Sunday, March 24, 2013

History, History Everywhere

The context folder overflows:

* "Micro-history at its best" is reviewer Christina Lubinski's take on Entrepreneurial Families: Business, Marriage and Life in the Early Nineteenth Century. Author Andrew Popp drew on some 200 John Shaw family letters for an up-close-and-personal account of English international hardware wholesaler of the early 1800s.

* "What has changed [in the last 200 years] and what hasn't?" asks historian/blogger Dan Allosso over at The Historical Society as he wraps up his book, An Infidel Body-Snatcher and the Fruits of His Philosophy. Part of his answer is the same as my mom (and I) would have given: "Day to day life is so much easier now, that it’s hard for readers to appreciate the sheer work that went into staying alive from year to year in the early 19th century." When Civil War pension papers discuss whether a veteran could do "a full day's work," they're talking about an amount of physical labor that few if any of us could perform.

* In the New York Review of Books, Fred Anderson reviews Bernard Bailyn's The Barbarous Years, an unsparing portrait of the first 75 years of European settlement of eastern North America:

Here the years from 1600 to 1675 appear as an American nightmare of savagery, suffering, and squalor. European colonists, seeking to establish order, created "confusion, failure, violence, and the loss of civility as they sought to normalize abnormal situations and to recapture lost worlds, in the process tearing apart the normalities of the people whose world they had invaded."
Whatever the issues with this viewpoint, it's at the very least a necessary corrective to the conventional pieties of old-style genealogy. (My 8-great grandfather got his land in colonial Connecticut by participating in the 1637 expedition that burned to death hundreds of Pequot women and children in their village.) I'm ordering this one now.

Andrew Popp, Entrepreneurial Families: Business, Marriage and Life in the Early Nineteenth Century (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2012).

 Bernard Bailyn, The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675 (New York: Knopf, 2013).

Harold Henderson, "History, History Everywhere," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 24 March 2013 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

No comments: