Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mission Accomplished

The project I started on September 28, 2008, is almost complete. I looked through all twelve boxes of Holliday Ellwood Hartman's books and learned about my ancestors in the process. I recorded the information for each book in a database which now includes more than 200 titles. I took photos of the most interesting books and blogged about them so that my relatives can learn more about our family history. And then yesterday I packed them all up again in twelve new boxes organized by: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Textbooks, and Very Fragile Books.

The last step in this project is to figure out what to do with all the books. I've started to give some to relatives, and I've also put aside the books that I would like to keep (e.g. family Bibles, H. E.'s notebooks, and a photography book). It would be really helpful if some book experts stumbled onto this blog and helped me answer the following questions:

  • Are any of these books valuable? My oldest books are the 1841 Cottage Bible, "Lady Huntington and Her Friends" from 1853 and a Bible from 1855. Some books in the collection have beautiful illustrations, including "A Child's Garden of Verses" and "The Conquest of Fire". The textbooks and encyclopedias from the late 1800s and early 1900s might be interesting from an academic point of view. There's a copy of "Elbert Hubbard From East Aurora" by Felix Shay that I think is really cool because it still has many uncut pages. I don't know what this is called in printing terms, but you'd have to cut the outside edge of the page with a knife in order to read the two interior pages. There's also an enormous Bible published by A. J. Holman & Co. in 1893 that includes gorgeous illustrations and very thorough glossaries. I have a first edition of Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," but it turns out it's not the first printing of the first edition. I may have other first editions, but I haven't done enough research to know.
  • Which books would be worth rebinding, and how do I go about doing that? The old Cottage Bible is in pretty bad shape but contains family history information. Could someone restore it for me, and would that process be expensive?
  • If I decide to sell some of these books, would I be able to sell them on my own? Should I use an online service such as eBay or Alibris? Would it be better to sell to a bookstore?
I'm going away for a while, so I'm putting this project on hold. I hope that while I'm gone, my relatives will have a chance to look through these posts and comment or ask questions. My next goal is to research other branches of the family tree, a project I started in my entries about the Wises and the Zieglers. Eventually I would like to write a book about my ancestry: immigration, the founding of American cities, conflicts with Native Americans, farming and industry in Pennsylvania, religious communities, wars, and various victories and tragedies. It's a big subject, but I'm going to try to make it into a coherent narrative.

Thanks for reading my blog!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is quite a feat; it has taken me a while to work through all of it! Sadly I have nothing to add to your labors. As you are probably already aware, my brother, father, grandfather, and... well, pretty much anyone else in my family, would be more likely to be helpful here than I, but I quite enjoyed reading about your search and can see it becoming one of these memoirs that are so popular now someday: "The French Connection: How my love of France led to rediscovering my own heritage"... or perhaps "Knowing Him By His Books: A Man After My Own Hart"... well, I could go on, but you get the point (that I still have a silly sense of humor is perhaps the point). It was great to see you over Christmas, and I hope that I don't have to wait another four years to see you for half of a day! Hope all is going well in Boston; good luck.