Saturday, 29 November 2008

Books as History

A short podcast from the British Library set me thinking. It's an interview with David Pearson who discusses his book ‘Books as History: The Importance of Books Beyond Their Texts.’ It covers the importance of the physical book as an object and the changing environment of book publishing, including the growth of online content and e-readers.

Most family historians are bibliophiles to at least some extent. The attraction goes beyond the printed content.

I have a book "The Heart of London" which I only have to open a little too close to my nose to receive a prompt reminder of how much my ancestor smoked.

Another small volume "Daily Light on the Daily Path" has annotations by my great grandfather, a Church of England Minister. It has his signature and the year 1883, while he was studying divinity, on the front flyleaf.

There are annotations for January 6, 7, 15, 18, 22, 23, February 5, 15, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, March 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 13, April 15, May 27, 28, July 6, 12, August 6, September 11, October 5, November 5, 13, 25, 29, December 5, 6, 25. Do the concentration of these dates tell me anything about his studies?

What is the significance of the notation "Mrs Greaves" against February 21st? Greaves is a name that appears in the family tree of his wife to be in 1885. Does it hint they had already met?

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