people would guess from my story how I looked, than to have them see such an ugly picture called by my name.

I think your family will all be pleased with the Dedication - I believe I sent you a copy of that in the winter.

I know you are very impatient to see the book - I am myself - and it has been so long in the works, it is no wonder. I don't know as I am sorry it was not out in the fall, for there was then such a rush of books of the same class that it might have stood a poorer chance.

Are any of your children able to read well? Write & let me know how you all get along. Much love to Aunt Vina - we would all like to see her kind pleasant face once more.

Our family are all in usual health. Tell Aunt Vina Mrs. Lyon's baby is the greatest beauty & the sweetest child in the country.

Ever your friend

Kate E. R. Pickard

[Page: 4]

⟨ P.S. The daguerreotypes are all safe. I will keep them till you come, unless you wish them sent to you. I am very sorry those portraits are a failure. I would rather have them good than to have all the other pictures in the book. You will see they have changed your [mother's] plain neat cap to a turban - that was not done by my direction. I requested that Aunt Vina might have on a turban because that looks so much more natural, as she always wears one, but I suggested no alterations in your mother's dress. If I could have seen the engraver himself, and talked to him about you all, so that he would have had an idea known what sort of folks you all are, he would have done better. If this edition sells well perhaps we can get up a steel plate for the next - and I think it will go off finely. Mr. Hamilton is in fine spirits concerning it. K. E. R. Pickard ⟩



Pickard, Kate E.R., letter, Camillus, [N.Y.], May 9, 1856, to "Uncle Peter" [Peter Still]


Kate Pickard expresses the hope that Peter Still and his spouse Vina have been comfortable in their “own home through all the past cold winter”; reports that the book about the Still family will be issued later in the month; notes that the publisher, Mr. Hamilton, has taken as a partner in the enterprise the Auburn firm of Miller, Orton & Mulligan, a publishing house which has previously issued books on slavery; states that one engraving (of Still and his family) will be omitted, at least from the book’s first edition, as the likenesses in the proof were poor; observes that publishing the book now might actually work out better than had it appeared the previous fall; and notes, in a postscript, that the daguerreotypes consulted by the engraver are in her care and ready to be returned.


Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries




public domain


4 p.




Pickard, Kate E. R., “Pickard, Kate E.R., letter, Camillus, [N.Y.], May 9, 1856, to "Uncle Peter" [Peter Still],” Peter Still Digital Edition, accessed April 15, 2024, https://stillpapers.org/items/show/49.

Output Formats