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In This Issue

June 2024
1min read

For information about subscribing to the Prodigy on-line service, which carries the weekly American Heritage Picture Gallery feature (described in this month’s Letter From the Editor), call 1-800-PRODIGY. Prodigy also offers a host of news, shopping, reference, entertainment, and chat services and full Internet access. Madeline Rogers, who is in charge of American Heritage Picture Gallery , is also the editor of Seaport magazine, put out three times a year by the South Street Seaport Museum. Seaport takes as its subject several centuries of New York waterfront life, covering the history of everything from speakeasies, dance halls, and sailors’ brothels to the New York Yacht Club and the Port Authority. Two decades old, it demonstrates that there’s far more to the city’s maritime culture than scrimshaw and dirty songs. A thirty-five-dollar three-issue subscription to Seaport also buys you a museum membership. The museum is at 207 Front Street in Manhattan (212-748-8600).

As Viola Hopkins Winner’s feature on Henry Adams and the automobile makes clear, few of Adams’s thoughts went unrecorded, and very little of his correspondence isn’t graceful and original. His collected letters from this period, in which he makes his peace with the car and the worse shocks of the new century, are published by Harvard University Press in The Letters of Henry Adams: Eighteen Ninety-two to Nineteen-eighteen , volumes 4–6 (2,400 pages).

For more about the Shakers at Pleasant Hill, Kentucky (the subject of this month’s travel column), and at other settlements around the country, try Architecture of the Shakers , by Julie Nicoletta (Countryman Press, 176 pages). Her subject is broader than the title suggests: The chapter on dwelling houses describes life in Shaker residences, and the one on offices and stores details the Shakers’ business dealings with the outside world. By the 1860s, she writes, the Shakers were selling their furniture wholesale to stores in Boston and New York; by the 1880s the demand for their chairs was so great that Shakers in Mount Lebanon, New York, flouted the sect’s strict laws governing separation of the sexes and let men and women work side by side to speed up production rather than turn away income. Even as they created a market for simple, virtuous designs, the Shakers themselves occasionally succumbed to the desire to display a little wealth and sophistication: After a cyclone had destroyed the Trustees Office in Union Village, Ohio, in 1886, it was remodeled with marble floors and sinks, a mansard roof, and a cupola. The text is illustrated with beautiful color photographs by Bret Morgan.

Geoffrey C. Ward’s column “Life and Times” takes up Ian Frazier’s Family (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 386 pages). The book is an extraordinary history of Frazier’s ordinary American clan, which he traces back to Midwestern preachers, wheelwrights, and farmers and, beyond that, to their old-world roots in Yorkshire and Scotland and Bern. Frazier sifts through the story of his family on both sides, the small and everyday no less exquisitely realized than the larger events that intrude, such as the Danbury raid in the Revolution or the Battle of Chancellorsville.

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