Jack Larkin

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Jack Larkin is Chief Historian at Old Sturbridge Village. This article is adapted from his new book The Reshaping of Everyday Life in the United States, 1790-1840, published by Harper & Row.

Articles by this Contributor

September/October 1988

Forget your conventional picture of America in 1810. In the first half of the nineteenth century, we were not at all the placid, straitlaced, white-picket-fence nation we imagine ourselves to have been. By looing at the patterns of everyday life as recorded by contemporary foreign and native observers of the young republic and by asking the questions that historians don't think to ask of another time—what were people really like? how did they greet one another in the street? how did they occupy their leisure time? what did they eat?—Jakc Larking brings us a portrait of another Americna, an America that was so different from both our conception of its past life and its present-day reality as to seem a foreign country.