Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Journal Entry 1: Diligence, Determination and Discipline

"When going through old probate inventories force oneself to record all items into the database, not just the juicy stuff." - Me 2018

Notes to Self:

It seems like there are always more inventories, just when I think I went through and found them all. I am currently adding five or six more. It is not that I record every single inventory, but I record every inventory that has 1) clothing OR 2) fabric/ textiles OR 3) Weapons OR 4) Food / Spice... my areas of interest. An inventory could just have only one of the categories or more than one. The problem comes from stripping out the items I am interested in and not entering all the other stuff like furniture, pewter, etc. The problem with not recording the other items is trends and patterns can be overlooked. For instance, an inventory with china cups, china cabinet, and East Indies robes tells a bit about a person especially since the next one may have Delftware plates, Earthen ware plates and cups, a Dutch salt cellar, gold hoop rings and Amsterdam style gowns. Then there are the inventories with things like "shirt as made by the wilde", shoes as made by the wilde, wilde stockings, knife with sheath with sea-wan hung around the neck, snow shoes, fur hat, .... he was a trader up in near Albany. One is not worth more than the other, but they show the landscape these people were living in. We can zoom in on one probate and see one person, then back up and take several from one town in one decade and imagine what a "market scene" or "the street" looked with all the the different people. People during the 17th Century had very complete outfits, looks and styles.

If a movie from the 17th Century were ever made, according to inventories and visitors, people from the continent including the supposedly reserved Dutch Reformed goers should be outfitted with fashionable styles from around the world, whereas the local English should have a reserved subdued look with more solids and browns. Not to mention there literally should be more Continentals than English/Scottish from Manhattan to Saratoga, more English and Scotts out on Long Island prior to the 1710s and 20s. One should literally be able to pick out an Englishmen or Scotsman and their preference for English styles according to inventories and observers, and everyone else should be more international.

Its not that one is "better", it is that people were clinging to their cultural ideals. This is important because it was important to them. The Continentals had a mix of Continental and far eastern clothes, British people loved their Russels and "sad" colors. Both have their benefits. The only thing they all had in common was their "New Yorker" taste for large print calicos and silks which continued almost as a badge right through the 1740s and possibly further.

The Pull: 

I use to be particular... but Now I think I have become obsessive. When I am happy I go through inventories for the joy of it, when I am down I go through inventories for the joy of it, when I am frustrated I yet again use inventories for the absolute delight of them. One inventory in particular, Hanna is a treat, spinning wheels, whorls, carders, skien after skien of yarn, knitting needles, and more... plus a half pound of chocolate, a loaf of sugar and chillies. Inventories like this are the pull.

It is predominantly about the different lifestyles and heritages of the people. I love the diversity, the little things that make all of these people different but the "in it together" world they lived in. There is the scene and a number of examples where when someone was down and out... another person did business with them or at least helped them get a job.

In many ways the people of the second half of the 17th century remind me of the people of Japan. When I lived in Japan, it was not unusual for a person to match pattern garment with pattern garment. They'll do this will their kimono but also modern clothing. When I asked why? One person said because they were both beautiful, beautiful matches beautiful. That is New York, and New York wouldn't be New York without New Netherland.

When looking at the material culture that was brought with the founding families, out of all the cultural traits, the traits that were most important were the love of liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, and shear interest in the world and appropriating the global economic into the Province that stands out. This idea of always looking out into the world mentality would stay with the Province into modern times.

When you walk the streets of Albany or Manhattan the cities are all the same but different. You are possibly just as likely to find a lacquered cabinet or Japanese kimono in a 2000s home as you would in the 1600s. The towns haven't changed much either, again one finds snow shoes, gardening books, gardening hoe and fowling guns in the 2000s home as you would in the 1600s.

Even something like pierced ears, no really... I know it wasn't a thing most places, but New Yorkers had them in the 1600s too... yes, the stones were huge then too according to the rather shocked New Englanders.

But Tara, we don't run around with swords ! Yes, thats true...but we still play with them as there are a number of fencing clubs. See we simply can't let go.

Those are the Pulls

The Push: 

The push is something different. It is what gets under my skin, I write a post that will never be published, all because I wish to kill off an old tale that is not based on primary sources. They are a little edgy, and usually written as a way to vent. If it is on a topic I obsess about I usually have traced its history back until it disappears from the records. When I say disappears, I don't mean just from records written in English, I mean the western hemisphere. I do make mistakes, but then obsess until the correct answer is found. Short of new records being found, my obsessive nature will have me up till about 1 or 2 (sometimes the sun comes up and I think ... Oh, Sh! I forgot to go to sleep.)

See... even with the Push, there is the Pull of the high from doing research.

Back when I was working on my degree in chemistry with a minor in biology... with a few classes on cultural anthropology and Japanese tossed in, I would go to the library and sit for hours. I would pick up a science, economics, or anthropology journal. Open the cover and start reading from beginning to the last page. Each month I would read through the journals. I had a period of time when I could not do this and noticed I was getting anxious, almost like trying to quite coffee, sugar, or something else addicting. I started to get edgy and realized I didn't have a constant flow of data to process. At that time, my information-data-addiction was controllable. I swear it still is.

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