Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Learning about Ireland in the 17th century

As I work on my novel about the English family, my ongoing brick wall hasn't been so much about genealogy, but in learning about Ireland. I want to include those little historic details that give the reader a sense of time and place. I've found plenty of references about war and battles and even the persecutions of Quakers, but there seems to be a dearth of information about Irish daily life in the 17th century.

I tried using English social history, especially since my real-life characters were English settlers. I started with Marjorie and C.H.B. Quennell's A History of Everyday Things in England. It's a great resource and I used it to picture what Dinah English and John Clibborn would wear. Other topics, however, are jumbled about rather randomly and I'm never quite sure which would have carried over to the neighboring country.

Quakers journals of the time dealt more with spiritual things than physical. English diaries, like that of the famous Samuel Pepys, reflect an extravagant Restoration England that would have been rejected by Quakers, who strove for lives of simplicity.

I recently had a breakthrough — last month I found Irish Life in the Seventeenth Century, by Edward MacLysaght, through intralibrary loan. Pictures are few, but details abound! For example, the English settlers wore "breeches" (snug at the knee in Quennell's drawings) and the Irish wore "trousers," which were looser garments of similar length. One of the appendices (part of which is in Gaelic, but Dr. MacLysaght condescends to summarize a little for us) tells that poorer Irish men often didn't wear a shirt, just a waistcoat with bare arms under their cloaks. Exactly the little tidbits I've been looking for!

Fascinating as it is, Irish Life is not a quick read, and I had to send the plain blue hardback to its home library. I found a 1979 paperback online, with people in 17th-century costume on the front (remember the lack of pictures?), so I ordered it.

My copy arrived yesterday (yay!), sans appendices, notes and bibliography (boo!). Apparently the author, 91 at the time, (and perhaps his publisher) thought fit to cut 150 pages from "this popular edition." Ouch. Looks like I'll have to save up to buy an older copy.

I've been blessed recently with an outcrop of websites and blog posts to help with 17th- and 18th-century research. I plan to gather some of these resources into a subpage on this website. Meanwhile, here are my top finds for May:

1. A map and clothing from 1610 Ireland, at Irish Historical Textiles (contains the picture on the cover of my newly acquired paperback).

2. The Books of Survey and Distribution list names and show how land changed hands from Catholic to Protestant owners in Cromwellian and Restoration (mid-17th century) Ireland.

3. Popular books in the 18th century — a handy list by Roseanna M. White at Colonial Quills.

4. Did 18th-century women tie their apron strings in the front or the back?

5. What basic skills would an 18th-century outdoorsman or traveling colonist need to know? Keith Burgess tells us at A Woodrunner's Diary.

6. The author of Vintage Visions wears 18th-century finery.

And in a different century:

7. Last month 425 years ago, three ships carrying men, women and children departed English waters to start a new life in Carolina. They would become known as the Lost Colony.


Friday, May 25, 2012

The Peaceable Kingdom

During my stay at Pendle Hill (near Philadelphia) earlier this month, I got to visit the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College. This painting of the Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks hangs in the librarian's office.

I didn't realize that Hicks (1780-1849) painted so many different versions of this scene — at least 60 of them — based on Isaiah 11:6-7.

In addition to the  various animals with a child, Hicks would add a small depiction of William Penn's treaty with the Indians — a near-contemporary version of a peaceable kingdom.

This painting, however, is different. Hicks sympathized with his cousin Elias Hicks as Friends became divided in 1827. See the large group of Quakers in the left side of the picture? These are leaders among Friends, going back to George Fox, William Penn and Robert Barclay in the back of the group. Elias Hicks stands in the front row.

Source: Philadelphia Quakers: 1681-1981

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Quaker fiction and local history

Jennifer Hudson Taylor visited the bookshop last weekend and brought her new Quaker historical novella, Quakers of New Garden.

She brought her Scottish historicals, too, and we celebrated with real shortbread "biscuits" (and American coffee).

I'd been looking forward to Jennifer's visit because we have a lot in common. She sets Christian-themed stories in the times and places that her ancestors lived. I'm writing a novel about my heritage, too. We both have Quaker ancestors, and they all ended up in the North Carolina Piedmont!

Quakers of New Garden is a collection of four stories about the Wall family.

Jennifer wrote the first one, "New Garden's Hope," set in 1808 Greensborough, N.C. The other authors followed generations of the Walls to Indiana, including their involvement with the underground railroad.

I have a few signed copies of Jennifer's books in the shop. If you live far away and would like to order an unsigned one, or if you have a Nook reader, please click on the title above.

The book signing topped off a very bookish weekend. Friday I "rescued" several armloads of science and history from a last-minute school renovation. Saturday, I picked out several boxloads of modern reads from a local thrift shop that's closing its doors.

My best finds came Friday night at the High Point Library's preview book sale. Although I had to pay to get in, I struck gold with lots of local history. I found this lovely 1945-46 High Point City directory, complete with business ads from my parents' and grandparents' time — like furniture, hosiery mills, and railroads.

