Wednesday, July 14, 2010

An Astronomical Occurrence, ca. 1834

While reviewing metadata for our ongoing project to digitize the law library's Brooker Collection of early American documents, my colleague Dorothea Rees came across an interesting find. Wrapped around a well-used 1834 Farmer's Almanack was a plain paper wrapper on which the Almanack's (anonymous) owner had listed the usual notes about births, deaths, crops, livestock and the weather. But on May 18, 1834, he made the following entry:

"May 18, 1834, a Sunday morning just as Day broke I see a great light as the brightness of the Sun."

One wonders if he had seen a comet or meteor.

These Almanacks are treasure troves of information. In this copy alone one can find the stagecoach schedule from Boston, poems and wise quips, and a long screed about the evils of intemperance. And the owner's marginalia gives us much information about the daily life of a hardworking farmer in New England - comet sightings and all.

No comments:

Post a Comment