Archive for the ‘Older blog posts’ Category

My Dad Would Be Surprised

Last summer I researched and wrote an article on the history of wallpaper for the Daughters of the American Revolution magazine, American Spirit. The story, “Repeating Patterns: Wallpaper in Early American Homes” appeared in the November/December 2008 issue. My interest in wallpaper is a familial thing. My family had a wallpapering business back in the 1870s and each successive generation of men learned the trade. My Dad, James William Taylor, Jr. was the last in the line. He died in September 2007. While I was researching the article, an online tip led me to the library at Historic New England. I found a few interesting things in their manuscript collection, but discovered that they had a collection of artifacts and other material relating to the wall paper industry. I asked if they would be interested in my family’s tools from their wallpapering business. A few emails and photographs later I got the news. Historic New England would accept our donation of my Dad’s beat-up toolbox, his wallpapering tools and his custom made wooden work box. The box allowed him to carry tools and then use the large wooden box to cut and paste wallpaper before hanging. it. Unfortunately it’s too large to be photographed. I’m so proud to have his belongings in a museum. He would be very surprised. He was a simple man who never visited a museum until I worked in one. His first words during that visit were, “Nice wallpaper.” I still love wallpaper. He hung the paper in several rooms of my house and I feel close to him just sitting on the couch.

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Who Do We Think We Are?

No that isn’t a typo. A group in England took the idea behind “Who Do You Think You Are?” and created a new website that poses the question, “Who Do We Think We Are?” The site helps teachers and their students explore issues relating to Britain–citizenship, ethnic identity, migration and settlement. I found it difficult to locate material unless I used the search box at the top of the screen. Using “immigration” turned up ten links. There is a mix of material written by contributors and hits that then take you to another website. There are initially four pilot areas–Barking and Dagenham, Bradford, Bristol and Cheshire–with plans to expand. I’m having a great time trying different terms in the search box to see what turns up. It’s a fascinating teaching tool. It makes me wonder, could a group create a project like this in the U.S.?

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