I got an email today urging me to cheer on the Plymouth Pilgrims, a baseball team that is part of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. The GSMD is co-sponsoring the July 1st game (admission $3 for adults, $1 for kids), which will offer free admission to military and first responders plus their families. For the rest of us, admission is $3 for adults, $1 for children. The game is at 6:30 pm at Forges Field, 83 Jordan Road, Plymouth, MA. Go Pilgrims!
The latest issue of the Whale Watch, newsletter of the Descendants of Whaling Masters, has an article with photos and links about the restoration project being done to the full-scale replica of the Mayflower that normally rests at anchor in Plymouth harbor. (Yes, it is sailable. Like the original it sailed here from England, in the 1950s.) Plimoth Plantation, which owns the ship, has paired with the restoration team at Mystic, CT to fit it for deep water sailing down at least part of the East Coast in 2020, the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims' landing.
Last Dec. 12th the ship was towed by a tug out off Plymouth harbor then to New Bedford, where the restored whaler Charles Morgan had been on display the previous summer. (Also a refurbishment done by the Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard at Mystic Seaport.) It soon departed for New London, CT, where it was de-rigged, hauled out of the water, and pressure washed. The stone and iron ballast was removed and the first step, which is surveying the ship and its condition, was begun. The Mayflower II was made seaworthy again and sent (presumably towed) back to Plymouth for the summer tourist season. This process will be repeated over the next few years.
Check out http://www.mysticseaport.org/category/mayflower-ii-restoration/ or the Mystic museum's Facebook page see how they are progressing. Visit Plimoth Plantation's site and make a donation for the project if you can. If you plan to be in the area, check to see if the ship will be underway when you are there. Send us a photo or video clip and we will post it here.
Practice makes perfect, or at least better, with 17th century paleography. It is worth the time to study the art and science of handwriting as it was taught to select forebears who were educated as merchants, ministers, printers, ship's captains, and other skilled and learned professions. You might be surprised to see that some of their letters look like different letters today (what looks like a lower case "e" is an "o," for example), there were letters that no longer exist (the double s), letters that did not yet exist (thus an "i" for a "j"), a symbol might serve for a sound ("th"), and some letters looked altogether different (s, h, and t are examples.)
National Records of Scotland, which includes the Scottish National Archives, has a whole building in Edinburgh dedicated to genealogy (the ScotlandsPeople Centre) and a site that teaches the basics of learned Scottish handwriting from the 1500s to the 1800s. It is called ScottishHandwriting.com. Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen were cities with a reputation for scholarship and commerce in the 1600s and many an early town clerk, including John Akin of Dartmouth, MA, wrote a Scottish hand.
England's National Archives in Surrey also have an online English (1500-1800) paleography tutorial. They also have a bit more information on Latin terminology and paleography for those researching the period 1086-1500. Both are in their "Reading Old Documents" section. They also give a lot of tips on figuring out the meaning of a word once you have worked out the letters.
Both sites cover common abbreviations and these are very important because 17th century court reporters, town clerks, and registers abbreviated things we do not shorten today. This is because the ballpoint pen was some 300 years in the future yet people spoke as quickly then as they do today. Turkey feathers don't handle curves as well as modern implements so letters like "m," "n," "s," "r," "i," "u" (and many others) were made with more verticality than we use today. Try making your own quill pen and your own ink from coal and water, and see how quickly your handwriting has to change shape to make your "new" tools function.
Yesterday's weekly online newsletter from the NEHGS had this announcement:
"After ten years of providing access to the Early American Newspapers Series I database through our website, we are disappointed to announce that the vendor of that database, NewsBank, has decided to terminate at-home access for NEHGS users. This change means that NewsBank will no longer allow us to provide access to Early American Newspapers Series I through our website, effective June 12. The database will still be available for visitors in our library..." [bold not in original]
Boo, NewsBank! Their web site indicates they market their product/service to libraries only but if you go to GenealogyBank.com you will learn that you can indeed buy direct from them and get at-home access as an individual to newspapers dating to 1690. Yes, they offer access to some other online things but some you can get elsewhere for free (SSDI) or you might already have access to full-text downloadable documents on another subscription site (fold3.com.) They offer one option: one year for $69.95.
NewsBank, how many NEHGS member takers do you think you will get? Wouldn't it have been a better bet, financially, to just ask the NEHGS for another $5 a head for their tens of thousands of members? Considering the amount of materials they have added recently to their database a dues increased would not have met with much, if any, objection.
Dr. Maura Mackowski is an Arizona research historian who enjoys the challenge of looking for Mayflower descendants, hers and anyone else's.
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