Friday, October 5, 2018

100 Years of Bethlehem (N.H.)

A page from the Taylor scrapbook containing an article about a mink farm fire.Hattie Whitcomb Taylor was born in 1898 in a small farmhouse in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, about seventy miles north-northeast of Hanover. In her sixties, serving as an amateur historian with a wealth of knowledge of the region, she wrote a history of Bethlehem. In addition to her book, Taylor also created a remarkable record of small-town New Hampshire life that spans nearly the entire twentieth century: four scrapbooks filled to bursting with photographs, postcards, letters, newspaper clippings, and handwritten supplementary information.

A page from the Taylor scrapbook showing photographs of an organ grinder and an ice geyser from a broken water main.Photographs of the 1947 Bethlehem Winter Carnival parade are cheek-to-jowl with newspaper articles about a civic leader who was killed in a truck accident and a local mink farm going up in flames. An organ grinder's photograph shares a page with images of a beautiful frozen geyser of ice from a broken water line that left the town without water pressure for two days in 1935. Bethlehem firemen assist Littleton, New Hampshire, firemen in extinguishing the Northern Hotel fire in January of 1924. The governor of the state is welcomed to town in 1897 by a marching band, their instruments proudly on display. These photographs and pages capture the feeling of small-town pride and tragedy in a way that is seldom found in the pages of a printed book.

To read Taylor's history of Bethlehem, New Hampshire, come to Rauner and ask for White Mountains F44.B4 T39 1960. To turn through the four large scrapbooks that contain a century's worth of memories, ask to see White Mountains F41.37 .T385 v.1-4.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

What to do in Italy

Frontispiece and title page to The Voyage of ItalyAh, the struggle of making sense of things! Think of the poor English gentleman setting out in the 1670s on the Grand Tour. Italy--so much to see, but what of it matters? What should he know when he returns home, cultured, worldly, and all grown up? If he had a good tutor along, things would be easier, but lacking that, a guide book might help.

Enter Richard Lassels, "Gent, who Travelled through Italy Five times, as Tutor to several of the English Nobility and Gentry," and his The Voyage of Italy (Paris, 1670). With nearly 700 pages of detailed information in a handy pocket-sized volume, he filled the eager traveler's need for a comprehensive education. Besides giving the reader a must-see list for each city, he evokes epic journeys of the past to instill a rich history into each place while giving the Grand Tour novice the sense of belonging to a great tradition:
Some twelve miles before we came to Rome, we saw the Cupola of St Peter's Church and were glad to see it a farr off, as the weary Trojans in Aeneas his company, were glad to see Italy after so much wandering...
To wander the streets of 17th-century Rome with Lassels, ask for Rare DG424.L337 1670.