Sunday, April 3, 2011


It's getting crowded around here.
The work tables are brimming with books, old and new.

The stacks of packed book boxes are growing.  It’s getting harder to navigate between the piles.

Here are some more of the items that have already “made the cut”, so to speak, in addition to the many town histories, etc. that our customers have come to expect.


Most genealogists know that historian David Hackett Fischer has a way with words.  While his classic “Albion’s Seed” is probably his best known work in the genealogy world, there’s another much less well known work that is well worth reading too.  We’re bringing a copy (that’s right, just one) of his 1996 “The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History”, which is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand the economic factors – especially the rise and fall of prices –that influenced and determined our ancestors’ life decisions.

In keeping with this idea that mundane “getting and spending” activities– jobs, money, profit - were also  keen motivators that influenced our ancestors’ decisions on such matters as spouse selection (“her father’s filthy rich”), migration (what, you think your farmer ancestor moved to Ohio for the scenery?) and job choice (had he been able to read and write, he would have been a great attorney…), we’re also packing some business histories, a number of “westward migration” books and a couple of copies of a fascinating study of early “commercial travelers”, also known as “traveling salesmen”.  It’s called “100 Years On the Road: The Traveling Salesman in American Culture.” It covers the 1830 – 1920 time period and makes use of letters and diaries, etc.  It’s also the first book on the subject.  We’ve also got a title or two about the ubiquitous “Yankee” peddler and his wagonsful of “notions.”

Oh…and about that “spouse selection” reference above – we’ve got two copies of “I Do I Do”, about American wedding customs and then, cognizant that things didn’t always work out, we’ve packed a single copy of “Framing American Divorce: From The Revolutionary Generation To The Victorians.”  Plus, we’ll also have a few copies of “Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories from The Underground Railroad.

Then, continuing along the same line – but a bit farther away, I just packed a pristine hardcover copy of Asa Briggs “A Social History of England” which has a chapter entitled “The Quest for Wealth, Power and Pleasure” and another on “Poverty and Progress.”

Very frankly, if you’re not reading and studying the background material, you’re likely missing a whole lot about your ancestors’ lives and times.  It’s not just collecting names and dates, you know.  Really.  It isn’t.


We’ll also have a small selection of interesting original prints, maps and documents.  Some of the documents are intensely family-specific, but are absolutely fascinating pieces of history in their own right. For example, I just packed (1.) a letter from Alfred Lennox to his brother Patrick back home in Wiscasset, Maine.  In his “blue paper” letter dated “New Orleans, Sunday, December 30th 1849”, Alfred discusses his health, his Thanksgiving dinner of well-seasoned salt pork, the loss of another Lennox vessel, the “Mary T. Randlett” and much more. The Lennox brothers dominated the Maine “coaster” business several decades later.  There’s also (2.) a large partially printed document (an 1830 militia appointment, making John T. Knapp a major in the NY 167th) signed by NY Gov. Enos T. Throop, (3.) a striking large broadside referencing the collection of the State of Maine Tax for 1829,  some deeds, … well, you get the idea.  

These, of course, are the “real one-of-a-kind deal” – not copies.


Finally, there’s a sneak peek at the door prize quilt close up (below).  

It’s 42” X 68” overall and ideal for keeping the chill off your knees and lower extremities come those cold New England (or upstate NY) evenings.

The quilter refused to let me put her in the picture, but she’ll be in the NERGC booth.

1 comment:

  1. can you define any further packing peanuts? I am still in vague about the topic though.