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Carriers' Addresses

Along with the plaintive cries of greengrocers, fishmongers, and small waifs calling out "Shine your shoes guv'nor?" in the late 19th century, one might also see a variety of newspaper boys out delivering the paper and hawking it on the streets by means of colorful language and lurid descriptions. One form of expression by these carriers was their annual addresses, which were printed pieces distributed to their customers on New Year's Day in order to solicit a small tip for their faithful service throughout the year. The good people at the Center for Digital Initiatives at Brown University Library have placed a fine collection of these broadsheets online for the general public, dating from 1772 to 1912, and originating from such papers as the Albany Argus and the Peoria Journal. Visitors may search or browse this delightful collection, and read an introductory essay on these addresses, which includes a notable excerpt from one address about the carriers themselves that reads: "Bedouins of the street they are, tenting anywhere. Pitching camp upon the cobblestones, Braving rain and snow and sleet and winter's chilly wind; Lighting fires to warm their frozen bones."
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