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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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Dr. Jeffries’s Hat

Last week the anniversary of the first balloon crossing of the English Channel by Jean-Pierre Blanchard and Dr. John Jeffries, a Boston native, got a lot of attention on the web.

There was an article about making a similar journey by Dr. Tom Crouch of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, who’s working on a book about Jeffries. His past books include The Eagle Aloft: Two Centuries of the Balloon in America.

And the Houghton Library at Harvard pulled out the hat that Jeffries wore on his first balloon trip and when he had his portrait made. It turns out to be cut from a jaguar pelt.

My father looked at the Houghton material decades back, and he told me it included a fabric sample from the balloon. I didn’t see that when I looked at the documents in the last fifteen years, but I see that’s now a separate collection. Glad it didn’t float away.

My version of the Channel-crossing story from 2006 starts here.

1 comment:

RBK said...

Oh my. Jaguar pelt. How stylish!