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Americana: from Between the Lakes Group

 

When you run a business republishing local history and genealogy, frequently historical artifacts -- Americana -- come in the door.  Sometimes it also is better classified as social history.

We would like to share with you some of our Americana collection.  While there are images of some Americana on our CD-ROMs, there is a point where Americana grades over into what is known today as social history, and this page includes both.  Enjoy the free items, and consider purchasing our downloads.


  • Some photos of an extraordinary steam iron -- non-electric -- manufactured in Falls Village, CT -- (free)

 

 

 

  • The First 20 years of the WCTU in New York State (1894) 

The full title of this publication is Two Decades: A History of the First Twenty Years Work by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in the State of New York 1874 – 1894.  Your publisher, when we began the project of digitizing this volume, viewed it as a document that would fit nicely in our Americana section along with the articles on speakeasy cards and “tonics” but came away from the project rather impressed with what these women (who did not yet have the right to vote) accomplished in their first 20 years.  Let it be clear that this is a history of a state WCTU organization, not a polemic, and while the authors assume a friendly audience, their discussion of tactics and their implementation are potentially useful to any disenfranchised group.  We were also impressed to learn of an aspect of the work of the WCTU in a seemingly unrelated area:  until they got legislative action in 1887 raising the age of consent to 16 years, it was a mind-boggling 10 years old.  One pauses in wonder at what the sexual proclivities of a legislature that considered ten year old girls fair game must have been.  See our New York State Miscellany page for more information.

  • Prison Etiquette

Edited and with an introduction by Holley Cantine and Dachine Ranier (1950). Re-publishing this book in part fulfills a commitment made to Holley Cantine by a partner of Between the Lakes Group back in 1964, when Mr. Cantine gave him this book with the request that he make it as widely available as possible.  In those times of the military draft for the Vietnam War, the relevance of the material would no doubt have been greater, and if the social value of the type he desired is achieved at all through this belated publication, it is by raising awareness that people did, in fact, object to the draft back during the 20th century by actually going to prison. 

In way of personal commentary by the partner in question, he notes the sincerity which Mr. Cantine obviously held his views.  Bearing the names of and descended from two industrialist families from the Gilded Age and before (the Cantine Coated Paper Company, and the Holley Iron interests), he left this behind to live a simple life that eschewed material possessions and promoted a world order of fairness, peace, and equality.  (Holley likely had already sensed that the partner in question had made up his mind to accept the draft and serve in the military when he gave him this book and the instructions to make it widely available, and, to some extent this was true – Woodstock, NY was the home of many in the arts and on the fringes of political and social thought at that time, and he had already had the first of a series of alcohol-fueled conversations with the actor (and decorated military hero) Lee Marvin, who ultimately convinced him – largely on the basis of his own experiences -- that serving was the appropriate course of action.

In keeping with Holley Cantine’s wish that we make this volume as widely available as possible, we are pricing it low, and we are willing to provide a download key for a free download of this book to anyone who cannot afford even that.  Please e-mail geoff@betweenthelakes.com if you would like to avail yourself of this offer using the subject line “Prison Etiquette offer”.    161+ pages, in PDF format, download now for $2.50.

Prison Etiquette, ed. Cantine and Ranier (1950)

  • The 469 Ultra-Fashionables of America  --  A Social Guide Book and Register to Date

by C. W. de Lyon Nicholls (1912)  This volume of  what is now social history coincided with the beginning of the end of a hereditary upper class in the United States.  The Gilded Age was coming to an end, World War I was about to change everything, the automobile was already on the scene and prohibition was lurking, both about to become great social levelers, and the income tax was only one year in the future.  At this point in time, the 469 most socially important people in the nation could be – and herein are -- enumerated.   Yes, you will even today find some of the family names listed in this book are names to conjure with, but the lifestyle this book depicts was not much longer to be one to which American’s nouveau riche needed to aspire.  This nation’s attempt to create its own nobility was virtually at an end.  In PDF format, 118+ pages, download now for $4.75.

 Ultra-Fashionables of America

 

  • The North Shore

by Robert Grant (1896).  This volume, originally one of a set of four discussing American summer resorts (the other resort communities in the set covered Newport, Bar Harbor, and Lenox), had as its subject matter the one of the four that was already something of a suburb at the same time it was a summer resort.  There is no intent here to suggest that the North Shore was somehow today’s exurbia ahead of its time.  In fact, this thin volume makes clear that it was not – the Myopia Hunt, with all its social ramifications, could not exist in an exurban setting, for instance – and even anticipates a time when people would “live cheek by jowl with one another in houses built and painted after a stereotyped model, with exactly the same number of square feet of land in our front yards, and under limitations as to the number of flowers we may grow in our pitiful little gardens….”  Please see our Massachusetts page for more information.

