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Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Guide to the Suspenders Manuscript

MSN/MN 9205


Collection Summary

Title: Suspenders Manuscript
Dates: 1872
Collection No.: MSN/MN 9205
Creator: Kreuzer, M.
Extent: 1 folder;0.1 linear feet.
Language: Collection material in English.
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: A homemade pamphlet with eight pages of elaborate pencil illustrations and accompanying verse, telling a moralizing tale of a young man's search for a new pair of suspenders.

Selected Search Terms

Folk art -- United States
American folk poetry
American wit and humor, Pictorial
Avarice -- Poetry

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Preferred Citation: Suspenders Manuscript, MSN/MN 9205-1, Rare Books and Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The Suspenders manuscript was purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries in November 2016, from Ian Brabner Rare Americana. Arranged and described 2017, by Debra Dochuk and George Rugg. Finding aid 2017, by Debra Dochuk and George Rugg.

Biographical Note

The author can be identified only by the surname Kreuzer and the monogram MK, which appear on the booklet's cover. An inscription on the verso of the cover, reading "For 'Key' to the following - See local column Lawrence Journal. March 2d '72" provides a possible association of the author with Lawrence, Essex County, Massachusetts.

Scope and Content Note

The item in question is a small (12.5 cm.) handmade pamphlet of 8 leaves, with paper wraps, bound with thread. The front wrap doubles as a title page; accomplished in purple copying pencil, it reads: "Suspenders. An Epic Poem by Kreuzer. MK. Illustrated." The rectos of each leaf contain framed narrative scenes drawn in pencil, sometimes with secondary figural elements in the margins. The scenes are rendered in great detail; the representational style tends towards the naive but the compositions are quite accomplished. Each scene is accompanied by verse, written by Kreuzer in a miniscule hand. The narrative is outwardly simple. A miserly youth, finding his suspenders worn out, journeys to the city to buy a new pair. In a shop he is shown some that prove a perfect fit, but he ultimately fails to buy them because he finds the price too dear. In returning home along the railroad tracks he narrowly avoids being hit by a train, and tears his sagging pants as he scrambles over a fence. That night he sees a pair of suspenders, radiant, in a dream, but wakes to find himself in his old predicament. The tale is humorous and patently moralizing, more like a fable than a mock epic, but the story in the local paper that provoked it remains for the present a mystery. The moralizing content is underscored by marginal figures outside the narrative scenes: i.e., a man in a tug-of-war with the Devil, each holding an end of a pair of suspenders. The inside of the back cover bears the scribbled pencil notation "March 20th 1872," less than three weeks after the article mentioned in the front of the pamphlet.

Arrangement Note

The collection consists of one item in one folder.

Container List

  • M. Kreuzer: Suspenders: An Epic Poem, 1872 March. Folder 1 (MSN/MN 9205-1)
    1 vol., 12.5 cm., 8 leaves, with 8 pages of manuscript in pencil. Illustrated.