I am lucky to have in my collection Darkness at Noon, an early pamphlet on the June 16, 1806 total solar eclipse which passed over New England. This remarkable document by Andrew Newell narrates the theory of eclipses, describes local circumstances for the 1806 eclipse, tells the reader how to view the eclipse, and dispels superstitions surrounding eclipses.
This pamphlet is scanned in its entirety in the gallery.
From the introduction:
"The Science of Astronomy, in all ages, has been a subject of superlative excellence. By its discoveries, knowledge has been diffused in rich variety over the face of the civilized world; and imagination has found a field where it can rove without restraint of limitation."
"The discoveries which have been made in this science within the last three centuries have exceeded the warmest expectations of human reason; for the mind, which was once limited to the narrow confines of a little earth, is now able by the telescope to travel space, and make excursions into the distant regions of the heavens; and a prospect is now opened to us, as wonderful as it is infinite."
Dubious advice for viewing the eclipse (by present standards) is given on page 12.
Pages 13 through 29 give a competent, if verbose, narrative on the causes of eclipses.
Page 30 begins with the counterintuitive but correct notion that "Eclipses of the sun are more frequent than those of the moon; but, we have more visible eclipses of the moon than of the sun, because a lunar eclipse is seen from all those places on the earth which are directed towards her"
Page 32 gives a list of eclipses visible in New England from 1778 to 1811.
Pages 35 and 36 tabulate prominent solar eclipses from 431 BCE to 1438 CE.
As I look at this pamphlet again, it strikes me that the purpose of this 1806 pamphlet are identical to the goals of greatamericaneclipse.com. I will endeavor to do as well.