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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Friday, December 25, 2015

A Christmas Visit with the Franklin Family

On Christmas in 1858, the Boston Young Men’s Christian Association displayed a replica of the birthplace of Benjamin Franklin on Milk Street. At that point the actual building had been gone for well over forty years.

This is a digital rendering of a photograph of a lithograph of that replica of that house, courtesy of the Library Company of Philadelphia.

The L.C.P. website explains:
For the admission price of 15 cents, a visitor to the bazaar could see a recreation of the building facade, bed chamber, and sitting room of the birthplace of Boston native son Franklin. The lithograph was one of two executed by Boston lithographer J. H. Bufford for the exposition’s daily circular “Spirit of the Fair.” . . .

The rooms, recreated from designs provided by Boston antiquary Dr. Nathaniel Bradstreet Shurtleff, contained furnishings “of undoubted antiquity” from local individuals to replicate a quaint domestic setting.
The lithograph was designed with a flap that opens up, not unlike an advent calendar or Christmas card, to display the interior of the Franklin house. On the ground floor, members of the family read, spin, and knit while baby Benjamin lies in a cradle—again reminiscent of a certain common Christmas scene.

Three years earlier, Bufford published this lithograph of the Boston Massacre focusing on Crispus Attucks, from a drawing by William L. Champney.

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