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Articles Categorized History American

Puritans — More Romantic Than You Might Think

Valentine’s Day will soon be here, a day for romance & flowers; cupids & candy in heart-shaped boxes. Like many days our calendars commemorate, Valentine’s Day is largely an invention from the Victorian Age. Romantic love has a much longer history, but was not always the foundation of courtship and marriage. In doing research for

Thanksgivings Past

Thanksgiving, a national holiday embedded in American mythology, has changed over the years from an emblem of American history and unity to a day that includes eating, shopping, and watching televised football games and parades. Below are a few factoids of Thanksgivings past. When I was a child, billboards advertising a certain brand of turkey

Apples & Pumpkins: The Fruits of Fall

Every season has its own special foods, and two of the foods most associated with fall are apples and pumpkins. Both are harvested between late August and the end of October, and both have associations with fall in the northern hemisphere. As the nights become longer and the weather chillier, a mug of hot apple

Writerly Research: Copper-Bottomed Ships & Madeira Wine

Writing historical fiction is tricky, particularly if the story is based on or inspired by real people. I’m currently writing the second book in my Salem Stories series based on the 18th century Crowninshield and Derby families of Salem, Massachusetts. The story is about real people in the context of their material culture. Both aspects

Tavern Entertainments in 18th Century America

As noted in the first installment, eighteenth century American taverns were a necessary community institution — a place where travelers and residents could grab a meal, read the newspaper, or conduct business. In appearance, taverns looked much like a large house with chimneys at either end. The ground floor and primary place of business featured

18th Century Taverns for Business & Pleasure

A quick research dive introduced to Mary Burke who kept a tavern in Saugus, Massachusetts. The advertisement she placed in the Columbian Centinel in April 1792 reminded customers that her house will be open every day in the week except the Sabbath…Larder will be consistently furnished with the choicest and most suitable provisions – her

Thanksgiving in 18th Century Salem, Mass.

This is a blog about Thanksgiving, the quintessential American holiday. It is not about the First Thanksgiving, or the late 19th century Thanksgiving, or the 20th Century Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving. This Thanksgiving story is about Thanksgiving in late 18th and early 19th century New England, specifically Salem, Massachusetts, the setting of my upcoming novel. At

Individuality, Ownership & the Importance of Spousal Names

“What’s in a name?” Juliet asked. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” William Shakespeare put these words into Juliet Capulet’s mouth, to show that her love for Romeo was not restricted by his membership in the Montague family. The label of his name was immaterial to her, but, tragically, it would

Jane Teakittle, Tea Boycotts & American Revolution

Among the archive files, I found the following public notice in the Salem Gazette, Newbury & Marblehead Advertiser. Sept 13 1774To the Printer of the Salem Gazette , &c.Mr. Russell,You are requested to publish the following Bond, wrote by a Young Lady in Boston in 1737 (who was much grieved at the pernicious practice of

Ill-Fated Love: Eliza Emery & David Burditt, Part 2

The brief correspondence between Eliza Emery Burditt and Capt. John Crowninshield offers a glimpse into the lives of ordinary people. The story of young Mr. and Mrs. Burditt’s courtship and early married life of is told here. But just to recap the outline of their romance, Burditt commanded the brig Telemachus. Imagine him dashing and