J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Hannah Mather Crocker Book Still on the Way

Two years ago, I got word that Hannah Mather Crocker’s history of colonial New England was being readied for publication this year. Then I lost track of the project.

I just picked up the trail again through the blog for the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium’s blog, at which Prof. Eileen Hunt Botting reports:

The first edition of Hannah Mather Crocker’s Reminiscences and Traditions of Boston is slated to be published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society Press in April 2011. I worked on this edition while a NERFC fellow in 2009-10.

Crocker (1752-1829) was the daughter of Samuel Mather, the grand-daughter of Cotton Mather, and the great-granddaughter of Increase Mather, all famed Boston ministers. Crocker wrote the Reminiscences between 1822 and 1829, when she left the book unpublished at her death. The manuscript was acquired by the NEHGS in 1879.

Crocker’s history of Boston spans from the city’s founding by the Puritans in 1630 through the War of 1812. There are also scattered, eye-witness references to life in the city for the duration of Crocker’s life from the 1750s through the 1820s. The narrative is not chronological but rather thematically recounts the development of Boston via its topography, the genealogy of its inhabitants, and its politics.

The narrative orients itself around several key political events to which it periodically returns: the Puritan founding, the crafting of the colonial and provincial charters of Massachusetts, the American Revolution, the post-revolutionary rebirth of the city, and the War of 1812. Her non-chronological treatment of the city’s history allows Crocker to draw connections between events and people across time and space.

The narrative climax of Crocker’s history is the American Revolution, in which Crocker weaves her eye-witness testimony into a reflective work of synthetic history that draws from primary, secondary, and oral sources.
Still looking forward to this volume! If we can follow Mark Twain’s “autobiography,” surely we can follow how Crocker weaves strands of New England history.


Daud said...

I just stumbled upon this post and the interesting character of Hannah Mather Crocker (what a great name)

You may be aware of it already, but the book did come out this summer:


J. L. Bell said...

Yes, I've thumbed through a copy, but haven't sat down to read and review it yet.