Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Proper Introductions

[Image description: an oval-framed photo in sepia tones shows an older woman, Marion Brown, white hair parted in the center, wearing a black cap and dress; the photographer's cardboard frame adds a red border and the words "Jenner & Co."]

On this blog, I'll be transcribing letters written by Marion Brown (1843-1915), a woman who lived most of her life in or around Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire, Scotland. The letters were written to her American relatives between 1865 and 1903, and were given to my by my grandmother in 1994 to organize, transcribe and conserve. And I did all that, promptly. Unfortunately, the transcripts I did back then were in a format that I can no longer easily access; so I'm starting over, with more attention to the details, going more slowly, making links, and inviting feedback. In short, I'm turning this problem of technological obsolescence into an opportunity.

Much of what I know about Marion Brown beyond these letters comes from the excellent work of my colleague Iain Hutchison, who has tromped along the edges of foot-and-mouth quarantines and through cemeteries to ground Marion's existence in buildings and places and documents. So before I even get started here, big thanks to Iain. We'll be presenting together about Marion Brown later this month, at the disability history conference in San Francisco.

The photo above is a late photo of Marion Brown, labeled in pencil on the back, from my great-great grandparents' photo albums. We figure this was taken about 1905--so ten years before her death, and a little while after the last letter in the collection.

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