Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fragments


As we work our way through this fascinating collection of American memory, we find full letters on politics, and tantalizing fragments from creatures' nests. At the bottom of an 18th/early 19th century travel trunk we found complete letters from Tench Coxe in 1779 and this tiny remainder of another:

"Liberty ...
America...
Poverty is the..
of Man..."


Ed Papenfuse
State Archivist






5 comments:

¡ PAPASKINEL !!! said...
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Kris McCracken said...

I thought that I should do a quick post and say how much I appreciate you guys sharing your discoveries with everyone. It is a really fascinating and worthwhile project.

Sean O'Hagan said...

Heard the CBC piece and started following the blog. Fascinating stuff!

Could the start of the second word be "Queirie"?

Caleb Crain said...

That second word doesn't look like "America" to me, either. The first letter looks like a lowercase o, overwritten with a capital O. "Oneiric"?

Adam Goodheart said...

Hi, Caleb - nice to hear from you. You may be right about that second word, although I wonder what use they would have had for "oneiric" in 18th-century Queen Anne's County.

One team member, Abbie Kowalewski, suggests that the word might be "Quarrel," which seems to me more likely. In any event, as you know, it can be hard to decipher old handwriting when there is so little context and the hand is an unfamiliar one (though I think this could possibly be Tench Coxe's). If a mistake was made, then it was wholly mine, committed in the heat of discovery and under the glare of rolling cameras. Now that everything is back at the Archives and away from media scrutiny, the student researchers will have a chance to examine the documents (and fragments thereof) with much greater care.