Cover image for The art of family : genealogical artifacts in New England
The art of family : genealogical artifacts in New England
Simons, D. Brenton.
First edition.
Publication Information:
Boston, Mass. : New England Historic Genealogical Society : Distributed by Northeastern University Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
xiv, 336 pages : illustrations (some color), map ; 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NK810 .A78 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room Non-Circ

On Order



In this lavishly illustrated volume, which features over 200 halftones and sixteen color plates from public and private collections, distinguished experts in history, art, and genealogy explore the important but often overlooked relationship between material culture and family history in New England during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. The contributors examine a broad range of family record artifacts, including genealogical samplers, mouring embroideries, pen-and-ink family registers, gravestones, heraldica, textiles, furniture, silver, and portraiture. An indispensable resource on the world of decorative arts and its significance in preserving family identity, this beautiful work provides much valuable information and research clues for modern-day genealogists.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Many people think of family history and genealogical research as the collection and preservation of dry facts about our ancestors. That's true, to some extent, but what sort of artifacts did our ancestors create to commemorate their loved ones and what can we gain by studying them? Simons (New England Historic Genealogical Society) and Benes (Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife), together with a who's who of scholarly contributors, demonstrate that a great deal can be learned from the things our ancestors left behind. The essays are divided into sections that highlight the popularity, varieties, and significance of family registers, family-tree lithographs, portraitures, gravestones and epitaphs, mourning jewelry, and silver pieces of New England in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Through the examination of these artifacts it becomes clear that our ancestors desired not only to preserve genealogical data but also to declare their love and devotion and perpetuate their memories of family. This book provides a solid foundation for social historians, genealogists with New England roots, or those with an interest in decorative arts of the era. Recommended for academic and large genealogy and public library collections. Elaine M. Kuhn, Allen Cty. P.L., Ft. Wayne, IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

John DemosWendell GarrettLaurel Thatcher UlrichPeter BenesGeorgia Brady BarnhillMaureen A. TaylorD. Brenton SimonsLauren B. HewesElle ShushanBetty RingLaurel K. GabelBarbara McLean Ward and Gerald W. R. WardAbbott Lowell CummingsJane Cayford NylanderJeremy Dupertuis BangsArthur B. and Sybil B. KernPeter BenesGeorgia Brady Barnhill
Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Notes on Contributorsp. ix
Introductionp. xi
Section I Two Historians' Views on Family History and Genealogy
Families and the Decorative Artsp. 1
Creating Lineagesp. 5
Section II Family Representations and Remembrances
Decorated New England Family Registers, 1770 to 1850p. 13
"Keep Sacred the Memory of Your Ancestors": Family Registers and Memorial Printsp. 60
Tall Oaks from Little Acorns Grow: The Family Tree Lithograph in Americap. 75
Section III Families and Portraiture
New England Family Record Broadsides and Portraiture, and the Letterpress Artist of Connecticutp. 91
The Family in Portraiturep. 114
Tokens of Sorrow: New England Portrait Miniatures and Mourning Jewelryp. 127
Section IV Representations of Passage
One Moment in Time: The Family Portrait Mourning Piece, a Unique American Formp. 145
"By this you see we are but dust": The Gravestone Art and Epitaphs of Our Ancestorsp. 150
Section V Patterns of Inheritance and Acquisition
Sterling Memories: Family and Silver in Early New Englandp. 177
The Abigail Ball Box: The History of an Initialed Objectp. 191
Section VI Patterns of Family Legacies
Preserving a Legacyp. 201
Commemorating Colonial New England's First Families: The Triumph of the Pilgrimsp. 222
Section VII Genealogy and Historical Research
On the Importance of Genealogical Methodology in Researching Early New England Folk Portraitistsp. 245
Section VIII Checklists
Selected Checklist of Manuscript, Watercolor, and Needlework Family Registers and Family Trees in New England, 1780-1846p. 275
Checklist of Printed Family Registers and Memorial Prints, 1790-1900p. 283
Name Indexp. 301
Subject Indexp. 327