Walter South Illustrated Cycling Journals
Scope and Contents
By the late 19th century recreational travel, in the form of outings or more extended vacations, had became feasible for a good portion of American society. Some vacationers recorded the particulars of their trips in journals dedicated to the purpose; a few enhanced their prose with pasted ("tipped-in") illustrations. South's three folio-size volumes—a fourth, originally volume 1, is lacking—provide an exhaustive textual and pictorial account of twenty bicycle trips or vacations undertaken over a period of ten years, from 1894 to 1904. South often travelled to his cycling destinations by rail or steamship, so his trips were quite wide-ranging, extending from New England to Virginia. The text, entered in a neat, clear hand, is equal parts athletic journal and travelogue. Integrated with this writing are many hundreds of illustrations with a bearing on South's travels. These are, in the main, halftone photographs clipped from collected publications, but there are also original photographic prints (including at least three of South), maps, brochures, and assorted ephemera. The books are crafted with such obvious care that South's statement of purpose (vol. 2, 2r) seems something less than candid: "This Book contains the simple narrative of a few Bicycle Tours, illustrated with such pictures and information as the author, had at his disposal. The object in view, is simply to keep a record, written in an interesting manner, so as to recall the pleasures experienced on each occasion, the places visited and the number of miles ridden."
- Creation: 1894-1904
- South, Walter, 1863-1933 (Person)
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Biographical / Historical
Walter South was born on 3 February 1863 in Wilmington, Delaware, the son of the Orthodox Quakers Ephraim and Hannah Burton South. He was raised in Plainfield, New Jersey, and attended the Westtown Boarding School in West Chester, Pennsylvania. By 1882 he was working in trade in Philadelphia, the city in which he would live for the remainder of his life. The 1900 Federal census identifies South as a bookkeeper, while those for 1910 and 1920 identify him as a buyer for a firm selling agricultural tools. In October 1888 South married Maria Pennock, with whom he had two daughters.
Of direct relevance to the present journals is South's passion for cycling. He first rode a bicycle in 1880—making him something of a pioneer—and in 1882 purchased a high wheel "Royal Challenge" of English make. By the 1890s smaller front wheels, pneumatic tires, chain drives, and improved roads had made riding more appealing, and South was an energetic participant in the resulting "bicycle craze". During the decade he typically cycled more than 1000 miles annually, often on extended vacation tours with friends or family. These cycling tours and more conventional travels, dating from 1894 to 1904, are the subject of the journals. South died in Philadelphia on 24 July 1933.
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Language of Materials
Three oversized and densely illustrated journals compiled by a Philadelphia bookkeeper named Walter South, recording twenty bicycle trips or vacations around the American Northeast undertaken over a period of ten years, 1894 to 1904.
Volumes are arranged by date.
- Walter South Illustrated Cycling Journals
- Hannah Sabal
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