Hello again everybody. This week we worked on our Book Traces. We were asked to hunt down books in the library that had different writings or markings inside of them. The idea behind this stems from the question, what is a book? Some could argue that it is a collection of words and we could throw those words onto a Kindle, Nook, or some other electronic reader. But really we’ve discovered that books are much more than that. They are made of different materials, they age over time, and of course, the reader may interact with it in ways that will go unnoticed and lost forever unless documented by projects such as Book Traces.
I know some people found their subjects pretty quickly, I was not so lucky. I had to search about 15 books before finding one I was happy with. Not that I minded though, scouring through the library turned out to be a fun way to learn about what books have to offer us beyond the original publication. The book I eventually found is Bullet and Shell: War as the Soldier Saw it by Geo F. Williams with illustrations by Edwin Forbes.
Bullet and Shell is a book about the American Civil War told mostly through the soldiers’ perspectives. The marginalia I discovered was an inscription on the first page of the book. Although in cursive and not entirely legible, it appears to read, “In remembrance of Harry … Brant Christmas 1919 …”
There isn’t much to go on, but I wondered who Harry Brant was. Perhaps he was a soldier who passed away the previous year to the inscription in the first World War. Or maybe he is an ancestor who gave his life in the Civil War. Although no concrete answers can be determined, it is fascinating to think of the human level of emotion that may have transpired from whoever received this book (presumably as a gift on Christmas).
Last note: I’m posting this just after noon on Sunday, October 5th. As of now my page hasn’t made it onto the site just yet, but I will edit back here with the link once it is up.