New York Diaries, 1609–2009

I spent a lot of time chronicling my life from the time I was 8 until I was about 21 or so. I find that when I write other things (fiction, research papers, poetry, blogs) I don’t feel the need … Continue reading

What’s Left Behind: A Harford County, Maryland Probate Inventory

Both of my great great great grandparents died in 1857, leaving my fifteen year old great great grandfather  (at right) an orphan. Interestingly, he never appears in the census until after his marriage in 1880 when he was nearly forty … Continue reading

Transportation Tuesday: A Moment on the Baltimore and Ohio

I was inspired by this salted paper print from the 1850s of people posing for a photograph on a Baltimore and Ohio engine. I thought about the women in their stays and hoops, and wondered if they were boosted up … Continue reading

Museum Monday: Online Patterns of Eighteenth Century Garments from LACMA’s Collection

Speaking as a museum professional and a living history practitioner, what a great project. At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s web page, conservators and curators worked with Thomas John Bernard, a theatrical designer, to create gridded patterns of … Continue reading

Light Me Up – The First Electric Street Lamp

One of the unexpected gems is the artistic and scientific wonderment that is the first electric street lamp, invented by Charles F. Brush of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1879. You can see it today in Public Square. Heady with Victorian ornament, … Continue reading

Nanny – A Servant Wager Cup

Online databases are incredible tools. While my museum career has mostly focused on textiles, dress, and ethnographic materials, I never know what is going to inspire me when I search mfa.org, metmuseum.org, emuseum.history.org (Colonial Williamsburg), and so forth. I’ve heard a … Continue reading

Kotex Goes to War

Some old women’s magazines from the 1940s turned up when we emptied my grandparents’ house. You would expect the articles and advertisements to address their ideal audience of conscientious housewives, transitioning from the wood stove of her mother’s generation to … Continue reading

Wanderlust Wednesday: Governor’s Island

We are off to Governor’s Island at some point this weekend. Whereas tourists seek Central Park to see some of the greenery of Manhattan, locals hop on the ferry to Governor’s Island, long a military outpost. The trappings of the … Continue reading

Transit Tuesday – The Elevated in NYC

The El still lives on in Chicago – I’m not sure that they could live without it. But the El once was a vital part of New York transportation, an improvement on surface railways, pre-dating the underground subways, and discarded … Continue reading

Happy Labor Day

Lewis Hine’s photographs will always remind us of the successes of the Labor Movement. The title of this image is Addie Card, 12 years. Spinner in North Pownal Cotton Mill. Girls in mill say she is ten years. She admitted … Continue reading