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November 2011 Book Remarks
8/2/2011
Recommended roots reading.
Untapped by many genealogists are hard-to-find letters, diaries, family Bibles, family papers and books in archives' manuscript collections. The hefty tome Manuscripts at the New England Historic Genealogical Society: R. Stanton Avery Special Collections (NEHGS) is worth its weight, covering 12 million resources on families across America.

Based on a true story of the first American Indian to graduate from Harvard College in 1665, Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks (Viking) is a tale of crossing cultural barriers in the mid-17th century. Narrator Bethia Mayfield wanders from her Puritan settlement and befriends Caleb, the son of a Wampanoag chieftain. Bethia's minister father sends him to study among the Colonial elite.

Best known for his travel narratives, Bill Bryson now takes a walk through his Victorian house in At Home: A Short History of Private Life (Doubleday). He fills us in on the ordinary aspects of the history associated with each room: hygiene in the bathroom; eating and nutrition in the kitchen--even the hall had a purpose beyond linking rooms.

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