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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Tuesday, February 05, 2019

A “Revolutionary Trio” of Videos

Maureen Taylor, author of the Last Muster collections of photographs of people who lived through the Revolutionary War, recently posted videos about her investigations of three of those people.

The professionally produced videos, each about fifteen minutes long, can be seen on this page.

The subjects are:
  • Eleazer Blake of Rindge, New Hampshire, where the historical society turns out to have a trove of artifacts related to his service in the war.
  • Agrippa Hull of Stockbridge, Massachusetts (shown above), a black soldier who served Tadeusz Kościuszko and is a well-remembered character in his home town.
  • Molly Akin of Pawling, New York, a Quaker woman who legend nonetheless says aided the Continentals by firing a gun in a British army camp, alerting the Americans to their presence. But how far back does that story go?
In these cases, Taylor appears to have started her investigation after seeing a reprinted photograph or an engraving or other portrait based on a photo. She then went hunting to find the original daguerrotypes—the most common form of portrait photography in the 1840s as the Revolutionary generation was dying out.

Some of Taylor’s searches were more successful than others, but along the way she also collected information about the people’s lives. For example, in one of these videos the original daguerrotype turns out to be so faded that it’s almost entirely illegible—but there’s documentation of the appointment with the photographer.

In this podcast, Taylor talks with Pamela Pacelli Cooper and Rob Cooper of Verissima Productions about their collaboration on “Revolutionary Trio” videos.

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