Book lovers delight! Moments, experiences, stories as once written and now shared in the margins of those books that have come before us…
Book Lovers Record Traces of 19th-Century Readers An excerpt from an article published in The Chronicle of Higher Education:
“Readers who come across such personal touches in books published from 1800 to 1923 are asked to upload photographs and transcriptions to the Book Traces site. (Library books published after 1923 are likely to still be under copyright; those published before 1800 have already found sanctuary in rare-book collections.)
…. Book Traces isn’t meant to capture every example but to make a point about the material history at stake. “Even if we only have a few hundred examples, it will be something for people to point to,” Mr. Stauffer says. “It’s not merely curiosity-hunting.”
Only a handful of examples have been uploaded to Book Traces so far, including the examples quoted here, but the bits of personal history already captured on the website are moving. For instance, the 1891 Longfellow once belonged to a woman named Jane Chapman Slaughter. She used it to record her memories of John H. Adamson, the book’s original owner, who apparently never returned from what Slaughter called his “crusade” to Liberia.
Mr. Stauffer uploaded photos of some of Slaughter’s marginalia to Book Traces, along with transcriptions. “For example, in the bottom margin after ‘The Skeleton in Armor,’ Jane has written in a note, ‘Then you looked at your watch & said—“Now shall we go & make that visit, for at 5 o’clock I have to go to Washington,” & we meant you & I, & we had a happy walk—’. Then, in a later hand, she has added the following, on the facing page: ‘Our last walk together in this world. Never to see each other more—Never, oh, never! It was after this I called you—“Norseman,” the name we always used to the end, in our letters. Do you remember?—You added to it “your Norseman,” and “your devoted Norseman.”’”
To see how this crowd sourced project is expanding, and perhaps lend your hand to the cause, please visit the Book Traces website. The stories unfolding are amazingly moving.