Bringing Your Ancestors to Life: Read Historical Books

nonfiction, well-researched historical fiction, stories about where they lived, how they lived in their time. When I wrote about my grandmother Harriet and her 1908 letters, I borrowed every book I could find on local history at the library (Porter Memorial Library). Most helpful was: A Maine Hamlet by Lura Beam, published in 1957, second printing 2004. I had read this book as a young girl but this time read it with fascination. Beam describes the village of Marshfield 1894 – 1904 when she lived with her grandparents. My grandmother, Harriet Means Johnson, grew up in Machias less than two miles away from Marshfield in the same time period as Beam. A Maine Hamlet takes one back to another time with stories about Beam’s memories in Marshfield.

Beam was educated at University of California in Berkeley and then Barnard, the college for women at Cornell in NY. She went on to a career in education, sociology, and writing. Her insights are valuable into what is now an elusive place and time for many. She calls us to write about our memories, tell our stories and those of our grandparents.

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