Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Well, it's now the dead of winter.
During this bleak, gray, cold, dark time of year I need something to keep me on the happier side of life.
And there's little else that makes me happier than history...well, OK, there is my family...but history isn't far behind!
And what better way to learn about history than...Reading!
Studying and learning about the past - my happy place.
I recently purchased a wonderful book called Our Own Snug Fireside: Images of the New England Home, 1760-1860 by Jane C. Nylander. The author of this book explains in great detail everyday life during the years cited, but stays heavily in the late 18th and early 19th century. The information, however, can be easily brought into the mid-19th century, for many of the practices in that hundred year period this book covers changed little during that time. The author uses first person illustrations by way of historic documents such as journals, diaries, letters, and estate papers to describe life as lived in the average home of the period.
Another fine book I received this month is of great personal interest: Colonial Inns and Taverns of Bucks County: How Pubs, Taprooms and Hostelries Made Revolutionary History
Bucks County, Pennsylvania is where my colonial ancestors immigrated to when they sailed over from England in 1710. To know that there are taverns and inns pictured in this book that my ancestors certainly must've seen helps to bring them to life for me. And to read of what took place in said taverns and inns - I never knew what an important role Bucks County played in the founding of our nation!
With all this recent talk of late about our Founding Fathers and the Constitution, I have continued to find myself studying our colonial past: Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence and Wives of the Signers - two books that put flesh on the bones of many of our Founding Fathers and their families. I haven't read these two books yet - there are many gray cold days ahead so I have plenty of time - but I did glance through them quickly when I received them in the mail, and I believe I will be enlightened to understand the reasons even more so of the hows and whys of our sacred document of the Declaration of Independence.
Best of all, it is written in an easy read manner.
I don't like boring and stodgy.
I am very fond, however, of the factual, non-opinionated history books.
Sometimes authors can be a little too political and, dare I say, anti-American & one-sided in their style, especially in our modern day. It's nice to read books that are straight-forward informational history books that bring to life the past.
Although the above listed books tend to be set in the 18th and early 19th century, their information is invaluable for those of us who study social history of a later period.
Finally, for Christmas I received a book that can (hopefully) help my reenacting presentation: Time Machines: The World of Living History by Jay Anderson. Now here's a book with a wealth of information for anyone who would like to bring the past to life at a reenactment. Mr. Anderson has guided living historians and museums presenters for decades with his books and I am very excited to have a copy.
So, maybe this won't be such a dingy winter after all!



Miss Virginia said...

I almost jumped out of my seat when you mentioned "Signing Their Lives Away"--I'm currently reading that now too! Some of the 21st century humor is a little grating, but I know they're trying to make it appealing to this generation. *rolls eyes* As a member of "this generation", I would like to say that the profiles of each of the signers are extremely interesting and intriguing on their own. Good book.

Mrs. G said...

Some of those titles sound really interesting! And, anyway, I thought you liked stirring the pot on Facebook for entertainment?!?

Historical Ken said...

Miss Virginia - Don't you hate when writers (and even museums) try to appeal to the "younger generation" as if they are idiots?
Thanks for the insight - I plan to begin that book very soon!
Mrs. G - - Hahahaha! Facebook CAN be very entertaining at times, can't it? Especially when you get the "right" people involved!

JD said...

Thanks for discussing our book, everyone. Hope you all like it. Perhaps you might enjoy the videos of our upcoming film on the signers, at this link. Enjoy!

D'Agnese & Kiernan
authors, Signing Their Lives Away