Besides the residential and business phone listings (with four-digit numbers), it has a street directory on pinkish-purple pages in the back. You can look up a street and see who all the neighbors were, even who owned the property.

Some of those neighbors might be relatives — very helpful for genealogists!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College

As part of our Quakers Uniting in Publications conference last weekend, we got a tour of the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College.

I had originally planned to take the whole week off to visit friends in Maryland and research the Hoggatt side of my family while in Philadelphia. Instead, I got the chance to ride up with friends and save quite a bit on transportation and lodging, but with no extra days.

Chris Densmore, curator of Friends Historical Library
The genealogist in me longed for a chance to dig around, but settling for the tour worked out well. Some of the resources I saw at Swarthmore were identical to records we have at Guilford College, where I work. And because of the Hicksite separation, part of the Quaker records for Pennsylvania are at Haverford College across town, although the two libraries keep microfilms of each other's records.

I really need to research at home first, and plan well when I finally do get back to Philadelphia.

Susanna with a daguerreotype in a case
Family histories are available in the reading room, but the rare books and documents live downstairs — the FHL is three stories on one side of the college library.

Susanna, one of the archivists, took us down to the other levels and showed us around the collection.

The curator has his own "peaceable kingdom" in his office, with figures his children made.

More on the painting later.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Pendle Hill

Snippets from my stay at Pendle Hill, Pennsylvania, last weekend. I'll write more when I catch my breath.

The fire escape at Waysmeet, where I stayed.

A neighboring house in the sunlight

Amongst old books at Brinton House — one of the Quaker libraries at Pendle Hill.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Tannery Books at one year

Quaker history, genealogy and local history on the left

Seating area (with wi-fi)

Children's section

Vintage and Collectible

There's still room for growth, but it looks a lot different from opening day, which was March 11, 2011.

Bookish Adventures — from Africa to Pennsylvania

Anthony Majok visited Tannery Books last weekend to sign his new book. (I can't believe I forgot to take his picture! This is his PR photo.) He was so nice, and his story is fascinating: when he was 7 years old, he escaped into the jungle when his village was attacked and his father killed. With a group of other children, he survived more than a decade on the run. Refugee workers called them the Lost Boys of Sudan (but there were Lost Girls, too, and Anthony eventually married one of them).

Now a U.S. citizen with a family of his own, Anthony has written his memoir, Journey of Faith. Proceeds benefit others who are building a new life in South Sudan.

English is not Anthony's first language. He can speak it, but dedicated friends from Writers Group of the Triad helped him edit and publish his story. I'm really looking forward to reading it!

In less than a day (as in, it will still be dark!) I'm leaving for Philadelphia for the Quakers Uniting in Publications annual meeting.  I'll get to see people I met last year at the QUIP meeting in England and hear about publishing, marketing and bookselling. Although I wish I had the whole week for genealogy research at nearby Swarthmore and Haverford libraries, the logistics didn't work out this time. We do get a library tour on Friday, so I plan to scout out resources for a future research trip.

My dear laptop just got out of minor surgery. Barring any technical difficulties, I'll keep you posted from Philadelphia. You can also follow QUIP on Facebook or Twitter.

Friday, May 04, 2012

What colonial women wore: A Trip to the Past - Part 9

During my "time travel" to the Revolutionary War in Camden, S.C. (previous posts here and here), this helpful young lady in the American camp explained what a lady would wear in colonial times.

The first layer is a shift, which serves as slip during the day and nightgown at night. Her white shift shows at the sleeves. Next she wears stays (a corset) and petticoats of linen or wool.

Her outer layer is a carico jacket, an upper garment which is open at the front, revealing the petticoat. She could also wear a short gown or a bed jacket.

She ties an apron around her waist and tucks in a neckerchief to protect her skin from the sun and for modesty. Colonial women wore caps as a matter of course, but the straw hat she wears on top of it is optional.

Seventeenth century women didn't wear anything under their shifts. (Re-enactors, however, prefer modern underwear to a chilly November draft!)

For lots of details about what colonial Americans wore and how they lived, as well as simple patterns and instructions to make your own period clothing, I recommend Tidings from the 18th Century by Beth Gilgun.

If you're not very handy with needle and thread or don't have the time, vendors at re-enactments — like the lady with the blue straw hat — will be happy to sell you ready-made dresses, caps and other items.

Next week I'll return to the 21st century for bookish events in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Fill out the "Follow by Email" box in the sidebar of this page to get posts delivered right to your inbox.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Fingerless Gloves

Almost wordless: A Trip to the Past - Part 8
(Here's part 7)

I love my fingerless gloves, but I thought they were a modern invention. Re-enactors at Camden assured me that short-fingered gloves were worn in colonial America, especially in camp in the chilly air. Soldiers liked them because they could reload their muskets while wearing them.

Look closely and you'll see the pipes and drums corps wearing them, too.