This was a month of commonplace books and account books for me. Account books, particularly large, leather-bound volumes, often attract an audience. A few weeks ago, carrying several large volumes, I walked past a school group and watched the eyes of one young girl open wide at the sight. Interns and volunteers peer over at the account books sitting on my desk for cataloging, wondering what secrets they hold. Every now and then I need to remind myself how unusual and magical an anonymous farmer’s account book can be. Working with them on a daily basis, it becomes so easy for me to classify them as “boring” and move quickly toward a volume that, if nothing else, at least has an owner’s name.
One set of account books that stood out this month was owned by Rev. George Carrington of Hadlyme, Connecticut. Carrington kept three meticulous account books of his family’s income and expenses while he served as a pastor in Hadlyme. In addition to listing the charges, Carrington provided explanations for most of his expenses, or descriptions as to how the transaction came about. Charges include food, clothing, taxes, and donations to mission organizations. He received income from the church, as well as from selling books and boarding students. The volumes contain several unique entries, one of which being that Carrington performed the marriage of Amasa Day to Ursula M. Gates. Day’s house still stands and is a museum operated by Connecticut Landmarks. Carrington paid a colored woman, Olive, to do the family’s laundry in 1839. He also noted purchasing a small basket from a black woman. (Ms 74169)
Most of the commonplace books I encounter contain black and white newspaper clippings. E.P. Rogers’ account book, however, contains full color fruit and vegetable labels. E. P. Rogers kept a general store in New London, Connecticut. The collection consists of a ledger and two daybooks . The ledger contains little detail, but corresponds with the entries in the later daybook (1853-1857). The earlier daybook was also used as a commonplace book and includes labels for vegetables grown in New York and Maine, such as Onondaga Tomatoes and Yarmouth Sugar Corn. There are also numerous black and white articles and drawings. Rogers & Co. sold a variety of food and household goods. (Ms 74303)
Barbara has been concentrating on new acquisitions lately, but did work on a few unique collections, including the North Consociation of Hartford County records. The North Consociation was an association of ministers from throughout Hartford County. The collection contains correspondence and minutes of Ecclesiastical Councils held at individual churches to ascertain a candidate’s fitness for the ministry, to dissolve a church’s relationship with a pastor, and to consult on church discipline. Councils met in the parishes in the towns of Avon, Barkhamsted, Bloomfield, Bristol, Burlington, East Hartford, East Windsor, Enfield, Farmington, Granby, Hartland, Hartford, Manchester, Simsbury, South Windsor, Suffield, West Hartford and Windsor. (Ms HartColl 24)
Those of you who regularly follow this blog are aware that this cataloging project has been funded by a two-year grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). The grant period will end in August, but we are quite pleased to announce that the NHPRC has awarded us another two-year grant. Our goal, by 2012, is to have entries for all our manuscripts and accounts books in our online catalog. Many, many thanks to the NHPRC for making this possible!
The collections mentioned above, and many others, are available for research. Come visit!