 

  • Litchfield Book of Days

by George C. Boswell (1899).  Litchfield has seemingly always enjoyed good press.  From local writers such as Harriet Beecher Stowe to the present example, the place seems to have a literary bent, and a fair amount of the output has been dedicated to celebrating the more socially prominent members of that community.  This book, which is set up to take every day of the year and assign an historic event involving Litchfielders to it, is an interesting variation on the theme.  There is history here, to be sure, but it is larded among the anecdotes of the community’s upper class.  An interesting conceit:  at the end of the text and before the advertisements are a series of twelve blank pages, each headed with a month, so that the reader whose family was insufficiently prominent to have a date assigned to one of its own events, can insert dates that are meaningful to them.  The advertisements as the end are interesting: one cannot find any of the names that appear in the ads mentioned in the text!   The book contains many photographs and other illustrations and we're quite pleased with how well they reproduce.  Please see our page about Litchfield, CT for more information.

 

  • Ancient History Notebook (1910) - Canaan High School

First publication of Ancient History notebook

by Kenneth C. Hart.  In addition to its role documenting the times when Canaan had its own High School, it also documents in great and legible detail what a high school freshman was expected to know of ancient history back in those times.  If you were fortunate enough to study ancient history in school (a subject rarely taught except in private schools anymore, unfortunately) you will recognize immediately how thorough an understanding of the histories of Greece and Rome was considered necessary for a high school graduate to possess back in those days.  It is really rather daunting!

There is a story behind this publication, too.  During the summer of 2013, Between the Lakes Group decided to experiment with short-term summer interns as a way to encourage the study of history among young people, hoping to get back insights into how so-called “digital natives” view the world.  We took the interns shopping one day at Johnnycake Books in Salisbury, where one of the interns, Helen Jenks, immediately homed in on this notebook and began reading it carefully.  After reviewing it thoroughly, she advised me that we ought to purchase the notebook and publish it.  It would serve, she felt, as important documentation of what someone just beyond a “common school education” was expected to have assimilated a century or so ago.  Parenthetically, Helen attends a diocesan school in New York City and consequently has been exposed to quite a bit of ancient history.  At any rate, she made a persuasive case, and we went ahead with the purchase and now with the publication.  Please see the Canaan section of our Litchfield County, CT page for more information.

 

  • Lakeville Horse Show Program (1964).  

The Lakeville Horse Show, back in these days, was an important regional horse show. The advertisements in the program reflect a time when the Northwest Corner of Connecticut was a different place.  See our Salisbury page for more information.

 

  • The Atlantic Monthly and its Makers, by M. A. DeWolfe Howe (1919)

If names from American Lit like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Julia Ward Howe, William Dean Howells, and James Russell Lowell, not to mention such luminaries and Longfellow and Whittier, are of interest to you, then you will enjoy this thin volume.  This is not a “the best of” the Atlantic Monthly – although there is a list of authors and articles in the back of this book that identify these in the opinions of the editors of the Atlantic.  Instead, it is a literary, social, and intellectual history of the founding and first sixty years of that magazine.  Bits of dialog that one realizes could only have been uttered in upper crust Boston in that era appear throughout.  We would be guilty of false advertising if we said this book is lively, but it is far livelier than the literary output of some of the major figures of that period to whom we are introduced in these pages.  See our Massachusetts page for more information.

We have numerous other articles of Americana that we are considering offering.  A few are listed below.  Let us know if you would like to see us offer one or more of these here on our website for download:

  • Mr. Cleveland, A Personal Impression, by Jesse Lynch Williams.  Published by Dodd, Mead & Company in 1909.  75 pages.

 

We also have several articles of Americana that we are considering offering on CD-ROM.  These will not be free, but will be comparably priced with our other CDs. Let us know if any of these are of interest to you.  We consider your preferences when determining our publication schedule.

  • The Communistic Societies of the United States, by Charles Nordhoff.  This volume, first published in 1875, is a study of the various 19th century communes.  Included are the Economists, Zoarites, Shakers, Amana, Oneida, Bethel, Aurora, Icarian and other utopian communities of the United States. 439 pages, including index.  We've issued chapters on the Perfectionists, and on the Harmony Society, as downloads.

 

Visit our Temperance and Prohibition page -- a thread that runs through much of American history.

       

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