Home Life in Colonial Days


Produced by Mark C. Orton, Constanze Hofmann and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net Transcriber's Note: This e-text was prepared from the reprint edition published in 1974 by Berkshire Traveller Press. Copyrighted materials from that edition, including the modern preface and illustrations, are not included. * * * * * Home Life in COLONIAL DAYS Written by ALICE MORSE EARLE in the year 1898 THE BERKSHIRE TRAVELLER PRESS Stockbridge, Massachusetts THIS BOOK IS BEGUN AS IT IS ENDED IN MEMORY OF MY MOTHER Foreword The illustrations for this book are in every case from real articles and scenes, usually from those still in existence--rare relics of past days. The pictures are the symbols of years of careful search, patient investigation, and constant watchfulness. Many a curious article as nameless and incomprehensible as the totem of an extinct Indian tribe has been studied, compared, inquired and written about, and finally triumphantly named and placed in the list of obsolete domestic appurtenances. From the lofts of woodsheds, under attic eaves, in dairy cellars, out of old trunks and sea-chests from mouldering warehouses, have strangely shaped bits and combinations of wood, stuff, and metal been rescued and recognized. The treasure stores of Deerfield Memorial Hall, of the Bostonian Society, of the American Antiquarian Society, and many State Historical Societies have been freely searched; and to the officers of these societies I give cordial thanks for their coöperation and assistance in my work. The artistic and correct photographic representation of many of these objects I owe to Mr. William F. Halliday of Boston, Massachusetts, Mr. George F. Cook of Richmond, Virginia, and the Misses Allen of Deerfield, Massachusetts. To many friends, and many strangers, who have secured for me single articles or single photographs, I here repeat the thanks already given for their kindness. There were two constant obstacles in the path: An article would be found and a name given by old-time country folk, but no dictionary contained the word, no printed description of its use or purpose could be obtained, though a century ago it was in every household. Again, some curiously shaped utensil or tool might be displayed and its use indicated; but it was nameless, and it took long inquiry and deduction,--the faculty of "taking a hint,"--to christen it. It is plain that different vocations and occupations had not only implements but a vocabulary of their own, and all have become almost obsolete; to the various terms, phrases, and names, once in general application and use in spinning, weaving, and kindred occupations, and now half forgotten, might be given the descriptive title, a "homespun vocabulary." By definite explanation of these terms many a good old English word and phrase has been rescued from disuse.

Alice Morse Earle

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