Friday, October 31, 2008

A good word for an "old" book

If you've hung around Midwestern history for very long, you've probably already read John Mack Faragher's 1986 masterpiece Sugar Creek: Life on the Illinois Prairie, which as far as I know is pretty much the gold standard in microhistory. (Message to those who haven't: please smack yourself upside the head, quit reading this drivel, and check for it on worldcat or abebooks depending on the state of your exchequer.)

That's not actually what I meant to post about -- I just recently discovered that his 1979 book Women and Men on the Overland Trail is to a considerable degree also about the Midwest and Midwesterners. I'm still reading it (because I'm cheap, it's the original edition, not the revised), but it includes a heavily documented 25-page chapter on "The Midwestern Farming Family, 1850," which is not to be missed -- especially if you have ancestors or relatives who fit that description and who neglected to leave detailed diaries and reminiscences.

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