Commonplace Book at Graeme Park

Sharing the Common Wealth showcases objects, artifacts, documents, structures and buildings from the collections of PHMC.

Elizabeth Graeme Ferguson (1737-1801) had unwittingly earned an estimable literary reputation with her letters to friends in America while traveling abroad in the mid-1760s. Because women were barred from attending college or from joining learned societies, she organized salons, informal gatherings for the discussion of literature and the arts, for the intelligentsia of Philadelphia, often at her family home, Graeme Park, in Horsham, Montgomery County. Elizabeth compiled commonplace books – journals containing poems, letters, and transcriptions of works she admired, as well as original writing – that individuals used for inspiration for their own composition or oratory. Graeme Park exhibits a commonplace book Elizabeth made for the daughters of friends Ann and Thomas Willing that contains a number of her poems, including “Ode to American Genius” and “The American Spinning Wheel.”