Monday, May 9, 2011
Althea Douglas, “Time Traveller’s Handbook: A Guide to the Past”, Dundurn Press, 2011, ISBN 978-1-55488-784-2 (soft cover) $19.99
Althea Douglas’s new book is an excellent addition to the reference library of both genealogists, and historians. Althea maintains that family historians are essentially time travellers; but then again so are historians. Many of the references, and terminology, used a hundred years ago that we often turn up in documents are not relevant for us today. A handy book that can remind us (those of us past forty that is) what a quart, mile, or acre were is a useful reference.
The book deals with deciphering documents, family traditions, money and its value, trades, how people lived, and seafaring and military traditions. An appendix of important dates, notes that are chock full of references, deciphering Latin references, and a strong bibliography are for me very useful. As a boy I had British measures such as quarts, peck, mile, and inches pounded into me to the point I can not seem to shake them even now. Younger people should find these tables useful.
Unfortunately, I am now old enough to remember many of the life style references. When I was 6 and 7 my family lived on a small street in the village of Byron (now part of London), and I still remember the horse drawn Silverwood’s milk wagon. I do not remember the milkman ever sitting in the driver’s seat. The old horse probably knew the milk route better than the milkman. Right up until the end of the 1950’s my maternal grandmother kept her coal furnace. My paternal grandmother finally got electricity to the farm house when her sons returned from the war. With electricity, and a septic tank, my father bought her her first refrigerator. Much of the lifestyle we wonder about today was not that far in the past. Either that or I am getting old.
I highly recommend “Time Traveller’s Handbook” for any genealogist or historian’s reference library.