Mathew Carey diaries

Collection 3672

(0.2 Linear feet ; 2 volumes)

Summary Information

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Carey, Mathew, 1760-1839
Mathew Carey diaries
Date [inclusive]
0.2 Linear feet ; 2 volumes
Finding aid prepared by Cary Hutto.
Processing made possible by a generous donation from the Young Friends of HSP.
Text (00016138) [Volume]
Text (00016139) [Volume]

Preferred citation

Cite as: [Indicate cited item or series here], Mathew Carey diaries (Collection 3672), The Historical Society of Pennsylvania

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Mathew Carey (1760-1836) was born in Dublin, Ireland, and he arrived in America in 1784 with nine years of experience as a printer and publisher under his belt. With a $400 check he received from the Marquis de Lafayette, Carey established his own publishing and bookselling business in Philadelphia. Among his early publications were the Pennsylvania Evening Herald, the  Columbian Magazine, and the  American Museum, none of which were very successful. With the outbreak of yellow fever in Philadelphia in 1793, Carey took the opportunity to publish his own work entitled  A Short Account of the Malignant Fever, Lately Prevalent in Philadelphia . . ., which marked the beginning of his venture into medical publishing. During the course of his career, Carey published dozens of medical works; however, he also published novels and works by Mason L. Weems, James Fenimore Cooper, Edgar Allan Poe, and Sir Walter Scott, among others. Additionally, his company printed broadsides, atlases, bibles, and political titles, including some of his own writings such as  Vindiciae Hibernicae (1819),  New Olive Branch (1820), and  Essays of Political Economy (1822). Carey devoted his life to political economics after he left the publishing business in the early 1820s.

Comprising this collection is two of Carey's diaries that he kept between the end of 1828 and 1836, They contain a total of 353 written pages plus one detached two-page leaf. In this diaries Carey recorded lengthy descriptions of his daily activities, including extensive reading, writing, editing, publishing, meetings and conversations (including some with well-known people of the the time, such as politician and reformer Robert Dale Owen. In some of the entries Carey documented his relationships with local newspaper editors, his complex and shifting views on economics, and his activities on behalf of poor and marginalized groups, religious activities, family life, and other matters.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

 The Historical Society of Pennsylvania ; 2016.

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107


The collection is open for research.


Purchased, 2012.

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Related Materials

Related collections

At the Historical Society of Pennsylvania:

Edward Carey Gardiner collection (Collection 227A)

Lea & Febiger records (Collection 227B)

"The New England Conspiracy" by Mathew Carey (Collection 3746)

At the Library Company of Philadelphia (all collections serviced by HSP):

Mathew Carey papers, 1802-1826 (

Correspondence on Internal Improvements (

Lea & Febiger records (

Notes of the debates of the Pennsylvania Legislature by Mathew Carey (

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Controlled Access Headings

Geographic Name(s)

  • Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social life and customs--19th century.


  • Diaries--19th century.
  • Philadelphia (Pa.)--Intellectual life--19th century.
  • Philadelphia (Pa.)--Politics and government--19th century.
  • Philadelphia (Pa.)--Social conditions--19th century.

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Bussy, R. Kenneth. Two Hundred Years of Publishing. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1985.

Green, James M. Mathew Carey: Publisher and Patriot. Philadelphia: The Library Company of Philadelphia, 1985.

Kaser, David. Messrs. Carey & Lea of Philadelphia: A Study of the History of the Booktrade. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1957.

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